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Standing Orders (Public Business)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:01 pm on 22nd October 2015.

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Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Scottish National Party, Kilmarnock and Loudoun 3:01 pm, 22nd October 2015

It is good to see that the welfare of foxes is such a big issue that the Government want to stop SNP MPs voting on it. As a matter of fact, we did not vote on it—we just said that we might do and that was enough to have them running scared. The First Minister has said that we will vote for progressive policies in this House and that we will vote with other parties for those policies.

This is a mess of a proposal and I will outline why. It introduces further processes, delays and costs into the democratic process, when we are meant to be cutting costs. Earlier today, I mentioned that 44 new Lords have taken up their position in the other place since my election, and that is where we should be trying to cut costs.

This proposal does not take account of the Barnett consequentials. Despite what the Leader of the House said earlier today, he does not understand how policy links to finance. He says the two are different, but I can guarantee that if a policy decision is made in this House and the actual budget does not align with it, he will be back here trying to change the Standing Orders again, saying, “That’s not fair.”

As we have heard, using Standing Orders to make such a significant change is pretty undemocratic—this should be done through normal due process. We all know, as this has been said, that the approach being taken compromises the Speaker’s position. The Speaker will be asked to make decisions but has no obligation to explain them, and that lacks transparency. Despite Labour sending second-class MPs down here from Scotland for many years, this measure will make us second-class MPs and we do not want to be viewed as that.

This is supposed to be about addressing a democratic deficit, but the real democratic deficit is the fact that with only 15% of the vote in Scotland the Tories have consistently vetoed every proposed amendment to the Scotland Bill. That is the democratic deficit that we are living with, not to mention the fact that there is an unelected House of Lords that gets more and more bloated all the time. That is where we should start dealing with the democratic deficit, and we would be saving money and bringing transparency to the democratic process.