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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, as the noble Lord seems to disapprove of people changing their minds and thinks they are confused, I take it that he does not approve of one of the junior Ministers at the Department of Education in the current Government, Mr. Alan Howarth.

Lord Ewing of Kirkford: My Lords, the noble Lord is tempting me but I shall not go down that road. The number of times my honesty and frankness get me into trouble is nobody's business! I shall certainly not go down that road.

The referendum legislation is before your Lordships' House. The noble Lord, Lord Mackay, challenged me to say whether I had found a lifeboat after my resignation from the Scottish Constitutional Convention because of the referendum. I have not found a lifeboat, I am not a convert to referendums. I do not like the idea, I believe that it is alien to our parliamentary system. But I have got my eye on one target only--the creation of a Scottish parliament. If this is the route that has been chosen, then I shall make sure so far as I possibly can that the route is followed and my long-held ambition is realised with the creation of a Scottish parliament.

I do not intend to detain your Lordships much longer, I shall just mention one or two other issues. The whole question of the threshold is, in my view, one of the most dangerous introductions to the democratic process that one could engineer. As my noble friend Lady Ramsay said, we should never allow the 1979 situation to repeat itself, where those who sat at home had more influence than those who took the trouble to go out and vote. I said during the campaign, and was contradicted time and time again, that every person who did not vote was counted as a "no" vote. We were destined to lose that referendum: it would have been a miracle if we had won it with the 40 per cent. rule introduced by George Cunningham. Incidentally, he was the Member for Islington, which has been in the news a lot lately.

Should the SNP campaign? I am on record as saying that it should not. At the last referendum, one of the big problems that we had was that every time the SNP said: "Vote for this because it is the first step on the road to separation", it switched off 10,000 votes. I say again that I would not worry one bit if the SNP sat at home

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and did not become involved in the referendum campaign. I believe that it damaged the campaign and would damage it yet again.

Should there be a question on independence? The answer is no, so far as I am concerned. In the seven elections that I have fought--not as many as some Members of your Lordships' House--the one thing that has been clear in Scotland is that, if you voted for the SNP, you were voting for independence. The SNP has never collected more than 28 per cent. of the vote. What appears to be being suggested is that, having failed to persuade the electorate in a general election, the SNP now says, "Let us try another method. Let us try to persuade the people in a referendum". Everyone who has been involved in referendum campaigns in the past, knows that to add more questions adds more confusion.

My final word is this, and I say it as gently as I possibly can. As the debate developed this afternoon, rightly or wrongly--I hope wrongly--I had the feeling that there is developing a determination to deny the people of Scotland and Wales what the people of Scotland and Wales wish. I hope that I am wrong. If I am right, I say, with great respect to every Member of your Lordships' House here today, that we are playing with political dynamite. On our heads would be a horrendous responsibility for the problems that such denial would cause to the democratic institutions throughout this country.

Therefore I plead--I have more than enough confidence in your Lordships' House--that we scrutinise the legislation and do our job properly. I do not enjoy Members of another place referring to the Upper House in a threatening manner. When they do that they compromise the position of the Government Ministers here in your Lordships' Chamber. The day will come--sooner rather than later--when your Lordships' House will have to be used to introduce amendments to legislation that the other place does not get right. They should therefore stop the nonsense of threatening it.

However, we too have a responsibility; that is, to be responsible. That is all I ask. I wish the Bill every speed on to the statute book; through with the referendums and then on to the real business--the creation of a parliament for Scotland and an assembly for Wales.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps I may ask him a question in relation to thresholds. He has thought long and hard about these matters. Would he think that on a turnout of 30 per cent., 16 per cent. voting yes is something that should be given full weight by Parliament? I should be interested to know what he thinks about that.

