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Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, I have listened carefully to what has been said for--very little for--and a very great deal against these amendments. Incidentally, before I go any further, I think I must say to the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, that I feel very unsure that the United Kingdom Parliament would consider Scotland's interests in the future after a Scottish parliament has been established. I really do feel very unsure about that. I think that is wishful thinking.

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Under the circumstances, I think that I am going to withdraw the amendments but I am going to come back next Monday at Third Reading with exactly what the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, suggested. I think it would be a great pity for Scotland and England to have separate time zones. Provided that Scotland is not going to be lumbered with British Summer Time in winter, Central European Time, or any other foreign nastinesses of that kind, I would be perfectly happy for Scotland and England always to have the same time zones. But I think that we must take some steps at this stage to try to make sure that we are not going to be lumbered with British Summer Time in winter in Scotland. So I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 225 not moved.]

Lord Selkirk of Douglas moved Amendment No. 226:

Page 86, line 34, at end insert--

("Section 7 -- Mineral Deposits

The exploitation of mineral deposits of unprecedented or substantial national significance.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I raised this issue originally because I noticed that the Government dealt with outer space issues as a reserved subject. It therefore seemed altogether reasonable to reserve minerals under the ocean depths. However, the Government resisted that for a number of reasons outlined by the Minister in a letter to me. He made it quite clear that coal, oil and gas would be reserved but other minerals would not. My concern was that valuable mineral deposits could be discovered under the ocean depths. The Minister stated in his reply that the management of the Crown Estate was reserved but the Crown property would not be. He went on to say:

    "It will thus be for the [Scottish] parliament to legislate about mineral resources (other than oil, coal and gas) found on land or under the seabed".
I immediately wondered what would happen were there to be a massive discovery of uranium within Scotland. We know that there is uranium in Scotland. We do not know how much, but we know that it exists. There are countless other mineral deposits--for example, gold. That may not be commercial, but there are many other mineral deposits. The Minister stated in his letter:

    "Were valuable mineral deposits to be found in Scotland, their exploitation would be of great significance, in the first instance, to the people of Scotland. The Members of the Scottish parliament will be best placed to make decisions in the best interests of the Scottish people".
I appreciate that that argument would recommend itself to the Scottish National Party. But if there is a massive find of uranium, I simply do not believe that the British Parliament will say, "This is not a matter of any concern to ourselves".

The Minister acknowledged there was a problem. He went on to say in his letter:

    "the list of reserved matters in Schedule 5 ... can be changed by virtue of an Order in Council under Clause 29".

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I appreciate that the essence of his argument is that this Parliament is sovereign and, if for any reason mineral deposits which are of great significance to Britain are found, this Parliament can take action and alter Schedule 5 by amending it. But he states in his letter that this could be done:

    "if the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments agreed that that was in the best interests of the UK".
It may well be that the political government in the Scottish parliament is entirely different from the composition of the government of the Westminster Parliament. If the two executives have different political parties in charge, there will be the potential for considerable conflict.

It seems to me that in the absence of any concordats being suggested, the Minister is relying on good will between the two parliaments. It may well be that there is no such good will. It will be no use relying on gentlemen's agreements or on the subject being well interpreted. It may be subject to misinterpretation or no interpretation.

I suggest that unless this matter is specified clearly in the schedule, before the parliament is set up, it will be a source of continuing conflict. It is surely only a matter of time until major mineral deposits are found either under Scottish land or under the ocean depths. In that case, it seems that reservations should be put into the Bill. If they are not, we shall be storing up problems for the future. I beg to move.

10 p.m.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, I have always thought that the amendments proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Selkirk, had a good deal of sense in them. However, as regards this amendment, if we find untold gold, silver or platinum in Scotland, then the exploitation thereof must be reserved to the United Kingdom Parliament. Is that the correct interpretation? If it is, I am against the amendment. If we find treasure in Scotland, we should be able to exploit it. Surely to goodness, if we find treasure, it should be Scottish.

