We will Not Sit Down. We will not shut Up. We Will Be Heard

After the despicable attempts of the Tory government to shove through the European Exit bill in the committee stage, giving as little time as possible to debate amendments ,and Torys filibustering to prevent discussion, with 2 Torys speaking for half an hour each yesterday on devolved administrations amendments for Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. The events of day 1 culminated after 7 hours with every Tory and every Labour MP allowed to speak, but only 2 representatives from the SNP on their amendment and 1 each from Northern Ireland and wales speaking for their amendments. The deliberate sidelining. by the Speakers of those from the other home countries ended up with a farce and uproar as the deputy speaker wrongly cut short Joanna Cherry and ensured a rammy between Alex Salmond and the deputy speaker.

Today being the second day of amendments, the SNP had another chance to speak up and this time they sure did. When Patrick Grady got up to speak, he turned the tables on Westminsters antics by doing to them what had been done to the SNP yesterday, much to the howls from the Tory and Labour benches and the same deputy speaker as yesterday. He spoke eloquently for over an hour, ensuring intervention after intervention from his SNP colleagues. He absolutely ensured this time that Scotlands voice could be heard loud and clear!

The following is from Hansard. …….Enjoy!!! ……But pick and choose an hours worth is a long long time

  • I, on behalf of the Scottish National party, would like to speak to new clause 143, on which I hope we will test the will of the Committee later on, to amendment 58, which I tabled, which relates to the European development fund, and the 27 other amendments in the names of my hon. Friend the Member for North East Fife (Stephen Gethins) and other hon. Friends. The SNP tabled a total of 50 new clauses and amendments to this Bill, and I hope that we get a chance to debate as many of those in this group as possible—amendments 47 to 53, 57 to 62, 64 to 77, 79, 80 and 82, as well as new clause 138.

    Government Members who have spoken were quite exercised about the possibility of the amendments causing some delay to the triggering of article 50, but I am not entirely sure what that delay might be. I have read the Bill—all 137 words of it—and nowhere in it is there a date for the triggering of article 50. The Bill gives the power to the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister alone—as I said last week, it is a very presidential power, not a parliamentary power—to choose the date on which article 50 is triggered.

  • My hon. Friend makes a very good point about the new clauses we are arguing for this evening. Is he aware that the Scottish Parliament this evening voted by three to one against triggering article 50, which comes on top of the two to one of Scots who voted against triggering article 50 as well?

  • I am fully aware of that. It reflects the consensus across Scottish society that Scotland should retain its membership of the single market and the fact that it did not vote to leave the EU. The Scottish Conservatives have run a mile from that.

  • Several hon. Members rose—
  • No, I will not give way yet; we are just getting started.

    I might add that in the time that the Scottish Parliament took that vote, as well as votes on several amendments, barely one Member had spoken in this debate. Voting in the Scottish Parliament is far quicker than here; its Members can vote on far more amendments than we ever can, because they do not have the archaic procedures that we have to put up with down here.

    Yesterday’s amendment paper had more pages—142—than there are words in the Bill, but today we are down to just 121 pages. The number of amendments that have been tabled highlights the dreadful inadequacies of both the Bill and this scrutiny process. There is nowhere near enough time to consider the massive implications of what Brexit will actually mean and how the Government intend to achieve it, and of course there is still no kind of meaningful information on what they think those implications might be.

  • A theme is emerging of what Brexit might mean: a plea—I noticed this in the speech of the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove)—for the EU not to punish the UK. Yet from the same lips all the time comes the threat of a punishment to Scotland if we become independent. These acts and words will not be missed in the 27 member states of the EU—the hypocrisy, the double-edged sword and the brass neck and bare-faced cheek in the UK.

  • My hon. Friend makes a good point—

  • Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

  • I have not responded to my hon. Friend yet.

    The Scottish National party—for the record, that is its name, as I think Hansard is probably fed up of hearing—has always understood that our kind of independence is defined by our interdependence and by the role that we want to play in the world, whereas it is increasingly clear that the hard right, Tory Brexit that is being foisted upon us against our will is an isolationist independence—[Interruption.] It is Trumpist, triumphant and narrow nationalism, as I hear my colleagues saying from the Back Benches.

  • Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

  • No, I still have not even begun to talk about our new clauses and amendments, and I am sure that Members want to hear why it is so important that the Government should publish impact assessments on the machinery of government, which will be profoundly affected by our leaving the European Union.

    The Government must give us a benchmark. They must give us their own assessment against which we can measure and test these things so that we can hold them to account. The Chair of the Procedure Committee, the hon. Member for Broxbourne (Mr Walker), under whom I am proud to serve but who is not in the Chamber, has said that we are accountable to our voters—that is absolutely correct. However, the Government are accountable to us, and they have to provide us with the necessary information so that we can hold them to account.

  • It seems to have taken the Scottish nationalist party six months to realise that a third of those who voted yes in 2014 actually wanted to leave the EU. SNP Members seem completely oblivious to that fact, but I would like to hear what the hon. Gentleman has to say about it.

  • I think that that counts as a minority.

    The First Minister herself said on 24 June that we would respect, listen to and understand the people in Scotland who voted to leave the European Union. We never heard anything like that from the Prime Minister about those on the other side. The First Minister’s words were reflected in the compromise position that was published by the Scottish Government. They have moved heaven and earth to try to reach a compromise arrangement with this Government, but their words are still falling on deaf ears.

  • Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

  • No.

    I want to address some of the new clauses and amendments that have been tabled by various factions on the Labour Benches, and I shall focus particularly on the ones relating to Euratom. The exchanges on this subject on Second Reading demonstrated the utter chaos that has gripped this Administration and their predecessor. Euratom’s role is to provide a framework for nuclear energy safety and development. I would have thought that, no matter how much some of the Brexiteers hate the European Union institutions, this one would have been among the least controversial. Surely there must be consensus on protecting us from nuclear meltdowns. Do they not think that that is a good idea? No.