Lord Ewing of Kirkford: My Lords, it would be much more dramatic to talk about a turnout of 10 per cent. I have noticed these figures flying about; I noticed the noble Lord's article in the Glasgow Herald. But it will be a much bigger turnout than 30 per cent. There was a turnout of 62 per cent. in the 1979 referendum and we have had 18 years of Tory

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government since then. I can assure noble Lords opposite that that is enough to put another 30 per cent. on any vote.

6.54 p.m.

Lord Stanley of Alderley: My Lords, although I have lived and worked in Anglesey for 51 years, I realise that, like my dog, I am a mongrel. The male branch of my family only came to Wales in the 18th century and, although the female side came many centuries before that, I gather that they do not count.

When a similar Bill was discussed in your Lordships' House on 23rd May 1978, I expressed my dislike of it, as did the Welsh electorate to the tune of four to one. I see no reason to change my mind. But more importantly, I find the way that the Government are rushing this Bill through, without giving details of what a Welsh assembly might or might not do, to be intolerable and indeed insulting to the Welsh electorate. Despite what the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, said, how can I decide to vote when I do not know what the Welsh assembly may or may not do?

I suppose the Government have done this because they know that they will get a South Wales, socialist-dominated assembly. I accept that the instinctive reaction to the question, "Do the Welsh want a Welsh assembly?", is likely to be, "It would be good for Wales". But if asked "Why?" and, more importantly, "What will a Welsh assembly achieve?", the answer I hope will change. What the Government are proposing reminds me of the words of the song that went, "We don't know where we're going 'til we're there". That may be a wise and kind thing to say or sing in the war; it is certainly not for peacetime constitutional reform.

In line with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Shore, I suggest that it is up to the Government to spell out now where they think we are going and what the Welsh assembly will do. It is not good enough to say that all will be revealed in a White Paper. Who has ever read a White Paper, let alone understood one? Like other noble Lords I ask: when will we get the White Paper? Will it be free? And, most important of all, will it be sent to every eligible voter? White Papers should be discussed in Parliament and dissected in Committee and by the press.

I am saddened that the Government have forbidden their party to put the opposite view. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, that no Conservative Chief Whip would ever dare to take such an attitude. Indeed, not even my family in its most autocratic and arrogant state would ever have forbidden the hearing of a contrary view; and to state, as did the Lord Privy Seal, that the Welsh want a Welsh assembly because most of them voted for the Labour Party at the general election, is being more than economical with the truth.

It is your Lordships' duty to pose the questions that must be answered in detail before this Bill leaves your Lordships' House. They should include the following. In common with many other noble Lords, I suggest that there should be a minimum turnout requirement. Following the line of my noble friend Lord Mackay, I ask who will be allowed to vote and whether postal

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votes will be allowed. In my opinion, giving ex-pat Welsh a vote would be a mistake. It is as mistaken as suggesting that those who live and work outside Wales should not have the same voting rights as I do because they only turn up for the odd weekend--usually to tell me how to run my farm. I thought for a moment that the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, was going to suggest that weekenders should not be allowed to vote; perhaps I misunderstood him.

I must disagree once again with the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas. What method of voting will be used? Will it be first-past-the-post or PR? Regardless of which method is used, North Wales will be dominated by the more populated South Wales, apart from the technical difficulty of getting from north to south. Moreover, if a South Wales, Labour Party-dominated Welsh assembly is to be put in control of the cash or of distributing or being in charge of anything, the fragile relationship--again I am sorry to disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, but it is fragile--between North and South Wales will result in more bitterness and, worse still, envy. Certainly Gwynedd Health Authority found difficulty in getting its problems accepted by the South Wales authorities. At least it had an impartial Secretary of State to whom it could appeal. I gather that that will not be the situation in the future. If not, what is the effective role of a Welsh assembly?

I trust that the Minister will be able to assure me that the Welsh assembly will have nothing to do with agriculture. Farmers have enough paperwork generated by Brussels and single interest groups without a lot of chattering councillors in Cardiff compounding our problems. Like my noble friend Lord Crickhowell, I ask, can the Minister tell me whether the details suggested in the White Paper will be in the eventual Act? If not, it will mislead the public who have to decide on which way to vote on the information that it gives. If yes, why not dismiss Parliament and save some money?

