Scotland Bill — Third Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 21st March 2016.

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Photo of Lord Hope of Craighead Lord Hope of Craighead Convenor of the Crossbench Peers 3:30 pm, 21st March 2016

My Lords, when I spoke on this matter on Report, having tabled an amendment which dealt with the issue in slightly different terms from those proposed by Amendments 1 and 2 on the Marshalled List, I said that I would come back to the issue at Third Reading. But, on consideration of the various rules and practices, I decided not to renew my amendment in recognition of the fact that it would not be proper to bring it forward in those terms.

I am grateful to the Minister for the statement he has made, which goes a little way to addressing the problem. But I feel very strongly that this is an example of a missed opportunity, which could have been taken to clarify exactly what the Sewel convention is, to remove some of the problems to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, referred, and to deal with the complications raised by the use of the word “normally”.

As I stressed on Report, my concern was to preserve the sovereignty of Parliament, which the Minister mentioned in his brief address. The problem with the method he has chosen is that it opens up the possibility of a challenge to the sovereignty of Parliament, which is the greatest danger of all, because it puts at risk the enforceability of legislation where the spectre, if I should put it this way, of the Sewel convention may be hanging over it. I understand that the Minister has gone as far as he believes he can—but, like others, I regret that he was not able to go further.