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Baroness Young of Old Scone: I hesitate to get in the way of the ping-pong between the two Front Benches on the issue. I support the noble Earl, Lord Mar and Kellie, who made valuable points on Amendment No. 230.

I wish to address some of the questions that have been raised in the past few minutes. Recently we have passed Article 3(d) of the Treaty of Amsterdam, which brought environmental protection requirements right to the heart of all Community policies. I assume that the Scottish parliament will be a good European in that respect and perhaps might need a shred of comfort in addressing its environmental and sustainable development duties in all its legislation.

I also wish to pick up the point with which the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, taunted me in my absence last night in terms of consistency. Recently, in the Government of Wales Bill, we had debates in this House and another place on strengthening the clear sustainable development duty that the Welsh assembly will have. We will shortly debate the sustainable development duty of the regional development agencies in England. Last night the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, called for consistency from the three absent noble Baronesses. I should have thought one element of consistency might be some reference to sustainable development on the face of the Bill.

The importance of sustainable development for Scotland cannot be underestimated. The Committee has heard me speak on many occasions of the economic value of Scotland's environment; it is a hugely important part of its economic future. I hope that the words of support that we have received from the Minister will indicate that not only in its legislative programme but also in all its works the Scottish parliament will put sustainable development at the heart of all it does.

I thank Members of the Committee for being so animated about the point. I hope that means that people are interested in it as a topic, as well as simply part of the machinery of government. It is vital to see sustainable development not simply as another policy area that can be added to a string of policy areas, but as a process and an approach for the future in Scottish legislation.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: The noble Baroness knows a great deal about such matters but she has forgotten that the procedures of this Parliament include pre-legislative scrutiny. It seems to me that the noble Earl has also forgotten that, and I am not sure that the Minister had not forgotten it. Surely, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, of which the noble Baroness has been such a distinguished office-bearer, will have a tremendous opportunity to influence legislation in

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Scotland through pre-legislative scrutiny. I believe I am right that that is where such bodies will say to the Scots parliament that a Bill needs to contain this, this and this element. Likewise, in respect of the convention on the rights of the child there are groups in Scotland which are already very assiduous in watching what the Westminster Parliament does. They will watch the Scots parliament. At that stage, before legislation comes to the Scots parliament, they will intervene. They will be good at it and look forward to it. That is the great merit of the system.

I do not understand why the noble Lord talks in terms of what should happen when the Bill is presented to the parliament.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I thank Members of the Committee for their support, wherever it came from. It is interesting to see how those noble Lords who sit on my left are already becoming the guardians of the procedures of the Scottish parliament.

I am certain that, whenever legislation is introduced, where it will have a harsh impact it will be pounced upon by the opposition in the parliament. We are discovering that the nature of opposition in the Scottish parliament will not just be concerned with the usual test of whether legislation will work--that is, whether it is seaworthy--but will also involve close scrutiny of whether it will contravene other legislation.

This was a probing amendment and therefore I should withdraw it at this moment.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Murton of Lindisfarne): Is it your Lordships' pleasure that the amendment be withdrawn?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: No.

On Question, amendment negatived.

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon moved Amendment No. 231:

Page 15, line 34, at end insert (", and shall at the same time secure that a copy of the bill is transmitted to both Houses of Parliament").

The noble and learned Lord said: In speaking to this amendment, I wish briefly to speak to Amendment No. 233. The amendments provide, first, that when a member of the Scottish executive is on the point of introducing a Bill to the parliament and issues a statement of the nature we have already been discussing under Clause 30, he shall at the same time secure that a copy of the Bill is transmitted to both Houses of this Parliament.

Secondly, we propose as an amendment to Clause 31, under subsection (1), that in reaching his decision as to whether or not a Bill should be introduced to the parliament, the presiding officer would be entitled to take account of any representations he received from either House of this Parliament.

The suggestions incorporated in the two amendments are put forward in the interests of promoting good relations between the Scottish parliament on the one hand and this Parliament on the other. One hopes that it will be possible for the Scottish executive and the

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United Kingdom Government to keep in good contact, whether at ministerial level or at official level through working parties of officials. The civil servants, after all, will be members of the same Home Civil Service and, whether or not concordats exist and cover the matters under discussion, it is to be anticipated that at official level there will be good consultation at the pre-legislative stage. One imagines that drafts of Bills, or certain parts of them, to be presented to the Scottish parliament will be widely circulated among members of the Scottish executive and that there will possibly be consultation upon them with officials and Ministers of the United Kingdom Government.

A different situation applies to parliamentary bodies. What happens in this Parliament will be of interest to members of the Scottish parliament and vice versa. The purpose of the first amendment is therefore to ensure that, as a matter of courtesy, just as in this Parliament numerous documents are presented every day, recorded in the Minutes of proceedings and are available for Members to consult if they are interested, the same procedure should apply to Bills of the Scottish parliament before the presiding officer decides whether they should be introduced.

Inevitably, from time to time, views may be expressed. It will be for this House and another place to decide how they will respond to Scottish legislation. They may not wish to comment in some instances, but there may be others where they may feel it would be of value for a committee to examine the legislation and communicate its views. That is not in the sense of seeking to interfere, but to inform the members of the Scottish parliament what views are held.

These amendments touch on an important innovation which arises in relation to the Scottish parliament; that is, that the presiding officer--namely, the speaker--will be in a position to refuse to introduce a Bill to the parliament. Indeed, the standing orders require that it should not be introduced if the presiding officer is of the view that the Bill or any provision of it would not be within the legislative competence of the parliament.

This is a novel power. It may be interesting for the Committee to hear from the Minister the reasoning that lies behind it. It gives rise to a number of interesting legal questions. If the presiding officer decides not to allow a Bill to be introduced, would anyone have the legal right to challenge that decision? If so, whom? Would it be competent to challenge that in a court? There is a reverse side to those questions. If it was anticipated that the presiding officer was going to introduce a Bill to the Scottish parliament, having formed the view that it would be within its legislative competence, would anyone have the right to challenge such a decision by going to the court and seeking at that stage a declarator from the court that, ex facie the print of the Bill, the Bill lay outwith the legislative competence of the parliament? If such an argument could be successfully advanced, would it be open to the court in Scotland to grant an interdict against the parliament considering the terms of the Bill or some amendment to it?

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These are real, live questions which I hope the Committee, in the fullness of time, will be persuaded should not be allowed to arise. A later amendment will address the whole issue of giving the Scottish parliament the privilege which accords to this Parliament. But as we touch for the first time on the role of the presiding officer in these matters, it may be helpful for the Minister to indicate what is the Government's thinking on them. I beg to move.

4 p.m.

Lord Steel of Aikwood: In the latter stages of his remarks, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, was straying on to the next group of amendments. However, I want to deal only with Amendments Nos. 231 and 233 and to indicate that I and my colleagues are strongly opposed to them.

In sum, the amendments seem to be saying that, when the Scottish parliament is established, it must hang on to nanny's hand and that nanny must be able to say, "Go and find out what little Johnny is doing and tell him to stop it". That appears to be the basic thinking behind the amendments.

The Scottish parliament must be free-standing. Once it comes into being, it should not expect to be second-guessed the whole time by the Westminster Parliament. To suggest that by an Act of this Parliament the Scottish parliament should be required to send any Bills to the headmaster's study before it can consider them, is entirely out of keeping with the spirit of the Bill. We are strongly opposed to the amendments.

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