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Viscount Thurso: My Lords, I, too, thank the Minister for his excellent introduction to the orders and extend those thanks to the officials who drafted them. Broadly speaking, we support all the orders before the House tonight. Despite my great dislike of secondary legislation, it is clear that in matters as complex as those
I want to raise only two small points and one of slightly more substance. The first relates to the Border Rivers order. My honourable friend in another place, Alan Beith, made the point that the Government are as careful as possible, both in this Parliament and the Scottish Parliament, in respect of consultation. There was a considerable degree of confusion following the passing of the adjacent water boundary order, which had not been properly scrutinised by some Members in another place and had unforeseen consequences in terms of the change of the border for the fishing zones. In fact, it moved the border so that it went right through the centre of the Berwick bank, and that has caused great difficulties. There have been considerable reports in the Scottish Parliament about that, all of which I have managed successfully to obtain from the internet and print out on my printer. I am not sure how one refers to a friend in the Scottish Parliament. Is it "my Scottish friend"? I have honourable friends next door, noble friends here and now Scottish friends. If that be the case, my Scottish friend Euan Robson has taken the matter up and is pressing very hard for the Secretary of State and relative Ministers in the Scottish government to have that issue rectified. It has had considerable consequences for the fishermen, which were probably unintended.
The second point relates to the cross-border public authorities order that we have before us today. That order goes back to a previous statutory instrument from this year, No. 1319, which defined the cross-border authorities. As I understand it, today's order goes further in defining some of the functions as between the two governments and the Ministers in each government. I was rather surprised by one omission. It is late at night and I shall not give too many examples, but on page 17 the order we have before us tonight refers to Food from Britain. Page 9 refers to the British Wool Marketing Board. These are very similar to the British Tourist Authority, which is not contained or mentioned in the orders we are discussing tonight.
When we discussed the Bill, all those many long days ago and for all those many long hours, I am sure the Minister will remember that on a number of occasions I jumped to my feet to inquire whether tourism was a wholly devolved issue. I was given assurances on several occasions that that was the case. Unfortunately, some time after the Bill had become an Act of Parliament it became necessary for the Minister to write to me to inform me that, although tourism was wholly devolved, the mechanism by which international tourism would be controlled would be through the British Transport Authority, which would then necessarily, through Section 88(5), become a cross-border authority.
Lord Sewel: My Lords, I thank the noble Viscount for giving way. I am sure it was a slip of the tongue, but I do not think it was the British Transport Authority; it was the British Tourist Authority.
I return to the British Tourist Authority. There are a number of questions where the definition of the functions and capabilities of the relevant Ministers have not been clearly defined; for example, the responsibility for international tourism rests firmly with the Scottish Parliament yet its function will be conducted by the BTA. However, the money for that function is to be provided through the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is the responsibility of the Secretary of State. The BTA will report wholly to him. How, in that circumstance, does the Scottish Parliament verify how much of the BTA's budget is to be spent on promoting Scotland internationally? Will the Secretary of State be called before the relevant tourism committee or will the chairman of the BTA be called before the committee?
My third point, of somewhat more substance, concerns the points made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, with regard to the registration of political parties. He and his noble friends, or rather his honourable friends in another place, made a considerable brouhaha over this matter. We discussed it before we came into the Chamber. I asked him whether he had any points of substance and he said, "No, just the usual cheap jibes against the Liberals". True to his word, as ever, he has come and he has delivered. Very simply--
Lord Mackay of Drumadoon: My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord would be prepared to give way? Perhaps I may suggest that, as I understand it, we do not refer to each other in this Chamber in quite such colloquial terms?
This is a fairly straightforward and simple matter. As far as I am aware, no consultation took place between our parties. This order was presumably drafted some time before or around the time of the election when all of these matters were being put through. It is accepted that if we want our political system to work effectively it requires to be funded. Furthermore, it is accepted that in this very different kind of Parliament there will be circumstances where the funding has to be done somewhat differently.
"the political parties may well have functions related to the transaction of business, whether or not some of their members are part of the Executive". I am aware that his colleagues in the Scottish Parliament, and indeed in the SNP and the Opposition, have written to the Neill Committee and the noble Lord, Lord Neill, responded in fairly straightforward terms to say that he believes that what is going on is perfectly appropriate. I believe that that letter has been placed in the Library of your Lordships' House though I was not able to get my hands on it this evening.
The heart of the matter is that the Conservative Party has not yet realised that devolution is here and is a fact. It wishes simply to try and put the boot in wherever it can. It has not realised that twice the Scottish people have expressed their view at the ballot box and their settled will is that, in relation to domestic matters, they want to be in the UK, but not ruled by the UK.
Lord Sewel: My Lords, given the hour, your Lordships will realise that there may be a certain deliberation in my words as I proceed. Perhaps I can deal with the points raised by the two noble Lords who spoke in the debate. First, I thank them sincerely and associate myself with their kind, but justified words in relation to the skill and application of members of the Scottish Office Civil Service and the way that they have advanced and progressed the whole business of the legislation relating to devolution. It has been an enormous challenge. It is a new area in the constitutional history of the United Kingdom. It is important that legislation, both primary and secondary, is properly crafted and in many cases it has had to be worked out from first principles. So, I too, pay tribute to members of the Scottish Office and the civil servants who serve it for their work, and thank both the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, and the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, for their comments in that regard.
I deal now with some of the substantive points that were raised. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, asked about the nature of consultations, if any, that had taken place with the opposition parties on the figure of £5,000. I say straightaway that there was no consultation. Obviously, in a perfect world there would have been, and I am sure that there will be in the future, but this was a project which was moving forward at an extremely rapid pace. It was necessary for the executive to come forward with firm proposals. They were discussed, debated and voted upon by the Scottish Parliament and on that basis we have to accept that the Scottish Parliament was content with the figure arrived at.
The arrangements that are in place at the moment are purely transitional. They are really a sticking plaster job and it will be up to the Scottish Parliament, as a result of the orders we are discussing tonight, where we are transferring legislative competence to the Parliament in relation to these areas, to go through the whole process itself. Clearly, that would give the opportunity for a much more deliberate approach to be taken and for consultation to take place. However, on this occasion, with the speed of the whole process and the setting up of the business, things moved so quickly that proposals were brought forward rather in haste. I accept that fact. I give way.
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