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4.18 p.m.

The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, I thank your Lordships for the opportunity to speak on this occasion. I quote from Hansard,

Your Lordships will be well aware that it is now the 290th anniversary of Scottish participation at Westminster and it is a great privilege to be the eighth member of my family in direct succession to have had a place in this House.

I cannot help but declare an interest in the subject of the White Paper as a Scot brought up in Scotland, but also from a family whose history has encompassed all sides of this argument. The first Duke of Montrose was one of the commissioners who negotiated the treaty between the two countries. That gave the Scots the right to enter as free traders into a mercantilist economy and thereby have access to some of the plum markets of the world. In our current frame of mind, it may seem unfortunate that it entailed monetary union. This had been avoided for about 100 years since the union of the Crowns. But then, unlike the present day, the Scottish economy had suffered from various disasters and that must have made that part of the decision that much easier.

Not so long ago, I had a grandfather who in 1936 espoused the cause of devolved legislature and more democratic supervision of Scottish bureaucracy. Noble Lords can imagine what popularity that gained him at that point in time. However, the proposals in the White Paper are certainly more radical than most we have seen recently. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, put more eloquently my next point: that with the numbers of areas left unexplained in the Bill, it appears to be a giant leap across a chasm. At this distance it may seem that the grass is very much greener on the other side. But I suppose it is possible to consider that, this country having granted new constitutions to lands around the globe, it thinks of itself as in fine athletic training for jumping chasms. But let us be sure that consideration is given to all of its implications.

In that respect I do not have to go beyond the experience of my own family in what was formerly Rhodesia to consider another aspect of this process. I gather from reports of the recent SNP conference in Perth that in saying this I shall not be putting ideas into some people's minds. But once one has a subordinate legislature which does not see things in the way of its central government, it is very easy for frustrations to

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build up to the point where it feels justified in announcing a unilateral declaration of independence. Not having a separate military force, that might be a little harder to envisage for the Scots, but it can be easy for members to convince themselves that it is the patriotic thing to do.

The area that gives me most cause for concern, and one with which the Minister is directly involved, is agriculture. The schemes for financial assistance to Scottish agriculture apparently amount to about £400 million. Under the White Paper, from all that I can find out, only the agri-environment measures would be of consequence within the reckoning of the block grant and come under the direct authority of the Scottish parliament. If that is the only Scottish body with a responsibility in these matters, it means that about £395 million of the support coming into Scotland will be the result of a decision-making process which will be subject to very little influence from Scottish views. At the present time, in the person of my noble friend there is a deputy UK Minister, and even, in the Secretary of State, a Cabinet Minister, with responsibility for putting the Scottish view in Whitehall. As pointed out by my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, the BSE crisis and the reform of the common agricultural policy will not be the last area where Scottish views may differ from those of the Ministry of Agriculture. Will there not be a need for some member of the UK Government, like the Secretary of State, to have responsibility for making representations either, with UK agreement, in Brussels or within the UK Cabinet? Anything less would seem like a severe lessening of Scotland's influence in this field.

That in itself touches on an area where we are left with a great deal of conjecture. What will be the relationship between the new First Minister and the Secretary of State--something which from the start will demand an immense amount of understanding and good will? One might almost say it is a situation demanding more "goodheart" and a little less "braveheart".

Like the ancestor to whom I referred at the beginning of my remarks, I look forward to obtaining information from my attendance in your Lordships' House. At this point I cannot say what effect it will have on my scruples, but I hope that there are fields of my experience in which I can usefully contribute.

4.25 p.m.

Lord Sempill: My Lords, it is a great honour on behalf of the whole House to congratulate the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, on his thought-provoking and outstanding maiden speech. His credentials for speaking in the debate are impeccable. He touched upon some of them. I should like to recall a few more. There is, after all, a connection with my own family. His early predecessor, the Earl of Montrose, and the first Lord Sempill went out with the King and died at Flodden. More notable perhaps was the first Marquess of Montrose who fought on behalf of the Royalists what is considered by Scottish historians to be one of the greatest campaigns of all times. Unfortunately, he fell foul of the system and in 1650 was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered (I am afraid to say to the

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noble Duke) by the then Scottish Parliament. I am pleased to say, however, that his great grandson, the fourth Marquess, to whom the noble Duke referred, as Lord President of the Council of Scotland was the prime instigator in creating the Union.

