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Fiona O'Donnell: It is.

Pete Wishart: Oh, go on then.

Fiona O'Donnell: I appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s enthusiasm for the subject. If I might help him with the maths, the equivalent proportion of Scottish National party Members would be seven eighths of one MP.

Pete Wishart: We really are having arithmetic and mathematics lectures today.

I think that the momentum is with the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire. Opinion is moving in the same direction as him and I think it is starting to go with him. I looked around and saw some of the enthusiasm from some of his hon. Friends this afternoon and I think the Labour party has a genuine problem. I have a solution, however, Mr Hoyle, in which you might be interested. I understand that the Labour party is holding an important conference this weekend, so the hon. Gentleman should get a day return—not the Caledonian sleeper—up to Oban and have this debate with the Labour party. The Scottish people need to know what the Labour party is doing.

I believe that the Labour party is split from top to bottom on this issue and that has to be resolved. I know that up at Oban it will be the usual whinge-fest.

Graeme Morrice: The SNP has a preoccupation with the Labour party; why does not the hon. Gentleman simply address the issue?

Pete Wishart: I am offering a solution so that the issue can be resolved and fixed up once and for all. The Scottish people want to know what the Labour party thinks. Labour designed this mechanism; let us see what it thinks about it now.

Mr Davidson: The hon. Gentleman has suggested that my colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr Donohoe), should take a train to Oban. The hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) is so up to date with current political affairs that he is unaware that the Labour party conference is in Glasgow. I would be grateful if he explained to us exactly how being in Oban would help my colleague to explain to his friends, meeting in Glasgow, why they should change their policy?

Pete Wishart: We are having a few difficulties with trains in this Committee. First there was the Caledonian sleeper and now there is this train to Oban. I will, of course, apologise to the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire. I say to him: “Take the train to Glasgow for goodness’ sake, but whatever you do, take that train, because we need to know the settled will of the Labour party in all this.” I suspect that the sentiment and views expressed by the hon. Gentleman are gaining currency in the Labour party—

Mr Donohoe: And in the Tory party.

Pete Wishart: He says that—

Mr Davidson: And with the Liberals.

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Pete Wishart: People are nodding their heads. I detect that this is becoming a real issue. Frankly, it scares and alarms me if that is the debate within the Labour party. Whether it is a substantial minority or a majority within the Labour party who feel this way, the Scottish people need to know about this. They need to be aware that this is the Labour party’s intention. These two new clauses are totally wrong and it is appalling if a substantial minority in the Labour party believe this is the way forward. They would remove one of the central pillars of the Scottish Parliament—its internal democracy. They would remove all the proportionality that has been agreed and is the settled will of the Scottish Parliament.

Fiona O'Donnell: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Pete Wishart: I have given way to the hon. Lady already, so I will move on.

The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire and many of his colleagues want to return to the good old days of the old Glasgow council, when 69 Labour members, out of 79, were elected on 48% of the vote. That is democracy Labour-style—90% of members on 40% of the vote. Thank goodness we will not be going back to that. People are saying that is right and that it is what they want and I believe that that underpins all these measures—the Labour party benefiting massively from first past the post.

In the past few years, this issue has consistently come up. In the 10 years that I have been in the House, we have had these debates about Arbuthnott and other matters. We were told that we could not call the Scottish Government a Government and that we had to call them the Scottish Executive. I remember the days of the timid, unadventurous Labour Executive, always casting their eyes southwards to London, awaiting orders, instructions and directions about what to do, but those days have gone. We now have an SNP Government in Scotland and we will never again have the House of Commons clicking its fingers and the Scottish Parliament doing that dance. I look forward to that.

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): We are moving completely off the new clause and I think we ought to get back to it. I know that the hon. Gentleman has been tempted by all the interventions, but we ought to stick to the new clause.

Pete Wishart: I am grateful, Mr Hoyle.

I do not think that the signatories to the new clauses singularly loathe the additional member system—they also loathe the single transferable vote for local government in Scotland and everything to do with proportional representation.

Graeme Morrice indicated assent.

Pete Wishart: That is their view. They want the death of PR in Scotland.

A few interesting things came out of the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire’s contribution, the most interesting of which was about list Members. I think he has to take this up with the Labour list Members in the highlands, in north-east Scotland and in mid-Scotland and Fife. I know that SNP list Members are particularly active within the larger constituencies and do a fantastic job.

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Mr Donohoe: I shall try to be as quick as possible. I did not touch on this in my speech, but does not the list Member have to notify the constituency Member before they come in on a case or make notification of it? In the 12 years of the Scottish Parliament, in Ayrshire there has not been a single case brought to the attention of a constituency Member.

Pete Wishart: The hon. Gentleman will have had his own experiences with these issues.

An hon. Member has pointed out that there have been problems with list Members on a couple of occasions, but I am surprised that it is only a couple of occasions. List Members seem to co-exist with first-past-the-post Members on reasonably good terms. I recognise a number of issues and problems that have been identified by a number of Members.

Graeme Morrice: Further to my intervention earlier in the debate, is the hon. Gentleman aware of the situation of one Scottish National party MSP, Alex Neil, who was admonished by the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament for giving the impression, despite the fact that he is the regional list MSP for Central Scotland, that somehow he was a local constituency MSP for Airdrie and Shotts, which has its own directly elected constituency MSP?

4.45 pm

Pete Wishart: It seems that the hon. Gentleman feels it necessary to name others who cannot defend themselves in this House.

As I said, I am astounded that there have been so few such issues. That case is probably notable because it has happened so rarely. First-past-the-post Members have co-existed with regional Members in a friendly and consensual way. That is a feature of the Scottish Parliament that will continue.

The hon. Member for Livingston (Graeme Morrice) is right. There are difficulties identifying Members of the Scottish Parliament. I find it difficult to recognise first-past-the-post Labour Members in the Scottish Parliament, particularly those on the Front Bench, and I think the Scottish people have great difficulty recognising a number of them, too.

Mr Donohoe: Name the MSPs.

Pete Wishart: I will name one MSP with lofty ambitions. He has the ambition to be the First Minister of Scotland. When he went out there, we found that 50% of the Scottish people did not recognise him, and another 33% just did not like him.

Fiona O'Donnell: I wonder which party in Scotland the hon. Gentleman would say has the best record on constitutional reform—the parties in the Scottish Constitutional Convention, Labour and Lib Dems who delivered STV for local government, or an SNP Government who could not even deliver a referendum.

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. That is not relevant to the new clause either.

Pete Wishart: The point was well made. The voting mechanism was not designed by the SNP, but we still won, which was remarkable. We hear Labour Members of Parliament down here disparage and knock the

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current arrangements. Those are their arrangements. When the Liberals were arguing in the Scottish Constitutional Convention—hon. Members may correct me if I am wrong—they would probably have been arguing for STV. That would be the preferred option. AMS was Labour’s system, which the Liberals agreed with in order to ensure proportionality. For Labour Members to make such a fuss about AMS now is a bit rich, given that it is their system. Our preferred system, if the hon. Lady wants to know, is full single transferable vote. That is what we want for Scotland.

Mr Weir: Does my hon. Friend notice a pattern? I understand that the Labour Front-Bench team is in favour of AV for this place, but many Labour Back Benchers are not.

Pete Wishart: I am sure that Mr Hoyle would not allow me to be tempted into discussing AV, but the mess that Labour Members get into when dealing with voting arrangements dumbfounds me. They seem to be for and against AV, just as they seem to be for and against proportionality in the Scottish Parliament. They are split from top to bottom on both issues, and they will be found out when they are questioned on the subject in the next few weeks.

Thomas Docherty: I appreciate that as the SNP’s Chief Whip, the hon. Gentleman believes in absolute loyalty to a single position. It might help him to understand that we have a free vote on the issue because we believe in a broad consensus.

Pete Wishart: I am no longer the Chief Whip, but I thank the hon. Gentleman for promoting me back to that distinguished role. I look forward to the outcome of a free vote in the Labour party. It will be fascinating. We will pay keen attention to who supports the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire in all this. I hope they are true to their convictions—[Interruption.] Oh, it is not a free vote, we hear.

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Whether or not Labour Members have a free vote is not relevant to new clause 1. Let us get back to the new clause, and I am sure Mr Wishart would not want to keep repeating himself.

Pete Wishart: Indeed, Mr Hoyle. I hope I was not repeating myself, but I was interested in that free vote concept. I would love to have seen a free vote on the matter under discussion. I hope that the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire will press the new clause to a Division so that we get an opportunity to see who is for and who is against. Labour is totally split on the issue, and the Scottish people need to see where the Labour party is in all this. We in the SNP will of course oppose the new clause, because we believe in fair votes and in the right of the Scottish Parliament to make its own decisions and arrangements on voting and membership. That is how normal, self-respecting Parliaments do their business.

Mark Lazarowicz: I am sure that you will be pleased to hear that I intend to address the new clause, Mr Hoyle.

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I want to put the case against what my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr Donohoe) has proposed, and to put the case for a system of proportional representation for the Scottish Parliament. The current system should be retained. We could have an interesting academic argument about whether to have the additional Member system or a different form of PR, but AMS is the proportional system that we have now in the Scottish Parliament, and I want to defend that system. Overall, it has worked well, and it should be retained in the interests of Scotland.

The first argument in favour of that system—or, indeed, any system of PR for the Scottish Parliament—is about fairness. I agree with the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Mr Reid) on that. Some people seem to take the view that fairness is a luxury for politicians. I do not accept that—fairness is something that we should all be concerned about. Any system in which the seats that one party wins can be grossly disproportionate to the votes that it gets is an unfair system. We have seen some of those distorting effects at the UK level, but at the Scottish level the first-past-the-post system could have much more disproportionate effects, precisely because of the multi-party system in Scotland. We have four parties in Scotland which, according to the opinion polls, get 6% or more of the vote—if we were to add the Lib Dems and their 5%, we would have a five-party system. With that breakdown between the parties, it would be quite feasible for a party with just 30% of the vote to get an absolute majority in the Scottish Parliament. Whatever our perspective might be, that cannot be justified or defended.

Some of my right hon. and hon. Friends take the view that because—as they believe—Labour tends to gain under that disproportionate system, we should support first past the post against any form of proportional representation. However, I do not accept that first past the post always benefits the Labour party. I am old enough to remember the 18 years of Conservative Government, when the Conservatives, never with the majority of the votes cast, nevertheless had a majority of the seats in Westminster, and sometimes a very large majority, so Labour does not always gain from the first-past-the-post system.

It would also be dangerous for my Labour colleagues or anyone else to assume that first past the post would always benefit Labour in Scotland. As the Liberal Democrats have discovered, no party can assume that its recent levels of support will be maintained indefinitely. Parties go up and down, and we cannot necessarily assume that if the Scottish Parliament had first past the post but no regional list system, the constituency votes in the last parliamentary elections would have been the same, because people might have chosen to vote differently if they had had only one vote instead of two. We cannot assume that Labour would always win an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament under first past the post.

Mr Donohoe: Does my hon. Friend understand that the last time the Liberals were in power, which was in 1921, they were opposed to any form of proportional representation and voted in this place for the system that we have today?

