THE chaos of the SNP Gaza ceasefire motion debate has highlighted how Westminster is stuck in “old ways” with a lack of representation for smaller opposition parties, an expert has said.

The Commons chamber descended into chaos last Wednesday as Speaker Lindsay Hoyle broke with convention and allowed a debate on a Labour amendment to an SNP Opposition Day call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

This meant that the SNP motion was not voted on, leading to scenes of uproar from MPs walking out of the chamber at one point.

Hoyle is now facing calls for him to resign over the incident, with allegations he bowed to pressure from Labour leader Keir Starmer and more than 70 MPs have signed an early day motion of no confidence in the Speaker.

Tom Caygill, senior lecturer in politics at Nottingham Trent University, said the row had been significant as it had overshadowed the issue of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and also the SNP’s Opposition Day debate.

READ MORE: SNP demand investigation into Speaker's conduct over Gaza motion

He said: “It is an important opportunity for opposition parties to control the agenda in parliament for that day, which is nearly always controlled by the Government.

“Given the fact the SNP are a smaller opposition party, those opportunities are even rarer than for the main opposition parties, so the fact it was overshadowed, I think, is significant - you can understand the anger of the SNP in regards to that.”

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Caygill said Hoyle (above) had previously had quite a “stain-free” reputation but he had made a “wrong step”, which had undermined his authority to some degree.

But he said he did not think his position is under threat, pointing out there is no official way to remove the Speaker mid-term unless he bows to pressure to resign.

On whether it would lead to any longer-term changes, Caygill said Hoyle had asked Westminster’s Procedure Committee to look at procedures, particularly around Opposition Day debates.

“Westminster of course is very much set up to be a binary choice, [ie] whether you agree or disagree with something,” he said.

“There is very little opportunity for nuance in Westminster’s procedure, so I think there is something to be said there where actually we don’t live in that two-party system anymore.

READ MORE: Read the SNP's Gaza ceasefire motion and Labour's amendment – in full

“That’s really what the procedures are based around - there is one unified government and one unified opposition viewpoint, which there isn’t because of course there are numerous opposition parties in Westminster – Labour, the SNP, the LibDems, the Greens etc are represented as well.

“I don’t necessarily know what the answer is, but the Speaker has I guess asked the Procedure Committee to consider do we need to - particularly for Opposition Day debates - allow for certain levels of nuance, given the fact there is not one unified opposition in a way in which there was, say, in the 1950s and the 1960s?”

Caygill agreed that Westminster is “stuck in old ways” which he said was partly down to the first-past-the-post electoral system used.

“Of course, in the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Parliament, using a proportional system does mean there is wider diversity and better representation of those smaller opposition parties in ways in which haven’t historically happened in Westminster because of that,” he said.

“Westminster hasn’t felt the need to change - it is only when these issues crop up where there is such a stark difference in particular between opposition parties on what is an important issue that this really comes back to the surface again.”

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Matt Hawkins, co-director of campaign group Compassion In Politics, said the message sent from the chaotic Commons debate was “the way we do politics isn’t capable of handling complex, difficult issues”.

He added: “Rather than focus on the matter at hand – the death of thousands upon thousands in a humanitarian disaster – our parliament descended into squabbles over procedural issues.

“We need a total change of values and priorities.”

He suggested this could happen if firstly party leaders focused on drawing up “good policy” rather than “point-scoring and posturing”.

He went on: “Secondly, we need a parliament that is fit for purpose. That means a serious degree of professionalisation is needed, including ending booing and jeering in debates, introducing an Ethics Commission to oversee standards, and putting the Code of Conducts on a statutory footing so they are enforceable.

“And thirdly, we need to change the tenor of political debate in this country.

“That MPs are being threatened into voting one way or another is appalling. It’s intolerable for the MPs themselves and no way for a democracy to be making crucial decisions.

“This requires that all those with a public voice seek to build bridges, reject divisive rhetoric, stereotypes, and prejudice, and make a conscious effort to forge consensus over the man difficult issues facing this country.”