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Public Services

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 1:02 pm on 16th October 2019.

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Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 1:02 pm, 16th October 2019

It is interesting to follow Mrs May. I extend my sympathies to her constituent who was killed by a dangerous driver.

The Queen’s Speech takes place in the context of Brexit and a decade of austerity and damaging cuts to the public sector, whether to local government, to the Scottish Government’s budget or to jobcentres and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, all of which affect our constituents. All those services have been stretched to the limit by having to pick up the pieces as a result of the austerity driven by the UK Government.

I draw hon. Members’ attention to the Child Poverty Action Group report on Tower Hamlets and universal credit, which came out today. It says that the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and council staff have found “increased demand for…services” and found it harder to resolve problems, and that universal credit has presented particular challenges with regard to housing. The public sector has to pick up all those issues as a result of the damaging policies of the Government.

I pay tribute to the police in my constituency, in Scotland and across the UK, who put in the hours every single day, risking their own lives and safety. The numbers of police have increased in Scotland by 6.3% since 2007. At the same time, there has been a decrease of 13.3% across England and Wales, and we have seen that in the impact on knife crime and other areas. One thing that would help the police services and the fire service in Scotland would be the return of the VAT that the UK Government pinched from them. That would put £125 million back into frontline public services and would certainly help in this time of ongoing austerity.