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Had the hon. Gentleman wished to make a speech of that length, he would have turned up in time and perhaps brought one or two of his Scottish Conservative colleagues with him.
As we have heard, there are 1 million people living in poverty in Scotland, and almost one in four of them are children. In 2019, 250,000 children living in one of the world’s richest nations are growing up in poverty. That is nothing short of scandalous. Poverty is not inevitable. People not having enough money to feed and clothe their children is not something that happens by accident. The existence of poverty in a country as rich as ours is a direct consequence of political choices.
The decade of austerity was a political choice. Massive long-term cuts to the social security budget were a political choice. The widening of the holes in the social security safety net so that more families and children would fall through was a political choice. The ill-conceived and hopelessly financed introduction of universal credit was a political choice. Making the poorest, weakest and most vulnerable in our society carry the can, and bear the brunt of a financial crisis that had nothing to do with them, was a political choice.
No matter how we look at it, it is an inescapable fact that the Tory Government, and indeed the Liberal Democrats, who were in the previous coalition Government—they, too, are conspicuous by their absence today—are directly responsible for plunging children and families into poverty across Scotland and the UK.