Government Policy on the Proceedings of the House

Mike Wood: As we have heard, it has been 12 months since the Scottish Government were defeated, and they are still at the consultation stage, whereas in the four weeks since the House expressed a view on the two motions in question, the Government have announced a policy change on the level of next year’s tuition fees, and they have announced different terms of reference for the public pay review bodies. The Government have done exactly what the hon. Gentleman is asking of them in terms of considering and reviewing, and I am sure that those matters will come back to the House.

 

Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution), Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee

I do not think the hon. Gentleman has been listening. I am not making any criticism of the Government—[Hon. Members: “Oh!”] I am not! I am trying to give them some advice about how to do things and I am trying to get their minority status into their head. I am trying to help them to deal with that, so I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman listened to what I have said. It is good that they are reviewing things—that is what minority Governments do, and they should continue—but they also have to allow Opposition day debates to conclude and then vote on them and express an opinion. It is important that our constituents hear us in Parliament deciding on the important issues. It is important that they know our views, and the only way they are going to find out how we think about a particular issue or subject is if we vote on it. That is the only way they can determine it.

I do not know whether the Government intend not to vote on any further Opposition day motions, but I am not particularly interested in what Paul Waugh has to say in the Huffington Post on a particular day. I would like to hear it from the Leader of the House. Perhaps we can tempt her to say definitively, yes or no, whether she intends the Government to vote on Opposition day motions at some point. I will give her the chance to say whether it will be an option for the Government. [Interruption.] She is shaking her head, or—

 

Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

indicated dissent.

 

Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution), Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee

She is not. That is good, and that is what we expected. All we needed to hear in this whole debate was the Leader of the House say to us, “Well, you know, we did that the first day because we thought we were playing a political game, but we’ll come back and we’ll vote on Opposition day motions.” We will get Opposition days; I would like to think that the Government would come along and vote on them.

We really have to start to get on top of all this. This has been a particularly bad start to the Parliament. I listened to the Leader of the House talking about all the things she did to put in place Select Committees earlier than usual. What utter, utter bunkum. Now that we are back for this long period in Parliament, with sittings right up to Christmas, let us start to show that we respect the political arrangements in the House—the structures and the way we have done things traditionally—and that we can still approach these issues collegiately and consensually, if we can.

The Government also have to get it into their head that they are a minority Government. We have seen no evidence of that yet. As we go through this Session, a little more of a demonstration of where the Government are just now would be useful and good. I hope that we do not have to have any more of these debates. I have been taking part in such debates almost every week for the past few months, and this is something we need to get over. We need to see the Government respecting their position and respecting the traditions of this House.