However, I believe that we ain’t seen nothing yet. There is much more opportunity for greater improvement. The noble Lord, Lord Lang, in a previous contribution earlier this year set out why we could review the constitution of the United Kingdom and what unionism could look like in the future. That is an element that has been lacking in the debate so far. The noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, in a previous discussion, raised the question of the European Union, and I know that this matters a great deal to many people

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in Scotland. The noble Lord said—I think I recall correctly—that perhaps the United Kingdom Government should assist the Scottish Government and have an early negotiation to see whether it is possible to help the people of Scotland formally. I do not detect that there is an appetite for that in the Government, and indeed why would the United Kingdom Government want to take on that role? An independent country negotiates its own treaty; it does not subcontract that out to somebody else, least of all to the Government of the country it has just sought to leave. Therefore, I do not think that that will happen.

Things are happening in other countries in the European Union. In Catalonia, there is growing demand for independence from Spain, but it is inconceivable to me that the Spanish Government—and they are not the only ones—would encourage and clear the path for Catalans to leave and become independent. Therefore, taking into account the self-interest of other members of the European Union, I do not see that they will be in the mood to clear the path and make it easy for Scotland to enter the European Union under favourable terms in the short term. That is a huge issue. It has been glossed over but, as has just been mentioned, all the links and dependencies that Scotland has in the European Union could be thrown into jeopardy.

To deal with other issues that are not specifically economic, the union is not all about arithmetic. I take my own region of Northern Ireland as an example. We are hewn from the same rock as the people of Scotland in many cases, and we have much in common. We have an industrial heritage and we suffered in many cases from the downstream consequences of that heritage. We have soldiered together for centuries. We share different religious and sporting traditions, and we share our geography. Our history is so intertwined that the idea of separation fills many of us with dread.

As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, said, of course Scotland could survive on its own. I think that it would survive with a much lower standard of living, but of course it could survive, and the Scottish people have the right to take off in that direction. However, I must say to them that there are downstream consequences for the rest of us. On behalf of my party, the Ulster Unionist Party, and as our name suggests, I appeal to the people of Scotland not to leave us. We are partners and share many of the same aspirations. We are literally kith and kin. We would not be well served by their departure. I hope that they will stay with us. As the noble Lord, Lord Lang, so eloquently put it, we can work together to mould a stronger and better union.

The people of Scotland ran this country in the previous Government. The Prime Minister was a Scottish MP, as was the Chancellor from the commencement of that Government until the end of it and the Secretary of State for Defence, as well as the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Department of Health and other departments. The people of Scotland, through their representatives in Parliament, were in the commanding heights of the previous United Kingdom Government only a few years ago. They invited President Obama to come to the G8 in Scotland. Prime Minister Brown was at the centre of attempts to solve the

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financial crisis. In other words, Scotland, like many of our regions, including that of our Welsh colleagues, punched way above its weight. That will not be possible, with the greatest of respect, in an independent Scotland. Stay with us; work with us; and the next 300 years will be far better than the last.

5.37 pm

Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market (Con): My Lords, my noble friend Lord Strathclyde referred to the Scottish Conservatives’ Commission on the Future Governance of Scotland report. I understand that it has had widespread coverage in Scotland but very little down south. That is a pity because it is well worth reading. It sets out proposals for a strengthened Scottish Parliament in the context of a no vote in the referendum, based on the strong Conservative principles of responsibility, transparency and accountability. It is particularly interesting in the context of accountability, with its proposals in relation to income tax and the closing of the fiscal gap.

I want mainly to concentrate on the Select Committee report. There have been many reports over the past year or more from the UK Government, the Scottish Government and both Houses of this Parliament on the many crucial economic, fiscal, defence, currency and international issues that the referendum involves. How much I agree with all the excellent points so well expressed by my noble and learned friend Lord Wallace and his opening comments on that. This report is the first proper analysis of the constitutional and parliamentary issues, as my noble friend Lord Lang made clear in his outstanding speech. It is clear from the report how crucial they are. The report is a riveting and impeccable analysis and I warmly congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, and her committee on it.

I wish to stress three points. First, if there is a yes vote, it is extremely unlikely that the negotiations can be completed by May 2016. It took our Economic Affairs Committee nine months to complete its early analysis of the economic implications. Since then it has taken both Governments about a year to do the detailed reports on all the issues that need to be covered.

It is clear that on the currency issue Scotland will not be able to retain the pound, but much flows from that for the negotiations. It is clear that Scotland will have to negotiate on entry to the EU and the eurozone. That will take time, with an uncertain outcome. The noble Lord, Lord Robertson, has just made clear the position on NATO. On everything else the negotiations will be massive and complicated, as the noble Lord, Lord Richard, pointed out. They are far-reaching in their implications and with parliamentary approvals required. Meanwhile there will be a UK general election in the middle and no certainty as to the outcome of that, possibly involving a change in the UK Government’s negotiating position on key issues, as paragraph 93 points out. There is therefore the possibility of reopening parts of the negotiations already working towards agreement; paragraph 116 of the report makes the points on that very well. I agree with the report and my noble friend Lord Lang today that any negotiations should take as long as necessary and should not be foreshortened in order to meet a deadline set by one party to those negotiations.

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Secondly, there is the position of the Scottish MPs prior to independence. It is, as the Secretary of State for Scotland stated in paragraph 101 of the report, blindingly obvious that no Scottish MPs could be part of the negotiating team for the rest of the UK, nor could MPs from Scottish constituencies be involved in voting on any measures concerning the outcome of the negotiations, nor indeed in holding the negotiators for the rest of the UK to account. As paragraph 135 of the report makes clear, and this is worth repeating:

“We conclude that MPs for Scottish constituencies should not be involved in holding the negotiators for the rest of the UK to account, nor in voting on any measure which ratifies the outcome of the negotiations. In the event of a ‘yes’ vote”—

this is the key point—

“we recommend that the Government put before Parliament a proposal that would put this matter beyond doubt before the 2015 election”.

I agree with that.

This brings me to my final point. It is clear to me that Scottish MPs elected to the UK Parliament cannot continue to serve in that Parliament after independence day, so I agree with the report on this point. I note the observations in paragraph 66 by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, who will be speaking later, that under current legislation all MPs are elected to serve a full term and that:

“Previous changes to representation, the franchise or the distribution of seats have come into force at the subsequent general election”.

In this case, I believe that that would not be tolerated by voters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. As my noble friend Lord Lang pointed out, it would be the West Lothian question—although I would put it as “the West Lothian question in spades”. Legislation to remove these Scottish MPs after independence would be essential. What would the SNP Government say if there were many MPs from English constituencies in a Scottish Parliament, perhaps even holding the balance? This could have profound implications for the rest of the UK Government at that time and involve the possible disruption of another early election at a time when, given all the economic, world and security issues facing us, we would least want it.

We have tended to focus on all the other substantial issues of an independence vote so far. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Select Committee for bringing out so clearly and so compellingly issues that are just as important as the economic and defence ones. I was born and brought up in Scotland and I owe so much to the values, benefits and attitudes that my Scottish education gave me. At a time of such turbulence and challenge in the world today, given the huge constitutional upheaval and parliamentary changes of a yes vote so well identified in this report, and given especially the benefits to Scotland and the rest of the UK that have been so well articulated by the Minister today, I profoundly hope that the United Kingdom will stay united.

5.43 pm

Lord Morris of Aberavon (Lab): My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, made an important point in his speech on the Loyal Address: that this House should have more general debates on a whole range of subjects, whereas we seem to spend so much of our

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time discussing the lacunas—important lacunas—in undigested House of Commons Bills. I therefore welcome this debate to discuss the enormous constitutional implications of the possible break-up of the United Kingdom. It is blindingly obvious that if there is a yes vote, there will be substantial implications for England, Wales and Northern Ireland too. Yes or no, the case for a constitutional convention to look at the role of the nation states within the United Kingdom becomes stronger every day.

We, the people of England and Wales, have not had the opportunity of a referendum although we, too, are much affected by it. The Prime Minister took it upon himself to sign the Edinburgh agreement in direct negotiations with Mr Salmond. I was reminded the other day that the Act of Union and the treaty concerned the union of two Crowns: the Crown of England, which included Wales, and the Crown of Scotland. I believe that it was a grave mistake for the Edinburgh agreement not to provide for consultations with the citizens from the other parts of the union. I particularly regret that the people of Wales—some of whom I had the honour of representing for more than 40 years in the Commons, and serving as their Secretary of State for nearly six years—were not given the opportunity to play a similar role to the Scots in the contemplated divorce in the constitution of which they, too, are an important part.

Come to think of it, my ancestor, Morgan Jenkin, who in 1706 was farming in Cardiganshire, was not consulted either. Our extended family still farms in broadly the same area, of which I had the honour to be the lord lieutenant. I thought that with the coming of universal franchise and democracy, we had moved on.

As the architect of the original Welsh devolution proposals, with our Government, which after many years of blood, sweat and tears, were agreed to by both Westminster and the people of Wales, I can be quite sure that whatever the result in Scotland, there will be repercussions for Wales, and that the present Wales Bill now going through Parliament will have to be looked at again. We may indeed be driven to look radically at federalism for all the countries of the United Kingdom.

From my point of view, however, the top priority must be for the Government to deal with the Barnett formula, which is unfair in Wales and which Governments of all parties have failed to address. With the independence of Scotland, the Barnett formula will, I suspect, be irrelevant.

I turn briefly to the West Lothian question, which the McKay commission sought to answer. Not unexpectedly, the matter is gathering dust in Whitehall’s pigeon-boxes despite the original coalition agreement. The Government have not responded to the committee’s report, but I welcome the Minister’s statement today that we can expect a reply by 16 July. Given that the two debates have been conflated together, I might have thought that there would have been a little effort to expedite the reply to meet the needs of this debate.

It is unfortunate that insufficient thought was given at the time of the Edinburgh agreement to the closeness of the date of the Scottish referendum and the fixed

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date of the general election in 2015. Looking at it in terms of the interests of the Westminster Parliament, I do not know why our Prime Minister agreed to the closeness of the two dates given the possible effect on the remainder of the country. If the referendum were to go one way then, as we have just been reminded, the 59 elected Scottish MPs will be in the strange position of having been elected to serve for the whole of the Parliament—as I think the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, reminded the committee—but then be expected, on independence, to vacate their seats at Westminster. They could not in any shape or form continue at Westminster following independence. The implications for the colour of the incoming Government in 2015, and for the coming months until independence, are enormous. These should have been thought out in agreeing to the dates of the events—the election on one hand and the referendum on the other.

The report makes a very important point at paragraph 63. It states:

“In the event of a ‘yes’ vote, the status of MPs for Scottish constituencies in the period between the referendum and independence day should be resolved quickly, and certainly before the 2015 general election”.

The report rightly points out in paragraph 44 that,

“legislation to facilitate Scottish secession … may not need to be extensive”,

but that consequential legislation would. The amount of legislation needed for the change in the role of the Lord Chancellor was chickenfeed compared with the extensive consequential legislation that will be needed in the event of Scottish independence. These are the problems that will have to be faced. I regret that those who drafted and—much more importantly—agreed to the Edinburgh agreement did not consider these real problems as deeply as they might have.

My earnest hope is that Scotland will not cross this particular Rubicon. If it did, it would be an enormous loss to the continuing contribution of the Scottish people, to the benefit of us all, to our work at Westminster and elsewhere, which has lasted for 300 years. I am grateful to the Constitution Committee for drawing our attention to this series of vital issues, only a few of which I have been able to touch on. I suspect that many more important issues will emerge in the coming months.

5.51 pm

The Earl of Glasgow (LD): My Lords, I have been so impressed by all the speeches so far in this debate that I feel that my shortened contribution may seem superfluous, but I am so concerned about Scotland’s fate that I felt it my duty to take part. As the date of the referendum draws closer my concerns grow stronger.

A year or so ago we Scots were assured that no more than 30% of our countrymen would actually vote for independence in a referendum and so we did not concern ourselves unduly. Many of the English displayed a deignful indifference and seemed almost unaware that this fateful referendum was coming up. But now, at last, most Englishmen have come to appreciate that the possible break-up of the United Kingdom will affect them profoundly as well, in spite of the fact that they will have no say in its outcome.

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We have all got to wake up to the fact that the cunning and some say dirty tricks of Alex Salmond have made the prospect of an independent Scotland a real possibility. Yet the idea of Scotland actually leaving the union is not just frightening, it is unreal. It is almost impossible for me to contemplate the break-up of the United Kingdom. How could it possibly benefit the Scots? Earlier speakers have pointed this out so well.

My countrymen, who have had a disproportionate influence on world affairs over the past 300 years, will become no more influential than the republican Irish. Which of the world powers is going to care about what Scotland thinks? Without Scotland, how much less will the world powers concern themselves with England —or with whatever is left of the United Kingdom; I do not want to denigrate the importance of Wales and Northern Ireland—and how much less still if, two years later, it votes to leave the European Union?

How will independence affect the identity of Scots like me who feel both Scottish and British? With a home in Scotland can I no longer be British? Will I be stopped at the border every time that I travel between England and Scotland? What will happen to all those Scots who live and work south of the border? Will their place of birth still be their home, or will they become foreigners in their native land? In any event, I imagine that we will all have to be issued with new passports.

The SNP is promising much to the Scots if they vote for independence, but why does Mr Salmond assume that it will be in power if Scotland does vote for independence? What will happen if Scotland votes for independence but a Labour Government win the Scottish election? Will we still, for instance, have to scrap our nuclear submarine bases? What about the pound as Scotland’s currency? The pound is a British currency. It does not make sense to me.

Total Scottish independence simply does not make sense and yet it seems that Alex Salmond has persuaded a large number of Scottish people that it does. Nationalism drives them on and yet nationalism, as has been proved so often in the past, is a dangerous and sometimes sinister thing. This was well pointed out by my noble friend Lord Stephen. Nationalism divides people as well as countries and breeds bitterness and hatred, which have already crept into the SNP’s referendum campaign. Salmond’s declaration that an independent Scotland will be a friend to England may be his honest belief, but that is not the way that some of his followers see it. Now is surely the time when we need nations to work more closely together, not to split up. Of course more devolution for the Scottish Parliament and more control by Scotland of its own affairs make sense, but the break-up of the United Kingdom does not. It is nothing short of madness.

