The committee report outlines, quite rightly, the very considerable constitutional implications of a yes vote. It certainly places in sharp focus the profound and shocking effect that it would have on both the continuation state of the UK and the successor state of Scotland. However, I am an optimist. As a fellow Celt, a Cornishman, I hope very much that our Scottish cousins will firmly vote no. I believe that we should plan for that every bit as much as we prepare for the stark reality of yes. A number of colleagues in all parts of the House have been referring to the possibility that we have to do something very serious indeed even if there is a no vote. What the noble Lord, Lord Judd, has just said echoes that.

We were given a lead earlier in this debate from the noble Lords, Lord Strathclyde and Lord Richard, to the effect that we should be looking very firmly at the implications for the whole of the United Kingdom. Indeed I am repeating a phrase that I think the noble Lord, Lord Lang, made in introducing his committee’s report.

Many of today’s contributions have understandably focused on the challenges for Scotland on 19 September. However, how does this Parliament, and the parties in it, deliver on the promise that a no vote will not mean that there will be no change?All the leaders say that they are committed to more devolution and that Scotland must be assured that it will happen. My noble and learned friend Lord Wallace of Tankerness reiterated that promise at the start of today’s debate.

It is in that context that I am disappointed—though it is perfectly reasonable—that the committee did not look at the constitutional implications of a no vote. Perhaps it needs to return to that, even before 18 September. That is because, as devolution takes another step forward, after the referendum, both in Scotland and in Wales, we cannot forget that the largest part of the United Kingdom is England. The noble Lord, Lord Whitty, in a debate on the gracious Speech said:

“We clearly recognise in Scotland and Wales the distance and resentment towards Westminster-dominated decisions. We need to recognise that the same instincts apply in Newcastle, Norwich, Cumberland and Cornwall”. —[Official Report, 11/6/14; col. 460.]

Colleagues on all sides of the House, on these Benches and throughout, have spoken in similar terms.

The Chancellor spoke about this only yesterday in Manchester. Naturally enough he expressed it in terms

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of giving an economic boost to the north of England, and he suggested doing so by getting the big northern cities to work together. In that speech, however, he acknowledged something vital, which is that real economic powerhouses must possess real political power too.

In that context we have to examine the whole issue of local democratic accountability. To take a rather more parochial example, yesterday the Government took a big step: finally devolving to Cornwall the right to allocate the latest tranche of EU structural funds, some £450 million, and that is where the power should be, rather than in those artificial regional development agencies that we all suffered from.

However, that should only be the start. More power should be devolved to a democratically accountable Cornish assembly, or whatever it may be in different parts of the country. That is subsidiarity. There were quotes from my erstwhile leader, Jo Grimond, about the concept of subsidiarity. I do not think that he invented the term, but the concept is quite clear: that decisions should be taken as close as practicably possible to those whom they affect. Colleagues from all parts of the country and all parts of the House have made a similar point. Different arrangements will suit different parts of England–we should be relaxed about that. Dr Andrew Blick, a highly respected academic in this field, has written an excellent pamphlet detailing how this model could work—a model of devolution on demand. This will be relevant whatever the outcome of the referendum of 18 September, to both Scotland and other parts of the United Kingdom. We must build on the new city deals so that the new powers, along the lines offered to Wales in 1998, can be available as of right to institutions which mean something to the people they affect. This concept of devolution on demand, which we Liberal Democrats have been advocating, is very well examined by Dr Blick’s paper. It would mean getting councils to come together to form the new institutions; and in return for working together they would be entitled to power, initially on the scale offered to Wales in 1998, and then on a greater scale, with more responsibility for finance eventually following thereafter.

As the Chancellor said yesterday, Wales has its own parliament and can pass its own laws but the economies of Manchester and Leeds are each bigger than that of Wales. So I conclude, as he does, that there is no reason why parts of England cannot take power on a similar scale to the Welsh Assembly if the will is here in this building to make that happen. There is no reason why Kent, Cornwall, Manchester or Leeds cannot take on responsibility and have proper accountable governance. They would be more strategic and powerful than local authorities but not as centralised and clumsy as control from Westminster.

I very much agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Soley, said about an English parliament and I invite him to look at the effective debunking of that idea in Dr Blick’s pamphlet, which I quoted in Grand Committee last week. It would be incredibly unbalancing and centralising to invent an all-England parliament at this stage. Incidentally, if there were a yes vote in Scotland then an English parliament would be even more disruptive to the British constitution. That is

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because it would of course be representing 92% of the remaining United Kingdom, with Stormont and Cardiff Bay representing 3% and 5% respectively. That would surely be impossible to sustain for any period.

The second option, which is equally undesirable, is that of English votes for English laws. This has been examined and examined again but even the year-long work of the McKay commission raised more questions than it answered and, sadly, it ended up being rubbished on all sides.

Thirdly, the idea of some top-down imposition of regional government, as was attempted in the north-east of England, has also been dismissed and seen as irrelevant. Those artificial regions that were created for a different purpose just do not meet the needs and aspirations of people in England. I take as an example the northern end of the south-west region that is dear to my heart, which is nearer to Scotland than it is to Land’s End. The idea that that region has a natural unity is just not true.

The noble Lord, Lord Judd, emphasised just now—as the noble Lords, Lord Crickhowell and Lord McFall, did previously—that 19 September is as much a constitutional opportunity or threat as 18 September. We have to grasp the fundamental asymmetrics of the demand for devolution in England—the fundamental messiness of England—and the essential asymmetrical reality of the United Kingdom, and then go with the grain. Once people have devolution they tend to like it and their neighbours will then demand it too. We can move toward a more devolved United Kingdom—the whole of the United Kingdom—without imposing artificial boundaries, in the way so eloquently described just now by the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, and without unbalancing the whole union by pitching England against the rest. The next Parliament must make that happen.

9.04 pm

Lord Garel-Jones (Con): My Lords, I confess that I am a little sceptical about this idea that devolution cures all, which many noble Lords seem to have embraced, but I do not want to go down that route today.

I begin by referring briefly to the position that would arise in the European Union in the event that Scotland were to secede from the United Kingdom. The legal position is quite clear, contrary to what Mr Salmond would wish us to believe. As long ago as 2004, President Prodi stated in reply to a question in the European Parliament:

“When a part of the territory of a member state ceases to be part of that state, e.g. because that territory becomes an independent state, the treaties will no longer apply to that territory”.

