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Scotland Bill - Committee (3rd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:00 pm on 22nd February 2016.

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Photo of The Earl of Kinnoull The Earl of Kinnoull Crossbench 10:00 pm, 22nd February 2016

My Lords, in moving Amendment 80, I wish to speak also to Amendment 81.

Amendment 80 is intended to do something very simple. The language is illustrative only. The concept is that a power to be transferred under the Bill would be so transferred only once the Secretary of State was satisfied that arrangements were in place for the transferred power to be successfully and smoothly operated in Scotland; and that, by implication, matters in the rest of the UK would continue at least as successfully and smoothly as before that transfer. This is fully consistent with the Smith commission agreement and would, of course, remove all temptation to go for a rushed and bodged job—a temptation that has so often been succumbed to in the process that has led us here today. It is quite simply a small source of comfort and protection for the ordinary citizens of Scotland and the rest of the UK who would be the innocent victims of such a rushed and bodged job. It is worth noting that I was anticipating that a similar discipline would be observed in Holyrood.

As I said in an earlier debate in Committee, the origin of this thinking came from a conversation that I had with an SNP MP, who said that he had anticipated teething troubles where the British Transport Police were concerned. Here, I assume that “teething troubles” means young women being thumped, drug smuggling having an easier ride and terrorists getting through. I dare say that the Minister will suggest that the amendment is not needed because responsible Ministers would act in such a manner anyway. However, I put it to the Committee that in the politically charged atmosphere that is the genesis and continuing history of this Bill, we have seen time and again actions taking place that would not occur under the simple discipline proposed in Amendment 80, and when taking into account the ordinary citizen’s point of view rather than the political one.

I further add that, as we move into a more devolved United Kingdom, with further devolution deals affecting other parts of the UK, this would be a help as a general principle. It would ensure that the risk of teething troubles is greatly reduced. It would mean that devolution is considered from the point of view of the ordinary citizen, not the politician.

Amendment 81 was debated at an earlier stage, and I know that the Crown Estate will come up again on Report, but would the Minister care to comment on whether the SNP has had put to it the various Crown Estate ideas which have been debated in this House? If so, what did it have to say about them? I beg to move.