As I said in my earlier speech, a week ago, my ancestor, the first Earl of Glasgow, was one of the architects of the Act of Union in 1707. In the decade before that, England and Scotland were close to being at war with each other, particularly over the English colonies in the Caribbean. The union bound them together and resulted in what Simon Schama described as,

“the most successful multinational partnership in modern history”.

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What possible reason is there for seeking a divorce now? Surely the SNP’s objection to a Conservative coalition Government with whom it might not agree is not a good enough reason.

It seems to me that even the most ardent Scottish nationalist can appreciate that it is in his country’s best interest to retain his bigger and more powerful neighbour as a partner rather than returning to the days before 1707 when it was his rival. I pray that my fears about the break-up of the United Kingdom will not be realised and that the Better Together campaign can talk sense into the 20% or so of my fellow countrymen who appear not to have decided how they are going to vote. I would like the Government’s assurance—not just that of my noble and learned friend Lord Wallace, of whom I have no doubt—that they are doing everything in their power to save the United Kingdom.

5.57 pm

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard (CB): My Lords, I was struck by the litany quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Steel of Aikwood, of Scots who grew, and made good, through the union, living or working outside Scotland. As I rise, the pride of English footballing prowess is trotting on to the pitch to play the might of Costa Rica. It seems appropriate to recall Mr Archie Gemmill, who 36 years ago today scored the finest World Cup goal ever—at the time. Had he stayed in St Mirren, had he stayed in Paisley, had he not come under the influence of the genius Mr Clough, would he have attained the heights that he did? If Sir Alex Ferguson had stayed in St Mirren, who sacked him I believe, would he be the legendary figure that he is now? I really hope that we are not forced to choose between being Scottish and being British. If we are, both sides will lose.

This is an excellent report and I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Lang of Monkton, for introducing it. I want to speak only on the premise, which is the premise of the report, that Scotland opts for secession. I hope and believe that Scotland will not opt for secession. What I would have said on the assumption that Scotland chooses to remain in the union has been very well said by the noble Lords, Lord Strathclyde and Lord Richard, and I have little to add to that.

On the premise that Scotland opts for secession, I agree with almost everything in the report. I pause on paragraph 97, where the committee recommends that the necessary negotiation between Scotland and the rest of the UK before independence should be conducted, on the rest of the UK side, by a team from the Government alone. Speaking as a member of a disenfranchised diaspora of Scots, I see certain defects in the Edinburgh agreement: the franchise, the threshold, the question. There is something to be said for having an all-party team negotiating in that situation. I register that as my one doubt about the recommendations of the committee of the noble Lord, Lord Lang.

I hope that in response to the plea made by the noble Lord, Lord Lang, the Minister will assure us that the Government’s policy on international representation is not as described in the report at paragraphs 47 and 49. The committee recommends that in the period between a vote for secession but before the act of secession,

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“an agreement be reached between the two governments immediately following a ‘yes’ vote to clarify the basis of such representation for Scotland in the period between that vote and independence day”.

That follows quotations from two Ministers who appear to be arguing that at the moment when the Scots vote for secession but before the moment of secession the United Kingdom Government will no longer be interested in representing their interests abroad.

That cannot be right, as the noble Lord, Lord Lang of Monkton, said. If a Scot is in trouble abroad, he will be entitled to UK consular protection. If a Scottish company needs support, it will be entitled to the support of the UK Government. While the Scots remain UK taxpayers, they are entitled to receive the support and assistance of the Government at home and abroad. If an issue arises in the EU of particular relevance to Scotland—for example, fisheries—in the period after the vote but before secession, the UK Government must devote all their efforts to ensuring the best possible deal for the Scots. I hope that the Minister will be able to reassure us that that would indeed be the position of the Government. The Minister knows his Burke:

“Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom”.

It would be mean, petty, vindictive and wrong to take the line attributed to the two Ministers in the report.

I will make one cognate point, which is the one that the noble Lord, Lord Empey, kindly mentioned that I have made before. Supposing we were in a situation in which Scotland has voted for secession, it is my view—and I know the Minister had doubts about it when I put it to him before—that a responsibility would fall on the UK Government in the period between the vote for secession and the act of secession. We all know that despite the bluster and bravado of the Scottish Government’s White Paper, Scotland could not just pull up another chair at the EU table and carry on as if nothing had happened. We know that we are in Article 49 territory. We know that there would have to be an accession negotiation. We also know that, legally speaking, Scotland cannot even apply until it is a sovereign state—in other words, after the act of secession. Scotland cannot sign a treaty until it is a sovereign state and that treaty would not come into force until it had been ratified by the Scots and all the other member states. I remind the House that Belgium has seven legislatures that would be required to approve the Scottish accession treaty.

It follows that there are two potential periods of hiatus: first, after secession but before a treaty has been signed; and, secondly, during the ratification period. We cannot say, “That is the Scots’ problem”. We cannot just shrug our shoulders and walk away from it. With every respect to the arguments of the noble Lord, Lord Empey, it would be mean, vindictive and narrow-minded—let us remember our Burke—and while Scotland is outside the European Union we, the rest of the UK, would be responsible for manning the customs frontier of the European Union, which would be in Belfast Harbour. Goods coming from Scotland would have to be examined and customs duties charged. We would be rebuilding Hadrian’s Wall. That would be the responsibility of the United Kingdom Government, not of the Scots, who would be outside asking to get in.

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It might not be possible to do what I hinted before and am hinting again that we should try to do. The lawyers in Brussels might well say, “No, we stick to the letter of the law. We will not hear the Scottish case for accession until Scotland is a country”. That would be in line with past practice but of course we are in uncharted waters because no member state has ever split before. It is possible to think of a member state, or perhaps several, which would have an interest in ensuring that the Scottish accession was as prolonged, complicated and difficult a process as possible. It might not be an easy task but it is one that the United Kingdom Government would have to attempt.

Let us not exaggerate the difficulties. The accession negotiations themselves would be relatively simple, on three preconditions, because Scotland is in good standing under EU law now—all EU laws apply in Scotland. It is absurd when one gets a spokesman from No. 10 saying that Scotland would have to take its place in the queue behind Montenegro and Macedonia. That is clearly nonsense and we should avoid saying such things.

Three preconditions would have to be met. First, the divorce terms would have to be agreed. You would never persuade the Brussels machine to get in the middle of a debate between Holyrood and Westminster. The terms would have to be agreed and they would have to cover, for example, the currency question. With respect to the Minister, there is no question of the Scots being obliged to join the euro. Scotland is not qualified and will not be qualified. It would fail all four of the tests that you have to pass before you can join the euro. But the Scots would need to be able to tell us, through their advocates in Brussels—if we were taking on the task—what currency they were proposing to use because the Commission and the member states would ask. All that would have to be settled.

The second precondition is that the First Minister of Scotland would have to abandon the ludicrously ambitious aims he sets out in his White Paper. The Minister spoke to the issue of the budget rebate, in my view completely correctly. It is not possible if you are knocking on the door as an applicant to say, “I am afraid I do not want to pay the club subscription”. I do not think you can do that. If you are knocking on the door from outside—no rebate.

Thirdly, it would be necessary for all other member states to acquiesce in this entirely new process: an informal prenegotiation of the future terms of membership for a country that is not yet a country. There is absolutely no precedent for any such thing and, as I said, one can think of several countries, one in particular, which might choose to object. Trying to persuade them not to press these objections would be a task for UK diplomacy in the period between a vote for secession and the act of secession.

It may or may not be possible but I would like to hear the Minister—this time; he was very sceptical the previous time I mentioned it—address whether it is not actually what we should be trying to do. Not only does he know his Burke, he knows his Burns. If there were to have to be a parting of the ways—and I hope and believe there will not—it would be very important that auld acquaintance should not be forgot because we really do not want to have to rebuild Hadrian’s Wall as the EU’s frontier. I really hope that we do not

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get there but if we do, magnanimity will be extremely important and the Government should act in the spirit of Burke. Let us hope we do not get there. The union is so much more—so much greater, so much bigger and better—than the sum of its parts.

6.09 pm

Lord Elder (Lab): My Lords, I wish to make a number of points by way of intervention in what is already proving a fascinating debate. I have been involved in one way or another in virtually all the stages of the development of devolution over the past 20 or 30 years: the constitutional convention, of which I sat endlessly on the executive; the White Paper production when I was in the Scottish Office; and, more recently, the Calman commission.

The Calman commission reported almost exactly five years ago. I am sorry that the main recommendations in it, which were really quite substantial changes to the tax powers, have still not been implemented. I absolutely understand that time was needed to set up the new system. But I think it would have changed fundamentally the context in which the current discussions are taking place if that transfer of power and responsibility to the Scottish Parliament had already been achieved. I am sorry that that is the case.

I am not opposed to further changes to the Scotland Act. But in a sense I am going against party leaders who seem to be saying now that there should be a new set of proposals. I am, with a very small “c”, a rather conservative person. My own view is that there were really substantial changes in Calman and we ought to see how they bed in before we start launching ourselves into further proposals. I am not opposed to changes, but for goodness’ sake let us make sure that we see what the next stage looks like.

The present nationalist Government seem to want to deny the Scots a look at the new scheme in practice before going for full independence. I regret that. Indeed, as far as tax powers are concerned, we should remember that the important tax powers in the original Act—and they were explicitly backed by a second question in the referendum and so backed by the Scottish people—were allowed to drop by the SNP Government, because they thought that they were inconvenient to their narrow political case. They wanted to prove that the Scottish Parliament had fewer powers than it actually had, so they let some of them drop. I regret that. It was always a mistake. It was always a miscalculation. We should not let them forget that.

As far as the rest of the political parties are concerned, there has never been a bar to further movement. I would not wish to imply that I do not want to see further movement, but I want to see where the present very substantial changes go before we go down that road.

Secondly, there seems to be an unwillingness by the SNP Government to consider that Scotland will not get everything it wants. I hesitate to venture into areas where people who know a great deal more about this than I do have already spoken, but the idea coming out of the SNP Government that Scotland will be able to get what it wants in the UK, what it wants in Europe, what it wants in NATO, without any negotiation and without anyone being able to question it, seems to me to be quite wrong.

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Let us take the EU. I hesitate to venture into this immediately after the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard—but nothing ventured, nothing gained. If the only issue were Scotland, it is perfectly possible to see how some kind of accommodation might be reached. But I am reminded of going with the late John Smith more than 20 years ago to a conference in Athens. I remember getting off the plane in Athens, I thought in my innocence that I had covered all the bases and made briefs on everything that he could possibly be talking about—international development, expansion of Europe and all sorts of things. We got down to the bottom of the steps at Athens airport to find a phalanx of about 50 photographers and journalists, all of whom wanted to know one thing. Mr Smith had been involved in devolution in Scotland; could he give his views, please, on the Macedonian question? Mr John Smith’s views subsequently expressed to me of this were sadly not particularly printable. I thought it was a splendid performance that he put up because it really did sound as though he knew everything about the Macedonian question—a class act, as ever.

It seems to me, if you were a commissioner in Brussels, looking about and you saw Scotland, you saw Macedonia—both of them—you saw Catalonia, and you saw the Basque country, and you were sitting in Brussels in a country that until very recently almost did not have a Government because it was split in two, you would worry a great deal about setting in constitutional process a system that enabled countries to split without any kind of consequences. It seems to me that that is not a remotely credible option.

As to NATO—again, I hesitate to venture into things that my noble friend Lord Robertson has discussed—the idea that you can somehow pick and choose the terms on which you go into what is a nuclear alliance is frankly absurd. Failing to answer some of the questions on that is a major failing of the nationalist position. And do we really expect the UK to take an entirely benign view of everything Scotland does? The Chancellor’s recent comments on this have been criticised by some in Scotland, but it seems to me to be self-evidently the case that if you are going to be a different country, you must expect to be treated differently. You cannot expect a Westminster Government to respond, “All right, we’ll have a separate country but we’ll treat it no differently”. That just seems to me to be absurd. At least that is now out in the open and understood.

Thirdly, I want to say a brief thing about more powers. Most of the party leaders have said, yes, they will look at advanced powers. Care should be taken here. I have consistently argued for a proper degree of independence within the United Kingdom, within the European Union, and beyond. With its own tax powers in addition to all the rest of the powers Scotland already has, we are just about there. I repeat that I am not ruling out more powers. I am just saying that we should see where we are when the full package is in place before we go any further.

Finally, we need to be realistic. For all that appears in the Scottish Government’s White Paper, most of the serious questions remain unanswered: currency, monetary policy and European membership are still left hanging in the air. There is a Panglossian air about the SNP

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view. With independence it thinks that all will be for the best in the best of all possible worlds. I fear that the world is a much more complicated and difficult place than that—much more complicated and difficult than it is prepared to admit. If I am right, post-independence will be far too late to find that out.

6.16 pm

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Elder, who makes a great contribution to this House. He does not speak very often; I wish that he would speak more often than he does because that was a very thoughtful contribution. He is one of the architects of devolution, to which I was opposed, so it is a great pleasure for me to find myself completely in agreement with what he has said today about extra powers for the Scottish Parliament.

I believe that 95% of the Scots do not even know the additional powers that have been provided under the Scotland Act, which enables the Scottish Parliament to invent completely new taxes and set whatever level of income tax it chooses. So I agree with him: let us get across what we have done before we start thinking about doing any more. In fact, let us not talk about that at all now. This debate in Scotland is about whether or not we are going to remain in the club that is the United Kingdom, not about the rules and nature of the club.

I have something in common with Alex Salmond: both he and I took exactly the same position on an important constitutional matter. We were both opposed to devolution. I was opposed to devolution because I thought that it would provide a platform from which the SNP would be able to go about breaking up our United Kingdom. Alex Salmond was opposed to devolution because he shared the view of the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, that devolution would kill nationalism stone dead. It has not worked out that way.

Now we are in this constitutional mess. You have only to listen to the number of speeches around this Chamber because we have gone about piecemeal constitutional reform. So I also agree with the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, that now we are in this mess, we cannot unilaterally look at extra powers for the Scottish Parliament; we have to look at the United Kingdom as a whole. It is complicated and therefore we need to have some sort of convention. That part of the report by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, I entirely endorse.

I will be voting on 18 September for Scotland, for partnership and for a prosperous and secure future. I will be against inward-looking separatism and against the dissolution of Britain. I have to say to the noble Lord, Lord Stephen, who is not in his place but is a bit confused, that nationalism and patriotism are not the same thing. Patriotism is a noble thing. It can apply to people of all views and no views. I suggest to the noble Lord that he might like to look at George Orwell, who wrote a very famous essay that makes the distinction between nationalism and patriotism. That should sort out his views on that matter.

