No, I am going to make some progress.
I had the advantage, if that is the right way to put it, of hearing the First Minister this morning on the radio. To say that he was concerned about the timetable being properly met would be something of an understatement, but his response to questioning, and some of the contributions by the SNP in the Chamber today, have left me, perhaps erroneously and perhaps unfortunately, with the perception that, if the timetable were not met, they would regard that as a considerable political advantage.
I have believed for a considerable time that the present constitutional settlement in the UK is unsustainable. That is why I was asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk and the leader of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland to chair what came perhaps a little unfairly to be called the Campbell commission. I chaired it. I did not write its report; other people did. However, I have had some false regard as a consequence.
Throughout that exercise, it was clear to me, and it is set out in the document that we produced—unhappily, it is not available in all good bookshops, although it can be found on the Scottish Liberal Democrats website—that federalism was the answer to quite a lot of the issues that were on our minds then. Nothing has caused me to alter my view that that is still the case.
There is one point I want to make as strongly as I can. We cannot all get what we want as a result of Lord Smith’s commission or the Cabinet Committee that will be chaired by the Leader of the House. There will have to be compromises that as far as possible take account of the competing interests. There is the question of the role of Scottish MPs when issues such as health and education are discussed here. I have felt slightly uncomfortable about that since the creation of the Scottish Parliament, but the fact is that, as I have already described, we came here on a particular basis. If that is to be changed, it will be a profound constitutional change; it is not one to be embraced simply by changing the Standing Orders. Therefore, that should be thought about, rather than there being a knee-jerk reaction to the result on 18 September.
The vow has been made. If the First Minister thinks that he will be holding the feet of the three leaders to the fire, he ain’t seen nothing yet. I will be holding their feet to the fire, as it would be —let me put it as mildly as I can—politically unhelpful next May were that promise not to have been implemented to the extent that has been set out.