Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP):
I am grateful, Mrs Laing.

So, this is what an English Parliament looks like. It looks pretty much like the unitary UK Parliament to me. This is a remarkable day. It is worth noting how significant and historic this is. For the first time in the history of this House and this Parliament, Members of Parliament will be banned from participating in Divisions of this House, based on nationality and the geographic location of their constituencies.

Alberto Costa (South Leicestershire) (Con):
The hon. Gentleman’s constituents in Perth and North Perthshire, who may well have voted for him, surely see this as a very fair motion to safeguard the United Kingdom by having a fair devolution settlement.

Pete Wishart:
The hon. Gentleman tempts me. I will say a couple of things to him. First, I was elected on the same basis as him. My constituents expect me to participate in all debates and all legislation in this House. I am now denied that opportunity. Secondly, if he thinks that going down such a route as this, whereby Scottish Members of Parliament are banned from voting on certain issues that are considered English only, will save his Union, he has another think coming. Nothing has infuriated the Scottish people more than the measures on English votes for English laws.


John Redwood

Pete Wishart:
How can I resist the right hon. Gentleman?

John Redwood:
If the hon. Gentleman is such a passionate believer in us settling everything together, why am I not even allowed to express a view, let alone vote, on local government, health and education in his constituency?

Pete Wishart:
The right hon. Gentleman just does not understand, so I will try to explain it to him patiently once again. We live in the United Kingdom. There is asymmetric devolution within the United Kingdom. We have a Parliament in Scotland that determines and decides the very issues—[Interruption.]

The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mrs Eleanor Laing):
Order. The hon. Gentleman is a Member of this House and has a right to be heard. He will be heard.

Pete Wishart:
I did not know whether I was a Member of this House or an international observer, but I will take the initial one as your favour—thank you, Mrs Laing.

Let me say to the right hon. Member for Wokingham (John Redwood) that we have a Parliament in Scotland that determines and decides on these matters—he is right; we do that in Scotland. We do those things in this House too, but what he wants, and what has been created today, is a quasi-English Parliament within the confines of the unitary Parliament of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. That is the nub of the issue, and that is why this first meeting today is so significant and remarkable.

Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes South) (Con):
May I remind the hon. Gentleman that what we have before us is a consent mechanism for Members from England, or England and Wales, to agree to measures that apply only to us? On Third Reading, if the hon. Gentleman fundamentally disagrees with something in the Bill, he will have a vote to vote against it.

Pete Wishart:
Let me tell the hon. Gentleman what it feels like to us. What it feels like to me, and to my right hon. and hon. Friends, is that we are on the wrong side of a banishment and a bar that denies us our right as legitimately elected Members of Parliament from participating fully in the House today. That is what is being done; that is the key point, which people still fail to grasp. What has been done with this Legislative Grand Committee is the creation of two types of Member of Parliament of this House. That is the issue that we object to and find so difficult.

Simon Hoare (North Dorset) (Con):
While Conservative Members find their handkerchiefs to mop their tears, will the hon. Gentleman say why, if he and his party feel so passionately about this Bill, there were no votes from SNP Members on Second Reading or Report?

Pete Wishart:
We have no great interest in this Bill. [Interruption.] I do not know why that comes as a surprise to the hon. Gentleman. Let me say it again, in case he missed it: we have no great interest in this Bill. He is right to say that we did not vote on Second Reading or any of the proceedings that we were allowed to participate in, because we respect the right of English Members of Parliament to determine issues on that basis—of course that is their right.

Simon Hoare

Pete Wishart:
I am not giving way again—I am answering the hon. Gentleman’s point.

That is why we took no interest and stayed away on those Divisions. However, the creation of this Legislative Grand Committee—again, I am astounded that Conservative Members do not understand this—has created two classes of Members of Parliament of this House. One class is able to participate in every Division in this House, as we are about to see, while other Members of Parliament, such as my hon. Friends on the Benches behind me, are not able to participate in all parts of the legislation. That is what hon. Members have done.

Several hon. Members rose—
Pete Wishart:
Far too many Members wish to intervene, so I will say no to them all.