“United we stand, divided we fall” is a cliché but it is true. It is true of families, companies, political parties—as my noble friends are only too aware—and

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companies. It is also true of countries. The noble Lord, Lord Empey, reminded us in his brilliant speech that the union was formed to save Scotland from bankruptcy after the collapse of the Darien scheme. Some 300 years later, in 2008, Scotland’s First Minister wrote a letter of congratulations to Sir Fred Goodwin for doing the deal that brought down the bank and almost bankrupted our country; indeed, it would have been bankrupt but for the union that is the United Kingdom. There were £40 billion of losses by the Royal Bank of Scotland alone—one-third of Scotland’s GDP. Where would we have been if Alex Salmond had got his way? After 300 years’ experience of the triumphs and disasters that we have had as a United Kingdom, what kind of madness is it that cannot see that the United Kingdom needs Scotland and Scotland needs the United Kingdom?

The brilliance of the Act of Union was that it enabled Scotland and England to work in partnership, as my noble friend Lord Lang pointed out on this anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. We started to work together rather than against each other. Scots talent and ingenuity flourished on a global scale, protected by the wooden walls of the Royal Navy. It is utter nonsense to suggest that Scotland somehow lost control of its own affairs as a result of entering into the union. In the past 150 years, almost half the Prime Ministers have been Scots or of Scots descent or represented Scottish constituencies: Aberdeen, Gladstone, Bute, Rosebery, Balfour, Asquith, Bonar Law, MacDonald, Bannerman, Douglas-Home, Brown and Blair. These people—who were not all Tories, noble Lords will have noticed—made a fantastic contribution to our country. For three centuries we have worked together.

Now we have the NATO alliance, which provides security not just for us but for our allies, and the nuclear deterrent, which has delivered peace in our time. The alliance helped to set Europe free from communism. That is why President Obama and Hillary Clinton intervened, extraordinarily, in the debate; it is about not just our security but the security of the west. The noble Lord, Lord Robertson, was mocked by the nationalists for a speech in which he underlined the importance of that question.

The only certain thing in this world is that uncertainty and the unexpected will happen. Who will pay the bill for removing Trident? I have heard estimates of as much as £30 billion—that is a lot of money. Will it be shared between Alex Salmond and us? Some 10,000 jobs are dependant on Faslane. There are defence jobs on the Clyde and at Rosyth. Does anyone here believe that an independent Scotland will have its navy built in England? Of course not, so why does Alex Salmond assume that England would be any different and have its ships built in Scotland? What about the service men and women who have served our country so loyally? To maintain their careers, they will have to opt to be in the British Army as mercenaries fighting for a foreign country or alternatively join Alex’s “Dad’s Army”, with all that that means for the reduction in professionalism.

Some 800,000 Scots live in England and 40,000 English live in Scotland. I say to the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, that yes, they will be made foreigners in their own country. Their own children and grandchildren will be disenfranchised of their birthright. Bleaching the blue

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saltire out of the union jack will be a caustic and messy business. My noble friend Lord Steel says that divorce is always expensive. Divorce should never be entered into lightly and it is certainly never easy. It is particularly awkward if circumstances force you to continue living next door to each other for ever more.

Alex Salmond’s White Paper tells us that we can have it all ways. We can keep the Queen, yet the leader of the yes campaign tells us we will need a referendum on whether to become a republic. We can stay in Europe if we need to, yet we have heard from people of experience like the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, that that is not quite so easy. Of course, we have heard from the Spanish Government on that, too. We can stay in NATO, a nuclear alliance, and be a nuclear-free zone. We can maintain our public services and be utterly dependent on the price of oil and the spending and investment decisions of multinational companies. We can keep financial services even though that will mean doubling the cost of regulations, which for one company alone, Standard Life, amount to £45 million a year. We can keep our banks even though their balance sheets would be 12.5 times the entire GDP of Scotland, and we can do that without any systemic risk or any risk of higher interest rates. We can save the money from North Sea oil and put it into an oil fund, and we can spend it at the same time. We can keep the pound without actually getting agreement from the English, who will guarantee Scots bank accounts and savings, and at the same time will have no interest in how much Alex borrows, spends or taxes.

Although 80% of our companies employing more than 250 people are outside Scotland, we can dismiss their increasingly vocal concerns as scaremongering. We can ignore the President of the European Commission, the President of the United States, the Governor of the Bank of England, the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, the Secretary-General of NATO, the Prime Ministers of Denmark, Sweden and China, the ratings agencies, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the CBI and the trade unions, and make a great leap in the dark. Salmond, a gambler, asks us to gamble our children’s future in a campaign—irony of ironies—funded largely from the proceeds of gambling. We owe it to our children to preserve this great legacy of theirs that is the United Kingdom and reject the separatists who, like Esau, would give up our birthright for a mess of pottage.

6.27 pm

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Lab): My Lords, I am pleased once again to follow the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth. I will not follow his line of argument, although I agree with almost all of it. I am also not going to use this opportunity to advocate once again the case for a constitutional commission or convention because that case has increasingly been accepted. My noble friend Lord Richard and a number of others indicated that today.

No, I will spend the whole of my speech on one thing and one thing alone: paying personal tribute to someone I have known for almost 40 years, someone whose cunning and chutzpah are unrivalled in British politics, someone who—by his skill, ability and yes, his courage—has turned himself from a little-known Royal

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Bank of Scotland oil economist into the First Minister of Scotland with a vice-like grip on the SNP, the Scottish Parliament and all that is happening in Scotland today. You may wonder why I will do this. The reason is very simple. Over the past decade, no other person has had more influence on what is happening in Scotland —and the United Kingdom as far as constitutional matters are concerned—than Alex Salmond. Yes, he has a great team—Kevin Pringle, Stephen Noon and many others—but he brought these clever people in and has made sure that he has this control. His combination of cunning and gall has outfoxed politicians in both Holyrood and Westminster, resulting in this referendum that could break up the United Kingdom—as someone else said earlier, the most successful economic union the world has ever known.

Let me elaborate on the astonishing way Salmond has done this. First, in the election of 2007 the SNP won only one more seat than Labour. They were a minority Government and they won that last seat by 40 votes. Yet even before that, Salmond had a plan to announce himself, as soon as he had one more seat, as the First Minister of Scotland. He had hired a helicopter to fly him to the gardens of Prestonfield House Hotel, where he had set up in presidential style a podium to announce that he was going to be the First Minister. There was no discussion, as we had at the last general election in the United Kingdom; no Queen to go to, to say, “Can I get together with other parties and form a coalition?” There was nothing like that at all. In fact, if you read Five Days in May by my noble friend Lord Adonis, you will see that people in our party were worried after the last election that someone else might “do a Salmond”, as it was called. When he did that our party—for instance, my noble friend Lord McConnell —was so shell-shocked, and other parties so taken aback, that they accepted it. Therefore, through chutzpah alone, Salmond announced himself as First Minister of Scotland; and all of us in other parties were left open-mouthed.

We come then to the Edinburgh agreement, on which my noble and learned friend Lord Morris did a wonderful demolition job. I will add to that: why did winning the Holyrood election, getting 44% of the vote, give the mandate to Alex Salmond to have the agreement with Cameron that there was going to be a referendum? We, the Labour Party, controlled the majority of Westminster seats in Scotland. It did not get 50% of the vote; he assumed that there was a mandate and Cameron accepted that. We all accepted it; I say to my noble and learned friend Lord Morris that we should not just blame the Prime Minister. That means that we ended up with Salmond choosing the question—all right, it was amended slightly by the Electoral Commission—choosing the date and choosing the electorate. He had total control over what was happening. He did that through his cunning. That is why we must admire him; that is why I pay a personal tribute to him.

Look at what is happening now. The first point I want the Government, all noble Lords in this Chamber and everyone in the Chamber down the Corridor to learn is that, once again, Alex Salmond is threatening to do exactly the same thing with this draft constitution. As my noble friend Lord Robertson said, it includes

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the question of getting rid of Trident. What does that have to do with the constitution? It includes things such as vital social services. What does that have to do with the constitution? Why is he drafting a constitution? It is because in the—I hope—unlikely event of a yes vote, he wants his constitution to be the agenda: he wants to set the agenda. He is already saying that the Holyrood Parliament will decide all these things. As the Minister has indicated on many occasions, constitutional affairs are a reserved area. Yet if Alex Salmond has trumped us on two or three occasions previously, is he not going to do it again, unless we are ready to make sure that he does not, in the unlikely event of a yes vote?

I will take no more of noble Lords’ time except to say that we must not underestimate Alex Salmond. I think that we are on course to victory—we have the right arguments—but we have to be very careful indeed. One of the things said by the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, which I agree with, is that united we stand, divided we fall. Over the next 85 days we have to put every effort into this campaign. We must not underestimate Alex Salmond, because his cunning, chutzpah, skill, courage and gambling instinct could undermine us once again. We need to be united to make sure that he does not use those to break up this United Kingdom.

6.33 pm

Lord Maclennan of Rogart (LD): My Lords, the debate was opened with great éclat and great positivity by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, who spelt out for the whole debate the advantages of union partnership created over 300 years. It does not need me or anyone else in this debate to enlarge on what he has said because he has said it with historical accuracy and great understanding.

This whole House has demonstrated its hostility to the separation of Scotland. However, we have to recall that we are not just faced by a vote on the status quo or separation. We are facing the need to visualise and express, in the remaining 85 days, our alternative vision for the development of the United Kingdom. We have gone through a period of time following the recession that has made many people feel distinctly uncomfortable that this has not been the best period for Britain, nor indeed for other countries. To some extent, overcoming the problems of the recession has taken over the political debate and has not given voice to the requirement for a better United Kingdom.

I welcome the constitutional report: it is very detailed, real and logical. The speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Lang, expressed it extremely clearly. However, we now need not just to express the union of views about fiscal taxation, which was done recently by the leaders of the three principal United Kingdom parties in Scotland, but to express a view about the structure of decision-making, how it can become more effective and closer to the citizens of the country, and how we can realise this goal. The report produced by the team of which the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, was the chairman, was a valuable suggestion; its concluding recommendation was that we should get the Governments within the country together to discuss how best to restructure the powers. If we are going to capture the

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imagination of the electorate in Scotland they have to understand that it is not just a continuation of what we are facing at the moment.

Last week the Financial Times suggested in its first leader that we should have a federal country. That was a surprising recommendation from that portal, but it is certainly a possibility. Indeed, it has been recommended by a number of noble Lords in this debate. I suggest that we need to indicate now that we want to see a convention established into which the input will come not only from existing Governments at all tiers, but from representatives of business, the trade unions, civic society and religion across the country, so that we can see how the people can better determine their future. Some of those who are undecided in the Scottish referendum campaign seem to be affected by uncertainties. If we had such a convention, it would enable people to have input into the outcome. That is extremely important if our democracy is to express itself with constructive consensus.

I have served on a couple of conventions, including the Convention on the Future of Europe. What I noticed about that was, how, when people got together at the beginning of that convention, their ideas were not necessarily aligned but gradually, within the space of two years, they got together and much of what was recommended has been implemented, despite the referenda in France and the Netherlands.

I believe that if we were to announce now that that is our alternative intention for United Kingdom governance, that would reassure many people who do not like the situation we are in, and give some satisfaction to those who feel that the choice is between the status quo and separation.

6.41 pm

Lord Birt (CB): My Lords, the United Kingdom is an extraordinary crucible of ideas, learning and creativity. Part of our strength is that, although we can speak with one voice when fighting totalitarianism or at the opening night of the Olympics, we are also heterogeneous; we can celebrate difference and speak in harmony with many voices.

I am as proud to be a Liverpudlian—I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, did not mention Bill Shankly—as I am to be British. I am proud of that willingness to challenge convention that inspired Alan Bleasdale, Ken Dodd and the Beatles, but I recognise, too, just how enriched I am by Yorkshire’s writers and artists, by Northern Ireland’s poets or by the new powerful contributions that post-war immigration to the UK has brought us. Through the multiplicity of all those subtly different voices and accents, we can also hear something that we have in common: something distinctively British. That is something that the rest of the world can and does recognise too.

No part of the United Kingdom has made a greater contribution to the whole than the people from Scotland. We have heard that in abundance today in this remarkable, eloquent debate. The list of those who have made contributions is too long to repeat, but perhaps I may be allowed to mention some: Adam Smith and James Boswell, JM Barrie and Arthur Conan Doyle, Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson, Muriel Spark and

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Carol Ann Duffy, Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith, Ludovic Kennedy and Andrew Marr, Billy Connolly and David Tennant, Armando Iannucci and Irvine Welsh. I note that Irvine Welsh once said that he loved the “density and complexity” of Jane Austen and George Eliot. That can be no surprise, for they are all part of the same British literary tradition.

One reason for Britain’s exceptional creative and intellectual vitality is our genius for founding institutions which channel and foster our national talent. None of those bodies is more effective than the BBC. Illuminatingly and tellingly, the BBC was founded and critically shaped by a young Scot of vision, a can-do engineer and a curmudgeonly son of the manse, John Reith. It was that bold Scot who bequeathed the BBC an enduring conviction, a stubborn commitment to excellence and a lasting set of values.

As we have heard today, there would be many consequences if Scotland were to become independent, but let us be clear what they would be for the BBC and for broadcasting in Scotland and in the rest of the United Kingdom. First—I do not think that this has yet been properly recognised in the debate today—the BBC, like other national institutions, would lose 10% of its income. The recent brand-new obligations placed on the BBC to fund the World Service, S4C and other activities from the licence fee will in short order take a further 15% out of the pot currently utilised for funding TV, radio and online services. In the space of just a few years, if Scotland became independent, the BBC as we know it would effectively lose one quarter of its funding. Changes to BBC services would be unavoidable.

Secondly, the BBC buys programmes of distinction from other countries—most notably recently from Scandinavia. Even with its diminished revenues, the BBC would no doubt buy some programmes from an independent Scotland but, as with other countries, only programmes in the “outstanding” category would be purchased.

Thirdly, a smaller BBC would no doubt make some programmes in and about Scotland, as it does now in other countries, but that would be exceptional, unlike now, when, as a matter of policy, a proportionate slice of its budget is spent in Scotland on programming for the whole of the UK. If Scotland were independent, I am very sorry to say that it would no longer be much reflected on our screens and airwaves in the rest of the United Kingdom.

