§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
I make no apology for introducing this Bill into the House of Commons. This Bill is in my name, but I alone do not bear the responsibility for it. The Bill is not introduced merely on my own behalf, but is representative of Scottish Labour opinion in so far as it is represented by Members of Parliament here. That accounts for 32 of the representatives from Scotland. In addition to them, I am perfectly certain that, whatever differences there might be between the hon. Members below the gangway on this side and those of us who support the Government, on this question the 23 Liberal representatives from Scotland are at least unanimous on the principle of Scottish Home Rule. Having regard to that, and counting also the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour), at least the principle, if not every word of the Bill, is supported by 56 out of the 74 Scottish Members.
This is not the first occasion on which a Scottish Home Rule Bill has been introduced into this House. In 1894 a Motion was moved by one of the Edinburgh Members, I think, and at that time it was agreed to by the House; in 1895 the hon. Member for Dumfries (Dr. Chapple), who was then the Member for one of the Stirlingshire divisions, moved a Motion in similar terms, which was adopted; in 1908 a Home Rule Bill was carried in this House by a fairly large majority, and again in 1911; and in 1920 Mr. Johnstone, then the hon. Member for East Renfrew, introduced a somewhat similar Bill to the one which I am introducing to-day, and on that occasion a sufficient number of Members did not vote for the Closure, but even then they showed a majority in favour of the principle of the Bill. For my part, I, therefore, call on many men who have gone before in the task of trying to bring to this House a problem to which every student of Scottish politics, every 790 man and woman who has the commonweal of Scotland at heart, must give attention and serious thought.
It may be argued that there is no demand in Scotland for the Bill. We have never had the demand for a form of government of this kind in Scotland that there was for self-government in Ireland. Let me reply at the outset to that by saying that I think there is—nay, I am sure there is—a real demand for self-government in Scotland at the present time. It may not be a characteristic of the Scottish race to make their demands in the same way as, say, the Irish people, but nevertheless, while their methods may differ and their steps may alter, the Scottish people are as sincere, and for the most part as anxious, for this Measure as even our friends in Ireland were for their own form of government. I understand that one of the chief objections, or alleged objections, to this Bill is the fact that it proposes to set up a Scottish Parliament with fairly large powers, controlling everything except the Post Office, the Excise and Customs, the Army and Navy, and foreign affairs, and that, in addition to so doing, we still want to retain our representation in this House. I understand that the English Members, for the main part, would grant us Scottish Home Rule if they could rid themselves, particularly, of the Members from the West of Scotland, but I must confess that I cannot follow English reasoning.
It is not so long ago since Ireland was making a similar demand, and Ireland went further. I think the main part of Ireland not only demanded a Bill like this, but complete separation, and the English Members opposed their having complete separation and compelled them to maintain some connection with this country. Yet here we come forward with a comparatively mild proposal, and they now oppose us because our proposals do not set up a complete Scottish Free State. The English Members can rid themselves of Scottish representation as soon as they care, for in our Bill we make this proposal, that whenever there is a scheme of devolution agreed on, to apply to England, Scotland and Wales, the Scottish Members will cease to take any part or interest in the affairs in which the English Parliament ought to take part. One of the things that I am sure must strike the 791 House, as it has me, although I am comparatively new in polities, is the fact that this is supposed to be an Imperial Parliament, dealing with foreign affairs, our relations with every other country in the world, our Colonial relations, and our interests as the British Empire, and yet, at the same time, we are called upon to deal with very small problems, merely affecting localities, and having no relation whatever to the big Imperial problems that we also have to face. One of the things that I think is characteristic of the Scottish race is that, when a Scotsman is elected to any position, he thinks it is part of his job to master, not only one item, but the whole job for which he is elected, and I defy any hon. Member, no matter how great his capacity for this work may be, to master every detail or to take part in a tenth of the deliberations with that active interest that he would like to show in them.
Let me give two striking examples that might be used as an argument for Home Rule for Scotland. This week Scotland had two Measures that were passed by this House. One of them dealt with school teachers' superannuation. The unanimous wish of the Scottish Members, including, I believe, the Secretary for Scotland, was to make the date of operation next year, but because the English Members had agreed to accept two years, and because this Parliament is, as it must be, largely representative of English thought, they agreed to two years. Despite the unanimous request, despite even the agreement, in the main, of the Scottish Office, we could not have the date that Scottish opinion wanted and should have had. Take our Poor Persons Bill—a small, meagre Bill to deal with an urgent problem, largely arising in Glasgow and the west of Scotland. True, we got it, but I venture to say that if we had our Scottish Parliament, that Bill would not have been held up as it has been for over a month. A Scottish Parliament would have had it passed, and it would nave been in law in the time it has been held up even for Second Reading. My feeling, I think, on this question, will be accepted by most of the Scottish members. We have our own views on education. We have our own views on religion, and on this question may I cite one example. This House will be called upon to deal with the Union of 792 the Scottish Churches ere long. I must confess, for my part, I am very open in my views. I have never committed myself on that question to either one side or the other, but what I feel is that on a purely Scottish question, a question dealing with the religious feeling and aspirations of the Scottish people, members largely alien to our views should not be called upon in the main to decide a question of which they have no knowledge or thoughts.
Take the London Traffic Bill as an example on the other side. Why should I have been called upon to give a deliberate vote on a question that did not affect my constituency or my country, and therefore ought to have been decided by the Members mostly responsible for it? Take another example. This week, in another place, a Committee has been appointed to inquire into a Provisional Order dealing with electricity in Lancashire. What did we find last week? On a purely Lanarkshire problem, a purely Scottish problem, deputations of county councils and town councils from almost every part of Lanarkshire are in London with counsel and everything else, instead of being in Scotland, where the problem is known, or ought to be known, and understood better than here. Instead of the inquiry being conducted in Scotland, we have to suffer the expense and burden of sending to London deputations from every burgh and town connected with this scheme, and have it discussed 400 miles away from the spot, where we might have had it settled within a radius of 20 or 30 miles of the place. These instances could be multiplied. I had the pleasure of being for four years on the Glasgow Town Council, and I know some colleagues of mine have served for longer terms. They must recognise the inconvenience of coming to London and the congestion of business. I feel that every man and woman who has served on these bodies will be unanimously in agreement as to the desirability of some form of devolution.
May I add this further point? The details of the Bill may be open to some criticism. Indeed, if I may be quite honest, I cannot, and could not, accept, possibly, every detail myself, but I am not concerned merely with the details of the Bill. I want the House not to concern itself so much with every minute detail of the Bill, as to concern itself with the 793 big, broad principle, is it a good thing or a bad thing for Scotland to have some form of self-government instituted there? That is the question on which we want to concentrate. Details, as I have said, may be open to some criticism, but even then, I think, they can be amended, and will be readily accepted by those who are promoting the Bill. Looking over the past, I note one curious feature, that nearly every Member who opposed Home Rule for Scotland has been defeated at the polls. It may be said that some supporters have also been defeated, but in their case it has been different. Every supporter of this Bill who has been defeated has not been defeated by an opponent of Home Rule, but has been defeated by a member of the more advanced party even than his. That would seem to point to the unanimous wish of the Scottish people.
There is one thing with which I ought to deal before I conclude. In 1922 I fought the first parliamentary election I have been called upon to fight. I was opposed by three candidates, one representing the views of hon. Members opposite, one representing the views of those to my right, and another candidate who stood as approximating the Sinn Fein idea of an independent Scottish Free State. The candidate who stood on behalf of the party on my right polled a little over 1,000 votes, the candidate who represented the party opposite polled about 8,000 votes, and, while I stood for a full settlement of Home Rule, the man who stood for a Free State polled over 50 per cent. of the votes recorded for the Tory candidate and three times the votes of the candidate standing on behalf of the Liberal party. Even in my constituency—not for a form of Home Rule, mark you, but for a complete separate Scottish Free State—a candidate standing on behalf of that polled well over 4,000 votes, showing not only the demand for Home Rule, but the growing demand there is, possibly, for something even greater than that.
I would plead, if I may, with the English Members here to-day, that unless they concede this mild, meagre Measure for which we are now asking, forces at work, that neither we nor anybody else can stop, will soon demand, not this Measure, but a bold and bigger Measure, and I think they ought to take cognisance of steps of that kind. You had a situation 794 in Ireland, where if, in 1910, or 1912, the legitimate and, if I may say so, the mild demands of Ireland had been granted, we should never have been faced with the catastrophe in Ireland with which we were afterwards faced. While the Scottish may not make their demands known in that fashion, even from that point of view, this Parliament ought to take some cognisance of it. We expect to hear to-day the usual jokes regarding the Scottish race. For my part, I do not view this in a jocular fashion, nor do the Scottish people. We are on a serious business to-day. We think we have contributed something in the past to the British nation. We still think we can contribute, and keep on contributing to it. In return, we hope to have this request of ours treated in a serious fashion, and, if it be granted, we hope to make big, bold reforms in our land. If we had a Scottish Parliament, I am convinced we would never tolerate the slums that are so common in our great industrial areas like Edinburgh and Glasgow. Scotsmen would never allow—in half the time they would take Measures—these fearful things in our great cities—these evils which we all regret.
One thing more. We are cribbed in the one thing upon which we pride ourselves most, and that is in our educational facilities. If Scotland has anything to boast of, it is her great educational attainments. To-day we are limited in our aspirations by the outlook in this part of the country known as England. We want to be bigger and bolder in these things. We feel that a Scottish Parliament would make for better government in these things. Take the case of a great city like Glasgow, which is well known in commerce and industry. There you have the tragedy going on day after day, a death rate of four times the number of children than the death rate in a well-to-do division, and that is not because our people are poor, or Scottish, or Irish, or drunkards. It is not even because this Parliament is brutal towards our people. It is because this Parliament cannot devote the time to the work, and, furthermore, because it has no knowledge of the problems with which we are confronted.
I am convinced that with a Scottish Parliament our problems would be faced. Even our opponents from Scotland, and I say it about colleagues who may differ, are all agreed upon this; that our 795 problems in Glasgow have never been faced by this Parliament as they ought to have been faced. Our problems in Edinburgh or Scotland have never been faced. Trawling round and about our Scottish shores would never have gone on the time and the way it has if a Scottish Parliament had had to deal with it, nor would some of the other problems which disgrace modern society. For these reasons and for a hundred and one reasons, we bring in this Bill to-day and earnestly and sincerely ask that it should pass. If our English Members care to joke, let them, but I warn them of this, that the Scottish people are in no joking mood in regard to this Bill. We have tried constitutional methods. We have sent a majority of advanced Members to this House. We have looked with hope and aspiration to have something done for our problems, and it has not been done. I do not blame Parliament, I blame its methods and make up.
