Christmas Adjournment — [David Hanson in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:58 pm on 20th December 2018.

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Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Small Business, Enterprise and Innovation) 3:58 pm, 20th December 2018

I thank the hon. Gentleman very much for his intervention. It gives me a chance to say that Motherwell Football Club Community Trust does very good work because it is able to reach groups that other organisations cannot reach, such as men who have not worked or men with drug problems, by bringing them into the stadium. Generally it is men they bring in, although I hope to buy a half-price season ticket in the new year.

I, too, have been doing a lot of work on universal credit. It has been rolled out in North Lanarkshire for about nine months now, and we had the manager who was responsible for its introduction in Lanarkshire at one of our Poverty Action Network meetings. I have to say that some of what she said did not chime with the reality of what has happened, but I do not blame her personally. Nevertheless, there are still real differences and real challenges to be met, because universal credit is causing great hardship, both for those who receive it and for North Lanarkshire Council, whose rent arrears have risen astronomically.

In fact, one of the things that has most made me proud, and most made me upset, is that in the last two weeks I have been to food bank drives—I ran one myself in Motherwell town centre and the local Tesco ran one, too—and when I spoke to the fundraiser in Tesco, she said, “Marion, we don’t even have to tell them what to do. We don’t need to hand out the leaflets. They know what to buy, and they buy it in bulk. And it’s often those who have the least who help the most.” I pay tribute not only to my own constituents, but to constituents all over the UK who make these donations. And may I just say that in the 21st century, it is shameful indeed that we need to do this?

Mr Robertson, I have tested your indulgence, and I want to make sure that both Karin Smyth—the Opposition spokesperson—and the Minister get a chance to contribute to this debate, so I will stop there.