Following the line taken by Plaid Cymru, how can a Welsh assembly be responsible and accountable when it has no tax-raising powers? Who will pay these councillors--they are never cheap? Will it be the Welsh council tax payer--that is me--or the UK taxpayer? If the latter, I fear that it will cause resentment and division in a world that I had truly believed and hoped was becoming less divided and less racist.

What powers would a Welsh assembly take away from Westminster MPs, county or borough councillors--a point raised by my noble friend Lord Crickhowell--the Welsh Select Committee and indeed the Secretary of State? If the noble Lord replies "none", it proves that a Welsh assembly will be a Welsh waffle house. In passing, perhaps I may tease my old friend the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn. I think I may have misheard him but I thought it was in 1485 and not 1535 that the Welsh put a Welsh king on an English throne. Certainly, my dates are right over Henry VII.

I have asked only a few of the questions that must be answered and properly presented to the Welsh electorate before it can decide whether it wants another layer of government. Entirely disagreeing with the noble Lord, Lord Ewing--perhaps I am agreeing with him--I think

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it would be totally wrong to wreck or delay the Bill. That is for the Welsh and Scottish electorates to do. But it is our job constructively to elucidate what a Welsh assembly could do and will do and what it could lead to in the future. I fear that, like Topsy, it will almost certainly grow.

For, my Lords, democratically elected councillors like more power. They live on it. But do they add to or subtract from the ordinary person's liberty? The ordinary person working and living in Wales perhaps should be advised to consider, as should my old friend the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn and the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, the younger Pitt's remarks:

    "May the liberties of the people never be trampled to pieces by democracy".
That is perhaps an overstatement but I think we should think about it.

The way in which the Government have rushed this referendums Bill through Parliament without explaining thoroughly what a Welsh assembly might or might not do is, as I have said, an insult to those living and working in Wales. Your Lordships really must ensure that the dog sees the rabbit. And if anything resembles a rabbit, it is the Government's present proposals for a Welsh assembly.

7.3 p.m.

Lord Sempill: My Lords, the sad news is that we are only half way through the debate. On reviewing the length of the list of speakers, I realise that it will be essential to keep my contribution short and to the point. The issue of devolution is capable of arousing strong emotions, impassioned speeches and more amendments than the proposed number of devolved Scottish parliamentarians. I must apologise to your Lordships who have strong Welsh connections but I have to focus my observations on the Bill from a purely Scottish perspective.

The Bill itself could not be any simpler, although judging by the large number of amendments put down in another place, it is obviously too simple. I have to raise the question, as did the noble Lord, Lord Steel, in his maiden speech, as to the Bill's relevance. The recent election and various opinion polls have clearly shown that the Scots are keen to have their own parliament. Therefore, the first question will only reaffirm what is already known. The second question is a good deal more contentious. As we speak, we are uncertain as to its full implications. Unfortunately, we shall all have to wait for the White Paper, which, it is to be hoped, will address the tax varying powers and capabilities of the proposed Parliament. What we do understand is that many in the Scottish business community have expressed strong reservations, especially those whose main markets are south of the Border.

Individually, most of the Scots I have spoken to believe--and the articles that I read imply--that a parliament without tax varying powers is not dissimilar to having a car without an engine. You may have the status and the potential to go where you want, but you lack the power to achieve it. It is not a good combination of questions. It allows the electorate to make an

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emotional "yes" answer to the first question and a rational "no" answer to the second. Either we as Scots take command of our own affairs with the appropriate fiscal responsibilities or we retain the status quo. And it is this simple logic which draws me strongly to recommend that a multi-option referendum should be considered as an amendment to the Bill. It would provide us with the option for independence.

