Kirsty Blackman: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You have been a champion of this House, and you have done what you can to improve and to protect its reputation. Today’s events have damaged the reputation of this House irreparably. How can we ensure that such an undemocratic shambles never happens again?
Kirsty Blackman: Thank you, Sir David. I will do my best not to take too long. I am grateful to you for chairing the debate, and I thank the hon. Member for Angus (Kirstene Hair) for securing it and the Backbench Business Committee for scheduling it. This is a useful debate; it is clear that this is a serious and worrying issue with the potential for long-lasting devastating effects. The other point made...
Kirsty Blackman: The Scottish Government would have more money to spend on issues such as flood prevention and coastal erosion—
Kirsty Blackman: The Scottish Government would have more money if Scotland was an independent country and we had the ability to raise our own taxes and, for example, support immigration and grow our population in the way that we would like it to grow. Immigration is important for coastal communities, particularly because of the people who have moved out of those communities. As my hon. Friend the Member for...
Kirsty Blackman: Will the hon. Lady give way?
Kirsty Blackman: The industrial strategy challenge fund round closed in April, but the Government are not expected to make a decision until the tail end of this year. Can they speed up the process please?
Kirsty Blackman: I thank the Minister for advance sight of his statement. One year on, our thoughts are with all the families and communities whose lives have been touched and altered unimaginably by this terrible tragedy. We welcome the publication of the Hackitt report, and I want to make it clear that the Scottish Government will swiftly consider any lessons and any actions that may be needed, as they did...
Kirsty Blackman: The communiqué includes a pledge to: “coordinate efforts to build lasting peace and support democratic transition in Myanmar”. As the first monsoon rains hit the camps in which the displaced Rohingya people are living, will the Prime Minister say what her Government are doing to ensure that that pledge is not just words?
Kirsty Blackman: Tory austerity will result in annual social security cuts of £4 billion in Scotland by 2020. The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that 1 million more children will be pushed into poverty across the UK. With planned devolution covering only 15% of social security spending, the blame lies firmly at the Chancellor’s door. Does the Minister think that is acceptable?
Kirsty Blackman: The Chief Secretary did not answer my question. Once a fortnight someone comes into my office with so little income that we have to refer them to a food bank. When will the Chancellor realise how much harm he is causing? When will he reverse the cuts and when will he end the hunger?
Kirsty Blackman: Will the Minister commit to, if possible, putting the RBS letter in the Library, so that we can all see it? Will he also ensure that when the FCA does conclude the final part of the report, we can all see the full version as soon as possible?
Kirsty Blackman: I will not say that it is a pleasure to speak in this debate, because it is not. The stories that we have heard from across the House today are absolutely harrowing. It is clear that each one of us represents constituents who have been affected by what RBS, GRG or one of the other banks have done in the pursuit of profit. I must declare an interest: my cousin, her husband and their four...
Kirsty Blackman: This has not been widely covered in anything that has been published so far in relation to GRG. It would therefore be incumbent on any inquiry to take that into account. The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake) mentioned the issues with the section 166 report and what was initially published. He made an important point, and I echo his sentiments. For hon. Members who have not...
Kirsty Blackman: I absolutely agree. The time for talking about this is over. It is time for the Government to take action. It is time for action to ensure that all our constituents can claim the redress that they should and that all business practices that devastated people’s lives are properly brought to light.
Kirsty Blackman: The Minister has laid the stats before us, saying that the unemployment rate is 3% for over-25s and over 10% for under-25s. Does he not agree that that shows that the system he is presiding over is broken, and that something needs to be done to fix it?
Kirsty Blackman: Will the Minister give way?
Kirsty Blackman: The point that my hon. Friend is making about experience is very important. When I was 18 I started work in a pub on the same day as someone who was 25. Neither of us had worked in a pub before, so we had exactly the same level of experience, but the 25-year-old was eligible for the 25–year-old’s minimum wage, while I was paid the 18-year-old’s minimum wage. Does my hon....
Kirsty Blackman: Does my hon. Friend agree that there could be a positive impact on productivity? If people are having to work extra jobs and cannot afford to eat, they will be less productive, but if they were paid a living wage, they would do better work for their employers as a result.
Kirsty Blackman: As an employer, I have taken on a number of young people on internships, and I have paid the real living wage, not the Government’s pretend living wage, regardless of their age. I found that they made a very valuable contribution to my office and a real positive difference. Has my hon. Friend got experience of doing similar?
Kirsty Blackman: Does the Financial Secretary believe the trade agreements we negotiate could possibly be better than the trade agreements we currently have and would continue to have as a member of the EU?