This week in Parliament – 2nd February 2024

Rwanda Bill in the Lords

On Monday night the government’s draft Rwanda bill passed its first hurdle in the House of Lords – but not without condemnation from many peers.

The former Conservative Chancellor Ken Clarke said the bill’s clash with the Supreme Court ruling was a “step too far,” signaling the fundamental shift to the right in Tory ideology since 2019.

The bill faces amendments by the Lords next month, which may well be overturned by Sunak loyalists in the Commons, but delays in the second chamber make it likely the Lords will succeed in obstructing government plans to send flights to Rwanda by spring.

Attorney General Questions

In the Attorney General Question Session on Thursday morning, SNP MP Chris Stephens, and Attorney General Spokesperson, Patricia Gibson questioned the Attorney General on the unlawful Rwanda bill. After 4 Rwandans having secured asylum in the UK from Rwanda, Chris Stephens asks how the UK Government can feel comfortable sending asylum seekers to Rwanda and declaring it a safe place for already vulnerable people.

Northern Ireland

The halting of a functioning executive in Northern Ireland occurred after the DUP walked out of the Northern Ireland Assembly after refusing to support a trade deal which would impose a ‘sea border’ between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. This week, the DUP have supported the UK Government’s ‘Strengthening the Union’ deal which will restore the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive.

On Wednesday and Thursday this week, the details of the deal were outlined in Parliament. Comprising of two main elements, the deal discusses changes to the Internal Market Act, and measures relating to Northern Ireland’s constitutional status. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has also outlined a £3billion financial package which is only to be awarded if power sharing is restored in Northern Ireland.

The SNP welcomes the progress that has been made for the future of Northern Ireland. However, Scotland also voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, yet it has not been rewarded with the same opportunities as Northern Ireland.

Living Standards

SNP MP, Stewart Malcolm McDonald, held a Westminster Hall Debate on Living Standards and criticised the UK Government on its abysmal living standards outcomes across the UK alongside our SNP colleagues. The UK Government is not currently keeping up with both international and domestic pressures that are driving down living standards. The existing economic social and political factors that we have seen across the world, including the war on Ukraine, and now the conflict in Gaza, have a heightened impact on us through the incompetence of the Tory government and Brexit. As Stewart McDonald outlined, ‘the idea that the answer to these challenges lies in tax cuts, and running the public realm further into the ground is one that is not backed up by the public.’. Together, the SNP MPs at Westminster are calling the UK Government to stop tackling the cost-of-living crisis through tax cuts, and ‘reinvest in’ and ‘revolutionise’ public services across the UK.

Debate on Iran

In the Commons Chamber on Thursday afternoon, Conservative MP Bob Blackman secured a debate on Iran, discussing the undemocratic acts in Tehran. The SNP’s position is that the UK Government should be calling for the UN to dispatch international observers to visit Iran’s prisons and speak with those who are oppressed by the Iranian regime. My colleague, Martyn Day MP, showed ‘solidarity with the Iranian journalists and everyone In Iran who is calling for democratic change’.