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Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: The Government cannot accept Amendments Nos. 96 and 99 to 101 which seek to change the title of the parliament's "Presiding Officer" to "Speaker", or Amendments Nos. 254 and 255 which seek to change the title of "First Minister" to "Premier". Amendment No. 256 goes further and would allow the Scottish parliament to change the titles of various officers in the parliament and the executive.

I appreciate the noble Lord's arguments and have much sympathy with them. He proposes that the parliament should be able to decide for itself the titles of its executive, its Ministers and its key officers. However, the Government believe that the certainty and the consistency achieved by prescribing the titles from the outset is essential. Prescription is necessary in order to maintain a consistency in references throughout the Bill and in future legislation, as well as in other formal documents through the successive sessions of the parliament.

We are well aware of the speculation and discussion about what other titles might be used. However, we believe that the titles used in the Bill are clear and unambiguous and suit the purpose. The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, said that the titles ought to be clear and recognisable to everyone. Indeed, that is what we believe these titles are; for example, the titles of "Presiding Officer" and "Deputy Presiding Officer" accurately describe the role of the individuals concerned. The title "Clerk" was chosen as it is a widely used and clearly understood title, as well as being respected. "First Minister" describes the role and avoids confusion with office holders in Westminster, yet it is consistent with the "First Minister" of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Welsh assembly's "First Secretary".

Those titles were used all the way through the White Paper. Therefore, I do not know why the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, was surprised to find them in the Bill. Indeed, they were used throughout the White Paper and also throughout the subsequent referendum campaign, so they are familiar and accepted titles as regards the people of Scotland. The titles were carefully chosen to avoid confusion with the Westminster Parliament and with Whitehall Ministers.

No doubt people will develop their own way of referring to these people. I do not want to speculate on that, but different titles might be used in the day-to-day

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operation of the parliament. For example, for working purposes, it may prove necessary to add to the titles of Scottish Ministers so as to distinguish them according to their portfolios. Indeed, a Scottish Minister could be referred to as the "Scottish Minister for Health" or for education, and so on. However, the main point is that such titles would have no legal status. By prescribing simple and straightforward titles, we hope to ensure that there will be no confusion between officers and positions so that everyone knows where they stand and what their responsibilities are. In the circumstances, I ask noble Lords to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas: I should like briefly to raise the question relating to the "Speaker". It seems to me that the word implies a great deal more than the words, "Presiding Officer". Ever since the Speaker said:

    "I have neither ears to hear nor eyes to see, except as this House shall direct me",

it was known that the Speaker's role was to protect the rights of Back-Benchers and parliamentary privilege. A presiding officer is merely someone who presides, whereas a "Speaker" has a much more comprehensive role. It seems to me that the Minister is in danger of cutting down the role of the person concerned if this particular wording is used, although that is perhaps the Government's intention. However, I believe that the word "Speaker" reflects a much more comprehensive role and one which the public will more readily understand.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: We must bear in mind the fact that we are considering a word like "Speaker" which has associated with it, in the person of the Speaker of the British House of Commons, much history, tradition and experience over the years. However, we are now discussing a new parliament. We are describing the office of the person who will preside over that parliament. I see no reason why we need to borrow from another Chamber's past in order to give to the presiding officer of the Scottish parliament the same kind of dignity and the same kind of qualities as we would all expect the person who is the presiding officer of the Scottish parliament to have. I believe the Scottish parliament would demand those qualities from the person it puts in that post, and would expect to get them.

11.45 p.m.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I am not sure we got far there. When I see the noble Baroness rise to speak I am beginning to wonder whether it is straight bat time. There has not even been a nod in the direction of anyone's argument this evening. Of course people understand the concept of the Speaker of the House of Commons. As I said, all around the English speaking world there are national parliaments and provincial parliaments where the term "speaker" is used and is accepted. Whatever the legislation says, that term will be used and we had better accept that now. I absolutely agree with what has been said on that point by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, and by my noble friend Lord Selkirk of Douglas. I do not accept the argument that this was mentioned in the White Paper and that is

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what the Scottish people voted for, and therefore there will be riots in the streets of Edinburgh if they do not have the terms "presiding officer" and "premier". I have to say that they talk of little else in the pubs and the valleys than of having a presiding officer and a first minister.

