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'for each of the two forms of ballot paper.'.

No. 92, in schedule 1, page 4, leave out lines 3 and 4 and insert


No. 95, in page 4, line 6, after 'Parliament', insert 'with tax-varying powers'.

No. 93, in page 4, line 9, at end insert


No. 94, in page 4, line 12, at end insert


No. 76, in page 4, leave out lines 13 to 22.

New schedule 8--Referendum in Scotland (No. 2)--

Part 1

Parliament has decided to consult people in Scotland on the Government's proposals for a Scottish Parliament.

4 Jun 1997 : Column 399

Put a cross (X) in the appropriate box:

Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough): Last night, as we concluded our deliberations before the 10 o'clock Adjournment, I was discussing the questions that were being suggested by the hon. Members for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) and for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond).

The questions to be used in the referendum on Scotland have, as we all know, taken many forms in the past few months. The right hon. Member for Hamilton, South (Mr. Robertson) went through so many twists and turns in reaching a conclusion as to what to present to the Scottish people that one could be forgiven for thinking that he was sitting on a sharp object. Or had ground control finally got in touch with Major Tom and shown him the blade of Excalibur? Whatever it was that brought the right hon. Gentleman to the present arrangement of two questions on one referendum, he was in danger of making the grand old Duke of York look decidedly decisive.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland wants one consolidated question asking electors whether they want a tax-raising Parliament in Scotland. He said that the taxation powers were critical for a Scottish Parliament to give it flexibility and accountability. Certainly, if I were in favour of a separate Scottish Parliament, I would not be content with a Parliament that could not vote its own budget--that is to offer a hungry man a plate, but no food. But that is precisely what the Welsh are to be offered by the Government. If I were a Welsh elector, I should throw it back in the Government's face. The Welsh are being insulted by the Government, as we all are by the Bill and the proposals for a referendum in Scotland and Wales that are set out in it.

Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset): Is not my hon. and learned Friend being unfair to the Government, in that they have made it clear that while they will ask in a referendum whether the Scottish people would like to have a tax-raising power in their Parliament, they also promised in the election campaign not to use that power and therefore to ignore whatever is said by the Scottish electors? Surely that is a strange thing for a Government who say that they want to be trusted by the people.

Mr. Garnier: My hon. Friend is right, but then the Labour party is a strange thing.

There are only two sensible ways to deal with the referendum--I touched on one of them last night. The first is to tell the people what the Government propose--to present the public with the scheme that they recommend. Provided that it has been set out before Parliament, discussed in both Houses, discussed on television and radio and in the press--argued over in all its three-dimensional glory--the public will know precisely what they are being offered.

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The public should be asked, "Do you or do you not approve of the proposal for a Scottish/Welsh Parliament contained in the Scotland/Wales Act 1997 or 1998?" I call that the Linlithgow question.

Mr. Michael Fallon (Sevenoaks): Given yesterday's debate and the persuasive case made by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), would it not be more appropriate to refer to this as the Linlithgow solution?

Mr. Garnier: It would be appropriate to call it the Linlithgow solution if I were the least bit confident that the Secretary of State for Scotland would accept his hon. Friend's solution, but he will not. The Government are not in listening mode.

To talk now of White Papers--or is it a Bill? We have yet to discover. Such talk is disingenuous and intellectually dishonest. To talk of proposals for "a Scottish Parliament" means nothing. Given the timetable motion, we can expect little room for discussion from the Government. The people are entitled to know now--before the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Bill becomes law--the details of the proposals. Without knowing the details, they are neither informed nor in a position to make a rational judgment.

The second way to deal with the referendum is to ask people whether they want independence. That is the solution preferred by the Scottish nationalists. If the people say that they want independence, it will be up to the people of Scotland to decide on their own Parliament, to set out their own plans for their taxation system and, possibly, if they want to move outside the ambit of foreign and defence affairs dealt with from Whitehall, to settle their own treaties and international affairs. However, the Government have neither the brains nor the bravery to produce anything other than a total mess. We now watch them with amazement that the reputation they were entitled to expect on election by a vast majority is rapidly sifting away. I urge all hon. Members to watch them like hawks.

3.45 pm

Mr. Fallon: There are many amendments in this group, but I wish to speak to amendments Nos. 111 and 112 in my name and the names of my hon. Friends the Members for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) and for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow).

Putting the phrase "tax-varying powers" on the face of the Bill as well as on the ballot paper perpetuates a deception that was skilfully cultivated during the run-up to the election. That deception is that the only powers that the new Scottish Parliament will have are tax-varying powers, or that the only powers that matter that the new Scottish Parliament will have are tax-varying powers. That, of course, is not true. We cannot know precisely the total number of other powers that the new Scottish Parliament is likely to have, because we do not yet have the White Paper before us; but, from the very choice of the word "parliament" for the proposed new body and from the previous attempts to establish such a Parliament, we can deduce that the range of powers to be given to the new Parliament is quite considerable.

First, as one would expect of any parliament, there is the power to make law. It is inevitable that when the Government come to consider the detail of their

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proposals, they will attempt to transfer some law making of some sort from this House to the new Scottish Parliament. Perhaps Scottish private legislation, or those curious Scottish orders that are referred to special commissioners, or some types of Scottish legislation at the later stages of consideration will be transferred or delegated to the new Scottish Parliament. If so, they will be formidable powers, affecting every citizen of Scotland and it may well be that those voting in the referendum will prefer those powers not to be exercised by a new Scottish Parliament.

After all, Scotland already has plenty of government: a Scottish Office, local authorities and a large number of Members of Parliament. Indeed, until we reduced the layer of regional government, it could be argued that Scotland had more government than almost any other country in western Europe.

Sir Robert Smith (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine): An existing layer of government is the Scottish Office. How do Conservative Members plan to hold the Scottish Office accountable to the people it is meant to serve--the people of Scotland?

Mr. Fallon: That neatly takes me on to the second power of the Scottish Parliament, which is its power to hold Ministers, the Scottish Office and Scottish public bodies to account. At the moment, that power is exercised through this House, where Scottish Office Ministers are held to account by all Members of Parliament, whether or not they sit for Scottish constituencies. The Conservative Government strengthened that accountability by ensuring that the Scottish Grand Committee could hold to account Ministers other than those representing the Scottish Office--a welcome innovation. However, some of the people who will vote in the referendum may feel that that power should not be exercised by the new Scottish Parliament. It would all depend on whether the exercise of that power was proportionate to the cost of the new machinery by means of which it was exercised, or whether it simply duplicated the existing arrangements that prevail in the House.


Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): These questions cannot be answered in any form until another question is answered: to whom will the civil service be responsible? Will civil servants be responsible to the United Kingdom Government, as they are at present? To whom will they owe their prime loyalty? I hate to use the word "masters", because I do not believe that that is the appropriate relationship, yet, in some senses, it is the old problem of serving two masters. Are civil servants to be responsible to the Ministers in a Scottish Parliament? Until that question has been resolved, the issues that the hon. Gentleman properly raises cannot be resolved.

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