Labour and the SNP slam Government for not offering enough time to debate Lords devolution amendments

The Government has been criticised for not offering enough time to debate the House of Lords devolution amendments.

Labour and the SNP have complained that not enough time was left to debate powers and issues related to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland’s devolved administrations.

Shadow Scotland minister Paul Sweeney said “insufficient parliamentary time” had been allocated and SNP Commons leader Pete Wishart asked Cabinet Office minister David Lidington if he was “ashamed and embarrassed and appalled” that less than 20 minutes had been left to discuss the matters.

Mr Sweeney incurred the wrath of the SNP as he rose, with less than 20 minutes left to debate, to criticise the Government for a lack of time offered to the Lords devolution amendments.

SNP MPs shouted down Mr Sweeney as he attempted to make the point, with Speaker John Bercow having to call order.

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He said: “There’s insufficient parliamentary time allocated to debate this, we presented an alternative programme motion, it would have afforded that time.

“Therefore I would like to seek Mr Speaker’s advice on how the Labour Party will stand up for the people of Scotland and stand up for the devolution settlement.

“It is unacceptable that we have been unable to debate this in Government time, therefore we seek your advice.”

Mr Bercow responded: “My general advice is a word beginning with p and ending in t, persist, persist man.”

Commons: The house was discussion devolution issues

Later Mr Wishart asked: “Is (Mr Lidington) not ashamed and embarrassed and appalled that we have 15 minutes to discuss these critical devolution issues, amendments that were designed in the House of Lords and we the directly elected members have not had the opportunity to debate them.

“Isn’t he ashamed of himself?”

Mr Lidington replied: “No, I think that the Government allowed perfectly adequate time for debate on these issues and as (Mr Wishart) knows on the devolution matters these questions in great detail are ones that have been discussed between myself, my ministers and my officials and the Welsh and Scottish governments and legislatures for many months.”

He added that the Government had made “very substantial compromises” to address the concerns that were raised by Scotland and Wales.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford accused the Government of a “power grab” by legislating on devolved matters.

He said: “When we passed the Scotland Act 1998, and (Mr Lidington) was a Member of Parliament at that time, the Scotland Act is very specific as to what are reserved matters.

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“We cannot get away from the fact that what this Government is doing is legislating on matters that are devolved: this is a power grab.”

MPs voted by 321 to 40, majority 281, to agree with the remainder of amendments made by the House of Lords, which included devolution.

Additional reporting by PA.

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