The family have had a substantial involvement in British politics. The third and fourth Dukes were both MPs for English constituencies. On the Scottish side, the fifth and sixth Dukes were both high commissioners of the Church. The noble Duke mentioned his father who played a substantial role in Rhodesia. I am only too pleased to say that the noble Duke's role in Scottish agricultural affairs has been greatly appreciated. Therefore I am sure that the whole House will hope that we shall hear from him often, especially in the sphere of agriculture where he has served Scotland with distinction.

I am a great believer in the maxim "keep it simple". Therefore I have to congratulate the Government on their White Paper. It is well laid out and easy to read. Unfortunately, its simplicity opens it up to close scrutiny and a multitude of questions. When I look back to the hours of debate spent in this House on the six-clause referendum Bill, I strongly recommend that noble Lords planning to take part in the devolution Bill use the Summer Recess to build up their strength. I suspect that running marathons without preparation would be less exhausting.

The risks of devolution have been well aired and will continue to make most of the headlines. I wish to express my concern regarding paragraph 4.15 of the White Paper and the reality of differing views between the Scottish executive and the UK Government on the legislative powers of the Scottish parliament. That there will be procedures for identifying and resolving any such difficulties is admirable; but to assume that they will be resolved "quickly and amicably" is, to quote the leader in the Sunday Times, "to tempt fate". A future clash between a Tory-controlled United Kingdom and an anti-Tory Edinburgh parliament is not inconceivable especially when Scotland will have fewer MPs after devolution.

The article observes that much will depend on the quality of those elected to administer a £14 billion budget and suggests that the parliament's fiscal management could easily become unstuck, especially in regard to its ability or lack of ability to control local authority spending. It is therefore with some relief that I note the intention in Chapter 6 of the White Paper to,

    "establish an independent committee to study how to build the most effective relations between the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive and a strong and effective local government".
I would therefore be grateful if the Minister could enlighten me as to when that committee is to be established and, more importantly, who will sit on it. The chapter goes on to say that the parliament will,

    "have the power to set the framework within which local government operates and to legislate to make changes to the powers, boundaries and functions of local authorities".
That sounds most promising, especially in regard to certain local authorities whose style of management seems certain to clash with an executive desirous of establishing a strong and effective leadership. It is to

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this area, namely the role of the parliament in its relationship with local government, that I strongly recommend that those who draw up the Bill should pay particular attention.

Perhaps I may take this opportunity to ask the Minister to comment on an interesting observation made by William Rees-Mogg in the same edition of the Sunday Times under the title,

    "See Democracy die in a hail of ballots".
He first of all points out that while both White Papers explain the proposed electoral system in Annex C, the lack of greater detail provided in the Welsh paper makes the Scottish electoral system almost impossible to understand. He goes on to point out that,

    "the power of nominating list members greatly strengthens party managers".
In Wales there will be 40 constituency members and 20 list members. In Scotland, there will be 73 constituency members and 56 list members. In Wales, however, the list members account for only 33 per cent. of the assembly. But in Scotland they will account for 43 per cent. of the parliament. What is the logic behind that? If nothing else, it shows a lack of consistency on the important issue of constitutional reform.

Finally, while I have very strong reservations on the outcome of devolution, I, for one, will take the opportunity to seek election for the Scottish parliament. There will be substantial challenges. The opportunity to help develop a better society for the people of Scotland and build a stronger Union is there to be had.

It is time to be positive and to look forward. Perhaps I may leave your Lordships with this thought: nothing grows in ice. If we let tradition freeze our minds, new ideas cannot be cultivated.

4.32 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, in the short time available to me I must be very selective in my comments. Twenty-one years ago there was a two-day debate in this House on devolution for Scotland and Wales. I remember it well, since I wound up the debate from the Opposition Front Bench. I have trodden this ground before and am familiar with some of the pitfalls and minefields that beset the task of trying to establish an elected body for Scotland within the United Kingdom. Three years later the resulting scheme collapsed because there was not enough support for it in Scotland. If anyone cares to look up that debate, it will be seen that inquiring minds on all sides of the House were seeking positively a way in which devolution could safely and enduringly be carried out.

The Kilbrandon Royal Commission had published its report just over two years earlier, after four and a half years of consultation and deliberation. The gist of its recommendations for Scotland was that an assembly might be practicable, but that the number of Scottish MPs would have to be considerably reduced following the precedent in Northern Ireland in the early 1920s.

Many parliamentarians of all parties, and others outside Parliament, were not at all sure that the loss of those MPs was worth it, in return for an additional layer

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of expensive politicians. That consideration is relevant also today, since the White Paper announces a review of the number of Scottish MPs at Westminster.

After that debate, the Labour Government grappled vigorously and manfully with the very difficult process of establishing a Scottish assembly--with White Papers, a Bill withdrawn and various other setbacks. It proved a very complex and herculean task. At this stage last time, in 1976 and 1977, opinion polls in Scotland regularly showed 60 per cent. or more in favour of the idea. However, the post-legislation referendum produced only 33 per cent. in favour of the particular scheme on offer. The polls have been showing much the same degree of support now--around 60 per cent.--for devolution, or decentralisation, which is always a popular concept.

The White Paper on Scotland confirms previous reports that virtually all the present functions of the Secretary of State for Scotland are to be transferred to the executive of the proposed Scottish parliament. The existing Scottish Office departments dealing with home affairs, health, education, housing, roads, agriculture and fisheries and the other subjects already devolved administratively to Scotland would presumably start serving new masters. The staff of civil servants would still be employed by the United Kingdom Government. My first question is therefore: will the civil servants concerned by given a choice as to whether to remain in those departments or to transfer to other parts of the United Kingdom service after reasonable intervals?

After the massive transfer of the present responsibilities of the Scottish Office, what is to happen to the Secretary of State? He is to be left with very few of his previous functions. Paragraph 4.12 of the White Paper states that once the new parliament is in being, he will be concerned with

    "promoting communication between the Scottish Parliament and Executive and between the UK Parliament and Government on matters of mutual interest".
That is hardly a full-time job! He is also to represent Scottish interests in reserved areas. Reserved areas include, as expected, defence, foreign policy, Treasury control of the fiscal, economic and monetary system and transport safety. Other reserved areas are where government departments at present administer the whole of Great Britain, in particular employment and social security matters, including the Benefits Agency. These would be retained by their relevant departments in London. The subjects involved--jobs and social security eligibility for payments--are matters of close personal concern for many individuals and families.

Some explanation is needed in relation to the role of the Secretary of State when he has become simply a "communications" Minister, as described in the White Paper, but is still in the Cabinet. Is it realistic to suppose that he can be regarded as communicating for the Scottish First Minister and his Scottish Ministers when he has no responsibilities himself for the subjects in question?

Perhaps I may illustrate the point from my own experience. When I was Secretary of State for Scotland in the early 1970s, it was part of my job to co-ordinate

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policies and new initiatives with the Ministers responsible for the same subjects in England and Wales. I started two or three new schemes in Scotland on education. Before adopting them, I discussed them fully, and all the implications for the United Kingdom, with the Minister responsible for education in England and Wales, then my noble friend Lady Thatcher. Possible difficulties were foreseen and usually ironed out. I find it difficult to visualise a Secretary of State for Education in England placing much value on discussions with the messenger, the liaison officer, rather than the Minister responsible for education in Scotland. My noble friend Lady Thatcher would certainly have expected to deal directly with the First Minister, or at least the Minister in the Scottish executive responsible for education. I did not serve in a Cabinet with the noble Lord, Lord Glenamara, since we were on opposite sides in the other place. However, I have no doubt that he, too, when he was Secretary of State for Education, would have expected to deal direct with the Education Minister for Scotland.

To give another example, in 1971 I carried out a reorganisation of the National Health Service in Scotland, with a substantial Bill going through Parliament. That was a year before the Bill was introduced for the reorganisation in England and Wales. Naturally, I had discussions, again outside Cabinet, with the then Secretary of State for Health for England and Wales, the late Lord Joseph (who was then Sir Keith Joseph), before my Bill was finally drafted. The new "messenger" Secretary of State for Scotland would not be able to carry out that role effectively because he would have no executive authority for education or health.

I turn to law and justice and page 5 of the White Paper. Would the Scottish Parliament have the power to bring back the death penalty in Scotland? I see nothing in the White Paper to clarify that point.

With regard to judicial appointments, page 5 of the White Paper indicates that, except for the two most senior judges, the Scottish executive would make these appointments and could vary the terms of the appointments. At present, all Court of Session judges are appointed by the Queen. Any changes raise questions on the independence of the judiciary. I add that point to the excellent points raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry.

