Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East and Dinefwr) (PC): In 1934, following the great depression, most of Europe’s Governments had a significant amount of their liabilities written off for good. In the case of the United Kingdom, that was about 25% of its debt. We have already heard about the London debt agreement of 1953 in relation to Germany. Is it not the case that, as The Daily Telegraph reported in February, debt write-offs

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are not unusual at times of crisis, and does that not indicate that crippling austerity is not the only way forward for Greece?

Mr Osborne: Debt sustainability is clearly one of the big issues for the Greek Government, but—and this, I believe, was also true of the discussions that took place in the 1950s—there must also be some agreement on the creditors’ part that economic reforms are in place that will allow the country to grow and thrive in the future. At present, the two sides cannot agree. The Greeks want the restructuring, while the eurozone wants more conditionality, and more evidence of the structural reforms that it believes will help the Greek economy to grow. What we are doing is urging the two sides to try to reach some kind of agreement.

Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): My right hon. Friend is urging a sustainable solution on our eurozone partners. Is he really saying that if he were a eurozone Finance Minister, he would fancy the task of going to his Parliament to seek authority to throw more good money after bad at the intransigent and unrealistic Government who so unhappily appear to represent the view of the Greek people?

Mr Osborne: I do not want to speculate on how this country would behave if it were a member of the eurozone. Thankfully, that is one of the pressures that our Government do not have to bear. However, this does remind everyone that a country that joins in a currency with other nation states and creates collective institutions will find itself bound by those rules, and will find that some of its unilateral, albeit democratically endorsed, decisions are not necessarily accepted by everyone else.

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): Obviously the Chancellor is focused on the short term, but under any scenario one of the issues the Greek Government must get to grips with is improving their revenue-raising. Has any thought been given to technical assistance programmes along the lines of those run for the east European countries, to increase their capacity to raise taxes more effectively?

Mr Osborne: The hon. Lady draws attention to the very poor record on revenue collection in Greece. It is one of the things that most frustrates its creditors and it comes up regularly in the discussions with the other eurozone Governments. There is actually some history to this: there is a tradition of non-payment—if we can put it like that—going back through Greek history, partly because of the Governments it has had in the past. To be fair to the current Government, and indeed their immediate predecessors in Greece, they have talked about trying to improve revenue collection. The British Government have offered assistance; members of the British civil service have been out on secondment and the like over recent years to try to improve revenue collection. Unfortunately, however, at the moment revenue collection has almost dried up.

Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet) (Con): My right hon. Friend has many aspects of this on his mind at the moment, but those of us who seek to protect the interests of ex-pat UK citizens know that they will be hugely

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appreciative of the fact that he is seeking to safeguard their pension rights and exportable benefit rights, but there are others, particularly those living in Cyprus, who are also dependent on the Greek banking system, so will my right hon. Friend have a word with the Minister for Europe, sitting to his right, and make sure consular assistance is made available to all ex-pat UK citizens who might be affected by the Greek banking crisis?

Mr Osborne: Of course, we do keep a close eye on the situation in Cyprus. A couple of years ago we provided a lot of support to British citizens or others receiving, for example, British pensions in Cyprus when its banking system collapsed.

One of the challenges with people in Greece who receive a British pension but have a Greek bank account is that if we simply stop the money going in, in order to try to protect the payment from whatever might happen, we do not know whether that might disrupt an agreement they have, for instance, with money coming out of their bank account to pay for rent, or for other things, and of course the Greek Government have not so far put restrictions on pensioners in Greece. We monitor this very carefully, and we have contacted a couple of thousand of the people affected to see if they want to switch bank account and offer them a British bank account facility if they want one. We keep this under daily review.

George Kerevan (East Lothian) (SNP): In the light of both the unprecedented and potentially disastrous public attacks by Christine Lagarde against the Greek Government and the referendum result, will the right hon. Gentleman now urge the International Monetary Fund to make available to Greece the some £1.6 billion in profits the fund has made from charging the Greek Government for their emergency loans?

Mr Osborne: I do not accept that characterisation of the managing director; I think she has played a very important and constructive role in this crisis. The IMF exists to lend to countries that are by definition in some distress, but it, too, has rules, which have been established for many decades. One of them is that countries in arrears to the IMF cannot receive payments, and unfortunately last week Greece went into arrears.

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills) (Con): Given this uncertainty and the popularity of Greece and the Greek islands as we approach the main holiday season of the year, what reassurances can the Chancellor give me that I can pass on to my constituents that we will continue to give updated advice and information?

Mr Osborne: All the reports we have back from our consular staff and the various travel companies is that people are enjoying their holidays in Greece, are not seeing the disruptions, and are able to use their credit cards and the like, so we have not changed our travel advice to say people should not travel to Greece. What we have said, however, is that people should anticipate unforeseen—or, indeed, potentially foreseen—circumstances and make sure they take more cash with them than they might otherwise have done, so they are covered for different eventualities. If they do that, they can enjoy their holiday, and make a contribution to the Greek economy, which is very important, but they should take cash with them.

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Peter Grant (Glenrothes) (SNP): Does the Chancellor see the irony in the fact that the people of Greece are being hounded by financial institutions that would not exist had they not been bailed out at taxpayer expense to a sum far, far greater than the one the Greek Government now owe? Will he not accept that that is perhaps a sign that the Governments of Europe have to balance up their act and understand that Europe’s first priority should be to meet the needs of Europe’s citizens, not satisfy the greed of Europe’s bankers?

Mr Osborne: In the end, it is impossible for any country to defy the financial markets. That is something this country has learned to its cost in the past. What we want to see in Greece is investment flowing into the country, the banks reopening and the economy growing. That is why we look forward to the proposals that the Greek Prime Minister says he will bring to the eurozone summit tomorrow.

Mr Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would not be anything for the Greek people to be ashamed of if they decided that they were best off getting out of the straitjacket of the eurozone and were able to wrest away from the controls of the European vulture funds?

Mr Osborne: I will not exactly use the language that my hon. Friend uses, but I think he would absolutely agree that we need to respect the rights of the Greek people to make their own decisions on their future. They have clearly expressed their view in the referendum, but of course they are part of a currency where other populations care about the arrangements with Greece. Governments in Ireland, Spain and the like ask, “We have undertaken a lot of these reforms and measures, so why are the same things not demanded of the Greeks?” That is the challenge that the eurozone faces. Where my hon. Friend and I agree is that we are well out of it and are happy with our pound sterling.

Keith Vaz (Leicester East) (Lab): Since 1 January, 66,000 people have illegally crossed the border between Greece and Turkey. That is 360 a day, many of whom travel through the island of Kos to get to the Greek mainland. Greece requires urgent help to police not only its border, but the border of the EU. If we do not help Greece on this particular issue, the migrants will fall into the hands of people traffickers and end up in Calais, where the issue will become a problem for Britain and France. What can we do to help the Greeks with this issue?

Mr Osborne: The right hon. Gentleman is right to draw our attention to the serious migrant issues in Greece. I think we all remember seeing the television images a few weeks ago of the boat crashing into the rocks off the beaches in Greece. I know that the Home Secretary and other European Interior Ministers have spoken to the Greek Government about the direct assistance we can provide to help them police their borders and deal with what is, of course, a common challenge.

Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) (Con): I am grateful for the steps the Chancellor is taking to help British businesses and to advise holidaymakers, but he will

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know that many more British holidaymakers will shortly be making the journey to Greece. Has he any indication of any tour operator that is unduly exposed to the Greek market and therefore at heightened risk of failure? Will he, along with his colleagues on the Front Bench, continue to monitor the situation?

Mr Osborne: We keep in touch with all the tour operators. Most of them have very big operations in Greece, but they are satisfied with the arrangements and the support we are providing. As I say, these holidays are going ahead. People are not seeing any great disruption and are making a contribution to the Greek economy. We want to continue to provide good travel advice. We will change the travel advice if we feel we need to, but the travel advice at the moment is not, “Do not travel to Greece”; it is just, “Make sure you are prepared.”

Richard Burgon (Leeds East) (Lab): Does the Chancellor agree with the Greek Prime Minister, who stated after the referendum result was announced last night that the IMF’s recent report on its sustainability confirms the Greek position that debt restructuring is necessary to reach a final sustainable solution to end the crisis both for Greece and for Europe? Does he not agree that a European conference on debt cancellation is a necessary part of that solution?

Mr Osborne: The sustainability of Greece’s debt payments is clearly a big issue. That is why it failed to meet the IMF payment last week and faces such a big challenge with the ECB repayment later this month. That is one of the challenges, but alongside it—and the IMF draws this to our attention as well—there must be some indication that the Greek Government can undertake the kind of reforms that will modernise the Greek economy, make sure it is a success and ensure a stream of tax revenues in the future. No one is pretending that it is easy, but that is the substance of the negotiation.

Jeremy Quin (Horsham) (Con): I am thinking of what has been going on recently in China, in particular, and know that my right hon. Friend will be well aware that there are always dangers to the global economy. He has always been very alert to the deficiencies of governance within the eurozone. Does he believe that that governance has reformed sufficiently to prevent another similar crisis in the future in another eurozone state?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is right to draw the House’s attention to some of the economic issues in China, but if we can stay in the western hemisphere for the purposes of this statement, the eurozone is a much better place than it was in 2012 to deal with any contagion from the Greek crisis. That is reflected in the fact that the bond spreads for the peripheral countries have not gone out today, because the ECB is prepared to do, in its words, “whatever it takes” in its outright monetary transactions policy. We have the European stability mechanism, which is, in other words, a sort of central bail-out fund. We have more of the machinery in place than we did in 2012, which is why we are not seeing quite as much contagion. I would make a general observation I have made before, however. I do not think

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people should underestimate the medium to long-term impact of a country leaving the euro and showing that it is possible to exit that currency.

Derek Twigg (Halton) (Lab): The Chancellor said in his statement last week and has said since that we must hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I asked him last week what the worst was. May I ask again what the worst will be for the UK?

Mr Osborne: The worst for the UK and the whole of Europe will be a completely disorderly situation over the next few weeks that has an impact on Europe’s financial system. As Britain is one of the most open economies in the world, that will impact on us. We saw the impact of the problems in the eurozone in 2012 and how they spilled over into the UK. That is the challenge of any financial crisis and it is a challenge for the UK as an open economy. That is why we are urging those on all sides to try to resolve the situation.

Sir Edward Garnier (Harborough) (Con): The United Kingdom Exchequer will be exposed whether Greece stays in or leaves the euro. Will my right hon. Friend publish, if he can, the assumptions on which his assessment of those contingencies can be made?

Mr Osborne: Of course, we have a very small direct exposure as our banking system has greatly reduced its Greek liabilities. We have four pretty small Greek branches and one subsidiary. We are not directly exposed to loss and although we are a member of the IMF, no country has ever lost money supporting the IMF. Of course, people ask what might happen to Greece should it leave the euro, but I think we can leave that for another day.

