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Lord Tebbit: My Lords, of course I understand the view that the noble Lord puts. However, what he forgets is that once the Bill is enacted there is no further leverage for Parliament to exert. We know that there are good intentions all round. But the road out of gaol is unlikely to be paved with those good intentions. We need more than that.

I sense that the House would not wish to divide on this issue tonight. I may return to it with a view to seeing whether the House, or some Members, would welcome a Division next week. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Serota): My Lords, is it your Lordships' pleasure that the amendment be withdrawn?

Lord Campbell of Alloway: Not-Content.

The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, the Question is that the amendment be agreed to? As many as are of that opinion will say "Content"; to the contrary "Not-Content".

Lord Campbell of Alloway: Not-Content.

The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, the amendment is negatived.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I am not clear whether that was intended to be a vote on whether there should be a vote.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, what is the position? I have said "Not-Content" that this amendment should be withdrawn. Why is not a Division called?

The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, I put the Question again: the Question is that the amendment is agreed to? As many as are of that opinion will say "Content"; to the contrary "Not-Content". The "Not-Contents" have it.

On Question, amendment negatived.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, I object.

Lord Carter: My Lords, the amendment has been negatived. The "Not-Contents" have won.

Schedule 1 [Commissioners]:

[Amendment No. 18 not moved.]

Schedule 3 [Sentences passed outside Northern Ireland]:

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 19:

Page 13, line 41, leave out ("date") and insert ("day").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Royal Assent

7.05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that the Queen has signified her Royal Assent to the following Acts:

Appropriation Act, Data Protection Act, Teaching and Higher Education Act, Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council Act.

Scotland Bill

7.6 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.--(Lord Sewel.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Baroness Turner of Camden) in the Chair.]

Schedule 3 [Standing orders--further provision]:

The Earl of Dundee moved Amendment No. 122:

Page 61, line 37, after ("committees") insert ("to address subjects relevant to the Parliament and").

The noble Earl said: In moving Amendment No. 122 I shall also speak to Amendment No. 128. Schedule 3 to the Bill already indicates that standing orders will provide for parliamentary committees. However, the additional words,

    "to address subjects relevant to the Parliament and",

enable a clearer focus. The proper functioning of parliamentary committees is clearly vital to the Holyrood parliament and its executive. The better parliamentary committees perform, the more opportunity there will be for parliamentarians to influence policy and decision-making.

Equally, the more comprehensive the structure of these parliamentary committees in the first place, the healthier the balance thus encouraged within Holyrood between parliamentarians and the executive. Yet in this context, the Bill's provisions for committees is too general. No proper committee structure is indicated. As drafted in Schedule 3 such committees need not necessarily address subjects relevant to the parliament. The purpose of Amendment No. 122 is to put right that omission.

I turn now to Amendment No. 128. Paragraph 4 of Schedule 3 to the Bill indicates that standing orders shall provide committees and in appointing members to committees and sub-committees they shall pay regard to the balance of parties in parliament. That ensures

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correctly that political membership of committees will reflect the respective strengths of parties elected to parliament.

However, it may often be helpful to parliamentary committees and their work to include people who may not be members of the parliament. Such people may well have great knowledge of the subject under discussion in a committee. It would be up to the parliament and committee concerned to invite to be a member of a committee a person who was not a member of the parliament. If the co-option of such a person on the committee were perceived to infringe the standing orders provision for maintaining political balance on committees, then clearly that person would not be co-opted in the first place.

Clearly, it is the business of the parliament and its committees to assess what does and does not infringe the provisions for maintaining political balance on committees. Yet since much of the work on committees is to discuss ideas and to promote policies without necessarily making decisions on them in committee, then co-option of committee members need not infringe rules on political balance. However, if in any event the composition of committees is a matter for the Holyrood parliament to handle as it sees fit, in order for it to do so with greater flexibility the Bill's standing orders require Amendment No. 128 as proposed. I beg to move.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My noble friend has a point and I welcome him to the debate. I wonder whether he expected to be debating the first amendment at five past seven in the evening. It is intolerable that in the Government's programme the third day of the Committee stage of this vitally important Bill, as I understood it to be, should not start until five past seven. We might have lived with that were it not for the fact that the second Committee day on Tuesday did not start until ten past six.

I wish to take this opportunity to say that I do not consider either Tuesday or today to be full Committee days. Therefore, the clear undertaking that I gave on Second Reading--that we would not hinder the Bill and that I wanted to see the Committee stage completed before the Summer Recess--is dependent on the Government finding at least another day to compensate for the two half-days we have lost. I wish to place on record the fact that I believe that to be intolerable. As I understand it, next Tuesday will be exactly the same: we have business before the Bill which may go on for some time. I hope that the Government realise that I do not consider today a full Committee day; nor did I consider Tuesday a full Committee day.

Lord Renton: Before the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, replies to my noble friend, perhaps I may stress that tonight we are required to consider the legislative powers of the new parliament. That is the most important part of the Bill. That we should be considering the issue at a late hour on Thursday night, when in the nature of things we shall not have a very full attendance and when there is so much detail to discuss, is intolerable. The Government have tabled a number of

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important amendments which we must consider carefully. Schedules 4 and 5 run to 21 pages. It is intolerable that we should have to start at this time.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: I, too, am concerned about the time we are starting the Bill. As my noble friend Lord Renton pointed out, we are starting to debate one of the most important parts of the Bill; certainly a part to which Members of the Committee should be giving the closest scrutiny. As we discovered late on Tuesday night, the Government are unclear about the extent to which, and in what circumstances, the judiciary is to be involved in the workings of the parliament. We are beginning to debate the standing orders of the parliament. There are other important matters which we shall wish to discuss at some length and with some care; for example, whether during the proceedings of the Scottish parliament, unlike the Westminster Parliament, it would be open to members who took exception to the way in which the proceedings were going to withdraw from the parliament and ask the courts to reach a decision on what is required by the standing orders.

I regard that to be a very important matter. Because it is so different from the way in which matters proceed in the Westminster Parliament, we ought to be able to examine it carefully. It is intolerable that we are beginning this chapter on a Thursday evening some time after seven o'clock. As my noble friend Lord Mackay has indicated, that would be bad enough in any circumstances, but it is impossible given that we suffered much the same problem on Tuesday.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: That is another five minutes gone! I agree that the situation is intolerable, but perhaps the Minister too feels that it is intolerable. At least, I hope and believe that he does and that he will do his best to correct matters.

I believe that the two amendments are unnecessary. Amendment No. 128 is certainly flawed in that although one can have expert witnesses and expert advisers, it would be unsuitable to have non-members of parliament as voting members of a committee. Therefore, I hope that the noble Earl will withdraw his amendment.

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