Scots-born Tory MP for Carlisle, John Stevenson has caused a slight ripple by suggesting a proposal to remove Scottish MPs being elected to Westminster after a Yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum.
Although interesting and raising questions, the fact of the matter is that his Bill is not needed.
Scotland is going to vote to remain part of the UK.
The House of Commons has completely rejected his proposal by a margin of 236 to 16 to throw out the plan on its ear.
In the House of Commons, MPs can get the opportunity using what is called the 10 minute rule to get up on their hind legs and propose a law.
This ten minute rule bill would have removed Scottish seats from those elected at the 2015 Westminster ballot.
If independence was successful for the SNP in September, legally Scottish MPs would be eligible to stand up to the proposed 2016 date of independence.
At that point, a Bill might have to be produced, however, it isn’t quite as clear cut and dry as that, there could be a legal challenge for continuation to the end of the Parliament.
Personally, I rather think that the Westminster authorities wouldn’t wish to challenge rather they would be pragmatic and simply let the clock run out.
Mr Stevenson told MPs that he is “a proud Scot.”
Well done Mr. Stevenson, couple that with being a ‘bright Scot’ and you might go somewhere.
He hopes his bill would “never need to take effect” as he wants a “resounding No vote in September.”
It will be.
As to his point that it would be “perverse” for MPs representing Scottish constituencies to continue to be represented in parliament, potentially negotiating on independence on behalf of the rest of the UK!
That wouldn’t really happen, and it is doubtful that the current crop of Westminster SNP MPs would play a role of any real significance. I would seriously doubt that Scottish Labour MPs would want to be involved in the negotiations team. I think Labour would want to stand back and ‘play the blame game’ in 2016 election to the Scottish Parliament.
Stevenson says that “people in in Northern Ireland, Wales and England would find the situation unacceptable if laws were being passed on their behalf by MPs who would soon be part of a foreign country.”
We seem to have people from foreign countries making law already by virtue of living here and of course there is law produced by the EU.
Given people are use to that; it would do no good to whip up an anti Scots feeling.
Speaking against his bill Dunfermline Labour MP Thomas Docherty said that Mr Stevenson’s “argument is flawed”.
Docherty points out that spending and defence decisions would be made before independence, but if there were no Scottish MPs then Scots would not be represented in decisions which affected them.
Game, set and match Docherty.
And as a clincher he pointed out that when southern Ireland broke away, MPs representing Irish constituencies continued to sit in Westminster until independence was confirmed.
Obviously someone has learned the lessons of history.
Although interesting and raising questions, the rejection of the Stevenson Bill is correct, legally it would be a sticky wicket which would probably end up in the UK Supreme Court and they would come out against it under human rights law.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University