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Viscount Thurso: Perhaps the noble Lord will write to me.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: We have made some serious progress in the last 34 minutes, and in the last minute. I am grateful to the Minister. I understand the point he made. He has discussed philosophically the different heads from which matters come. I can understand that if matters relating to the European Union are reserved to the United Kingdom Government, the United Kingdom Ministers are answerable to this Parliament on any matter which is debated and discussed or negotiated in the European Union, even if it is a devolved matter. I believe that that will be of considerable interest to many of the Members of the other place, Members of your Lordships' House and to many people in the world outside. That has not been very clear up to now. I am grateful to the Minister. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 36 agreed to.

The Earl of Balfour moved Amendment No. 250:

After Clause 36, insert the following new clause--

Role of Secretary of State for Scotland

(" .--(1) The Secretary of State for Scotland shall be entitled to attend and participate in any proceedings of the Parliament.
(2) Subsection (1) does not confer on the Secretary of State for Scotland--
(a) any right to vote, or
(b) a right to attend or participate in the proceeding of any committee of the Parliament or sub-committee.
(3) The standing orders shall include provision for any documents which--
(a) contain material relating to any proceedings of the Parliament which have taken place or are to take place, and
(b) are made available to the members of the Parliament,
to be made available to the Secretary of State for Scotland no later than the time when they were made available to members of the Parliament who are not members of the Scottish Executive.").

The noble Earl said: None of us can forecast which will be the major political party in the Scottish parliament. It has already been clearly stated by my noble friends Lord Lang of Monkton and Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish that the position of the Secretary of State is vague in the Bill. We shall be setting up a new parliament in Scotland. Many members may not have had much political experience. I believe that the amendment gives the Secretary of State, who is bound to be an experienced politician and a Cabinet Member, the opportunity to guide the new Scottish parliament in its first few years of existence.

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After the first few years, the proposed amendment on the role of the Secretary of State could be repealed as being unnecessary. Some provision needs to guide the new parliament in its brand new functions and activities. I believe that the amendment is one way to achieve that. It would give the Secretary of State an opportunity to guide and assist the parliament to start off on the right tracks. I beg to move.

Lord Thomas of Gresford: After the turmoils in the Welsh Bill on this issue, I support the amendment moved by the noble Earl. It is interesting to consider paragraph 4.12 of the White Paper Scotland's Parliament. It states:

    "The role of the Secretary of State for Scotland will be to secure the passage and implementation of the legislation to establish the Scottish Parliament; and then to support its initial development".

That is the point the noble Earl made. Once the Scottish parliament is in being and the Scottish executive established, the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Scotland will change. The focus will be on promoting communication between the Scottish parliament and executive, and between the United Kingdom Parliament and Government on matters of mutual interest, and on representing Scottish interests in reserved areas.

It follows that the plan behind the legislation is that there should be easy communication between the Secretary of State and Scotland, and, through the Secretary of State, between Scotland and Westminster. No machinery exists in the Scotland Bill to facilitate that. The noble Earl's amendment is taken word for word from the original clause that was contained in the Government of Wales Bill. (I am still campaigning for a Welsh parliament, notwithstanding the concessions that the Government have made on the issue).

It was laid down originally in the Government of Wales Bill in the terms of this amendment that the Secretary of State for Wales should have the right to attend and participate. But as the Bill passed through your Lordship's House, an amendment was accepted by the Government, who phrased it in their own way, that the Secretary of State for Wales could be required once a year to attend the Welsh assembly in order to discuss with the members of the Welsh assembly the legislative programme that the Government had in mind.

Of course it is a matter for the Scots themselves to determine what communication they want. But a machinery of the nature which the noble Earl proposes in the amendment, and which follows the machinery in the Welsh Bill, facilitates that essential communication. The Secretary of State is the person who links the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments together. Whether he represents Scotland in London or London in Scotland is a matter which experience will show.

I go further than the noble Earl and ask the Government to introduce at Report stage not simply this amendment but the amendment that was introduced into the Government of Wales Bill which would require the Secretary of State for Scotland to attend the proceedings of the Scottish parliament at least once a year.