Fourthly, the new Scottish publicly funded broadcaster —the SBS—would have about a tenth of the BBC’s current budget. Like other countries with populations of about 5 million, the SBS would tailor its programmes and services to its limited means.

Fifthly, like other broadcasters, I expect that the SBS would want to acquire programmes from the BBC, not least those loved intensely by Scottish audiences. The BBC is, thankfully, independent of government, so whatever is said wishfully by some, the BBC will have no alternative whatever but to act in the interests of its licence fee payers and to seek the best possible commercial terms for the sale of its programmes in Scotland, not least because of the aforementioned financial impoverishment that it will just have suffered.

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Finally, as for the availability in Scotland of the BBC’s continuing services for the rest of the United Kingdom, there will of course be some transmission spillover at the border, and BBC channels and services will certainly be accessible more widely in Scotland, but encrypted and available only on commercial terms.

Those who will vote for independence identify and expect many gains, but I suggest that many of the advantages that the most creative and inspiring talents in Scotland have enjoyed for 300 years—of making a massive impact on a big stage to global acclaim—will simply be lost.

If Scotland votes for independence, the rest of the United Kingdom will lose too, for in all sorts of different ways the UK will make a lesser contribution to the wider world. Our status and standing will be diminished. Worst of all, we will suffer the loss of the Scots at the very heart of our affairs as admired and appreciated allies, collaborators and friends.

6.49 pm

Lord McFall of Alcluith (Lab): My Lords, first, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Lang, and his colleagues on the committee for an excellent report. In particular, I fully endorse paragraph 117 on the proposed timetable for completing negotiations on independence by March 2016. It is a fact that the reorganisation of the police force in Scotland took 19 months—one month longer than for national and international agreements to take place. What a fantasy. Therefore, the weight of decision-making has to be in favour of sorting out these problems, however long that takes. I agree with that.

I was in Barcelona with a number of colleagues a few weeks ago, and I had the opportunity to speak to the mayor, Dr Xavier Trias. They are very European in Barcelona. They want a referendum in Catalonia, but they realise that if there is a vote in favour of independence, negotiations with the European Union will, to use Dr Trias’s phrase, be “very, very, very difficult”. If that is the case for Catalonia, it is also the case for Scotland. The First Minister has indicated that everything has a certainty about it, whereas we are entering a very uncertain world. That was made plain by his former economic adviser, Professor John Kay, when he came to the Economic Affairs Committee. He said that the negotiations will be difficult and will take many, many years.

However, the most important date for us is 19 September, the day after the referendum, because, irrespective of the outcome, nothing will be the same again. If it is a yes vote, the future will be irrevocably changed for England and the rest of the UK. The global reach and authority of the UK will be diminished.

It has been quite sad to see that the rest of the UK has been allowed to almost sleepwalk into this referendum. It is just a matter for Scotland, they say. However, this is not just about Scotland, with only Scots involved. If there is a yes vote, an important part of every one of us will be lost for ever. If there is a no vote, there will be a demand for more devolution and decentralisation. Therefore, my message today is that the entire UK should engage in this debate from now on, and it should be a central participant in any campaign.

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Sadly, devolution for Scotland has, for years, been implemented as a process, not an event. In fact, it is even described as that by one of our former Labour First Ministers. However, if we continue along this path, it will produce such constitutional imbalance that, unplanned, it may implode politically. The ad hoc nature of the approach to constitutional reform has not served any of us well. It has to give way to a systematic, coherent and executed UK programme. Whitehall does not now work in the best interests of the whole country. All of us see that. We should take time—perhaps many years—over how we approach this constitutional change and ask fundamental questions. For example: what is Parliament for? How best do we centralise and ensure that we get symmetric devolution and decentralisation throughout the country so that we strengthen the sinews of the nations of the United Kingdom? Will a royal commission be the way to do this? Will that cede authority and control, or does there need to be a co-ordinating committee to make sure that there is the political charge and political responsibility to ensure that, part by part, we have a coherent approach to our constitutional change?

Mention was made of the former Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair. I am sure that history will show him as one of the most constitutionally reforming Prime Ministers ever. However, I have yet to find a substantial speech by him on constitutional reform. That is because, in many ways, like the Calman report, it was given away, it was bagged, and we moved on to the next agenda. We should learn from that and ensure that there is change in that respect.

I mention the need for seriousness, and that is very important. I certainly did not see that when, two weeks ago, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and the First Minister traded fantasy figures on the monetary benefits of voting yes or no in the referendum. Alex Salmond promised an independence bonus of £2,000 per household on voting yes, while Danny Alexander, with absolute certainty, heralded £1,400 per Scot if they voted no. I suggest that snake-oil salesmen could not have bettered these efforts. It was compounded by the disgraceful Scotland Office PR on 4 June outlining:

“12 things that £1,400 UK Dividend could buy”.

Included in the 12 things were:

“An overseas holiday for two with cash left over for sun cream … Experience 636 joyful caffeine highs … Share a meal of fish and chips with your family every day for around 10 weeks, with a couple of portions of mushy peas thrown in”,


“Go for one haircut a month for over 3 and half years … you can go for significantly more if you’re a man”.

That should never have appeared on an official PR document emanating from government. It has trivialised and degraded the economic argument, and that has to be the one message that the Minister takes back so that that approach is disowned in future. As for the First Minister’s figures, to achieve this dividend of £2,000 he says they will transform the economy by increasing productivity by 1%. That has been a conundrum for 40 years, and that too rests in fantasy land.

However, I am worried by the degree of rancour and bitterness in Scotland. I am not just talking about JK Rowling. This referendum will be accompanied by

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profound psychological wounds, and they will not be restricted to Scotland. How do we prevent a “neverendum” if there is a no vote? I was recently in the company of a senior SNP politician who said that if it is a 60:40 vote—60 no, 40 yes—this story is not finished. We have to ensure that everyone on both the yes and no sides signs up to a declaration that, whatever the outcome, they will respect the integrity of it and work for the benefit of a better United Kingdom or an independent Scotland. Given that present-day politicians and the political process are already held in low enough regard by an increasingly disillusioned public, that is the least we require before 18 September. A serious and co-operative way forward for the common good must start on 19 September.

6.58 pm

Lord Crickhowell (Con): My Lords, during the debate on Scotland held here on 30 January, I said:

“With children and grandchildren who have blood and genes drawn almost equally from Wales, England, Ireland and Scotland, I say with particular fervour that I dread the possibility of a divorce at the heart of the United Kingdom family”.—[Official Report, 30/1/14; col. 1392.]

As a Welshman I had joined with those who had made the positive case for the retention of the union.

Today, as a member of the Constitution Committee that produced the report so admirably introduced by my noble friend Lord Lang of Monkton, I want to say something about the comments that it has provoked. One of the nastiest features of the yes campaign has been the flood of insults thrown at those who take a different view. I suppose it was inevitable that the SNP would lash out at the House of Lords and a report by one of its committees. A leader in the Guardian said that the SNP ignored the substance of the report and that that was a mistake. The report, it suggested,

“is a serious attempt to look at some of the central legal and procedural implications of a yes vote”.

The committee,

“took evidence from some formidably well-informed witnesses”.

Exactly. This is not a report which sets out to make a political, economic or social case one way or another; we have left that to others. What we have sought to do is to explore the constitutional implications of a yes vote, and we have identified a number of important issues that need to be resolved between a yes vote and Scotland actually becoming independent. All our conclusions are based on the evidence that was presented to us. We heard from academic experts, the UK Government and commentators on Scottish politics. We received a wide range of written evidence, including from the Scottish Government. The SNP critics have taken particular exception to our conclusion that MPs representing Scottish constituencies should not negotiate for the rest of the UK, hold those negotiators to account or ratify the outcome of the negotiations. That conclusion was based on the views expressed by our witnesses, most powerfully by Professor Alan Boyle, professor of public international law at Edinburgh University. The very fact that this matter has already provoked strong reactions suggests that we were right to propose that, in the event of a yes vote, the Government should, in advance of the 2015 general election, lay before Parliament a proposal that would put this matter beyond doubt.

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SNP MPs have been equally hostile to our view that there is no constitutional principle by which the Scottish Government’s timetable should bind the UK Government. We say:

“The UK Government should not put the interests of the rest of the UK at risk by attempting to stick to that timetable. Any negotiations should take as long as necessary”.

The noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, has doubted our conclusion in paragraph 97 regarding the Government acting as the negotiator. We attempted to deal with the criticism that he made in paragraph 98, where we proposed that there should be close consultation with the Official Opposition and the Governments of the devolved Assemblies.

The Constitution Committee has not been alone in reaching evidence-based conclusions about the Scottish referendum. Starting in 2012, the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh began a series of 11 seminars where presentations were made and discussions held. The record has now been published. On reading it, I was struck by the way in which the evidence closely matched the evidence that we received. Even the most passionate nationalists can hardly dismiss the conclusions of the British Academy, which was established in 1902 and is the UK’s expert body that speaks for the humanities and the arts, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, which was established in 1783 and is an enduring memorial to the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century, representing all academic subjects as well as the arts, culture, business and enterprise.

Among the factors that the study by these distinguished bodies exposes are what Donald Rumsfeld described as known unknowns. These make nonsense of many of the certainties contained in the Scottish Government’s White Paper, among them the timetable to which I have referred. Negotiations that would follow a yes vote with the UK Government, with the EU and with NATO will all feel the impact of elections—and the outcomes, as we have heard during this debate, are highly unpredictable. The complexities of the issues on which negotiations will have to take place are vividly described in five pages of the introduction.

Professor Vernon Bogdanor pointed out during the constitutional seminar that the Scottish nationalists have various aspirations for an independent Scotland, such as shared currency and social union, but that an independent Scotland would have no right to these things. It could only propose them and see whether the rest of the UK would agree to them in negotiations. A yes vote in the referendum is a vote to become a citizen of another country, distinct from the UK, after which it would not be possible for Scotland to pick and choose which aspects of the union it wished to enjoy. An independent Scotland would have to negotiate for those things that it now enjoys as a right. A yes vote is a vote for uncertainty.

With all the political parties now offering more devolution for Scotland and Wales, another huge question has to be addressed. Our own special adviser, Professor Tomkins, pointed out at the same seminar that if there is a no vote the interesting question will be: what happens next? He suggested that in the event of a no outcome, what needs to happen is for the future of

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Scotland’s constitutional position to be put in the context of the whole of the UK. He argued that the voices of the Governments and peoples in Northern Ireland, Wales and the north of England have to be brought to the table. At the moment, he observed, there is no table for these voices to be heard; one has to be built.

I am sure that Professor Tomkins is right but I would go further, as have many speakers in this debate today. We should not be awaiting the outcome of the referendum; we should be beginning to construct a table for the voices to be heard. At Questions yesterday the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, suggested a constitutional commission to examine further devolution and decentralisation. Others have suggested a convention. My noble friend Lord Strathclyde suggested a committee representing the Parliaments and Assemblies of the whole United Kingdom.

Whatever method we adopt, we need to pursue with vigour a holistic solution to what is now an urgent problem. The more that this Parliament makes it clear that this is a question that is being considered with urgency, and that finding a solution will be a high priority for the next Government, whoever forms that Government, the more likely it is that the people of Scotland will want to remain within the union and play a major part in fundamentally reshaping it—in shaping the new, reformed United Kingdom referred to by the noble Lords, Lord McConnell and Lord Stephen—rather than see it happen without them and face alone the huge uncertainties outside.

7.07 pm

Lord Gordon of Strathblane (Lab): My Lords, somewhat more than 50 years ago I presented a series of programmes on Scottish television called “Scots Abroad”, which broadly celebrated the wholly disproportionate role that Scots had played in the building of the British Empire and, subsequently, the Commonwealth—whether by colonisation, occasionally by conquest or by administration. Scotland also benefited hugely from the existence of the Empire markets. My native city of Glasgow simply would not have grown from a small village to one of the fastest-growing cities in the world in the 1800s were it not for the demand for ships, railway engines et cetera, all of them manufactured in Scotland.

In the world of ideas, too, the golden period is known as the Scottish Enlightenment, as has already been referred to. Indeed, I remember meeting in America a scholar at the Smithsonian who had no Scottish connections or background but who entitled his book How the Scots Invented the Modern World—along with almost everything in it. It was entitled The Scottish Enlightenment when it was republished in this country. Neil MacGregor, the very distinguished director of the British Museum, subtitled a talk there: “When the Scottish Enlightenment encountered London globalism”. Both are important because those were wonderful Scottish ideas, and nobody is pretending that they are other than Scottish, but they would not have had the world stage without the British connection. That is really the lesson that those of us who will be voting no want to get across tonight.

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The UK now exercises its power through soft power. Just as the whole country was genuinely proud of the way that London handled the Olympics, I hope that we will have equal cause for pride in how Glasgow will handle the Commonwealth Games in just a few weeks’ time. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, has already given the litany of Scottish Prime Ministers and senior government officials. Anyone who claims that Scotland has been a downtrodden nation for the past 300 years really cannot pretend to serious consideration.

Scottish traditions and institutions have also been allowed to flourish very freely by the union settlement of 1707. We all think of devolution as beginning in 1999, but it did not. We have had administrative devolution since 1885. In 1999 came democratic control over that—with all the positives and negatives that that brings, let me tell you. What is being proposed now, I think, is adding fiscal powers. By and large I support that. I genuinely support the points that the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, made in his speech, because I believe that politicians will be more responsible if they are responsible for raising the money they promise to spend.

However, I would urge a couple of caveats about devolution. I am in favour of subsidiarity, but there are some issues where we do not like the idea of a postcode lottery. There are some issues that we want to be handled the same throughout the country. I would say that pensions is one of them. I want everyone in the UK to enjoy the same right to a pension. I would probably say health and welfare as well, but they could be argued about. There are other issues where you may want devolution, but the practicality of achieving it on a very small island with a land border is somewhat limited. You may want, for example, to have a higher customs duty on drink and tobacco north of the border, but unless you institute a border post, people will just drive down in pantechnicons and bring up booze.

Likewise the position of the economy—and Alex Salmond knows this. This is why he wanted a third option, because at that point he was honest enough to recognise that independence is impossible with a currency union, which he regards as desirable. That is why he wanted the third option. He now says that Scotland needs more immigrants and the Scottish Government would aim at having 27,000. Nothing is stopping the Scottish Government having more immigrants at the moment. The trouble is that immigrants do not go where Governments direct them. They go where the jobs are. That is why they all went to Glasgow in the 1850s. They came from the Highlands and Islands, Ireland, and England, let alone abroad, simply because Glasgow was the workshop of the Empire at that point. The idea that somehow you can have a currency union with separate economic policies is unthinkable and Alex Salmond knows it. It surely is preposterous to suggest that a foreign country will have more influence over Bank of England policy than one that is an integral part of the same country—yet that is what the Scottish people are being asked to swallow.

