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Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, is he saying that the people of Scotland would elect a parliament and people there would alienate valuable companies in Scotland?

Lord Nickson: No, my Lords, I am merely saying that, if it became competitively disadvantageous to be in Scotland because the costs were higher and that disadvantaged shareholders or was a disadvantage to employees, then it might be necessary to think again.

8.16 p.m.

Lord Prys-Davies: My Lords, I shall focus on the need for change in the governance of Wales. There are two main reasons for reform of the constitutional position of Wales. The first I call the national reason. The second I call the democratic reason.

The national reason can be put this way. Steeped in our own history, culture and traditions, there is a resentment felt by many people in Wales that we as a nation are without a greater say in our own affairs. That

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resentment in some form or other goes back for centuries. It developed a radical political movement during the course of the last century. I believe that the resentment has grown very much stronger in recent years. I am conscious of a feeling that, unless the Welsh people have a far more effective involvement in Welsh issues, it will soon become increasingly difficult to safeguard the very nature and essence of the Welsh nation and to transmit our national heritage. That concern emerges very clearly in the lecture, "Wales--Yesterday and Tomorrow", which the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos delivered at the National Eisteddfod of Wales last year.

The Prime Minister pronounced in last Wednesday's speech, which I attended (and I was grateful for the invitation):


    "It [our constitution] embodies a set of values, a legacy of understandings that have developed year by year over the centuries--an understanding that is breathed in Parliament".

Despite the picture that the Prime Minister has painted in such moving terms, I am afraid that we do know that the understanding by Westminster of important issues in Wales has too often been inadequate, and sometimes totally lacking. We have been pretty helpless to obtain legislation to prevent the unstitching of the fabric of Welsh society in the south Wales valleys where I live, and where the miners have created a community of immense richness and depth for over 150 years, or, again, the unstitching of the fabric of our Welsh-speaking communities where I was brought up-- communities that have evolved over 1,500 years.

The second reason for reform can be put this way. There is a growing determination in Wales that there should be greater direct accountability to the Welsh people of existing central government administration and nominated agencies in Wales. We have 36 Members of Parliament with their seats in Wales; but plainly, they are a very small minority in Westminster, and are unable to influence the policies of a Conservative government which are today supported by only six of the 36 elected Members from Wales. It is clear that a Conservative government in Westminster will always have its will in Wales, whatever the view of the majority of elected Members from Wales and Welsh public opinion. That is manifestly unfair. The question being asked is that referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Hooson: is that a form of elective dictatorship?

The Welsh Office is by now responsible for almost everything that happens in Wales, apart from defence, law and order and the fire brigade services. Yet it can only be questioned for 45 minutes in Parliament every four weeks on what it is doing. I have no wish to be unkind to the Welsh Office but, unfortunately, the leadership that one had rather hoped it would provide has not developed.

It has often been asked in your Lordships' House during the passage of a Bill: "Why is it that the Welsh Office has failed to modify its provisions to suit Welsh conditions?" I shall give just one example to drive home the point. The Nursery Education and Grant-Maintained Schools Bill currently before this House has no popular support in Wales and is

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potentially very damaging to the existing nursery provisions which are of high quality and of which we are particularly proud. However, up to now the Government has refused to amend it in any way whatever to suit the position in Wales. Is that the way to treat a nation?

The Welsh Local Government Association in its written evidence last May to the Select Committee on relations between central and local government informed the Committee:


    "... Our perception is that the discretion afforded to the Welsh Office through its policy making and legislative role is more apparent than real".
Those are words from very wise and experienced counsellors. I believe that the people of Wales are determined to alter this state of affairs.

In his speech on the constitution, the Prime Minister reiterated repeatedly that he only favours practical change. Most of us would go along with that, so where do we go from here? Wales is an ancient nation. I was very grateful that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor in his opening speech referred to the Welsh nation almost every time he referred to Wales whereas, in the speech of the Prime Minister, Wales is a country. But it is a nation of distinct traditions, culture and history. It has its own administrative machinery. It seems to us that it is therefore at a natural and appropriate level for devolution of executive or legislative powers to an elected assembly. What we seek, therefore, is not a "grand plan", but a practical scheme for the devolution of central government in Wales.

