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As I mentioned, Sections 32, 32A and 32B of the 1989 Act have been amended by the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act 2006. These amendments make it easier for small/micro renewable generators to benefit from the support available under the ROS and its UK counterparts. The order therefore transfers the relevant amended functions to Scottish Ministers. It also transfers functions that will enable such generators to appoint agents to act on their behalf, greatly reducing the administrative burden that some small generators may experience.
Finally, the order transfers functions that will enable generators who generate and consume their own electricity to qualify for renewable obligation certificates without having first to sell their electricity to and then purchase it back from an electricity supplier. I hope that noble Lords will agree that both orders are a sensible use of the powers in the Scotland Act and that their very practical impact is something to be welcomed. I beg to move.
Moved, That the Grand Committee do report to the House that it has considered the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 (Consequential Provisions) (England and Wales) Order 2006. First Report from the Statutory Instruments Committee.(Lord Evans of Temple Guiting.)
The Duke of Montrose: I thank the Minister for having laid out these matters so extensively. We have not always agreed to take all the Scottish orders at the same time, because we generally get quite a pot-pourri of issues and sometimes one can couple them together and sometimes that seems a little more difficult. I declare an interest as I rear livestock in Scotland.
Having sat through some of the discussion of statutes this afternoon and having noted the trials that have beset Defra in trying to transpose legislation from one printed source to another, we must congratulate the officials this time around. They have managed to pick up parts of the Animal Welfare Acts from Scotland and England, include them in this order and change all the numbers and, as far as I can see, they have done so in a perfect and accurate manner. I sometime wonder whether someone would like to run a competition between the departments on legislative drafting to see which can make the most perfect legislation. In this case, the Scotland Office is coming out ahead.
We are pleased at any moves to clarify or strengthen the powers that are needed to deal with an outbreak of infectious animal diseases. It is in everyones interest that someone who is proven guilty of the deliberate infection of animals, which is mentioned in the Explanatory Notes, should be subject to a disqualification. As the Minister mentioned, the duty of care towards animals in the Act in Scotland is parallel to that which was envisaged by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The main question that still arises, and which must be of concern to the Government and the rest of us, is whether to ban in Scotland the docking of certified working puppies tails. The proposal has been withdrawn in Scotland and is now out for consultation. One can envisage that being an issue. Would the owner of a dog which has been certified and docked in England, who takes up residence with his dog in Scotland, which had a ban, be subject to a disqualification order? If this were so, would the order be upheld if the owner then returned to England? There are great possibilities for a new economic trade in what we might term docking tourism.
Clause 44 of the 2006 Act contained powers to subject those disqualified in England and Wales to the same sanctions if they removed themselves to Scotland. As the Minister pointed out, this measure provides for an equivalent power to operate in the other direction.
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I express my interest in the transfer of functions order as someone who hopes to gain some benefit from renewable energy generation. The Healthy Start scheme seems to be entirely to be recommended. The rest of the order follows on from a great deal of legislation which gives Scotland greater autonomy over renewable electricity generation, be it on shore, off shore, on the hills, under the ground and other possible variations, and in which most Members of the Committee have been involved.
The Explanatory Note states that the three previous SIs in relation to the Electricity Act 1989, which amend Sections 32, 32A and 32B, have now been amended by the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act 2006. Could not these changes have been allowed to read across into the Scottish legislation, without us having to pass a separate instrument? Better still, could not this instrument have been drafted in such a way as to do away with earlier instruments and consolidate their powers into one, thereby simplifying the legislation? Will the Minister also explain whether the second statutory instrument which is mentioned in the Explanatory Memorandumthat is, SI 2000/3252is that which is being modified in Article 3(3) of the order and described in note (f) as SI 2000/3253?
Lord Teverson: I, too, thank the Minister for his explanation of the legislation. On the animal welfare order, we as Liberal Democrats are keen to make sure that the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament are able fully to use the powers that they should have in devolved areas.
