The Scottish National Party has called for clarification over the conduct of Scottish Questions in the House of Commons following this week’s session when a question tabled to the Scotland Office was answered by a Minister from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – (Lord)Andrew Dunlop.
Pete Wishart MP has written to the Secretary of State for Scotland, Conservative MP David Mundell, calling into question the practice of Ministers with no attachment to the department answering questions on their behalf.
David Mundell appointed an unelected member of the House of Lords as his deputy in the Scotland Office.
Congratulations once again on your promotion as Secretary of State for Scotland.
I wonder if you can help me with a couple of issues about the conduct of Scottish Questions following the session on Wednesday the 10th of June?
At those questions a question on the Order paper was answered by a Minister from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. Is it the case that Ministers from other departments will now be answering questions tabled to the Secretary of State in the Scotland Office in the future? If this is to be the case will these questions be confined to the Right Honourable Member for Broxtowe or should we expect a variety of different Ministers from various departments to answer questions put to the Secretary of State for Scotland?
Is it only the Scotland Office that will be adopting the practice of Ministers from other departments answering departmental oral questions and if so why? Could you maybe let me know of any plans for this to become a feature across any other department and to whether this has ever been done in the past?
I am more than aware that you appointed your junior Minister from amongst the ranks of the unelected House of Lords, even ennobling him so that he could undertake the task. Can I suggest to you that the people of Scotland expect better when critical questions of importance about the operation of the Scotland Office being answered by a Minister with no attachment to the office. Surely there is an expectation that when a question is tabled to the Secretary of State for Scotland it is answered by you or someone from your office, not someone drafted in because there is no one else available?
Elected members only have one session each month to put questions to Ministers in the Scotland Office and it is an important part of the scrutiny of the House. I hope that in the next session of Questions to the Secretary of State Scotland Office it is you as the appointed Secretary of State that will answer the questions put to you by elected Members of Parliament
Pete Wishart MP