We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Scotland Bill — Committee (5th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:45 pm on 21st March 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Lang of Monkton Lord Lang of Monkton Conservative 7:45 pm, 21st March 2012

My Lords, I intervene briefly in the debate simply because Amendment 88, tabled by my noble friend Lord Forsyth, also bears my name. I begin with an apology because I have been detained away from the House all day and indeed had not expected to be able to get back in time for this debate. Therefore, I speak with some diffidence because I have only heard half of the wind-up made by my noble and learned friend to the last debate.

This amendment was tabled when the United Kingdom Government were taking no clear interest in what was going on in Scotland, when the First Minister was being given a completely free run, and when there was a clear need for the Government to get a grip on this matter and represent the interests of the whole of the United Kingdom. That is what the amendment hopes to stimulate, and certainly there has been a lot of progress since then. I wish that I had heard all that my noble and learned friend was able to say this evening but, from the reaction to it, I understand that quite a lot of useful progress has been made.

What seems absolutely necessary is that whatever manoeuvring takes place involving a Section 30 order or whatever else may come along, we have to have a watertight situation in which the Scottish Executive cannot manoeuvre to break away from the commitment that we all now have to holding a referendum in Scotland, with clear wording that forces the issue on whether or not Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom. That point has been effectively made by a number of speakers today. I particularly agree with the comments made in the last debate by the noble Lords, Lord Williamson and Lord Reid.

My reason for intervening now is to draw my noble and learned friend's attention to what my noble friend Lord Forsyth said when he indicated that he was willing to withdraw his amendment but sought certain clear and specific assurances and undertakings. He made the case clearly and I shall not attempt to repeat it or improve on the language he used. However, I urge my noble and learned friend to respond directly, clearly and unambiguously to the request that he made.