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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: First, Lord Cooper in the particular case was concerned with the sovereign Parliaments of Scotland and England. The sovereign Parliament of England would have an interest in keeping the Scottish representation down, just as the sovereign Parliament of Scotland would have an interest in keeping it up. On the basis of the argument advanced, because it is an agreement it makes no difference whether one increases or reduces the number of Scottish Peers. As to the second point, the matter is clear beyond peradventure and there is no need to put it in the Bill.

Lord Norton of Louth: Perhaps I may pick up the approach of the noble and learned Lord to the issue itself. When the question of Scottish Peers in this House was raised, the noble and learned Lord had to rely on looking round the Chamber, a note from his noble friend and figures provided by another noble Lord. Surely, knowing that this amendment was to be dealt with, I would have thought that the noble and learned Lord would have come armed with the relevant figures to respond. That may appear a small point in relation to this amendment, but it has wider significance because it has happened before. There is a general reliance on numbers and who will be there when the Bill is passed. I am concerned that the consequences are thought through rather than that there should be simple reliance on the manifesto as being sufficient. One must think through the position in the interim--not just the numbers but who they are--and the effect on business. Rather than make assumptions, I believe that there is a case for giving further thought in advance to what is involved and coming to the debate better armed.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I deal with the noble Lord's ticking-off. I believe that, rather than put forward my own argument, to take the Opposition's case in order to demonstrate the truth of my proposition is a more effective way of dealing with it. If one can demonstrate that the arguments advanced by the other side support one's own position that is often more effective.

Lord Gray: I am extremely grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part, particularly those who have supported me. With a little push from my noble friend Lord Waddington, perhaps the debate strayed rather wider than I anticipated. I am glad that we did not have to go so far as fully to involve the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn.

To try to sum up a debate of this kind is beyond me. However, I say to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, that when he gave his reasons for opposing the amendment he placed some emphasis on representation. My emphasis was on the position of the Act of Union. I do not deny that there are very many worthy Scottish life Peers in this House. I know them well and admire the work that they do, but that is not the point.

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6 p.m.

I was very grateful to have some endorsement for my views on the Act of Union from the noble Lord, Lord Elton, and from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Jauncey. I was also grateful for the points made by my noble friend Lord Northesk.

There is a point about the Scots Peers which has not been mentioned in this debate. Many Scots hereditary Peers sit on the Cross Benches, whereas I suspect that the majority of Scots life Peers have come here if not through legal eminence, then by the political route. There are some who are even more independent Cross-Benchers, like myself.

This is a debate which I shall need to read with some care. There are obviously serious points concerning the impact upon the Act of Union, which is why I tabled the amendment in the first place, and its complexity is more than I can possibly digest this evening.

With your Lordships' permission, therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Gray moved Amendment No. 12:

Page 1, line 5, at beginning insert ("Subject to section (Peers of Scotland (No. 2))")

The noble Lord said: I may be accused of being rather a nuisance because I rise again--for the same reasons. Amendment No. 12 is a paving amendment for Amendment No. 51 which contains the substantive provision; Amendment No. 67 is consequential.

After the long debate we have had, it would be very unfair to weary the Committee by going over the ground which I covered when I introduced the last set of amendments and I certainly shall not do so. For the benefit of any noble Lords who did not hear my remarks then, I say only that the basis for my putting forward these amendments is preservation of the original Treaty of Union provision that Scotland should be represented in this House by 16 Peers of Scotland elected from their fellows each parliament. I have already reminded noble Lords that the provision was widened in 1963 when the 16 were replaced with all Peers of Scotland.

Whereas my Amendment No. 50 was simpler in format, the scheme of which Amendment No. 51 is the core would return us to the Article XXII position, with 16 Peers elected to sit and vote here. The use of an electoral system lines up with the scheme behind the amendment which we know as the Weatherill amendment. As we do not know how long the interim House will last, it would be reasonable to establish electoral machinery. For the avoidance of doubt, the word "only" is included in my draft to restrict the right to stand for election to those Peers who are Peers of Scotland only.

I feel very strongly that something should be done to avoid the consequences of the Government's proposal to repeal Section 4 of the 1963 Act, which had its roots in the Act of Union.

We are constantly reminded of the manifesto commitment which justifies this Bill. Perhaps I might be allowed to point out that the paragraphs dealing with

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devolution in that manifesto are headed, "Devolution--Strengthening the Union". I hope that the Government will recognise that these amendments would contribute to that strengthening. The Government's position appears to be contradictory. I beg to move.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My noble friend's amendment would simply take us back to the 1963 position--that is, there would still be 16 elected Peers.

I doubt that there is very much to add to the previous arguments. I would take the opportunity to say, however, that I thought the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, probably did not read out his noble friend Lord Williams of Mostyn's list of the Welsh Peers for exactly the same reason as, when I took part in the Welsh devolution Bill, I said that I would do everything, bar anything that asked me to get my tongue round some of the names. I suspect that is really the problem for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer.

My noble friend Lord Strathclyde and I noticed that, in the distinguished list of Scotsmen which the noble and learned Lord read out, we were both missed out. As my noble friend is so young, I keep thinking that he is a life Peer--or perhaps I am assuming that the Weatherill amendment is already passed!

I listened with some interest to the points made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer. I shall be consulting various legal luminaries who delve into these matters to see whether he is correct that events have overtaken Lord President Cooper's judgment. It is possible that we may come back to that, but I shall leave it in other hands, and even to other voices, if there are points still to be argued.

With that, I simply say that, as with the previous amendment, my noble friend Lord Gray has done us a service in drawing to our attention the important way in which the Act of Union interfaces with this Bill as far as the peerage is concerned.

Lord Elton: As my noble friend has helpfully introduced the matter of electoral procedures, may I use this opportunity to ask the noble and learned Lord whether he can give us some assurance that when we reach the main debate on electoral procedures, which I presume will hinge on the Weatherill amendment, we shall by then have had an opportunity to see, discuss and digest the Standing Orders of the House under which it is proposed that those procedures shall operate, otherwise we shall be discussing this in somewhat of a vacuum?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Without any disrespect to the noble Lord, Lord Gray, I think that the principles which underlie this amendment are the same as those which underlay the previous amendment. The only difference is that it is an electoral college rather than all Scottish hereditary Peers being entitled to sit.

I shall not repeat the remarks I have made, but I do make this point in relation to the amendment: the effect of the amendment is to allow holders of Scottish and other UK peerages to vote in this electoral college as long as they have a Scottish peerage among their

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peerages; yet it allows Scottish Peers only to be elected, which in effect was the position before 1963 and which, with the greatest respect, is completely odd, because it means that people who have absolutely no right to sit here can vote in that strange election.

That is the only differential point. Again, I ask noble Lords to reject the amendment if it is pressed to a vote.

The reason I did not mention the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, in the list was because my first remark was that once one had heard a speech of the brilliance of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, there was no need to worry about Scottish representation. I did not mention the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, because--this may be news to the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish--I understand him to be a hereditary Peer, although his talents would suggest that he had got here on his own merits.

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