HL Deb 17 June 1999 vol 602 cc532-44

10.2 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel) rose to move, That the draft orders laid before the House on 26th May be approved [21st Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to moveen bloc the Motions standing in my name on the Order Paper. We are reduced to a happy but merry band. We have come to the end of a long road which started in September 1997 when we first debated the referendum Bill. Tonight we are debating the final set of orders that implement the devolution settlement. It has been a long road with many twists and turns upon it. Some of those who have participated in the debate have finished up at their desired destinations; others, alas, have not.

The eight draft orders under the Scotland Act for approval today form a vital part of the legislative package required to deliver devolution for Scotland. To reflect the interface between the Scottish Parliament and the administration several of these draft orders require the agreement of this Parliament and the Scottish Parliament. The orders before us this evening were debated and approved by the Scottish Parliament on 2nd and 3rd June.

Perhaps I may briefly describe the main contents of the various orders. The Scotland Act 1998 (Modifications of Schedules 4 and 5) Order 1999 adjusts in a number of areas the matters in relation to which the Parliament will have legislative competence so as to extend or clarify its powers.

The Scotland Act 1998 (Functions Exercisable in or as Regards Scotland) Order 1999 assists in ensuring the devolution of functions to the Scottish Ministers either through Section 53 of the Scotland Act, because they relate to devolved matters, or by the Executive Devolution Order under Section 63. In particular, it clarifies cases where there might be doubt as to whether a function is or is not exercisable as regards Scotland. This clarification is necessary to ensure that the relevant function will or will not devolve. Your Lordships may consider that that is a fairly fundamental point.

The Scotland Act 1998 (Modification of Functions) Order 1999, modifies enactments to facilitate the transfer of functions to the Scottish Ministers under Sections 53 or 63 of the Scotland Act.

The Scotland Act 1998 (Transfer of Functions to the Scottish Ministers etc.) Order 1999 provides for what has generally become known as "executive devolution", that is the devolution to the Scottish Ministers of powers and duties in relation to reserved matters. It is important to note that these functions will be additional to those relating to devolved matters which will transfer to the Scottish Ministers automatically by virtue of Section 53 of the Scotland Act. What we are concerned with in this draft order is the transfer of executive powers and duties in areas where primary legislation will continue to be a matter for this Parliament. In exercising these functions, the Scottish Ministers will, of course, be accountable to the Scottish Parliament.

The Scotland Act 1998 (Consequential Modifications) (No. 2) Order 1999 makes a variety of amendments to legislation to take account of the Act for the simple reason that a great deal of legislation that had been previously enacted was obviously enacted at a time when devolution was but a glimmer in the eye. Therefore, these provisions take account of the fact that devolution is now a reality.

The Scotland Act 1998 (Cross-Border Public Authorities) (Adaptation of Functions etc.) Order 1999 puts in place customised arrangements for the control and accountability of certain public authorities which have been specified as cross-border public authorities.

The Scotland Act (Border Rivers) Order 1999 makes provision for whole river management of the Tweed and Esk Rivers. Briefly, it means that the Tweed will be treated as a Scottish river while the Esk will be treated as an English river.

The Scottish Parliament (Assistance for Registered Political Parties) Order 1999 provides for the Scottish parliamentary corporate body to make payments to qualifying political parties for the purpose of assisting members of the Parliament who are connected with such parties to perform their parliamentary duties.

At this stage it is sufficient for me to have given that brief account of the content of the orders and their purpose. I shall respond to matters of detail that noble Lords may wish to make. I beg to move.

Moved, that the draft orders laid before the House on 26th May be approved [21st Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Sewel.)

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon

My Lords, the notes that I have in front of me begin with the words, "I am grateful to the noble Lord, the Minister for having explained these various orders in his usual helpful manner". But as I was listening to him it suddenly struck me that he went through them in a different order from that on the Order Paper. Therefore, the first question is whether that procedure is competent where each order he has spoken to is incorrectly entered on the Order Paper. That gives him plenty of time to find an answer to that very searching question.

Lord Sewel

My Lords, the answer is that the orders are perfectly in order. I do not think that we should be detained by the point made by the noble and learned Lord.

