THE UK Government has been criticised for the “absurdity” of not being able to scrutinise the Foreign Secretary in the Commons chamber.

Former prime minister David Cameron took on the role on Monday and was ennobled so he would be answerable to Parliament.

But critics have pointed out this means he will dodge questioning in the Commons, answering instead to unelected peers in the House of Lords.

Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell announced on Tuesday, before an update on the war between Israel and Hamas, that he would act as Cameron’s deputy in the Commons.

Both Labour and the SNP criticised the appointment, though Mitchell said the Foreign Secretary would appear before select committees “regularly”.

SNP foreign affairs spokesperson Brendan O’Hara said: “Already we see the absurdity of having a Foreign Secretary who is unable to come to speak in this chamber to elected members at a time of grave international crisis.”

He went on to reiterate the SNP’s calls for a ceasefire, adding: “There can only be a political solution to this crisis and one has to be found before the entire region is engulfed. That’s why a ceasefire is essential.”

O’Hara also called on Scotland’s two Labour MPs – Ian Murray and Michael Shanks – to back the SNP’s motion calling on a ceasefire, which is expected to go to a vote on Wednesday.

Mitchell replied: “He knows our position on the ceasefire, it’s a position shared by the Opposition front bench.”

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Speaking earlier, Mitchell said: “The Foreign Secretary, the business managers and I all believe it is essential this House properly scrutinises the work of the Foreign Office, especially as we face such a daunting set of challenges across the world.

“As minister of state, I will follow the precedent followed by successive governments of different parties, from Lord Carrington and Lord Home to more recent times, when Lord Mandelson has served in Cabinet from the House of Lords.

“I will deputise for the Foreign Secretary in this House, making regular statements like today’s and respecting the primacy of this House in the normal way, and of course the Foreign Secretary will appear before the House of Lords and relevant committees regularly.”

Updating on the current situation in Gaza, the minister said the UK Government was keeping pressure on Israel to increase the access of humanitarian aid into the strip.

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said “short” humanitarian pauses – which have so far lasted around four hours – are not long enough.

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To heckles of “ceasefire” from SNP MPs, Lammy said: “Gaza is in a humanitarian catastrophe, more than 1.5 million people have been displaced, there are desperate shortages of basic essentials, does the minister agree that the short pauses in the north are clearly not enough?

“Gazans need aid now, they need medicines now, they need water now, they need food now, they need fuel now, a full comprehensive and immediate humanitarian pause in fighting across the whole of Gaza now to alleviate Palestinian suffering and for Hamas terrorists to release the hostages.”

Mitchell said: “All deaths of civilians are to be profoundly regretted.”