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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: To be honest, I am totally bemused by that answer. I am still extraordinarily puzzled. However, I can see that we will not get very much further this evening. I think I will take this away and check with some of the people I know in the fishing industry and in agriculture and try to work out with them how this will work, and during the long Recess I may correspond with the Minister. I may be much better informed after the past few minutes, but I am afraid that I am none the wiser. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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[Amendment No. 195 not moved.]

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon moved Amendment No. 196:

Page 71, line 38, at end insert--
("The regulation of the design and erection of telecommunication masts and equipment.").

The noble and learned Lord said: This is an amendment to Section 9 in Schedule 5. The section deals with telecommunications and wireless telegraphy. The purpose of the amendment is to except from the reservation of telecommunications and wireless telegraphy and the other related topics the issue of the regulation of the design and erection of telecommunication masts and equipment.

The reason for the amendment is straightforward. Throughout Scotland one sees erected a variety of steel structures. Some are for the transmission of electricity and some are for the transmission of telephone messages. In the area of telecommunications and wireless telegraphy one has masts and associated equipment which, on occasion, are quite frankly an eyesore. Planning issues and environmental issues arise. It seems to me that there is a strong argument for saying that the design and siting of such equipment should be a devolved matter, albeit that I fully accept that there is good sense in the topic of telecommunications and wireless telegraphy falling within the reservation. I beg to move.

Lord Hardie: As the noble and learned Lord explained, the purpose behind the amendment is to ensure that the Scottish parliament will be able to regulate the design and erection of telecommunication masts and equipment. As such installations will be subject to the Scottish parliament's competence in the field of land use planning, it is the Government's position that the amendment is unnecessary.

We recognise the need to balance the benefits of nationwide access to telecommunications networks against any consequent detriment to the environment. That is why the licences granted to operators under the Telecommunications Act 1984 contain a variety of conditions designed to protect amenity and the environment. Masts and equipment are also covered by planning legislation. Major installations are subject to full planning controls, while smaller installations enjoy certain permitted development rights. As the noble and learned Lord, with his experience of planning law, will appreciate, where there is permitted development rights, the person who benefits from those may erect the mast or whatever it is without the necessity of formal planning permission.

However, the permitted development rights to operators under the Act have certain environmental safeguards granted on the strength of the licences. The operators are not even as advantaged as others who have the benefit of permitted development rights. They have to look to the safeguards in operators' licences. Included within them is a provision that operators should not install masts or other equipment without planning authorities having had an opportunity to have their say on the appearance and siting of proposed developments.

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So large installations have to obtain planning permission. The operators of smaller installations with permitted development consent as a condition of the licence still have to go to the planning authority about siting appearance. If the noble and learned Lord finds, as I do, that many of these installations are unsightly, that could be the fault of the local planning authority.

These planning matters are to be wholly devolved and, accordingly, the amendment appears to be unnecessary. Therefore, I invite the noble and learned Lord to withdraw it. I sympathise with his objective and share his concern. But his objective will be achieved without this amendment in view of the fact that planning law will be devolved.

9.30 p.m.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I believe that the Scottish parliament will have to take an interest in the fact that these masts are to last for about 15 years. At the end of that period almost all mobile phones which the masts are erected to serve will have converted to satellite. Therefore, the Scottish parliament may have to legislate for their removal, which will be important for the environment.

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon: I am happy to accept the assurance given by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate that the amendment is unnecessary. I am sure that what he said will reassure those concerned. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 197:

Page 72, leave out lines 14 to 16.

The noble Lord said: This amendment removes from reservation,

    "The subject-matter of section 1 of the Industrial Development Act 1982".

This is something more than just a probing amendment because there is no doubt that the Scottish Office, through Locate in Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and the Highlands and Islands Enterprise, has been extremely successful in the economic work it has done in Scotland in the attraction of inward investment to such an extent that the United Kingdom as a whole has received more foreign investment from outside Europe than the rest of the European Union put together. That has been due almost entirely to the successes of the policies of the Conservative government and those pursued by my noble friend Lord Lang, when he was Secretary of State, and others.

