Alan Reid: The Post Office has delivered Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency services—including car tax renewal—well for many years, and it is trusted and supported by the public. Does the Secretary of State agree that the DVLA contract should not simply be handed over to the cheapest bidder, and that when deciding to whom to give the contract, the high quality of service delivered by the Post...
Alan Reid: Many parts of Argyll and Bute have no mobile phone coverage, which is bad for business and can make it difficult to get help in an emergency. Will the Government please tell us what plans they have to extend mobile phone coverage in Argyll and Bute?
Alan Reid: The hon. Gentleman is right. We raised the rural fuel issue with the last Government, but nothing was done. This Government have introduced the rural fuel derogation. Like the hon. Gentleman, I would like it to increase. Will he support a campaign to see the derogation extended to remote parts of the mainland, such as the Kintyre peninsula?
Alan Reid: I congratulate the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State and the Minister on reaching this important agreement. Before people come to vote in the referendum, it is important that they know what they are voting for. When the SNP eventually, in another 13 months, gets round to working out its proposals for an independent Scotland, will the Government put the proposals to independent scrutiny...
Alan Reid: Will my right hon. Friend explain why circumstances next year will be different from those this year, enabling the culls to go ahead and reduce the incidence of bovine TB and not spread it?
Alan Reid: rose —
Alan Reid: Rising prices to heat their homes and drive their cars are putting enormous pressures on people, particularly in large rural areas such as Argyll and Bute. What steps will my right hon. Friend take to make the tax system fairer and put more money in the pockets of people on low and middle incomes to help them to pay these rising bills?
Alan Reid: Has my hon. Friend considered the submission that the Government have received from FairFuelUK showing that putting up fuel duty will hinder job creation, and will he give serious consideration to cancelling the planned January fuel duty increase inherited from the Labour party in order to boost job prospects?
Alan Reid: When Labour was in power, other island MPs and I consistently went to see Labour Ministers to ask for an island fuel duty discount. It was refused. Within a year, this Government introduced that policy. Will the hon. Lady tell us what the Labour party’s policy is on a rural fuel discount?
Alan Reid: The hon. Gentleman referred only to postponing the fuel duty increase. I want to put it on record that I think the Government should cancel the increase, and I hope they will do so. Why is the hon. Gentleman only in favour of postponing it? Why not cancel it?
Alan Reid: What steps the Government are taking to widen access to superfast broadband in Scotland.
Alan Reid: I am pleased that the Government have allocated more than £100 million to Scotland for rural high-speed broadband. Will the Minister do all he can to encourage the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to get a move on and use that money to bring high-speed broadband to the rural parts of Argyll and Bute as soon as possible?
Alan Reid: I welcome the Bill and the amendments before us today, particularly amendments 1 to 4, which deal with the protection of the environment. For the Liberal Democrats it is extremely important that a duty of care for the environment is written into the Bill, and the amendments achieve that. This was an issue that my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert) raised on Second Reading and...
Alan Reid: An interesting intervention from the hon. Gentleman. I discussed the Bill with my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge before today, and I understand that he felt there were some technical deficiencies in the amendments tabled by the hon. Gentleman in Committee. It is important to stress that Liberal Democrats are in government, and we are able to influence the Government because we are part...
Alan Reid: The amendments in question are not on the amendment paper today. What we have before us today are the amendments made in the Lords, and I would probably be out of order if I spoke to amendments that have not been tabled. The hon. Gentleman could have tabled amendments to the Lords amendments, but chose not to do so, so we cannot discuss them.
Alan Reid: My understanding is that amendment 2 was an amendment to a Government amendment and only worked because it was combined with the Government amendment. I did not intend to speak for long, Mr Deputy Speaker, but have been waylaid by Opposition Members. I will conclude by saying that the Bill now focuses both on passengers and on the environment. I believe it strikes the right balance and I am...
Alan Reid: The existing plans for high-speed rail will reduce journey times from Glasgow and Edinburgh to London by almost an hour, but the ultimate aim must be high-speed rail all the way to Glasgow and Edinburgh. What discussions has my right hon. Friend had with the Scottish Government on extending the lines north from Leeds and Manchester all the way to Glasgow and Edinburgh?
Alan Reid: Will the hon. Lady give way?
Alan Reid: I just want to put on record that the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Dr Whiteford) attacked her own Scottish Government. It is the Scottish Government who decide the level of contributions made to pension schemes in Scotland and how generous those schemes are. Under the Bill, that decision is devolved to them.
Alan Reid: I am delighted that the Government have cancelled Labour’s fuel duty escalator and cut fuel duty by 1p on the mainland and 6p on the islands. Will the Minister support the call to lobby the European Union to extend the island fuel duty discount to remote parts of the mainland such as mainland Argyll?