Labour derides SNP over 'deal'

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Indy Politics
(First Edition)

THE 'DEAL' struck on Monday between the Government and the Scottish National Party over representation on the European Community Committee of the Regions was played up by Labour MPs yesterday as they attacked the White Paper for proposing an unacceptable increase in bureaucracy but no more democracy.

Ian Lang, the Secretary of State for Scotland, also implied that the SNP had no right to criticise, telling one of their number 'how proud I was to see the honourable gentleman in the Government's lobby last night'.

A senior Whitehall source confirmed yesterday that the SNP 'would not be disappointed' with the upshot of a final decision on the make-up of the committee.

In the Commons chamber, Labour MPs turned almost as much ire on the SNP's three MPs as on the Government, highlighting the depth of the hatred between the two groups. Labour wants Scotland to have its own Parliament within the United Kingdom; the Nationalists campaign for Scottish independence.

Amid much waving of copies of a letter from Mr Lang to Margaret Ewing, SNP member for Moray, promising to try to secure six Scottish seats on the committee, Tom Clarke, Labour's Scottish affairs spokesman, derided the White Paper's 'tired and timid policies' and its 'sheer tokenism' that sought to create 'talking shops'.

The paper made John Major's pre-election promises a laughing stock, he said. But the week's events had shown that you could never trust the nationalists 'in the same way that you could never trust the Tories'.

Other MPs denounced what they called the SNP's 'shabby squalid manoeuvrings' and 'parliamentary cretinism'.