I have heard it argued, and it was argued in the report of the Kilbrandon Royal Commission that devolution to Wales should only be applied as part of a uniform system of devolution for Great Britain as a whole. I do not believe that there is anything in this point. I know of no technical reason why devolution should not be allowed to Wales and Scotland to meet their demands, to be followed, perhaps, as my noble friend Lord Merlyn-Rees suggested earlier on, by elected assemblies in the several regions or provinces of England.

The crux of the problem seems to me to be whether the constitution of the United Kingdom can now evolve in such a way as to allow the different nations of the realm to exercise freedom of choice in expenditure and therefore differing priorities in given services for their people. I suggest that its capacity to evolve along these lines is the criterion by which to judge the vibrancy of the British constitution. Alas, in his speech, the Prime Minister makes no reference to this criterion.

I come to my final points. This is not the occasion to discuss in detail the functions which should be devolved to a Welsh elected assembly and which should remain in Westminster, but I believe that there is no secrecy about the nature of those functions. The transferred functions would be roughly congruent with those at present exercised by the Secretary of State for Wales and, to the best of my knowledge, it is not proposed that the assembly would assume powers presently exercised by the local authorities.

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I should now like to comment very briefly on three political issues which have emerged repeatedly in the course the debate. I recognise that the setting up of a Welsh assembly raises the question of the future of the office of the Secretary of State for Wales. Clearly, the continuation of his office with its existing functions would be incompatible with the existence of an elected assembly. However, on the other hand, I recognise that Wales would benefit enormously by having a Secretary of State to represent its interests in those major subject areas which are not devolved, such as the policies and rules of the European Union, macro economics, external trade, law and order and defence. I do not therefore accept that there is a choice to be made between an elected Welsh assembly and the office of a Secretary of State. I do not accept that the office of Secretary of State has to be sacrificed in order to set up a Welsh assembly.

Secondly, it is urged by many Peers that devolution raises the issue in relation to the 36 Welsh MPs of whether they would continue to have a say on English legislation whilst Wales has its own assembly. If the Welsh assembly is without primary legislative functions, it seems to me that the question does not arise. Even if it is to be given legislative functions over the devolved subjects, it is not to be forgotten--although it frequently is--that there will be far more MPs from English constituencies who will have a far greater say in non-devolved major matters affecting Wales than Welsh MPs would have through their vote on English matters.

Thirdly, I recognise that there are those who genuinely fear that devolution would create areas of conflict and lead to the break up of the United Kingdom. We have heard a great deal about that and there are two views upon it, but I do not accept that devolution is a prelude to dismemberment of the Union.

I conclude with a saying which is both ancient and modern: "A living constitution must change with the times".

8.29 p.m.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, I shall start with a gentle but none the less heartfelt rebuke to the usual channels for planning these two vitally important debates on the constitution for the week of the Queen's annual visit to Edinburgh. It is not the first time that important Scottish business has been arranged for this week. In fact, there are times when some of the more cynical among us suspect that it is done on purpose to prevent us taking part. I am sure that the Chief Whip, who is himself a Scot, would not dream of doing such a thing; but we very much hope that he will ensure that this does not happen again.

I should like to join with other noble Lords in welcoming the return of the Stone of Scone to Scotland and suggest that to begin with it should, perhaps, repose in St. Giles's Cathedral.

It will be exactly one year ago tomorrow since I introduced a debate on the government of Scotland: independence, devolution or the status quo. I said then that a referendum should be held before any devolution legislation were enacted, but only after detailed

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proposals for the Scots parliament had been published and every voter in Scotland had had time to study and discuss them and any problems to which they might lead. I still stand by the necessity of holding a referendum, for I am sure that in a general election there are too many other issues to muddy the waters. However, I believe that Mr. Dalyell is right that the referendum should be held after the Bill has received Royal Assent, for, as the noble Lord, Lord Gray of Contin, who has just come back into the Chamber, said, a Bill may emerge from its passage through Parliament bearing little resemblance to the White Paper on which it was based. It is vital that the people concerned thoroughly understand exactly what is proposed and what the consequences are likely to be, particularly to their pockets and to the services and standard of living which they enjoy, before any referendum takes place.

