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The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, I am obliged to the Minister for that response. To compare Highlands and Islands with the Borders is to compare an area of crofters with a farming area. Their interests, customs and mores are very different.

The Minister was rather surprised that I referred to CoSLA. In my remarks at Second Reading I suggested, and still believe, that CoSLA, which has proven political experience, might well have provided much valuable experience to the Scottish parliament had the noble Lord not earlier rejected the idea of the parliament one day having a second chamber. CoSLA might have been the source from which members of a second chamber would come. However, that is water under the bridge.

I am not satisfied with the Minister's reply. I am afraid that I must ask the House to decide for or against the amendment.

7.11 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 23) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 26; Not-Contents, 105.

Division No. 4


Astor of Hever, L.
Burnham, L.
Byford, B.
Cadman, L.
Courtown, E.
Cross, V.
Dundee, E.
Ferrers, E.
Kenilworth, L.
Kingsland, L.
Lauderdale, E. [Teller.]
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
Mancroft, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Milverton, L.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Northesk, E.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Renton, L.
Renwick, L.
Rowallan, L. [Teller.]
Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Sempill, L.
Skidelsky, L.
Vivian, L.


Addington, L.
Ahmed, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bach, L.
Balfour, E.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bath, M.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Borrie, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Chandos, V.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Crawley, B.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Evans of Watford, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Falkland, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gallacher, L.
Gilbert, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hacking, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hanworth, V.
Hardie, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kintore, E.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Levy, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Meston, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Ogmore, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Razzall, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thornton, B.
Thurso, V.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilson of Tillyorn, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

22 Oct 1998 : Column 1618

7.20 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 24 and 25 not moved.]

Clause 2 [Ordinary general elections]:

Lord Steel of Aikwood moved Amendment No. 26:

Page 2, line 5, at end insert--
("( ) The date of the first ordinary election appointed by an order under subsection (1) may not coincide with the date of elections to local councils or to the European Parliament.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, before I introduce this probing amendment, perhaps I may say that, because of a missed train, I was not present to hear the Minister's response in which I understand he took great exception to remarks made by my noble friend Lady Linklater accusing the Government of reneging on the matter of the size of the parliament. I therefore wish to read into the record two sentences from the constitutional convention:

    "The electoral system for Scotland's Parliament must have stability but it will, of course, be dependent on boundaries established for the Westminster and European Parliaments. These may be subject to alteration outwith the control of Scotland's Parliament and it will therefore be necessary to ensure that separate boundary reviews for the Parliament can be carried through with the purpose of maintaining the size of the Parliament and the integrity of the corrective effect of the additional members".
I believe that my noble friend was absolutely justified in using the word "reneging".

We are now dealing with the mechanics of the first election to the Scottish parliament. The purpose of Amendment No. 26 is to explore the Government's

22 Oct 1998 : Column 1619

thinking on the date of the elections. The Government have decided that the elections to the Scottish parliament should be held on the first Thursday in May, coinciding with the local council elections. A month later there will be the elections to the European Parliament.

The Secretary of State for Scotland has been reported as being troubled that the two ballot paper system may cause confusion among the electorate. It is our contention that, if he is worried about a two ballot paper system, he should be more worried about three ballot papers being thrust into the hands of the electorate on the same day. I say as an aside that, as we have seen from the German election system, it is not necessary to have two ballot papers. The constituency members and the additional members could be on one ballot paper, as they are in Germany.

To have two ballot papers for the Scottish parliamentary election and to have the parliamentary and council elections on the same day seems to me an unnecessary burden on the voters faced with the new election system. Moreover, the election returning officers have themselves been reported several times as representing to the Scottish Office that the Government ought to think again about having the two elections on the same day.

I believe that CoSLA have made representations concerning the late determination of ward boundaries for some of the councils. If my amendment were carried and the council elections were held in June, say, instead of in May, not only would that simplify the Scottish parliament election, it would give the local boundary commission another month in which to conclude the determination of the wards and make it known to the local authorities in good time.

A further argument for not having the parliamentary and council elections on the same day is that, since the decision was made, there has been the selection of candidates by all parties. I believe it is true to say that all parties contesting the election have among their candidates for the Scottish parliament a number of local government councillors. I do not think that there is a rule about it, but, in most cases, it is assumed that, where a councillor finds himself or herself elected to the parliament, he or she will resign the council seat and a local government by-election will follow. It seems to me, therefore, that there is an added argument for holding the council elections a month later than normal in order to allow those who have been successful in the Scottish parliament election to resign and make way for someone else to stand in the council elections without causing the inconvenience and expense of a local government by-election.

For all those reasons, I have pleasure in moving this amendment, which I think is eminently full of good sense.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: My Lords, I support the demand made by my noble friend for different election dates. In doing so, I declare an interest in that I am considering becoming a candidate for a ward of the Clackmannanshire council, subject to the Boundary Commission deciding how to increase the seats on that

22 Oct 1998 : Column 1620

council from 12 to 18 in a way which is acceptable to the people of Clackmannanshire. I must also declare an interest, which is probably well-known, that I am a Scottish parliamentary regional candidate for Mid-Scotland and Fife, albeit number five on the list, so I do not think the parliament need be too worried about my becoming a member. That draws out and personalises the argument about the confusion that I and the various electorates will have during the campaigning and subsequently in deciding how to vote.

I believe that it would be an advantage if the Scottish parliamentary elections and the local government elections were held on different dates.

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