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We are dealing with a new body for which the privileges that these Houses of Parliament have enjoyed for so long are not as yet set in stone. It would be in the interests of Scotland and the Scottish people if, from time to time, persons who are not necessarily elected members of the Scottish parliament, such as the Secretary of State for Scotland, had the right to attend, and the Scottish parliament should have the right to require him to attend.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, has rightly pointed out the significant difference between the Scottish parliament and the Welsh assembly. I am sure that I know the answer that the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, will give but I am not going to give it for him. I do think that there is a point here, whether or not it is along the lines of my noble friend's amendment. No one is sure of the role of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The noble Lord, Lord Lang, earlier asked some penetrating questions about the future role of the Secretary of State for Scotland, but largely about his role here at Whitehall. What will his role be when his whole power base, which is a large government department with a budget of £14 billion, is removed? In my view, he will not sit in the same prominent position around the Cabinet table as he does today and he may well find himself below the proverbial salt.

The amendment addresses his relationship with the Scottish parliament. I can understand the difficulty of allowing him to be a participant and an attender. While this Parliament would not countenance any such arrangement by an outsider, I remind the Government that we are setting up a new parliament which must not be tied by all the traditions of Westminster. This is a brave new world where we can reinvent and change things. Noble Lords accuse me of doing this, but we should not get tied down to the Westminster model on all occasions and, dare I say it, neither should they. There may be something in my noble friend's amendment.

As my noble friend stated, none of us can forecast who will form the largest party, and he felt that that added to the importance of the Secretary of State being allowed to attend and participate. I have to say to my noble friend that the Prime Minister has forecast which party may become the largest party, and he does not like the forecast, hence the side shift of Mr. Brian Wilson and the fact that Mrs. Liddell has been sent to restore the position in Scotland.

I always thought from the nursery rhymes that it was the knight who was sent to help the damsel in distress but in this case the damsel is being sent to help her benighted party in its distress in Scotland. As I am a confirmed Unionist, I suppose that I ought to wish her well, but I do not think that I would have sent the honourable lady to defend the Union, given some of the things that she has said in past years from the Opposition Benches. However, that is another matter.

Whichever is the major party in the Scottish parliament, it is right that we should establish a proper line of communication between that parliament and the

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Secretary of State for Scotland and the United Kingdom Parliament. My noble friend may not have got it entirely right but the Government have accepted the importance of this link in the Welsh Bill, as the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, said, and it is included in the legislation. The Government should consider something like that for the Scottish Bill.

9.30 p.m.

Lord Sewel: I am grateful to the noble Earl for explaining that the intention in moving the amendment is to ensure that the new parliament in its early years will be able to benefit from the guidance and assistance of an experienced politician. I have to say that I do not believe the parliament will be short of politicians, some of them considerably experienced--at least if some Members of your Lordships' House have their way.

Having listened to the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, I do not believe that there is a great deal of difference between us. We both recognise that there is a need to establish good lines of communication, but we have reservations about the right to attend and the right to speak.

I also believe that it would be a little patronising to say to the Scottish parliament, "Look, you are so inexperienced and immature that in those first few years you need someone to show you the ropes". I do not believe that that would go down well and I believe that any possible advice and guidance that a Secretary of State could give would tend not to be accepted for that very reason.

I am also conscious of the comparison that has been made with Wales, because the wording of the amendment is drawn from the Government of Wales Bill. As we have tried to explain during the passage of the Bill, there is a fundamental difference between the Welsh assembly and the Scottish parliament. There was an interesting slip of the tongue when the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, referred to the Welsh parliament. The difference is that the Welsh parliament--there we are, be careful! The difference is that the Welsh assembly does not have primary legislative powers, so it is quite understandable that the Secretary of State for Wales will be required to attend the Welsh assembly and describe the legislative programme of the United Kingdom Government in relation to Wales. That situation simply does not arise in the context of the Scottish parliament. The Scottish parliament has primary legislative powers. It is very much master in its own house in terms of primary legislation. Therefore, the Welsh comparison is not well founded.

Although the amendment's objectives are perfectly laudable in trying to establish a sound basis of communication, it runs into troubles such as blurring the lines of accountability and setting up a relationship which in itself will lead to the kind of advice which the noble Earl wished to be transmitted actually being discounted. The comparison with Wales is wrongly based.

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My preference is for the parliament and the Secretary of State to work out what they consider to be the most effective way in which communication can be enhanced and subsequently maintained. On that basis, I ask the noble Earl to withdraw his amendment.

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