Lord Renton: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps I may ask him about uranium, which my noble friend mentioned. It is a matter of natural interest if we happen to find uranium.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, there is no question of the Scottish parliament acting against the national interest. If there is uranium which requires exploitation and great control, the Scottish parliament will agree to that. The Scottish parliament will be sensible about this matter. But if it is found on Scottish soil, surely the Scottish parliament should have control over it.

The Earl of Balfour: My Lords, one or two matters should be taken into consideration on this amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Selkirk. It must have been some years since I looked at it, but there is an old Act which goes back before the Union of the Crowns which specifies that gold, silver or other precious metals

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found in Scotland belong to the Crown. I am fairly certain that that old Act is still on the statute book. It has resulted in deterring a number of prospectors looking for precious metals from ever trying to seek its development in Scotland.

The other matter which has put off the development of many ores in Scotland is that the strata has been so tilted that it is almost vertical, which makes it quite impossible to mine in any way other than by open-cast. Those two matters are worth considering.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Selkirk of Douglas has a point. The noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, has rather walked into a trap which will mean that he will have to bring forward amendments on Third Reading to deal with two other parts of the schedule. It seems rather odd that the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, thinks that any treasures yet to be found should be the property of the Scottish parliament but yet is quite content that the treasures already found--namely, oil, gas and coal--should be reserved to the United Kingdom. It seems to me that that is the opposite of a bird in the hand being worth two in the bush.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, may not have noticed that up to now we have been living in the United Kingdom.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I hope that we shall continue to live in the United Kingdom--which adds to the argument. If it is good enough for oil and gas, as it is in Section 2, and for coal, as it is in Section 3, it seems to me that, looking to the future and the possibility that some other mineral resources may be found, they should be treated in exactly the same way as those which have already been found such as oil, gas and coal. It is amazing that we say that the current wealth found in Scottish waters and under the land in Scotland ought to be reserved to the United Kingdom, but if we are lucky enough to find any future wealth we can keep it ourselves. It is very illogical. My noble friend has a point and I look forward to the Government accepting it.

Lord Sewel: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his explanation as to why he considers this amendment to be necessary. I hope to be able to reassure him that it is not. As I understand it, the noble Lord has particular concern that if in future valuable mineral deposits were discovered in Scotland, this parliament will be unable to legislate over the matter. It is only proper that the exploitation of mineral deposits should be generally devolved along with such matters as planning and the environment, given their importance to the Scottish environment and to Scottish communities. For example, I am thinking of the effects such exploitation would have on the economic development of adjacent communities, on the quality of the environment and the amenities of nearby towns and the countryside. There are also the consequences for the jobs of local people and their livelihoods. It is certainly a matter that should be left for the Scottish parliament to consider and regulate.

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The ownership and exploitation of coal, oil and gas, however, are all reserved by Schedule 5, Section 4. It is considered that they should form an exception to the devolution of the exploitation of mineral deposits, given their importance as energy supplies and the need to maintain a uniform regulatory regime in these industries. Were valuable mineral deposits to be found in Scotland their exploitation should, in the first instance, be addressed in the context of the communities that will be affected by the development of the minerals. I believe that members of the Scottish parliament will be best placed to make decisions in the best interests of these people.

The noble Lord argues a case at the extreme in that there have been some unprecedented finds of valuable minerals. If that is the case, it is possible for the list of reserved matters in Schedule 5 of the Bill to be changed by virtue of an Order in Council under Clause 29. If mineral deposits of unprecedented national significance were discovered in the future, it would be possible for Schedule 5 to be amended if the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments agree that it is in the best interests of the United Kingdom to do so. If the noble Lord is arguing a case at the extreme, I have to answer him in a similar way. If it became a matter of absolute national importance and significance, it would be possible to amend the Act itself by legislation in this Parliament. But I do not anticipate that. I do not believe that the noble Lord creates a situation which is grounded in sufficient reality for us to make provision for it in the Bill. On that basis, I trust that he will be able to withdraw his amendment.

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