Mark Lazarowicz: Indeed. One thing that my hon. Friend and I share on this issue is consistency. He has been consistent in his opposition to PR; I have been consistent in my support for it, so at least we share something in this debate, unlike the Liberal Democrats.

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No party can assume that it knows what the vote will be in five, 10, 15 or 20 years’ time, but the attraction—as my hon. Friends and others see it—of first past the post might diminish dramatically if, let us say, the Scottish National party at some stage got 35% of the votes in the Scottish parliamentary elections under that system. That could quite easily give it an absolute majority of seats, which no doubt the SNP would claim as a mandate for independence. Those who suggest that first past the post will always benefit Labour, or any other party, are making a serious mistake if they maintain that position.

Cathy Jamieson: So far the debate seems to have centred on what is best for the political parties. Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the problems with the voting system we now have for local government, for example, is that people feel that they have lost the direct link with their elected representative? They prefer a system in which there is certainty; they know who to go to and do not feel that they are being passed from pillar to post.

Mark Lazarowicz: I agree. That is one reason why I do not support STV for the Scottish Parliament or local government, and I will come on to that point as it relates to the Scottish Parliament in a moment.

We should bear in mind some of the arguments made in 1997—those of us who have been around for some time can remember them—on why it was important that there should be a vote on the system of PR in the referendum on the Scottish Parliament, rather than putting a first-past-the-post system to voters. That is precisely because it was recognised, even by some people who were hostile to or sceptical about PR, that if the electors had been offered a choice of a Scottish Parliament with a first-past-the-post system, some might have voted against it because they would be concerned that one party in one part of the country might at some future stage dominate the Parliament, which would have undermined support for the yes vote in the 1997 referendum.

Pete Wishart: Looking around the Chamber, I see four Labour Members who are against the hon. Gentleman and three who support him. Does he feel that in the Labour party he is beginning to lose the argument in favour of PR?

Mark Lazarowicz: I am not sure that I understand the hon. Gentleman’s point—

Pete Wishart: There are four Members against him and three for him.

Mark Lazarowicz: I think that we are going down a road that will not take the argument much further forward.

When the Constitutional Convention drew up the plans for a Scottish Parliament, there was a strong case that the Parliament should be elected by a system of PR, and there is certainly no case for changing that, even if we look at it simply from the narrow point of view of Labour’s party political advantage, which, as I have said, we should not do. It is also about how democracy can be improved and how the public relate to the political process, as my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Cathy Jamieson) has said.

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If we accept that there should be some system of PR for the Scottish Parliament—I know that there are Members on both sides of the House who do not accept that—the obvious question is which PR system should be put in place. There is a wide range of PR systems, as there is a wide range of electoral systems generally, and there are arguments for and against all of them. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun has pointed out some of the disadvantages, and I agree with her about the STV system that currently operates in local government. Some council wards in my constituency, for example, now have 28,000 voters, and so local councillors are in no sense local in the way that they had been, and I presume that that is the case in her constituency.

If we had an STV system for Scottish Parliament elections, Edinburgh would have four MPs for the entire area, but no local MPs. There might be two Labour Members, one Tory and one SNP, according to present opinion polls, but that would certainly not allow any of them to have a local affiliation in the parts of Edinburgh where there is a strong local identity, such as my constituency of Edinburgh North and Leith. STV would certainly not be the right answer. I do not think that anyone would seriously go for the complete proportional list system in which seats are allocated to parties simply on the basis of the number of votes received nationwide. That would give too much power to the parties, so no one would support that system. Therefore, the additional Member system, which combines the constituency element, so that people know who their local MSP is, and the top-up level, which balances out the disproportionate effects of the first-past-the-post system, is in my view the best compromise, which is why it should be maintained.

There are certainly problems with how some list Members operate. I could refer to one Member in my region and the way in which she has presented herself in the run-up to Scottish Parliament elections, and other examples could undoubtedly be provided from across the country of MSPs from different parties acting that way.

In my case, I have been fortunate, but by and large we have had no great problems of representation in working with list MSPs. There are times when we have political disagreements, but there are also times when we can work together in the interests of the area. Perhaps I have just been fortunate, but I do not think that there have been the dramatic difficulties that my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire has suggested.

5 pm

For all those reasons, I see no case for changing the additional Member system for the Scottish Parliament, and I remind Members—with reference to the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian (Fiona O'Donnell)—that the system for election to the Scottish Parliament was not dreamed up out of thin air by someone in the Labour party; it was a product of a long period of discussion and consultation involving not just Labour and the Lib Dems, but the Greens and other small parties, and not just political parties, but local government, the trade unions and a wide range of civic Scotland. Together, they wanted to come up with a system that they felt would pass the test of time. The

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additional Member system is not perfect, but in my view it has worked relatively well. Some anomalies need to be addressed, but that does not mean that the entire system should be thrown out.

I believe the Scottish Parliament has been a success, and it has been a success under the current electoral system. Clearly, I would rather there had not been an SNP minority Government for the past four years in Scotland, but the way for my hon. Friends and my party to change that position is not to change the voting system to suit what we believe is our short-term political gain, but to get a lot more votes, which is what I believe will happen on 5 May.

John Thurso (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) (LD): I rise briefly to reach out a cooling and, I hope, reassuring hand to the fevered brow of the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) regarding his concerns about the comments made by the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr Donohoe).

Before I do that, I make one observation. I had the privilege of doing a great deal of the Committee and Report work in the other place on the original Scotland Bill, and I acknowledge that we made one mistake. We agreed to allow the Scottish Parliament itself to decide and work out the relationship and work loads between all the different MSPs, and that there should be equality between the list and the constituency. It should be the Parliament’s job to work that out, but it would have been helpful had we given it a steer at the beginning as to a better balance, because I recognise some of the comments about squatting, although the majority of list MSPs do an exceedingly good job and the system overall brings fairness and proportionality. In the other place, we lost a vote that my noble Friends—at that stage—put for an open-list system, which I would have preferred, but we ended up with a broadly fair system that has worked well and come of age.

Now, let me reassure the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire regarding the comments of the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire, who moved the new clause. The key is in his comments regarding history. First, he invoked the election of 1910, when 83% of Scots voted, as opposed to 2010, when only 64% did. Of course, he forgot to mention that we did not have universal suffrage at that point, and, indeed, that no women had the vote or could stand for Parliament. So, his first suggestion is, I think, that we should get rid of women from politics.

Secondly, the hon. Gentleman’s new clause sets out “Two members” with “two votes” and two posts. Of course, we had that system in British politics for many years during the century before last, with some very interesting results, so there is nothing new there. Indeed, many people had two votes in different constituencies if they happened to have gone to Oxford or Cambridge.

So, the clear direction of travel of the hon. Gentleman’s thinking is back to the future, and there are only two explanations for that. Either he is the last surviving relic of first-past-the-post-osaurus rex, or his contribution was a wonderful exercise in irony. I believe that he is a grandmaster in irony, and that explains the new clause.

Mr Davidson: It is true to say that the devolution settlement achieved at the time of the referendum represented the settled will of the Scottish people, but

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that does not mean that there can never be any further change of any kind. In our debates on the Bill, we have identified difficulties and we have tried to resolve them and to move things forward by making changes. On the question of the electoral system, we first have to ask whether there are any problems and, if there are, whether there is a solution.

I believe that there are some difficulties with the existing system. For example, the public have never entirely understood how losers become winners. They see people standing for election in a constituency and losing, only to pop up as an MSP anyway. The situation is made far worse when some of those who lost pretend to be the MSP for the constituency in which they stood and were defeated. That was certainly the case for a considerable number of years in Glasgow Pollok, where Johann Lamont was elected by first past the post. Kenny Gibson, from the SNP, who came second, then pretended to be the local MSP. Tommy Sheridan, from the horizontal road to socialism party, who is now detained elsewhere, also pretended to be the MSP for that constituency. That was undoubtedly unhelpful, because different people would turn up at local meetings, events, protests and campaigns pretending to be the MSP. This is a genuine issue that needs to be addressed.

We have already heard the outrageous story of Alex Neil printing posters saying that he was the MSP for Airdrie and Shotts when patently he was not. That was a deliberate attempt to deceive the electorate. The fact that there is an election coming up in the near future can only be coincidence, but that was none the less a deliberate attempt to deceive. We also had a situation in the Govan constituency, the one beside mine, where Nicola Sturgeon camped out. She has now won that seat, but she did so partly because she had pretended to be the list MSP for that constituency. These are all clear difficulties in the present system and they need to be looked at.

Related to that problem is the cherry-picking not just of issues but of individual items of casework, especially in relation to immigration cases but to others as well. As an MP, I have had a string of cases in which MSPs have taken up people’s complaints about immigration, told them that they could do something about it, led them down a path that led nowhere at all, then told them to come and see me. By that time, a considerable period had passed and some of the people had consulted lawyers based on what they had been mis-told. The same thing has happened with social security cases. We need a change in the rules that would stop list MSPs, in particular, cherry-picking.

Pete Wishart: The hon. Gentleman has listed certain instances of transgressions by SNP regional list Members. What is the Labour party doing?

Mr Davidson: My understanding is that list Labour MSPs are perfect in every way and have done nothing incorrect or outside the rules. I presume that there are no examples of Labour MSPs misbehaving in such a way; otherwise, we would have heard about them. The fact that the SNP has not raised a single example of a Labour MSP doing anything untoward is an indication of where the balance of advantage in this argument lies.

A further difficulty with the existing system is the way in which getting on the list is so key to success in the proportional representation section of the ballot.

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That means that the party machine, which controls access to the list, has a much greater say than the electorate in who goes to the Scottish Parliament, because the electorate can only vote for the list—they have no say in who is on it. The loyalty of those who are on the list must therefore be directed not towards the electorate but towards their party managers; otherwise, they run the risk of being put off the list next time.

Mark Lazarowicz: I do not quite see the strength of my hon. Friend’s argument. In the Labour party, the members choose the ranking of people on the list, but they choose the candidates for first-past-the-post seats as well, so I am not sure how the party is given more power in one situation than in the other. Earlier, he highlighted various deficiencies in the list system, and he may be right. However, those may be arguments for changing the additional member system, but surely not for getting rid of it entirely.

Mr Davidson: Let me come on to that. At the moment, I am identifying particular difficulties. My hon. Friend perhaps misunderstands my point about the allegiance of people on the list. He is absolutely right that, certainly in the Labour party, it is the membership who determine someone’s place on the list. However, it is often the party hierarchy who determine whether that person enters the ballot to decide whether they are placed on the list, so it is about how that is handled. Increasingly, party managers have had a tendency to try to control who is on that list.

Mr Weir: I am interested in what the hon. Gentleman is saying. Will he clarify how someone in the Labour party can get to the stage of being able to stand for any seat whatsoever? Surely he would have to be approved by the party in some way before he is allowed to go forward for a seat. I am struggling to see the difference.

Mr Davidson: The hon. Gentleman is obviously struggling to see the difference because he is unaware of the extent to which the Labour party’s internal democratic mechanisms are a wonder to behold. I do not necessarily see why I should share in private grief.

Mr Reid: I do not want to bring back memories for the hon. Gentleman, but did not his party hierarchy stop him standing as a constituency MSP?

