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Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 32A:

Page 3, line 7, leave out ("an Order in Council under section 1(1) or 2(1)") and insert ("Schedule (Conduct of the referendums, &c.)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, my big moment has finally arrived. Because the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, withdrew Amendment No. 25, my place in the sun earlier was denied me. Having finally got to my feet, perhaps I may say, in the new spirit of co-operation and inclusivity,

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that the amendment is purely technical. It is consequential upon the need to incorporate Orders in Council into the Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

6.45 p.m.

Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 33:

Page 3, line 9, leave out ("the Secretary of State") and insert ("a Minister of the Crown").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments No. 34 and 56. These amendments are technical and are intended simply to clarify the scope of the finance provision in Clause 5 which allows expenditure in preparation for the establishment of a Scottish parliament or Welsh assembly to be paid out of money provided by Parliament. The intention is that this provision should cover not only expenditure on the building or refurbishment of parliament/assembly buildings, but also advance expenditure on, for example, any adjustment to Inland Revenue and DSS computer systems required to cope with the tax-varying powers of the Scottish parliament. Such changes have a long lead time, and if the tax-varying power is to be available on establishment of the Scottish parliament (whether or not the parliament decides to use it), it may be necessary to incur expenditure before the main devolution legislation reaches the statute book.

These amendments are intended to put beyond any doubt the question of whether such expenditure would be covered by Clause 5. The estimated costs shown in the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum remain unchanged. All expenditure under this provision will be subject to the normal parliamentary rules of supply. I beg to move.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I was tempted to the Dispatch Box on hearing that the amendment paved the way to the Scottish parliament having tax-raising powers. There were some interesting articles in the Scotsman this morning about powers wider than income tax, which I could go over. I shall not do so, because I should then raise the ire of the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, who came to my help on the previous amendment. I am happy to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, on his amendments.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I think I understood the Minister to say that it was likely that it would be Treasury Ministers who would be the additional Ministers concerned. If I am wrong, I should be glad if he would say so. My experience is that the Treasury is unlikely to approve any expenditure before a scheme has been approved by Parliament. Is he suggesting that the Treasury would approve the initial expenditure on equipment for a parliament before it had even been decided by Parliament that such a thing should exist, or are there other Ministers and other objects which this is to cover?

Lord Sewel: My Lords, it is purely preparatory expenditure. It is not substantive expenditure. The amendment is designed to widen the definition to ensure

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that the authorisation can be given by a Minister of the Crown rather than by a Secretary of State. It is subject to the normal processes of government.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 34:

Page 3, line 11, leave out ("the establishment of").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 35 not moved.]

Schedule 1 [Referendum in Scotland]:

[Amendments Nos. 36 to 38 not moved.]

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 39:


The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is purely a probing amendment. It is a singleton amendment whereas, perhaps, there should be four amendments to complete the set. I am trying to find an answer to a question which has been posed a number of times by my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish and others; namely, just how advisory is the referendum? The question has been asked that way round and I am now asking it the other way around. I suggest that something should be placed on the ballot paper which states that the referendum is advisory and that things can change afterwards. Indeed, when the Bill is in its final form, there may be aspects of it which are unrecognisable from the White Paper. It may be that in the course of the consideration of the Bill, we shall find something which can be changed to advantage with which the noble Lord and the Government agree; for example, amendments in relation to the points raised today by my noble friend Lord St. Davids dealing with the independent members in Wales and how they could be fitted into the assembly. Therefore, I seek an assurance from the noble Lord that if the Government agree with proposals for change, they will not say that it was not in the White Paper and therefore, they cannot do it. I beg to move.

Lord Sewel: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for the spirit in which he moved the amendment. I accept that it is probing. I can virtually say that I agree and leave it at that. I underline the point that, of course, during its passage through Parliament, it is possible for the Bill to be amended if Parliament so wishes. The Government will wish to take into account amendments when moved and if we consider them to be constructive to add to the Bill we should wish to support them. That is perfectly consistent within the framework of an advisory referendum.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I am delighted by that answer and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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[Amendments Nos. 40 to 43 not moved.]

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 44:

Page 4, line 22, at end insert--
Parliament has decided to consult people in Scotland on the government's proposals for a Scottish Parliament to be housed in a new purpose-built building and not in the building of the former Royal High School in Edinburgh:
Put a cross (X) in the appropriate box.




The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment adds a third question to the ballot paper. I was accused in the Herald of being mischievous by tabling this amendment. What a thought! I have absolutely no intention of being mischievous. But the whole subject indicates a certain amount of interesting confusion on the part of the Government.

In the late 1970s, the building of the former Royal High School in Edinburgh was earmarked as the site for the proposed Scottish parliament. A great deal of public money was spent on refurbishing it and equipping an oval chamber for the parliament. As we all know, it did not come about and the offices became the offices of the Lord Advocate, although I think that his department has now moved elsewhere. The debating chamber was used on a number of occasions by the Scottish Grand Committee when it met in Edinburgh. Therefore, in my previous capacity, I have debated with, among others, the noble Lord, Lord Ewing of Kirkford, whom I see opposite, in the former Royal High School.

