Committee (4th Day)

Part of Scotland Bill – in the House of Lords at 12:45 pm on 15th March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lords Spokesperson (Attorney General's Office), Lords Spokesperson (Wales Office), The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Scotland Office) 12:45 pm, 15th March 2012

My Lords, picking up on the final point made by the noble Lord, Lord Browne, there was a commitment in the manifestos of all three parties-the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats-at the last general election that we would seek to implement the Calman commission proposals, which this Bill substantially seeks to do.

On the issue of sitting days, I readily recognise the concerns. Indeed, I was told that the House would sit to debate the Scotland Bill on a Thursday and I have turned up today with my noble friend Lord Sassoon to respond to the amendments. The noble Lord, Lord Browne, indicated some of the issues that we have had to address. There was one day-Tuesday, 14 February-when, because of the time taken by the Welfare Reform Bill, we did not manage to debate anything. The decision was taken late in the day that it would not be proper to start our debates after 9.30 pm, and there was general agreement that that was the right decision. Our previous debate in Committee was on a Tuesday. Next week we will be in Committee on Wednesday.

On the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Liddell, it was not on Second Reading but when we moved into Committee in January that the Government announced, as a result of representations they had received, quite properly, from my noble friend Lord Forsyth, that there would be a consultation. There were amendments on the Marshalled List to the effect that we would not deal with referendums until after the consultation period had closed. I indicated at the time that we would hope to deal with them in the week beginning 12 March, and today was originally identified as the date for doing so. However, as has been indicated, as we lost a day because of the ping-pong on the Welfare Reform Bill, we were not able to make as much progress on the last occasion as we had hoped. These debates will now take place next Wednesday, when there will be an opportunity to address the issues around referendums.

It is perfectly reasonable for my noble friend to ask where we have got to with the legislative consent Motion. A Motion was passed in the Scottish Parliament in March last year, which I suspect is the one that our honourable friend Mr Gauke was talking about. I have no doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, voted for it, as he was still a Member of the Scottish Parliament at the time. It is also worth pointing out that on the final vote, Mr Alex Salmond voted for it, too, as did many people who are currently members of the Scottish Government. That legislative consent Motion stands until any subsequent Motion is tabled that updates it.

The Government intend to secure a legislative consent Motion from the Scottish Parliament in favour of the Bill-