Part Time Parliamentarians

Plenty has been written about the archaic procedures within the House of Commons, especially the bizarre routine of voting by marching through lobbies, but the established UK parties weren’t that bothered about it.  If anyone said let’s move forward to a modern method of electronic voting, not only will it speed up the voting process, but it will also allow more time for debate – the usual answer was that this was part of the traditions of the House and shouldn’t be tampered with.

On 12th June we saw impact of this antiquated voting system when it came to the powers of devolution in Scotland.  Instead a full debate on the impact of Brexit and the powers of the devolved Scottish Parliament, the drawn-out voting process resulted in only around 15 minutes being allotted to discuss these important issues.  That was enough time for one Tory Minister to speak and no SNP, or even Scottish MPs had the chance to speak before Parliament voted to change the devolution settlement (more to come in another post).  The Tories, who haven’t won a majority of votes in Scotland since 1955, managed to grab powers which should be the preserve of the Scottish Parliament. The devolution settlement has been changed – and all the while the Labour MPs from Scotland abstained!  This will now allow the Tory UK Government to intervene in what should be Scotland’s business, as and when they want.

Last night, the House of Commons was debating UK Government spending plans, the very same plans that impose austerity across Scotland and the rest of the UK.  The SNP group decided to call a number of votes on this issue – each time forcing MPs to troop through the corridors, taking up time until the Tories won the vote – mainly because the majority of Labour MPs had something better to do.  They were sitting in bars watching the England World Cup match!

SNP Westminster Group Deputy Leader said:

“To be clear, the estimates is the breakdown of UK Government spending by department.  It’s our only chance to vote on UK Government spending.  It’s not really obscure.

“The process has only been changed this year to make it less obscure after pressure from us.  It should be reformed further though!”

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford also raised a point of order.  He said:

“Perhaps it is pertinent given some of the angst from the government benches to point out what has happened this evening.

“The reason we’re here is because of government business.  It is the government that is responsible for timetabling.  And this was the only opportunity we have had to speak out against the continued austerity from this Conservative government and the attack on the budget of Scotland.

“But more importantly, three weeks ago we had a power grab against the powers of the Scottish Parliament.  And I signalled to the Conservative Government then, that what they have done, is act against the consent of the Scottish parliament and the Scottish people … it would no longer be business as usual, and I now commend the Scottish National Party for standing up for Scotland tonight.”

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