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Mr. McLeish: This has been a good debate and I shall try to answer most, if not all, of the questions that have been put.

Mr. Ancram: It will be the first time.

Mr. McLeish: I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will listen to my reply. He may enjoy the experience.

The amendments to the clauses relating to the Parliament's powers to call for witnesses and documents address the issue from a number of different standpoints. It may be helpful if I first make three points to clarify the intention of the provisions.

First, the purpose of these provisions is to give the Scottish Parliament the right to require oral and written evidence relating to devolved or executively devolved matters. That is the basic principle underlying these provisions. Those outside Scotland and Ministers and civil servants of the United Kingdom Government can be summoned only if they have responsibilities for devolved or executively devolved matters, and they can be summoned only to speak about those matters. Those are, of course, the matters for which the Scottish Parliament will be responsible. We take the view that it should not have powers of compulsion in relation to matters where it does not have responsibility.

Secondly, some of the amendments tabled suggest some confusion about the definition of a cross-border public body. I remind hon. Members that cross-border public bodies are bodies which have functions in or as regards Scotland in relation to devolved matters as well as other functions. Those other functions may relate to reserved matters in Scotland or to matters elsewhere in the United Kingdom. They are not bodies that deal with reserved matters only.

Mr. Jenkin: Will the Minister clarify what exactly is meant by the term "relating to Scotland"? For example, the Scottish Parliament has a responsibility for foreign

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policy because it is free to discuss foreign policy. Therefore, could it summon the Foreign Secretary to give evidence on the question of, say, foreign policy as it affects Scotland?

Mr. McLeish: I shall deal with that point in a minute. The legislative competence is at Westminster. The Foreign Secretary could be invited, but not summoned.

Thirdly, those who are responsible only for reserved matters cannot be summoned in connection with those matters. They can, however, be invited to attend and to submit documents in relation to reserved matters. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent the Scottish Parliament from inviting evidence about anything from anyone, and that is as it should be. I hope that that captures some of the concerns expressed by hon. Members in relation to matters in which the Parliament might be involved.

Mr. Canavan: I accept that people can be invited rather than summoned, but some people might want to refuse the invitation. If someone in England or Wales had been trying to bribe a Member of the Scottish Parliament, the appropriate Committee of the Scottish Parliament might want to summon that person to give evidence before it. If he refused to come, we would have no powers to force him to do so.

Mr. McLeish: There is a distinction, on which I shall expand, between the devolved matter and the reserved matter. It is important to establish that as a principle. We are keen to have a common-sense, balanced view of the Parliament's responsibilities in devolved matters. The central principle is the distinction between reserved and devolved matters. My hon. Friend will see that as I develop my contribution.

Mr. Wallace: The Minister is seeking to answer the point about calling witnesses over matters that are reserved powers, but which have an impact in Scotland. Does he agree that there is nothing in the legislation to make it clear that Parliament can do that by the very nature of it being a request? Might not it be helpful if the existence of that power were put beyond doubt? It would be helpful if it were in the Bill.

Mr. McLeish: We take the opposite view. Many matters raised in debate could be put into the Bill. Parliament can invite anyone to contribute on anything to the Parliament. On that basis, it is assumed that that will happen. We see no particular need to write that into the Bill.

Ms Roseanna Cunningham: I am interested in what the Minister says, and I am glad to hear it in so far as it goes because, as I understand it, the Minister is saying that anyone can invite anyone, and explicit permission is not needed to do so. The issue concerns not so much the invitation, as the response to the invitation. Would the Scottish Parliament prefer to invite or compel the Director-General of the BBC to explain his decision on "Panorama"?

Mr. McLeish: There clearly cannot be an element of compulsion to what is merely an invitation. If a person who is part of an organisation does not respond to an invitation, clearly the Parliament cannot discipline that

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person. The BBC is not regarded as a cross-border public body because, in terms of the regulatory framework, legislative competence is based at Westminster.

Mr. Salmond: Anybody can invite anybody to do anything. Any hon. Member has the power of invitation. The Minister is right to say that it does not need to be written into legislation, but if the Scottish Parliament has competence--if the Minister wants to stay faithful to the White Paper, he must recognise that the question from my hon. Friend the Member for Perth (Ms Cunningham) is perfectly apposite--it should be able to compel an organisation such as the BBC, with interests in Scotland, as mentioned in the White Paper, to give evidence in so far as those interests affect the Scottish people and what the Parliament will be discussing.

Mr. McLeish: That is simply not what should happen. We seem to be stuck on a point about inviting anyone on anything. That power will be available to the Parliament, but that is not the important issue behind clause 23. If I could make some progress, I could start to address some of the issues that were raised.

The power to require evidence should relate directly to the Parliament's responsibilities and to those who are accountable to it for exercising them. That seems straightforward and there is an element of common sense in that. Those who are not formally accountable to the Parliament, however, will be able to attend and give evidence, assuming that they are willing to do so.

9 pm

I should like to consider the Government amendments to clauses 23 and 24, and to schedule 4. These are in line with the principles that I have just noted. I shall then respond to the amendments proposed by other right hon. and hon. Members.

Amendments Nos. 223, 224 and 225 will clarify the matters in relation to which the Scottish Parliament can exercise its power of summons, and in particular the circumstances in which Ministers of the United Kingdom Government and their civil servants may be summoned.

Amendment No. 224 is the main amendment of the group. Its purpose is to amend clause 23(3). It was not intended that the clause should enable the Parliament to summon United Kingdom Ministers and their civil servants unless they, rather than the Scottish Executive, were responsible for functions concerning devolved matters. As the clause stands, however, it would enable the Parliament to compel the attendance of Ministers of the Crown, and United Kingdom civil servants, where they were exercising functions that they were permitted to exercise concurrently with the Scottish Ministers--for example, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is permitted under clause 52(f) of the Bill to continue to provide financial assistance to industry in Scotland, such as by giving grants to particular industry sectors.

To subject United Kingdom Ministers and civil servants to the Scottish Parliament's power of summons in such cases constitutes a form of double accountability. Ministers of the Crown and United Kingdom civil servants exercising these functions will use resources voted by the United Kingdom Parliament and should be accountable to it and not to the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Parliament will, however, be able to--I use the phrase again--invite them to attend.

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The amendment also clarifies a related point by providing that United Kingdom Ministers and their civil servants cannot be summoned before the Scottish Parliament just because it is provided in, say, an executive devolution order under clause 59 that the Scottish Ministers must be consulted or their agreement sought about the exercise of a function by a United Kingdom Minister that concerns a reserved matter.

Mr. Salmond: Let us take as an example the concordat that the Minister and his hon. Friends are seeking to arrange between the Scottish Office, Locate in Scotland and the Department of Trade and Industry. If the Scottish Parliament wanted to examine the concordat to see whether it met its requirements, it would certainly want to summon its own Ministers, but would it not also want to summon the other half of the bargain--Department of Trade and Industry Ministers? Why is that summons not allowed on the face of the Bill?

Mr. McLeish: Returning to first principles, the concordats will be concluded between Scottish and Westminster Ministers. I just explained that one of those groups will be covered. The fundamental point is that there will be an opportunity for the Scottish Parliament to invite hon. Members of the Westminster Parliament to participate in the Scottish Parliament if they want to accept the invitation. There is no summoning. It is clear that, in terms of the split between devolved and reserved powers, double accountability should not exist.


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