Mundell denies rules breach in foodbank row

David Mundell MP opens the Trussell Trust Foodbank in Dumfries. Picture: Angus McDougal
David Mundell MP opens the Trussell Trust Foodbank in Dumfries. Picture: Angus McDougal

Dumfries and Galloway’s SNP MP has claimed Tory member David Mundell may have broken House of Commons rules by opening a foodbank in his constituency.

However, a spokesman for Mr Mundell, who represents Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, insisted he had complied with regulations.

Mr Mundell was jeered by protesters as he visited the Trussell Trust foodbank in Dumfries on Friday, having previously dismissed concerns from charities, including the trust, that Conservative welfare reform policies have led to a rise in foodbanks. Mr Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland, represents a separate constituency from Dumfries which is held by the SNP’s Richard Arkless.

The ministerial code states ministers should inform local MPs if they are visiting their constituencies, and all MPs are asked to give notice if they are carrying out constituency work on other parliamentarians’ patches.

Mr Arkless says he received a “panicky” email from Mr Mundell an hour before the event, and insists this does not constitute proper notice. He has complained to the Speaker and Cabinet Office.

He said: “It is completely unacceptable for Mr Mundell to try to make capital out of the hunger that his government has created. It was also hypocritical – a foodbank opening is nothing to celebrate.”

“He is Scotland’s only Tory MP, yet he is riding roughshod over the democratic will of the Scottish people, who voted overwhelming against austerity. He’s not going to ride roughshod into my constituency again.”

A spokesman for Mr Mundell said: “David made the visit as a constituency MP to a shared facility covering both constituencies,” he said.

“He fully complied with the House of Commons rules by formally notifying neighbouring MP Richard Arkless of the engagement in his constituency.

“If Mr Arkless is claiming he still wasn’t aware, he must have been the only person in Scotland who didn’t know David was attending the event.”