My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what advantage is to be gained from having separate Scottish regulations such as S.I. Nos. 1077, 1078 and 1079 of 1967 governing meat pies, sausage rolls and other meat products over a single set of regulations which would have effect throughout Great Britain.]664
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR SCOTLAND (LORD HUGHES)
My Lords, food and drugs regulations are made separately for Scotland in terms of the separate Scottish Act. This makes it possible to take account of differences between the English and Scottish local government and legal systems, and of certain differences between consumer preferences in the two countries.
My Lords, first, may I ask the noble Lord to give me credit for appreciating that the separate regulations did spring from separate Statutes. May I ask him to look at this again, because if he studies the three Orders which are before us now and compares them with the English equivalents, he will find that there is virtually no difference between them, except for a different definition of "food", and that the paragraphs are set out in a different order? But there is no indication in either set of explanatory notes that there is a parallel set in almost identical terms dealing with another part of the British Isles. This is not a criticism of Scotland but of the whole system. Would the noble Lord try to appreciate how difficult it is for those who manufacture and trade on both sides of the Border to have to study a large number of these regulations in duplicate, and then at the end of the day perhaps not notice any small distinction there is between the two?
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, it is the case that in these particular regulations there is very little difference. The only difference is the one to which I referred, in regard to local government organisations. But we must appreciate that it is not always necessarily so. There can be Orders where the differences between the English one and Scottish one could be quite substantial.
My Lords, may I reinforce my plea to the noble Lord, to look at this again? So far as the regulations for animal welfare are concerned, I believe that they are largely set out in one single Order. Where there are differences, brought about by different local government systems in England and Scotland, they can surely be covered by separate paragraphs. Is this not a field where we can introduce some worthwhile reform?
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, I have no doubt that my right honourable friend will keep this point in mind, but I wish to emphasise that while doing so his first consideration must always be what is in the best interests of the people of Scotland.