• Question Time

    The Moorlander
    27 February 2019

    Last week I was busy in the commons and on the media. In the Commons I was on my feet helping out with Scottish Questions. The Commons’ day starts with Questions with each session relating to a department of government. This is the opportunity for backbenchers to question ministers on the floor of the House. Last week Scotland Questions were just before Prime Minister’s Questions which leads to the final questions being taken whilst the PM is sitting alongside and the chamber is packed which is one of the reasons that I like taking these – it is great to have the opportunity to address a full House. I answered questions on Brexit, the Scottish economy and the closure of bank branches. Also last week I made a statement to the House on Making Tax Digital. MTD is a new way for businesses to report their taxes to HMRC doing so online and using special software that reduces error. Mistakes in the reporting of tax affairs costs around £9 billion a year and it is key that businesses and HMRC move into the 21st Century in order to help address this and to ensure that businesses themselves gain from the efficiency that his approach to tax filing will bring. One of the early decisions I took as a Treasury minister was to slow down the roll out of MTD in order to give businesses more time to prepare – this April we will see VAT registered businesses adopting this new modern approach to the filing of VAT returns and HMRC will take a light touch approach to compliance. I also answered an Urgent Question on Brexit. A UQ as it is known can be tabled by any member of parliament and it is for the Speaker to decide whether to grant it. If granted then a series of questions are asked of the minister once the person who has tabled the UQ has made their opening remarks. Statements and UQs typically take around an hour and are a very good method by which government is scrutinised. On Thursday I appeared on the BBC’s Question Time which was held in Chester. It was a long journey there and back but well worth the visit. Chris Leslie, one of the MPs who has left the Labour Party and joined the Independent group within the commons was on with me alongside footballer John Barnes and others. It was a lively show with much discussions of course around Brexit but also about where the UK party political scene is headed. I argued that Labour have deserted the centre ground but that whilst the Conservative Party, like Labour, is divided on Brexit, we are still totally committed to One Nation centre-ground politics. I will though probably require Brexit to be concluded before we can fully and effectively communicate that message and all get back to debating those important domestic issues that matter most. More from Mel on twitter @MelJStride and at