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon

My Lords, I have to take up the Minister on another point. It was not in September 1997 that we started talking about the referendum Bill. That was the month, as I recall, when we voted in the referendum. It was some months previously that we set out on this long and, by and large, happy and interesting path.

Lord Sewel

My Lords, that joyful experience is somewhat compressed.

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon

My Lords, these repeated interruptions might turn this into one of my longer speeches, for whatever purpose that may be necessary!

I am grateful not only to the Minister but to his officials for having sent me copies of these orders in advance of the draft orders having been tabled in this House. That courtesy is typical of the courtesy shown by Scottish Office officials to Peers on all sides of the House throughout the devolution project. It was of great assistance to us when the Bill was going through Parliament and to me recently in setting aside the necessary time to read through the considerable volume of paper-work which the orders constitute.

It is also appropriate to pay tribute to those who were involved in the drafting of these orders. I take it that the Minister does not intend to take personal credit for that. Some of these orders are lengthy and highly technical. There can be little doubt that many hours of research and drafting must have been involved in their preparation. They may be being nodded through your Lordships' House this evening in a comparatively short period of time, but it is right to place on record our appreciation of the expertise, ability and labours which went into producing these major documents. They may have rather dry titles but they provide many of the necessary nuts and bolts to make the devolution settlement work in the way we all hope.

There is only one order about which I wish to say anything in detail. I refer to the order which appears first on the Order Paper; namely, the order relating to the provision of financial assistance for registered political parties. That is an order which would normally require the approval not only of both Houses of Parliament but also of the Scottish Parliament. I appreciate that in terms of an order previously made, it is not necessary to take the approval of the Scottish Parliament at this stage. However, if the order comes to be amended in due course, that may be required.

There are a number of grounds for regretting both the manner and the terms in which the draft order has been brought forward for approval, which may explain why its approval was put to a Division when debated in another place. Contrary to the practice which applies in this Parliament when decisions are being made as to what financial assistance Opposition parties should receive, there was not, as I understand it, any consultation between the Scottish Executive and opposition parties before the amounts set out in the order were determined. Quite why that happened is unclear to me. I believe that it has never been fully explained in public. I should be most grateful if the Minister could do so now, in particular in view of the fact that since in the terms of the order the Liberal Democrats are to receive some payments it is reasonable to assume that there was at least a measure of consultation with them, if only through the Deputy First Minister, Mr Jim Wallace. If he were consulted, why were the leaders of the other parties not consulted also?

Viscount Thurso

My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord for allowing me to intervene. So far as I am aware there is no evidence that any such consultations took place. I am unaware of their having taken place. No one has ever said that they took place. Therefore I do not see what ground the noble and learned Lord has for putting forward the case that such consultations did take place.

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon

My Lords, I think it is a matter of reasonable inference. As I understand it, the Liberal Democrats are in coalition with the Labour Party in the Scottish Executive. I suppose it is technically possible that even the First Minister was not consulted about the terms of this order in that it did not require to be approved by the Scottish Parliament itself. No doubt the noble Lord the Minister can enlighten us about that in due course. I would have thought that as it is now getting on for two months since the election was held and this order has only been brought forward in the month of June, it is reasonable to assume that at the numerous meetings of the Scottish Executive, or the Scottish Cabinet as they call themselves, this matter was touched on. Of course I may be entirely wrong in which case the Minister will correct me.

The concern which I feel, and I am not alone, is that neither the Scottish Conservative Party nor the Scottish National Party, as far as I know, was consulted. It seems to me that if one is seeking to embark on a form of new consensus politics this is one area in which full and co-operative discussions might profitably have taken place. That is particularly so in view of what was commended in the Neill Committee's report on the funding of political parties. Your Lordships will be aware that it was primarily concerned with the funding of those political parties who operate in the Westminster Parliament and who receive what is colloquially known in the other place as "Short money" and sometimes, in your Lordships' House, as "Cranborne money".

The Neill Committee took the view that it was necessary that all the political parties involved in the work of this Parliament should review the matter to ensure that the Opposition parties received sufficient resources to enable them to perform their functions adequately. The committee went on to recommend that both Short and Cranborne money should be increased substantially. It is my understanding that after discussion, not only through the usual channels but with all the parties, agreement was reached and the payment of such funds has been increased.

