Scotland Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 22nd February 2016.

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Photo of Lord McAvoy Lord McAvoy Shadow Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow Spokesperson (Scotland), Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Lords) 3:30 pm, 22nd February 2016

The noble Lord will have to accept that I do not agree with him on this, and I do not think he will agree with what I am about to say. The arrangements are designed to facilitate the passage of the Bill and the fiscal framework discussions. Quite frankly, I do not believe that that is the noble Lord’s intention; I believe it is his intention to kill off the discussions.

The atmosphere in Scotland is one of mistrust. I try not to make political points, but the result of the 2015 general election was, I maintain, a direct result of the Prime Minister’s triumphalist press conference in Downing Street the morning after the referendum when he sent the message, “English votes for English laws”, and hostility towards those who had voted yes. There was a sea change in Scotland, where all Labour Party seats were wiped out with the exception of one. We were seen to be conniving and in collusion with a Conservative Prime Minister.

On the other side of the coin, we have got the SNP, with its grievance culture, which is determined to attack Westminster and cast doubt on Westminster’s good intentions—unfairly, because I believe that the intentions here for Scotland are good on both sides of the House. I also think that there was an element of scare story when the noble Lord mentioned that I, the Labour Party and the Conservative Party were terrified of Scots. Terrified of my own people? I respect their desire. I respect their wishes—it is our job to facilitate them—and I believe that that is also the position of the House of Lords.

From the Cross Benches, the noble and learned Lord made it plain that the fiscal framework can still be discussed on Report. This is not a panic measure. This is not ifs, buts or maybes. This is the calmness for which this House is renowned. There will be plenty of opportunity if we can get these discussions to a conclusion. Certainly the indications give hope that we can get the conclusions.