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Earl Russell: The social context to which the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun, alludes is not quite the right one. In Scottish history the word "assembly" normally means the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Applying it to the body we now propose is about as appropriate as calling the body wherein we are now sitting a senate.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: I take the point. But there are other connotations as well, if the noble Earl will forgive me.

Lord Hughes: On a more trivial point, the word "assembly" occurs in many parts of Scotland in towns and cities. There are places called "assembly rooms" and that has nothing to do with parliament.

The Earl of Perth: My memory may be wrong, but when in 1979 we held a referendum on devolution, it was in relation to an assembly and to a parliament. There is a lot of merit in it. The Church of Scotland assembly has, in relation to its duties, legislative powers. I would have hoped that we would apply the same distinction, using the word "assembly" rather than "parliament" which will be confused in many people's minds with the British Parliament.

Lord Kennet: I cannot forbear from pointing out that the word "assembly" is the one used by the French equivalent of the House of Commons. The lower House of their parliament is the National Assembly.

Lord Belhaven and Stenton: Perhaps I can cap that. Before the war it was called the Chamber of Deputies. Does it matter what we call it? We know what it is.

Lord Sewel: First, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, for the positive and genuinely constructive and conciliatory way in which he moved his amendment. I also hope that, perhaps having heard from a number of Members throughout the Chamber, he will reflect that the term "assembly" may not be the most appropriate term to apply to the body we have in mind.

Basically, the argument is simply that we will be setting up a legislature. By definition it will have law-making powers. We also intend for it to have--I must be extremely careful in this regard--tax-varying powers as well. When we put the two together we get something which justifies the description of a "parliament". We cannot say that the law-making powers of local government to enact by-laws come close to the legislative competence of the Scottish parliament which will be able to legislate across a wide range of subjects. It is not a runner to make that sort of comparison.

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In this context it is important to look back to the Scottish assembly proposals in 1979. Our new proposals differ significantly from the proposals that were made at that time and we should rightly seek to differentiate that model of the Scottish assembly from what we now see as a Scottish parliament. It will have much greater powers across a broader range of subjects and take on the tax-varying power as well.

It is also appropriate to look across to the proposals for Wales where there is not a law-making function. That is why the term "assembly" is used there and the term "parliament" used for the Scottish proposals. It is wrong to force a common template--a common nomenclature--on these bodies. We must identify what is the most appropriate way of differentiating and describing the various bodies that we propose to set up. The idea of a Welsh assembly is a good one. The idea of a Scottish parliament is equally sound and I hope that, having heard the debate, the noble Lord will withdraw the amendment.

The Earl of Perth: Before the noble Lord sits down, can he say what will happen if the Scottish people vote yes to the first question and no to the second? That will leave the whole issue of assembly versus parliament in the melting pot.

Lord Sewel: That is the real hypothetical question. I think I am just about wise enough to know not to answer hypothetical questions. Perhaps I may say that I do not for one moment anticipate the Scottish people voting anything other than "yes, yes".

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am not really surprised at the response I have received. Perhaps I may use one old saying: "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet", or so I am told. The difficulty in this situation is that, as so many speakers have already said this evening, we do not know whether we are looking at a rose or at something else. We do not have the substantive legislation that is required for us to have that knowledge. I am quite happy at this stage to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 8:

Page 1, line 7, at end insert ("as set out in a White Paper to be published and debated by each House of Parliament not less than six weeks before such a referendum").

The noble Lord said: This amendment once again addresses the question of the White Paper, on which the Government have rested much of their case against the amendments we have bought forward today--largely, "Wait until you receive the White Paper, all will be revealed and then there will be no problem, and the people of Scotland and Wales will be able to vote in the knowledge that all the i's have been dotted and the t's crossed". If all the i's had been dotted and the t's crossed I would have preferred to see a Bill, even a draft Bill, but I suppose the best we shall get is a White Paper.

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Earlier today we discussed the question of fixing the date of 2nd October. Then I discovered--and entirely understood why we could not have that--that the date was in the middle of the Labour Party conference. However, approaching the matter from a slightly different direction, I think it is important that we say something about the distance there ought to be between the production of the White Paper, and more particularly the debate on the White Paper in both Houses, and the referendum itself.

I have no less an authority than the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay of Cartvale, who, in the Second Reading debate, speaking, I suppose, for the Government from the Back Benches, said that the White Papers, with their detailed proposals, would be published before the House rose for the Summer Recess and that there would be plenty of time for us to have debates. I am delighted to hear that. In fact, the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, has said the same.

It is one thing for us to have debate but I think there has to be debate in Scotland. I know I shall be told that there has been debate for 18 years. I beg to differ on that. There has been debate in certain newspapers and among certain groups but I have never found this to be "the" topic of conversation in the hostelries, restaurants and other meeting places of the public. It certainly is not the topic of conversation one meets on the Ibrox stands on a Saturday. I do not actually think the Scottish public spend most of their waking hours discussing whether or not they will have a Scottish parliament.

Lord Sewel: Does the noble Lord agree that one sign of the active debate that has occurred in Scotland over the past 20 years is the fact that so many of his friends have changed their minds?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I am not sure to which of my friends from 1979 the noble Lord is referring. But I can think of one or two. I did not want to get into this but I have to say that I spent many happy evenings on the referendum campaign with a certain Mr. Brian Wilson. We were not debating against each other; we were actually on the same side--very clearly on the same side. The noble Lord comes from Aberdeen. I may be wrong but I think I am right in saying that the then Member for Aberdeen, North was not exactly too keen on the devolution proposal in 1979. The noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay of Cartvale, told me that I must not revisit 1979. I hope she will not blame me for being tempted to do so by the noble Lord, Lord Sewel.

In this debate I shall refer to the Commission on the Conduct of Referendums, which I mentioned earlier. I quote from paragraph 85 of its report:

    "The difficulty with a pre-legislative referendum is that important aspects of the issue put to the electorate might be changed during the passage of the Bill through Parliament. Referendums on complex measures which Parliament would wish to debate in detail--for example, the pre-legislative referendums relating to devolution in Scotland and Wales--could make it hard to ensure that the electorate knew what it was voting for. One means of ensuring that the electorate was aware of the issues involved would be through the publication of a White Paper. This would enable the Government to

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    set out the detail and the policy implications of the Bill to be presented to Parliament. A draft Bill could also be published and laid before Parliament".

I agree with that. I thought that we were going to have a draft Bill. The Prime Minister said that, but he appears to have retreated from that statement. We know that we are going to have a White Paper. I hope that the noble Lord will clarify one thing about it. After the first debate some of my noble friends and I had an argument about what the noble Lord said. I thought he said that he would announce the date of publication of the White Paper at Report stage. One of my noble friends thought that he said that it would be published by Report stage. I would be grateful for clarification. If I am right and the date is to be announced at Report stage, that means that the White Paper is not going to be published until towards the end of July at the earliest. Then this House and the other place will have to sit a week later, and perhaps into August, to debate both White Papers, because it is not just the Scottish one but the Welsh White Paper as well.

When that is finished we then have August. I have already explained about that and I am not going over it again. We then go from August into September. It is quite important. As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, pointed out, the White Papers on devolution for Scotland and Wales are not on the lists of summer reading. I suspect that they may not be currently on the lists, but they will have to be for those people who are interested and indeed all of those who will be asked to vote.

I accept that 2nd October would take us well beyond six weeks. I am trying to avoid the Government coming to Report stage and giving the date of the referendum, which is what I understand they intend to do at that stage, and giving us only four to five weeks--it may be less--in order to digest the White Papers. That is essentially why I have tabled this amendment. It is time we had some kind of timetable about this matter.

My amendment simply means that if we have to debate in the first week of August, then the Government can have their referendum, if my diary count is right, about 11th September. If we cannot have the debate until the second week of August, then we can have the referendum on 18th September. I certainly do not want a debate in the second week of August and the referendum on 4th September. That would be quite wrong and there is no need for that kind of speed. I hope that the Minister will be able to help me with the timings of the referendum and the White Paper and will be able reassure me. I will be happy with his assurance that the Scottish people will have at least six weeks between the debate and the referendum to consider these issues. I beg to move.

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