[Un-alloted half-day] — Dissolution of Parliament

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:00 pm on 10th June 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader 4:00 pm, 10th June 2009

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right, and I shall come back to that point shortly; there is a job of work to be done on that important issue.

I return to the BBC survey on public opinion on this important question. Some 62 per cent. of respondents said that they believed MPs put self-interest ahead of the country and their constituents. Only one in five, or 20 per cent., of the public is satisfied with how the Westminster Parliament is doing its job. The figures are damning and if we do not grasp the thorny nettle and deal with the issue, we will have a huge problem.

The recent expenses scandal is the biggest single recent reason for the crisis of confidence, and we should put a lot of effort into getting it sorted. However, it comes after years of House of Commons prevarication and resistance to openness and transparency. The Daily Telegraph revelations exposed a totally unacceptable state of affairs.

The public are right to be very angry about the flipping of properties, the avoidance of capital gains tax and the claims for phantom mortgages. They rightly ask how it is that there appears to be one rule for the public and another for MPs who have been caught out. They also ask how a tainted Parliament with tainted Members can find a trusted, credible solution to the crisis.

Of course it was right to do radical, immediate surgery. That has happened in a number of individual cases, and it has been approached by the different political parties that have finally grasped the nettle of transparency. At the recent meeting of party leaders called by Mr. Speaker, I pointed out that our parties have already committed to a higher standard of transparency—namely, that used in the Scottish Parliament. Years ago at Holyrood, the Labour party, the Conservative party, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and others agreed to that better system. I suggested to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and others that we should simply emulate that system. They agreed and we are now on the right path with the plans that Parliament should publish our claims regularly. In the meantime, many MPs, myself included, have proactively put their details up for public access on our own websites.

Embed this video

Copy and paste this code on your website