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Clause 94 - Making of order

Part of Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 8:55 am on 6th December 2001.

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Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes Minister of State, Scottish Office, Minister of State (Scotland Office) 8:55 am, 6th December 2001

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right about what happened; his work in the Library last night was not in vain. I am glad that he is taking the matter so seriously. On 24 October I was listening to the debate in the Scottish Parliament, so I have not had to read the proceedings as he has had to do. The position is clear. My responsibility, which I have undertaken on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, was to consult the appropriate Ministers—[Interruption.] The Opposition spokesman does not seem to be interested in my answer to his question. My duty is to consult the Ministers in the Scottish Parliament who have such a responsibility, and they must judge whether it is necessary for them to consult the Scottish Parliament before agreeing to my request and our proceeding in that direction.

The constitutional position, however, is that, once the Sewel motion has been passed, this Parliament has absolute authority to legislate in the areas covered by the motion. What I did was a courtesy, and I believe that it was the right courtesy. It was establishing a precedent, and I believe that it was the right precedent. It is, however, up to Scottish Ministers to decide whether they think that it is necessary to consult the Scottish Parliament.