9.15 pm

In particular, I fear for the electoral standing of my party if it continues to feel, as many do now, that the Scottish Labour party tail wags the English Labour party dog. We stand in danger of being marked indelibly as a party in England that is not prepared to protect or to promote the English question. My new clause 8, which I know others wish to support, makes a plea: that we should move as quickly as we can to a position from which those on the Treasury Bench can spell out what the basis of the allocation of the main grants between the constituent parts of the United Kingdom should be, and, if there are differences, how we can defend them to our constituents on the basis of fairness—something that they feel in their guts—which is not possible at present. If we cannot do that, we should not envisage shortly—because these Parliaments move amazingly quickly towards their close—going into a referendum debate in Scotland about independence, or not until we have spelt out those differences and the logical basis for them, and can defend them to our English constituents.

Pete Wishart: The right hon. Gentleman is making a thoughtful speech and a fine contribution, but I am sure that when he talks to his constituents he will want to ensure that they have the correct facts about this argument. Will he at least acknowledge that there is a debate about relative spending between the rest of the United Kingdom and Scotland? Oxford Economics, for example, found that when unidentified spending is factored in, London and Northern Ireland receive more money than Scotland. Will he at least accept that there is an argument?

Mr Field: I might accept that there is an argument; my plea is that the information should be set out clearly for us, so that we can understand if there are differences and, if there are, establish a basis on which they can be defended. If I manage to conclude fairly quickly, I know that there are Members on the Government Benches who have written and spoken about the need for us to move expeditiously to a needs-based formula, although we all understand that if we did that the period in which we phased in the new formula would be crucial. I am not in favour of doing things that rough people up unnecessarily; timing is important.

Mr Davidson: Like the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil), who spoke earlier, I think that these are important points. May I suggest to my right hon. Friend that there are two different aspects that he ought to be picking up? One concerns the allocation of money—to some extent I tried to address that when speaking to the hon. Member for Milton Keynes South (Iain Stewart), because there are divisions in England as well—but the second is the choices made by different jurisdictions. The devolved Parliament in Scotland has clearly made decisions that are different and better than some of the things done in England. However, when it

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comes to waiting lists, services and education, it is also true that some things in England are better than in Scotland. Does my right hon. Friend, like me, welcome the fact that the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs and the National Audit Office are undertaking an evaluation of

“the progress made in various policy areas, comparing devolved Scotland to other jurisdictions”?

Mr Field: The answer to that, briefly, is yes.

Reference has been made to the incredibly interesting debate held in the other place last week. I was struck not only by the unanimity on the view that the status quo cannot hold but by the fact that the Minister replying to the debate found it terribly difficult to marshal a case against all those contributions.

Mr MacNeil: The right hon. Gentleman has mentioned a sourness creeping into politics, which everyone wants to avoid for a number of reasons. The hon. Member for Glasgow South West (Mr Davidson) has just mentioned comparisons across the jurisdictions, and I hope that that would include jurisdictions outwith the UK. Might the right hon. Gentleman find a solution to his problem in full fiscal autonomy, with spending fully correlated to the ability to raise money? After all, I am sure that his constituents do not want to talk to him about the spending in the Isle of Man, Ireland, Norway or Denmark. They feel a grievance because they perceive an over-closeness in the relationship with Scotland, and that relationship would become healthier with a little more distance.

Mr Field: I shall answer that intervention and finish on that very point. We do not have the information that we require to argue these points, and the sourness could ensue when the Scottish Government hold their referendum on independence. I believe that a large force in this House will insist on other parts of the United Kingdom having a say in that referendum. Given the sourness that will result if we continue the debate in the way we have tonight and certainly before now, the irony would be that the SNP could well fail to carry the Scottish electorate with it on independence, while the English electorate would vote for it.

Mr Reid: The Bill and the Government’s new clauses will bring about a substantial increase in the taxation and borrowing powers available to the Scottish Parliament, taking the Scottish Parliament and the process of devolution substantial steps further forward. Since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999, it has been held back by the fact that it has had very few tax-varying powers and that its role has been largely to spend money rather than to raise it. By giving it these extra powers, we will increase its democratic accountability.

Mr MacNeil: Surely there is more to it than that. I often hear politicians and certain sectors of the media talking about democratic accountability, but is not the bigger issue the need to ensure that we have Governments, in whatever country, who are capable of influencing the economy so that it can grow? More important than politicians being accountable are people having jobs and the economy growing, so that we can live in a more prosperous society.

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Mr Reid: Yes, that is certainly very important, and the Scottish Government already have economic development powers. Giving them these tax-varying powers will allow them to choose to use the proceeds of taxation for economic development.

Mr MacNeil: Is not that argument similar to a golfer being told, “Of course you can go and play a round of golf, but you’re only getting a putter to play with”?

Mr Reid: The Scottish Parliament already has more than a putter, and the Bill will give it a lot more clubs in its bag.

I support the Government’s new clauses. I listened to the hon. Member for Dundee East (Stewart Hosie), who appears to have left us, and I conclude that he has not made a case for his amendments. I want to compare the SNP’s approach to that of the other parties in Scotland. The other parties all worked together within the Calman commission and, through deliberation and working towards consensus, came up with a package of measures to give more powers to the Scottish Parliament. The Government are implementing those measures through the Bill. The SNP, however, refused to take part in that process. It has come along tonight with amendments that have no back-up papers, and it cannot make a case to back them up.

When I questioned the hon. Member for Dundee East, I understood his case to be that if corporation tax is cut, more revenue will come in. As I pointed out in my intervention, however, assuming his case to be correct, if one part of the UK were to cut corporation tax, the other parts would be forced to follow suit and there would simply be a race to the bottom, in which businesses would not be paying their fair share of taxes. That would mean either personal taxes going up or services being cut.

Equally, the hon. Member for Dundee East did not convince me on alcohol duties. All the practical problems were put to him and he was not able to answer them. I understand that he thinks the Scottish Government should increase alcohol duties, but if such duties were lower in England, people who lived near the border would simply travel across it to buy alcohol. No doubt when they were in the supermarkets there, they would buy other things as well, which would be a loss to the Scottish economy.

Mike Crockart (Edinburgh West) (LD): My hon. Friend makes a fine case, but it is not just the people living close to the border who would do that. A large black market would undoubtedly be created in exactly this type of goods and it would grow across Scotland and contribute to the difficulties that we have already mentioned about the country’s dependence on alcohol.

Mr Reid: My hon. Friend is correct. There would be an incentive for a white van man to drive south, fill up his white van, come up to Scotland and sell the alcohol at a profit. When I intervened on the hon. Member for Dundee East, we heard a sedentary intervention from the hon. Member for Angus (Mr Weir) to the effect that Argyll was not close to the border. However, I would point out to him that for a whole variety of reasons people from Argyll regularly visit England and, if they

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could buy alcohol cheaper there, there would be an incentive for them to fill up their car with it. That would mean a further loss of income to the Scottish economy.

Mr Weir: The hon. Gentleman is making a case, but for many years people have been going on holiday to other jurisdictions and bringing back alcohol with them; there is nothing unusual in that. The suggestion that all of a sudden there is going to be a massive influx seems to me ridiculous, especially given the cost of fuel in Argyll.

Mr Reid: But they would also fill up their cars with fuel when they were outside Argyll. The hon. Gentleman makes a point. We have heard about booze cruises to Calais, but despite the high price of fuel, it is cheaper for someone in Scotland to drive to England than to go to France. Britain has a certain degree of flexibility over its excise duties because it is surrounded by water. The one land border we have is between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic and we have all heard the allegations of fuel smuggling. That shows it is more difficult for a country to set its own excise duties where there is a land border than it is when there is only a sea border. With a land border, setting a separate rate of alcohol duties would be difficult.

The hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Jim Sheridan) mentioned that people working regularly in England would be able to take alcohol back to Scotland on the train. That led me to think about what would happen on the train itself—I can imagine the announcement on the tannoy as the train leaves Carlisle: “Get your drink now because in five minutes the price goes up”!

To summarise, the SNP did not make the case for their amendments. Through their new clauses, the Government are giving substantial extra powers to the Scottish Parliament, so I will support the Government tonight.

9.30 pm

Mr Davidson: I would like to speak to the amendments but also to refer to some sections of the Scottish Affairs Committee report. Like other hon. Members, I have attended many of these debates and I recognise that this is not the end of the process. We are just mid-way through it.

My first point follows on from my intervention on the Minister about making more information available. It is essential that we try to raise the tone in these debates rather than lower it. Our debates should be based on argument and figures rather than on the yah-boo politics that we see too often in the Chamber between Scottish Members on these issues.

Some Members may remember the “magic bullet” theory. Professors Hughes Hallett and Scott—all three of them—[Laughter]—suggested that simply devolving financial powers to Scotland would result in an automatic boost. That was seen as a panacea and a deal-breaker. Only after a substantial amount of debate did they reach a conclusion. The Select Committee report states:

“when questioned on the relationship between the devolution of fiscal powers and economic growth, Professor Hughes Hallett said that: ‘the empirical evidence is inconclusive on the question of whether it does or doesn’t lead to an increase in the growth rate

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systematically. Some studies say yes, and some studies say no’… Professor Scott stated clearly, however, that ‘the actual act of giving power does not in itself create a bonus’.”

The exchanges that resulted in that conclusion advanced the debate considerably, and I think that many other matters that we have discussed, such as corporation tax and excise tax, ought to be dealt with in the same degree of detail.

When our Committee produced its report, we said that we were conscious that the misuse of figures resulted in a sense of manufactured grievance which suited some participants in the debate. The way in which to defeat manufactured grievances is to produce accurate figures, and I think that the Government have been slow in producing the full details and slow in producing the facts.

One of the main issues identified by the Committee, which is relevant to some of the new clauses and amendments, is the key principle of transparency. Another is evolution. We need to recognise that the Scotland Bill, and the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, will constantly evolve. Most people in Scotland believe that an obsession with constitutional detail has diverted attention from real issues on which there is not nearly as much division as many suggest. On a number of issues there is substantial common ground between the nationalists, Labour and the Liberals—the Tories, of course, are beyond the pale—but that is often masked by the obsession with small difference.

At the last moment, points about such matters as excise duty have been produced like rabbits out of a hat. There may not be much division between us in terms of the objectives that we wish to achieve, but there may be much more when it comes to method, and more still when it comes to the interpretation of what are only partial statistics. The Committee stated:

“Progress should not be measured solely by the extent by which powers are sucked into Edinburgh and we will wish to look at how reserved responsibilities can be exercised closer to the people they serve.”

All bar one of its members agreed with the point that I made earlier about Edinburgh being a black hole into which powers are sucked. All who were not nationalists shared that perspective and that of the report. The issue of whether we are philosophically committed to devolution involves decentralisation beyond Edinburgh. Edinburgh is not an end in itself, except for people who happen to live there. The vast majority of people in Scotland want powers to be transferred closer to them, which does not necessarily involve Edinburgh. As people in many parts of Scotland will recognise—

Mark Lazarowicz: Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr Davidson: Will my hon. Friend allow me to finish my point, for the avoidance of doubt? Edinburgh as a centre of government is as distant from many people in Scotland as is Westminster—or, indeed, Brussels—as a centre of government. Having said that, I shall happily give way to an Edinburgh Member.

