Scottish affairs committee MPs to venture further north

Scottish affairs committee meetings will take place in northern Scotland in a bid to challenge the perception that Westminster is too remote. Picture: PA
Scottish affairs committee meetings will take place in northern Scotland in a bid to challenge the perception that Westminster is too remote. Picture: PA
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MPs on the Scottish affairs committee are to travel “regularly” to northern parts of Scotland for meetings in a bid to challenge the perception that Westminster is too remote.

The committee said that while “most of” its meetings in Scotland would be held in the Central Belt – where the majority of the population live – it would also visit more far-flung locations.

Members have been carrying out an inquiry into the committee’s role and how it works in the wake of the changes in Scottish politics after the SNP recorded a landslide victory in Scotland in May’s Westminster elections and new powers were devolved to Holyrood.

While they found interest in politics was “at an unprecedented level” north of the Border, the MPs said: “We are clear that to be fully effective we must tap into this significant upsurge in political engagement.

“Too often during this inquiry we were told that Westminster is a remote institution.”

A report looking at the work of the committee said it was “crucial for us to be as accessible as possible”, with the MPs adding: “Not only do we need to be aware of the concerns that people in Scotland have, but we also need to receive as wide a range of evidence as possible in order to help us to address them.”

They continued: “Respondents to our inquiry were unanimous in their view that, although we were a committee of the House of Commons, we should meet frequently in Scotland.

“We heard how people in Scotland felt disconnected from Westminster, that not only was it geographically distant from Scotland but that the UK parliament was considered far less accessible than the Scottish Parliament.”

In the report, the committee pledged it would “aim to challenge the perception that committees in Westminster are remote institutions” over the course of this parliament.

It added: “We recognise that not everyone in Scotland lives in or can readily access the usual destinations of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

“When the opportunity and subject matter allows, we will therefore endeavour to meet away from the cities of the Central Belt.”

Committee chair Pete Wishart said: “When we embarked on this report we were determined to hear from civic Scotland, representative organisations and individuals in Scotland.”