Barry Gardiner (Brent North) (Lab): Will the Chancellor remind the House of the amount of money that this country made available to the IMF as part of its assistance package to Greece? He has reasserted today that no country has ever lost money by lending it to the IMF, but of course the IMF has said that it believes that a serious restructuring is required for Greece to get through its current difficulties. That implies that the moneys owed to the IMF will not be repaid.

Mr Osborne: The IMF has existed since it was created out of the Bretton Woods conference and, by definition, it exists to support countries that are in very real financial distress. That is its business: lending to countries that are having real problems managing their debts. It is important to say again, however, that Britain and other members of the world community that support the IMF have never lost money in this way, because the IMF holds contingency reserves. It is also the preferred creditor. Frankly, I do not think that the prospect of us losing money through the IMF is that strong.

Suella Fernandes (Fareham) (Con): Thankfully, the global stock markets proved resilient despite yesterday’s result. However, bank shares were among some of the biggest fallers, with Barclays down by 1.7%. What is my right hon. Friend’s advice to banks that fear that the crisis could increase losses from bad loans and drive up borrowing costs for Governments?

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Mr Osborne: All British banks have greatly reduced their exposure to Greece over the past few years. Continental banks have also reduced that exposure, so British banks are less indirectly exposed. Collectively, less than 1% of the core tier capital of the British banking system is exposed to Greece. We are therefore much better prepared than we might have been a few years ago. Also, our own economy is stronger and we are not in such a vulnerable position in regard to our public finances as a result of the difficult decisions we have taken. We are in a much stronger position to deal with whatever comes, but we are an open economy, and a financial crisis in Europe is not something that will just pass Britain by.

Mr Clive Betts (Sheffield South East) (Lab): The Chancellor has rightly said that a number of difficult issues need to be resolved if agreement is to be reached between Greece and its creditors. Last week, the IMF said that even if all the other issues were resolved, any agreement would be unsustainable unless debt relief formed part of the package. Do the Government agree with the IMF on that key point?

Mr Osborne: We agree that a key issue is Greece’s ability to make its debt repayments. That is self-evidently the case because it failed to make a debt repayment to the IMF last week, and it also has to make a big debt repayment to the European Central Bank. I do not think it is right simply to pick out one piece of the IMF’s advice. It has also stated strongly that the Greek economy needs major structural reform, for example. We have to look at the IMF’s advice in the round, which is why it is such a valuable institution.

Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet) (Con): I cannot help wondering whether the resignation of the Greek Finance Minister, Mr Varoufakis, might result in an opening for the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne). Does my right hon. Friend acknowledge the importance of a strong economy and a plan to eliminate the deficit? Put in simple terms, does he agree that we need to live within our means?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is right to say that countries need to live within their means. As a Government, we have addressed that matter over the past five years, and I shall address it again in a couple of days’ time in the Budget. Mr Varoufakis has now resigned, and I shall be moving on to yet another Greek Finance Minister, but I doubt that the next one will have quite the dress style of the one we have just lost.

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab): Could the Chancellor be more specific about the risks to the UK’s economic security and, in particular, about the measures that he is going to introduce to mitigate those risks?

Mr Osborne: The risks stem from the fact that we are the world’s largest financial centre. We are also the global centre for the trading of the euro. We are a very open economy; on most measures, we are the most open and interconnected of all the world’s advanced economies. We are therefore affected by financial conditions in Europe. We saw that a few years ago, but we are in a much stronger place than we have been in the past

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because we have been paying down our very large deficit, because we have been strengthening our economy, because we have been recapitalising our banking system and making sure our banks are stronger, and because we have a much better system of regulation, in which the Bank of England is in charge of regulating the banks. Those are all steps that we have taken. I do not think anyone will be particularly surprised to hear that when we assemble in a couple of days to hear the Budget, we will hear the further measures needed to reduce that budget deficit and ensure that we fix the roof while the sun is shining.

Nadhim Zahawi (Stratford-on-Avon) (Con): Such external shocks do focus the mind. May I bring the Chancellor back closer to home? He has tough decisions to make on Wednesday. Has he had any representations from the Opposition Benches about where those cost savings should come, and support for the long-term economic plan?

Mr Speaker: That has very little to do with Greece. The hon. Gentleman has put his point on the record, but it is nothing to do with the statement today, to the details of which we ought to attend.

Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton) (Lab): The Chancellor, in a moderate and balanced statement, said that he respects the Greek decision. That is in sharp contrast to some of the eurocrats and Ministers from other eurozone countries, who have made bullying and intemperate statements to the Greek Government. Will the Chancellor tell the House what steps he and the Prime Minister have taken to stop the same people trying to interfere in our referendum about our future in the European Union?

Mr Osborne: As I think we saw in the past week, some of those intemperate statements might have had the exact opposite effect to the one that they were intended to have, which reminds us not to interfere in other people’s democracies.

Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon) (Con): Although the bond yields in Spain, Italy and Portugal rose only 12 basis points this morning, and despite what the eurozone said about whatever measures are necessary, the spread over German bonds suggests that there is still a real risk of contagion. Can the Chancellor confirm that thanks to his action, any measures taken by the eurozone will have a very limited impact on the UK financial system and limited cost for the UK taxpayer?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is right. We have reduced our exposure, as I said, to the Greek economy and, absolutely crucially, the Prime Minister made sure we were out of the bail-out funds for Greece that existed when we came to office. With hindsight, that looks like one of the most important decisions we took.

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab): The form of any contagion is not yet known, but surely one of the dangers is capital flight from the poorer southern eurozone economies to the richer northern economies. That would not just be a disaster for Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain, but it would have ramifications for the wider European Union, which are political, as the Chancellor has intimated. Given that, what discussions

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are he and his officials having with European Finance Ministers to make sure that the European single market is not undermined?

Mr Osborne: The hon. Gentleman is right that capital flies from countries in distress. That is why the Greek Government have had to impose capital controls. We see German bund spreads coming down today. That is a consequence of an open and free market and, as I said in reply to an earlier question, it is difficult to defy that market, as Greece is seeing. More broadly, we want to make sure that the eurozone finds some sustainable way forward so that we avoid these tensions, which spill out into the political system.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Speaker: Order. Accommodating remaining colleagues will require brevity, to be exemplified by Mr Philip Davies.

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): Is not the genesis of the problem that the EU allowed Greece to fiddle the figures in order to join the euro in the first place? Is not this blinkered pursuit of a political project of ever-closer union, rather than thinking through the economic consequences, the reason why we need to leave the European Union?

Mr Osborne: I know my hon. Friend has consistently held that view since he put it in his maiden speech, as I remember from listening to him many years ago. He identifies two challenges. One, fiddling the figures, we have addressed in this country by creating the Office for Budget Responsibility. When it comes to ever-closer union, that is precisely one of the issues that we are seeking to address in the renegotiation that we are conducting with the European Union.

Bill Esterson (Sefton Central) (Lab): The Chancellor has been asked a number of times about the worst-case scenario for this country as a result of the crisis. Can he spell out what that would look like for the people of this country?

Mr Osborne: As I have said, Britain is not immune to the problems in the European economy. Some 50% of our exports go to the European Union, even if only a very small proportion of that goes to Greece, and we are a very large financial centre, so there would be an impact on our economy if the Greek crisis continued to deteriorate. That is why it is absolutely in our interests that there is a solution.

Julian Knight (Solihull) (Con): On a humanitarian point, considering that some international drug companies are currently holding off shipping to Greece as a result of the crisis, are there any early contingency plans in place, or discussions in the UK and the EU, for moving in medical aid should our friends suffer a social and economic collapse, the likes of which were seen when Argentina defaulted in 2000?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend is right to remind us that, although we are talking about a financial crisis, there is real human suffering in Greece, because the

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banking system has effectively shut down for many Greek citizens and businesses. There are reports of a shortage of medicines, which is why I drew attention in my statement to the Foreign Office’s advice—I was reiterating advice that has been in place—to take adequate supplies of prescription medicines, in particular. On his specific point, we have been talking with the British pharmaceutical companies, which have continued to supply the Greek market, and of course we stay in touch with them regularly.

Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op): Infant mortality has doubled and there has been a sharp rise in HIV, TB, suicide and other physical and mental health conditions in Greece. Therefore, I want to see that we ensure that we make provision for emergency medical and humanitarian support in these vital discussions this week.

Mr Osborne: The hon. Lady is perfectly right to draw to the House’s attention the very difficult situation that Greek families can find themselves in at the moment. That is all the more reason why we need to find a resolution. As I have said, the British pharmaceutical companies, which are important suppliers to the Greek medical system, are continuing to make those supplies, despite the imposition of capital controls. The whole question of what should happen if Greece falls out of the eurozone is something that I think we should return to if that eventually arises. Greece is one of this country’s oldest allies and of course we will always stand by it.

Robert Jenrick (Newark) (Con): The Chancellor has said that we must not underestimate the impact of these events on the UK economy. Whatever happens, the weak and stagnating economies of southern Europe, in particular, will continue to deteriorate. Looking towards the Budget and the months ahead, will my right hon. Friend use all his offices to pivot the UK economy towards growing and emerging economies elsewhere in the world, particularly as he did decisively with the UK’s leading role in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend makes a good point. British exports are too dependent on European markets and have been badly hit by weaknesses in the European economy over the past five years. That is why we have put a huge effort into trying to expand our trade and investment in fast-growing parts of the world, such as Asia. We want to be part of the new institutions there, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. However, some southern European economies, such as Spain’s, have shown a remarkable turnaround, because they have taken difficult decisions, reformed their economies and are now reaping the benefits.

Gareth Johnson (Dartford) (Con): Britain is quite rightly a good friend of Greece, but does the Chancellor agree that the situation there reminds us that in the end economic logic must prevail? Countries must live within their means, and failure to tackle debt, for example, can lead only to economic and financial disaster.

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend makes a very good observation. Countries that fail to live within their means are exposed to the forces of the international

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bond markets and the flight of investor confidence. Five years ago, Britain had a budget deficit of over 10% of its national income. We have reduced that budget deficit, and this week we are going to take further steps to finish the job.

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): The Chancellor will be aware of the detailed contingency plan that the eurozone has for a Greek exit from the euro. With the markets calm, would not this be the time to implement that plan?

Mr Osborne: As I say, it is not for us to dictate to the Greek people or to the eurozone whether Greece should leave. I repeat: the elected Government of Greece say that they want to remain in the eurozone, so we should at least respect that intention, and we will see whether they can work with their partners to deliver it.