Even if I wanted a say in this Bill, I would be barred from doing so. I am not allowed to vote on this. I am not even allowed to call a Division, and if I attempted to do so, you would quite rightly rule me out of order, Mrs Laing, according to the standards of the House. If I were to vote in the Division I have no idea what would happen. I presume that the Serjeant at Arms would come chasing after me with his little sword, telling me that I cannot participate in this vote, and he would chase me out. That is what he should do; that is what his job would be.

Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) (Con)

Pete Wishart:
I will give way to the hon. Lady, because I like her.

5.30 pm

Dr Wollaston:
I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He will know I have a great deal of respect for him. He talks about how this feels for him and his colleagues. How it feels for my constituents in south Devon is that an historic injustice has been righted. I put it to him that they feel they have been under-represented, and that we care about our constituents in this House, not ourselves.

Pete Wishart:
Here is something for the hon. Lady, for whom I have a great deal of respect, to consider: how about if we all retain equality in the House of Commons? How about we retain the same rights and privileges, just like we did just a few short weeks ago? The hon. Lady and all her hon. Friends obviously feel very strongly about this. I understand the passion of English Members of Parliament on this issue. How about they create a Parliament? How about designing a Parliament in their own image, where they can look after these issues like we do in the Scottish Parliament? Why do not they not have a Parliament, one that does not necessarily sit in this House but in one of the other great cities throughout the United Kingdom, where democracy could be seen in action? How about that as a solution? We could then come back together to this House as equal Members and consider the great reserved issues of foreign affairs, defence and international relations. That is how most other nations do it. It is called federalism and it seems to work quite adequately in most other nations.

What Conservative Members have done today is create this absolute mess—a bourach guddle. Nobody even understands how it works! We have just rung the Division bells to suspend proceedings, so that the Speaker can scurry off and consult the Clerks to decide whether it is necessary to recertify certain pieces of proposed legislation. This is what has happened to the business of this great Parliament. This is what we have resorted to today.

Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con)

Pete Wishart:
I will give way to the hon. Gentleman, who I also like very much.

Mr Rees-Mogg:
I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way, but I think he has actually got it fundamentally wrong. Two tiers of Members of Parliament have not been created by the mechanism that has been used. By using Standing Orders, which can be changed by all Members of Parliament, and by this being a Grand Committee—we see where the Mace is—and not the House sitting in full session, the rights of every individual Member remain intact. That is crucially important.

Pete Wishart:
In all candour, I have to say that that is not what it feels like on this side of the House. If a Division is called, the hon. Gentleman will be able to vote and express his view as a legitimately elected Member of Parliament. My hon. Friends and I, as equally legitimate Members of Parliament recently elected at the general election, will not be allowed to vote. We will be banned. We will be barred. We will be effectively banished from that process.

Mrs Main:
Does the hon. Gentleman really expect taxpayers to pay for another Parliament just because his feelings are somehow being assaulted? I do not how he could explain that extra layer of bureaucracy and cost to the British taxpayer, but maybe spending other people’s money is how they like to do things in Scotland.

Pete Wishart:
I do not know whether I am grateful or not to the hon. Lady for her intervention. I think she is saying that she wants great dollops of cake so she can spend her time eating it and having a singularly English Parliament. Let us just use the House of Commons to accommodate that. The thing that has been created here is a quasi-English Parliament, but his Parliament belongs to me as much as to her. It belongs to the Scottish people as much as to the English people. What has happened today with the Legislative Grand Committee is that she will be able to represent her constituents in all Divisions, but my hon. Friends and I will not.

Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness) (Con):
I think what the House will take from the hon. Gentleman’s animated, passionate and, as ever, fluent speech is the fact that he is furious about a typically British evolution in the system of government that blocks his most devout desire, which is, of course, separation for Scotland. This system makes it fair in England. It deals with that grievance and means that his hope for independence disappears. That is why he is so angry.

Pete Wishart:
As with so many things, the hon. Gentleman is half right. This has been noted in Scotland. A lot of people are observing this and seeing this Parliament becoming, in effect, an English Parliament. They are seeing the voices of their Members of Parliament, so recently elected, diminished in this House. They will not be able to speak or vote in particular circumstances.