The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, earlier referred to the Darien scheme. By a strange, uncanny coincidence the losses of the Darien scheme in modern terms, I am

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told, would have been roughly the same £40 billion that RBS cost us. The interesting thing is that the Darien scheme was promulgated by a Scot, William Paterson, who had also founded the Bank of England. It is undoubtedly true that the English Government were less than helpful, because we were two separate countries at that point. A lot of Scots Nats say that it was the Darien scheme that led to Scotland having to go into a union almost unwillingly—“bought and sold with English gold” and all those phrases. But, in fact, it almost proves the Better Together point. Had we been part of the union, the Darien scheme might have foundered anyway, because it was a malaria-ridden swamp on the Isthmus of Panama, but on the other hand, at least lives would have been saved had we had England as a partner rather than a rival and formal enemy.

I really hope that Scotland votes no, because even then, at the time of the Darien scheme, we would have been better together. The alternative of a weakened Scotland exercising even less influence on a diminished England means that the UK as a whole will be sidelined from the world’s stage. I regard that as a tragedy for the whole world, because I think that, with all its faults, Britain is still a beneficial influence in the world and I am very proud of the part that Scots have played in making that so.

7.14 pm

Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD): My Lords, I am the 23rd speaker in today’s debate and the 23rd male. Of the 40 speakers who will be taking part in the debate, with the notable exception of the noble Baroness, Lady Adams of Craigielea, who I was grateful to for taking part in my debate last week, 39 will be male. That is neither representative of this House nor of the country and I hope that all our groups may reflect on why that is the case today.

There will be a genuine tinge of sadness for me when I cast a vote in the referendum because I will effectively be asked to choose between two things that I love. I will also be asked, in a negative way, to affirm support for what is a remarkable coming together of peoples, histories and cultures in our union, as we have been debating this afternoon. Equally, there will be many fellow voters who will simply be elated by the opportunity to vote in that referendum; they hold sincere views and I respect them for that. However, my sadness will be tempered by a quiet pride that this union, without resorting to state terror, armed conflict or repression from government, would allow itself to be democratically dissolved because that was the democratic will of people who had chosen a different path from the one that we here would choose, as we have been discussing today. They would be doing it democratically and through a ballot. They want a different path for their country.

I have not been able to see the deadly disputes around the world since we have been having our debate on Scotland without reflecting on how we are carrying out our process differently. That is something that should give us pride. Scottish Nationalists seek to take credit for this and say that it is a peculiarly Scottish characteristic in this debate, but it is actually a remarkable thing about our United Kingdom that

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through tough times of great national peril where the very existence of our union has been threatened by foes from abroad, through times of imperial expansion when we have seen our position in the world grow exponentially, through times of famine or economic crash at home and through times of remarkable economic growth due to international trade—with all our shared history—we still have a compassionate and profound position that, if people within one part of our nation choose that they do not wish to continue to be part of it, this union will end. The Constitutional Committee of your Lordships’ House shows the process that could commence if that were the view.

I share the position of one of the four Knights of the Thistle who have been taking part in the debate today, the noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Tillyorn: I will cast a no vote.

Lord Robertson of Port Ellen: There are two more to come.

Lord Purvis of Tweed: And two more to come. I do not know what the collective noun for Knights of the Thistle is; maybe a contribution later in the gap could tell us what it is.

I will be casting my no vote and endorsing a bigger and better vision, which is that Scotland can have an opportunity and a thriving future as part of our union. Part of the positive future in rejecting independence is founded also on my commitment to do what I can in working with colleagues across parties in this House and in other Parliaments in Wales, Northern Ireland and the regions of England to help to bring about a refreshed union. Why do I feel that the union needs to be refreshed? Noble Lords have already highlighted some of the reasons in the debate today. We remain a too centralised state and this has skewed decision-making. We established national legislatures but we did not establish fiscally accountable Governments. This has skewed decision-making in the nations. We have not created a coherent narrative for the reasons why our services for all the UK should be for all the UK, such as pensions, macroeconomics or single-market policies, and why we believe it is better that some policies should be decided at a national level.

Without a proper narrative explaining why that is the case, as the noble Lord, Lord McFall, warned us, we will be perpetually in an ad hoc situation with regard to devolution. I agree profoundly with my noble friends Lord Stephen and Lord Steel of Aikwood, who quoted Jo Grimond saying that devolution is power retained in this place rather than a proper decentralisation of power to the nations, and then to the regions, by the fact that they are there in their own right for better governance rather than just because it suits this Parliament at any given time.

The noble Lords, Lord Strathclyde and Lord Richard, commented that we will benefit from this Parliament being a more representative of the nations and the regions within England. I agree with them. My noble and learned friend Lord Wallace of Tankerness ably presented the strong opportunities for Scotland in continuing in the UK, and I need not rehearse those arguments. I hope that all of us will be reinforcing them with passion and gusto over the next 85 days.

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What is the future of our union and how can we express it so that people outside Parliament are enthused by it and feel that it is representative of them and that they can play an active role within it? In many respects, the case for many aspects of this union is made by the SNP, which, even with independence, wishes to continue to be part of it: the head of state, the currency, the BBC and pensions are all unions that it wishes to leave but rejoin, most likely on poorer terms. The noble Lord, Lord Birt, referred to a former constituent of mine, Sir Walter Scott. In his “Marmion” he said,

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave,

When first we practise to deceive!”.

That sums up the SNP’s position on the unions in this land. It is worth pointing out to the noble Lord, Lord Lang, that “Marmion” was about Flodden Field.

I have put forward a proposition for a conference of the new union to take place shortly after the general election in 2015 to complement the conference on the new Scotland that my right honourable friend Alistair Carmichael has announced will commence after the Scottish referendum. The purpose of the conference on the new Scotland is to bring together those who have already published their proposals for what further powers should be provided to the Scottish Parliament, for making the Scottish Parliament a permanent part of the United Kingdom’s institutions and for this Parliament permanently to cede authority over legislating on what are currently home rule areas. I believe that a conference on the new union should take place in a similarly consensual way after the general election to address the relationships between the nations, Whitehall institutions and the Westminster Parliament. It should last no longer than six months and should therefore be focused and inclusive. It should be government sponsored, with the intention that it will result in legislation that can be presented within the next term of the United Kingdom Parliament, and it should focus on entrenching the legislatures in the United Kingdom, making their legislative capacity permanent and making the relationship between them and our institutions here in Westminster and Whitehall decided not unilaterally here but by a bilateral process with them. Importantly, it should also address issues concerning the governance of England.

Without such a conference of the new union, without it being focused and without it being the intention, on a cross-party basis, to deliver legislation, we will perhaps continue to be searching for the overriding narrative for supporting the union. Unless we do it, up to 40% of the people of one nation in this country will continue to believe that their views and future aspirations are not being addressed by the union. I passionately believe in the union but equally I believe very strongly that work needs to be done to make sure that it respects and is representative of their views.

7.23 pm

Lord Haskins (CB): As a Protestant Irish nationalist from the county of Parnell, I feel that I am straying into a family feud that has some quite bitter feelings about it. I share the view expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, that it is a pity that perhaps only one Member of this House will state the nationalist case. If I were in Scotland, despite my nationalist background, I would have to vote no.

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I want to talk today about the implications for England, in the north of which I have lived for 50 years, of what will happen. Whatever the result on 18 September, things will never be the same again and the constitutional consequences for England will be profound. More and more devolution to the Celtic nations means more and more problems for England, leaving England with the most centralised system of government in any major democracy, a point that Scottish nationalists are not slow to point out.

Economic and political power outside London has been drastically eroded over the past 70 years. One hundred years ago, the vast majority—70% to 80%—of the top 100 companies had their headquarters outside London. Today the figure is less than 10%. Until the Second World War, health, education and a host of other public services were the responsibility of local government. Today, local government empties the bins and carries out a narrow range of administrative duties under the close scrutiny of Whitehall, though Ministers are still quick to blame local authorities when things go wrong. Because the role of local government has been so severely diminished, the quality of local political leadership has declined. It is a perfect Catch-22. Oh, for the days of Joe Chamberlain and his like.

The big companies have followed the trend and migrated en masse to London. In so doing, they have lost their sense of civic pride and local community engagement, which was such a feature of Victorian Britain. Who can forget the remarkable achievements on behalf of their local communities of the Cadburys in Birmingham, the Rowntrees in York, Rank in Hull, the Lever brothers in the north-west and the banks in East Anglia, Bristol, Edinburgh and elsewhere? I remember the sad day when Cadbury relocated from Birmingham to Berkeley Square. Clearly the game was up. The municipal buildings built around the country by the Victorians are a magnificent manifestation of partnership and commitment between local government and business. The railway network was created by the efforts of local business entrepreneurs, not central government. Britain’s local structure of government was the envy of the world. Today it is a shadow of its proud past.

Why did this happen? In part, it was a sign of progress on two fronts. RA Butler’s Education Act 1944 established national standards but, while the national Government established strategy, it was left to local authorities to deliver. Over time, Whitehall has steadily eroded localism so that today it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that, relying on the regulatory powers of Ofsted, Michael Gove has 23,000 head teachers reporting to him. Nye Bevan’s NHS structures were even more centralist. When Herbert Morrison, a former leader of the GLC and a great champion of local government, argued that the day-to-day administration of the NHS should remain the responsibility of local government, he was overruled by Mr Bevan who famously asserted that Whitehall needed to hear the rattle of every bedpan that fell on the hospital floor. To be fair, Bevan and Butler wanted to establish consistent, higher standards across the country, but in so doing they undermined an equally

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important requirement: accountability. The NHS is unmanageably large and short on accountability, as is the school organisational structure.

Ironically, but for different reasons, the Conservatives and Labour both pursued this greater centralisation, Labour because it believed that the state knows best and the Conservatives because they believed that the town halls were a hotbed of Trotskyites. It is so different elsewhere in the big democracies. The US, Germany, Australia, Canada and Spain all operate quasi-federal systems of government, and big corporations do not flock to Washington, Berlin, Canberra, Ottawa or Madrid. Boeing is in Seattle, McDonald’s is in Chicago, Siemens and BMW are in Munich and Airbus is in Toulouse and Hamburg.

In the English regions outside London, it is my guess that 80% or 90% of decisions affecting the local economy are taken elsewhere, either in London by Whitehall and businesses located there or internationally. The centralised so-called controls of the banks are a far cry from the local bank manager who knew his customers and the local economic conditions.

The quality of administration in Whitehall is poor. When I worked in the Cabinet Office a few years ago, I was struck by the contrast between the effectiveness of the civil servants in Edinburgh and London. In Edinburgh everyone knew each other, discussions were open and decisions were arrived at expeditiously. In London people worked in dysfunctional silos, and had poor interdepartmental communications and woefully slow decision-making processes. People paid lip service to collaboration.

So, post-18 September, things will have to change. However, do the politicians have an appetite for change in the light of a number of failed attempts at local government reform? The Heath Government changed the boundaries but little else. Then Major changed the boundaries again, but little else. The Blair Government went for nine regions and, although the economic structures, the regional development agencies, were not bad—I declare an interest as a long-time board member of Yorkshire Forward—the plan to create democratically elected assemblies never got off the ground. The present Government scrapped the RDAs and replaced them with local enterprise partnerships, more modest in size and ambition. I chair the Humber LEP.

Irrespective of past failures, reform must once more be on the agenda post-18 September, and here is what I would do. First, there are far too many local authorities in England—400 of them. They should be reduced to 80 or 90, as was suggested by Redcliffe-Maud in the 60s. I would gradually increase their responsibility for delivering public services, including health and education, but only when they had proved their competence. Secondly, there are too many LEPs—39 of them. I suggest that economic development boundaries should be drawn around large cities, with a few quasi-rural exceptions such as Cumbria, Devon and Cornwall. This would result in fewer than 20 LEPs with an average population of nearly 3 million people. Thirdly, I would treat the south-east as a special case. About 20 million people live east of a line from Peterborough to Portsmouth. They are, for the most part, heavily under the influence of London. Their local government arrangements should reflect that dependency.

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It is much more difficult to reverse the centralisation and globalisation of big business, but if the big Whitehall departments were to be devolved to the regions—BIS to Birmingham, the NHS to Leeds, Education to Manchester, Defence to Bristol, DEFRA to York, DWP to Newcastle—might not the big companies, keen to be close to where the power is, follow suit? Of course, none of this is likely to happen. Today’s politicians and business leaders lack the vision and risk-taking inclinations of their Victorian forebears. Besides, they love the metropolitan life of London. Still, perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after his great speech yesterday, will prove me wrong. The status quo is not an option after 18 September and, if we do not take action soon, we are storing up grave political and economic problems for England in future.

7.31 pm

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, I feel that this is rather the graveyard slot. Those who have delivered their speeches have departed to refresh themselves, while a few are waiting to enlighten us. Having listened to every single speech, as has my noble and learned friend Lord Wallace of Tankerness, to whom I pay a real tribute for his stamina and resilience, I might be tempted to go and have a little refreshment later myself.

Whether I am driving along the lovely lanes of Lincolnshire, as I was last week, or driving in Scotland, where I spent the whole of the war as a young boy, growing up—

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: Which war?

Lord Cormack: Not the First World War, like the noble Lord opposite; I cannot claim to rival his longevity. But whether I am driving there or in Scotland, I feel, in the words of Walter Scott, already quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Purvis:

“This is my own, my native land!”.

I am British. My family comes originally from Scotland. My elder son, known to the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, is settled in Scotland and I do not think will ever leave, and my eldest grandchild will have a vote on 18 September. I deeply regret that I shall not have one. But I very much hope that she, along with the other enfranchised 16 year-olds, will vote a resounding no, and I am confident that she will. She spent some time with us a fortnight ago and we were talking about this. In her school in Edinburgh, they had had a poll of all the girls, and 90% had voted no. In the boys’ school next door, she was slightly disappointed that it was only 88%. That gave me some real encouragement. Like the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris of Aberavon, I regretted the way in which Mr Salmond wound the Prime Minister around his finger in getting the 16 year-old vote, but I had some reassurance from what she told me. When I asked her why, she said, “Because we don’t want to cut off our opportunities”—and that, in a sense, is what it is really about.

