Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. McLeish: The hon. Gentleman said that the matter could be looked at from another perspective. I am explaining the issue from the perspective of the Bill. There may be a number of ways of looking at it, but this is a simple process. We are not trying to blur accountability: we are trying to make accountability transparent.

The Westminster Parliament and Westminster Government and the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive will want that transparency. No interest would be served by building into the Bill clauses or amendments that do not have clear demarcations of accountability.

Amendment No. 143 deals with issues involving United Nations sanctions. The Scottish Parliament will not be responsible for Foreign Office competence, which is a reserved matter. However, it will be involved in the implementation of international obligations, including those under the United Nations Act 1946. The Scottish Parliament would have competence in implementing UN sanctions on goods and services, including agricultural goods and services, and the Bill contains provisions that will enable it to deal with that matter straightforwardly and simply. Clearly, the Scottish Parliament would not have competence in implementing arms sanctions. Legislative competence for foreign affairs lies with Westminster.

Dr. Fox: Again I am grateful to the Minister for his generosity in giving way. How does the example differ from European rules, which are also part of international treaty obligations and on which the Scottish Parliament will have no discretion on implementation?

Mr. McLeish: We must implement both, because that is part of the arrangement and we have dealt with that issue. The sanctions issue is not unnecessarily complex. As the Bill stands, the implementation of international obligations such as those imposed by UN sanctions would be within legislative competence in so far as they relate to matters that are not reserved. Therefore, in the context of devolved matters, it would be within the competence of the Scottish Parliament to set up its own regime for implementing UN sanctions.

The United Kingdom currently implements UN sanctions by means of Orders in Council that are made by the Queen under the 1946 Act. Under the Bill, the power would not be separately exercisable in or in regard to Scotland, so provisions in such orders covering devolved matters in or in regard to Scotland would not be subject to a procedure at Holyrood. It is made quite clear that important considerations on international obligations have a Scottish Executive dimension that could be utilised if necessary.

9.30 pm

Dr. Fox: Am I correct in saying that the Scottish Parliament will be responsible for implementing the Scottish practical side of any UN resolution that is agreed by the United Kingdom? Am I also correct in thinking that if, under new clause 19, the Scottish Parliament, for reasons known to itself, chooses not to implement that

12 May 1998 : Column 253

resolution, it could be implemented by Order in Council by a UK Minister without having to consult a member of the Scottish Executive? Is that a clear representation of the position?

Mr. McLeish: Yes, but with an addition. Amendment No. 143 adds existing UN sanction orders that have been made under the United Nations Act 1946 to the list of enactments in clause 52, so that UK Ministers can continue to exercise powers under such orders involving the licensing of certain activities on a UK-wide basis, although some of those activities do not relate to reserved matters. The Bill provides that the implementation of international obligations is devolved in relation to devolved matters. That is straightforward.

Clauses 33 and 54 provide a power of intervention for the UK Government to ensure that such obligations can be met. However, amendment No.143 recognises that it will make some sense for sanctions to be administered on a UK basis, and it allows for that. Hopefully, that helps the process.

Mr. Dalyell: I asked about Lockerbie.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The Minister has not given way.

Mr. McLeish: As my hon. Friend rose to his feet, I was about to say that I would deal with the matter that he raised.

The Lockerbie issue was also raised in Committee. The current prosecuting authority functions will transfer from the UK Government to the Scottish Executive. In terms of the Scottish judiciary, the powers of Scottish Law Officers and the Scottish Office will be transferred. My hon. Friend will appreciate, because he has had it from various sources, that the international aspects of the matter will continue to be matters for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In a sense, that is a continuation of the current position, with the addition of the Scottish Parliament.

The Lord Advocate will retain his responsibilities for criminal prosecutions and death investigations. The Scottish Parliament will have legislative competence on criminal law and investigations, but the UK Government will take the lead in international relations in line with the reservation of that matter in the Bill.

Mr. Dalyell: The matter is not quite as esoteric as it is made out. It is a practical issue. I listened carefully to the Minister. Two Governments will be responsible, and they may not agree on the question of a trial taking place in a third country. To put it mildly, there will be a difference of opinion. I might welcome that, but it is a problem.

Mr. McLeish: Again, the first part of my hon. Friend's intervention is correct. We are going to have a Scottish Executive and a Westminster Government, but the current functions that we exercise in Scotland will be transferred. I should like to think that, as part of the discussions that we have had this evening and of the wider agreement, we will continue to work closely. It is devolution of

12 May 1998 : Column 254

responsibility within the UK. It is not creating two separate states, where communication and exchanging information might be that more complex.

I turn to the points made by the Conservative Front-Bench spokesman, the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox), at the start of the debate. The change is part of a technical change to the definition of the executive competence of Scottish Ministers. Amendment No. 138 makes it clear that the Scottish Parliament could not confer functions that are not exercisable in or as regards Scotland. Clause 49 as amended will ensure that only functions that are transferred could be conferred by an Act of the Scottish Parliament.

In relation to the further points of clarification required on amendments Nos. 141, 142 and 143, the hon. Member for Woodspring is right in his assertion that those are narrow, technical amendments that do not change the substance of the Bill's previous intent.

Mr. Hogg: Is the hon. Gentleman giving way, or has he ended his speech?

Mr. McLeish: I am giving way.

Mr. Hogg: I am most grateful--otherwise, of course, I could make another speech.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is wrong.

Mr. Hogg: If I have the good fortune to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Not in this debate.

Mr. Hogg: Therefore, I am very grateful to the Minister for giving way.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The right hon. and learned Gentleman should be, in the circumstances.

Mr. Hogg: I acknowledged it, too.

There is a point that troubles me about new clause 19. I should like to take the Minister of State back. He has said that a Minister of the Crown can, under an Order in Council, exercise functions of the sort that are normally performed by the Scottish Executive. Where come the funds that underpin the performance of the functions? From what vote will that money come? Will the Minister of the Crown be authorised to spend English money in respect of a Scottish function? What is the authority for that?

Mr. McLeish: There are two points. Let me reiterate that, if it is an Executive function within the UK Government, the Minister of the Crown is responsible to the UK Government and to Parliament. This is reserved business.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is talking about a Minister of the Crown. To reiterate the point I made, if it is a devolved matter, it is entirely a matter for the Scottish Executive. The question was posed to me: what, then, would the resource element of that function be? Clearly, that would vary, depending on which Government

12 May 1998 : Column 255

function or Department was involved. I have no doubt that that will not provide any extra burden, because we are talking about a process that occurs at present and will continue, but in a different guise with the two Parliaments.

I have given some clarification. With that, I commend the amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 41, in page 11, line 28, leave out from 'functions' to end of line 30 and insert--

'( ) a judge of any court, or
( ) a member of any tribunal which exercises the judicial power of the State, in connection with the discharge by him of his functions as such.'.--[Mr. McFall.]

Clause 24

Witnesses and documents: offences

Amendments made: No. 42, in page 12, line 17, leave out 'without reasonable excuse'.
No. 43, in page 12, line 19, after 'refuses', insert 'or fails'.
No. 44, in page 12, line 23, leave out 'without reasonable excuse'.
No. 45, in page 12, line 26, at end insert--
'( ) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (1)(a), (b) or (d) to prove that he had a reasonable excuse for the refusal or failure.'.--[Mr. McFall.]

Clause 28

Legislative Competence

Mr. Dewar: I beg to move amendment No. 130, in page 14, line 6, at end insert

Next Section

IndexHome Page