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Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, I am most grateful to noble Lords for what has been a very interesting debate. A considerable number of questions have been asked, and I shall try to answer them as quickly as I can. If I miss any out, I shall write to noble Lords as quickly as possible.
The first question related to AHRB and its funding policy. Its funding is subject to a UK-wide competition rather than being allocated on a strict territorial basis, a move that the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, would welcome. That will continue with AHRC, which will distribute funds on the basis of quality, like the other research councils. If a university organisation receives funds, it does not preclude it getting funds elsewhere.
I move on to the questions about railways, which have dominated this discussion. The first question asked by the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, and the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, was: why now; what is the hurry? The Government do not believe that the order pre-empts any primary legislation that will affect our railways White Paper; nor do we accept that it is unnecessary. The order simply recognises that the current legislative framework does not allow the transfer of a passenger transport executive's rail powers to Scottish Ministers. Therefore, we have agreed with the Scottish Executive that it is appropriate that the Scottish Parliament should be able to legislate on the matter. As a consequence, we are seeking at the earliest opportunity to give the Scottish Parliament that competence.
There is also nervousness and concern about the effect of passing the powers to the Scottish Executive. The order does not, in itself, give any powers to the Scottish Executive or to Scottish Ministers. It gives the Scottish Parliament the legislative competence to allow the transfer of rail functions from Strathclyde Passenger Transport to Scottish Ministers, should the Scottish Parliament wish to do so. Of course, the Government recognise that there has been nervousness in the SPT, but we are confident that the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Ministers will, as always, respect the intention and spirit of the order before us. They already recognise,
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as do the Government, the huge contribution that SPT has made to the development of rail services in the west of Scotland.
I was asked why the provision was necessary. A change in EC law means that the orders now require that we do something to ensure that correct references to Community law continue to be effective under devolution.
I was asked how many cross-Border holdings there were. The order provides the legal framework to ensure that Scottish Ministers have the appropriate powers to pay subsidy in the light of the new European regulation. The most recent figures available to us from the Scottish Executive show that 117 Scottish producers have land in England; three Scottish producers have land in Northern Ireland; and one Scottish producer has land in Wales. In answer to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Monro, the Executive's register of farm businesses shows that two straddle the English/Scottish border. Regional payment agencies in England deal with applications from 107 producers with land in Scotland.
I was asked whether the order meant that a cross-Border producer administered by Scotland would be paid Scottish rates on his English land. CAP reform legislation allows flexibility to implement the single farm payment scheme differently in each administration. A producer would be paid in accordance with the English scheme for his English land and in accordance with the Scottish scheme for his Scottish land. All UK administrations are working towards establishing the eligibility for subsidy of the land within their own borders.
I was asked whether, once the scheme was set up, there would be no problems relating to the movement of cattle without passports. Noble Lords will note that that question bears no relation to the order before us. The order simply provides the legal framework to ensure that Scottish Ministers have the appropriate powers to pay subsidy in the light of the new European regulation. Questions relating to the operation of the scheme would rightly be for Defra or the Environment and Rural Affairs Department of the Scottish Executive.
How does a cross-Border farmer know to whom to apply? A longstanding protocol is in place between the agricultural departments as to who administers a claim in a cross-Border situation. Basically, the administration in charge is the one where the majority of the holding lies. All administrations turn around previous land declarations to their producers so that there is a well established relationship for existing claimants. Producers will receive one combined payment from the managing administration. Having established their eligibility, the administrations will exchange that information in order that a single payment may be made.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, may I have clarification on what the Minister has just said? He spoke of a farmer receiving one payment from the part of the United Kingdom in which he has the most
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hectares. Does that simply apply to a farmer who has one single farm on both sides of the Border? I may have misunderstood the order.
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, I was trying to establish the point that producers will receive one combined payment from the managing administration. So England and Scotland will combine and make one payment; farmers will not receive two payments, one from Scotland and one from England.
I was most grateful for the constructive comments of the noble Lord, Lord Steel, for his very helpful contribution to this debate and particularly for his comments on the rail matter. The Scottish proposals are consistent with a UK rail review. Both are concerned with ensuring that Scottish Ministers have the appropriate statutory power to deal properly with the rail network in Scotland as in England.
A point was made by a number of your Lordships about whether this order pre-empts the outcome of primary legislation that will be needed to effect the Government's railway White Paper. The Government do not believe, as I have said before, that this order pre-empts any primary legislation, nor do we accept that it is unnecessary.
The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, asked how the CAP reform schemes will be administered in the light of the new European regulations. Her understanding of this matter is absolutely correct, as I hope I have already explained.
An error was made, and one of the orders corrects it. We agree that the mistake should not have been made. The Scotland Office was only recently made aware of the defect and has sought to correct the error as soon as possible. I can assure the noble Baroness and the House that we shall make every endeavour to ensure that such oversights do not happen in future.
On the consultation, about which the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, asked, neither the Scotland Office nor DfT consulted SPT about the Section 30 order, as the Scottish Executive had already consulted on the policy in its consultation document, Scotland's Transport: Proposals for a new approach to transport in Scotland. That, in turn, led to the Executive's White Paper, Scotland's transport future. The DfT developed The Future of Rail White Paper proposals, having agreed in principle with the Scottish Executive's proposals.
What will happen to the rail services in the west of Scotland as a result of this order? The Scottish Executive is committed to the development, management and monitoring of rail services being undertaken by a new strong regional transport partnership for the west of Scotland. The Executive has confirmed that development means rail enhancement such as the Glasgow cross-rail and a host of other smaller crucial developments to meet the needs of rail passengers in the west of Scotland. Those will continue to be taken forward by the new partnership.
The delivery of rail services such as Glasgow Airport rail links and Larkhall will continue to be delivered by the new partnership for the west of Scotland. The
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monitoring and managing of the franchise will be undertaken by the Executive with support of the new partnership unlike other transport agencies. This is unique and reflects the high intensity of the rail network in the west of Scotland and especially retains and utilises the skills and experience that exist.
I was asked by the noble Lord, Lord Monro, about whether the orders are subject to the Sewell convention. The answer is no. Sewell relates only to primary legislation. Section 32 and 33 were agreed by the Scottish Parliament.
As I said at the beginning I have attempted to answer all the questions asked. If I have failed, my colleagues in the Scotland Office will write letters in the next few days. I commend the order to the House.
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