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Earl Russell: I promise not to take up more than a little of the Committee's time, but the noble Earl is profoundly mistaken in describing what happened in 1707 as the English union. I grant his point that England is a much larger country numerically. However, the

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distinction that has to be made is between the numerical and economic balance on the one hand and the legal relationship on the other. The legal relationship is exactly like the treaty which formed the European Union. It is a relationship between sovereign and equal powers. If the noble Earl cares to read the Act of Union, which is in the Library, he will see that very clearly indeed.

The concern of the Scots has been entirely about the English difficulty in recognising that legal equality. Because they foresaw the difficulty about the inequality of size to which the noble Earl has drawn attention, from the very beginning of the 1707 negotiations they had a preference for a much more federal pattern of union. What we have discovered now is that the Scots in 1707 who wanted that were showing very good political judgment.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: The West Lothian question is very important: it is crucial to the working of any form of devolution. It can be resolved only in a federal context. My noble kinsman Lord Mar and Kellie mentioned the word "federal" a few minutes ago in the context of what is proposed. But what is proposed is not a federal solution. If it were I would not be nearly as unhappy as I am.

I go back to the amendments of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, the noble Lord, Lord Sempill and the noble Earl, Lord Onslow. As I understand it, the Scottish National Party has indicated to its members that in a referendum they would be expected to vote for devolution and for a devolved parliament, as the Government are proposing, with a view to it being a stepping stone to Scottish independence. That is what I understand.

Lord Rowallan: I am sorry to take up so much time at this hour of the night. The noble Lords, Lord Williams of Mostyn and Lord Sewel, have told us time and again that they look upon the referendum as advisory and for guidance purposes only. Yet the questions they are asking will produce very little advice and very little guidance. As a pro-devolutionist Tory I find it almost impossible to answer the two questions they ask if they do not fit anything that I want.

The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Sempill, was of interest to me, but I do not believe that he has gone far enough. As he correctly said, one option is that there should be no change to the government of Scotland, which I believe is a non-starter because the Scottish people will simply not stand for it. A grand committee having legislative power is the second option. I agree that there should be a devolved Scottish parliament, which is the third option. I agree that we should have a federal system, the fourth option, and I agree that there should be an independent Scottish parliament, the fifth option.

Those are the five options before us. Surely, if you want to find out what the Scots or the Welsh want, they should be asked all those questions and then a White Paper should be produced which answers the questions which the Scots people have provided. It strikes me that

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we have the worst of both worlds. We are looking for advice, but we are not asking the right questions. We are producing a White Paper before we have the advice we are looking for. I cannot see that we are going to gain a great deal from the referendum. We could end up being in an even bigger muddle than we are to start with.

I hope that the Government will look seriously at this because otherwise we could get into a great muddle. As I said at Second Reading, there is no going back once we have made the decisions, even if they are wrong. This is a vital matter not just for Scotland and for Wales, but for England and Northern Ireland also because we are a "United Kingdom" and long may we be so. However, I believe that there must be some form of devolution and the only way forward that I can see is the federal system which the Liberal Democrats have proposed but which, for some reason, they are not proposing now. I am frightened that, given the questions that we are posing at the moment, we could end up with a hotchpotch that causes more and more problems and leads to the break-up of the United Kingdom. I do not believe that that is what the Government want, but that is what we could end up with if we are not careful .

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: Before the noble Lord sits down, we do not have a White Paper; we are not producing a White Paper; we are still waiting for it.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: Perhaps I may advise the noble Lord, Lord Rowallan, and others that if you ask the way somewhere, it is better to ask a simple question such as, "Which is the way?" rather than to ask, "How many ways can I take to get there?"

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: May I ask the Government to confirm that they regard the Union as similar to a marriage which can be renegotiated?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: If the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, wants a simple question, I invite him, as I have done on a number of occasions, to table the same amendment as was tabled by his honourable friend Mr. James Wallace in another place because that was a simple question. Indeed, there is a lot to be said for that simple question. Your Lordships know that I am not greatly in favour of referendums. I have made that clear all along. I am less in favour of pre-legislative referendums and, if I can do this by degrees, I am even less in favour of referendums which ask multiple questions where the answer to one may be entirely dependent on the result of another. That is why I would be very much in favour of considering an amendment such as that tabled in another place by Mr. Wallace. Such an amendment could coalesce the two questions into one question asking the Scots whether they agreed or disagreed with a tax-raising Parliament for Scotland. I am paraphrasing, but the honourable Member for Orkney & Shetland felt strongly

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enough to put the matter to a vote. Obviously, the Liberal Democrats in this House are not intending to table such an amendment. They are going to leave it--

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My honourable friend tabled his amendment, got his answer but then did not labour the point, as would some Members of this House.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Ah! The noble Lord, Lord Mackie, being a countryman, should know that you have to keep at these issues if you want to win in the end. It is a little like fishing, as his noble friend Lord Steel, who is sitting beside him, will tell him. There is no point in presenting the fly to the fish only once; you must keep on presenting it to the fish or else you will never succeed.

We are being invited to look not at one question, but at three options. I hear what my noble friend Lord Rowallan says about there being more than three options, but one needs to be careful about how one expands this. I believe that there are three principal options.

I hope that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, does not mind if I say that I think that the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Sempill, better encapsulates the issue than either his amendment or that tabled by my noble friend Lord Onslow because it gives a three-way option.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: They are not incompatible. On the contrary, what the noble Lord, Lord Sempill, has done is to express what was implied by my two amendments.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I agree absolutely with the noble and learned Lord but, as far as the ballot paper is concerned, if we are to go down the road which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, invites us to tread, we would be better to present a three-way option--a little like that proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Sempill--to the Scottish people on 4th September or whenever the referendum is to be. We could even tighten it a little by adding to the middle question the words, "I agree that there should be a devolved Parliament along the lines of the White Paper" although I admit that that may be a previous argument.