In last year's debate, I asked a number of questions about problems which the constitutional convention had encountered and which did not seem to have been solved. The voting system did not appear to have been finalised. The question of the number of MPs who should continue to sit at Westminster had not been resolved. No answer to the West Lothian question had been found, only vague suggestions that a federal system might be imposed on the whole of the United Kingdom, or suggestions that it would not matter because it had not mattered that the Stormont MPs voted on the domestic legislation of the rest of the United Kingdom. There was a general atmosphere of "if you don't look at the nasty bogey man he will go away".

The future of the Secretary of State for Scotland was also unresolved. The question of how the new parliament was to be paid for was unanswered, as was the question of how Scotland would manage if the equalisation grant under the Barnett formula were to be discontinued and £7 billion to £8 billion a year had either to be found elsewhere or government expenditure drastically curtailed. And why was social security not to be devolved?

Those are just some of the questions that I asked. I received no answers to them then and I still have no answers to them.

The week before last, the constitution unit published its report on the Scottish constitutional convention's proposals. It too has highlighted the problems posed by the West Lothian question, to which it sees no immediate answer--because, of course, there is not one--the federal solution, its favourite, being in the future, if not in Never-never Land. It does not consider that the equalisation grant under the Barnett formula can continue, but makes a constructive suggestion for an independent commission to conduct a periodic needs assessment. Since no such commission yet exists, it is impossible to foretell the level of need it would agree for Scotland and how it would compare with the present grant.

It goes on to say--this amused me somewhat--that the Scottish parliament will need the capacity to borrow money "for revenue smoothing purposes". I have never before heard that euphemism for having an overdraft because one is short of cash. It is dubious about the

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long-term future of the Secretary of State for Scotland and raises other questions, although it is of the view that the devolution proposals are not unworkable, provided that more careful thought is given to those and other areas.

The demand in Scotland for devolution is very real. I believe that this Government have constantly underestimated it. I should not be opposed to devolution, provided I thought that it had been sufficiently carefully thought out and would work, and that Scotland would not be a poorer country and at loggerheads with the rest of the United Kingdom. What worries me is that unless answers to the really important questions are found, it will not work. I wish I could agree with the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, but I cannot. I detect an "it will be all right on the night" attitude, which terrifies me. If it does not work, the people of Scotland will not say, "We made a mistake; let us go back to being governed by the Westminster Parliament." Instead, they will say, "We made a mistake; we should have opted for independence." And that is what they will do.

I am afraid, pessimistically, that we are now in a "heads you lose and tails you don't win" situation. I am afraid that the Secretary of State's admirable efforts to bring the government of Scotland nearer to the people of Scotland come too late. They should have started in 1979. It is not true to say that the Scottish Grand Committee can do everything that a Scottish parliament could do except levy taxes. A Scottish Bill may have its Second Reading in the Grand Committee, but then it goes to a standing committee which is government weighted and it has its Report stage on the Floor of the House of Commons. I am afraid that if we do nothing, Scotland will go for independence and that if we opt for devolution, eventually Scotland will go for independence. I hope I am wrong. Certainly the devolution option is a gamble. But if you believe that the alternative will be certain disaster, you may consider a gamble to be preferable.

I see only one glimmer of hope. If the Labour Party were to win the next election and the number of Scottish MPs were to remain unchanged or increase, the fact that Scotland was no longer being governed from Westminster by a party it had not elected might reduce the demand for a separate parliament, at any rate in the short term. That would give time for other avenues to be explored, such as devolving more responsibilities to local government or possibly having only one set of Members of Parliament elected who sit at Westminster on Mondays, for example, for financial, defence and foreign affairs and in Edinburgh for the rest of the week for Scottish domestic matters, or some such arrangement. It would give time for more thought.