As the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, pointed out in his speech--he and I are obviously carrying out the same research--the current Government have supported the multi-option referendum in the past. It is only four or five years ago that in the Daily Telegraph the current Secretary of State, who was then the honourable Member for Glasgow, Garscadden said:

    "The party's 49 Scottish MPs would campaign for a multi-option referendum on the country's political future, something which has been endorsed at the meeting of all Scottish Labour MPs".
That is some turnaround.

I believe that the case for a multi-option referendum is as strong today as it was in the early 1990s. Today, the main proponents, not surprisingly, are the Scottish Nationalists, who polled over 20 per cent. support in the last election. This, combined with a recent poll in the Sunday Times on the referendum showing that the number preferring independence and devolution was tied at 35 per cent., clearly shows that there is sufficient evidence among the electorate to broaden the referendum to include the entire spectrum of opinion in Scotland.

I am mindful, however, that the new Government won an overriding majority endorsing their proposals on devolution. And once again I question whether they need to run this referendum. Would they not be better to pass the devolution Bill and then hold the referendum? That is a point raised by many noble Lords.

I am aware that there may well be a reticence to confront the issue of the support for an independent Scotland; but at least it addresses the Claim of Right, which states the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine a form of government best suited to their needs. This powerful pro-devolution polemic, published in 1988, led to the formation of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, a body committed to the task of presenting detailed proposals for a Scottish assembly or parliament. Churchmen, trade unionists, politicians, academics and many others contributed, with two notable exceptions: the Conservatives and the Scottish Nationalists--or, if I may put it this way: the Unionists and the separatists. I maintain that there is no better time than now to test the depth of support that these two opposite views command in Scotland. To quote the Labour Party manifesto:

    "A sovereign Westminster Parliament will devolve power to Scotland and Wales. The Union will be strengthened and the threat of separatism removed".
Surely a multi-option referendum would show how correct that assessment is.

Finally, perhaps I may remind government Ministers that the Secretary of State for Scotland stressed at Second Reading in another place that the Bill seeks to gain popular consent and that it gives the Opposition

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and other dissenters the opportunity to defeat it and, in effect, kill it. I therefore have to conclude that a multi-option referendum would be a more effective test of the people's will than the proposed question in the Bill as it currently sits in front of your Lordships.

7.10 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Sempill, who proposes a multi-option referendum. My own approach to the Bill has already been reflected by my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish and in particular by the most moving, authoritative speech of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, who laid great emphasis on the importance and incalculable value of the Union.

The purpose of this speech is to welcome a referendum on a Scottish parliament as part of our kingdom united under the Queen; to suggest some threshold of consensus as part of some constitutional convention to which the noble Lord, Lord Shore of Stepney, referred in his magnificent maiden speech; also to ensure that the questions in Parts I and II of Schedule 1, which have no sufficient certainty and meaning--here I join issue with the noble Lord, Lord Sewel--may be more clearly expressed by amendments to Clause 1(1) of the Bill, as also suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Steel, in his masterly exposition and by many other noble Lords.

As an expatriate Scot who supported in your Lordships' House Rosyth and the Scottish Police Federation structure, I have no entitlement to vote under Clause 1(3) and I seek no such entitlement. If I had a vote, I would follow the advice of the noble Earl, Lord Perth. But as regards Clause 1(3) of the Bill, surely any clause which disenfranchises my noble friend's daughter must require further consideration.

This Bill heralds constitutional change on both sides of the Border. It is not unconstitutional: the Queen in Parliament is sovereign and supreme. But the way in which the Bill has reached your Lordships' House is a matter for legitimate protest. The hope is that, in the wake of the Committee stage guillotine, we are not about to be taken for a ride in a pony cart in which our revisory role is stuffed away in the boot as unwanted baggage. The hope is that your Lordships' amendments will receive due consideration in your Lordships' House as well as in another place. If not, to what constructive end do we debate at all? Without the benefit of discussion in another place we are asked to consider the mechanics of a pre-legislative referendum without knowing the substance, means and extent of the proposed devolvement. To that the analysis of the noble Lord, Lord Shore of Stepney, was wholly convincing.

As my noble friend Lord Renton said, it is wrong in principle. The principle of this Bill is whether to set up a Scottish parliament and, if so, whether it should have or not have tax-varying powers. No means of implementation of that principle are set out in the Bill. So within the ambit of the Long Title your Lordships will no doubt put down markers for amendments to provide such means of implementation. A whole wagonload of white paper would not cover the cracks in

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the structure of this Bill. Separatists and federalists could well cast an affirmative vote on both questions, as drafted. A threshold of sufficient proportion of those who vote must be imported into the Bill if some semblance of authenticity for a yes vote is to be retained on either of the questions in Parts I and II of the first schedule.

The noble Lord, Lord Steel, pinpointed the nub of the separatist problem. The objection to a threshold by the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, is that it ties the hands of governments, but that is simply not understood. It affords no viable answer, as was pointed out by my noble friend Lord Mackay. The advice of my noble friend Lord Renton on this matter warrants most serious consideration.

Is it intended that the tax-varying powers should extend to raising a surcharge? If so, would that be levied on the basic or the higher rate? Would it be levied on unearned income such as dividends and bank interest? Would not small businesses which pay income tax be at a disadvantage with larger businesses which pay corporation tax? What would be the position of those living in Scotland who work both in England and Scotland? Before the people of Scotland mark the ballot paper they are entitled to know the answers to those questions. Is it intended that the tax-varying powers can afford a sales and service tax? I ask that because the Governor of the Bank of Scotland considers that a surcharge would be a self-inflicted wound which would have cumulative and corrosive effect on the Scottish economy and would pull up the drawbridge and distance the economy from the world of competition. He considers a sales and service tax as a possible alternative. Assuredly, there is no mandate for a surcharge.

On this question the electorate in Scotland is divided. They should have the opportunity of knowing what they are being asked to approve clearly on the ballot paper before they mark it. The recommendations of the Commission on the Conduct of Referendums, an independent body set up in 1996, as to public information, access to broadcast media and other matters ought to be adopted. Perhaps consideration may be given to the amendment of Clause 3 of the Bill (the supplementary provisions) to deal with that.

In conclusion, I speak but to seek to persuade accommodation. This is no simple, clear, fair Bill, as suggested by noble Lords opposite. A short Bill is seldom clear. It is inevitably complex because the simplicity hides the essence of the problem--and most lawyers know that to their cost. It may be seen as such by noble Lords opposite. Two--no, four--noble Lords opposite have said quite happily that to them this is a simple, clear and fair-minded Bill. I am not questioning the integrity of their view, but I am asserting respectfully that on any objective analysis it is not so, and it is a mistaken view.

So, with the greatest respect, I ask the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, when he replies to the debate whether he will keep the open mind for which he is well renowned in our profession and deal, first, with the want of clarity and the case for amending Clause 1(1); with

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the sufficiency of the drafting of Clause 1(3); with the introduction of a threshold as part of a new constitutional convention; with incorporation of recommendations of the commission--the adoption and ground rules to which other noble Lords have referred--and with the vital tax question of Schedule 1(2) which makes no specific reference to the surcharge; and with whether a further question to that end should be on the ballot paper. I apologise to your Lordships for the time that I have taken.

7.22 p.m.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, from these Benches it is important to support this Bill which will enable the referendums in both countries to take place. That does not mean that I shall restrict myself to speaking in support of the Bill.

First, I am in favour of the use of a bare majority as I suspect that this complicated issue may lead some citizens to abstain because they do not fully understand the issue and wish to leave the decisions to those who do. I shall work towards a high turnout. I have joined Scotland Forward, the "Yes Yes" campaign organisation, but I expect this type of issue to appeal more to the activists, a situation not dissimilar to most issues of governance. I hope to be wrong in that respect.

