David opened for the Government in the SNP Opposition Day Debate on Scottish Independence highlighting why the UK Government's priories are building up and not breaking up Britain and that the SNP should end their focus on division and destroying the UK and get behind the recovery of Scotland after the pandemic and work with the UK and not against it.
Davids full speech here:
Mr Speaker, I’m grateful to be able to speak at this opposition day debate today and [I beg to move the amendment in my name on the order paper]. My Ministerial colleague, the Minister of State for Scotland, will be closing the debate for the Government later. I’m pleased to be able to respond to this motion as it is important to set out why, I believe, the Hon Member and his party’s focus on divisive debates about separation is irresponsible. We’re currently recovering from the worst public health crisis in a century, and the deepest recession in our history. And the people of Scotland voted decisively in 2014 to remain part of the United Kingdom. That is the context to this debate. The people of our United Kingdom want and expect us to focus on fighting COVID-19. They rightly expect us to focus on protecting jobs with furlough payments, on ensuring our children can catch up on their missed education and finding jobs for our young people. They expect us to focus on building back better and building back greener. The people of Scotland rightly expect their two governments to work together to deliver these priorities. Yet, in the middle of this, the SNP has tabled this motion for an opposition day debate - not to discuss what more we can do to work constructively together to drive our recovery from COVID-19 - but instead, to promote separation and their pursuit of another divisive and damaging independence referendum. The motion does not focus on anything practical or suggest solutions to the real challenges facing people now. It does not propose ideas for how we can work together to deliver better outcomes for all citizens and businesses in Scotland and the rest of the UK. We’ve already seen that with the UK, pulling together, we can progress quickly on the road to recovery. Take our vaccine programme which is our path out of lockdown to more normal lives. We have vaccines pioneered in the UK, trialled in the UK and made across the UK (including in Scotland), to protect the people of the UK and the world. In this team effort, the UK Government has bought the vaccines and is making sure that every part of the UK gets their fair share. The British Armed Forces are helping to establish new vaccine centres right across Scotland. Our collaboration means more than 2 million people have already been vaccinated in Scotland. We’re collaborating on testing too. The U.K. Government is funding testing sites across Scotland – including 7 drive through testing centres, 33 walk-in testing centres, over 20 mobile testing units, and a Lighthouse Laboratory in Glasgow. Overall, the UK Government has provided around 60% of Covid tests in Scotland. And alongside that, the UK Government is continuing to drive forward its ambitious programme of economic growth. The Chancellor’s Budget earlier this month demonstrated this Government’s commitment to operating on a truly UK-wide basis, from extensions to furlough, self-employed schemes and the Levelling Up Fund benefitting citizens and business across the country. We’re boosting funding for communities in all parts of the UK, with £220million to invest in local areas ahead of launching the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in 2022. The Fund will help to level-up and create opportunity across the UK in places most in need, such as former-industrial areas, deprived towns and rural and coastal communities, as well as for people who face labour market barriers. Our ability to do this is underpinned by the UK Internal Market Act, passed in this place at the end of last year. The Act guarantees UK companies can trade unhindered in every part of the UK, protecting jobs and livelihoods across the United Kingdom. The Financial Assistance power taken through the Act covers infrastructure, economic development, culture, sport, and will support educational and training activities and exchanges both within the UK and internationally. As well as allowing the UK Government to deliver the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the power will also be used to deliver the new Turing Scheme for students across the UK to study and work - not just in Europe, but around the world. There are numerous examples where our interconnectedness, shared bonds and the value of all parts of the UK working together is clearly evident. The Union Connectivity Review, for example, is looking at how we better connect the different parts of the UK to boost our economy. We will be bringing at least one Freeport to Scotland. And this is on top of the £1.5 billion we are currently investing in city and region growth deals across Scotland. And just yesterday, the Integrated Review was published. This sets out the Prime Minister’s vision for the UK in 2030: a stronger, more secure, prosperous and resilient United Kingdom - a problem-solving and burden-sharing nation with a global perspective. Scottish capabilities - in defence, space, cyber and maritime industries - contribute immensely to the security of our shared nation. Furthermore, the Prime Minister recently set out his ambitious 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution - an innovative and ambitious programme of job creation that will support levelling up and up to 250,000 jobs. The plan will mobilise £12bn of UK government investment, across clean energy, nature and innovation technologies across the country, in areas such as Carbon Capture, utilisation and storage, hydrogen and offshore wind. I expect Scotland to benefit hugely from this - becoming a global centre of excellence for Energy Transition. Across or whole United Kingdom there is far more that unites us than divides us. So we should be here today using the time constructively. To debate how we can best lead the recovery of our economy and our communities. We should be talking about building up, not breaking up our country. People across the United Kingdom want to see us working in partnership to tackle the pandemic and driving the recovery we all need.