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Lord Sewel: Before I come to deal with the amendments, perhaps I may point out that during our discussion on Clause 35 on Tuesday night I referred to the Treaty of Amsterdam as having inserted the provision which allows Ministers from regional or devolved governments to represent their member states in EU Councils. As I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, may have been aware, I should have attributed that provision to the Maastricht Treaty. I apologise for any misunderstanding caused. Clearly, confusing Maastricht and Amsterdam is a bit of double Dutch!

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Sewel: Well, it is 25 minutes to five o'clock!

The noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, quoted back at me what I said on Tuesday night. Ninety per cent. of his interpretation of those remarks is absolutely right. I repeat that the essential point is that negotiations with the European Union, including negotiations at the Council of Ministers, are reserved because foreign affairs are reserved and EU negotiations are a foreign affairs matter. I believe that that puts it as clearly and as simply as I can.

There is an important difference between that clear statement and, to pick up the words of the noble Lord, Lord Steel of Aikwood, what we want to see in terms of "good practice". I believe that those were the noble Lord's words. That is a different matter. I think that we can get there. Indeed, we are trying to indicate how we can adopt the good practice which will ensure that a Scottish voice is built into the development of UK policy at Council meetings and that, where appropriate, that Scottish voice is able to speak and to represent the agreed UK line.

I have said on a number of occasions that the Government fully intend that Scottish Ministers should play as full a role as possible in developing UK positions on EU matters and, where appropriate, in presenting them to the Council. However, we believe that that is best left to administrative arrangements between Her Majesty's Government and the Scottish

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executive. That flows from the very position that I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, was outlining when he quoted what I said on Tuesday. That is why the administrative arrangements are best dealt with through a concordat. That gives a flexibility of approach. I believe that it is the best and most sensible way of dealing with what is by its nature a relatively unpredictable business and one which is basically not open to be defined through statute. I hope that the noble Lord will recognise that within the framework within which we have to operate, which flows from the fact that the UK is the member state, we are absolutely intent on ensuring that there will be a Scottish voice and a Scottish presence in the development of the UK line and, where appropriate, a Scottish presence and a Scottish voice in the presentation of the UK line. That deals with subsection (1).

Subsection (2) seeks to provide that where matters affect only Scotland, Scottish Ministers should be the sole representatives of the United Kingdom. That is a difficult idea in any case because very few international or European matters could be said to affect only Scotland. Even if not directly, then at least indirectly, there are likely to be UK implications. That is a very difficult line to draw.

Subsection (3) seeks to provide that in appropriate cases on non-reserved matters affecting Scotland the Scottish Minister may lead the UK delegation. This is where I part company from the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, and his interpretation. It is the Government's intention that that could happen with the agreement of the UK Minister. It is because the Scottish Minister would be a minister of the Crown--that is, "minister" with a lower case "m" and "Crown" with a capital "C" rather than "minister" with a capital "M"!--that it would be perfectly possible for the Scottish Minister with the agreement of the UK Minister to speak on any matter. The same sort of argument applies virtually directly to the amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Strange. On that basis and with that explanation, I hope that the amendments will not be pressed.

Lord Steel of Aikwood: The Committee has had a very useful short debate that has clarified the Government's intentions. There is nothing in my amendment that detracts from the fact that the UK has responsibility in relation to the European Union. Perhaps I may give a specific example that eases the mind of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish. If a UK Minister said to a Scottish Minister that a particular matter affected mainly Scotland, that he had other things to do and that the Scottish Minister should take over the delegation because the line had been agreed upon, and something went wrong, the UK Minister would still be accountable to the Westminster

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Parliament for what he had done. I see no difficulty in this matter at all--even if the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, were himself that Scottish Minister.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The consequences of that would be that the UK Minister would not let it happen again.

Lord Steel of Aikwood: I accept that that may be so. The Committee has reached an astonishingly amicable agreement as to what should happen. In that spirit I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 269 not moved.]

Lord Selkirk of Douglas moved Amendment No. 270:

After Clause 54, insert the following new clause--

Review of judiciary

(" . The First Minister shall conduct on an annual basis a review of--
(a) the workload of the Court of Session, the High Court of Justiciary, the Sheriff Court and the District Court, and
(b) whether the resources made available to those courts are adequate to meet the interests of justice.").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 270 is very much a probing amendment. It is important to ensure that there is a sufficiency of judges for the workload with which they must deal in the criminal and civil courts. Undoubtedly that workload will increase with the passing of the Scotland Bill and the Human Rights Bill. Furthermore, the powers under the Scotland Bill to deal with devolution issues give the judges a new constitutional position. I understand that the Crown Office has set up a unit to consider the impact of the Human Rights Bill with a view to ensuring that the extent to which legislation increases the workload is monitored. There is a need for a sufficiency of full-time judges. I look forward to hearing the response of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate.

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon: I should like to intervene briefly to say that, while I understand why my noble friend has tabled this amendment, I believe it would be inappropriate to place such a statutory duty on the first minister alone. In the first instance it is the job of the courts to keep under review its own workload and the availability of resources. I have absolutely no doubt that the Lord President of the Court of Session of the day would, if he felt it necessary to seek additional resources, draw that to the attention of the Scottish executive and the United Kingdom Government.

Lord Rodger of Earlsferry: I concur with what has just been said by the noble and learned Lord. Both he and the Lord Advocate are aware that from time to time it is the duty of the Lord President--I have performed this duty--to draw attention to resource issues not just for the Court of Session but for courts generally. That

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is probably the best way around it. For my part, I would not welcome the introduction of a clause along the lines proposed by the noble Lord.

Lord Hardie: I agree with both noble and learned Lords. At present Section 1 of the Sheriff Courts (Scotland) Act 1971 imposes a duty

    "to secure the efficient organisation and administration of the Sheriff Courts".

That carries the clear implication that Scottish Ministers must seek to provide the necessary resources to achieve that desirable aim. But there are no statutory equivalent responsibilities with regard to the Supreme Courts where the historic role of the Lord President of the Court of Session comes into play. The holder of that high office, whom I am pleased to see in the Committee today, has the task of organising the business of the courts. With that explanation, I hope that the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas: I am very grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate for his explanation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.45 p.m.

The Earl of Balfour moved Amendment No. 271:

After Clause 54, insert the following new clause--

Consultation with business

(" . The Scottish Ministers shall carry out consultation with such organisations representative of business and such other organisations as they consider appropriate, having regard to the impact of the exercise by the Parliament of its functions on the interests of business.").

The noble Earl said: I make no secret of the fact that I have lifted this proposed clause from the Government of Wales Bill. The new Scottish parliament must have new businesses very much in mind, particularly small businesses. Recently small businesses have thrived in Scotland and made an enormous contribution to the welfare of this country. I do not believe that I need say any more. I beg to move.

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