Mr Davidson: Indeed it did. I can think of several other Members of Parliament here today who were prevented from standing for the Scottish Parliament candidates list. That was in the days when new Labour was at its most sectarian. Fortunately, we have moved on, and that is to be welcomed. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely correct—that was a difficulty. The Labour party’s initial lists were drawn up in a sectarian fashion, and therefore a lot of people who would otherwise have been considered suitable for consideration by the party membership were unable to come forward.

Another difficulty about the existing system is the way in which vacancies are filled. It is absurd that when somebody on the list stands down, disappears, passes away or decides that they want to do something else, the person who gets that place is simply the next one on the list. There is no vote and the public are not involved in

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any way, unlike the situation for individual constituency Members. That is inappropriate and a fault in the system.

Mr MacNeil: Is not the point of that process to retain the proportionality in the Parliament that was established by the voters at the election?

Mr Davidson: That is a natural result of the system—I understand that—but that is what I am unhappy about. It does not seem fair or reasonable that at some point after the election, during the term of the Scottish Parliament, somebody who is not an MSP should, as if by magic, become an MSP without the involvement of the electorate in any way.

Mr MacNeil: Does the hon. Gentleman think it in any way important, then, that the proportionality expressed by the electorate is maintained in the Parliament?

Mr Davidson: These are difficult issues. I accept that that is a valid point, but I am unhappy about the idea that by-elections do not take place. By-elections are an important way of telling us what the public think at any particular moment. I do not know whether people present are aware of what happened recently in Barnsley, which was enormously significant.

Mr MacNeil: Remind us.

Mr Davidson: Okay. The party that had been second at the general election was not second, and it did not win the seat.

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. I am not quite sure what is the relevance of Barnsley. The Committee is well aware of the Barnsley result without Mr Davidson going into further detail.

5.15 pm

Mr Davidson: I accept that decision, although I regret it because this is an important point. Its relevance is that, if there were a vacancy in the Scottish Parliament, under the existing system there would be a by-election, as in Barnsley, if it was a first-past-the-post seat, but not one if it was a list seat. The electorate in a constituency that I will not name had a way of telling the country what they thought of the Liberals. I think that that was important. We are much better and wiser for knowing that. I will not say the position in which the Liberals came, and I will not say what would have happened if the Democratic Unionist party, the Scottish National party or the Welsh nationalists had stood. [ Interruption. ] They would have come ninth if they were lucky, and that is assuming that the Social Democratic and Labour party did not stand. I understand that they might well have been beaten by the 1st Barnsley Girl Guides and the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band had their candidates stood, but I must move on. The point is that by-elections allow people to express a view as progress is made throughout the term of a Government. The existing system does not allow that.

It is important in a democracy that the electorate can get rid of people. I have a list here of people whom I would quite like to get rid of. However, it will be impossible to get rid of Nicola Sturgeon, for example, at the forthcoming election. She is standing in her constituency as the first-past-the-post candidate and she is at the top of the SNP list. Unless the party gets no

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votes at all, she will be returned. She does not need to turn up, because she is going to be elected. That seems fundamentally unfair and unreasonable.

Mr Weir: On that basis, will the hon. Gentleman call on Sarah Boyack in Edinburgh Central or David Stewart in Inverness and Nairn to stand down, because they are in exactly the same position?

Mr Davidson: I am perfectly happy to say that I want the system to change so that no party can do that. The hon. Gentleman’s question is a bit like asking somebody whether they are in favour of electricity being privatised, and if they say no, asking why they do not use candles. We operate in the world that exists. Although one might not have wanted a change to happen, one must accommodate the new position once it has. It is therefore perfectly reasonable for Labour candidates to stand in whichever way is appropriate. That does not stop us saying that the system ought to be changed.

The question is whether the solution that is proposed is right. It has some merits, such as establishing a clear link between individual voters and the people who are elected in their constituency. I have some reservations about having two Members per constituency. I can see how that proposal has come forward for administrative convenience. I can see the merit of splitting each Westminster constituency either north to south or east to west, so that each person is represented by only one MSP and one MP.

I can also see the merit—I am disappointed that this has not come up before—of seeking gender balance, by having two votes for each Westminster constituency, with one for a man and one for a woman. The Scottish Parliament lacks the gender balance that is desirable. In the first selection of candidates for the Scottish Parliament, the Labour party chose to twin the first-past-the-post constituencies so that one man and one woman would be selected. In the list, men and women were put alternately. With individual reselections and so on, that practice has lapsed a bit. However, I think that we were the only party to do something like that. The lack of women representatives in the other parties is a major deficiency. Changing the system would be advantageous in that regard.

My hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr Donohoe) mentioned voter confusion. The system of having two Members per constituency, however they were provided, would avoid the situation of 25 or 28 MSPs turning up to meet the health board. That is an absurdity. It is grossly inefficient and simply serves to muddy the waters. We should therefore consider changes and a better way.

It is often argued that proportional representation encourages more people to vote. In fact, the UK voting system that is most proportional is for elections to the European Parliament, which have the lowest turnout. The next most proportional is the local authority system, which has the second lowest turnout. Then come the Scottish elections, for which there is an element of first past the post, which have the second highest turnout. The highest turnout is for elections to Westminster, which are the least proportional, so there is a clear correlation between first past the post and electoral turnout.

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Several hon. Members rose

Mr Davidson: Those facts help my case, so I am quite happy to take interventions on that point.

Mr MacNeil: I fear that the hon. Gentleman might be confusing cause and effect. Surely turnout is more about the media attention given to whatever election happens to be occurring. The European elections get the least media attention, if any at all.

Mr Davidson: Well, that is one man’s point of view.

Mike Crockart (Edinburgh West) (LD): If the hon. Gentleman’s argument were correct, surely local government elections would have had immensely large turnouts when first past the post was used for them, and the turnout would have dipped immensely when they changed to the single transferrable vote. That was obviously not the case—there were poor turnouts before the change.

Mr Davidson: Turnouts have dipped since the change to proportional representation, as I understand it. The situation seems quite clear.

Mr Reid: The numbers went down, but that has nothing to do with the change to the voting system. The elections are on the same day as the Scottish Parliament elections, so the turnout in those elections effectively determines the local government turnout.

Mr Davidson: Is it not interesting that in debates about changing the voting system we were always told that changing to a proportional system would boost the turnout? In fact, if anything, the reverse is true. I accept much of the argument made by the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil) about media coverage, and I recognise that the situation is more complex, but those who argued for proportional representation never made that point. They suggested a clear correlation that has been demonstrated to be untrue.

Graeme Morrice: Is my hon. Friend aware that at the general election in May, turnout under first past the post increased by about 4%? It is going in the right direction.

Mr Davidson: That is an excellent point, and I am glad that it has been made.

Pete Wishart: On a point of clarification about the supremacy of first past the post, as the hon. Gentleman would have it, is he saying that no other electoral system throughout the world brings out a greater number of voters for a national general election?

Mr Davidson: I will not say that, because I suspect hon. Members could cite the case of Albania or somewhere similar. However, in our case it seems pretty clear that there is a correlation between turnout and the simplicity and comprehensibility of first past the post.

Let us not confuse ourselves about how the system that we have in the Scottish Parliament came about. It was not on tablets of stone brought down from the mountain by Moses; it came from a backroom deal between the leaderships of the Labour party and the Liberals to ensure that they had a majority. That is no more than has happened between the Liberals and the Conservatives in the coalition. It is a shabby deal which,

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as the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Mr Reid) said, involves compromises. Let us not sanctify the electoral system with a false impression that a popular uprising demanded it.

Pete Wishart: AMS was Labour’s preferred system at the constitutional convention. What is interesting about the hon. Gentleman’s remarks—I hope he will come to this point—is that he believes that this place should dictate to the Scottish Parliament the ending of the current voting arrangements and the existence of regional Members. Would he like to impose an end to proportional representation on the Scottish Parliament?

Mr Davidson: I havenae decided what is the best system. I have outlined faults in the existing system. Do I believe that this House has the right to decide the voting system for the Scottish Parliament? Yes, I do, actually.

Pete Wishart: You think it should?

Mr Davidson: Yes, I think it should, in exactly the same way that the Scottish Parliament decided the voting system for local authorities without any discussion or agreement. If the Scottish Parliament is to be allowed to decide its voting system, so should local authorities. It is good enough for the SNP and its allies to impose a system on others, and what goes around comes around.

Mr MacNeil: May I tempt the hon. Gentleman, who I know is a committed Europhile, to extend that logic? If the Scottish Parliament foists a system on local government, and if the UK Government foist a system on the Scottish Parliament, would he want the European Parliament to foist an electoral system on the House of Commons?

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr Lindsay Hoyle): Order. That is a temptation, but this is about the abolition of regional Members. We are in danger of being dragged around Europe, Scotland and the UK, so I think we should get back to new clause 1.

Mr Davidson: A very bad boy was trying to tempt me down the highway, Mr Hoyle. Earlier, I heard an SNP Member shouting that they wanted Scotland to join the euro as soon as possible, but that is nothing to do with this debate either, and I therefore do not intend to bring it up.

The deal was a backroom deal and the old politics, in exactly the same way as the coalition was the old politics. Just as the Liberals were bought off for the Scottish Parliament, so they have been bought off with the promise of AV for this Parliament. I noticed yesterday a whole string of Liberals wearing “Yes to AV” badges. I will not mention that now, but come back to it in a later debate—

Mark Lazarowicz rose—

The Chairman of Ways and Means: Order. We are going to discuss the abolition of regional Members. We are not going to be dragged back or come back to that other matter later; we will stick to new clause 1. We need to make progress. I think Mark Lazarowicz was about to intervene on you, Mr Davidson. Are you giving way?

Mr Davidson: Yes.

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Mark Lazarowicz: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving way and I shall certainly not tempt him off the straight and narrow. On how the electoral system for the Scottish Parliament was adopted, the fine details were a result of detailed discussion within the Constitutional Convention. Surely my hon. Friend accepts that the final system was endorsed by the electorate. The principle of having a proportional system for the Scottish Parliament was worked out at length through debate and consultation—it was certainly not the product of a backroom deal, but the product of many months of discussion and public consultation. As he knows, the Labour party conference voted 2:1 in favour of the final deal after the final agreement between the parties in the convention.

The Chairman of Ways and Means: Order. We do not need reports on the Labour party conference, so I think we will get back to new clause 1.

Mr Davidson: None the less, my hon. Friend’s point relates to whether it is possible, without inviting thunderbolts from on high, to consider changes to the electoral system for the Scottish Parliament. It seems to me that that is desirable. We regularly examine other elements of the Scottish Parliament and aspects of devolution—I remind hon. Members that devolution is a moving feast and not static—and so we should examine the electoral system.

I do not intend to vote for new clauses 1 and 2, which were tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire, because I am not convinced that his proposals are the correct way forward. However, there is something wrong with the existing system, and it needs to be changed.

Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (Lab): Anyone who looks at the amendment paper will see that I am a signatory to new clauses 1 and 2. We have had the knockabout stuff about whether this Parliament has or has not the right to decide the structure of the Scottish parliamentary electoral system or indeed its membership, but people were perfectly happy for this Parliament to overturn the Scotland Act 1998 at the first time of calling, by increasing the number of Members to 129, when the Act originally said that we would drop to a reasonable number after the initial period. The argument was made that people in the Scottish Parliament thought they needed 129 Members to take up all of the one and a half days in which they actually debated in their Chamber, and to ensure that enough people turned up at 5 o’clock every Wednesday to vote to make sure they got the tick in the box.

