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Lord Renton: I hope that the noble Baroness will allow me to intervene. She said that in Northern Ireland the head of the government was called "the First Minister". Did I mishear her? I have always understood that it was the practice that first Lord Brookeborough and then his successors were always referred to as "the Premier".

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: I am not talking about the past; I am talking about the present. The Northern Ireland Assembly will have a First Minister.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: I have to disillusion the noble Baroness. I know she does not have much time to go to Scotland at the moment. We all understand that. But there is enormous confusion about who these people are. The fact that the referendum was a resounding "Yes" has not sorted out in people's minds who the first minister is and who is the presiding officer. There is much confusion; people do not know what is what. Some laugh about it when you explain. So the die is not cast and I do not believe the Minister should use that argument, whatever other argument she uses.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: I am afraid that the noble Baroness will have to allow me to choose which arguments I use. As for my presence in Scotland, since the referendum I have been much more in Scotland than

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in London. I hope other Members of your Lordships' House can be a witness to the regularity of my visits to and from London.

I do not want to get into a competition about how many hours one clocks up in Scotland or England. It is not relevant. However, I have no reservations about believing that I am just as much in touch with the people of Scotland as any other Member of your Lordships' House.

Lord Steel of Aikwood: Perhaps I may press the noble Baroness as to what she meant when she said that, although the titles would not have statutory effect, parliament could decide to call those in the parliament what it liked. That would square with what the Secretary of State said in answer to questions in the House at the time the White Paper was published.

Perhaps we may be clear. The Minister is not saying that anything in the Bill prevents the Scottish parliament deciding that its first minister should be called the premier or that the presiding officer should be called the speaker. That would square with the undertaking given by the Secretary of State at the time of the publication of the White Paper.

11.15 p.m.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: I shall make two points. First, that is not what I said. I said that what people might develop as their own way of referring to the office holders was something on which I would not speculate. They may well decide to refer to people in different ways. I was not talking about the parliament changing the title.

Secondly, what my right honourable friend the Secretary of State was indicating when he spoke was that at the time this was still going to be looked at. We have looked at it. This is the Bill; not the White Paper. This is what the Government have decided is the best way forward on these titles. I made that very clear earlier in Committee. I am being consistent. It is still the view of the Government. There is no contradiction in what was said by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State then and there is no other meaning to what I said just now.

Lord Steel of Aikwood: Is the noble Baroness saying that this Bill, if passed into legislation in its present form, will prevent the Scottish parliament from choosing better names than it contains? If that is what she is saying, we shall have to come back to this matter at Report stage.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: I am saying that in statute these are the titles.

Lord Clyde: On another occasion we passed an amendment to Schedule 4 which provides, among other things, that the Scottish parliament may amend,

    "any enactment ... by changing the name of

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

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    (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".

What is the consistency in allowing the alteration of names of judges--as it is delightfully put--but not the names of senior Ministers?

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: In fact, to put it bluntly and in layman's terms, because they are different jobs.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The real answer to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Clyde, is that there is no answer to that. The noble Baroness ought sometimes to score out the word "resist", because it sounded as though we were attacking one of the pillars of the whole devolutionary settlement, such was the vigour of her resistance.

To be fair to the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, I confirm to my noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour that the Minister does indeed spend most weekends in Scotland. I know this--I suppose I had better be open about it--because I meet her on the aeroplane, though nowhere else.

In relation to my quote from the Children in Scotland fact sheet, that is a serious organisation. It is in fact the Scottish all-party parliamentary group for children whose convenor is Maria Fyfe MP. So it was not a kind of child's guide to the Scottish parliament; it was a serious guide for people--grown-ups--who are interested in the family policy of the Scottish parliament. I drew the attention of the Committee to that paragraph because it is an indication of what inevitably is going to happen.

I must say that I felt that the resistance of the noble Baroness was about the worst piece of resistance we have seen. I cannot believe that the instructions from on high are such that they will not allow any give and take--as the noble Lord, Lord Steel of Aikwood, said--on a subject which seems to be not at all peripheral to the whole project of devolution. My suspicions are that it has got "Downing Street" stamped all over it and there must be nobody else in the United Kingdom who is called "Prime Minister" or anything vaguely like that. It is amazing how other countries in the world with federal constitutions are able to cope with having people of the same name. I am so appalled at that answer that I shall seek the opinion of the Committee.

11.18 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 255C) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 31; Not-Contents, 48.

Division No. 3


Balfour, E.
Burnham, L. [Teller]
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chesham, L.
Clyde, L.
Cranborne, V.
Cross, V.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Ellenborough, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Home, E.
Hooper, B.
Kintore, E.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Lyell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Minto, E.
Montrose, D.
Mountevans, L.
Northesk, E.
Renton, L.
Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Sempill, L.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Strange, B.
Strathclyde, L. [Teller]
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thurso, V.


Alli, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dubs, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Ewing of Kirkford, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hacking, L.
Hardie, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Kirkhill, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Sewel, L.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Simpson of Dunkeld, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Thornton, B.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

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11.26 p.m.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 255D:

Page 19, line 5, at end insert--
("( ) No Minister of the Crown may be appointed as a Scottish Minister or as a Scottish Law Officer.").

The noble Lord said: Those Members of the Committee, such as the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, who were keen on the Welsh Bill will readily recognise this amendment. It deals with the subject of the interrelationship between this parliament and the Scottish parliament. I am one of those who think that if people wish, and if the electorate is willing, they should be allowed to be Members of this Parliament and of the Scottish parliament, of this Parliament and of the European Parliament, and of the European Parliament and of the Scottish parliament. One could throw local government into the combination as well. It seems to work reasonably well on the Continent and I do not see why it should not work here.

