9 Nov 2015 : Column 44

I take note of what the hon. Gentleman says. As new Members should know—if they do not know, they will come to discover it—he is the author of a well-thumbed tome entitled “How to be a Backbencher”. I am simply reminded that the Chair must always be zealously conscious of its duty to ensure the rights of Back Benchers as a whole. We will keep a beady eye on the length and relevance of speeches on such occasions, whether the hon. Gentleman is present or not.

Christian Matheson (City of Chester) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. May I seek your guidance and advice on an incident that took place last week in which I believe I, as a Member of Parliament, was prevented by the actions of public officials from undertaking my duties in supporting my constituents?

The incident took place at Manchester civil courts, where approximately 40 to 50 of my constituents were involved in a case. When I arrived at the security point I was told that I was not to be granted entry. I identified myself as a Member of Parliament. There was a stand-off for a while, and of course I assure you, Mr Speaker, that my manner was courteous, as always, and calm. After about five minutes, a manager came up, pointed his hand towards me and said, “You’re not coming in. I’m now telling you to leave, and the police have been called.” Obviously I had no desire to cause any trouble for Greater Manchester police, but I did have a desire to join my constituents to support them in the court case. I identified myself to the police inspector and had a quick chat with him, and then left.

I believe that the officials of the court, knowing that I was a Member of Parliament, denied me the opportunity to support my constituents. I seek your guidance, Sir, as to the best way in which I might progress the matter further.

Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. He has made clear, both in what he sent to me and in what he has articulated on the Floor of the House, his concern about the manner in which he was treated on Friday.

While I am always keen to defend Members’ ability to represent their constituents outside as well as inside the House, the question of whether a Member of Parliament should be given access to a court of law in support of constituents is not a matter for me. I say that simply as a matter of fact. Nor is the conduct of court officials a matter on which it would be appropriate for me to comment, having not been present and therefore privy to the circumstances.

That said, I make two other observations. First, the hon. Gentleman has made his point and put his concern on the record. I have a sense that colleagues who know that they could be in a similar position will empathise with him. From personal experience over the past six months, I can confirm that he has always been fastidious in his courtesy—courteous to a fault—in his dealings with the Chair.

Secondly, I think that sometimes people who are not quite conversant with the circumstances, or who perhaps lack directly comparable experience but are anxious to execute their duties in the most zealous way, err on the side of caution. That caution sometimes makes them think that it is easier to say no than to say yes. I was not there, and I make no criticism of any individual,

9 Nov 2015 : Column 45

but personally I am very sympathetic to the hon. Gentleman and think it is very regrettable that he has had to bring the matter to the House. I think we will have to leave it there for today.

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On Saturday there was announcement from Downing Street that everyone

“will be given a legal right to request”

a 10 megabits per second broadband connection. That is of immense importance to many businesses and people who are frustrated by current broadband coverage, yet no details were given about how that right is to be exercised, who will deliver it or who will fund it. Can you advise me of whether you have had notice of a written or oral statement on the subject, and whether government apparently by unaccountable press release is in order?

Mr Speaker: I say to the hon. Lady that the subject is not new. The adequacy or otherwise of superfast broadband access, in both urban and rural areas, has been extensively debated over a period. It seems to me that the distinction is between disclosing a basic intent and describing a detailed policy. Where the former is concerned, there is nothing particularly unusual about Ministers giving an indication of what they intend in speeches around the country, outside the House. If, however, the Government propose to roll out a specific policy that is different from that which has existed hitherto, the House should be the first to hear about that policy and have the opportunity to question the relevant Minister upon it.

I think we have reached the happy conclusion of points of order for today.

9 Nov 2015 : Column 46

Scotland Bill (Programme) (No.2)

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That the Order of 8 June 2015 (Scotland Bill (Programme)) be varied as follows:

(1) Paragraphs (5) and (6) of the Order shall be omitted.

(2) Proceedings on consideration shall be taken in the order shown in the first column of the following Table.

(3) The proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the times specified in the second column of the Table.

ProceedingsTime for conclusion of proceedings

New Clauses and new Schedules relating to Parts 1 and 2, amendments to clauses 1 to 18 and Schedule 1

Three hours from the commencement of

proceedings on the motion for this order

Remaining new Clauses and new Schedules, amendments to the remaining Clauses of the Bill,

amendments to Schedule 2 and remaining proceedings on Consideration

Five hours from the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this order

(4) Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion six hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion for this order.—(David Mundell.)

4.40 pm

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP) rose—

Mr Speaker: Does the hon. Gentleman wish to orate?

Pete Wishart: I do wish to take the opportunity to orate because we are profoundly disappointed with the time available to discuss significant and important issues, including amendments to the Scotland Bill, which is a critical piece of legislation for our nation. More than 100 amendments have been selected for debate this afternoon, and that follows the 76-page document that listed amendments tabled by right hon. and hon. Members across the House. We now have something like two and a half hours to debate critical amendments on tax powers and the constitution. After that, we will probably have less than two hours to discuss the equally significant welfare powers in the rest of the Bill.

We know how this place works. There will be Divisions, and 20 minutes will be taken up with the 18th-century arcane practice of wandering through a Lobby to be counted. When will this House start to enter the 21st century and leave the 18th century so that Divisions do not eat into our time-limited debates? How can it possibly be right that we have so little time? Realistically, we will have something like four hours, perhaps three and a half hours, which is little more than an hon. Member would get—[Interruption.] Hon. Members are chuntering. Do they not know that this 45-minute debate is time reserved? Even this is eating into time—they cannot even bother looking at their Order Papers.

Scotland is watching these proceedings, and people just will not understand the gross disrespect shown to our nation’s debate and business. It will feel as if Scotland has been given an almighty slap in the face

9 Nov 2015 : Column 47

and told just to get on with it in whatever time this House deems fit to provide to our nation—




Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. The hon. Gentleman is making extremely important points. He says that he needs to be heard, and he needs to be heard not just outside the Chamber but inside it. Members will be quiet while he speaks.

Pete Wishart: Scotland is watching. People are observing these proceedings and cannot believe that we have been given such a limited amount of time to debate such critical and significant amendments. The Bill had four days in Committee. We were surprised and delighted that we got all that time, but what a supreme waste of time those four days were, with a Government who were only semi-engaged in that debate. The Government accepted not one amendment from the hundreds that were tabled, and they provided nothing, with no significant amendments of their own. The Secretary of State said that the Committee was a listening and reflecting stage. He was more reflective than a high street mirror shop this summer, but the one thing he did not do was engage properly in the Committee of this House. It was all about listening. If Committee stage of a Bill is about listening, we may as well go round to see the Secretary of State and have a little chitchat over a cup of tea, or perhaps even write to him.

A Committee stage of this House should be the place where amendments are properly debated and considered, with a Government who are engaged in the process. It is not good enough to table hundreds of amendments on Report and have a time-limited debate to consider them. That shows great disrespect to the House, and it is not the way to do business. If this is how we will do business in the House in future, and if the Committee of the whole House is nothing but a listening exercise, we must recalibrate how we do business in this House. It is not good enough that we spent all that time merely being listened to, and then we are given five hours today to discuss serious, significant and important amendments that our nation needs to make its business.

We now have hundreds of amendments since the Government decided to engage with this process. They told us that they were all unnecessary and that we did not need them because the Smith Commission was delivered in full, yet today, all of a sudden and in the limited time available, hundreds of Government amendments are on the Order Paper. We will not have the opportunity to scrutinise properly the proposals that the Government have put before the House today.

We still do not believe that the Smith commission has been delivered in full. We have tabled amendments to ensure that it is delivered in full, but even if those are accepted, the Bill is still significantly behind where the Scottish people are and what they want from the constitutional arrangements for our nation. This is only the start of a catch-up process.

Ian Austin (Dudley North) (Lab): I know that the hon. Gentleman wants to complain about how terribly Scotland has been treated, fuel grievances and wind up the Scots, but instead of whingeing about the process and wasting time, why does he not sit down and allow the debate to take place?

9 Nov 2015 : Column 48

Pete Wishart: We have been shown gross disrespect today, and for the hon. Gentleman to say that Scotland should just put up and shut up as usual—

Ian Austin: Will the hon. Gentleman give way again?

Pete Wishart: I am not giving way to the silly hon. Gentleman again.

What a sham of a process this has proven to be—

Ian Austin: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is a disgrace for the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) to accuse people of attacking Scotland, when all they are doing is commenting on his ludicrous tactics—him personally, not the people of Scotland.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): The hon. Gentleman knows well that that is not a point of order for the Chair: it is part of the debate. The hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire has pointed out that there is only a short time available for this debate. I hope that we can soon come to the debate itself and that he will also curtail his remarks.

Pete Wishart: I do not want to take up time, but I want the House to understand the rage that my hon. Friends and I feel about the limited amount of time that we have been given today.

I also want to reassure the House that we are not looking to have the Bill certified as English only, even though the Government consider the Scotland Bill to be an English-only Bill. We do not even want it to be certified as Scotland only, even though every single bit of the Bill applies exclusively to Scotland. I just hope that in the few short hours we have for debate that English Members will remember that when they make their contributions and vote. I hope that they listen to the voices of Scottish Members of Parliament on the Bill. It is not good enough to turn up and decide to have their say on Scottish business in this new age of English votes for English laws, but we will not have the Bill certified today.

We want the Bill to be discussed and debated properly, although it is way behind what the Scottish people require. We will not press the programme motion to a Division, even though the House knows how angry we feel about the limited time, because that would take further time from the debate.

Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP): Does my hon. Friend agree that the real irony is that after today’s truncated debate, the Bill will move to the House of Lords for weeks, possibly even months, of scrutiny with no democratic mandate from any voter in Scotland?

Pete Wishart: That is exactly what will happen. The minute the Bill leaves this House it goes to the unelected Chamber of donors and cronies who will seek to impose their views on the business of Scotland. It is an utter disgrace.

If the Secretary of State thinks that the Bill puts a line under the ambition of the people of Scotland, he is gravely mistaken. Scotland has a fuller vision for itself now. Scotland is a more confident, assertive nation and it will never stop asking for more responsibility. The Scottish people know that it is better that they are in charge of their nation’s affairs, instead of a Conservative Government that we did not vote for, with a solitary Scottish Member of Parliament.

9 Nov 2015 : Column 49

4.48 pm

Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) (Lab): I do not want to detain the House either, but I agree with the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart)—I hope that he does not turn to dust as a result—not on his content, but on the tone with which he has started this debate. It is worth putting on record that the Government, Opposition and SNP Whips—the usual channels—spent an inordinate amount of time on this, and I understand that there was broad agreement on how today’s proceedings would operate.

We would very much like some more time in the Chamber, but unfortunately that will not happen on Report and Third Reading. Given that the Government have accepted most of our amendments on the permanency of the Scottish Parliament, that the Scottish Parliament can now design its own social security system, and that the Government have moved towards the removal of the perceived vetoes—and, indeed, given the equalities section—we think the vow has been delivered. We agree with some of the Government amendments. The Government have come forward with amendments that agree with some of ours. I think we should get on with the debate this afternoon and start to discuss some of these issues. If the Scottish National party press this to a vote, we will see whether the House agrees.