More recently, the position was validated by President Barroso, who said,

“a region which secedes from a member state automatically ceases to be part of the European Union”.

So there would need to be a negotiation. Other noble Lords—the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, has already spoken—are better qualified than I to speculate as to how that might develop. I would just say that I can think of half a dozen member states that would count up to 100 very slowly indeed before rolling out the red carpet for an independent Scotland. At the very least, negotiations

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would not be a piece of gateau, as the French might say. There would be no fast track—rather, a bumpy road leading who knows where.

However, I do not want to dwell on the downsides; I want to take a much more positive line. Too much of the debate has sounded like a bunch of snotty southerners firing warning shots at the Scots. I am Welsh, and whenever I hear our national anthem, “Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”, I feel an emotion shared by the noble Lord, Lord Richard, and other Welsh Members of your Lordships’ House. Consequently, I think I can understand the profound sense of attachment and belonging that the Scottish people feel for their country.

The real drawback of this referendum from my point of view is that I feel forced to reveal something that we Celts have kept quiet about for several hundred years. Between us, the Celtic fringe—that is, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—while accounting for only 15% of the population, have been running Great Britain for years. Delve into any area of British life—the arts, the law, the civil service, the business world, politics—and what do you find? You find that we are hugely overrepresented. Tell it not in Gath, speak of it not in the streets of Ashkelon, but we have been running this place for years.

When I was Minister of State at the Foreign Office during the Maastricht negotiations, our principal adviser was a chap called John Kerr, later head of the Foreign Office. Our spokesman was a chap called Gus O’Donnell, later head of the Treasury. Emyr Jones Parry headed the EU external department at the FCO and later was our ambassador at the United Nations. There are no prizes for guessing their particular origins. The noble Lords, Lord Kerr and Lord O’Donnell, are now respected Members of this House, and my only regret is that we were never joined by Emyr Jones Parry, who would have been a considerable strengthening of the Taffia in your Lordships’ House.

It is true that our ultimate boss, the Prime Minister, Sir John Major, was English, but it is also true that no fewer than 50% of the Prime Ministers in the 20th century were Scottish or Welsh—half of them. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, made reference to that. Noble Lords may think that I am stretching the envelope a little by including Lord Salisbury in that list, but more than 500 years ago the Cecils were Welshmen on the make from Allt-Yr-Ynys on the Monmouthshire border. True, they anglicised their name from Sitsyllt to Cecil. True, they now sound like proper English toffs. But it is true too that the present Lord Salisbury—the noble Marquis, Lord Salisbury—clutches his Welsh origins to his bosom with pride, as I am sure do the 700,000 or 800,000 Scots living and working in England today.

Look at British history and it is the same story. Robert Burns, Adam Smith, Alexander Fleming, David Hume, John Baird—in any walk of science, business, the arts or the military, Scottish names appear again and again. If I were to give your Lordships a full list and add the Welsh and Irish figures, I would need to detain the House overnight.

Lastly, I will quote two apparently contradictory slogans: “Small is beautiful” and “Size matters”. Our countries—Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales—are

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not only beautiful; they give us a deep sense of belonging and social cohesion. On the other hand, many of the decisions that affect our daily lives are taken increasingly in international fora where size matters, whether it be the EU, the UN, NATO, the WTO or the G7. In all these, Great Britain has the size and weight to be at the top table. I say to my fellow Celts in Scotland: let us have the best of both worlds, let us continue to take a deep pride in our small homelands and let us continue—on the quiet—to represent Great Britain on the international top tables where size matters.

9.10 pm

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara (Lab): My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Steel, said, in his recent book My Scotland, Our Britain Gordon Brown draws attention to,

“what is unique about the modern United Kingdom—and distinguishes it not only from the US and other federal countries but from the European Union—is the extent to which UK citizenship guarantees fundamental social and economic, not just civil and political rights. It means that regardless of whether you are Scottish, English, Welsh or Northern Irish, you have a right to a UK-guaranteed pension; a right to UK-guaranteed assistance when unemployed; a right to fully funded health care free at the point of need; and a right to minimum standards of protection at work, including a UK-wide minimum wage and tax credits, no matter who you are and where you reside. The system of sharing across the UK creates a form of equality between the citizens of the four nations that no other group of countries can match for its depth and sophistication and this is arguably the defining characteristic of the Union today”.

We are surely right to care deeply about this and to campaign as hard as we can for its retention.

I want to deal with wider questions on the basis that the SNP’s independence referendum is defeated on 18 September, because the problem will not go away. The SNP is clearly peddling a lie when it asserts that Scotland can be a nation again only if it becomes a separate state. We are a nation. We have always been a nation, and what is more we have been successfully part of a world-class state for more than 300 years. Other speakers have explained what this has meant in practice and celebrated the contributions that Scots have been able to make on a world stage as part of the United Kingdom.

In Scotland, we control our institutions. We have a separate legal system, we are free to practise different religious practices and we have a distinctive culture. It is the best of both worlds, so what is the problem? It does not seem to be Scotland. My reading of the situation is that the people of Scotland would like to remain within the United Kingdom in the union that has lasted for more than 300 years, but that the conditions under which they are prepared to do so have changed and they need to be reflected in a new constitutional settlement. Like my noble friend Lord Richard, I believe that our present constitutional arrangements are a complete mess. The changes that need to be made are significant but not impossible to deliver, although there are consequences that may take time to be worked through.

This is a constitutional moment, an opportunity to sort out issues, that we must seize. The problem that we have to solve after 18 September is with the UK, not Scotland. There are three dimensions to it. The

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first is the sovereignty of the UK Parliament. Noble Lords will recall that in the run-up to the referendum on devolution, the sovereignty of the UK Parliament was reaffirmed and in the 1997 White Paper

Scotland’s Parliament

the Government said:

“The United Kingdom Parliament is and will remain sovereign in all matters”.

This claim was repeated in the assertion in the Scotland Act 1998 that the Scottish Parliament,

“does not affect the power of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to make laws for Scotland”.

With the benefit of hindsight, this now seems the wrong way round. Not only have we transferred significant powers to Brussels, for good reason, but one Parliament, two legislative Assemblies and a high-powered London authority are taking powers from the centre. Referendums, reflecting our new notion of popular sovereignty, are in effect required when important constitutional decisions are made.

