By Martin Kelly
Welsh Labour MP Paul Flynn has walked out of the Public Administration Committee at Westminster in protest after accusing the chair of presiding over a “stunt” aimed at embarrassing the Scottish Parliament.
The committee was questioning senior UK and Scottish government civil servants on the issue of the independence referendum. Answering questions were Sir Bob Kerslake, the Head of the UK Civil Service and Sir Peter Housden the Permanent Secretary of the Scottish government.
Mr Flynn was asking Sir Bob Kerslake whether or not the unprecedented publication of the advice of the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury on currency union was a breach of the Civil Service code. Seeking to continue his line of questioning, the Welsh MP was abruptly cut off by the Chair of the committee, Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin.
Despite protesting that he had not finished his questions, Mr Flynn was prevented from continuing. The Welsh Labour MP protested loudly and gathered up his papers.
Later, in a tweet he said, “PASC Select Committee a sad shadow of itself under Tony Wright. Now flagrantly being used by new chair for party political purposes.”
Commenting on Mr Flynn’s departure from the committee, Mike Weir SNP MP said:
“This is an unprecedented intervention in the referendum debate from Paul Flynn, and is deeply damaging to the anti-independence campaign.
“For a senior Labour MP to walk out of a supposedly impartial committee inquiry on the referendum – claiming that it is a ‘stunt’ designed simply to embarrass the Scottish Parliament – undermines absolutely everything that Westminster committees are claiming about independence.
“How ironic that a committee inquiry into civil service impartiality and the Scottish referendum has itself been condemned for not being impartial.
“Recent revelations from unnamed Treasury sources that the Treasury was being directed by Alistair Darling have today been vindicated, but the Tory chair of the Public Administration Committee prevented Mr Flynn from getting to the bottom of this.
“Today’s committee highlights why nobody believes a word the Westminster campaign says any more, and why the Yes vote continues to gain ground while support for No has stalled.”
The Public Administration Committee recently announced it would be carrying out an inquiry into the impartiality of the Civil Service, and compliance with the Civil Service Code, in relation to the independence referendum in Scotland. However suspicions about the committee’s motives have grown after a similar ‘investigation’ carried out by the Scottish Affairs Committee resulted in a string of attacks on the Scottish Government and independence.
Like the Scottish Affairs Committee, there are currently no representatives from the Scottish National Party on the Public Administration Committee.