HC Deb 04 June 1997 vol 295 cc398-445


Parliament has decided to consult people in Scotland on the Government's proposals for a Scottish Parliament.

Put a cross (X) in the appropriate box:




Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough)

Last night, as we concluded our deliberations before the 10 o'clock Adjournment, I was discussing the questions that were being suggested by the hon. Members for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) and for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond).

The questions to be used in the referendum on Scotland have, as we all know, taken many forms in the past few months. The right hon. Member for Hamilton, South (Mr. Robertson) went through so many twists and turns in reaching a conclusion as to what to present to the Scottish people that one could be forgiven for thinking that he was sitting on a sharp object. Or had ground control finally got in touch with Major Tom and shown him the blade of Excalibur? Whatever it was that brought the right hon. Gentleman to the present arrangement of two questions on one referendum, he was in danger of making the grand old Duke of York look decidedly decisive.

The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland wants one consolidated question asking electors whether they want a tax-raising Parliament in Scotland. He said that the taxation powers were critical for a Scottish Parliament to give it flexibility and accountability. Certainly, if I were in favour of a separate Scottish Parliament, I would not be content with a Parliament that could not vote its own budget—that is to offer a hungry man a plate, but no food. But that is precisely what the Welsh are to be offered by the Government. If I were a Welsh elector, I should throw it back in the Government's face. The Welsh are being insulted by the Government, as we all are by the Bill and the proposals for a referendum in Scotland and Wales that are set out in it.

Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset)

Is not my hon. and learned Friend being unfair to the Government, in that they have made it clear that while they will ask in a referendum whether the Scottish people would like to have a tax-raising power in their Parliament, they also promised in the election campaign not to use that power and therefore to ignore whatever is said by the Scottish electors? Surely that is a strange thing for a Government who say that they want to be trusted by the people.

Mr. Garnier

My hon. Friend is right, but then the Labour party is a strange thing.

There are only two sensible ways to deal with the referendum—I touched on one of them last night. The first is to tell the people what the Government propose—to present the public with the scheme that they recommend. Provided that it has been set out before Parliament, discussed in both Houses, discussed on television and radio and in the press—argued over in all its three-dimensional glory—the public will know precisely what they are being offered.

The public should be asked, "Do you or do you not approve of the proposal for a Scottish/Welsh Parliament contained in the Scotland/Wales Act 1997 or 1998?" I call that the Linlithgow question.

Mr. Michael Fallon (Sevenoaks)

Given yesterday's debate and the persuasive case made by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), would it not be more appropriate to refer to this as the Linlithgow solution?

Mr. Garnier

It would be appropriate to call it the Linlithgow solution if I were the least bit confident that the Secretary of State for Scotland would accept his hon. Friend's solution, but he will not. The Government are not in listening mode.

To talk now of White Papers—or is it a Bill? We have yet to discover. Such talk is disingenuous and intellectually dishonest. To talk of proposals for "a Scottish Parliament" means nothing. Given the timetable motion, we can expect little room for discussion from the Government. The people are entitled to know now—before the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Bill becomes law—the details of the proposals. Without knowing the details, they are neither informed nor in a position to make a rational judgment.

The second way to deal with the referendum is to ask people whether they want independence. That is the solution preferred by the Scottish nationalists. If the people say that they want independence, it will be up to the people of Scotland to decide on their own Parliament, to set out their own plans for their taxation system and, possibly, if they want to move outside the ambit of foreign and defence affairs dealt with from Whitehall, to settle their own treaties and international affairs. However, the Government have neither the brains nor the bravery to produce anything other than a total mess. We now watch them with amazement that the reputation they were entitled to expect on election by a vast majority is rapidly sifting away. I urge all hon. Members to watch them like hawks.

3.45 pm
Mr. Fallon

There are many amendments in this group, but I wish to speak to amendments Nos. 111 and 112 in my name and the names of my hon. Friends the Members for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh) and for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow).

Putting the phrase "tax-varying powers" on the face of the Bill as well as on the ballot paper perpetuates a deception that was skilfully cultivated during the run-up to the election. That deception is that the only powers that the new Scottish Parliament will have are tax-varying powers, or that the only powers that matter that the new Scottish Parliament will have are tax-varying powers. That, of course, is not true. We cannot know precisely the total number of other powers that the new Scottish Parliament is likely to have, because we do not yet have the White Paper before us; but, from the very choice of the word "parliament" for the proposed new body and from the previous attempts to establish such a Parliament, we can deduce that the range of powers to be given to the new Parliament is quite considerable.

First, as one would expect of any parliament, there is the power to make law. It is inevitable that when the Government come to consider the detail of their proposals, they will attempt to transfer some law making of some sort from this House to the new Scottish Parliament. Perhaps Scottish private legislation, or those curious Scottish orders that are referred to special commissioners, or some types of Scottish legislation at the later stages of consideration will be transferred or delegated to the new Scottish Parliament. If so, they will be formidable powers, affecting every citizen of Scotland and it may well be that those voting in the referendum will prefer those powers not to be exercised by a new Scottish Parliament.

After all, Scotland already has plenty of government: a Scottish Office, local authorities and a large number of Members of Parliament. Indeed, until we reduced the layer of regional government, it could be argued that Scotland had more government than almost any other country in western Europe.

Sir Robert Smith (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine)

An existing layer of government is the Scottish Office. How do Conservative Members plan to hold the Scottish Office accountable to the people it is meant to serve—the people of Scotland?