Then there is local government. I think noble Lords enjoyed the rather delicious, bilious attack on the present arrangements by the noble Lord, Lord Haskins, and would wish for them to be changed. I also thought that the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, was right to bring up the quotation from Jo Grimond, which correctly analyses where power resides.

It is a mistake to believe that Britain is in any meaningful way a unitary state today. In any case, in my view what Scotland wants is the certainty that in its own sphere the Scottish Parliament holds undisputed power and its decisions will not and cannot be overruled by Westminster. This should apply to all devolved Administrations. So the second problem that needs solving is the need to decentralise decision-making in Britain, which is not devolution, as has rightly been said, and should not be confused with it. Decentralisation is different.

What we now need is more than the simple devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which should happen; we need double devolution, which means that power will also go to the UK city regions and other areas so that London powers, at least, are operating in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Teesside. We could add to that the Midlands and the south-west. In practice, Parliament does not legislate on matters directly affecting Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or London, so would it be so different if devolved matters in England were left to city regions or an equivalent wording?

Thirdly, with regard to our own House, one further set of reforms might help to cement the new arrangements. The House of Lords could perhaps be replaced with an elected senate-like forum that represented the nations and regions, was sensitive to their needs and recognised that there are areas so controversial that they may cause polarisation, sufficiently strong to jeopardise the union, and therefore provided a forum where these issues could be resolved.

If we manage to seize the legislative moment—a constitutional moment that comes up only very rarely—and move to a more federal system, we will need a properly codified constitution. Federal systems all around the world are typically characterised by clear divisions

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of powers between different tiers of government, a set of autonomous institutions, a formal division of competences and rules for the resolution of conflict. As the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, said, the Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee and its advisers are doing a great job on this, and surely its time has come. It might be good if, as part of its programme, it could look at how responsibility for defence and security issues, the maintenance of our single economic market, welfare and guarantees for the funding of key services such as healthcare and pensions could be organised within the new federal system, while at the same time allowing for the proper and unfettered devolution of other powers without reservation.

Whatever the post-Scottish referendum arrangements are, the UK already looks more like a constitutional partnership of equals in what is in essence a voluntary multinational association. In some way it must make sense to codify the new division of powers and the new power-sharing, tax-sharing, risk-sharing and resource-sharing rules in a beautifully crafted and written codified constitution. As others have said, we should start working on that now.

9.16 pm

Lord Hope of Craighead (CB): My Lords, I come very near the end of a long and fascinating debate, in which we have had excellent contributions from so many parts of the United Kingdom, right down that lovely banana that lies on the Celtic fringe of our islands, from the Western Isles down to and including Cornwall. And we have had a marvellous contribution from pure Englishmen as well.

In the time available to me, I should like to concentrate on the report of the Select Committee. I was one of those who was privileged to give evidence before the committee, and I was very impressed by the quality of the questions that were put to me, and by the expert and effective chairmanship of the noble Baroness, Lady Jay. We were being asked to consider an event which we all wished would not happen. However, as an intellectual exercise, it was a very stimulating experience. I pay tribute to what I think is an excellent report and to the masterly way in which it was introduced for us this afternoon by the noble Lord, Lord Lang of Monkton.

Although it contemplates the implications of a vote for independence for the rest of the United Kingdom, it has some very important things to say about what that vote would mean for Scotland, too. It seemed to me to be clear, when I was giving evidence, that Scotland could not take this step without a great deal of assistance in that direction from Westminster. I took the orthodox view; there are reserved matters. The union of the kingdoms of Scotland and England and the Parliament of the United Kingdom are reserved; so also is the power to repeal the two Acts that gave effect to the Treaty of Union—the Union with Scotland Act 1706 and the Union with England Act 1707—of the Scottish Parliament. So the recommendations that legislation would be needed in this Parliament to set the process in train, as described in paragraphs 37 to 44, seemed to me to be entirely appropriate, with legislation going through this Parliament to make the necessary changes to enable the process.

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As the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, said, the recommendations were cogent and persuasive, but that is not how the matter was seen north of the border. The scales were lifted from my eyes when, on 16 June, the Scottish Government published the draft Scottish Independence Referendum Bill. I rather regret that it has not been made available for all of us in the Printed Paper Office, because it really has to be seen to be appreciated. One may ask how it could be that the Scottish Government should devote time and money to something that is outside their competence, but it seems that we are far beyond niceties of that kind. It is quite plain from this document that the SNP Government take a quite different approach. In effect, that draft independence Bill is their response to the committee’s report. Far from being, or seeing itself, as a “successor” state deriving its independence by a grant of independence from the rest of the UK—a gracious grant, as someone said this afternoon—independence is something that they wish to assert as their constitutional right on their own terms. That is what this document is all about.

Mr Salmond is not looking for a Scottish independence Bill passed in this Parliament. What he is doing in this draft Bill is making a draft declaration of independence on his own terms. As I see it, that is a warning for all of us. It changes the flavour of the debate from that which I think the Select Committee, with great respect to it, was contemplating in its discussions. I think that it will lead to a demand by Mr Salmond for a Section 30 order removing all the obstacles to his Bill, so as to allow him to put the measure before his Parliament within days of his obtaining a yes vote. He will claim to have the backing of the Edinburgh agreement, about which the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, made some very persuasive comments. It may be very difficult to see how we can escape from its terms. I hope that the Minister will say whether the Edinburgh agreement will survive a change of government if in 2015 the Government change and the Opposition become the Government. As far as Mr Salmond is concerned, speed is essential. His target is to achieve independence during the lifetime of his present Government in Edinburgh while he can still control events, and the rest of the United Kingdom must face up to that.

