Scotland Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:27 pm on 27th January 2011.

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Photo of Anne McGuire Anne McGuire Labour, Stirling 3:27 pm, 27th January 2011

It is a great pleasure to follow Iain Stewart. I listened carefully to his analysis and, 13 years on, I now realise why Mrs Laing was so well briefed in some of the intricacies of the Barnett formula. The hon. Gentleman has posed some fascinating and interesting questions this afternoon.

I made my maiden speech in 1997 on the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Bill, which paved the way for the Scottish Parliament. It is fair to say that both the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Lady recognised that, collectively, we have travelled a long way in this House-at least, most of us have. I shall come on to those who are still stuck at the station a wee bit later.

We have travelled a long way and in many ways the Members who are participating in today's debate reflect that. We have a former Member of the Scottish Parliament, who, as the Under-Secretary, will be helping to drive this Bill through along with most of us. Of course, we have two current Members of the Scottish Parliament, my hon. Friends the Members for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Cathy Jamieson) and for Glasgow East (Margaret Curran), both of whom have extensive experience not only of the workings of the Scottish Parliament but of the workings of government in Scotland, as they are both former Ministers.

Collectively, in the Chamber today we have a unique opportunity to discuss the importance of the Scotland Bill. I recognise its importance and identify with the statement made by Donald Dewar-devolution was

"a process and not an event".

We are all part of that process. In my opinion, there is no doubt that the relationship between the UK and Scotland and their governmental institutions has matured to a point where there is widespread recognition that the devolved approach has strengthened the United Kingdom and its four nations, working together. There are still some cynics among us-the ultra-Unionists, who perhaps do not see this as a way forward for the United Kingdom, and their uneasy bedfellows, the nationalists, who have a fundamental view. I fully accept their right to hold that view. I do not have any problem with their ultimate aim of independence; I just thank God every day for the sanity of the Scottish people, who have never accepted that analysis, but that analysis is obviously still there. The majority of people in Scotland want good government that brings decisions closer to them, so I welcome the principle of the Bill. I particularly welcome the strengthening of the Scottish Parliament's fiscal powers.