Christmas Adjournment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:31 pm on 17th December 2020.

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Photo of Chris Stephens Chris Stephens Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Fair Work and Employment) 4:31 pm, 17th December 2020

The hon. Gentleman mentions Archie Gemmill. When I listened to Tom Hunt, I was struck by the fact that there are none of those great Scottish players playing for Ipswich any more, like John Wark or George Burley. Perhaps there could be more Scottish signings that will raise Ipswich back to its rightful place in English football.

I am pleased that hon. Members have joined in a tradition, which I think I started, of praising, thanking and congratulating our constituency office staff. I want to thank Dominique, Christina, Greg, Keith, Scott, Tony and the great Roza Salih in the Glasgow South West office. I am quite clear that they are the best constituency office staff in these islands. Every single constituency office has had to deal with unprecedented pressures in the last year, and they have all been a credit not just to hon. Members of this House but to themselves.

I want to thank some constituency organisations for the work that they have done: G53 Together, Govan HELP, the Moogety food project, the Ridgeway Dairy with Drumoyne Community Council, the Trussell Trust and the Turf Youth Project. I particularly thank Feeding Britain, which invested £90,000 in the constituency this year on various projects.

Coming back to covid, there are a number of things that the Government will have to look at, and I hope that they will make permanent the £20 uplift in universal credit. That will help millions of people in this country. I help that they will also look at the recommendations of the Select Committee on Work and Pensions about replacing advances with non-repayable grants. That would help a number of people. It has been sad that a number of deductions—that is, the money that the DWP has been taking back—has increased during the covid crisis. That does not do the Department credit.

As many Members have said, I hope that the Government will find some solution to the 3 million excluded who do not receive Government support. It is important that there are Members across the House who believe that that needs to be done.

A number of hon. Members correctly praised public sector workers for their role during the covid crisis. I will be campaigning this year to ensure that there is no pay freeze for public sector workers. It is morally unjust and economically unsound. When public sector workers get their wages, they spend them in the private sector economy. If we are serious about helping the private sector along, I simply cannot fathom how a public sector pay freeze will help.

We also need to find a solution for the 1950s-born women. I know that hon. Members across the House see that injustice, which needs to be taken away. We need an employment Bill, which the Government have been promising for years, so that we can discuss issues about zero-hours contracts, which are prevalent in the hospitality sector. We need to deal with those issues.

I hope that the Government will start to bring issues to this place. In particular, the new immigration rules should have been brought to this Chamber for debate and discussion, as should the pilot that the Government have put in place for asylum seeker interviews. The Home Office has decided, without any reference to this Chamber, to allow Serco to carry out those interviews.

It would not be a speech from me without touching on one or two constitutional issues—[Laughter.] Just one or two. Today, we have another poll on Scottish independence—the 17th consecutive poll—showing yes ahead and that support for the Union is now at its lowest level. I want to thank every single Government Back Bencher for their part in that campaign.

Of course, other Members have mentioned Brexit. We do not know what kind of Brexit it will be, and it is quite ludicrous that we are going into recess today not knowing whether we are coming back next week or the week after. We are in a position of deal or no deal. I am half expecting Noel Edmonds to occupy the Front Bench with a telephone, seeing what the banker is going to come up with. It really is quite a shameful position. It just leaves me to say this. It is an old song: “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I’m sure we’ll meet again, some sunny day.”