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After Clause 3, insert the following new clause--

DISQUALIFICATION OF MEMBERS OF SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR WALES AND NORTHERN IRELAND ASSEMBLY

(" .--(1) A member of the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales or Northern Ireland Assembly is disqualified for sitting and voting in the House of Lords.
(2) Where an individual is disqualified under this section, the disqualification ceases on the day he ceases to be a member of the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales or Northern Ireland Assembly.
(3) No writ of summons shall be issued to a person who is for the time being disqualified under this section.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, perhaps we may turn our minds to a more limited subject. Amendment No. 47 proposes that:


    "A member of the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales or Northern Ireland Assembly is disqualified for sitting and voting in the House of Lords". In setting up a Scottish Parliament, the relationship between Scottish Members of Parliament and Members of the Scottish Parliament has always caused a problem. Why should Scottish Members of Parliament discuss issues of health, transport, education and so forth as they relate to both Scotland and England, while English Members of Parliament cannot discuss those issues as they relate to Scotland? As your Lordships know only too well, that has become known as the "West Lothian question". As there was no answer to that question, the previous Scottish devolution Bill in 1978 collapsed.

The trouble is that the Government have gone ahead and set up the Scottish Parliament, but have completely ignored that question. It is interesting to note that on the first page of the document Modernising Parliament: Reforming the House of Lords, it is stated that:


    "Parliament is the central element of Britain's democracy. Britain needs a two-chamber legislature". The Government promptly set up legislatures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which are one-Chamber. Therefore, only the Members of those Parliaments can pass Acts which do not go through the House of Lords, but which refer to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. That does not happen in England.

Despite the fact that with great virtue the document claims that we need a two-Chamber legislature, the Government promptly set up single-Chamber legislatures for those three parts of the United Kingdom. As your Lordships know only too well, the problems

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have just started and we shall wait to see what happens. However, Members of your Lordships' House can stand for the Scottish Parliament--and in my argument I include the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies--can take part in Scottish affairs, can decide all the matters relating to Scotland and can then come to this House to discuss all the matters relating to England. English Peers have no such say on Scottish matters. In schoolboy language, "That's not fair".

If noble Lords decide to stand for the Scottish Parliament, in which the English House of Lords has no participation, in order to run its affairs as they wish, in my view it is not right that they should also come down here and participate in the rough and tumble of English party politics. That is the reason why I have tabled Amendment No. 47. I believe that it is a jolly good amendment.

Amendment No. 47 is even more important because it proposes that:


    "A person who is the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament or the Northern Ireland Assembly or the presiding officer of the National Assembly for Wales is disqualified for sitting and voting in the House of Lords". Your Lordships may wonder why the presiding officer of the National Assembly for Wales is written with a lower case "p". That is because the Bill refers to the "Presiding Officer" for the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly with an upper case "P", but to the "presiding officer" of the Welsh Assembly with only a lower case "p". I have no doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, who has a vigorous respect for all such things, will have discovered that Wales is not worth, as it were, "capitalising on"! He may decide to table an amendment at Third Reading to adjust that.

A person can stand for the Scottish Parliament and be elected; then with all impartiality can act as Presiding Officer (a Speaker); and can then come to your Lordships' House and take part in the rough and tumble of party politics relating to English matters. Perhaps I may give the example of the noble Lord, Lord Steel of Aikwood. He is not in the Chamber, but I warned him that I might refer to him. He began life as David Steel. He then became a knight, Sir David Steel, which was very good. He was then elevated to become a Peer, Lord Steel of Aikwood. He then decided to stand for the Scottish Parliament as Sir David Steel. I do not know why he did not stand as "Lord Steel"; perhaps he was ashamed of having the title. He was then elected as Presiding Officer when he will have all the impartiality which goes with being Speaker. He can then come down here and take part in deliberations on English matters such as education, roads, transport, health--matters about which we have no say as they relate to Scotland. And that is when he is an impartial person!

It is unbelievable to imagine that a Member of the other place can be a political animal, be dragged to become Speaker and then become impartial. I cannot imagine the Speaker of the House of Commons going to the Scottish Parliament and setting about it in a party political manner. Yet that is what can happen with the presiding officers of the three Assemblies.

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I do not believe that that is right. I have nothing against the noble Lord, Lord Steel--or Sir David Steel, whichever he prefers--but I wonder whether when he is here he will sit on the Liberal Democrat Benches or whether he will be impartial and sit on the Cross Benches. If he is impartial, why does he want to come down here and participate in English matters? This is an important point. I beg to move.

5.15 p.m.

Lord Ellenborough: My Lords, I support the amendment of my noble friend Lord Ferrers. I do so with some temerity because today it was revealed in The Times that he is one of the most popular and best speakers in your Lordships' House.

