Scotland Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:15 pm on 22nd February 2016.

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Photo of Lord Hope of Craighead Lord Hope of Craighead Convenor of the Crossbench Peers 3:15 pm, 22nd February 2016

My Lords, the point that the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, made at the end of his brief speech seems to me to support the position that the Minister is urging us to adopt. The last thing we want is to be seen to be delaying the progress of the Bill through Parliament. As I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, what occurred to me was the lack of clarity over how today’s debate will be affected by the absence of the fiscal framework. The Bill proceeds in stages, of course. We are looking today at the Committee stage and the fine wording and tuning of the various clauses in Parts 2 and 3. For the moment, I do not see how the wording of those clauses will be affected by the fiscal framework. At a later stage, the noble Lord may propose that we should not allow these clauses to go forward in the Bill. However, that could be done on Report; it does not have to be done today. If, as the Minister said, there is a prospect of the fiscal framework being agreed tomorrow so that we have it before us on Report, I do not see why the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, cannot be examined at that stage, too, or, as a last resort, at Third Reading. Given the nature of today’s debate, I respectfully suggest that the balance of advantage is to proceed to maintain the parliamentary timetable, which is crucial if we are to do our job of supporting the Smith commission.