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

That is perfectly fair and I will come on to address that. I was simply making the observation that there is, currently, an outstanding legislative consent Motion, which was actually supported by many members of the current Scottish Government. It is certainly our intention that we should have a legislative consent Motion from the Scottish Parliament in favour of the Scotland Bill, and I and my ministerial colleagues have been working very hard to secure the support of the Scottish Parliament for such a Motion. I am sure the Scottish Government would acknowledge the same.

We have been working together to consider and to assess the request for amendments to the Bill. It would be wrong to speculate on the outcome of the work being undertaken with the Scottish Government, but the key point is that I can assure the House that we are working hard to ensure that the Scottish Parliament will vote in favour of a legislative consent Motion for the Bill. It would not be appropriate to get ahead of discussions between Ministers-as noble Lords have highlighted, it is for the Scottish Government to propose a legislative consent Motion and we must allow the interministerial discussions to continue and not get ahead of them. However, I know that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State had conversations yesterday with the Scottish Government. Indeed, before coming to your Lordships' House today, I was engaged in discussions about moving forward, to get into a position where we can get an agreement.

The Sewel convention is about respecting the devolved areas for which the Scottish Parliament is accountable. It provides that the United Kingdom Parliament will not normally legislate on devolved matters without the Scottish Parliament's consent. I believe we have gone further than with any other Bill in considering and taking on board the view of the Scottish Government and Parliament, and we will continue to work to reach agreement. The Secretary of State has made clear, in letters, phone calls and meetings with Scottish Government Ministers, that we will properly consider all their requests for changes to the Bill. I understand and readily recognise that noble Lords are keen to hear the outcome of the discussions with the Government, but I urge noble Lords to continue with their thorough scrutiny of the Bill, alongside our work to agree a legislative consent Motion. I hope that by the time we come to Report, it will have been possible to update your Lordships on the intergovernmental discussion.