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Members' Voting Rights

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th February 2006.

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Photo of David Gauke David Gauke Conservative, South West Hertfordshire 2:30 pm, 28th February 2006

What discussions he has had with colleagues regarding voting rights of hon. Members representing constituencies in Scotland on matters that do not affect Scotland.

Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling The Secretary of State for Scotland, The Secretary of State for Transport

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer that I gave to Questions 1, 2 and 3. I suspect that it is remarkably similar to the answer that I shall give him in a moment.

Photo of David Gauke David Gauke Conservative, South West Hertfordshire

I am grateful to the Secretary of State.

Next month various Scottish right hon. and hon. Members will support the Education and Inspections Bill, including the Secretary of State and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Conservative Members will welcome them in the Lobby on that occasion. Is it not the case, though, that the Bill will not apply to Scotland, and that it is wrong and unfair—and, indeed, recognised to be wrong and unfair by many Labour Members—for MPs to vote on a matter that does not affect their constituencies?

Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling The Secretary of State for Scotland, The Secretary of State for Transport

Of course, the constituents of David Mundell go and enjoy an English education south of the border. He therefore has an interest in voting for the Bill, although he does not seem to accept that.

As I have told the House before, it is difficult to distinguish between matters that are wholly Scottish, wholly English or wholly Welsh and matters that are not. We find ourselves in difficulty when we start saying that some MPs have more rights than others. Mr. Gauke and his colleagues ought to think long and hard before taking a route that is more likely than not to lead to exactly where the nationalists would like them to end up.

Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (International Development)

Will the Secretary of State acknowledge that there are two classes of Member of Parliament? There are Members like him and me, who have no say on education, health or criminal justice in our constituencies, and Members who do have that right. Is it not absurd, and grossly unfair, that we intervene in those constituency interests?

Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling The Secretary of State for Scotland, The Secretary of State for Transport

The hon. Gentleman is right to the extent that there are two classes of MP. There are those of us who believe in the Union of the United Kingdom, and those of us who are against it. I have no difficulty in saying that I support the United Kingdom: that is why I am a Member of the United Kingdom Parliament. I know that the hon. Gentleman believes in breaking up the United Kingdom, but I think that that would be an act of monumental stupidity.