    The Command Paper that the UK Government published in February last year on the impact of Brexit made no mention of coming out of Euratom. Nevertheless, we are being taken out of it without any warning and, if the Government will not accept the Labour new clause on this matter, there will be no further discussion about it. I do not remember the subject featuring on the side of buses or in showpiece debates, yet here we are with another ill-thought-out unintended consequence of a Brexit vote that started as an internal ideological battle among Conservative Members and that is going to leave decades of uncertainty in its wake for us all. That is just one example. Each new clause and amendment, from whatever party, that calls for an impact assessment shows the Government’s lack of preparation across the whole suite of policy.

  • I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman a small question, if I may. Has he given his constituents an impact assessment of any change that might take place at the next election? Has he prepared them fully and properly for the impact that a change of Member of Parliament might have on them? Or does he trust them to make their own impact assessment—does he trust the people to decide?

  • I am sure that the hon. Gentleman was here for my Second Reading speech last week, so he will know that 78% of my constituents voted to remain in the European Union. I am therefore reasonably confident that their voice is at last being heard. They will make their judgment at the next election, whenever it comes, and I will be happy to live with their decision.

    We want to test the will of the House on new clause 143. It tests the Government not only on the practical costs of Brexit but on the hard money, because we know that the financial costs will be high. It is simply not in the interests of the remaining member states for the UK to be better off as a result of Brexit. We have already seen the shocks to the currency market described by my hon. Friend the Member for Badenoch and so on—[Laughter.] I am not quite as good at this as the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove). We have seen the shocks to the currency market and the revisions that have already happened in the economic forecasts. Withdrawing from the European Union and exiting the single market will lead to an enormous hit on our economy, and new clause 143 calls on the Chancellor to bring forward further revised forecasts and an assessment of the UK’s financial liability to the EU on the completion of the triggering of article 50.

  • We are talking about financial considerations, but this is about the impact on people and we have to think about UK citizens who are living in Europe. At the moment, they are entitled to healthcare cover and to a UK state pension that will be uprated, but there is no certainty that that will continue post-Brexit—the UK does not pay pension increases in countries with which it does not have a reciprocal arrangement. This is also about the EU citizens who may return to France, Germany, Spain or wherever and be caught up in the same trap, because while they paid national insurance here, the UK might not have a commitment to uprating pensions. Those are the sorts of issues that the Government must provide certainty on.

  • Indeed. That is covered in amendment 72, in which we ask the Department for Work and Pensions to provide an assessment. I hope that there will be time for the House to discuss that measure in more detail later on.

  • Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

  • No, I want to make a little progress.

    We have seen the leaked reports of the Government’s assessment that a hard Brexit could cost the UK economy up to £66 billion a year—9.5% of GDP—if we revert to WTO terms. The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Helen Goodman), with whom I serve on the Procedure Committee, said earlier that analysis in the Financial Times shows that the cost of simply leaving is up to €20 billion due to the shared assets that we are a part of, and that there are up to €300 billion of payment liabilities that need to be settled in the negotiations. Even after all that, there will be ongoing costs, as well as funds that we might wish to continue to contribute to. That is covered in amendment 58, which is about the European development fund. The European development fund is the main method for providing European community aid for development co-operation in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the overseas countries and territories of EU member states.

  • Will my hon. Friend give way?

  • I am happy to give way to my hon. Friend, who sits on the International Development Committee.

  • Does my hon. Friend agree that the European development fund is crucial not only to achieving our commitment to the sustainable development goals, but to providing long-term sustainable funding for projects, rather than letting them fall at the first hurdle?

  • Absolutely. The European development fund saves and changes lives in developing countries. I would have thought that there would be a little consensus—[Interruption.] If the hon. Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison) wants to talk to me about the EDF, I am happy to take an intervention.

  • Would the hon. Gentleman’s constituents rather that development aid from this country was spent by the UK and overseen by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact, or spent by the EDF, which has none of that oversight?

  • The EDF is highly respected around the world for its effective use of international development aid. Indeed, I have pursued that with Ministers. I have received equivocal answers, but they have recognised from time to time that the EDF is actually quite an important part of the suite of European institutions and that we do make important contributions. If those contributions were ripped away, that would have a devastating effect on the EDF, so we must explore this area and understand it.

    Over the years, the UK has contributed around £10 billion to the EDF, which has been a crucial component, as my hon. Friend the Member for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow (Dr Cameron) says, of our meeting the 0.7% aid commitment. According to the Government’s timetable, Brexit will happen before the end of the current 2020 commitment period, so what will happen after Brexit? The other important thing about the EDF is that it is one of the main instruments for providing development capacity to British overseas territories, so how will they be affected? What plans are being made for them? We are trying to test such things through the amendments.

    The Government have indicated from time to time that they ought to continue funding the EDF, so perhaps there are European institutions that they will have to continue to fund and support, and to have some kind of retained membership of. That makes me wonder. We hear about hard Brexit and soft Brexit, but perhaps this is some sort of hokey-cokey Brexit whereby we leave everything and then have to start joining things again: “You put your left wing in; Your right wing out; In, out, in, out”—I do not want to think about anything being shaken all about.

    Amendment 49 calls for a report from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the level of agricultural maintenance support grants beyond 2020.

  • Scotland is already losing out on more than £230 million of EU funding that was supposed to go to Scottish farmers. The UK Government promised a review in 2016, but they have not carried it out. It is critical that we have an impact assessment that tells Scottish farmers what will happen so that they can plan for their future.

