The House of Commons has already spent taxpayer money on measures to ensure that Scots MPs’ will be locked out of House of Commons votes, despite the Tory measures not even being approved by Westminster, the SNP has learned.
In contrast to the Scottish Parliament – where the legislators vote electronically on a key pad on their Holyrood desks – MPs’ in the House of Commons still vote by funnelling down ‘Aye’ or ‘Nay’ lobbies, with their votes being counted manually. However, in a bid to modernise the Parliament the House of Commons decided to spend £5000 on developing software to count the MPs electronically, along with £4900 on iPads last year (2014/15).
In anticipation of the Tory proposals for ‘English Votes for English Laws’ (EVEL), a further £1700 was then spent on adapting the £5000 software to record ‘double majorities’, ensuring that Scots MPs’ votes aren’t recorded for English-only divisions despite the proposals not gaining support from the Parliament and the Tory government forced in a humiliating climb down.
A further £5000 was also spent on tablet devices bringing the totals to:
£9,900 for tablet devices over 2014/15 & 2015/16.
£5000 for original software in 2014/15
£1700 for software to be adapted for EVEL in 2015/16
Commenting, Aberdeen North MP Kirsty Blackman who uncovered the information in a Parliamentary Question said:
“The Tories’ EVEL proposals are in complete disarray and as can be seen from the UK government’s humiliating backtrack, faltering when challenged by MPs. It must then be asked why taxpayers’ money has already been spent on adapting software – which was only purchased last year at a cost of £5000 to the taxpayer – to ensure Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs are locked out of certain votes.
“If the Tories’ EVEL proposals are successfully passed by the Westminster Parliament, Scottish MPs will be given a second class status. Whilst it is not the largest sum of money to be wasted by the Westminster establishment, it speaks volumes about their attitude towards Scotland and the rights of our democratically elected representatives.
“This waste of cash really hits home when you consider the Tories’ just passed a budget – supported by Labour inaction – that is attacking working families and the most vulnerable in society. It is clear to see that the priorities of the Westminster establishment are more focused on protecting their own interests than serving the people they are meant to represent.”