Mark Lazarowicz: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way, and I am glad that he made it clear that when he speaks of “Edinburgh” he actually means the Scottish Government and Parliament based in Edinburgh.

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Perhaps he should use that longer form in future, rather than give the impression that Edinburgh is benefiting from some largesse from the Scottish Government and Parliament, because we certainly are not.

Mr Davidson: If my hon. Friend is saying that the sucking of powers into Edinburgh has not benefited Edinburgh, things are even worse than I thought, and I will certainly take that into account in future.

The Committee dealt in detail with corporation tax, and we also welcomed the Scottish Parliament Committee’s points on the subject. Professor Muscatelli summarised the main reason why, on balance, we came down against the devolution of corporation tax, saying:

“tax competition was the main reason why our group recommended that corporation tax should not be devolved.”

He made the point that it was very likely that a reduction in corporation tax in one UK jurisdiction would result in the cannibalisation of tax from other parts of the UK.

Dr Whiteford: The hon. Gentleman and I sat through some very long evidence sessions with any number of erudite professors of economics, none of whom seemed to agree with each other, but who nevertheless managed to find agreement on some pretty simple principles in respect of corporation tax, one of which was that if we lower it too far we will harm revenue, and if we raise it too high we will harm growth. Those very learned people disagreed because there are so many contingencies and uncertainties at any given point in time, and because the interlinking of the economies of various parts of not just the UK, but the European Union and beyond nowadays, makes it very difficult to pin matters down with any certainty, and therefore they become highly theoretical. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that—

Mr Speaker: Order. That is a very long intervention, but I feel sure that the hon. Lady is nearing her final sentence.

Dr Whiteford: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the way to secure the Scottish economy is to create jobs?

Mr Davidson: Well, that is a hard one, isn’t it! Yes, clearly the way to improve the Scottish economy is to create jobs, and as far as I am aware not even the Conservatives are against that. The arguments to which the hon. Lady refers were so complex that it seemed at some points that even Hughes and Hallett were disagreeing. [Laughter.]

We did reach conclusions, however. I think everyone agreed that there were risks in devolving corporation tax, and, as we said,

“not least in that this could lead to competition which could result in the ‘cannibalisation’ of the UK’s tax base.”

There was a political difference there, because we went on to say:

“We recognise that this is not necessarily a concern for those who wish to consider the financial position of Scotland in isolation.”

I understand why a nationalist would not be concerned about the cannibalisation of UK taxes if there were a minor gain to Scotland, but for those of us who take a wider perspective across the whole of the UK, that is a valid point to take into account.

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It is generally agreed that a reduction in corporation tax in Scotland would result in some drawing in of business from the rest of the UK; I have heard no serious opinion suggesting anything else. If we accept that, we can do no other than recognise that that is not likely to improve relations between the jurisdictions, and as we would hope that in the event of an independent, or further devolved, Scotland there would be an ongoing relationship, beggar-my-neighbour politics on corporation tax is not helpful. The risk of driving that divide between England and Scotland by achieving a marginal gain in corporation tax revenue in the short term is not worth the candle.

Mike Freer: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way and I pay tribute to his chairmanship of the Scottish Affairs Committee. Does he also recall the evidence we got from the editor and the business editor of The Scotsman? The issue was not the cannibalisation of corporation tax but the fact that the business community did not trust the SNP not to drive business out of Scotland with a high tax policy.

Mr Davidson: That is true, but that is a slightly different point. The business community was absolutely clear that it was worried not only about uncertainty but that the SNP might end up having an anti-business or a business-unfriendly regime. For the purposes of this debate, however, I was not going to go down that particular route at the moment. It is fair to say that nobody who was raising arguments in favour of the devolution of corporation tax was suggesting that it should be raised, but there was an assumption that devolution was in order to reduce it. It was noticeable that even with the points that were made in the Committee and subsequently we have not heard an argument about how the initial gap between the moneys that were previously received from the UK Treasury and the reduced amount would be made up. Even if in the longer term corporation tax was going to result in a growth in business taxation, which I doubt, there would undoubtedly be a short-term shortfall, and we have not heard any solution as to how that would be bridged.

I have great reservations about committing, in the current economic difficulties and a time of recession, to a set of policies that give more money to the private sector and rich people and that cut services for ordinary people who depend on those public services. That is the choice we are being asked to make. If we are all in this together, as has been suggested, how reasonable is it at a time when Scotland has economic difficulties and faces cuts in its budget, to suggest that the budget should be cut further to give a gratuitous tax break to business? That has to be further explored.

As I said earlier, I do not think this is the end of the matter—it will run and run. That is why the Government have to make available as quickly as possible as much information as they can. I suspect that the Scottish Government produced their figures some time ago and sent them down and that they have either been misfiled in the Scotland Office or lost in the post. I simply find it impossible to believe that after all the huffing and puffing that was done, those figures have not been calculated and sent down here, and I urge the Minister

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to search at the very bottom of his filing tray just in case poor staff work has misfiled those important documents. We have to make sure that this issue is resolved as quickly as possible.

The point on which the shadow Scottish Secretary was howled down was a very fair one. The interventions from the nationalists managed to distract her from making the important point that in 1988—it is true that was some time ago—Alex Salmond, who was then an SNP MP, was suspended from the House of Commons for attacking the Tory Government’s reduction in corporation tax, calling the proposals an “obscenity”. He might have been right then, but the policies he is adopting now seem slightly different, whereas, if anything, the economic situation is the same. I remember seeing that particular pantomime and, if I remember correctly, Mr Salmond decided to have his intervention because he believed that at a time of economic difficulty cutting taxes for business and for those who had most, for the wealthiest, was an inappropriate use of resources. Exactly the same economic situation pertains now and I think we need an explanation as to why what was an obscenity then is not an obscenity now. I recognise that times move on, cultures change and people develop, so if it was a youthful indiscretion, all well and good. If he tells us that, we may forgive and we may forget, but I very much doubt it. It would be helpful to the debate if that was clarified.

9.45 pm

My second major point is on excise duty. It is interesting that, along with others of the six measures, that one appeared at almost the last moment, like a rabbit from a hat. Some of the measures have been dealt with before, but the excise duty proposal has never been put to the House as something that should be included in the Bill. It looks rather like a development of the girn a day strategy—a grievance a day may break up the Union and if it is not one it will be another.

I am at variance with some of the thrust of my party’s policy on these measures. Alcohol prices ought to be increased. I am in favour of taking measures that reduce alcohol consumption, and I am willing to look objectively at evidence. If there are fruitful grounds for development, notwithstanding the difficulties, we should look at such measures on a UK basis. I recognise the difficulties in increasing excise taxes and duties in a single jurisdiction—the arguments about cross-border traffic and where the bonded warehouse would be. To be fair, I do not think that the SNP is in favour of customs posts at Berwick, Gretna and elsewhere, and allowing people to bring in only a certain amount of duty-paid English alcohol. I do not think SNP Members are suggesting that, but there is a real danger that their policy, adopted with the best of intentions, would be undermined by the white van trade.

When cigarettes were smuggled, it was not simply that people brought in cigarettes bought in jurisdictions with low tax regimes; fake cigarettes were smuggled in also. They were not manufactured to the same standards and were actually poisonous, yet they were sold under the counter as reduced-tax cigarettes. People thought they were getting a bonus by buying cheap cigarettes, and the implication was that they were a proper product, but in fact often they were not. The cigarettes were produced in China or elsewhere and although they

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looked like a good deal they were rubbish and people’s health was endangered. There is a real danger that we could be allowing an illicit trade, with smuggled rot-gut Scotch and other liquors marketed under false labels. Differential taxation regimes could take us down that road.

This debate is likely to continue. There has been grave difficulty in Scotland about priorities and powers. The current squeeze on public expenditure means that, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field) said, we need to examine spending in different jurisdictions and the choices that are made. We could considerably enhance politics in Scotland by much more meaningful debate about choices. The differences between political parties have been blurred on a number of issues. We are spending ever-growing sums, but there is very little political debate about the choices to be made. We might debate the order in which additional money is spent, but we never debate who should lose as the result of someone else’s gain.

The question about different choices was one of the reasons why I signed up to the concept of devolution right from the beginning. If we want to move away from the grievance and dependency culture that so scars Scottish politics, we have to get back, to some extent, to the politics of class, and to the politics of real division—where choices are being made. It seems to me that the Bill and the rejection of all the nationalist amendments is a step towards that conclusion.

David Mowat: I want to make a few points about the excellent speech made by the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field) on new clause 8, but before I do so I shall nail a couple of red herrings.

People have talked about priorities. It is absolutely right that the Scottish Government have the ability to set free prescriptions if that is their priority. It is absolutely right that there can be free tuition and almost free social care. Those priorities should be set in Scotland and it is the Scottish Government’s right to do that. The difficulty arises if they have a different baseline of spending. Nothing I have heard this evening convinces me or my constituents that there is no problem in that regard.

In the course of their remarks a number of Members said that we need more facts on these matters. Who can argue with that? Everyone is in favour of facts. In my previous career, however, when I heard people call for facts, it was often a delaying mechanism. There have been many reviews of the block grant formula over the past two or three years, most recently a superb piece of work by the House of Lords Select Committee in 2008, whose recommendation was unequivocal; similarly, Holtham. The Calman commission made the point that it was not a proxy for need. Most persuasively, Lord Barnett is clear that the formula was never intended to be used as it has been over the past 30 years. He, I believe, will table an amendment to that effect when the Bill goes forward.

I am not making the case for Scotland or Northern Ireland having less money or Wales having more. I am making case for the consideration to be based on need, and I will go wherever that takes us. “Based on need” means that we take into account relative population changes. One of the problems with Barnett is that over the past 30 years it has not properly reflected the fact that in both Wales and England population has increased

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more rapidly than in Scotland. Similarly, a needs-based formula would look at indices such as how many old people there are in a community, how many very young and how many disabled, as well as unemployment levels and indices of poverty. It is not rocket science. I do not mind what the answer is, but I will answer the question: what is likely to be the result of a needs-based formula?

The most coherent piece of work that has been done on this, notwithstanding the book by my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes South (Iain Stewart), was by Professor David Bell of Stirling university. In evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee, his estimate was that the current allocation that Scotland receives is roughly 120% of that which is due in England and it should be closer to 105% or 107%. A difference of that order implies a yearly difference of £4.5 billion or, over the lifetime of this Parliament, a difference of £22 billion. I do not know if that is right, but Professor David Bell did a lot of work on that, as did the Holtham committee and others in respect of the House of Lords Select Committee.

