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Scotland Bill — Committee (5th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:15 pm on 21st March 2012.

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Photo of Lord Browne of Ladyton Lord Browne of Ladyton Shadow Spokesperson (Scotland) 8:15 pm, 21st March 2012

I am sure that, from the point of view of the record and those who read it, it is probably better that the noble Lord says this and is not contradicted from the Dispatch Box, rather than that those words be put into the mouth of a Minister. I do not want to go too far down this road.

My point is that there are precious few options anyway. Without persuading, badgering or compelling the noble and learned Lord to go any further than the words that he wants to use, it is clear to me and, I think, to everyone who has heard this debate that the options are limited. Whatever option the Government choose in future if that set of circumstances arises, there will be an opportunity for your Lordships' House to have a detailed debate on the way in which the referendum is conducted.

That leaves us with the challenge of how we achieve that debate if it is a Section 30 Order in Council. We have been teasing out from the Government some concessions regarding that with proposals that have been made-one from my noble friend Lord Sewel and some from others-about iterations. However, it would be helpful if the noble and learned Lord indicated, perhaps even repeating what he said before, that something will be done to structure a process that allows the content of the order to be debated at some length here and in the other place before it gets to the point where it is set in stone and has to be either accepted or rejected and cannot be amended. I have so much faith in the noble and learned Lord, from the years that I have known him, because of his reputation before I knew him and from my dealings with him, that I know he will do his best to deliver that. If he gives the House an undertaking that some process will be found, I will accept that and play my part in that process.