Mr. Fallon

That neatly takes me on to the second power of the Scottish Parliament, which is its power to hold Ministers, the Scottish Office and Scottish public bodies to account. At the moment, that power is exercised through this House, where Scottish Office Ministers are held to account by all Members of Parliament, whether or not they sit for Scottish constituencies. The Conservative Government strengthened that accountability by ensuring that the Scottish Grand Committee could hold to account Ministers other than those representing the Scottish Office—a welcome innovation. However, some of the people who will vote in the referendum may feel that that power should not be exercised by the new Scottish Parliament. It would all depend on whether the exercise of that power was proportionate to the cost of the new machinery by means of which it was exercised, or whether it simply duplicated the existing arrangements that prevail in the House.


Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

These questions cannot be answered in any form until another question is answered: to whom will the civil service be responsible? Will civil servants be responsible to the United Kingdom Government, as they are at present? To whom will they owe their prime loyalty? I hate to use the word "masters", because I do not believe that that is the appropriate relationship, yet, in some senses, it is the old problem of serving two masters. Are civil servants to be responsible to the Ministers in a Scottish Parliament? Until that question has been resolved, the issues that the hon. Gentleman properly raises cannot be resolved.

Mr. Fallon

That must be right. It was certainly the case under the previous Government—I know that it seems to have changed now—that civil servants were ultimately responsible to the Crown. It has yet to be established how they will be able to serve two different Parliaments. That reinforces the case for spelling out in more detail in the Bill, in legislation and, if necessary, on the ballot paper what powers those who vote in the referendum in Scotland will be voting for.

Mr. William Cash (Stone)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Fallon

I will, but I am conscious that others want to contribute.

Mr. Cash

I said yesterday that the role of the Secretary of State is also left in limbo. Does my hon. Friend accept not only that civil servants are servants of the Crown, but that, as the function of the Secretary of State is an indivisible function, that matter must be sorted out? As it is impossible for any one Secretary of State to be distinguished from others, the issue of the relationship between Ministers of the Crown and those who would be representatives in a Scottish Parliament, setting out their policy in that Parliament, will have to be sorted out.

Mr. Fallon

It certainly needs to be sorted out. It would also lead us down the path of exploring the relationship between the Secretary of State, who is accountable to the House, and whoever is chosen to be first Minister in the new Scottish Parliament. However, that might be outside the scope of the amendments that we are debating, so I will not take that path.

The third power of Parliament is the power to grant or withhold supply. However legislation is framed, no system of parliamentary government is constructed without the prospect of granting supply to or withholding it from its Executive. Before any citizen, any resident of Scotland, comes to vote in a referendum this autumn, they will surely want to know exactly what type of supply may be controlled by the new Scottish Parliament and may be granted to or withheld from its Executive by that Parliament.

That matter might affect the funding of every local authority, hospital, school, university and public service in Scotland. There may well be many people in remoter parts of Scotland who will not agree to the granting or withholding of that type of supply, exercised on the whim of a coalition in the new Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, that will, for example, dramatically reduce the moneys available to the councils of the Western Isles or the Shetland Islands.

That is why the powers to be exercised by the new Scottish Parliament must be set out. If they are not to be set out in legislation before the referendum, we are entitled to say that they should be specifically set out on the face of the Bill, as proposed in the Government's narrow phrase "tax-varying powers" in clause 1, or on the ballot paper. If that is impossible, as a last resort it would be better than nothing that those powers be set out in some type of formal literature that is sent to every resident of Scotland before he or she votes in the referendum. That is a proposition which the Committee cannot discuss, because of the way in which the timetable motion has been drawn up.

Unless the powers are specifically set out in legislation, and unless we can assure those who are voting that they know exactly what powers the new Scottish Parliament will have, we are driven back to the solution proposed by the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), which we should put before the House again.

How can those who vote in a referendum—this autumn, perhaps—be sure what they are voting for, unless they see in detail the powers that the new Parliament will exercise? When the Minister of State winds up the debate, he should re-examine the phrase "tax-varying powers", and consider the deletion of the adjective "tax-varying". He should at least come clean with the Committee and say that the vote this autumn should be on the establishment and powers in toto of the new Scottish Parliament.

Mr. Donald Gorrie (Edinburgh, West)

I want to reiterate the Liberal Democrat position on the Scottish referendum. The position is different in Wales, and our Welsh colleagues will make clear their position.

First, we are against a referendum on Scotland. We believe that the proposal for a referendum was born from panic. The Labour leadership was put in a panic by the former Secretary of State for Scotland. Fortunately, the Scottish voters have a great deal more—if I may use two Scottish expressions—spunk and smeddum than the Labour leadership. They have rejected the attempts of the previous Secretary of State to frighten them and turn them against the idea of a Scottish Parliament. The Scottish voters have shown better sense than the Labour leadership. There is no need for a referendum.

Our position is diametrically opposed to that of the Conservatives, who are against any form of democracy anywhere, especially in Scotland. We believe that the views of the Scots are clear and a referendum would be a waste of time.

Secondly, we are against the second question. We consider it politically inept. However it is written, it will be read by many voters as, "You do want to have higher taxes, don't you?" Those of us who learnt Latin learnt a form of question which called for the answer no. This is such a question. It is written in such a way that people will tend to vote no. It does not state, "If you vote for higher taxes, you will get better schools, better hospitals and so on," which our party put forward in the general election. It merely asks in the abstract, "Would you like to vote for higher taxes?" We believe that that is inept.