I do not want at this time of night to have some sport about last year's Labour Party pantomime. I had my sport at Second Reading and I do not think that the joke will improve any at the second time of telling.

Noble Lords: Hear, hear!

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I am pleased to hear that your Lordships' agree with that proposition.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: Perhaps the noble Lord would move a little down the pool.

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9.30 p.m.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I am tempted to do that, but the tail of the pool is always a place where it is worth pausing for a little while. One never knows whether one might find a resting fish--or a Minister.

We are all aware of the confusion of the party opposite last year on this question. It has put itself into a position where it must ask these two questions in Scotland and one in Wales. Interestingly enough, five years ago it said that there should be a three-way referendum. I pointed out at Second Reading that Donald Dewar, the Secretary of State for Scotland, in addressing the Scottish Trades Union Congress in Dundee in 1992, said that support for such a three-way referendum should be shouted from the rooftops. He was reported in the Daily Telegraph of 13th April to have said that the party's 49 Scottish MPs would campaign for a multi-option referendum on the country's political future. Scotland United, which was formed in 1992, certainly made that very clear. It said that one of the big problems with the 1979 referendum was the absence from the ballot paper of the independence option, which meant that a significant section of the Scottish population was denied the opportunity to vote for its preferred option.

I read with some interest the speech by Mr. John McAllion, Member of Parliament for Dundee--I can never remember whether he represents East or West--in the other place at Committee stage of this Bill when he addressed these issues that had been raised in the other place by the Leader of the Scottish National Party, Mr. Alex Salmond. Mr. McAllion made it perfectly clear that the "yes; yes" vote would depend on Scottish National Party supporters. I asked the Minister who is to reply--I did not get a reply then and it would be nice to have one now--whether the Government welcomed the support in this referendum of those people who wanted an independent Scotland; that is, people who would far rather vote for the third option in the three-way option of the noble Lord, Lord Sempill, or for the proposition put by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. Do they really welcome the support of the Scottish National Party which I understand will organise a campaign on the basis of "yes; yes" as the first step to independence? That simple question was not answered previously. I should like to have an answer to it now.

I accept the point made by my noble friend Lord Rowallan that the majority, but not all, of the Liberal Democrat Party and the majority of the Labour Party in Scotland, although I do not believe all of them, favour a continuation of the Union. I accept what my friends in the Labour Party tell me that they are just as good unionists as I am but they view the way forward slightly differently. But are they happy that at the end of this referendum if they have (in football terms) a result, the Scottish National Party will be able to say--and they will--"You have only got a result because we supported you. Without the support of the people who wanted independence, you would not have achieved this majority"? That would be a very unstable position for Scotland to be in following the referendum. The only way round that is to have a three-way option.

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I believe that the majority of my fellow countrymen, whether or not they want devolution, are firmly unionist. The noble Lord, Lord Steel, the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, the Secretary of State for Scotland, whom I know well, and I agree with that absolutely. I want the referendum to isolate the people in my country--and the people in Wales if it comes to it--who want independence. I believe that that is the best way to proceed. If they are found to be more than half of the "yes; yes" potential vote I fear that my country may move towards independence, but I would rather have that than huge instability for the next 10 years because there was no proper answer to the settled will of the Scottish people. I believe that there is a compelling argument to try to ensure that the very small minority of my fellow countrymen, as I believe they are, who want to break apart from England and destroy the 300-year-old Union are isolated and shown to be the minority that they are. If they are now shown to be the minority that they are, then inevitably the chorus in a couple of years' time will be, "You only got this assembly because the majority who voted yes wanted independence".

I do not have to tell the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, that some people in the Labour Party in Scotland are probably more in that category than not. It is a small minority, but they are there. Every poll shows it. There is a small minority in the Labour Party who would prefer independence. In fact, the 1992 group that I mentioned previously got pretty close to it in Scotland United, but those people wanted it to be clear that there was a proper three-way option.

There is a good argument for a three-way option. The noble Lord, Lord Sewel, will have to address these questions. Do the Government welcome the support of the SNP in their "Yes, yes" campaign as a first step to Scottish independence? Do they really want the settled will of the Scottish people? If they do, should they not be asking something along the lines proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Sempill? Otherwise how will we all deal with the situation some months or years ahead when the SNP says that we have only had this as the first step to independence, and that is why people voted "Yes, yes" in the referendum--if, in fact, they do.

I am not in favour of having a referendum. I am firmly in the Unionist camp. Everyone knows that. Having read the speech of Donald Dewar, the shadow Secretary of State in 1992, saying that he backed a multi-option referendum, I wonder why the Labour Party, now the Government, has changed. If it was good enough in 1992, surely it is good enough now. I should be a great deal happier if I knew that I was going to be campaigning on a referendum which would settle the issue and show which of the three propositions had the biggest support in Scotland. Frankly, I doubt whether any has a majority if we are talking about over 50 per cent. Of course that is what worries the Government.

I should like to know on 5th September how many of my fellow Scots want to carry on in the Union largely as it is constituted, with one Parliament; how many want to go down the devolutionary road with tax raising powers; and how many want to have a divorce settlement, as the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, said, and end the Union. I would rather look forward to my early old age and my

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later old age knowing that this matter is settled once and for all. I have a great deal of sympathy with the amendments. I look forward to hearing the Government's answer.

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