The question might arise why we need to fix the problem now. There are a number of reasons—not just the fact that the Bill would be a convenient place to do it, although that is true, and not just because of the resentment that is felt in England and Wales. The right hon. Member for Birkenhead used an important word—“sourness”, which debases all of us and it is not the right answer to those of us who are Unionists. If we are not careful, we will be building up a bank of sympathy for devolution or separation in England.

The Bill for the first time equates Scottish levels of income tax to the level of the grant. I am concerned that unless we make the necessary reform to the block grant, it will become almost impossible to do in future. If the figure of £4.5 billion put forward by Professor Bell of Stirling university were correct, that would imply that Scottish basic rate of income tax would have to rise by about 11p in the pound to make up for that shortfall. But that is not the reason that we need to act; there is a moral reason.

I meet my constituents, have seminars and talk about the fact that we have lost Building Schools for the Future money in Warrington. We have lost the education maintenance allowance in Warrington and England. We could pay for an awful lot of things with some of the £4.5 billion. Of course, as many have said, there would have to be transitional arrangements, but that is not a reason for not starting. I think that it would be over 10 years or more.

I am genuinely mystified by the stance of Government Front Benchers on the matter. I have read carefully the replies that Ministers have given when asked about this, and they seem to come back to two basic points. The first, which is often made, is that the formula is expedient. It is true that it is easy to do—my understanding is that the whole thing is done by one guy in the Treasury—but that does not seem a great reason to continue with it. The second is that we are too busy fixing the deficit to make the change and that it must wait. As I said in an intervention, I am prepared to accept that reason, but my understanding is that we are on target to fix the structural deficit by 2015, which is before most of the Bill’s financial provisions will take effect, so I see no reason why we do not start to set up the commission

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that would have to look at a needs-based formula for Wales, England and Scotland. The formula must be fair, transparent and moral.

One final point I wish to make is that I do not support the amendment in so far as it puts a limit of plus or minus 5% on the amount, which I think is wrong. The point is that it should be needs-based. I would be quite happy if a consequence of the needs-based analysis was that Scotland ended up, as I think it would, with more than 105%. I do not support the amendment for the technical reason I have explained, but its basic thrust is right and it is very important that the House addresses this.

Mark Lazarowicz: I want to make a few points on the question of whether corporation tax should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, as the SNP proposes. Given the time, I will make my comments as briefly as possible.

There is a respectable intellectual argument that cutting business taxes has a beneficial effect on some businesses and encouraging growth, but we cannot assume that that will automatically be the case. What is important is the effect that a cut in corporation tax would inevitably have on tax revenues. SNP Members were asked time and again in the debate how they could cut corporation tax while protecting public spending, and time and again they did not answer. If their theories are right, businesses might grow in time, but they cannot claim that there will be immediate growth that will make up for a loss in corporation tax. That is not because there is a lack of entrepreneurial spirit among the Scottish people. We must accept that any taxation policy cannot just be a general theory that applies in any circumstance. We have to look at the actual situation in a particular location and at a particular time.

The fact is that the biggest beneficiaries of a reduction in corporation tax in Scotland would be the big banks and power companies, not small and medium-sized businesses. Why on earth would cutting bank taxation encourage the banks to invest more in the Scottish economy and promote jobs? There are many other ways to encourage business growth in Scotland, and at the moment the Scottish Government have those powers. The Bill will give them more such powers, which is what should be done, rather than cutting corporation tax for beneficiaries, which we cannot assume will benefit the Scottish economy and Scottish business.

Another point is that if the Scottish Government were to go ahead with a corporation tax reduction, as they suggest, how can we assume that there would be no response from the UK Government? If the Scottish Government’s policies were to lead to a substantial transfer of businesses from England to Scotland, there would of course be a response at UK level, and at the end of the day that would lead to an overall driving down of the UK Government’s tax base. That in turn would inevitably lead to cuts in public services and public spending, and the SNP has to recognise that if it is to address the issue seriously.

I am not opposed to looking again at taxation and to considering all options, but I do not want us to go ahead with proposals that could have consequences that we cannot reverse. If the SNP is to pursue that line, it has to give us more information about the consequences

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of its policies. If it does not do so, it will be rightly criticised for coming forward with ideas that are all talk and no reality.

10 pm

Debate interrupted (Programme Order, this day).

The Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (Standing Order No. 83E), That the clause be read a Second time.

Question agreed to.

New clause 5 accordingly read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

The Speaker then put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).

New Clause 6

Exercise of functions relating to Seirbheis nam Meadhanan Gàidhlig

‘(1) The Broadcasting Act 1990 is amended as follows.

(2) In section 183 (financing of programmes in Gaelic out of Gaelic Television Fund) for subsection (1) substitute—

“(1) The Scottish Ministers must, for each financial year, pay to OFCOM such amount as they may determine to be appropriate for the purposes of this section.”

(3) Omit subsection (8) of that section.

(4) Section 183A (membership of the Gaelic Media Service) is amended as follows.

(5) In subsection (4) after “the Secretary of State” insert “and the Scottish Ministers”.

(6) In subsection (6)(b) after “the Secretary of State” insert “with the agreement of the Scottish Ministers”.

(7) In Schedule 19 (Gaelic Media Service: supplementary provisions), paragraph 12 (annual reports) is amended as follows.

(8) In sub-paragraph (3) for the words from “the Secretary of State” to the end substitute—

(a) the Secretary of State, who must lay copies of it before each House of Parliament, and

(b) the Scottish Ministers, who must lay a copy of it before the Scottish Parliament.”

(9) Sub-paragraph (4) is omitted.

(10) In the Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers etc.) Order 1999 (S.I. 1999/1750)—

(a) in Schedule 1 (functions transferred to the Scottish Ministers), omit the entry relating to section 183 of the Broadcasting Act 1990;

(b) in Schedule 2 (functions made exercisable concurrently), omit the reference to paragraph 12(3) of Schedule 19 to that Act;

(c) in Schedule 5 (modification of enactments), omit paragraph 10(4).’.—(Mr Gauke.)

Brought up, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 12

Exercise of power to make Order disqualifying persons from membership of the Parliament

‘(1) The 1998 Act is amended as follows.

(2) In section 112 (subordinate legislation: general), after subsection (5) insert—

“(6) Section 27 of the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 (asp 10) (functions exercisable by Scottish statutory instrument) applies to the function of making an Order in Council under section 15(1) or (2).”

21 Jun 2011 : Column 275

(3) In section 92 (Queen’s Printer for Scotland), after subsection (4) insert—

“(4A) For the purposes of subsection (4)(c), the function of Her Majesty of making an Order in Council under section 15(1) or (2) (power to specify persons disqualified from membership of the Parliament) is to be regarded as being exercisable within devolved competence.”

(4) In section 104 (power to make provision consequential on legislation of, or scrutinised by, the Parliament), after subsection (2) insert—

“(3) For the purposes of subsection (2)(c), the function of Her Majesty of making an Order in Council under section 15(1) or (2) (power to specify persons disqualified from membership of the Parliament) is to be regarded as being exercisable within devolved competence.”

(5) In Schedule 4 (enactments etc protected from modification), in paragraph 11 (general exceptions: subordinate legislation), after sub-paragraph (3) insert—

“(4) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (3)(c), the function of Her Majesty of making an Order in Council under section 15(1) or (2) (power to specify persons disqualified from membership of the Parliament) is to be regarded as being exercisable within devolved competence.”’.—(Mr Gauke.)

Brought up, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 13

The Lord Advocate: Convention rights and Community law

‘(1) The 1998 Act is amended as follows.

(2) In section 57(3) (Community law and Convention rights: excepted acts of the Lord Advocate), omit the words after paragraph (b).

(3) After section 98 insert—

“98A The Lord Advocate and Convention rights etc: criminal appeals

(1) This section applies to an act or failure to act of the Lord Advocate—

(a) in prosecuting any offence, or

(b) in the capacity of head of the system of criminal prosecution in Scotland.

(2) In this section “compatibility” means the compatibility of such an act or failure to act with any of the Convention rights or with Community law.

(3) For the purpose of determining any question relating to compatibility, an appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court against a determination by a court of two or more judges of the High Court of Justiciary.

(4) An appeal under this section lies from such a court only with the permission of that court or, failing such permission, with permission of the Supreme Court.

(5) Where the High Court’s determination was on an appeal under section 106 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (appeal from solemn proceedings), subsections (3) to (3D) of that section apply in accordance with subsections (7) and (8) below.

(6) Where the High Court’s determination was on an appeal under subsection (2) of section 175 of that Act (appeal from summary proceedings), subsections (5) to (5D) of that section apply in accordance with subsection (7) and (8) below.

(7) The subsections of the 1995 Act referred to in subsections (5) and (6) above (appeal to be on grounds of miscarriage of justice) apply to the Supreme Court in relation to an appeal under this section as they apply to the High Court in relation to any appeal.

(8) But an alleged miscarriage of justice may not be brought under review of the Supreme Court by virtue of subsection (7) except for the purpose of determining a question relating to compatibility.

21 Jun 2011 : Column 276

(9) In relation to an appeal under this section, the Supreme Court has all the powers of the court below and may (in consequence of determining a question relating to compatibility)—

(a) affirm, set aside or vary any order or judgment made or given by that court;

(b) remit any issue for determination by that court;

(c) order a new trial or hearing.”

(4) In paragraph 1 of Schedule 6 (devolution issues), after sub-paragraph (f) insert—

“But a question whether an act or failure to act is, or would be, incompatible with any of the Convention rights or with Community law is not a devolution issue if it is an act or failure to act of the Lord Advocate in prosecuting any offence or in the capacity of head of the systems of criminal prosecution and investigation of deaths in Scotland.”

(5) The Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 is amended as follows.

(6) In sections 112(6), 121(5)(a), 121A(5), 122(4) and (5) and 177(8), for “paragraph 13(a) of Schedule 6 to the Scotland Act 1998” substitute “section 98A of the Scotland Act 1998 or paragraph 13(a) of Schedule 6 to that Act”.

(7) In section 124(2)—

(a) for “and paragraph 13(a) of Schedule 6 to the Scotland Act 1998” substitute “, section 98A of the Scotland Act 1998 and paragraph 13(a) of Schedule 6 to that Act”;

(b) after “appeal under” insert “section 98A of that Act or”.

(8) In section 288A—

(a) in subsection (1) omit “in pursuance of paragraph 6 of Schedule 6 to the Scotland Act 1998 (devolution issues)”;

(b) for subsection (2) substitute—

“(2) Where the Advocate General for Scotland was a party in pursuance of paragraph 6 of Schedule 6 to the Scotland Act 1998 (devolution issues), the Advocate General may refer to the High Court for their opinion any devolution issue which has arisen in the proceedings.

(2A) Whether or not subsection (2) applies, the Advocate General for Scotland may refer to the High Court for their opinion any question which has arisen in the proceedings as to whether an act or failure to act of the Lord Advocate in prosecuting in the proceedings or in the capacity of head of the system of criminal prosecution in Scotland was incompatible with any of the Convention rights or with Community law.