David Rutley (Macclesfield) (Con): I welcome the steps that my right hon. Friend is taking to secure UK economic interests in the current difficult circumstances. Given that one of the challenges of the situation is the lack of a clear and orderly exit mechanism from the eurozone, are there any plans within the eurozone to address this issue after the short-term challenges facing Greece have been solved?

Mr Osborne: My hon. Friend makes a good observation. There is no straightforward mechanism for a country to exit the eurozone; it is not provided for in the treaties. Of course, if the eurozone wanted to propose a change to the treaties, then we would be very willing to sit down and discuss it.

Stephen Phillips (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con): My right hon. Friend will know that 90% of the world’s physical trade travels by sea. He may also know that Greek individuals and companies are the largest owners by tonnage in all sectors of the market. Any reduction in tonnage across the world is not only damaging to international trade but potentially highly inflationary. Has he given any consideration to this, and what discussions has he had with partners to ensure that sufficient shipping tonnage remains available for all international trade?

Mr Osborne: We have stayed in touch with all interested parties. Of course, the shipping industry is an incredibly important part of the Greek economy and the global economy, but we do not currently see a particular disruption to the shipping industry that we should be alarmed about.

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Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con): What support are the travel operators giving the Chancellor in his efforts to disseminate information to travellers going to Greece from this country?

Mr Osborne: It is fair to say that the travel companies have been behaving very well and co-operating with us very closely. At any one point in the month of July, there are 150,000 British citizens on holiday in Greece. The companies are therefore used to communicating on a large scale, and they are one of our main points of contact with holidaymakers. I say again that people travelling to Greece should check out the Foreign Office travel advice.

Alan Mak (Havant) (Con): While the Greek people gave a clear answer in Sunday’s referendum, there is still a huge amount of concern across Europe that is worrying to working families in this country. Can my right hon. Friend assure me and my constituents that he is taking all necessary steps to protect their economic security?

Mr Osborne: I can assure my hon. Friend that we will go on delivering economic security for the working people of Britain. I will come back to the House on Wednesday to deliver a Budget that does just that.

Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): I support the comments by the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee. The Greek-Turkish border is already the leakiest part of the EU’s external frontier, and one of the biggest threats to this country from a complete social and financial collapse in Greece is thousands more migrants making their way through to Calais and trying to get into this country. Will we use our good offices within the EU, and outside the eurozone, to ensure that the EU provides all the necessary support to plug the gaps in the Greece-Turkey part of the EU external border?

Mr Osborne: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is working very actively on precisely this issue. My hon. Friend reminds us, at the end of this statement, that although this is of course a big issue for the eurozone, it is also an issue for the whole of Europe, including the United Kingdom. We want to see a resolution of this Greek crisis. Even at this eleventh hour, we want the eurozone and Greece to sit down and try to find a sustainable way forward.

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English Votes on English Laws

Application for emergency debate (Standing Order No. 24)

5.19 pm

Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD): I seek leave to propose that the House should debate a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely the means by which the Government seek to deliver the objectives outlined by the Leader of the House in his statement on English votes on English laws.

Last Thursday the Leader of the House outlined a scheme that goes well beyond anything the Government have previously proposed or on which they have consulted, including an exclusion of Scottish Members from voting on parts of the Budget. Their wish is effectively to set up an English Parliament within this United Kingdom House of Commons and to do so by inviting the House to amend its Standing Orders. The substantive issue will be debated in due course, but that is not what I seek to bring to the House now. Rather, it is the process that I submit is specific and important and that should be given urgent consideration.

I am not one of those who has ever sought to avoid answering the West Lothian question. On the contrary, I long for the day when the English members of my family may benefit from devolution in the way that we have done in Scotland since 1999. This, however, is not the way to do it.

In this Session alone, we have already spent four days debating a Bill giving extra powers to the Scottish Parliament. We still have more to come, after which consideration will move to the other place. Addressing the democratic position of the people of England, however, is apparently to be done from scratch, in one day, in this Chamber alone. Obviously, I am concerned

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about the message this proposal sends to the people of Scotland, but, quite apart from that, I happen to think that the people of England deserve better treatment than this.

Let there be no doubt: we are dealing with a major constitutional change. It is one that undermines a fundamental principle of the workings of this House, namely that no matter where we come from, once we get here we are all equal. To seek to do this in one day by amendment to our Standing Orders may be technically competent, but it is, I would suggest, an abuse of process. It is constitutionally outrageous and I fear that it puts a further unnecessary strain on the Union. That is what the House must consider and what the country must hear debated before we go any further.

Mr Speaker: The right hon. Gentleman asks leave to propose a debate on a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely the means by which the Government seek to deliver the objectives outlined by the Leader of the House in his statement on English votes on English laws. I have listened carefully to the application from the right hon. Gentleman and I am satisfied that the matter raised by him is proper to be discussed under Standing Order No. 24. Has the right hon. Gentleman the leave of the House?

Application agreed to.

Mr Speaker: Leave has very clearly been given. The right hon. Gentleman has the leave of the House. What remains is for me to communicate to the House the necessary details. The debate will be held tomorrow, Tuesday 7 July, and in conformity with normal practice on these occasions—albeit these occasions are relatively infrequent—it will be held as the first item of public business. It will last for three hours and it will arise on a motion that the House has considered the specified matter set out in the right hon. Gentleman’s application.

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Points of Order

5.24 pm

Angela Rayner (Ashton-under-Lyne) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr Charles Walker (Broxbourne) (Con): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker: Order. I appreciate that the House is in a state of some animation, but if there are Members who, quite unaccountably, are leaving the Chamber before the points of order from the hon. Members for Broxbourne (Mr Walker) and for Ashton-under-Lyne (Angela Rayner), I hope they will do so quickly and quietly, so that the rest of the House can listen with rapt attention to the said points of order. I know that the hon. Gentleman will defer to a newer Member.

Angela Rayner: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Members will miss a great point of order if they leave now. I wish to correct the record in Hansard of last Thursday’s Adjournment debate on Hatfield colliery. In column 1742, the Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise made reference to potentially “sexist comments” that I was meant to have made. That was not the case; I was merely pointing out that it was Mrs Thatcher’s Government who started the miners’ problems. My point related to ideology and was nothing to do with gender. I was not able to correct the matter at the time, as the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) refused to allow me into the debate. Can we ensure that the record is corrected or moved?

If you will indulge me a little more, Mr Speaker, I am also incredibly disappointed that I still have not heard from the Secretary of State for Health regarding last Monday’s point of order. Will you remind him that I sit in this place not for myself, but to represent many thousands of Ashton-under-Lyne constituents? What can I do to get them the respect they deserve?

Mr Speaker: There are two responses to the hon. Lady’s point of order, for which I am most grateful. In respect of the first matter, she has now put what she regards as the correct interpretation of past statements on the record, and it is there for all to see.

In relation to the second matter—how the hon. Lady can get the respect she seeks and, specifically, a response to the point of order that she articulated last week—she will already have learned of the very quick journey that can be made from here to the Table Office. The Table Office staff are unfailingly professional, courteous and helpful. She may have to use the device of the Order Paper and follow-up questions to extract what she wants from a Minister. Knowing as I do already the assiduity of the hon. Lady, I feel sure that she will have recourse to the Table Office sooner rather than later.

Mr Charles Walker rose—

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con) rose—

Mr Speaker: I will keep the knight of the shire until a bit later.

6 July 2015 : Column 58

Sir Edward Leigh rose—

Mr Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman can resume his seat. I am saving him up; it would be a pity to squander him at too early a stage of our proceedings.

Mr Walker: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On Friday, I met 55 black cab drivers—fantastic men and women—at Cheshunt boxing club. They are very concerned about Transport for London’s unwillingness to enforce its regulations in respect of the business practices of Uber. It is difficult for me to bring those concerns to the Floor of the House because licensing is a devolved matter and is the responsibility of the Mayor of London. As a procedural expert, Mr Speaker, will you advise me on how I can bring the concerns of 55 black cab drivers to the Floor of the House of Commons so that their voice can be heard by this place?

Mr Speaker: On a very important procedural matter, the Chair of the Procedure Committee has, unsurprisingly, found his own salvation and, what is more, he is well aware of the fact. We will leave it there for today.

Sir Edward Leigh: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Whatever one’s views on English votes for English business, I have considerable sympathy for the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael) and the decision that you have made. It strikes me that so often in this place, we fill out time with Whips desperately trying to bring people in, when really important debates, such as this one and the ones on the Iraq war and the Syria war, are limited to one day.

I know that you will say immediately, Mr Speaker, that you do not have control over business, but as the Chairman of the Procedure Committee is here and you are here, I just wonder whether we may look at this matter so that, in future, you might have the ability to mark business as of particular national importance so that it gets two days of debate. That used to happen in our proceedings many years ago, when we often had longer debates, such as the famous Norway debate, which lasted more than one day.

Mr Speaker: I say three things to the hon. Gentleman. First, I think that matter would usefully fall within the bailiwick of the Procedure Committee. My understanding is that the Committee, chaired by the hon. Member for Broxbourne (Mr Walker), is currently considering a work programme for the Parliament, and the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh) might just have added to that workload.

Secondly, I am deeply sympathetic to the proposition that there should be fuller debates on very important matters. The hon. Gentleman might be aware that the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) and others raised precisely that point at business questions last Thursday. As yet there has not been a definitive response, but the hon. Gentleman might want to add to the pressure.

Lastly, I say to the hon. Gentleman that some of these matters might be attended to in the event of the creation of a House business Committee, which was of course a commitment of the previous coalition Government. I am sure it just happened to slip their

6 July 2015 : Column 59

memory and they did not get round to introducing it. Knowing what a terrier the hon. Gentleman is, I have a feeling he will probably return to the standard.

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. On a point of clarification, I understand that the reason why the House business Committee was not introduced in the last Parliament was a conflict between the two Government parties, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats. Now that is not the case, there does not seem to be any reason why that Committee could not be introduced.

Mr Speaker: The hon. Gentleman is an experienced enough denizen of this House to know that sometimes when one objection is removed, others manifest themselves. It does not automatically follow that what he wants and has long hankered after will happen, but it might. Knowing him as I do, I have a feeling that he will be campaigning to ensure that it does.

Kirsty Blackman (Aberdeen North) (SNP): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On 13 June I submitted a written question to the Leader of the House about English votes on English laws, asking which Bills would affect England only and which would affect England and Wales only. Today I have received the response. Included in the list of England and Wales only Bills is the Scotland Bill. [Laughter.] Yes, that was much the response that I gave. I would appreciate it if the matter could be looked into and the correct response provided.

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Lady, who has put her point on the record and fully entertained her right hon. and hon. Friends in this early part of the day. It is not a matter for the Chair, but might I suggest that the hon. Lady could be keen to elaborate upon that point in tomorrow’s debate? If she were minded to say, “But Mr Speaker, I have already made the point”, I would say to her that repetition is not a novel phenomenon in the House of Commons.

