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The Earl of Erroll: I stand to be corrected, but I think it is still within Westminster's power to take power back from the Scottish Parliament because the Westminster Parliament is a sovereign Parliament, which the Scottish Parliament is not. That may happen over tuition fees. In fact, I believe that has already been mooted in Scotland.
The Duke of Montrose: Returning to the question raised by Amendment No. 85, if there is any seriousness in it, has the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, thought of phrasing it the other way? On the question of elections to the other place, neither Peers, nor minors, nor bankrupts are allowed to vote. If he wishes to introduce the fact that the same rules should apply to elections to the Scottish Parliament, that would allow Peers to come to this House without having voted for another Parliament.
Lord Henley: I do not intend to get on to the subject of tuition fees. I suspect that that is a problem that the Government will have to address in due course; no doubt the Scottish Parliament will address it.
I begin by again offering an apology on behalf of my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish. He has had to catch the last train north because he had commitments in Scotland. The fact that my noble friend has left underlines how unwise it is that this House should continue debating these matters at such a late hour. Perhaps some time after our discussion on this amendment has concluded, I may wish to have further discussions through the usual channels.
I also offer my commiserations to my noble friend Lord Ferrers on his problems with his spectacles. We saw the further disintegration of them during the course of his speech. We noted that he was missing one lens. I noticed that the lens alleged to have been smashed was the left lens rather than the right lens. I do not know whether he was blaming the noble Lord, Lord Williams, for that destruction. If the noble Lord is addressing these matters, perhaps he will come to that in due course.
I also take time out briefly to correct, I think, my noble kinsman Lord Onslow on his remarks about those living north of Hadrian's Wall. I remind him that I am one who lives north of Hadrian's Wall. A great many of us who live north of Hadrian's Wall are English, remain English and always will be English. The Border, quite rightly, is considerably north of Hadrian's Wall. No doubt the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate could confirm that important legal matter should he wish to respond in this debate.
My noble friend Lord Ferrers raised some interesting points. He returned to the West Lothian question. In Amendment No. 85, which he describes as being somewhat more controversial, he raises even more points that it is important the Government should address. The points he has put forward have been, as my noble friend put it, somewhat controversial. They have not received unanimity on the Benches behind me. I shall be circumspect in my remarks and careful about what I say. I shall wish to think about them carefully before we offer support from this Front Bench.
However, it is important to remember that three Members of this House have been elected to the Scottish Parliament. All three parties--if I may ignore on this one occasion the Cross Benches--have gained one Member. The noble Lord, Lord Steel, as he is called in this House, whom we understand is to be called Sir David Steel, MSP, elsewhere; the noble Lord, Lord Watson of Invergowrie, from the Benches opposite; and my noble friend Lord Selkirk of Douglas, have all been returned to the Scottish Parliament. We wish them luck. We shall be grateful to hear from the Government about the relationship of what they do there to what they do here. We shall be grateful to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Williams, how the Government consider that these matters should be addressed.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: I did not sit next to the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, at dinner. I did not sit on his spectacles. I sat next to the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, and if he were still here, he would be my alibi witness.
"sitting and voting in the House of Lords". That means that the mere fact of being registered on a local government register in Scotland, which is the necessary precondition for voting in elections for the Scottish Parliament, would disentitle any Member with that incubus from sitting in this House. As soon as one analyses the provision in that way, its manifest nonsense is thereby disclosed. It is not even a requirement that one should have exercised the vote, but simply that one should have registered to vote.
On that occasion, we decided that there was no need to bar any of your Lordships from membership of the Scottish Parliament, or vice versa. We do not bar any of your Lordships from membership of the European Parliament, or vice versa, provided the electoral qualifications are met.
I know that the noble Earl raised the issue partly to tweak, but it is not a very successful tweak. With due deference to him, Amendment No. 85 is not sustainable, which is the kindest description I can give it, and Amendment No. 84 we decided in the context of the Scotland Act by virtue of Section 16(1)(a). I am sorry about the noble Earl's spectacles, but perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight, he now realises that both his amendments were misconstrued.
Earl Ferrers: If you have no spectacles, how can you have hindsight? I can only say to the Minister that I think I must have done him a credit by saying that he must have been sitting next to me at dinner. I knew perfectly well that he was not. The fact that my glasses were in a smashed state after dinner made me think that I must have been sitting next to him. The person he sat next to, my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, did not have his glasses smashed; he merely vaporised out of the scene and I cannot think what the Minister said to him to make him disappear so quickly. However, sitting next to or near the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, is a terrifying experience for all of us.
I tabled the amendments as probing amendments. The Minister will be glad to hear that I had no intention of pressing them; I wanted to know what the Government thought about the issue. The noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, was kind enough to say that they were entertaining amendments. I do not believe that they are entertaining at all; I believe that they are very serious amendments. The fact is that the noble Lord, Lord Steel of Aikwood, will be coming here as speaker of the Scottish Parliament and taking part in the affairs of your Lordships' House. Where is he going to sit? Is he going to sit on the Cross Benches or the Liberal Democrat Benches? I cannot see how he can sit on the Liberal Democrat Benches and all of a sudden become a political animal, while up in Scotland he is a sanitised animal because he must be neutral. Perhaps he will sit on the Cross Benches. But all this is very curious stuff. I believe a great deal of thought ought to be given to how people can go from one parliament to another and still, fortunately, come back to the first. It seems a very curious arrangement.
With the greatest respect to the noble Lord, Lord Williams, glasses or not, he did not satisfy me that the Government have really addressed the matter. It is not a party matter. It is not a question of being a hereditary Peer, a life Peer or anything else. It is question of what happens when power is devolved to different parliaments, and yet not all power is devolved; some is retained. When those who find themselves climbing up the ladder of the devolved parliaments then also find themselves part of the current Parliament, it is quite a serious problem.
However, for the moment I am quite happy to withdraw the amendment, as I know the noble Lord will be glad to hear. I will, of course, excuse him from any responsibility for the fact that my glasses have completely decapitated themselves.