8.15 pm

  • There is absolutely no certainty for Scotland’s farmers, or indeed for farmers across the whole United Kingdom. During the EU referendum campaign, the then Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the right hon. Member for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss), made it clear that there would be a guarantee of capital and funding beyond 2020. Then, at the Oxford farming conference last month, the current Secretary of State completely changed her tune. Such confusing and contradictory comments about the long-term future show precisely why we need the Government to spell it out in far more detail than they have in the White Paper. Of course, we particularly want to know whether the agriculture powers currently exercised by the European Union will come to the Scottish Parliament. The principle is clear in the Scotland Act 1998: if something is not reserved, it is devolved. Therefore, everything that the EU is currently doing on this should go to the Scottish Parliament.

  • If the hon. Lady agrees with that, I am happy to hear from her.

  • I will make my own point, thanks very much. Can the hon. Gentleman give the Committee some idea of how long all these impact assessments will take? How much time does he expect the House to devote to debating them and the statements? What other business will not happen because we are debating all the spurious impact assessments that he thinks should occupy the House 100%?

  • With the greatest of respect, we voted against the referendum Bill. We did not think the referendum should happen. When it became clear that the referendum would happen, we said that the debate should last longer. In Scotland we had two full years to debate the consequences of independence, and the voters heard both sides of the debate and made up their mind. We had less than six short months between the announcement of the date and the referendum—[Interruption.] I am hearing that the Secretary of State for Brexit backed a longer debate. There should have been time before the referendum. As I said at the start of my speech, the White Paper says that article 50 will be invoked at the end of March, but the Bill does not say that. It is entirely in the gift of the Prime Minister, and she might change her mind. There is no mechanism to hold her to account for that.

  • My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. The SNP obviously backed a longer debate, and I am delighted that the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union did, too. A little more scrutiny might not have gone amiss.

  • Precisely. The Brexiteers’ whole point was about parliamentary sovereignty and how this House would take back for itself the opportunity to make decisions, so why are they now afraid of our having those opportunities?

  • May I provide an answer to the hon. Member for St Albans (Mrs Main)? The impact assessment would take slightly longer than jumping off a cliff.

  • That is a good point, well made. As I said at the start of my speech, we need the facts in front of us.

  • I will make a little progress because, as I said, we have a number of important amendments to discuss, but my hon. Friend can try to intervene later.

    Amendment 51 calls for a report on the impact of UK withdrawal on Scottish seaports. The problems caused by Brexit that are facing Scottish seaports are expensive and complex. Concerns for the maritime industry surround general policy areas such as employment law, immigration, border controls and contract law, as well as transport-specific areas such as freedom to trade, safety, the environment, tonnage tax and security. The White Paper offers only more uncertainty.

    The UK Government’s stated approach to immigration post-Brexit may create an increased need for border activity at Scottish seaports, and the Government’s preferred arrangements for trading post-Brexit—out of the EU customs arrangements—will necessitate additional customs checks on exports and imports at seaports, and will affect trade volume at seaports, so the Government have to mitigate that uncertainty by publishing a full impact assessment of those complex issues for Scottish seaports before triggering article 50.

    Amendment 52 calls for an assessment of financial implications for charities, on which I have a certain amount of experience from my international development portfolio. International development charities across the United Kingdom are already feeling the impact of Brexit and the currency fluctuations. Money that they had raised—money that the UK public had voluntarily donated—is now worth less as a direct result of the Brexit decision, which is having an impact on the day-to-day lives of people in developing countries to whom charities had pledged money that is now not worth what it was when the pledges were made. I hear nothing from the UK Government saying that they want to make up the difference or give the charities any kind of support. UK charities generally receive some £200 million a year from the social fund, through EU structural funds and from the regional development fund.

  • Is it not extremely concerning that the chief executive of the UK-based international charity World Child Cancer stated that the fall in the pound had resulted in a 9% to 13% cut in its programme funding?

  • I agree entirely. All of us who deal with stakeholders in the third sector will hear stories such as that time and time again. It probably explains why research published by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, which represents more than 3,000 employees and 15,000 volunteers, revealed that its charity chief executives were increasingly worried about the future. Half of those surveyed receive funding from the EU and 30% confirmed that indirect funding was at risk. As I have said, in the immediate case we have seen the devaluation of currency being spent by those charities.

    Amendment 53 calls for a report on the relationship between the Channel Islands and the EU. The Channel Islands are not a member of the EU, but they have access to the single market and now face being denied that by a hard Tory Brexit. That is why our amendment seeks a report that sets out the full implication of the relationship between the Channel Islands and the EU, and the impact that Brexit will have. That is vital because there will be a serious impact on many key Channel Islands industries, including finance and fisheries. Again, that is an example of why we need these impact assessments.

    Amendment 57 calls for a revised strategic defence and security review. The last SDSR was based on the 2015 national security risk assessment, which took place before the European referendum and did not consider any post-Brexit scenarios. As such, it is no longer fit for purpose. The SDSR makes no mention of the EU’s common security and defence policy, whereas the White Paper outlines existing UK participation in the CSDP and expresses the intention to continue that co-operation post-Brexit. Again, we see the in and out of the Tories’ Brexit.

  • My hon. Friend is giving a damning indictment of the UK Government’s lack of preparedness for Brexit, but this is also about what will change. We have heard about agriculture and fisheries, but the fact remains that Europe has delivered for Scottish crofters and Scottish farmers, and one institution that we have not been able to depend on is the UK. The EU has given the UK €233 million of convergence uplift funding, which was primarily to go to Scottish crofters and farmers, yet we have only got 16% of it. Who should we be trusting? Should we be trusting Europe or should we be trusting the UK Government to deliver for our crofters and farmers

  • That is a fair point. We hear Government Members saying, “Where did that money come from? It came from UK taxpayers”, but my hon. Friend is exactly right in what he says. The road I cycled up to school every day, in Inverness and in the country—this was when I was slightly younger than I am now—was built and paid for with EU money. There is no way on God’s earth that Thatcher’s Government would have spent that money on that road, which shows why people in Scotland voted to remain in the EU.