4.50 pm

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): The kernel of the argument is about having enough time to debate effectively all the detail in this very comprehensive Bill. There must have been some sort of deal done between those on the Front Benches. I hope that in future, particularly with regard to English devolution when we return to the local government Bill—and thereafter, as there may be other devolution Bills pertaining to Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland—there will be a mixture of time. We should use the Floor of the House, so that we are open and transparent and allow all Members to get involved. We should also ensure that there is a period of time in Committee, so that the detail—particularly in relation to a second or third English devolution Bill—can be considered to every Member’s satisfaction.

4.51 pm

The Secretary of State for Scotland (David Mundell): I will not detain the House, because I do not want to eat into the time available to debate the Bill. I acknowledge the anger of the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart). He is always angry at something. Each time we have dealt with the Bill, we have had this sort of stunt. In the newspapers in Scotland at the weekend, the hon. Gentleman called on other Members of the House of Commons to be nicer to him. We will try, but he does make it a bit difficult.

It is clear to me that the hon. Gentleman’s anger is not directed at me or at this House, but directed at the people of Scotland because they voted decisively to remain in the United Kingdom, and that is something he just cannot accept.

Question put and agreed to.

9 Nov 2015 : Column 50

Scotland Bill

Consideration of Bill, as amended in the Committee

New Clause 12

Permanence of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government

“In the Scotland Act 1998 after Part 2 (the Scottish Administration) insert—

Part 2A

Permanence of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government

63A Permanence of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government

(1) The Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government are a permanent part of the United Kingdom’s constitutional arrangements.

(2) The purpose of this section is, with due regard to the other provisions of this Act, to signify the commitment of the Parliament and Government of the United Kingdom to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government.

(3) In view of that commitment it is declared that the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government are not to be abolished except on the basis of a decision of the people of Scotland voting in a referendum.””

This amendment inserts a new clause into the Scotland Act 1998 and replaces Clause 1. It states that the Scottish Parliament and Government are permanent parts of the United Kingdom’s constitutional arrangements, and that those institutions are not to be abolished except on the basis of a decision of the people of Scotland in a referendum.

(David Mundell.)

Brought up, and read the First time.

4.52 pm

The Secretary of State for Scotland (David Mundell): I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government new clause 13—Functions exercisable within devolved competence: elections.

New clause 1—Independent Commission on Full Fiscal Autonomy

‘(1) The Secretary of State shall appoint a commission of between four and eleven members to conduct an analysis of the impact of Full Fiscal Autonomy on the Scottish economy, labour market and public finances and to report by 31 March 2016.

(2) No member of the House of Commons, the House of Lords, or the Scottish Parliament may be a member of the commission.

(3) No employee of the Scottish Government or of any government Department or agency anywhere in the United Kingdom may be a member of the commission.

(4) The Secretary of State shall, in consultation and with the agreement of Scottish Ministers, appoint as members of the commission only persons who appear to the Secretary of State to hold a relevant qualification or to have relevant experience.

(5) The Secretary of State shall not appoint as a member of the commission any person who is a member of a political party.

(6) Before appointing any member of the commission, the Secretary of State must consult—

(a) The Chair of any select committee appointed by the House of Commons to consider Scottish Affairs, and

(b) The Chair of any select committee appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of Her Majesty’s Treasury and its associated public bodies.

9 Nov 2015 : Column 51

(7) The Secretary of State may by regulations issue the commission with terms of reference and guidelines for the commission’s working methods, including an outline definition of the policy of full fiscal autonomy for the commission to analyse.

(8) The Secretary of State must lay copies of the report of the commission before both Houses of Parliament, and must transmit a copy of the report of the commission to the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament.

(9) Regulations under this section must be made by statutory instrument, subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.”

The new Clause provides for the establishment of an independent commission to investigate the impact of FFA.

New clause 4—Review of operation of Gift Aid in Scotland

The Treasury must lay before the House of Commons a review of the operation of Gift Aid in Scotland within a year of Part 2 of this Act coming into force.”

This self-explanatory New Clause would require a review of the operation of Gift Aid in Scotland.

New clause 6—Local Discretionary Taxation

Individual local authorities in Scotland shall have the discretion to raise additional income by levying a tax, in addition to Council Tax and Non-Domestic Rates, on either residents, occupiers, property owners or visitors in the local authority or within a discrete area of the local authority providing local people consent.”

The power will enable local authorities to introduce tax(es) without the need to seek approval from Scottish Government, with the rates and reliefs being determined locally and the local authority being both granted powers to ensure that those on which the tax is levied have a legal obligation to pay and the local authority having the discretion to determine how the additional revenue is expended.

New clause 7—Local authority’s power of general competence

‘(1) A local authority has power to do anything that individuals generally may do.

(2) Subsection (1) applies to things that an individual may do even though they are in nature, extent or otherwise—

(a) unlike anything the authority may do apart from subsection (1), or

(b) unlike anything that other public bodies may do.

(3) In this section “individual” means an individual with full capacity.

(4) Where subsection (1) confers power on the authority to do something, it confers power to do it in any way whatever, including—

(a) power to do it anywhere in the United Kingdom or elsewhere,

(b) power to do it for a commercial purpose or otherwise for a charge, or without charge, and

(c) power to do it for, or otherwise than for, the benefit of the authority, its area or persons resident or present in its area.

(5) The generality of the power conferred by subsection (1) (“the general power”) is not limited by the existence of any other power of the authority which (to any extent) overlaps the general power.

(6) Any such other power is not limited by the existence of the general power.”

This new Clause seeks to introduce a general power of competence for Scottish local authorities, putting it beyond doubt that they may do anything that is not expressly prohibited by law. It seeks to go further than the power of wellbeing already afforded to Scottish local authorities. The proposals seek to give councils the capacity to do anything that an individual can do. Therefore, this would not enable a local authority to introduce a tax or wage war, but it would ensure that local government has the ability to use the power of

9 Nov 2015 : Column 52 general competence in the most sensible and constructive way for the benefit of the people and communities whom they serve.

New clause 8—Competences of local government in Scotland

‘(1) The First Minister must, after consultation with representatives from local government in Scotland, publish a list of competences of local government in Scotland.

(2) After the list has been published, the First Minister may not publish any amended list of competences of local government in Scotland without first obtaining approval of the revised list consent from—

(a) the Scottish Parliament, with two-thirds of its membership voting in favour of the amended list, and

(b) the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.”

This new clause entrenches the independence of local government in Scotland from interference by national government in Scotland.

New clause 9—Subsidiarity

That subsidiarity as defined by the Maastricht Treaty 1992 Article 5(3) shall apply to the functions of national and local government in Scotland.”

This extends protection of Scottish Local Government’s independence by protecting its subsidiarity behind a European Treaty applicable to the United Kingdom.

New clause 11—Scottish block grant

The Secretary of State must lay before the House of Commons before the end of the first month of each financial year a full record, including minutes of meetings and correspondence at Ministerial level, of discussions between the Secretary of State, the Treasury and Scottish Ministers relating to the non-budget expenditure to be voted by Parliament authorising the payment of grants to the Scottish Consolidated Fund for that financial year.”

The purpose of this new clause is to ensure transparency and accountability of the process leading to the annual settlement between the Treasury and Scottish Ministers of the block grant to the Scottish Consolidated Fund.

New clause 35—Consent of the Scottish Parliament to certain Westminster Acts

‘(1) In section 28 of the Scotland Act 1998 (Acts of the Scottish Parliament), at the end add—

“(8) But the Parliament of the United Kingdom must not pass Acts applying to Scotland that make provision about a devolved matter without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

(9) A provision is about a devolved matter if the provision—

(a) applies to Scotland and does not relate to reserved matters,

(b) modifies the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, or

(c) modifies the functions of any member of the Scottish Government.

(10) In subsection (8), “Acts” includes any Act, whether a public general Act, a local and personal Act or a private Act.”

(2) After section 28 of the Scotland Act 1998 insert—

“28A Duty to consult the Scottish Government on Bills applying to Scotland

(1) A Minister of the Crown shall consult Scottish Ministers before introducing any Bill into the Parliament of the United Kingdom for an Act of that Parliament that would make provision applying to Scotland.

(2) Where the Bill is for an Act making provision that would require the consent of the Scottish Parliament by virtue of section 28(8), the requirement to consult under subsection (1) includes a requirement that a Minister of the Crown give the Scottish Ministers a copy of the provisions of the Bill that apply to Scotland no later than—

(a) 21 days before the proposed date of introduction, or

(b) such later date as the Scottish Ministers may agree.”

(3) The requirement in subsection (2) does not apply if—

9 Nov 2015 : Column 53

(a) the Scottish Ministers so agree, or

(b) there are exceptional circumstances justifying failure to comply with the requirement.

(4) The reference in subsection (1) to an Act of Parliament is a reference to any Act whether a public general Act, a local and personal Act or a private Act.”

This new clause would ensure that the UK Parliament can only legislate in devolved areas with the consent of the Scottish Parliament. It puts the Sewel Convention onto a statutory footing, as agreed by the Smith Commission.

New clause 36—Scottish independence referendum

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

(2) In sub-paragraph (1), leave out “if the following requirements are met”.

(3) Leave out sub-paragraphs (2) to (4).”

This New Cause would permit the Scottish Parliament to decide whether and when to hold a referendum on Scottish independence.

Government amendment 34.

This amendment leaves out Clause 1, which is replaced by New Clause 12.

Amendment 195, page 1, clause 1, leave out lines 7 and 8 and insert—

‘(1A) The Scottish Parliament is a permanent part of the United Kingdom’s constitution.

(1B) Subsection (1) or (1A) may be repealed only if—

(a) the Scottish Parliament has consented to the proposed repeal, and

(b) a referendum has been held in Scotland on the proposed repeal and a majority of those voting at the referendum have consented to it.”

This amendment is to ensure that the Scottish Parliament can only be abolished with the consent of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people after a referendum.

Amendment 5, page 1, line 7, leave out “recognised as”.

Amendment 196, page 1, leave out lines 12 and 13 and insert—

‘(1A) The Scottish Government is a permanent part of the United Kingdom’s constitution.

(1B) Subsection (1) or (1A) may be repealed only if—

(a) the Scottish Parliament has consented to the proposed repeal, and

(b) a referendum has been held in Scotland on the proposed repeal and a majority of those voting at the referendum have consented to it.”

This amendment is to ensure that the Scottish Parliament can only be abolished with the consent of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people after a referendum.

Amendment 6, page 1, line 12, leave out “recognised as”.

Amendment 197, page 2, line 1, leave out clause 2

This amendment signals intent to oppose ‘Clause stand part’ with respect to Clause 2 and to move New Clause (Consent of the Scottish Parliament to certain Westminster Acts) to take its place.