Our population of about 5,000,000 is a handy population to manage its own affairs and to legislate for a population mainly composed of women and men with an adaptability for government that should make for good government in our midst. Just one last thing I want to say in regard to matters Scottish. Can anything be more absurd than that one man should be responsible to this House for Scottish business—for asylums, health, housing and everything in Scotland? One man is responsible for it. In England you have the Home Secretary responsible for one part of the business; you have the Minister of Health responsible for housing; the Minister of Labour for his particular Department; but in Scotland it is a jumble up, and one man is supposed to be responsible for all. I read a speech of Mr. Munro, who was Scottish Secretary here in the early years of the War. He stated that during his term of office he made something like 55 journeys from England to Scotland in the course of the year, and during that time he received almost 200 deputations from Scotland. How can any Member of Parliament, how can any Scottish Secretary, make 55 journeys to Scotland and receive almost 200 deputations and yet give that time and attention to Scottish affairs that we think, and rightly think, ought to be given to them?
796 For these and other reasons there is no need to make an apology for bringing in this Bill. I look forward earnestly to this Government, if not giving facilities for this Measure, then taking the earliest possible means by commission, convertion, or Committee to inquire into Scottish problems; to take the earliest possible opportunity to grant our legitimate, just, and earnest demands to set up for Scotland a Parliament of its own. Such a Parliament would endeavour to solve its great questions, and to make the Scottish nation not the sneering place that it is often made by those who go forward on the 12th August to hunt the deer, or to shoot the grouse, and then to return; who go to our highland dales and glens and make a pleasure ground of places that ought to be supporting an industrious and good population. They ought not to be turned into pleasure grounds. Because I want to see Scotland, not a pleasure ground, but Scotland a proper place of goodwill and hope for the people of Scotland, of which I am a native and proud of my nationality, and of my people, I bring forward on the first available Scottish day, this Measure, which if it has not the unanimous support of Scottish Members has at least the support of the great bulk of Scottish Members behind me.
§ Mr. T. JOHNSTON
I beg to second the Motion.
I feel highly honoured indeed in being asked by my fellow Scottish members to second the Motion so eloquently proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for the Gorbals Division (Mr. Buchanan). During the last 35 years the subject of Scottish Home Rule has been debated in this House 19 times. Since 1894 Scottish Home Rule has been carried in this House nine times, and has never once been defeated. In addition to that we have had what was called the Speaker's Conference on Devolution. Unanimity was not secured upon one issue put before that Conference. Upon all other points a very considerable unanimity was secured. On the question, for example, of powers which ought to be given to Scotland, Wales, and any other component part of the British legislature, the Report of the Conference said this—this is written on behalf of the members of the Commission:—A large measure of agreement was reached both as to the subjects which ought 797 to be retained by the Central Government, and those which might properly be delegated to subordinate legislatures.On the question of finance arrangements between the Central Government, the Imperial Parliament, and subordinate Parliaments, the Report says this:—In another branch of the subject, that of finance, very general agreement was also-arrived at.On the question of the judiciary the Conference was unanimous. The only point upon which they differed was as to the composition, that is to say, the precise composition of the new Parliaments that were to be set up. There was, I think, 13 members who signed Mr. Speaker's Report and 13 members the Report of Mr. Murray Macdonald. Although the one Report stood out for the immediate grant of grand councils, the other Report, that of Mr. Murray Macdonald, stood out for a legislature for Scotland. This is what the Speaker's Report said:—Although no agreement on the fundamental point of the composition of the local legislature bodies could be attained it was generally felt by the Conference that the detailed examination of these schemes had thrown new light upon the problem.In June, 1919, this subject was last debated in this House, and only one Scottish Member voted against Home Rule for Scotland. On that occasion there were 13 Members of the Conservative party walked into the Lobby in favour of Scottish Home Rule; no less than 17 Liberals voted for it, and five Labour Members and only one Member from Scotland voted against national self-government for Scotland. Despite all these facts and all these conferences, reports and all this unanimity from Scotland, why have we not got Scottish Home Rule? The late Lord Morley, in 1886, said:I only ask myself, supporting the Scottish Liberals were to be by any calamity withdrawn from the legislative body that deals with the affairs of England—poor England—how should we fare without you, and I for one am not willing readily and without very strong cause to lose the advantage of the noble Liberalism of Scotland.In order to maintain a permanent Liberal majority in England, it seems that Scotland has in the past been refused Scottish Home Rule. I have read all previous Debates that have taken place on this subject, and the Bill which has been introduced by the hon. Member for 798 Gorbals is substantially the same as the Bill that was introduced in 1914, but the one point upon which there has been discussion in the past and disputation, and upon which we are quite prepared for controversy and further disputation to-day, is the question of Scottish representation in this House after we get Home Rule. The Member for Gorbals has explained the reason why, in this, as in previous Home Rule Bills, we have sought to retain a temporary representation in this House. If we do not ask to come here to deal with Imperial affairs, and take our share in them, we should be accused, and rightly, of attempting a policy of separation, and we should lay ourselves open to the charge of disintegrating the British Empire; and it is because we desire to retain our representation here to deal with Imperial affairs common to us all that we have put a clause in this Bill asking that direct representation shall be retained in this House after Home Rule until such time as a general federal scheme is evolved for the whole of the British Empire.
Another argument was used by the hon. Member for Gorbals about comic stories, and we know all about them. We all know the story of the Scotsman who put his boots outside in the lobby of the hotel and held on to the laces. Dr. Johnson once said:The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees is the high road that leads him to England.I know that is still fervently believed by hon. Members on the benches opposite. What are facts? I go to the last census on this point. The census of 1921 shows that you have in administrative London, with a population of 4,484,523 people, a total Scottish born population of only 49,778; while in Glasgow, with a population less than a quarter of the population of London, we had on the same date 41,601 persons of English and Welsh birth resident in Glasgow. Therefore this gibe has lost it point. What are the positive reasons why we should have Home Rule for Scotland? The hon. Member for Gorbals has referred to several of them, and he has shown how it is impossible for us to deal with the great and grave social problems which confront us. Here we have two days per annum allotted to us to discuss Scottish matters, and we cannot do justice to them in that time.
799 May I point out that there have been 16 Commissions of this House set up to deal with the question of the congestion of business here, and yet we are still messing about discussing such questions as whether Manchester should have a 98 or 94 candle power standard and all sorts of little parochial questions of that kind whilst our own nation is bleeding to death and our rural population is being decimated. Millions of money are voted here every year without discussion. I think last year there was £80,000,000 voted without discussion at all. While that is so we have in Scotland five counties with a population smaller than we had in the year 1801, smaller than it was a century and a quarter ago. I have quoted these figures before in this House and I have no hesitation in quoting them again. Between 1881 and 1911 our farm servant population fell by 49,428; our shepherds decreased by 1,229; our farmers and graziers fell by 4,505, and, lift up your hats, for our gamekeepers increased by 1,673.
Our land problem is vastly different to the land problem of England. Here you have no deer forest or crofter problem such as we have, and our ecclesiastical problems are different. I notice that you are going to settle the Scottish Church question here this month. You are going to deal with the question of teinds, and you do not know the meaning of the word. Our local problems are different and our local phrases are different. For example, what Englishman knows the meaning of the word "hamesucken"? Our local administrative problems are entirely different from those in England and our education problems are quite different. Every Secretary for Scotland, at any rate under the last six Governments, of every party has been a declared Scottish Home Ruler. The present Secretary for Scotland, who will speak for himself later, I know is a Scottish Home Ruler. The last one, Lord Novar, backed a Home Rule Bill when he was in this House. The previous Secretary for Scotland, now Lord Alness, is a strong and convinced Home Ruler, and the one previous to him, Mr. McKinnon Wood, was an equally convinced and strong Home Ruler.
Our historical and cultured traditions are different; our racial characteristics 800 are different. The Celt has long memories, the Englishman forgets quickly. There are Members on these Benches and on those Benches too who fight their electoral battles upon, say, the battle of the Boyne. We have Members on these Benches who fight them on the battle of Bannockburn. But the Englishman forgets quickly. We can never obliterate these national characteristics, and a jolly good job too! There is always, for each one of us, some place that he calls "home," some memories that he has of his childhood days, and, thank God, they cannot be obliterated. I think it was Robert Louis Stevenson who once wrote about a vision that he had of a Scots army in the service of the Dutch Government marching beneath the polders in the Low country, and he pictured an officer stopping suddenly and taking off his bonnet because he felt on his brow the soft wet rain of the Hebrides, and a private stepping out of the ranks because he recognised the old aroma of the peat reek. As Kipling puts itGod gave all earth to men to love;But, because our hearts are small,Ordained for each, one spot should proveBeloved over all.And the greatest Scotsman who ever lived, Robert Burns, declared thatThe story of Wallace poured a tide of Scottish prejudice into my veins which will boil along there till the floodgates of life shut in eternal rest.We may believe very earnestly in internationalism, but you cannot have internationalism without nations. The word "international" means "between nations," and any political party in this House that seeks to destroy these national characteristics and diversities is doing something that is for the ill-being, and not for the well-being, of the British Empire. Let me conclude by appealing to hon. Members on the Benches opposite. I see that several of them, Scotsmen and Scotswomen, have tabled an Amendment to this Motion against Home Rule. Up till now the Party opposite has been regarded—they have said it themselves—as the custodians of the Imperial idea. The Empire was safe in their hands, but the rest of us were little Englanders and little Scotlanders and so on. The British Empire, and whatever view we take of it it is a big thing in the world—one-third of the people of the world of all colours and in all climes are under the British 801 flag—cannot persist, and cannot last, but will fall as Egypt fell, as the Baby Ionian and Roman and other great Empires of the past fell unless you give to each component part of that Empire the right to express its own individuality in its own way and not dragoon them by a central bureaucracy sitting many miles away.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), who is not here, has talked sufficiently of moral philosophy in his day—he learned it at Gilmour Hall—and he knows that the only way you can have unity is by recognising diversities. While, as the hon. Member for Gorbals put it, the demand for Scottish Home Rule is reasonable and while the people are prepared to argue about it, prepared to make concessions about it, and prepared to meet all sorts of opinion upon it; while that is the feeling to-day, as it was once the feeling in Ireland, I beg of hon. Members not simply to vote this thing down willy nilly and unreasonably. While yet reason comes to your door, welcome her in. There was once a Boston tea party which lost the American colony. I am not tied to every phrase or word in this Bill. If we can get a majority to-day for the principle of the Bill, and if the Government will guarantee to take the necessary steps to make the fullest possible enquiries into the best methods by which Scottish Home Rule, as a principle, can be translated into practice, then I am sure the hon. Member for Gorbals and other members on these Benches associated with him will welcome the decision.