Furthermore, as my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) made clear yesterday, the question puts on offer a proposition that no party is putting forward—that is, a Scottish Parliament without tax-raising powers. That is not on the political agenda, so it is wrong to offer it. It also demolishes any moral position that the Government may have for rejecting the nationalists' claim to have their question included in the referendum. Once one starts opening out the scope of the referendum, where does one stop? The second question is foolish and undermines the Government's position.

I shall deal with some of the arguments that we have heard against a Parliament with tax-varying powers. The hon. Member for Linlithgow argued that the existence of borders created difficulties, but there is no problem if a citizen of Connecticut pays different taxes from a citizen of New York state, or if the citizens of two adjacent German Länder are taxed differently. The hon. Gentleman may say that America is a federal country—but that makes no difference to the principle. Denmark, a unitary country, has district, regional and national income taxes. The system works perfectly well; there is no rioting in the streets of Denmark of the kind we had here with the poll tax.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich)

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that we should not ask the Scottish people whether they want a taxation system different from the one they have at the moment, even though, on his own evidence, there are at least five or six ways in which that could be interpreted?

4 pm

Mr. Gorrie

We are saying that the tax-varying element of the Parliament is an integral part of the whole structure. Hence to ask a separate question about it is idiotic.

Mr. Andrew Lansley (South Cambridgeshire)

The hon. Gentleman proposes that a Scottish Parliament must, of necessity, control an entirely separate fiscal regime from the one applying to the rest of the UK. That seems to imply that a Scottish Parliament must, also of necessity, be economically independent from the United Kingdom Parliament.

Mr. Gorrie

I do not see why it should not be, but it is also possible to have a mixed system, which is what the Government seem to be proposing. We say that, without some control over the money, the Scottish Parliament proposal is fatally flawed.

Mr. Garnier

For some time, it has been Liberal party policy—I do not know whether it still is—to advocate a local income tax, so I can well understand a Scottish Parliament having the power to raise a local income tax that varied from region to region or from county to county. Does the hon. Gentleman, however, agree that the second question is meaningless because the people of Scotland will be invited to answer it with no idea of the true definition of "tax-varying powers"? At the moment, it is just a nice-sounding phrase with no detail behind it.

Mr. Gorrie

By the time voting takes place, a White Paper will have been issued and debated at length. The citizens of Scotland are not all as stupid as English Conservative Members seem to think they are. It would be quite simple for them to say that they wanted a Parliament with some control over money. We are against asking a separate question at all; but if there is one, we shall campaign flat out for a double yes in the referendum, because tax-raising powers are essential.

Conservative Members have raised the chimera that because of a slightly higher income tax in Scotland, people and companies would indulge in a mass emigration to England. That is rubbish. There are already in Scotland at least three pairs of adjacent local authorities the gulf between whose council tax D bands—the standard rate band—is greater than the gulf that would ensue from the imposition of an extra 3p tax on the mythical average taxpayer. Yet there is no mass emigration or immigration—

Mr. Lansley


Mr. Gorrie

No, really, I have had enough. The whole argument, like almost everything else the Conservatives have said in this debate, is false.

Next, various Conservatives and the hon. Member for Linlithgow have argued that because Parliament might change a few commas and full stops between publication of the White Paper and the final passage of the Bill, the whole process will be null and void. That misses the point. The people of Scotland will not be swayed, when voting for or against a Scottish Parliament, merely because some power over railways or fisheries is or is not included. They will be voting on a gut feeling that they want a Scottish Parliament with control over its own affairs and its own money. Any minor changes made later by Parliament will in no way invalidate the decision of the people of Scotland.

It is no wonder that many Scottish Conservatives want out. They want to run their own show. I invite Conservatives who have spoken repeatedly and prominently in these debates to come to Scotland to campaign for the no side in the referendum. Then all of us would be able to stay at home, and would romp home.

Over 26 years, in four different councils, I have formed the view that in public life most of the people involved in the debate roughly understand the question, but they have different answers. The Conservative party has not begun to understand the question. It is on a different planet altogether. Many of us have used the well-known phrase about power corrupting. I have discovered in the past few days that the corruption of power is a lingering illness. The corruption carries on far longer than the power. The Conservatives must get their act together, because they are making a mockery of themselves, democracy and the House.

The Minister for Home Affairs and Devolution, Scottish Office (Mr. Henry McLeish)

I am pleased to reply to the debate on the amendments. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Gorrie) has it absolutely right.

It is my style to try to be as helpful as I can to the Conservative Opposition. They are recovering slowly from 1 May, but are obviously going through a period of recuperation.

Mr. Michael Ancram (Devizes)

The Minister said that he agreed with the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Gorrie), and that he was absolutely right. Does that mean that the Minister accepts the hon. Gentleman's amendment?

Mr. McLeish

Obviously we are to have a continuation of the nit-picking exercise that was characteristic of the Opposition yesterday. If the right hon. Gentleman will just sit still for a few minutes more, I shall respond.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, West is absolutely right that Conservative Members need to listen to what is happening in Scotland in relation to devolution and the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Bill. In my attempt to be continually helpful, I draw their attention to a poll in one of our national newspapers this morning. In fact there were two polls, but I shall deal first with the one on devolution. It appears that, in the most recent poll, the vote was 3:1 in support of a Scottish Parliament and 2:1 in support of it having tax-varying powers. Indeed, that poll is very encouraging.

