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Lord Mishcon: My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord sits down, perhaps I may say that I do not want to mislead the House. I said that the Automobile Association thoroughly approved of the Bill. After I had sat down a note was passed to me. I propose only to read the paragraph and I do not ask the noble and learned Lord to reply to it, although I know that he would courteously if he wanted to and still will if he wants to. I am told that there is a problem in regard to Clause 2. The note states:
The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, I shall certainly seek the advice of officials on that point. At first sight it goes only to support the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford. If the print-out accompanied the summons and it was seen to be inaccurate by the defendant, then he would have the opportunity, from the procedure suggested by the noble Lord, to contest the matter if he so chose.
Lord Torphichen: My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord sits down, perhaps I may say that if the DVLA print-out was in front of the court, it might not be considered as evidence and, therefore, it would be immensely prejudicial before a verdict. That would not
The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, I am not sure from where the noble Lord gets that idea. Having sat for many years as a recorder, I can assure him that judges quite often know about the previous convictions of defendants.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall repeat a Statement on the Government's proposals for a Scottish parliament which is being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. The Statement is as follows:
"On 1st May, the people of Scotland--like the people of the United Kingdom as a whole--voted for our manifesto and the comprehensive programme of constitutional change. At its heart was our commitment to create a Scottish parliament and a Welsh assembly giving the people of Scotland and Wales more control over their own affairs within the United Kingdom.
"The Government are losing no time in turning these commitments into reality. On Tuesday, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales published his plans for devolution to Wales. Today I am laying before the House the detailed proposals for the Scottish parliament.
"Like many others in this House and beyond, I have campaigned long and hard for a Scottish parliament over the years. Few occasions in my long parliamentary career have given me as much pleasure as coming here today to present our firm proposals for that Scottish parliament.
"In my time I have seen many devolution schemes. I genuinely believe this is the best; and right for Scotland. We have renewed, modernised and improved on the plans agreed with the broad coalition of Scottish interests in the Scottish Constitutional Convention. It will provide a new, stable settlement which will serve Scotland and the United Kingdom well in the years to come.
"Let me outline what we propose. The Scottish parliament will have the power to make the law of Scotland in devolved areas. Entrusting Scotland with control over her own domestic affairs will better allow the people of Scotland to benefit from and contribute to the unity of the United Kingdom. The Scottish parliament will hold to account an executive headed by a First Minister which will operate in a way similar to the United Kingdom Government. Together, the Scottish parliament and executive will be responsible for the wide range of domestic matters which affect everyone living in Scotland, including: health; education and training; local government; housing; social work; economic development; transport; the law and home affairs; the environment, including the natural and built heritage; agriculture, fisheries and forestry; and sport and the arts. The details are there in the White Paper.
"A key aspect of the Scottish parliament's role will be to create and maintain an effective oversight of other Scottish bodies, the health service and particularly local government. We expect the Scottish parliament and executive to complement and not encroach upon democratically elected local government.
"Let me tell the House why this is an advance on any scheme that has gone before and why I believe not only the time is right but the scheme is right. The parliament will have extensive law-making powers. Unlike 1978, the full range of the Scottish Office's functions will be devolved. This will provide the opportunity to make a real difference in the areas that matter. The legislation will define reserved matters, not devolved matters, and the Scottish parliament will be able to exercise its law-making powers in all areas which are not specifically reserved to Westminster. The relationships between the Scottish executive, the UK Government and the Crown will provide clarity and stability for the future. The parliament will have the discipline and responsibility of defined financial powers. The Scottish executive will be closely involved with the UK Government in European decision-making.
"Throughout the White Paper our guiding principle is to trust the Scottish people to make the right decisions on their own behalf. The detailed procedures, the working arrangements and the practical issues relating to the governance of Scotland will properly be left to the parliament and the executive, answerable as they will be to the Scottish electorate.
"The UK Parliament is and will remain sovereign in all matters: but as part of our resolve to modernise the constitution, Westminster will be choosing to exercise that sovereignty by devolving legislative responsibility to the Scottish parliament without diminishing its own powers. Those matters more appropriately dealt with on a UK basis will remain at Westminster. They will include the constitution of the United Kingdom; foreign policy; defence and national security; the stability of the United Kingdom's fiscal, economic and monetary system; common markets for
"After devolution, Scotland's MPs will continue to play a full and constructive role in the proceedings of this House. This is right both for Scotland and for the United Kingdom because devolution is about strengthening the United Kingdom.
"The distribution of seats is regularly reviewed by the Parliamentary Boundary Commissions which follows criteria defined in statute. At present, special statutory provisions stipulate a minimum number of Scottish seats. This has led to Members for constituencies in Scotland representing, on average, fewer constituents than Members in other parts of the United Kingdom.
