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Scotland Bill — Committee (5th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:00 pm on 21st 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) 10:00 pm, 21st March 2012

From the reaction that the noble Baroness has had to that comment, it is clearly one that resonates across the House. I do not pretend that I have an answer to it, but she asked me to reflect on it and we certainly shall. I am not sure if it is practical but she makes an important point well, and it strikes a chord in the House.

I was going to make the point that I in no way underestimate the importance of the franchise, but it does not disqualify people from participation in the debate or the referendum. When the real debate comes, I sincerely hope that we will get contributions from other parts of the UK that have a view to express about how much they value our United Kingdom. I very much hope that Scots from the diaspora will express their views-maybe some that I do not agree with, but I am sure there will be many that I do-about how valuable over many years they and their families have found Scotland being part of the UK.

We believe that we should try to ensure consistency and transparency, which is why we have indicated our preference for a franchise based on the present one for the Scottish Parliament and local government. We will continue to seek agreement on that basis. With those assurances, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.