Throughout the debate on EVEL, the Leader of the House gave the impression that these votes would be subject to a double majority—that the whole House would express its will and then there would be a vote for English Members, which would effectively be their veto—but that has not happened. Instead, there has been a banishment. That is the brutal reality of EVEL. This is what happens when we start mucking about with the Standing Orders and our membership arrangements. We are left with some Members who can do anything—participate and vote on any issue—and others who cannot. It is totally unsatisfactory. We have wasted God knows how much time discussing these issues today. It has made such a mess of parliamentary proceedings and added extra elements to the functions of an already hard-working House when considering Bills. It is a total mess.

Sir Gerald Howarth (Aldershot) (Con):
The hon. Gentleman has already told the House that the Scottish nationalist party—[Hon. Members: “National!”]—that the Scottish National party has no interest in this measure, which in no way applies to Scotland, and therefore will not vote on it. What is his problem? SNP Members have every right to speak, and we have addressed an injustice. For years, Conservative Members felt like second-class citizens, unable to vote on health and education matters in Scotland, while they have been able to vote on matters solely to do with England. Would the SNP have voted on the measure to bring hunting regulations in England and Wales into line with those in Scotland?

Pete Wishart:
I say this in all candour to the hon. Gentleman, whom I very much respect: we hear much from our English colleagues about their deeply held views on EVEL. He is a fine exponent of this perceived injustice: “How dare these Scots oppress English Members”—they only make up about 85% of the House!—“by coming down here and stealing our votes and having a say in our legislation?” With this Conservative majority, 88%, I think, of the House is English-only, yet we are the reason they cannot get their way. It is a ridiculous argument.

I do not want to take up any more time—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”] I can if Members would like—but we will return to these issues in the future. This is not concluded. I have heard several English Members say they are doing this to save the Union. I add a word of caution to my friends representing English constituencies: in establishing this Committee and pursuing the issue in this way, they are driving Scotland out of the door. That is how it is seen in Scotland. During the referendum campaign, as you will remember Madam Deputy Speaker, we were told: “Stay with us, Scotland. Scotland, we love you.” But the minute we park our backsides on these green Benches, we are diminished in status and not allowed a say in all matters.

Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab):
As someone proud to represent an English constituency, I feel—I do not know if my Labour colleagues feel the same—that the Tories are making precisely the same mistake as their predecessors did over Ireland. The way to proceed is for Scottish and Welsh Members to show self-restraint in deciding whether to vote on an issue. To have first and second-class Members does a disservice to the Union. I deplore what is being done.

Pete Wishart:
I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I knew his would be one of the quality interventions of the debate. He is absolutely right. The only thing I would say to him is this: where on earth is his Front-Bench team? They are not even prepared to make a speech or statement. Why are they not participating? Labour Members used to be stalwarts of this debate. I remember when we had 50-odd Labour Members for Scotland. They would have been making a fuss and standing up for Scotland’s interests, yet today there is absolute silence from the Labour Benches.

Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) (Lab):
I am delighted the hon. Gentleman has given way, because no SNP Members have participated in the Bill proceedings. We agree that this process is a complete charade, but while I was voting at 2.45 am last week on behalf of my constituents, he was in his bed.

Pete Wishart:
Maybe. It is with great fascination that we hear from the one and only Scottish Labour Member of Parliament. Perhaps the reason why the hon. Gentleman is in such a diminished position is the Labour party’s silence on these issues. The fact that Labour Members have ignored them all the way through speaks volumes about the attitude of the Labour party. I do not know whether it is due to the particular chaos it is going through, but we need to hear from Labour Members to find out their view about what has happened.

Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) (SNP):
Speaking as someone who was here in the wee small hours, I can say that Labour Members were notable for their absence, being far too busy clawing their own eyes out at the time. It is a bit of a cheek for them to seek to lecture us here.

Pete Wishart:
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for reminding us that that was the night of the long reshuffle, so I suppose we should be grateful that any Labour Members were there. I do not wish to take up any more time.

Lady Hermon:
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for allowing me to intervene. Since the Front Benchers have boasted—and it was a boast—that this is an historic occasion, it would help if the occasion was not flawed. To take but one example, new clause 62 is designated as applying exclusively to England. Will the Minister quickly turn to it before we proceed in order to establish whether it applies only to England, because given that it appears in the new clause, I think the word “Wales” applies to it?

