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Scottish MP’s Glaswegian accent leaves former minister flummoxed

The SNP’s David Linden was unable to get answers on disability access from New Zealand-born Tory Sir Paul Beresford.

A breakdown in communication left a Scottish MP unable to get answers in Parliament.

The SNP’s David Linden, MP for Glasgow East, asked about improvements to disability access during House of Commons Commission questions.

Representing the commission, former minister Sir Paul Beresford twice asked Mr Linden to repeat himself because he could not understand what he had said.

Conservative Sir Paul, who holds dual New Zealand and British citizenship, said: “I’m sorry, it must be something to do with my antipodean background.

“Could you please repeat the question because I didn’t follow it?”

There was laughter and a comment of “oh wow” from the SNP benches as Mr Linden despondently said “oh well, I’m very popular today” and repeated the question at a slower pace.

Sir Paul still struggled and asked again for Mr Linden to repeat it “more slowly and in antipodean English”.

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Sir Paul Beresford blamed his antipodean background for not being able to understand the question

Deputy Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who has a robust Lancashire accent, intervened at the impasse, saying: “I think the answer might be helped if he can reply in writing.”

Mr Linden then resorted to sign language across the Chamber to confirm he would write to his colleague.

He is not the first SNP MP to have difficulties making himself understood.

Last year, SNP MP Alan Brown revealed ministers have so much trouble understanding his thick Ayrshire accent that he rarely receives direct answers to his questions when he speaks in the Commons chamber.

Reporters at Hansard, the official verbatim report of Parliament, struggle with the same problem and pass notes to the SNP backbencher asking him to write out what he said whenever he rises to speak.

Mr Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) told the Press Association the issue has become “a running joke” with colleagues and that, whenever he gets up to speak, he notices the minster sink back into their green leather bench and put their ear right up against the speaker embedded in it.

The parliamentary sketch writers are also known to scratch their heads when he is speaking.

Mr Brown said: “Sometimes Hansard ask what other people say but I make the joke that they must have an Ayrshire translator in now but the Ayrshire translator doesn’t understand my colleagues.”

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