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The Earl of Balfour: I wish to raise one point that I feel the Government should bear in mind. It concerns the extremely valuable whisky industry in Scotland. It is through European directives that Scottish whisky cannot be sold less than 40 per cent. by volume--if it is below that level it is almost impossible to analyse its origin--and it must also be kept for at least three years. Such provisions have helped that valuable industry tremendously. Therefore, I hope that the Government will look sympathetically on these amendments.
Lord Hylton: The analogy of Northern Ireland may be relevant here. The Committee will be aware that the ban on the export of beef from Northern Ireland has recently been lifted, which is a great step forward. That came about because the Minister responsible for agriculture in Northern Ireland and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in the United Kingdom were both members of the same party and of the same government. In Scotland, when agriculture is devolved, that may no longer be the case. They may be of different political complexions. We need to have on the face of the Bill something very similar to one or other or both of the amendments.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: We have already debated this matter very fully and it was discussed during proceedings on the Government of Wales Bill. I am a little concerned about the noble Lord's amendment. I understand what he is trying to do and I believe that his objective is wholly laudable and desirable.
Subsection (1) of the amendment provides that the appropriate Scottish Ministers should be entitled to accompany the United Kingdom delegation. That is fine. I should like to see that entitlement there and the entitlement to participate. Subsection (2) is slightly more confusing. It is suggested that, on items that are non-reserved matters, it would be possible for Scottish Ministers to be the sole representatives. They might be non-reserved matters, but the relationship with the European Union is a reserved matter. It appears to me that a decision could be taken that was out of kilter with that which the United Kingdom Government wanted. I am not sure what would happen if that occurred. Likewise, under subsection (3), if a Scottish Minister
During proceedings on the Government of Wales Bill the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, replied that the Minister could always resign. I did not think that that was convincing. I do not see why a Minister should resign for doing something wrong in the eyes of the United Kingdom Government when he is answerable to the Scottish parliament. That is a rather confused line of thought. If the Minister could clarify his views on subsection (2) and (3) and say that he is satisfied and will accept the amendment, no one will be happier than me. But I do not quite understand how it would be possible.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: This is the third time during the Committee stage that we have returned to this general subject. The exchange that we had on Tuesday has greatly helped me to understand exactly how the Government see negotiations on important European matters. I suspect that the Government will reject the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Steel of Aikwood, and indeed the amendment of my noble friend Lady Strange, because they are incompatible with the overriding principle that negotiations with the European Union are reserved matters.
There is only one way--we should not beat about the bush--'for Scotland to have a direct say in the meetings of the Council of Ministers; and that is to be a separate member state of the European Union. There is no way round that problem. That applies especially on reserved matters, but more particularly on almost all matters. There is just no way round that. Member states are the ones who sit at Council of Ministers' meetings and member states cast the votes. The Minister from the United Kingdom casts 10 votes. The only way for a Scottish representative to be there as of right is if he is there from an independent Scotland casting the princely sum of probably three votes. That itself is something which everyone in Scotland ought to bear in mind when it comes to thinking that Scotland might possibly be better off around the Council of Ministers' table if it was independent.
I have to say to the Committee--all my noble friends who have been in similar positions at Council of Ministers' meetings will know this--that the score sheet we draw up has two leagues in it: the league of the voters with 10 votes and the league of the voters with three votes. The people who carry the clout are the people in the league with 10 votes. That is where Scotland is at the moment, as a member of the United Kingdom; and that is where I at least firmly want Scotland to stay.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: If the noble Lord is asking about the number of votes, I certainly would. I can remember the fisheries Minister of the Republic of Ireland occasionally asking me how we were going to vote on fisheries matters, in which we had something of a common interest with regard to the west coast of Scotland and Ireland, because it really did not matter much how he was going to vote if we were not going to vote in the same way.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: What Norway has gained has been because it is outside the European Union and not inside it. The noble Lord is in danger of putting forward an argument which one or two of his noble friends who are not present and one or two of my noble friends are always advancing. I urge the noble Lord to sit back for a moment or else the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, will come into the Chamber and haunt him.
Lord Kirkhill: I quite understand the position of Norway. As the noble Lord will know, I am, and have been for 12 years, a member of the Council of Europe. I am perfectly aware of that reality. I cited Norway not because it is outwith the European Union but because it has determined negotiators standing for it. If I had wanted to, I could have said the same for Denmark and I could have said the same for countries that are within the European Union.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I know from having been there that the Council of Ministers is always mindful about the position of the smaller states. All I am saying is that when it comes to a vote, as it does occasionally and as it will increasingly do as decisions are taken by majority voting, the point I have made is true. Ten votes are a lot more than three. If one is looking for a majority, one is looking for the people who are casting the 10 votes to get that majority. Those with three votes may be helpful, but unless one has those with 10 votes one does not get the majority. My essential point is this. We have to be clear that if people want Scotland to have a direct say they want an independent Scotland. There is no half-way house.
With regard to subsection (2) of the amendment, on matters which are solely Scottish and solely devolved, then, as I have explained to your Lordships before, I can see that the United Kingdom delegation could easily be led by a Scottish Minister. In the letter from the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, which I have quoted to your Lordships on a number of occasions, he gave two examples: one was of Bavaria leading for Germany on a cultural matter and the other was of Catalonia leading for Spain on language matters. As I have said before,
On the third suggestion, I do not think that it is possible for a Scottish Minister to lead a UK delegation when matters which affect parts of the United Kingdom, other than Scotland, are involved. That is for a number of reasons. It is partly, as I said at the beginning, because that Minister is not a UK Minister. It is also partly because he is not answerable to anybody in the rest of the UK. We established quite late on Tuesday--this has helped me greatly and I continue to read it in Hansard because it continues to help me--that the overarching point is that negotiations with the European Union are reserved matters. Even if the negotiations relate to devolved matters, they are still reserved. Although the Scottish parliament and the Scottish government--I am like the noble Lord, Lord Steel, in believing that that is what we should call it because, frankly, that is what it will be called--may be involved at quite a high level in discussions with the UK on the policies to be pursued, the ultimate responsibility will rest with the UK Ministers who will have to decide what is to happen in the midst of the negotiations.
As I have explained to the Committee previously, these matters often have to be decided as compromises, late at night. Frankly, at that stage, the UK Government Minister will have to make difficult decisions on behalf of the United Kingdom. If my reading of the White Paper is correct, the Scottish Minister will jolly well have to go along with that because he is part and parcel of the collective responsibility, although, ironically, he is not part and parcel of the same government. The Minister made that absolutely clear. I shall quote what he said so that over the long Recess he and his officials can make absolutely sure that this is what was meant and that this is what the position will be. The noble Lord, Lord Sewel, said:
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