Scotland Bill - Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:30 pm on 29th February 2016.

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Photo of The Earl of Caithness The Earl of Caithness Conservative 7:30 pm, 29th February 2016

My Lords, we are in a mess. It is a very sad occasion when you get a situation like this where the pass has been sold. What is most interesting about the debate is the number of Scots who are questioning this because it affects adversely the rest of the United Kingdom, and I add my name to that list. I have never before attended a debate in this House, in the many years that I have been here, which has involved so many Scots who are all on the same side against an agreement that is beneficial to Scotland. Let us make it absolutely clear: Scotland had a very good deal before the present devolution agreement and it now has an even better deal. It will rank as one of the great victories that the Scots have achieved over the English Government. It is the UK Government in this case, but as far as the Scots are concerned, it is the English Government.

At the meeting this afternoon my noble friend Lord Dunlop said that this is a significant agreement which provides the opportunity to end the blame game. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. This will not end the blame game—the blame game will continue. All of us who have been brought up in Scotland know full well that whatever the UK Government concede to the Scots Government, particularly the Scots nationalist Government, it will never be enough. The blame will continue.

We have an interim agreement but a permanent agreement. The interim agreement has handed over the grenade, as the noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, said, to go off five years or five and a half years down the road. No one is going to want to handle that grenade, and as the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, said, it will be passed on again. So we have a false but permanent agreement which is of huge detriment to the rest of the United Kingdom.