I have talked before in this House about the difference being between remaining in a Great Britain or in a little Scotland. Of course, Scotland could be independent and go it alone, but we would be deprived—and I believe that my friends and family in Scotland would

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be deprived—if they did that. I profoundly hope, as I think virtually everybody who has spoken in this debate hopes, that they will not.

Only 9.1% of the population of the United Kingdom lives in Scotland. I will not repeat all the lists of Prime Ministers, economists, scientists and writers who have been referred to this afternoon. But if any part of any country has punched above its weight, Scotland, which is a nation, has punched above its weight in the United Kingdom—and I want it to continue to do so.

In 1984, I had a very interesting experience during the long Summer Recess from the other place. I spent a semester at the University of Austin in Texas. It was the time of the presidential election and a number of the cars that were driving around had a little sticker on the back that said, “Secede”. I said to my Texas host, “Some of them talk as if they mean it”. “Oh”, he said, “that’s just the heart expressing itself—the head knows that it would be total madness”.

Much as I respect those who have a different point of view, I hope that those who are contemplating voting yes in September, and still more those who have not yet made up their mind, will reflect on what a great country this is—and it is a great country because of the contribution from Scotland, which is way beyond its percentage of the population. I very much hope that there will be a resounding vote on 18 September, and that the people of Scotland will say that, yes, they want to remain part of the United Kingdom. I do not want my granddaughter to become a citizen in a foreign land, and she does not want her cousins—the children of my other son, who live in London—to be foreigners, with different passports.

Somebody talked about borders. I had the great good fortune to be the chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee in the last Parliament, and I saw the difficulties created by a border there. Unless you have absolute similarity between taxes and revenues, what it does among other things is to encourage organised crime, which is a very real cross-border problem between the Republic and Northern Ireland. I rejoice at the settlement, and I am not one of those who feels deeply unhappy about Her Majesty receiving Mr McGuinness; we have made enormous progress. But the fact is that there are two countries on one island and there is a border, and that creates problems. We do not want to have that here.

We have to recognise that we are exceptionally fortunate. My noble friend Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, and the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, whom I regard very much as a friend in the context of this and many other issues, pointed to the brilliance of Alex Salmond. I referred to that before in this House. But we need to have robust debate, and what he has been saying is very misleading. We have had many examples, quoted during the last three and a half hours. Salmond’s approach really is that of eating the cake and having it, to put the phrase the right way round. I have often thought, particularly over the past few weeks, of the reputed remark of the great conductor Richter to the third flute, “Your damned nonsense can I stand twice or once, but sometimes always, by God, never”. The people of Scotland are being misled. As my noble friend Lord Forsyth said, they are being asked to take a leap into the dark. It is a step into the unknown.

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Of course, many have talked about changes that will come about. Like my noble friend Lord Forsyth, I was against devolution but that is all over now and we have to make it work, and make it work even better than it has done—of course we have. However, it would be a constitutional and a political tragedy if we were all in this United Kingdom plunged into the uncertainty that a yes vote would create. I devoutly hope and pray that it will be a no vote and an emphatic one, and that we can more warmly embrace each other across the border. I hope that it will not become an international border, and that we can continue to recognise the enormous importance that Scotland has and the enormous contribution that it makes to this United Kingdom of ours. Long may that United Kingdom flourish.

7.41 pm

Lord Maxton (Lab): My Lords, at this stage of the evening there is always a temptation to start debating rather than delivering a speech, particularly if you have been at the other end of the Corridor, where Members debate much more than they do here. However, I wish to give the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, a collective noun—perhaps a “prickle” of thistles might be appropriate.

Along with many others, I will not discuss the report on which this debate is configured, partly because I live in Scotland and have a vote in the referendum. I hope that the cameras will pick up the badge I am wearing, which says no. I will vote no and I believe that we will win the vote on 18 September, which happens to be my late father’s birthday, and therefore the report will become irrelevant, however good it may be and however well it may be received.

I do not know from where the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, draws his opinion that the polls are narrowing, because the latest opinion polls in Scotland show that the polls are widening, not narrowing towards independence. Certainly, all the serious polls are now saying that. I assume that the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, was referring to a private school in Edinburgh when he addressed that issue. However, pupils in school after school in Scotland have debated this issue, have voted on it and, time after time, the result has been a resounding no. The 16 to 18 year-olds who Mr Alex Salmond thought would all vote for independence are proving him very wrong.

Secondly, despite what has been said today, the people of Scotland must realise that they are not voting for one further stage towards better devolution. I support giving further powers to the people of Scotland, although not necessarily to all the institutions of Scotland, but please let us stop confusing devolution and independence: they are two totally different animals. The people will be voting to establish an independent state which is separate from the rest of the United Kingdom. Unlike devolution, it is not a decision that can be changed, modified or reversed by democratic process if it does not work or if circumstances change. Some things may well need to come back to central government as opposed to going to the devolved powers.

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It is not about Mr Alex Salmond and David Cameron or about a Tory Government versus the so-called left-wing one in Scotland: it is an irreversible decision. If Scotland votes yes, the only way back to the United Kingdom will be on its bended knees and, even then, the rest of the United Kingdom may say, “Very sorry but we don’t want you any more”. However, I also believe that, if Scotland votes no, a very long time must pass before we have another referendum on this issue. A 60:40 result is good enough. It should be enough to say, “No, no more, we are not going to have any more referendums on this issue”. There is only one way that could occur, and it will not be from a vote in the Scottish Parliament. It could occur only if the SNP gained a majority of seats in the House of Commons. Then there might be a case for saying, “We will hold another referendum”.

If Mr Salmond wins by one vote, he will demand an independent country. However, I have to say to my noble friend Lord Foulkes, with whom I do not often disagree, although I do on this issue, that it is my view that if the SNP loses the referendum, particularly if it loses it as convincingly as I believe it will, there is a hard core, English-hating, independence at any cost part of the SNP that will turn on Mr Salmond and blame him for the failure, and the party will rip itself apart because it will have lost its purpose. It will no longer have a reason for existing if it can no longer claim that it is seeking independence.

Thirdly, it is surely time that we ask why Scotland should become an independent country and a separate state. What is it that divides us from the rest of the United Kingdom? Normally, when you look at history—I am a quasi history teacher from a long time ago—you see four major things that divide one nation from another. One is language. Well, we speak the same language. I was in Bruges recently, where Flemish and Dutch are spoken, whereas in Brussels French is spoken, so Belgium is divided. However, we are not divided; there is no difference in language. There may sometimes be a difference in dialect but there is no difference in language.

As regards religion, Scotland itself may sometimes be divided by religion, but it is not divided from the rest of the United Kingdom by religion. As regards race, there are different races in the United Kingdom but the Scots do not make up a separate race. Otherwise, if we voted yes on the 18th, my brothers, my sister, my nephews and my nieces would not only become foreigners but would also be part of a different race, which is just unimaginable.

The status quo is the present union, so why are we dividing it? The last issue is that of a boundary, to which the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, referred. There is no natural frontier or boundary between Scotland and England. In fact, when we used to drive north, my father used to throw his cigarette out the window because he never smoked in Scotland. When we crossed the Solway, he would say, “We are now in Scotland”. However, the border is now 200, 300 or 400 yards up the road.

Noble Lords may not be surprised by my final point. In the modern world, where we have a global economy and some companies are bigger than nation states and have a greater turnover than many nation

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states, why on earth would we split up a small country like ours into different parts and say to one part of it, “You can control your economy”? No, you cannot. We are struggling in this country in the global economy to tax companies properly. Surely that will be the case if we have an independent Scotland. Therefore, I will vote no and I hope that the rest of Scotland will follow my example.

7.49 pm

Lord Shipley (LD): My Lords, I associate myself with the thrust of the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Haskins. He is right to say that we need to devolve power out of London in an overcentralised England. I want to do that, as he does, as part of a United Kingdom that includes Scotland.

I hope that voters in Scotland will vote no decisively. The United Kingdom is stronger together, to the benefit of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England, individually and collectively. The process of splitting would be long and hard, and the outcome would be uncertain for everyone. I do not want to see a border created between Scotland and England, but one might prove to be inevitable. Greater devolution following a no vote would be the best outcome, and would lead in turn to faster and deeper devolution in England—a trend that has started but which has some way to go to equal what is happening in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

I want to concentrate my contribution on the report of the Select Committee on the Constitution and say that overall the report is extremely cogent and persuasive. It confirms that if Scotland becomes independent, it is seceding from the United Kingdom, which will remain the continuator state. The report defines the rules around division of fixed assets appropriately, and concludes correctly that division of non-fixed assets would need to be negotiated. The constitutional implications are clearly set out.

I was a member of the Economic Affairs Committee when it undertook an inquiry into the economic impact on the UK of Scottish independence. It reported last year and during the hearing of evidence I began to doubt the wisdom of holding only one referendum. If the result in September were a no vote, that would be clear and no further referendum would be needed. However, I felt as we listened to the evidence that the complexity of the issues was such that to hold a referendum only on the principle of Scotland becoming independent, as opposed to a referendum on the final agreement, might cause more problems than it solved if the result of the September vote was yes.

I am still of the view that two referendums are needed if the first results in a yes vote. This issue is alluded to in paragraph 67 of the Select Committee on the Constitution’s report. The matter considered in that paragraph was whether Scottish MPs elected to the UK Parliament in 2015 should leave the UK Parliament on independence day, should there be a yes vote in the referendum. I agree with the report’s conclusion that they would have to leave. I do not see how that could be in dispute. This paragraph, however, contains a second issue, which is perhaps too summarily dismissed. It says that,

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“the Edinburgh agreement was for a ‘decisive’ referendum whose outcome will be respected on both sides”.

That of course is true, strictly speaking, but it assumes, first, that there will be two sides, not several sides, when it comes to a negotiation; and secondly, that Scottish voters will not want to change their mind.

My question is this: what happens if the vote on 18 September is yes by a very narrow margin of, say, 51:49, but the Scottish Government elected in May 2016 want to reverse the decision to become independent, and secure a mandate at the election to overturn that narrow yes vote in the referendum? The referendum question in September is a simple one about principle. It lacks any detail. It asks:

“Should Scotland be an independent country?”.

There are no timescales. My point is that the negotiations, however long they take—whether they be short or long, and whether there is an independence day before the 2016 elections—are likely to throw up problems that voters may not have considered or not been able to consider, and which may cause them to wish not to proceed. So can they change their minds?

To hope or to expect that a narrow yes vote can be “decisive” when negotiations have not taken place seems to be an assumption too far. I am for speed in the negotiations should there be a yes vote, in order to avoid constitutional limbo. However, I cannot see how a referendum is decisive when it is about principle only and not about the practical consequences. I hope the Minister in his reply may be able to define in what circumstances a yes vote in September could be overturned by the choice of Scottish voters, either by a second referendum, should one be called, or by the result of the 2016 election.

7.55 pm

Lord Cullen of Whitekirk (CB): My Lords, one of the subjects that the Constitution Committee, of which I am a member, had to consider was an aspect of the governance of Scotland between the referendum and the day on which Scotland would become independent, assuming a yes vote. That would be a period of indeterminate length.

Evidence given to the committee by the Secretary of State for Scotland—statements that were not off the cuff but plainly premeditated—led the committee to conclude that from the date of the referendum, if it was a yes vote, the UK Government would no longer seek to act on behalf of the people of Scotland. The committee therefore considered that there could then be a “constitutional limbo”, to put it mildly. So, I suppose, in the worst case, there would be no Minister answerable to this House or in the other place for matters reserved to this Parliament under the Scotland Act. In those circumstances, the committee made a number of recommendations, including a recommendation that the two Governments should agree on the transfer of powers prior to independence day.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Lang, that the view that the UK Government would instantaneously lose their mandate in the event of a yes vote cannot be right. However, I am glad that there are now some

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signs that, contrary to the impression given to the committee, the UK Government are overcoming their diffidence about acting in the interest of the people of Scotland in the event of a yes vote. This emerged to some extent last week. On 18 June, the Electoral Commission published the draft of a leaflet to inform the public about voting, which is due finally to be issued at the end of this month. It is to contain guidance as to how members of the public can take part in the referendum, and information from lead campaigners.

There is also to be a joint statement by the Scottish Government and the UK Government about the process that would be followed in the event of a yes or no vote, as the case may be. Such a joint statement had been requested by the Electoral Commission some time ago but, for whatever reason, was months overdue by the time it was provided recently. One might have expected that the joint statement would have been published before the leaflet was put together, but that is not what has happened, so far as I know.

Part of the joint statement states:

“The United Kingdom Government would continue to be responsible for defence, security, foreign affairs and constitution, most pensions, benefits and most tax powers up to the date Scotland becomes an independent country”.

Many important subjects fall within the scope of matters reserved to this Parliament, but I am bothered by the fact that only seven of them are mentioned in the joint statement. It makes no mention, for example, of the economy, transport, or oil and gas, to name but three matters that are of some interest in Scotland. I therefore wondered whether the selection of seven subjects in this joint statement was simply deliberate because it was as much as could be agreed between the two Governments. Or is the selection simply because this statement was to give general guidance to members of the public? Either way, there needs to be clarity at this point, 85 days from referendum day.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Lang, I would welcome a response from the Advocate-General, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness. I hope that he can assure the House that the United Kingdom Government will continue to be responsible for all the matters reserved to this Parliament. If that is not to be the case, what will be the position?

7.59 pm

Baroness Adams of Craigielea (Lab): My Lords, coming 30th in the debate is not the easiest position, given that most points have already been made. I am now looking for different ways of saying the same thing. I am not surprised to have found myself in agreement with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness. Given that the Liberal Party was a partner in the constitutional convention, I fully expected to agree with most of what he said. I was a bit more surprised to find myself in almost total agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Lang, and, God forbid, with the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, whom I often jousted with in the other place when he was not a supporter of devolution and I was.

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The noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, wondered what would have happened if Alex Ferguson and Tommy Gemmell had not left Paisley to head south. I can tell him, as a resident of Paisley—in fact I was born there—we would have been delighted for them to stay. I am sure that we would have found a junior football team they could both have managed and coached. However, they did come south, and I think that was of benefit to everyone.