I remind the Conservative Opposition of another poll in the same national newspaper this morning, which suggested that, after popular support for the Conservatives reached the dizzy heights of 18 per cent. on 1 May, it has now plummeted to 9 per cent. I submit that the fundamental challenge for Conservative Members to get to grips with is that voters in Scotland want, by 3:1, to support a Scottish Parliament, but have given only 9 per cent. support to what used to be Her Majesty's Government's party in Scotland.

Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. McLeish

In a moment.

It is also important to identify who is saying what in the Conservative party about the referendum. In an excellent article in the Evening News today, pro-home rule Tory campaigner Christine Richards, ex-leader of the Tories on Edinburgh council, said: We cannot go on being arrogant and ignorant. That is in relation to the "I still won't budge on devolution" concept put forward in the House.

I ask the Conservatives to think hard. It is becoming embarrassing for a Minister to try to help the Conservative party in Scotland to come to grips with its own reality.

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Inverclyde)

In addition to speaking to the lady to whom my hon. Friend referred, perhaps some Opposition Members should speak to the likes of Councillor Brian Meek, who is arguing a good case for an independent Conservative party in Scotland.

Mr. McLeish

My hon. Friend is obviously trying to be as helpful as I am in relation to the recuperation of the Conservative party, but I fear that if I do not get on to the amendments, you, Mr. Lord, will bring me back into line.

Mr. Grieve


Mr. Fallon


Mr. McLeish

I said that I would give way to the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve).

Mr. Grieve

I am grateful to the Minister, because, as I think he is aware, I have tried to attend these debates from the beginning precisely because I should like to be educated, especially on the views of Scottish and Welsh Members of Parliament. I confess that although I may go there frequently, I understand my own ignorance on many points.

There is no mention in anything that the Minister has said of the wider United Kingdom dimension. Can he not understand that one of the concerns that brings Conservative Members to address the House is the fact that unless the UK dimension is taken into account, simply going along because there may be wishes in Scotland or Wales will not produce a durable result that will both devolve government and preserve the Union?

Mr. McLeish

The hon. Gentleman's comment in relation to the franchise was dealt with yesterday. However, there will be ample opportunity to debate the matter when the White Paper is published, during the campaign before the referendum and, if it is successful, during the passage of the substantive Bill. I am sure that that will provide the education that the hon. Gentleman seeks as well as giving Conservative Members the opportunity to participate and to make the views of their constituents known, whichever part of the United Kingdom they represent.

Mr. Dalyell

My hon. Friend said that there would be ample opportunity to debate the matter. In the public print there has been some reference to the White Paper being published on 25 July. Can my hon. Friend confirm that it will be before the middle of July?

Mr. McLeish

I can confirm that the Government want to publish the White Paper as soon as possible before the summer recess, and we have also confirmed that we want a debate on it when it is published.

Mr. Ancram


Mr. McLeish

I want to make some progress.

Amendment Nos. 76 and 87 to 95 would have the effect of consulting the electorate in Scotland only on a single proposal for a Scottish Parliament with tax-varying powers. In effect, that would deny people in Scotland the opportunity to say whether they wanted their Parliament to have the power to vary tax.

We, of course, firmly believe that a Scottish Parliament should have the power to vary tax. The Westminster Parliament and local authorities have such powers. We believe that the responsibility and discipline that come with having the power to vary tax are important.

However, we believe that it is important that people in Scotland should be given the opportunity to express their views specifically on our tax-varying proposals. The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) asked why we are consulting separately on our proposal for the Scottish Parliament to have tax-varying powers and not on any other aspects of our proposals—why taxation? Surely the hon. Gentleman will agree that taxation is significant. It is an issue on which most people have a view, and understandably so. It is only right that the views of the Scottish people on that issue are clear.

Mr. Denzil Davies (Llanelli)

When my hon. Friend refers to tax-raising powers, is he dealing with all kinds of taxes or just one kind of tax? Would VAT, corporation tax or capital gains tax be varied? Which tax is it?

Mr. McLeish

The tax-varying power applicable to Scotland will be predicated on income tax.

If hon. Members are so sure that the Scottish people want a Parliament with tax-varying powers, what harm can there be in asking them? We made it clear in our manifesto that we intended to consult them on that, and I can see no reason for failing to deliver on that pledge. Popular endorsement on that specific point will put the views of the people of Scotland beyond doubt and speed the passage of the subsequent legislation. I do not expect that the people of Scotland will want anything less for a Scottish Parliament.

Again, the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan sought reassurance that a second referendum would not be held once the main devolution legislation had received Royal Assent. I am happy to assure him that we have no such intention.

Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland)

Is it the Minister's position, as was reported, that if—I am sure that he and I would both expect and hope that it would not arise—there was a yes, no vote, a Labour Government would bring in legislation to introduce a Scottish Parliament without tax powers, despite his knowing that that is less than what he believes to be in the best interests of the Scottish people?

Mr. McLeish

In the spirit of optimism pervading the Government, we believe that we shall have a yes, yes vote. To talk of any other would, in some respects, help what I was going to describe as the no, no campaign, but it is difficult to envisage a no, no campaign other than the one being generated from Westminster by the Conservative party.

The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan also raised the point, as did the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), that there would be an opportunity to vote in favour of a Scottish Parliament and against it having tax-varying powers—the so-called yes, no vote. I have no doubt that we shall receive resounding support for our proposals for a Scottish Parliament with tax-varying powers. We fully expect a yes, yes result and we are planning on that basis.

