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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I think I am grateful for that explanation. I am not sure whether it convinced me of the case for changing the wording from the 1979 referendum. But there we are. The noble Lord, Lord Sewel, tried to explain it. In fact, I suspect that the people who occasionally send me or my wife a form with about 60 questions on various issues, in order to try to ascertain my opinions, and who usually offer me a free holiday in some draw which chances are nobody will ever win, frame the answers in exactly that way in order to attempt to get you to agree with the proposition they are putting. It is a proposition which can vary all the way from things like smoking to what kind of whisky one drinks and all sorts of other things.

Lord Sewel: We all accept that the decision is a vitally important one for the people of Scotland, and we all make important decisions in our lives. Can I ask the noble Lord what words he used when he got married? Were they, "I agree" or "I want"?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I said, "Yes, of course dear"! That was a good try by the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, and is the best argument he has advanced for the word "agree" rather than "want".

Leaving that aside, the practitioners he consulted are no doubt the same practitioners that send out those copious forms. I was about to say that I accept his explanation, but I do not. I understand his explanation; I do not accept it. I find it interesting that the 1979 referendum, which was quite clearly "want"--a much firmer word--has now been superseded by "agree". That shows the wobbliness of the Labour Party in relation to putting this question to a referendum for the second time.

With that little bit of interesting discussion, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 66 to 74 not moved.]

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Lord Simon of Glaisdale moved Amendment No. 74A:

Page 4, line 22, at end insert--


Parliament has decided to consult the people in Scotland on the Government's proposals for a Scottish Parliament:

Put a cross (X) in the appropriate box





The noble and learned Lord said: This amendment, together with Amendment No. 77A, invites the people of Scotland and Wales particularly to express their views on the important West Lothian question. That phrase was invented by an extremely able and independent-minded Scottish Member of the other place. He said, "How can I possibly justify refusing to let an English Parliament participate in matters that are purely Scottish when I assert my right as a Scottish Member of Parliament at Westminster to participate in matters that are purely English?" It is an extremely difficult question to answer; as a devolutionist and as an opponent of the threshold, I find it impossible.

The question that is proposed to be included in the ballot paper is at the bottom of page 6 of the Marshalled List and reads:

    "I agree that, if there is a Scottish parliament, Members of Parliament at Westminster for Scottish constituencies should take no part there in proceedings which do not extend to Scotland".

The second amendment puts that question the other way round, in the negative.

I hope the Minister will not say, "That is not our policy". Whether or not it is--I suspect that it is not-- I am not asking him to say tonight because I fear that I should get the "South Sea Bubble" answer again. All I am asking is for an exercise in democratic participation and popular consent, and that it should be the people of Scotland who answer that question. I do not know how they would answer it but I do know that it will be extremely important to our final deliberations to know what they think. I beg to move.

10.15 p.m.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I approve of this proposed referendum question. For me it supplies the best and most satisfactory answer to the West Lothian

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question. The alternative, which would be reducing Scottish representation at Westminster, would be far less satisfactory. Although it would have been drawn from experience of the Government of Ireland Act 1920, a reduction would not be an improvement of the British union. Scotland would need to retain its influence over the powers reserved to Westminster. Somehow I do not think that that would be accepted. However, it would be a better second question--disposing of the question of taxation powers.

Lord Rowallan: I like the amendment proposed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, except that I think it is addressed to the wrong people. The Scots will not be affected by it one way or the other. If they can get representation in Scotland and down here in the Mother of Parliaments, they will think that this is wonderful. The question should be addressed to the people of England, who, under the system being proposed, will, when and if we have a Scottish parliament and when and if we have a Welsh assembly, be the only people not to have one. They will be desperately under-represented. That is where the independence problem will arise. That is why the federal system is the only way out.

Everyone must have the same. Each country should have either nothing or a parliament. Everyone will then be quite happy. What we have at the moment is a hotch-potch. A parliament with certain powers in Ireland, a parliament with tax-raising powers in Scotland, a talking shop or a parish council in Wales--and in England, nothing.

Lord Lucas: Perhaps I may be allowed to cast one last fly over the Dispatch Box opposite. It is late at night and we have not had much success so far. However, I suspect that one of the Ministers lurking behind it may be hungry and may be tempted to have at least a swirl at it.

I wonder whether the Minister can enlighten me as to whether this question also affects Wales. It very much depends on how the Government are thinking as to whether the powers they intend to grant the new assembly amount to depriving MPs at Westminster of control over substantial parts of legislation, thereby effectively making it Welsh legislation, or whether things will be structured in such a way that, as they would be at the moment with the continuation of the Welsh Office, the ultimate authority and responsibility continues to rest with the Westminster Parliament. Can the noble Lord enlighten me on that point?

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: What the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, has just said is absolutely right. This is a far wider question than just a question of whether Scottish MPs should vote on English domestic matters. I support him on that point.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: In the three days of Committee I have resisted moving ahead of ourselves, so to speak, into a devolution Bill (if that is what we eventually end up with) and have kept pretty tightly to discussing the referendum. The noble

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Lord, Lord Sewel, would agree with that. However, I have been tempted slightly wider by the amendment. As it is one of the last amendments, I do not see the point of resisting temptation for ever. I might get the reputation of being very boring if I did that.

This is a difficult question and it is one to which we shall return if and when we come to the devolution Bill. I refer to what Scottish Members of Parliament will do here at Westminster. One can argue that perhaps we ought to have slightly fewer of them. I have no doubt that we shall go into that when we come to the Bill. I have a pretty firm view that in the Union Scotland ought to have more MPs than England pro rata, but I am not entirely convinced that there should be quite as many more as we have now. There could have been a good argument in favour of Scotland having many more when travel was not what it is today. People usually pray in aid the scattered nature of much of Scotland, but a closer look will show that, apart from two or three constituencies, the small constituencies in Scotland are in the City of Glasgow. As I now live there, I have to tell the Committee that getting from Glasgow to Westminster is extremely easy. I imagine that it is a good deal easier than it is getting to Westminster from many constituencies in England. Therefore, I believe that these arguments are out of date. When devolution arrives there is no doubt that the number and role of the Scottish Members will have to be questioned.

Perhaps I may explain the West Lothian question like this. Today we had a Statement on education. I sat open-mouthed and wide-eyed. Members of the Committee who followed the Committee stage today will realise that in a former life I taught mathematics; that was about 20 years ago. Then I had an uphill battle--indeed, a last-ditch struggle--to prevent mixed ability classes. That was considered the thing to do. The whole left-wing progressive education establishment was ranged against me. I had to concede the principle of mixed ability classes for the first year. I fought a rear-guard action and stopped it going any further in the school where I taught. Thereafter, I believe, mixed ability classes increased up the school and across subjects. It always seemed to me to be a fairly daft idea and I am amazed to learn now that the party opposite believes that it was a daft idea. Frankly, some penitence would come nicely from the party opposite and the left-wing education establishment, every training college, every lecturer and inspector.

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