Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP):
It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Sir Robert Smith), and may I congratulate the hon. Member for Glasgow North East (Mr Bain) on ensuring we have this important, but all too short, debate today? May I also say to hon. Members that I will not be taking any interventions? Members of the other parties will get 90% of the time so it is only fair to the people watching this debate that they get the opportunity to hear from the other side.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (David Mundell):
On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Can you confirm that next Tuesday the SNP is in control of Opposition business in this House and that it has not tabled a motion to discuss independence for Scotland?
Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle):
Order. That matter is on the record and certainly does not need my confirmation.
What a chance; what an opportunity: on 18 September this year we can make the choice to become a self-governing nation once again—to walk tall in the world with national self-respect and dignity like all other normal independent nations do, being responsible for ourselves and blaming no one else for our setbacks. The most exciting thing for me is that our independence will release and ignite a tsunami of energy, creativity and imagination as we get down to the business of building and creating our new independent nation—a new nation according to our Scottish priorities, built on our sense of community, always securing the Government we vote for, pursuing the agenda we want.
We will run an independent Scotland better than the Westminster Tories because of one key and very important fact: we care more about Scotland than the Westminster Tories do—of course we do, and that is why we will run it better. Never again will we have a Tory Government without our democratic consent. We want no more picking on our vulnerable; no more obscenities such as the bedroom tax; no more of Labour’s illegal wars and no more Tory or Labour weapons of mass destruction defiling our beautiful country—[Interruption.]
Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Lindsay Hoyle):
Order. Can I have a bit of calm? In fairness, it has been a good-hearted debate so far, and I know that no one wants to spoil the harmony of the House.
We will ease pretty seamlessly into a new independent status. The day after we secure a new nation, it will be pretty much like the day before, but something remarkable will have happened. All of a sudden, the country will be ours to shape and to determine. If things do not work out, we can change them. We can change them because we have the power of independence. For the first time in 300 years, our nation will belong to us, and nothing could be more exciting and transformative.
It is all down to this choice. If we vote no, we are accepting that this is as good as it gets. This is what we have to settle for. It signals a contentment with Westminster rule and Westminster politicians’ ability to deliver for Scotland.
Will my hon. Friend give way?
Of course I will.
My hon. Friend will no doubt remember, as I do, campaigning in the first referendum on devolution in ’79. We were promised, “Vote no and you will get more powers”, and he will remember what happened. We got absolutely nothing.
I do indeed remember that, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing that up because it happened in my constituency. In Perthshire, we have long memories when it comes to these issues.
If we vote no, we will be saying that we approve of Westminster government and whatever future the rest of the UK decides for us. Well, I do not like where the UK is going.
I am not giving way. I do not like where the UK is going at all. I do not have much time, so I will mention just two examples. The first was last week’s appalling Immigration Bill, which would charge visitors to our country fees for health care and turn those who rent houses in the private-rented sector into immigration officers. It is a nasty, pernicious and rotten Bill that is designed to counter the threat of the UK Independence party. We do not do UKIP in Scotland; we barely do Tory. We have a national treasure on the Front Benches; our one and only Tory Member. None the less, we will get that Bill, because this Government took it through on a Labour abstention. I object to my country being dragged into this monstrous race to the bottom between this Government and UKIP about who can be the hardest on those who might want to come and live in my country. Scotland is better than that, yet the Bill was passed. It was passed on the same day as the House of Lords debated our country. I do not know whether you saw that, Mr Deputy Speaker. That bloated, unelected Chamber stuffed full of party placement cronies and donors had the audacity to tell our nation what it should do. Then it also had the effrontery to defile the memory of our war dead and insult the many brave veterans who have served this country with distinction just because they happened to support independence for our nation. One thing we will get with independence is the ability to wipe away that ermine-wearing unelected Chamber from the face of Scottish public life, and our nation will be much better for that. Scotland is so much better than that.
We know that if we gain control of our own resources and secure all the necessary powers, there is nothing stopping us becoming an economic powerhouse, and that is what we look forward to.
Sir Robert Smith:
The hon. Gentleman is putting an emotional case for independence, but he is not taking on board the wise words of the Governor of the Bank of England who talked about the illusion of independence if an independent Scotland keeps the pound sterling. The voice of Scotland will be taken away from the decisions that will affect its very core monetary policy.
I have had enough of that “You cannae do that stuff”, so I thank the hon. Gentleman. We have a decision to take. It is a choice between negativity and positivity—[Interruption.]
Mr Deputy Speaker:
I want to hear the hon. Gentleman. It is not fair that you are enjoying yourselves. I want to hear the speech.
We have listened to their speeches with as much respect as possible, but we are shouted down. It seems impossible for Members to listen to the other side of the debate. I do not know why this place thinks that that is attractive. It is a choice between negativity and positivity. No European country has done what we are about to do. As an exercise in democracy, this is huge. This is Scotland’s great choice, because it is a choice between two very different and distinct futures. We can decide that this is as good as it gets, or we can decide to do something much better—to take control of ourselves and to put the nation in the hands of the Scottish people. If we get this chance, this once-in-a-generation chance, we will vote for the positive, because positive beats negative. What a prize there will be when we vote yes in overwhelming numbers. When we go to the polls in September, we will vote “yes”. What a prize there will be—a country of our own.