The noble Baroness should try to read some of her own amendments. Amendment No. 169A to Schedule 4, in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, states,

    "This Schedule does not prevent an Act of the Scottish Parliament amending any enactment (including this Act) by changing the name of--

    (a) any court or tribunal or any judge, chairman or officer of a court or tribunal,

    (b) any holder of an office in the Scottish Administration which is not a ministerial office or any member of the staff of the Scottish Administration".

The Scottish parliament seems to have the power to change just about everyone's name except those of the presiding officer and the first minister.

I would not particularly go to the stake for the term first minister. I see the argument and I accept that "premier" is not a term in common usage in the United Kingdom. But it might be worth attempting to introduce it because he or she will end up being called the Scottish Prime Minister; I have little doubt about that. If the Government are happy with that, that is fine. However, if they would like to make a distinction between a Scottish Prime Minister and the United Kingdom Prime Minister, I think they should at least try the term "premier". The term "first minister" will not wash. However, I find the Government's argument on the term "speaker" unbelievable. I believe we shall return to this matter after the Recess and perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, and I might get together to see whether we cannot do something about it. I give way to the noble Lord.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: Before the noble Lord withdraws his amendment, I must say I am terribly disappointed that the noble Baroness, whom I admire so much, has used such a ridiculous argument. Of course the titles are clear but they are clumsy and people do not like them. If the Scottish people can adopt this complicated voting system, they can surely understand, if the names are changed, that the new name means exactly the same as the old one. The argument about the term "speaker" is not logical because the term "speaker" is used all over the English speaking world and sticks out a mile. However, I now leave it to the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The--

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I am most grateful to the noble Lord. I wonder whether history will help the noble Baroness. In the Scots parliament the presiding

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officer was the Lord High Chancellor. The First Minister would have been the Lord High Commissioner. I wonder whether that is of any help.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I do not think that we can have two Lord High Chancellors. That is definitely forbidden--for the sake of the economy of the Scottish parliament, if nothing else.

We have debated this matter before. Like the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, I think that this matter of the speaker is ludicrous. We shall return to it after the Recess, when I shall have lots of evidence from both the popular and the serious press of the press simply ignoring the titles that the Government wish to inflict upon us. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 97:

Page 9, line 12, at end insert--
("( ) No two of the Presiding Officers and his two deputies may be members of the same political party.").

Then noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 98 and 102, to which I have put my name. These amendments concern the speaker and his two deputies. The present position is that in the Scotland Bill there is provision for them, and that is the end of it. My amendments seek to insert some qualifications to prevent those offices all being held by members of the same party.

Amendment No. 97 therefore states that,

    "No two of the Presiding Officers and his two deputies may be members of the same political party".

Amendment No. 98 states that they,

    "may not be members of the same political party"--

in other words, each of them must come from a separate party. Amendment No. 102 states that,

    "One of the deputy Presiding Officers may not be a member of the Parliament who represents the same party as the Presiding Officer".

So there are a number of variations in the amendments in order to achieve a mix of political interests.

I have little doubt that, if it is the noble Baroness who will answer, she will tell me that this must be left--ah, it is to be the noble Lord, Lord Sewel; we might make some progress, then. The noble Lord will no doubt tell us that we should leave this matter to the good sense of the Scottish parliament.

The problem with that argument is that the Welsh do not think that they should leave the matter to the good sense of the Welsh assembly. In Clause 52 of the Welsh Bill, which sets up the post of presiding officer and deputy presiding officer, subsection (3) states:

    "The presiding officer and the deputy presiding officer may not be Assembly members who represent the same party".

This is a brief but serious point. If we put that provision on the face of the Welsh Bill, we should do the same here and adopt one of the alternatives I have suggested.

I fully accept that in a four-party system, which is what we are likely to have way into the future, the ideal position would be to say, as Amendment No. 98 does, that,

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    "The Presiding Officer and his two deputies may not be members of the same political party".

That makes for common sense.

I am prepared to step back a little from that position and probably take Amendment No. 102; namely,

    "One of the deputy Presiding Officers may not be a member of the Parliament who represents the same party as the Presiding Officer",

so that we at least separate the speaker himself or herself from the two deputies.

That would make sense. It is no more detailed than many of the other provisions in the Bill. I hope that we may at least receive a reflective reply from the noble Lord, conceding that there is a point here, just as his Welsh colleagues have conceded it relation to the Welsh Bill. I beg to move.

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