I congratulate Douglas Ross on securing this debate, which it was a pleasure to co-sponsor. I thank the Backbench Business Committee for providing time for it. It is, as always, an honour to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone.
I thank the Scottish Government, who have eventually arrived at the same conclusion as almost everyone else in Scotland: there is a need for a pause and to think through full-scale integration. Rather than dwell on what took so long, I hope that we can face the challenges and complexities of merging these diverse organisations and look at it again, for the sake of passenger safety, on the advice of experts including the federation, trade unions, Police Scotland employees, me and the Labour party. We need to kill the concept of a future full-scale merger.
The debate has been carelessly framed by some as a divide between those who want to weaken the current devolution settlement and those who want to strengthen it. The Smith commission was clear. It said, among other things on transport, that
“the functions of the British Transport Police in Scotland will be a devolved matter.”