Scotland Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:40 pm on 27th January 2011.

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Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Conservative, Epping Forest 1:40 pm, 27th January 2011

That is exactly why the provisions of this Bill, which give more accountability and power to the Scottish Parliament, are absolutely right. The hon. Gentleman makes a good argument in favour of the Bill.

Until a few moments ago, I was going to say that it is good to see such cross-party consensus on the Bill. Of course, we have cross-most-party consensus, but not consensus with those in the Scottish National party. We understand that however much they seem to be stepping back from their long-held belief that we ought to move towards an independent Scotland-I do not understand why they do not have the courage of their convictions and go ahead and ask the people of Scotland-they want to go on a different path from the rest of us on protecting and helping Scotland, and giving it the best chance for the future.

I want to pay tribute to Donald Dewar, who did a wonderful job in setting up the Scottish Parliament. That was not what I said in 1997 and 1998 as we debated the original Scotland Bill for hour after hour, day after day and week after week. It was strange that the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire said at the beginning of his speech that this Bill would not be properly scrutinised. I can assure him that those of us who spent weeks and months scrutinising the Bill that became the Scotland Act 1998 will find this nice little Bill a piece of cake in comparison. Of course it will receive proper scrutiny.

Back in 1997 and 1998, we properly scrutinised the Scotland Bill. Many of us said over and over again that the devolution settlement that was being created would not work in the long term and would have to be amended and improved. I am very pleased to see this Bill make the improvements that some of us have thought necessary for a long time.