Amendment 7, page 2, line 6, clause 2, leave out “normally”.

Amendment 8, page 2, line 6, after “legislate”, insert “(a)”.

Amendment 9, page 2, line 6, after “matters”, insert “and

(b) to alter the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament or the executive competence of the Scottish Government”

Amendment 198, page 2, line 7, clause 3, leave out “Section B3 of”.

9 Nov 2015 : Column 54

Government amendments 35 to 46.

Amendment 199, page 11, line 18, clause 10, leave out “the decision whether to pass or reject it” and insert “the motion that the Bill be passed is debated”.

Amendments 199 to 203 to Clause 10 aim to clarify matters around references to the Supreme Court, in particular where the Scottish Parliament resolve to reconsider the Bill.

Government amendment 47.

Amendment 10, page 11, line 28, at end insert—

“() the period between general elections specified in section 2(2)”

Government amendment 48.

Amendment 200, page 11, line 38, after “unless”, insert “it is passed without division, or”.

Government amendments 49 to 53.

Amendment 201, page 12, line 16, at end insert—

‘(2A) He shall not make a reference by virtue of paragraph (a) of subsection (2) if the Parliament resolves that it wishes to reconsider the Bill.

(2B) He shall not make a reference by virtue of paragraph (b) of subsection (2) if—

(a) the Bill was passed without a division, or

(b) the Bill was passed on a division and the number of members voting in favour of it was at least two thirds of the total number of seats for members of the Parliament.”

This amendment establishes that a Bill passed by consensus in the Scottish Parliament (i.e. without a division) automatically meets the super-majority requirement and ensures that a Presiding Officer’s statement is not required if the super-majority requirements are not triggered.

Government amendments 54 to 57.

Amendment 202, page 12, line 23, at end insert—

‘(3A) Subsection (3B) applies where—

(a) a reference has been made in relation to a Bill under this section, and

(b) the reference has not been decided or otherwise disposed of.

(3B) If the Parliament resolves that it wishes to reconsider the Bill—

(a) the Presiding Officer shall notify the Advocate General, the Lord Advocate and the Attorney General of that fact, and

(b) the person who made the reference in relation to the Bill shall request the withdrawal of the reference.”

Amendment 203, page 12, line 25, leave out subsections (11) and (12) and insert—

‘(10A) In subsection (4) after paragraph (a) insert—

(aa) where section 32A(2)(b) applies—

(i) the Supreme Court decides that the Bill or any provision of the Bill relates to a protected subject matter, or

(ii) a reference has been made in relation to the Bill under section 32A and the Parliament subsequently resolves that it wishes to reconsider the Bill.”

(10B) After that subsection insert—

“(4A) Standing orders shall provide for an opportunity for the reconsideration of a Bill after its rejection if (and only if), where section 32A(2)(a) applies—

(a) the Supreme Court decides that the Bill or any provision of the Bill does not relate to a protected subject matter, or

(b) the Parliament resolves that it wishes to reconsider the Bill””.

Government amendments 58 to 60.

9 Nov 2015 : Column 55

Amendment 204, page 13, line 2, clause 11, at end insert—

‘(1A) In paragraph 1 of Part I (The protected provisions, Particular enactments) of Schedule 4 (protection of Scotland Act 1988 from modification), delete “(2)(f) the Human Rights Act 1998””.

This amendment would remove the Human Rights Act 1998 from the list of protected provisions in Schedule 4 of the Scotland Act 1998.

Government amendment 61.

Amendment 205, page 13, line 8, paragraph (a)(ii), leave out “(3)” and insert “(2B)”.

Amendments 205 to 223 to Clause 11 would grant the Scottish Parliament powers to make decisions about all matters relating to the arrangements and operations of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government as agreed in the Smith Commission.

Amendment 206, page 13, line 9, paragraph (a)(iii), leave out “11” and insert “12”.

Amendment 207, page 13, line 10, paragraph (a)(iv), leave out “section” to the end and insert “sections 13 to 27,”.

Amendment 208, page 13, line 11, paragraph (a)(v), leave out from “(v)” to the end and insert “section 28(1) to (6),”.

Amendment 209, page 13, line 13, paragraph (a)(vii), leave out “27(1) and (2)” and insert “31”.

Amendment 210, page 13, line 14, paragraph (a)(viii), leave out “28(5)” and insert “32(1) to (3),”.

Government amendments 62 and 63.

Amendment 211, page 13, line 15, paragraph (a)(ix), leave out “(1)(a) and (b) and (2) and (3)”.

Government amendment 64.

Amendment 212, page 13, line 19, paragraph (b)(i), leave out “44(1B)(a) and (b), and (2)” and insert “44(1C), (2) and (4),”.

Government amendment 65.

Amendment 213, page 13, line 20, paragraph (b)(ii), leave out “(3) to (7)” and insert “to 50”.

Amendment 214, page 13, line 21, paragraph (b)(iii), leave out “46(1) to (3)” and insert “51(1), (2) and (4)”.

Government amendment 66.

Amendment 215, page 13, line 22, paragraph (b)(iv), leave out “47(3)(b) to (e)” and insert “52”.

Amendment 216, page 13, line 23, paragraph (b)(v), leave out “48(2) to (4)” and insert “59”.

Amendment 217, page 13, line 24, paragraph (b)(vi), leave out “49(2) and (4)(b) to (e)” and insert “61”.

Government amendment 67.

Amendment 218, page 13, line 25, leave out paragraph (b)(vii).

Government amendment 68.

Amendment 219, page 13, line 26, paragraph (c), leave out “(3)”.

Amendment 220, page 13, line 27, paragraph (d), leave out from “general” to the end of the paragraph, and insert “sections 81 to 85,) sections 91 to 95, and section 97,”.

Government amendment 69.

Amendment 221, page 13, line 29, paragraph (e), leave out from “supplementary” to end of line 38, and insert—

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(i) sections 112, 113 and 115, and Schedule 7 (insofar as those sections and that Schedule apply to any power in this Act of the Scottish Ministers to make subordinate legislation),

(ii) sections 118, 120 and 121,

(iii) section 124 (insofar as that section applies to any power in this Act of the Scottish Ministers to make subordinate legislation),

(iv) section 126(1) and (6) to (8), and

(v) section 127,”.

Amendment 222, page 13, line 40, paragraph (g), leave out “6” and insert “7”.

Amendment 223, page 13, line 42, paragraph (h), leave out “paragraphs 1 to 6 of”.

Amendment 224, page 13, line 43, at end insert—

‘(2A) In paragraph 4 of Part I (The protected provisions, This Act) of Schedule 4 (protection of Scotland Act 1988 from modification), insert new sub-paragraph—

(5A) This paragraph does not apply to amendments to Schedule 5, Part II, Head A, Section 1A insofar as they relate to—

(a) taxes and excise in Scotland,

(b) government borrowing and lending in Scotland, and

(c) control over public expenditure in Scotland.””

This amendment would enable the Scottish Parliament to amend the Scotland Act 1998 to remove the reservation on taxation, borrowing and public expenditure in Scotland, with the effect that the Scottish Parliament could then legislate in these areas to provide for full fiscal autonomy in Scotland.

Amendment 27, page 18, line 21, clause 15, leave out “the amount described in subsection (3)” and insert ‘the whole amount’.

The purpose of this amendment is to allow a sum equivalent to all of the revenue raised by the standard rate of VAT in Scotland to be paid into the Scottish Consolidated Fund.

Amendment 28, page 18, line 26, leave out “the amount described in subsection (4)” and insert ‘the whole amount’.

The purpose of this amendment is to allow a sum equivalent to all of the revenue raised by the standard rate of VAT in Scotland to be paid into the Scottish Consolidated Fund.

Amendment 29, page 18, leave out lines 28 to 39.

The purpose of this and the linked amendments to Clause 15 is to allow a sum equivalent to all of the revenue raised by both standard and reduced rates of VAT in Scotland to be paid into the Scottish Consolidated Fund.

Amendment 30, page 18, line 33, at end insert “Provided that the amount payable is not less than half of the agreed standard rate amount.”

This amendment would ensure that the share of the revenue raised by the standard rate of VAT in Scotland to be paid into the Scottish Consolidated Fund never falls below half the of the revenue raised, even if the standard rate of VAT is cut in the future.

Amendment 31, page 18, line 39, at end insert “Provided that the amount payable is not less than half of the agreed reduced rate amount.”

This amendment would ensure that the share of the revenue raised by the reduced rate of VAT in Scotland to be paid into the Scottish Consolidated Fund never falls below half the of the revenue raised, even if the reduced rate of VAT is cut in the future.

Government amendments 81 and 130 to 132.

David Mundell: This is a significant day for Scotland, as we move the public debate about our country’s future from questions of constitutional process and on to the real business of using power to improve people’s lives.

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The Government’s amendments, which I would like to outline today, will strengthen the Bill’s provisions and clarify the delivery of the Smith commission agreement. With that done, it will be time for Scotland’s political parties to work together to make the new powers a success for everyone in Scotland. My ministerial colleagues, UK Government officials and I have engaged widely with interested parties and civic Scotland to help people to understand the Bill and to listen to their views. We have discussed the clauses with the Scottish Government and Committees of both the Scottish Parliament and this Parliament, and we have reflected on constructive suggestions of how to improve the drafting of the provisions. A number of technical amendments are proposed to ensure that the Bill devolves the powers intended effectively and efficiently, as well as a range of substantive amendments which prove beyond doubt that the Bill fully delivers the Smith commission agreement. I would like to move a number of Government amendments to part 1 of the Bill. We will discuss important amendments on welfare and other parts of the Bill later today.

Building on discussions on the permanence of the Scottish Parliament in Committee, I am bringing forward new clause 12 and amendment 34. The new clause removes the words “recognised as” and makes it clear beyond question that the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government are permanent institutions, and that it would take a vote by the people of Scotland in a referendum to ever abolish them. The amendment puts it beyond doubt that, as the Prime Minister has said,

“Scottish devolution is woven into the very fabric of our United Kingdom.”

New clause 13 is a technical provision ensuring that, where legislative competence is being transferred to the Scottish Parliament in relation to elections, executive functions are transferred to the Scottish Ministers in relation to that area. This will minimise the need for the Scottish Parliament to make separate textual changes to legislation after commencement of the Bill. Amendments 81 and 130 to 132 are consequential amendments to new clause 13.

Amendments 35 and 61 would devolve to the Scottish Parliament the subject matter of new subsection (2B) of section 2 of the Scotland Act 1998, inserted by clause 5 of the Bill. New subsection (2B) enables Scottish Ministers to make an order specifying an alternative date for a Scottish parliamentary general election, where otherwise the date would fall on the same day as an ordinary general election or a general election to the European Parliament.

