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Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, as one of the speakers in tomorrow's debate I am not sure I like to hear it dismissed as inadequate before we have even had it. I look forward to the debate very much. I rise at this stage of the Bill to join in the tributes which have been paid to my noble friends Lord Sewel, Lord Williams of Mostyn and Lord Hardie for the way they have steered this Bill through the House. I add my
This is an important Bill. I am delighted that it has now almost passed through your Lordships' House. However, I cannot help feeling much sympathy with what the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, said. I believe that some of the highways and byways that we went up and down in the course of discussing the amendments to this Bill were not helpful. I doubt whether all of them were necessary. Of course, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, for his usual debating skills and the deftness with which he made his amendments sometimes appear more relevant than they were. I am particularly grateful to him for introducing a new element in Scottish politics; namely, the Italian waiter. I recently spent a few days in Northern Italy where I had an enjoyable time canvassing Italian waiters to see whether I could find one who had a vote in the referendum. I am sorry to report that I did not find such a person.
Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, I refer to Italian waiters who work in Italy but who could still go backwards and forwards to Scotland and be entitled to a vote there. Nothing is too far-fetched as regards some of the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay. Therefore I do not see why what I have just said should be too far-fetched. As I said, I did not find an Italian waiter who had at any time established residence in Scotland. Although I did not find one who was entitled to vote in the referendum, I certainly had a great deal of enjoyment trying to find that out.
I look forward to campaigning on the referendum, to the referendum itself and to a positive result. I look forward to the two Bills which will be introduced into Parliament to establish a Scottish parliament and an assembly for Wales, or a Welsh assembly. We all know what we mean by that. This is an important Bill and we should all be happy that it has gone through this House.
Lord Renton: My Lords, I hope that when the noble Baroness goes canvassing in Scotland she will make it clear to the voters that the taxes which they pay, especially the income tax, may well go up if there is a Scottish parliament. I rise to put one point only, a very important constitutional point which I do not think has yet been raised in this short debate. It seems to me to be undemocratic as well as unconstitutional that a major change of the kind envisaged, especially in Scotland, could take place with the consent of only a small minority of the voters. We were told by the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, last week that one is enough--a majority of one person. That is to say that the votes in favour and the votes against are what have to be compared. But supposing the total vote expressed by the people amounts to only 25 per cent. of the electorate. It would be absurd to make the changes in those circumstances.
Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, I shall talk about the White Paper tomorrow, not this afternoon. I think that many of our debates on this Bill have been enormously enjoyable, particularly those on the amendments of my noble kinsman Lord Mar and Kellie. I also enormously enjoyed, in common with many of your Lordships, the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, moving his amendments. It was a joy to listen to him and I would not have missed it for the world.
I cannot say how much I disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, who thinks that it has all been a waste of time. Can such enormous enjoyment ever be a waste of time? If we did not sometimes enjoy things in this House I do not know how we would survive.
I entirely agree with what the noble Lords, Lord Campbell of Croy, Lord Campbell of Alloway and Lord Renton, have said. I am sorry that the Government have been so intransigent over some of our amendments, none of which were in any way wrecking amendments. I refer in particular to those regarding the dates of the referenda and the eligibility of Scots and Welsh who are temporarily resident abroad to vote and the eligibility of members of the Armed Forces posted out of Scotland or Wales to vote. I think that the Government may come to regret that last point. However, that will be their problem.
Lord Parry: My Lords, I express the hope that no one in this House on the Front Benches on either side will have had their career permanently damaged by the compliments paid to them by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. His compliments, from my experience of after dinner speaking, were the toughest and the roughest votes of thanks that I have ever heard in my life. Compliments have already been paid to the noble Lords, Lord Thomas of Gwydir and Lord Crickhowell, who presided over the Welsh Office with distinction and left behind them monuments that will remain for a long time.
However, I want to make the point that the Welsh Office secretariat was the creation of James Griffiths and of the original Secretary of State for Wales. I have jotted down the names of James Griffiths, George Thomas, Cledwyn Hughes, John Morris and, of course, I added the name of Ron Davies. I had the pleasure and opportunity of not simply knowing but working with all of those Secretaries of State for Wales. The House has heard me say before that we have been extremely fortunate in those Secretaries of State. I believe that what they have done in their careers at the Welsh Office
Lord Rowallan: My Lords, I rise to make three points. I am sorry that I missed the Report stage of this vital Bill. It has been a difficult Bill to debate. I refer to the difficulty of debating the referendums Bill as opposed to the devolution issue as a whole. The House has managed well to split the two matters but I think that we have missed one or two vital issues as we have progressed through the Bill.
The noble Lord, Lord Sempill, introduced the multiple option. I believe that the quickest way to get rid of the nationalist input in politics today would be to include the option of the complete separation of Wales and Scotland. If we had asked that question, I believe that the people of Wales and the people of Scotland would have responded with a resounding "No". We might have lost the nationalist input for ever, and that might have been an extremely good thing, at least for Scottish politics, although I am afraid I cannot speak for Welsh politics.
However, the most important matter about which we have forgotten--it was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Beloff, and, sadly, has not been followed up--is the complete disenfranchisement of the English. They are not being asked a single question. I do not think that the English have woken up to the enormous effect that this legislation could have on the whole of the country. They are still asleep on the issue. The English think of themselves as Britain. They are in for a big fright. I hope that somehow or other the matter is brought home to them.
We in this House, and especially the Ministers in our Government, must make quite clear to everyone that their intentions are to keep the whole country as Great Britain. The Government have already assured me that that is the case, and I believe them implicitly. But I am extremely worried that we are allowing certain elements in politics today to use this as a vehicle to gain complete independence. I sincerely hope that I am wrong in even thinking it for one second, but I have to say that I think it and feel it. I am worried that if we are not careful, when the English wake up the cry for a federal system will so outweigh what we have that we shall be stuck in the mire that we have created; and there will be no going back.
I see the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, grimacing at me, thinking what nonsense this man is talking. I hope that I am wrong. I have my worries. I hope that your Lordships will think about the matter long and hard. As I said before in this House, the road we are going down is a rocky one. If we are wrong, there is no going back.
Lord Monson: My Lords, perhaps I may pick up on the first point made so powerfully by my noble and learned friend Lord Simon of Glaisdale. The noble Lord, Lord Sewel, told us that, subject to what the other place
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