§ Sir JOHN BAIRD
I beg to move to leave out the word "now," and, at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
I think everyone will agree that the speeches in which this Measure has been proposed and seconded have been very moderate, and have been inspired by high patriotic sentiment. I would really ask the House to believe that hon. Gentlemen opposite have no monopoly of patriotic sentiment, and, if I criticise the Measure, they will, I know, grant that possibly I have as much regard for the common weal of Scotland as anybody on that side of the House, though perhaps we may approach the problem that has to be solved from different points of view. The restraint with which the speeches of the 802 two hon. Gentlemen opposite were delivered must have struck everyone, until they came to the question of the 12th August. I am not quite certain whether, if they suggested that at about the beginning of August there were to be none of these people with guns coming up to spend three months and a great deal of money in that country, that suggestion would be as warmly welcomed in Perthshire or in Inverness-shire as, possibly, in the neighbourhood of Glasgow. What did strike me, however, and what must have struck the House, was that, whereas these hon. Gentlemen made a very eloquent appeal for Scottish Home Rule, their sole reference to the Bill now under consideration was rather of an apologetic character. Neither of them ventured to embark on an explanation of any of the provisions of the Bill. Both of them stated, with the natural caution that one would expect of them, that there was a great deal in the Bill that they would be glad to see altered. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I am within the recollection of the House. I do not want to misrepresent the hon. Gentlemen, but they certainly stated that they did not accept the Bill as perfect in all particulars, and were quite prepared to assent to many alterations. That is all I mean. There may be a difference, but I did not intend that there should be any. That is what I mean.
I do think we ought to have some detailed explanation of the Bill, and that some attempt, should have been made to show that the Measure as presented to the House is calculated, if passed into law, to remedy some of the defects in our organization as to the existence of which both sides of the House are agreed. For instance, when the Seconder of the Measure referred, quite rightly, to the voting which took place on the Resolution of the 4th June, 1919, when, as he pointed out, large numbers of Members of my Party supported the Resolution, he omitted to remind the House what the terms of that Resolution were. They were quite different from the Bill now before the House. That Resolution was to this effect:That, with a view to enabling the Imperial Parliament to devote more attention to the interests of the United Kingdom, and, in collaboration with the other Governments of the Empire, to matters of common Imperial concern, this House is of opinion that the time has come for the creation of subordinate Legislatures within the United 803 Kingdom, and that to this end the Government, without prejudice to any proposals it may have to make in regard to Ireland, should forthwith appoint a Parliamentary body to consider and report—That is a very different matter from this Bill. I have not looked up my record as to whether I supported that Resolution or not, but I am quite certain that, if it were brought forward to-day. I should support it, and for this reason. I agree with the two hon. Gentlemen who have proposed and seconded the Second Reading of this Bill, that the present state of affairs, where the Secretary of Scotland finds himself in charge of no less than 16 different Departments, where he finds himself compelled to make numerous journeys to Scotland and then to come back here afterwards, where he finds himself overwrought and underpaid to an extent that is not applicable to any other Minister of the Crown—that is a state of affairs which, I agree, as I think everyone on this side of the House agrees, does require improvement. Where I differ from the hon. Gentlemen is in suggesting, as I gather they do, though they did not state it, that this Bill is going to remedy that. One of the outstanding defects of the Measure is that it makes no mention of the right hon. Gentleman's post, and that it is left completely vague and in the dark as to what are to be the relations between London and Edinburgh. That is a very great defect, and I think it is lamentable, from the Scottish point of view and from the point of view that we pride ourselves on being a practical nation, that that very important matter should not have been dealt with in the Bill. There are other points in regard to which I think the Bill might have been brought up-to-date. For instance, in dealing with the different taxes that will be at the disposal of the Scottish Parliament, I see that the Inhabited House Duty is to be included. That would now be impossible.
- (1) upon a measure of Federal Devolution applicable to England, Scotland, and Ireland, defined in its general outlines by existing differences in law and ad ministration between the three countries.
- (2) upon the extent to which these differences are applicable to Welsh conditions and requirements; and
- (3) upon the financial aspects and requirements of the measure.
§ Sir J. BAIRD
If hon. Members opposite really want to treat this as a serious Measure, they might put that degree of care into the drafting of the Bill which we are entitled to expect from something that is cared about. The next point is that no reference at all, or hardly any, is made to the Committee which sat. Mr. Speaker, under your predecessor. That Committee proceeded on the lines approved by Parliament, and, although they were unable to reach complete unanimity, they did, as has been mentioned, attain unanimity as regards a very important portion of the problem. They attained unanimity as regards those subjects which might properly be devolved, and they attained the unanimity as regards those which ought to be reserved to the Central Parliament. That is a very important point. There was also agreement on the question of financial relations, but a very important point on which the Committee failed to reach unanimity, or indeed, any measure of agreement, was as to who should compose the body which was to have these powers conferred upon it, and as to how that body was to be elected. This is not a question that can be settled on a Friday afternoon by a private Member's Bill. It is not purely a Scottish question—it is a British question. It is an Imperial question. It certainly is not a political question. It is a national question, and if it is to be solved, as, indeed, it will be solved, it will be solved, in my judgment at least, by proceeding on the lines on which we have already started. It must be solved by further inquiry and investigation, and by taking evidence as to what are the difficulties which have to be met, and what proposals can be made by really authoritative bodies for meeting those difficulties. It cannot be solved by a Measure which in effect sets up a single Chamber, where a majority of one would, apparently, be able to do anything it liked in Scottish affairs. Hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House and we on this side probably differ as regards the advantage or desirability of a single-Chamber or of a bi-cameral Legislature.
§ Sir J. BAIRD
No, on the contrary; but, if I may use a homely illustration, hon. Gentlemen may recollect the anecdote of Franklin and Washington discussing the Constitution of the United States. They discussed particularly the point as to whether there were to be two Chambers or one, and they discussed it over a cup of tea. Franklin poured out his tea from his cup into the saucer in order to cool it, whereupon Washington said, "Now you see the advantage of a Second Chamber."
A great deal of the legislation which may be passed by any single Chamber requires to be cooled before it is submitted for the consumption of the electors. It is particularly from that point of view that it is desirable that there should be a Second Chamber. None is provided, and so far as I am concerned that is a fundamental blot on the measure and justifies to the hilt our suggestion for its rejection. To suggest that we in Scotland are going to be content to allow Scottish affairs to be decided by an absolute majority in a single Chamber is, to my mind, something which, if it were submitted to the Scottish people as a whole, would never be agreed to. [An HON. MEMBER: "Will you try it?"] It is open to the hon. Member to try as much as it is to me. We have all had Home Rule as a very minor issue in our elections and we have always said on this side that we recognise that there must be development in the machinery of the Government. There has been development in our lifetime. When hon. Members opposite say they desire self-government in Scotland, Scotland has precisely the same amount of self-government in regard to local affairs that England or Wales has, and that self-government has increased by leaps and bounds in the lifetime of every one of us. In addition there is the Private Bill arrangement, which works very well. That, like everything else in this connection, probably requires overhauling, but to pretend that you have not the same machinery of self-government that the rest of the United Kingdom possesses is really not stating what is actually the fact.
As regards the real demand for this measure, is it really as strong as hon. Members opposite have represented? My home and my constituency are in Scotland. Either at election time or between 806 elections when we attend meetings, I have never found the degree of enthusiasm in favour of Scottish Home Rule which certainly, in spite of our reserved character, you would find if it was a burning question. That does not in the least justify the view that nothing ought to be done. I do not contend that. An improvement in the machinery of Scottish government can and ought to be made, but this Bill, so far from being an improvement, is a reactionary measure which seeks to put the clock back where it was in 1707. The Act of 1707 is not only one of the best things that ever happened to Scotland, but one of the best things that ever happened to England or to the world, because it enabled the British race, instead of fighting, as we should have been, between ourselves—and we can fight, as the past has shown—about things on which we ought to agree to combine, and we have spread civilisation throughout the world to an extent that no other race has done, and it would not have been possible unless Englishmen and Scotsmen had been working hand in hand together.
§ Sir J. BAIRD
If you refer to one bad thing it is necessary to point to a great many other good things which have occurred. It is true there have been rebellions, but I do not think there is much chance of rebellion coming now. There has been no rebellion for over 170 years, and that is pretty good testimony.
§ Sir J. BAIRD
No, I am against rebellions. I should like to make perfectly clear why I ask the House not to agree to the Second Reading. It is not because I consider that the machinery of government in Scotland cannot be improved—I think it can be—but we have to consider this from a purely practical point of view, and though I will not yield in my admiration for Burns or for any other great Scotsman to hon. Members opposite, I hardly think they are the right people to seek advice from in matters of this sort. We have to approach this question from a severely practical point of view. We have to ascertain how we can promote efficiency and economy. As regards 807 efficiency, nothing was said by the Mover or Seconder to show that a Parliament, the constitution of which they did not even refer to, is going to be more efficient than the present system. Not a word did they say to recommend the particular scheme in the Bill. It is quite certain that economy will not be effected by this Measure, and at present, when what we require above all things is to recover from the effects of the War, to cut down our national expenditure and to improve the efficiency of our legislation, you are not going to help the country to get on its legs again by a reactionary and ill-thought-out Bill like this.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
This is not the first occasion on which I have made some remarks on a Bill which was to give Home Rule to my countrymen, and I feel, therefore, that I am in a peculiarly appropriate position when I congratulate the Mover and Seconder on the excellence of their individual speeches. I quite agree with the right hon. Baronet that one characteristic of those speeches was their moderation. I do not think anyone could cavil at their tone or temper. But quite unlike the right hon. Baronet, I stand here on behalf of the party I represent to support the Bill as introduced, and if hon. Members go to a Division my party will support them. That perhaps was to be expected. For many years now the party with which I am associated has been identified with the principle of Scottish Home Rule. From 1894 onwards for many years and on many occasions the Liberal party brought forward a Bill of this kind, and indeed this Bill is largely the Bill I introduced in 1914, and that Bill was largely the Bill which was introduced in 1913 and carried by a majority in this House. I do not agree with the right hon. Baronet when he says there is no demand for a Measure of this kind in Scotland. It is true there is no tempestuous ebullition such as we had experience of in the old Irish days. The approbation of the principle of the Bill is a sound and genuine approbation. I can give my own personal experience. I have scarcely ever addressed a meeting without a reference to Home Rule. On every occasion, instead of hearing a dissenting voice, I heard the reverse, not from men of my political party alone, or men of the political party above the Gangway, but 808 from men of the same political persuasion as hon. Members opposite. The Convention of Royal burghs, admittedly not a body of my political persuasion or of the political persuasion of my hon. Friends above the Gangway, has time and again emphasised its definite opinion that the time is now rotten ripe in Scotland for a large measure of self-government. That is exactly what the Bill promises for Scotland.