(2B) If a reference is made under subsection (2) or (2A) the Clerk of Justiciary shall send to the person acquitted or convicted and to any solicitor who acted for that person at the trial a copy of the reference and intimation of the date fixed by the Court for a hearing.”;

(c) in subsection (6) after “(2)” insert “or (2A)”.

(9) In section 288B(1)—

(a) for “paragraph 13(a) of Schedule 6 to the Scotland Act 1998” substitute “section 98A of the Scotland Act 1998 or paragraph 13(a) of Schedule 6 to that Act”;

(b) omit “of a devolution issue”.’.—(Mr Gauke.)

Brought up, and added to the Bill.

New Clause 14

Power to vary retrospective decisions about non-legislative acts

‘In section 102 of the 1998 Act (powers of courts or tribunals to vary retrospective decisions), in subsection (1) at the end add “, or

(c) any other purported exercise of a function by a member of the Scottish Government was outside devolved competence.”’.—(Mr Gauke.)

Brought up, and added to the Bill.

21 Jun 2011 : Column 277

New Clause 9

Tax on profits of companies

‘In Part 4A of the 1998 Act (as inserted by section 24), after Chapter 4 (inserted by section 30) insert—

“Chapter 5

Tax on Profits of Companies

80L Tax on profits of companies

The Secretary of State shall, within one month of the coming into force of section 80B of this Act, lay in accordance with Type A procedure as set out in Schedule 7 to this Act a draft Order in Council which specifies as an additional devolved tax a tax charged on the profits of companies.”’.—(Stewart Hosie.)

Brought up.

Question put, That the clause be added to the Bill.

The House divided:

Ayes 9, Noes 382.

Division No. 302]

[10.1 pm

AYES

Hosie, Stewart

Lucas, Caroline

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Wishart, Pete

Tellers for the Ayes:

Jonathan Edwards and

Hywel Williams

NOES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Allen, Mr Graham

Amess, Mr David

Anderson, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Bacon, Mr Richard

Bain, Mr William

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldry, Tony

Baldwin, Harriett

Barker, Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Bebb, Guto

Begg, Dame Anne

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benn, rh Hilary

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Bingham, Andrew

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blomfield, Paul

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Mr Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Brown, Mr Russell

Bryant, Chris

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, Paul

Burt, Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Cable, rh Vince

Cairns, Alun

Cameron, rh Mr David

Campbell, Mr Alan

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Chishti, Rehman

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crausby, Mr David

Creasy, Stella

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Cunningham, Tony

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Davey, Mr Edward

David, Mr Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Glyn

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Docherty, Thomas

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, Michael

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, rh Mr Frank

Field, Mr Mark

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Mr Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Gilmore, Sheila

Glen, John

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Damian

Greening, Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffith, Nia

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hamilton, Mr David

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, Greg

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harper, Mr Mark

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, Mr John

Healey, rh John

Heath, Mr David

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Hopkins, Kris

Horwood, Martin

Howarth, rh Mr George

Howarth, Mr Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunter, Mark

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Jamieson, Cathy

Javid, Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Graham

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Mr Marcus

Joyce, Eric

Kelly, Chris

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lancaster, Mark

Laws, rh Mr David

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Leigh, Mr Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lloyd, Tony

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

Mann, John

Maynard, Paul

McCabe, Steve

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKinnell, Catherine

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Mensch, Mrs Louise

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Patrick

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miliband, rh David

Miller, Andrew

Miller, Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Moore, rh Michael

Morgan, Nicky

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munt, Tessa

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Nash, Pamela

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, Mr Stephen

O'Donnell, Fiona

Offord, Mr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Ottaway, Richard

Paice, rh Mr James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Pawsey, Mark

Penning, Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pound, Stephen

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Reed, Mr Jamie

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reid, Mr Alan

Reynolds, Jonathan

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, Hugh

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rotheram, Steve

Rudd, Amber

Ruddock, rh Joan

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Selous, Andrew

Shannon, Jim

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Shelbrooke, Alec

Sheridan, Jim

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Miss Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spellar, rh Mr John

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Mr Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Tami, Mark

Tapsell, Sir Peter

Teather, Sarah

Thurso, John

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Angela

Watts, Mr Dave

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Wood, Mike

Woodcock, John

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Norman Lamb and

Stephen Crabb

Question accordingly negatived.

21 Jun 2011 : Column 278

21 Jun 2011 : Column 279

21 Jun 2011 : Column 280

Clause 1

Administration of elections

Amendment made: 13, page 2, line 43, at end insert—

“(5) Before making regulations under this section the Secretary of State must consult the Scottish Ministers.”’.—(David Mundell.)

Clause 2

Combination of polls at Scottish Parliamentary and other reserved elections

Amendment made: 14, page 3, line 12, at end insert—

‘( ) After subsection (3) insert—

(3A) But subsection (2) does not confer power on a returning officer to determine that a Scottish Parliamentary election and a local government election in Scotland are to be taken together.”

( ) After subsection (5A) insert—

“(5B) Before making provision under subsection (5) in connection with the combination of polls where one of the elections is a Scottish Parliamentary election or a local government election in Scotland, the Secretary of State must consult the Scottish Ministers.”’.—(David Mundell.)

Clause 3

Supplementary and transitional provision about elections

Amendment made: 30, page 3, line 32, leave out ‘instrument containing the’.—(David Mundell.)

Clause 27

Income tax for Scottish taxpayers

Amendment made: 31, page 22, line 9, at end insert—

‘( ) In section 989 (definitions), in the definitions of “additional rate”, “basic rate” and “higher rate”, after “section 6(2)” insert “or (2B)”.’.—(David Mundell.)

Clause 32

Borrowing by the Scottish Ministers

Amendments made: 15, page 25, line 8, after ‘taxes’, insert ‘, or from income tax charged by virtue of a Scottish rate resolution,’.

Amendment 32, page 25, line 16 at end insert—

‘( ) After subsection (4) insert—

(5) The Secretary of State may by order made with the consent of the Treasury amend subsection (1A) so as to vary the means by which the Scottish Ministers may borrow money.”’.

21 Jun 2011 : Column 281

Amendment 33, page 25, line 42, at end insert—

‘( ) In section 114(1) (powers which may be exercised by modifying the 1998 Act), after “sections” insert “66(5),”’.

Amendment 34, page 26, line 1, leave out ‘place’ and insert ‘places’.

Amendment 35, page 26, line 1, at end insert—

‘“Section 66(5)

Type E”; and’.

Clause 37

Transitional provision for Scottish statutory instruments

Amendment made: 36, in page 28, line 5, leave out Clause 37.—(David Mundell.)

Third Reading

Queen’s consent signified.

10.15 pm

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Michael Moore): I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

I am very grateful to Members who have taken part in all the different debates on the Bill, in particular those from the Opposition parties, members of the Scottish Affairs Committee and the many others who have examined the Bill closely during its passage through the House. Today, we have had important additional contributions by the hon. Member for Dundee East (Stewart Hosie), my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes South (Iain Stewart) and the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field), among others.

The Bill delivers the key coalition commitment, set out in our programme for government, to implement the proposals of what we know as the Calman commission. The commission, established in the last Scottish Parliament, had the support of a wide cross-section of society in Scotland. Its membership included representatives of the three main United Kingdom political parties, local government, experts in Scots law, business, education and the trade unions.

Under the chairmanship of Sir Kenneth Calman, the commission gathered evidence from a wide range of sources and engaged directly with people in Scotland through detailed consultations, public engagement events, oral evidence and survey evidence. The commission reported to both the Scottish Parliament and the previous UK Government. At the general election in 2010, all three main UK-wide parties had manifesto commitments to take forward the recommendations made by the commission. Those commitments are being delivered in the Bill.

As Members are aware, the Bill will introduce a new Scottish rate of income tax, and it will fully devolve responsibility for stamp duty land tax and landfill tax to the Scottish Parliament. It will provide for new tax-raising powers to be created at the request of the Scottish Parliament, and it will introduce a new capital borrowing power and extend the current borrowing powers of Scottish Ministers. When combined with the existing tax-raising powers of the Scottish Parliament, it will provide Scottish Ministers with a total of £12 billion- worth of financial powers. That is a hugely significant

21 Jun 2011 : Column 282

package, which represents the largest ever transfer of financial powers from Westminster to Scotland. It is a radical but responsible step.

The Bill is not about transferring power for power’s sake; it is about creating accountability. By taking on the responsibility for raising the taxes required to fund the spending decisions that they take, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Ministers will be more accountable and better equipped to respond to Scotland’s needs within the UK.

The Bill has been the subject of detailed scrutiny on the Floor of the House and by the Scottish Affairs Committee. The debate has been animated, even lively at times, such is the strong feeling and the keen interest in it that is felt throughout the House. However, our proposals have not just been scrutinised at Westminster. After the introduction of the Bill, the Scottish Parliament established a Scotland Bill Committee to assess the measure and the supporting package set out in the Command Paper, “Strengthening Scotland’s Future”. The Scotland Bill Committee issued a detailed 240-page report on the measure. The Committee’s first and main conclusion was that the Scottish Parliament should support the Scotland Bill. In the subsequent plenary vote, the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of a legislative consent motion, agreeing to the Bill by a margin of 121 to three, with support from the Scottish Government. I am grateful to all parties for their support.

Since then, there have been elections to the Scottish Parliament, and I congratulate the Scottish National party on its victory. A new Scotland Bill Committee—meeting for the first time today—will examine the measure in the Scottish Parliament. I welcome that further scrutiny. However, given the previous Scottish Government’s support for the Bill, I look forward to that support continuing. In fact, I expect that it will have been strengthened by the package of amendments that the Chancellor and I announced on 13 June.

The amendments were based on the valuable report of the Scottish Affairs Committee, and also on the report from the Scotland Bill Committee that the Scottish Parliament endorsed so strongly. The amendments that we tabled on Report were based on the evidence that we received from the two Committees. The amendments to the package will ensure that Scottish Ministers have greater flexibility to exercise their new powers effectively.

We continue to believe that the package set out in the Bill and the Command Paper, based on cross-party consensus, meets the objective of strengthening Scottish devolution within the United Kingdom.

Sir Menzies Campbell (North East Fife) (LD): May we take it that, as a result of the earlier proceedings, Government new clause 13 is now part of the Bill? If so, is that a confirmation of the fact that in any matter involving human rights, the Supreme Court is the final arbiter, notwithstanding some of the childish and petulant outbursts that we have heard north of the border in recent weeks?

Michael Moore: First, I confirm what my right hon. and learned Friend suggests. New clause 13 is now part of the Bill that will go to the House of Lords for scrutiny. Like him, I regret the tone of some of the remarks made against judges in the Supreme Court in

21 Jun 2011 : Column 283

recent weeks. I welcome the broad support for the idea that people in all parts of the United Kingdom should enjoy the same rights under the courts.

Mr William Cash (Stone) (Con): On the application of the Human Rights Act 1998 in this context, and conceding that the Supreme Court has a special role to play, does the Secretary of State accept that some Government Members, and an increasing number of people throughout the country, feel that the Human Rights Act should be repealed, and furthermore that the whole basis on which it operates and the European convention on human rights should be reviewed?

