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Lord Sewel: My Lords, could I just very briefly reply to thank all noble Lords who have just spoken. I think everybody is right to draw attention to the work that we have done and to the way in which we have done it in relation to this Bill.

I will make just three short comments. One is to make clear that everything is not done and dusted as the Bill leaves this House, because we intend in due course to issue a statement about the circumstances in which the First Minister will take over the functions of advising Her Majesty on the exercise of Her Majesty's prerogative and statutory powers. That is something still to come, and there is secondary legislation still to come that the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, looks forward to with such relish. I am not quite sure that I do. Can I also at this stage thank my noble friends Lady Ramsay of Cartvale and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hardie, who have made an enormous contribution to the passage of this Bill. They have been

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more than capable in advancing the Government's case on the amendments that we have faced. I owe a great debt of gratitude to them and to all the civil servants and support staff.

I wish to state a simple matter of substance. I recognise that a number of noble Lords sincerely and honestly have reservations about the Bill and the idea of devolution. They fear that it will lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom. I do not believe that that is the case. I believe that it is possible to build a new, stronger union based on and recognising the value of diversity.

In conclusion, I wish to make a personal comment. I have argued for devolution within my party and beyond it for over 20 years. As the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, said, there were times when my party was not in support of that position. I argued the case and I believe it is the right way forward. However, if for a moment I believed that devolution would lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom and to the sterile road of separatism, I should have opposed it as strongly as I have supported it. I commend the Bill to the House.

On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons with amendments.

        House adjourned at twenty-nine minutes before eleven o'clock.

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