Scottish Secretary heckled by SNP MPs over ‘austerity’ denial

The Scottish Secretary was heckled in the Commons after claiming austerity is “not a thing” under the UK Government.

SNP MPs laughed and jeered as Alister Jack made the remark in response to criticism from Gavin Newlands during Scotland questions.

Mr Newlands, the SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, told the session: “Capital funding to the Scottish Parliament hasn’t just been cut it has been slashed by 10% on his watch.

“That’s money that could have been used to invest in hospitals, schools and infrastructure, about to be frittered away by the Chancellor on a sickening pre-election bribe that will buy precisely no one.

Mr Jack replied: “This is nonsense, austerity is not a thing under this Government, not a thing at all.

“Departmental, absolutely not, departmental spending, this is the point the SNP don’t acknowledge, departmental spending throughout this Parliament has grown by 3.2% on average, that’s the simple truth.”

Mr Jack also said a new Scottish independence report is “nonsense and a complete waste of taxpayers’ money”.

The Scottish Secretary said: “I note (the Scottish Government’s External Affairs Secretary) Angus Robertson has produced another independence document this week and it is on foreign affairs and defence, and a lot of nonsense in there too.

“They want to join the Nato nuclear alliance but they want to get rid of the nuclear deterrent. They want to join the EU but not the Euro.”

Mr Jack concluded: “All nonsense and a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.”

Later in the session, shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said that “ordinary, hard-working Scots” are worse off as a result of the “overall tax burden”.

He said: “There have been 25 Tory tax rises since the last election and the average family is much worse off as a result.

“So does the minister agree with the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) that even after today’s Budget the overall tax burden on working people will still reach record levels?”

Scotland Minister John Lamont replied: “I would just remind (Mr Murray) 2.4 million workers in Scotland have benefitted from £340 going back into their pockets thanks to the changes in national insurance that have already been announced.

“In relation to his wider point about the tax burden, we should not forget the reason why, as a consequence of huge interventions the Government made to support workers and families and communities and businesses during the pandemic and we’re having to repay that but that saved jobs and saved many businesses from going under during the pandemic.”

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