Michael Moore: I welcome the hon. Gentleman to the proceedings on the Scotland Bill, albeit belatedly, and commend him for his ever sharp eye, looking for opportunities to raise matters European in the Chamber. Perhaps with some disappointment, we will have to agree to disagree on the fundamentals, but I point out that we are indeed considering human rights legislation in this country. I am sure that we will have a proper debate about that over many days and weeks.

Let me outline the key changes that we introduced on Report. First, we will bring forward to this financial year access to finance to allow work on projects, such as the Forth replacement crossing, to begin. We are removing the requirement for Scottish Ministers to absorb the first £125 million of tax forecasting variation within their budget. That will give Scottish Ministers more flexibility to decide how best to respond to any variations in tax receipts compared with forecasts. We will also allow Scottish Ministers to make discretionary payments into the Scottish cash reserve for the next five years, up to an overall total of £125 million. That will help manage any variation in Scottish income tax receipts, compared with forecasts in the initial phase of the new system.

As debated on Report, we have included a provision in the Bill to enable the Government to amend the way in which Scottish Ministers can borrow to include bond issuance. Without that power, further primary legislation would have been necessary to allow bonds to be issued by Scottish Ministers. Before that power is transferred, the Government will conduct a review of the costs and benefits of bond issuance over other forms of borrowing.

We have also strengthened the non-financial sections of the package to enable Scottish Ministers to approve the appointments of MG Alba board members, and to provide for reciprocal consultation between UK and Scottish Ministers when either make changes to electoral administration that impact on their respective responsibilities. We are devolving the power to make an order to disqualify persons from membership of the Scottish Parliament, and we intend to strengthen intergovernmental dialogue in areas of mutual interest in welfare.

Importantly, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) indicated, we are implementing the findings of the expert group appointed by the Advocate-General. There is a consensus that there is a problem with the role of the Lord Advocate under existing legislation. The Scotland Act 1998 did not properly recognise that the Lord Advocate fulfils two separate roles: one as chief prosecutor

21 Jun 2011 : Column 284

in Scotland, and the second as a Scottish Minister. Our amendment separates those two roles while retaining the consistent application of the protection of fundamental rights for those in Scotland, as exists for those in the rest of the United Kingdom. We believe that it strikes the correct balance.

We believe that the package of the Bill as amended and the supporting non-legislative measures provides the right balance of powers and responsibility for Scotland within the United Kingdom. Today’s debate marks the end of the first stage of debate on, and scrutiny of, the Bill in the House of Commons, but it is by no means the end of the process. There will be further opportunities to consider, debate and amend the Bill in their lordships’ House.

However, as hon. Members will be aware, the Scottish Government have asked for further amendments to the Bill. We have made it clear that we will listen and that we are willing to consider further amendments if they satisfy some key tests. First, any further amendments must be based on detailed proposals. We must be convinced, by evidence and detailed analysis, to support any amendments to a package that we believe provides Scotland with the right balance of responsibility and accountability. Secondly, any further amendments must demonstrate that they will deliver clear benefits to Scotland, without prejudice to the rest of the United Kingdom. Thirdly, any further amendments must generate cross-party consensus, which the measures set out in the Bill have achieved.

Mr Russell Brown: The Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives and the Labour party want this legislation, but the Secretary of State is talking about further amendments. Does he recognise that members of the public wonder why we are going ahead with the Bill, when what lies in front of us at some given point is a referendum on independence? The point has been made to me, by an admittedly small number of my constituents, that we should have parked the Bill, waited for a referendum, and resurrected it thereafter if necessary. Does he recognise that some outside this place will have concerns about further amendments?

Michael Moore: I have just set out the criteria against which we would assess any suggested further amendments. There is scope within the passage of the Bill to consider those points further.

On the hon. Gentleman’s fundamental point, my argument right from the start, which I believe has had a degree of cross-party consensus, is that it is important that we empower Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament with these new arrangements to enable them to get on with their jobs. The measures enhance Ministers’ economic powers and the accountability of the Scottish Parliament. I do not believe that delaying those measures is in anybody’s interest. We do not know what the terms of any referendum will be or what type of independence will be offered.

Mark Lazarowicz: Mine is a narrower point. Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that, if amendments come forward from the Scottish Government that the UK Government accept and which go through the Lords, we will have proper time to discuss them in this House? We do not want three or four amendments

21 Jun 2011 : Column 285

coming here for one hour’s discussion during ping-pong. Can we get a guarantee of time to discuss any amendments that come forward?

[Interruption.]

Michael Moore: My distinguished colleagues the Leader of the House and the Deputy Leader of House were just indicating—I was going to say “muttering”, but it would be inappropriate to suggest such a thing—in their typically generous fashion that adequate time would be made available should such amendments come forward. I look forward to holding them to that should it be necessary.

The Bill has been subject to detailed scrutiny in this Parliament and the Scottish Parliament. That scrutiny will, of course, continue, but I am confident that the process in the House has reinforced the central purpose of the Bill: to strengthen the Scottish Parliament so that it serves the Scottish people better. I commend it to the House.


10.30 pm

Ann McKechin: As we made clear on Second Reading and in Committee, Labour welcomes the Scotland Bill because we believe that it will enhance the devolution settlement. As the Secretary of State mentioned, the Bill was the consequence of a lengthy, evidence-based, serious consultative process that sought cross-party consensus from the very beginning. It reflects many of the recommendations made by the Calman commission, which was established by the then Labour Government following the direct call from the Scottish Parliament for such a group to be set up. Important issues of constitutional change should not be marked by megaphone diplomacy and a never-ending series of demands. Constitutional change must always be based on hard evidence, consensus and consultation, and it should be clearly shown how it will improve the devolution settlement. It is not, for us, a marker on the route to separation.

Labour’s position is that it is not in Scotland’s best interests for the Scottish Government to play constitutional games and demand powers. It is time to start using those they already have, and to knuckle down to the hard task of getting the Scottish economy back on track, lowering record unemployment and generally making Scotland better. Although it is all too easy in the political game to focus on process rather than on policy, the important parts of the Bill are, first, to improve legitimacy and accountability to the Scottish electorate, and, secondly, to use these powers, along with the extensive range of powers granted in the Scotland Act 1998, for Scotland’s benefit.

I would like to spend a little time discussing the Supreme Court new clauses, which unfortunately we did not have time to discuss this evening, and which were not available in Committee. We welcome the fact that the Government did, as we requested, table the new clauses before the Commons stages were completed, and obviously we will want to discuss them in more detail when they reach the House of Lords, but I would like to put on the record what principles should be followed in referring cases to the Supreme Court. Labour fully agrees that the UK Supreme Court should retain a role in determining human rights and European law issues. The UK Supreme Court enables Scots to access

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justice without the expense and delay of having to go to Strasbourg, and without having to wait for years to have their cases heard. We believe that no one living in Scotland should have less access to the enforcement of their human rights than any other citizen living elsewhere in the UK.

Why would the Scottish Government want to make it more difficult for individuals in Scotland to access justice? Let us recall that it was a famous Scottish case to the Strasbourg Court in the 1980s that brought about the abolition of the belt in schools across the UK when the Court found in favour of two Scottish mothers, Grace Campbell and Jane Cosans. In those days, before the Human Rights Act 1998, cases took years to be heard, and in the meantime tens of thousands of children in Scotland and across the UK were belted right around the place in schools. The Human Rights Act is not about protecting bad people or about an easy escape route from jail; it is about protecting everyone from prejudice and harm.

Pete Wishart: I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her history lesson, but she will know, as the Secretary of State does, that the amendments concerning the Supreme Court are totally unacceptable to the Scottish Government, and will be unacceptable to the Scottish Parliament too. May I suggest to her and the Secretary of State that the expert group under Lord McCluskey should be allowed to do its work before anything further is done regarding the Supreme Court in this House?

Ann McKechin: What I would say to the hon. Gentleman is that we are aware that the McCluskey review is ongoing, and we will wish to consider its conclusions carefully when it reports. We will return to further analysis of the report in the Lords, which I hope will be available by the time this Bill reaches the other place.

We cannot continue this evening without mentioning the extraordinary attack that the First Minister and his Secretary for Justice made on both the Supreme Court and individual Scottish judges who sit in it, when they stated that the UK courts should have no jurisdiction in Scottish criminal cases. Let us be clear: no one is attacking the right for Scotland to retain its unique criminal legal system—I declare an interest, as a non-practising member of the Law Society of Scotland. However, on the other hand, those attacks smack of a political establishment that is too ready to attack anyone who dares to contradict its mantra, rather than one that is prepared robustly to tackle institutional complacency. It is entirely demeaning to Scotland’s international reputation when Scotland’s leading politician uses the language of the playground bully when describing the key relationship between the Executive and the judiciary. Mr MacAskill has referred to the UK Supreme Court as an “ambulance-chasing court”, despite it hearing on average only one Scottish case a year since devolution, and he has ignored the fact—or perhaps he was totally ignorant of it—that his own Scottish Crown Office is making referrals to the very same court.

Mrs Anne McGuire (Stirling) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that the furore about the Supreme Court over the past few weeks smacks of opportunism, when what she describes has been the situation since the Scotland Act 1998 was passed by this House more than 12 years ago?

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Ann McKechin: My right hon. Friend is right to say that this row has emerged from absolutely nowhere, and has arisen simply for the sake of political expediency.

Mr MacAskill—that well-known expert on making sound judgements—also claimed that Supreme Court judges picked up their knowledge of Scots law during visits to the Edinburgh festival, and threatened to withdraw funding. He can now add to his list of achievements that he is the first Minister in any part of the UK who has threatened to close a court by stopping its cheques. Perhaps after such a long-maintained silence over the last two years, the pressure on him was too much to bear.

Sir Menzies Campbell: Of the two cases that have proved so controversial, the first dealt with the protection of a person once charged and taken into custody by the police. The second dealt with whether there is a continuing obligation on the prosecution to make available all evidence to the defence, including evidence that might have the effect of exculpating someone who has been accused. Are those two principles not right at the very heart of the Scottish legal system, to which the hon. Lady has just referred?

Ann McKechin: The right hon. and learned Gentleman speaks with considerable expertise on legal issues. I do not want to discuss the individual cases, but he is absolutely right that they involved important points of principle that everyone who is concerned about the integrity of Scottish law should take seriously into account.

Mr Salmond has attempted to climb down from the remarks that he made in a Holyrood Magazine interview, but has refused to apologise. “Better late than never” should be the new mantra, but the First Minister does not have a reverse gear. Instead, this whole sorry incident has typified a controlling approach that his spin doctors have tried hard to hide. In his view, there is a hierarchy in our national debate between those who are deemed “good Scots” and those classified as “bad Scots”, and anyone who speaks directly against his view will always be in the latter category, even if they are one of our country’s most eminent legal minds.

