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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

My Lords, I do not think anyone is suggesting putting on the ballot paper, "Do you think it is legal?". That would ultimately be a matter for the courts to determine. The collective view is that we should find a way forward that, as best as anyone can, puts that question beyond doubt. That is why we recommend a Section 30 order as the best way of achieving that.

Let me make progress and allow others to contribute. Early analysis of the consultation responses shows clear support for a referendum with a single question on independence. We will take this support for our position into discussions on the Section 30 order. We must be clear that the Scottish Government in their own consultation paper state that their preference is for a single question on independence.

Finally, on the amendments that consider whether a referendum on independence should be held in Scotland or across the United Kingdom, I readily recognise that a decision for Scotland to leave the United Kingdom would have significant implications for those left in the remainder of the United Kingdom. However, it has already been articulated by the noble Lord, Lord Reid, that the question of whether Scotland remains part of the UK or becomes independent is for the people of Scotland alone to answer.

The noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, said that we should set some targets. I hope that in this debate and the debate on the next group of amendments the Government can get a flavour of what your Lordships believe are the important targets and issues that we should strive to achieve in subsequent negotiations.