Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord Sewel: My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, has told us, he sought the views of the House on whether the Bill should make provision guaranteeing a separate constituency for the Western Isles in the Scottish parliament. Your Lordships decided that it should not. Now the noble Lord has returned for our views on whether the Western Isles should form a separate constituency for the United Kingdom Parliament. I am sure it will come as no surprise to him to hear that the Government do not accept this amendment.

The noble Lord explained that he is probing as to why Clause 82(3) needs to make this provision for Orkney and Shetland and why it does not mention the Western Isles. Indeed, his amendment replaces the reference to the Orkney and Shetland constituency with a reference to the Western Isles constituency.

28 Oct 1998 : Column 2070

The provisions in Schedule 1 and Clause 82(3) give effect to the agreement reached in the constitutional convention that there should be separate Scottish parliamentary representation for Orkney and Shetland--nothing more and nothing less. That is what the reference in this clause of the Bill is all about. It is to secure the representation in the Scottish parliament of separate constituencies for Orkney and Shetland.

There is no need to make equivalent provision for the Western Isles. We are making no changes to that constituency in the Bill. However, we have decided that it would be right to ensure that Orkney and Shetland have separate representation in the Scottish parliament and so have split the constituency. We are not splitting a Westminster constituency in relation to the Western Isles. That is what Clause 82 is all about. The noble Lord is trying to extend the effect of Clause 82 beyond that for which it was devised.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. We had this difficulty in Committee, and I am still in some difficulty. I appreciate that Schedule 1 states that in the Scottish parliament the Isles of Orkney and the Shetland Isles should have an MSP each. I am not arguing about that; it is fine. What I still do not understand is why the provision has to be included in a clause dealing with the arrangements at Westminster.

If there were no reference to Orkney and Shetland in the clause, Orkney and Shetland would still have an MSP each under Schedule 1. I am puzzled by this argument. The Minister used it in Committee, and a number of noble Lords intervened and pointed to the rubric; namely, "Scottish representation at Westminster". We are talking about Scottish representation at Westminster. Even if this clause were not in the Bill, Orkney and Shetland would still have an MSP each. So I am very puzzled. I can see other arguments to the effect that Orkney and Shetland should always be protected in a UK context; however, I find it hard to see how the separate Orkney and Shetland MSPs are dependent on this part of the Bill.

Lord Sewel: My Lords, one thinks of what would happen if Orkney and Shetland, or part of Orkney and Shetland, became part of another constituency which included an area other than Orkney and Shetland. The build-up to the representation within the Scottish parliament would be disturbed, because the building block would not be there. There is the building block of a Westminster parliamentary constituency which consists entirely of Orkney and Shetland, and solely of Orkney and Shetland, and it is then split. Separate representation for Orkney and Shetland cannot be achieved if part of Orkney and Shetland is linked in a Westminster constituency with another area. I believe that explains the point.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I understand that. If the Government do not amend the Bill which currently provides for 129 MSPs into the future, with no provision for them to decline to match the Westminster seats, the argument the Minister has

28 Oct 1998 : Column 2071

made falls. But so long as we are doing a one-to-one and keeping the number of MSPs and MPs coupled, at last I understand his point. However, he would have to reconsider the argument if the Government are able to accept the principles behind the amendment about the 129, carried against the Government.

I think I understand slightly better why the Government have the provision in Clause 82. At this time of night, I shall not have a dispute between Orkney and Shetland and the Western Isles. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 167 to 172 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 173 not moved.]

Clause 85 [Power to adapt etc. cross-border public authorities]:

Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 173A:


Page 40, line 1, leave out ("(if any)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is an appropriate amendment on which to finish our deliberations for the evening. It is a drafting amendment which I can safely say is both minor and technical. It simply deletes the redundant words "if any" from Clause 85(2)(c). It is

28 Oct 1998 : Column 2072

based on the startling proposition that one clearly cannot amend the constitution of an authority if it does not have one in the first place. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 173B:


Page 40, line 2, after ("section") insert (" 52(4) or").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Carter: My Lords, before I move that further consideration on Report be adjourned, I should like to congratulate the House on the expeditious way in which it has dealt with a long list, including an important Statement. It just goes to show what the threat of an early breakfast will do!

I am extremely grateful and I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

European Parliamentary Elections Bill

Returned from the Commons with the amendments disagreed to, with reasons for such disagreement. The Commons reasons were ordered to be printed.

        House adjourned at seventeen minutes past one o'clock.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page