It never made sense to me, but we allowed that change; Parliament was perfectly happy to change it. I believe that Members of all the parties with Members in Scotland were happy to go along with that process. If it was good enough then, it is certainly good enough now to consider whether the system in place for proportional representation—with its list Members—is the correct way to proceed. I am sure that some, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Mark Lazarowicz), would like to proceed to a totally proportional system. I believe that that has always been his bent; the single transferrable vote has always been his choice of political electoral system.

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5.30 pm

As far as I am concerned, however, we need to consider whether the system we have works, or whether what has been proposed is a better system. Many people in my constituency, and those I have talked to in other constituencies—even those represented by Scottish National party Members—believe that there is a great deal of confusion in the system at the moment. The person who stands against the constituency Member they vote for often ends up elected under the regional system, having been defeated by the choice of the electorate under the first-past-the-post system. It is right that people should be able to choose. I think that the best system would provide for two MSPs in the constituencies of MPs in this place, and if Parliament wishes to remain with 129 Members—or whatever—it should put in place a top-up system chosen by the parties, because that is what it is about; we should let the parties choose people to be their central representation and then to top up.

We discussed this matter here when we set up the system, and in the Scottish Constitutional Convention before the system was proposed. At that time, the argument was that there would be fewer Members who would deal with central policy matters and act as a group in Parliament, not shadow Members scurrying about trying to build credibility by snatching cases from MPs, councillors and the MSPs elected under the first-past-the-post system, in the hope that they can build enough credibility to challenge that Member at the next ballot, which is what is happening. It is not giving people good representation, and it is not giving them the benefits of a proportional system in the Chamber that can be seen in many of the European countries I have travelled to during my time on the European Scrutiny Committee. In those countries, parties act as central blocks in Parliament, working up policy, arguing in the Chamber, sitting on committees and proposing policy innovations, not running around the country tripping over everyone’s feet trying to win local votes.

Mr MacNeil: I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman underestimates voters and the public when he says that they have difficulty distinguishing between list Members, who might have stood and lost, and those who have won on a constituency basis. I have not come across anyone who has had any difficulty understanding the process.

Michael Connarty: I would not want to accuse the hon. Gentleman of trying to distort my words; I just think he might not be swift enough to understand them. I said that people resent it. They know that they did not choose the Member who lost under first past the post, and they are not happy that that person then turns up as a list Member. They believe it is important that when they make a choice under first past the post, they choose between candidate A and candidate B. I take the point made earlier that every party does it, but it is wrong because it distorts the will of the electorate.

Mr Weir: The hon. Gentleman is making the point that several of his colleagues have made about people who lose under first past the post and come back on the list. However, does he not accept that it is a different electorate? Regional seats have seven or eight first-past-the-post seats in it, so they are not being elected by the same electorate. I do not understand his objection.

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Michael Connarty: The point is that when the electorate then see that person’s behaviour in the list system, they are puzzled. I give the example of the Lothian Members, who are centred mainly in the city of Edinburgh. Where do the SNP list Members have their office? They have it in a little village called Whitburn in my constituency—well out of the city centre and the locale near the Parliament. That might have something to do with the fact that every time we have an election, the person who loses for the SNP stands against my MSP under first past the post, and that constituency happens to cover the village of Whitburn and areas in West Lothian. That clearly distorts not only the electoral system but the use of resources allocated to list Members, basically to try to back up the challenge under first past the post. New clause 1 would remove that problem by providing for two Members for each MP seat—it could be split in half or done some other way. That would give people the sort of representation that they like.

I have no doubt that colleagues in all the political parties in Scotland believe that when people come to see them, they know that they are their representatives and that they are accountable to those people. In the Scottish parliamentary system, however, people do not really know because of the number of layers involved. They might go to the list Member, and if they get nothing there they will try the first-past-the-post Member and vice versa. The list Member might first back up the person and then take a different view. Then it might come to seeing the Member of Parliament to find out whether they will back them up.

Graeme Morrice: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who represents a constituency in the local authority area where I have a constituency. I certainly share his views and concerns on this matter and I empathise with his viewpoint. Does he agree, however, that the real problem is the absolute confusion among the electorate about the difference between constituency MSPs and regional list MSPs? Within Scotland, possibly 99% of the electorate, if asked, would not know who all their regional list MSPs were.

Michael Connarty: That is an easy question to answer. It is quite clear that most people in this Chamber, if asked to list them, would not know all the regional list MSPs in their area. That is not the way I like to see the issue, however. It is not so much about confusion among the electorate; it is more that the electorate are not well represented. It is not because they are confused, but because the system invites certain behaviours that run counter to good representation. People do not know who is accountable to them and it is quite clear that list members are not accountable to the electorate. They are accountable to their party, because it is the party that puts them on the list and into the system.

Mr MacNeil rose

Michael Connarty: I am not giving way yet.

If this is about the electorate—I hope it is, rather than about the manipulation of party machinery—it is important that the electorate know who is representing them. The system at the moment is not clear—indeed, it is deliberately confusing for the electorate. It has nothing to do with the intelligence of the electorate; it is a matter of how all the political parties use the list system. We should genuinely consider moving to a system that

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can be recommended for its clarity. Having two constituency Members for the Scottish Parliament and one Member for this Parliament would be correct and clear, and people would like it.

What has happened is that people in this place do not care whether the electorate like it or not. This is the key point: they do not treat the electorate properly. I have to say that the SNP argument is completely flawed. It has nothing to do with whether SNP Members respect the electorate; it is about whether their party can get an advantage out of it. It is the same with all minority parties. If my party acts in the same way, it is equally wrong. I therefore believe that new clause 1 deserves serious consideration and support. If parties want to top up to a certain number because they cannot run the place without 129 Members, that is where the additional Members should come from. We should call these people what they are—party-nominated Members. That is what happens in Germany: people are nominated by their parties to appear on the list to stand for Parliament or for the European Parliament. People are clear about what they are getting, but what they are not getting is representation.

On new clause 2, the use of resources must be controlled in some way. In Scotland, people are running party machinery in constituencies using the list system resources. To have an office in Whitburn, someone should be representing all the Lothians. For that office to be used only for one Member who is trying to become the first-past-the-post Member for the Linlithgow constituency is the wrong use of resources—and we must find some way of controlling that.

Stewart Hosie: The hon. Gentleman makes that allegation, so can he confirm that this is a parliamentary office for list Members and not a party office?

Michael Connarty: My understanding is that it is an office used by the Member of the Scottish Parliament, who happens to be the person who keeps standing for election to the constituency under first past the post. That may be coincidental; it may be that it is so difficult for the other Lothian Members to get public transport from the centre of the city to the office that they use it solely as a telephone base.

It is important for us to bear in mind the aspiration of the House of Commons that list Members should represent a party that will use them in a way that bolsters the process in the Parliament, rather than shattering and scattering them throughout Scotland and sending them scurrying after votes in the hope that they might at some point secure a first-past-the-post seat, or perhaps secure some proportional extra seats for their party by being seen to be more active. That is not the vision that I was sold in the Scottish Constitutional Convention, it is not the vision that was presented here, and it is not the vision conveyed to me by Scottish National party members at that time. Why are SNP members now willing to accept a second-class option rather than delivering what we promised to the people of Scotland?

Stewart Hosie: I asked a simple question. I will repeat it. Is that office a list parliamentary office paid for with parliamentary resources to enable list Members to do their parliamentary work, and is it within the region to which they are elected?

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Michael Connarty: The arrangement is perfectly legal under the present system. I am saying that the system should be more constrained and more disciplined, and that the resources should be more focused. I believe that the public are questioning why the office is there, what its purpose is, and whether it constitutes a distortion of what is due to them, the electorate. I keep returning to this point. What did we promise the electorate? What we promised them we have not delivered, and we should therefore consider doing something better. The new clauses represent serious challenges to the existing system, and should be treated as such.

Pete Wishart: Notwithstanding the fact that AMS was the Labour solution in the Constitutional Convention, there is another elegant solution to deal with a number of the hon. Gentleman’s concerns. Under STV, there would not be two distinct categories of Members of the Scottish Parliament. However, I presume that he wishes to end proportionality and return to Labour fiefdoms such as Glasgow council, 90% of whose members received 40% of the votes. Is that what he wants?

Michael Connarty: I should like Glasgow city council—which is a wonderful council—to be properly resourced, rather than having its budget cut by 3.7%. That is what the Scottish Government have just done, at a time when the city needs more resources. Other areas with a large proportion of SNP councillors are experiencing very small cuts. That is another abuse for which the people will take the Government of Scotland to task, and will take the SNP to task in particular.

Proportionality has not worked in our system. I do not approve of the single transferable vote. I do not believe in that kind of proportionality, because I think that it moves so far away from the idea of accountability that the public reject it, and I do not think that we will get very far with any other amendment that appears to distort what we have in the House of Commons at present. When a Member of Parliament is elected, he or she is accountable. People know whom they elected, why they elected them, and how to get rid of them. If we cannot introduce a system that provides some credibility, the Scottish Parliament will go spinning off into the future with no credibility at all. I therefore hope that the Committee will pass new clauses 1 and 2.

David Mundell: I welcome you back to the chair, Ms Primarolo. I hope that, unlike the hon. Member for East Lothian (Fiona O'Donnell), you did not have a sleepless night in anticipation of the debate. Given the level of interest that has been expressed, the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr Donohoe) has clearly done the Committee a service by promoting a debate on these issues.

Let me say at the outset that the Government will not support the new clauses, principally because we believe that a fundamental part of the devolution settlement that was voted for in the 1997 referendum was the agreement that the Scottish Parliament should be elected on a proportional basis. There is a range of debates to be had on issues relating to proportionality, and some of those issues have emerged this afternoon, but it is clear that a fundamental aspect of the Scottish Parliament is that it is a proportionally elected institution.

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I must confess that during my time in the Scottish Parliament I was a regional list Member. Therefore, I must defend that cadre. Many Members from all the main political parties in Scotland have served with distinction as regional list Members, including Peter Peacock, who served on the Scotland Bill Committee, and Lord Foulkes, who was mentioned in our debate yesterday. We should not accept any general diminution of their contribution to the Scottish Parliament, as they have played their roles.

5.45 pm

It was clear from the start of the Parliament that the role of list Members had not been fully thought through. I was interested to hear it suggested earlier in our debate that there had been a vision for the role of list Members in 1999, because when the Scottish Parliament convened it was not clear that there was a specific job description. Over time, that role has emerged. There have been various initiatives to set out the responsibilities of constituency and list Members, including the Reid principles of the former presiding officer, George Reid.

The Government believe that the Scottish Parliament should regulate the relationships between Members of the Scottish Parliament, and that it is not appropriate for this Parliament to regulate those arrangements. That is why we cannot support new clause 2, which seeks for this Parliament to set the financial constraints to be placed on Members who do not abide by such rules. An example was cited of a regional Member of the Scottish Parliament who is said to have breached the rules, but it can also be said that a process was followed, a complaint was made, and the presiding officer has dealt with it, and that therefore there is no evidence to support the view that the Scottish Parliament is not capable of making its own rules and arrangements for the regulation of MSPs.