Ian Mearns (Gateshead) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Just this afternoon I have been informed that unfortunately, no nominations for membership of the Backbench Business Committee have been forthcoming from the Government. Will you indulge me by using your offices to see whether nominations can be extracted from them?

Mr Speaker: My response to the hon. Gentleman, betraying a modicum of surprise if not complete stupefaction, is that providing Government Back-Bench members of the Committee is obviously a matter for the Government. A number of bodies within the House, including the House of Commons Commission, remain to be fully constituted. I make the point, in the gentlest terms, that it is important that we make progress on these matters before we rise for the summer recess. The Backbench Business Committee, upon which the hon. Gentleman served as a Back-Bench Member in the last Parliament and which he is now privileged to chair, is an extremely important Committee in the House’s deliberations, and I very much hope, and am confident, that it will be treated with the appropriate respect by Government Whips.

The Treasurer of Her Majesty's Household (Anne Milton) indicated assent.

6 July 2015 : Column 60

Mr Speaker: A senior Government Whip is nodding vigorously in assent to my proposition, which I hope the hon. Gentleman will regard as some encouragement.

Bills Presented

Bat Habitats Regulation Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone, Philip Davies, Sir Edward Leigh, Mr David Nuttall and Mr Philip Hollobone, presented a Bill to make provision to enhance the protection available for bat habitats in the non built environment and to limit the protection for bat habitats in the built environment where the presence of bats has a significant adverse impact upon the users of buildings.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on 5 February 2016, and to be printed (Bill 38).

UK Borders Control Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone, Philip Davies, Sir Edward Leigh, Mr David Nuttall and Mr Philip Hollobone, presented a Bill to make provision to ensure that the United Kingdom has absolute control over the right to prevent non-UK citizens from entering the United Kingdom; to determine the circumstances in which non-UK citizens may be required to leave the United Kingdom; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on 20 November, and to be printed (Bill 39).

Illegal Immigrants (Criminal Sanctions) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone, Philip Davies, Sir Edward Leigh, Mr David Nuttall and Mr Philip Hollobone, presented a Bill to make provision for criminal sanctions against those who have entered the UK illegally or who have remained in the UK without legal authority.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on 4 March 2016, and to be printed (Bill 40).

House of Lords (Maximum Membership) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone, Philip Davies, Sir Edward Leigh, Mr David Nuttall and Mr Philip Hollobone, presented a Bill to provide for a maximum limit on the number of Peers entitled to vote in the House of Lords; and to provide for a moratorium on new appointments.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on 6 November, and to be printed (Bill 41).

Benefit Entitlement (Restriction) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone, Philip Davies, Sir Edward Leigh, Mr David Nuttall and Mr Philip Hollobone, presented a Bill to make provision to restrict the entitlement of non-UK Citizens from the European Union and the European Economic Area to taxpayer-funded benefits.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on 5 February 2016, and to be printed (Bill 42).

6 July 2015 : Column 61

Overseas Voters Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone, Philip Davies, Sir Edward Leigh, Mr David Nuttall and Mr Philip Hollobone, presented a Bill to make provision to facilitate an increase in the registration of voters resident overseas who are eligible to participate in United Kingdom Parliamentary elections; to extend the criteria for eligibility to register as an overseas voter; to enable those registered as overseas voters to cast their votes through use of the internet; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on 26 February 2016, and to be printed (Bill 43).

Convicted Prisoners Voting Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone, Philip Davies, Sir Edward Leigh, Mr David Nuttall and Mr Philip Hollobone, presented a Bill to make provision for rules relating to the exclusion of convicted prisoners from participation in parliamentary and local elections.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on 30 October, and to be printed (Bill 44).

European Parliament Elections Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone, Philip Davies, Sir Edward Leigh, Mr David Nuttall and Mr Philip Hollobone presented a Bill to make provision for an open list system for elections to the European Parliament.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on 4 March 2016, and to be printed (Bill 45).

Working Time Directive (Limitation) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone, Philip Davies, Sir Edward Leigh, Mr David Nuttall and Mr Philip Hollobone, presented a Bill to limit the application of the EU Working Time Directive; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on 22 January 2016, and to be printed (Bill 46).

Off-Shore Wind Farm Subsidies (Restriction) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Mr Christopher Chope, supported by Mr Peter Bone, Philip Davies, Sir Edward Leigh and Mr David Nuttall presented a Bill to make provision for the limitation of subsidies for the development and operation of off-shore wind farms.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on 26 February 2016, and to be printed (Bill 47).

Mr Speaker: As I have had occasion to say to the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr Chope) in a previous Parliament, he will be a very busy bee.

6 July 2015 : Column 62

Scotland Bill

[4th Allocated Day]

Further considered in Committee

[Mr David Crausby in the Chair]

Clause 31

Crown Estate

5.36 pm

Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD): I beg to move amendment 23, in clause 31, page 30, line 34, leave out “may” and insert “must”.

The Temporary Chair (Mr David Crausby): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Amendment 52, page 30, line 36, leave out “Ministers” and insert “Parliament”.

Amendment 57, page 30, line 37, at end insert—

‘(1A) The Treasury and Scottish Ministers must agree a scheme transferring to the control of each of Shetland Islands Council, Orkney Islands Council and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (“the island authorities”) on the transfer date all the existing Scottish functions and rights of the Commissioners relating to those parts of the Scottish zone surrounding each of the island authorities.

(1B) The exact extent of the parts of the Scottish zone to be transferred under subsection (lA) will be agreed by the Treasury and Scottish Ministers in consultation with the island authorities and in accordance with the principles contained within the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea articles 16, 74 and 84.”

This Amendment would require the relevant functions of the Crown Estate in the Shetland Islands, Orkney and Na h-Eileanan Siar (the “Western Isles”) to be transferred to the councils for those areas. Articles 16, 74 and 84 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea set out principles for defining geographical extent in relation to the territorial sea, exclusive economic zones and the Continental shelf respectively.

Amendment 125, page 31, line 22, at end insert—

‘( ) The scheme must not include any alteration to the Sovereign Grant Act 2011.”

The Sovereign Grant Act 2011 made provision for the honour and dignity of the Crown and the Royal Family and about allowances and pensions under the Civil List Acts of 1837 and 1952.

Amendment 126, page 31, line 22, at end insert—

‘( ) The scheme must not include any reduction in the pro rata payments due to Her Majesty under the Sovereign Grant Act 2011.”

This amendment is to ensure that Scotland continues to contribute its share towards the costs of the Monarchy.

Amendment 127, page 31, line 22, at end insert—

‘( ) The scheme must not include any permanent alienation of the rights of the Crown.”

This amendment protects the position of future Sovereigns in respect of the rights of the Crown.

Amendment 24, page 32, line 25, leave out “C” and insert “A”.

Amendment 25, page 32, line 31, leave out “then, instead of the type C procedure”.

Amendment 26, page 32, line 31, leave out “I” and insert “A”.

6 July 2015 : Column 63

Clause 31 stand part.

Amendment 134, in clause 32, page 33, line 44, leave out subsection (2).

This amendment delivers a more explicit reference to the devolution of competence over gender quotas in respect of public bodies in Scotland but ensures that it is “not limited to” gender quotas, as agreed in the Smith Commission report.

Amendment 167, page 33, line 46, after “2006” insert “(other than enforcement under Part 1 of that Act)”.

Amendment 161, page 34, leave out lines 3 and 4.

Amendment 162, page 34, line 4, at end insert—

“Equal opportunities in relation to an appointment as a member of a Scottish public authority.”

Amendment 123, page 34, line 13, at end insert—

“including a requirement for gender balance among the members of the Scottish Parliament and members of boards of Scottish public authorities;”

The Amendment would ensure continued progression towards achieving gender balance among members of the Scottish Parliament and on boards of Scottish public authorities.

Amendment 168, page 34, line 18, leave out “the Equality Act 2010 and Part 1 of that Act” and insert “and the Equality Act 2010”

Amendment 135, page 34, line 25, leave out subsection (6) and insert—

“In section 2 (power to amend section 1)—

(a) in subsection (7) omit “the Scottish Ministers or”,

(b) in subsection (10), before “Ministers” insert “Welsh””

Amendment 136, page 34, leave out lines 39 to 42 and insert—

‘(4) Part 1 comes into force on such day as the Scottish Ministers may by order appoint so far as it—

(a) confers a power on the Scottish Ministers;

(b) relates to a public authority in respect of which such a power is exercisable.”

This amendment would clarify Scottish Ministers ability to commence the relevant sections of Part 1 of the Equality Act 2010, which was subject to a Legislative Consent Motion in 2010.

Amendment 137, page 35, line 2, leave out subsection (10).

Clause 32 stand part.

Amendment 27, in clause 33, page 35, leave out lines 18 and 19.

Amendment 53, page 35, line 18, leave out sub-sub-paragraph (b).

Amendment 28, page 35, leave out lines 24 and 25.

Amendment 29, page 35, leave out lines 26 to 30.

Amendment 138, page 35, leave out lines 26 to 30 and insert—

“This Schedule does not reserve the transfer of all the functions of a tribunal referred to in sub-paragraph (2) to a Scottish tribunal, so far as the functions are exercisable in relation to Scottish cases or a specified category of Scottish cases, in accordance with provision made by Her Majesty by Order in Council.”

This amendment would ensure that all functions exercisable in relation to Scottish cases or a specified category of Scottish cases should transfer to the Scottish Parliament.

Amendment 139, page 35, leave out from beginning of line 31 to end of line 7 on page 36.

Amendment 140, page 36, line 22, at end insert—

‘( ) For the avoidance of doubt, this Schedule does not reserve—

(a) a Scottish tribunal’s practice and procedure when exercising functions that have been transferred to it by virtue of this paragraph, or

6 July 2015 : Column 64

(b) the fees and expenses chargeable for, or in connection with, proceedings before a Scottish tribunal when it is exercising those functions.”

This amendment makes clear that competence over a tribunal’s practice, rules of procedure and fees in relation to transferred cases becomes devolved, as per the Smith Commission recommendation.

Amendment 54, page 37, line 17, at end insert—

‘(7A) Scottish Ministers, in conjunction with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) shall establish and oversee a process, involving Scottish businesses and trades unions, to end the current employment tribunal fee system in Scotland.”

Clause 33 stand part.

Amendment 141, in clause 34, page 37, line 28, leave out from “relating” to “to” in line 29.

This amendment would remove a restriction on the full devolution of speed limits in relation to emergency vehicles.

Clauses 34 and 35 stand part.

Amendment 142, in clause 36, page 41, leave out lines 15 to 18 and insert—

“(a) in relation to vehicles used on roads in Scotland means the Scottish Ministers.”