Government amendments 36 and 44 to 45 clarify what is meant by “combined elections”. Amendment 36 makes it clear that the reservation of the rules governing campaign expenditure by political parties applies where there are overlapping regulated periods, even if the actual polls take place on different days. Amendments 44 to 46 ensure consistency of language throughout the Bill by amending other provisions in clause 7 concerned with expenditure in connection with elections.

Amendment 131 inserts a reference to clause 3 and has the effect of applying schedule 3 to the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 to any functions that are exercisable within devolved competence by virtue of that clause. The new wording included in amendment 37 makes it clear that the Scottish Parliament

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will be able to give the Electoral Commission powers as well as duties when reporting on the delivery of its functions in relation to elections to the Scottish Parliament.

Minor amendments 38 and 39 ensure that the Scottish Ministers’ powers to make provision on the conduct of Scottish parliamentary elections are in line with the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament in this area. Amendment 40 is a minor change to align the subordinate legislation-making powers of the Scottish Ministers with the extent of the reservation of the individual electoral registration digital service, which is the Great Britain-wide service used to process online applications and to verify information supplied in applications. It is used to process applications to the registers used for all GB elections, as well as EU parliamentary elections.

Amendments 41 and 42 ensure that the power in clause 5 to specify a new date for an ordinary Scottish parliamentary election works effectively with the Presiding Officer’s existing power to propose to move the date of such a poll. Amendment 43 has the same purpose as the section of the clause it replaces—to enable the Scottish Ministers to exercise, concurrently with the Secretary of State, certain subordinate legislation-making functions relating to the digital service, which otherwise remains reserved. The effect of this is to allow Scottish Ministers to exercise functions and make regulations about the digital service.

Amendments 47 to 60 seek to clarify the rules on super-majority. A number of these are technical and consequential, but I will draw the attention of the House to the three main amendments in this group. Amendment 47 requires that the Presiding Officer must decide whether any provision of a Bill relates to a protected subject matter, rather than assessing the provisions of the Bill more generally. Amendment 50 has the effect that a Bill passed with a simple majority in respect of which the Supreme Court subsequently decides that a simple majority is sufficient must be reconsidered by the Scottish Parliament before being submitted for Royal Assent. It is important that the Scottish Parliament has the opportunity to reconsider the Bill in this scenario as circumstances may have changed since the Bill was first passed.

Amendment 60, partly consequential on a number of other amendments, means that requirements regarding the final stage for a Bill, and for approval of a Bill following reconsideration to be treated as the passing of the Bill, apply regardless of the ground for reconsideration.

Government amendments 62 to 69 deliver new powers to the Scottish Parliament in relation to the arrangements and operation of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government, in response to amendments made in Committee and discussions with the Scottish Government. They include powers in relation to the dating of Royal Assent, the form and nature of certain statements by the Presiding Officer, letters patent, appointments to the Scottish Government, the Auditor General for Scotland and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland. These amendments extend the far-reaching powers in the arrangements and operation of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government already provided for by clause 11 and address a number of amendments tabled in Committee and by the SNP today.

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5 pm

Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) (Lab): The Secretary of State is cantering through the Government amendments. Can he clarify for the House whether, in the current context, they would require a legislative consent motion for the Trade Union Bill?

David Mundell: As the hon. Gentleman will know, the Trade Union Bill is still under discussion in this House, and it is the Bill as finalised by this House and the other place that will determine the nature of any legislative consent motion that is required, as is the normal practice.

The amendments I have tabled today fulfil my commitment to reflect on the debate in Committee. It is a bit rich to be criticised both for taking no amendments and, in the same breath, for tabling too many. We took the Committee process seriously and the contribution from the devolved powers committee in the Scottish Parliament very seriously, and that has determined our thinking in lodging these amendments. We will now hear the case for other, non-Government amendments, but the House will not be surprised to hear that the Government still consider that full fiscal autonomy is not in the interests of the people of Scotland. I believe that Scotland’s parties, rather than rerunning the referendum, need to work together to understand how the powers in the Bill will be used for the benefit of the people of Scotland. The UK Government are honouring their commitment in the Edinburgh agreement, accepting the result of the referendum and moving forward to give the Scottish Parliament significant new powers within our United Kingdom.

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): It is very nice once again to be talking about Scottish—[Interruption.] I give way to the Clerk. That is the first time I have been heckled from the Clerk’s Table, but I am sure it will not be the last.

There is one thing that concerns me. Much as I welcome the devolution to Scotland that the Scottish people have achieved—owing to the hard work of people such as Donald Dewar, the Scottish constitutional convention, even the Scotland Act 2012 and now this Bill—there are those of us who represent constituencies in England who envy that and would kill for 1% of the effective devolution that has gone to Scotland. I congratulate the Scottish people on their efforts and where they have got to, but I hope we will come very soon to how England can learn some of the lessons of Scottish devolution, because it has taught many of us many lessons. I will perhaps touch on some of the devolution packages now appearing in England, which look puny and weak compared with the proper devolution that has now taken root, quite rightly, in Scotland.

My anxiety is about centralisation. It is not devolution if the powers merely go to the next stage. If they go from Whitehall to Holyrood and stay there—and, some would argue, are perhaps not used as sufficiently as they could be—

Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP) rose—

Mr Allen: If the hon. Gentleman will allow me, I will make my case and happily give way later.

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If the powers stay at Holyrood and do not filter down to lower tiers—perhaps local government in Scotland—and, most importantly, to the Scottish people in their communities and neighbourhoods, that is not sufficient devolution. Exchanging centralisation from Whitehall and Westminster to Holyrood is not the bargain that many of us thought we had when it came to devolution in Scotland.

Ian Blackford: If the hon. Gentleman had been paying attention to events in Scotland, he would recognise that the Scottish Government have brought forward proposals for further devolution to our island communities. When the Scottish Government came to power, one of the first things we did was to remove the vast amount of ring-fencing that constrained local authorities, so it is the previous Labour Administration who are guilty of centralisation, not the Scottish Government that we have today.

Mr Allen: It is always good to hear of examples of further devolution. I say more power to those who want to “double devolve”—and the more that happens, the more those in the other nations of the Union will learn from such examples. I gently warn the hon. Gentleman, however, that it is no good always going back to times before his party controlled and ran the Scottish Parliament with powers that are unheard of in the rest of the Union—and that should be spread to the rest of the Union. There has to be a point where people are clearly using those powers rather than complaining about what they would like to have, do not use or think they ought to have. It is a really important lesson for all of us who believe in devolution that we need to push these things further. In that case, why have my good friends in the Scottish National party not supported or proposed amendments to make sure that local government—in this case, in Scotland—can go further and run much more of its own affairs?

Dr Daniel Poulter (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) (Con): As always, the hon. Gentleman makes a coherent argument about constitutional matters on which he possesses great expertise. Does he agree that this is often a two-stage process? The first stage is devolving powers to the Scottish Parliament, after which it is then for the Scottish Parliament further to devolve the powers, to the islands and other communities, as indeed it has done?

Mr Allen: It is important to see devolution develop in stages. I mentioned earlier that we have made a start on the devolution proposals for England and that another couple of Bills might be necessary, even in this Parliament, before we can really see what devolution in England looks like. However, there must be a point at which the powers already devolved—in this case to the Scottish Parliament—can be pushed beyond and down to people on the ground. That is why I proposed—I did not hear a great deal of support for it—to ensure that local government in Scotland can, with the local people’s consent, raise its own taxation. If people are won over and convinced of the need, it should be possible to raise levels of a particular tax in an area. I often mention my local circumstances in Nottingham, where we would like to levy a tourist tax or a bed tax in order to do good works, providing that people in the local area consent and agree.

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Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) (SNP): Does the hon. Gentleman not see that the whole point of devolution is to ensure that those decisions are made by the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, which is already carrying through the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015? It is not for this place to tell the Scottish Parliament what to do with the power that is devolved—otherwise, the power is not really devolved.

Mr Allen: I cannot speak for this place; I can give only my personal opinion. The hon. Lady has heard me say how important it is that powers are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, and as a devolver and a democrat, I would like to see powers devolved out of Whitehall to local areas in England, for example, and on to the ground— even, in my own case, going beyond the Nottingham City Council, good though it is, right down to the localities. It is not a case of someone telling someone else to do this. If we believe in devolution—and I understand why the nationalists may feel that they do not want devolution, because it undermines the nationalist ethic—[Interruption.] That is a perfectly valid position to hold, and it is nothing to be ashamed of, but nationalism is not localism.

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Allen: I will give way in a second.

If we believe in localism, or in subsidiarity—a word that I used in one of my new clauses—and pushing power to the lowest possible levels, we cannot stop with nationalism, or the nation state. There must be a whole panoply: there must be a whole view of how power can go to the people rather than merely to another elected set of people in the Scottish Parliament, which, believe it or not, may well seem as remote to some people as the federal Parliament here.

Kirsty Blackman (Aberdeen North) (SNP): In Scotland less than 2% of the money provided for local authorities is ring-fenced, while in England the figure is nearly 10%. We should not be having a discussion about Scotland being more centralised than England, because that is clearly not the case. Will the hon. Gentleman please talk about the Scotland Bill rather than about devolution to England?

Mr Allen: I understand why it is sensitive when I talk about issues that colleagues in the Scottish National party would rather not talk about, but I am going to talk about them. [Interruption.]

Several hon. Members rose

Mr Allen: I will give way after I have answered the question from the colleague of the Members who are rising.

As I have said before, it is not just the property of people in the Scottish National party, or even—

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. We have five hours in which to debate critical and significant amendments to the Scotland Bill, and the hon. Gentleman has been going on about devolution for England. He has not even tabled any amendments on this particular

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issue. When can we get back to debating the Scotland Bill and the important amendments that have been tabled to it?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman has made, and I take it very seriously. I have been listening carefully to the hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen). He is addressing points that are relevant to the precise matters before us and to the amendments and new clauses, in a general way, but I am sure he will accept the feeling of the House that, while it is interesting and generally relevant to discuss these issues in general and as a matter of academic interest, it is also important for the House to have enough time to debate the many amendments and new clauses that are before us. I am not stopping the hon. Gentleman, but I am trusting him to know when he will draw his remarks to a conclusion.

Mr Allen: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Perhaps the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) is a little anxious because he is now part of the establishment in this place, and is used to having the privilege of unlimited time in which to address the House. Many of us do not have that privilege, and we are very jealous of the hon. Gentleman when he gets up to speak at length. However, I am rather surprised that he stopped me from answering the question asked by his hon. Friend the hon. Member for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman), which I was in the middle of doing. I am also rather surprised that he had not read the amendment paper, which includes four new clauses in my name. Perhaps if he looked at those rather than repeating the speeches that he made during the previous three days of debate, he would be better informed.

I shall now be very careful to stick closely to the subject of my new clauses, which will obviously be in order. The ability to raise money locally is very important for all our localities, and is a symptom of being freed to a greater extent from Whitehall and Westminster, so that this place and Whitehall do what they should do and our respective nations can govern themselves as much as is absolutely appropriate, which they do not currently do. Scotland is leading the way in showing us how to do that, but I hope that this is not just about Scotland, and that, even for the Scottish nationalists, it is about ensuring that all of us share the benefits of devolution while we remain together in the Union, as I hope we will.

Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) (SNP): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr Allen: I was going to give way to the hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford), but I will give way to the hon. Lady first.

Kirsten Oswald: I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He has just said that this is not just about Scotland. I have to put it to him that this is the Scotland Bill. Can we please discuss Scotland?

Mr Allen: I know it is difficult to accept, when one listens to one’s own propaganda that these matters are only ever about the Scottish National party, but the truth is that the Scotland Bill clearly impacts on the rest of the Union. Those of us who will benefit or suffer

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from matters related to Scotland have a right to express a view. If there was a slightly more outgoing sharing of learning and experience from some colleagues from the SNP, more friends would be won among those of us who very strongly believe in devolution in the other nations of the UK.

5.15 pm

Ian Blackford: I just wonder whether the hon. Gentleman sees the irony in the fact that we voted through English votes for English laws but have created second-class MPs in those of us who come from Scotland, because we cannot fully represent our constituents in this place. Scotland returned 56 SNP MPs with a clear mandate to deliver home rule for Scotland, and we are not getting what the Scottish people want because MPs from other parts of the UK are voting against our interests. We should have Scottish votes for Scottish laws in this place.

Mr Allen: I have a lot of sympathy with the generality of what the hon. Gentleman is saying, but I have to remind him that there was a Scottish referendum and a majority of Scottish people voted to stay in the Union. There was a general election—

Ian Blackford: How did you get on?

Mr Allen: The hon. Gentleman asks from a sedentary position how we got on: 50% of Scottish people voted against the SNP and unfortunately 50% of Scotland is represented by three Members of Parliament. The hon. Gentleman should relish his victory, and he thoroughly deserves all the appropriate accolades, but I ask him to be a little careful not to become triumphant, because his party should not be proud of 50% of Scottish people being represented by three Members of Parliament. I hope the desire for proportional representation, which suited the SNP for many years—

John Nicolson (East Dunbartonshire) (SNP): Winding up.

Mr Allen: Now one hears very little—

John Nicolson: In conclusion—

Mr Allen: I am winding up in a way the hon. Gentleman may not approve of—I am getting my first wind.

I hope the SNP will not forget its commitment to proportional representation just because first past the post delivered the gross, disfigured distortion of 56 MPs representing half the population and three MPs representing the other half. I hope that the hon. Gentleman feels that that is not an appropriate allocation and that the SNP renews its vigour when talking about proportional representation, because it has gone rather quiet on that subject.

Christian Matheson (City of Chester) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend detect from the interventions of the SNP Members that they are perfectly happy to talk about devolution down to the Scottish level, but they are very keen not to talk about devolution down to the more local levels of the kind my hon. Friend is outlining?

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Mr Allen: I hope—[Interruption.] I hope that even those who are heckling and shouting would say that I always try to engage people from the SNP in debate on these issues. Sometimes things get a bit interesting and a bit heated, but that is because we all care passionately about these views. I am trying to put my point of view over now. Perhaps there are shades of opinion in what appears to be a robotic, monolithic Scottish National party. Perhaps some SNP Members acknowledge that others have a different view. It might be the case that that has some resonance, and that not all of them simply wait to be told what to do at their regular Monday meeting.

Ian Austin (Dudley North) (Lab): I take a different view from that of my hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester (Christian Matheson). I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) that, now that the SNP is the establishment in Scotland, its members are desperate to avoid any scrutiny of the way in which it runs the Scottish Government. That is because they want to be able to blame everybody else—namely, the wicked people down south—for everything that goes wrong in their country.

Mr Allen: I am sure that the Chair would call me to order if I answered my hon. Friend’s very pertinent question, but I know that he will make that point and many others when he is called to speak.

New clause 8 is about defining. It is all very well to sit in Holyrood handing out little bits of largesse here and there, but that is exactly what Whitehall and Westminster do to everyone else. The Scottish people have suffered from that as much as the English people have. One way to get round that is to define the competences of local government and national Government in such a way that no one will be able to unpick the idea, whenever it suits them, that power should be devolved beyond Holyrood or Westminster. Unless that principle is clearly entrenched, the lure of power from the centre—be it Holyrood or Westminster—and the temptation to tell people what to do will be too strong.

New clause 8 proposes that people who want to engage in this debate should sit down and discuss with their local government—wherever it might be—what it is appropriate for local government to do. I do not believe that Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland should be immune from that idea, because otherwise they will find that power gets sucked back up. Some of my friends in Scotland are telling me that power there is becoming ever more centralised. No doubt that will be a matter of debate, but that is what people are saying. Perhaps the easiest way round that is not to say, “Oh yes, but we are very nice to people. We are benign and we give them a little bit more money here and there”, but to allow the people, the drivers who produced devolution in Scotland, to produce devolution lower down than Holyrood.

Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con): The hon. Gentleman talks about devolving power. As everyone in the Chamber knows, money is power. Will he therefore applaud the Conservative Government for devolving the retention of business rates locally? That policy has been devolved to the Scottish Government and it is now being mimicked there.

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Mr Allen: I bracket the Scottish National party and the Conservative party together. If they do good things to push power down or push finance down, I am very happy to applaud that. What I am saying is that, in order to avoid a situation in which “the centre giveth and the centre taketh away”, we all need to have a proper written settlement. Even if people do not think that it is happening now, there will be a time when the temptation for those at the centre—in Holyrood or in Westminster—to turn things round, suck power back and tell people what to do will overcome them, even those with the best hearts in the world.

Mr David Anderson (Blaydon) (Lab): May I just gently remind colleagues from Scotland that they were elected to this United Kingdom Parliament and that this is a United Kingdom Bill which will have an impact on my constituents as well as theirs? I would be delighted if my hon. Friend’s new clause would somehow enable measures similar to those in the Bill to be put into an English Bill, so that my council could help me to protect my constituents in the same way as Scottish MPs want to protect theirs. I welcome the fact that he has tabled his new clauses and the fact that they are not critical of the Bill.

Mr Allen: That is why, knowing many of my parliamentary colleagues from Scotland, I rely on their generosity of spirit to help those of us who are trying to get a devolved settlement in other parts of the Union, not to pull up the drawbridge and say, “We’ve got what we want. Now we have a load of people in Parliament, we are no longer going to talk about proportional representation. On the back of 50% of the votes in our nation we have 95% of the seats and that’s now all okay. Now we are in control of the Scottish Parliament we are not going to use the powers, but we are going to suck up power from local government.” I know that that is not where many of my parliamentary colleagues from Scotland wish to be, but they need to speak up. They need to make that clear, in their internal meetings and inside their party. They need to be clear with people who are telling them, “Leave it to us, we are the top dogs. Do what you are told. Show up, it is your shift.” We have this in every other party, and people will hope there can be proper debate within parties so that devolution as a whole can move forward. It has to go beyond Scotland. People who really believe in devolution have to take it beyond the one area. I am happy to discuss and debate that with anybody. One area we need to talk about—[Interruption.] I would gladly give way to hon. Members rather than just have shouting, although I am happy to have shouting and gesticulating—it is the parliamentary equivalent of spitting at your opponents in the street. [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. The hon. Gentleman is very patient, but I am not happy to have shouting and gesticulation—not that I see any that is out of order at present. I say to him that when the House becomes a little vociferous, it is possibly an indication that there is a limited time for debate. He does have four very important amendments down for discussion and he has taken a fair chunk of the time for the debate. As I said previously, I am not stopping him—he has the Floor. He is a senior and much-respected Member of this House and he will know when he has taken the right amount of time in this very short debate.

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Mr Allen: I will certainly go a lot quicker if people allow me to. As always, not a person in this Chamber can say that I do not give way when people have a real point of debate to make, rather than just wanting to yell from a sedentary position. That will continue to be my policy and I will not move from that, whatever the provocation.

New clause 9 talks about subsidiarity, which was brought to us by the former Lady from Finchley, through the Maastricht treaty. In this Bill, it would enable us to define and keep a very clear perspective on what is local, what is regional, what is national and what is federal. That will help everybody, whichever country they are in within the Union, not just to win small victories here and there, but to sustain a change in our democratic structure that will make it harder for those who so wish to do away with any settlement when they feel it convenient.

Part of the Bill relates very much to the rest of the United Kingdom, and that relates to the possibility of having a citizens convention, modelled on the Scottish convention, whereby people throughout the whole UK can face some of these issues, which are of great importance to us. The debate about EVEL—English votes for English laws— was a diversion. It was an irrelevance and mere procedural issue, and it has very little to do with devolution and greater freedom for our peoples within the UK. I hope that we move on from where we are on Scottish devolution and on the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, which is devolution in England, and that we take these issues forward together. All parties need to work together to ensure that there is a citizens convention on devolution, so that we can spread some of the excellent things that have been achieved by the Scottish people, by people such as Donald Dewar, by those in the Scottish citizens convention, by those who worked on the Scotland Act 2012 and by all those parties of the Union that worked together to create this Scotland Bill, which is, quite rightly, the first Bill before this Parliament. I hope that the first Bill in the 2020 Parliament is one that brings devolution to all the nations of the Union so that we all get the benefits that will rightly be enjoyed by the people in Scotland.

5.30 pm

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): I wish to speak to new clause 1, which calls for an independent commission on full fiscal autonomy. I have to say to the shadow Secretary of State, who tabled it, that there is a whiff of hypocrisy about this. He may not remember it, but on 15 June, during the Committee stage, I proposed an amendment to achieve immediate full fiscal autonomy. I was supported in the Division Lobby by the Scottish National party and some Conservative colleagues. If Labour Members had voted with us, we could have had full fiscal autonomy that night, but they chose not to do so. I do not know whether they are embarrassed about that—[Interruption.] The shadow Secretary of State is shaking his head and says that he is not embarrassed, but he has now tabled an amendment that would produce another talking shop and another Smith commission on full fiscal autonomy, thus knocking the whole matter into the long grass. Incidentally, he says that no Member of the House of Commons or of the other place should serve on the commission. I do not why that is. He also says:

“The Secretary of State shall not appoint as a member of the commission any person who is a member of a political party.”

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That is a process of thinking that suggests that, somehow, politicians should not take decisions and that the fate of nations is decided not by statesmen, but by unelected commissions. The commission will have to meet for many months, but what will it tell us that we do not already know?

The fact is full fiscal autonomy is a well understood concept; it has the virtue of simplicity. I will not repeat all the arguments I made in its favour on 15 June, but Labour could have had it. I give this prediction: at the next general election, either the Conservative party or the Labour party will promise, in their manifestos, full fiscal autonomy. They will have to do that, because otherwise we will continue to be behind the curve.

