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Lord Mackay of Drumadoon: Before the debate proceeds any further, I should make clear to the noble Lord that I do not seek to exclude the Italian waiter or his relative who has resided in Perth for 37 years. I seek to add to the franchise the children of his relative, who, under the Government's proposals as I understand them, would be excluded from voting.
Lord Howie of Troon: Those noble Lords who have known me in this Chamber for quite a number of years will probably have come to realise that in fact I am a Scotchman--"Scotchman" was good enough for Walter Scott and it is good enough for me.
When the previous referendum was held, I went through a similar trauma in a very personal kind of way. We heard of the daughter of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, and we very much hope that in due course she will return to this country, especially if she is as entertaining as her father. At the last referendum, being resident in London, I was denied a vote. However, by coincidence, my daughter and my niece were both temporary residents in Edinburgh as students for a relatively short period of years. My
My noble friend Lord Desai totally misses the point--some of the points, at any rate--when he speaks of this issue as a regional matter. So has my noble friend Lord Sewel, when he denies the ethnicity of this matter. We should cast our minds back to how this question of devolution all began. In the middle 1960s a lady called Winnie Ewing won a by-election in Hamilton in the Scottish national cause. That caused a great deal of disturbance, uproar and even anxiety in parliamentary circles. From that upsurge of Scottish national feeling--not regional nor residential feeling but genuine national feeling--arose the whole question of devolution. So, to regard this issue as a matter of local government or regional government is quite mistaken. It is a response to national feeling and because it is a response to national feeing, the ethnic element in it does matter.
Many Scots--I do not know how many there are--are temporarily resident in England. There must be three-quarters of a million, maybe even more--perhaps a million, so far as I know. It is a very large number, not the small number which so irked my noble friend Lord Parry during our discussion on the last group of amendments. It is not a small number but a very large one. Most of those people are Scots in strong feeling.
I do not want to go on at any great length about this matter. I simply want to remind your Lordships with regard to this ethnic or nationalistic question of a point which was brought to our attention by both the noble Lord, Lord Steel, in his maiden speech, and my noble friend Lord Hughes later, when he reminded us about the Queen of Scots. She was not the Queen of Scotland but was the Queen of Scots.
In the same way, I see the planned parliament not as a parliament of Scotland but as a parliament of Scots. As I am one of them, I should dearly like my noble friend to accept the amendment or at least say that he will take it away, consider it and return with some variant of it which will give the ¾ million of us the vote that we so richly deserve and so much desire.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: I have been sitting on my hands for most of the afternoon but cannot resist following the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon. I have a specific problem in my family just as he has in his.
My wife was born in Scotland. She came to live in Wales at the age of 10 and has not so far told me that she has any intention of returning to Scotland. On the other hand, her sister was also born in Scotland, lives in Scotland and the colleague of mine from my home town to whom she is married also lives in Scotland. What are they to have? Should they have a vote in Scotland or a vote in Wales?
We talk of returning to each other's country; my wife talks of going back to Scotland and my brother-in-law of coming back to Wales. But surely devolution is about sensible, accountable government. We are trying to improve the constitution of this country to bring accountable government closer to the people. All this business about who is Scots and who is Welsh gives me another problem: what about my children? They could play for either Scotland or Wales if they were good enough, which they are not. They may be qualified to do all kinds of things, being Scots and Welsh. Why should not they vote in both places?
Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: I could not agree more with the concluding remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas. It has been fascinating to hear the family details of noble Lords, but I am not sure that they clarify any of the issues.
Ethnicity is a bizarre kind of qualification for a franchise. Where one is born should neither qualify nor disqualify one in relation to voting. We are discussing a referendum on how Scotland will be governed through a devolved Parliament. The selection is extremely important but we should go for a franchise which is simple, straightforward and practical, and that is the local government franchise. As it stands at the moment, that is perfectly acceptable to everybody. I do not see why we are trying to play around with it. The idea of trying to prove who is or who is not a Scot is an extremely complicated one.
Lord Hooson: Many years ago I remember hearing of a distinguished Welshman--some would argue the greatest Welshman of the century. It was said of him that he would do anything for Wales but live in it. If that was his attitude, he should not have a vote in the referendum.
Lord Hughes: I am encouraged to come in to the debate only because the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, mentioned what I had to say about Mary Queen of Scots. Many years ago, when I was a Minister in the Scottish Office, there was a period when I looked round and there was not a single Scot who could be regarded as a possible supporter of what I was putting forward as a Minister. I remind the noble Lord that I then noticed him. I asked whether he would be good enough to give me support on a specific matter. He said, honestly, "It is a long time since I have lived in Scotland and I am not knowledgeable on this. Will you forgive me if I do not help you?". Perhaps he will remember that.
Lord Howie of Troon: Oddly enough, a respected senior Member of this Chamber--I see him present here this evening, though I shall not name him--constantly confuses me with my noble friend Lord Carmichael.
Lord Hughes: The noble Lord is now going from fantasy to myth. My main point was not to remind him of his modesty on that occasion, but to refer to what he said as to when devolution started. He said that it started in Scotland only after Winnie Ewing won the by-election in Hamilton. He is not only years out in that; he is decades out.
Many years before, a Scottish Member of Parliament tabled a Bill to establish an independent Scotland. That was perhaps even before Winnie Ewing was born. Therefore the noble Lord's idea of when devolution started is quite wrong. I am now 86 years of age and cannot remember any time as an adult when this subject was not talked about at some time or other in Scotland.
Lord Elis-Thomas: I rise to support the remarks of the noble Lord. Of course devolution has been an issue in the politics of Scotland and Wales for all our lives. I remind the Committee, to get the historical record straight, that there was a by-election in the constituency of Carmarthen a year before the by-election in the constituency of Hamilton. In fact, my noble friend Lord Prys-Davis was a candidate in that by-election and well remembers having lost narrowly to Mr. Gwynfor Evans, the former president of Plaid Cymru and at one time a colleague in another place.
I did not intend to mention any of that, but there is a serious point here. We are in danger of lapsing into what I call the worst kind of narrow ethnic nationalism. As the representative of post-nationalism on these Benches, it is important that we should get the matter straight. When we are talking about affiliation to a national or cultural group, it can be dealt with in all sorts of ways. If one is a Scot in England or wherever, one can participate in Scottish life in all kinds of ways in cultural forms, whether it be music, finance or whatever. We are talking about the franchise for the structure of government which is to be devised for Scotland and Wales within the next two years.
This is not a question of national affiliation; it is a question of the arrangements for government. Surely the arrangements of government have to be based upon a notion of citizenship. I would argue that the only possible notion of citizenship which can be a franchise for this kind of intermediary level of government is residency. Any other form of franchise calls into question the whole issue of nationality and ethnicity. Once we go down that road there is the question of the people from outside Wales who live in Wales and from outside Scotland who live in Scotland. It has been raised already.
I have spent my whole life in politics trying to argue that the people who are resident in Wales are ultimately the only people who should make a decision about the future arrangements for that country, and similarly in Scotland. Clearly if arrangements arise which affect our brothers and sisters in England or in Ireland, those are matters to be decided by the people of those countries as well. There may well be a stage when the people of England need to be consulted about these matters. I do not doubt that at all. But, in the limited proposals we are facing in the Bill, to extend the franchise on what can only be described as a basis of nationalistic affiliation is unacceptable.
My final point must surely carry weight in this Chamber. If there were to be a referendum in Derby about autonomy and regional government in Derby, my president in another place, Mr. Dafydd Wigley, would have a vote because he was born in Derby.
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