  • My hon. Friend is highlighting some issues, but I wish to get back to the SDSR. The National Audit Office has identified that a key risk to the strategic plan is fluctuations in the pound because of pricing against the dollar. If the NAO is highlighting that as an issue, should the Government not be looking at it, rather than having a Secretary of State who stands at the Dispatch Box and tells us, “Everything is okay; we made contingency plans”? We need to know what the contingency plans are and what the impact will be.

  • Of course we do, which is why we tabled all these amendments. We were asked why we were doing that and what we were trying to achieve, but my hon. Friend is making the case on that very clearly.

    I have already spoken about amendment 58, so I shall move on to amendment 59, which calls for a report on the medium-term economic forecast in the event of the UK leaving the single market. Again, Scottish National party Members have made points about the dangerous long-term and medium-term economic realities of a hard Tory Brexit. We know that the OBR forecast said:

    “we asked the Government in September for ‘a formal statement of Government policy as regards its desired trade regime and system of migration control, as a basis for our projections’. The Government directed us to two public statements by the Prime Minister that it stated were relevant”.

    Given the far-reaching and devastating consequences that leaving the single market would have on the economy, teamed with the lack of detail given to the OBR, it has to be the Treasury’s responsibility to publish a medium-term forecast.

  • It is clear that even in the short term the fall in the value of the pound is triggering significant inflationary pressure across the British economy, which will hurt ordinary people in their wage packets, with an impact on industrial costs, in a way that was wholly avoidable.

  • My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We see no action from the Government whatsoever, other than to pretend that everything is bright and breezy. We are witnessing a bit of a false dawn.

  • In the longer term we have other issues, because many of the key shortages in science, technology, engineering and maths skills are filled by EU nationals, who simply are not getting the guarantees they need either to stay in the UK or to come here in the first place.

  • My hon. Friend is absolutely right. She and I share a boundary with the University of Glasgow and we know the vital contribution it makes, not only to the city but to Scotland’s economy as a whole. Higher education institutes throughout the country are expressing those concerns.

  • My hon. Friend is making a fantastic speech, exposing the real difficulties at the heart of this bad Tory Brexit. I am trying to figure out exactly what is going on with Conservative Members. Perhaps they are opposing the economic impact assessments because they know the true nature of Brexit and the damage it will deliver. Does he agree that that seems to be the underlying reason why they are so opposed to having just a short glimpse of what Brexit will do to this country?

  • My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We have every right to continue to question them; after all, as I said earlier, this is what they wanted. They wanted Parliament to regain its sovereign status.

  • Let us hear from him.

  • As ever, the hon. Gentleman is making an impressive speech, but I should say one thing—

  • No, you should not! Sit down!

  • I should, actually—just the one. Why is it that Scotland now has to import scientists and engineers when in the 19th and early 20th century we used to export them? Is it anything to do with the drop in international league table rankings for science and mathematics that has occurred under the Scottish National party’s stewardship of the education system?

  • First, I am not convinced that the words “import” and “export” are the right ones to use when we are talking about human beings—some of the most capable and talented human beings in the world. [Interruption.] Secondly, I hear my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Marion Fellows), who is on the Education Committee, saying, “So is the rest of the United Kingdom.” Finally, we want to welcome people to Scotland. If the Government want to devolve immigration policy to us as part of the Brexit process, they should feel free to. As has been pointed out many times in these debates, the right hon. Gentleman himself has said that immigration policy should come to Scotland so that we can attract the brightest and the best, and we are not afraid to do so.

  • Having grown up in Inverness, my hon. Friend will remember the Kessock bridge well. When people come over it now, they can see the shining example of the new University of the Highlands and Islands campus there. Thanks to £200 million-worth of EU structural funds over the past 20 years, we have been growing our own scientists and academics in the area. Does he agree that it is absolutely scandalous that up to 2022 an estimated £19 million will be lost, with no impact assessment?

  • My hon. Friend is absolutely right. This is exactly what we are trying to achieve.

  • In response to the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove), I would say that it was because of the failure of UK economic policy that after my brother graduated as a scientist he was forced to emigrate to Canada. He eventually became the chairman of the OECD science and technology committee and helped to write the science and technology policy for the free South Africa, yet the failure over here forced him to emigrate.

  • My hon. Friend makes an absolutely valid point.

    Amendment 61 calls for a revised national security strategy. The existing national security strategy is based on a 2015 assessment that took no account of Brexit—[Interruption.] I am not sure what Government Members are so concerned about. It is completely legitimate for Opposition Members to table amendments to the Bill and it is perfectly right and proper that we have the opportunity to debate them.

  • My hon. Friend has mentioned a long list of issues that are not being properly scrutinised in this rush to Brexit. The Government’s White Paper was hastily prepared, and in haste, we make mistakes, as conceded by the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Michael Gove). Does my hon. and most European Friend know how to spell Liechtenstein?

  • Yes.

  • I will give way to the hon. Lady in just one second. [Interruption.] Right, okay.

  • Does the hon. Gentleman think that perhaps the Procedure Committee should have a look at the practice of filibustering, as there are many hon. Members who want to make important speeches?

8.30 pm

  • Order. The hon. Gentleman is speaking. I know that there has been some latitude, but I also know that he wants to get back on the subject of impacts, and that is where we are going now. Let me just say that there are seven other speakers.

  • The short answer to the hon. Lady regarding the Procedure Committee is, yes, I do believe that this House should introduce rules against filibustering, and, as soon as that happens, we will be happy to abide by them.

    On the point about Liechtenstein, I do know how to spell it, but I will not find it by looking at page 54, chart 9.3 of the Brexit White Paper. Amendment 62 calls on the Chancellor to publish an assessment of future payments to the European Union. It is similar to new clause 143, which we want to push to a vote later on this evening, so some of the points should have been covered already.

