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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My noble friend introduces an interesting new clause. I recall that we spent a few happy minutes, perhaps longer, discussing a similar clause in the context of the Government of Wales Bill. In that Bill there are a number of clauses in which consultation is spelt out. Business was virtually missed out. Some noble Lords believed that that was wrong, that the position of business should be enhanced and consultation with business should be spelt out in more or less the same way as with various pressure groups. I am not surprised that my noble friend is alert to what is in one Bill and not the other and has tabled this amendment. I look forward to the response of the Minister.

Viscount Thurso: Since the proposed new clause has been lifted straight out of the Government of Wales Bill, why is there a need to "carry out consultation"? Surely, the verb "to consult" suffices.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: As the noble Earl has explained, Amendment No. 271 would impose a

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requirement on Scottish Ministers to consult business representatives and other appropriate organisations about the impact of the parliament's activities on business. As the noble Earl has explained and as the Government have spotted, the amendment is based on a provision in the Government of Wales Bill. That provision requires the assembly to carry out this kind of consultation.

The noble Earl is very well aware that the Government of Wales Bill requires the assembly to consult in a number of areas, for example in promoting voluntary organisations and sustainable development, but we have not imposed similar requirements on the parliament or the Scottish executive in this Bill. Quite simply, it would not be appropriate to make similar provision for the Scottish parliament which will be a legislative rather than an executive body. The nature of the Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly is very different. As I and my noble friends have explained at other points in Committee, what may be appropriate for one is not necessarily appropriate for the other.

In this case, as in many others, direct comparisons cannot be made between the Scotland Bill and the Government of Wales Bill. There are two very important differences in the two entities which the Bills create. The Scotland Bill creates a parliament which must be allowed to decide for itself the duties that it should impose on the Scottish executive, whereas the Government of Wales Bill sets up the Welsh assembly which in many respects is more akin to an executive body. There is no Welsh parliament which in future can impose duties on the Welsh assembly. The imposition of duties on the Welsh assembly can best be done through the Government of Wales Bill but the imposition of duties on the Scottish executive should be left to the Scottish parliament.

Scottish Ministers may very well want to take account of the implications for business of the activities of the parliament, and their legislative proposals and the parliament may want to take evidence from these groups. It might even decide that it would be appropriate to have something akin to the assessment of compliance costs for business which forms part of the regulatory appraisal that must accompany all relevant regulatory proposals presented to this Parliament. However, as we have made clear, we believe that this is a matter for the Scottish executive and parliament to decide for themselves. In the light of my explanation, I hope that the noble Earl will withdraw his amendment.

The Earl of Balfour: I am most grateful to the Minister for her very helpful explanation. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 55 [Property and liabilities of the Scottish Ministers]:

Lord Selkirk of Douglas moved Amendment No. 271ZA:

Page 24, line 22, after ("Property") insert (", including property outside Scotland held for the purposes of facilitating discussion with Ministers of the Crown in relation to matters relevant to the competencies of the Parliament and Parliament,").

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The noble Lord said: The effect of this particular amendment is to ensure that the Scottish executive can hold property outside Scotland so as to facilitate discussions between Ministers of the Crown and Ministers of the Scottish executive in relation to matters relevant to the competencies of both parliaments. It is important that the Scottish executive has a base outwith Scotland in which it can hold or host meetings or carry out necessary work which is of significance to the people of Scotland. This means that the first minister and Scottish Ministers should have ready access to the use of facilities close to or within Whitehall and near to the United Kingdom Parliament. Dover House is ideally situated. Can the Minister or the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate in reply enlighten the Committee about rumours that the Prime Minister has strong views on this subject? Can the Minister say what the Prime Minister's policy is on this subject? Is Dover House to be used for the Scottish executive or will it be occupied by others who perhaps are less involved with the government of Scotland? What is the position with regard to the lease organised by a previous Lord Advocate in relation to Dover House? When does the lease expire and is there not a strong case for ensuring that that lease continues?

There also has to be sufficient accommodation for the Advocate General who has to be adviser to the United Kingdom Government. What accommodation is to be afforded to the Advocate General? Is Dover House to be prevented from being handed over to the Scottish executive rather like the Tantalus grapes, only to have this rich prize snatched away for the benefit of other groups? If it is the Government's purpose to transfer Dover House to the Scottish executive, how best could this be achieved? Is there provision in the Bill to secure that particular objective? Could that be done without a vast bill being inflicted on the Scottish taxpayer? If not, how best could their purpose be achieved?

The benefits of Dover House are there for all to see. There are rooms for at least five or more ministers and the head of the Scottish civil service. There is room for special advisers. There are rooms for private secretaries, parliamentary clerks and even a press corps. There is room for civil servants, many more rooms on the third and fourth floors, and even a number of beds for those civil servants who are sufficiently diligent to work late or throughout the night.