The heart of a Parliament lies in its powers to legislate. Our proposals will ensure that legislation on Scottish affairs will be passed in Scotland by people elected in Scotland who understand and represent Scottish interests.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

The point being made by me and by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) went slightly further. We were pointing out that a two-question referendum brings forward an option of a Parliament without tax-varying powers, which is not supported by any substantial party in the whole of Scotland. Why is that option being presented when other options, such as the independence option, are clearly not?

4.5 pm

Mr. McLeish

The hon. Gentleman will obviously have an opportunity a bit later in the debate to discuss the multi-option referendum. Suffice it to say that we believe that the two questions are vital. We believe that tax-varying powers are an essential element of our proposals for devolution and we shall campaign vigorously to ensure that we have a yes, yes vote.

The issue of a no, yes result was raised by the right hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) and by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland. I have already explained why we are committed to consulting the people of Scotland separately on the tax-varying powers of a Scottish Parliament. There will be two ballot papers, one on the establishment of a Scottish Parliament and one on whether it should have the power to vary tax. We are using two separate ballot papers after having consulted electoral practitioners who advised that their use would reduce the risk of spoilt ballot papers and would ease the process of the count. We do not expect a no, yes result in the referendum and we are certainly not planning for that. If an individual wants to vote in that way, he or she will be perfectly entitled to do so.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West)

Who are these practitioners and what experience do they have of a two-ballot-paper referendum?

Mr. McLeish

Officials have consulted widely on these issues. Indeed, there is an association—this was news to me—that brings together people who are experts in the field. I can reassure my hon. Friend that a great deal of thought has gone into the matter.

Amendment Nos.111 and 112 seek to amend the proposition on which the people in Scotland will be consulted—[Interruption.] It would be useful for Opposition Front-Bench Members to listen a bit, especially as the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague), one of the leading contenders for the leadership, is here. It seems to be the practice of Conservatives to go to Scotland and to lecture, lecture and lecture the people there on devolution. Listening does not seem to have been one of their activities over the past 18 years.

Amendment Nos. 111 and 112 seek to amend the proposition on which the people in Scotland will be consulted, to refer to a Scottish Assembly and to remove the reference to tax-varying powers. We have already made it perfectly clear that we intend to consult the people in Scotland on our proposals for a Scottish Parliament and not on any other options.

A number of questions were asked about the specific powers of a Scottish Parliament and about details of our proposals—indeed, those questions have dominated most of the contributions from Conservative Members.

Mr. Ancram

I want to make a suggestion to the Minister of State which will, I hope, be helpful. Given the misunderstanding that has obviously arisen over the past three weeks over whether there will be a Bill before the referendum or a White Paper before the referendum, given that the Minister has told us that a White Paper will be produced before the House rises for the summer and that there will be a chance to debate it, and given that the referendum will not take place until September, will he consider producing a draft Bill before the referendum takes place, so that the people in Scotland and the people in Wales will know the detail of what they are being asked to vote on?

Mr. McLeish

I say with the greatest respect and courtesy that I can muster that Government Members are sick and tired of the fact that after 50 questions have been posed and 50 answers have been received, Front-Bench Conservative Members' contributions are just nit-picking over what is very, very obvious. I shall spell the matter out to the right hon. Gentleman. We have said that we shall publish a White Paper as soon as possible. We shall then seek to have the legislation passed through the House. We shall then move to a referendum in the autumn—

Mr. Ancram

Through both Houses?

Mr. McLeish

I meant that the legislation would pass through this House and, of course, the Lords. That would mean that the legislation would receive Royal Assent by the time we rose for the summer recess. That has been made obvious and clear at every possible opportunity. I suggest again a helpful piece of advice. Unless the Conservative Opposition's comments become more relevant to the points that have been made, they are frankly not only doing themselves a disservice, but ignoring the Conservative party in Scotland, which is seeking a constructive way forward.

Mr. Ancram

The Minister of State has said something and I want to be clear about it. Clarity is important. He said first that there would be a White Paper, then he said that legislation would go through the House. I looked surprised because I did not know whether he was referring to the Bill or legislation following the White Paper. We need to get the order clear. Which comes first?

Mr. McLeish

In a sense, I should not dignify the questions that have been asked. I shall spell it out. We are moving to the publication of a White Paper, which will be published before the House rises for the summer recess. [Interruption.] I wish that the right hon. Gentleman would sit and listen instead of talking and talking. He asked a question, and he should let me answer it. We shall be seeking to get Royal Assent for the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Bill before the House rises for the summer recess. We shall then proceed to a referendum in the autumn. A successful completion of the referendum will mean a substantial Bill being prepared later this year.

Mr. Cash


Mr. McLeish

I am not giving way. A number of hon. Members want to speak. I have clarified the point, as my right hon. and hon. Friends have on numerous occasions.

Mr. Bernard Jenkin (North Essex)


Mr. McLeish

Again, the Conservatives seem to learn absolutely nothing. They shout from sedentary positions, "Dictatorship, dictatorship, dictatorship."

Mr. Cash


Mr. McLeish

I am not giving way.

A number of questions were asked about the specific powers of a Scottish Parliament and particular details of the proposals. If hon. Members wish to engage in debate on the extent of a Scottish Parliament's powers, they should do so in the debate on the White Paper and during scrutiny of the main legislation.

My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) raised a specific point on the Barnett formula. That is obviously an important issue and one that will be addressed in the White Paper.

Amendment No. 145 would provide for a referendum to be held in Scotland on the establishment and tax-raising rather than tax-varying powers of a Scottish Parliament. That assumes that a Scottish Parliament would never want to lower its taxation and suggests an ever-increasing spiral of taxation. It would be an absolute nonsense to tie the Parliament's hands in that way. A power to raise tax must be accompanied by a power to lower it. I invite hon. Members not to press their amendments.

