United Kingdom: The Union - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:35 pm on 23rd June 2022.

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Photo of Lord Bruce of Bennachie Lord Bruce of Bennachie Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Scotland) 4:35 pm, 23rd June 2022

My Lords, this has been an excellent debate and we should all be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Lisvane, not only for initiating the debate but for the work he has done in bringing forward practical suggestions as to how we might carry out reform. He has also triggered clear enthusiasm in this House for it to take initiatives which might propel thoughtful measures of reform to secure the future workings of the United Kingdom. I think we would all commend that, but I hope that we can find some way of organising a committee that will take it forward. I speak as someone who was a member of the Scottish Constitutional Convention for quite a few years, and I honestly believe that the Scotland Act—imperfect as it was—was infinitely better because of the convention than the previous example of the Labour Government’s attempt to do it without such background work. I believe that it was an extremely good initiative.

We are all grateful for the contributions of the right reverend Prelate during his two years here and in his valedictory address, which was short and sweet, but very much to the point. We wish him well in his future.

The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, made one particular point of detail which I need to take him up on: it is not true that Scottish students cannot study outside Scotland. In fact, it is worse than that: many Scottish students must study outside Scotland, because, although tuition fees are free, the number of places have been capped by the Scottish Government so that the vast majority of Scottish students cannot get into Scottish universities and, indeed, have to move. My own son has chosen to move; he is matriculating at a London university this coming year, having been disappointed about his participation in the Scottish system—