HL Deb 20 July 1978 vol 395 cc507-8

67 After Clause 58, insert the following new clause—

Proposals for powers to raise moneys (". If the Assembly decides that it wishes to make proposals that power should be conferred on the Assembly to raise by taxation moneys to be paid into the Scottish Consolidated Fund, it may communicate such proposals to the Secretary of State who shall lay such proposals before both Houses of Parliament.")

The Commons disagreed to the above Amendment for the following Reason:

68 Because the Secretary of State should not be required to lay before Parliament proposals received from the Assembly for extending its own powers.

6.51 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this House doth not insist on Amendment No. 67. This Amendment was the subject of a substantial debate in the other place and, at its conclusion, of a particularly decisive vote. The Amendment was able to find only 37 supporters, including Tellers. Conservative Members failed to support the Amendment, on the advice of their Front-Bench spokesman, Mr. Brittan, who described the clause as a meaningless declaration and an imperfect mechanism for raising the taxation issue in a manner at best superfluous and at worst likely to lead to conflict. On that, I think I have very little to add.

I sought to make it clear, when the new clause was first discussed in Committee by your Lordships, that the Government did not like it because we thought it was misleading—misleading only in the sense that it implied that there was available somewhere a tax which the Assembly could trot out and put before Parliament. It suggested that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, there might be such a tax or a selection of taxes. The Government take the view that in principle they are in favour of devolving some supplementary tax power, but that so far no suitable tax has emerged. I do not think that I should add anything more. I beg to move.

Moved, that this House doth not insist on Amendment No. 67 to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 68.—(Lord McCluskey)

The Earl of PERTH

My Lords, this is an Amendment which I moved and which was supported in your Lordships' House. May I just say one word about it? I am sorry that the other place did not go along with this. I think it would have been a good thing for the Assembly to have been encouraged to try to produce ideas for the form of taxation it might want. But, given the fact that there was a long debate, that there was no great support in another place, and that the Government, as I understand it, have said they would always be ready to receive proposals—I should like to make clear that it is not necessarily proposals to raise the total of taxes but it might mean proposals to change taxes in one form or another—I do not propose to pursue the Motion put down by the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey.