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Scotland Bill — Committee (5th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:15 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) 6:15 pm, 21st March 2012

I am grateful to my noble friend for giving me an opportunity to make things clear. I rather suspect that the devolution guidance was placed in the Library by the previous Administration, but if there is any need to ensure that it is taken from the back shelf and made more readily accessible, I am sure we will see to that.

Perhaps it is my fault for not having explained it, or perhaps we have just glibly used the expression "a Section 30 order" without explaining it. A Section 30 order is not about dealing with things which are currently devolved. The purpose of a Section 30 order is to transfer issues which are currently reserved under Schedule 5 and devolve them to the Scottish Parliament. Perhaps one of the best examples of that since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999 is the devolution of railways. There was extensive discussion and negotiation between the Scottish Executive and the United Kingdom Government. A Section 30 order was brought forward to bring about the devolution of railways to Scotland. Railways were not previously devolved. There were limits on that, as the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, will no doubt remember. Section 30 orders do not deal with matters that are already devolved. They are to confer on the Scottish Parliament devolved responsibility and powers in areas that are currently reserved. That is why it is important that they have to be passed by both Houses, as well as asking the Scottish Parliament, "Do you want these powers?".