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Scotland Bill — Committee (5th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 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) 7:00 pm, 21st March 2012

I will make this clear. If agreement could not be reached on a Section 30 order, and if we ensured that the matter was kept out of the courts-which I hope would be the preference of most if not all of us-we would need to consider what other options were open to us to provide a legal, fair and decisive referendum. However, just as we were taken many times down the road of, "What if we cannot get a legislative consent Motion?", which we have now seen is possible, we should make it clear that we are confident that we can reach agreement.

We reached agreement on the Scotland Bill when some said that it would be impossible. We reached agreement that Section 30 was the preferred route of both Governments to deliver a legal referendum. When I made my Statement on 10 January, I could not have said that that would be the case. The Scottish Government publicly stated that they share our view that the Electoral Commission should review the question. In their consultation paper, they state that their preference is for a single, direct question. Therefore, I am confident that we can continue to reach agreement on all these matters. The focus of our efforts must be on doing that rather than on speculating hypothetically. Just as we achieved agreement on the Scotland Bill, I believe that further agreement will be possible.