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Scotland Bill — Committee (5th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:00 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) 5:00 pm, 21st March 2012

I am sure that, after all the good will that has been expressed, he will relish coming back to the fray next week. I do not for a moment think that he is ill; perhaps I may quash that rumour.

As the noble Lord, Lord Browne, indicated-and perhaps my noble friend Lord Forsyth would accept-to include only the people of England and to exclude the people of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland would not be appropriate. We should bear in mind that the proposals in the Bill were in the manifestos of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, which applied throughout Great Britain at the last election. My noble friend indicated that he wished to return to the issue of the no-detriment principle, which he pursued on Thursday of last week. It prompted my noble friend Lord Sassoon to write a letter. My noble friend asked if it could be put in the Library. I will make sure that that is done, because it has the benefit of a flow chart that I could not begin to describe from the Dispatch Box.

I will try to explain-I accept that I will not necessarily succeed-what the no-detriment principle is about and why we believe that it is fair and does not detract from accountability. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, and with my noble friend Lord Caithness that more accountability is crucial and that the Scottish Parliament should be accountable not simply for spending money but for raising it. My starting point is that it is wrong to suggest that the no-detriment principle is about allowing the Scottish Government to have their cake and eat it.

The first flaw in the argument is to suggest that if there is a tax benefit-for example, through the measure in today's Budget to raise the personal allowance, which I very much welcome-it will accrue to the Scottish Government. It will accrue to Scottish taxpayers, along with those of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. As I will seek to explain, it has an effect on the revenue that would then be generated for the Scottish Government.