Scotland Bill - Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:15 pm on 29th February 2016.

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Photo of Lord McAvoy Lord McAvoy Shadow Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow Spokesperson (Scotland), Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Lords) 9:15 pm, 29th February 2016

This proposed new schedule on the joint committee on welfare devolution provides for an across-Parliament committee to oversee the transition and implementation of welfare powers transferred under this Bill. The committee would include Members from both Parliaments and would be required to report frequently in the transition phase, and therefore annually. We hope there will be some kind of progress on that, similar to the statement made by the Minister a few minutes ago about listening and implementing ideas. That is always welcome.

This joint committee on welfare devolution that we propose would comprise the Secretary of State as the chair of the committee, and a list of other members as well. I will not read them all out. The members of the joint committee would be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Lord Speaker of the House of Lords, and by various bodies given in the proposed new Schedule. There might be some technical things regarding the name of the committee and what sort of rules would govern its procedures, but the main thrust of this is to examine the transfer, implementation and operation of the powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament by Part 3 of the Bill.

Welfare and the payments within it are too important to just be left to hang, so we hope that some sort of committee—something similar to this—or some implementation of transparency would help. Again, public exposure, scrutiny and transparency all help. We propose that the joint committee publish a report on the transfer and implementation of the powers devolved at least once every three months for the first three years from the date on which this Bill is passed, and on the operation of the powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament at least once in each calendar year starting three years from the date on which this Bill is passed. Welfare is too complicated and important compared to other powers. It is essential that there be some monitoring and transparency on that. We hope the Minister can respond as positively as he did to the last amendment. I beg to move.