I think it is right to say that the launch of the Bill was a propaganda exercise. “We can give you something that London cannot give you—your own constitution”, it is saying. It is, at first sight, a simple and compelling document, as the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, said. It is brilliantly drafted, readable by everyone, including primary schoolchildren, and is something that anyone who cares to read it will at once understand. All the bits that one would expect to find are there: the nature of the state; an outline of the machinery of government; citizenship; protection of rights and freedoms; equality; the environment and, of course, the repeal of the Act of Union. Anyone who dares to criticise it does so at his peril. However, there certainly are things to criticise. Like the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, I suggest that the Government need to look at the document’s terms very carefully and point out where the flaws lie. One of the most important is the matter to which the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, drew attention—

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namely, the declaration in Section 23 about nuclear disarmament and the removal of nuclear weapons from Scotland. This, of course, is a subject of debate in Scotland, and many people disagree with what is being proposed. However, as I understand it, the provision is there to tie the hands of the successor Government. That is why it is so important to Mr Salmond to get this through while he maintains a majority. That is another reason for being cautious about the making of a Section 30 order. One would need to be very clear about the implications if this constitution, and its effect on the nuclear weapons policy, gave the independence Bill a free hand in setting out what it intends to do.

There are other things to be concerned about. The provision about the head of state is, at first sight, very reassuring. The Queen and all her heirs and successors are to be head of state. However, there are already signs of great unrest among the nationalists who want independence. The problem with putting a provision like that in a Bill of this kind is that it attracts debate and creates instability.

There is the repeal of the Act of Union. Only one Act is mentioned given the inward-looking nature of this document. However, this was a treaty: there are two Acts, but the other Act is simply not mentioned. After all, what is the constitution really trying to do? One of the things it starts off with is claiming that the people are sovereign. Many countries in the world have written constitutions. All the countries in the Soviet empire proclaimed that the people were sovereign but, of course, we know that was simply not true. It is a charade in a way, a clever piece of propaganda, but one has to recognise the dangers there and what the Government will be faced with when they are presented again with the Edinburgh agreement and a demand for a Section 30 order. That is the challenge for the Minister, to which I invite him to reply.

9.24 pm

Lord McAvoy (Lab): My Lords, I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Lang of Monkton, and the members of his committee for producing the report and for the masterly way in which it was introduced. It cleared the decks for rational discussion, and I am sure that the whole House is grateful to him and his committee.

We stand here today in the midst of an historic debate on an historic issue—an issue that could lead to some of the greatest constitutional consequences in living memory. We are here on an historic date, 24 June —the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. Though our debate may be placed on such an historic occasion, this is not a nationalistic point about the triumph of the Scots over counterparts south of the border; for it was a much different time and, as the lyrics of “Flower of Scotland” state:

“Those days are passed nowAnd in the past they must remain”.

The noble Earl, Lord Caithness, provided a varied picture of the make-up of the Battle of Bannockburn, thereby emphasising that it was not straightforward.

Thankfully, since those dark times we have learnt to evolve and work together for the collective benefit of all. The point I wish to make is that we should be clear that the SNP has no ownership over the history of the Scottish nation and, while the past is something to be

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looked to and learnt from, what we are concerned with is the immediate and future well-being of the people of Scotland and the people of the entire United Kingdom. Mention has been made of being anti-nationalist and the merits of being nationalist and patriotic. There is nothing wrong with being patriotic. It should not be a case of “my country, right or wrong”, because we know that that is not the case, but I do not accept the correlation between patriotism and bad nationalism made by the noble Lord, Lord Stephen, for instance.

The report we are discussing outlines the stark realities that the people of Scotland and the United Kingdom will face in the event of a yes vote, and it highlights a process that will not be simple and easy but rather long, complicated and at times, it seems, rushed. All this in order to facilitate unnecessary Scottish secession from the union, and at what cost? What pressing issues will we be faced with between September 2014 and the 24 March 2016 that will not be fully addressed due to this process of secession and dealing with the resulting constitutional fallout? When trudging through the deep mire of constitutional issues resulting from independence, ordinary men and women may well be left to fend for themselves while competing and overlapping constitutional and legislative jurisdictions are worked out, and tough negotiations take place.

In the report, we see highlighted the fact that an issue of “prime importance” would be the existence of the United Kingdom as a “continuator” state. This in effect means that what lies ahead for Scotland by leaving the union is a full process of renegotiating many of the things we have achieved and worked towards as a united British people, thereby losing our place at the centre of global, social and economic decision-making. It is true that there has always been a very strong Scottish voice at the heart of British politics, as illustrated by the listing of names by several noble Lords. Those strong Scottish voices were reaching far beyond what the proportional figures may coldly suggest. Via our collective strength, we have seen Scottish voices reach a global significance that would be impossible to achieve as an independent nation. However, as the report outlines, the UK would continue to function with Wales, England and Northern Ireland, and keep key institutions such as the BBC, and international places on the G8, G20, NATO and the UNSC. The SNP would effectively silence the voice of the Scottish people, preventing it reaching those corridors and rooms far beyond the borders of Scotland and carrying significance far beyond that of a nation of our size.

I therefore wonder whether the SNP is willing to be honest with the people of Scotland, as this and other reports have been. The road to independence is not a smooth one, as Alex Salmond would have us believe, nor is there a pot of gold at the end of the nationalist rainbow. What there will be is hardship, which will require the tough endurance of the Scottish people to overcome, but I cannot say whether that endurance will be worth it in the end.

When points like this are made, we are accused of scaremongering. This is not scaremongering; it is being honest with the Scottish people about the realities they will face. This is something that the SNP refuses to do because it fears the people. It fears the proper judgment

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of the Scottish people. It will not trust them with the facts and the honest truth but, instead, delivers false promises and disingenuous assurances that all will be rosy in the Garden of Eden.

There is a clearer, honest path that the Scottish people can follow, being assured of security and strength as part of both Scotland and the UK. This path can be seen in the devolution proposals set out by all parties, but especially, I must point out, as set out by Labour. We wish to see a strengthened Scottish Parliament, trusted and able to carry more of its own load, but in turn only as part of a stronger United Kingdom, retaining the benefits that working together delivers for all our people. We wish to see a new union for the 21st century, one that delivers on social justice and enhances social unity and cohesion between all its constituent parts. We wish to see a more progressive Scotland as part of a more progressive United Kingdom. We must work to preserve the gains of the past, while also laying the groundwork for the innovative achievements of the future.

