Borders MP back on committee after row over membership make-up resolved

Borders MP John Lamont has been reappointed as a member of the UK Government’s Scottish affairs committee following the resolution of a row over its political make-up.

By Darin Hutson
Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 4:18 pm
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont.
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont.

The Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP has been a member of the committee since September 2017, serving as its vice-chairman until it went into abeyance last November.

Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart was re-elected as chairman, a role he’s held since 2015, in January, but a dispute over how its seats should be shared out between political parties prevented the rest of its membership being agreed until now.

Mr Lamont is one of five Conservatives on the 11-member committee, alongside three MPs representing the Scottish National Party, two for Labour and one Liberal Democrat.

“Working on parliamentary committees is a very important part of my role as a member of parliament,” said Mr Lamont, also a member of Westminster’s statutory instruments joint and select committees.

“Committees have the job of holding the government to account, but it also gives me the opportunity to raise local issues that affect residents here in the Borders.

“Many of the issues we work on in the committee are really important to the people of Scotland.

“Last session we investigated trade, agriculture policy and why Scotland had the highest rate of drug deaths in the European Union.

“We have also considered areas that are particularly important to rural areas like the Borders such as broadband connectivity and immigration in the hospitality and agriculture sectors.

“I am looking forward to the work of the committee getting under way again.

“We will have much to consider in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak as Scotland tries to recover from this pandemic.”

The current make-up of the committee sees the Tories gain one seat at Labour’s expense, and it was a dispute over that change in representation ratio that led to it being left in limbo for three months.

Mr Wishart said he’s glad that row has been resolved now, adding: “It’s a great relief that the Scottish affairs committee is back.

“We’ve put aside our differences in the interests of navigating a way through this crisis together.

“The immense efforts to suppress coronavirus have impacted on everyone in Scotland, and the onus is on us now, more than ever, to ensure that the UK Government’s four-nation approach to combat the pandemic addresses the unique needs of Scotland.

“There’s no time to lose, and we start work straight away.”

“We have new members, new ideas and a fresh impetus to make policy work better for Scotland.”

Mr Wishart’s fellow SNP representatives are Mhairi Black and Deidre Brock, Labour is represented by Liz Twist and Jon Cruddas and the Lib Dems by Wendy Chamberlain, with Mr Lamont’s fellow Tories being Andrew Bowie, David Duguid, Sally-Ann Hart and Alberto Costa.

Four of the committee’s 11 members represent constituencies outwith Scotland.