I was interested in many of the comments about Members standing on both regional lists and in constituencies, and the hon. Member for Angus (Mr Weir) highlighted a number of examples from within the Labour party. In 2006, I witnessed the passage of the Government of Wales Bill, when the then Labour Government argued that legislation must be put in place in Wales to prohibit candidates standing both on the list and in constituencies. Interestingly, such proposals were never brought forward in relation to Scotland, and shortly thereafter Labour changed its internal party rules to allow the same candidate to stand both on the list and for a constituency. We now see that a number of sitting MSPs are moving to stand on the list, so if they fail to be re-elected by one route, they have every chance of being re-elected on the regional list.

Stewart Hosie: Is that not the argument that was being used earlier: that losers can become winners? Why would a Labour Member make that case, when the Minister is explaining that that is precisely what the Labour party is now doing?

David Mundell: Well, I find it—

Mr Donohoe: May I make it perfectly clear that I am opposed to the position referred to by the hon. Member

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for Dundee East (Stewart Hosie), as is my constituency party and as are many other constituency parties across Scotland?

David Mundell: I fully take on board what the hon. Gentleman says, and I praise his consistency on this issue, but others who have been critical of the regional list system now want to use it to save their political careers, and I regard that as hypocrisy.

Mr Weir: I count six Labour MSPs now standing for the list who are currently first-past-the-post Members, which says something about their confidence in the result of the coming election.

David Mundell: As has been said, there has been a change from the view that Members should not stand on both the list and in constituencies to a position where that should be done when it is in someone’s self-interest.

Mr Tom Harris (Glasgow South) (Lab): I apologise for not being here for the debate before now, but I wish to clarify one matter. I hope the Minister will recall that in the first Scottish Parliament elections Donald Dewar stood as a candidate for Anniesland, in addition to being No. 1 on the Glasgow list. A number of prominent first-past-the-post candidates also stood on the list, so this is not a new procedure in the Labour party—it has been going on since 1999.

David Mundell: As I recall, the reason given for Labour Members taking that approach was that they were encouraging people to vote on the list; they were seeking to demonstrate that prominent people were on the list and so it was an important vote in which to participate.

Mark Lazarowicz: Will the Minister remind us whether there are any Conservative list MSPs standing for a first-past-the-post seat in the forthcoming elections?

David Mundell: Indeed there are, but the Conservative party has been clear and absolutely consistent in its policy. It has not changed its policy to suit the electoral needs of individual constituency MSPs who fear for their future.

Pete Wishart: The Minister rightly says that the Conservatives have been consistent about this—the list has saved the neck of the Conservative party in Scotland. Has he any idea what the Labour Front-Bench team’s position is on this matter? We have not heard a contribution from Labour Front Benchers on this; all we have heard are the siren voices of the “first-past-the-posters” at the back. Labour seems to be split from top to bottom on this issue, but does the Minister have any idea as to its view?

David Mundell: The hon. Gentleman probably shares my belief that the Labour party view will be what is in the interests of the Labour party, and not necessarily what is in the interests of the electorate in individual constituencies in Scotland.

Michael Connarty: I am glad that the Minister gave way after that terrible slur on the Labour party. We are talking about the views of Members of this House, and

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it is very important that we take them seriously and do not start messing around. It is clear that the parties had a view. I recall Donald Dewar saying that the idea was that, as in Germany, the leader of the list would be seen as a symbol of what the list stood for. All the arrangements were proportional in Germany, but because we had this divergence between the first-past-the-post and list systems, our arrangements became totally confused in the eyes of the electorate. We are not seeking party advantage; we are looking for the electorate’s advantage.

David Mundell: I recognise the hon. Gentleman’s consistency on this issue, but I was confused by one of the contributions from the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Cathy Jamieson), who was part of a Labour-led Scottish Government who introduced the single transferable vote into local government in Scotland. Much of the argument that I have heard today did not provide evidence that that was done on the basis of support from within the Labour party. As one Member on the Opposition Benches pointed out, it was also done without consulting people across Scotland. On the point that the hon. Lady did raise, may I say, for information purposes, that when a council by-election is required, the STV system used does not guarantee ongoing proportionality? One of the problems with STV systems is that by-elections are difficult and complex matters.

Mr Davidson: A moment ago, Mr Kettle accused members of the Labour party of coming to a position based on self-interest. Given that he is in an alliance with another bad lot to promote an alternative vote referendum, despite neither party preferring AV as an electoral system, it can hardly be said that other people are pursuing their self-interest in this matter. Might I add that, to be fair, the Liberals welcome AV, because they predict that they will have a better result than they achieved in Barnsley and will at least come second in the referendum?

The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Dawn Primarolo): Order. May I add that I would like the Minister to return to discussing the new clause?

David Mundell: Thank you, Ms Primarolo. I will take on board what you say and, as ever, I note the hon. Gentleman’s comments. Some of what he said in his contribution was helpful, in that there is an acceptance, following the Arbuthnott commission’s report, that some form of review of electoral systems in Scotland is required. The Arbuthnott commission suggested that that should take place post-2011, and the Government share that view.

Mr Donohoe: I am sure that the Minister will concede that nothing I am proposing today would come into effect until after this year’s elections.

David Mundell: The hon. Gentleman has proposed a very specific change to the electoral system for the Scottish Parliament. It would mean that two Members would be elected from each constituency other than the three constituencies that have been identified. Although it seems to suggest that everyone would have two votes in those three constituencies, the new clause does not appear to show what would happen to the second of

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their votes. He has set out his intentions in this debate, but the provisions are technically defective. However, I advise him, and the Opposition Members who have expressed clear views about how they would change the electoral system for the Scottish Parliament, to take part in any review that is forthcoming on the nature of that electoral system. That is one basis on which the Government reject the new clauses.

Cathy Jamieson: I am listening to the Minister with interest. Is he actually offering that very review that he is talking about? If so, when will it take place?

David Mundell: The date of the next Scottish Parliament election has changed as a result of the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill, and the Government have indicated that a review of the implications for the Scottish Parliament will be required. A review of the voting system for the Scottish Parliament elections could form part of a wider review of issues relating to the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Davidson: May I just clarify a point? The Minister said that the proposal put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr Donohoe) is not clear on the question of what would happen in respect of people having two votes. May I refer him to the wording? New clause 1 states:

“each elector to cast one or two votes of equal value, with no more than one vote to be given to any one candidate, in constituencies returning two members”.

It continues:

“the two candidates with the most valid votes to be elected in such constituencies.”

So I understand that the reference to people having “two votes” applies only to the constituencies that are not the three identified.

David Mundell: I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s analysis, but I do not think it stands up to legal scrutiny in that regard.

Mr Donohoe: Can the Minister just tell me why? I have read that provision at some length and I am clearly of the opinion that it covers the points that he says it does not.

David Mundell: The interpretation of that provision is that people in the Western Isles, Orkney or Shetland could still have two votes.

Mr Donohoe: No.

David Mundell: That is a clear possible interpretation of that provision. The hon. Gentleman is better advised making his case not on the technicalities of the wording, but on his strong beliefs about this issue.

On new clause 2, I have made clear the Government’s view that it is a matter for the Scottish Parliament to regulate the conduct of its Members and the relationships between list and constituency Members. On that basis, we cannot accept the new clause.

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6 pm

Mr Donohoe: On the basis of what has just been said, I am almost of a mind to press the new clause to a vote.

Let me make some points to sum up. I would argue that this has been one of the better debates on the Bill that we have had across the piece. It has at times been humorous and it has been good-humoured, which is unusual in some respects. It has also at times been useful and interesting to be able to draw out some of my long-held points of view. I am conscious that in these circumstances—given that this debate is just the beginning—we should withdraw our proposal, and so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

New Clause 3

Maritime policy

‘(1) The Scotland Act 1998 is amended as follows.

(2) In Schedule 5, section E3, leave out—

(a) the Coastguard Act 1925”.

(3) After section 90 insert section 90A as follows—

“Maritime and Coastguard Agency (Scotland)

90A (1) The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is to be treated as a Cross-Border Public Authority for the purposes of sections 88 to 90.

(2) The funding, operation and planning authority of Maritime and Coastguard Agency facilities in Scotland shall reside with the Scottish Government and the appropriate Scottish Minister.

(3) These parts of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency which are the responsibility of Scottish Government shall be known as the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (Scotland).

(4) The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (Scotland) will be responsible for maintaining and upholding domestic and international laws and obligations in the Scottish Waters.

(5) For the purposes of this section, the Scottish Waters are as defined by the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundary Order 1999.”.’.—(Mr MacNeil.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr MacNeil: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Dawn Primarolo): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

New clause 4—Economic incentives for the Scottish maritime industry—

‘(1) The Scotland Act 1998 is amended as follows.

(2) In Schedule 5, section E3, the words “Financial assistance for shipping services which start or finish or both outside Scotland” are replaced with “Financial assistance for shipping services which both start and finish outside Scotland.”.’.

New clause 12—Scottish maritime boundaries—

‘(1) In section 126(2) of the 1998 Act, after “Council”, insert “and with the Consent of the Scottish Parliament”.

(2) At the end of section 126(2) insert “A boundary order shall be issued in 2012.”.’.

Mr MacNeil: Throughout our proceedings, we have heard claims from the Tories and the Liberal Democrats that this Bill is the greatest transfer of powers from Westminster to Scotland in more than 300 years. To ensure that it is truly a transfer of powers, I propose several additions that will see the Scottish Government gain more control over Scotland’s maritime future.

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We seek to devolve the operation and funding of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to Scotland, to remove restrictions in the Scotland Act 1998 that prevent the Scottish Government from providing incentives to the shipping industry in Scotland and to ensure that the Scottish Parliament agrees to any movement of the border instigated from London. I am aware that those proposals were not recommended in the Calman commission’s report, but we cannot expect Calman to have thought of everything. Anything might have come from Calman, I suppose, but, of course, it does not matter because the Government have picked and mixed the recommendations as they were made.

New clause 3 was sparked by the Government’s proposals to cut the coastguard service throughout the UK. Those proposals seek to leave three to four co-ordination centres south of the border and only one 24-hour co-ordination centre and one part-time centre in Scotland—there are currently five. The proposals were not meant to be debated in this House and were certainly not presented to the Scottish Parliament. That shows a blatant disrespect not only for the Scottish Parliament and Government but for MPs in this House who, to take my case as an example, will be affected by these decisions.

Through my proposals, we seek to alleviate the financial and administrative burden on the Department for Transport by taking the Scottish portion of the coastguard service out of its realm of responsibility. The decision on the future of the coastguard in Scotland should, rightly, take place in Scotland.

Mark Lazarowicz: Has the hon. Gentleman assessed the views of the trade unions representing those who work in the coastguard service or the seagoing community about whether they want to see the coastguard service split up in that way?

Mr MacNeil: Yes, I have asked people who work in the coastguard and, yes, they do want to see this happen.

Mark Lazarowicz: Just to be clear, I did not mean somebody in the coastguard service whom the hon. Gentleman knows. I asked whether trade unions collectively —at least at a Scottish level—support the change.