This amendment would amend section 130(3) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 so that Scottish Ministers are added into the provision as the relevant ‘national authority’.

Amendment 143, page 41, line 19, at end insert—

‘(18) In section 130 (application of Act to Crown)—

(a) in subsection (3) for “Secretary of State” substitute “relevant authority”, and

(b) after that subsection insert—

(3A) In subsection (3) “relevant authority”—

(a) in relation to vehicles used on roads in Scotland means the Scottish Ministers,

(b) otherwise, means the Secretary of State.””

This amendment would amend section 130(3) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 so that Scottish Ministers are added into the provision as the relevant ‘national authority’.

Clauses 36 and 37 stand part.

Schedule 2 stand part.

Clauses 38 to 40 stand part.

Amendment 144, in clause 41, page 42, line 32, at end insert—

‘( ) After subsection (3) insert—

(3A) Without limiting subsection (3), the Scottish Ministers may grant a licence upon the condition that the licence holder makes an annual rental payment to the Scottish Ministers.

(3B) In subsection (3A), “rental payment” means payment of an amount to be calculated by reference to the area of land to which the licence relates.””

In Clause 41, the Secretary of State has retained the power to set the consideration payable for licences. This could restrict Scottish Ministers’ ability to set other charges that form integral aspects of the licensing regime: for example, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) charge a ‘land rental’. This would enable Scottish Ministers to introduce a similar scheme in Scotland.

Clauses 41 and 42 stand part.

Amendment 30, in clause 43, page 45, line 7, at end insert—

“(aa) in the list of subject-matter, leave out “(c) the Estate Agents Act 1979,””.

Amendment 145, page 45, line 9, leave out from “insert—” to the end of subsection (8) and insert—

“The provision of consumer advocacy and advice.

Enforcement and redress for breach of consumer rights.”

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(3) In Section C8 (product standards, safety and liability) after the heading “Exceptions” insert—

“The provision of consumer advocacy and advice.Enforcement of, and redress for breach of, consumer rights.”

(4) In Section C9 (weights and measures) after the reservations insert—


The provision of consumer advocacy and advice.

Enforcement of, and redress for breach of, consumer rights.”

(5) In Section C10 (telecommunications)—

(a) for the heading “Exception” substitute “Exceptions”;

(b) after that heading insert—

“The provision of consumer advocacy and advice.

Enforcement and redress for breach of consumer rights.”

(6) In Section C11 (posts)—

(a) for the heading “Exception” substitute “Exceptions”;

(b) after that heading insert—

“The provision of consumer advocacy and advice.

Enforcement of, and redress for breach of, consumer rights.”

(7) In Section D1 (electricity)—

(a) for the heading “Exception” substitute “Exceptions”;

(b) after the exception relating to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 insert—

“The provision of consumer advocacy and advice.

Enforcement of, and redress for breach of, consumer rights.”

(8) In Section D2 (oil and gas), at the end of the exceptions insert—

“The provision of consumer advocacy and advice.

Enforcement of, and redress for breach of, consumer rights.”

This amendment would provide an exception to reservation C10 in Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act which covers telecommunications and devolves responsibility for consumer enforcement and redress to the Scottish Parliament. It also removes unnecessary references to a public body and to the holder of a public office.

Clauses 43 and 44 stand part.

Amendment 146, in clause 45, page 47, line 3, leave out from “insert-“ to the end of subsection (1) and insert—


The number of relevant gaming machines authorised (if any) in respect of premises licences under the Gambling Act 2005.


A “relevant gaming machine” is a gaming machine (within the meaning of section 235 of the Gambling Act 2005) for which the maximum charge for use is more than £10.””.

This amendment replaces the reference to betting premises with a more general reference to gambling premises, giving full effect to Smith Commission recommendation 74.

Amendment 31, page 47, line 7, leave out “for which the maximum charge for use is more than £10”.

Amendment 163, page 47, line 7, leave out “£10” and insert “£2”.

Amendment 159,  page 47, line 8, at end insert—

“and the designation of licensing standards officers in Scotland as authorised persons for the exercise of inspection and enforcement functions in respect of such licences.”

This Amendment would allow the Scottish Parliament to include Licensing Standards Officers (LSOs) in Scotland as authorised persons who may exercise inspection and enforcement functions under the Gambling Act 2005 in respect of the number of gaming machines authorised under a betting premises licence.

Amendment 147, page 47, line 13, leave out from “means” to the end of subsection (4) and insert—

6 July 2015 : Column 66

“(a) the Scottish Ministers in respect of premises in Scotland in so far as the order varies the number of gaming machines authorised (if any) for which the maximum charge for use is more than £10, or

(b) otherwise, the Secretary of State.”

This amendment replaces the reference to betting premises with a more general reference to gambling premises, giving full effect to Smith Commission recommendation 74.

Amendment 32, page 47, line 17, leave out

“for which the maximum charge for use is more than £10”.

Amendment 164, page 47, line 18, leave out “£10” and insert “£2”.

Amendment 165, page 47, line 18, after “£10” insert —

“( ) the content and the speed of play,”.

Amendment 166, page 47, line 18, after “£10” insert—

“( ) the number of staff required to supervise such machines,”.

Amendment 160, page 47, line 20, at end insert—

‘(4A) In section 304 of that Act (authorised persons), after subsection 4(c) insert—

“(d) Licensing Standards Officers (LSOs) of Scottish local authorities, appointed in terms of section 13 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005.””

This Amendment would include Licensing Standards Officers (LSOs) in Scotland as authorised persons who may exercise inspection and enforcement functions under the Gambling Act 2005 in respect of the number of gaming machines authorised under a betting premises licence.

Amendment 33, page 47, line 35, leave out subsection (6).

Clause 45 stand part.

New clause 22—Obstructive parking

‘(1) In section E1 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998 (Road transport) after “Exceptions”, insert—

“The subject matter of sections 19 to 22 (Stopping on verges, etc, or in dangerous

positions, etc.) of the Road Traffic Act 1988;

The subject-matter of section 41(5) (Regulation of construction, weight,

equipment and use of vehicles) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 in so far as it relates

to the making of regulations making it an offence to cause or permit a vehicle to

stand on the road so as to cause any unnecessary obstruction of the road.”

(2) After section 51 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (Fixed penalty offences) insert new section 51A—

“51A Offences under Road Traffic Act 1988

(1) Any offence in respect of a vehicle under regulations made by Scottish Ministers under section 41(5) (Regulation of construction, weight, equipment and use of vehicles) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 is a fixed penalty offence for the purposes of this Part of this Act if it is specified as such in those regulations, but subject to subsection (2) below.

(2) An offence under an enactment so specified is not a fixed penalty offence for those purposes if it is committed by causing or permitting a vehicle to be used by another person in contravention of any provision made or restriction or prohibition imposed by or under any enactment.”

(3) Before proposing a change in regulation of a subject matter falling under this section, Scottish Ministers shall—

(a) consult the Secretary of State, and

(b) publish and lay before the Scottish Parliament an assessment of the impact on road safety of any difference between the proposed change in Scotland and road traffic rules in other parts of the United Kingdom.””

6 July 2015 : Column 67

This amendment is intended to ensure that offences in relation to parking on pavements can be enforced by the Scottish Parliament. Other offences would be unaffected. This amendment is based on Mark Lazarowicz’s Private Members’ Bill from the last Parliament, which was supported in principle by the then Secretary of State for Scotland.

New clause 26—Health and safety

“In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998 (Employment), leave out Section H2 (Health and Safety).”

This new Clause would remove from the list of reserved matters in the 1998 Act (and so transfer to the Scottish Parliament) the subject-matter of Part I of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (Health, safety and welfare in connection with work, and control of dangerous substances and certain emissions into the atmosphere), the Health and Safety Commission, the Health and Safety Executive and the Employment Medical Advisory Service.

New clause 27—Business associations

“In section C1 in Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998 (Business associations) at the end of the exceptions insert—

“(c) the law on partnerships and unincorporated associations,

(d) the creation of new forms of cooperative enterprise,

(e) the creation of new forms of mutual enterprise,

(f) the creation of economic interest groups where the European Economic Interest Group under regulation EEC 2137/85 is not available because the members do not come from more than one member state.””

New clause 41—Scottish Government review of measures taken to promote gender equality in Scottish Parliament

“Scottish Ministers shall, within six months of the day on which this Act is passed, publish and lay before the Scottish Parliament a comprehensive review of the measures which the Scottish Government is taking to further and to promote gender equality in the membership of the Scottish Parliament and on the boards of Scottish public authorities.”

This New Clause requires Scottish Ministers to publish a review of the measures they are taking to promote gender equality among members of the Scottish Parliament and on boards of Scottish public authorities.

New clause 47—Employment and industrial relations

“In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, omit Section H1 (employment and industrial relations).”

This new clause would devolve employment and industrial relations to the Scottish Parliament.

New clause 48—Health and safety

“(1) In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998 (“the 1998 Act”), omit Section H2 (health and safety).

(2) The Health and Safety Executive is a cross-border public authority for the purposes of the 1998 Act.

(3) The 1998 Act applies in relation to the Health and Safety Executive in the same way as it applies in relation to cross-border public authorities specified in an Order in Council under section 88(5) of the 1998 Act.”

This new clause would devolve health and safety to the Scottish Parliament and designates the Health and Safety Executive as a cross-border public authority.

New clause 49—Equal opportunities

“In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, omit Section L2 (equal opportunities).”

This new clause would devolve equal opportunities to the Scottish Parliament.

New clause 56—Abortion

“In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the 1998 Act, leave out section J1 (abortion).”

This amendment removes the specific reservation of abortion, thus transferring competence over abortion to the Scottish Parliament.

New clause 57—Crown property

‘(1) Part 1 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998 (general reservations) is amended as follows

6 July 2015 : Column 68

(2) Omit paragraph 2(3)

(3) In paragraph 3(3), omit paragraph (a)

(4) After paragraph 3, insert—

“3A Without prejudice to paragraphs 2 and 3, paragraph 1 does not reserve—

(a) removing or altering functions of, or conferring functions on, the Crown Estate Commissioners in relation to the holding or management of property within paragraph 3(1),

(b) where a function of the Crown Estate Commissioners of holding property is so removed, the transfer of any property held in exercise of the function.”

(5) Functions relating to Crown property are, so far as they relate to Crown property in or relating to the Scottish offshore region, to be treated for the purposes of the Scotland Act 1998 as exercisable in or as regards Scotland.

(6) In subsection (5)—

“Crown property” means property within paragraph 3(1) of Part 1 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998,

“Scottish offshore region” has the same meaning as in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (see section 322 of that Act)

(7) In section 1(2) of the Civil List Act 1952 (payment of hereditary revenues into the Scottish Consolidated Fund), omit “from bona vacantia, ultimus haeres and treasure trove”.

