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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister. It was my fault that I took my eye off this particular ball in Committee. Clearly, judging by the number of noble Lords who have intervened, we could have had an interesting debate. Given the position of the hands of the clock and the stage of the Bill, it would not be fruitful to debate the matter now. I hope when the noble Lord replies to me and sends copies to noble Lords who have spoken that he will also address the question of the users of forestry. It is not just the planting that has to be looked at on a Scotland and on a UK basis but also the users. I look forward to the letter from the Minister, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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10 p.m.

[Amendment No. 77 not moved.]

Schedule 7 [Procedure for subordinate legislation]:

Lord Hardie moved Amendment No. 78:

Page 99, line 22, at end insert--

    ("Section 71(4B) Type K")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 9 [Repeals]:

[Amendment No. 79 not moved.]

Lord Sewel: My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass. On the little rubric that I have it says, "If you make a speech", and that is underlined. On this occasion, I believe that that is an invitation not to make much of a speech, and I do not intend to do so.

This is a truly historic occasion. Apart from what may be a little local difficulty later, we have reached the end of the parliamentary process of establishing a Scottish parliament. That is a milestone. It is some five months ago since I introduced this Bill into your Lordships' House. For many of us, the road has been a lot longer than five months. In my case, it goes back something like 20 years and more. I know that some have joined the road at a later stage but there is nothing wrong with that.

We have made good progress with this Bill. I understand that we have spent nearly 104 hours deliberating on it. Indeed, the rough calculation is that more than 1 million words have been spoken in addressing the various points at issue during the course of our debates.

The Bill establishes in Scotland a parliament for Scotland which will have real powers over those matters of public policy which are of most direct importance and relevance to the people of Scotland. That is good and right. We have established also a fair electoral system. In many ways, it is a ground-breaking electoral system to make sure that the interests in Scotland are properly and adequately represented.

We are now on the point of bringing into law a parliament which will serve the people of Scotland in a way which will enable legislation in the devolved areas to be more responsive to the needs, priorities and values of Scotland. That in itself is an enormous advance.

I wish to say something about the way in which we have considered the Bill. When I introduced it on Second Reading, I said that the Government would listen; that they would take account of the arguments they heard from all Benches in the House and that, if they were convinced of their value and merit, they should seek to incorporate them into the Bill. We have been as good as our word. We have listened and, on a number of occasions, we have been able to come forward with modifications and amendments to the Bill which have strengthened and improved it. I wish to give credit to all those who have helped in that process.

A great value of the Bill has been the way in which it has been discussed; namely, in a constructive and good-humoured way. There has been no sense of negativism or obstruction in the way that noble Lords

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have come to the Bill. There has been a great deal of challenge as we have argued points backwards and forwards. That is the way it should be. That is the way we do our business, and rightly so. There has also been quite a bit of fun and enjoyment along the way.

I do not wish to go through the list of all those who have contributed to our debates. However, I obviously recognise and thank the Mackay twins, who have always been up to the mark. Similarly, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Steel of Aikwood. If only he had not turned left when he was approaching Johannesburg, he might be with us today. Whether he will actually make it to the Scottish parliament is most likely not a matter of losing direction. Something else may intervene there.

I thank the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, and the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, for their contributions, together with the noble Baroness, Lady Linklater, and the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie. On the main Opposition Benches, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk of Douglas, and the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour. I thank too the scrutineer of all parliamentary legislation, the noble Earl, Lord Balfour. I thank also the noble Lord, Lord Renton, who always keeps us on our toes and, on the Cross-Benches, the noble Lady, Lady Saltoun of Abernethy.

This has been a great parliamentary experience. All noble Lords who contributed to our debates brought something to them. I say in all humility that we ended up with a better Bill than we were given to begin with. That is a credit to individuals and to the House collectively. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.--(Lord Sewel.)

