SCOTTISH National Party (SNP) MPs have been told to stop clapping in the House of Commons by an exasperated Speaker John Bercow.
The MPs clapped on at least three separate occasions during SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson’s response to the Queen’s Speech before Mr Bercow stepped in.
Traditionally, MPs are only allowed to speak in the Commons when they have made their maiden speeches, meaning most of the SNP cannot currently make their voices heard.
After SNP MPs applauded Mr Robertson’s criticism of Labour’s supposed support of austerity, Mr Bercow intervened: “Can I say at the start of the Parliament that the convention that we don’t clap in this chamber is very, very, very long-established and widely respected?
“And it would be appreciated if members would show some respect for that convention.
“They will get their speaking rights from this chair, of that they can be assured.
“They will be respected but I would invite them to show some respect for the traditions of this chamber of the House of Commons.”
MPs on all sides cheered in support of Mr Bercow’s intervention.
In his speech, Mr Robertson left open the possibility of the SNP voting on English matters in the Commons, as the party’s MPs are entitled to do.
He said the party had not changed its position since the election and would carry out an evaluation for every piece of legislation to see whether it would “directly or indirectly” affect Scotland.
“Can I say that the convention that we don’t clap in this chamber is very, very, very long-established and widely respected? And it would be appreciated if members would show some respect for that convention”John Bercow
Responding to Tory Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough), who asked whether the SNP would still refrain from voting on English-only business in the Commons, Mr Robertson replied: “The SNP has had a consistent position in this House that we will review every single piece of legislation that’s brought forward and on a basis of an evaluation of whether it directly or indirectly has a significant impact on Scotland, then decide on the measures that we do vote on and we don’t vote on, and that position has not changed.”
Mr Robertson said the SNP still supports voting reform to deliver a more proportional system that is more representative of vote shares, despite gaining 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats.
He said: “The SNP won half the vote, something not achieved by any party in Scotland for 60 years.
“The SNP won more votes than all three UK parties combined and 56 out of 59 seats.
“It was a remarkable result, an amazing achievement for our leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, for all SNP candidates, almost all of whom are here, our volunteers and our dedicated headquarters staff.
“We will do our best to stand up for Scotland but let me be absolutely clear.
“We did not win the votes of all voters in Scotland and we are mindful of that.
“And we still remain supporters of electoral reform and proportional representation.”