The Neill Committee also recommended that the political parties who would be functioning in the new Scottish Parliament should consider making provision for financial support for the purpose of the better performance of their parliamentary functions: in other words, the committee put forward its views as to what should happen at Westminster and suggested that a similar approach should be taken not only in the Scottish Parliament but also in the Welsh Assembly, as I recall.

It is therefore most regrettable that the Government have not followed the practice currently adopted at Westminster nor taken the advice of the Neill Committee in seeking to achieve agreement with all the political parties involved in the Scottish Parliament as to what funds the Opposition parties should appropriately require to ensure that they can properly discharge their duties. Parliamentary democracy depends not only on the government in power but on opposition pubes who can test legislation and policies as the months and years go by.

I ask the Minister to explain how the figure of £5,000 was decided upon as the relevant amount for the purposes of Article 2 of the draft order. What criteria were taken into account when the Government decided that £5,000 was the appropriate figure? On what factual basis are the Government satisfied that £5,000 per MSP will meet the test recommended by the Neill Committee that Opposition parties should be in a position adequately to discharge their parliamentary functions?

As far as that figure is concerned, why should we do anything other than believe that it was plucked out of the air as a number which the Government felt was the minimum they could get away with, particularly AS it is a figure substantially less than the figure per MP in another place which is used, I understand, II the calculation of Short money?

The concern that I express is even more acute when one considers the army of special advisers that the 22 Scottish Ministers are employing. As I understand it, their salary and support will cost the taxpayer somewhat in excess of £0.5 million per annum. Under this draft order, the sums which the Scottish Conservative Party and the Scottish National Party—and many believe that those are the only parties truly in opposition—will receive will be less than half the figure I mentioned.

I am fully aware that the terms of Section 97(3) of the Act permit payments to be made to a party which is in coalition. Therefore, I do not challenge the competency of the terms in which the order is framed. Nevertheless, I cannot refrain from expressing the view that the fact that the Liberal Democrats are to receive money may make it difficult to dispel the increasing concern felt in many quarters about the coalition deal which has been entered into and about how long that will last.

While I do not expect the Minister to answer for the very difficult, if not impossible, position in which the Liberal Democrats now find themselves in Scotland, it would be helpful for your Lordships to hear the Minister's view on why that whole topic was not the subject of proper consultation prior to the draft order being tabled.

Before I pass from the order, perhaps I may take the opportunity to mention one practical difficulty that I have encountered in preparing for the debate this evening, of which I have given notice to the Minister; that is, the difficulty of obtaining in this House hard copies of the Official Report of the Scottish Parliament—the Scottish Hansard, if I may describe it in such terms.

The Minister may recall that I tabled a Written Question in regard to that some months ago. I asked about the arrangements to be made for Members of both Houses of Parliament to have access to the parliamentary papers of the Scottish Parliament. By that I had in mind the daily Hansard, draft Bills, reports and so on. The written reply that I received was that copies of the papers would be placed in the Library and that the full proceedings of the Scottish Parliament would also be on the Internet.

In the event, since the Parliament started to hold debates, delay has been experienced in the arrival of the Official Report in the Library, although we have not yet reached the stage when draft Bills, notices of amendments, reports and other documents have started to be produced.

I fully accept that searching the Internet may be one way of locating the parliamentary material which one is interested to consider. But it is not the only way and, for my part, it is not necessarily the quickest way. In my experience, skimming through the report in Hansard may be a far quicker way of finding what one is looking for rather than searching page after page on the Internet. When one is using documents as hard copy, as one must, particularly when one is in opposition, it is essential to look at more than one document at the same time. That is not at all easy.

Therefore, I hope that the Government will look further at that issue and will see whether arrangements can be made to ensure that Members of your Lordships' House can have speedy access to hard copies of all the parliamentary papers of the Scottish Parliament. In view of the fact that the Parliament will be enacting primary legislation which will amend legislation which has passed through this Parliament, it is essential that that should happen.

I am happy to say that I have very few detailed comments to make about the other orders. I recognise that some are very important indeed; in particular, the third order on the Order Paper relating to the transfer of executive functions to Scottish Ministers. I have read through that order in detail. It seemed to me that if I started to ask questions about individual paragraphs, we might be here all night and, therefore, I do not propose to do so.

