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Labour-SNP seat row 'starts early'

Published 04/06/2015

Chris Grayling said squabbling on the Opposition benches meant MPs are starting the scramble for seats before 7am
Chris Grayling said squabbling on the Opposition benches meant MPs are starting the scramble for seats before 7am

The daily turf war between Labour and the SNP over Commons seating now begins so early in the morning a breakfast trolley service may need to be laid on in the chamber, the Leader of the House has joked.

MPs wanting to guarantee themselves a seat in the Commons chamber can arrive before the House meets and place a "prayer card" with their name on it to reserve a particular seat.

But Chris Grayling said squabbling on the Opposition benches meant this was now beginning before 7am - hours before the House meets on any day of the week and potentially creating an unfortunate need to lay on provisions.

At yesterday's Prime Minister's Questions, Pete Wishart and Chris Law were among SNP members who bagged seats in the main Labour block, sitting directly behind the shadow cabinet and not at the far end of the chamber with their colleagues.

The battle over Labour veteran Dennis Skinner's seat appears to have been resolved, in the Bolsover MP's favour as a space is now always left for him.

But on the wider battle, Mr Grayling quipped: "If I might say on reports I have seen today and rumours I have heard around the House about the whole issue of the time at which members take their seats in the mornings.

"I understand both Labour and Scottish National Party members are looking to come in earlier and earlier in the morning to secure their seats - possibly even earlier than 7 o'clock in the morning.

"It has been suggested to me that in order to accommodate that, a trolley service of breakfast might be provided to members in the chamber in order to enable them to come in that early - I would simply say I don't think that would be consistent with the traditions of the House."

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