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Lord Hardie: I do not take that implication from these provisions either, but perhaps the noble and learned Lord and I can have a discussion outwith the Chamber about the niceties of the drafting and what the various provisions mean. It is our intention that the Scottish Parliament should be able to legislate on whether there should be an appeal to the House of Lords and, if so, in what cases: that is to say that the parliament should have the right to abolish the right of appeal in civil cases or to extend the right of appeal in criminal cases, if the parliament considered that to be appropriate.

Given that the parliament would be free to legislate generally in respect of the civil and criminal legal system in Scotland, it would be nonsense to put beyond the legislative competence of the parliament decisions of what should be the ultimate court of appeal, either in the civil or criminal jurisdictions. This amendment seeks to deny the parliament that freedom to reach its own

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judgment as to whether it continues to make sense for the House of Lords to continue to act as the ultimate court of appeal in civil cases. I cannot see any good reason for such a step.

I do not agree that there is a question of principle here. The question will only be whether the expertise and experience which the House of Lords can bring to an enormous range of complex cases continues to justify the continuation of its present role in the hearing of appeals. From the way I have expressed myself, I hope that the Chamber will understand that I would very much expect that the valuable role played by the House of Lords will continue to be recognised by the Scottish parliament but that we should not fetter the discretion of the parliament in that regard.

The noble and learned Lord referred to the valuable role which the Scottish Law Lords have played and continue to play in the House of Lords. I acknowledge that unreservedly. However, if it were decided that the House of Lords should no longer be the ultimate court of appeal, there would still be Scottish Law Lords in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council who would be able to deal with devolution issues. They would be those noble Lords who have held or hold high judicial office. Accordingly, members would be entitled to sit in the Privy Council.

With that explanation, I invite the noble and learned Lord to withdraw the amendment.

Midnight

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: Can the noble and learned Lord give a clear reason in terms that a lay person can understand as to why the High Court of Justiciary as a criminal court of appeal appears in Schedule 5 paragraph 1, as does the Court of Session as the civil court of appeal, yet the Government propose to leave out the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary? That seems to me very odd. I wonder what the Government are up to!

Lord Hardie: The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, asked perhaps a rhetorical question, wondering what the Government are up to. The Government are not up to anything, if the implication is that that is a sinister question. The position is that the Court of Session is the civil court of first instance and of appeal. At present, there is a further appeal to the House of Lords on civil matters. When it comes to criminal matters, the High Court of Justiciary sits as a court of first instance trying criminal cases in the High Court. However, it sits also as the appellate court, which is the final appeal court on criminal matters in Scotland.

I sought to explain to the Committee that as the whole system of criminal and civil justice in Scotland is to be devolved as part of the responsibility of the Scottish parliament because of the separate system of law which we have in Scotland, it is appropriate that the parliament should decide what is the ultimate court of criminal appeal. As I indicated, it would be open to the parliament to decide that that could be extended to the House of Lords on criminal matters. Equally, as regards

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civil matters, it would be open to the parliament to decide that there should be no right of appeal from the Court of Session sitting as an appeal court. These matters are devolved to the parliament.

As I indicated, I hope that the parliament would continue to recognise the invaluable contribution which noble and learned Lords have played and continue to play in the system of justice in Scotland.

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon: As I indicated when I moved the amendment, I do not intend to press it tonight. The noble and learned Lord said that it would be a nonsense to exclude the possibility of the Scottish parliament legislating to withdraw any rights of appeal to the House of Lords. Other people might think it a nonsense to leave that available as a possibility. However, I shall reflect carefully on what he said, as no doubt will many others, and we will see what amendments might be appropriate when we come to Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale moved Amendment No. 175A:


Page 64, line 34, at end insert ("or government department").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 176 and 177 not moved.]

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 178:


Page 64, line 41, leave out ("and funding").

The noble Lord said: This amendment looks at paragraph 6 of Schedule 5, which currently says:


    "The registration and funding of political parties is a reserved matter".

I have no problem with the concept that the registration of political parties should be a reserved matter. In fact, we do not have registration of political parties, but, rather ironically, we are legislating here for a Bill that has not yet been passed and has not, as yet, appeared in this Chamber. Indeed, as I shall say when we come to deal with that Bill, it contains the pretty foreign concept of government registering political parties.

