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Lord Monson: In discussing this amendment inevitably one will go over some of the same ground as when we discussed the two previous amendments. I am glad to see the noble Earl, Lord Russell, in his place. Earlier this week, in a most powerful speech based on his profound historical expertise, he told noble Lords in no uncertain terms that Scotland was a nation, as indeed Wales and England were nations. He went on to deny emphatically that Britain was a nation. If true, this has interesting consequences which doubtless we shall address on another occasion. When the noble Earl states that Scotland is a nation, I do not believe that it is a random geographical area containing a random group of people from all over the place who just happen to be there at the particular time when the electoral register is compiled. Surely a nation comprises people with a common heritage, culture and interest in the long-term future of their nation. I stress "long-term" because people who are there on a three-year contract do not have the same interest. Surely, people who fall into this category have the moral right to vote on major constitutional issues that affect the future of their nation.

I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Desai, is no longer in his place. He was sanguine about this and denied that it was a major constitutional issue. I prefer the view of my noble friend Lady Saltoun, who pointed out that it might not be intended to be a major constitutional issue but it would almost certainly become one because one way or another devolution would probably lead to independence. That was what I inferred from the comments of my noble friend, and I believe that she is right.

I accept what the Minister said about the difficulty of including all expatriate Scots, and Welsh for that matter, in the electorate for the referendum, but this is a very

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much smaller group of people. I hope that in the circumstances the noble Lord can see his way to accepting the principle of the amendment.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: I have no personal interest to declare because, although I am a Scot, I am not entitled to vote anyway.

If the Government were not prepared to say now that they accept the amendment in principle, I could understand that. However, I could not understand it if, having heard the debate, they could not say, without commitment, that they will take this back and consider it, because there really is an injustice.

Lord Elis-Thomas: I do not want to argue in favour of any amendment that will delay the Bill because we should move towards the referendum as soon as possible. However, in this case I support the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, and my noble and learned friend Lord Simon of Glaisdale and the noble Lord, Lord Parry. I ask the Government to look at this matter again. In relation to an issue such as the RWF the noble Lord and I always stand together.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The whole tone of this amendment has been one of reasoned constructive appeal, for which I am most grateful. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, and I are getting too old and intolerant of each other.

There is no doubt that any government should give a sympathetic ear to arguments concerning the Armed Forces. Other people similarly serve the state and are subject to direction as to where they are to live. Others serve a different, higher cause, for example, ministers of religion who are required to move in some denominations. The problem, though a lesser one, arises in those cases.

It is nostalgia time at the OK Corral tonight and I think it is now my turn. I was born in a taxi travelling between Mostyn and Prestatyn--Point of Ayr, as the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, says. The taxi therefore turned left at the bottom of School Lane (Tyr Ysgol), Mostyn. If he had turned right and gone to Chester I suppose I would have been entitled to vote in an English referendum. My wife is Indian and was born in Durban. I am registered to vote in the local election in Evenlode and she is registered to vote in the local election in London. If there were a referendum about London government she would vote in London and if there were to be a referendum about regional devolution in Gloucestershire or Oxfordshire I would vote there and she would not.

This is a serious point. In any system constructed there are bound to be anomalies. At the end of the day one has to strike a balance. One has to ask what the purpose is of this referendum. I cannot do better than repeat what the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, said when he encapsulated the matter so perfectly and pithily. That is a fundamental approach. The second approach is to look at the detail. The noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbreckish, said that we should look at the subset. He did not mean that offensively and nor do I. I entirely agree with him. I will not weary your Lordships by going over old ground.

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As the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, stated, and as has been mentioned in careful correspondence, the service declaration is a mechanism that is available. I do not pretend that it is perfect. No electoral arrangements are perfect. They are never perfectly symmetrical. One can find anomalies, and noble Lords have spent many a happy hour finding anomalies this evening. I dare say there are more anomalies to come.

To take an earlier example, if the serviceman moves to Colchester, on the noble Lord's illustration, he can register there. He is not then entitled to vote in a parliamentary election or a local election in Scotland. I hope your Lordships will accept that I have a good deal of sympathy for the arguments that have been put forward, but the best I can do-- in answer to the proposal put by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway--is to give careful consideration, with my colleagues, to everything that has been said. However, there are no guarantees of a changed mind. I have gone as far as I can in answer to the thrust of the noble Lord's point and in answer to the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I am grateful for the response and I appreciate the difficulties of trying to solve this problem. I do not think that any noble Lord would deny that. This is not an easy issue to resolve but I am delighted to hear that the Government appreciate and accept that it is worthy of a bit of attention and effort on the part of officials, draftsmen and politicians to see if it can be resolved. The Scottish example highlighted a real difficulty. If the Royal Scots had been based in Scotland they would have a vote.

The issues raised by my noble friend Lord Crickhowell make a strong case; there is no possibility of these regiments being based in Wales at all. That is a point worthy of consideration.

I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn. I hope that we can see some solution to this difficult but important problem by Third Reading. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment Nos. 14 to 19 not moved.]

Lord Simon of Glaisdale moved Amendment No. 19A:

Page 2, line 3, after ("for") insert ("each local government area in Scotland and").

The noble and learned Lord said: My noble friend Lord Elis-Thomas left me to draft the amendment and then went off on a lengthy weekend without telling me that it needed to be translated into Welsh. The consequential amendment is defective in that respect. He is entitled, indeed honour bound, to lead on Amendments Nos. 19A and 39A. I beg to move.

Lord Elis-Thomas: This amendment is in the later group starting at Amendment No. 28.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill): The amendment has now been moved. Would you be so kind as to withdraw it?

Lord Elis-Thomas: I apologise. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 20 and 21 not moved.]

Clause 1 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 22 not moved.]

6.30 p.m.

Clause 2 [Referendum in Wales]:

[Amendments Nos. 23 and 24 not moved.]

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 25:

Page 2, line 4, at end insert ("under section 1(1)").

The noble Lord said: In the spirit of co-operation shown by the Government Front Bench a few minutes ago I thought we would try and speed up the process to arrive at this interesting amendment. The amendment proposes that the Scottish and Welsh referendums should be held on the same day. For some mysterious reason which nobody, especially the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, was able to persuade me of at Second Reading, the Welsh referendum is to be held a week after the Scottish referendum. I do not understand why that has to be. No good reason was given on Second Reading and I shall be interested to hear what is said tonight about the decision to hold the Welsh referendum a week after the Scottish referendum.

The only explanation offered was that of the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford. It appeared to be that the Welsh needed "clean air time" away from the Scots in order that they could make up their minds. I have not made inquiries, but I do not suspect that too many editions of the Scottish newspapers have great sales in Wales. I must disappoint the Welsh Members of your Lordships' House by saying that not many editions of the Western Morning Post will be sold in Scotland--

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