I turn to this House. First, under the Articles of Union, the Scots Peers had the right to elect 16 of their number to sit in the House of Lords. The other day, a noble Baroness--I think it was the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour--asked me whether there are still any Scots Peers. I have to tell her that there are still about 75 in existence, of which I am one. Under the 1963 Peerage Act (Section 4), all were given the right to sit in this House. They were not given UK peerages; they were given the right to sit in this House. The

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sections of the Articles of Union which provided for the election of the 16 representative Peers were repealed under Schedule 2 of the 1963 Act.

The Scots Peers cannot, therefore, fall back on the Treaty of Union to defend their right to sit in this House. The pass has been sold, unwisely, I think. Therefore, there is no built in reason why any reformed House of Lords should contain any Scottish Peers at all, except a handful of Life Barons. However, if there is not adequate representation of Scotland in any reformed House, it will be the cause of not unreasonable grievance in Scotland, devolution or no devolution. I am not sure that we should not go back to the representative Peers and Peers' elections. Indeed, as I think the noble Earl, Lord Perth, suggested, we might have them for all categories of hereditary Peers.

I was interested to read an article in The Times today by the noble Lord, Lord Skidelsky, in which he floated a similar idea for reducing the number of Conservative hereditary Peers. But there is one thing that I do want to say to your Lordships. The Scots representative Peers served Scotland and this House very well for 256 years, and at considerable cost to themselves until after the Second World War. Allowances did not start until 1946 for travelling expenses and 1957 for other expenses. But I also have to say that it is a constitutional atrocity to dictate that Scottish legislation will not qualify or be eligible for consideration by a second Chamber. That is a blatant disregard for Parliament, our parliamentary system and the wider principles of parliamentary democracy.

Finally, I find it ironic, that just at a time when the importance of heredity is again being recognised, backed by scientific knowledge and developments in the field of genetics and DNA testing, the opposition parties, always, I am afraid, apt to be a little out of date, should be determined to get rid of the hereditary Peers.

8.40 p.m.

Lord Beloff: My Lords, it is several hours--though some may think it is several weeks--since we were treated to a rumbustious piece of political tub-thumping by the noble Lord, Lord Irvine of Lairg. He was good enough to allow me to intervene at one point in his speech to ask why the proposed referenda would not include the votes of the English. As I understood it, his reply was that whether or not Scotland and Wales wished to have devolved government had nothing to do with England. That was elaborated upon by the noble Lord, Lord Plant, who said that there was no suggestion that the proposals for change in the government of Northern Ireland should be submitted to this country's electorate.

Taken together those answers reveal the depth of misunderstanding of the situation which devolution is intended to create. They suggest that these are matters which concern only the two peoples--or nations, if the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, prefers that word--involved and do not affect England. That is an extraordinary contention. If we alter the internal arrangements of what has hitherto been a unitary state,

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all participants in it must inevitably be affected by what is done. Various noble Lords gave instances of that in the economic field and others may be adduced.

The logic of the position taken by the noble Lord, Lord Irvine of Lairg, leads inevitably to the claim that what is decisive is the wish of a nation to be independent; that is, to run its own affairs. That is a good argument for Scottish or even Welsh independence. The noble Lord, Lord Irvine of Lairg, criticised the Secretary of State for Scotland for finding himself in cahoots--if that is the right expression--with the Leader of the SNP. But that is correct; they are two honest men. One believes in the United Kingdom and the other believes in an independent Scotland. Those are positions which can be held perfectly well and indeed are logical positions.

On the whole I find tempting, for a variety of reasons--some to do with our domestic politics and the affairs of the other House--the idea of Scottish independence and the disappearance from our television screens (except on rare occasions) of certain all-too-familiar figures. But I am restrained in my enthusiasm for Scottish independence for a different reason. I can best explain it by quoting from a speech made in 1484 by the secretary of James III of Scotland to King Richard III of England and his council meeting in Nottingham. At that time there was a danger of another Anglo-Scottish war. The purpose of the secretary--whose name, interestingly enough, was Whitelaw, which shows how porous the Border has sometimes been--was to dissuade the English from going to war again with Scotland. He said,


    "It is an unnatural thing that war should be fought between us--we who are bound together within a small island in the western sea and who are linked by living in the same climate and in neighbouring lands, sharing similarity of physique, language, appearance, colouring and complexion".