"Our devolution proposals mean that, in practice, Westminster will no longer be the forum for scrutinising much of Scotland's domestic legislation. This brings into sharper focus the imbalance in the current arrangements. The Government have decided that the requirement for a minimum number of Scottish seats should no longer apply. Primary legislation will be needed. This will be put in place before the next full Boundary Commission review.
"Other statutory requirements such as the need to give due weight to geographical considerations and local ties will continue to apply. The actual number of seats allocated to Scotland will be for the Boundary Commission to recommend exercising its judgment in accordance with the criteria laid down.
"The staff of the Scottish executive will continue to be part of a unified Home Civil Service. The Scottish executive and the UK Government will work closely together at ministerial and official level. The stability of the system is of the utmost importance. The White Paper sets out detailed arrangements for these working relationships; and for resolving any disagreements.
"The people of Scotland will continue to benefit from the influence which the United Kingdom has as a major state within the European Union. Relations with the EU will remain the responsibility of the UK Government, with the Scottish executive making an effective and appropriate contribution to UK decision-making on Europe. Ministers in the Scottish executive will have an opportunity to participate in relevant meetings of the Council of Ministers and in appropriate cases could speak for the United Kingdom.
"There will be a Scottish representative office in Brussels; this will complement the role of UKREP and will allow the Scottish executive to operate more effectively in Europe. The Scottish executive will have an obligation to implement EU legislation on devolved matters. Our proposals are very much in line with developments across the European Union.
"The financial framework for the Scottish parliament will be based on the present "block and formula" arrangements for the Scottish Office, known as the Barnett formula, adapted to match the range of the Scottish executive's future responsibilities and to maintain and improve transparency and accountability. This will give the Scottish parliament the ability and freedom to approve spending decisions which are fully in accordance with Scottish needs and priorities.
"As an integral part of these financial arrangements, the control of local government expenditure, non-domestic rates and other local taxation will also be devolved to the Scottish parliament, with appropriate safeguards to protect all UK taxpayers. The Government's objective is to ensure that Scotland's spending decisions are taken in Scotland in the light of Scottish circumstances.
"Subject to the outcome of the referendum, the Scottish parliament will be given power to increase or decrease the basic rate of income tax set by the UK Parliament by up to 3p. The parliament will have a guaranteed right to raise or to forgo up to £450 million (index-linked) irrespective of changes to the UK income tax structure. Liability will be determined by residence in Scotland, according to Inland Revenue rules. The tax-varying power will not apply to income from savings and dividends. The Inland Revenue will administer any tax variation, with the Scottish parliament meeting the administrative costs.
"Let me now turn to the arrangements for the Scottish parliament itself. The Scottish parliament will consist of 129 members, 73 directly elected on a constituency basis, plus 56 additional members (seven from each of the current eight European parliamentary constituencies) allocated to ensure that the overall result more directly reflects the share of votes cast for each party. Eligibility to vote will be based on residency.
"In the late 1970s there was, without doubt, a fear that a Scottish parliament would be dominated by one point of view. The fear was that minorities, geographical or political, would be less than fairly represented. The changes in the electoral system now proposed have ended that possibility. The composition of the parliament will fairly reflect opinion throughout Scotland.
"The Government want to see people who represent the widest possible range of interests coming forward for election to the Scottish parliament. The aim must be equal opportunities for all--women, members of ethnic minority groups and disabled people. The selection of candidates is of course a matter for individual political parties, but others hopefully will follow our lead in encouraging women representatives.
"The Government are determined to have a parliament building worthy of the new century and ready to provide working conditions which will encourage open and accessible government. It is for that reason that a number of possible sites in Edinburgh, including the old Royal High School, are under consideration.
"Subject to the passage of the referendums Bill, the people of Scotland will make their historic choice in the referendum on 11th September. Theirs is the judgment that matters. I believe that they will endorse our proposals. As soon as possible following that referendum result we shall introduce the legislation to establish a Scottish parliament. Once that legislation has been enacted we can look forward to elections in the first half of 1999. The Government's target is for the Scottish parliament to assume its full responsibilities in January in the year 2000. That indeed will be a new parliament for the new millennium.
"Now is the time for Scotland to choose. Twelve weeks ago Labour was elected on a promise to deliver a parliament for Scotland. This White Paper fulfils that promise. We have delivered. All the essentials are here--modernised and improved for the next century. This settlement offers an effective voice for Scotland. It recognises Scotland's distinctive identity and the strong ties which bind us together as one United Kingdom. Reform and renewal will give strength to an enduring partnership.
"I know, none better, the strength of feeling and the intensity of argument there has been on this subject over the years. Constitutional change requires good will. I believe there will be a broad welcome for our proposals which will reach out across party lines and across the range of our communities. It is my belief that it will be so. I commend the White Paper to the House."
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I start by thanking the Minister for repeating the Statement. I also thank him for giving me reasonable time to digest both the Statement and the White Paper. Although I am not the fastest reader on earth, I have managed to skip through the White Paper.