I was criticised by some on the Conservative Benches for being unhelpful on 15 June, but actually I was helping the Conservative and Unionist cause. I showed to some people in Scotland that there were Unionist politicians who value the Union, and who believe in full fiscal autonomy, because it is the best way to stop the gradual slide towards independence. If we have a Scottish Parliament based on the Smith commission, which involves highly complex procedures on tax and many other matters— they have been debated in the past so we do not need to repeat them all here—we are inevitably leading to a sense of grievance.

The way to solve the grievance is to have full fiscal autonomy immediately. The Scottish Parliament should be held responsible for taxing the people and spending the money. If the SNP controls the Scottish Parliament, it is held responsible by the Scottish people. Furthermore, the arguments for full fiscal autonomy have moved even more in its favour since June following our debate on EVEL.

What is the objection to EVEL by Scottish Members of Parliament and by the SNP? It is that we have the Barnett formula. They are not allowed to vote on all stages of a Bill. A Bill could change English spending, and in doing so it automatically changes Scottish spending, but Scottish MPs are not allowed to vote on all stages of the Bill.

If the Scottish Parliament had full fiscal autonomy—if we did away with the Barnett formula—there would be no need for EVEL. The only reserved matters would be foreign affairs and defence, which account for a very small proportion of total spending. The budget of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is 0.2% of gross national product, that of the Department for International Development is 7%, as we know, and that of the Ministry of Defence is 2%. Sometimes a whole year will pass without there being any legislation on the MOD or the Foreign Office. If the Scottish Parliament had full fiscal autonomy, and therefore the only legislation that affected the Scottish people was to do with foreign affairs and defence, there would be no need for EVEL.

This whole debate about Barnett and EVEL is in danger of being used by our political opponents. That is not what I want, but they are our political opponents, after all. They oppose the Union. They are entitled to make what arguments they like, and they will use the debate around EVEL to argue against the United Kingdom.

Ms Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh (Ochil and South Perthshire) (SNP): I do indeed remember the amendment that the hon. Gentleman brought before the House in relation

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to full fiscal autonomy. He will remember that the shadow Chancellor also voted in the Lobby with him and Scottish National party Members on full fiscal autonomy. Does he agree that it might be progress for the Labour party if it followed the party leadership on this matter?

Sir Edward Leigh: I do not know if the new shadow Chancellor voted in our Lobby, but there seems to be an interesting concept nowadays in the Labour party: there is full freedom on the Labour Benches and, apparently, the Labour party leader can oppose Labour party policy on Trident and much else. As we have just heard, the shadow Chancellor opposes Labour party policy on full fiscal autonomy. This is an interesting situation. I have made my point. I do not believe this is a genuine proposal from the shadow Secretary of State.

Ian Murray: I respect the hon. Gentleman immensely. If he thinks back to the debate we had on 15 June, he will recall that no one in this Chamber from the SNP or his colleagues on the right wing of the Conservative party believed the figures that were put forward by the Institute for Fiscal Studies or the Treasury, or the Scottish Government’s own figures. New clause 1 is an attempt to bring some clarity to those figures so that full fiscal autonomy could benefit Scotland, rather than being an £8 billion black hole.

Sir Edward Leigh: I do not want to get into a debate about a black hole, the deficit and all the rest of it. I remember that I was intervened on by the hon. Member for East Lothian (George Kerevan) and I accepted that there should be transitional arrangements. I made the point that this was not a right-wing Tory trap for the SNP. This was not a device to get rid of Barnett because we were claiming that the Scottish people get £1,600 a year more. I said precisely that if there was full fiscal autonomy and we got rid of Barnett, we should retain the United Kingdom and there should be a grant formula based on need.

If, for instance, Scotland had a particular problem, as we have in Lincolnshire with the sparsity factor in relation to education provision, or with declining industries, we are a United Kingdom Parliament. We are a fraternal Parliament. I believe in the Union, I believe in our standing together. If there is a need for the United Kingdom—I called it the imperial Parliament, as it were—to help out our friends in Wales—[Interruption.] SNP Members do not like that word, but I used it advisedly. That was the term that was used during the debates on Irish home rule. It is a technical term. If our friends in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland need extra help from the United Kingdom Parliament, we should give that help, but it should be based on needs, not on an automatic formula based on Barnett, which is an outmoded concept that has outlived its usefulness. It is also, as I have said, very dangerous in the context of the debate on English votes for English laws.

I am sorry to take the Labour party to task, because I respect the shadow Secretary of State. Labour is making some progress, but it is still behind the curve and I do not believe it will ever get back in front of the curve in Scotland unless it is bold. I repeat the point I made back in June: whether we like it or not, we have the election system that we have. We, the Unionist parties, went to the Scottish people. We based our arguments on the Smith commission, and we lost 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland.

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The hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) can complain about that, but that is the parliamentary system we have. We have to accept that, whether we like it or not, the Smith commission was rejected by the Scottish people. If we want to save the Union—and I am as passionate about the Union as the hon. Gentleman —we cannot be behind the curve on this. We have to be big-hearted, we have to be bold, and we have to move with full fiscal autonomy and move with it now.

Angus Robertson (Moray) (SNP): I rise to speak to the amendments tabled in my name and those of my right hon. and hon. Friends in proceedings which, thus far, most viewers in Scotland will frankly view as a total travesty and a farce. We are told that this is a piece of legislation of amazing proportions and importance, yet there are fewer than 10 Back Benchers on the Conservative Benches and fewer than 10 Members of Parliament on the Labour Benches. What does it say about the Unionist parties in this House that they cannot even be bothered to turn up for a debate about something they think is so important? We are debating the Report stage of the Scotland Bill with 200 or more amendments and new clauses before us—200!—yet we have heard extended speeches about English local government and a whole series of other things that have absolutely nothing to do with today’s proceedings.

The context of these proceedings is clear to people listening and watching in Scotland. First, a promise—a vow—was made. Secondly, we heard day in, day out that devo-max would be delivered, even from Labour MPs of the time. The former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said that we were near to federalism:

“Within a year or two, as close to a federal state as…can be.”

One can call this Bill many things, but it is not a charter for federalism—it is a long, long way from that. We all know about its shortcomings; they have been denied by the Government, but they are clear to pretty much anybody else who cares to look. We know because others who are not in political parties, and do not have a vested interest, have said so, including the Scottish Trades Union Congress, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Carers Scotland, Enable Scotland, and—how about this—the cross-party committee of the Scottish Parliament, on which senior Conservative and Labour MSPs served, that had the obligation to look at this. It said that the Scotland Bill “falls short” in some “critical areas”, and that it does not meet the “spirit or substance” of the Smith commission’s recommendations and requires extensive redrafting in other key areas.

What about those who do have a political vested interest? How about—let us pick one—the deputy leader of the Labour party in Scotland, Mr Alex Rowley? He said on BBC Radio Scotland on 18 September 2015:

“No ifs, no buts, Smith has not been delivered”


“We will stand shoulder to shoulder with SNP Ministers to deliver Smith.”

How ironic. Where were those voices today—where were the speeches? Perhaps we can hear them later. We have not heard a single one that reflects those realities.

We should not lose sight of the fact that the Smith commission followed the referendum. As I have said in previous debates in this House, we recognise and respect the result of the referendum, and we proceeded to work with the other political parties in the Smith commission.

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We then went to the country in a general election, and, like other political parties, we stood on a manifesto. The manifesto said:

“We welcome the proposals set out in the Smith Commission, as far as they go. The further watering down of the agreed proposals, by the UK government, is unacceptable. There should be no effective veto for UK ministers on the exercise of the various new powers, in particular over the welfare system. We share the view of many organisations across Scotland that the package, as it stands, does not enable us to deliver fully either the greater social justice or the powerhouse economy that our country demands. As the STUC has said, ‘there is not enough’ in the Smith Commission recommendations ‘to empower the Scottish Parliament to tackle inequality in Scotland’… The Smith Commission proposals were, in many respects, a missed opportunity. Decisions about more than 70 per cent of Scottish taxes and 85 per cent of current UK welfare spending in Scotland will stay at Westminster.”

We also went to the country with the following pledge:

“Scotland should have the opportunity to establish its own constitutional framework, including human rights, equalities and the place of local government. The Scottish Parliament should also have the ability to directly represent its interests on devolved matters in the EU and internationally.”

5.45 pm

We went to the country with those pledges, and what happened? There was an absolute electoral wipeout for the Labour party in Scotland, losing 40 out of 41 seats from right across Scotland. The hon. Member for Edinburgh South (Ian Murray) is pointing to Conservative Members, whom I will move on to next. It was the worst electoral showing in 100 years—since 1865. I must say to the Secretary of State, because I have challenged him before on this, that I would be grateful if he pointed out a single country in the industrialised democratic world where the mainstream centre-right party does as badly as the Scottish Conservative party. Name that country!

David Mundell: Since the hon. Gentleman has put that on the record so many times, I want to point out that the Conservative party polled more votes in the 2015 general election than in 2010 election. He has sought to distort those figures. Perhaps he would like to join me in congratulating the new Conservative councillor in Aberdeenshire, who topped the poll in the very constituency of the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond).

Angus Robertson: Oh dear, oh dear! The right hon. Gentleman had the opportunity to name a single country in the industrialised democratic world where a centre-right party does worse than the Scottish Conservative party, but he could not think of one because there are none. The Scottish Tories polled 14.9%, down two points on the previous general election. To be proud of that—

David Mundell: Twenty thousand votes up.

Angus Robertson: For the Secretary of State for Scotland to deny the facts just goes to show how far the Conservative party, the Labour party and—[Interruption.] I was going to add the Liberal Democrats—there is not a single one in the Chamber—because they lost 10 out of 11 seats in Scotland.

The point of saying all this is to understand where the democratic mandate lies. We went to the country saying that Smith should be delivered in full and that further powers should be delivered, and the Scottish National party won an overwhelming mandate to come to this place and make our case.

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Ian Austin: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Angus Robertson: The hon. Gentleman will have time to make a speech later. There is very little time, and I am the first parliamentarian from the SNP to be called in these proceedings more than an hour after the beginning of this debate.

The sole purpose of the Scotland Bill is to implement the Smith commission in full. The UK Government’s amendments are a welcome admission that the Scotland Bill, as published, did not deliver Smith. However, the Government’s amendments tabled on Report still fail to deliver Smith and still fail Scotland. SNP Members have tabled a range of amendments that will give the people of Scotland the powers they were promised and the powers that they will need. We have tabled amendments on tax credits, which would devolve control over all aspects of working and child tax credits, and on employment rights, which would devolve control over employment rights and industrial relations to the Scottish Parliament. We will debate those in the next group of amendments, when they will be addressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Banff and Buchan (Dr Whiteford).

We have also tabled new clause 36 to devolve the power to hold a referendum on Scottish independence to the Scottish Parliament. There should only be another referendum on Scottish independence when the people of Scotland indicate that they want one, but it is right that the Scottish Parliament—the people of Scotland’s Parliament—should hold the power to react to the wishes of the people of Scotland.

