I thank the minister for early sight of his statement. I welcome much of it, as I welcomed the devolution of employability programmes in the Smith commission, but I am puzzled by one thing. David Semple of the Public and Commercial Services Union explained to the Social Security Committee last week his union’s absolute opposition to the involvement of the private sector in all devolved aspects of social security, including employability services. He said:
“our opposition is not ... ideologicial; it is based on performance. None of the privatised employability contracts have had the same delivery outcomes as previous state-run programmes.”—[
Official Report, Social Security Committee
, 28 September 2017; c 5.]
The minister knows that I do not agree with that, but I thought that Scottish ministers did. After all, Jeane Freeman has explained to loud applause in the chamber that devolved disability living allowance and personal independence payments will not be administered by the private sector. So why has Jamie Hepburn signed contracts not only with the private sector but, I note, with one of the very companies that delivered the work programme in Scotland, which is a programme that the minister has previously condemned? Is that not a case of the Scottish National Party saying one thing and doing quite another?