AN SNP MP has been suspended from the House of Commons after he loudly voiced his objections to the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill being pushed through without the consent of the devolved administrations.
Drew Hendry, the MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, told The National that although his protest had led to his suspension, he did not “regret standing up for my constituents’ rights or for those of the people of Scotland for a second”.
Hendry had given a speech at Westminster in which he slammed the Tories bill as the “biggest assault on devolution in the history of the Scottish Parliament”.
He said: “The only reason for this bill as it stands is to demolish devolution.”
However, despite what he described as “passionate and important debates” around the Internal Market Bill, Tory parliamentary under-secretary Paul Scully said: “This bill will ensure that UK business can trade across the four parts of the UK in a way that helps them invest and create jobs just as it has for hundreds of years.
“I’m therefore delighted and pleased to call upon this house to agree to these amendments in consideration on this bill.”
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Hendry could then be heard shouting that it was both “outrageous” and a “democratic disgrace” for the Government to be moving ahead without the devolved administrations’ consent.
As the volume of argument grew the Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, Rosie Winterton, was the focus of the parliamentary feed. Addressing Hendry, she repeatedly said: “The honourable gentleman must resume his seat.”
Winterton said that Hendry was “just showing off” as he continued to take issue with the Tory Government’s “power grab” bill.
Hendry took up the parliamentary mace, which the Commons can only operate lawfully in the presence of, and made to exit the House with it. However, he was stopped by the doorkeepers, who took the mace from him.
Hendry moves to exit the Commons holding the ceremonial mace
The deputy speaker and her team seemed a little unsure of how to proceed, but they eventually “named” Hendry and had him suspended from the Commons.
Reacting to the news, SNP president Michael Russell tweeted: “Congratulations to him.
“The bill is undemocratic and undermines the rights of all Scottish and Welsh citizens. Legislative consent has been rejected by @ScotParl & @SeneddWales. The Tory UK Government should have withdrawn it. @drewhendrySNP was speaking truth to power.”
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Hendry had previously voiced objections to the Internal Market Bill, warning that its “still significant problems” includes that it “changes the scope of devolved decision making, it reserves additional powers to Westminster, [and] it empowers the UK Government to spend in devolved areas that have nothing to do with markets, for example prisons, sport, international student exchanges and more”.
“And above all,” he said in the Commons, “unlike EU law, it has inherently asymmetrical effects on decision making on England and for the devolved territories.”
Speaking to The National in the wake of the controversy, Hendry said his objections to the “naked power grab” in the Internal Market Bill related to “all aspects of Scottish life”.
He said: “The Internal Market Bill is an outrage, a naked power grab, it stamps all over the rights of the Scottish people by enabling Westminster to simply override the Scottish Parliament on just about all aspects of Scottish life, from food standards, to roads, health and much more.
“The fact that the Tories rammed this through despite both the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments withholding consent is simply unacceptable.
“My protest saw me thrown out but I don’t regret standing up for my constituents’ rights or for those of the people of Scotland for a second.”