This alternative to clause 31 would reduce the complexity of the current arrangements relating to the Crown Estate by removing the reservation relating to the management of the Crown Estate and provides the Scottish Parliament with full legislative competence in relation to the management of the Crown Estate in or as regards Scotland. It would also transfer any functions of the Crown Estate Commissioners in relation to rights to the continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical mile limit adjacent to Scotland.

New clause 59—Party political broadcasts

“In Section K1 of Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998 (broadcasting), after the reservation insert—


The regulation of

(a) party political broadcasts in connection with elections that are within the legislative competence of the Parliament, and

(b) referendum campaign broadcasts in connection with referendums held under Acts of the Scottish Parliament.”

In recommending that the Scottish Parliament should have all powers in relation to Scottish Parliament and local government elections, the Smith Commission stated specifically that this would include party political broadcasts. This new clause delivers on that proposal.

New clause 60—Broadcasting

“Leave out section K1 in Part 2 of Schedule 5 (Broadcasting) to the 1998 Act.”

This new clause would devolve broadcasting to the Scottish Parliament.

New clause 61—Levies in respect of agriculture, taking wild game, aquaculture and fisheries etc.—

“‘(1) In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, Section A1 is amended as follows.

(2) In the Exceptions, after the exception for devolved taxes insert—

“Levies in respect of agriculture, taking wild game, aquaculture and fisheries (including sea fisheries) or a related activity: their collection and management.”

(3) After the Exceptions insert—


“agriculture” includes horticulture, fruit growing, seed growing, dairy farming and livestock breeding and keeping, and the use of land as grazing land,

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meadow land, osier land, market gardens and nursery grounds.

“aquaculture” includes the breeding, rearing or cultivation of fish (of any kind), seafood or aquatic organisms.

“related activity” means the production, processing, manufacture, marketing or distribution of—

(a) anything (including any creature alive or dead) produced or taken in the course of agriculture, taking wild game or aquaculture, or caught (by any means) in a fishery,

(b) any product which is derived to any substantial extent from anything so produced or caught.””

This new clause would give the Scottish Parliament general legislative competence in respect of agricultural, aquacultural and fisheries levies.

New clause 63—Assessment of the Scottish Parliament having the power to alter the National Minimum Wage in Scotland

‘(1) The Secretary of State shall instruct the Low Pay Commission to undertake and publish, within 12 months of the date on which this Act is passed, an analysis of the economic impact of the Scottish Parliament having the power to alter the United Kingdom National Minimum Wage.

(2) The Secretary of State must require the analysis to assess the effects of the Scottish Parliament having the power to alter the United Kingdom National Minimum Wage on the Scottish and United Kingdom economies, with a specific focus on the following areas—

(a) the risks of establishing a two tier minimum wage across the United Kingdom, including an analysis of any possible negative impact on employment conditions for United Kingdom and Scottish workers;

(b) the importance of maintaining the principle of minimum standards across the UK, and the extent to which low pay issues differ in Scotland from the rest of the UK;

(c) the Scottish and United Kingdom labour market, in particular the effect of a different level of minimum wage in Scotland on the jobs and working hours of Scottish and United Kingdom workers;

(d) entitlement in Scotland to both devolved and reserved welfare payments;

(e) the possible effects on business investment in Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom;

(f) any other considerations that would arise from having different minimum wages in communities on either side of the border;

(g) the institutional infrastructure required to establish, monitor and enforce it;

(h) the implications for EU Directives on Posted and Agency Workers;

(i) the impact on wage levels in Scotland and the United Kingdom; and

(j) a report on how the National Minimum Wage can rise faster in Scotland and across the United Kingdom to 58% of median earnings or more than £8 per hour by 2019.””

The new clause requires the Low Pay Commission to assess the impact on the Scottish and UK economies of the Scottish Parliament having the power to establish a different rate of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in Scotland. The analysis includes what institutional infrastructure would be required, the relationship with EU Directives, the long-term impact on wages, and ways to faster increase the NMW, whilst maintaining the principle of the UK NMW framework.

New clause 64—Enforcement of Part 1 of Equality Act 2006

“In the Exceptions under Section L.2 of Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the 1998 Act, insert—

“The enforcement of Part 1 of the Equality Act 2006.”

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New clause 66—Health and Medicines

“In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the 1998 Act, leave out “Head J (Health and Medicine)””

The new clause would remove health and medicine, including abortion, xenotransplantation, embryology, surrogacy, genetics, medical supplies, poisons and welfare foods from the list of matters reserved to the UK Parliament, allowing the Scottish Parliament to make separate provision in these matters for Scotland.

Mr Carmichael: I welcome you back to the Chair, Mr Crausby.

We have an embarras de richesses in the range of issues before the Committee for the next three hours, so I will try to keep my remarks as brief as possible. I am pleased that at the top of the list of amendments come those from different parts of the House about the future devolution of the Crown Estate commission.

Perhaps I am on something of a roll today: the future of the Crown Estate commission has been important to me throughout my political life. The Crown Estate was the subject of my maiden speech in this House some 14 years ago, and, revisiting the issue ahead of today’s debate, it was interesting to note that there has been some progress, particularly under the auspices of its current chief executive, Alison Nimmo. We have seen a greater willingness of the Crown Estate to engage with the communities that it most directly affects, and in the previous Parliament we heard about the creation of the coastal communities fund that brought back some 50% of Crown Estate dividends relating to the use of the seabed to coastal communities around the country. That has made a significant difference to a number of projects in a wide range of communities.

It remains the case that the operation of the Crown Estate remains unsatisfactory for island and coastal communities—especially those throughout Scotland that seek to establish a future for themselves in the development of marine technologies and renewable energy generation, which continue to rely on the good will and co-operation of the Crown Estate in relation to the construction and maintenance of piers and harbours, and for which the aquaculture industry remains an important source of livelihoods for many people. We need to see that operation devolved, in particular as it relates to the function of the seabed and territorial waters.

Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): The right hon. Gentleman says that the operation of the Crown Estate is unsatisfactory and needs to be devolved. It was unsatisfactory and needed devolving four years ago when he was in government, and he opposed its devolution. Why did he oppose that devolution and why has he now had a damascene conversion and changed his mind—on devolution not just to Scotland but to councils? Many people do not want the issue left at council level, decided in council boardrooms; they want it devolved to the islands.

Mr Carmichael: Four years ago, I was very much in favour of devolution to the communities: it was something on which we could not build a consensus—[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman has asked a question; if he calmed down a little, he could listen to the answer.

Four years ago, we could not build a consensus on this issue and that was a matter for regret. I regularly pursued the issue, as I am sure the Secretary of State

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will recall. I am delighted now to be able to place publicly on the record my enthusiasm for devolution to council areas—possibly even sub-council areas. That is why amendment 57 seeks to facilitate the devolution to the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland of the powers of the Crown Estate commissioners, so that the communities have the day-to-day responsibility and reap the financial benefits.

I have always been of the view that power is best exercised closest to the community affected by it, and the seabed as a resource could be much better managed if it were under the control of local communities—island communities, in particular.

Alex Salmond (Gordon) (SNP): I am fascinated by this lack of consensus in the last Government. Was the current Secretary of State for Scotland someone with whom the right hon. Gentleman was unable to form a consensus on the issue of devolution of the Crown Estate?

Mr Carmichael: I shall allow the Secretary of State to speak for himself when he has the opportunity to do so later; I am sure we will all be on tenterhooks to hear what he has to say.

It is manifestly the case that the seabed as a resource could be better managed—and it would be if it were managed by the communities most directly affected. That would generate more income. There are tremendous opportunities for generating income from the seabed, many of which are thwarted because the Crown Estate commissioners over the years have taken an especially narrow construction of their duties under the Crown Estate legislation.

I fully accept that amendment 57 seeks to promote the interests of the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland. I remind the House that the issue was the subject of two reports to the Scottish Affairs Committee in the last Parliament, and has also been pursued vigorously by the three island authorities in their engagement in the “Our Islands Our Future” process, which I was keen to encourage when I was Secretary of State.

I suggest that if we were able to achieve devolution to the three island authorities first, the way would be smoothed for those in the Highland region area, and Argyll and Bute in particular. I know that the issues relating to the islands and coastal communities in those council areas are very similar to those for the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

Mr MacNeil: Would it not be a better approach to devolve to the islands? I see the Liberals are now ignoring and forgetting about Mull, Tiree and Islay, but the intention of the Scottish Government—to devolve to the island communities themselves—is a far better approach and we have to make sure we can have it in Scotland. We could have had it four years ago, when I moved an amendment on this issue. We did not get it four years ago, however, because the right hon. Gentleman and his party opposed it.

5.45 pm

Mr Carmichael: I seek to build consensus today. It is unfortunate that the hon. Gentleman is not minded to do so. I say to him simply this: if he speaks to his

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colleagues in the Comhairle, he will find they have enthusiasm for this matter. They pressed me and others in government very hard in the previous Parliament to proceed on this. It would be to his benefit and to the benefit of his constituents if he were minded to give his support.

Amendments 27 to 29 have their genesis, as do many others, in briefings provided by the Law Society of Scotland. They relate to the administration of tribunals in Scotland. This was some of the most difficult and challenging work for both the Smith commission and the Government. The analysis of the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee in the Scottish Parliament and the Law Society of Scotland is that what remains in the Bill is imperfect, because it does not give full effect to paragraphs 63 and 64 of the Smith commission report. Paragraph 63 states:

“All powers over the management and operation of all reserved tribunals (which includes administrative, judicial and legislative powers) will be devolved to the Scottish Parliament other than the Special Immigration Appeals Commission and the Proscribed Organisations Appeals Commission.”

Paragraph 64 states:

“Despite paragraph 63, the laws providing for the underlying reserved substantive rights and duties will continue to remain reserved (although they may be applied by the newly devolved tribunals).”

In implementing paragraph 63, there must be scope for the continued reservation of the substantive law and that may take forms that will require some limitation on the functions transfer. However, it is the assessment of the Law Society of Scotland that the limitations on transfer should only be such as are objectively necessary and that they must not be unduly restrictive of the principle in paragraph 63.

It seems to be a notion of some novelty in Whitehall that tribunals can be running independently and applying legislation that goes across the whole of the United Kingdom. I could never share that analysis of novelty, having practised in sheriff courts and watched over many years the practice in the High Court and the Court of Session do exactly that. I never quite understood —perhaps the Secretary of State will be able to explain it tonight—why this is so difficult.

Amendment 30 is another Law Society of Scotland amendment. It deals with the regulation of estate agents in Scotland under the Estate Agents Act 1979. I remind the House that much estate agency in Scotland is done by firms of solicitors acting as estate agents. They do it very effectively within the context of Scottish land law practice and conveyancing which, being Roman in origin, is fundamentally different from the law applicable in other parts of the United Kingdom.