I am also in favour of the electorate comprising those who have committed themselves to living in Scotland. The expatriate vote and the ethnic vote are inferior to that. I want us to have no truck with thoughts of ethnic Scotsmen. The cry has to be the slightly feeble, "Scotland for its residents".

So, having dismissed the Gary McAlistair question, let me turn to the West Lothian question. I believe that we can resolve that with the Speaker's Ruling approach. Within this devolution scheme, Scotland needs to retain full representation at Westminster to influence those matters which are reserved to Westminster. The Speaker's Ruling would prevent Scottish Members of Parliament from voting on English, Welsh and Northern Ireland matters which are devolved in the Scottish context.

Two other problems are often raised. The first--concern about the apparent need to lose the post of Secretary of State for Scotland--can be met by the appointment of a senior Scottish Westminster MP to act as a Minister without portfolio, to represent the Scottish interest in UK matters in Cabinet, and to be the liaison between the UK Government and the Scottish parliament.

My second concern is the unicameral nature of the proposed Scottish parliament and the exclusion of this House from the Scottish parliamentary process. I believe that the solution lies in the powerful pre-legislative committees which will scrutinise and contribute to legislation at the White Paper stage and onwards.

I support the Bill because it is important to stick to the agreement which the Liberal Democrats and others reached within the Scottish Constitutional Convention. I know that the Government have already departed

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somewhat from the agreement, but social work practice suggests to me that one should persevere with an offender.

The second question on the ballot paper is incongruous. We should be testing all the powers of a parliament, not just one of them. Why are not the making of laws and the holding to account of the executive being tested? Why are we testing the power to grant supply? That question puts at risk the possibility, sought by no one, of a parliament without one of its fundamental powers.

There are other solutions to the central problems that we are trying to address. I believe that the central problems are no less than the inevitable domination of the Union by the sheer scale of the English state, the governance of Scotland by an undemocratic and unrepresentative system and, allied to that, the apparent view of the Prime Minister that Scotland was annexed in 1707. The constitutional position has to be that Scotland is a country that has placed its sovereignty within a union; Scotland is not just a region of the United Kingdom. In this broad proposal we will be resolving the problem enshrined in Article 22 of the Treaty--the problem of unequal representation.

I seek to adjust the means and effect of Scottish representation. The purpose is the introduction of domestic democracy at a national level. Such a mild alteration is entirely within the spirit of the Treaty which aimed at resolving the problems of neighbouring states. I believe that at least four solutions are available to us, putting the multi-question referendum into the two-page variety. The first solution is the granting of legislative powers to the Grand Committee, as recommended by Professor Dicey during the Irish Home Rule crisis, which has the merit of requiring no additional parliamentarians, but is compromised by Westminster's love of first-past-the-post, and hence unrepresentative, government. The symptoms are simple to identify: the Labour Party achieved 77 per cent. of the seats in Scotland based on 46 per cent. of the vote, and Mr. Blair's majority of at least 170 is based on 44.5 per cent. of the UK vote.

The second option is a devolved parliament, which will be a daughter parliament of mother Westminster and will need to be recognised as a grown-up daughter. Family experience suggests that it will work if everyone at Westminster and in the Scottish parliament is committed to making it work. Ironically, this is almost the tamest solution and is possibly the most difficult to arrange, but it appeals to my cautious countrymen.

The third solution, a federal solution, is of course the solution of my choice. It has not been mentioned within the context of a multi-question referendum. Within a united states of Britain, Scotland could thrive on federal autonomy. It would raise all its own finance and pay its dues to the federal parliament for federal tasks. That is not dissimilar to the existing arrangements within the European Union.

Fourthly, an independent Scotland is a viable prospect, but it is second-best. I suggest that it may become more attractive in inverse proportion to this Parliament's efforts to find a satisfactory settlement.

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The House will be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Sempill, for his remarks on that. Staring us in the face is the example of the loss of Ireland from the United Kingdom. What happened in 1921 was the direct result of intransigence. That is the process of, "Resist, resist, resist, and then, you can go". I hope that the party that practised that policy will keep that effect in mind.