I am glad to realise that the hon. Members who moved and seconded the Second reading made it perfectly plain that there could be no ground for the contention urged against the Irish Bill. They have placed unity in the United Kingdom, and the inclusion of Scotland within the Empire, in the forefront of their Bill. I appeal to every hon. Member therefore, wherever he sits, to realise this fact. There is no suggestion of secession or separation in the Bill. We are standing here to-day merely for a large measure of control over our purely local affairs. We Scotsmen take a very legitimate pride in our Imperial heritage. My right hon. Friend opposite said that the greatness of this country came about because England and Scotland went hand in hand. There is nothing in this Bill to prevent them in future from going hand in hand.
Historical experience has undoubtedly shown that if you give a large measure of independence to a component part of the Empire you strengthen the love and affection of that component part for the Empire as a whole. Instead of a legitimate amount of Home Rule curtailing the great Imperial prestige and power which this Empire has acquired in the past, in my judgment it would add to it. The right hon. and gallant Member who has just spoken was one of my colleagues in the Coalition Government, and I was proud to be associated with him. He was responsible, just as I was responsible, and as the whole Government was responsible, for giving the Dominions greater freedom and greater power than they ever had before. The Dominions of this country, instead of being regarded as mere appendages of this country were individual signatories to the Treaty of Peace. It is by actions such as these, by giving them entire self-government of their own local affairs, while at the same 809 time seeking to cement the Empire by sentiment, or upon any other lines, instead of curtailing the goodwill between the component parts of the Empire you will increase it. It is upon these grounds that I welcome the assertion made by my hon. Friend who moved and seconded the Bill.
Since this question was first mooted, a great thing has happened in the history of the United Kingdom. For good or for ill, Southern Ireland has been given what is called Dominion Home Rule. If Southern Ireland has received Dominion Home Rule, what has happened to the six counties? That is a new feature in the situation which, when carefully examined, ought to persuade all hon. Members that it is possible even now to give Scotland the measure of Home Rule that she wants. I see a colleague of mine who represents the Londonderry division of Ulster (Sir M. Macnaghten) present to-day, and I put it to him that they have in Ulster the same Scottish power of concentration that we have in Scotland. They have loyal descendants of our own race who have fought a man's part there. They have been fighting against Nature and many other things for centuries in that part of the Kingdom. What has happened? Does anybody in this country hear of bad government in Ulster? They took over all the powers which we are asking for in Scotland, and does anyone in this House say that the people of Ulster, who are our own kith and kin, have badly governed, under the powers which they have got—we do not seek any other powers in Scotland—the country which is under their control? It is entirely to the credit of Ulster that they have performed their duties so well.
Let me take one case which will appeal to the Scottish nation. When I was in Ireland I spent a great many days and months upon a scheme for Irish education. I worked hard at it. I believed in those days that education was at the root of a great many evils in Ireland. What has happened? I am right in saying that the people of Ulster, having got freedom, have been able to get an Education Bill and pass it into law, and that Education Act is now working peacefully and well for the whole education system in Ulster. In this Bill we have a special Clause in regard to religion. I believe that in the Trish Bill that Clause was included. At 810 the time when the present Bill was originally introduced, the Irish Bill was then on the stocks, and in that Bill there was a Clause about religion. My right hon. Friend who has just spoken said that the Mover and Seconder of the Bill did not pay attention to the peculiar characteristics of the Bill, and he drew special attention to this Clause. Let me say at once that we are not wedded to every line and Clause of the Bill. We are here to advocate, defend and promote the principle of Scottish Home Rule, and if that Clause is an echo of the past, it can be wiped out in Committee. To talk about including in a Scottish Bill a Clause which gives religions toleration in Scotland is ridiculous, because of all the countries in the world there is no country that has prided itself so much on its religious toleration as Scotland. I can quite see that a Clause of that kind might be very offensive to many people in the South, and I am certain that the Mover and Seconder would gladly throw out that Clause in Committee; first of all, because it is not necessary, and, secondly, because in many ways it might be offensive to a great many people.
What we want in this Bill is not secession or separation. We want purely legislative and administrative efficiency, economy and convenience. My right hon. Friend will recall that during the last Parliament we never had, except in one Session, a Scottish Grand Committee. Every Bill produced was a Bill which legislated for both England and Scotland. Let me take a particularly glaring case, that of the Housing Act. In the past Scottish housing conditions, land conditions, and educational conditions were always legislated for separately.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
There I differ with my right hon. Friend. We were satisfied with the Bills introduced dealing with these things in Scotland, although they may not have come up to our expectations and wishes. At any rate, they were largely based upon actual Scottish conditions. What happened in the last Parliament? Because the Government in power had not any control over the Scottish Grand Committee they invariably added Scottish Bills to English Bills. I may refer to the Hous- 811 ing Act and to the Agricultural Credits Act. These were two problems which were always legislated for in the past in the Scottish Grand Committee and in the House as separate measures, but because the Government in power had no control over the Scottish Grand Committee Scotland was asked to accept the same type of Bill as England, and we had the Secretary for Scotland (Lord Novar) and Captain Elliott both going to Scotland before the Housing Bill was introduced and telling the Scottish people that Scottish conditions were entirely different, so far as housing was concerned, and that they thought they ought to have separate measures, separate subsidies, and everything separate. But the moment they came to put their proposals into an actual Bill, the Scottish Housing Bill was attached to the English Bill, and the subsidy was a flat rate subsidy. If that Bill had gone, as it ought to have gone, to the Scottish Grand Committee, the Scottish Members of Parliament would have so altered it, to conform to Scottish conditions, that the Bill would not have been recognised when it came back to the House of Commons.
The most cogent part of my right hon. Friend's speech was that in which he endeavoured to show that there was no proof given either in the speeches made or in the Bill that, if it were passed, it would improve the economy or efficiency of administration. As against that I have already mentioned the housing problem. I could elaborate it, but I do not wish to do so. Both the Mover and the Seconder made it plain that not only were the Scottish race different in characteristics and in ancient culture and in administrative capacity from their English fellow-subjects, but that in all the great essentials of modern life, in education, religion, land, law making and everything else, Scotland is as different as the poles are apart, from England. Is there a single Land Act appropriate to Scotland which could be at all workable in England? Is there a single religious Act appropriate to Scotland which is appropriate to England? The Scottish legal system is so far in advance of the English legal system that it is only now by Measures in this House that the divorce laws and the other laws in this country are being brought up to what was the law in Scotland 600 years ago.
812 It is obvious, therefore, on the grounds of administrative economy and efficiency, that a good case can be made out for this Bill as it stands. It is true that a great deal of doubt might arise in the minds of hon. Members with regard to the representation under this Bill. I have got very strong views on that point. I believe that Scotland should fight for its fullest possible representation in this House whether we have got a general federal system within the Empire or whether we are going to have a smaller system. There are at present 72 members for Scotland. [HON. MEMBERS: "74!"] I must not exclude my right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik). I am glad to see that in the Bill there is to be representation for the Universities. Whatever our personal views may be about the validity of giving representation to Universities, we should all be delighted if we had the services of my right hon. Friend in the new House of Commons. I approve of representation to the extent of 74 in this House. I see that in the Bill in the Scottish Parliament there are to be 148 members, two for every seat as it at present exists plus four for Dundee.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I thought there were only three. I think that I voice the views of my colleagues when I say that we shall strongly oppose any reduction in representation in this House, because we feel that Scotland has as much stake in the Empire and what the Empire means as England, and until a general reduction takes place all round I will strenously oppose any reduction in the representation of Scotland in this House. My right hon. Friend who dealt with a few of the details of the Bill said that he was going to oppose it tooth and nail because it introduced what he called a unicameral system, a one chamber system. But we make it plain that everybody who now has got the right, under any of the franchise Acts passed by this Parliament, will have the right to vote, including Peers, and the fact that a Scottish Peer is a Scottish Peer will in no way be against his standing as a Member of Parliament or voting for a Member of Parliament or sitting as a Member of Parliament. There is no doubt that in Scotland the unicameral system, as great 813 historians like Alison have proved, produced the most sane and wise legislation in the world, and I for one see no great objection to the reintroduction of the unicameral system, particularly as the Peers are not excluded. By the way, the Scottish Peers to-day are not representative of the Scottish people. Scotland in the House of Lords has merely the benefit of a unicameral system because the Scottish Peers are not elected by the Scottish people. They are elected by themselves to represent themselves, and to say that this is a retrograde measure in which we are trying to establish a unicameral system in Scotland is beside the point. The fact is that ever since the Union, so far as the problem of Scottish representation is concerned, Scotland has been to all intents and purposes a unicameral country.
I have been impressed in the case of Scotland by the way in which every sort of office and burden is placed upon one man. I had the same experience when I was in Ireland. I was President or Vice-President of something like 30 or 40 boards. It is impossible for any man to do such work efficiently. The Secretary for Scotland is a sort of political Pooh Bah! At any given moment he may be anything. He is standing here at one moment as head of the Education Department, at the next moment he is representing the Board of Agriculture, and at the next speaks for the Department which deals with the Lunacy Laws. Every conceivable thing is put upon the broad shoulders of the Secretary for Scotland. That seems to me to make neither for efficiency nor economy. Scotland ought now to be governed, not by one man in an alien country from a Scottish Office in Whitehall, but by Scottish Departments in Scotland, each Department controlled by a man who is responsible, not to one man above him, but to people who send him to Parliament. That is what has taken place in Ulster, and what has been good enough for Ulster and has worked so effectively there, is, or ought to be, good enough for Scotland, and could be worked as efficiently in Scotland as in Ulster.