Let me ask another question. Is the right of appeal from the Court of Session in Edinburgh to the House of Lords to be reserved to the United Kingdom Parliament, or would the Scottish parliament have a new part in that?

There is a question which I have put in the past and now put again: will the signing of warrants to authorise telephone tapping be reserved? That cannot now be delegated by the Secretary of State for Scotland to other Scottish Office Ministers.

With regard to business, finance and industry, I trust that the Government have observed the apprehension of the Scottish commercial world over paragraph 7.26, which proposes that the Scottish parliament could pass

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responsibility for non-domestic rates to local councils. It was hoped that that was past history after the painful experiences of the past.

There is an important statement on tax on page 24. Savings and dividend income will not be subject to the varying powers. The electorate in Scotland will wish to know what that entails when considering how to vote on Proposition 2 in September. What will be classified as savings? For example, do they include all personal bank accounts? Will interest from them be exempted? What else will be exempted? The term "savings" can mean different things to many in the population. In exempting dividend income, the Government avoid exasperating complications. That is understandable. Nonetheless, do the Government realise that that could lead to strange anomalies. Recipients of dividend income are usually reasonably well off. They will not be charged the additional 3p if tax is varied upwards. By contrast, someone whose income comes only from his pay packet will not enjoy that exemption. Is that what the Government intend?

Paragraph 7.19 estimates the cost for employers in Scotland in setting up a special system for collecting PAYE as no less than £50 million.

Let me put my last question, which is rather lighthearted. Is the report correct that the Scottish White Paper is nearly twice the price of the Welsh White Paper because it contains colour portrait photographs of the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland?

4.44 p.m.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, I believe that the plans for a Scottish parliament outlined in the White Paper will give Scotland a strong and effective parliament and provide for a stable constitutional settlement for the future. The proposals recognise Scotland's distinct identity, as well as the strong links that bind Scotland into the United Kingdom. Indeed, they will give added strength to the partnership of the United Kingdom, while modernising our constitution.

It is the modernisation which provides a sense of excitement to that historic document. When I said in my speech in the debate on the humble Address that I shared the excitement of the people of Scotland at the coming of a Scottish parliament, noble Lords opposite seemed to find that strange. Can anyone doubt, after the launch of the White Paper, that there is indeed a sense of excitement in the air about this long anticipated move for change, for which people in Scotland have waited so long.

It is a point of particular satisfaction--I declare an interest as co-chair of the Scottish Constitutional Convention--that the Government's proposals have built upon the plans of the convention (and in some respects, indeed, have developed them further) to provide a parliament that is based on new, forward-looking concepts of democratic parliamentary practices that are right for the new millennium. That is true in many respects. But in view of the length of the list of speakers, I intend to deal with only one or two of them today--the ones which are of particular interest to me.

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First, with regard to Europe, the White Paper goes further than the proposals of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, which proposed that Scotland's parliament should be represented in UK ministerial delegations and, when appropriate, should take the lead in discussions on matters of particular concern to Scotland. The convention also proposed that the parliament should choose representatives to the Committee of the Regions and to the Economic and Social Committee and that it should establish a representative office in Brussels. All those recommendations are included in the White Paper. In addition, it is proposed that the parliament should scrutinise EU legislative proposals, which will allow in-depth assessment of EU proposals and ensure that Scotland's interests are properly reflected.

The White Paper also gives the Scottish executive the responsibility to implement and enforce EU obligations which concern devolved matters. That will ensure that EU legislation can be accommodated in Scottish law and to Scottish circumstances.

All those proposals would build on the arrangements currently in operation involving the Scottish Office in UK negotiations. The formal negotiations between member states is one aspect of activity in the EU. Another is the fact, as the White Paper states, that influence within the EU begins well before the process of formal negotiation begins and operates through many more channels than the formal Community and intergovernmental processes. For example, UKREP will continue to perform, one could say, its ambassadorial role in Brussels to the European institutions for the whole of the UK. The Scottish executive representative office will complement that work, in assisting Scotland's direct relationships in Brussels. As the White Paper states, it is the norm for regional governments within the European Union to have representative offices in Brussels.

The aim of all the proposals concerning Europe is, in the words of the White Paper:

    "to allow Scotland within the UK to develop its role in the European Union".
That is an aim which I heartily endorse.