I would suggest in support of the Law Society’s amendment that devolving the regulation of estate agents makes perfect sense. It is another aspect of our business and commercial life, as well as our personal and private life, that is managed completely differently in the Scottish context and in Scottish law. It is an anomaly that we should take this opportunity to address.

Amendments 31 and 32 deal with gaming machines in licensed betting premises. They seek to remove the limitation

“for which the maximum charge for use is more than £10”.

Paragraph 74 of the Smith commission agreement stated:

“The Scottish Parliament will have the power to prevent the proliferation of Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals.”

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It is the analysis of both the Law Society and, again, the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee that the Bill does not achieve that end. Removing the maximum charge would most effectively achieve the objectives set out in the Smith commission.

Likewise, the effect of new clause 26 would be to devolve the functions of the Health and Safety Executive. Health and safety enforcement in Scotland is already practically devolved. Control over occupational health issues—many of which are practically unique in profile to Scotland, such as those in offshore oil and gas and in agriculture—should now be formally devolved to Scotland. That would be a recognition of the practice that has developed since devolution and the creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. It is merely a recognition in law of something that is already widely practised.

Finally, new clause 27 is fairly technical and, again, was drafted by the Law Society of Scotland. It would give effect to the particular models of business incorporation that we have in Scots law and is a recognition that that, too, should be under the control of the Scottish Parliament.

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): I rise to speak to my new clause 66, on health and medicines, which reads:

“In Part 2 of Schedule 5 to the 1998 Act, leave out “Head J (Health and Medicine)”.

In the helpful Member’s explanatory statement, which the Clerks helped me with, I say:

“The Amendment would remove health and medicine, including abortion, xenotransplantation, embryology, surrogacy, genetics, medical supplies, poisons and welfare foods from the list of matters reserved to the UK Parliament, allowing the Scottish Parliament to make separate provision in these matters for Scotland.”

I put forward the new clause hesitantly. I just want to probe the Government for an explanation of why the Scottish Parliament is not going to be allowed, under our Scotland Bill, to debate or decide these matters.

These matters are, of course, of vital interest to any nation. I well recall that whereas our debates on, say, social security, when we are discussing spending extra billions of pounds, are sometimes extremely poorly attended and attract very little interest, as soon as we get into what I would call these “Moral Maze” issues, where people have strong personal views and there are often free votes, our Parliament really comes into its own. That is what makes a Parliament. It is part of being a Parliament, and what we are trying to create in the Scottish Parliament is, in its essence, a real Parliament. Scotland may be a small nation, but it is a proud nation and it has its own individual point of view, which I would have thought was best determined by the Scottish people, through their Parliament.

John Pugh (Southport) (LD): Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that Northern Ireland already has some of the powers that he aspires to give to Scotland?

Sir Edward Leigh: Yes, I was going to come to that point, which is important. I have obtained the help of the Library in finding out exactly what happens in Northern Ireland with regard to abortion, which I will describe in a moment.

My research assistant shares my generally pro-life view—I suppose it is no secret that I will always take the pro-life argument, whether on capital punishment, assisted

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suicide or abortion. I have my own views, which I appreciate are not the views of everybody in this place. When I was thinking about tabling this new clause, he said to me, “Is this wise? What would the Scottish Parliament decide? Would its views be more like ours in the UK Parliament?” I said to him, “It’s completely irrelevant what my views are or what your views are. That’s a value judgment. It’s not for me for decide.” Frankly, I have no idea whether, if the Scottish Parliament was allowed to decide the law of abortion, it would take my pro-life view and amend the Abortion Act 1967 or not. I have no idea and it is none of my business.

I would have thought that a self-respecting Parliament could and should be trusted to deal with abortion, especially as I understand that the Scottish Parliament already deals with assisted dying. Indeed, in January 2010, the End of Life Assistance (Scotland) Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament by Margo MacDonald MSP. It sought to permit assistance to be given to persons who wished to have their lives ended under certain conditions. The Scottish Parliament disagreed with the general principles of the Bill, which is apparently being reintroduced, and that discussion is going on. That is fair enough. When Lord Falconer introduced his Assisted Dying Bill in the other place, he did not seek to extend it to Scotland. Obviously we trust—quite rightly in my view—the Scottish people, through their Parliament, to decide what is arguably an even more important issue than abortion, namely whether assisted dying should become legal. I cannot see the logic—this is why I am trying to probe my right hon. Friend the Minister—in allowing the Scottish Parliament to decide on assisted dying, but not abortion.

Let me deal with the intervention by the hon. Member for Southport (John Pugh). I know he has tabled an amendment on this issue and I look forward to hearing from him later. No doubt he can make these points far more powerfully than I can. The Abortion Act 1967 never extended to Northern Ireland, where abortion continues to be regulated by provisions in criminal law. Under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, all abortions are illegal in Northern Ireland, subject to very limited exceptions specified in the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 1945 and application of case law, chiefly R v. Bourne of 1939. Abortion is currently allowed in Northern Ireland subject to limited circumstances where the pregnancy threatens the life of the woman or where it would affect her physical or mental health in a way that is permanent or long term.

That is the situation in Northern Ireland and, believe me, I have no idea what the Scottish Parliament would decide if it was given this power. In a sense, we already have abortion on demand in this country—that is itself a controversial statement. For all I know, the Scottish Parliament may want to clear up the law in its own way, and I do not see why it should not be allowed to.

Alex Salmond: I thought it might help the hon. Gentleman if I gave him a little bit of history. If I remember correctly, the late Donald Dewar wanted this power devolved in the Scotland Act 1998, but was prevented by some sort of star chamber that was presiding over that legislation. Given that that was what Donald Dewar wanted to be done all those years ago, is it not more than passing strange that it is not being done even now?

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Sir Edward Leigh: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for describing that bit of history. I understand that this was discussed by the Smith commission—again, we can be given further details—and there was disagreement. Presumably a majority did not want the power to be passed. However, this is not the Smith commission. We are perfectly entitled to disagree with the Smith commission and, following the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman, we are perfectly entitled to give the Scottish Parliament that power.

Indeed, this is a power that other devolved Administrations around the world have. In the United States abortion is a state matter, within the framework of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, as altered by subsequent decisions. If I was an American politician, I imagine I would be quite a strong states’ rights person. The United States has an increasingly intrusive and proactive Supreme Court, but the power of states to decide on these important matters, such as the death penalty, is jealously guarded in America. Despite the power that is given to the states in the United States, I do not believe that the republic is any weaker, that the union is any weaker or that these matters cannot be properly decided by people. People can take a different attitude on these great moral issues of the day, depending on whether they live in Massachusetts or Texas, and I think that is probably the case in other parts of the world too. I am therefore not sure I understand the logic—it can presumably be explained to us—of why abortion has been excluded.

When I tabled the new clause, I thought I should try to make it as wide as possible because I was aware that the hon. Member for Southport had already tabled a specific amendment. I included issues such as embryology, surrogacy, genetics, medical supplies, poisons and welfare foods because I did not want this to be a debate only about abortion. It struck me that all those other matters were of great interest, with issues of great national debate raging around them. I see no reason why the Scottish Parliament should not have some control over them.

6 pm

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 established a legislative framework that governs assisted reproduction and embryology research in the United Kingdom. It was amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, which set up as a UK-wide independent regulator. I do not claim to have any particular knowledge and there may be powerful arguments why we should have a UK-wide body, but I would have thought that Scotland, with all its expertise, history and traditions, is perfectly capable of having its own human fertilisation and embryology Act and system, but I remain to be advised by the Secretary of State.

Scotland has always had a separate legal system. It might be said, “Surely it is unwise to have a different law for these issues, depending on whether someone lives south or north of the border”. I would have thought that that argument had already been defeated by the fact that the Scottish Parliament can decide on assisted dying. If the Scottish people and Parliament decided to allow it, people would not have to travel to Dignitas in Switzerland; they could just take a train to Glasgow. Have we not already arrived at the principle that, with a separate legal system, there is no harm in having a different law on these great moral issues?

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We have a different law in the UK as a whole from that of Northern Ireland, and I would not have thought that the roof would fall in if we had a different law on abortion. We had different laws in the past, and people used to run off and elope to Gretna Green. I am not aware that that subjected the United Kingdom to tremendous stresses and strains.

I thus put forward new clause 66 in a spirit of hesitancy, but I hope that the points I have made are not entirely unreasonable and that the Secretary of State will consider them carefully.

Mr MacNeil: I rise to oppose or to provide a different perspective on the amendments tabled by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael). I fear that he wants to do two damaging things through his amendments. He wants to bind what the Scottish Government are doing in regard to other islands by devolving to island council authorities when the ambition should be greater and power should be given to communities. What we have is not a defined community, but a community or group of individual communities. His amendments are also restrictive, and I think it is wrong for this Parliament to tell the Scottish Parliament what it should do in the next step of devolving powers. It would be far more useful and far more innovative if the Scottish Parliament had the flexibility to do what it saw as right rather than putting into the long grass the cases of our islands of Mull, Tiree, Coll or Islay, or a number of other islands that are not mentioned here.

Mr Carmichael: I remind the hon. Gentleman that my amendment provides for agreement between the Scottish Government and the Treasury. Surely that would make the design of the scheme open to full input from the Scottish Parliament.

Mr MacNeil: If the right hon. Gentleman wants the full input of the Scottish Parliament, why is he trying to bind its hands? He should leave his amendment to one side and leave the Scottish Parliament as the most democratic institution and forum representing the Scottish people, allowing us to arrive at the most democratic, most sought and most wanted forum as the solution.

We know from the island authorities that they are more than happy with the direction of travel that the Scottish Government have taken. I come from one of the minor islands within a local authority area, and I know that the people who live in my island want to control themselves, not be controlled by a council chamber 100 miles away. From Uist, the council chamber is 70 to 100 miles away, while Harris, linked to the same island geographically, does not want to be controlled in Stornoway 45 miles away. In Ness and Lewis, they would rather have control themselves. We need to look at what the communities want, rather than sitting here in Westminster and prescribing what is required in these places. Let us make sure that we give the Scottish Parliament the power and authority, and then we can discuss with the communities exactly what they want, rather than have grandstanding amendments. These amendments stand in direct contradiction to where the right hon. Gentleman was four years ago—in government and in a position to influence, but he did not do so.

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Mr Carmichael: I remind the hon. Gentleman that the Western Isles Council, the Comhairle themselves, were urging me to take this course of action. Do they not have democratic legitimacy as well?

Mr MacNeil: Absolutely, and when the right hon. Gentleman was in government and he was urged to do this, what did he do about it? Did his Government take the advice of the Comhairle nan Eilian Siar when he was in government?

