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Lord Rowallan moved Amendment No. 163:


Page 38, line 23, at end insert--
("( ) In rule 1(1) (Great Britain not to have substantially more or less than 613 constituencies), after "Britain" there is inserted "for the purposes of elections to the House of Commons".").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I had supposed that this grouping would have been included in the grouping of my earlier amendment. The Scotland Bill omits the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986. These amendments ensure that the conditions of that Act still apply in Scotland but not for England for election to Westminster. This is an important clause and I know that my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish will

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be speaking to it at length in a moment. The noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, put the Liberal amendment on the issue earlier and it has now been pushed through to the other place. It was won on a Division. I hope that these amendments will add to the strength of that amendment as it is considered in the other place. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, perhaps I may speak to my amendment, Amendment No. 173, which, slightly surprisingly, has been grouped with those of the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan.

I am opposing the inclusion of this clause as a procedural device to allow further discussion of the issue of the Scottish representation in this House after devolution. I was not allowed to table an amendment--that is, a new clause--to this effect. Had I been allowed to do so, I would have tabled it thus: "New clause. After Clause 82: (1) At least 10 per cent. of the Peers shall be domiciled in Scotland (2) These Peers shall have a duty, among others, to scrutinise the Scottish and Scots law elements of UK legislation which are reserved to the UK Parliament". In the margin alongside would have been the words "Working Peers from Scotland".

My purpose in all this is to establish a minimum quota of working Peers who are domiciled in Scotland. I should like to start by offering two definitions. The first is that of "Working Peers". By this I mean active participant Members of the House. I see the future need for effective categorising of Peers either as working Peers or as honorary Peers. The second definition is that of the word "domiciled". This is a Scots law concept relating to a person's primary residence. I see qualification by domicile as being an insurance that the Peer is subject to Scots law on a day-to-day basis.

The historical background to this issue lies in Articles 22 and 23 of the Treaty of Union 1706 and the two Acts which ratify that treaty. In 1706 there were 26 bishops and 180 Peers of England. The Peerage of Scotland then numbered 160. The population of the two countries was then in a ratio of five to one. The Peerage of Scotland was somewhat humiliated by its restriction to 16 representative Peers. They formed a group comprising 7 per cent. of this House. I would add the distinction that the process of election as a representative Peer did create a forerunner of my demand for categorisation as working Peers. Clearly, a representative Peer would only have sought the position to take an active part in the House, and of course failure to perform would have led to rejection at the next election.

Since 1963 the whole Peerage of Scotland has been admitted to this House. Their attendance to Scottish and UK matters has been, and continues to be, substantial. At the Committee stage, while opposing the Motion that Clause 82 stand part of the Bill, I complained that, of 104 Life Peers created since May 1997, only 11 were domiciled in Scotland. While that may appear to conform to my 10 per cent. requirement, I am not satisfied that we have any guarantees that these Peers will attend regularly and scrutinise Scottish legislation. Therefore, we cannot see them as 11 working Peers.

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I believe that we need a guarantee to be built into the Bill to ensure that there is an adequate quota of working Peers from Scotland. The need for this will become ever more urgent in view of the imminent departure of the peerage of Scotland, and of other Scots with hereditary peerages of Great Britain and the United Kingdom.

I believe that there are about 40 life Peers who are domiciled in Scotland. That number is inadequate, for two reasons: first, that 40 is less than 10 per cent. of the 600 proposed for the reformed House; and, secondly, that the 40 life Peers who I have just mentioned are by no means all in my "working Peers" category. The success of the devolution project and the future success of the United Kingdom as a multicultural and multinational state both depend, among other things, on the confidence of the people of Scotland in the future composition of both Houses of the UK Parliament.

1 a.m.

Lord Sewel: My Lords, I should like, first, to deal with the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan. With these amendments the noble Lord is attempting to ensure that there will be at least 71 seats in the Scottish parliament. I have to say that I do not think it would be appropriate to amend Clause 82 in this way.