Of particular interest and concern to me, as indeed it was to the convention, is that women should be fully involved in every way and at every level in the political life of Scotland. The Labour Party agreed with the convention's aim that there should be equal representation of women in Scottish politics, where, both locally and nationally, as in so many other countries, women have been under-represented. The Labour Party is committed to the principle of equal numbers of women and men in the Scottish parliament and has signed an electoral agreement with the Liberal Democrats to try to achieve that. That pledge will be honoured so far as those two parties are concerned and I hope that other parties will follow suit.

That would lead to a gender balance unprecedented in British government and most importantly will help to lead the way to a new political culture. And this crucially important aspect of the Parliament--the

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potential for a new political culture--is, if I may say so, in danger of being overlooked, if one can judge from the tenor of the debate on the referendums Bill.

The Scottish parliament, not least because of the voting system by which it will be elected, will have to operate on more consensual and less adversarial lines and its methods of work will have to be different from traditional Westminster practices. It will have to be more family friendly in its operation and it will have to have an extensive committee structure. There will be more time for an agenda of issues which affect the lives of people and their families directly and in which women, as well as men, will have an immediate stake and interest.

The Scottish parliament will have an opportunity to make Scotland a better place for women, through its responsibilities for health, housing, education, transport, social work, crime prevention and a whole raft of other subjects of particular concern to women. All of that in the new parliament favours many more women being able to participate fully in its work and being attracted to enter it.

The White Paper makes it clear that we hope that 50:50 representation will be achieved in the parliament. Experience in other countries shows that a critical mass of women politicians is a potent force for change. I have to say, with the greatest of respect, that this is not the easiest place in the world to rouse enthusiasm for equal numbers of women to be the norm at all levels of our political life.

But the Scottish parliament, with its opportunity to respond to the needs of a society of our time, has the potential to bring government closer to the people, to restore the damaged image of politics and politicians and to open a new chapter of Scottish politics reflecting the geographical diversity of Scotland, the spread of its political values (including the Conservative Party) and the inclusion of all the people of Scotland--2.5 million of whom are women. That is exciting, and that is the future.

4.53 p.m.

Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, the most vivid image produced by a Labour Member of Parliament in last week's debate in another place was of St. Run, his white gown flowing, brandishing his manifesto above his head, striding across the Severn Bridge backed by a host of English Members of Parliament taking the English to Wales to tell the Welsh what is good for us. Worse, he is hoping that the Scots, given their vote seven days earlier, will be an effective part of this attempt to twist the arms of the reluctant Welsh.

Wales being got at in this way is a Wales on a fast-rising tide of prosperity and confidence. To quote the Secretary of State, "some of the communities served by the Welsh Development Agency are now among the most prosperous in the United Kingdom". That is not a statement that anyone could have made with decency 18 years ago. The plan, against that background, is that we should have 60 assembly persons--60, for a population of under 3 million--spending £100 million or so over the next four years which could have been spent on health and education.

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We have just heard an interesting speech about the contribution made by women. My wife, who makes a fairly robust contribution to public affairs in Wales, is sympathetic to this Government. On hearing that there were to be 60 assembly members, she said very pungently indeed, "What, 60 for 2.75 million people? What nonsense!" Incidentally, the assembly, sitting on the top of local government, is hardly going to strengthen the local involvement of people where they want it most--in local authorities--despite the protestations of the Government's White Paper.

Mr. Alan Williams in another place, in the context of the alleged need for quango reform, inquired pointedly why the Secretary of State did not go ahead and do it himself. There would then be no need for a permanent 60-member assembly. In a remarkable speech he inquired why, if all these growing important responsibilities being transferred in Wales could not be dealt with without an assembly, were English Ministers failing in their duties to the people of England. The way in which people have been governed and administered has been pretty well the same throughout the United Kingdom. It is an interesting point as to why it is so essential in Wales when apparently nothing of this kind is being proposed in England and we are doing the whole business bit by bit in a piecemeal fashion.

In another remarkable speech Mr. Denzil Davies said that he feared for Wales. I fear for Britain. As he pointed out, the referendum was lost in 1979 because the Welsh people feared for Wales and for Britain and did not think that what was on offer was worth the risk. It is still the position that what is being planned is a move away from British institutions. The nationalists believe that they can escape the English and become a European nation. But, as Mr. Davies pointed out, the unbundling of the British state which is planned will not just mean that Wales will be loosened from England; but that England will be loosened from Wales, and to an even greater extent the same will be true of Scotland. This is a Bill that affects the whole of the United Kingdom and will affect it profoundly.

