Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:35 am on 17th September 2015.

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Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Leader of the House of Commons), Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee 10:35 am, 17th September 2015

I thank the Leader of the House for outlining the business for when we return from the recess. I offer my congratulations to Chris Bryant, who is one of the few constants in the great Labour revolution of 2015. My colleagues and I on the Scottish National party Benches look forward to working with him in getting rid of Trident as early as possible and in our resolute opposition to Tory austerity.

We are going on recess again today, and we are only just back! This recess is called the conference recess. Apparently, it is designed to accommodate the conferences of the three main UK parties, but we actually return in the week when the third party has its conference. We are disrupting the work of this House to accommodate eight Liberal Democrats. I get the sense that we could just about muddle through without the contributions of those hon. Members, if they felt that they had to be at their conference. May we look at the ridiculous conference recess and decide that we should instead be in this House, addressing our many key responsibilities? Let us get rid of this silly conference recess.

Tomorrow it will be one year since the independence referendum. I am surprised that there is to be nothing in this House to mark that defining moment in UK politics. That experience certainly changed Scotland, if not the UK, for ever. Perhaps when we come back, we could have a State of the Union debate. Myself and my hon. Friends are in the Union-ending business, but we seem to have been joined in that mission by the Conservative Government. They seem to be doing absolutely everything they can to throw us out the door—making us second-class Members in this House and rejecting any amendment to the Scotland Bill. Perhaps we could have such a debate, so that the Scottish public can observe the Conservatives in action. Just about 50% of them are for independence. If they could listen to what the Conservatives are suggesting, perhaps we could get it up to 60%.

You will have noted, Mr Speaker, that we objected to the setting up of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. That is not because we have any issue with having a Committee on human rights, but we do have every issue with the membership of the Committee. Four Conservative and two Labour Members from this House will be joined by six Members from the House of cronors down at the bottom of the corridor. I do not know why, on such an important issue, there should be parity between that unelected House and this House. Within that Joint Committee we will find a Liberal, who comes from a party that has been overwhelmingly rejected, and an unelected Cross Bencher. Will the Leader of the House go away, have a think about the motion and ensure that the third party of the United Kingdom is included in what is such an important Joint Committee?

Lastly, as we go on the conference recess, the Leader of the House needs to promise that if there are any developments in the great international issues, such as the refugee crisis and the Conservatives’ desire to push us further towards conflict in Syria, he will recall this House, even if it might disrupt the eight Liberal Democrats.