Business of the House

Part of Prayers - [Mr Speaker in the Chair] – in the House of Commons at 9:33 am on 13th May 2021.

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Photo of Owen Thompson Owen Thompson SNP Chief Whip 9:33 am, 13th May 2021

Can I also welcome Thangam Debbonaire to her place? I know that my hon. Friend Pete Wishart—remember the Perthshire One—will also be very much looking forward to working with her. I would add my own tributes to Valerie Vaz. She was certainly a great support to me as I stood in in this role—and I continue to stand in in this role—over the past weeks. Obviously, my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and North Perthshire is very keen to make a return to this role, but we shall have to hold our anticipation for a little longer until we can see that happening.

I have no doubt that the Leader of the House will want to join me in congratulating the new Scottish Government on a record-breaking election success in last week’s Scottish Parliament elections—more votes than any other party in the history of devolution—and it is certainly great to see them returned in such great numbers. From a personal point of view, I note that the Members for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, Colin Beattie, and for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Christine Grahame, both returned with an increased vote share and increased majorities.

I share the concerns of other Members about the ongoing situation in Israel and Palestine. I think that is of great concern to us all. Would the Leader of the House perhaps make time available for the Secretary of State for International Trade to give a statement to the House on the impact of arms export licences and how this has such an impact on conflicts around the globe?

Over recent weeks, I have often raised the issues of openness and transparency. We still see these issues ongoing and allegations still do not go away. Investigations are now ongoing, but concern still remains that the Prime Minister can let himself off the hook on any conclusions the adviser on ministerial interests might come to, just as happened with the Home Secretary previously. Surely this is evidence that the enforcement of the ministerial code is not nearly strong enough. In the words of Transparency International, the

“guiding principles alone are not sufficient when it comes to guaranteeing integrity in public office.”

So can we have a statement from the Minister for the Cabinet Office on strengthening the code, perhaps even by making it by law?