Mrs Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest) (Con): I would never claim to be one of our country’s eminent legal minds, but, like the hon. Lady, I am a non-practising member of the Law Society of Scotland. I commend her for her defence of Scots law against the current actions of the Scottish Parliament.

Ann McKechin: I am grateful to the hon. Lady, a fellow lawyer. I do not want to turn this into a lawyers’ conference, however, lest anyone should suspect that we have vested interests. More seriously, this is about the tone of the debate and about the relationship between the Executive and the judiciary, which forms the foundation of our democracy.

I noted in this week’s Sunday Herald that some of the First Minister’s own Ministers and MSPs apparently refer to him in private as the “Dear Leader”. References to any similarity with North Korea might seem comical, but this display fits in better with a paranoid one-party state than with a modern, progressive, advanced 21st-century democracy. I certainly do not believe that everyone who

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supports the SNP or wishes for independence follows that creed—Jim Sillars is a good example of someone who believes in independence but also believes in listening to other people’s arguments—but it certainly has a home within the SNP “cybernat” sphere.

Mr Cash: Does the hon. Lady acknowledge that the real problem is that this dispute is not so much about the Supreme Court as about the application of the Human Rights Act 1998 to the Supreme Court? For practical purposes, the Scots are entitled to their criminal law, and that has been the case since the inception of the Union.

Ann McKechin: The hon. Gentleman has very particular views about European human rights legislation, but I support it 100%. I believe that the Human Rights Act enhances our legal system, and it is important that people in Scotland should receive the same level of protection as everyone else. The Act is a UK-wide piece of legislation, and it is important that judgments should be made consistently. Accordingly, it is right that there should be one ultimate Court of Appeal that makes important decisions on key points of principle. The Cadder decision, which the right hon. and learned Member for North East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell) mentioned, was one such decision. It is important to have consistency of judgment, which is one of the parts of our judicial process.

Like most people in Scotland, my domicile arises from birth and not from choice, but I believe that I am exceptionally fortunate to have been born in Scotland at this time in history and I am proud to be a Scot. However, I totally renounce any attempt to mould the politics and culture of the country that I love into one that is marked by a constant placing of the “good Scot versus bad Scot” concept into the dialogue of our public life. That is both dangerous and destructive, and represents a threat to genuine debate. The tactics of the playground bully should form no part of a modern, open Scotland.

Scotland’s legal systems, like any other area of our public life, need to be open to ideas from the outside, and not just from its own legislature. In fact, many of our oldest precepts and concepts are borrowed from a wide combination of other European systems—French, Dutch and Roman as well as English. We have also learned from cases that have occurred in England. It was because we are part of the United Kingdom that one of the most famous cases of tort and delict in civil law, Donoghue v. Stevenson, which took place in my own home town of Paisley, spread across the world. When we genuinely look outwards, we perform at our best; when we revert to inward, defensive complacency, we let our nation down.

This has been an important debate on the future that we see for Scotland. As the Secretary of State has said, the debate will continue over the weeks and months to come, but I want to ensure that it takes place in the context of the hard, reasoned evidence that the Scots demand of us, and that it can be clearly shown to be for their benefit.

10.44 pm

Mr Reid: The Bill brings about a substantial increase in the powers that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, especially those relating to taxation and borrowing. As

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such, it represents a substantial event in the process of devolution. I congratulate Professor Calman and his commission on bringing forward the proposals after detailed consultation, and on achieving consensus among three political parties. His proposals were subject to detailed scrutiny in the Scottish Parliament Bill Committee and by the Scottish Affairs Committee here. I also congratulate the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary on their hard work in putting the Bill together and taking it through the House.

It is an old saying that devolution is a process, not an event. This is an important process; there will no doubt be further processes to come, but it is important that the subsequent devolution processes follow the same process as the Calman Commission and the Bill. There must be widespread consultation, detailed evidence should be produced and examined and then the Bill should be taken through after detailed scrutiny. The amendments rejected earlier this evening did not have the detailed evidence behind them.

Mr Davidson: I want to pick up on the issue of process. Amendments have been defeated tonight, but they will probably reappear in the Scottish Parliament. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that before they are debated further in this House, the Scottish Affairs Committee and others must examine them forensically to make sure that the gaps in the evidence that were identified earlier this evening can be exposed so that we can have a proper discussion and debate about the choices to be made?

Mr Reid: I certainly agree with the Chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee and hope that his Select Committee will subject these proposals to detailed scrutiny.

Two of Scotland’s political parties took part in the original constitutional convention, which went up to three in the Calman commission. The party that has not taken part in any of these processes is the Scottish National party. I accept that it has a mandate for a referendum on independence and I look forward to that campaign. Where I think the SNP goes wrong is that it makes no attempt to bring about consensus within Scotland. Its referendum will fail and I suggest that in future it works with other parties so that detailed proposals can be subjected to scrutiny and we can take the process of devolution further forward. This Bill represents an important step. I hope that the House of Lords will pass it speedily so that all the important extra powers given to the Scottish Parliament can be put into effect.

10.47 pm

Pete Wishart: We said on Second Reading that we would seek to strengthen and improve the Bill, offer real scrutiny and support any measures that brought significant and substantial new powers to Scotland. We are pleased that, in a number of areas, this is a better Bill today than the one presented on Second Reading.

I would also like to pay tribute to many Members who participated in the debates, particularly to those who participated in the Calman commission, and to thank people for all the hard work that was done in the Scottish Parliament Bill Committee. Although we did

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not necessarily agree with everything that was said, I appreciated the conscientious and diligent approach to the work.

Is this the Bill that Scotland urgently requires? I have to say that, unfortunately, the answer is no. Although we have managed to secure some more job-creating powers, this Bill falls way short of the ambitions of the Scottish people as directly expressed only a few short weeks ago, and it still lacks the measures that could have helped to develop our economy and make it grow.

Some of the new provisions are, of course, welcome. We welcome the acceptance of the amendments on borrowing as well as the devolution measures on airguns, speed limits and drink-driving, which will make Scotland a safer place. However, the Unionist parties seem almost incapable of preventing themselves from making re-reservations, which are a million miles away from where the Scottish people are in questions about their constitutional future.

Mr Russell Brown: I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way; he obviously has some time left. I hope that in the next few minutes he will explain what Bill the people of Scotland are looking for.

Pete Wishart: I think that we had something a few weeks ago that was called an election, and manifestos were presented for it. One manifesto had plans for including job-creating powers in the Scotland Bill and the other manifesto was produced by the Calman commission parties. I think that the Scottish people made clear which direction of travel they support.

Mr Brown: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Pete Wishart: I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman again.

We know what the Scottish people want when it comes to such matters. I was disappointed to hear what was almost a rant from the hon. Member for Glasgow North (Ann McKechin). Members’ personal attacks on the First Minister suggest that they have learnt absolutely nothing. Negativity does not win elections, but we hear continued, incessant negativity.

Sir Robert Smith (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine) (LD): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Pete Wishart: I do not have time to give way.

I can only ask Members to continue down that route so that we can continue to secure victories such as the one we secured only a few short weeks ago.

Sir Robert Smith rose—

Pete Wishart: I have only 10 minutes left.

The Bill contains unpalatable measures that are totally unacceptable to the Scottish Government, and which were aired a moment ago, concerning the Supreme Court.

Sir Robert Smith rose—

Pete Wishart: I will give way, for the very last time.

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Sir Robert Smith: The hon. Gentleman spoke of a personal attack on his leader from the Opposition Front Bench. Does he not think that the head of a Government in a proper, modern, functioning democracy should show respect for the courts, which protect the individual citizen from abuse of power by the state?

Pete Wishart: I am almost grateful to the hon. Gentleman, because he has referred to a measure I want to deal with. The measure relating to the Supreme Court that was passed today is totally unacceptable to the Scottish Government, and will be unacceptable to the Scottish Parliament as well. When the last Scottish Parliament Bill Committee considered the Government’s proposals, even that Unionist-led Committee did not see fit to pass them. I do not think that a new Scottish Parliament Bill Committee will be any better disposed towards them.

Had I been given an opportunity to debate the issue, I would have suggested a sunset clause, so that nothing could be done until the expert group in the Scottish Parliament finishes its work under Lord McCluskey. That is the time for us to discuss how to resolve what is a real issue.

Sir Menzies Campbell rose—

Pete Wishart: I have said that I will not give way again, and I will not, even to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. Others wish to speak.

There are real difficulties, but the solution offered by the Secretary of State will not be acceptable to the Scottish Parliament. The most critical aspect of the Bill, however, involves not the unpalatable measures that we have discussed today, but the measures that the Bill omits: measures for which the Scottish people voted when the Bill was last considered by the Scottish Parliament. What they want are job-creating powers and control over the Crown Estates so that we can further the renewables revolution in Scotland.

Given our mandate, the Scottish National party will revisit those issues in the future. On balance, however, we accept that the Bill contains substantial new powers, and we will not oppose its Third Reading.

I suppose that we can look at the Bill in two stages—pre and post its testing by the Scottish people. The Calman parties stood on their record and presented it as a major constitutional issue when they fought the election, while the Scottish National party stood on a programme involving the creation of new jobs and powers for the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish people gave the Scottish National party an overwhelming mandate to pursue that agenda, and we will continue to present the case for real job-creating powers. We will not be satisfied until we have those powers in the Scottish Parliament.

The Bill will now go to the House of Lords before it is returned to the Scottish Parliament for a further legislative consent motion. I say to the Secretary of State and the Government—

Jim Sheridan: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Pete Wishart: I will not give way again. I say to the Secretary of State—

Jim Sheridan rose—

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Pete Wishart: I am not going to give way to the hon. Gentleman. Must I say that a third time?

I say to the Secretary of State that he should not use the fact that there are no Scottish National party members in the House of Lords to introduce any further unpalatable measures, because that would be totally unacceptable. It is democratically elected Members who should decide the fate of our nation, not unelected appointees, donors and cronies.

Jim Sheridan rose—

Pete Wishart: I am not going to give way to the hon. Gentleman. As he is standing right next to me, I do not know why he cannot hear me.

Mr Speaker: Order. The hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Jim Sheridan) must resume his seat.

Pete Wishart: Thank you, Mr Speaker. It takes a long time for Members to understand that I am not going to give way.

Once the Bill has completed its passage in the House of Lords it will return to the Scottish Parliament, and a further legislative consent motion will be required because of the many amendments passed by the House of Commons. I know that colleagues in all parties in the Scottish Parliament will want to look closely at a number of those amendments, and I know that the Secretary of State and the House will respect the views of the Scottish Parliament. I know they will accept that the Scottish Government have a massive mandate.

Many Members have talked about this being part of the devolution story, and it is. This is the second major Bill on devolution to have come before the House. The devolution story will continue to unfold, and we will continue to go down that road, but a new story is now also starting to emerge. It is about a new journey that Scotland is about to embark upon, because at some point over the next few years we will have a proper referendum on the future of Scotland—a proper, constitutional referendum that will be about independence, and I am absolutely sure that the Scottish people will make the right choice and that Scotland will once again join the nations of the world.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. In calling Mr Iain Stewart, I ask him to consider the merits of allowing a couple of minutes for the Chairman of the Select Committee, but it is up to him.

