Nov 14 2012 By Robert Mitchell
Pamela Nash's Tweet at BAE Systems the day before she missed her own Westminster debate.
Shotts MP Pamela Nash was this week facing questions about why she missed her own debate at the Houses of Parliament.
After her late show at Westminster last Tuesday, she was reported saying that she had been in bed with the flu for a few days.
However, it was pointed out online that she had Tweeted a picture of herself smiling at the BAE Systems shipyards last Monday – the day before she failed to appear on time in London.
The Labour representative later told the Wishaw Press that she actually said she spent “most of the few days” in bed before the debate.
A Westminster debate on Scotland’s post-independence membership of the European Union was scheduled for last Tuesday afternoon and had been sought by Ms Nash. When she failed to show up on time, strict parliamentary rules meant the debate was suspended.
Later that day a news report quoted Ms Nash saying: “It was completely my fault. For the last few days I’ve been in bed with the flu, and I came in and printed everything at the last minute and the printer crashed.”
However, this week Ms Nash said: “I actually said that I had spent most of the few days in bed prior to the debate with the flu.
“I had committed to the important meeting of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee at the shipyards on Monday, and it was on the way to the airport. Sick or not, I still had to travel to Westminster. Anyone who was there will be able to tell you that I was ill.”
She added: “I’m disappointed that we did not get to go ahead with the Westminster Hall debate on a separate Scotland’s membership of the EU. I regret that I was late, leading to the chair suspending the sitting.
“The whole Scottish Labour team at Westminster were looking forward to this opportunity to openly discuss an issue of central importance to Scotland’s future. It suits the SNP to focus on me being a minute late for a debate as they can avoid the issues that matter to the people of Scotland. I am hopeful that we will be able to have this debate in the near future.”
Footage of the Westminster Hall debate can be viewed online. When Ms Nash fails to appear as her name is called the sitting is suspended and laughter can be heard in the room.
At least one person is visibly frustrated.
Around a minute later the Shotts MP can be seen entering the room.
The SNP’s Perth MP Pete Wishart was at the debate and later Tweeted: “Standing orders require members to be present at the start of their debate. We all know that and everybody (almost) complies.
“In my 11 years as MP I’ve never known a member not to be in place at the start of a debate.”
Ms Nash came in for some criticism online after her failure to appear on time and Shotts SNP MSP Alex Neil also hit out.
Mr Neil said: “It will not just be me who will be shocked by Pamela Nash’s inability to turn up to her own debate on time – the people who elected her as their representative in Westminster will be rightly angry.
“By failing to turn up on time and then blaming a faulty printer just shows the contempt she has for the people of Airdrie and Shotts, and the people of Scotland.
“This is a huge embarrassment for the Labour Party. Perhaps it won’t come as much of a surprise to some people locally after Miss Nash was rightly criticised for not lodging a single parliamentary question and only speaking twice over a six-month period.
“Unfortunately, this just underlines Labour’s lack of commitment to Scotland’s future and highlights that the only threat to an independent Scotland’s place in Europe comes from Westminster. The UK Government and Labour politicians are determined to undermine Scotland’s future in Europe.
“I think Pamela Nash needs to apologise to her constituents and the people of Scotland for failing to represent them on what is a crucial issue affecting our future.”
In November 2010, Ms Nash came bottom of a list of Scotland’s newest MPs compiled by website TheyWorkForYou.com which looked at the number of questions asked and speeches made in the House of Commons. At the time she hadn’t submitted a single question since being elected and had spoken on just two occasions – one of which was her maiden speech.
However, she claimed that the study misrepresented her workload since her election triumph in May 2010, and ignored other responsibilities like the high volume of casework from constituents on a wide variety of issues.