Scotland Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:56 pm on 27th January 2011.

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Photo of John Robertson John Robertson Labour, Glasgow North West 3:56 pm, 27th January 2011

It is a pleasure to follow David Mowat. I also enjoyed the contribution of Iain Stewart. I have not read his book and, having listened to his speech, I do not think that I will buy it. [Hon. Members: "Oh!"] Let us face it, anyone who campaigned on a no/yes vote in the referendum for a Scottish Parliament meant, "I don't want a Scottish Parliament, but give us the money anyway." I have some problems with the economics of that position and wonder what the hon. Gentleman was thinking of at the time.

I am a unionist-with a small "u". I am also a member of the Labour party. In the past 10 years, the Labour party has been the Unionist party in the House. We have supported the United Kingdom more than other party. Around 2005 to 2010, the then Opposition, who now lead the coalition, had an anti-Scottish slant. I found it sad that we were treated in such a manner, but I have noticed that, since they came to power, we do not seem to have the same anti-Scottishness from them. I am pleased about that, if nothing else.

Many hon. Members know that I followed Donald Dewar into the House. I had the pleasure of being his election agent in the 1997 and 1999 elections and of representing him in his constituency while he was away campaigning in 1998. Those of us who fought hard for a Scottish Parliament and an excellent vote, particularly in Donald Dewar's constituency, had the reward of getting the Parliament. That is not to say that I agree with everything that has happened. I do not agree with hon. Members who said that this is the first time that we have revisited the Scotland Act 1998, because we have done that a couple of times. Yet Donald Dewar said to me that the Act was not to be played about with. Devolution might be a process and a project that will develop, but the Act should not have been tweaked as often as it has. I hope that, if we tweak it this time, we will leave it to settle in properly. Ten years is not a long time for a political institution.

We still have to grow up when it comes to Scottish politics, as can be seen by some of the bunfights between the party that will remain nameless-I know that its Members count the number of the times that it is named-and Labour. It should not be a bunfight; we should think of the people of Scotland and try to do what is best for the nation.

The Bill goes a way along that road. Everything in it is not necessarily right, and some things that are not in it should be. Let me concentrate on those for a moment. The voting system for the Scottish Parliament is wrong. I particularly dislike the top-up of Members, and the votes of the people of Glasgow, part of which I have the honour of representing, are not proportionately counted.

There was a great deal of talk in debates on other Bills-they were not consulted on, just like this Bill was not consulted on-about how one person's vote in one constituency is worth more than someone else's vote in another. However, the second votes of 45,000 people in Glasgow area do not count for the top-up list. Not one Member is elected by those 45,000 votes, which I believe is inherently wrong. It is not right to conduct a parliamentary election on first past the post and then, just because a party is so successful in gaining seats, for 45,000 votes to be discounted. I expect that 45,000 to be a lot more come the next election.