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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:37 am on 3rd March 2016.

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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 10:37 am, 3rd March 2016

I, too, thank the Leader of the House for announcing next week’s business. Today is World Book Day, and it is worth noting, especially as I am chair of the all-party writers group, the wonderful wealth of writers that we have in this country and the power of literature to bring joy to people and enhance their lives.

The Leader of the House and I now have a joint experience in fighting referendums. We have both been on the sharp end of various “Project Fears”. In the Scottish referendum, I experienced “Project Fear”, and he is now experiencing the new “Project Euro-fear” as he leads the campaign to yank the UK out of the EU. The scaremongering from the in side is almost straight out of the useless and dysfunctional Better Together manual, and it is likely to cause as much damage to the in campaign as it caused to the massive lead of the no campaign, which was shredded, in Scotland. As a supporter of our place in the EU, I want that counterproductive scaremongering to stop, although I presume that the Leader of the House is quite happy with it, given that it will probably work in his interest. Can we have a debate about positive campaigning, and can we encourage everybody to ensure that when we debate our place in Europe, we do so as positively as possible?

We need an urgent statement from the Defence Secretary on Trident. Apparently, he is just about to declare that Trident renewal is already under way, before we have had the opportunity to approve that in the House. It is absolutely appalling that the Defence Secretary can simply take the House for granted, and he must come to the House and explain himself. Scotland rejects Trident, and we intend to make it a huge issue in the Scottish elections. We simply refuse to have that weapon of mass destruction dumped on our nation without any approval from the House.

What do we do now, Mr Speaker, about large parts of Scottish funding? On English-only legislation, you are to lay aside minor or consequential issues when certifying legislation as English only, even though they have huge Barnett consequentials to Scotland. The Leader of the House told us that the mysteries of the Barnett consequentials lie in the mystery of the estimates. I tried to debate estimates in the estimates day debate, but I was ruled out of order within two minutes and 46 seconds. Somebody, somewhere, has to tell us how we should get that addressed and when we, as Scottish Members, will get to discuss, debate and vote on the critical issue of the Barnett consequentials.

Finally, the irony of last night’s debate on the Lords amendments on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, in which Tory after Tory lambasted all those wicked Lords, was not lost on Scotland. For the Tories, however, the Lords are only to be chastised when they do not do the Tories’ business, and to ensure that that happens, the Tories are going to introduce another 40 Tory Lords. Why do the Tories not just back us? Instead of trying to gerrymander that bizarre House, how about working with us and getting rid of the whole shooting match altogether?