Mr. Wallace

I listened with interest to the Minister's response. The debate has been useful and interesting because it has not simply highlighted a number of questions on the referendum, but allowed comments on the whole question of taxation powers of a Scottish Parliament.

It is interesting to note that the Liberal Democrats' amendments have attracted a degree of all-party consensus, which hitherto has not been achieved in this Parliament. The hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) has indicated some support. The hon. Member for Rochford and Southend, East (Sir T. Taylor)—for different reasons, perhaps—found merits in the amendments. Indeed, so has the Scottish National party. I am sure that, when the House divides in a few minutes, such a grand coalition will be welcome.

Some points have been raised about the powers that a Scottish Parliament would have. I wonder whether those taking part in the debate, especially Conservative Members who purport to speak with such knowledge, have read the report of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, "Scotland's Parliament: Scotland's Right", which was published on St. Andrew's day in 1995 and answers many of the questions raised. With more civil service input and jargon, it will no doubt be reflected in greater detail in the White Paper when it duly finds the light of day.

Mr. Bernard Jenkin

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Wallace

I shall give way in a moment.

The Government are not about to launch on the people of Scotland or the United Kingdom a complete bolt from the blue that that has not been previously trailed.

Mr. Ancram

How do we know?

Mr. Wallace

The right hon. Gentleman asks how we know. It was made perfectly clear in the election manifestos of both the Labour party and the Liberal Democrats that proposals for a Scottish Parliament would be firmly rooted in and based on the workings of the Scottish Constitutional Convention which, let it be remembered, was not a creature of either the Labour party or the Scottish Liberal Democrats. It reflected a very broad consensus in Scotland, including local authorities, Churches, trade unions, ethnic groups and Scottish language groups—perhaps the broadest-based civic representation in Scotland this century.

Mr. Bernard Jenkin

Does the hon. Gentleman believe that, as a result of the convention, the logical consequence of a Scottish Parliament is the reduction in Scottish representation here at Westminster? That is something that the Government deny because it is not convenient for their party representation in the House. Their proposals amount to the gerrymandering of the British constitution in their favour. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his honesty.

Mr. Wallace

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his congratulations, but what he said proves that he has not read the proposals of the Scottish Constitutional Convention. The convention specifically did not address the issue of the number of seats at Westminster, because that is a matter for Westminster and not for the Scottish Parliament. The hon. Gentleman is right to say that the Liberal Democrats endorse what the Kilbrandon commission said in 1970 or 1971 about the reduction in the number of Scottish Members of Parliament. The Labour party does not agree with that position, but there we differ. The Scottish Constitutional Convention made no recommendation one way or the other.

Mr. Grieve

The hon. Gentleman said that the issue was a matter for Westminster. How can it be a matter only for Westminster unless we also sort out who at Westminster will decide it—the United Kingdom Members or the English Members?

Mr. Wallace

It is self-evident that the composition of the House must be a matter for the House and all its Members. The hon. Gentleman mentioned the wider UK dimension and asked how English Members would have a chance to take part in that wider dimension. That is self-evident, too, if he gives it one moment's thought. When the Bill for a Scottish Parliament or a Welsh Assembly comes before the House, hon. Members from all parts of the United Kingdom—Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland—will all have an opportunity to take part.

The Parliament of the United Kingdom is constituted—albeit that my party believes that it is constituted unfairly because of the electoral system, but that is the system that we operate—on the arguments that were put before the electorate and determined on 1 May. The overwhelming majority of the British people from Scotland, England and Wales voted on 1 May for parties that were committed to substantial constitutional reform, including Parliaments for Scotland and Wales within the United Kingdom. The representatives of the people will make the decisions and scrutinise the Bill when it comes before the House.

Mr. Garnier

The Bill mentions the Government's proposals for a Scottish Parliament, and the hon. Gentleman mentioned the Scottish Constitutional Convention paper. Would it not have been helpful for the public if a version or précis of the paper had been attached to the Bill as a schedule, so that in our debate on the referendum this week all those who do not have the hon. Gentleman's learning could understand what he was on about?

Mr. Wallace

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman. Not only has he clearly not read the Scottish Constitutional Convention proposals, but he has clearly not read the Bill. The fact that he is only now coming alive to the issue shows that he has not examined the proposals. If the referendum happens, the ballot paper to be put before the electorate will say: Parliament has decided to consult people in Scotland on the Government's proposals for a Scottish Parliament". Those proposals, as has been made clear, will be published in a White Paper. That issue was raised earlier at Prime Minister's questions. I recall the Prime Minister saying that the Bill would be published and I realised at the time that he was making a mistake. I do not know why he did not own up to the mistake. At an early stage in his premiership, he has forgotten the basic rule—when one is in a hole, stop digging and start climbing. Nevertheless, all of us who have followed the debate knew that he meant that a White Paper would be the basis for the referendum.

The Minister has not answered the question about what could happen if there was a yes, no vote. I accept that we should approach the issue in a spirit of optimism, to use the Minister's words. He has been assured that my party will campaign, if amendment No. 87 is not successful, for a yes, yes outcome. The Herald vote today was a 2:1 yes—but only 53 per cent. were in favour of the tax-varying powers. For me, that is not a sufficient cushion of comfort. It puts us on notice that we shall have to argue for those powers.