Mr MacNeil: I hope that the trade unions would act in the best interests of their members’ employment and the coastguard service throughout Scotland and try to maintain coastguard stations in Scotland. I am quite sure that if the Scottish Government—regardless of their party—were in charge of this matter, the savage cuts would not be happening.

Scotland has an estimated 60% of all the coastline in the UK, so the Scottish Parliament and Government should surely be the primary body that decides the future of the force that protects mariners and the community. We have already seen the beginning of the process with the passing of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009, and we must continue that through these proposals, which would ensure that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in Scotland enforced Scots law on environmental matters. We seek to have the MCA fall in line with the local operation of the police, health service and other devolved agencies.

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According to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the seas and coastlines are getting more congested, ships are getting larger and the weather is getting worse. With that information in mind, it surely makes sense to implement a division of labour and allow the MCA in England to focus on Southampton and London and leave Scottish waters to Scotland.

Our new clause removes the restrictions in the Scotland Act that prevent the Scots Government from running the coastguard. Once we place it in the category of a cross-border public authority, we will remove nearly £5 million of coastguard co-ordination centre operating costs from the Department for Transport’s budgets alone. That would give us the opportunity in Scotland to secure a proper coastguard service for Scotland. In the past year, we have heard that contracts to provide life-saving helicopters have been bungled completely. Our tugboat services have been cut to save money, in line, we are told, with these austere times, but that unfortunately exposes Scotland to severe gaps in coastline coverage. On a side note, we want to know what will happen to our tugs when these front-line services come up for contract renewal in September.

If Members look closely at the proposals, they will see that we are not attempting to change international agreements or safety legislation. We are simply seeking to ensure that decisions regarding the Scottish coastline are taken in the best interests of Scotland. In short, they move power from Westminster to the most democratic institution representing Scotland—the Scots Parliament.

Mr Russell Brown (Dumfries and Galloway) (Lab): If the hon. Gentleman’s new clause were successful, would he envisage more than one full-time station in Aberdeen, or would one suffice in his view?

Mr MacNeil: I would envisage far more than one full-time station in Aberdeen.

This will not be the first time that the House of Commons has heard of the concept of change and of control moving away from the MCA. In 1989, the Isle of Man formed its own coastguard after the UK unilaterally decided to shut down the coastguard co-ordination centre in Ramsey. The Manx Government—perhaps this shows what happens when there is more local control—rightly decided that they should no longer depend on the United Kingdom to protect their coastline and therefore created their own coastguard. That coastguard has five stations open around the Isle of Man and has retained close ties with the Liverpool maritime rescue co-ordination centre, which I would like to remain open.

The Government of the Isle of Man took the right decisions at the right time to ensure that their coast was secure. Surely, it cannot be the will of the Committee to deny Scotland that same inalienable right. This is not the first time that a potential coastguard authority move has been presented. In its illustrious 189-year history, the coastguard has been under the Board of Trade between 1923 and 1939, the Ministry of Shipping from 1939 to 1940, the Admiralty from 1940 to 1945, the Ministry of War and then the Ministry of Transport from 1945 to 1964, the Department of Trade from 1964 to 1983, the Department of Transport from 1983 to 1997 and finally, the Department for Transport from

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2002 to this date. All we seek to do is move that one step further and ensure that the Scots coastguard reports directly to Scotland.

Mr Tom Harris: I agree with the substance of what the hon. Gentleman is saying about the effects of the cuts to the coastguard system, but would he be proposing this change if the cuts to the maritime coastguard service were not being made at the Department for Transport? He is in danger, I think, of opening himself up to accusations of opportunism if this move is a response to budget cuts rather than a point of principle. I am not aware that this point of principle has been raised by the SNP in the past.

Mr MacNeil: I am glad that the hon. Gentleman agrees with me on the substantial thrust of my argument and I hope to see him with me in the Lobby as a result. Would I have done this if such a proposal had not been made at the moment? Perhaps not, but given the safety concerns, this matter is pressing. Given that the process started without any risk assessment from the MCA, despite the relevant Minister telling me at the Dispatch Box that there had been such an assessment, I think that politics has to meet the pressing concerns among Royal National Lifeboat Institution crews, people who used to be involved in shipping, working coastguards and a variety of people across the community—certainly in the highlands and islands and, I imagine, further down to the Clyde and over to the Forth and, indeed, Shetland.

New clause 4 would redress a bizarre part of the Scotland Act that prevents the Scottish Government from creating incentives for the maritime industry in Scotland. Currently, the Government of Scotland have the ability to incentivise travel for maritime journeys that both start and end in Scotland, which has meant that a successful pilot project on the west coast for the road equivalent tariff has been brought to the Outer Hebrides and to Coll and Tiree. We hope that policy will continue, as it has done quite a lot to help the economies of those areas in a time of severe economic downturn.

Maritime policy is vital to Scotland as we are responsible for 70% of all the fish landed in the UK. Aberdeen is home to the North sea oil industry and lands nearly 4.5 million tonnes of cargo annually from approximately 8,000 ships. Clyde port lands 7.5 million tonnes of cargo and Stornoway port in my constituency has 200,000 people travelling through it each year. The ability to control the maritime economy is surely vital to what is a maritime nation. It is vital to secure future growth in the Scottish economy.

The figures that I have presented for the Aberdeen and Clyde ports are small in comparison with Southampton, which lands 75 million tonnes of cargo annually. Currently, the shipping industry coalesces around the south of England leaving little else for the rest of the UK. It is peculiar that most of Scotland’s goods are transported to the south of England and then driven into Scotland. With ever-increasing fuel costs and more congested motorways, surely that is not a good idea. The cost of moving goods to Scotland will invariably increase as the costs of transportation increase, and we propose that

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costs could be saved if there were an incentive for ships to land their goods in Scotland. The professor of maritime research at Edinburgh Napier university, Alf Baird, put it succinctly when he said that

“the present reality is that firms located in Scotland are considerably worse off in international transport cost terms compared with firms located close to hub ports in the south east of England…firms in the central belt of Scotland are between 15-23% worse off, while firms in the highlands are 22-33% worse off, and firms located on remote islands between 37-63% worse off…From a purely Scottish perspective this therefore raises the question—is the current method of serving Scottish industry’s global import and export needs through remote UK ports sustainable in the long run? Or, in other words, will rising domestic UK transport costs (rail as well as road) make Scottish industry even less competitive in global markets than it is today, leading to further job losses”—

that is the important point, as we want to keep people in employment—

“in manufacturing and reduced competitiveness?”

Fiona O'Donnell: I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is glad to pause for breath. He has said that he is proposing these new clauses because Calman missed them out, but did he put forward any submissions to the Holyrood Bill Committee or the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs about these matters?

Mr MacNeil: The most appropriate place for the measures is in the Bill, which is why I have chosen to bring them forward now.

Professor Baird has asked rather straightforward questions that should be addressed by a specific maritime policy with regard to seaport provision in Scotland and the impacts of such a policy for trade and economic development. Surely, Scotland should be able to entice shippers to send goods to our ports. As the home of the large northern ports of the UK, we are well placed to provide efficient ports for shipping goods throughout Scotland and, perhaps, the rest of the UK. We should at least be given the opportunity to try. However, there are restrictions in place and all we can do is hope that companies land their goods there. This issue is at the crux of our main argument. Scotland needs to have the economic levers to promote growth, which would also help with the aggregate growth of the British Isles. Without the ability to entice business to Scotland, we will lose a real chance to grow sectors of our economy that could provide a counterweight to other portions of the Scottish economy. Our new clauses would ensure that the Scottish Government have the ability to promote the Scottish shipping industry and Scottish ports.

6.15 pm

My final new clause concerns Scottish maritime borders. New clause 12 would ensure that the agreement of the Scottish Parliament was needed for any future change to Scotland’s maritime borders and that a new border order would be made next year. To those who think this an insular, politically driven clause, I ask this question: “Why is the Scottish Parliament not part of the decision-making process in determining Scotland’s borders?” This new clause deals specifically with the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999, which moved Scotland’s maritime boundary north by several degrees giving 6,000 square miles of water to England. The Government never consulted the Scots Government or

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the Scottish people about that. I understand that an Order in Council was made and discussed in the UK Parliament, but I was not in the House in 1999. The Scots Parliament has debated the matter in earnest, and although jibes were passed between the parties—as is inevitable—the outcome was clear: the UK Government were dismissing that brand new Parliament and no one really knew why.

In the Scots Parliament debate of 26 April 2000, John Home Robertson, MSP, tabled a motion stating:

“That the Parliament notes the terms of the report by the Rural Affairs Committee, The impact of the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999 (SP paper 42), in particular its dissatisfaction and concern about the level of consultation carried out prior to the introduction of the boundaries order, that the introduction of a boundaries order appears not to have identified any inconsistency with the Civil Jurisdiction (Offshore Activities) Order 1987, and that the amount of fishing activity in the disputed area does not appear to have influenced the Order, and further notes the Committee’s recommendation that the Secretary of State for Scotland should either introduce a new, revised Order, or support a Bill calling for a revised boundary proposed in the House of Commons by Archy Kirkwood MP.”—[Scottish Parliament Official Report, 26 April 2000; c. 10.]

Archy Kirkwood is now Baron Kirkwood of Kirkhope.

The Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles said

“The secretary of state’s view can be justified only if he believes that changing the boundary sets an unwelcome precedent. In my view, that is an entirely negative and unnecessary approach. He could have taken the opportunity to demonstrate positively that both the UK Government and the Scottish Executive are prepared to work in partnership to smooth out difficulties such as this that have emerged as a result of the Scotland Act 1998. It was a mistake.”—[Scottish Parliament Official Report, 26 April 2000; c. 32.]

After the debate, the Government were lambasted in the press, with constitutional expert Alan Perry calling the Government’s reasoning into doubt. In the Litigation Review, he wrote:

“Without any real prior consultation or warning, the order effectively removed some 6,000 square miles of sea off the east of Scotland from the Scottish to the English jurisdiction…The government claims that it has simply drawn an 'equidistance' line between Scottish and English waters in conformity with international law…This claim is disingenuous in the extreme.”

Mr Perry, who has 25 years’ experience and mostly works on public international law cases, said there was no general rule in international law that equidistance was a proper basis for such a line. He asked:

“Must we then conclude that this dreadful blunder is simply an example of monumental incompetence?”

I seek to correct that blundering incompetence with my new clause. I cannot think of any reason why the Scots Parliament—the elected voice of the people of Scotland—does not have the right even to be consulted regarding proposals to move our borders. Surely, devolution means that the House has given real powers to the Scots Parliament and not piecemeal powers because of fears about particular Governments.

Tonight’s vote will be a litmus test of Scots MPs in particular—a marker that will, perhaps, ring in history. There is no reason to oppose my new clauses, especially the last one, as they help Scotland. The House has to stop holding us back in the name of the Union. Some say that the political Union has done great things to benefit London but very little to benefit the whole of Scotland, and perhaps I am one of them. I would say that London has benefited more from those it is not

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politically united with. Indeed, the aggregate gross domestic product of the British Isles is higher due to the independence of autonomous areas around the UK, such as Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. I note that their Governments have not applied to be absorbed into the UK.

All the hallmarks of the great devolution dividend are falling apart around us. The coastguard service is to be cut as the Scottish seas are becoming more and more congested, and VAT has risen to 20%.