However, there is a difference when it comes to people holding responsible office in either this Parliament or the Scottish parliament. This amendment deals with the question of whether somebody could be a Minister of the Crown here at Westminster and a minister or a law officer in a Scottish parliament. That assumes that that person was elected to both bodies.

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We have had some problem with this question in the Welsh Bill because Mr. Ron Davies actually and actively thinks that he can be both Secretary of State and first minister of the Welsh assembly. The position is different in Scotland. Mr. Donald Dewar thought that he could be both--that is, for about 10 minutes. He then realised that the position was untenable and indicated quickly that, as he wished to stand for the Scottish parliament and wished to be considered as first minister, he would not keep the office of Secretary of State in those circumstances. I am not too sure whether he said that he would resign the office of Secretary of State before he stood for the Scottish parliament. I rather suspect that that is, indeed, what he did say, but in any case he made it clear, as far as I can recall from the press reports, that he did not think that it was consistent to be Secretary of State for Scotland and first minister.

This has been debated in some detail in the course of the Welsh Bill and I believe that it will be debated in your Lordships' House again tomorrow when the Welsh Bill makes a reappearance here along with the Commons amendments. Last week, on 22nd July, Mr. Peter Hain, one of the Ministers at the Welsh Office, was discussing this and said at col. 1181 of Commons Hansard:

    "Nobody seriously argues that the same person can be the Secretary of State for Wales and Assembly First Secretary in perpetuity. It would be politically unacceptable and constitutionally undesirable".

To be fair to Mr. Hain, he believes that for a short period to begin with it may be possible but that in the long term it is not. Mr. Hain is nearly right, by which I mean that he should not qualify his comment; namely, it is not possible in the short term or long term. How can someone who is a Minister along the corridor or here--perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, not necessarily the Secretary of State--be elected to the Scottish parliament and be a Minister in that parliament?

I ask those noble Lords who have had ministerial office to remember the guidance for Ministers, in particular about collective responsibility. At nine o'clock this evening the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, in replying to another debate, gave a certain answer. I wrote it down and might not have recorded it exactly. He said that UK Ministers are accountable to the UK Parliament and Scottish Ministers will be accountable to the Scottish parliament. How can the same person be accountable to both? They are different parliaments and governments. Such a person cannot be part of the collective responsibility of one parliament and part of the collective responsibility of another. He will break the collective responsibility of one or the other. Even if it is the same party in government--frankly, there is some doubt about that on the basis of Scottish opinion polls--there will be times when inevitably there will be differences in emphasis or priorities.

There is no point in devolution if the Scottish parliament and executive always adopt the same policies as the UK Government. Obviously, those differences will be greater if there is a coalition government in the Scottish parliament, as is perhaps inevitable, and a single party government in Westminster, even if there is an overlap of parties. The differences will be greater still

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if there are governments of different parties here and in Scotland. If there were a coalition in Scotland one could envisage that a minor partner in it might be the main party in the House of Commons down the corridor. Therefore, if a Minister in the one could be a Minister in the other the position would be almost impossible.

I remind the noble Lord, Lord Sewel--if it is he who is to reply--of his answer at nine o'clock this evening. I do not believe that, as Mr. Hain said the other day, it is possible to be a Minister in both parliaments, aside from the fact that it appears to be taking greed for ministerial office to the nth degree. I beg to move.

11.30 p.m.

Lord Sewel: It is quite clear that the concept of a person being a Minister in the Scottish parliament while also being a Minister in the UK Parliament raises some constitutional niceties. The question is whether we need to deal with that expressly in the Bill or leave it to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the first instance and the First Minister in Scotland to decide if there are any quite exceptional circumstances in which perhaps for a short period there is merit in one person being a Minister in both governments.

I fully recognise the concept of collective responsibility and how that concept strains the constitutional convention. But it is a constitutional convention. Constitutional conventions have the ability to evolve, change and adapt to circumstances at the time. It is quite possible that this particular constitutional convention will be capable of an evolution and an adaptation in the way that makes an accommodation to the particular circumstance to which the noble Lord is referring.

There may be a case. Let us take an example. Let us look forward, say, 25 years. I use 25 years because by that time we may have a Conservative government, if things go badly wrong; there may be a Conservative government here at Westminster and, who knows, a Conservative administration in Holyrood. Let us suppose that there has been a long-running crisis on the common fisheries policy and there is one man in Britain who everybody clearly sees and identifies as the man who can actually square the circle and deliver a proper settlement, not only for Scotland but for the United Kingdom. That man is, of course, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish. Lord Mackay steps forward for a short period of time to deal with this major crisis, this major disrupting influence in the politics of Europe and in the politics of the United Kingdom; the Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish carries the heavy burden. As Cincinnatus was called from the plough, Lord Mackay is called from the salmon, and he delivers this signal service to his fellow countrymen by being, for that short period, able to represent the interests of the Scottish administration and the interests of the United Kingdom Government.

Of course, that is very far fetched, but there is an element of truth in the situation that could arise. It would arise only in exceptional circumstances, only for a very limited period of time when, in the initial judgment of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the First Minister in Scotland one person could do

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a particular job in very exceptional circumstances. At this stage I would not like to rule that possibility out. I believe that it is something that is extremely unlikely, but we do not have to rule it out by putting the prohibition in the Bill.

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