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Mr. Salmond: We discussed the matter of the concordat being examined by Committees in the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments. The Scottish Parliament will be allowed to summon its Trade and Industry Minister, but, under existing powers, the Select Committee on Trade and Industry in the Westminster Parliament will be able to summon both United Kingdom Department of Trade and Industry Ministers and the Scottish Minister. That is not fair, and it is a weakening of what was understood to be the commitment. I recommend that the Minister thinks again.

Mr. McLeish: It is not a weakening of the commitment in relation to anything that we have said, including what was said in the White Paper. This brings us back to the central point that I have made in answering hon. Members' questions about matters reserved and matters devolved. When a concordat has been reached between Ministers at Holyrood and Ministers at Westminster, it should be about co-operation, and it will be about

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dialogue. Let me make it clear, however, that the Minister involved in the Westminster Parliament can be invited, but cannot be summoned.

Mr. Swinney: The Minister talks of the advantage of basing concordats on dialogue and discussion, but how can there be a discussion if someone refuses to turn up?

Mr. McLeish: It is a question of first principles. I am in danger of repeating myself a great deal, but it is no great secret that, in relation to the concordat and the dialogue, the Scottish Executive--the Minister--will be accountable and responsible to the Scottish Parliament. At Westminster, the Minister involved in the discussions will be responsible to Westminster--and, of course, to Scottish Members of Parliament at Westminster who are participating in the continuing work of the House of Commons.

9.15 pm

Mr. Dalyell: May I ask a rather important question about amendment No.167? Do the terms of clause 24(1)(b) constitute--

The First Deputy Chairman: Order. I am worried about the hon. Gentleman's interventions. He seems to be reading items on to the record, which is not in the spirit of interventions. Interventions are supposed to relate to matters that a Minister has raised.

Mr. Dalyell: I have been asking very precise questions relating to the amendment. I was going to ask whether there was no defence to a charge of failing to answer the Parliament's questions. Moreover, I am told that the question of who is entitled to make demands for an answer is of some legal importance. Will that person be a Member of the Scottish Parliament, the Clerk of the Parliament, a Minister in the Parliament or someone else?

Mr. McLeish: I am about to come to that.

Under clause 23, the notice requiring a person to attend must set out the matters relating to which he is required to give evidence. A witness is not guilty of an offence if he refuses to answer a question about something else. Clause 23 also says that a person is not obliged to answer a question that he would be entitled to refuse to answer in a court in Scotland--for example, if he might incriminate himself. I trust that, following that explanation, hon. Members will agree that the only reasonable excuses or causes that a person might have for not answering a question are already covered, and that the amendments are therefore unnecessary.

As for amendment No.168, under the provisions of the Oaths Act 1978, a person who objects to being sworn in has the right to make a solemn affirmation rather than take an oath. Accordingly, no express provision is required in the Bill. In the light of those explanations, I invite those concerned not to press amendments Nos.161 to 168 and amendment No. 249.

I think that amendments Nos.102 to 104 should also be rejected. I doubt whether, as drafted, they will achieve what those who tabled them wish--to empower the Parliament to compel Ministers of the Crown and representatives from "reserved matters" bodies, such as broadcasters, to give evidence about reserved matters. It would be wrong for the Parliament to have such a power.

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Clause 23(1) and clause 23 (2) specify the matters in relation to which the Parliament should be able to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents. Those matters can be summarised as fully or executively devolved matters. They are the matters for which the Parliament and the Scottish Executive will be responsible. As I said, the Parliament should not have powers of compulsion in relation to matters over which it has no responsibility.

Even if the amendments were acceptable--which they are not--such persons would still be caught by the conditions in subsections (1) and (2) that any person can be compelled to give evidence and produce documents only about fully or executively devolved matters. I should stress that the fact that a function in a reserved area is relevant to a devolved function does not mean that it relates to it in terms of the Bill. I therefore hope that those amendments will not be pressed.

New clause 2 would confer an express power on the Scottish Parliament to request the attendance of witnesses and submission of documents on reserved matters as they affect Scotland. I tell the hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), in the spirit of his speech, that such a provision is not necessary. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent the Scottish Parliament from inviting evidence about anything from anyone. I am repeating a point that I made earlier, but it is worth restating.

New clause 2 would limit the Parliament's powers by erecting a requirement that the evidence or documents requested should be on matters affecting Scotland. I envisage circumstances in which the Scottish Parliament would want to debate or investigate events overseas that, although of interest and concern in Scotland, could not be said to affect it. I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Orkney and Shetland will agree that the new clause is unnecessary and that its precise wording is undesirable. I ask him not to press it.

Mr. Jenkin: We have had a most interesting and useful debate, which has clarified the issues surrounding clause 23. I listened carefully to what the Minister said about the amendments tabled by Conservative Members and, because of his explanation of the clause and the Government's amendments to it, we shall not press any of our amendments.

I particularly welcome the tighter restrictions that amendment No. 224 will impose in the clause, thereby neatly avoiding what the Minister called the "problem of double accountability", which was the main concern of our amendments. I believe that he has responsibly addressed the issue. He is, of course, aware that the Scottish National party and others are looking for a row on the issue. Specifically, there are those who will deliberately misunderstand the nature and scope of concordats, how they will be negotiated and what they mean. I assure him that he will have our support in ensuring that those matters are dealt with responsibly.

The Minister made it clear that United Kingdom Ministers can be summoned only on issues for which the Scottish Parliament is responsible. It can invite evidence from anyone, but it cannot compel the Foreign Secretary to give evidence on foreign affairs. From what the

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Minister was saying, I do not believe that the Parliament could compel the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give evidence on the Barnett formula or on arrangements that the UK Parliament was making--he seemed to confirm that--to determine Scotland's need and Scotland's block grant. He confirmed that the Scottish Parliament would not be able to summon people from the BBC about a programme broadcast in Scotland.

We regard those assurances as properly consistent with Ministers' comments in the White Paper. Those matters should be held to account on behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, and are therefore properly the responsibility of the United Kingdom Parliament. It seems absurd for someone now to say that democracy is somehow being denied because those matters will not be dancing to the tune of what we hope will be a minority in the Scottish Parliament.

I listened carefully to the speeches in the debate. The Secretary of State dealt well with the intervention of the hon. Member for Perth (Ms Cunningham).

I tell the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) that those who supported devolution on the basis of this Parliament not being sovereign are destined to be disappointed. Both today's debate and yesterday's debate have been clear on that point. If the relationship between the Westminster Parliament and the Scottish Parliament goes wrong, Conservative Members will be the last to blame. We warned that exactly that type of misunderstanding would lead to the possibility of a breakdown in the relationship.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East had an opportunity to vote for the status quo--so that Scotland's influence was maximised in the House, and so that the favourable number of Scottish Members could negotiate on the favourable funding formula that he now wants to protect--using the full powers of the Secretary of State and the full complement of Scottish Members.

In the light of the decision taken by the Scottish people, it is to the Government's credit that they are dealing with those matters rationally and responsibly. Where appropriate, we shall give them support. We welcome Government amendment No. 224.

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. Amendments made: No. 223, in page 11, line 14, at beginning insert 'other'.

No. 224, in page 11, line 16, leave out subsection (3) and insert--


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