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Committee (2nd Day) (Continued)

Part of Scotland Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 2nd February 2012.

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Photo of Lord Boyd of Duncansby Lord Boyd of Duncansby Labour 4:15 pm, 2nd February 2012

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for tabling the amendment, which was debated in the other place. It seeks to rectify what appears to be an omission from the Scotland Act 1998 and subsequently the Railways Act 2005, which devolved significant powers over the ScotRail franchise, including its funding and licensing as well as responsibility for new rail lines for the network, yet neglected to devolve the power to determine the model of that franchise. Of course, it would not be appropriate to devolve responsibility for cross-border services, but that is not what the amendment seeks to address. It is clear that the amendment relates to services that begin and end in Scotland.

When this matter was debated in another place, as my noble friend indicated, we seemed to get side-tracked-if that is not an inappropriate way of putting it-down a spectre of renationalisation, which was not the purpose of the amendment. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary failed to address the central issue that the amendment poses regarding whether it is consistent with the spirit of the devolution settlement that the power to determine the nature of a discrete Scottish franchise, in relation to which the Scottish Government already have considerable responsibility, should be reserved.

I ask the noble and learned Lord the Minister to say what the position is in Wales and, more fundamentally, why the Government believe it is necessary and proper to retain powers to determine the franchise model of a self-contained Scottish rail service where the franchise is granted by the Scottish Government.