My first interest in politics came when I was 17 and I joined the Labour Party. Life was simple then. The Conservative Party on one side and the Labour Party on the other. I hate to say this to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace, but the Liberal Party was on the fringes. Life was simple: we all knew where we stood, we all knew who our opponents were. Then, in the late 1960s, up popped Scottish oil and the almost minute Scottish National Party adopted its first slogan: “It’s Scotland’s oil”. That is what I always thought about nationalism: it is a selfish, inward-looking phenomenon. Nationalism is a destructive force; it is not a force for going forward. It sets people against people and countries against countries, no matter what form it takes. In my view, it should be avoided at all costs.

That slogan set off the debate that went on for almost 40 years and led, in the late 1980s, to interested parties—the Labour Party, the Liberals, the churches, the trade unions and civic Scotland—becoming involved in the constitutional convention, to hammer out how we could avoid nationalism but go forward and allow Scotland’s home affairs to be decided in Scotland. That process took the next eight years, and in 1997, when the Labour Government were elected, my noble friend Lord Robertson came forward with the proposal that we should have a referendum to decide whether there should be a Parliament in Scotland or not. There I found myself again divided from some of the people I had been closest to in the argument for devolution. They did not think we should have that referendum; they thought it had been in the manifesto and that we should go forward. They were looking for something different from what I was looking for: devolvement of power, not on a national basis, but bringing power home, closer to people. I found myself in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, and I hoped he would include local government. That is where real power should lie. The closest point we have to the people who elect us is at local level.

The phrase by Donald Dewar that is often quoted is that the devolved Parliament was a process, not an event. I do not think for a moment that Donald Dewar meant that that process was further devolving powers to the Scottish Parliament; rather it was devolving powers from that Parliament back to local government and the people who first elect us. That did not happen. In fact, the exact opposite happened. We have watched councils decline in Scotland. There are currently 32; I doubt that will last for very much longer. Power is being sucked up to the centre, albeit the centre has changed. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Wilson, who said he had looked at the rising numbers at Edinburgh Airport. If you want to look at things being pulled to the centre, simply look at that. As

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Edinburgh Airport has grown, Glasgow Airport has declined. Power, jobs and influence are all being sucked into one place in Scotland.

Alex Salmond was never going to be content with a devolved Parliament. He did not want it in the first place. He went along with it and saw it as a stepping stone. We now come to the referendum that he talked us into. It is quite simple—yes or no—but not according to Mr Salmond. We have again been sidetracked down the road of what happens if there is a no vote: “What more powers do we get? What’s the second prize?”. We should not have been distracted down that road. It is a quite clear yes or no, and, like with most things, no should mean no.

I hope there will be a no vote, but that we then look at the whole situation in the UK. I think we need another constitutional convention or conference, whatever you wish to call it, that does not look at it in a piecemeal manner, as we have looked before. That is the difficulty we have got ourselves into: we keep chipping bits off and adding bits on. We need to look at the whole circumstance in the UK—from this Parliament to regional governments, to the Scottish Parliament, to the Welsh Assembly, to local government —to see what has to be done as a whole. I do not think we can continue in the way we are. People are now disfranchised and almost certainly do not feel included. Until they feel they have some input to make at local level, I do not think we are going to see voting patterns increase—rather, they will decline.

I appear to be the only woman speaking in the debate. To be quite honest, that does not surprise me. Women in Scotland have not been very vocal about this, but when it comes to opinion polls the answer is no. That is because women are not gamblers. Men are more likely to take a gamble on what might be, but women are used to the everyday issues of what happens now: “How do I put the bread on the table? How do I keep the family clothed? How do I pay the rent? Am I going to gamble all that?”. Maybe it will be all right on the night, but maybe it will not. Women’s family ties are important to them. Like the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, I have two grandchildren living in Scotland with a Scottish mother and an English father, and two grandchildren living just outside Cambridge with a Scottish mother and an English father. One set of them will be foreigners. Whichever way we go, the family living in England are going to have foreign cousins and the family living in Scotland are going to have foreign cousins. My grandchildren are all British, and I hope they all will remain British.

I want to ask the Minister what the implications are for education. My eldest granddaughter is 16. She has just sat her Highers and hopes to do very well. She will not apply to university until next year because she is too young, but she wants to look at her options throughout the UK. If, by sheer chance, there is a yes vote in September, she will have to apply to the English universities, I presume, as a foreign student. Young people do not want that to happen. They do not see borders and boundaries in the way that my generation probably did. She finds the thought of a border between Scotland and England laughable. She sees herself as European more than anything.

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That leads me to EU membership. If, as we are being told, after a yes vote Scotland will not automatically be a member of the EU—I think that that is the case—my granddaughter will not be applying as an EU student but as a foreign student. She cannot freely travel to Europe, as she would hope to do in a gap year; that will not be open to her without visas and all that comes with it. She will need a different passport. What of EU members living in Scotland at the moment? A large number of them live in Scotland, so what will happen to them after an independence vote? Are they to be cast aside? I was interested to hear one of my colleagues say that Welsh was the second most spoken language in Wales. Can I tell noble Lords that Polish is the second most spoken language in Scotland? That is not a recent event. It comes from the 1940s when the Free Polish Army was stationed in Scotland. It has been for a very long time.

These are very big questions but questions that the Scottish Government are refusing to answer and we have to get those answers before proceeding further.

8.11 pm

Lord Dobbs (Con): My Lords, for many Englishmen, Scotland is a land of mists and mysteries, and I am an Englishman. I confess to being something of a genealogical nut and yet in 40-odd years of clambering up my family tree I have found not a single drop of Scottish blood.

Perhaps the trolls and social-media Stalinists would claim that this gives me no right even to participate in this debate, and that I fail the McTebbit test, or whatever passes as an appropriate test of my loyalties north of the border. So let me be clear: I support two teams—England when it is playing Scotland, and Scotland when it is playing Germany, France, Italy, or almost any other country.

The world of books has always been of some importance, so perhaps I should use that as a starting point. The first book I ever remember reading was Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, as a boy, by torchlight beneath the covers. Even on a cold winter’s night in Hertfordshire I could walk on warm sands with Jim Hawkins and his famous Scottish creator. The Scots, as we have heard, have always been renowned for their literary imagination, with Barrie, Burns, Conan Doyle and Kenneth Grahame—an endless, illustrious list given by the noble Lord, Lord Birt. Of course, as many have mentioned, there is Walter Scott.

I prepared for this debate by reading for the very first time that classic novel of the north, Rob Roy. That would tell me something about the Scottish spirit, I thought. It is a rather long book, so it came as something of a surprise to discover that I was more than half way through it and still had not set foot in Scotland. Dare I admit it—parts of the dialect were a bit challenging. As I am sure all noble Lords will know, it is set in the years immediately after the Act of Union. It is a novel of national pride, cultural aspiration and, most of all, reconciliation One of its heroes is Baillie Jarvie, a man who—I am using Scott’s words,

“although a keen Scotchman, and abundantly zealous for the honour of his country, was disposed to think liberally of the sister kingdom”.

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I think Baillie Jarvie was saying that we are better together. He scolds the foul-tempered Andrew Fairservice thus—although I will not attempt the accent:

“Whisht, sir!—Whisht!—it’s ill-scraped tongues like your’s that make mischief atween neighbourhoods and nations. There’s naething sae gude on this side o’ time but it might hae been better, and that may be said o’ the Union”.

That may still be said of the union, and even more so of ill scraped tongues.

My noble and learned friend Lord Wallace, and several others, referred to a nation punching above its weight. I prefer to think of it as a nation singing above its scale. Scotland has certainly done that. There are so many great inventors, industrialists, engineers, academics, surgeons, artists, and just plain good exceptionally hospitable people. We have already heard stories of great Scotsmen and women in so many areas—in business, science, education and military valour—which I will not repeat.

However, let me turn to one area of great national pride and cultural interest—that of sport. It is a stunning matter of fact that Scottish athletes who made up 10% of Great Britain’s team at the Olympics hauled in 20% of our medals. Who will ever forget the pride of the entire country at that extraordinary achievement? Could that have been achieved by Scotland on its own in isolation? I doubt it. Look at the English premiership these past few years—the finest football league in the world and run by, yes, Scots. I am sorry, but it is the shocking truth: Alex Ferguson, Kenny Dalgleish, David Moyes, Paul Lambert, Steve Kean, Owen Coyle, Alex McLeish, and on, and on, and on—Scotsmen to a man and in every lilting post-match syllable. Has that smacked of arrogance in the English? Arrogance is usually administered with a firmer hand than that. If my old friend Francis Urquhart had ever heard of the drive for independence, I suspect that he would have concluded that the demand for it came from south of the border, not the north.

Those Scots are everywhere, even here in Westminster. As my noble friend Lord Forsyth pointed out so passionately earlier, take out those with Scottish roots from the list of Prime Ministers these past 100 years—the Campbell-Bannermans, the Douglas-Homes, the Browns and the Blairs, the Macmillans and the MacDonalds and all the rest, and you are left with a remarkably short list. Take out a couple of Welshmen who crept in there as well and the list is shorter still. So have we English lost out? No, all of us have gained.

There is a golden thread, a mixture of sentiment and common interest, that has bound our peoples together that makes us stronger, not weaker, and that has made this union one of the most adaptable and successful ever devised by man. Do I take all this for granted? Of course I do at times, I am English. Was I taught too little at school about Scottish history? Absolutely I was. Do I wish this union of ours to continue? Most certainly, and with all my heart.

Even as an Englishman it is impossible to walk the fields of Culloden without feeling the power of its history. You cannot read the pages of Rob Roy or listen to the songs of old Scotland, even with a dull English ear, without being taken up by the romance of

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Scottish culture. Walk through the streets of Edinburgh in August, as I do, and you will see heads held high—just as they are bent low when walking those same streets in January. I defy you to sail the seas of the west coast in the company of Para Handy without laughing with every blow of the puffer’s bilge.

I have not an ounce of Scottish marrow in my bones. I represent a party that would gain mightily and overnight if Scotland disappeared and took all of its Labour MPs with it. The rest of us would move on. Yet we—the English, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish—are more than friends, we are family. If Scotland were to decide to quit, to leave us and go its own way, it would be the greatest sadness of my political life. May that day never come.

8.20 pm

Lord Soley (Lab): I have lived, worked and studied in Scotland and England. My family roots are from all parts of these islands. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, that if he digs deep enough he will find little parts of these islands in all of us. It is one of the many reasons why I think of myself as British, not English, and why I recognise that the United Kingdom is, in my judgment, by far the most successful political and economic union that the world has ever seen.

The noble Lord, Lord Lang, put it very well—I thank him for his committee’s report—when he reminded us that in 1707 the Act of Union brought to an end years of fratricidal strife across the border. It introduced peace and prosperity to these islands that allowed England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland all to build up, especially in the more radical parts, that tradition of democracy, the rule of law, freedom and tolerance that made us the most successful nation of that period. It was a nation that was able to invent and carry forward the Industrial Revolution because of those economic and political freedoms. We should be proud of it. We should fight for it.

In 1707 that Act was, in a way, about an unformed federal state—it was federalism before federalism was invented. The Scots kept their own legal system; the English kept theirs. There were separate church/state relationships. Those aspects of federalism were there in these islands already. When I hear people say, as Alex Salmond and others do, that somehow or other Scotland is uniquely different, I say, as I have indicated, that the interrelationship within these islands is far too complex to be dismissed in the way in which it is sometimes done by the SNP. In my view, one of the greatest achievements of the United Kingdom is that we can maintain our differences in a way that enables different cultures within the United Kingdom to flourish. I go to Scotland and I can enjoy the culture there. Scots come here and they can enjoy the culture in England—or in Wales or in Northern Ireland. We can do that because we have developed political structures that allow it to happen.

The noble Lord, Lord Shipley, hit on an important point when he indicated that we have to keep our thinking flexible on what happens next. That is not only because there could be a narrow vote on 18 September; rather more worryingly, if there is a strong yes vote—I hope that there will not be—and

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then a flight of capital and jobs from Scotland, we will find that the attitude towards separation changes. There will be an election for the Scottish Parliament in 2016. What will happen if the SNP is thrown out? Will we carry on negotiating on an independence that no one wants? I very much doubt it.

I strongly object to the way in which the SNP addresses this argument. It is trying to present it as though voting for independence on 18 September means that everything changes but nothing changes. It cannot be like that. There are crucial dangers on the economic and currency fronts. The issue of whether Scotland joins the European Union is crucial, too. I cannot improve on what, from his great knowledge, the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, told the House. As someone who has had to deal with political realities over the years, I can say that if I were a state such as Spain or some other European state that had separatist groups within it, I would do everything possible to make it difficult and costly, if not impossible, for a separating state to join. You would want to send the message to the separatist groups in your country that separation is a bad idea. We have to accept that hard political reality.

What do we do about the current argument? I have my criticisms of the way in which the no campaign has been run in Scotland and feel that we are underestimating the importance of bringing the rest of the United Kingdom into the argument. As has been pointed out, about 1 million Scots live in the rest of the United Kingdom. About a quarter of a million live in south-east England. When I talk at the Caledonian Club, I find that most of the Scots there are anti the separatist vote. When I go to some of the other Scottish groups to whom I talk, they are anti the separatist agenda, too. They realise, rather better than many SNP members, that if you leave the union and separate, you are saying to the rest of the United Kingdom, “We are leaving you. This is a divorce”. Those who want to leave need to recognise that if they poke the English, in particular, in the eye, the feeling on this side, here, will be awoken that Scotland is not wanted. You can already hear that. When I talk to people in the rest of Britain about this, they say, “Well, if they want to go, it doesn’t matter”. If they are saying that, there will not then be a nice, friendly, structured argument about who gets what. If a separate Scotland tries to walk back into the family the following day, who gets what can certainly be discussed, but the family that has been left cannot be told how it should run its economy. That is why Scotland cannot have the economic and monetary policy that the SNP says that it wants.

What do we do next? I know Scotland well. I hope and believe that the Scottish people will not vote yes to separation. My guess is that they will not but, if they do, we need some major constitutional changes for the remaining parts of the UK. If they vote no, however, we cannot just carry on as before. I understand and to some extent am sympathetic to a constitutional convention, although there are problems about how to contain it in a limited timeframe and focus it effectively. If we do not have that, we need to have a structured way in which we can recognise the changing relationships between the regions and countries of the United Kingdom.

