Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Public Services

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

The hon. Lady, as so often, misses the point. We want control over all the levers of our economy, and all the powers that we can have, because we want our country to be independent. We do not want to be beholden to this bunch of chumps who just cannot seem to realise the things that Scotland has going for it.

We welcome the Domestic Abuse Bill. We call on the Home Secretary and others to look at our work in Scotland on Equally Safe. I also ask them to look at the SNP’s announcement, just yesterday, of new protective orders to remove domestic abusers from the homes of their victims, because it has never been right that those perpetrating abuse have been able to keep a roof over their heads while the victim and, often, the children have been forced to leave and undergo the additional trauma of moving—finding a new home and starting over. I thank Scottish Women’s Aid and all who have campaigned in Scotland for this change. If the UK Government are serious about supporting those facing domestic abuse, they must also look at the welfare benefits system and restore universal credit payments to women, rather than asking them to go through asking for split payments, which will put them in more danger. They must remove the two-child policy and the rape clause, which force women into staying with their abusers and into poverty; in some cases, as reported by some of the rape crisis organisations, women have been asked to terminate pregnancies because the child will not bring them any money. All these things are extremely dangerous and traumatic. The Government also need to end the scandal of no recourse to public funds. All these policies impoverish but they also put women at significant risk.

On housing policy, which is an important public service, the Tories continue to undermine social rented housing, contributing to spiralling housing costs in England. The difference in poverty across these islands can be put down, in some cases, to the housing costs in England being far more expensive than the housing costs in Scotland. House building in England is at its lowest level since 1920, and evictions are at a record high. How different in Scotland, with 50,000 new homes delivered across this parliamentary term and five times more social rented properties per head than in England from 2014 to 2018. We have ended the right to buy, we have invested, and we are bringing empty homes back into use, whereas they lie empty in England. The Tories should look to Scotland for how to make sure that this vital public service, through our housing association movement, is providing social rented housing that people can be proud to call home.

We welcome the Bill on building safety. Again, Scotland, in legislative terms, is well ahead of the game on this. However, I ask for further clarity on both insurance and mortgage lending for those who find themselves in a home with cladding, because I have had surgery cases where people have lost out in the sales of homes because of that uncertainty. I ask for some comprehensive action from this UK Government to try to make sure that people do not end up stuck in homes that they cannot sell and cannot get insurance on.

In Scotland we are leading where we have responsibility. We have the best performing NHS in the UK, we have social housing to be proud of, we have tackled knife crime, and we are making huge progress on many health issues. We are held back, however, in areas where the UK Government have responsibility—in immigration policy, in the parts of DWP policy that remain in the hands of that Department, and in areas such as drug reform. We desperately need safe drug consumption rooms to save lives in Scotland, but we are hampered by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which makes criminals out of those who want to give help to those suffering addiction problems. We do not have full control over all the important levers of our economy.

This debate takes place in the context of austerity and of broken Brexit Britain. It fails to tackle the fundamental issues that this country faces and it will hold Scotland back. We need the full powers of independence that will allow us the ability to look after all our citizens and to build a fairer, more prosperous Scotland, where all citizens can participate and play their role. Westminster has failed us—it is time for independence.