Archibald Whitelaw referred to,


    "a small island in the western sea".
That is a cardinal concept directly related to much of the agitation from the Charter 88 and other unmentionable sources so admirably explained to us by the noble Lord, Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe. It is all part of an attempt to dissolve this country into national units and ultimately into regions. They would obviously all be weaker than the United Kingdom is as a political unit and all would therefore be subject more easily to further encroachment by the European institutions at Brussels. In other words--this is borne out by the friendly references to Catalonia, the Basque country and so forth--Europe consists either of nation states which can run their affairs and argue their cases with each other on equal grounds, or we have a series of regions, all of them weak and all looking for handouts to make up for their weaknesses. That would be the ultimate outcome if this country pursued the proposals for devolution.

There is no possible ground for saying that it could end in any other way. The purpose of creating the Union--which, after all, took some centuries to build up--was to strengthen both the Scottish and the English. By then England included Wales for political purposes. It was intended to give them greater opportunities, in those days overseas in what became the Empire and

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latterly in other walks of life. It makes the United Kingdom, even now in its reduced state in the post-Imperial world, still something to be counted upon.

We are constantly reminded in this House by noble Lords on all sides of the grave challenges to our economic position in the rapid globalisation of the economy. That seems to me to be an argument for retaining a unit of considerable size with great human and material capacities rather than dissolving it, gradually or rapidly, into several or many different units.

The idea that there is a demand--at any rate, in England--for creating regional government, as suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Plant, is almost as far-fetched as the belief of the noble Lord, Lord Irvine of Lairg, that a British citizen is less likely to have his freedom defended against the state than the citizens of other European countries who happen to enjoy the protection of a written list of their rights. If one believes that, one will believe anything; one could even believe that there is a demand in England for regional government.

I have sat with the noble Lords, Lord Plant and Lord Prys-Davies, in our committee on central and local government. There is certainly a feeling that local government, in the strict sense--for instance, great cities--should have greater control over its affairs. But that is within the framework of a United Kingdom. It is that framework which I believe it is our duty to preserve. For that reason I hope that we may, even at this late hour, hear that the Labour Party has abandoned any proposals to change the status quo.

8.50 p.m.

Viscount Thurso: My Lords, it is always a daunting prospect to follow the noble Lord, Lord Beloff. I have the greatest admiration for his oratory and respect for his intellect, but on this occasion I have to say that I disagree profoundly with the argument that he has expressed.

In this debate tonight I have been struck so far by two points. The first is how little has been said on the general question of Europe and of our future within the European Union. I would like to touch briefly on that a little later on. The second point is that this debate has for me clearly emphasised the difference of opinion and of style between architects and lawyers. It is said of architects that God is in the detail. The architect draws up a great plan and then, with relish, sits down to detail it and to bring this thing of beauty into being. Of the lawyer it is said that the devil is in the detail and having put together the great design the lawyer, with anguish, sits down to pick it apart. Tonight I am firmly on the side of the architect and I wish to speak in support of devolution.

Although I support the sentiments of devolution I hate the word. I much prefer the term "home rule" which I believe is greatly more expressive of what I would like to see in Scotland. Therefore, with your Lordships' leave, I shall use that term. It is a testament to the strength of feeling in the country shown in the number of noble Lords taking part in the debate today both on the Motion today and tomorrow.

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It is worth while for a moment to dwell on why there is such strength of feeling both in your Lordships' House and in the country. I believe that that strength of feeling comes from two interlinked sources: first, that our systems of government at all levels are perceived by the people to be failing. The majority of people in the country, if the discussions that I have had are anything to go by, seem to be largely apathetic towards all forms of government, both local and national, and have the feeling that they have little or no say in how they are governed. In short, the average person regards the process of government at all levels as failing to take account of their views and aspirations.

That in turn leads to the second source, which is frustration. In many ways modern life is deeply frustrating. It is frustrating at the most mundane levels. But more importantly for tonight's debate, it is frustrating in that most citizens feel less and less able to participate, which has fostered a growing feeling of them and us--them who govern and us who suffer.