There are areas of government policy that the Scottish Parliament is best placed to deliver on; we agree with that. However, we should go further. Devolution does not just mean full centralisation of power in the devolved Administration, as the SNP seems bent on doing. It should lead to further devolution of power to where it can be utilised, away from the central power sources of the Holyrood Parliament to government bodies and councils, ultimately empowering local people. Devolution in Scotland seems to have stopped at the Scottish Parliament; there is no further devolution to local authorities. Instead, there is a drawing of power, institutions and decision-making to the centre. Local councils are hamstrung by the local government funding arrangement, where, quite frankly, they have to do what they are told or lose out. We now have a national Scottish police force. Devolution, like subsidiarity, is a good principle, but it is not happening in Scotland and it certainly will not happen under an SNP-controlled Government.

While we bear that in mind, we also have to keep in mind our responsibilities as part of the whole UK body and maintain the continuation of the UK welfare state and those benefits that we derive from it —guaranteed, as they all are, to the people of the United Kingdom. We must share the load, making our own contribution for the benefit of all. These are social responsibilities that develop a strong and true union between all of our people, standing in solidarity with each other through times of hardship. However, we must be wary and careful. We must ensure that devolution does not go too far and lead to a situation where we have fierce competition between the four nations of the United Kingdom, developing a race to the bottom socially and economically. We must strike that fine balance between the ability to cater for regional needs and the ability to address national ones as well.

Like many other noble Lords, I have no doubt about the ability of the Scottish people, in the event of a yes vote, to overcome the challenges that will face them. They are a truly resilient people. However, it is for us to show them that, while they can go it alone, this does not mean that they should, or that it is the best option.

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To finish, I would like to address a point that I made at the beginning of my remarks about looking to the past and learning from it. While in the deep past we have seen division between the nations of the United Kingdom, I like to look to the recent past and see the great challenges that we have confronted as a united nation: domestic challenges that undermined our welfare and external challenges that threatened our liberty. Yet we stood firm and overcame them together. In the 1940s, when confronted with the vilest and shocking tyranny of Nazism, we, as our own nation, supported by the Commonwealth, persevered, held out and finally defeated the evil that confronted us. We did that by standing together. When the time came to rebuild our shattered nation, after all the heartbreak, destruction and sacrifice, we came together yet again to create a new society, leaving a legacy to the generations that would come after of new homes, new lives and new hopes.

I take great pride in showing visitors everything in this place—it is a wonderful place—but in the Royal Gallery, amid all the pomp and ceremony of the royal portraits and the murals of famous well won victories, I take most pride in showing people, in the corner by the window, a beam from the jetty at Dunkirk where the British troops were able to embark and get back to Britain. Without it, we would not have won that war. That was a tremendous example of how, as a United Kingdom, we pull together.

Today we are once more faced with economic hardship and great social and economic challenges that are currently being felt throughout the country—certainly in some of the deprived areas of Scotland. Now is the time to stand together once more. It is not about offering false dreams and false hopes, as the SNP has done, but about delivering a new dawn by working together. We will have to fight by all and for all. We cannot just retreat into our respective homelands and shut ourselves off from each other. We must stand united, regardless of our differences, and give truth to the old Labour adage that,

“by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone”.

9.36 pm

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part. It has been a remarkable debate in the quality of the contributions. Indeed, as in some of our earlier debates on this subject, we have had a range of very thoughtful contributions from noble Lords on all sides of the House, from all parts of the United Kingdom—Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, England and, indeed, Cornwall. That has enriched our debate.

One of the most important things that came through was the number of people who talked of their own experience. The noble Lord, Lord Soley, talked about working in Scotland as well as in England. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, talked about his family and what makes him what he is—a product of this United Kingdom. My noble friend Lord Dobbs said that he was a full-blooded Englishman but nevertheless has a great affection for and affinity with what we have achieved as a United Kingdom.

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My noble friends Lord Glasgow and Lord Purvis and the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, said that what they so much regret about the referendum debate is almost having to choose between being British and Scottish, whereas most of us think we can be British as well as Scottish—and indeed, European—whatever part of Scotland we come from. The noble Lord, Lord McConnell, talked about the strength and diversity within the United Kingdom. In spite—or perhaps because—of that diversity, we are a United Kingdom. We can celebrate the diversity and our unity.

I particularly thank my noble friend Lord Lang of Monkton for his reprise of the recommendations of the Constitution Committee’s very valuable report on the constitutional implications of the referendum and, specifically, of a yes vote. The Constitution Committee of your Lordships’ House has a well deserved reputation for full and detailed examination of key constitutional debates that we face in the UK. This latest report discussed in today’s debate is no different.

As I indicated in my opening speech, we will offer a full written response in advance of the due date of 16 July. The noble Lord, Lord McConnell, asked about that. I understood that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris, might have thought that that was a response to the McKay commission, so I make it clear that it is a response to the report that we are debating today.

I will offer a few reflections on behalf of the Government because the report rightly highlights that the constitutional stakes could not be higher. A yes vote in September would have a profound impact not just on Scotland but on people right across the United Kingdom. Those implications would be far-reaching and would extend far beyond constitutional points—to the economy, our place in the world, and our relationships with one another across these islands.

However, as the committee notes, at its very core the implications are set out in law; and it would be to the law that we would have to turn. Successive Governments have been very clear that it is for people in Scotland to decide if they wish to remain a part of the United Kingdom, or if they wish to leave and go it alone. That is why I say to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris of Aberavon, who indicated that the Welsh were not involved in the agreement signed in Edinburgh in October 2012, that it has been the view of successive Governments that if the people of Scotland wish to leave they should not be held in the union against their will. That was the background to the agreement.

However, as my noble friend Lord Purvis pointed out, it is one of the strengths of the union that, because we have established the rule of law and the basis of democracy, we are confident that these matters will be determined through the ballot box and not through means by which other countries in history have sought to claim their independence.

The referendum on 18 September will determine this question. I say to my noble friends Lord Shipley and Lord Caithness that, in a debate where both sides are almost invariably at odds with each other, the one thing that the two Governments have never disputed is that there should be only one referendum. It is important to recognise that if Scotland votes yes on 18 September

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it will be not only for Christmas, as one noble Lord said in his contribution, but decisive. The agreement reached was intended to be decisive and would be respected. The noble Lord, Lord McFall, asked whether that was set down when it was signed up to. In fact both Governments have said that it would be a decisive referendum that would be respected by both sides. Therefore one would expect that a no vote would be respected by those who have campaigned for a yes vote.

