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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:31 am on 13th February 2020.

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Photo of Tommy Sheppard Tommy Sheppard Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons 11:31 am, 13th February 2020

Given the events of today, I suppose we should congratulate the Leader of the House on surviving, at least thus far, the Cabinet cull that is currently under way. We should be grateful that our business is led by someone who has proven his indispensability to the Prime Minister.

I want to make a general comment on the business because, not for the first time, it appears to be somewhat lacklustre and thin. We now seem to be moving to having Opposition day debates on an almost weekly basis because of the Government’s inability to fill their timetable. Some of the matters in this statement are relatively minor, or there is no great disagreement on the direction of travel, merely, as in the case of the environment, on the speed with which we should be progressing.

Given the Prime Minister’s bravado in the aftermath of the election, when can we expect to see, in legislative proposals, the Johnsonian vision for the future of Britain? When can we expect something rather more meaty than the proposals before us today? Or is it the case that, in fact, the Government do not have the ideas to which they alluded during the election campaign?

Finally, I return to the question I have now asked several times simply because I have not yet had an adequate answer. When will this Government bring forward proposals to recognise the fact that they do not have a mandate for their programme in the nation of Scotland? The result on 12 December made it clear that people in Scotland wish to choose an alternative direction to the one proposed by the Government, and the Government should not continue to ignore public opinion in Scotland in this way.

When I have previously asked the Leader of the House about this, his response has been, “Oh, there was a referendum six years ago that settled the matter.” Well, I ask him again. Does he accept the notion of the claim of right for Scotland and that the people who live in that country have the right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs? Does that right exist today, or is it just a matter of history?