Pete Wishart:
The hon. Lady has made a creative intervention to put her point directly to the Minister, and I think it deserves a response. All I can say to her from the SNP perspective is that we are going to see lots more issues like that. Confining the EVEL rulings to a Grand Committee means that no consequential issues can be considered by the Speaker in making his certifications. That means that many massive issues will impact on my constituents down the line, but I will not be able to represent them in those matters.

If Conservative Members think they have won and believe that this will not have anything other than a totally detrimental impact on the fortunes of the Conservative party in Scotland, they need to have another think about it. This is unworkable; this is ungovernable; this is a mess; this is unfair. This creates two classes of Members in this House, which is totally unacceptable to my hon. Friends and the Scottish National party.

17 thoughts on “BANNED FROM VOTING IN THE HofC

  1. Dr Jim

    Independence must be brought forward for England as quickly as possible and a EU exit so that Scotland can be allowed the freedom to thrive and grow without the hindrance of British Nationalism confused with English Nationalism confused with UKIP
    Scotland cannot keep subsidising the rest of the UK forever, it’s time they learned how to count on their own and not continually robbing Scotland and spending everything seemingly unable to save a penny
    Over thirty years of oil money and they have nothing left, every Scot contributes three times as much per head as anywhere else in the UK to subsidise the BBC for god sake, and what do we get? 24 hour news from and English perspective,and English Football, Gary Linekers wages are more than the Programming budget for Scotland, and that exaggeration is only slight , it’s insanity!!

    Scotland in the EU sounds good to me but will we be allowed to make up our own minds or are we not sensible enough even though we invented half the modern world and the medicines in it and the roads and …..Ach Look England you’ve had your money it’s all but over, time to stop embarrassing yourselves by hanging on, the marriage is over you’ve abused us long enough leave before the Polis (voters) throw you out

  2. Helena

    Great to see you challenge the british bulldogs today. As I said on twitter, they just do not get it.
    Scottish MPs have as much right, as elected members in their ‘one nation, we love you, stay with us’ parliament as the unionist MPs, to vote on all matters. You cannot exclude members who were duly, democratically elected, to represent their constituents in the UK(ok) parliament from voting, on any matter. The unionist MPs vote on Scottish matters. The only difference is really, how Scotland spends the pocket money, begrudgingly sent up from westminster, out of the massive revenues Scotland sends, by force, to London. Aside from the fact that Scottish MPs usually refrained from voting on matters not directly relevant to Scotland, out of respect, something we cannot attribute to the unionist MPs.

    What we need here is to emphasise the fact that we were told in 2014, that we are, with absolutely no doubt, an EQUAL member, and nation, of the UK(ok).

    We can put our feelings aside. This is about actual practical workings regarding democracy, and whether a neighbouring country can take control, and ban one section of those representatives in parliament, when it goes against the wishes of the majority of the people they are elected to represent.

    Scotland is being silenced. The unionists really do want their cake and eat it. They cannot expect to have full control of the UK(ok) parliament, while handing very limited ‘powers’ to Scotland but at the same time, taking every single penny of Scotland’s revenues and spending it as they please, much of it on vanity projects like HS2 and pretty bridges over the Thames.

    We need some clarity. Devolution is what? Means what? Is the Scottish parliament permanent? Well we know they voted against that.
    It is very clear however, that many many people, South and some even North of the border, are still unclear as to what devolution is and what it really means for both countries. They do not understand how it all works, even though it’s very simple.
    They do not know that the Scottish parliament could be revoked anytime. People are shocked when I tell them this.

    EVEL is anti democratic and is a deliberate attempt to diminish and undermine just what it actually means to have 56 SNP MPs sitting in the House of commons.

    The English MPs, seem intent on ridiculing and excluding Scotland and the Scottish people, much to their folly.

    It’s a disgrace in fact, that these people feel justified in excluding the very country, Scotland,
    which they insist is ‘better off’ as part of their union, from the democratic process or that ‘union’.