For the past 18 years, the campaigners in favour of an assembly have advocated that it should meet in that building. It has been picketed for years by one particular group, although I have not passed through or by that picket line. Indeed, it has been shown as one of the montages of Scottish views introducing Scottish political programmes. Clearly the broadcasters thought that if the parliament ever arrived, it would be seated in the Royal High School. Indeed, I suspect that that was the view of almost everyone in Scotland until about a couple of weeks ago.

My recollection was that in order to give the members of the parliament and its officials the necessary office space, use would be made of Old St. Andrew's House across the road. Indeed, about the only argument in favour of having the parliament is the off chance that you become prime minister and can choose for yourself the most beautiful

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panelled rooms in Old St. Andrew's House with terrific views over the city of Edinburgh. However, that is another point. That was the idea in the late 1970s and was throughout the 18 years of the government of my noble friend Lady Thatcher and my right honourable friend John Major.

Therefore, it came as a surprise to us all--including, I am sure, to the people picketing there--that the Secretary of State for Scotland suddenly discovered that the premises were not suitable. That seems amazing given the number of times that he must have debated in it as a member of the Scottish Grand Committee. I am still not entirely sure why that conclusion has been reached.

I wonder idly, and perhaps mischievously again, whether the simple fact is that the civil servants currently using the rather beautiful offices in Old St. Andrew's House told the new Government on 2nd May, "If you think we're moving out of here, have another thought. Possession is nine-tenths of the law and we are staying here." I do not blame them. When I was a Minister at the Scottish Office I occupied for most of the time an office in Old St. Andrew's House. Only very reluctantly did I move to New St. Andrew's House in the last year of my ministerial career. I can understand that the officials do not wish to move.

But, of course, if they do not move, then the parliament must be sited somewhere else. Mr. Dewar has now indicated that there will be a great competition to decide where it should be sited. I do not wish to go into the arguments but the former Royal High School has a lot going for it. Edinburgh is about to become a car-free city if some of the eccentric people who run its council get their way. As people will be coming from all over Scotland, it seems to me that the nearer the proposed parliament is to the main railway station, Waverley station, the better. That will certainly be true for the great majority of the members of the assembly who will be travelling from west and central Scotland. That can be done easily from Queen Street on the train. They will arrive at Waverley and can just walk up the hill. It is a short walk and it will be very good for them. It is slightly uphill, which will raise their heartbeats sufficiently to keep them healthy and prevent too many by-elections.

Seriously, I believe that there is a huge advantage, if the assembly is to happen at all, in it being in the centre of Edinburgh beside the railway station, if it must be in Edinburgh. The Government should make efforts to find their way round the accommodation problem. If that means having an argument with their civil servants and the permanent under-secretary, I suggest they have that argument. If my words of encouragement to them reinforce them in that argument, I shall be very pleased.

I do not believe that Leith is a suitable site. It is not easy to get to without a motorcar and it seems to me to be important that the parliament should be in the centre of Edinburgh. As I live in Glasgow and play a very small part in the life of that city, your

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Lordships might expect me to offer Glasgow as an alternative. The transport arrangements are certainly much better. Glasgow does not have that obsession against the motorcar. It has a good motorway system. The railway lines are extremely good and come into the centre. I am quite sure that the Lord Provost of Glasgow, Mr. Pat Lally, who is very adventurous in such matters, would very quickly find a site to accommodate the assembly and all the other necessary people if that were an option.

This small debate will give many of your Lordships an opportunity to put an oar in for a favourite place. I expect to hear Stirling mentioned, and perhaps Falkirk, as I see the noble Lord, Lord Ewing of Kirkford, present. Perth or even Aberdeen may come from the Minister, if he is allowed to have any independent thought at all. There are a number of variations.

But my serious point is to ask why, after all this time, it has been decided that the Royal High School is not suitable. Why should we embark on what will be a fairly expensive operation to build a purpose-built parliament building with all the necessary offices? It will be a considerable expense. Dare I suggest that that money might be used to get the Secretary of State out of the dilemma that he is in about the Skye Bridge. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate might certainly consider that to be a better use of £30 million or £40 million--or even double that--of resources. Before the extra money is spent--and, after all, it will come out of the Scottish grant, out of the health and education services--we, the Scottish public, ought to be allowed a view on the matter. As we shall be asked in the second question about whether we want tax raising powers, we should be asked whether we want to shift the Scottish parliament from the place where for the past 20 years everyone thought it would be to a purpose built place somewhere in Edinburgh or in another part of Scotland which has not yet been determined and for which there is to be an architects' competition.

Finally, even if the building is inadequate, would it not be better to start the process, if it starts, and then allow the parliament and its government to decide where it will be set up? If the Government are serious about wanting these decisions to be taken in Scotland, would it not be a good start to allow the Scottish parliament to decide for itself whether the buildings are adequate and where it ought to be set up? I believe that the big brother attitude which the Secretary of State for Scotland is exhibiting is out of kilter with his normal views. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, is urging me to complete my contribution and I shall do so. I beg to move.

7 p.m.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, either I am going soft in the head or the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, is improving enormously as the debate comes to a close. The amendment is nonsense, but what he says about the Royal High

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School is good sense. The people of Scotland have expected the parliament to be sited there and I believe that the Government must give serious consideration before they upset that idea. I do not know why they have announced that they are considering an alternative, but no doubt the Minister will tell us.

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