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MS3: Devolution
#1
Mme. Speaker,

With your indulgence, I wish to speak further about the issue of devolution to Scotland and Wales.

Now that legislation is set to pass, establishing the date of the referenda and the questions therein, I wish to speak more about the details. As I said during the debate on the bill, Mme. Speaker, the appropriate time to debate the merits of devolution is during said campaign. I regret that the Official Opposition did not understand that basic concept and tried to gain an advantage in the coming campaign by espousing their opposition to the concept, while opposing the referenda in which they will have the opportunity to present their so-called vision. Second, I wish to say that I reject the claim by the Leader of the Opposition that the bill was "rammed" through the House. Had he actually stayed in the House for the duration of the debate, instead of storming out like a child who didn't get his way, he would have seen a robust debate with adequate time provided. It is not the fault of this House that he chose not to attend.

Now, for the matter at hand. The total cost for administering the referenda, Mme. Speaker, is eight million pounds. Five million in Scotland; three million in Wales. As the House is aware, Mme. Speaker, the referenda will present two questions: first, on the establishment of a Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, and second on the devolution of tax-varying powers. The questions were fully vetted by the Civil Service, Mme. Speaker, and were accepted as clear and fair referenda questions.

Second, Mme. Speaker, if the referenda are adopted, the government will move forward with the introduction of legislation to establish the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly. That legislation will devolve powers to make decisions regarding local government, health, housing, education, transport, environmental and other policies. The government will also establish electoral systems for the devolved authorities, with members elected using the Additional Member System.

Referenda in both Scotland and Wales will take place on November 5. I expect that cross-party groups will form on both sides of the questions, and I look forward to a values and ideas-based campaign unfolding. I would note, Mme. Speaker, the Civil Service has advised the timeline for the referenda being fair, and I welcome a vigorous campaign.
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#2
Speaker of the House

I thank the Prime Minister for statement. The House will now turn to other business.
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