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Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I am much obliged. I should tell the Minister that in no way was I suggesting that the Scottish Parliament was acting outside its remit. When someone states that a project will cost a certain amount of money but it turns out to cost twice as much, I was concerned as to who would be responsible for saying, "Yes, go ahead and do that". Presumably that would not be the Scottish Parliament; it would be the responsibility of an individual.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I cannot speculate on who would be responsible within the Scottish Parliament. Of course, the Scottish Parliament is ultimately responsible for the acts of its Ministers and of its Members. Similarly, the Scottish Parliament is ultimately answerable to its own electorate. As the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, made clear in his speech, the one certainty is that English taxpayers are not paying for any overruns of expenditure. I give way.
The Duke of Montrose: My Lords, I thank the Minister for giving way. When I mentioned a "blank cheque" I did not mean a blank cheque against the Treasury and the British Government. The Scottish public has given the Scottish Executive a blank cheque as to how much of the funds that it receives will go towards the Scottish Parliament.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the Scottish public elected the Scottish Parliament, which, in turn, chose its Executive. How the Scottish Parliament spends its money within its budget is a matter of democratic accountability. Those concerned will have to account to their electorate in due course. They form a corporate body: they are collectively responsible.
I hope that I have made it clear that we do not think that it would be appropriate for the Bill to be enacted or for there to be referendum. We respect the views expressed and the level of expertise shown in the debate, but we are of the settled view that devolution has improved the governance not only of Scotland but of the whole of the United Kingdom.
One of the most interesting things to come out of the debate is the idea that I am about to introduce a Bill to ban the House of Commons, particularly if it decides to do anything about fox hunting. I had not thought of that; perhaps it would be worth thinking about over a drink in the Bishops' Bar later. It is an idea that would be greatly welcomed throughout the United Kingdom!
My greatest sadness tonight is that I have been unable to persuade my very dear friend, the noble Lord, Lord Ewing of Kirkford, to leave his greenhouse in Kirkcaldy and come down tonight. I am sure that he would have added great colour to the debate. I am grateful to noble Lords from all parts of the House who have taken part tonight. I do so hope that Holyrood will take note of some of what we have discussed tonight.
I will not deny that to pass the Bill would entail deep consideration, coupled with great couragetwo great hallmarks of your Lordships' House. The Bill is, above all, an empowering measure, to secure the free expression of the will of the Scottish people. The leaders of Scotland proclaimed in the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320:
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