Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:11 am on 26th January 2017.

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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, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee 11:11 am, 26th January 2017

May I personally thank you, Mr Speaker, for an immaculate Selkirk Grace last night, and also let you know that you are down for “Tam o’ Shanter” next year?

I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business for next week—and what a week it is going to be. First there was to be no vote; now there is to be a vote. Then there was to be no Bill; now there is to be a Bill. Then there was to be no White Paper; now there is to be a White Paper. We should have chanced our arm and said that we should definitely stay in the European Union.

The Bill’s Second Reading will take place on Tuesday, and a Committee of the whole House will debate it the following week. Everything will be rushed through and concluded on the following Thursday. As the guardian of the House’s procedure and its business, will the Leader of the House guarantee that the White Paper will be published in time for the Committee stage, so that the House can consider it before debating a Bill of such importance and such magnitude?

May we have a debate about special relationships, and, in particular, about how you are supposed to be behave when you are in one of those special relationships? When a United States President backs torture as an instrument of policy, when particular religions are picked out for exclusion and when women’s rights are set back decades, should this country not be a little bit more cautious before accepting a Trumpian embrace?

Lastly, may we have a debate about Scotland’s place within the United Kingdom following some of the discussions there have been in the Supreme Court, because we now know that all these Scotland Acts and devolution settlements are not worth the vellum they are written on? We now know that there is no such thing as permanence in this Parliament, and what we have heard about the Sewel conventions being enshrined in law is nothing other than parliamentary waffle. Week by week, a Brexitised Britain looks a less and less attractive prospect for Scotland. We need to know that our views are going to be respected, or we will have to reconsider remaining in this particular place.