I welcome genuine efforts to find a UK solution, but not to deny that there is a problem. The public expect Parliament to harness all its talents to find the answer, not to squabble about it. This latter plea will be assisted by the early publication of the White Paper and the Bill. To know whether we are considering the blueprint of the constitutional convention, a near replica, or a hybrid will assist us all. We can but await the Government's pleasure. Meanwhile, I believe that we should take a fundamental look at the Union, its purpose and origins.

The Queen's Address to the Scottish Parliament of 1705 was read on 3rd July by Sir David Nairne:

    "We are fully satisfied (and doubt not that you are) that great benefit would arise to all our Subjects, by an Union of Scotland and England, and that nothing will contribute more to the composing of differences and extinguishing the heats, that are unhappily raised and fomented by the enemies of Both nations, than the promoting of every thing that tends to the procuring of the same. Therefore we earnestly Recommend to you to pass an Act for a Commission to set a treaty on foot between the Kingdoms, as our Parliament of England has done, for effectuating what is so desirable and for such other matters and things as may be judged proper for our honour and the good and advantage of both Kingdoms for ever. In which we shall most heartily give our best assistance".
The words "good and advantage" are helpful. They commit us to relieving unnecessarily onerous burdens, such as minority rule.

On 22nd July 1705 the draft of an Act for a treaty with England was presented by the Earl of Mar and read. (This is a rather more unionist speech than I would normally make.) The treaty was signed on 22nd July 1706 and presented to Her Majesty on 23rd July of that year. In October 1706 the Earl of Mar read the Queen's Address:

    "Since your last meeting, We did nominate Commissioners to treat of an Union betwixt our two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, and, by their great care and diligence, a Treaty is happily concluded, and laid before us. We have called you together as soon as Our affairs could permit, that the Treaty may be under your consideration, in pursuance of the act made in the last Session of our Parliament there, and We hope the terms will be acceptable to you. The Union has been long desired by both Nations and We shall esteem it as the greatest glory of Our Reign, to have it perfected, being fully persuaded that it must prove the greatest happiness of Our People. An entire and perfect Union will be the solid foundation of lasting peace".
The use of the words "entire and perfect" suggests to me that these criteria, once sought, allow for modification and amendment to maintain them in a perfect state. We are currently striving for a better union that will meet the needs of all the citizens.

The wishful thinking and the hopes for the future contained within these ancient Queen's Speeches tell us about the problems of unco-ordinated government of sovereign countries under a united crown. The hostility between the two states, the obstruction of trade and the English influence over Crown appointments in Scotland all had to be resolved. The choice was that of a federal

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union or an incorporating union. We know the result and we are now trying to sort it out again. Only a win-win situation will work. Perhaps this should be done by a treaty negotiated by commissioners from each sovereign state. Such a possibility is far from being too difficult. The Crown has it in its powers to recall a Scottish parliament and to appoint commissioners. The Scottish Parliament adjourned itself on 25th March 1707 until 22nd April 1707, but it never sat on 22nd April and so it remains adjourned until... This approach is entirely in keeping with the constitution of the United Kingdom and draws directly upon its formation.

On 1st May 1707, the day of the Union's inception, Harry Maule wrote gloomily from Edinburgh to his first cousin Lord Mar in London:

    "There is nothing so much taken notice of here, today, as the solemnity in the south part of Britain, and the want of it here. The first tune of our music bells, this day, was:

    'Why should I be sad on my wedding day?'".
Let us grasp this opportunity and make the UK bells ring out with joy.

7.35 p.m.