    We have to remember the joy, the unionists outwardly expressed feelings, following the referendum in 2014. This was not out of love, but a deep reliance on Scotland’s revenues in continuing to prop up their union. Well we are here, so they better like it.

    1. Graham Ennis

      My main concern is that this whole EVEL manoeuvre is illegal, as it violates the International Treaty between previous Scottish and UK Governments. That Treaty is still in full legal force. It absolutely guarantees the Scottish MP’s shall have fully equal rights, for ever, so long as the |Treaty is in force. No If’s, no Buts., no maybe’s. Breach that, and the treaty is violated, and is in doubt. International law says that a Treaty that is continually being breached in it’s agreements can be denounced, by the Side whose Treaty Rights are being violated. A denounced treaty ceases to exist. The Scottish Parliament, as the successor legislature of the Scots, as they have elected it and it expresses “Their settled will”, can do this. This is all legalistic, but it has to be understood. It is international law. This means, that the Scottish government serves due notice, in the formal, standard way, of International law, on the UK Government of a treaty breach. If they ignore it, then the Treaty can be denounced. it then ceases. Scotland reverts to a sovereign Parliament. This is the International law. The consequences are that the Scottish government then can do a formal denouncement in the Holyrood Parliament, and then declare UDI. The legal precedent for this is the Succession of the Republic of Kosova from the former Federation of Yugoslavia. So the legal situation is absolutely clear. what is not clear is the will power of the Scottish Parliament. To further legitimise it, they can hold a second referendum on UDI. Thats it.

      I now turn to the issue of the Scot’s MP’s remaining in the UK Parliament, after their rights have been violated. (They have). if the accept their new, second class status, and are compliant, silent, and continue, they are then complicit, as they have accepted a gross illegality to themselves. The only honourable thing, is to stage a mass walk-out, the next time an EVEL vote takes place, and make it very clear, that they will not accept it’s illegality, and violation of their rights. They also need to demand a restitution of their voting rights, and set time limits, or they will stage a permanent formal walk out at the next state opening of Parliament. There is nothing to stop them taking the role of a Scottish Grand committee, and in the meantime hold meetings in Scotland, (The rules allow this) and holding meetings in Scotland to explain to people what is going on. They can also hold a joint session with the Scottish Parliament to discuss the matter. (Also legal, and within the rules.). Instead, we have this passive, complicit, assent to what has happened, and then going on as normal. This has got to stop. Comments please.

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  4. Panama

    Interesting to note that Ian Murray’s minor contribution is of the petty, point scoring, SNP bad, type. That sort of thing is why he is the only Scottish representative of his party.

  5. Ghillie

    Pete, thank you. Awesome tenacity in the face of the usual dim refusal to understand a principle.

  6. Helena

    Having thought about this abit more. Could it be that legally, Scotland is, effectively, independent during the hours in which Scottish MPs are barred from voting in the commons? A bit far fetched no doubt, but just a thought.

  7. Donald Laing

    They cant string a sentence together without lacing it with insults, some of them deeply malicious. On the world stage they do not hold much respect anymore, their Empire turned out to be a balloon and they are now reduced to burning the furniture. On top of that we are going (we have to, to keep our self respect) Sad really.

  8. Dawn

    It has been made clear that Scotland will never be accepted as an equal partner Independence is the only way forward to get on with governing Scotland effectively

  9. Peter Davidson

    I’m English and have lived in Scotland for 25 years. When I first came to Scotland, I was blown away with the freedom that existed here, which I thought was truly unique. I was amazed at the fresh, honesty of the people, which was in stark contrast to the post-Thatcher England that I left.

    Today, I am disgusted by the Racism of the Scots. I am despondent at the small-minded, jealousy, arrogance and hypocrisy. The social conservatism makes my skin crawl. I am speechless at the catalog of failures and have truly lost faith with Project Scotland. I can honestly say that I struggle not to hate living here and cant wait until the kids are out of school and I can be free again. We really are better apart but I feel as though its better said.

    All the best. I hope you find what you are looking for.


