Devolution (Constitution Committee Reports) - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:34 pm on 9th October 2017.

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Photo of Lord Wallace of Tankerness Lord Wallace of Tankerness Liberal Democrat 4:34 pm, 9th October 2017

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, makes an important point about the distribution of funds but that point should be agreed. It should not be done, as it were, on a top-down basis by the United Kingdom Government. I would point out to him that when there was a change in the basis for European Union agricultural payments in the early years of this century, Scotland went down the route of historic payments whereas England certainly went down that of payments based on area—I am not sure about Wales. So even under the present arrangements, there are differences in how these things are dealt with north and south of the border.

I will not detain the House on other issues relating to migration, on which the committee made important recommendations. Having looked at the Government’s response, it makes the word “banal” sound exciting—there was no response at all. The Government should have second thoughts on that and address the very important points made by the committee.

If we had a ministerial group setting out the framework, as I have proposed, we would also need some body to overlook it. That could well be done through an inter-parliamentary body, trying to bring the different Parliaments of the United Kingdom together—in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Westminster Parliament—to provide that kind of oversight. If that is a step towards federalism, then certainly from these Benches I do not apologise.