We hear a great deal about Scottish sentiment and national opinion. There is no doubt that Scottish sentiment is, I and has been, a most powerful thing we believe, rightly or wrongly, that in 814 the small things which are concerned with parochial and county administration, with our schools, our universities, our laws and our lands, we are a race competent in all respects to deal with these things in our own way. We have never had any objection to associating with our colleagues in England—never. I am certain that a great many of our colleagues from England would regret the absence of my Scottish friends. The fact remains, however, that if the time which is at present devoted here to the smaller measures and the smaller concerns of Scottish life were devoted to those subjects in a Parliament in Scotland, this Imperial Parliament would have an opportunity, for example, for discussion of the millions and millions and millions of pounds which are spent without any control whatever. At the end of the debates on the Votes, many a night have I seen £80,000,000 spent without a single word of discussion. Is that in the interests of efficiency or economy? It is not.
If you devolve to Scotland, as you have devolved to Ulster, entire control over the limited and local concerns as we are-advocating here now, it would benefit not only Scotland, because Scotland would then have the assurance that these local affairs were being controlled by men who are directly responsible to the people, but it would benefit England, because England, as the larger part of the United Kingdom, would then have an opportunity, in the interests of her own taxpayers, of considering and weighing carefully every amount that is spent by this House. I make these remarks in the sincere hope that this Measure will be passed to-day by all sections of the House. I would make an appeal to my right hon. and hon. Friends sitting opposite. If I understood the speech of the right hon. Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir J. Baird) aright, he objected to this Bill as it stands but not to the principle of the Bill. I am in practically the same position. In this Bill there are many Clauses which I will attempt to alter or to vote against in Committee. But I am a strong supporter of the principle contained in the Bill. I put it to my right hon. Friend and his colleagues opposite that they, too, are great supporters of the principle of the Bill.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I know that my right hon. Friend, who represents the Scottish Universities, is not, and he has been consistent in that view, but my right hon. Friends sitting on the Front Opposition Bench have not been so consistent, and I am certain that they agree with the principle of Scottish Home Rule. The main points advanced by my two hon. Friends are this—they are not thirled to any particular form; they are not wedded to this particular form or that; they are standing here to-day asking this House to approve, as it has approved in the past, of the principle of Scottish Home Rule. There is no doubt that when Home Rule is given, if it is to be given, it should be given with good will. I am one of those who believe that my right hon. and hon. Friends opposite are just as patriotic as I am, that they love Scotland just as much as I do, and that they are as anxious as I am for the welfare of Scotland as a whole. I beg them to take the view of my colleagues and myself on this side, and to say, "Admitting that we are all agreed upon these sound principles, is it not wise, when we know that Scottish Home Rule is coming, is it not far better that we should do what we sincerely think, that we should subscribe openly and publicly now to the spirit and principle of Home Rule?"
If we do that we shall have none of the trouble which has been a source of conflict to this Empire, and, let us say, to Ireland in the past. We shall go on in Scotland, as Scotland has always been known to go on, solemnly and steadily and strongly in the path of its ambition. That path is the path of self-government. I, therefore, ask my right hon. Friend, the Member for Ayr Burghs, to request one of his colleagues to get up and say, "We dislike this Bill as it stands, we dislike almost every Clause in this Bill as it stands. There are essential principles in this Bill which we will vote against, but at the same time we believe that the spirit of self-government for Scotland should have a chance under the aegis and auspices of the good-will of all parties in the House." If that line were taken, I am convinced that it would be a safe and sound line, not only for the Party opposite, but a wise and a just line for the country which we, are all proud to represent.
Duchess of ATHOLL
In rising to support the Amendment I wish, first of all, to assure hon. Members opposite that I shall not approach this subject in the jocular vein which the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) deprecated. As I see Home Rule, it raises issues far too serious for Scotland and the Empire to be approached in any spirit but that of the gravest sense of responsibility. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir J. Baird), I could not help being struck by the fact that the Mover and Seconder of the Motion for the Second Reading of this Bill, said very little about the child that they are producing to the House, and before I pass on to consider one or two of the provisions in the Bill, I would like to refer to some of the reasons given by the hon. Member for Gorbals for bringing forward this Bill. He spoke about the congestion of business in the House and the difficulty of getting Scottish Bills through, and the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down also addressed himself to that subject. I noticed, however, that he confined his remarks exclusively to the last Parliament, where I daresay it was the case that there were reasons why the Government of that day did not wish to give the Scottish Grand Committee as many sittings as I understand it usually enjoys. But what has happened in this Parliament? What are the Bills on which the House has been spending most time in the last two or three months? They are Bills not for the exclusive benefit of England or Wales, but Bills for the benefit of the whole of Great Britain, such as the Trade Facilities Bill, which is intended to relieve unemployment in the whole of Great Britain, and various other Bills dealing with unemployment. Again, what question has occupied this House and Committees upstairs more than the question of rent restriction, which we know is one in which the Glasgow Members appear to take a very special and real interest? My hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals has spoken of the possibility of a Bill coming before the House dealing with the Scottish Churches, and I think he expressed the view that English Members would not be competent to pronounce an opinion on that Bill. Surely the hon. Member knows that when that Bill comes, as we hope it will come before long, it will go to the Scottish Grand Committee?
Duchess of ATHOLL
If that be the case, how is it that this House, two or three years ago, passed an Act dealing with the Church of Scotland?
Duchess of ATHOLL
If there was any illegality in what the House did then, the protest should have been made then.
Duchess of ATHOLL
In any case, I think I have said enough to show that the Bills with which we have been mainly dealing in this House during the present Parliament, are Bills under which Scotland will benefit as much as any part of Great Britain. If we sometimes feel that we have to wait unduly for some special Scottish Bill in which we are specially interested, hon. Members from Northumberland and Cumberland and Wales can make exactly the same complaint. The hon. Member for Gorbals instanced as a matter in which Scotland took a special interest and in which there had been special delay the question of slums in Glasgow. We know that the question is a very pressing one in Glasgow, and I ask what has been done in regard to it by hon. Gentlemen on those benches opposite, who for years before they came here were Members of the Town Council of Glasgow? What have they been doing in this matter for years past?
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I was a Member of the Glasgow Town Council, but the slum problem in Glasgow or any town is a national problem. The Conservative Government accepted it as such and so did the Coalition Government. The grant which we got in Glasgow was £10,000. It was only £30,000 for the whole of Scotland, and it was admitted by Captain Elliott that if the £30,000 had gone to Glasgow it would have been insufficient to deal even with a part of the problem. In that matter we were kept back by the Government here.
Duchess of ATHOLL
I am not referring to what the Labour members of the Glasgow Town Council tried to do in the last four years, the period during which the hon. Member for Gorbals was a member. I have in mind that conditions such as exist in the Glasgow slums are the product of many years. I ask what was the right hon. Gentleman, who is now Minister of Health, doing in the many years during which, I believe, he was a member of the Housing Committee of the Glasgow Town Council? I believe the present Under-Secretary for Health for Scotland was also for a long period a member of that committee, and it is quite beside the mark to blame the Imperial Parliament for a condition of affairs for which the Town Council of Glasgow cannot escape all responsibility. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Boss and Cromarty (M., Macpherson) has spoken with great eloquence, of the demand in Scotland for this Measure or for a Measure of Home Rule. I quite agree, I am quite ready to admit, that one of the last thing Scotsmen want, is any interference with their own affairs. If they stand for anything they stand for personal independence and the right to manage their own affairs. Therefore, I think this question of Home Rule is one which, at first sight, is apt to be attractive to Scotsmen and Scotswomen. It appeals to national sentiment, but I venture to say it is a question which has never been thoroughly examined. It has merely been put forward here and there, in vague terms and on sentimental grounds, and it is when one examines in detail the real meaning of the proposal and how it would work in practice, particularly in regard to the finance of Scotland, that one sees how many objections can be made to it.
Duchess of ATHOLL
A good deal has happened since the Speaker's Conference As has been pointed out, the Bill before us to day is not what was agreed upon by that Conference. I will now call attention to a few points in the Bill. The first point which strikes us in regard to this Bill has already been alluded to, and it is that it proposes to set up a single chamber system of government. I do not wish to go into the constitutional aspect of the question. It is a very big one, and there are others following me who are more 819 competent to deal with it than I am. I only ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ross and Cromarty how he reconciles the defence which he has just made of a single chamber system for Scotland with the action which he took as a Member of the Coalition Government, which gave a bi-cameral system both to the Irish Free State and to Northern Ireland. I ask him why Scotland is not entitled to the treatment which was meted out to both parts of Ireland by the Government, of which the right hon. Gentleman was a distinguished Member?
Duchess of ATHOLL
We have no indication that the Scottish people, if they want Home Rule, do not want a bicameral system. Then I wish to direct attention to the vagueness of the Bill in regard to the services which the new-Scottish Parliament is to administer. We are led by a process of deduction, assisted to some extent by a memorandum on the outside of the Bill, to conclude what these services are to be. I find from the memorandum that they are to include, in addition to the services made over to Ireland under the Act of 1914, the administration of old age pensions, national insurance and labour exchanges. A great deal of water has flowed under the bridges since 1914 in regard to the question of unemployment. Are we to understand from this memorandum that all hon. Members propose that the Scottish Parliament should do for the unemployed is to continue the establishment of employment exchanges? What about unemployment benefit and insurance of which they now get the advantage from the Imperial Exchequer? What about the Trade Facilities Act and the Export Credits Schemes, which benefit the unemployed all over Great Britain? Are these to be included in the Scottish Services mentioned in Clause 9 as the basis of a contribution from the Imperial Exchequer to the Scottish Exchequer? The whole question as to what services Scotland is to administer is left entirely vague under this Bill. That vagueness has a very important bearing on the question of finance, because under Clause 9, the financial clause, we are told 820 there are to be two contributions from the Imperial Exchequer to the Scottish Exchequer. The first is to be what is reckoned as the average cost of Scottish services at the passing of the Act to the Imperial Exchequer, less the proceeds of taxation derived from land in Scotland. Therefore it matters very much to us, in considering this Bill, to know what exactly are to be included under the term "Scottish Services" in this connection. If it is to be read merely as being what we regard as Scottish Services now, then it is obvious that, if Scotland is to have the benefit of the other social services which she enjoys at the present time, she will have to bear the burden of those services entirely herself, instead of, as at present, deriving help for them from the Imperial Exchequer.
