TORY backbencher Sir Iain Duncan Smith has called for SNP MPs to answer questions on the Scottish Government’s record through new question time sessions in the House of Commons.
The MP, who is reportedly set to become Liz Truss’s chief whip if she wins the Tory leadership contest, said there should be greater scrutiny of Holyrood ministers at Westminster.
The SNP have roundly rejected the claims – pointing out that their role is to hold the UK Government to account and branded the plan an “utterly ridiculous suggestion”.
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Duncan Smith has argued that the move would put the SNP on the back foot in the Commons.
At an event in Stirling on Wednesday Duncan Smith made the case for Truss to local party members, telling them: “We need to turn the tables on them and start saying, ‘Well, can we have a period of question time for you lot to talk about what you are doing in Scotland as the devolved administration?’
“And start examining some of this stuff because they’re not just SNP protesters down in Parliament, they are actually part of the Government up here.”
He added that Tory ministers need to “take [the SNP’s record in government] apart on a regular basis because it matters”.
Duncan Smith, former work and pensions secretary, also backtracked on comments made by Truss that she would “ignore” Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and criticized the UK Government’s approach to the Union.
He said: “I don’t want to ignore her.
“What I want to do is to let the world know exactly why Scotland is suffering so much under this incompetent regime at Holyrood.
“The truth is, it is a disaster: everything from health, the police, the railways — they can’t even build ships sometimes on time and on budget.”
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He also claimed the “Union is in my blood and I believe it is in hers [Truss]”.
The Tory politician reportedly won applause from the crowd when he said he would advise Truss to give Holyrood more powers to scrutinize the Scottish Government if she becomes PM.
James Bundy, Tory councilor for Falkirk North, raised the Scottish Parliament’s inquiry into the Government’s handling of harassment complaints and asked Duncan Smith if adjustments would be made to the devolution settlement to give greater protection to MSPs who want to raise legally difficult issues.
Duncan Smith replied: “I am desperate for greater powers for scrutiny.
“It is only scrutiny that unearths all this nonsense and you may have hit a point actually, which is that the weaker scrutiny up here has allowed the Nationalists to get away with it. So I am going to take that straight back and talk to her about it and see what we could do.
“That should be happening right now and would have made a difference with the mess they got into over the Alex Salmond affair, you are quite right.”
SNP deputy leader at Westminster, Kirsten Oswald, said: “This is an utterly ridiculous suggestion, showing that even the Tories are out of ideas for how to fix the broken Westminster system.
“It is not the SNP’s job to explain why Westminster control is increasingly making life more difficult for the people of Scotland — even if the Tories are out of excuses.
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“The job of SNP MPs in Westminster is to stand up for Scotland against a UK government choosing to ignore our interests at every turn.
“That is what they will continue to do for as long as we suffer under Westminster control, which I strongly believe won’t be for very much longer.”
It comes after Truss claimed the Scottish Government is spending its “entire resources” on trying to deliver another independence referendum.