Devolution

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:16 pm on 3rd June 1999.

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Photo of Donald Gorrie Donald Gorrie Liberal Democrat 3:16 pm, 3rd June 1999

I was busy doing my preparation at the 11 th hour, which is, I am afraid, a bad habit of mine.

I wish to raise my concern-this probably reveals my ignorance-about the wording of the schedules to the order on cross-border authorities. I have found that four of the schedules refer to the secretary of state, and, although I am not entirely sure, I assume that the references are, in one case, to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and, in another, to the Home Secretary. The references are not clear in the schedules, although obviously they are clear in the acts that the orders will change. I suggest that, for the benefit of those of us who read documents at the 11th hour, the documents should make clear which secretary of state would be acting jointly with the Scottish ministers.

The Lord Chancellor creeps into schedule 9, but I am not sure why-although I have nothing against him. We should try to be as clear as possible on the already slightly wavy grey line-which is like the River Esk-between Scottish jurisdiction and Westminster jurisdiction. Where does the Lord Chancellor come in?

In schedule 20, which is about police information technology organisations, there is reference to a body that has three members, of whom "(i) at least one shall be appointed by the Secretary of State;

(ii) at least one shall be appointed by the Secretary of State after consultation with the Scottish Ministers; and

(iii) at least one shall be appointed by the Scottish Ministers".

As a proportional person, I should approve of that. The schedule is trying to be fair, but is it not a bit confusing?

Can we be as clear as possible in distinguishing between our remit and that of Westminster? Where documents refer to the secretary of state, can we be clear whether the reference is to the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Home Secretary or whoever?