We should not lose sight of the fiscal framework. That is the financial underpinning that will allow the transfer of powers to operate without detriment to the people of Scotland.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I spoke to the right hon. Gentleman before the debate, so he knew that this question was coming. This debate is clearly about the constitution and tax. The Scottish Parliament intends to end tax relief for sporting estates, which bring substantial revenue and many jobs to Scotland. Scotland is famed for its outstanding scenery and tremendous field sports opportunities. This must be about the approach to managing natural resources. Does he agree that, when it comes to recreating tax forms and making sure that the distribution of moneys is correct, this is a great opportunity to enshrine safe ground partnership principles at the heart of government?

Angus Robertson: The hon. Gentleman has put his point of view on the record. I encourage him to get in touch directly with the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment in Scotland, Richard Lochhead. We are proud of the Scottish Government’s rural affairs agenda. Incidentally, I commend the hon. Gentleman’s party for turning up in greater strength to this debate than the Liberal Democrats.

To hold the 2014 referendum, the Scottish and UK Governments were required to agree a section 30 order, which amended schedule 5 to the Scotland Act 1998, to grant the Scottish Government the legislative competence to hold a referendum, providing that a number of conditions were met—namely, that it was held before the end of 2014 and that the ballot paper included one question.

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New clause 36 would permanently transfer to the Scottish Parliament the power to legislate for a referendum on Scottish independence. It is right that the Scottish Parliament should decide on that, and not this place. As the First Minister has made clear, the SNP manifesto for next year’s Scottish election will set out our position on a second independence referendum and consider in what circumstances such a referendum might be appropriate at some point in the future. However, the final decision on whether there is another referendum and on whether Scotland ever becomes independent will always be for the people of Scotland.

In the meantime, I observe that support for Scottish independence has continued to grow. If people back home are watching this debate, I have no doubt that it will rise even further. A Panelbase poll for The Sunday Times found that 47% of people in Scotland currently support independence and that more than two thirds believe that the country will be independent by 2045.

Support for independence has risen as the UK Government have failed to meet their promises on more powers; continued with austerity; introduced further welfare cuts; and promoted English votes for English laws. Since the referendum, the UK Government’s attitude towards Scotland has angered a great many people. Those who are watching proceedings today have good reason to be angered yet more. On EVEL, the Scotland Bill and austerity, the UK Government have shown scant regard for the voice of the people of Scotland.

We will not lose sight of the financial arrangements that relate to the Bill. We raised them in Scottish questions last week. We understand that a negotiating process is under way between the UK Government and the Scottish Government. It is critical that that financial framework is negotiated in good faith between both Governments and without detriment to the people of Scotland.

Ian Murray: I am grateful that the right hon. Gentleman has got on to the fiscal framework. At Scottish questions last week, I asked the Secretary of State whether we could have a little more transparency about the discussions to prevent anyone or any party in this Chamber from misinterpreting what the fiscal framework is trying to achieve. The Scottish people can then make their own judgment about whether it is detrimental to Scotland or otherwise.

Angus Robertson: Without wanting to concern the hon. Gentleman, I agree with him. Transparency is a good thing. Our colleagues in the Scottish Parliament are significantly happier than we are here with the open approach that the Scottish Government are taking on this matter. Obviously the negotiations are between the two Governments, but the Secretary of State could easily come to this House and provide more information to the hon. Gentleman’s satisfaction and mine.

The Smith commission identified that Scotland’s budget

“should be no larger or smaller simply as a result of the initial transfer”

of powers. It recommended that the devolution of further tax and spending powers to the Scottish Parliament

“should be accompanied by an updated fiscal framework for Scotland”

and that

“the Scottish and UK Governments should jointly work via the Joint Exchequer Committee to agree a revised fiscal and funding framework for Scotland”.

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The UK and Scottish Governments are negotiating the fiscal framework on an ongoing basis. It should allow the Scottish Government to pursue their own distinct policies that meet the needs and wishes of the people of Scotland. For fiscal devolution to work, it is essential that the Scottish Government have the flexibility to pursue distinct fiscal policies, consistent with the overall UK fiscal framework.

The block grant adjustment should be robust and transparent, deliver a fair outcome for Scotland and be agreed by both Governments. The effect of the adjustment should be to ensure that the Scottish Government’s budget is in broad terms no better or worse off in the long term compared with what the devolved taxes would have raised had they not been devolved. The Scottish Government have said that they will not sign up to any adjustment that is not fair to Scotland. That is in line with the “no detriment” principle set out in Smith.

Before us today, we have 200 amendments and new clauses. They are massively important to people in Scotland. Sadly, they are clearly not important to the Labour and Conservative parties, which are here in such small numbers. I will bring my contribution to a close to ensure that more Members of Parliament for Scotland have the opportunity to take part.

The people of Scotland are watching these proceedings. We are told that this is the mother of all Parliaments. This is supposed to be the most important legislation about the future of our country, yet it has been shoehorned into less than one day of proceedings. Incidentally, for the information of the shadow Secretary of State, that happened against the wishes of the Scottish National party, which pressed for another day of proceedings so that we could look into the proposals in detail. People should look and learn, because if this is the way to legislate, we do not need it. The Scottish Parliament is a 21st-century Parliament. If ever a case was put for the Scottish Parliament to be able to exercise power over all issues that matter to the people of Scotland, this is it.

Alberto Costa (South Leicestershire) (Con): It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson)—[Interruption.] I apologise for my pronunciation—I have lived in England for over 15 years and one’s accent does change. It was also a pleasure to listen to the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart). I agree that this is an important constitutional Bill. We are hearing today about how the Bill will make the Scottish Parliament not just a permanent institution in the United Kingdom’s constitutional arrangements, but one of the world’s most powerful devolved Parliaments.

Crucially, the Bill will allow more decisions that affect Scotland to be taken in Scotland. It will increase the financial responsibility of the Scottish Parliament and its accountability to the Scottish public. Perhaps that is a word that SNP Members do not wish to hear, because accountability is something that has been lacking these last eight years in Scotland, when gripes and grievances have constantly been thrown to London about decisions and powers that already rest with the SNP Scottish Government.

The package that has been brought before the House today by the Secretary of State and his team contains substantial financial powers, including over income tax and VAT, the devolution of substantial elements of the

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welfare system and a range of other powers, including constitutional powers and powers over transport, such as responsibility for air passenger duty.

Stewart Hosie (Dundee East) (SNP): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Alberto Costa: It is a pleasure to give way to the hon. Gentleman.

Stewart Hosie: That was a very generous way of giving way. The hon. Gentleman said that there will be substantial powers over VAT. Half of VAT will be assigned. There are precisely no powers over VAT. I fear that he has misspoken in his excitement to prove his loyalty to his Front Bench.

Alberto Costa: The hon. Gentleman already has extensive powers over income tax. We should ask why, in the past eight years, the SNP has failed to use any of the substantial powers it has, instead blaming London and England for all the problems that it creates back in Scotland.

Along with a powerful and accountable Scottish Parliament—there is that word “accountable” again—Scotland will retain the huge benefits of being part of our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The people of Scotland voted for those benefits. Remember those people? That’s right—the democratic majority that voted to stay part of our United Kingdom last year. Sadly, that fact has been lacking.

Ian Blackford: It is interesting to hear that the hon. Gentleman has lived in England for 15 years and represents an English seat. I believe he stood in Scotland once. How did he get on?

Alberto Costa: It would be fair to say that SNP Members simply do not want to answer the question about accountability. What have they done with the powers that they have had over the past eight years? They have simply blamed England and London for all the problems that they have created in the public sector.

6 pm

The Bill will turn the historic all-party Smith agreement, which the SNP agreed upon, into constitutional legislation. From today onwards, the Conservative party will be able to lay claim to being the true party of the Scots who believe in our United Kingdom—that is to say, the majority of Scotsmen and women who voted to stay in the Union.

Simon Hoare (North Dorset) (Con): These are serious and important issues for the constitutional governance of our country. Does my hon. Friend share my disappointment that all we seem to be hearing from nationalist Members is percentages, political polls, who stood where and who lost what, instead of sticking to the facts and telling us how they are going to use the powers in the Bill? [Laughter.]

Alberto Costa: My hon. Friend is absolutely correct. The laughter that we are hearing from SNP Members about the discussions that we are having on this constitutional Bill is a disgrace.

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It is no surprise that nationalist MPs are true to form and continue to create grievance where there is none. They offer mischief to the people of Scotland when they should be working with all parties in the House. “Better together”—that is what the people of Scotland voted for merely a year ago. They voted for a better United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, not separation. They do not want constitutional uncertainty; nor, for that matter, do the people of my constituency, South Leicestershire. We are a small but great island nation, and the British people are fed up with the constant mischief being created by nationalist MPs.

The truth is that nothing at all will please SNP Members. That should be no surprise, because all they want is the end of the United Kingdom. They will therefore not support any Scotland Bill, no matter what devolved powers might be offered to them. They simply do not want it.

Chris Stephens (Glasgow South West) (SNP): I think my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh East (Tommy Sheppard), who owns a comedy club, will have found a new act.

The hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Alberto Costa) keeps mentioning new substantial powers. If his party has its way tomorrow, it will take basic industrial relations powers away from the devolved Administrations.

Alberto Costa: We can see that the respect agenda only goes from the Government Benches to the SNP Benches. There is simply no respect from SNP Members, and there is no interest in being respectful, because they simply want the destruction of Great Britain, and we will never permit that.

We must remind the House of another vow, as I did in my maiden speech. I am pleased to see that the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) is in his place, because we will never forget another promise that was given to the people of Scotland, and indeed to the whole United Kingdom. What was the vow that he gave? He told the voters of Scotland that the referendum was

“a once in a generation, perhaps even a once in a lifetime, opportunity”.

What disrespect SNP Members are showing the people of Scotland today. Barely a year has passed, and they are demanding another referendum. We can never again trust the SNP with any agreement on a referendum. The people of South Leicestershire are fed up with faux grievance. They want stability, and the Bill will provide stability for the whole United Kingdom.

Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP): The hon. Gentleman has said that one of the biggest issues for his constituents in South Leicestershire is making sure that EVEL goes through so that we cannot vote on English laws. Will the same constituents not be puzzled about why he is here participating in this debate and adding absolutely nothing to it?

Alberto Costa: I do not understand the hon. Gentleman’s point. If he is talking about a Member who comes from Scotland representing an English constituency, he forgets

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that this is the British Parliament. I represent a British constituency in the United Kingdom Parliament, and we must never forget that.

Another argument that we have heard for months now is that SNP Members, perhaps using Uri Geller-style psychic powers, can tell us what was in the minds of the no voters. Let me establish once and for all what was in the minds of the no voters. I campaigned in Scotland and spoke to thousands of no voters, and they voted for one simple thing: no to separation, and yes to the United Kingdom, full stop. Anything else that SNP Members suggest they may have voted for is simply based on no evidence.

SNP Members cannot have it both ways. They cannot tell us why they want independence and at the same time tell us what was in the minds of the no voters. The no voters voted no because they want and love the United Kingdom.