10.55 pm

Iain Stewart: Thank you, Mr Speaker, I shall make a very brief contribution. I just want to congratulate the Government on introducing this Bill, as its provisions are a sensible evolution of the devolution settlement.

From an English perspective, I think the Bill will go some way towards allaying the concerns felt by many of my constituents about a perception of unfairness in the spending arrangements. I agree that the Scottish Parliament should be responsible for raising a significant chunk of the revenue it wants to spend on services, and this

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presents a sensible way forward. It will not be the end of the matter, however. There will be further debates on the arrangements between Scotland, England and the rest of the United Kingdom.

I am an unashamed Unionist. I believe that the strength of the United Kingdom is greater than that of the sum of its parts, and I want it to continue always. Others on both sides of the border disagree with that, but I make this plea: whatever further changes are suggested, let them be based on evidence, be sensible, be practical and not be part of some silly constitutional game-playing. The economy of Scotland, and indeed of the whole United Kingdom, is still fragile, and the last thing we need is years and years of constitutional uncertainty. As we send this Bill to the Lords for further consideration, I congratulate the Government again and make that plea for a sensible, evidence-based, common-sense solution.

10.57 pm

Mr Davidson: It is very difficult to summarise several months of work in three minutes. I commend the Scottish Affairs Committee report to the House, and I hope everyone will read it carefully.

A number of points are worth repeating at the conclusion of our debate. Although I recognise that this is not the end of the story and that discussion will continue, the question of transparency in the figures is vital; that cannot be over-emphasised. If amendments from the Scottish Parliament are to be debated, they must be scrutinised as the proposals from Professor Hughes Hallett and Professor Scott were scrutinised—and, of course, in the end those proposals fell by the wayside because they were found to be wanting.

We must also recognise that financial pressures on the Scottish Parliament are likely to result in pressures for decisions in areas that did not previously have to be addressed. Hard choices are going to have to be made, so it is therefore again essential that the necessary information and arguments are put forward.

We must also be clear about what the verdict of the Scottish people was. Some 50% of the people in Scotland did not vote in the election. [Interruption.] Of those who did vote, fewer than half voted for separation. [Interruption.] We must remember that more people

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voted for my right hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown) to be Prime Minister than voted for Alex Salmond to be First Minister.

Not everything the Scottish National party proposes is accepted, therefore. We must remember that Alex Salmond called clearly for a yes vote in the alternative vote referendum and was roundly defeated. [Interruption.] I notice that efforts are being made to shout me down. That is what has traditionally happened in Scotland when people have challenged the nationalists, and those of us who want to challenge the narrow neo-fascism of the nationalists have got to be prepared to have discussions—

Stewart Hosie: On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr Speaker: I hope it is a point of order.

Stewart Hosie: The use of this neo-fascist description is absurd, offensive and wrong in every single regard. What powers, Sir, do you have to ensure that this nonsense is not said or repeated?

Mr Speaker: My powers do not extend to the refutation of nonsense.

Mr Davidson: Is it not neo-fascist to attempt to shout down speakers with whom one disagrees? We have had robust debate in the House on several occasions, but it has frequently been the case in my constituency, after I won it from the nationalists, that they have attempted to shout me down.

11 pm

Debate interrupted (Programme Order, this day)

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair (Standing Order No. 83E), That the Bill be now read the Third time.

Question agreed to.

Bill read the Third time and passed.

Mr Speaker: We are about to come to the Adjournment and I appeal to right hon. and hon. Members who are leaving the Chamber to do so quickly and quietly to afford a fair hearing to Mr David Amess.


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Volunteering

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Stephen Crabb.)

11.1 pm

Mr David Amess (Southend West) (Con): It is an absolute delight to have the opportunity tonight to celebrate in the House the work of the hundreds, thousands and millions of volunteers who work throughout the country and whose work we simply could not function without. Volunteers add a commitment and level of care that money could never buy. Everyone should be encouraged to volunteer and people should not be put off by form-filling. I therefore say to my hon. Friend the Minister that I hope the Government will continue to do whatever they can to reduce the red tape around volunteering.

Having spoken to many charities, I know that they say that Criminal Records Bureau checks help them to protect vulnerable people from individuals who might be at risk, so I no longer think that that is the problem it originally was. However, it is clear that the Government should be encouraged to incentivise volunteering and encourage businesses to recognise the full benefits of volunteering. If businesses helped to promote volunteering and allowed their staff the time to train and undertake volunteering, there would no doubt be a significant rise in the number of volunteers. I know that my hon. Friend and other Members present would be the first to say that when we visit volunteering organisations, they tend to say that they are getting older and to ask where the new volunteers will come from, and that is what I hope we can achieve from this debate.

I make no criticism whatever of the honours system. I would simply say that all Members of Parliament are continually written to by constituents suggesting that fellow constituents should get an honour, but that is very difficult to achieve. I think of my friend Bruce Forsyth and the fact that it has taken him many years to get a knighthood. I want to mention some of my constituents whom I think should receive honours, such as Ivan Heath, a 95-year-old widower, who is going to leave all his money to charities and is doing so already, and Donald Neil Fraser, a member of Leigh town council, who is over 80 and works as a volunteer morning, noon and night. Con Donovan, the owner of a successful business—a Choice Discount store—does an enormous amount of volunteering, along with his family, and Mark Foster, the famous Olympic swimmer, who comes from Southend, is currently doing an awful lot of volunteering. Joan Alfreda Matthews, a remarkable woman in her 90s, who is the founding member of the Saint Francis hospice, has worked tirelessly as a volunteer for the hospice since 1978 and helps families to come to terms with limiting illnesses. The list is endless.

Some of us who have been here for a while recognise the frustration of getting honours for individuals. We used to have the opportunity to nominate local heroes through the Experience Corps. I telephoned that organisation to ask why we did not have the opportunity to do so this year. Unfortunately, this is the first year in which we will not have that opportunity because the Experience Corps is not doing it any more, so tonight I am announcing that if no one else is prepared to take on this particular exercise, I am more than happy to do it. I simply appeal to some businesses to help us, so that

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in future, we can honour our local volunteers—the heroes and heroines in our constituencies. I hope we can organise something by the autumn.

The hon. Members for Ealing North (Stephen Pound) and for Colchester (Bob Russell) and I are officers of the all-party scout group. On 7 June, Mr Speaker hosted an event and the Deputy Speakers assisted with the presentations and the photographic opportunities afterwards, so I realise that you, Madam Deputy Speaker, have already heard what I am about to say. Four hundred thousand young people are scouts and they rely on 100,000 volunteers.

The scouting organisation is absolutely wonderful. Scouts are less likely to drink or smoke. They are more likely to participate in physical activities and they normally make a great success of their lives. Fifty-six per cent. of youth members volunteer for another charity. The number of adult volunteers in scouting is more than the combined work forces of the British Broadcasting Corporation and McDonald’s. If we paid them for their work, it would cost us about £500 million. They do a splendid job.

At the reception on 7 June, there was a suggestion, which I pass to my hon. Friend the Minister, that the Government consider brokering some form of volunteer incentive card that would entitle its holders to offers donated by businesses. One scout, Stefan Prest, mentioned the success of Orange’s RockCorps as an example of good practice.

This evening, I attended a charity event at Spencer House, which was a fantastic occasion sponsored by the Chinese company Huawei, in conjunction with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, to organise the relaunch of Childline. They appealed for the ambitious number of 5,000 volunteers. The appeal is backed by the Rothschilds and the Spencer family and I hope we will do whatever we can to assist in gathering the 5,000 volunteers.

How many events do we go to where the St John Ambulance is in attendance? Many people think the staff are paid. In Essex, Lord Petre is the president of St John Ambulance. Its members do a fantastic job. They administered first aid to 800,000 people last year and they can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved. There are 23,000 adult members and nearly 20,000 young members. The organisation trains 575,000 people a year and it has more than 1,000 ambulances and support vehicles.

A few years ago, through the Industry and Parliament Trust, I undertook a volunteer attachment with the WRVS. It coincided with the Queen Mother’s centenary. The WRVS does a wonderful job. It runs trolley services at Southend hospital and Southend meals on wheels. It has an emergency service and there are 45,000 volunteers.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): The hon. Gentleman has not yet mentioned Church youth organisations, where many people volunteer. Does he feel that they need recognition and should also be considered for honours?

Mr Amess: The hon. Gentleman is a wonderful attender and supporter on these occasions. He is right to remind me of that group. The only Church organisation I shall have time to mention is the Salvation Army, but I endorse everything he said.

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With 16 other parliamentarians, I was recently made a national parliamentary patron of the YMCA, although we failed the audition for Village People. It does a fantastic job with housing and homelessness, promotes sport, health, exercise and fitness, works to combat crime, helps with safety, provides education and skills, offers advice on money, tries to get young people jobs and helps with citizenship, personal development, parenting and family difficulties. The YMCA reaches out to more than 1 million people each year, working with them at every stage of their lives and offering support when and where they need it most. The movement has grown to become one of the biggest Christian charities in the world, working in over 120 countries, with 30 million members worldwide.

The Salvation Army is a wonderful organisation. I happen to be a Catholic but I always say that the Salvation Army does a wonderful job. It certainly does in Leigh-on- Sea. It was founded in the east end of London, where I come from, in 1865. It has 50,000 members, 4,000 employees and 1,500 Salvation Army officers. It serves 3 million meals a year, carries out prison visits, helps 3,500 homeless people and runs 709 local church and community centres. It runs 636 centres for the elderly, 300 youth clubs and 120 drop-in centres. The list goes on and on. If ever we feel gloomy at Christmas, we go to the Salvation Army and it cheers us all up.

When Dame Cicely Saunders set up the hospice movement, did she ever realise what wonderful work hospices would do in the United Kingdom? All hon. Members have hospices in their constituencies. I have Fair Havens, which was founded in 1983. It employs an army of volunteers. Supporting families who have lost loved ones is very draining.

Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): May I mention VSO—Voluntary Service Overseas? I was told tonight that the average age of VSO volunteers is 44, although many are young people. Those who are past their careers and are grandparents have an awful lot to give. Volunteers go overseas and give in a targeted and intelligent way, capacity building in other societies, and they deserve special mention for the work that they do.

Mr Amess: I entirely agree. Believe it or not, VSO is on my list, but I will now shorten my comments on it.

When I was Member of Parliament for the area where St Luke’s hospice is situated, one of the miracles that happened there was that we built the hospice from nothing at all. Princess Diana came and opened it and it still does wonderful work.

This weekend in all our constituencies was armed forces weekend. I am president of our local branch of the Royal British Legion, as are other hon. Members in their areas. The Royal British Legion does a fantastic job. It was founded in 1921. We had the armed forces parade to Parliament today, and I know that the hon. Member for Colchester has a great deal to do with the Anglian Regiment. We salute the armed forces and thank them for their work.

