Scotland Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:27 pm on 27th January 2011.

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Photo of Anne McGuire Anne McGuire Labour, Stirling 3:27 pm, 27th January 2011

I do not wish to interpret the SNP's tactics, but it is certainly bizarre that their amendment says that the "Bill as a whole" is "unacceptable", given that the mover of the amendment, Pete Wishart, tried to appear consensual on some of the areas on which there is agreement. I do not know which part of the brain was not working when the amendment was tabled, but it definitely calls on the House to vote against something that SNP Members agree with in some way. That is a question for them to answer, but I am delighted that my hon. Friend Anas Sarwar has raised it.

The Bill, like the Scotland Act 1998, was developed as a result of consensus, as Malcolm Bruce has highlighted. The engagement of civic society, communities and individuals, as well as of political parties, is the hallmark of the legislation-as it was of its 1998 predecessor. In terms of political party consensus, there have been positive developments over the years. As the hon. Member for Epping Forest has clearly shown, the Conservative party in Scotland and across the UK boycotted the Scottish Constitutional Convention in the early 1990s, campaigned for a no vote in the 1997 referendum and voted against the first Bill when it came through Parliament. However, it is now working in partnership with other political parties that see the strength of the Union as key to the future of our country. I always welcome the sinners that repenteth.

Some things never change, though. The SNP stood apart from the consensus-building up to 1998 and boycotted the Calman commission for reasons that I cannot understand and have not heard properly explained. I think the SNP amendment is somewhat churlish and flies in the face of all the views that have been expressed by the Scottish people through elections and consensus. If the SNP wants an independent Scotland, its first aim must be to prove its case to the Scottish people.