What bothers me here is that this may well be the thin end of the wedge. I want to explore just how thin or thick is that part of the wedge. Late last year it became clear that the Government were planning to end Scottish control over inward investment matters by centralising power in the DTI. Designation of assisted areas is an important part of that inward investment. It is an important part of the attractions that Scotland can offer to incoming industry. The DTI Minister, Mr. Ian McCartney, confirmed on 18th November last year

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plans to strengthen Whitehall control over Scottish aid packages aimed at wooing major job-creation projects by multinational companies. Indeed, it was also reported that Sir George Russell, the chairman of the Northern Development Company, was complaining that Scotland and Wales had tried to poach inward investment from his region by offering over-inflated packages. Also in November--

Lord Gordon of Strathblane: Does the noble Lord agree that a committee of the other House agreed that was not the case and that the Scottish Office had not been pinching jobs from the North-East? The reason for Whitehall supervision--I should not say "control"--is to stop the different regions of Britain outbidding each other with the same public money in an attempt to get jobs from abroad.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: That is exactly the point that I thought I was making. I was reporting that Sir George Russell had claimed that. I did not say whether or not it was true. I was merely laying out the background for my suspicions about the "wedge"--and the noble Lord has just confirmed them.

Last November, the Scotsman and Herald reported a leaked document suggesting that Whitehall would decide the size of the aid packages aimed at securing inward investment. That document said that there would be strict limits on the value of the grants that Locate in Scotland could offer.

The passing to Whitehall of control over those grants and perhaps of control over the designation of assisted areas may well be designed to level up the playing fields, as some parts of the Kingdom see it. However, if that is the case, they are being levelled--perhaps "levelled" is not the right word--to Scotland's disadvantage. As I have explained on a number of occasions, I do not believe in level playing fields. If there were such a thing, there would be no need for teams to change ends at half-time, yet that seems part and parcel of any game.

My worry is not that there will be a levelling up of the playing field, but that the playing field will be tilted to the disadvantage of Scotland by the DTI, Ministers of which will be here in London, answerable to the other place on industrial matters relating to England and Wales, who will no longer be terribly concerned about what happens in Scotland. They may well take the view, as we heard in this House not long since, at Question Time, that they want to clip the wings of Locate in Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and the new Scottish executive so that they will not be able, as the DTI might see it, to have unfair competition with other areas of the country.

This is a serious matter. I hope that the noble Lord can explain the reasoning behind the reservation. If I may say so, I hope that that reasoning will be a little clearer than was the reasoning behind the exemptions in relation to foodstuffs which we discussed a few moments ago. I beg to move.

Lord Lang of Monkton: My noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish said that this was little more

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than a probing amendment. I hope that it is not much more than a probing amendment because I am bound to say that I think that the Government are probably right on this point. It is, nevertheless, right to debate this subject. Similarly, I believe that the Government were wrong on the business rates issue. I must apologise to the Committee because I was unable to be present in time to participate in that debate. I got here in time only to make up my own mind and to vote in favour of the amendment! That was an example of how Scotland could be seriously disadvantaged if we forfeited the uniform business rate, which we achieved after great difficulty over a period of years, funded by the Treasury in a way in which will no longer be open to a Scottish parliament.

Scotland stands to lose considerably on this point if the present arrangements are forfeited. However, as my noble friend pointed out, when consideration is next given to the redrawing of the map, if a strong Scottish voice is not participating in those negotiations privately within government--not in the Chamber of the House of Commons, this place or any other forum, and we shall have forfeited the right to have a Secretary of State who is able to do that--we shall be disadvantaged because the criteria that will be brought to bear will be skewed in favour of other parts of the country. I know from experience of the previous parliament how this matter was addressed then. Although substantial changes were not made, consideration was given to changing the criteria quite considerably. Scotland would not be able to argue its own case in that situation. There is a real concern here which I do not think can be solved by removing the power from the Westminster Parliament. That illustrates what the schedule itself underlines. I hope that the schedule will be named "the San Andreas schedule" because it illustrates the faultline that runs all the way through this legislation.

Scotland's inward investment record has been a good one over the years. We have been able to achieve that within the existing designation of assisted areas under United Kingdom control. It is important that Scotland retains discretion to apply increased funds from its own budget, as was possible in the past, thereby attracting a larger number of inward investment projects by applying the criteria that apply universally. But it is inconceivable that Scotland can apply different criteria and yet expect the United Kingdom Treasury to continue to fund it in a way that enables it to bid up against other parts of the United Kingdom.

There is another reason why I believe it is impossible to change the situation. The rules of the European Union allow only a certain proportion of the population of the country to be within an assisted area. If we in Scotland unilaterally changed that assisted area designation we would be in breach of EU rules. It is inconceivable that the sovereign Westminster Parliament can possibly allow such a situation to arise. My noble friend addresses an important issue in tabling this amendment. The issue underlines the fatuity of seeking to achieve

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a devolved parliament within a sovereign state. Nevertheless, on balance I urge my noble friend not to press his amendment.

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