    Amendment 64 calls on the Secretary of State for Education to publish an impact assessment on her Department’s responsibility in this area. We have already heard from some Members about the serious implications regarding the ability of our universities to attract talented researchers and students in the event of the UK leaving the European Union. Figures for 2014-15 show that there were 13,450 full-time equivalent EU students studying for undergraduate degrees at Scottish universities. Frankly, almost every single one of them will have been shocked and saddened by the result on 23 June. None the less, they have appreciated the warm welcome and reassurances that have been provided to them by academic institutions up and down Scotland, by the Scottish Government and by the friends, neighbours and families who live in their cities.

  • I thank my hon. Friend for giving way once again. One of the uncertainties faced by EU nationals wanting to come and study in the UK post- Brexit is what fee structure will be imposed on them, and absolutely no answers have been given on that.

  • My hon. Friend is absolutely correct. Again, we will continue to push the Government on that. I hope that the Minister will have some time to respond to some of these important points. I have spent a lot of time in exchanges with him in Westminster Hall, which perhaps should be renamed “Brexit Minister Hall” in due course once the Brexit process has been completed.

  • Will the hon. Gentleman enlighten us? Has any impact assessment ever been undertaken by the Scottish Government of the impact of their education policies on participation in higher education, particularly given that the most recent statistics demonstrate that the Scottish Government’s policies—

  • Order. The problem might have come from somewhere else in the Chamber, but I do not want it to be from the right hon. Gentleman. You have been around this Chamber for far too long and you know that you are way outside scope. I think that I preferred you on the Front Bench than on the Back Bench.

  • I think the Prime Minister might disagree with you on that, Mr Hoyle.

    I want to talk more about education and health before I start to wind up. There are elements of education that are shared with the European Union. Will they also be devolved fully to the Scottish Parliament? That also applies to some aspects of health. Leaving the EU will have serious implications for the workforce of our health service. According to the Trade Union Congress, just under 50,000 citizens from the European economic area work in the NHS—9,000 doctors, 18,000 nurses, and the list goes on. Those people are a vital source of skills and experience, plugging gaps left by the underfunding of training places, especially in England and Wales, in recent years. This again is where the failure of the UK Government to guarantee the rights of EU nationals to remain and to live and work in the UK after we leave the EU is causing uncertainty and disappointment.

    The UK Government have also yet to set out how they will deal with cross-border health issues after leaving the European Union.

  • I thank my hon. Friend for giving way on that point. Many people have received medical treatment abroad under the European health insurance card. That includes me, and I have the scars to prove it. Does he share my concern that we may no longer have access to the card after Brexit?

  • My hon. Friend makes a crucial point, which he was right to raise eloquently in the House in the run-up to the European Union referendum—[Interruption.] I hear dissent from Labour Members, but the reality is that these are the uncertainties and confusions. Nobody seems to know exactly the right answer, which is why we continue to press our amendments.

  • One impact assessment that has been researched is by End Child Poverty. Its report “Feeling the Pinch” has assessed that prices are due to rise by 35% between 2010 and 2020, which will have a massive impact on the exponential rise in child poverty. Does my hon. Friend agree that impact assessments like that—of the impact on families and children—are so important, and that is why we table our amendments?

  • Absolutely. As I said at the beginning of my speech on these important amendments that we want the Committee to debate in full, the Brexit debate was for too long an ideological debating society game being played on the Government Benches. As the reality hits home, we are now beginning to realise the kind of consequences my hon. Friend mentions. It is important that as many of the powers and as much of the budget that are relevant and appropriate come to the Scottish Parliament as part of the Brexit process so that we can protect and defend the rights that people have enjoyed under the European Union and that are now at risk. That is why we continue to press for impact assessments.

    Amendment 66 is important because it calls for the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to publish an impact assessment on her Department’s responsibilities, which, of course, include the common fisheries policy.

  • Expendable.

  • Yes. It was decided in 1972 that the policy was somehow expendable, as my hon. Friend the Member for North East Fife (Stephen Gethins) is saying.

  • I will give way to my hon. Friend, who has a lot of experience.

  • I represent probably the only constituency to reach 200 miles of the exclusive economic zone. Is there not a case not just for putting Scotland in control of fisheries, but for giving the Hebrides and island groups some power over them? We should certainly not leave them in charge of the guys in Westminster who sold them down the river once and, given this White Paper, are looking to sell them down the river yet again?

  • My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is why the fishermen and women of Scotland will be particularly concerned when the Government talk about a UK-wide approach. When the Prime Minister makes passing references to Spanish fishermen, everyone knows what she is signalling. Fishermen should not be on the table as some kind of bargaining chip. The UK Government must not sell out our fishermen as they did in 1972. They must tell us now what access arrangements they will seek to negotiate, and conduct a full impact assessment for our fishing sector.

    Leaving the EU will create significant uncertainty within the agricultural sector, and the UK Government have to produce an assessment of that. It is particularly true in the case of the food and drink industry, as I am sure that hon. Members who were at the briefing from people in the food and drink industry earlier today would want to know. Some 69% of Scotland’s overseas food exports go to the European Union.

  • I share my hon. Friend’s passion for the rural economy. Would he be surprised to learn that when an audience of 800 mainly English farmers at the Oxford farming conference were asked how many had confidence that DEFRA could deliver in the Brexit environment, the only hand that went up was that of the Farming Minister?

  • Well, there we are; I think that says it all.

  • On a point of order, Mr Hoyle. Is an intervention not usually made by the person who wishes to intervene, rather than by the person on the Front Bench trying to invite support from his Back Benchers?

  • If we kept that rule going, nobody would speak on either side.

  • The reality is that my hon. Friends have a very important role in representing the interests of their constituents. There is a reason we tabled this many amendments and why we want to partake in the procedures of this House. We have been sent down here to do a job: to scrutinise this Government and hold them to account, as the official Opposition have been almost singularly unable to do so.