Another point to be considered is, that in the last three years the taxation of land has been on a war basis. It is admittedly very high. Therefore, in deducting from the Imperial contribution the value of the taxes derived in the last three years from land in Scotland, you would have to make a very considerable deduction from that contribution. That is an important point to be borne in mind. Then there is to be a second contribution from the Imperial Exchequer, namely, a sum of £500,000 in the first year, to be reduced by £50,000 a year, until it reaches a sum of £200,000. That is the only provision that is suggested in the Bill for all the additional expenditure that a Home Rule scheme with a separate Parliament necessarily implies. Out of that £500,000, falling gradually to £200,000, will have to be found the money for building a new House of Parliament, for new Government offices, for the maintenance of those offices and of Parliament, for the salaries of all the additional ministers and officials, the salaries of the members of the Scottish Parliament, and, no doubt, for travelling expenses too, in fact, all the hundred and one expenses that are involved in Government offices and Parliamentary business. We have-lately had a little experience of the expense of setting up a subordinate Parliament. I understand that the cost of the new Parliament buildings in Northern Ireland is to be something like £3,000,000. Contrast with that the £500,000, dropping gradually and steadily 821 to £200,000, which has got to meet all this additional annual expenditure, in addition to the capital expenditure.
Duchess of ATHOLL
If the hon. Member would like to be returned as a representative of his constituency to the Calton Gaol, he is quite welcome to do so.
Duchess of ATHOLL
The hon. Member speaks from personal experience then of the amenities of the building. I have no such experience, but I am inclined to think that the building is hardly adaptable to Parliamentary purposes. I hope I have said enough to show how very little provision is made for any of the additional expenditure which unquestionably will be incurred by having a separate Parliament and separate Ministers. The only sources from which revenue can be derived for all this additional expenditure are taxes and death duties on land, and the power that will rest with the Scottish Parliament of increasing, up to not more than one-tenth, the Imperial taxes levied in Scotland. It is obvious that the system is going to impose a very heavy burden on the two sources from which alone any additional funds can be found. The hon. Member for Gorbals spoke about the land in Scotland, as if he thought a deer forest might be turned into a gold mine. If the hon. Member knew as much about deer forests as I know, if it were his fate to live on the edge of a deer forest, he would hesitate to commit himself to the statement that they might sup port an industrious population. I would be glad if the hon. Member would come up and see for himself how many people the deer forests I know of could support.
§ 1.0 P.M
Duchess of ATHOLL
I am sure the hon. Member would not wish to live under the conditions formerly prevailing there, 822 nor would anyone else wish to see people in Scotland living under the conditions in which people too often existed in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland 100 or 200 years ago. One of the main reasons why I feel that Home Rule would be prejudicial to the interests of Scotland is, that we cannot get away from the fact that in the Highlands and Islands we have an area of great beauty and charm on which I need not enlarge, which affords a delightful pleasure ground every year—and I am not the least ashamed that it should be a pleasure ground—for the people from the towns of Scotland and England, but which is poorer than any corresponding tract in England or Wales. I have spent much of my life looking at deer forests and I know something about them. I do not wish to live in there. I am content to look at them, and enjoy them on an occasional stroll. It is unquestionable that you have an area of great poverty in these places. It is too poor to grow corn, and it is too high, in the higher altitudes, to grow even timber, as the Forestry Commission has discovered. Only lately there was evidence before the House that much of the land bought by the Forestry Commission was situated too high for growing timber. It has been recognised, therefore, that much of the land in Scotland is not fit for anything" else but producing deer or grouse. The hon. Member may smile, but those are the facts. This land however has a certain value, because it brings holiday makers and sportsmen up to the Highlands. Unquestionably it brings a lot of money into the Highlands that otherwise would not come, and this, incidentally, helps to pay a large part of the cost of local services. Because you have an area unquestionably poorer than any corresponding area of the same kind in Great Britain, you have an area that cannot, stand any additional financial pressure, such as would inevitably be put on the land under the proposed Bill. At the present moment the Imperial Exchequer contributes additional grants to the cost of services in this area. Some areas in the Highlands and Islands receive as much as 75 per cent. or 80 per cent. of their educational expenditure from the Imperial Exchequer, and the cost of this is contributed to by the towns of England and Wales, as well as the towns of Scotland.
Duchess of ATHOLL
The amount comes from the Imperial Exchequer, and does the hon. Member ask me to believe that the citizens of England and Wales do not contribute taxation to the Imperial Exchequer? [Interruption.] If hon. Members know anything of educational finance, they will know that the counties north and west of Perthshire have to receive additional grants, ranging from 60 to 80 per cent., in order to enable them to keep their education within measurable distance of the standard which obtains further south in Scotland.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I am sure the Noble Lady does not want to misrepresent the point. She knows that, in so far as the Highland counties of Scotland get these educational grants, they come out of the Scottish sum, and Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, and the industrial counties have to go short, not England.
Duchess of ATHOLL
—for Scotland, provided from the Imperial Exchequer. [HON. MKMBERS: "No!"] It comes ultimately out of the Imperial Exchequer, and my point is that these areas are so poor that they will always need special help
Duchess of ATHOLL
I want to see Scotland get all the help she can out of the Imperial Exchequer, because Scotland makes a very great contribution in personnel to Imperial government and Imperial administration. Finally, because I believe so much in the value of Scottish character and Scottish national spirit, and in the contribution that that character and that national spirit has made and can make in the future to the Empire, I am opposed to Home Rule. I look back, and I remember that the Empire began only after the Union of 824 England and Scotland. The valour and the endurance of Scotsmen played a great part in the winning of the Empire in the wars of the eighteenth century, and Scottish enterprise and Scottish initiative have done a tremendous lot towards the development of the material resources of the Empire and the building up of the administration of our great Overseas Dominions. I believe, further, that today there is no stronger force making for the unity of the Empire than the love of Overseas Scots for their fatherland. It is because I feel, not only that Home Rule for Scotland will impose a far greater financial burden on Scotland than she can bear, and because I feel that at the present moment we both eat our cake and have it in the share that we have in Imperial business and in the help that we get from the Imperial Exchequer, but it is also because I feel sure that, if we have a Parliament of our own, our national energies will be too much deflected into a narrower channel than at present, that I wish to see Scotsmen continue to have in the future the great share that they have had in the past in administering the Empire from the heart of the Empire, namely, at Westminster. It is for these reasons principally—there are many other points in the Bill into which I would like to have entered, but I do not wish to detain the House too long—it is mainly on the ground of finance, and because I want to see Scottish character, Scottish brains, Scottish industry and common sense continue to play the largest possible part in the government of the Empire, that I am opposed to this proposal of Home Rule for Scotland.
§ Mr. MAXTON
The point of view that I hold in the matter has been very adequately explained, but I wish to express, in the strongest possible terms, my dissent from and my resentment at the suggestion made by the Noble Lady the Member for Perth and Kinross (Duchess of Atholl), in the speech she has just concluded, that the Scottish people and the Scottish nation must remain attached to England, otherwise we cannot be a self-supporting nation, and also that the only value to which we can put our country, or large portions of our country, is that it is to be a pleasure ground for the rich people of other lands. I resent those suggestions. They are untrue in fact, and they will be resented by the whole of the 825 Scottish population, including the people she represents in this House. We have a population of only 4,500,000, or one million families, in Scotland. There are ten good cultivable Scottish acres for each one of these million Scottish families, writing off all the moorland and the deer forest areas, which, admittedly, are at present in many instances not fit for an agricultural or an afforestation purpose that is yet known; but I am quite sure that, if the Scottish people got down to the problem, if Scottish money were spent in our Scottish educational centres in the necessary research work, we could find a timber that could be grown in Scotland, even in those relatively barren portions, and it is because we have this problem, and want to solve this problem, and feel that we can solve this problem for ourselves, that we want an area of government, a population, that is manageable and that understands the problem with which it is dealing.
I am very sorry indeed that hon. and right hon. Members opposite are taking this line towards this Bill to-day. It is not the line that they would take in a local governing body in Scotland. If they were in Scotland, they would approach the problem in an entirely different way. They would look at it in the fair and square way of saying: "What is the essential thing that we are trying to do? Do not worry about the details; let us get down to the essentials of it." The speech that has been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir J. Baird) was, I think, cheap. Finding out about petty things like the abolition of the Inhabited House Duty, which is not yet an accomplished fact in this country, was trying to degrade the whole of this Debate on to a level that Scottish people do not usually adopt when they are discussing matters which they consider of importance. I am sorry that I have spoken longer than I intended to speak. I merely wish to emphasise more strongly than ever that not only have we given to the British Empire a contribution in men and in brain power, but we have borne more than our legitimate share of the financial responsibilities of the Empire, and we have given these great qualities to which the Noble Lady and other hon. Members have referred, which have played such a part in the building up of the Empire. We are very glad 826 indeed to have all these compliments paid to our national characteristics, we are very glad indeed to pay them to ourselves, but all that we are asking here is that these great national characteristics of ours shall be allowed to be applied now, after we have built up the Empire, to the building up of our own land.
§ Sir SAMUEL CHAPMAN
It is not often that I trouble the House with even a few remarks, but on an occasion of this kind I presume to follow the example of my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), who has just sat down, and say a few words, as representing the capital of Scotland. I am not going to vote for this Bill, because it might make my action appear a misleading action, as I do not believe it can be carried out to the advantage of Scotland. But that does not preclude me from supporting measures of reform regarding the administration of Scotland, and when I do see a practical plan produced, which will be advantageous to Scotland, it will give me great pleasure to support it. What is the problem of union of these islands? Why have we a Union at all? It is this, so far as I know the philosophy of union. Where you have different races and different characteristics of those races in one island; where you have, somehow or another, to get on, it is necessary that there should be a blending of all those characteristics in one body. My hon. Friends on the other side bring to this House the Celtic fire and the common sense of Scotsmen, and there is the prudence of Englishmen also exercised in the Debates of this House. It is quite easy for nations to get at loggerheads one with the other, but when we all meet together in one assembly, as we meet together here, we take things in a good-tempered manner. It keeps down feelings between nations, and it makes for the good government and the solidarity of a country.