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There is the question of greater devolution. Much of the talk in this debate has been about devolution within Scotland, but there is the matter of devolution throughout the UK. A rarely addressed problem is that of England. An English Parliament is not necessarily the answer. When you look at England, it is very important to recognise that the south-east corner, bounded by Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Oxford and Southampton, contains over 22 million people. That is over one-third of the total population of the United Kingdom. In the early 1980s, I and Bryan Gould, who was then the MP for Dagenham and a shadow Minister, tried to work out a regional structure for England, but the impossibility of the south-east hit us hard. There is a great problem there. It is not insoluble, but it is a difficult problem, which we need to address.

The issue of England in relation to all this is important. It greatly troubles me when the SNP seems to think that it is enough simply to be anti-English. Many of its members are anti-English rather than anti the United Kingdom. That is deeply offensive to many British people in England. That is why the SNP perhaps needs to take on board that arguing for independence in the way that it does sets off a reaction elsewhere in the UK that will not create the thoughtful debate that we would have to have after a yes vote. I hope that there will not be an independence vote, but we have to face the reality.

8.29 pm

Lord Elis-Thomas (PC): My Lords, when I sent my name in for this debate, I suspected that I might end up in a minority but I did not expect to be in a minority of one. However, there is on the wall of this House a very important reminder of the failure of the House of Lords to understand issues of home rule, as it was then called. Of course, I am referring to the two famous portraits of the 1890s which show their Lordships—in those days bedecked in fine top hats, of course—doing down the aspirations of the Irish people. I wish to speak about the idea of the exercise of sovereignty within an existing state and the way in which that can and should happen in a context that respects everyone’s rights to self-determination as peoples.

I am very grateful to the Constitution Committee for the way in which it has exercised its judgment on this issue but I am concerned about the constitutional framework that is being pursued. My suspicion is that the notions of a continuator state and a successor state are not precisely analogous in the present position. I know that there are no other precedents but it is important for us to consider how the devolution transformation has changed the United Kingdom already and how it might change it again.

What has really dismayed me about this debate is that your Lordships seem to believe that the United Kingdom was created by almighty God. The United Kingdom is a constitutional chapter of accidents, just like most other constitutions are. As someone who has studied the history of these islands, I am aware that the United Kingdom did not remain a kingdom as originally conceived, with the union of the kingdom of Scotland and the kingdom of England, which had already taken on the Principality of Wales, with Ireland,

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but that existed in history only for some 150 years. So why is that state form the only thing that we can envisage in the 21st century?

I confess publicly that if I had a vote in Scotland I would vote yes. That does not make me a nationalist with a capital N and it certainly does not make me a separatist. The badge that I habitually wear indicates which Union I think is the most important to belong to—the European Union—alongside the nation of Wales, but that does not mean that I do not consider it to have been a great privilege in my political life to have served in this building for 40 years. That is my approach to this issue.

What I have tried to do here for that period, especially the 15 years I have spent trying to establish the constitution of Wales, with a lot of help from my noble friend Lord Richard—I was glad to hear him say earlier that his work is yet unfinished; I look forward to the time when we will have more equality in the numbers of Members who serve across the United Kingdom in our assemblies—is to have a positive approach to trying to make devolution work. To that end, I have always emphasised the important principle of the sovereignty of the people and of the self-determination of peoples. This is what I find very attractive about both the original Scottish Government White Paper—much attacked and savaged in this Chamber—and, more recently, the draft independence Bill.

I am a big fan of what is usually known as the continental way of making constitutions—in other words, putting down basic principles and indicating fundamental rights—and here we have a fine example in how a series of policies is set out. The noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, has already referred to this matter. As a former Defence Minister—and someone with whom I have had disagreements in the past on matters of nuclear disarmament—he is quite seriously concerned about a Scottish Government who are attempting to make nuclear disarmament a principle of the constitution. Well, for heaven’s sake. We have a situation where 190 countries have already signed the non-proliferation treaty, so is it not rather good—for some of us, anyway—that one of the nations of the United Kingdom might decide to do that by its constitution?

Apart from the international issue of disarmament, there are issues relating to social policy, which is set in the constitution, and in particular there are issues involving the environment. Again, I would be very attracted to a yes vote on these grounds—the commitment to legislate on biodiversity and to address the mitigation of climate change, following on from what the Scottish Government have already done in this area in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act and so on. The notion of placing in one’s constitution, as about 90 other countries have done, the right to a healthy environment is also attractive. However, perhaps most attractive is the provision for a permanent constitution to be prepared as a written constitution by a further constitution convention. It is not something that the Scottish Government themselves are seeking to do; it is something that they are seeking to establish by the same principle by which devolution was established—that is, through a convention made up of civic society.

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In contrast to everyone else who has spoken, I do not see these huge fears about the future of the United Kingdom and I do not share the pessimism. I will co-operate of course with whatever refreshed union—to use the term of the noble Lord, Lord Purvis—will emerge from these discussions. I still believe, however, that the best way forward is a yes vote in Scotland. This would have a catalytic effect on constitutional development not only north of the border but across the Marches of Wales.

Lord Richard: Since the noble Lord was kind enough to refer to me, I wonder whether he could answer a question. I heard what he said—I listened with great interest—but is he saying that at the end of the day he wants to see a United Kingdom in which Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the regions still participate, or is he saying that he wants to see a United Kingdom which Scotland, and possibly also Wales, is no longer part of?

Lord Elis-Thomas: What I certainly see is the constitutional position, especially since there will be one common head of state, where what we are talking about is not the end of the United Kingdom but the creation of united kingdoms or the recreation of united kingdoms, which of course includes the Principality of Wales and indeed a significant portion of the island of Ireland. Especially when we look at the new relationships within the island of Ireland, there are myriad possibilities. I look forward with excitement to the further changes in the history of our kingdom.

8.38 pm

The Earl of Caithness (Con): My Lords, despite all our discussions, both on previous occasions and today, I do not believe that we are any closer to realising the full impact that will occur in this country—and by that I mean the whole of the United Kingdom—and Europe, if there is a yes vote for separation. We have not fully analysed it, and I do not think it is possible to fully analyse it at the moment.

A number of problems have been raised that could occur in this debate. In fact the noble Lord, Lord Soley, prompts me to ask my noble and learned friend now: what is the legal situation should there be a narrow vote for yes to independence and then an immediate backtracking in Scotland and the removal of the SNP from power? Is there a provision where there could be a second referendum or is it a fait accompli that once there is a yes vote on the 18 September, that is it for ever and a day. I would be grateful if he could clarify that.

I am also grateful to my noble friend Lord Lang for his excellent report and for highlighting just what a difficult and bumpy road there is ahead of us in the event of a possible yes vote. My noble friend reminded us that today is the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, which he said was primarily a Scots versus English battle. I remind the House that a lot of Scots fought on the English side. There was Comyn, the de Umfravilles, Macnabs and MacDowells. There were Highland clans fighting for the English. It was as much about a settlement of who should be the King of

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Scotland as between Scotland and England. My ancestors were involved in that battle and in the Battle of Flodden that my noble friend mentioned. At least we helped to win one of the battles we took part in. The point of that was to remind the House that Scotland was as divided then as it is now. As my noble friend Lord Lang said in his speech, the union in 1707 brought the peace and harmony that both countries really wanted.

There has been a mass of paperwork and many good government publications, but the fact remains that we in Scotland—in fact, we in the UK—do not know the full implications of what will happen and the effect of the independence vote. Only 14% of people in Scotland know what the current arrangements are between Holyrood and Westminster. Compound that with the Scotland Act 2012 and there is a huge information problem that the Government must try to address. In addition to the book that will arrive in everybody’s home about the independence vote, would my noble and learned friend consider whether there could be a small pamphlet explaining the powers of Westminster and of Holyrood now and what they will be? The fact is that under the 2012 Act the Scottish Government are allowed more tax-raising powers by secondary legislation without primary legislation—but not many people realise that.

There will inevitably be questions that are unanswered because the negotiations have to take place after a yes vote if there is one. We must recall that that is in marked contrast to the situation with regard to Europe, where it seems to be the policy that all the negotiations should happen before the referendum takes place. We would be much better served in Scotland had such a situation happened so that we had a clearer view of the likely implications, and the division of assets and liabilities. One would then be in a better position to put the cross on the paper.

I follow the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, in regard to Europe. What does my noble and learned friend think the timescale might be if there is a yes vote? Could there be a negotiation for Scotland to become a member of the EU by the time separation day happens? If there is not time—I do not believe there is—England will find itself with a foreign country that is not part of the EU on its northern border. The effect of that on the north of England will be dramatic, as it will be on the south of Scotland. An artificial line that has occurred through history would have to be manned at all its border posts. How many roads would be closed so that that may be satisfactorily managed to avoid fraud? Let us recall that 23 million vehicles cross in both directions each year between Scotland and England. Some 15 million tonnes of freight move in each direction and there are 7 million rail passenger journeys. If there are to be border controls, that will impede the natural flow of trade within an area that at the moment is all united. It is therefore no wonder that the polls in the border areas show a higher percentage of people wanting to have a no vote and to stay in the United Kingdom than elsewhere in Scotland.

Will my noble and learned friend comment also on the draft Scottish independence Bill published on 16 June? Are the Government going to do a critique of it and are they satisfied on its legal accuracy?

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There has been quite a movement of powers to Scotland following devolution, mainly with the Scotland Act 2012. All the major parties are saying now that there should be a further transfer of powers from Westminster to Holyrood if there is a no vote on 18 September. That has caused considerable upset in parts of England, from Cornwall to Northumberland. There is no doubt that there will have to be a constitutional convention to try to work out a better way in which the union can operate, because we are past the point of no return now. The Scots have driven us to this situation. Although I am in favour of transferring more tax-raising powers from Westminster to Holyrood, on this occasion it is time to make haste slowly, because this is a matter which, if it is not done correctly, could break up the United Kingdom in other ways that we have not envisaged at the moment. For that reason I support that part of the report of my noble friend Lord Lang in which he says that there ought to be a constitutional convention as soon as 18 September is past.

8.46 pm

Lord Judd (Lab): My Lords, the challenge we face in this debate is immense in itself, but it is also symptomatic. We live in an age of paradox. Never have the people of the world been more interdependent in terms of security, economics, health and all the rest. Yet somehow there has never been such a widespread sense of alienation and disenchantment with existing political structures. I believe these two factors are working together in the situation that confronts us.

It is not just about economics. In the case of Scotland it is clearly about emotion and culture as well. There is a deep-seated yearning for a sense of identity and personal significance and the confidence that comes out of a sense of identity. The challenge is how we recognise that identity and enable it to flourish but at the same time enable people to see that in the world in which we live it is simply impossible to find a way forward without co-operation; and that therefore it is not really the right time to dismantle a very effective part of co-operation, as demonstrated within the United Kingdom.

I am a half-Scot, and I hope that the House will forgive me if I am a little personal in my approach to this debate tonight. I had a father who could not have been more English, rooted in the Surrey-Hampshire borders. I had a mother who could not have been more of a Scot. She had lost two brothers, serving the United Kingdom in the Army, one not yet 20, who after being awarded an MC was killed in action. The other, as a young captain serving in the Indian army 84 years ago—a kilt-wearing captain, when he had the opportunity—was killed on the north-west frontier.

During the war my mother was working and therefore my grandmother had a great deal to do with bringing me up. She had gone out at the age of 19 to marry my grandfather in India, and they lost two of their children there. He was a missionary in the Church of Scotland. He ended his life as secretary of the foreign missions of the Church of Scotland. He was not, as I understand him, an evangelical, but he was dedicated to the cause of education and had concentrated on education in his time in India.

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During the war, my grandmother used to tell me vivid stories about Scotland all the time—often in the cosiness of the shelter as the bombs fell round about. My mother identified very strongly with London during the Blitz, but always as a Scot. She never doubted or questioned her Scottish identity. That was true of her work in academia, at London University and the LSE, on the Bench and in local politics.

What did all that mean for me? How did it affect me? It meant, I realise in my older age, that I grew up with a sense that England and Scotland were inseparable. They were different—that I was very clear about—but they were inseparable. There was a certain confidence about that. Indeed, at times, the humour was quite strong. One of the stories I was brought up on was the story of the Scottish businessman who had been building up his business very successfully and had always resolved any difficulties that arose at St Andrew’s House but was finally confronted with something that meant that he had to go to London, to Whitehall. The family were rather anxious about what would happen, so when he came back, they asked him, “How did you get on with all those Sassenachs?”. He said, rather puzzled, “Sassenachs? I did not meet any Sassenachs; I only met the heads of department”. That story made a great impression on me.

It was therefore not altogether a surprise when, as a very young Member of the other place I became a PPS at the then very large Ministry of Housing and Local Government for England and Wales and went to ministerial meetings on Monday mornings. There was quite a big team of Ministers. Down one side of the table were the Ministers and down the other side were the civil servants. Bang in the middle, opposite the Secretary of State, was the Permanent Secretary. Who was the Permanent Secretary? Stevenson, a rugby-playing Scotsman, if ever there was one.

I think that that is central to the story of the United Kingdom together. England and Scotland together have had a great and successful past. Yes, we have had our differences. Yes, there are some historic resentments in Scotland about how the Scottish aristocracy perhaps sold out the Scottish people to the English. Those things are real; they do not go away. What we must face is that if there is a no vote in the referendum, that will not be the end of the story. We will have gained a political victory, but the issue will remain. I do not want to be a Jeremiah, but I have a foreboding that it will accentuate and could turn quite ugly. I see some Scottish Members of the House indicating their doubts, with me, on that matter.

Therefore it is essential that, with no further prevarication, we get down to the job of restructuring the United Kingdom in a way that meets that challenge. Let us stop theorising about the possibilities of a federal United Kingdom. A federal United Kingdom is what is required. It is the logic of all that is happening in terms of devolution and the talk of greater opportunities and financial powers for Scotland. I am convinced that we will have a stronger United Kingdom on a federal basis than we do when we are always trying to sweep the issue back under the carpet.

It seems to me that there are parallels here with Europe. Looking back at the European story, I happen to believe that we would have had a stronger Europe

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if we had had a greater confederal approach rather than the emphasis on a unitary approach. Sometimes, strength lies in the co-operation and effective operation of confident people with a strong sense of identity. From that standpoint, I would be the first to applaud the creation of a commission to look at the future constitutional structure of Britain, but I would want that commission to have a firm remit that it was to look at it in terms of the contribution to be made to our mutual future on the basis of a federation.

8.55 pm

Lord Tyler (LD): My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Lord, Lord Judd, because I agree so much with his peroration, and I shall come back to that point in a moment.