Mr Carmichael: If the hon. Gentleman speaks to his colleagues in local government—I know he does not always do so—I am pretty sure that they will tell him that I was an enthusiastic promoter of their cause within government.

Mr MacNeil: I know what they wanted, but it is clear from that answer that the right hon. Gentleman did not take their advice. He had no influence on that Government, but he is now telling us to take their advice. He has a very different agenda. If he had accepted our amendment four years ago, we would already have had control, because the Scottish Government would have given it to us. In fact, he was a blocking force and an obstacle to progress for Scotland four years ago, as he still is. As for his colleagues who were here at the time, as a result of that very attitude, they are gone. Instead, I am one of 56 Scottish National party Members, rather than the mere five last time. I should thank the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland for his intransigence four years ago, because it was that very intransigence that led to this raft of colleagues beside me, together debating the Scotland Bill.

The Crown Estate has tremendous control over areas of life in Scotland. It takes millions out of salmon farming each year, and we want more control over what we are doing there. We could stimulate growth and activity in different areas. If we control the taxes, we can do what we feel like. We could do something about revenues from marine renewable energy going south and ensure that they stay within Scotland. We could also ensure that no development is hampered because of the money demanded by the Crown Estate—rentiers’ money that it is lucky to be getting. Years ago, it got nothing from the seabed, but a lucky windfall has now come its way in the shape of offshore renewables.

What is required is for the powers to go to the Government in Edinburgh and for that Government to decide what happens with the community of the realm in Scotland. That is where power and sovereignty rests—with the community of the realm and the people of Scotland. It is for them to decide exactly what they want. Yes, the powers should be devolved. As the Secretary of State said four years ago, the idea of the SNP was to devolve at any cost. He did not listen then, but by goodness, he is listening now.

Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con): Thank you, Mr Crausby—[Interruption.] I did not hear that interruption by the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Mr MacNeil), which is always a great loss because his interventions are some of the most amusing that we ever hear. On this occasion, however, I am going to disagree with him. I do not like clause 31 at all; I think it is fundamentally misconceived.

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I have tabled a number of amendments, which I hope will improve it—if it is possible to make a silk purse out of sow’s ear.

Let me start by explaining why I do not like the clause in principle. I think there is a danger that it is attempting to give away something that does not actually belong to the state. The Crown Estates belong to the sovereign and are given in trust to the Government at the beginning of every reign. This started at the beginning of the reign of George III and has been recommitted by every monarch subsequently. However, the Crown Estates must return entire to a new sovereign at the beginning of a new reign. It is not possible—it is not right; it is not proper—for the Government to give away the Crown Estates or to put them in such a state that an incoming sovereign could not take them back in their entirety. I therefore have concerns about the underlying principle of clause 31 in that it is seeking to divide the Crown Estates, which ought not to be divisible because of the unity they are required to have at the beginning of each reign.

I also do not like it symbolically because, although I am very sympathetic to the demands of the SNP for more government in Scotland and for more rights for the Scottish Parliament, I think the Crown is more important than the union of Parliaments.

Alex Salmond rose—

Mr Rees-Mogg: It is an honour to give way to the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond).

Alex Salmond: I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman is familiar with the phrase “the land belongs to the people”. Surely that applies to the foreshore as well—except the bit that belongs to Caledonian MacBrayne, I suppose.

Does the hon. Gentleman regret jumping at the bait from the metropolitan press? I refer to the silly, foolish, extraordinary story that appeared three weeks ago suggesting that the Crown’s income would be damaged by the devolution of the Crown Estate. Does he regret jumping so quickly at that bait on a hook, and associating himself with such a scurrilous rumour?

Mr Rees-Mogg: I am very grateful for the right hon. Gentleman’s characteristically helpful intervention. What was so wonderful about that bait was the outpouring of patriotic royal fervour that it elicited from my friends in the Scottish National party. I must confess that I was thrilled and surprised when a party that I had thought to have republican leanings turned out, to a man and woman, to contain some of the staunchest monarchists in the land. That is desperately reassuring—

Mr MacNeil rose—

Mr Rees-Mogg: And it is, of course, an even greater honour to give way to the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar.

Mr MacNeil: I am also grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who has described giving way to the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar as a greater honour than giving way to the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond). I wanted to repeat that for the purpose of my own amusement.

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May I return to the hon. Gentleman to the quip that I made at the beginning of his speech? I said that he had contributed to this debate four years ago, on 15 March 2011. Times have changed since then, but it clear that, in another sense, times have not really changed, because the argument that he was advancing then—the argument that the Crown Estate was the property of the monarch—is the argument that he is advancing now. Indeed, in many respects it is an argument that has been advanced for hundreds of years. It is time to move on. It is time for the royal windfall to end, and for royalty to end its control of local people. As I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows—because we have been friends for a number of years—I say that as a staunch monarchist myself.

Mr Rees-Mogg: The hon. Gentleman really cannot have it both ways. He teased the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael) for being inconsistent, because four years ago he had been against the devolution of the Crown Estate and today he was in favour of it. Now he has objected to my being consistent, in that I opposed it four years ago and continue to oppose it today. Either the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland is right to have changed his mind, or I am right not to have changed mine. Both cannot be true.

Mr MacNeil: I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his consistency, and, similarly, I congratulate myself on mine. I want this power to be moved to Scotland so that the most democratic forum in Scotland—the Scottish Parliament—can decide, in consultation with the people of Scotland, exactly what happens to the Crown Estate.

Mr Rees-Mogg: The problem with that view is that it does not respect the rights of property. The Crown is entitled to protection of the rights of property as much as—indeed, some might say more than—anyone else in this country. If even Her Majesty’s property, the property of the sovereign herself, is not sacrosanct and protected, but can be taken for the benefit of the people—whatever that means—no one’s land is safe.

Mr MacNeil: I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way again. I am also grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Drew Hendry) for having a word in my ear.

In Scotland, the people are sovereign, whereas here, as the hon. Gentleman will of course know, the Treasury already controls the vast majority of the revenues of the Crown Estate, and gives pocket money—albeit a tremendously large amount of pocket money—to the monarch.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I find the concept of sovereignty coming from the people very attractive. I do not dispute the concept of sovereignty rising from the people to this Parliament, with our sovereign Lady the epitome of it, the symbol of it, the very pinnacle of our society and of our nation. Within that concept, however, all subjects, and Her Majesty herself, have rights of property, and those rights should not be arbitrarily taken away. It worries me that clause 31 is going in that direction in deciding that Parliament can allocate a property right

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without having established that that property right belongs to Parliament, and that it is for Parliament to dispose of it in the first place.

Mr MacNeil: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way again. He is being very generous, as are you, Mr Crausby.

The hon. Gentleman speaks of the personality of the sovereign. He says that the sovereign cannot choose to whom to give the estate, and that it will go to the next sovereign. The important difference between England and Scotland is that in Scotland the people are sovereign. As the hon. Gentleman knows from his history books, there was Mary Queen of Scots and there was Elizabeth of England. There were the people, there was the country, and there were two different nations.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I am well aware of the difference of terminology in relation to Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I, the “English Queen”.

Mr MacNeil: The Queen of England.

Mr Rees-Mogg: The Queen of England. The two were different, in a sense, and there is a conception of popular sovereignty in Scotland that may differ from that in England—although it is perfectly possible that the reference to “Mary Queen of Scots” may have been due to concern about having a woman as monarch, and to the fact that in earlier times people were happier to have a King of Scotland than to have a King of the Scots. I am not entirely sure that the hon. Gentleman might not be more in tune with the late John Knox and his “blast of the trumpet”. I myself am not sure that I want that particular trumpet to be blown, because I think that it is a trumpet that sounds a rather wrong note. For once I am sounding more modern than the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar! I think that the issue of property rights is fundamental, and I also think that the Crown is indivisible.

6.15 pm

George Kerevan (East Lothian) (SNP): I am surprised that such an ardent and professional monarchist as the hon. Gentleman is unaware that the Crown Estate is divided by jurisdiction, and there are other jurisdictions within the Commonwealth in which Crown property is managed separately. For instance, there is a receiver general for the Crown properties in Jersey. If the Scottish people wished to continue with the monarchy, it would be perfectly sensible for the Crown Estate to be managed separately rather than property being divided, as the hon. Gentleman has suggested.

Mr Rees-Mogg: The hon. Gentleman has been more helpful to me than he may have realised. I think that the symbolic importance of this division is that it is symbolic of independence for Scotland rather than further devolution. I think that the indivisibility of the Crown in one nation is such that the Crown Estate ought not to be divided.

Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) (Con): My hon. Friend is clearly right. The Act of Union created the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and therefore, in so far as the Crown Estate is concerned—

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George Kerevan: That happened 100 years before.

Mr Grieve: The Union of the Crowns happened 100 years before, but in my view it is clear that the constitutional union came about as a result of the Act of Union, and that therefore the Crown Estate is indeed indivisible. The fact that it may be subject to a different jurisdictional framework in Scotland is neither here nor there, and to that extent the example of Canada or Jersey is not relevant to the debate.

Mr Rees-Mogg: I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend, who I think is absolutely spot on. The indivisibility of the Crown within the United Kingdom is central to the Unionist case, and I think that if a Unionist Government are willing to divide the Crown, that is a very dangerous step. I would rather give the Scottish Parliament other powers—some of which are the subject of other amendments—than give it this very important power relating to the Crown, which, as has already been pointed out, has been indivisible for longer than the Parliaments have been united. It brought the two countries together, and that was then established firmly in law.

Mr MacNeil: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Rees-Mogg: Of course I give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr MacNeil: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his incredible generosity. He said that the Crown property was indivisible, but of course the United Kingdom itself was not indivisible, given that it was divided in 1922. Although most people do not realise it, the United Kingdom is not yet 100 years old. I think that Doris Day is older than the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. However, the question that is puzzling me is not that of Doris Day’s age, but what happened to the Crown properties that were once held and are now in the Republic of Ireland.

Mr Rees-Mogg: My assumption is that they were devolved to the Government of the Republic of Ireland, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do when one is abolishing the monarchy. If SNP Members were, in fact, closet republicans—which, given the other arguments that we have heard recently, I do not think they are—it would be perfectly rational for them to argue that the estate should be confiscated from the Crown and should go to an independent Scotland. However, that is not the argument that we are having today. Today, there seems to be broad acceptance in the House that the monarchy should remain part of the Scottish settlement—as well as the settlement for the rest of the United Kingdom—come what may, even if Scotland were to become independent.

Mr MacNeil: I think that the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. What today’s debate is about is whether the monarch’s estate—the Crown Estate—should be controlled by Her Majesty’s Government here, or by Her Majesty’s Government in Scotland. My colleagues and I are suggesting that Her Majesty’s Government in Scotland would be a far better Government to control Her Majesty’s estate.