What will the English do when they recognise that fact and recognise the scale of the subsidies passing from England to Scotland and Wales? Mr. Davies, a former Treasury Minister, surprised me by putting the figure in Wales at between £5 billion and £6 billion each year. What will the people do at a time when Scottish and Welsh Members of Parliament, powerless to influence domestic policy in their own countries, come to have what may well prove to be a decisive influence on deciding what it should be in England? I have sat through many painful debates in Cabinet about the validity of what is now known as the Barnett formula. Those debates were carried out in the privacy of a British Cabinet. Apparently the debate in future is to be carried out in public between the Government at Westminster, the Treasury in Whitehall and frustrated assemblies in Scotland and Wales. I am certain that it will be a much rougher affair and the Secretaries of State will not be happy men or women. I doubt also that the outcome will be as favourable for the people of Scotland and Wales as those private exchanges were in the past.

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Despite the protestations of the White Paper, the Goschen-Barnett formulas will not survive for long. Also, as in Scotland so in Wales, it will be impossible to justify the continuing existence of 38 MPs in addition to 60 assembly members. MPs will be castrated of their powers and influence over just those matters that most interest their constituents. However, they will not be so badly maimed or weakened as the Secretaries of State.

Yesterday the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, chided the Conservative Party for not having created the Welsh Office or the Welsh Development Agency. But those institutions have been well used by Conservative Secretaries of State to considerable effect for the benefit of Wales. Incidentally, when the noble Lord, Lord Sewel--I am sorry that he is no longer in his place--talked about the block grant being distributed from Westminster, he showed his total ignorance of the way in which these things are actually managed. I know that I was given a remarkable degree of discretion by my noble friend Lady Thatcher when she was Prime Minister to use the money as I and the Welsh Office thought was desirable for the people of Wales. Those decisions were taken in Wales.

Mr. Ted Rowlands stated in the Commons:

    "one of the great success stories of the past 20 years--led by the office and by the nature of the budget--has been the Secretary of State's role in attracting inward investment. He has been a pivotal force in delivering investment into Wales--double the average for the rest of the country".--[Official Report, Commons, 25/7/97; col. 1168.]
Mr. Rowlands is right, and I am proud of what I and my successors have achieved in that respect during 18 of those 20 years.

Since 1983, when I gave the Welsh Development Agency responsibility for inward investment, approaching 1,700 new and expansion projects have been attracted to Wales, bringing a total investment of more than £11 billion. Those projects have created and safeguarded directly more than 160,000 jobs and many more jobs indirectly through associated economic growth. I and my successors were not embarrassed to use and adapt instruments presented to us by our Labour predecessors. Labour and Conservative Governments can take credit for this immense achievement. The long years of depression that afflicted generations in Wales have been ended. There is a new confidence in Wales.

It is mad folly to destroy the very instruments responsible for that achievement and to gamble recklessly with the future of Wales and the future of Britain. What was true in 1979 is even more true today. Then the instruments were untested and unproven. Today they have been proved to work. I believe it vitally important that every effort should be made over the coming weeks to preserve them.

5.2 p.m.

Lord Monson: My Lords, there are surprisingly few English names on the Speakers' List this afternoon, which is perhaps rather shortsighted of the English. I speak as an Englishman, albeit as one with a small amount of Welsh and indeed French blood, but also as a subject of Her Majesty the Queen and as a citizen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern

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Ireland, who believes that it would be a tragedy if the bonds between us all were gradually loosened as an unintended consequence of the measures proposed.

I start by putting a question--my least important question--to the Government from a hardheaded English perspective. Will the English taxpayer have to contribute, directly or indirectly, to the considerable costs of setting up and running the Welsh assembly and the Scottish parliament? Reading the Scottish White Paper, it appears that the Scots will probably pay in full for their parliament. But the Welsh White Paper is more ambiguous. Can we have an assurance on that score?

