Scotland Bill - Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:00 pm on 29th February 2016.

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Photo of Lord Stephen Lord Stephen Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Scotland) 10:00 pm, 29th February 2016

My Lords, this is all complex, although perhaps not as overwhelmingly complex as the fiscal framework itself. However, I am very pleased that the Government have brought forward amendments to respond to the views of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. At this late hour, I do not intend going into all the detail, but it is interesting to note that, instead of—as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, my noble and learned friend Lord Wallace of Tankerness and I proposed—deleting words and cutting back on these very wide and open powers to Ministers to change primary and secondary legislation here, in Northern Ireland and in other parts of the UK, the Government have introduced extra words to try to restrict those very wide powers. The restrictions are welcome; I would still have preferred such wide powers for Ministers—given inadvertently, I think—to be removed.

Doubtless, however, due to the political imperative, at this hour we will all accept the Government’s approach and amendments. I close by thanking the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, for raising the issue and the Law Society of Scotland for the hard work that it has done on the detailed wording that it provided to us in presenting our amendments. I hope that, through constructive opposition to the Government, we have a set of measures brought forward by them that respond to the correct concerns voiced about the nature of the Bill as drafted. I look forward to the Minister’s explanation, so that we can make sure that all the points of concern have been covered.