A Week in Parliament

Strong and Stable Government?

Amber Rudd's resignation as Home Secretary for incompetence or lying about what she knew (take your pick) once again illustrates the bankruptcy of this Tory Government. In the past year, we have had Michael Fallon the defence secretary resign for inappropriate behaviour; her deputy PM, Damien Green, for lying about what he knew of a police investigation; Priti Patel, International Development Secretary for lying and covering up meetings she had in Israel and Justine Greening quitting as Education Secretary. Meanwhile, still in the cabinet is Chancellor Philip Hammond, who her election team side-lined at the general election, planning to sack him after the election; Greg Clark [who I think is OK] and was briefed against as “deadwood” to be cleared out; Jeremy Hunt with an enhanced brief despite the fact she wanted to move him. The new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, was previously demoted as May did not rate him and she seems stuck with the hapless Boris Johnson. Then there is David Davis, the Brexit Secretary who keeps threatening to resign. It is no wonder there are continued leaked cabinet rows, and I do not need to put any political slant on the cabinet comings and goings to advise that this does not make for good Government.

Money Laundering and Sanctions Bill

An important Bill went through Westminster, with a transparency amendment accepted. This amendment was to create Public registers of beneficial ownership of companies registered in British Overseas Territories. This is to start to provide transparency on who owns what regards companies. The SNP also supported this with the added bonus we might start to see who owns a lot of the land in Scotland which otherwise is hidden behind these companies registered on the offshore British Territories.

With the SNP supporting this, the Scottish Tory, Luke Graham made the ridiculous intervention that  this proves how the SNP respect the sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament to make legislation as if this was a massive capitulation. It is obvious constitutionally that Westminster has sovereignty over certain matters. It is not what I want, but it is a fact. That is why when they have the power to make inroads on fraud and tax evasion we of course want Westminster to use these powers.

It is also why the SNP moved an amendment to start to clamp down on the Scottish Limited Partnerships and close off a money laundering tax evasion scheme. Sadly, the Scottish Tories voted with their counterparts to narrowly defeat the SNP amendment. If they put their money where their mouths were, then this would be enacted instead of yet another Government consultation on the matter. Mind you, Luke Graham also managed to interrupt this important debate process with a point of order to note that 1st May reflects 311 years since the Act of Union came into force. Further proof that all they are interested in is guerrilla warfare on the SNP rather than the matters in hand.

These thoughts were first published in the Kilmarnock Standard