Michael Connarty: Before the hon. Gentleman disappears off the map of the maritime borders of the UK, may we return to the subject in hand? As someone who represents the busiest port in Scotland, Grangemouth, it concerns me that the ships that come in and out of it travel more in non-Scottish waters than in Scottish waters to reach that port. Dividing the forces that need to be gathered to fight the terrible cuts in the entire UK coastguard service that are coming from the Government and hiving off Scotland would not greatly advantage the people who come in and out of the port that I represent. Is it not better that we stand together and fight the cuts than try to divide into two different land masses and two different Governments?

Mr MacNeil: I am sure that the hon. Gentleman knows that there is more than one way to skin a cat. I am also sure that he would like to see a busier port in Grangemouth and a Government able to incentivise greater activity in Grangemouth. I therefore expect him to support my new clauses.

These measures will mean that the Scottish Parliament and Government can get on with the job of making Scotland better and allow the rest of the UK to focus on what it considers to be important. This is a litmus test that will show Scotland which of its MPs stand for Scotland and which of them focus on party advantage. I intend to press new clauses 3 and 12 to Divisions.

Mr Frank Doran (Aberdeen North) (Lab): I shall speak mainly on new clause 3. I am rather bemused by the contribution that we have just heard on new clause 12. The hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil) has presented a dangerous argument, and I am not sure whether I totally understand it.

I have always understood that the current boundary was agreed by international negotiation in 1707. The Scottish border used to go down as far as Newcastle and in some respects almost as far as Bolton, I think, but things have changed. I know that the SNP has a hang-up about the oil industry and the fact that what it sees as its rightful share has been stolen from it. However, there are much more serious issues to be discussed today.

The hon. Gentleman appropriately raised the issue of the coastguard. I know that his coastguard station in Stornoway is one of the stations under threat. It is right for him to fight for it, but it is not right to extend the argument to where nationalists tend to end up—that the only way to solve a problem is to move it to Scotland. There is a serious issue around the reorganisation of the coastguard. He knows as well as I do that in Scotland there will be just two stations—the maritime operating centre, which it is proposed will be in Aberdeen in my constituency, and either Shetland or Stornoway.

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My understanding is that Shetland did not figure in the original Government proposal, but a certain amount of influence within Government has seen Shetland on the list. I hope the hon. Gentleman wins his battle to save the Stornoway station. That battle is entirely appropriate. Apart from anything else, the fact that in the Western Isles there is a preponderance of Gaelic speaking and Gaelic place names means that, if there is any risk in that area, it is essential that the geography is properly understood. It is important to make that point.

Mr MacNeil: Given what the hon. Gentleman has said, surely he understands my argument that it would be better for control to lie in the Scottish Parliament and with the Scottish Government. Since 1999, the Scottish Government have been either SNP or Labour-led. My new clause would remove the Maritime and Coastguard Agency from the clutches of the Conservatives, whose tendency seems to be to cut. Would the hon. Gentleman prefer to leave the agency with the Conservatives?

Mr Doran: My argument is that a problem is not solved just by moving it to Scotland. There are fundamental problems with the coastguard—for example, most of the equipment that it uses is 40 years out of date. There is new technology available which is necessary for proper safety on our seas. The money needs to be invested. Given the present financial situation, one of the few ways that money can be invested, sadly, involves the closure of a number of coastguards. I have been told by workers at my own coastguard that with the new technology, Aberdeen could cover the whole of Scotland, but the point that I made earlier about the Western Isles is recognised. The issue will not be resolved simply by asking for it to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

I am by no means in favour of everything proposed in the consultation paper published by the Government, but what is needed is a properly co-ordinated national system, which we do not have at present. We have groups or pairs of coastguard stations which can communicate with one another, but in the event of a major disaster or a major incident, it is difficult to see how we could get the full benefit of a national system and the investment that we need to make by separating the Scottish service from the rest of the UK and allowing that to operate on its own.

I was heavily involved in the aftermath of the Piper Alpha disaster, when the coastguard played a pivotal role—I do not know which other stations were involved. The service then was very similar to what it is now, and there was not the capacity to involve the whole of the coastguard operation throughout the UK. Given what we have seen in other countries in recent years, it is possible that that facility may be necessary in the future. As I have said, the way to resolve a major infrastructure problem is not to cut it off and devolve it to Scotland, which is a blinded and fundamentalist view of how we should function.

We need a co-ordinated system throughout the UK. One of the key weaknesses of breaking up the system is what the Scottish Government would or could do with it. Like many people, I am suspicious about the fact that the SNP Government in Edinburgh have made no attempt to give us a proper Budget for the next three years, as we

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have seen the current Government and the previous Labour Government produce for the UK. Of course, there is an election on the way, so that will be the main consideration.

If the coastguard system is to be upgraded to modern standards, where will the necessary money come from? If the hon. Gentleman was successful with his new clause, there would clearly have to be some transfer of money from the UK to pay for the existing system, but not for upgrading it. The system that I hope will be based in my constituency at Aberdeen, once the consultation exercise is over and the investment has been made, will serve not just Scottish waters, but almost half the UK—it will be capable of serving the whole UK. Would that be on offer in a system run under the narrow nationalist view that the hon. Gentleman is taking? I do not know.

I need to know, and the Committee needs to know, where the money will come from to upgrade and modernise the system. It is not clear that that money exists in the Scottish Budget. If the SNP Government cannot afford to build any new schools and are not able to fund local services properly, how will they modernise the coastguard system, which is essential for the safety of our maritime fleet, our sailors and our fishing industry? The hon. Gentleman is well aware of the dangers inherent in that industry. There are more industrial accidents and deaths in the fishing industry than in virtually all the rest of industry in Britain put together. The most dangerous industry in Britain depends on the coastguard, and many operators in the fishing industry are based in his constituency.

If the new clause is part of a campaign to save the hon. Gentleman’s own coastguard station, fine. I can accept it on those terms, but if it is a serious attempt to change the system, it must be rejected.

David Mundell: This is a debate on an important issue, and in many respects I share the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Mr Doran). If the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil) is raising the issue to ensure that it is debated and his concerns are heard, then I accept his right to do so. However, if he is seriously suggesting that the coastguard service should be devolved, then obviously the Government cannot accept his proposal. The point to be made is that this matter was not brought before the Calman commission; nor was it brought before the Scottish Parliament’s Bill Committee or the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs as something that he had considered, along with the other changes that he proposed. Indeed, I am not even aware of the matter being raised as part of the so-called national conversation—something that you will have heard about in these exchanges, Ms Primarolo—which was promoted by the SNP Government in Edinburgh with the primary purpose, it would appear, of furthering the cause of independence at public expense.

6.30 pm

If agreed, new clause 3 would devolve the funding and management of coastguard services to the Scottish Parliament and a new Marine and Coastguard Agency (Scotland) would be formed. A consultation is currently under way on proposals for modernising the coastguard service, as the hon. Member for Aberdeen North said.

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The Government are inviting comments from staff, partner organisations and the public, and the consultation is on our proposed blueprint for the future structure of Her Majesty’s coastguard. We are confident that the concept would produce a nationally networked coastguard service that was resilient, effective and efficient. However, the Government have recognised—including the Prime Minister, in an exchange with the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, which I saw—the considerable strength of feeling on the issue in certain parts of the United Kingdom, and have therefore extended the consultation period for an additional six weeks. Indeed, given the relevance and importance of the issue, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning) had hoped to be present for this debate, but he is now travelling to Stornoway and Shetland as part of an ongoing consultation and dialogue. He has met Members throughout the country, given the concerns that have been raised.

The proposals include the establishment of two nationally networked maritime operations centres in Aberdeen and the Southampton-Portsmouth area. There would also be six fully integrated sub-centres located at Dover, Falmouth, Swansea, Liverpool or Belfast, Stornoway or Shetland, and Humber. With the exception of Dover, the sub-centres would operate in the daytime only. I stress again that the current proposals for coastguard modernisation are out to consultation. No decisions have been taken. Scottish interests will be taken into account when weighing up the needs of Scotland and the rest of the UK. However, as has been said, the simple transfer of powers would in no way guarantee how they would be used, what approach a future Scottish Government would take to the coastguard, or our ability to produce a nationally networked coastguard service.

It is important to note that coastguard activities are interlinked with maritime services generally. They are very much an international activity. The parameters of many coastguard functions are largely determined by merchant shipping law, so if the former were devolved while the latter as a whole remained reserved, there would be potential for much confusion and either overlaps or gaps in functional coverage of the substantive law. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is an Executive agency with no separate legal existence from the Secretary of State for Transport. It has a large number of responsibilities other than those relating to the coastguard and search and rescue functions. For example, it deals with merchant shipping and acts on behalf of the Receiver of Wreck. It is not clear from the new clause whether the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar intends Scottish Ministers to assume responsibility for all those functions—although given his views on such matters, I suspect that he does intend that—or simply for those relating to search and rescue at sea.

The Commission on Scottish Devolution, on which this Bill is based, did not review the coastguard service; therefore this Bill is not the place for discussions about it. That is the purpose of the ongoing consultation. I urge the hon. Members for Na h-Eileanan an Iar and for Aberdeen North, along with all those with an interest in this matter, to make their views known as part of that process.

New clause 4 would devolve funding arrangements for shipping services. I have to concede that the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar enthusiastically sped

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through his points about it, although the matters that he raised would have merited further discussion, as part of the fuller Calman process or the Committee’s considerations. He made important points about incentivising the use of remote points, but this is not the appropriate moment to introduce that without the sort of scrutiny and analysis that we have seen for other clauses in the Bill.

New clause 12 deals with Scottish maritime boundaries. It seeks to require the consent of the Scottish Parliament to any order made under section 126(2) of the Scotland Act 1998, and to require a boundary order to be issued in 2012. Again, the hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Calman commission did not recommend that provision, and as far as I am aware it was not raised with him.

Pete Wishart: The Minister keeps going on about things not being raised by the Calman commission, but nor was Antarctica or appeals to the Supreme Court. The Minister cannot have it both ways. The Government are introducing some stuff that was not in Calman, so surely they can consider other stuff that was similarly not in Calman.

David Mundell: As the hon. Gentleman is aware, the issue of Antarctica was fully considered by the Scottish Parliament’s Bill Committee and the Scottish Affairs Committee. It was not simply plucked out of the air and dealt with in an amendment in this place.

I understand the SNP’s dogmatic opposition to the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order 1999 and its view that if Scotland had more ocean under its control, that ocean would benefit from SNP policies, but I am afraid that it is not a view I subscribe to. As the SNP knows, the Scottish Adjacent Waters Boundaries Order has two effects. First, it determines the boundary of waters that are to be treated as internal waters or the territorial sea of the UK adjacent to Scotland. That is relevant to the definition of “Scotland” in section 126(1) of the 1998 Act, which is used for the purpose of exercising devolved functions and the extent of the Scottish Parliament’s legislative competence. Similar provision is made in legislation relating to Northern Ireland and Wales for the purposes of their devolution settlements.

