The Chancellor must be peeved that his grand announcement yesterday received such a mixed response, with many industry bodies saying it is insufficient. When we debate these plans on Monday, will the Leader of the House try to persuade his right hon. Friend to listen to others and seek consensus? It is increasingly bizarre that the Chancellor insists on a one-size-fits-all approach to business support, when everyone else knows that different sectors are affected differently. The fact is that, come the autumn, there will be many businesses which would in normal circumstances be perfectly viable that cannot trade because of public health restrictions. As the chief strategist of J. P. Morgan said yesterday:
“Removing the furlough scheme before activity has recovered is like building three quarters of a bridge and not finishing it because it is becoming expensive”.
Secondly, I want to ask again for a debate on the financial straitjacket under which the devolved Administrations are forced to operate. Every time I ask about devolution powers, the Leader of the House gives me an answer about money. I am not sure if he is evading the question or he does not understand it. The fiscal framework of devolution was not designed to respond to a global pandemic, and it needs to be changed. To give this week’s example, the arts rescue package announced on Monday includes repurposing capital spending in England, so why will the Government not allow the Scottish Government to do the same? We hear from many Cabinet members that Scotland’s salvation is due to the strong arms of the Union, implying that only big countries can deal with the pandemic, but that is not true. In fact, many small countries have proven more agile and effective, but if the Leader of the House does believe this, can he explain why support for Scotland becoming an independent country is now running at 54%, an all-time historical high?
Finally, can the Leader of the House confirm whether, in next week’s debate about restoration and renewal, the Government will bring forward their own, revised plans? In particular, does he believe that the decision to build a complete replica of the House of Commons Chamber for a temporary decant is profligate and ought to be reviewed?