Brian H Donohoe: It is clear that there was intimidation during the referendum, but a more important question for the Minister is: when does he see the possibility of another referendum? The last thing we need to get in the way of politicians’ day business is another referendum in a generation.
Brian H Donohoe: Devolution was not supposed to end at the front door of the Scottish Parliament; it was supposed to be passed down to local authorities. Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the worst decisions made by the Scottish Executive was the decision to freeze council tax, which meant that, for instance, disabled children did not receive the services that they should have received, and need?
Brian H Donohoe: In his statement, the Secretary of State said: “It is important that everyone now accepts this result”. The $64,000 question is how long it will be before the SNP demands another referendum.
Brian H Donohoe: Why will the Minister not extend the Bill’s provisions only to the autumn, when there could be a full and long debate and more time could be spent looking at the whole situation? Why does it go on to 2016?
Brian H Donohoe: I have a constituent who is on a ship that serves the North sea. He is the only member of the crew who has had his national insurance contributions changed in the last round. He is an electrical engineer. The mechanical engineer, the captain and the bosun are still on the old rate, but the electrical engineer is not. Can the Minister explain to me why an electrical engineer is being...
Brian H Donohoe: However, it is the case that inward investment is faltering. I have had experience after experience of talking to foreigners who are not investing in Scotland as a result of the uncertainties and the possible likely divorce. Are we not by far better off as a united kingdom than we would be with a separate Scotland?
Brian H Donohoe: Will the Chancellor answer a simple question about employment? How many people are on zero-hours contracts?
Brian H Donohoe: On the question of jobs, we all applaud the number of jobs created in the country, but do we know how many have been created on zero-hours contracts?
Brian H Donohoe: He has just done so.
Brian H Donohoe: I raised this question in the House earlier this week and got answers that were not satisfactory to me or, more particularly, my constituents, given that the hotline is still not working. Will the Home Secretary take the decision today to reopen the office in Glasgow, so that passports can be issued to my constituents without them having to travel down to Durham or over to Belfast? It seems...
Brian H Donohoe: rose—
Brian H Donohoe: Will the Minister guarantee that when my staff phone up tomorrow, asking for some response to the problems of my constituents, they will get an answer? Will he give that commitment to giving them that kind of service?
Brian H Donohoe: My hon. Friend will know of my interventions earlier in the day. Is it time for the Government to address one important matter for Members of Parliament? Our ministerial hotline is not working and needs to be beefed up. I asked earlier whether there is any real commitment on that, but I have not received an answer. Does my hon. Friend agree that that line needs to be beefed up?
Brian H Donohoe: Will the Minister give way?
Brian H Donohoe: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. My intervention has nothing to do with what he has just said. He is more than halfway through his speech, but he has not said anything about the enormous dissent across the country about the problems in the Passport Office. Just this afternoon, I was told of another problem, so will he give a commitment that he will beef up that department so that...
Brian H Donohoe: One of the problems faced by Members of Parliament and their staff is that when they phone the ministerial hotlines, they do not get an answer for two or three days, and when they do it is incomprehensible and does not help them with the particular case.
Brian H Donohoe: One of the major problems facing my constituents is the time spent trying to get their passports. I have heard the right hon. Lady say that she is reforming the Passport Office, but she has reduced the number of staff to such an extent that those that are left are not able to perform as they should. What is the turnaround period for a passport application now?
Brian H Donohoe: The Secretary of State will be aware of a problem that is affecting thousands of women. It relates to medical implant devices that a court in America has banned. What is he prepared to do to deal with the situation in this country that is affecting thousands of women, both north and south of the border?
Brian H Donohoe: On the question of separation, surely it is understood that divorce can be messy and that in this case it certainly would be messy? What I have been told by businessmen in my area is that they will move out of Scotland if separation takes place.
Brian H Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to meet the costs of the National Air Traffic Service's employee share scheme if the Civil Aviation Authority decides that these costs will no longer be allowed for in the next regulatory settlement.