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Referendum on Scottish Independence — [Mr Adrian Bailey in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 7:04 pm on 13th November 2017.

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Photo of Lesley Laird Lesley Laird Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland 7:04 pm, 13th November 2017

I thank you, Sir Roger, for your intervention and advice.

The irony of all of these issues is that the SNP wants Scotland in Europe but not in Britain, while the Conservatives want Scotland in Britain but not in Europe. They are two sides of the same tarnished coin, and people are fast waking up to that. They can see the gap between political rhetoric and the reality of politician’ actions. They feel that democracy is too far removed to make a difference to their lives, whether it is Westminster or Holyrood. They are fed up with constantly being defined as either for or against independence, or for or against Brexit. The people of Scotland want politicians to move past binary divisions and to focus on our common problems. They want solutions for the declining educational standards and teacher shortages that we have seen under the SNP in the past decade. Mr Jack spoke earlier about process, which has not necessarily been put to good effect when we consider the state of the processes of the health service and of education, economics and planning. Of course, there is the situation in which we find ourselves with the police and the fire service. I hope the Minister will ensure that that issue is on the Budget agenda next week.

People want to see poverty levels decrease, not increase. The numbers of children living in poverty in Scotland have risen, up by 40,000 in the past year alone. People want austerity to end and the economy to grow, and with it their wages. Those are the problems that we need urgently to address. Only a Labour Government are equipped to address them. Do not just take my word for it; look at the record of past Labour Governments. It was a Labour Government that created the NHS and the welfare state; a Labour Government that invested record amounts in the NHS and introduced tax credits for families struggling on low incomes; a Labour Government that introduced the minimum wage and raised millions out of poverty; and it was a Labour Government that delivered the Scottish Parliament. The next Labour Government will build on that proud record. A Labour Government in Westminster would pay major dividends for the Scottish Government, whoever they might be.

Our investment in public services and the economy would mean that Scotland benefited to the tune of an additional £3.1 billion by 2021-22. Our pledge to protect the triple lock on state pensions would protect the incomes of more than 1 million Scottish pensioners. Our pledge to ban zero-hours contracts would alleviate the stress and uncertainty felt by tens of thousands of Scottish workers.