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Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I am so glad the noble Lord mentioned that, because the Scottish people were asked in a pre-legislative referendum. I would expect the Liberal Democrats to agree with the whole concept of such legislation, but we did not and we still do not now. The motivation for the Bill was entirely political. It was for the parties of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, in which the Liberal Democrats played an important part, to take as much power as possible and stop the nationalists. That was the political motive.
I do not know whether the Bill is going to work or not. I do not know whether a Scottish parliament will work. I wish it every success. But I am certain about one thing. The evidence so far is that this legislation is not the settled will of the Scottish people. In the course of the past six months all it has done is to push people further and further towards the arms of the nationalists. I wonder what those who promoted this idea so much think of it now.
Perhaps I may turn to a more parochial issue. I refer to the unicameral nature of the Scottish parliament. My noble friend Lord Lang of Monkton, in an excellent speech, talked about bicamerality and said--I think that I quote him correctly--that it is central to parliamentary democracy. He is right. In their discussions, Scottish Office Ministers must at some point have deliberated whether or not there should be some kind of second Chamber, or senate for the Scottish parliament--and decided not to have that. When the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate winds up tomorrow, I should like to know why the Government took that decision--and why they took that decision for Scotland but not for the Westminster Parliament. They have said time and time again that they want to have a second Chamber for the Westminster Parliament. Why is a second Chamber being kept for the English but not for the Scots? Does the noble and learned Lord believe that that will lead to better legislation--or to worse legislation--for the people of Scotland?
Anybody listening to this debate will have been impressed by the number of Peers who referred to the relationship between the Scottish parliament and Europe. Those listening to the debate will have been particularly impressed by the number of noble Lords who spoke from real experience. I believe that over half a dozen Members
I urge the Minister during the Summer Recess to discuss this, widely and cross-party, to try to find a solution to this problem, otherwise the people who will lose out will be the farmers and fishermen of Scotland who depend for such a large part--not just of their income, but for the policies which dictate the way in which they do business--on the decisions that will be taken by people over whom the Scottish parliament will have no authority. The speech of my noble friend Lord Lindsay was particularly powerful and convincing on that point.
This Bill was intended to be the flagship of the Labour Party programme, but the flagship has proved not to be a flagship, but a fireship--and now the wind has turned, just as some of us warned that it would. It is driving the fireship, Labour-lit, towards the heart of its own fleet. There is, I think, a faint feeling of panic in the ranks of the Scottish Labour Party. I cannot say that I sympathise too much, but let us hope that the wind does not rise into a gale that could engulf the Union itself.
Both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats have fallen into the nationalist trap. That trap was set some 20 years ago in the 1970s. It has now become fashionable to "bash the Nats", but that will not work; it never has. What has to be done is to make a very clear case for the Union, for the United Kingdom. I hope that we shall hear a little more from the Labour Party about the benefits of this United Kingdom than we have heard over the past few years. Labour Members use and play the language of nationalism against us. One of the reasons for our decline and eventual doom last year was precisely that.
The Labour Government will be judged on this single issue--on whether this manages to keep the United Kingdom together. If they have unleashed the forces of separatism in the United Kingdom, the electorate will never forgive them for taking us all down this road. This is the last time that the House will have a major Second Reading debate on Scotland. Let us hope that if we ever return to this subject it is not to debate the "Scotland Independence Bill".
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