Scotland Bill - Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:30 pm on 29th February 2016.

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Photo of Lord Dunlop Lord Dunlop The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland 8:30 pm, 29th February 2016

For the reasons that I have explained, the Scottish Parliament is giving its legislative consent to the Bill and this House is being asked to approve the provisions of the Bill, so we are absolutely on the same footing.

Turning to the review of the fiscal framework, this is an agreement between Governments and it will be operated by Governments. Ultimately, therefore, the formal review should be conducted by Governments. However, as I have said, there is plenty of room for independent contributions. We have built an independent report into the review process for the first time for Scotland’s fiscal framework and, as I have said, I hope that the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee will contribute its views on how this report should be structured. In addition, there is nothing to prevent other independent voices giving their views to either Government at any stage.

Let me reassure the House on one final aspect of Amendment 57AA. It is already our stated intention to have an independent report for the end of 2021. My expectation is that report will be published, although it will be for the Government of the day to determine that.

Finally, I turn to Amendment 57AC, tabled my noble friend Lord Forsyth. I fully support the principle behind this amendment, as Governments should be accountable for all the public money that is spent, in whatever context. However, the Scottish Parliament already has an important scrutiny role over more than £30 billion-worth of spending. I therefore think it is primarily for the Scottish Parliament to monitor how the Scottish Government use the funds they will have to implement devolution following the Smith commission. I hope and expect that it will fulfil this role vigorously.

To reassure the House, I point to the scrutiny afforded to implementation of the Scottish rate of income tax following the Scotland Act 2012. The Scottish Parliament has taken on a significant role here, holding the Scottish Government to account. However, this does not mean that the UK Government and this Parliament are without a role. As I have said, we have committed to report annually to Parliament on the operation of the framework. I know those reports will receive full scrutiny. I therefore ask my noble friend to withdraw his amendment.