There is a good argument for those powers, but I believe that the Government are entering dangerous territory and taking a gamble. It would be better if the two questions were consolidated into one. As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Gorrie) and the hon. Member for Falkirk, West pointed out, there is no party in Scotland, and no body within the home rule movement in Scotland, that argues for the yes, no option that will appear on the ballot paper—a Scottish Parliament without tax-varying powers.

A Government who believe sincerely that the best solution for the government of Scotland is a Scottish Parliament with tax-varying powers are taking a gamble in allowing the possibility—let us put it no higher than that for the time being—of an outcome involving a Scottish Parliament without taxation powers, for which the Government will say they are prepared to legislate—

It being half-past Four o'clock, THE CHAIRMAN put the Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at that hour.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 70, Noes 344.

Division No. 10] [4.30 pm
Allan, Richard (Shef'ld Hallam) Harris, Dr Evan
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Harvey, Nick
Baker, Norman Hayes, John
Ballard, Mrs Jackie Heath, David (Somerton)
Beith, Rt Hon A J Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Brand, Dr Peter Hunter, Andrew
Brazier, Julian Jenkin, Bernard (N Essex)
Breed, Colin Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Burstow, Paul Keetch, Paul
Cable, Dr Vincent Kennedy, Charles
Campbell, Menzies (NE Fife) (Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Chidgey, David Kirkwood, Archy
Chope, Christopher Livsey, Richard
Cotter, Brian McIntosh, Miss Anne
Cunningham, Ms Roseanna Maclennan, Robert
(Perth) Mates, Michael
Dafis, Cynog Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Davey, Edward (Kingston) Moore, Michael
Duncan Smith, Iain Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Evans, Nigel Moss, Malcolm
Ewing, Mrs Margaret Oaten, Mark
Fabricant, Michael Öpik, Lembit
Fearn, Ronnie Rendel, David
Forth, Eric Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Foster, Don (Bath) Salmond, Alex
Garnier, Edward Sanders, Adrian
Gill, Christopher Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Grieve, Dominic Swinney, John
Hancock, Mike Taylor, Matthew
(Truro & St Austell) Webb, Steven
Taylor, Sir Teddy Welsh, Andrew
Tonge, Dr Jenny Wigley, Dafydd
Tyler, Paul Willis, Phil
Viggers, Peter Tellers for the Ayes:
Wallace, James Mr. Andrew Stunell and
Waterson, Nigel Mr. Donald Gorrie.
Abbott, Ms Diane Coffey, Ms Ann
Ainger, Nick Cohen, Harry
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Coleman, Iain
Allen, Graham (Nottingham N) (Hammersmith & Fulham)
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Connarty, Michael
Anderson, Janet (Ros'dale) Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Ashton, Joe Cooper, Ms Yvette
Atherton, Ms Candy Corbett, Robin
Atkins, Ms Charlotte Corbyn, Jeremy
Austin, John Corston, Ms Jean
Banks, Tony Cranston, Ross
Barnes, Harry Crausby, David
Barron, Kevin Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Battle, John Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Bayley, Hugh Cummings, John
Beard, Nigel Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Curtis-Thomas, Ms Clare
Begg, Miss Anne (Aberd'n S) Dalyell, Tam
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough) Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Darvill, Keith
Benton, Joe Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Berry, Roger Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Best, Harold Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Betts, Clive Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)
Blackman, Mrs Liz Dawson, Hilton
Blears, Ms Hazel Dean, Ms Janet
Blizzard, Robert Denham, John
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Dewar, Rt Hon Donald
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Dismore, Andrew
Brake, Thomas Dobbin, Jim
Brinton, Mrs Helen Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Brown, Rt Hon Gordon Donohoe, Brian H
(Dunfermline E) Doran, Frank
Brown, Rt Hon Nick Dowd, Jim
(Newcastle E & Wallsend) Drew, David
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Drown, Ms Julia
Browne, Desmond (Kilmarnock) Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Buck, Ms Karen Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Burden, Richard Eagle, Ms Maria (L'pool Garston)
Burgon, Colin Edwards, Huw
Butler, Christine Efford, Clive
Byers, Stephen Ellman, Ms Louise
Caborn, Richard Ennis, Jeff
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth) Fatchett, Derek
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Field, Rt Hon Frank
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Fisher, Mark
Campbell-Savours, Dale Fitzpatrick, Jim
Cann, Jamie Fitzsimons, Ms Lorna
Caplin, Ivor Flint, Ms Caroline
Casale, Roger Flynn, Paul
Caton, Martin Follett, Ms Barbara
Cawsey, Ian Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S) Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Chaytor, David Foster, Michael John (Worcester)
Chisholm, Malcolm Galbraith, Sam
Clapham, Michael Gapes, Mike
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) George, Andrew (St Ives)
Clark, Dr Lynda George, Bruce (Walsall S)
(Edinburgh Pentlands) Gerard, Neil
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Gibson, Dr Ian
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S) Godman, Dr Norman A
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Godsiff, Roger
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge) Goggins, Paul
Clelland, David Golding, Mrs Llin
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Coaker, Vernon Graham, Thomas
Grant, Berie McAllion, John
Griffiths, Ms Jane (Reading E) McAvoy, Thomas
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) McCafferty, Ms Chris
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) McDonagh, Ms Siobhain
Grocott, Bruce Macdonald, Calum
Grogan, John McDonnell, John
Gunnell, John McGuire, Mrs Anne
