MPs 'should stay until separation'

Hampshire Chronicle: A committee of peers concluded that Scottish MPs should be allowed to keep their seats beyond a Yes vote in the referendum A committee of peers concluded that Scottish MPs should be allowed to keep their seats beyond a Yes vote in the referendum

Scottish MPs should be allowed to keep their seats beyond a Yes vote in the referendum, a House of Lords committee has concluded.

Peers say the 59 MPs north of the border should leave only at the formal point of independence from the UK.

It follows speculation about what would happen to Scottish members after the vote on September 18.

Senior Tories urged Prime Minister David Cameron in March to block Scots from voting in the 2015 general election.

The peers' conclusion is in line with the Scottish Government's White Paper on independence which argues people must be represented politically at UK level until separation.

The Lords constitution committee also recommends Scotland should be seen as a successor state, meaning the UK would keep its existing international agreements while Scotland has to renegotiate.

Baroness Jay of Paddington, chairman of the committee, said: "There has been considerable speculation about the position of MPs for Scottish constituencies in the event of a 'Yes' vote on September 18.

"Our view is that while they should continue to sit in the House of Commons until independence day itself, they should have no role in negotiating for the rest of the UK nor in scrutinising the UK government on those negotiations. If they did, it would be a clear conflict of interest as they are elected to Parliament to represent constituents in Scotland.

"It should be made clear before the 2015 general election whether Scottish MPs would take part in votes which did not affect Scotland.

"We urge the UK Government to put the rest of the UK's interests first in the event of independence negotiations. The Prime Minister should feel under no obligation to conclude negotiations by March 2016. The Scottish Government's proposed timetable has no legal or constitutional standing.

"We are clear that, in the event of independence, the remainder of the UK would be the 'continuator' state while Scotland would be a 'successor' state. That would mean that the UK continued to be party to existing international agreements, while Scotland would have to enter into those agreements afresh."

Despite suggesting MPs should leave after formal independence, peers say they should not be affected.

"The same issue would not arise for Scottish peers who sit as peers of the United Kingdom," their report suggests.

"Under current law they would, however, need to be taxpayers in the remaining UK to continue to sit."

SNP MP Angus MacNeil said the House of Lords is an undemocratic anachronism.

"To be lectured by them about timetables and for democratic processes is something that could only happen in Westminster," he said.

"It will be elected representatives who will lead Scotland's transition to independence, not some elite club whose members can still turn up for just half an hour's work and get a £300 daily allowance.

"As well as being part of Westminster's crony culture, the House of Lords is now the second biggest chamber in the world after the Chinese National People's Congress, which governs a country of 1.3 billion."

The SNP does not nominate members to the House of Lords.

Mr MacNeil said: " If the rest of the UK want to keep funding the unelected House of Lords, that is a matter for them. A 'yes' vote means that people in Scotland can get rid of the expensive and unrepresentative Westminster tier, with savings of around £50 million a year in not sending MPs and peers to London, which means more cost effective and fairer government."

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