Reference has been made to the Union of these islands. I do not think any hon. Gentleman in this House has asserted that that Union has been a failure. Everyone who has paid attention to the Union which was consummated in 1707, every statesman who has been at the head of affairs in this country, every historian has praised it without stint, as having conferred upon these islands the greatest blessing so far as government is 827 concerned, has expressed it as the one central fact which has been at the bottom of all our prosperity in these islands. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, a man who was characteristic of Scotland, when he was presented with the freedom of the city of Edinburgh—I notice my hon. Friend opposite, one of the members for Stirlingshire, was present on that occasion, and I dare say he will remember his words—summed up the question of the union of the legislatures of England and Scotland in these words—he happened to be presented with the freedom of Edinburgh on exactly the 200th anniversary of the Union:—To-day the gloomiest amongst them would hardly say "that Scotland or Edinburgh had suffered eclipse, either total or partial, as the result of that momentous partnership. Scotsmen had done their full part ill creating a common Empire, and building up a united Britain, and although the 200th anniversary had been commemorated with no loud voice on either side of the border, the two countries had seen the growth of relations of mutual interest, mutual respect and mutual understanding, and whoever tested the combination by its results in any field of thought or action or effort, in learning, in literature, in statesmanship, in commerce, in the arts of peace, pr on the battlefield, must acknowledge that it had been a mighty combination, exercising a profound effect for good upon the world.And to this I would ask hon. Gentlemen to be kind enough to pay special attention.In every sort of union there must be give and take, and, so far as he could see, Scotland was Scotland still. The Scot still loved his country, still had in him the old stubborn, often turbulent spirit, and was still devoted to things of the mind. He will still read Robert Burns, and, on occasion, recite him intelligently.We all admit, then, that the Union has been a success. Hon. Gentlemen opposite bring forward these suggestions for an improvement, but is it going to be an improvement? It is quite easy for hon. Gentlemen opposite in general terms to commend this Bill to this House, but we have had recently examples of a similar nature in other parts of the world. What happened with regard to South Africa? This House, when the Liberal party were in power, extended self-government to South Africa. I have here the words which Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman himself used when he was referring to that matter. He said:No incident in the whole Colonial history of our country has been more splendid 828 in its lesson to ourselves and to the world than the free institutions given to the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony. We at least have shown that we know how to consolidate and amalgamate civilised communities under the British Crown.Four independent legislatures were set up in South Africa—one in the Transvaal, one in the Orange River Colony, one being already in existence in Natal, and one already in existence in the Cape Colony. How long did the system last? Two years and three months. Why did the system break down? Because in those four independent legislatures in South Africa there sprang up so much friction between the various parts of South Africa that General Botha himself was in favour of what? In favour of giving greater powers to the separate legislatures? He could not give them greater powers. He began to inquire into this question. His first idea was that there should be a federal constitution, but, after inquiring into that question, he came to the conclusion that a federal constitution would not work. What happened? The whole of South Africa unanimously promoted the Act which I hold in my hand, which was brought in by the Liberal party, an Act to constitute the Union of South Africa. The Preamble of that Act says:Whereas it is desirable for the welfare and future progress of South Africa that the several British Colonies therein should be united under one Government in a legislative union under the Crown of Great Britain and Ireland;Unity in one legislative union—not in half a dozen legislative unions, and if hon. Gentlemen will be good enough to refer to the "Life of General Botha," which has just been written by the late Governor-General of South Africa, Earl Buxton, they will find the details of this Union given there, and the most graphic details of the difficulties which they were up against when general suggestions were made, as have been made in this House this afternoon. It is only the details that you have got to consider. The details are the all important things when you are discussing a Measure of this sort.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
I am not quite sure that I am following my hon. Friend. Was it not the case that the union to which my hon. Friend refers was a union in all those things that were common to all, the local legislatures retaining separate control over all those things that were local and special to each? So that, in essence, 829 they were still local legislatures dealing with those things which were local, the central legislature dealing with those things which were common to all.
§ Sir S. CHAPMAN
I will tell my hon. Friend exactly what did happen. I am reading Earl Buxton's own words in describing the Union that has taken place. He says:Each province was to have a provincial council, a glorified county council, with considerable local powers of administration and expenditure, and such powers were to be delegated to it by Parliament and to be subject to Parliament.
§ Sir S. CHAPMAN
No one now doubts that the conclusion to which the Convention came in deciding for Union rather than Federation was wise and sound.If hon. Members opposite are in favour of that scheme, then I am with them all the time. Before, however, this Bill is accepted, I suggest to them they should read the Act of Union of 1909, and then they will see exactly what it does, because it is as different as the poles apart to the Bill introduced to-day by the hon. Gentleman opposite.
§ Mr. MAXTON
But here we have the union. The union is in the Bill, which makes no attempt to break it.
§ Sir S. CHAPMAN
It only shows that when you try to go into a case in detail you can argue and continue to argue almost indefinitely. The point is this: if you set up two practically independent legislatures in these Islands, sooner or later there will be friction. They found that would be the case in South Africa, and they did not set up independent legislature but subordinate legislatures in South Africa—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—which has not led to friction. Hon. Members opposite have been talking to the effect that they want something a great deal bigger than that. If the South African idea satisfies them, then I have nothing to say further; but this Bill goes infinitely further than the case of South Africa. It sets up a separate legislature and sooner or later—at any rate, in my opinion—it will lead to friction and not make for the good government of these Islands. There is only one other thing I desire to say—for I promised to be 830 short—to, if I may call them so, my Labour Friends opposite. They know that there is a tendency in Australia at the present moment to go in an exactly opposite direction to which they wish to take the House this afternoon.
§ Sir S. CHAPMAN
What they say is that they want one strong body in Australia for the purpose of pushing Labour legislation. They want this instead of six different bodies, not only for the sake of Labour legislation, but for many other things. If I wished to detain the House, I could quote Labour speech after Labour speech advocating one United Parliament for Australia for the purpose of pushing legislation through. They say that because there are six Legislatures they cannot get it through. Hon. Members are agreed on that. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Well, then, the debates of the Australian Parliament are in the House, and it is quite easy for hon. Members to refer to them in the Library; but I am sure I am not misrepresenting the Labour views of Australia on this point.
§ Sir S. CHAPMAN
Scotland a nation! That is all right. But these small provincial powers which are extended to the various States in South Africa, I understand, hon. Members were quite, willing to accept. You talk about "Scotland a nation!"—will then these similar small powers be accepted by the hon. Member for Bothwell (Mr. Robertson)? My hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), who moved this Bill so ably and so pleasantly—and for whom I have a considerable suppressed admiration—made a statement as to what is done that is not quite correct. I should like to put it right, because it is a belief which is prevalent in Scotland. He asked in regard to a Bill that is upstairs—the Lanarksnire Electricity Bill: "Why should we have to come to this House for electricity and other Bills that have reference to town councils and local bodies?" My hon. Friend knows now, I think, that what he said is not correct. Probably he made a slip.
§ Sir S. CHAPMAN
Then I must explain. The week before last I was Chairman in Glasgow and my hon. Friend at present on the Front Bench, the Member for Bothwell, happened to be on a commission in Edinburgh, for the purpose of inquiring into, myself seven or eight Bills connected with Glasgow and district, and my hon. Friend into four or five Bills connected with Edinburgh and district. The City Councils did not send these Bills to this House. The procedure is this: They come to this House in a formal manner and then they are sent down to Scotland.
§ Sir S. CHAPMAN
I am coming to the exceptions in a moment or two. I am referring now to the general procedure. I am quite sure now my hon. Friend knows what is a general procedure, and that he must have made a slip. I just wanted to correct the statement. For some reason or another, however, two classes of Bills are exempt, that is electricity and railways, because it was thought at the time that the matter was settled that they were matters which ought to come before the Imperial Parliament—why, I do not know! There is no reason in the world why, if Scotland wants her electricity Bills considered in Scotland, they should not be considered in Scotland. But we can arrange all these matters without setting up a Parliament practically on independent lines. Every one of us wishes—I with all my heart—increased efficiency in Scottish administration, increased economy in Scottish administration, more power for Scotland, but I cannot vote for this Bill because I believe it will be detrimental to the interests of the whole country.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
I regret very much that it has not been possible for Scottish Members belonging to all political parties to present a united front on this question. I regret more than I can say that hon. Gentlemen opposite felt it necessary to put an Amendment on the Order Paper for the rejection of this Bill. Perhaps they thought it their duty; but I say at once, speaking for myself, that the speeches on the other side could not have been in better tone or better temper than the speech of the hon. Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir J. Baird) and my hon. Friend 832 the Member for South Edinburgh (Sir S. Chapman). Both these speakers, while objecting to the proposals in the Bill, expressed their approval of the suggestion that there should be given to the people of Scotland increased opportunities of dealing in Scotland with Scottish Measures. I do not even yet despair, with opportunities for association or consultation, of getting hon. Members above the Gangway and Scottish Liberal Members into co-operation, and I hope, in view of the two speeches, that it may some time be possible to secure a united front.
I heard with the deepest regret the speech made by the Noble Lady the Member for Perth (the Duchess of Atholl). She delivered her speech with that ability and charm which we always associate with her, but she does not even suggest that she is willing to co-operate with other Scottish Members in order to secure some better method of self-government for Scotland upon which the Conservative party should be consulted. I think they should be consulted, because it would be a lamentable thing to attempt to force a Bill of this kind through on party lines. The Noble Lady thinks it is desirable to oppose the whole principle of self-government for Scotland. On this point I only desire to say that if there is any body of opinion in Scotland which associates itself with the view that the present state of things in the Highlands of Scotland is something which should be perpetuated, then I think they will be well advised to oppose Scottish Home Rule. There are many things which a Scottish Parliament may do or may not do, but a Scottish Parliament on Scottish soil would be sure to address itself to the problem presented by the High lands. Is it suggested that it is a desirable thing that year after year deer forests should spread out their tentacles taking in the arable land—
§ Sir S. CHAPMAN
The Noble Lady referred to is not present, and somebody must defend her honour in this House. May I say that the hon. Member is misrepresenting what she said.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
That is the very last thing I desire to do. I am within the recollection of the House, and my own recollection is that the Noble Lady defended the deer forest system in its entirety, and she said it would be a bad day for the Highlands if we altered that 833 system. I shall be very glad to be corrected on this point if I am wrong. I should like to be assured that no Scottish man or woman holds those sentiments. We were told by the Noble Lady that we have reason to be proud of the beautiful scenery of the Highland dells and dales. Even on that ground, which is not the highest ground, the present system makes it difficult for the tourist to visit the Highlands and enjoy our beautiful Scottish scenery. If the beautiful mountain scenery of Scotland was as accessible as that of the scenery of Switzerland, then we should indeed have a large increase in our tourist population which everybody in Scotland would welcome and nobody would desire to discourage.
