SNP accuses government of ‘dodging scrutiny’ after pulling motion surrounding Scotland
PUBLISHED: 10:04 24 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:04 24 April 2020
Opposition MPs have criticised the government for pulling a motion from Commons business surrounding the establishment of the Scottish Affairs Committee - four months after the general election.
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SNP Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart has claimed that the government are ‘dodging scrutiny’ by not setting up the committee, and said pulling the motion was an attempt to “block” proposals. The UK government proposed five Conservative members, one more than before the election, with the SNP having three. Under the proposals, Labour would have two members and the Lib Dems would have one MP. The SNP rejected the idea, claiming it did not reflect the electoral picture in Scotland, although the party dropped its opposition last week. Membership of select committees in Westminster usually reflects the number of seats held in the House of Commons by any one party.
Wishart, who was chairman of the committee before the election, said: “The Tory government must stop dodging scrutiny and let the Scottish Affairs Committee get back to work so we can fulfil our key democratic role of holding the UK government to account and scrutinising the impact of its policies on Scotland. “It is completely unacceptable that the Tories have blocked the establishment of the committee for more than four months since the 2019 election - curtailing Scotland’s voice at Westminster even further. “In the middle of a global pandemic and economic crisis, it is more important than ever that MPs are able to scrutinise the UK Government’s response and its impact on Scotland.” Lib Dem North East Fife MP Wendy Chamberlain said she was “frustrated and disappointed” at the stalemate, which she blamed on “petty bickering” between the Conservatives and the SNP over the membership of the committee. Chamberlain said: “This dispute between the SNP and the Conservatives is borne out of a lack of trust but these petty bickerings are preventing us making progress. “We are in the middle of a pandemic and MPs across the political spectrum must put their disagreements to one side so we can get on with our job.” She added: “It’s a huge privilege to have been nominated for this committee and I want to get on with the job. “I urge other members to put aside their differences and focus on what matters. “The government must break this deadlock and bring back the motion.” A source close to the leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, told the PA news agency: “It’s a pity that the SNP objected to the formation of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee when the motion was brought to the house before recess.
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