    1. Bill Andersen

      The Scots are generally not racist against the people of England, but are dead against Westminster rule, and indeed, all the racist comments seem to come from English MPs directed at the SNP members and the Scottish People. Westminster lies all the time, even to their own people in England because if the truth comes out about who actually subsidises who in this one sided union, the people of England will revolt. It’s time to part company and we should do it amicably and get on with governing our respective countries and be good neighbours. There is nothing to be gained by Scotland staying in this union any longer as “We love you Scotland, don’t leave us!” no longer seems to apply and instead we are being silenced and diminished by the Westminster Tories while they fill their pockets and do nothing to run the economy because they haven’t a clue how to do the job or to represent the people of the UK.

  10. thomaspotter2014

    The arrival of EVEL is,fortunately for Scotland,the actual start of Independence for which I am truly grateful.

    And it should be celebrated.

    Personally I think all SNP MP’s should acknowledge that the bond of trust of The Union and Westminster has been fatally compromised,and the One Party State that is England are welcome to it’s demise.



  11. Michael Dillon

    Peter Davidson,
    What a strange email. You were blown away by the freedom, is it just the exercise of that freedom that appals you?
    You are disgusted by the jealousy, I assume this is the jealousy Scots (civic Scots that is, including many from England and further afield) have for other independent nations who are free (there is that freedom word again) and in control of their own destiny. It certainly can’t be jealousy for what the union offers, in case you haven’t noticed independence means Scotland stands on its own surely that is the opposite of jealousy.
    You can’t wait for the kids to be out of School so you can be free again? Is the freedom that you previously said was lacking in your beloved England. I assume you will want your kids to benefit from a free university education in Scotland.
    Your entire message stinks of hypocrisy, your entrenched little Englander (interchangeable I am sure in your eyes with Little Britisher) attitude will hold you back wherever you go, you have my sympathy. If you are looking for a new Jerusalem I suggest Kent, Scotland might not be for you. Scotland is however for anyone who wants to enjoy freedom, self determination and social equality.
    If you do leave you will always be welcome back, because that is the type of people we are.

  12. Peter Davidson

    I really couldn’t give a damn about flags or nationality or lines on a map or whether the public servants are this lot or that lot. When I was brought up we were taught that prejudice is wrong, that bigotry was wrong, that racism was wrong. No ifs, no buts, no maybes, no equivocation. Prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, racism are wrong. period. not just because it is detrimental to the target but because it diminishes the perpetrator. When I first arrived in Scotland, I mistakenly thought that the people here understood this. Unfortunately, that was a mistake. Instead, prejudice, discrimination, bigotry and racism towards the English has become normalised in the name is Scottish nationality and is now well beyond what could be considered acceptable or understandable. Everybody knows this but its like the emperors new clothes – everyone can see it but no-one has the guts to say it:

    – racism in politics : ‘_they_ just want to take our oil’; ‘Ah’ve never seen a poor tory’ etc
    – racism in sport : Anyone but england eh?
    – racism in culture : ask the barman for a pint of English beer and watch their expression

    Seemingly it is now OK to look at the English in a bigoted way. They are a different race after all. That wasn’t what we all said we believed in years ago. Seemingly, its OK to spout any bigoted nonsense to likeminded scots about the English, about who they are, about what they think, about their anthem, about their values, about their values. You cant be too bigoted towards the English in Scotland these days – the more the better – the more prejudiced towards ‘they’, the more Scottish you are. Send them homeward tae think again. OK then

    I dont care about nations, nationality, nationalism and the like. We are all people. We are all the same people and I despise racists regardless of their flag. Its a huge shame that it has come to this – partly from a personal sense but also because it is clear to me that Scotland will never and can never succeed because it is diminished by this handicap.

    All the best. I hope you find what you’re looking for

  13. Papko

    Evel is no solution , but neither is devolution in its existing format

    Just have General elections as normal , with every constituency in Britain (with approx 75k popn) , send forth their chosen MP to the House of Commons .

    when matters are concerning Scotland (roads , schools and hospitals ) , the Scottish MPS , can go to Holyrood and sit , discuss and scrutinise , as can the Welsh and Northern Irish , (a Regional assembly can be set up in the Northern powerhouse )

    Then on matter of national import , all members gather in our parliament , to debate the major issues .

    It will save us a few pound as well as we will no longer need MSPs .

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