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, from these Benches there is unalloyed joy that this Bill is now coming on to the statute book. My record in this is that since 1950--the first election in which I took part--I have been advocating a Scottish parliament for Scottish affairs within and co-operating with the United Kingdom. The grandfather of my noble friend Lord Thurso was advocating a Scottish parliament back in the 1920s and the 1930s. Indeed, it has been part of Liberal policy. The Labour Party advocated a Scottish parliament, but dropped it for a while. However, they came back to the fold. The joy of someone returned is very great, whether or not they bring with them a fatted calf.

The Minister referred to my noble friend Lord Steel of Aikwood and his part in this. But he and the noble Baroness laboured for years in the constitutional assembly to produce the framework we followed in this Bill. I have heard people express fears, and exaggerated fears, that it will all lead to a rush of independence; that we will all split apart and so forth. But the Scots people are far too sensible. I find that many people who would never dream of standing for Westminster--people of quality and position--want to stand for a Scottish parliament. They want to do so because it is part of their background and they feel that they can do some good there. That is what devolution of power does.

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This is a sensible Bill. It has been improved even by the doubting Thomases. In fact, the doubting Thomases--the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon--contributed greatly to the good sense at the end and occasionally greatly to my boredom; but taken on the whole, they have done admirable work in spite of their opposition at the start to the whole concept.

I have enjoyed all the debates. They probed properly. The Government rightly and properly gave way on certain matters, notably to the lawyers, whom I think for once were talking sense. The Bill has been greatly improved by many interventions from a whole lot of people. I am extremely happy with it. We on these Benches are happy with it. We know that there may be troubles and difficulties ahead, but good will come from this Bill.

Lord Forbes: My Lords, I confess that I have never been enthusiastic about devolution for Scotland for the simple reason that it will probably lead to friction between Westminster and Edinburgh. The last thing that we want is conflict between England and Scotland. However, we are about to get devolution and I wish it well. I hope that it will work. If it does not work, if it leads to separation, the Government will never be forgiven because our strength is in the United Kingdom. Never must that unity be broken.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, although noble Lords sitting around me on the Back Benches do not want to say anything, perhaps I may say a brief word.

The noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, who is not in his place today, commented on several occasions that he was surprised that Scottish Peers on the Conservative Benches, although fearful that the Bill might well turn out to have problems for Scotland within the United Kingdom, have in fact sought to strengthen rather than weaken it. I do not think that the noble Lord should have been surprised. We have, indeed, tried to strengthen the Bill.

We have spent many hours concentrating on the arguments, joining in and assisting. We have all tried to amend the Bill so that it will work better and more smoothly; so that the considerable potential for conflict between Holyrood and Westminster will be reduced and so that the new arrangements will work as smoothly as possible. I think we have succeeded, but I believe there are considerable areas with which the Scottish National Party at any rate will make great play and may make great trouble. What Scotland needs now is a Bill that works well and to the satisfaction of the people of Scotland so that they are not easily persuaded that they want to leave the United Kingdom. We have tried to achieve that.

From these Back Benches, I must particularly thank and congratulate, first and foremost, the members of my own Front Bench: my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Drumadoon and particularly my noble and learned friend Lord Fraser of Carmyllie. They have done

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a great deal of work in preparing and speaking to amendments. I believe that from time to time they have been sorely tried, but they have never lost their cool or sense of humour. We all admire that.

The noble Lord, Lord Sewel, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hardie, and the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay of Cartvale, have kept their cool too and we admire that also. It must have been very trying. They had instructions to change mighty little. I am not sure whether they always agreed with their political masters down the corridor. If they did not, it must have been even more difficult. Again, we admire that. They have persuaded the Government to make a number of changes that improve the Bill. However, there are still many controversial areas which may give trouble in the future. I thank them for their courtesy and patience to us all. Some of us are not as good at this as others. Those of us who are still very amateurish after many years in this House--I include myself--appreciate their patience.

It is now for the people of Scotland to accept this Bill and to do what they will with it. I, for one, hope that they will make a great success of it. I shall not play a part in trying to do anything to obstruct that. I am grateful to have taken part in the passage of the Bill. I feel that we have been taking part in an historic occasion.

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