Scotland Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 22nd February 2016.

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Photo of Lord Dunlop Lord Dunlop The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland 4:15 pm, 22nd February 2016

Well, it was certainly signed off by me, and my understanding was that the letters had gone off, but we will check that.

We want to secure the passage of the Bill and reach agreement on the fiscal framework. We can all agree that we want the focus at the Holyrood election to be on how the powers in the Bill are used. A number of noble Lords said that this House’s holding up consideration of the Bill would hinder the outcome that we all want and put the Bill’s timetable at unnecessary risk.

A number of noble Lords, including my noble friend, raised substantive points about the fiscal framework. One strong reason for proceeding today into Committee is so that we can have a debate and consider these matters in more detail. I very much agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, that Report gives us an opportunity to consider these matters further. I was particularly interested in the suggestion by the noble Lord, Lord Hollick, which was also made by the noble Lord, Lord Turnbull, about using Committee rules at Report. I undertake to ask my noble friend the Chief Whip, who has been listening very closely to this debate, to speak to the usual channels to see if using Committee rules at Report can be agreed.

The Government are working flat out to get a fiscal framework agreement. As I said in my opening speech, there has been intensive discussion, which continues today. I remain optimistic that a deal can be reached soon. But today is not the day to speculate about what happens if we do not reach agreement and what options we might have to consider in that scenario. I therefore ask my noble friend not to press his amendment.