Participation, whether real or perceived, is an essential ingredient in a successful democratic process. It must therefore be a primary requirement of our constitution that it permits the people to feel that they can participate. I remind your Lordships of the debate initiated by my noble friend Lord Dahrendorf on his excellent report on Wealth Creation and Social Cohesion in a free society, which to my mind made abundantly clear the grave dangers of excluding members of our society from participation and for the need for participation by all members of the community. In that debate I said two things: first, the smaller the electorate the greater the democracy and, secondly, that local government should be based on community and not on population or land mass.

To my mind it is no accident that the rise in nationalism in Scotland and in other parts of the kingdom directly reflect the reduction in the powers of local government. The great centralising force which the Government have wielded without mercy over the past 17 years has done more than anything else to concentrate the minds of Scotsmen and Scotswomen on the dictatorship of Westminster. My first plea therefore--I join very much with the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, in this--is for local government to give power back to local people in local communities so that they may make local choices.

Before turning fully to the question of home rule I would like briefly to touch on Europe. The full participation of the United Kingdom in the European Union is a central necessity for the future prosperity of our country. I deplore the rise in English nationalism, which is being promoted by some, particularly in the press, as a result of the debate on the single currency. Personally, the single currency worries me greatly. I believe that it has considerable defects. However, I also believe that it will happen. The core countries will go ahead and form it. If we are not part of that core we shall once again be out in the cold hanging on to the coat tails of our more prosperous partners. For that reason and that reason alone, I support our participation in full from the outset. If it then fails we shall be on the

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inside and can take part in the decisions to remedy it. If we do not take part we shall be on the outside and not part of the process. Better by far to try and fail than to fail to try.

I now turn to the question of home rule. Perhaps I may quote two paragraphs from a speech made by a former Secretary of State for Scotland shortly after he resigned that office. First, he said,


    "There is a demand growing insistently from the Scottish people that they should be given the right which they believe is theirs inalienably to control their own domestic affairs".
Shortly afterwards, in the same speech, he said,


    "Scotsmen feel the need of a political and administrative centre in Scotland which will act as a counter magnet to the attraction of London, as a power house of Scottish energy directed by Scotsmen familiar with Scottish conditions to the solution of Scottish problems for the regeneration of their native land".
Those quotations came from a speech made in 1932 at a time when the Prime Minister of the day was committed to the policy of home rule. It was made by Sir Archibald Sinclair, my grandfather. He went on to describe the nationalists, as


    "the Playboys of Scottish politics, as visionary, unpractical and irresponsible as they are romantic, attractive and fervent in their patriotism".
But he warned even then that if the aspirations of the Scottish people were not taken into account then the rise of extreme Scottish nationalism was inevitable. How prophetic he was!

As my noble friend Lord Jenkins of Hillhead so eloquently said, there is a precedent for this question and a number of other noble Lords have touched on it: it is Ireland. Without doubt if we had had the foresight in the 1880s and 1890s to allow home rule in Ireland we would today be the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

I believe that the vast majority of Scotsmen have absolutely no wish to challenge the sovereignty of this Parliament or to seek the dissolution of the United Kingdom. But we are different. We are a different people; we have our own heritage and national identity rooted in centuries of independence. We have our own legal system, our own education system and our own sense of priorities. Scotsmen demand the right on these domestic issues to self-determination in domestic government. I firmly believe, although I pray that it will never happen, that if we at Westminster continue to frustrate those legitimate desires, then the forces of nationalism will build to such a pitch that revolution rather than evolution will become the inevitable course. I believe that the case and the momentum for home rule to be so overwhelming that it is a matter of when and not if.

The Scottish Constitutional Convention produced a remarkable report and recommendation. It is remarkable because it is consensual. In many senses it is the best of compromises in that it embraces as wide a diversity of opinion as is possible. For that reason I support it. There are elements of its proposals with which I do not agree, but those disagreements are subordinate to the requirement to achieve something and to achieve the aspirations of Scotsmen and women. If this is the vehicle that achieves it, then I support it.

