Ms Annabelle Ewing: I was interested to hear the hon. Gentleman's list of Government proposals, which he says will make a difference to the plight of people suffering in rural Scotland. Do the Government propose to reduce fuel duty? Scotland has the highest fuel duty in the industrialised world, and that has a devastating impact on the whole of Scotland.
Ms Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the immigration status is of persons who are graduates of UK universities and holders of non-EU passports who have been invited to take up employment in the UK within the field of their educational background.
Ms Annabelle Ewing: Will the Minister give way?
Ms Annabelle Ewing: Will the hon. Lady give way?
Ms Annabelle Ewing: With whom would the hon. Gentleman plan to twin Western Isles in that case?
Ms Annabelle Ewing: I shall respond briefly to the Minister. As I said earlier, I fully support the amendments. Whereas the two other matters that form the subject of the retained powers dealt with by the Sewel motion in the Scottish Parliament were clearly not to be covered by the Bill, why was this third issue initially included in the Bill as applying to Scotland but, at the eleventh hour, magically deemed...
Ms Annabelle Ewing: These provisions will not apply to Scotland if Government amendments Nos. 63, 64 and 67 are agreed tonight. I sincerely hope that those amendments are passed because, as a Scottish National party Westminster MP, I believe that the best place to consider legislative changes to Scots law is in the Scots Parliament. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] I thank hon. Members on both sides of the House...
Ms Annabelle Ewing: The hon. Gentleman is correct to say that the Scottish Parliament passed a so-called Sewel motion, introduced by the Scottish Executive on 15 November. Under that motion, most of the responsibility for considering huge swathes of important changes to Scots law, including Scots criminal law, was passed to Westminster, but, in fact, on this matter, an eleventh-hour agreement seems to have been...
Ms Annabelle Ewing: rose—
Ms Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will estimate the number of staff employed by her Department by region and nation of the UK; and if she will make a statement.
Ms Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many disabled people have found regular consistent employment under the Government's New Deal for Disabled People since its inception, broken down by nation and region in the UK; and what percentage the Scottish number represents of the total number of disabled people in Scotland.
Ms Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) special advisers and (b) press officers were employed (i) full-time, (ii) part- time and (iii) on a contract basis by her Department in each year since 1992.
Ms Annabelle Ewing: Will the hon. Lady give way?
Ms Annabelle Ewing: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Ms Annabelle Ewing: The hon. Gentleman is not the only guilty party, because this confusion has been a feature of our discussions in Committee tonight. There are various legal systems in the United Kingdom and it is wholly inaccurate to refer to British law in the various circumstances covered by the Bill.
Ms Annabelle Ewing: I shall be brief because I know that many hon. Members wish to speak. It goes without saying that many of the Bill's provisions are welcome and do not cause concern, but I am afraid that part 4 does not fall into that category. I join the many hon. Members on both sides of the House who lament the extremely limited time that we have been given to examine these fundamental provisions. As a...
Ms Annabelle Ewing: Does not the debate over the wording of the basis on which SIAC can look at certification orders suggest that, instead of trying to re-invent rules of evidence to that ad hoc, unusual body, the simpler way to deal with the matter would be to involve the courts fully and properly in the function of the system?
Ms Annabelle Ewing: On a point of order, Sir Michael. Unfortunately, I was not here on Monday because I was dealing with matters in my constituency.
Ms Annabelle Ewing: In the light of the hon. Member for West Dorset (Mr. Letwin) not taking up that offer, I thought that I would quickly get in. I have listened to the debate with interest, and must ask a fundamental question. In what way is the Government's position, especially on part 4, fundamentally impinged if they have to return to the House to renew their legislation?
Ms Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions he has held with the Scottish Executive concerning continued payment of attendance allowance to those recipients who will become eligible for free personal care in Scotland from April 2002.