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Lord Williams of Mostyn: To be helpful, I was going to say later in my remarks that I was arranging to have a copy placed in the Library tomorrow. In fact, in order to assist my colleagues on the other side, I asked for it to be brought here this afternoon and as soon as I received it I handed it to the noble Lords, Lord Henley and Lord Goodhart, so that people who wanted to read it this afternoon did not have to linger in London until tomorrow. It was purely an act of Scottish philanthropy.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I am grateful to the noble Lord for showing any act of philanthropy towards me. I hope I said in my remarks that the document was handed to my noble friend and I am grateful for that.
As always, the document is in good, solid, "legalese". If I read it aright, it will mean that the parties in Scotland and Wales will be able to call themselves the Scottish Labour Party, the Scottish Liberal Democrat Party and the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party; and in Wales the same will happen with the Welsh parties. But will those parties have to register separately or will the registration of the Labour party nationally encompass the Scottish and Welsh variations? My amendment was to enable the Labour Party, when it registered, to be able to say that in Scotland it is called the Scottish Labour Party and in Wales the Welsh Labour Party.
But I go one step further. Parties in Scotland and Wales may have different emblems to the party in the UK--that is certainly true of the Conservative Party. It would help if the noble Lord, Lord Williams, could indicate whether the Bill covers emblems as well.
I note that the Irish problem--if I can call it that--is not mentioned in the draft statutory instrument; Ireland, Irish, Northern Ireland and Northern Irish are not mentioned. So if politics in Ireland were to move in a different direction, political parties on the mainland could fight in Northern Ireland with the prefix "Northern Irish" or "Ulster". In fact, the Conservative Party has fought in Northern Ireland as the Conservative Party, but if that were to happen in the future, would those names be allowed? I can understand that they are not in the list because it is not strictly relevant. There is an
I should be grateful if, now or later, the Minister could indicate why none of the Northern Irish names has been included in the draft when Scotland, Wales and the United Kingdom appear to have been properly included. I hope the noble Lord can confirm that I read the draft instrument aright and that in relation to Scotland and Wales there is no problem. However, perhaps he can answer my point in regard to the logo and Northern Ireland. I beg to move.
Lord Goodhart: This is an important group of amendments. My party tabled Amendments Nos. 3 and 10 to which I shall speak. I shall speak also to the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish.
My party is known as the Liberal Democrats. It is a federal party--a federation of three separate entities whose official titles are the Scottish Liberal Democrats, the Welsh Liberal Democrats (also known as Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru, if that is the correct pronunciation and no doubt the noble Lord will correct me if it is not) and the Liberal Democrats in England. Each of those entities, in legal terms, is a separate unincorporated association. The federal party will register as the Liberal Democrats and it is likely that the Liberal Democrats in England will simply use the same title. But the Scottish and Welsh Liberal Democrats will almost certainly wish to register under those names and perhaps to use an emblem not identical to that of the federal party.
I have found considerable difficulty in extracting that particular conclusion from the terms of the Bill. It seems clear that the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Welsh Liberal Democrats are separate organisations, as is the federal party, and each of them is, therefore, a party as defined in Clause 22. If so, each party can register its name under Clause 2, and, if it wishes to do so, can register a separate emblem under Clause 5. The Scottish and Welsh parties do not use separate emblems at present but they might wish to do so in the future.
Can the Minister clarify the position? In particular, can the Welsh and Scottish Liberal Democrats register as separate parties and register separate emblems? Our amendments are, to a large extent, the same as those of the Conservatives, and to that extent we support them. The practical difference is, as I see it, that our amendments allow registration of distinct emblems as well as distinct names.
Part II of the schedule includes the words "Scotland", "Scots" and "Scottish". My reading of that, which may be incorrect, is that the use of the words "Scotland", "Scots" and "Scottish" is legitimate only when used with a name which is not a registered name of a registered party. Therefore, for the Conservative Party, which has a registered name also, to register as the "Scottish Conservative Party" would be specifically forbidden. I may be wrong. I have not had time to examine the document in detail but it concerns me. Perhaps the Minister can explain what is intended.
Lord Peyton of Yeovil: I do not want to delay your Lordships for any length of time. First, on the amendment proposed by my noble friend, is there anything in the Bill at the moment which stops a political party doing what the amendment proposes that it should be able to do?
My second point is an old-fashioned prejudice but I favour the idea of legislation being kept as short and as simple as possible. I have noted, with increasing anxiety and discontent, that a Bill being launched is rather like a ship putting to sea. With the help of noble Lords of all parties, it gathers to itself any number of unwanted barnacles in its progress. For those reasons, I hope that noble Lords will reject both the amendments.
I have come to regard political parties with restricted enthusiasm. I know of nobody who behaves better, or more intelligently, or who does wiser things when they are wearing a party hat than when they are not. For that simple reason, I regret any measure of this kind which gives political parties more power or any sort of privileged position, and I greatly abhor any notion of having party lists. That is a most offensive idea and I hope that your Lordships will not hear too much about it in the future. I realise that is probably the height of optimism.
Finally, perhaps I may advise the Minister that I greatly admire his skills, so much so that when he speaks it seems to be almost impossible to believe that he could be wrong. However, there are times when my mind drifts towards suspecting that that could be possible. Although I congratulate the Government on the skill they have shown in selecting him as their pilot, I look with some suspicion upon the way in which he uses his talents.
First, has be abandoned any hope of achieving that result? Secondly, if he has, do not these amendments, and in particular the amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, make that even more likely, because a candidate could stand at stage 1 as a Conservative and at stage 2 as a Welsh Conservative and so benefit from the trick which the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, so lucidly explained? However, he then assured us that nobody in his party would ever dream of doing that. I would like some enlightenment.
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