Scotland Bill - Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 29th February 2016.

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Photo of Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lord Wallace of Tankerness Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords 6:45 pm, 29th February 2016

My Lords, I noted earlier, with regard to paragraph 103, that it surely cannot be conceivable that the funding would dry up. The House is therefore owed an explanation as to precisely what lies behind paragraphs 52 and 103 of this agreement.

The proposal that my noble friend and I have tabled is that there should be a review, which should be informed by a commission. The commission should be three persons from the Office for Budget Responsibility advisory panel, to be appointed by the OBR’s chairman, therefore taking it even more than arm’s length away from the Government, and that there also should be membership of a Scottish professional body—it could be the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland or CIPFA—to be agreed by Her Majesty’s Treasury and Scottish Ministers, whose members should be appointed by the senior office-bearer of that body. Again, that is an attempt to put it at one remove from the Scottish Government. It would be a genuinely independent body that would inform the review about how the fiscal framework had worked.

We go further than that by saying that no person appointed to the commission should have been a member of any political party for five years prior to accepting membership. Consistent with the fiscal framework, the report should be laid no later than 30 November 2021 and submitted to both Houses of this Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Scottish Ministers.

All that we find out in the fiscal framework agreement is that the arrangements for review, including how independent they will be, should be left to the Joint Exchequer Committee. We may feel that in order to be reassured, it is not unreasonable for Parliament to set some parameters for how the independence of that review body will be established. The amendment is therefore intended to probe just what Ministers have in mind with regard to the working out of that review, and indeed to answer some of the questions about what happens in the event of a failure to reach agreement on the review. There are important questions to be answered, and I look forward to the response of the Minister.

I am sorry, is the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, waiting to intervene or to ask a question?