Hain, Peter McIsaac, Ms Shona
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale) McKenna, Ms Rosemary
Hall, Patrick (Bedford) Mackinlay, Andrew
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE) McLeish, Henry
Hanson, David McNulty, Tony
Heal, Mrs Sylvia MacShane, Denis
Healey, John Mactaggart, Fiona
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) McWalter, Tony
Hepburn, Stephen McWilliam, John
Heppell, John Mahon, Mrs Alice
Hesford, Stephen Mallaber, Ms Judy
Hill, Keith Marek, Dr John
Hinchliffe, David Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Hodge, Ms Margaret Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Hoey, Kate Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Home Robertson, John Martlew, Eric
Hood, Jimmy Maxton, John
Hoon, Geoffrey Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Hope, Philip Meale, Alan
Hopkins, Kelvin Merchant, Piers
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Merron, Ms Gillian
Howells, Dr Kim Michael, Alun
Hoyle, Lindsay Milburn, Alan
Hughes, Ms Beverley Miller, Andrew
(Stretford & Urmston) Mitchell, Austin
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Moffatt, Laura
Humble, Mrs Joan Moonie, Dr Lewis
Hurst, Alan Moran, Ms Margaret
Hutton, John Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Iddon, Brian Morgan, Rhodri (Cardiff W)
Illsley, Eric Morley, Elliot
Ingram, Adam Mountford, Ms Kali
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampst'd) Mudie, George
Jackson, Mrs Helen (Hillsborough) Mullin, Chris
Jamieson, David Murphy, Dennis (Wansbeck)
Jenkins, Brian (Tamworth) Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Johnson, Ms Melanie Norris, Dan
(Welwyn Hatfield) O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) O'Brien, William (Normanton)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) Olner, Bill
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) O'Neill, Martin
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S) Organ, Mrs Diana
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Osborne, Mrs Sandra
Keeble, Ms Sally Palmer, Dr Nick
Keen, Alan (Feltham) Pendry, Tom
Keen, Mrs Ann (Brentford) Perham, Ms Linda
Kemp, Fraser Pickthall, Colin
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Pike, Peter L
Khabra, Piara S Plaskitt, James
Kidney, David Pollard, Kerry
Kilfoyle, Peter Pond, Chris
King, Andy (Rugby) Pound, Stephen
King, Miss Oona (Bethnal Green) Powell, Sir Raymond
Kingham, Tessa Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Kumar, Dr Ashok Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Prosser, Gwyn
Lawrence, Ms Jackie Purchase, Ken
Laxton, Bob Quin, Ms Joyce
Lepper, David Quinn, Lawrie
Leslie, Christopher Radice, Giles
Levitt, Tom Rammell, Bill
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S) Raynsford, Nick
Lewis, Terry (Worsley) Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Liddell, Mrs Helen Reid, Dr John (Hamilton N)
Linton, Martin Rogers, Allan
Livingstone, Ken Rooney, Terry
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Lock, David Rowlands, Ted
Love, Andy Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester) Taylor, Rt Hon John D (Strangford)
Salter, Martin Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Savidge, Malcolm Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Sawford, Phil Thompson, William
Sedgemore, Brian Tipping, Paddy
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Todd, Mark
Shipley, Ms Debra Touhig, Don
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S) Truswell, Paul
Singh, Marsha Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Skinner, Dennis Turner, Desmond (Kemptown)
Smith, Ms Angela (Basildon) Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Smith, Miss Geraldine Twigg, Derek (Halton)
(Morecambe & Lunesdale) Vaz, Keith
Smith, Ms Jacqui (Redditch) Vis, Dr Rudi
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Ward, Ms Claire
Snape, Peter Wareing, Robert N
Soley, Clive Watts, David
Southworth, Ms Helen White, Brian
Spellar, John Whitehead, Alan
Squire, Ms Rachel Wicks, Malcolm
Starkey, Dr Phyllis Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Steinberg, Gerry (Swansea W)
Stevenson, George Williams, Dr Alan W
(E Carmarthen)
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles) Wills, Michael
Stinchcombe, Paul Winnick, David
Stoate, Dr Howard Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Stott, Roger Wood, Mike
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin Woolas, Phil
Straw, Rt Hon Jack Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Stringer, Graham Wright, Tony (Gt Yarmouth)
Stuart, Mrs Gisela (Edgbaston) Wyatt, Derek
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann Tellers for the Noes:
(Dewsbury) Mr. Greg Pope and Mr. John McFall.
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)

Question accordingly negatived.

4.45 pm
Mr. Salmond

I beg to move amendment No. 71, in page 1, line 6, leave out 'tax-varying powers' and insert `constitutional status'.

The Second Deputy Chairman

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 97, in page 1, line 7, at end insert 'and on the status of Scotland within the United Kingdom'.

No. 204, in page 1, line 10, leave out '1' and insert '(Referendum in Scotland (No. 3)).

No. 72, in schedule 1, page 4, line 5, at end insert `and alternative'.

No. 73, in page 4, leave out line 7 and insert `Note your preferred options in order of preference by marking 1, 2 or 3 by each option. You need not use every option.'.

No. 74, in page 4, line 8, after 'A', insert `DEVOLVED'.

No. 75, in page 4, line 9, at end insert



No. 231, in page 4, line 9, at end insert


No. 232, in page 4, line 12, at end insert


No. 76, in page 4, leave out lines 13 to 22.

No. 99, in page 4, line 22, at end add—'Part IIIParliament has decided to consult people in Scotland on the status of Scotland within the United Kingdom. Put a cross (X) in the appropriate box



New schedule 9—Referendum in Scotland (No. 3)

  1. Part 1 46 words
  2. cc417-45
  3. or 15,733 words, 2 divisions
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