Dr Whitford: The hon. Gentleman suggests that we do not know what was in the mind of the no voters. We have spent months knocking on doors and speaking to them, and they have told us, “I regret it. I voted no because I was afraid, but I wish now that I had voted yes.” We are not mind reading; they spoke to us.

Alberto Costa: Given the promises that the former First Minister made about oil tax revenues, many yes voters have told me how pleased they are that the no voters won. Look at where Scotland would be today had the people of Scotland voted for separation. I am afraid the hon. Lady is fundamentally wrong; many yes voters are very pleased indeed that the people of Scotland sensibly voted to maintain the United Kingdom.

John Nicolson: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Alberto Costa: Not at this stage.

The truth is that the SNP simply does not want to answer the legitimate questions that we should be asking today about the Bill. It is time for SNP Members to explain to the House, and to the people of Scotland, how they intend to use the extensive powers in the Bill. They are always complaining, but they have not explained that. For example, how will they sort out the mess of the Scottish NHS, which they are in charge of? The SNP gives it less money than the English NHS is given. How will the SNP sort out its centralising tendency? Take Police Scotland, for example. What a clever idea—“Let’s centralise power to Edinburgh.” That is another example of how the SNP holds power to itself, creating a one-party state.

How will the SNP ensure that it properly finances Scotland’s fantastic universities, one of which I was proud to go to? What about answering the questions that university leaders ask the SNP Government about the lack of money, and the problems with governance structures, that the SNP is inflicting on Scottish universities? How will the SNP ensure that it improves the criminal justice system in Scotland rather than blaming London and England and creating gripe and grievance where there is none? The truth is that the SNP has been in government for eight long years, and it is about time it took some accountability rather than blaming London for everything.

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The Bill will show the SNP for what it really is, once and for all—a party failing the people of Scotland and ignoring the wishes of the democratic majority who said no to independence.

Ms Ahmed-Sheikh: The hon. Gentleman will forgive me if SNP Members do not sit here and listen to him do down our Scottish NHS or our university system, which provides free education for our young people because that is what we believe in in Scotland. He is demonstrating, I think, a wilful lack of understanding of how Scotland works.

We believe in accountability. We win elections in Scotland; in fact, we win elections by majority under a proportional representation system, and we won the general election in Scotland. We are here debating the Scotland Bill, and I would be grateful if the hon. Gentleman began to debate the Bill, so that we can have maximum powers for Scotland and deliver for the people of Scotland where the UK Government have failed them.

Alberto Costa: I am shining a light on what is really happening in Scotland under the one-party state that has become the SNP—[Laughter.] Through this Bill, the Secretary of State and his team—[Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Mrs Eleanor Laing): Order. Hon. Members might not agree with what the hon. Gentleman is saying, but it is simply rude to laugh so loudly and make so much noise that he cannot be heard. Just as I defended the right hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson) and made sure that he was heard, so I defend the hon. Gentleman. He will be heard.

Alberto Costa: What will the people of Scotland make of the laughter coming from the SNP Benches? That is disrespectful, and that is the disgraceful state of affairs with Scottish MPs in this House. The truth is that the Secretary of State and his team are presenting a formidable constitutional settlement for the people of Scotland who want a strong United Kingdom of Great Britain. I believe in Scotland having a strong place in the United Kingdom, but there is no devolved settlement that the Government can offer SNP Members because they simply do not want one. SNP Members want the end of the United Kingdom, but we want to see it stay together. This Bill will settle the argument once and for all.

Natalie McGarry (Glasgow East) (SNP): The hon. Gentleman is concluding on the basis that the Bill goes as far as the Smith commission, but a committee of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament—including those from the Conservative party—said that the Bill does not meet the aspirations of the Smith commission. How does he answer people in Scotland and his own party who do not believe that the Bill goes far enough?

Alberto Costa: That is simply not the case. The Scottish Parliament’s committees are stuffed to the gunnels with SNP MSPs, so there is no surprise that they are taking the party line. In conclusion, I offer an olive branch to SNP Members. If they genuinely believe in keeping promises to the electorate, let us start with the promise from the right hon. Member for Gordon. They had the referendum, and they lost. Let us now work better together to strengthen Scotland and our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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Tommy Sheppard (Edinburgh East) (SNP): Let me start with some context. We are discussing this Bill because of what happened on 18 September last year when the Scottish people were invited to give their views on whether Scotland should become a self-governing nation. They voted no to that proposition by 55% to 45%. I cannot look into their minds and know the settled will of all those who voted in that referendum, but I know that the 55% who voted no included plenty of people who thought that the Union as it exists today is exactly the type of place they would like to live in. They had no quarrel with it; they liked the constitutional settlement.

Also among that 55%, and the group that made the difference to the outcome, were people who believed what they were told by the leaders of all the Unionist parties, which was that the 18 September vote was a vote not for the status quo, but for a new relationship within the Union, where additional powers would be transferred. That was the vow signed by the leader of the Conservative party, and by two other party leaders who must now be described as “former”. That vow was put front and centre before the electorate, and that is why people voted no in the referendum.

The Smith commission considered what that new relationship would be, and there was a five-party discussion. It is in the nature of such things that if we are seeking consensus, the bar will be pretty low, and the Smith commission published a report on how proposals for greater devolution might be implemented. At the time, the SNP signed off on those proposals, but we said that they were only a floor and not a ceiling to our aspirations for self-government. We also said that Smith did not go far enough to satisfy the vow.

6.15 pm

At the beginning of this year the Government published the first draft of this Bill, and it was clear that the proposals had been watered down even more. The Smith commission is not delivering the vow, and the draft Bill does not even deliver the Smith commission—and that is not just our view. The hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Alberto Costa) would probably say that we would say that, because we would be dissatisfied with whatever happens, and perhaps we would be. The Conservative party might be unfamiliar with the concepts of mandate and consent, but we are quite relaxed about it, so what we did after forming a view and an analysis is put that to the Scottish electorate and the people of Scotland. We do not have to guess what was in their minds, because we know what they did at the May general election.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Moray (Angus Robertson) has explained and quoted from the manifesto on which we stood in that election, but let us be clear: this issue was not No. 97 in our manifesto; it was point No. 1. The main theme of the general election in Scotland, and the central proposition of our party, was that the Scottish Government should receive additional powers, over and beyond what is in this Bill.

Alberto Costa: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Tommy Sheppard: I would be happy to give way if we will get a joke.

Alberto Costa: Again, part of the disrespect agenda. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that last year’s referendum was once in a lifetime—yes or no?

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Tommy Sheppard: I never said that. I accept—every Government should accept this—that no Government have the right to stand in the way of people who wish for a particular direction. We sought a mandate, and we got a mandate. Whatever happens today, let us please understand that the Bill does not satisfy the aspirations of the Scottish people for greater control over their own affairs. The Bill is a response to the Smith commission. We are still waiting for the Government’s response to the general election, when the people of Scotland made their view quite clear. Whatever happens today, this is not over. We shall be coming back during the next five years of our domain in this Chamber to argue again and again for more powers for the Scottish Government to satisfy the aspirations of the Scottish people. If that takes a further Scotland Bill at some later stage, so be it.

Danny Kinahan (South Antrim) (UUP): Does the hon. Gentleman understand that the rest of the United Kingdom would also like a say in this debate? This debate is not just about Scotland; it is about the Ulster Scots, in my case, and about everyone else. SNP Members have a good indication of how the Scottish feel, but the rest of us have not had the chance to discuss the same point with our electorate. The message that I was getting loud and clear from my Northern Irish electorate when knocking on doors—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Natascha Engel): Order. These interventions are very long.

Danny Kinahan: The message I got from my electorate is that the Union is in danger and they do not want the Union to fall apart. They want all of us working together.

Tommy Sheppard: The hon. Gentleman must speak for the people who elected him, and I will speak for those who elected me. I am discussing the Scotland Bill, as amended—that is what I have been speaking about, and what I intend to speak on. The Bill falls far short of the expectations not just of the SNP, but of the people of Scotland. Civic society, trade unions, Churches and voluntary organisations throughout Scotland are disappointed at the poverty of ambition shown by the Secretary of State and the Government in the Bill.

Let me return to the Bill, because that is all we currently have—I do not normally read when making a speech, but I will read this quote so that I do not get it wrong. The Secretary of State said, on 8 June:

“I am absolutely clear that the Scotland Bill does fulfil in full the recommendations of the Smith commission.”

He has obviously had the benefit of a relaxing summer to consider the situation and determine whether that statement was in fact true. It now seems that it cannot have been true, because we have no fewer than 128 amendments from the Government to their Bill. I submit that never in the field of discussion of legislation has a Bill been so amended by its proposers and still managed to fall so far short of its declared objectives.

None the less, it is welcome that second thoughts are being had and that some improvements are being made. The first improvement is on the question of permanence, although I wonder why it has taken until now to happen. It is good that new clause 12 contains the agreement that the Scottish Parliament will not be taken away, dissolved or otherwise removed without first a plebiscite

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among the Scottish people to see what they want to do. I am pleased that the Secretary of State, in tabling that new clause, recognises where sovereignty lies on that question. It should lie with the people of Scotland whose government we are discussing. I invite the Secretary of State to support new clause 36 which would enshrine that principle of sovereignty a little more. It provides that in future discussions about the arrangements for the government of Scotland, it should be the people of Scotland’s Parliament that determines what those discussions are and the timetable by which they are put to the people in a referendum. That is only a logical extension once it has been conceded that sovereignty should lie with the people. If it is not the Scottish Parliament that should consider and respond to a future referendum, should there be one, who else should do so? It would be ridiculous for this Parliament to retain that power for itself.

The Smith commission was clear when it said that the Sewel convention should be enshrined in statute. The Bill still—after all this time—does not make that happen. The Sewel convention says that the “imperial Parliament” —to quote the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Sir Edward Leigh)—should not interfere in devolved decisions by the Scottish Parliament or other devolved Assemblies. The SNP’s new clause would enshrine that convention in law and enshrine the principle of subsidiarity—decisions being taken as close to the people as possible.

Ian Murray: Given the codification of the Sewel convention in new clause 36, I give the hon. Gentleman—my constituency neighbour—a commitment that we will support him if he presses it to a vote this evening. Perhaps we will attract further support and it will be carried.

Tommy Sheppard: I am grateful to the shadow Secretary of State for his support on this matter. The principle is clear: you do not keep a dog and bark yourself. Once power has been devolved to organisations, they must be allowed to get on with it.

I was disappointed that the hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) took almost 20% of the time available for this debate not to discuss constitutional principles about the governance of Scotland, but to pursue his concerns about the decentralisation of services. What we are discussing is a change in the constitutional arrangements between Scotland and England within the Union. We are talking about giving more authority and competences to the Scottish Government, and that is not the same thing as the decentralisation and better administration of public services in England. The hon. Gentleman was wrong to do that and is unlikely to have made friends to support his argument as a result.