Last week, your Lordships amended the Bill to provide that the Boundary Commission should carry out a separate review of the Scottish parliamentary constituencies. We are, of course, considering the implications of those amendments. We do not think that it would be appropriate at this stage to seek to address the issue of the constituencies of the Scottish parliament by the further amendments proposed. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

I turn now to Amendment No. 173. I listened with very great interest to what the noble Earl said when proposing this amendment. However, the only difficultly was that I could not recognise the connection between what he said and what the amendment would achieve. The amendment seeks to achieve the simple deletion of Clause 82. As presently framed, the clause would, among other things, remove the rule that Scotland should have no fewer than 71 constituencies. Indeed, that instruction to the Boundary Commission would be removed, together with other aspects of the nature of the Scottish representation at Westminster in relation to the House of Commons.

In moving his amendment which would delete all those provisions, the noble Earl talked exclusively about the composition of this House. Basically, I could not follow the line of argument. I give way to the noble Earl.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. I said at the beginning of my remarks that I had felt forced to adopt this as a procedural device in order to encourage the

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discussion which we are now having. I did not in fact want to delete Clause 82; but I did want to discuss the representation of Scotland in this House.

Lord Sewel: My Lords, as usual, the noble Earl has made a distinctive contribution to our proceedings. Indeed, he has brought to our attention for the second time the importance that he attaches to the composition of this House. However, I regret to say that there is nothing in the Bill that enables that issue to be addressed. I hope, therefore, that both the noble Earl and the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw their amendments.

Lord Rowallan: My Lords, I thank the Minister very much for that reply. I totally accept that, while such matters are being considered in the other place, it would be inappropriate for us to discuss them. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 164 and 165 not moved.]

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Chesham): My Lords, I believe that I should inform the House that if Amendment No. 166 is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 167.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 166:


Page 38, line 25, leave out subsection (3).

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 166 and 167 offer the Government two options. We discussed in relation to Schedule 1 the special position the Bill gives to Orkney and Shetland. I proposed that it should also make special provision for the Western Isles. The Minister rejected my argument and, unfortunately, I believe the House rejected it too in a Division.

However, for the sake of consistency, I mention this issue with regard to Scottish representation at Westminster. The Bill as it stands makes special provision for Orkney and Shetland. It states that the constituency of Orkney and Shetland will not include any other part of Scotland. The provision is couched in nice legalistic terms but that in effect is what it states. It defines Orkney and Shetland for all time as one constituency. My Amendment No. 167 states that the Western Isles should be given the same protection.

The Government argued in response to my amendments in Committee and on the first day of Report that I should leave this matter to the good sense of the Boundary Commission which would not include the Western Isles in with anywhere else. I think I retorted, fairly justifiably, that if the Boundary Commission is to show such good sense with regard to the Western Isles, why are the Government not prepared to trust it to show the same good sense with regard to Orkney and Shetland. My Amendment No. 166 is based on the belief that as the Boundary Commission is composed of terribly sensible people who would never consider including the Western Isles with any other part of Scotland, they are sensible enough not to do that with

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Orkney and Shetland. Therefore we do not need special provision in that case as we can rely on the good sense of the Boundary Commission not to do that.

However, if we do not believe we can rely on the good sense of the Boundary Commission, my Amendment No. 167 seeks to protect the position of the Western Isles. I have already explained this argument, but I think it has become more important as I understand that if the Government were to accept the proposals of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, and if the electorate in this country were to accept the ditching of the traditional method of first-past-the-post--which I do not believe they will--the number of Scottish constituencies would decline even more than by the figure of about 14, which they will decline by under Clause 82(4). My rough calculation is that the average size of constituencies in Scotland under the Jenkins' proposal would be about 86,000. With the best will in the world, the Boundary Commission would find it hard to leave the Western Isles alone, especially if it was told it had to leave Orkney and Shetland alone. As I said before, there is an argument for putting the Western Isles in with Skye. That argument was proposed by some people--although not by me--at the previous boundary revision.

In the light of these new proposals on the horizon, there is an even greater likelihood that the Western Isles may well be included with a chunk of either the Inner Hebrides or the Inner Hebrides and the mainland in order to try to meet the 86,000 quota which would be the result of a combination of the Jenkins' proposal and the proposals in this Bill. Therefore I believe there is a strong case for protecting the position of the Western Isles.

I know the Government have defeated me before on this issue but I think the argument is stronger now because the number of Scottish seats will decrease and the quota will increase. I therefore would like to know the Government's view on this issue. If they tell me I must trust the Boundary Commission, I may be tempted to press Amendment No. 166, which trusts the Boundary Commission as regards Orkney and Shetland. I beg to move.


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