Next, the question of privilege. It does not look as if Welsh assemblymen and assembly women will have the benefit of parliamentary privilege. But if the arrangements for Scotland are similar to those in 1978, Scots parliamentarians will. Will Scots parliamentarians be able to criticise only their fellow Scots with impunity; or will they, in the course, naturally, of their parliamentary duties, be able to say things about individuals in Cornwall, Warwickshire, Essex, the Isle of Wight, Carmarthen and Carrickfergus which might be deemed slanderous if repeated outside the four walls of the Scottish parliament? I know that the Government are looking into the whole question of parliamentary privilege, but I doubt whether their findings will be made known before the Scottish and Welsh legislation is completed.

Next, we come to the West Lothian question, which is not answered in any way by the proposed reduction in the number of Scottish seats at Westminster to 58 or thereabouts. That should have happened many years ago anyway. A few days ago the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, defended the Government's position by citing the position of Stormont when that assembly was in being and was supported in his analogy by the noble Lord, Lord Sewel. What they both forgot was this. As a quid pro quo for running most of their internal affairs, the people of Ulster were allocated only 68 or 69 per cent. of the seats at Westminster which would have been due to them on a population basis. Applied to Scotland, that would give the Scots only 39 or 40 seats in the House of Commons. It is one possible and partial solution but far from the best. Would it not be better to keep the 58 Members of Parliament but introduce a strict rule in the House of Commons barring the Scots, and where applicable the Welsh, Members from voting on purely English matters? The Speaker would obviously have to decide to which legislation this applied and to which it did not.

Next, the geographically extreme parts of Scotland: in the south, the Borders, and in the north, the Orkneys and Shetlands, whose inhabitants are traditionally suspicious of mainland Scotland. Last time they voted against Edinburgh rule. It is claimed that they will vote differently this time round. But if they do not, what then?

Next, the proposed voting system, incorporating additional members on a party list. I have no objection to PR as such for these bodies but the additional member system, imported, I think, from Germany, a country which can do no wrong in the eyes of most of the

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centre-Left, is a bad idea. It is a bad idea because, first, it gives too much power to party bosses at the expense of individualists like, for example, Mr. Tam Dalyell; and secondly, because it creates two classes of member: the first with constituency obligations and the second without any real constituency obligations. But given that this is the chosen system, my question is this: will the first-class members, so to speak, be paid substantially more than the others to compensate them for their burdensome constituency duties; and if not, why not?

Finally, I turn to the possible long-term unintended consequences of these proposals. A few days ago I pointed out, and was supported by the noble Lords, Lord Desai and Lord Peston, that states like Delaware and Rhode Island have considerably more powers than a nation like Scotland would have under the present proposals. The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith--I am sorry he is not in his place--suggested that that was an invalid comparison since the United States is so very much larger than the United Kingdom. But consider eight contiguous states in the American north east: Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland plus Washington DC. Together, they cover 97,000 square miles--almost identical to the United Kingdom's 94,000 square miles. Their population is smaller, at 43 million compared with 56 million, but that is unimportant. They form a most efficient and prosperous economic unit, yet their powers of independent law-making could not be more comprehensive.

Most obvious to someone on this side of the Atlantic--some states retain the death penalty; others have abolished it. The retentionist states, moreover, can choose the preferred method of execution. Each state can set minimum ages for marriage, sexual intercourse, obtaining a driving licence and buying a bottle of beer--the last hurdle being the most difficult one to surmount. They have different abortion laws, which is germane to the Scottish argument. They have different firearms laws. Indeed, within each state some cities have stricter firearms laws than others. (It is notable that the states with the strictest laws have the most gun crime.) There are different speed limits, different seat-belt laws, different priorities at road intersections and different rules on the use of dipped headlights, side lights and so on. There are different laws on field sports. Most states permit falconry, for instance, but one or two ban it. And of course they can set different sales taxes, state income taxes and taxes on tobacco, alcohol and so on, though competition ensures that these differences are never too great. Yet despite all these variations they function extremely successfully as an economic unit.

The Scottish nationalists and, more importantly, the much larger number of latent Scottish nationalists are not fools. More and more frequently as time goes on they are going to compare the limited powers granted to the Scottish parliament with the very much greater powers possessed by, for example, Delaware, with 13 per cent. of the population and only 6.5 per cent. of the land area, and ask perfectly logically why Scotland cannot have at least the same powers as Delaware given that no economic disadvantages are likely to ensue based on the North Atlantic experience; indeed, the

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reverse might be the case. This question will soon evolve into more and more strident demands, matched by increasing resentment in England and, possibly even in Wales, which is all too likely to lead to the eventual break-up of the kingdom.