I appreciate that in deciding what additional executive powers had to be devolved difficult choices had to be made. Time will tell whether the correct decisions have been made. However, I recognise that there are procedures under which the order can be amended should that prove to be necessary in the light of experience.

Finally, I turn to the order dealing with the modification of Schedules 4 and 5 to the Act. Will the terms of paragraph 5 allow the United Kingdom Government to veto the release of information held under the Scottish executive if that information had been supplied to the appropriate body on a confidential basis by a Minister of the Crown? If the answer to that question is yes, as I suspect it will be, does that not mean that the Scottish Parliament's power to legislate on freedom of information will be significantly restricted by the new provision entering a new reserve matter into Schedule 5? Does it not mean that the Scottish executive and the Scottish Parliament will be prevented from releasing information which they consider should be released? Does that not mean that they may be required to act contrary to the public interest as they perceive it? If the Scottish executive or the Scottish Parliament wished to take a more liberal attitude to freedom of information than the Home Office currently wishes to do, why should they not be able to do so?

In conclusion, I again thank the Minister and his colleague the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay of Cartvale, for their assistance throughout the long process. After the conclusion of the Bill the Minister held a party in Dover House which will go down in the annals of Dover House as one of the better and longer parties. I do not look forward in anticipation to a similar event tonight, but I hope that once the orders are approved, as no doubt they will be, it may be possible to raise a glass to the end of a long and interesting parliamentary experience.

Viscount Thurso

My Lords, I, too, thank the Minister for his excellent introduction to the orders and extend those thanks to the officials who drafted them. Broadly speaking, we support all the orders before the House tonight. Despite my great dislike of secondary legislationn, it is clear that in matters as complex as those we dealt with within the Scotland Act, it would not have been possible to do so in any other way. I believe that the drafting of the orders has been of a high standard and we are grateful.

I want to raise only two small points and one of slightly more substance. The first relates to the Border Rivers order. My honourable friend in another place, Alan Beith, made the point that the Government are as careful as possible, both in this Parliament and the Scottish Parliament, in respect of consultation. There was a considerable degree of confusion following the passing of the adjacent water boundary order, which had not been properly scrutinised by some Members in another place and had unforeseen consequences in terms of the change of the border for the fishing zones. In fact, it moved the border so that it went right through the centre of the Berwick bank, and that has caused great difficulties. There have been considerable reports in the Scottish Parliament about that, all of which I have managed successfully to obtain from the internet and print out on my printer. I am not sure how one refers to a friend in the Scottish Parliament. Is it "my Scottish friend"? I have honourable friends next door, noble friends here and now Scottish friends. If that be the case, my Scottish friend Euan Robson has taken the matter up and is pressing very hard for the Secretary of State and relative Ministers in the Scottish government to have that issue rectified. It has had considerable consequences for the fishermen, which were probably unintended.

The second point relates to the cross-border public authorities order that we have before us today. That order goes back to a previous statutory instrument from this year, No. 1319, which defined the cross-border authorities. As I understand it, today's order goes further in defining some of the functions as between the two governments and the Ministers in each government. I was rather surprised by one omission. It is late at night and I shall not give too many examples, but on page 17 the order we have before us tonight refers to Food from Britain. Page 9 refers to the British Wool Marketing Board. These are very similar to the British Tourist Authority, which is not contained or mentioned in the orders we are discussing tonight.

When we discussed the Bill, all those many long days ago and for all those many long hours, I am sure the Minister will remember that on a number of occasions I jumped to my feet to inquire whether tourism was a wholly devolved issue. I was given assurances on several occasions that that was the case. 'Unfortunately, some time after the Bill had become an Act of Parliament it became necessary for the Minister to write to me to inform me that, although tourism was wholly devolved, the mechanism by which international tourism would be controlled would be through the British Transport Authority, which would then necessarily, through Section 88(5), become a cross-border authority.

Lord Sewel

My Lords, I thank the noble Viscount for giving way. I am sure it was a slip of the tongue, but I do not think it was the British Transport Authority; it was the British Tourist Authority.

Viscount Thurso

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that correction. Despite having been obliged to spend the whole afternoon in the Library reading the various Acts, that slip of the tongue, probably Freudian, came out.