  • Is it not the case that when the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith) was on his feet, he was begging for interventions? He did it at least five times, and his hon. Friends were all laughing at the time.

  • Order. We are not getting into a debate about that. I think Mr Grady wants to come to the end of his speech, because he recognises that seven other people are waiting.

  • You are absolutely right, Mr Hoyle. As we know, six of my hon. Friends were waiting to be called last night, and they were unable to be called, because some people chose to vote for the programme motion and not to allow sufficient time. So I think it is important that I remain within order and that I speak to the SNP provisions in my name and those of my—

  • Order. If I was keeping everybody in order, your speech would have finished 15 minutes ago. We have latitude for all sides here tonight, so let us see how we go, but I do hope that you will recognise that others are waiting.


  • Thank you, Mr Hoyle. I do recognise that.

  • Does my hon. Friend agree that an impact assessment on the justice system is crucial because our membership of Europol, Eurojust, the European arrest warrant and other key areas of co-operation on security matters remains at risk following a hard Tory Brexit?

  • That is exactly what amendment 67 calls for. Members can see that my hon. Friend has read all our amendments and is prepared to debate them on the Floor of the House. Justice issues are particularly important. Where will the Government be on the European convention on human rights? Where will their Bill of Rights be? How will all of that interact with the instruments of justice in the European Union that my hon. Friend speaks of?

    Amendment 68 calls for the Home Secretary to publish an impact assessment on her Department’s responsibilities. We heard about immigration earlier. Is that responsibility going to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, as the right hon. Member for Surrey Heath called for during the campaign? Our membership of Europol, our participation in the European arrest warrant and other key areas of co-operation on security remain at serious risk following Brexit, and that is why we need an impact assessment on the role of the Home Office.

    Likewise, amendment 69 calls for the Secretary of State for Defence to publish an impact assessment on his Department’s responsibilities. As I said on Second Reading, we are at risk of being left with Trump, Trident and a transatlantic tax treaty. At this rate, Trump and Trident will be the beginning and end of the UK’s security policy.

  • Does the hon. Gentleman have a timetable for how long it would take to conduct all these impact assessments?

  • I am absolutely certain that these impact assessments can run in parallel, but the hon. and learned Lady touches on an important point, which goes to the heart of all these points about impact assessments and the capacity of the UK Government to deal with all of this. There is an impact on the whole machinery of government—

  • Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

  • If the hon. Lady wants to talk to me about the machinery of government, I will be happy to take her intervention.

  • Does the hon. Gentleman know exactly how much these impact assessments would cost the taxpayer?

  • That is exactly the point. The whole machinery of government is going to be tied up for years and years—this was supposed to be about taking back control. The reality is that, if the Government do not accept these amendments and do not do these things before article 50 is triggered, they will have to do them afterwards. They are simply going to have to figure out how Brexit impacts on every single Government Department. The whole machinery of government will have to be reformed—it stands to reason. So they can do what we propose before triggering article 50 and have some kind of certainty, or they can do it afterwards and the complete chaos can continue.

  • Will my hon. Friend give way?

  • I think we need to continue looking at the various proposals.

  • Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

  • I think we have heard enough from the former Justice Secretary for now.

    The point the hon. Member for Mid Bedfordshire (Nadine Dorries) is exactly what amendment 70 touches on. It calls on the Chancellor to publish an impact assessment on his Department’s responsibilities. The responsibility of the Treasury will change quite significantly. As we heard from the Brexiteers throughout the campaign, the Treasury currently channels all this money into the European Union. It is going to have to reabsorb that money and have the structures to apportion it back out to lots of different Government Departments.

  • My hon. Friend is doing a fantastic job of outlining a series of important areas that are likely to be greatly impacted on financially by the UK leaving the EU. Does he agree that the assessments we are calling for are the very least one should expect from any responsible Chancellor of the Exchequer?

  • My hon. Friend is absolutely right. An impact assessment, by definition, is more than simply something printed on the side of a bus.

  • The argument put forward by the hon. Lady from England somewhere—the hon. Member for Mid Bedfordshire (Nadine Dorries)—is quite strange. It is akin to the person who says, “Given the cost of buying a map, isn’t it far better that we stumble around in the dark?” That is the argument against impact assessments: do not buy a map, stumble in the dark.

8.45 pm

  • Exactly.

    Talking of maps, my hon. Friend brings me to amendment 71, which calls for the Foreign Secretary to publish an impact assessment on his Department’s responsibilities. We need clarity on the working relationships and the division of labour between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for Exiting the European Union, especially as regards the UK’s permanent representation at the European Union, which we have to assume will continue in some form.

  • It will be bigger.

  • Indeed—

  • Does the hon. Gentleman welcome the fact that UKRep will probably have to get bigger? Does he welcome more UK bureaucrats in Brussels?

  • I hope that UKRep will be very slim. The hon. Gentleman is surely now suggesting the most pointless of all his impact assessments, because the Department for Exiting the European Union will cease to exist at the end of the process, and therefore having an impact assessment on what it might do before the process has ended is otiose beyond measure.

  • I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman has clearly not read the amendment. The amendment calls for the Foreign Secretary to publish an impact assessment that will include, but not exclusively, his relationships with the Department for Exiting the European Union.

    Amendment 72—perhaps the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith) will want to intervene on this—calls on the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to publish an impact assessment on his responsibilities. The Scottish Government are seeking to give people in Scotland reassurances that they are allowed live and work here.

  • No, I am not giving way.

    One of the key agreements of the UK’s renegotiation in earlier years was that the UK would be able to establish a four-year period before non-UK EU nationals have access to in-work benefits such as tax credits, child benefit and housing benefit. It is unclear whether the new deal that is done with the EU will enable the UK to impose such restrictions. The Scottish Government did not approve of the proposal and would want to seek different arrangements if they could. Again, there is a question about whether these powers will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. There were only two pages—

  • Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

  • No, I am not giving way to the right hon. Gentleman.

