Report (2nd Day) (Continued)

Part of Fixed-term Parliaments Bill – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 16th May 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Reid of Cardowan Lord Reid of Cardowan Labour 6:30 pm, 16th May 2011

I agree absolutely with the noble Lord. There is one condition and qualification which the Minister could bring forward as an objection. He could say, for instance, that it would be entirely unreasonable for us to ask the Government to give a commitment to a referendum on such a subject unless they knew the precise details of the referendum, of the question to be put and so on. That would be a cast-iron argument were it not for the fact that the Government have already rushed to the television studios to assure us that they would willingly accept a referendum on the Scottish question were it put, without knowing the wording, the timing or the conditions of it. So that objection would entirely fall.

I am trying to be helpful to the Minister tonight, not by laying down demands for a definition but by suggesting that there might be criteria which he would like to consider before he comes back to the House. Whether it is a White Paper that we have to expect or a grey paper-perhaps by tomorrow morning it will merely be an essay on the British constitution that is being proposed-and whatever the form of the coalition agreement's operational eminences which exude from discussions in Cabinet, I hope that he will be able to come back and tell us that it is such an important subject that we will all get the chance to vote again, because we so enjoyed the last referendum.