Noble Lords who have heard me speak before on the matter will know that I have a fundamental dislike of such a policy because I believe that it has, as its implication, the fact that the Government or the registrar may not register political parties. As I think I said on an earlier occasion, if I were attempting to set up a dictatorship by stealth in this country, the first thing I would do is register political parties so that I might stop registering the ones I do not like. However, that is another argument with which we will no doubt deal in the over-spill.

I am prepared to leave that reference in the Bill because I appreciate that it is tied up with the additional member system, although I do not believe that it is essential to it. However, I am concerned about the word "funding" in connection with political parties; indeed, I am concerned that the,


    "funding of political parties is a reserved matter".

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I do not quite understand what the Government mean by funding and that is the first thing that I hope they will explain to me. First, does it mean the question of who funds political parties; in other words, the kind of Neill Committee stuff, such as personal donations, business donations, blind trusts (which, I gather, are quite popular) or trade unions, and wherever political parties get their funds? Is that what the Government mean? Is that to be reserved?

Secondly, is it a question of government funding of political parties in the other place--Short money? Or, indeed, in this place where I believe it is known as the "Cranborne" money? Is it to do with the money that political parties get in order to run their parliamentary offices? Thirdly, is it actually to do with the Government spending taxpayers' money by giving money to political parties in order to run campaigns? That is not something that we do in this country, but there are always people who like the idea and there may well be people in the Government who like the idea.

The first thing I want to know is: what exactly does this funding question mean? Which of those three heads are we talking about? Alternatively, are we talking about all of them? If it is the Government actually funding the operation of political parties in the country, I am puzzled as to why that ought to be reserved. If it is government funding by way of the equivalent of the Short money, I cannot see why it should be reserved because if the Scottish parliament decided that it wanted to do a similar thing, then it ought to be a matter for that parliament to decide. If it is a question of who funds the political parties--a kind of Neill Committee point--then, again, I wonder why that should be reserved as far as concerns the Scottish political scene.

It is not inconceivable that we may have a major political party in the Scottish parliament which may decide in the future that it does not actually wish to fight seats for the other place and, therefore, is not part of the other place. If we are serious about having this devolved parliament, with its responsibility--and we have heard enough about it being a responsible parliament--it ought to be able to deal with the question of the funding of political parties in a Scottish context for membership of the Scottish parliament and for elections to the Scottish parliament. Indeed, it ought to be able to deal with them without that matter being reserved to Westminster, which, I must say, looks very much like big brother looking over the shoulder of this parliament. I beg to move.

Baroness Linklater of Butterstone: I listened with interest to the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, who spoke with his usual fluency and persuasiveness. The whole issue of the funding of political parties has become tainted and discredited in the recent past by allegations of sleaze, which have damaged the reputations of politicians generally. On these Benches we believe that all donations of £1,000 should be declared with the name of the donor and that there should be an annual restriction of £50,000 on the size of any donation by an individual or organisation.

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My noble friend Lord Razzall has put forward our proposals to the Neill Committee which is investigating these issues.

On the face of it, this amendment is compelling for we have repeated consistently that we believe that as far as possible the Scottish parliament should make its own decisions over the way in which it conducts its own affairs. It should also be right for the parliament to decide whether or not Short money should be made available. It should follow that the funding of political parties in Scotland should be devolved. However, it is not entirely simple, for the funding of Westminster MPs will still be reserved to Westminster, including MSPs. With the exception of the SNP, political parties operate equally in Scotland and in the rest of the UK, and so it will be necessary to ring-fence one from another. It might be confusing and complicated at best to have different funding rules for Scotland and Westminster where the same party is concerned.

It is clear that this is an issue that is more complicated than it appears on the surface and which cannot be dealt with simply by deleting the words "and funding". Under these circumstances therefore it might be better to leave the Bill as it is now and to revisit the issue when the Neill Committee has reported and its proposals can be considered. There will be legislation on party political funding in the light of the Neill Report and that will be the appropriate time to consider the whole question, including that of how best to address the issue of the devolution of the funding of Scottish political parties.


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