Scotland Bill - Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:15 pm on 29th February 2016.

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Photo of Lord Dunlop Lord Dunlop The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland 8:15 pm, 29th February 2016

My noble friend is of course quite right that the fiscal framework should receive detailed scrutiny from this Parliament. I know that this House will play a full part and I anticipate that the House of Commons will do the same. What the House is being asked to do today is to scrutinise and approve one of the most significant aspects of the framework: the capital and resource borrowing powers. The noble Lord, Lord Empey, raised this issue and we will have an opportunity to debate it in detail in the next group of amendments. Dr Angus Armstrong of NIESR told the Lords Economic Affairs Committee that the question of borrowing is,

“the most important question in the whole debate”.

In due course, this Parliament will also be asked to approve changes to tax legislation as a result of the fiscal framework and the Smith commission. That legislation will be scrutinised by Parliament in the usual way. Likewise, the legislation required in Westminster to establish the Scottish Fiscal Commission on a permanent footing by means of an order under the Scotland Act will receive scrutiny in both Houses before it is approved. As I said to the noble Lord, Lord McFall, the Government have committed to report annually to Parliament on the operation of the framework. I know that these reports will receive full scrutiny.

At the end of the day, the fiscal framework has been agreed between the two Governments. To introduce a further process at this stage would not only delay the transfer of powers, it would mean that the UK Government