The Queen commented on the rise of the Scottish National Party during today’s investiture ceremony, former Liberal Democrat MP Sir Simon Hughes said.
The former party deputy leader and coalition minister, who lost his Bermondsey and Old Southwark seat to Labour in May’s General Election, said the Queen made the comment as she awarded him his knighthood for public and political service.
Sir Simon, who represented the London constituency for 32 years, said they had discussed the changes he had seen in politics over the decades.
He said: “Her Majesty asked me about the changes I have seen in Parliament and obviously one of the things I said was that of course there are many more women now than when I was first elected.
“And she said ‘but also many more Scots’.”
Mr Hughes added: “No-one would have predicted a few years ago we would have 56 Scottish National Party MPs.”
The SNP secured 56 of the 59 Scottish seats at Westminster in May’s election asLabour collapsed north of the border. Those to lose their seats also includedSir Simon’s Lib Dem ministerial colleague Danny Alexander, who also received aknighthood following his defeat.
Sir Simon said it had been a privilege to accept the honour from the Queen.
He said: “I was given the chance to go to the Lords, which I declined because I had always said I didn’t agree with the idea of an unelected chamber passing laws. And I expected that would be the end of that, period.
“But then the honour was offered and I thought on behalf of my community I wanted to accept it. I have been privileged to live in Camberwell and Bermondsey since 1977 and I had the most wonderful time as the Member of Parliament and as the leader of my party. I was privileged to be a minister in the government. So I thought the community, in a way, also would celebrate and be able to enjoy it.”
He added that he would return to Bermondsey with his knighthood by boat, reversing the journey he took from his constituency to Westminster when he took the seat in 1983.
Henry Angest, a Tory donor and friend of Prime Minister David Cameron, also received a knighthood for political services. He declined to comment after meeting the Queen.