Secondly, the order determines the boundary of those waters to be treated as sea within British fishery limits adjacent to Scotland. That is relevant to the definition of “the Scottish zone”—in section 126(1) of the 1998 Act—in which the Scottish Parliament has legislative competence to regulate sea fisheries in accordance with the EU’s common fisheries policy and where fishermen are subject to Scots law. Scottish Ministers also have various Executive functions that are exercisable in the Scottish zone in relation to matters such as licensing and planning.

Crucially, the order defines boundaries off both the west and east coasts using the median line mythology recommended by the UN convention on the law of the sea. It is always interesting when we find the SNP in disagreement with the UN because it does not suit its purposes. This is the standard international mythology—methodology for defining water boundaries. It is illogical to use it off the west coast but deploy a boundary based on historical practice off the east coast. The Government have no plans to redefine the nautical boundaries between Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. We cannot

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accept that a boundary order should be issued in 2012 when no reason has been given for the need to do so other than SNP dogma. Although we recognise the strength of feeling on the coastguard, which is an important topic of debate, I urge the hon. Gentleman not to press his new clause.

Mr MacNeil: I will be brief in the hope that we will get to the vote. I am perplexed as to why the hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Mr Doran) wants to leave the Tories in charge of Scotland’s coastguard.

Thomas Docherty: Temporarily.

Mr MacNeil: The hon. Gentleman says temporarily, but in my lifetime I have seen an awfully lot of time that he might call temporary—the 18 years from 1979 to 1997. We then had Labour saying that it could do this, that and the rest of it and that we should vote Labour to stop the Tories, and that did not work once.

The hon. Member for Aberdeen North said that the new clause would not resolve the issue, but surely it would at the very least lessen the problem by moving responsibility for the coastguard to Scotland. He said that he wants a properly co-ordinated national system. That is what I want, but I fear that we will not get it because of the cuts. I recognise and respect his input and involvement in Piper Alpha. He probably misses the point that the Isle of Man has its own coastguard and seems to co-ordinate well with Liverpool, and presumably with the Republic of Ireland as well. I am disappointed that he descended into making slurs; he could have done better. The new clause is about saving coastguard stations in Scotland and keeping a coastguard in Scotland.

I of course welcome the Minister’s encouragement on ports, but he should be aware that I am trying to keep a level of coastguard service in Scotland. Regardless of the party in power in Scotland, I am quite sure that such savage cuts should not be made to our marine insurance policy, the coastguard stations. In short, the Minister sees London as the only way, and that there can be no other way such as on the Isle of Man.

Michael Connarty: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr MacNeil: No, I will make progress.

I see that the Minister was happy that the sea area was taken from Scotland in 1999, and he revealingly made a Freudian slip by saying “mythology”. Why was that change made in 1999? I fear that he has given up his birthright for a mess of pottage.

I shall seek to divide the Committee on new clause 3 and—I hope—on new clause 12.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

The Committee divided:

Ayes 9, Noes 480.

Division No. 225]

[6.43 pm


Campbell, Mr Gregory

Durkan, Mark

Edwards, Jonathan

Hosie, Stewart

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

Robertson, Angus

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Williams, Hywel

Tellers for the Ayes:

Pete Wishart and

Mr Mike Weir


Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Amess, Mr David

Anderson, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Austin, Ian

Bacon, Mr Richard

Bagshawe, Ms Louise

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Baker, Norman

Baker, Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Banks, Gordon

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, Gregory

Baron, Mr John

Barron, rh Mr Kevin

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berger, Luciana

Berry, Jake

Betts, Mr Clive

Bingham, Andrew

Binley, Mr Brian

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blackwood, Nicola

Blears, rh Hazel

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Blunt, Mr Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brady, Mr Graham

Brake, Tom

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Brennan, Kevin

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Mr Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, Annette

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Brown, Mr Russell

Bruce, Fiona

Bryant, Chris

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burstow, Paul

Burt, Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Byrne, rh Mr Liam

Cable, rh Vince

Campbell, Mr Alan

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cash, Mr William

Caton, Martin

Chapman, Mrs Jenny

Chishti, Rehman

Clark, rh Greg

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coffey, Ann

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, Rosie

Crabb, Stephen

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Tony

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

Davey, Mr Edward

David, Mr Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, David T. C.


Davies, Geraint

Davies, Glyn

Davis, rh Mr David

de Bois, Nick

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dinenage, Caroline

Docherty, Thomas

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Dorries, Nadine

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Dromey, Jack

Duddridge, James

Dugher, Michael

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Eagle, Maria

Efford, Clive

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Esterson, Bill

Eustice, George

Evans, Chris

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, Michael

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, rh Mr Frank

Field, Mr Mark

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Foster, rh Mr Don

Fovargue, Yvonne

Francis, Dr Hywel

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fullbrook, Lorraine

Fuller, Richard

Gale, Mr Roger

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Garnier, Mr Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gilbert, Stephen

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Gilmore, Sheila

Glass, Pat

Glen, John

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Goggins, rh Paul

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodman, Helen

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Damian

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffith, Nia

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gwynne, Andrew

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Halfon, Robert

Hames, Duncan

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hancock, Matthew

Hands, Greg

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harper, Mr Mark

Harris, Rebecca

Harris, Mr Tom

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Havard, Mr Dai

Hayes, Mr John

Heald, Mr Oliver

Healey, rh John

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Hemming, John

Henderson, Gordon

Hendrick, Mark

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hilling, Julie

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hood, Mr Jim

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hopkins, Kris

Horwood, Martin

Howarth, Mr Gerald

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Huhne, rh Chris

Hunt, Tristram

Hunter, Mark

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Javid, Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Diana

Johnson, Gareth

Jones, Andrew

Jones, Mr David

Jones, Graham

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Mr Marcus

Joyce, Eric

Kawczynski, Daniel

Keeley, Barbara

Kelly, Chris

Kendall, Liz

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Mr Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Laing, Mrs Eleanor

Lamb, Norman

Lancaster, Mark

Lavery, Ian

Laws, rh Mr David

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Charlotte

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lopresti, Jack

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Ian

Luff, Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

MacShane, rh Mr Denis

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Shabana

Main, Mrs Anne

Marsden, Mr Gordon

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCabe, Steve

McCarthy, Kerry

McCartney, Jason

McCartney, Karl

McDonagh, Siobhain

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McKinnell, Catherine

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

McVey, Esther

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Mr Alan

Mearns, Ian

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Michael, rh Alun

Miller, Andrew

Miller, Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Mordaunt, Penny

Morden, Jessica

Morgan, Nicky

Morrice, Graeme


Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, Grahame M.


Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Mundell, rh David

Munn, Meg

Munt, Tessa

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

Neill, Robert

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Donnell, Fiona

Offord, Mr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Onwurah, Chi

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, Richard

Paice, rh Mr James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Pawsey, Mark

Pearce, Teresa

Percy, Andrew

Perkins, Toby

Phillips, Stephen

Phillipson, Bridget

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Randall, rh Mr John

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reeves, Rachel

Reid, Mr Alan

Reynolds, Jonathan

Riordan, Mrs Linda

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, John

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rogerson, Dan

Rosindell, Andrew

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Rudd, Amber

Ruddock, rh Joan

Ruffley, Mr David

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sandys, Laura

Scott, Mr Lee

Seabeck, Alison

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Shuker, Gavin

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Owen

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Soulsby, Sir Peter

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stanley, rh Sir John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Swales, Ian

Swayne, Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Tami, Mark

Tapsell, Sir Peter

Teather, Sarah

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Thurso, John

Timms, rh Stephen

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Trickett, Jon

Truss, Elizabeth

Turner, Mr Andrew

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Uppal, Paul

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vaz, Valerie

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Walley, Joan

Walter, Mr Robert

Ward, Mr David

Watkinson, Angela

Watson, Mr Tom

Watts, Mr Dave

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wicks, rh Malcolm

Wiggin, Bill

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Chris

Williamson, Gavin

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Mr Rob

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Woodcock, John

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr Philip Dunne and

Miss Chloe Smith

Question accordingly negatived.

15 Mar 2011 : Column 218

15 Mar 2011 : Column 219

15 Mar 2011 : Column 220

15 Mar 2011 : Column 221

New Clause 9

Rail passenger services

‘In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Act, in section E2, after “Exceptions” there is inserted—

“The provision of rail passenger services which start and finish in Scotland, including the power to decide who will run such services, the provisions of the Railways Act 1993 notwithstanding.”.’.—(Thomas Docherty.)

Brought up, and read the First time .

Thomas Docherty: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

I am obviously delighted to see that so many Members on both sides of the House take such a passionate and keen interest in Scotland’s railway services. We have had a great deal of support for the measure from the trade unions in Scotland. This is a simple, technical new clause. Most people think that the Scottish Parliament already has the ability to decide what the model of the franchise will be, and I am keen that the situation should be resolved—[ Interruption. ]

7 pm

The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Dawn Primarolo): Order. We are debating a new clause to the Bill, and hon. Members should listen to the speeches. If they want to have private conversations, perhaps they could go outside. Mr Docherty is a bit squashed on the Bench there, but I am sure that he will stand in the right place while he is speaking to his new clause.

15 Mar 2011 : Column 222

Thomas Docherty: Thank you, Ms Primarolo.

Most people think that the Scottish Parliament already has the power to decide on the model for the franchise. After all, it has to fund the ScotRail franchise, through its Ministers, and it is responsible for the letting of the franchise. It is also responsible for funding the building of new railways in Scotland, and it is worth noting that a number of new railway lines opened in Scotland between 1999 and 2007 thanks to the Labour-led Scottish Executive. The Airdrie to Bathgate line and the Larkhall to Milngavie line are two obvious examples. It is disappointing that the SNP Government saw fit to cancel the Glasgow airport rail link; that is a blot on their track record, if the Committee will pardon my rather poor pun.

The new clause would not change the health and safety rules for the railways. It is absolutely right that we have a standard—[ Interruption. ]

The Second Deputy Chairman: Order. I am really sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman again, but I can barely hear what he is saying. There are too many private conversations going on in the Chamber. Out of respect to him, will those who do not wish to listen to his speech on the new clause leave the Chamber quietly now?

Thomas Docherty: Thank you, Ms Primarolo. I see that the Chamber is suddenly becoming a bit emptier. Perhaps it is worth pointing out that the Deputy Prime Minister is hosting a drinks reception tonight for Government Back Benchers. I imagine that hon. Members are off to make sure he does not drink all the wine himself, although after the Barnsley result he probably needs to do so.

I shall return to the substantive issue of the railways in Scotland. As I was saying before I was so gently interrupted, it is obviously right that we should retain the single health and safety policy throughout Great Britain. I say “Great Britain” because, as hon. Members will be aware, the railways in Northern Ireland are part of the single railway system of the island of Ireland. My proposal refers only to the railway network in Great Britain.

It is bizarre that, following the Scotland Act 1998 and the Railways Act 2005, we have successfully given greater powers to Scottish Ministers to do everything except determine the model of the franchise. I am not going to argue that a switch to a not-for-dividend model would necessarily be in the best interests of passengers in Scotland. As a member of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, I have worked for Network Rail. The problems that Network Rail has had in the past are well documented, and there is an ongoing issue involving the cases of sexual harassment and bullying by Peter Bennett, the head of human resources, of many of his employees. That has resulted in about £300,000 of damages and compensation being paid to employees. This is not an ideological debate; it is about who is best placed to make the decisions.