However, as the committee notes at paragraphs 38 to 43, if there is a yes vote, legislation delivered through this Parliament will be required to take Scotland out of the United Kingdom and to establish a new, separate state. I shall come later to the point raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope. The committee recognised that the extent and scope of that legislation may be very limited. Many subsequent orders will be required but the legislation itself could be quite limited. Much will depend on the agreement reached.

As I have said in your Lordships’ House on a number of previous occasions, these negotiations cannot begin in advance of the referendum as we must not pre-empt the outcome of the negotiations. To do so would require the United Kingdom Government to put themselves in the shoes of a Government of the continuing United Kingdom minus Scotland. It would require the United Kingdom to act in the interests of only one part of the United Kingdom rather than the whole of the United Kingdom. To do so in advance of a referendum would be to deliver exactly what the nationalists want—a United Kingdom that excludes Scottish interests and acts only in the interests of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. That is the reality of independence: it means that there will be two separate states, and where you have two separate states you have two separate sets of interests. Sometimes they will be mutual, sometimes not.

Later in the committee’s report the question of who should make up the negotiating team for the rest of the United Kingdom was raised. As someone who has represented a Scottish constituency in the United Kingdom Parliament as well as in the Scottish Parliament, and as someone who will continue to be resident in Scotland after the referendum, whatever the result, I find the report’s recommendation on the role of Scottish representatives and the exclusion of those who would have a conflict interest very compelling.

I turn now to the points highlighted by the committee, including representation of Scotland within the UK Parliament and by the UK Government in the period between a referendum which endorsed a yes vote and independence day. In paragraphs 56 to 58 of the report the committee raises the risk of constitutional limbo. This issue was raised in his introductory speech by my noble friend Lord Lang, by the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, and by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cullen of Whitekirk. I have looked back at the context in which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland answered that question. It was in the context of negotiation, whereas, as I have just said, you cannot have negotiations where there are different sides of the argument.

However, to make it clear, during any negotiations Scotland would still be part of the United Kingdom and public services would be delivered as they are now.

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This means that the Scottish Government would continue to be responsible for health, education, justice, rural affairs, housing and transport in Scotland as well as the other devolved matters, and the United Kingdom Government would continue to be responsible for reserved matters. I do not think that the noble and learned Lord expected the Electoral Commission statement to contain the whole list of Schedule 5. However, the key ones are there and there is nothing sinister about the ones that were mentioned or not mentioned. The United Kingdom Government would continue to be responsible for reserved matters, including defence, security, foreign affairs and the constitution, plus pensions, benefits and most tax powers up to the date when Scotland became an independent state.

During the negotiations, the two Governments would continue to discuss any policies of either that affect the responsibilities of the other. Equally clear is the reality that a vote to leave the United Kingdom is a vote to leave its institutions, including the Houses of Parliament. The timing of any changes would have to be settled in the event of a vote for independence.

I sincerely hope that there is a clear endorsement—a view expressed by all noble Lords with the exception of the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas—of Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom. If there is not, that is when the negotiations will begin. I suspect that they will take as long as necessary to ensure that both sides are content, rather than fitting neatly into a timetable laid down by the Scottish Government. I hope that that answers the question raised by noble friend Lord MacGregor. The noble Lord, Lord Robertson, with his experience of negotiating seven NATO entries, indicated that that was not by any means an easy process. As the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, pointed out, as did my noble friend Lord Garel-Jones, negotiation of entry into the European Union is by no means a straightforward matter either.

As people have said before, it is the deal in any negotiation that is important and not the date. With regard to the negotiations themselves, as the Constitution Committee report notes, the starting point for them is predetermined by the legal position that underpins all of this debate. The first of our Scotland analysis papers dealt with the legal and constitutional position of Scotland within the United Kingdom and the implications of independence. This was the right place to start, because it is from the law that political realities and experiences will flow. The legal reality is clear: the rest of the UK would be the continuator state in the event of independence. Scotland would leave and become a new successor state. I welcome the committee’s clear endorsement of this position in the first of its conclusions.

This key legal point has a number of ramifications. The United Kingdom would continue to be a member of all the international bodies to which it is currently party: the European Union, permanent membership of the Security Council of the United Nations, NATO, the G7 and the G20. As a new successor state, Scotland would need to apply for and seek new terms of membership. Those negotiations cannot in turn be prejudged in the way that the Scottish Government and advocates of independence seek. As has been pointed out in this debate, 28 member states of the

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European Union, each of which will wish to protect and represent the interests of its citizens, will have to sign up to these negotiations. Many of these states have had to accept terms of EU membership from which the Scottish Government expect to be exempt.

In the previous debate I did not wish to seem dismissive of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard. I hugely respect the experience that he brings to these matters, but it would not be right to speculate on how negotiations could work. Previously I perhaps raised an eyebrow more with the idea that the Scottish Government would find it acceptable for the United Kingdom Government to negotiate on their behalf: I just think that you need to say that there could be some political issues around that, but I certainly do not dismiss lightly what the noble Lord, with his experience, says.

As I noted at the start of today’s debate, the Government will respond in full to the committee’s recommendations, ahead of the response deadline. I hope that I have given some indication of our likely response to some of the key points made by the committee and repeated during this debate, and a clear sense of the approach that the United Kingdom Government are taking on these issues.

I turn to some of the other points that have been raised. In reference to the Edinburgh agreement I indicated that it is one wherein the United Kingdom and Scottish Governments agreed to work together to ensure that the referendum on Scottish independence could take place on a legal basis. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, thought that we had been tricked into it. Noble Lords might want to think about this for a moment. With the SNP having won—with a manifesto commitment to a referendum—a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament, in which the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, and I have some responsibility for the electoral system used, neither of us or many others thinking that any party could win a majority, it is not unreasonable that the referendum was facilitated. I rather think that Mr Alex Salmond, with the cunning wiliness referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, hoped that the United Kingdom Government would say no and give him ever more of a grievance.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: A 45% vote on a 50% turnout is not an overwhelming mandate. I am not saying it is overwhelming in one direction or the other but it is arguable that it did not provide the mandate and there could have been further discussions. I also said that in the discussions the UK Government seem to have conceded on every issue—issue by issue.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I do not accept that. In a PR election, to win an outright majority of seats—the political reality was that there was an expectation that if we had sought to thwart that, it would have played into their hands. There was the possibility that they would have run their own referendum, which we would have argued was not legal, and we would have been embroiled in a constitutional mire. The fact is, there is a binary question, yes/no, but I rather think that some in the nationalist cause would have liked to have muddied

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the waters with a third question and allowed us all the time to negotiate among ourselves what the third option would be, thus taking our eye off the ball and not tackling the main issue, which is whether Scotland should be an independent country.

