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Scottish Affairs Committee

Volume 728: debated on Tuesday 21 February 2023

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That Liz Twist and Jon Cruddas be discharged from the Scottish Affairs Committee and Andrew Western and Christine Jardine be added.—(Sir Bill Wiggin.)

I congratulate the Chair of the Selection Committee, the hon. Member for North Herefordshire (Sir Bill Wiggin), on moving the motion. In rising to oppose it, there is nothing that is personal towards the hon. Member for Edinburgh West (Christine Jardine), from the Liberal Democrats. She is hugely talented, and I look forward to her playing a constructive role on behalf of the independence negotiations for a future independent Scotland—I know that, deep down, she is incredibly passionate about that.

Fundamentally, the motion is about the fact that the British Labour party is unable to fulfil its obligations to this House. There are 196 British Labour party MPs in this House of Commons. They have two spaces on the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, and for weeks and months, members of that Committee from the British Labour party have been unable even to attend it. Because Labour has been unable to fulfil its roles on the Scottish Affairs Committee—a Committee, let us not forget, that was used by the previous Member for Glasgow South West, Ian Davidson, to conduct all sorts of sham reports into separation; that Committee was the instrument that Labour used to try to batter the SNP Government—we now find ourselves in a situation where the Labour party is so pathetic, so weak, and so unable to stand up and have any interest in Scotland that it is giving seats away left, right and centre to the Liberal Democrats.

We are often told—indeed, we were told on Sunday, when the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) made one of his rare trips north to Scotland—that the path to a Labour Government runs through Scotland. This motion shows that Labour cannot get a path to a Labour Government when it will not even turn up and start laying the path. It is on that basis that I now look forward to the hon. Member for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire) explaining from the Dispatch Box why, with 196 MPs, Labour cannot find more than one to take part in the Scottish Affairs Select Committee.

I start by thanking my hon. Friends the Members for Blaydon (Liz Twist) and for Dagenham and Rainham (Jon Cruddas) for their hard work and dedication on the Scottish Affairs Committee.

The right of political parties to nominate Members for Select Committees is based on the composition of the House. The nominations we are discussing today are Labour’s to make, and we are making them: one for my hon. Friend, the brilliant new Member for Stretford and Urmston (Andrew Western), and the other for the hon. Member for Edinburgh West (Christine Jardine). It is no secret that we currently only have one Member in Scotland—for now—and he is not able to sit on the Committee due to his role in the shadow Cabinet, so just as the SNP has called for, we have nominated another Scottish Member to serve on the Select Committee.

Just because on this occasion, much to the evident dislike of SNP Members, that Member is a Liberal Democrat and not from the SNP, that does not make it okay for the SNP to start playing parliamentary games, wasting everyone’s time. One would think they had something else going on that they want to distract attention from—whatever could that be? From their actions today, Mr Deputy Speaker, you would be surprised to learn this, but I will refresh the memories of SNP Members: we previously gave a place to the SNP.

Why don’t we make a deal? We could let Labour have the two places; they could even give one to the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn), who is kind of a member of the Labour party. Why don’t they give it to him?

I thank the hon. Member for that intervention because it gives me the opportunity to reiterate that they are our places to nominate, and we are nominating the Members we wish to be on the Committee. As I said, we have previously nominated someone from the SNP. Is this not just another case of the SNP focusing on the wrong priorities? [Interruption.] With the Scottish NHS on the brink, their country in a cost of living crisis—[Interruption.] They are making a lot of noise. There are thousands of people in Scotland forced to choose between heating and eating, yet the SNP is focusing on a row over who sits where down here. The people of Scotland, I presume, would like to see their SNP Government focusing on recovery or growing and strengthening the economy, dealing with the issues in public services and addressing the crisis in our NHS.

How does the hon. Lady know what the people of Scotland really think, especially when the two Labour members were not even participating in the Scottish Affairs Committee?

I have to correct the hon. Gentleman. The Labour party has a lot of Members in the Scottish Parliament. We have more support every day, and we know, from listening to the people of Scotland, that they would like a Government who are listening, dealing with the crisis in the NHS in Scotland, dealing with the public sector and investing to create the green jobs of the future in Scotland. If the SNP will not, Labour will, and I am sure that the people of Scotland watching today can see just what their Westminster representatives are up to.

Question put.

The House proceeded to a Division.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. May I confirm that we have forced this to a Division to allow Labour and Conservative Members to go into the same Lobby together?