Lord Beloff: My Lords, as the 20th speaker in this debate I must have listened to 19 speeches already. I cannot say that I have been enlightened as to the purpose or necessity of the Bill that is before us. All I can say is that my confusion has been constantly enhanced, notably by the speech just made of the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, who appears to believe that it is possible to summon up a number of Scottish Rip Van Winkles to man a revived Scottish parliament. It may be true that that parliament only adjourned but by now its members can hardly be among the living. I do not see how this parliament can suddenly come to life again. But that only serves to demonstrate that inevitably we get into all kinds of discussions about the past and the future without coming to grips with what is before us; namely, a Bill.

It is true that the subject of devolution itself provokes intellectual confusion. For instance, the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, referred with admiration--and why not, my Lords?--to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany. But that is a federal constitution and devolution is not a form of federalism. It is something very different. The examples that can be found elsewhere in the world may not altogether satisfy one.

One comes to another problem that was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hooson: why is this Bill before us? The noble Lord referred to the earlier referendums on devolution in 1978 and said that they had been brought in to deal with disagreements within the Labour Party. One wonders whether there is something in that for us today. We are constantly told by noble Lords on the Government Benches that they have a wonderful mandate based on their manifesto. The words "mandate" and "manifesto" fall from their lips with almost constant repetition. Sometimes they give the impression that a Labour manifesto is holy writ. I believe that to be an exaggeration. Moses on Mount Sinai is one thing; Mandelson on Millbank is quite different. But if they

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have this mandate from the people, why do they need a referendum Bill, unless it be to solve internal problems that they have not so far revealed? It is very curious. One understands that if one is a democrat by inclination one may want a constitutional change referred to the electorate and not left merely to its representatives, but that argument applies only if the change that is to be made is evident to the people who are asked to sanction it.

When I begin to think of historical parallels or references which might bolster that argument, the thing that most comes to my mind is the South Sea Bubble. Noble Lords will remember that there was no Securities and Investments Board at that time. So matters on the Stock Exchange were rather free--freer than they are likely to be in the future, I gather. There was one company which advertised for subscriptions to its shares:

    "In pursuit of a project which will later on be revealed".
That seems to me to be the exact parallel to a pre-legislative referendum: you are not told the project, but you are asked to trust the directors. Whether the names Dewar and Sewel appeared on the list of directors, my records do not altogether confirm.

That is the major objection to the Bill: that the people are to be asked to vote on something which they cannot possibly know about. The argument that a White Paper is sufficient has already been demolished by a number of noble Lords on the ground that a White Paper is, again, something like a manifesto. It may indicate the intentions of government: it is not a document in the law, and a parliament legislating within that framework may well decide on different provisions.

One comes to the other principal objection to which I referred in the debate on the humble Address, which is that what is intended--whatever the particulars may turn out to be of the devolution proposals--they are proposals to make a major change in the arrangements for the governance of the UK. My noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway and other noble Lords referred to the financial implications which are not merely for Wales and Scotland but in some respects are bound to affect the English taxpayer and Treasury.

There are other aspects which are equally unresolved. We are to have Scottish Ministers. How are they to be chosen? Is the Queen to summon someone to form a Scottish administration? If so, will she not be faced with considerable problems which have been satisfactorily solved in the UK by the development of conventions which enable the parties to designate the person most likely to command the confidence of the House? As we understand that the Scottish parliament is to be elected by proportional representation which, unless things change a great deal, means a minimum of four parties, and so always some form of coalition government, that creates certain problems of a new kind, at least within the UK.

Or again are the legislative Acts of a Scottish parliament to require Royal Assent? If so, is that assent to be given, as is normal in the UK, upon the advice of the Prime Minister of the UK or upon the advice of the chief minister of Scotland? What if the two of them

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disagree? That again is a major constitutional problem which those people who have been chattering about this issue for so long have not even begun to face.

We are, in other words, asked to contemplate asking the Scots and the Welsh alone to decide upon major changes in the way that the UK is governed without anyone being able to give even the remotest idea of how that government would look in operation. It is a fantasy. One can only assume that drunk with the triumph of electoral victory, the Government have decided that it does not matter: let us give what we have promised. If it all turns out badly, we have time to think again.

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