Alan Brown: My constituent, Drew Clark, while still grieving the loss of his wife, received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions demanding that, following her death, he repay some personal independence payment money. As Members can imagine, he was so disgusted that he ripped up the letter. My office tried to get a copy of that letter from the DWP, but was advised that, due to the automated...
Alan Brown: In the context of the agriculture sector, what representations have been made about trading with illegal Israeli settlements, which in the long run further jeopardises the two-state solution that the UK is supposed to aspire to?
Alan Brown: In terms of this so-called success, the Electoral Reform Society’s report says: “The government must have a strange definition of success.” It confirms that this is a waste of money and that it disenfranchises voters. When will the Government tackle the real electoral fraud issue, which is the spending breaches by the Labour, Lib Dem and Tory parties?
Alan Brown: In terms of rebalancing the economy and an economy that works for everyone, can the Minister explain how cutting the rate of inheritance tax and cutting capital gains tax help the poorest in society?
Alan Brown: Will the Minister give way?
Alan Brown: It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. Like others, I commend the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne) on bringing forward the debate, and on the work he does as the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on inclusive growth. In his opening comments he mentioned a moral mission, and I certainly agree with that. Frankly, more politicians need...
Alan Brown: My constituent Andy Woodburn’s mother-in-law Nadia is Ukrainian, and her last visit to the UK coincided with Russian disruption in Ukraine. As Home Office advice was not to travel at that time, Nadia stayed longer than her visa and applied for leave to remain, but she returned home as soon as she possibly could. She then applied for a family visa but was turned down because she did not...
Alan Brown: Scotland’s land mass is two thirds the size of England’s, and we have more challenging geography and islands to cover, yet when it comes to broadband funding, Scotland gets only a fifth of what England gets. Why is that?
Alan Brown: What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Justice on recent changes to criminal legal aid.
Alan Brown: Anyone who cares about the legal aid system will be aware that there are challenges. The Scottish Government have undertaken a review of legal aid to make the system simpler, more flexible and more cost-effective. Will the Attorney General discuss with the Justice Secretary undertaking a similar review and following the recommendations of the Justice Committee report on that?
Alan Brown: The Minister’s statement did not contain the word “sorry”. Following on the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Patricia Gibson), I will give the Minister an opportunity to say sorry to the individuals affected. Can he also tell us how many of the Government’s welfare and benefit policies have been found to be illegal since 2010?
Alan Brown: The Prime Minister highlighted the fact that the US has imposed additional sanctions on Russia. However, that has been partly counterbalanced by the fact that, just a few weeks ago, Steven Mnuchin spoke about lifting sanctions on a Russian company with links to Putin’s inner circle, and the reality is that Congress has actually forced President Trump’s hand a lot of the time. We...
Alan Brown: What discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential implications for border infrastructure in Northern Ireland of legislative proposals for a single UK customs territory.
Alan Brown: The Secretary of State talks with no hint of irony about consistency from this Government. The reality is that their obsession with ending the free movement of people is going to require some form of border control. How does she square ending the free movement of people with her obligations under the Belfast agreement?
Alan Brown: Thank you again, Mr Robertson, for your chairmanship today. The hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Dr Whitehead) touched on this—some of what has been presented today is supposition based on information that we have been able to glean from the media, so it could be argued that this debate was premature. However, I wanted to get such supposition out in the public domain and challenge...
Alan Brown: The Minister quoted the figure that 25% of electricity generated in the last 24 hours was from nuclear. In 2016, on average, nuclear supplied 21% of the energy mix, so 25% is not a huge variation and does not demonstrate the massive reliance that would mean we need to have nuclear forever.
Alan Brown: The hon. Gentleman is talking about emerging technologies—if new nuclear is an emerging technology. I presume he would welcome investment in carbon capture and storage in Scotland, and investment in tidal. The Scottish Government are not saying no to nuclear and no to new technologies; they are going to welcome wider technologies that are completely renewable and that do not have the...
Alan Brown: Longannet collapsed because it was no longer economically viable, due to the amount Longannet had to pay to connect to the grid, which is all based on distance from the population of London. Does the hon. Gentleman accept, therefore, that that is a UK Government failure, not a Scottish Government failure?
Alan Brown: The hon. Gentleman invited an intervention, and yes, he is correct: under the SNP Government, permission was given to extend the life of Hunterston B. Once an asset is there, if its life can be extended safely, we may as well do so. We will still have to deal with the toxic legacy at some point, but if we can make use of the asset in the meantime, we will do, so we are not absolutely blinkered.
Alan Brown: I appreciate the hon. Gentleman saying that it is a different model. Does that mean that the costs cannot be compared directly to Hinkley? If the Government are taking on more liabilities and taking a stake in the project, we cannot just say, “Well, it costs less than Hinkley in terms of strike rate,” or whatever.