MPs vote against SNP Opposition Day motion that included call to create a new Cost of Living Select Committee

Proposed Committee would have included 45 members drawn from 14 existing Select Committees

A Scottish National Party (SNP) Opposition Day motion that included a call for the creation of a new Cost of Living Select Committee was defeated yesterday following a vote in he House fo Commons. 

Introducing the motion on increases in the cost of living and Brexit’s role in driving those increases, SNP MP Dr Phillipa Whitford asked the House to agree that –

'… the devolved administrations do not possess the full financial powers required to effectively mitigate the increases in the cost of living in the devolved nations; accepts that finding solutions to the cost of living crisis deserves dedicated parliamentary time to investigate all matters relating to increases in prices and of the contribution of exiting the European Union and of Westminster economic policy to those increases… '

In addition, Dr Whitford called for the creation of a new Cost of Living Select Committee that would –

‘… examine the causes of and possible solutions to matters related to the cost of living in the United Kingdom, the consequences of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union and the cost of living, how the effect of changes in the cost of living affects the economy, and other connected matters … '

Dr Whitford added that the Committee would be –

'… chaired by a Member from the second largest Opposition Party and shall additionally consist of 22 Members from the government party and 22 Members from opposition parties… '

NB – the motion also outlined that membership of the Committee would be drawn from 14 other Select Committees to include, for example, three members from each of the Work and Pensions, Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and Health and Social Care Committees.

In the debate that followed, MPs raised a range of cost of living issues, with a particular focus on limitations that the Scottish Government faces in tackling them with the devolved powers it has at its disposal. Responding for the government, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Scotland John Lamont said

'I am very clear that what this Parliament should be focused on is how the Scottish Government, along with the other devolved Administrations, could and should work with this United Kingdom Government to build a better future for the people of Scotland.'

In addition, in relation to the call to establish a Cost of Living Select Committee, Mr Lamont said –

'… [this] is not only unnecessary duplication of other work by this Parliament, but a complete waste of taxpayers’ money. The total anticipated cost to the House of Commons of this crackpot idea is in the region of £463,000 per annum. In addition, there would be extra costs to adapt Parliament’s Committee Rooms to accommodate this massive new Committee. I suggest that that would be a complete and utter waste of taxpayers’ money.'

Following the debate, MPs voted 260 against to 43 votes for the motion.

The full debate on the Cost of Living and Brexit is available from Hansard.