Yesterday was the day when every Scot, regardless of political leaning should have been conclusively made aware the disrespect that the majority of the Westminster parliament and in particular the current British government hold them in.
I can only call much of the governments disdain towards not just the SNP but the wishes of the people of Scotland to be heard as being despicable.
If anyone was in any doubt of the vacuity of the statements made previously by Westminster, of Scotland being a valued equal partner in the Union, yesterdays debate at the committee stage of the European (Notice of Withdrawal) Bill should have shown them up for being the utter dross that they were.
The events which followed in the 7 hours of debate, finishing at midnight, would have left those few that watched them threatening to destroy their television sets in anger.
3 major amendments from those of the devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, asking that they be consulted properly by the Westminster government with respect to matters which directly impacted on each of these Countries be respected, were each dismissed out of hand by Westminster. On the 2 of the amendments with regards to Northern Ireland and Wales Labour voted in favour of the amendments so their loss was not by all that much of a majority. The Scottish amendment was utterly trounced because Labour abstained.
However the manner in which the SNP were dealt with, and the manner in which they were denied voice was incredible. In the whole 7 hours, they were afforded a mere 4 speakers. While 2 Torys took up a third of the time available filibustering for half an hour each in order to deny debate, the scenes involving Joanna Cherry MP as she sought to speak was beyond belief.
I rise to speak in support of amendment 46, which stands in my name and that of my hon. Friends, but before that I would like to take the opportunity to thank Conservative Members who have spoken this evening for their quite extraordinary display of hubris and contempt towards amendments, laid by several different parties, that simply seek to make sure that the reality of the modern British constitution and devolved settlement is respected. Those of us who believe that Scotland would be better off managing its own affairs as an independent member of the EU will have received a huge boost this evening from their behaviour. It was a pleasure to listen to the speech of the hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan). I am sure he will forgive me if I say that I suspect that the cause of a united Ireland has also received a boost this evening. I very much hope so.
I will be brief so that others from my party might have a chance to speak. The purpose of amendment 46 is to require the Prime Minister to obtain the legislative consent of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Irish Assembly before she triggers article 50. It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to correct the hon. Member for North West Cambridgeshire (Mr Vara) and his woeful misunderstanding of what the Supreme Court did, and did not say, in relation to legislative consent motions. It said that, as currently framed in the Scotland Act, it is not legally enforceable. It did not say that it had no meaning whatsoever. The hon. Member for Foyle quoted paragraph 151 of the judgment, and I very much suggest that Conservative Members read the judgment, rather than simply taking from it what they want. It said:
“The Sewel Convention has an important role in facilitating harmonious relationships between the UK parliament and the devolved legislatures. But the policing of its scope and the manner of its operation does not lie within the constitutional remit of the judiciary”.
I am not going to give way. I am going to—
Order. I ask the hon. and learned Lady to take her seat. I have been very kind in bringing in the SNP, and I ask that she not take advantage of the time—[Interruption.] Order. I wanted to share the time, so I hope that she is coming to an end, so that we can get one more speaker in, as I promised I would do by allowing her to speak.
The purpose of the amendment is to require the Government to do what they said they would do when they introduced the Scotland Act, which was to make the Scottish Parliament the most powerful devolved Parliament in the world, and give it a say in a process that will fundamentally affect the rights of Scottish citizens and Scottish business. [Interruption.] I noted that Government Members were given as much time as they wanted to make their points, and I intend to take as much time, as is my right, to make my points.
Order. I think that the hon. and learned Lady’s speech has come to an end. Let us now please hear from the Minister.
Thank you, Mr Hoyle. [Interruption.]
Mr Salmond, you should know better. [Interruption.] Order. One second.
On a point of order, Mr Hoyle. It is clear that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry) had not resumed her seat, Sir. Being in the Chair accords you many privileges, but you cannot reinterpret the wishes of an hon. Member who is on her feet.