Noble Lords: Hear, Hear!

Lord Ellenborough: My Lords, there are many excellent and distinguished Members of your Lordships' House who are Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish, but it goes without saying that they are not Members of the devolved Parliament or Assemblies. It must be wrong for those who have chosen to devote their time and energy to that role to remain or become Members of your Lordships' House. What on earth will they do? No Scottish legislation will come to this House and it would be intolerable for them to intrude, take part in debates and vote on English legislation. After all, there are sufficient Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Members of this House who can adequately discuss the reserved powers, even after most hereditary Peers eventually go.

The amendment highlights the fact that the Government have not thought through the consequences of devolution or addressed what has become known as the "English question". Already, Scottish MPs are grossly over represented in another place and unbelievably this will continue to be so probably until 2006 or 2007. That is simply because the Government skulk behind the Boundary Commission, which could easily have put forward recommendations to alter some 70 constituency boundaries in time for the next general election. That is hardly a gargantuan task.

The White Paper on reforming the House of Lords hints that some Members of the devolved institutions should be sent here. I noted a speech of the right honourable Member for Hartlepool, Mr Peter Mandelson, who approved of that. In a pretty cynical speech on 2nd February (col. 766 of Hansard), he said that the "fissiparous effects" of devolution--his words not mine--required some much needed glue. At least he did not call for a sticking plaster, only much needed glue, to keep the UK together.

By failing to weigh the implications of devolution, and ignoring the English question, the Government have done their best to crack, if not smash, the foundations of the Union. I find it pretty ironic that the likes of Peter Mandelson are now worrying about the need for glue to stick it together. The Government need to be fair to all parts of the Union, not just Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They need also to be fair to England. That is why I strongly support my noble friend's amendment. I could not agree more with what he

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proposes in his further amendment disqualifying the presiding officers of the Scottish Parliament and the national assemblies from membership of this House.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, these are interesting amendments. They have opened up slightly wider issues, as regards some of which I do not want to follow my noble friend.

My noble friend Lord Ferrers mentioned the White Paper. I do not believe that in any future changes to the composition of this House, people should be sent by the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament or, indeed, by the European Parliament, to this House to somehow represent any of those bodies. That is not a sensible way to proceed. It is not clear, constitutional thinking. My noble friend and I are certainly in agreement on that score.

However, I do not believe that anybody should be prevented from standing and being elected, if that is the wish of the electorate, for more than one tier of government. I have no problem with somebody standing and being elected to the European Parliament and the House of Commons; to the European Parliament and the Scottish Parliament; to the Scottish Parliament and the Westminster Parliament. I have some questions about whether they would be able to do the two jobs properly, but that is not for me to judge, unless the person was standing in a constituency in which I had a vote. If the electorate wants to vote for somebody and does so knowing that that person is already a member of another parliament, that is entirely for the electorate to judge. I am clear about that.

Indeed, some of our noble friends are Members of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. My noble friend Lord Selkirk of Douglas was successful in being elected to the Scottish Parliament. On the Government Benches, the noble Lord, Lord Watson of Invergowrie was successful. On the Liberal Democrat Benches, the noble Lord, Lord Steel of Aikwood--I shall call him that despite the suggestion by my noble friend--was also successful. I shall return to him in more detail when I consider the second amendment. To show a balance around the House, the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, has been elected to the Welsh Assembly. The noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, has been elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly. That is perfectly fair. I would not debar them from coming here at all. It is perfectly reasonable that they should stand. The electorate obviously knew that they were Members of this House and elected them.

Equally, a number of Members of Parliament of the other place--all the Scottish National Party Members, two Liberal Democrat Members and six or seven Labour Members--stood successfully for the Scottish Parliament. Two or three stood, one rather controversially, for election to the Welsh Assembly. I have no problem about that. They should be allowed to sit in both Chambers if that is their desire and if they have made that clear to the electorate. I believe that five of our number have been elected to the European Parliament. It is perfectly reasonable that they should sit here and in the European Parliament.

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Therefore, as far as concerns Amendment No. 47, I cannot agree with my noble friend, except in the very limited part of his speech, but not his amendment, that these bodies should not be allowed to nominate representatives to sit in the interim House or the future House.

Amendment No. 48 deals with the position of the presiding officers of the three devolved bodies. Here, I believe my noble friend certainly has half a point. I want to underline my agreement with that half. Interestingly enough--perhaps this is a positive reflection on your Lordships' House--two out of the three presiding officers are Members of your Lordships' House. The noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, is the Presiding Officer of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The noble Lord, Lord Steel of Aikwood is the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament.


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