Mundell’s place

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Television coverage of Westminster’s Scottish Questions is not the most edifying spectacle, even when MPs are on their best behaviour.

One aspect, though, convinces me that there is a lack of respect for the proceedings in the higher echelons of the British Cabinet. It is the distasteful way parliamentary under-secretary of state for Scotland David Mundell is treated towards the end of the proceedings.

On Thursday, he began his contribution with an eloquent and tasteful tribute to those who perished in the Lockerbie disaster 25 years ago. It ended with his hurried physical departure from the front-bench and the area around the dispatch box. The reason for this is that there is clearly no room for him there.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, strolls nonchalantly into the chamber and occupies most of the space Mr Mundell usually occupies. On a number of occasions I have seen the minister forced to perch on what available space there is during that hiatus between Scottish Questions and the start of Prime Minister’s ­Questions.

He looks crammed in, uncomfortable, and treated almost as an inconvenient intruder.
This is not a trivial point about parliamentary procedure.

It shows a lack of respect by the Cabinet for those who represent Scotland in government.

Surely those who manage these proceedings could come up with some scheme to ensure a more smooth change-over period. I don’t always agree with what Mr Mundell says but he is entitled to say it and complete his contribution to Scottish Questions in a dignified way.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court