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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 16th January 2020.

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Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 10:30 am, 16th January 2020

May I answer the last question first? Of course I believe in that sovereign right, but the hon. Gentleman’s memory is a little short. The people of Scotland exercised their sovereign right in 2014, and they decided to remain part of the United Kingdom. SNP Members may not like the decision made by the people of Scotland in their wisdom, but that is the decision that was made, and that is why there is a mandate for this Government in Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland—because they are all part of the United Kingdom. It would be like saying when there is a socialist Government, but there are Conservative MPs in Somerset, that there is no right to rule Somerset. It is not the way a democracy works and I am sorry to say that the point is fundamentally flawed.

Let me come to an area of greater consensus. I am very well aware of how well the Scottish National party did in terms of representation in the local elections—[Interruption.] Sorry, I mean in the general election. I therefore recognise the importance of ensuring that Opposition days are fairly given and that the third party is recognised. The balance between it and the Official Opposition has changed, and that right must be borne in mind in the allocation of Opposition days. On the one and a half days, I kept begging the SNP to take up one of those with a no confidence motion, but it was reluctant to do so in the end. So it was not entirely the Government’s fault that the SNP did not get its full allocation.

On the NHS Funding Bill, I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that I have raised the question of Barnett consequentials, and they apply to the Bill, so it will benefit Scotland. Certification under the EVEL Standing Orders is a matter for you, Mr Speaker, and will come at a later stage. If it were to be so certified, all Members would vote on Second Reading, Report and Third Reading, so opportunities would be available for Opposition Members from all parts of the country to vote on the Bill in its entirety.