PMQs: EVEL Dave fights back

David Cameron really doesn't like the Scottish National Party.  But neither is he obliged to.

Nowhere is this more apparent than at Prime Minister's Questions where, on a weekly basis, SNP MPs line-up to ritually abuse the First Lord of the Treasury.  We had four of them in the queue today. And his Lordship appears to have had enough of it.  

Today's pre-cooked gripe centred on the Government's proposals for so-called English Votes for English Laws.  This is often shortened to EVEL, which is exactly how the Scots Nats regard the idea.

The formal announcement on what's planned isn't due to be made until tomorrow but, essentially, EVEL will mean that MPs representing English constituencies will have the final say on England-only legislation.  The changes were prompted by the promise - made by Mr Cameron during last year's Scottish referendum campaign - to devolve further powers from Westminster to Holyrood.  

But the SNP are classically unimpressed. First to the oche was newly-elected Angela Crawley who complained that EVEL would affect her rights as an MP. The Prime Minister said the plan would lead to greater fairness.

Her Westminster leader Angus Robertson  - watched adoringly by Alec Salmond, ever-keen to be in full camera view - was next up.  He barked that Scottish MPs would be "excluded from parts of the democratic process in Westminster."  Mr Cameron said the proposals were "measured and sensible," and asked Mr Robertson to start having a think about what exactly the SNP were going to do with all the new powers their colleagues in the Scottish Parliament were about to get.  Oh, and why weren't they arguing to be given responsibility for state pensions in Scotland?  

The third SNP sharpshooter was waistcoated Neil Gray who moaned that a "second class status" for Scottish MPs would be created.  The Prime Minister said this left him "baffled" given that he understood the whole point of the Scottish National Party was to exclude themselves from the UK Parliament altogether. 

And bringing up the rear was similarly attired Chris Law (on the hottest day of the year) who only got halfway through his rehash of well-worn foibles before Speaker Bercow told him to sit down as the House already had "the gist" of his rant. 

With 58 SNPs now in Parliament, such mass ambushes are already familiar fayre at PMQs and are destined to be so for the rest of the Parliament.    

But it is already noticeable that Mr Cameron - who is prone to losing his temper at the Despatch Box - is getting better at dealing with them.  

The response of non-SNP MPs to the onslaught - particularly on the Labour side with a new leader on the way - will be equally interesting to watch as the weeks and months tick by.