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The Standing Orders of the House of Commons – the written rules which regulate the proceedings of the House – only refer to the government, the official opposition, and the second largest opposition party, which is currently the SNP. They make provision for opposition days, and also regulate other parts of business such as time limits on speeches. 

Thompson said that currently there is a “lack of guarantees and certainty for smaller parties” in the Commons. “If you are Conservative, Labour or SNP at the moment you have guaranteed rights to questions, guaranteed seats on committees,” she explained. 

“If you are below that you get pretty much nothing, and if you want to get something you’ve got to get one of the bigger parties to concede, you’ve got to plead with the Speaker.” 

Other seats like the Scottish National Party or Democratic Unionist Party only stand in one nation, so their vote is concentrated in one area where they may win a large number of seats. For parties like the Liberal Democrats however, their vote is more widespread across the country, and therefore may result in fewer seats for a greater number of votes. 

The current system ”might necessitate looking at some of the procedures again,” Thompson said. 

Questions like “who has the right to ask the Prime Minister questions at PMQs and “should we be giving small parties more power or more guaranteed rights in them in the Commons chamber?” could follow.

Numerous parties have a single MP in the Commons, including Reform and the Green Party. 

At the last general election the Greens got more than 865,000 votes, and one MP was elected: Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavillion The SNP got 1.2 million votes and got 48 seats.  

“Voters will be presented with far more small parties this time around that they’re aware of compared to previous elections,” Thompson continued. 

“There will be more established small parties this time than in the last couple of elections. We’ve got Alba as well as Reform as quite new smaller parties that people will have heard of.” 

Currently the Conservatives have 347 MPs in Parliament compared to Labour’s 200, with the SNP on 43 and the Liberal Democrats on 15. 

There are 18 independents, while the DUP and Sinn Fein both have 7 MPs, while Plaid Cymru are on three. The Alba Party and the SDLP have 2 MPs each, while Alliance, Green, Reform and the Workers Party of Britain all have 1 MP. 

The issues are particularly pressing for parties that only have MPs in the devolved nations, Thompson explained, with a number of smaller parties only standing candidates in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. 

“I think that really exacerbates problems because if we’re locking these small parties out of scrutiny and rights in the Commons then we’re effectively saying the electorate in Scotland the electorate in Northern Ireland, those voters are not being represented” because those parties get less guaranteed scrutiny time in the Commons chamber. 

“The more we get a big majority that is coming from England, the worse that is”. 

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