    The token total of two pages on securing rights for EU nationals is telling about the UK Government’s real priorities.

    Amendment 73 calls for the Secretary of State for International Trade to publish an impact assessment on his Department’s responsibilities. Trade policy is currently under EU competence, and leaving the EU single market and customs union would mean that it fell under the responsibility of the UK Government. The Secretary of State therefore needs to outline how his Department is going to make use of its new competence over trade policy.

  • If the hon. Gentleman can tell me that, I will be happy to hear from him.

  • The hon. Gentleman is certainly giving a speech that is great in length. On amendment 73, would he suggest that the assessment by the Department for International Trade should include the potential impact of having to deal with Scotland outside the UK single market as an international trade partner?

  • Conveniently, we have heard from the Prime Minister in recent days about her support for friction-free travel and friction-free trade across the islands of the United Kingdom, so I have every confidence that when Scotland becomes an independent country—

  • On a point of order, Mr Hoyle. I wonder whether you can advise me. There are seven other hon. Members waiting to speak in this debate, including me, as a Select Committee Chair wanting to share with Members the scrutiny of our cross-party Committee. Does the time limit for this debate not indicate that important assessments on areas such as the environment and agriculture will not be heard by the Committee tonight? Can you send a message to the Lords to make sure that they do the job that this House is incapable of doing?

  • We can enter into an argument about it, but the House decided on a programme motion, and unfortunately some people are a victim of that.

  • On a point of order, Mr Hoyle.

  • Are we serious?

  • Yes. I seek your guidance, Mr Hoyle. Is it in order for Members who abstained on the programme motion to complain about the programme, when they have taken no part in it?

  • I knew that my instinct was correct, and that that was not a point of order.

  • I take the point that the hon. Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh) is making, and I believe she is indicating that she joined us in the Lobby to vote against the programme motion. I agreed with the point made by my friend from the Procedure Committee. We are all in favour of reform of this House. As it is, we will use the procedures of the House to hold the Government to account.

    Amendment 74 calls for the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to publish an impact assessment on his Department’s responsibilities. The vote to leave the European Union has plunged our business and energy sector into further uncertainty.

  • On a point of order, Mr Hoyle. The Scottish National party has now been here for almost two years. That is sufficient time to have learned some of the manners and the protocol of the Chamber, which includes referring to Members by their—

  • Order. As a member of the Panel of Chairs, you know that you are not making a point of order.

  • That is an interesting point. The hon. Lady is sitting where a couple of other Members are accustomed to sit on Friday afternoons, and we have watched them rise and talk out private Member’s Bill after private Member’s Bill. So I will not hear Members of the Conservative party complaining about the legitimate use of the procedures of the House. We have tabled amendments. We went up to the Table Office and lodged amendments in precise accordance with the rules of the House, and we have every right to stand here and explain to the House the importance of our amendments.

  • If the hon. Gentleman wants to talk to me about my amendments, I will be happy to listen to him.

  • I entirely agree with the hon. Gentleman. He is completely right to use the procedures of the House as they allow, and, if he carries on like this, he will reach the heights attained by my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies). [Interruption.]

  • I hope I am not hearing applause from Conservative Members, because that would be a breach of order.

    It is important that we consider our amendment about BEIS, because the vote to leave the EU has plunged the business and energy sectors into further uncertainty.

  • I reiterate that we are speaking to the amendments that we have tabled. One of the better productions from the UK Government is the Green Paper “Building our Industrial Strategy”, published by BEIS. The Green Paper highlights the challenges in skills gaps, in productivity and in research and development. It does not mention the challenge of leaving Europe, and it does not mention that leaving Europe is even an opportunity. That proves the need for an impact assessment from BEIS—

  • Order. Let us be a little bit fair. We understand what is going on. In the end, interventions have got to be shorter for Mr Grady to get towards the end of his speech.

  • I outlined at the start of my speech the amendments that we tabled. My hon. Friend makes a good point. We have spoken about the uncertainty caused by Euratom, which was, I accept, covered in important detail by Labour Members.

  • Is not amendment 74 the most important one, because it includes workers’ rights? Many of us view the Government’s attitude to workers’ rights with great suspicion.

  • Absolutely; indeed, an entire new schedule on workers’ rights has been tabled.

    Amendment 75 calls on the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to publish an impact assessment on his Department’s responsibilities. Local government throughout the UK receives a host of funding from the European Union, not least the structural funds that we have heard about many times.

  • Does my hon. Friend agree that with so many regulations being implemented by local government in areas such as food protection and waste disposal, local government needs to know what form those will take once we leave the EU?

  • My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and that is why we have tabled amendments calling for impact assessments.

    Amendment 76 calls on the Secretary of State for International Development to publish an impact assessment on her Department’s responsibilities. Again, we need clarity and a full commitment to 0.7% of gross national income going to overseas development. That is similar to the amendment in my name, amendment 58, which I have already spoken about.

    Amendment 77 calls on the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to publish an impact assessment.

  • Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

  • No—which is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman said to me on Second Reading.

    The UK Government need to clarify what involvement the EU’s digital single market, which is vital for supporting highly paid jobs in an exciting growth sector, will have. They have been completely silent on the digital single market, which will be one of the most important sectors of our economy—like tourism, which also comes under the remit of the DCMS. Approximately 20,000 EU nationals work in Scotland’s hospitality sector—12% of the total. What will be the impact on them?

    Amendment 79 calls for the Chancellor to publish a report on matters relating to the pensions of UK nationals living and working in the European Union. Again, that is an area of great uncertainty, and I have heard about it from my own constituents. Some 400,000 UK nationals living in the EU receive a pension from the United Kingdom Government, and they are incredibly concerned about the impact of Brexit. The Government have done nothing to reassure them.