It clearly makes sense to be able to ensurethis is the core of the proposalthat those who are disqualified in one part of the United Kingdom are disqualified also from farming or other trades involving animals. We greatly welcome that. I also understand that herds or animals which have been moved can still be seized and put into care by order of a court. Again, that seems reasonable. The alternative would seem bizarre, with extradition orders for animals or even using a European arrest warrant to bring animals back and ensure that they are cared for. Clearly, the order makes sense.
It is now some two months since the Scottish Act came into force on 6 October. Have there been any cases where people with disqualified orders have moved across borders and not been prosecuted? On the other order, I am sure my noble friend Lord Steel will have more to say.
To come back to power generation, it clearly makes sense for the greater authority in Scotland to move forward here as well. This seems to have happened through the passing of our own legislation, the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act 2006, which seems to have stopped what should be happening from happening. Can we have assurances that the Climate Change Bill, which will be introduced to Parliament in this Session, will not reverse what the Government are trying to with this order?
On the welfare food regulations, we entirely welcome the fact that the Scottish Executive have greater powers. In England and Wales, primary care trusts will ensure that children covered by the scheme are receiving nutrient benefits under it. Do the Executive have the power to give health boards similar responsibilities? It was clear when the Government introduced its Healthy Start scheme that the foods it covered would be under constant review. If a review takes place in England and Wales, will the Government expect the Executive to apply the findings to Scotland? Will they be shared, or will this be a completely autonomous matter for the Scottish Executive?
Lord Steel of Aikwood: I shall make a few remarks about the second of these orders, the transfer of functions to Scottish Ministers. I assume that the answer to my noble friends question is that, yes, food matters would be devolved to the Scottish Ministers. That is the whole point of the order.
I want to say a few words because those with long memories will recall that, during the passage of the Scotland Act through both Houses, it was said many times by Donald Dewar, myself and others that devolution was not an event, it was a process. These orders, particularly the second, are proof of that: this is a furtherance of the whole process of bringing government as near to the people as is sensible.
At the time, we were promised that, after 10 years or so, there would be a review of the workings of the Scotland Act. That means that the review will take place during the next Scottish Parliament, the election of which is due in Aprilnot far away. That election being due is causing a flurry of opinion polls and speculation as to what the composition of the next Parliament will be. I would appeal for a moment of calm because I recallthe noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, will also recall, no doubtthat in 1998 we had similar opinion polls predicting that there would be a great surge for the Scottish National Party. I remember the SNP campaigning in 1993 under the slogan Free by 93. Doubtless, it will have a new one saying, In heaven by 2007. But there is no need for an absurd reaction to these things.
Recently, the Home Secretary, for whom I have a high regard, seemed to have taken leave of his senses in arguing that separation would make life easier for al-Qaeda in Scotland. This is an absurdity. There are far better arguments to combat separatism, one of which centres on the social security system to which this order relates. I recently chaired a commission to
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Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: I thank the noble Lord, Lord Steel, for supporting these orders. As he said, devolution is a process and not an event. Orders were always anticipated as part of the sensible management of Scotlands devolution settlement and the provisions in the Scotland Act recognised this. I am most grateful to the noble Lord for his support and interesting comments. I hope to answer all the questions that I have been asked. If I miss any, I will write.
I am also grateful to the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, for the care and attention that he has obviously given to the order. He asked about the banning of docking tails of puppies and whether an owner moving from England to Scotland would be banned. At the moment, I believe that the answer is no, but I understand that the Scottish Executive are considering this. I will provide clarity in writing once the consideration has finished, if it would be helpful, as I am sure that it would. The noble Duke asked about the climate change elements of the Section 63
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The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, asked whether there have been any cases of people with disqualification orders moving to England between the passing of the Scotland Act and this order. The Scottish Executive have advised that no one with this problem has moved from Scotland to England. The noble Lord also asked: if a review takes place of foods covered, will a review also take place in Scotland? The power to specify the foods covered will be a matter for Scottish Ministers, but we would expect co-operation between the UK Government and the Scottish Ministers. I again thank Members of the Committee for their comments on these orders.
Moved, That the Grand Committee do report to the House that it has considered the Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers etc.) (No. 3) Order 2006. First Report from the Statutory Instruments Committee.(Lord Evans of Temple Guiting.)
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