I return to the British Tourist Authority. There are a number of questions where the definition of the functions and capabilities of the relevant Ministers have not been clearly defined; for example, the responsibility for international tourism rests firmly with the Scottish Parliament yet its function will be conducted by the BTA. However, the money for that function is to be provided through the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is the responsibility of the Secretary of State. The BTA will report wholly to him. How, in that circumstance, does the Scottish Parliament verify how much of the BTA's budget is to be spent on promoting Scotland internationally? Will the Secretary of State be called before the relevant tourism committee or will the chairman of the BTA be called before the committee?

I recognise that at this stage it is probably too late for this Parliament to do much about that. However, I should be grateful if the Minister would at least have some regard for those concerns.

My third point, of somewhat more substance, concerns the points made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, with regard to the registration of political parties. He and his noble friends, or rather his honourable friends in another place, made a considerable brouhaha over this matter. We discussed it before we came into the Chamber. I asked him whether he had any points of substance and lie said, "No, just the usual cheap jibes against the Liberals". True to his word, as ever, he has come and he has delivered. Very simply—

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon

My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord would be prepared to give way? Perhaps I may suggest that, as I understand it, we do not refer to each other in this Chamber in quite such colloquial terms?

Viscount Thurso

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord. I apologise to him most profusely if I have offended his sensibilities in any way.

This is a fairly straightforward and simple mater. As far as I am aware, no consultation took place between our parties. This order was presumably drafted some time before or around the time of the election when all of these matters were being put through. It is accepted that if we want our political system to work effectively it requires to be funded. Furthermore, it is accepted that in this very different kind of Parliament there will be circumstances where the funding has to be done somewhat differently.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, drew attention to the Neill Committee. Perhaps one ought to read some of that report, which said, The Committee is aware of the differences which will exist between the forms that the devolved bodies take". It went on to say, the political parties may well have functions related to the transaction of business, whether or not some of their members are part of the Executive". I am aware that his colleagues in the Scottish Parliament, and indeed in the SNP and the Opposition, have written to the Neill Committee and the noble Lord, Lord Neill, responded in fairly straightforward terms to say that he believes that what is going on is perfectly appropriate. I believe that that letter has been placed in the Library of your Lordships' House though I was not able to get my hands on it this evening.

It is a perfectly straightforward piece of business and it is reasonable that Back-Benchers in a small minority part of an administration be permitted to exercise their functions. Broadly speaking, I agree that it is a shame that the consultation process did not go ahead with all three parties, other than the Government; that there was not more broad consultation. I assume that there simply was not time available.

The heart of the matter is that the Conservative Party has not yet realised that devolution is here and is a fact. It wishes simply to try and put the boot in wherever it can. It has not realised that twice the Scottish people have expressed their view at the ballot box and their settled will is that, in relation to domestic matters, they want to be in the UK, but not ruled by the UK.

Lord Sewel

My Lords, given the hour, your Lordships will realise that there may be a certain deliberation in my words as I proceed. Perhaps I can deal with the points raised by the two noble Lords who spoke in the debate. First, I thank them sincerely and associate myself with their kind, but justified words in relation to the skill and application of members of the Scottish Office Civil Service and the way that they have advanced and progressed the whole business of the legislation relating to devolution. It has been an enormous challenge. It is a new area in the constitutional history of the United Kingdom. It is important that legislation, both primary and secondary, is properly crafted and in many cases it has had to be worked out from first principles. So, I too, pay tribute to members of the Scottish Office and the civil servants who serve it for their work, and thank both the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, and the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, for their comments in that regard.

I deal now with some of the substantive points that were raised. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, asked about the nature of consultations, if any, that had taken place with the opposition parties on the figure of £5,000. I say straightaway that there was no consultation. Obviously, in a perfect world there would have been, and I am sure that there will be in the future, but this was a project which was moving forward at an extremely rapid pace. It was necessary for the executive to come forward with firm proposals. They were discussed, debated and voted upon by the Scottish Parliament and on that basis we have to accept that the Scottish Parliament was content with the figure arrived at.