As the occupant of the Chair, I have the right to make decisions in this Committee. [Interruption.] Just a moment. I rightly wanted to bring in the hon. and learned Lady, which I did. When the SNP Whip comes and asks me to give a couple of minutes to ensure that the SNP has another voice, which I did, I certainly do not expect advantages to be taken of the Chair on the agreement that I met. That is the issue. Sit down.
Thank you for your chairing of this debate, Mr Hoyle. [Interruption.]
Calm down, Mr Wishart. This is a very serious matter. It is so serious that I want to hear what the Minister has to say in response to where we are. It is very serious and I want to hear it.
This is a hugely important debate. [Interruption.]
Order. Mr Salmond, will you clarify something for me?
Other Members have been making their contributions without any admonition from the Chair.
Order. Tempers are running quite high. We need to calm it down. In fairness, I have been very generous in coming into the Chair—[Interruption.] Mr Wishart, we do not need any extra help for the moment. Let me say that I want to hear, and Mr Salmond would expect to hear, what the Minister has to say in response to the opening speeches. I believe Mr Salmond would have wanted answers. The fact is that this Committee wants to hear what the Minister has to say. The last thing I wanted to do was to take up time dealing with points of order. In the end, if we do that, we will not hear from the Minister. I understand that you, Mr Salmond, may have used some unparliamentary language to me, but I am sure that you are not that kind of person and I am sure you did not do so.
I did not.
I am saying that I am sure that was not the case. I did not accuse you; far from it. Let us now get the Minister on his feet.
Thank you, Mr Hoyle.
We have heard from all four corners of the United Kingdom. [Interruption.] Everyone who has spoken in the debate agrees on the importance of engaging closely with the devolved Administrations and legislatures as we embark on the forthcoming negotiations.
On a point of order, Mr Hoyle. I have to say that I have great respect for you as the Chairman, but I hope you can understand the frustration that we all feel that only two SNP Members have been called to speak in this debate, which is important for the future of Scotland and our position within Europe. I am asking what you can do, Mr Hoyle, to make sure that the voice of the people of Scotland is heard correctly in this debate. It has not been heard this evening.
I assumed my place in the Chair, and I have tried to ensure that a second SNP voice was heard, and we were listening to that. That is what I agreed to, and that is what I have done. In fairness, I think the SNP has done better than it was going to otherwise, in which case, let us hear what the Minister has to say.
That all was just the lid coming off the teapot
Here is the link to the whole debate in Hansard
I would draw your attention to exchanges in columns 140… Letwin/MacDonald/Harper
145 Deputy Chair
148 Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik
And Finally….at the end of the evening…..the reaction of Anne McLaughlin MP
So that was a long night in the House of Commons. It was 1.15am before I was on my way home after an eventful day.
In 8 hours of debate, 4 MPs representing Scottish constituencies got to speak. At the end of the first debate every Tory and Labour MP who wanted to speak, got to do so. 1 Lib Dem was refused as were 7 SNP MPs.
One of the 4 was Joanna Cherry. After 2 minutes (when many others had spoken for around 20 mins each) the Deputy Speaker saiid he expected her to finish up, that he had been kind enough to let the SNP speak and she should not abuse it.
Joanna rightly carried on. So he told her she was done. Unbelievable. Alex Salmond raised a point of order and about 12 of us walked out in disgust.
Incidentally, when the deputy speaker was telling us to get back in our box, Labour folk were cheering. Angela Eagle’s “hear hear”s were very loud and animated.
It’s not about the SNP being treated badly particularly and it’s certainly not about us individually. But you elected us to represent you and If we are not allowed to speak we are not allowed to represent you.
It’s ridiculous. I am glad I walked out. Joanna was right to stand her ground. We shouldn’t have to fight for the right to fight for you.
Right it’s 2am and I’ve to be back there at 8.30am so I am off to bed. Thanks for all the emails.