The noble Lord, Lord Birt, made important points about the BBC. As the committee indicates, that is one of the institutions that would belong to the continuing state. He highlighted the detriment that Scotland leaving the UK would cause the BBC: 10% less funding for BBC programmes and for the rest of the UK. He also pointed out, importantly, that of course the BBC is independent of government and any negotiations it had with the Scottish broadcasting service would be akin to the kinds of negotiations that I am sure it has with many other national broadcasting companies throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Unlimited access to BBC services in an independent Scotland would cost money, and it is naive and indeed misleading for the Scottish Government to pretend that everything would just go on as before.

The noble Baroness, Lady Adams, asked about English universities. Access for Scottish students would be the same as for those from other European Union countries. The other thing that is slightly odd is the Scottish Government trying to pretend that English students coming to Scottish universities could be treated differently from those from other European Union countries.

Baroness Adams of Craigielea: On that point, given that if Scotland voted yes it would no longer be part of the European Union, how then would Scottish students be treated?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: Indeed, if Scotland was a member of the European Union, they would be treated the same as everyone else from there; if it was not, they would be treated the same as international students from India or wherever. Of course, if Scotland were to be part of the European Union—a point that I think the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, is about to latch on to—the idea that you could allow free tuition for students from every other European Union country and charge English students does not have any sound basis. It is difficult to say that you want to enter into a social union with other parts of the United Kingdom but one of the first things you do is charge its students when you are not charging anyone else.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: I know it is difficult but it has already been said. Mr Salmond has said that they would not get free tuition—that English, Welsh and Northern Irish students would not be treated as other European students. That is what we are facing. We are doing everything by the book. We are treating these matters honourably. People on the other side of the discussion are not.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, there is such a thing as the European Court of Justice, and anyone who attempted to fly in the face of what most people would think of as accepted European Union law may find that the law caught up with them.

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My noble friend Lord Cormack and the noble Baroness, Lady Adams, talked about their grandchildren and how they do not wish to see opportunities cut off and cannot understand why we would want to build barriers. That has been reflected in many schools, where there have been substantial no votes. It shows that in an era when young people can communicate so easily, when the communication barriers have been broken down because of modern technology, the idea that you would start erecting barriers is something that many of them just cannot comprehend. That is a great strength for our union as we look forward.

My noble friend Lord Caithness asked about the draft Bill. I confess that we have not yet done any analysis of it. My noble friend Lord Lester of Herne Hill, however, was telling me the other day that he has already identified two or three inconsistencies with the European Convention on Human Rights, and if my noble friend has identified them, that probably means that they are right. It is not a very good start for a constitution if it seems to fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, raised the question about whether it could be a Section 30 order. It is clear that independence cannot just be asserted. The terms of an agreement reached between the representative of an independent Scotland and a continuing UK would have to be that: an agreement. I have already indicated what the position would be with regard to the period between the date of a referendum if there were to be a yes vote and the date of independence, and all the responsibilities that the United Kingdom Government would have. The quote that I gave was a direct quote from the statement given jointly by both Governments to the Electoral Commission, so the Scottish Government themselves have signed up to that.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Cullen, made a point about how long it took to get that agreement, and that was just an agreement to make a statement. That might put into context how long it might take to negotiate an independence settlement. If Scotland chooses to leave the United Kingdom, it must be prepared to do so whatever the terms, because the terms cannot be known in advance.

As the report of the Constitution Committee indicates, there could be possible difficulties with a Section 30 order if it was challenged in the courts that the use of the Section 30 order had gone beyond what Parliament intended an order to do—if it were bringing in independence when in fact that was clearly never the intention of Parliament.

Lord Hope of Craighead: To be clear, is the Minister saying that what is contemplated, at least by the Government, is that there would have to be legislation through both Houses of Parliament in order to facilitate the independence Bill that is now on the table?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: I think I said in my evidence to the committee that there was a possibility of a Section 30 order but that there are difficulties with that. I indicated that there might have to be very limited legislation, if only to allow the Scottish

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Government to put together a negotiating team and enter into negotiations. As the noble and learned Lord probably knows better than anyone in the House, along with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cullen, the propensity for some people to litigate in areas like this could be very great. If that were the situation that we were in, although we sincerely hope that it will not be, it would be important to put the negotiations on a proper legal footing so that they could not be subject to some further challenge.

Lord Purvis of Tweed: I am conscious not to take up more time. Following on from the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, the Scottish Government have put forward, in the documents that have been referred to, the assertions that the Scotland Act would be revised again. They have said that, together with the enactment of the Scottish independence Bill, the existing Scotland Act would be amended, but in the document they have not said by whom and when.

If I am correct in thinking that the concordat still exists between the Scottish Government and the UK Government that any proposals put forward by the Scottish Government that may impinge on reserved matters should be discussed in advance with the United Kingdom Government, was there any discussion or any forenotice by the Scottish Government that they would be bringing forward this matter, drafted by civil servants and presented to the people of Scotland as a Scottish Government paper?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: I can confirm that there were no prior discussions with the United Kingdom Government on that matter. Finally—

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: Surely my noble friend is not telling the House that in the event of Scotland voting to leave the United Kingdom, that would not be a matter that would require legislation approved by both Houses of Parliament?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: I made that clear earlier: we are talking about an interim Bill. As I indicated earlier, in response to the point made by my noble friend Lord Lang of Monkton, yes, we have indicated that there would have to be legislation. The scope and extent of it would very much depend on the terms of the agreement reached; they may not have to be very extensive. However, I confirm that there would have to be legislation to bring about independence. I hope that that is clear and unequivocal. My noble friend looks doubtful but I am saying that there would have to be legislation to bring about independence.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: That is a bit weaselly, because it suggests that a deal could be done between the two Governments and then there would be a kind of confirmatory piece of legislation. If we are talking about breaking up the United Kingdom, this is a matter not just for the Executive but for Parliament as a whole.