    Amendment 80, one of the most important, calls on the Government to publish an equality impact assessment. We heard earlier from the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr Umunna) about the whole range of minority and interest groups in our society—faith groups, LGBT groups and so on—that are completely absent from the UK Government’s White Paper. That is why it is important that we hear about them in an impact assessment.

  • Does my hon. Friend agree that the Government’s failure to include an equality impact assessment is very distressing? It is completely contrary to their words of support for equality, which are so often let down by their actions.

  • Of course. Equalities are at the heart of the European project, which the Brexiteers have wanted to rip us away from.

    Amendment 82 calls for a regional and national economic impact assessment.

  • Why do we need an impact assessment? Well, right now chemical manufacturers and importers from non-EU countries are using the UK as a base from which they can guide chemicals through the REACH programme through the appointment of a UK-based only representative. When the UK leaves the EU, only representatives will no longer be able to be based here. Does my hon. Friend agree that that will incentivise—

  • Order. We wanted short interventions.

  • It will not surprise the House to hear that I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. The single market has allowed Scotland’s economy to flourish over all these years, and that is now at stake in a hard Tory Brexit.

    Finally, new clause 138 addresses trade agreements. We have heard the FCO and the Department for International Trade boasting in public about new trade agreements that the UK will sign after it leaves the EU. Of course, it cannot sign them until it has left. That is why the Government have to be transparent and report on which trade agreements they are working on and give details on the nature and terms of those deals. It is crucial that the UK Government inform and consult Parliament in their ongoing trade talks and allow scrutiny throughout the process.

  • Of nearly 200 members of the United Nations, only six states are outwith a regional trade agreement. The UK is to become the seventh, joining the likes of Mauritania and East Timor. Does my hon. Friend share my concerns and those of the chemical industry about where that leaves us and everybody else involved? The UK is going headlong towards a cliff in joining countries as small as those.

  • My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I hope that by examining in detail these vital new clauses and amendments tabled by Scottish National party Members, the Government will begin to understand how seriously we are taking this issue.

  • My hon. Friend has made excellent points about the amendments and about how many there are. Does that not underline the woeful lack of time given to this entire process in respect of article 50?

  • Absolutely. As has been pointed out, we had more time to discuss the Scotland Bill. That will now probably not be the last legislation on Scotland; I see that the Secretary of State for Scotland has taken his place. He will probably have to steer through another Scotland Bill during this Parliament as a result of Brexit, to give us all the powers he promised he would.

    This is only the beginning. The Government want to bring forward the great repeal Bill, increasingly known as “the great power grab”. They must be willing to stand up to the scrutiny of the House. We have been sent here to do a job, and that is what we have done this evening with our amendments. That is what we will continue to do during the passage of this Bill and all the future legislation that comes with Brexit. [Interruption.]



About auldacquaintance

I am not a member of any political party. I am however a strong supporter of Scots Independence. Any views which I express in this Blog are purely my own. This Blog intends to be a place where I will be putting my views on Scots Independence. It will primarily concern itself with the upcoming Referendum In Scotland. However It will also be somewhat diverse in the range of day to day issues which are evident to me in modern day Scotland. Not all of it will be political, and indeed may take me off into avenues I am not even aware of yet. Please come and join in on this journey, and any comments are welcome provided they are not abusive! All the best from a new acquaintance! Rod
This entry was posted in Brexit, Europe, independence and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to We will Not Sit Down. We will not shut Up. We Will Be Heard

  1. hettyforindy says:

    Excellent, read some, and I smiled each time, when Mr. Grady refuses to give way to M.Gove! Great stuff.
    Thanks, and as you say it is long, but will be dipping in and out to read more. These things have to be discussed and brought out into the open, it seems that the SNP and N.I.and Wales are the only ones having a decent, informative discussion.

    Brexit could hardly be more risky, more backward and damaging, and therefore all the more imperative that people know exactly what is coming. Too late now and it won’t be pretty, but knowing something about what it all means, will prepare people, if that is possible.

  2. daibhidhdeux says:

    Epic stuff. Thank you. Have shared widely. Well done, the SNP MPs!

  3. breenmck says:

    Well done Patrick Grady. Not only did he make sure all of the SNP’s amendments got a hearing, but he confounded the Unionist parties by taking advantage of Westminster’s archaic debating rules.

  4. ruthiegxx says:

    Absolutely brilliant. Well done Mr Grady et al.
    Poor wee Mr Gove. Lol

  5. I have had to take a coffee break from reading,but I will continue afterwards.I hope you were able to copy and paste most of the Hansard text,if not well done for typing all of it.I am enjoying it,could be titled kicked back!

  6. Reblogged this on charlesobrien08 and commented:
    Be prepared its a long read but worthwhile,I will call it “Kicking Back”

  7. Robert Armstrong Stewart says:

    So proud of our Scottish representatives in that place, they have adapted and succeeded in using their system as the Scots have done for time immemorial
    Which is why Scots are respected world wide.

  8. david clark says:


  9. Nigel Mace says:

    First rate. The House and the Tories hoist by their own petard. Congratulations – especially to Calum Kerr for his devastating intervention re the lack of confidence in DEFRA by English farmers!

  10. I watched this last night and was very proud of our SNP team.It was heartening to see them play the government at their own game and make telling points against Brexit and the lack of preparedness of the UK to impliment it.

  11. Alice Timmons says:

    Wow. Read it in one go. Laughed, gasped, even applauded at one point. Brilliant!

  12. Robert Roddick says:

    Brilliant. So proud of this contribution by Patrick and his colleagues

  13. Sheryl Hepworth says:

    What clever MP’s we have in WM!!! I love the way they used archaic parliamentary procedure to out-fox and out-Tory the Tories!!!!

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