Business of the House

Published date : 29 June, 2023
I thank the Leader of the House for the business and I endorse everything that the shadow Leader of the House said in relation to standards.

I would like to begin by paying tribute to former Scotland manager Craig Brown, one of two great Scots we lost this week. Winifred Margaret Ewing changed the course of Scottish politics when she won her triumphant by-election victory to this place in Hamilton in 1967. Winnie had the distinction of serving across three different Parliaments and opening the Scottish Parliament in 1999. There is no one who did more to popularise and internationalise the cause of Scottish independence. We will miss her greatly.

In Scotland this week, the iconic Caledonian Sleeper rail service was returned to public ownership, where it joined ScotRail, LNER—London North Eastern Railway—Northern Rail, Southeastern, Transport for Wales and TransPennine Express. Although they are often referred to as operators of last resort, experience shows that they make excellent operators of first resort. Perhaps the conclusion to draw is that some things just naturally belong in public ownership, like the water industry in Scotland. Given the current travails of Thames Water, may I suggest that the Leader of the House make time available for a debate on why the public interest should always take precedence over private profit not only in the rail sector but in the provision of water?

I understand that it is the Leader of the House’s custom and practice to spend almost as much time responding to what the SNP spokesperson says as criticising public services in Scotland. Before she gets to that, may I ask that she make time for debates on why six police forces in England continue to remain in special measures and why a report published today shows that NHS staff sickness in England has hit a record high, so that we can find out what the Government intend to do about it?

This is the first time that I have had the honour of responding for my party at business questions. As much as I am looking forward to the Leader of the House’s responses, I am looking forward very much to the inevitable YouTube clip that will follow. In Victorian times, similarly sensationalist outputs were often referred to as “penny dreadfuls”. I very much hope that the Leader of the House does not disappoint in that regard.

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