I am afraid that I cannot share the pleasure of the Secretary of State for Scotland in listening to the Statement that has just been repeated by the Minister. Rather than a day for rejoicing, I believe that this is a day of great sadness for our 300 year-old Union. I fear that this marks the beginning of what Tam Dalyell describes in his book as the end of Britain.
Every page and paragraph severs strand by strand the links that bind us in this island, just like a knife cutting through a mooring rope in order to cast a ship adrift. The knife takes out each strand until the whole is broken and the link is severed. Rather than provide a new stable settlement which will serve Scotland and the United Kingdom well in the years to come, I fear that it will lead to instability, friction and disruption and that Scotland's influence will be lessened here at Westminster and down Whitehall.
For example, how will all of the detailed discussions that those of us who have been in government know about--all the letters, minutes and meetings that take place in and between government departments, especially those whose responsibilities are to be
I do not believe that one can ask a parliament and executive answerable separately to their people to maintain and adhere to a UK line if they do not agree with that line. We all know that we have to do that within one government. Often we have to argue with our colleagues. Sometimes we lose and we then have to accept collective responsibility. I cannot for the life of me see how that collective responsibility can be widened to include the Scottish executive. Perhaps the Minister can tell me whether he has a secret answer to that.
It is said that the role of Scottish Ministers and officials in Europe will be to support and advance the single UK negotiating line which they have played a part in developing. In a previous existence I came to know a little about fishing and the common fisheries policy. Very often extremely difficult balances must be achieved between the interests of fishing communities in different parts of the United Kingdom. Sometimes Ministers have to return to Scotland to explain to the Scottish Fishermen's Federation why they have come up with the compromise that they have. It will be extremely difficult to ask a Minister responsible to an Edinburgh parliament to adhere to a UK line which is being attacked by Scottish fishermen for being too generous to the fishermen of the south west of England or Northern Ireland. It is interesting that, I understand, in Spain these matters are not delegated. The Spanish Government hold the reins and negotiate in Brussels. The Government should think again about matters such as fishing.
Will the Minister assure me that a person who is not a member of the UK Government can represent the UK at the Council of Ministers? Have the Government checked that out? Will they need to change any of the Acts relating to the Treaty of Rome or the Maastricht Treaty?
I turn to Scottish legislation. I presume, from the absence of any mention of it, that there is to be no role for this House in Scottish legislation. So I presume that the Minister will be the last in a long and distinguished line of Scottish Office Ministers in this Chamber. The Government themselves accept the need for a revising
If any secondary legislation arises from UK legislation which needs the attention of the Scottish parliament, will that go to the parliament or here? In the absence of the noble Earl, Lord Russell, perhaps I may ask whether the parliament will be able to alter secondary legislation which is sent to it by the other place, or will it, like this Chamber, be under convention not to make alterations in secondary legislation?
Paragraph 3.38 in the Welsh White Paper is an interesting one. It suggests that the assembly will be able to consider and debate legislation which is being considered at Westminster. Although I had a good deal of time, I have not noticed a similar provision in the Scottish document. Am I therefore right to conclude that the Welsh assembly might be asked for its view on, say, the Social Security Bill now before the other place, but that the Scottish parliament will not be asked to comment? Is that right? The Scottish parliament will have no right to comment, although the Welsh assembly will.
In case the Minister says that the Scottish parliament will have a right to comment, let us take Clause 68 of that same Bill, which brings one-parent benefit down to the same rate as that for other parents. I can foresee the Scottish parliament not being happy about that. What happens when it is not happy and it complains about UK legislation? We need some answers on that.
In addition to fishing, which I have already mentioned, the Minister is the UK forestry Minister. I presume from reading the White Paper and seeing that forestry is to be devolved that the Forestry Commission will now be split. That is a great pity. The Minister shakes his head. Does that mean that English and Welsh forestry will be the responsibility of the Scottish parliament? The Minister is shaking his head about that as well. Will he clarify the position, because I--if I may say so--cannot see the wood for the trees in this one. If it is to be separated, which English Minister will take it over?
I ask with some interest why certain things such as abortion, human fertilisation and embryology are not to be trusted to the Scottish parliament. I am certain that Cardinal Winning will not be keen about that. I can understand some of the reasons, but if the general proposition is that that parliament can be trusted, why cannot it be trusted with that important legislation as well?
Paragraph 7.6 talks about block arrangements. A few weeks ago we had a Statement about a fundamental expenditure review. Under questioning from me, we discovered that that was to include the Scottish Office. That review is to be the basis of the public expenditure survey in year three. Years one and two are already determined. They were laid down by us when we were in government. I was told that the Barnett formula will be in place for the next two years, but that thereafter it will not be. So I shall be interested in knowing what will happen to that Scottish block after the fundamental expenditure review, and what commitments the Government are prepared to give about that.
I notice that paragraph 7.12 states clearly that it is income tax only. I trust on that basis that the Government will not overturn the amendment your Lordships insisted upon earlier in the week.
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