Presentation and First Reading.
Mel Stride accordingly presented a Bill to authorise the use of resources for the year ending
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 241).
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. May I thank you for your forbearance this evening? Perhaps it is pertinent, given some of the angst from those on the Government Benches, to point out just exactly what has happened this evening. The reason we are here is because of Government business. The Government are responsible for timetabling, and this was the only opportunity—[Interruption.]
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Voting this evening was the only opportunity we have had to speak out against the continued austerity of this Conservative Government and the attack on the budget of Scotland. More importantly, three weeks ago, we witnessed a situation—[Interruption.] I hear about embarrassment, but don’t talk to me about embarrassment. The embarrassment that took place was three weeks ago, when we had a power grab against the powers of the Scottish Parliament. I signalled to the Conservative Government then that what they had done was act against the consent of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people, and that it would no longer be business as usual. I now commend the Scottish National party for standing up for Scotland tonight, and I say to this Conservative Government that we will use parliamentary procedure to oppose this Government every inch of the way and to make sure that the SNP stands up for the rights of the Scottish Parliament until Westminster recognises that it must reverse the power grab against the Scottish Parliament. [Interruption.]
Order. I have heard the right hon. Gentleman’s point of order, but I have to say that although it was most eloquent, it was not necessary. It seems to me that the point he is making is that he and his colleagues will use parliamentary procedure to make sure their opinions and those of their constituents are well aired here in this Parliament. He has done so and he has every right to do so, and the Chair will defend his right and that of his colleagues to do so. However, there was no need for his point of order, because we are all in agreement about the importance of using parliamentary procedure for the correct ends.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Further to what Ian Blackford said, it is interesting to know how important he thought the debate was, given that he could not sit through it. Only two Scottish National party Members sat through the debate, which the SNP called.
Will you respond to a couple of points, Madam Deputy Speaker? First, I do not care how many times we vote but we saw pathetic theatrics from the SNP and you twice had to instruct the Serjeant at Arms to get them out of the Lobby. Only 33 SNP Members voted tonight. I know that under the SNP in Scotland the level of physical activity is among the lowest levels anywhere in the world, but I am surprised at how long it took just 33 Members to walk through the Lobby. That affects not only Members of this House but House staff. Will you or the Speaker reflect on how such antics affect House staff, who have to stay here for longer?
Secondly, the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber spoke about austerity from this Conservative Government. He and his colleagues have just voted against the estimates, and had they succeeded, Scotland would have received nothing from the UK Parliament. Is it correct that they want no money to go to Scotland?
The hon. Gentleman’s final point is a point of debate, and we have had a full debate on those points today. As to his point about the length of time it took to divide the House five times this evening, nothing disorderly has occurred—
The hon. Gentleman must allow me to finish answering the point of order. Nothing disorderly has occurred. It is up to every Member of this House to decide how to use parliamentary procedure. I am quite sure that those who called five Divisions this evening know the effect that their calling of those Divisions has had.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The House spent more than an hour this evening voting on huge matters of public expenditure and committing serious amounts of public money for spending. Given that we had five votes and it took more than an hour, have you been given advance notice of a statement from the Leader of the House on the introduction of electronic voting?
Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I very much concur with my hon. Friend David Linden. We spent an hour considering the important allocation of spending by Department by this Government, and we here in this place are tasked with that very function. However, would it not be a lot better to solve all these situations by doing what my hon. Friend suggests and getting electronic voting down here so that we do not spend hours and hours in packed Lobbies going around in circles just to vote?
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Given the faux outrage from one of the Opposition parties and the effect that that can have on personal health, can you advise whether the Clerks or the House authorities have checked both the location and the workability of defibrillators near to the Chamber?
I appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s point, and I have every confidence that the defibrillators—I do wish that the hon. Gentleman had not asked me to say that difficult word at this time. I am confident that the important machines to which the hon. Gentleman refers are in perfect working order.