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Without doubt, when the Scottish parliament or assembly comes into existence it will have faults. Those faults will need to be rectified. If it follows the example of this Parliament, it will evolve and refine itself. I would rather work from within to achieve what I believe to be right than to be left out in the cold over a few points of disagreement. The only real argument against a Scottish parliament is the Secretary of State's charge of the tartan tax. It is a shame, but none the less typical, that this Government cannot see the value for considerations of cost. I believe that the answer from most Scotsmen is that if domestic self-determination has a price they will pay it.

The noble Lord, Lord Nickson, raised some very valid concerns. Those who support the Scottish parliament would do well to take note of them. I believe that they will be taken into consideration. If one looks at other regions of Europe where devolution has taken place successfully, the indications are that businesses flourish and do not decline.

We should give consideration to what we require of our constitution and what we want it to do for us. Our constitution should provide an adequate vehicle for the expression of the people so that all citizens can truly feel that they are participants in the democratic process. The constitution must preserve those rights of citizens that we deem inalienable. There are those who say that our constitution is etched in tablets of stone and cannot be changed. This is untrue. History teaches us that it evolves. Sometimes that evolution is gradual, but there are times when the forces opposing constitutional change are such that great force has to build up before change occurs. It is on those occasions that we come dangerously close to revolution. I believe that one of those times is now. If we do not allow this process of evolution to take place we will have revolution.

Of all the evils that beset our world today rampant nationalism is at the top of the list. I abhor anything that promotes nationalism and support anything that promotes internationalism--hence my support for Europe. I firmly believe that home rule for Scotland will lance the nationalist boil and promote harmony and union within the United Kingdom. This great Parliament has been described as the mother of Parliaments. Mothers give birth. Let this great Parliament give birth to a child in Scotland. It will be as all children--ill-disciplined, gawky and awkward--but as it grows to adulthood it will become a worthy child, dutiful, respectful and honorary.

In the words of the English bard,


    "There is a tide in the affairs of men,


    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune".

Or, as the Scottish bard puts it, possibly more subtly,


    "Now's the day, and now's the hour".

9.3 p.m.

Lord Thomas of Swynnerton: My Lords, the idea of home rule for Scotland and Wales is a very old friend who has been away for 20 years. That friend has returned, still lively but perhaps grey at the temples, and is just as unpredictable and capable, as in the past, of creating havoc, particularly for his sponsors.

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Having listened to the speeches of noble Lords opposite, and having thought a good deal about the proposals of the party opposite, I am surprised that they have not been a little more ambitious. However one views the matter, it is hard to believe that home rule in one or two parts of a nation state can work. It was because of that that Mr. Balfour, Mr. Winston Churchill and Mr. Lloyd George, seeing the consequences of Irish nationalism, as we now see Scottish nationalism, began to support--too late--the idea of "Home Rule All Round", thereby hoping to avoid the tragedy, as they rightly saw it, of Irish independence.

Like the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, I prefer the expression "home rule" to "devolution". "Home rule" conjures up particular memories, as the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, reminded us earlier today. There have certainly been occasions when home rule has been tried in a single part of a country. One obvious example is Stormont. Other examples are Grattan's Parliament in Ireland, Greenland, and Catalonia, at the time of the Second Spanish Republic in the 1930s. But none of those examples is very reassuring. As to Catalonia, although surprisingly it was quite successful at that time, that success has not been reproduced in contemporary Spanish politics, because since Spain became free again, following the death of Franco in 1975 "Home Rule All Round" has been introduced.

If the party opposite were more logical it would be more vigorous in trying to persuade others of the benefit of something like "Home Rule All Round" in the United Kingdom. I do not believe that this would be completely unacceptable on this side of the House. My noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone in his fine book The Dilemma of Democracy in 1978 gave support to the idea of a British federal state. I believe that others of us would support that idea, despite the criticism of the noble Lord, Lord Bowness.

The remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, about the liveliness of English regional government were convincing. All the same, it is worth emphasising that this is a very big development. I could quite easily make a speech in favour of a British federal structure. I would tend to neglect the failure of federal states such as those in central Africa and the West Indies, and recall that this country has given its support to several federal enterprises which have been successful. Among them are Australia, Canada, the United States--that had something to do with us--and Germany since the war.

However, there is one qualification which needs to be stated, which the party opposite should perhaps have taken into account when formulating its original ideas. It is that a British federal state could hardly function without having a written constitution, to which so many of us are so bitterly opposed. A written constitution too would have certain benefits. Again, it is easy to defend that. But that would certainly be the logical consequence of a proposal for a federal state, which is the only fair conclusion one can envisage as likely to work, of the introduction of home rule in Scotland and Wales.

I shall turn briefly, in the context of the idea of revising the constitution, to the subject which will be discussed tomorrow by your Lordships; that is to say,

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the future of your Lordships' House. The usual way that matter is discussed is to talk about who should be Members. But given the interesting speeches made today about the desirability of a bicameral constitution, and the remarkable adjective used by the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, who talked of the need for an "enhanced" role for your Lordships' House, perhaps we should wonder whether the powers of the House should not be re-examined.

Are your Lordships entirely satisfied that the powers which you now possess are suitable in the long term? If we are thinking in the long term, should we not envisage a bicameral constitution in which the two Chambers are, if not equal, at least a little more equal than they currently are? Is it possible--perhaps it is out of order--for me to suggest that we could consider some ways whereby there could be some zones of political life (such as finance in another place), for example constitutional matters or scrutiny of European legislation, which should be the prime responsibility of your Lordships' House? Would it be possible to improve on the existing understanding whereby, under the Salisbury Convention, this House does not destroy a Bill which has been approved, by implication, by the country at large in a general election? Could we perhaps suggest that if a Bill which has not been approved of by the country at large in a general election is introduced into another place, this House would be free, under normal circumstances, if there were a majority to do so, to destroy it?

If we think in terms of an enhanced role--again I use the adjective of the noble Lord, Lord Lester--for your Lordships' House, we could consider anew who should be the Members of it. The party opposite is not of course the first party to speak of this, but the position of the hereditary peerage has changed a great deal since the last century when it could be said that it represented the landed interest. All the same, the proposals of the party opposite, which would leave your Lordships' House filled only with nominees of successive Prime Ministers, seem to many of us a little bleak, unimaginative, ugly. Perhaps something else could be devised.

It might be more in the spirit of British constitutional change were there to be some modification of the idea, apparently proposed by Lord Lansdowne earlier this century, whereby a limited number of hereditary peers, perhaps selected by the same method as Scottish peers used to be selected, should continue to be Members of your Lordship's House for a trial period of, perhaps, 25 years. Possibly that should be 75 peers rather than 150.

We should also consider some elected element alongside, not instead of, the existing system. An elected element played a part in the ideas of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and others 25 years ago. How those new noble Lords are to be elected is a matter for much discussion. I believe that it might be desirable to emphasise the regional basis of such elected Members of your Lordships' House. In another place we had county members and so why should we not contemplate having county peers? Some 20 years ago my noble and

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learned friend Lord Hailsham suggested that automatically some general secretaries of trade unions and heads of government departments should by the nature of their appointments become Members of your Lordships' House. That idea was dismissed as being "corporatist". Perhaps it could be reconsidered alongside another suggestion whereby serving heads of government departments or serving senior officers in the Armed Forces should become Members. Remembering that revival is the essence of renewal, perhaps I may point out that during the golden age of British democracy in the 18th century, most great commanders were Members of another place.

In the context of the revision of this House, the number of Protestant Lords Spiritual might be reduced and replaced by Catholics. I am sure that many Members of your Lordships' House would consider that idea with interest.

I do not believe that the ideas for change proposed by the party opposite are to be condemned absolutely. However, in relation to home rule for Scotland and Wales, perhaps it should think more profoundly about the implications of its proposals. I also believe that any scheme for change in your Lordships' House should be more imaginative. I do not believe that change itself should be opposed. Indeed, I strongly believe that Cardinal Newman was correct when he said that "to change is to grow".


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