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Standing Orders (Public Business)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:37 pm on 22nd October 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 1:37 pm, 22nd October 2015

After an hour and 40 minutes, and six speeches, we are actually getting to hear from the Members of Parliament who this is being done to—the Scottish Members of Parliament. This will, I hope, be the last instalment of what can only be called the sorry saga of English votes for English laws. Never has such massive and significant constitutional change been undertaken on the basis of plans that are so meagre, so threadbare, so inept, and so stupid.

I have searched the documents for all the statements that have been made about these plans and all the various words that have been used in these debates. I came up with a word cloud, because I hear they are quite popular just now, to see the favourite words used—namely, “shambles”, “disaster”, “mess”, “dog’s breakfast”, “unnecessary”, “won’t work”. There are some really good Scottish words that sum this up perfectly, with apologies to my friends in Hansard: “boorach”, “guddle”. Even those words do not do justice to the mess that has been created by these plans.

In the course of the past couple of months since the Leader of the House’s plans were first introduced, he has managed to convince absolutely nobody about their quality. Not one political party in this House supports these plans other than the Conservatives. Not one devolved legislature, Assembly or Parliament throughout the United Kingdom supports these plans; in fact, they are resolutely opposed. Even the donors and the cronies down the corridor do not support these plans. Even the Procedure Committee, with a Conservative Chair and a Conservative majority, finds massive difficulties with what is proposed. An exercise in building consensus and working in partnership this most definitely is not. To proceed with such historic constitutional change without even a shred of consensus is probably about the worst way possible to embark on such plans.

We will, of course, oppose the plans in full. We have not tabled any amendments because we do not want to dignify the proposals with any suggestion that they should be approved. We will vote them down altogether. We will support some of the Labour amendments, which are marginally better than what is on offer, but we will do so half-heartedly, because we object to the basic principle.

The Leader of the House tries to convince us—he did it again in his speech today—that these are tiny, eensy-weensy little tinkerings with the constitution of the House. “What are all you Scots getting upset about?”, he wails at us. “What are you bothered about? It’s only a little veto you’re going to be exposed to.” Well, let me tell him: how dare you give us second-class status in this place. How dare you disrespect the views of the Scottish electorate and diminish the role of Scottish Members of Parliament.