5.10 p.m.

Viscount Weir: My Lords, first may I apologise? I cannot stay for much more of the debate as I recently had an operation on my leg and I cannot manage to sit for very long, even on your Lordships' normally comfortable Benches.

I wish to raise two matters regarding publication and presentation of the Scottish White Paper. The distribution was completely inadequate. In Glasgow last Thursday it was virtually impossible to obtain a copy. Far too few were printed. As the outlets supplying the public had received many advance requests, the Scottish Office ought to have known that demand would be heavy, even at the rather excessive price of £6.50. Incidentally, my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy failed to mention, when talking about this matter, that the beautiful photograph of Mr. Dewar actually showed him smiling.

The second matter is much more serious. Last Thursday night the Secretary of State hosted, in the historic national setting of Edinburgh Castle, what I can only describe as a triumphalist shindig launching the White Paper. The event was widely publicised. I quite understand that in the ordinary course of events Ministers are perfectly entitled to launch government policy initiatives or White Papers in that sort of way. But this is not an ordinary event or an ordinary White Paper. The White Paper is an integral part of a process in which we Scots are going to be asked to vote. Despite its uncontroversial title, the White Paper is, in tone and content, no more and no less than the manifesto setting out the Government's own chosen devolution policy.

The entertainment in Edinburgh Castle was therefore a manifesto launch party given by a Cabinet Minister at the start of a political campaign. At the end of it the Scots will vote. If we were having a general election, surely taxpayers could not be asked to pay for such an event. So it is both ugly and improper that they should in this case. I have therefore written to the Secretary of the Cabinet to ask his views as I am informed that he is the authority on these matters.

As to the White Paper overall, I am a staunch Unionist. I was a founder and vice-chairman of the "Scotland says 'No'" campaign in 1979. So it is hardly surprising that I oppose the principles the White Paper advocates. I shall campaign against it and I shall certainly vote "no" twice. I shall do so because what I care about most deeply is Scotland's long-term well-being. I know that in time, whatever Mr. Dewar's view may be to the contrary, that these proposals cannot possibly strengthen the Union but only undermine it to Scotland's ultimate and great disadvantage. I know, moreover, that those of us who oppose devolution on the grounds of our sincere devotion to Scotland's true interests, will be caricatured during the referendum campaign as somehow the unpatriotic and undemocratic

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Anglophiles. That is what happened last time and it will happen again. But that is a small and easily tolerable price to pay for being right.

On the details of the Bill, I shall touch on only a couple of matters. The first is the politically awkward point that the number of Scottish MPs at Westminster may eventually be reviewed. The matter was handled in a style of media management that is becoming all too familiar. To no surprise it was leaked in advance so as to temper the reaction--clever stuff, no doubt. My only comment is that although 15 per cent. fewer Scottish MPs may make it 15 per cent. easier to answer the West Lothian question, you still do not answer it.

As regards tax, I could not understand why the Government so resisted our amendment on Report to limit tax-varying powers clearly and specifically to income tax. However, like my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, when I read the proposals on local taxation on page 25 of the White Paper I began to see the reason. As far as I can understand them, the proposals seem to offer very wide scope to change the local tax structure and to tax us in all sorts of ways of which we cannot know as yet.

The authors of the White Paper kindly added that a Scottish parliament would clearly need to consult business before making any changes. I remember the bad old Labour days when Scottish business rates were far higher than those in England and a fat lot of good consultation ever did us in industry at that time.

One of the Scottish Ministers, Mr. McLeish, was quoted in Saturday's Scotsman to the effect that he was attracted to the prospect of a tax-varying power which would inject something like £450 million which a careful parliament would want to spend on Scottish priorities. I shudder to think what a less than careful Scottish parliament would wish to do. He was also reported as saying that the good thing about the settlement was that it had made people sit up about what the parliament would mean. I dare say it will have done just that as far as possible future taxes, both local and national, in Scotland are concerned.

The matter that bothers me most derives from the simple and well-proven proposition that legislators like to legislate. I fear that we must look forward to the prospect of a plethora of legislation and legislative change from a Scottish parliament, and I suspect that some of it will not be done on merit but just to show that Scotland is different. It is not a prospect I relish at all; nor, I suspect, does Scotland's man in the street.

As noble Lords will have gathered, I dislike these proposals in principle.

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