Cumbernauld's MP is officially sworn in

Written by Scott Campbell, Cumbernauld Media's Senior Reporter.

Published at 16:08 on 21 May 2015

Politics    SNP

Mr McDonald pictured at the Ravenscraig count on May 8th. Picture: courtesy of Bill Henry.

CUMBERNAULD, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East’s new Member of Parliament was officially sworn in as a Member of the new Parliament, yesterday morning (20th May), after being elected nearly two weeks ago. 

Stuart McDonald, the area’s newly elected Scottish Nationalist MP was sworn in as a Member of the House of Commons at shortly before noon, yesterday morning.

Mr McDonald was joined by a number of colleagues, including Glasgow North MP, Patrick Grady, Midlothian SNP MP, Owen Thompson, and Dundee West SNP MP, Chris Law, as most of the newly elected SNP members chose to take either the oath or affirm, in an ancient ceremony that means Mr McDonald is now officially a Member of Parliament. 

Under law, prospective Members of Parliament must take either an oath of allegiance or make a solemn affirmation before they officially become MPs. Mr McDonald chose to make a solemn affirmation. 

Anybody who refuses make either can be fined up to £500, might not receive a salary, and may not be permitted to take their seat, speak in debates or even vote. 

Their seat might even be declared vacant “as if they were dead”, in the event that they refuse to if they attempt to take an oath of allegiance. 

Taking an oath of allegiance in the House of Commons is a tradition that dates back centuries. The wording of the oath of allegiance, for instance, is set out in the Promissory Oaths Act, 1868. 

The manner by which the oath should be administered, however, is set out in the much more recent Oaths Act, dating from 1978.

House of Commons rules dictate that an Honourable Member of Parliament must first deliver either their oath or affirmation in English, but thereafter, Members can, if they so wish, take an oath or affirmation in Welsh, Scottish Gaelic or Cornish.

The English text of the oath reads: “I (name of Member) swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.”

Members wishing to read the Scottish oath, however, are permitted to declare that: “I (name of Member) do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.”

MPs who choose to take the Scottish oath are permitted to do so with an uplifted hand but not holding a sacred text.

Those MPs who declare that they wish to make a solemn affirmation have to read the following text: “I (name of Member) do solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm, that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law.”

Solemn affirmations were only permitted as a result of the passing of the Oaths Act 1978, which provided Members of both houses with a choice of which text to use when pledging allegiance to the Crown. 

After being officially sworn in as a Member of Parliament, Mr McDonald was elevated to another position. He was appointed an SNP spokesman on select Justice and Home Affairs matters.

Mr McDonald making his solemn affirmation. Picture: Parliament TV.

In an announcement yesterday evening, the Scottish National Party confirmed that some of the 56 SNP MPs had been allocated positions within the party’s Westminster leadership team, or as a group spokesperson on key issues.

Among the headline names were Pete Wishart MP, who was appointed the Shadow Leader of the House of Commons; Alex Salmond MP was appointed as the SNP’s leader on International Affairs and Europe issues; and, Dr Philippa Whitford MP was appointed as the group’s leader on Health matters.

Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East MP, Stuart McDonald, meanwhile, was chosen to be the SNP group’s new spokesman on Immigration, Asylum and Border Control matters.

Announcing the newly appointed roles, yesterday evening, the SNP Leader in the House of Commons, Angus Robertson MP said: “The SNP Westminster Leadership and team of spokespeople bring together a great range of talents from the record-sized SNP group in the House of Commons. 

“We will coordinate and develop the policy priorities of the SNP at Westminster while working closely with colleagues in the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament, European Parliament and local government.”

He added: “I’m proud that we have been able to follow the lead of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in having a gender balanced team of spokespeople as well as matching the experience of long serving SNP parliamentarians and newly elected MPs.

“All SNP parliamentarians will be working in policy teams, with many taking up committee places when the committees start their work shortly in the House of Commons."  

Commenting, Stuart McDonald MP said he was “honoured” to have been selected as the SNP’s Westminster spokesman on Immigration, Asylum and Border Control matters.