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Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, of course the Executive are answerable to Parliament. That is self-evident, as we well know. It is impossible to speculate on this because we do not actually know what the terms would be. I am just confirming that there would have to be legislation. I cannot speculate about what would be in the legislation because I have no clue what kind of negotiations there would be or what agreement would be reached. To try to speculate would go against the grain of what we have said about there being no pre-commitment or pre-negotiation.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: I am sorry to keep everyone but this is a very crucial matter—as the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, indicated. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace, has said that the Government have not yet considered fully the terms of the interim so-called constitution drafted by the Scottish Government. Perhaps he could tell us today that the Government will look at that, and report back to this House on it, and then we can have a further debate. We really must consider this. As I said in my speech, we are getting bounced into one thing after another. We should be damned sure that we are not bounced into this one.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, we certainly shall look at it, although whether we can have a debate between now and the House rising I just do not know. However, I hope we are not confusing two things. Of course, a constitution would be a matter for the independent Scotland. It would post-date independence. I think the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, talked about an interim Bill, and that was what was being discussed.

Lord Hope of Craighead: I simply adopted the language of the Scottish Government. They produced this draft Bill to carry the matter forward as from independence day on an interim basis until the new constitution forecast at the end of the Bill was passed. It is incredibly important to know what we are to make of the interim Bill. Among other things, it proclaims that every Scots person is to be a citizen of the European Union as from independence day, although we all know that Scotland will not be a member of the European Union. It is full of flaws of that kind and we simply cannot give them carte blanche to pass it through without discussion.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, what an independent Scotland does after independence day would be a matter for an independent Scotland. I think that is common ground. If it wants to legislate nonsense then it can. That would be the decision of an independent Scotland.

Lord Cormack: I am very troubled about this, as many of us are, against the background of the deal the Government did with the Scottish Government. My friend the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, nods vigorously. Can we at least have an absolute undertaking from my noble and learned friend that when the Government have considered this we will have a full Statement in the House and an opportunity to ask questions?

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Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I cannot make that commitment but I certainly gauge the mood of the House. If it might help, I think perhaps that at some point we have confused two different things. The point I made to my noble friend Lord Forsyth is that there would have to be legislation going through this Parliament to establish Scottish independence. That is very clear. That is what I said to the committee and I think I am right that it was accepted.

Lord Robertson of Port Ellen: The Minister says we are getting confused and he is very accurate. It seems that what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, said related to what the Scottish Government might do in the Scottish Parliament following the yes vote and before independence day took place. That is where the worry comes in. What they do after independence—if that day should ever happen—is up to them but if they bounce us in the interim period by passing through the Scottish Parliament this draft constitution, then that should really worry all of us.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord for clarifying that. I think that the question asked by my noble friend Lord Forsyth related to the Act enacting independence rather than independence itself. The noble Lord, Lord Robertson, is right: what happens after independence is a matter for the Scottish Parliament. What happens between a potential yes vote on 18 September and the date of independence is a different matter because the present law of the United Kingdom would still apply. As I believe that the present law of the United Kingdom, including the Scotland Act, does make provision for Section 30 orders, the orders would have to be passed—we are not changing the procedure of them—by both Houses of this Parliament, as well as by the Scottish Parliament.

I have also indicated to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, that there are legal issues and doubts about whether that would be an effective way of doing it, because there is a concept that we cannot use secondary legislation to effect an outcome that is totally contrary to the intention of the original legislation—as Hadfield has it. The original legislation was not enacted to establish an independent Scotland, so using a Section 30 order to bring about de facto independence could be challengeable. That ultimately would be a matter for the courts, so I will not put it any higher than that; but such a course of action could be fraught. I hope that that is clear.

On responding to the particular points about the interim, I will bear in mind what is being sought.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: Before my noble and learned friend sits down, is he saying that there is no question of a Section 30 order being used to effect this?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: Yes, that is what I said. It would not be the right way and would be susceptible to legal challenge.

The Scottish Government have set out proposals that contradict the agreement set out in the Electoral

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Commission statement. The Electoral Commission statement makes it very clear, and both Governments agreed, that as far as reserved matters are concerned, the United Kingdom Government would continue to be responsible for them. That is what the law is, and it will continue to be so until the date of independence.

I shall conclude briefly. We have had a very good debate, and we have been told to be positive. Such has been the success of the United Kingdom, however, that the yes campaign perhaps makes the best case for us. If one looks at the Scottish Government’s White Paper and at the yes campaign, one sees that such is the success of the United Kingdom, they want to keep much of it. They want to keep the monarchy; they want to keep the currency; they want to keep the Bank of England; they want to keep the National Lottery; they want to keep the NHS blood transfusion and transplant service; they want to keep the Royal Mint; they want to keep the research councils; they want to keep the air and maritime accident investigation branches; they want to keep the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management; they want to keep the Green Investment Bank; they want to keep the Met Office; they want to keep the Hydrographic Office; they want to keep the UK benefits system; they want to keep the DVLA; they even want to keep “Strictly Come Dancing” and “EastEnders”. What better advert can there be for the United Kingdom than how much of it the independence-minded nationalists actually want to embrace?

We have shown that we have a remarkable partnership of nations. For all our achievements and all our successes, and for all the support we give each other in difficult days, we have a United Kingdom of which we can be legitimately proud.

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I apologise—I should have said more about the overwhelming challenge of a new United Kingdom. I had quite a bit to say on that. I will only say that I have heard noble Lords. Obviously, I cannot give a commitment tonight about a new convention for the whole of the United Kingdom, but I hear the comments from all round the House—cross-party and cross-country, and not just about the United Kingdom but about decentralisation. These are matters on which my colleagues in government will wish to reflect with the seriousness with which they were put forward in this debate.

I have tried to answer as many questions as I can. I sincerely hope that on the key date of 19 September we will be looking forward and not having to deal with some of the issues raised in the admirable report from my noble friend Lord Lang of Monkton and his committee.

Motion agreed.

Scotland: Independence (Constitution Committee Report)

Motion to Take Note

10.08 pm

Moved by Lord Lang of Monkton

That this House takes note of the Report of the Constitution Committee on Scottish independence: constitutional implications of the referendum. (8th Report, Session 2013-14, HL Paper 188)

Motion agreed.

House adjourned at 10.09 pm.