On VSO, I declare an interest. Last year, VSO paid for me to do voluntary work in the Philippines. I was there as an advocate for Filipino nurses. One of my

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children, Sarah, has just come back from doing voluntary work in the Maldives as a teacher. It sounds glamorous, but when there are cockroaches coming into the rooms and all sorts of other things happening, it is quite a difficult job in a Muslim country. I agree that the work of VSO is first class. If any hon. Members have some free time this summer, I hope they will contact VSO and join it.

Mr MacNeil: I echo the hon. Gentleman’s sentiments about VSO wholeheartedly. I had the privilege and the enrichment of a VSO placement in Cambodia in 2008. I hope more Members take up his suggestion and give time to VSO.

Mr Amess: It was a wonderful experience for me. We went to Ifugao and we were stationed in Manila. For three days nurses were queuing up to get their qualifications—it is very tough to get jobs there. When one comes back to the UK, one realises how jolly lucky we are.

At the weekend we had a Southend community in harmony event.

Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): Many of the voluntary groups that the hon. Gentleman has mentioned, and indeed many such groups in my constituency, make a major contribution to economic well-being as well as social well-being. For example, in North Antrim we have the North West 200, which is the Coleraine and district motorcycle voluntary group, which we share with the adjoining East Londonderry constituency. It generates £6 million a year for the local economy. If that was not there, our economy would not be as strong as it is. He is absolutely right that those groups need more than a pat on the back; they need to be commended, encouraged, supported and endorsed.

Mr Amess: The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. It is not a case of take, take, take, but of give, give, give, and they really do help business and other activities. I could not agree more. The Southend in harmony event was attended by Jewish people, Muslims and a whole range of other people, and it included an older people’s assembly and an army of volunteers, each and every one of whom I salute.

I end with these thoughts for my hon. Friend the Minister. I ask the Government to do all they possibly can to help youth organisations such as the scouts to attract more volunteers. The national citizen service, which will begin in just a few weeks, offers an ideal opportunity. If those young people who complete the eight-week national citizen service schemes are then signposted to organisations like the scouts to continue their community involvement and enhance their skills as young leaders, everybody would benefit. That would ensure that the NCS is not simply an eight-week long experience, but an excellent start to a young person’s volunteering journey, which can be enhanced by the range of opportunities that scouting and other youth organisations offer.

Another way that the Government can support organisations such as the scouts is through their considerable influence with business and employers. More than 80% of employees, when questioned, said that they would like to get involved in a staff volunteer scheme if

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their employer allowed it. The Government should consider whether a person who devotes time to volunteering should be entitled to a small amount of time off to fulfil their obligations, similar to that which is afforded to councillors and magistrates.

This is the toughest time, certainly in my lifetime, for young people to get a job, despite their wonderful qualifications. Having worked in recruitment for many years before becoming an MP, I know that it is far better for young people to do some volunteering, rather than have a blank space on their CV, as that will go a long way in assisting them to get a permanent job.

I ask the Government to consider where they stand on the right to take time off to train. Many organisations offer first-class training schemes for volunteers and support them to improve their performance both as volunteers and in their professional careers. In a survey, the Scout Association found that 93% of volunteers believed that the skills, training and experienced gained through scouting had been relevant to their working and personal lives. Businesses should be encouraged to see the benefits they gain from their employees’ volunteering interests and to enable them to take a reasonable amount of time off to train, safe in the knowledge that the skills they will acquire will benefit the business in the longer term.

Let the House unite in thanking all our volunteers in our constituencies for the wonderful work they do, and let the Government support us in encouraging a new generation of volunteering.


11.18 pm

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr Nick Hurd): I start by offering my utterly genuine congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Southend West (Mr Amess) not only on securing the debate but on the passionate way he used it to celebrate people who give time to help others in our communities, because their contribution is absolutely enormous. It is right that we celebrate them and take the opportunity to ask what more we can do to encourage, support and value them.

My hon. Friend knows that this question is central to our vision of a society in which people feel more power and responsibility not only for their own lives but for the communities they live in and the services they use. It is the big society vision. Of course, we are not inventing something. As his powerful speech and the contributions of other Members made clear, there is already a huge range of amazing voluntary work being undertaken by individuals and groups across the country.

My hon. Friend referred to several organisations very worthy of mention and celebration in this place, including the scout movement and its work to engage and develop young people in communities, to which my hon. Friend has contributed throughout his chairmanship of the all-party scout group. It is genuinely impressive to see how the movement goes from strength to strength with the essential support of its volunteers.

We cannot be complacent or take the movement for granted, however. Statistics demonstrate that giving has flatlined and shows some worrying signs of decline. In all our constituencies, we wonder how we will replace the people who have taken a lead in our communities, but the Government are ambitious and we do not accept that decline is inevitable. We want to work with

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the voluntary community sector and, critically, with business, as my hon. Friend mentioned, to connect more people with the opportunity to make a difference.

I will set out some of our initial plans, which I hope will give my hon. Friend some reassurance that the Government are ambitious and extremely committed to the agenda, and perhaps address some of his specific issues.

Last month we published a giving White Paper, which sets out our stall. We want to focus on three things: making it easier to give; making it more compelling to give; and giving better support to the charities and voluntary groups that channel our generosity. That involves public investment, so we have said that we will invest more than £40 million in volunteering and social action over the next two years.

That investment will include a new social action fund to support some of the most creative and effective schemes that are being developed to inspire more giving in priority areas and to inspire groups, including young people. My hon. Friend suggested new incentives to get more people involved, and he may be interested to know that that includes piloting such initiatives as Spice “time credits”, which introduce new incentives for people to give time, including discounts and preferential access to local services. We are piloting, because new incentives may be required just to tip new people over the edge and into giving time.

We are also announcing challenge prizes to reward the best solutions for breaking down the barriers that get in the way of more giving, and we have announced a local infrastructure fund to help the amazingly valuable and important infrastructure that is out there to support community organisations and volunteering, and to help it become more efficient and more effective. Further details of how organisations can apply to those funds will be announced over the coming months.

I am delighted to say that the White Paper has received significant support from key figures in the voluntary and community sector. Sir Stuart Etherington, the chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, says:

“This Paper draws together a wealth of intelligence on what can be done to stimulate greater levels of giving…in the UK.”

The chief executive of Volunteering England says:

“The White Paper deserves to be warmly welcomed by the…movement. It promises to make a positive advance in how people volunteer in our society and in how organisations support them.”

My hon. Friend mentioned the national citizen service, which is a hugely important initiative. It was launched this year, with more than 10,000 places available for 16-year-olds this summer, and is a fantastic opportunity to connect young people with their own power to make a contribution to their communities. Of course my hon. Friend is right: once we have lit the spark in those young people, as we hope to, we must ensure that it is the start of a journey into other opportunities to develop skills and experiences and to make a positive contribution. So, yes, we do want to work with our providers to signpost those opportunities, and I have personally delivered that message to the scouts and to Youth United, because they are entirely complementary to the national citizen service.

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It is not just young people we want to inspire, however. We believe that throughout communities in Britain there are people who would get more involved in changing things in their neighbourhood if they were encouraged and supported to come together. That is especially true of relatively disadvantaged neighbourhoods where there is less obvious so-called social capital, and that is why we are investing in training 5,000 community organisers, who will bring people together in their areas and encourage and support them to make the differences they want to see in their communities. That is why we are also launching a new neighbourhood grants fund, Community First, which will incentivise local people to work together to create the change they want to see.

As my hon. Friend says, we should look to cut some of the red tape that gets in the way, while making sure that we continue to protect the vulnerable. That is why I asked Lord Hodgson to lead a joint Cabinet Office and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills red tape taskforce. Part of the role of that taskforce was to look at how to remove barriers to those wishing to become more actively involved. He recently published his report “Unshackling Good Neighbours”, and we are reviewing the recommendations that relate to addressing barriers to the giving of time. I heartily recommend the report to my hon. Friend, because I think he will appreciate that it oozes common sense from every page. It is a thoroughly good read. As I said, we are reviewing the recommendations and seeing what we can action as quickly as possible.

My hon. Friend mentioned CRB checks. He will be aware that we have completed reviews of the criminal records and vetting and barring regimes. As outlined in our programme for government, the aim of the reviews was to scale back these regimes to common-sense levels. It is clear from my conversations with the sector and across communities that there is still frustration about how the CRB process works in relation to the time it takes and the restrictions on portability around the system. The main recommendations of the reviews, which are being taken forward under the Protection of Freedoms Bill currently going through Parliament, are to reduce the coverage of the schemes to individuals who have close and regular contact with vulnerable groups; to place a greater onus on employers and voluntary organisations to decide when to carry out checks and to make it easier to carry them around the system; and to introduce continually updated CRB checks to reduce the need for employees and volunteers to have new checks when they move positions.

In addition, we announced in the Budget—this is all in the context of trying to make it easier to volunteer—that all drivers who use their vehicle for work or volunteering will now be able to claim 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles, an increase of 5p per mile. I am sure that my hon. Friend will know that there was frustration

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across constituencies about the rising cost of giving time in this regard, and we think that this will help. The Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus have been working with the Cabinet Office and key representatives of the voluntary sector to tackle the real and perceived barriers to unemployed people volunteering.

We are very conscious of the need to lead by example. That is why we are encouraging civil servants to volunteer by turning the civil service into what we call a civic service. They will spend more time out of Departments and in communities working with organisations, and we believe that we will get better civil servants as a result. We are taking a lead in encouraging civil servants to do at least one day of volunteering each year using special leave. We hope that this sets a good example to other employers. One of the reasons I am so optimistic about this agenda is that increasingly businesses are recognising that it is in their commercial interests to encourage their human resources to give time and stretch themselves in different contexts. It is not just about PR value or community value but about developing their most important assets, which are human. We want to lead by example with the civil service, and we are very much encouraging business to follow.

I recommend to my hon. Friend an excellent speech made by the Prime Minister—of course, every speech that he makes is excellent, but this one is particularly good—called “Every Business Commits”, which speaks very strongly to businesses about what we expect as regards encouraging more social responsibility.

My final point concerns a matter on which my hon. Friend placed a lot of importance. In addition to implementing these programmes, it is essential that we recognise and reward inspirational examples of good practice in volunteering and social action. To achieve this, the Government have created the big society awards. I do not know if he is aware of that, but I can write to update him on how every single Member of Parliament can nominate individuals and organisations in their constituencies for these awards. We also continue to support and promote the Queen’s award for voluntary service. I was delighted to hear about his own personal initiative on celebrating local heroes, and I wish him every success with that.

I would again like to thank my hon. Friend for calling this debate this evening. As I highlighted, there is already a lot of excellent voluntary work taking place across the country. In the years to come, we hope to grow volunteering and social action and enable the existing good practice to become the norm. I hope that I have reassured him that the Government are extremely ambitious about and very committed to encouraging more people to get involved in their communities.

Question put and agreed to.

11.29 pm

House adjourned.