Standing Orders (Public Business)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:24 pm on 22nd October 2015.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 2:24 pm, 22nd October 2015

The level of scrutiny is an extremely important issue, but this is a major constitutional change. I despair that the Conservative and Unionist party has presented this measure. I will never, ever admit to being to being a Conservative, but I will admit to being a Unionist. That may upset some of my hon. Friends who are sharing our debate today, but the key point is that I am part of a United Kingdom Parliament.

An issue relating to how England runs its services may well arise. It could involve regional government, it could involve an English Parliament, and it could involve other measures. However, this Parliament comes to this House with its Members having an equal vote and an equal say, based on their constituents’ needs. Today, at five o’clock, that system will be overturned—not with a referendum, as happened in Wales; not with a referendum, as happened in Scotland; not with a referendum and a hard-fought political war, as happened in Northern Ireland; and not with the consent of my constituents. That will happen because the Conservative party—the Conservative and Unionist party—has presented this proposal today.

I make the point flippantly, but Andrew Bonar Law was MP for Glasgow Central, Asquith was MP for North East Fife, Campbell-Bannerman was MP for Stirling Burghs, Gordon Brown was MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, and James Callaghan was MP for Cardiff South East. How does the Conservative party expect colleagues in Scotland—constituents of the SNP Members who are sitting on the neighbouring Benches—or constituents in Northern Ireland, or my constituents in Wales, to be able to say in the future, “One of our children, or grandchildren, could be Prime Minister of this United Kingdom, while representing a seat in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland”, when the Bills before the House will not provide for the ability of such a Member of Parliament to vote on issues to do with that in Committee—or perhaps in Cabinet Committee—or to enjoy the confidence of the House as a whole?

This is a divisive measure. It differentiates between Members of Parliament, and it differentiates between parts of the United Kingdom. It does not allow us to speak when we want to, on behalf of the people who have sent us here. It is appalling. I shall vote today in support of my hon. Friend Mr Allen to try to get some sense into this, but I shall continue to oppose the measure, because ultimately it will divide this United Kingdom. It will be the first step down a road to disunity, and I will not support it in this House.