Summer Adjournment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:34 pm on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Paul Sweeney Paul Sweeney Shadow Minister (Scotland) 3:34 pm, 25th July 2019

I could not agree more, to put it succinctly.

There needs to be much more effort to collaborate across Governments. Where different aspects of problems can be solved at different levels of government, that ought to be discussed collaboratively and efficiently, rather than people simply mouthing “It’s devolved” and abrogating any sort of responsibility. That is not acceptable, frankly.

In Springburn, there is a long-standing tradition of railway engineering excellence that goes back to the dawn of the railway age. It is the railway metropolis of Scotland. It once exported half the world’s locomotives to all parts of the world. People look at the Finnieston crane in Glasgow—that great icon of the city’s skyline—and think it is to do with shipbuilding, but it was entirely to do with taking locomotives down to the docks to load them on ships and export them all around the world. I had the idea of bringing one of the old locomotives back to the Caley works and restoring it to working condition. Unfortunately, the Scottish Government did not entertain that solution.

In the next few days, we hope to have a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity in Scotland, but of course, that will be closing the door after the workers have left, which is a great shame. We need to come around rapidly and create a cross-governmental taskforce at UK and Scottish Government level to reopen the Caley railway works quickly. I hope to work constructively, and in a spirit of collaboration, with all Governments in all parts of the UK to achieve that objective. I hope that Members on the SNP and Government Benches here are receptive to that.

That is just one example of how we can bring a local issue to national prominence through agitating here for a solution. Hopefully that nuanced expression of what could be done has been heard by those on the Treasury Bench. We can look forward to correspondence on this in the next few days, and hopefully can pull together a plan to save the works and restore them to production as quickly as possible.

There are many other wonderful aspects of my community, which is why I am so proud to represent it in Parliament. Often, there is innovation in the face of adversity; I think many Labour Members could reflect on the same theme. In the wake of a decade of austerity, many people are rising to the challenge of trying to help their community. Public services have been extracted, statutory responsibilities have been reduced, and there has been further erosion of the public realm and public service, which is a great shame, but the situation has also brought out the best in people and brought about great innovation. There is an opportunity for the Government to identify where people on the ground are innovating and doing very well indeed in offering really productive and efficient services to their community. We can perhaps think of those services as benchmarks and templates that could be scaled up to national level.

We could look more effectively at what is done very well locally. I have a couple of examples. I recently worked in the constituency with a local community activist, Susan Wilson, who is a local community champion in Tesco’s by day, and does a lot of other voluntary work outside that. She is a real dynamo in the community. She works with the Allotment Angels in Reidvale. That is part of the Include Me 2 Club, a fantastic charity that helps adults with additional support needs and disabilities. It helps many local people, including people from sheltered housing and a homeless man who, as a result of his voluntary work on the allotment, was recently able to find a job building a wonderful community garden. That is a real exemplar of fantastic community innovation in the face of adversity.