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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

We would then have a federal system, which would allow us to collect and retain our taxes, and England would be able to do that, too. That is much more elegant. I am sure the hon. Gentleman agrees with the principle of taking responsibility for ourselves. We are happy to do that and I am pretty certain that my colleagues in England are more than equipped for the task of looking after their own country. There are some very talented people who could probably lead that devolved Parliament. It is up to them to secure and achieve it. We did the hard work: we built the consensus, had a referendum and instituted a Parliament. Why cannot they do that, too? What is wrong with making sure that they have their own Parliament? All these issues would then be solved. There would be no such thing as Barnett consequentials ever again. They can do their thing and we will do ours, and we could come together in a federal arrangement to discuss all the big, reserved issues.

The Leader of the House’s comments on Barnett consequentials were absurd. The Procedure Committee corrected him by saying that

“in reality, the estimates and supply procedures of the House validate prior decisions about policy, including those which have been given effect through primary legislation.”

That proves that spending in the next set of estimates will be consolidated, proving that there are downstream Barnett consequentials. It is totally and utterly absurd to try to suggest that there is no such thing.

If we are to open up procedures for estimates and supply, we must find a lot more time because all issues of Barnett consequentials are wrapped up in that. We must spend day after day looking at total departmental spend across all Departments, because what has happened thus far is not good enough anymore. The Liaison

Committee decides on two or three Departments whose spending will be rubber stamped. We will have to spend weeks, if not months, resolving that, and the Procedure Committee will have a big job when it comes to supply and estimates procedures.

We object to this measure on three principles: it is making us second class; it politicises the office of the Speaker; and because of the new provisions and the legislative guddle that will be created. This is probably the one issue that will drive the demand for Scottish independence. I have heard some hon. Members say that it will save the Union, but this is not saving the Union—what we are doing in the House is creating division. If the Government want a solution, they must do the work and create an English Parliament—that is the way to proceed with such matters. This measure, and the mess, the bourach, the dog’s breakfast of these proposals, will only help me and my hon. Friends, damage the Government’s cause, and divide the House. The Government should take the proposals away, think again, and come back with something that it is sensible for the House to consider.