HC Deb 12 May 1998 vol 312 cc231-2
Mr. McLeish

I beg to move amendment No. 39, in page 9, line 18, leave out from first 'the' to end of line 20 and insert 'functions conferred on the corporation by virtue of this Act or any other enactment'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss Government amendment No. 49.

Mr. McLeish

The Scottish parliamentary corporate body will oversee the administration of the Parliament. It will have a general duty to provide the Parliament with the property, staff and services it requires and it will have powers to appoint staff, to hold and acquire property on behalf of the Parliament and to enter into contracts, as well as representing it in legal matters. However, the Bill leaves scope for further statutory functions to be conferred on the body in the future both by the Scottish Parliament and by Westminster.

Government amendment No. 39 is of a technical nature which makes it clear that further functions may be conferred on the SPCB only by virtue of an enactment, including Acts of the Scottish Parliament and instruments made under such Acts. This is in keeping with its position as a statutory body. It also leaves it to the Parliament to decide whether it should be possible to confer functions on the body by means of a resolution to make provision in an Act to that effect. This will not, however, affect the statutory functions to be carried out by the SPCB under clause 20(3).

Government amendment No. 49 is again a technical amendment which is intended to ensure that, in respect of salaries and pensions of Members of the Scottish Parliament and Executive, the Parliament still has the flexibility to make provision simply by conferring appropriate functions on the SPCB by resolution without having to pass an Act of the Scottish Parliament first.

Mr. Dalyell

I am rather curious about this matter. I think I am right in saying that the present Clerk of the House of Commons and the Clerk Assistant were earmarked to go to Edinburgh last time around to form part of the core and basis of those who would work in the Scottish Parliament. If we are to have a Parliament, we will need a lot of people who are extremely skilled in the disciplines of clerkship. These people do not come out of thin air. What is the Government's thinking on the number of Clerks and others with expertise of this House who will have to go to Edinburgh? Last time around, it was the present Clerk and the Clerk Assistant, and doubtless others. These are people of the highest calibre in their professional field. We ought to know the Government's thinking.

Mr. McLeish

My hon. Friend raises important points of detail regarding the staffing of the Parliament. Suffice it to say that, at this stage, the matters are in hand. The discussions will ensure that we have the highest quality of staff, and will not lead to a two-tier situation in terms of standards. The clerking of the Parliament is vital. I would be happy to write to my hon. Friend to give the details of where we are in terms of his question.

Amendment agreed to.

Forward to