The arrangements that are in place at the moment are purely transitional. They are really a sticking plaster job and it will be up to the Scottish Parliament, as a result of the orders we are discussing tonight, where we are transferring legislative competence to the Parliament in relation to these areas, to go through the whole process itself. Clearly, that would give the opportunity for a much more deliberate approach to be taken and for consultation to take place. However, on this occasion, with the speed of the whole process and the setting up of the business, things moved so quickly that proposals were brought forward rather in haste. I accept that fact. I give way.

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister. I do not wish to play lawyers' games at this time of night, but this order was not in fact approved by the Scottish Parliament in terms of a transitional and transitory provisions order made some months ago. Although this order was the subject of discussion in a debate in the Scottish Parliament, it was not approved. On that basis, it certainly would be of some reassurance to the Opposition parties involved if the Minister would be prepared to undertake to draw to the attention of the First Minister and his colleagues the measure of concern about the lack of consultation.

Lord Sewel

My Lords, the noble and learned Lord is quite right. My words were not carefully chosen. I accept that the Scottish Parliament did not debate the Short money order as such, but the subject was covered in the debate on the order for the modification of Schedules 4 and 5. Therefore, it has been before the Scottish Parliament and, in substance, a view was reached. Nevertheless, I take the point that the noble Lord made. I am sure that the First Minister will be aware of what the noble and learned Lord has said this evening as regards the way in which matters are taken forward in the future.

Perhaps I may now deal with the business of the amount being made available to the Liberal Democrat Party—a party which, as has been indicated, is in coalition. However, I have to say that I see the most consistent coalition in the Scottish Parliament as being that between the SNP and the Conservative Party. I suppose there would be those, although I do not for a moment count myself among them, who would say that the Liberal Democrat Party needs all the help that it can get in order to reach a considered and coherent line. But I would not make that cheap and nasty comment.

The noble and learned Lord made a point about the provision of hard copies of the Scottish Hansard. I suspect that these may be settling down, teething issues. It is clearly the intention that the record of the Scottish Parliament and the Bills with which it deals should be made available to Members of this and the other House, as quickly as possible. I am sure that we can look forward to seeing improvements in present arrangements being put in place.

The noble and learned Lord also drew attention to the problem regarding the freedom of information Act. As he indicated, freedom of information is devolved so there will in fact be the possibility of having a freedom of information Act that applies basically to Westminster/Whitehall and one that applies to Holyrood. Clearly there will be a difficulty if there is a difference between those Acts. The noble and learned Lord posited the view that one regime may be more liberal than the other. It would not be right and proper—and this is purely for the sake of argument—if, say, a Whitehall department made available to Scottish Ministers information in confidence that was exempt under the freedom of information Act of this Parliament, while an individual could obtain access to it by using the provisions of a Scottish freedom of information Act. That would be an unacceptable kind of back-door route to undermining the legislative provisions of this Parliament. I believe that there is rightly and properly a safeguard in place against that happening. I do not believe that that is a matter which affects the good government of the state in any way at all.

The noble Viscount mentioned fishing borders. He will not be surprised to learn that I have some considerable interest in this matter. The simple case is that the boundary that has been decided upon, and which has been accepted by this House, is drawn on the median line principle. That simply means that all waters north of the boundary line are nearer to Scotland than to England and rightly subject to the regulation of the Scottish Parliament and all waters south of that line are nearer to England than to Scotland and rightly the subject of regulation by this Parliament. Those who argue a different case have the difficult task of arguing that waters that are nearer to England than to Scotland should somehow rightly be regulated by a Scottish parliament. I think that is a difficult case to sustain. However, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and I have indicated that we are happy to discuss this issue with members of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation.

As regards tourism, the noble Viscount made an interesting and important point. We have to recognise that tourism has grown from some decades ago from being a relatively Cinderella industry to being one of Scotland's premier industries. The point the noble Viscount made is well taken. This is a matter for the two governments to sort out—which I am sure they will—in a way which is to the benefit of both the United Kingdom and Scotland. I see no automatic conflict between those interests.

I believe that I have covered the points raised by noble Lords and I hope that the House will feel able to pass these orders this evening and, as I say, bring to an end£and reach our final destination in this respect—the process of putting in place all the legislative blocks. I should have said bricks rather than blocks; that is a Freudian slip if ever there was one. As I say, I hope we can put in place all the legislative bricks that build a sound and secure basis for devolution to Scotland.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at thirteen minutes before eleven o'clock.