Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:11 am on 9th January 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons 11:11 am, 9th January 2020

There is always a degree of excitement in starting any new job, and I feel I will have to have an ongoing challenge of curbing my enthusiasm for this one, but let me begin by paying tribute and a word of thanks to my friend and colleague my hon. Friend Pete Wishart, who preceded me in this role and who for a long shift—four and a half years—stood here every Thursday to represent my party in his own inimitable style. I intend to pick up where he left off, and while the style may be different I assure Members that the message will be the same.

Let me also say that I very much look forward to a weekly verbal joust with the Leader of the House, and I only hope that we do not have a spoilsport Prime Minister who will dash my expectations by an imminent reshuffle and changing that position.

Turning to the business statement itself, I have to observe that, given the times we are in, it does seem a little self-indulgent to be spending six days debating what is essentially a mission statement by the Government rather than any specific legislative proposals. I understand that the Queen’s Speech debate is important, but is it not time to get on to matters of substance? Even for a Government bathing in the afterglow of an election victory that does seem a little excessive.

There are many things we ought to be discussing that are not in this business statement, and let me offer three this morning. The first is the Government’s proposed departmental reorganisation. If this House is to have the role of scrutiny of the Executive, it is clearly important that we understand what the shape and structure of the Executive actually is. This House ought to be kept up to date on the proposals being made for changes in Government Departments so that we can consider what changes we might need to make to our agenda and procedures in order to adequately hold them to account. Will the Leader of the House therefore please update us on what the obstacles to the current reorganisation are, when they might be resolved and when we can expect an announcement?

Secondly, given the events of the last seven days, we can see that there is a very precarious military and political situation in the middle east. Not only that, but we can see how compromised this country is in trying to influence those events. Should not the Government be bringing forward an urgent debate on these matters so that this House can consider how better we can influence these events?

Thirdly, and finally, when are the Government going to hold a debate recognising the consequences of the 12 December general election, which for the first time has created a situation within this island where the two principal countries have a different political mandate? Are the Government going to bring forward proposals in order to acknowledge Scottish public opinion and to accommodate Scottish political representation? If they do not, and if they do not recognise that their mandate ends at the Scottish border then—