Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:07 am on 25th October 2018.

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Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution), Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee 11:07 am, 25th October 2018

I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business for next week. It has been a depressing and dispiriting few weeks for those of us who are concerned about workplace bullying in this place, and Dame Laura Cox’s report contains a damning litany of the scale of the problem. The Leader of the House has been an effective champion in tackling the problem, and I am glad to see that a debate on Dame Laura’s report has been scheduled for a week on Monday.

We know that the report will be implemented in full, but it is time to challenge the ingrained culture of and the power relationships within this House, and an easy start would be to tackle the deference. That means no more “hon. Gentlemen”, no more swords, no more spying strangers or segregated areas. For goodness’ sake, it should really mean the end of people calling themselves Lords on the parliamentary estate. If we are serious about changing the workplace culture and environment, we must challenge those symbols and power relationships, and I hope that we can include that as part of our ongoing work.

Simply appalling remarks were made in the Scottish Parliament yesterday when the Conservative social security spokesperson, a Ms Michelle Ballantyne, said about the two-child benefit cap:

“It is fair that people on benefits cannot have as many children as they like”.—[Scottish Parliament Official Report, 24 October 2018;
c. 52.]

That comment has shocked and appalled mainstream opinion in Scotland. We do not want those 19th-century Tory Victorian values in Scotland. We want a social security system designed with dignity and respect at its heart. Can we have a debate on further devolution of social security so that the views of people such as Ms Ballantyne hold no sway in our nation?

Lastly, Mr Speaker, we are very grateful to you for allowing MP4 to use Speaker’s House tonight for the launch of our new single. We have teamed up with Musicians Against Homelessness and Crisis to draw cross-party attention to homelessness throughout the UK. I do not think we will bother the charts, and we are not seriously considering giving up the day job, but I hope the Leader of the House might be among the first to download the single this evening.