Lord Sewel: Is not the noble Lord in danger of writing the further particulars?

Lord Selkirk of Douglas: I do not think so. I would be most grateful to hear from the Minister what proposals he could put forward in this connection if decisions have not already been made.

I would add that there is the most modern form of video conferencing in existence in Dover House. Should not this magnificent house, which has been the home of Lord Melbourne and his wayward wife Lady Caroline Lamb, also be provided as being of some relevance to the Scottish executive? There is an important principle embodied in this amendment; namely, that the Scottish

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executive should have a suitable place. There should be legislation in one form or another to ensure that this becomes a reality.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: The noble Lord raises a very interesting point and I greatly look forward to the answer. In answering, could the noble and learned Lord tell us not just what is going to happen to St. Andrew's House but, if it is no longer a Scottish Office of any form, where the Secretary of State will have his base? Where, for example, will the Moderator of the Church of Scotland visit the Scottish members of this Parliament? Could he also tell us what is going to happen to his offices, which are quite copious and convenient in Carlton Gardens? Will the Lord Advocate of the day be entirely absent from those offices and will it simply be the Advocate General who will be there on his own, with his staff? Will the Lord Advocate have no base in London?

These are all very interesting points, probably not so much to the public at large but certainly to Members of the other place and to this House, and it will be of great interest to the members of the Scottish parliament. I would be most grateful if we could be told what is going to happen about that, as well as what is implied in the Bill.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: Is the Minister aware that the kingdom of Scotland held property in the Scotland Yard and Whitehall Court area for very many years?

Lord Swinfen: Does the wording of the amendment mean property can be held outside Scotland only to facilitate discussion with Ministers of the Crown? What about holding property outside Scotland where it is necessary to have an office to encourage business to go to Scotland, maybe in a part of the world that is not even part of the United Kingdom? Would this particular amendment limit the area in which the Scottish parliament could own property?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My noble friend has raised an interesting point which goes beyond the bricks and mortar of Dover House or Carlton Gardens. Indeed, those of your Lordships who have been to Dover House know that it is a very grand building. There is always competition among Scottish junior ministers as to who will get Lady Caroline Lamb's bedroom, I suspect in the hope that her ghost may turn up, preferably while they are there. I have to say that I never saw her ghost; I am not sure that my noble friend ever did either. There were some frightening things that came through Dover House, but not Lady Caroline Lamb's ghost.

As I understand it, and putting it in its most general form, the Scottish Office has two buildings: one at Dover House and the other at Carlton Gardens, though that is more rightly described as the Lord Advocate's premises. What do the Government envisage will be the future of Carlton Gardens. Will the Advocate General take up residence there or will he perhaps move to Dover House? Clearly there will not be the need for so

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much accommodation for the Scottish ministerial team, because as I understand it it will be reduced to one; namely, the Secretary of State himself.

My noble and learned friend Lord Fraser of Carmyllie has already indicated that he thought the most difficult decision a future Secretary of State for Scotland and an Advocate General would have to make would be where to have lunch together on each day on which the House was sitting. I suspect that it would be much easier if they both inhabited Dover House. The serious point, however, is this. Dover House is at the centre of Whitehall. The Scottish Office is therefore one of the serious offices of state which inhabit an office in Whitehall. Those of your Lordships who have been in offices which are not in Whitehall will know that it leads to some disadvantage. It may be that it should not do so, but it does. There is therefore an advantage in the Scottish Office being in Whitehall. The Secretary of State for Scotland will need a Whitehall base in London. I very much hope that he will remain in Dover House with its key position.

I also hope that he will be able to share Dover House with those people from the Scottish government who will need to be in London in order to do business, either with the Secretary of State or, as we have discussed earlier, with Ministers who will be negotiating matters on the European Union or whatever it may be. It is essential that those officials and Ministers should have proper accommodation here in London from which to work when they conduct these negotiations. It would be a downgrading of the Scottish position if the Scottish Secretary of State and the Scottish government from the Scottish parliament were to be moved out of Dover House, which I think is exactly the right place. It would certainly cause some resentment among many people who have worked there, who know it and who realise its symbolic importance to Scotland, if it were to be taken over as a kind of adjunct to No. 10 Downing Street in which to throw parties. I fully accept that it must be one of the grandest buildings in Whitehall, perhaps in central London, in which to throw a party. The Scots are the best at throwing parties. Dover House should remain the residence of the Secretary of State and the pied-a-terre of the Scottish government and its officials when they visit London.

5 p.m.

The Earl of Kintore: There may be room for some of those dispossessed Ministers at the Caledonian Club where we fly the Scottish saltire and have an excellent lunch.

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