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Mr. Gorrie: We support the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing). My hon. Friends and I have been airing other possibilities whereby the Scottish Parliament could experiment with Committees with full Members who were not Members of the Scottish Parliament. Instead of MSPs talking to deputations, people outside the Scottish Parliament who knew about or worked in a particular field--whether it was health, education or transport--as deliverers or users of services could join MSPs on Scrutiny Committees. The amendment is an extension of that.

We hope that the Scottish Parliament will experiment with much more flexible Committees than those in the House. Whether that is achieved through its Standing Orders or by accepting the hon. Lady's amendment, I believe that it would be a move in the right direction.

Mr. McLeish: Once again, we are sympathetic to the spirit and the concept of the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing). We want to make the Scottish Parliament different, and everyone in Scotland has accepted that it should have different machinery and procedures. There has been particular emphasis on pre-legislation discussions before Bills are published, and great play has been made of the fact that European legislation should have much greater scrutiny than it does in the House.

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The hon. Lady referred to Europe. We are learning from Europe as we develop policies for the Scottish Parliament. That is part of the work of the consultative steering group, and it is important that we accept that the spirit of doing things differently and learning from Europe is fundamental to what we want to achieve.

7.15 pm

There may be occasions when contributions by MEPs might help in the consideration of EU proposals. However, how best to achieve that is a matter that should be left to the Scottish Parliament to decide.

Hon. Members must appreciate that the Scottish Parliament's Committees and sub-Committees will be composed of MSPs. It is obviously right and proper that only elected Members should have the right to vote when Committees take decisions. I appreciate that the hon. Lady is not suggesting anything to the contrary. Special provision is made in the Bill for the case where the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor-General are not Members of the Scottish Parliament. However, that does not prevent the Parliament from deciding whether and how to make provision in its Standing Orders on arrangements for inviting non-Members of the Parliament to attend Committees and participate in their deliberations, so that the benefit of their knowledge and experience is available to the Parliament. Again, I anticipate broad agreement that that is a sensible and constructive proposal.

I suggest that the matter might be taken up by the all-party consultative steering group, which has been established to look at the detailed Standing Orders for the Scottish Parliament. The hon. Lady smiles, but that is a genuine expression of sympathy for the points that have been raised. We have the opportunity within the consultative steering group and subsequently within the Standing Orders of the new Parliament to establish a proper precedent and procedure.

In view of that, I should be grateful if the hon. Lady withdrew her amendment, so that we can discuss how best the matter can be taken forward in the forum that we have to examine the pre-Standing Order position, and in the Parliament itself when it is established.

Mrs. Ewing: I have listened with interest to the comments in this short debate, and I shall not detain the Committee for long. The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) seems to be personalising almost every amendment. Last night we had the "Sean Connery enabling amendment" and tonight it has been the "co-opt my mother-in-law" amendment. I was not proposing co-opting my mother-in-law, although she would be most effective in any Committee dealing with European legislation. However, it was important to explore the proposal in the context of the Scottish Parliament.

The exchanges that I have had with the Secretary of State about derogations and who takes the ultimate decision, and the long letters that were sometimes very difficult to comprehend, suggest there is a need for co-ordination between elected MEPs and MSPs.

Mr. Dewar: Just to clarify a matter of some interest and importance, is it not true that the hon. Lady's mother-in-law has announced that she will not be a Member of the European Parliament after the next election?

Mrs. Ewing: The Secretary of State is not following matters carefully, because consultation is currently under

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way in my mother-in-law's constituency. I know that the Secretary of State has addressed the issue through the Highlands and Islands Convention. Because of the changes in the elections to the European Parliament in Scotland, whereby eight MEPs will represent Scotland, the Highlands and Islands Convention is having to address proper representation and co-operation. In the context of the Scottish Parliament, there could be an extension of that argument, on which he and I agree.

Dr. Fox: As a matter of interest, is the logic of the hon. Lady's case that there would be circumstances in which she would envisage benefit being achieved from co-opting Scottish Members here to Committees of the Scottish Parliament, for the same reasons that she has given in respect of European legislation?

Mrs. Ewing: That does not apply to the schedule. You would rule me out of order, Sir Alan, if I carried on. There is a case for the Scottish Parliament to consider new ways of dealing with the information that comes to it and bringing in expertise. None of us wants to be narrow on that. That was the attitude behind the amendment.

Although I shall seek the leave of the Committee to withdraw the amendment, the Minister of State is beginning to give the steering committee a lot of hard work. I gave a very short precis of how other Parliaments work with their MEPs. The steering committee may be in danger of taking issues away from the House and not bringing them back at an effective stage. Perhaps he could ensure that that is given serious consideration on Report. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 22

Members' interests

Dr. Fox: I beg to move amendment No. 159, in page 10, line 33, after 'person', insert

', organisation or trade union'.

The Chairman: With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 160, in page 10, line 38, after 'person', insert

', organisation or trade union'.

Government amendment No. 222.

Dr. Fox: We want to get through a great deal of material this evening. I hope that the Committee will understand that the length of time that I take on the amendment does not detract from the seriousness with which we regard the issue.

The White Paper says that the Parliament must be open, responsive and accountable. It confirms that Standing Orders will cover Members' pecuniary interests. The Bill says that the Standing Orders must prohibit Members from advocating a matter

or from urging any other Members to do so in return for payment or benefit.

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I shall not detain the Committee by going over recent history, the traumas that Parliament has been through, and the measures that we put in place to deal with such matters, or mentioning any of the on-going sagas involving hon. Members on both sides. That is irrelevant. However, it is important that the Scottish Parliament should have an opportunity for clarity and transparency with the new measures to be put in place.

Given the current and past political culture in Scotland, the Minister should consider our amendment, which would add "organisation or trade union" after "person". We know about the close relationship between the trade unions and the Labour party, which remains the largest party in Scotland. The relationship is stronger in Midlothian and Sedgefield than in Islington, where the Labour party probably attracts the appropriate residents. Without the amendment, the Government may be open to the charge of having one rule for their friends and other rules for the rest.

Mr. Canavan: Does the definition of "organisation" include limited companies and lobbying organisations, from which many Tory Members of Parliament have accepted huge amounts of money to further their cause?

Dr. Fox: The hon. Gentleman belittles the debate. I do not want to get involved in the petty accusations that tend to bedevil such debates. I hope that it will be made clear from the outset that the definition includes companies and lobbying organisations. If the Government do not accept the amendment, I hope that they will come up with their own.

The House has always had a tradition that declarations of interest are not made during oral questions because of the time that that would take. Why do the Government think that there should be different arrangements for the Scottish Parliament?

I also wonder whether the Bill should include a provision to prevent or restrict participation in the proceedings of the Parliament by a Member with a registerable interest. Surely the important fact is that the Member should register and declare the interest. That should guarantee that the Parliament knows whose case he may be advocating. If that is transparent, I do not know why there is any need for a power to prevent or restrict.

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