If there is any section of the Conservative party still so attached to the old Scottish territorial idea and wishing to maintain vested interests in deer forests, then I say that they are not only well advised to oppose this or that Clause in this Bill, but they should oppose Scottish Home Rule absolutely. I hope the Scottish Conservative party as a whole will do no such thing. I welcome the speech of the hon. Member for South Edinburgh and the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ayr Boroughs (Sir J. Baird). If I may reinforce the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ross (Mr. Macpherson), I hope this Measure will meet the general sentiments of the House: and that hon. Members opposite will not feel it their duty to divide against this Bill. The case in favour of extending this part of Scotland has been put with so much eloquence and force that it is quite unnecessary for me to multiply instances of the benefits which would accrue to Scotland from a further measure of self-government.
The Noble Lady the Member for Perth took objection to us going back to what happened some Sessions ago. Scottish Members are not bringing forward this Session any large Measure dealing with Scottish affairs which will make any big demand upon the time of this House, but there is an accumulation of small Bills one after the other upon which hon. Members on the opposite side of the House are in the main in agreement, and yet we have so much congestion now with regard to the question of Poor Law administration, Education administration 834 and the method of dealing with unemployment with regard to other Measures upon which we are all agreed that we are finding great difficulty in getting them through.
Take one Measure as an illustration. There is the question which was raised in this House the other night with reference to evictions which are bound to take place in Scotland, a question affecting a number of ex-service men in relation to their small holdings. When that matter was discussed in this House there was not a single Scottish Member who defended the action which is proposed with regard to these men, and there was a general consensus of opinion that we ought to get a Measure through. That was not a question which fundamentally divided us with regard to policy, and there was a universal expression of opinion that something should be done for these men. On this subject we could not have a more sympathetic Secretary for Scotland, and Scottish Members in every section of the House agreed that something should be done.
Although I belong to a political party which is not in agreement on all matters with hon. Members above the Gangway on this question, we were all agreed, and we could not have a more sympathetic Government. No one will say that if no action is being taken it is because the Government are steeling their hearts against these men, or that they are afraid of vested interests. As a matter of fact, the claims on the time of this House are such that, although I believe every Scottish Member is agreed upon this matter and the Secretary for Scotland is pressing the Cabinet to do something in the matter, yet we are unable to get this question dealt with. That case alone is a powerful argument in favour of the adoption of some other method of dealing with Scottish business.
The Noble Lady the Member for Perth taunted the Members representing the City of Glasgow that they had not solved the housing question and that the Glasgow City Council had not been able to deal with it. How could that Council deal with the fundamental causes of the housing shortage in that great city? I venture to say that there is no greater disgrace than the housing conditions of the people at the present time in the great cities of Scotland, and I have no 835 doubt that if we had a Scottish Assembly they would soon find a proper remedy for this difficulty. The Noble Lady complained that rent restriction legislation had taken up a great deal of the time of this House. May I point out that the solution of this difficulty both in England and Scotland has been rendered extremely difficult because there is one series of remedies which are appropriate to Scotland, but which are not appropriate and suitable for England and Wales, and so you find it extremely difficult to get agreement on this subject. For all these reasons, I very strongly support this Measure as a Scotsman and as a Scottish Member.
I have risen in the main not for the purpose of developing that argument further, because I think it is really unnecessary, but to say to my hon. Friends who represent English and Welsh constituencies—I myself had the honour of representing a great constituency in England for something like thirteen years in this House, and I tried then to do the best that I could for my constituents, as I hope I am trying to do now—that after all this is far more than a merely Scottish question. There will no greater test of the statesmanship, alike of the Government and of the private Members of this Parliament, than whether they are able to grapple effectively with the question of the separation of Imperial functions and local functions in this House. We heard a great deal at the General Election and at the General Election before the last as to the need for democratic control of foreign affairs. I ask my hon. Friends above the Gangway, and I ask it in no mere party spirit, do they think that they have secured democratic control of foreign affairs in this Assembly? Is it possible in this Assembly, which after all, has to deal with domestic questions, like housing, unemployment, and wages, so vitally affecting our own people, for us to give the time to consider the great Imperial questions which are committed to our charge and upon the right solution of which peace or war may depend?
We have said, not men of one party, but of all parties, that in the days to come the question of peace and war ought to be settled, not by statesmen, but by the men who have to fight and the women 836 whose sons are called out to fight. How can we secure that in this Assembly? Even if we were able to set up a Foreign Relations Committee, as in the French Legislature, how would there be time for examining and adequately dealing with its report? Does anyone feel that this House is discharging its duties fully towards the people in India and the Crown Colonies? Or that we are considering week by week, as we ought to be able to consider, how best to link together the peoples in the Dominions and in the Home Land? It is essential, if we are going to discharge our duties as a great Imperial Assembly, that we should be relieved of all this work of local legislation. I do, therefore, appeal, not mainly to the Members for Scotland, because no appeal should be necessary to them, but to Members for England and Wales, to regard this as a proposal to relieve them of the task of dealing with questions of domestic legislation, so that they may be free to consider these great Imperial questions.
§ Mr. RAFFAN
One word, in conclusion, with regard to practical procedure. My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Clackmannan (Mr. T. Johnston) suggested that the promoters of the Bill would be satisfied if they secured the Second Reading, and received an assurance from the Government that they would make inquiry as to the best means of carrying through Scottish Home Rule. I am bound to say, with great respect, that I think there are some criticisms that might be directed against that suggestion. I have never myself been able to agree to the suggestions that have been made that the question of Home Rule for Scotland ought to be settled by any other body than the Scottish representatives, and, in my view, if the Bill secures a Second Reading, so far from the Government setting up some body for the purpose of pursuing an examination, it should either go to the Scottish Standing Committee, where it could be examined from all sides and put into shape as a Measure which was the considered opinion of the Scottish representatives of all schools, or, if there be any objection to that course, then, I think, our right hon. and hon. Friends on the other side should be asked to come into conference with us, whether formal or informal I do not care, and 837 whether on this Bill or not I do not care. The proper people to examine the demand made by the Scottish people are the Scottish representatives, and, if the Bill passess its Second Reading, I think we should get together. The method of the Scottish Standing Committee may be too cumbrous and an informal conference may be better and as to that I have an open mind: but, if this matter is likely to involve legislation, we should be making a fatal mistake if, because a few speeches are made from the other side which we do not like, we did not try and get the right hon. and hon. Members on the other side into conference, so that we can go to the Government and say: "This is what the Scottish representatives wish."
It would be extremely useful, I think, if the Government, either by again setting up the Speaker's Conference or appointing a Commission, were simultaneously to examine the whole question of devolution. If the Government would make an announcement that they were prepared to take that step, I am sure we should all receive it with gratification, but I do not think that an inquiry merely into the problem of Scotland would be a fitting inquiry if set up by the Government. On the contrary, the Scottish Members themselves ought to make up their minds as to the Measure that they want and then submit it to the Government as the considered demand of the people of Scotland and endeavour to fit that in with the general scheme of devolution which may be suggested either as the result of another Speaker's Conference or of a Commission, or any other way upon which the Government may decide. I put that forward as a practical contribution to the question as to the best action to be taken. Naturally, one does not press it as the final word, but I do hope that English Members in all parts of the House will at any rate consider the suggestion. I do hope that before this Parliament draws to a close we may be able, despite our party differences, which I do not minimise, not merely to secure this great measure of self government for the people of Scotland, but to do a bigger thing still by laying down the foundations of a real Imperial system which will safeguard the greatness of the British Empire, and at the same time give autonomy to all the constituent parts of it.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
After listening to the repeated and extremely irrelevant denunciations of the hon. Member who has just sat down, I have not been able to discern from his speech any argument which, even if I desired, I could understand sufficiently to answer. I can only assure him that, in spite of the appeal which he made so eloquently to Members like myself, who during a long life have studied Scotland with, perhaps, rather greater care than he has, I still retain my deeply-felt conviction of opposition to this Bill, and shall decline to have any truck with it. When, however, I turn from the irrelevancies of the hon. Member to the much more weighty arguments that I have heard from the other side, I should like to assure the Mover and Seconder of the Second Reading that it is in no spirit of adulation, but in a spirit of very real sincerity, that I venture to offer my respectful compliments to them on the way in which they presented the Bill, much and deeply as that Bill is detested by me. Just as I respect their deep-seated feelings, so, I am sure, they will respect mine.
I quite agree that this is not a matter to be dealt with by ridicule, any more than by irrelevant denunciations of rhetoric. We must weigh what it really means. I do not want to go deeply into details, but, before I go into details at all, I would ask hon. Members who press this Bill to remember that they have not a monopoly of love for their country, of patriotic feelings, or of heartfelt, innate attachment to every association of romance or of characteristic quality that we have had handed down from our ancestors in Scotland. I do not feel that these things, sacred as they are, can be bolstered up by, or require the fictitious aid of, any of your Parliamentary machinery. They are planted too deeply, they have too strong a root, their growth is too sure, to require to be supported by any scaffolding of petty regulations about this or that legislative assembly.Of all the ills the human race endure,How small the part that laws can cause or cure.Do not think that our national characterists, our national history, our national romance, our national courage of the best sort, are due to your legislative arrangements from one generation to another. You got, by the Act of Union, a great 839 step in advance, and that man is a maniac who, after a study of history, will stand up and deny that that Act of Union was an advantage. Hon. Members should remember how that tiresome ass, Andrew Fairservice in "Rob Roy," kept prating about the evils that had been done by the Act of Union, and that Balie Nicol Jarvie said to him:Whisht, whisht! It is ill-scrapit tongues like yours that cause mischief between nations.Bailie Nicol Jarvie was not exactly an unpatriotic Scotsman, though he would not listen to exaggerated nonsense about the evils that had been done by the Act of Union. I do not want to enter into any pettifogging details, but, after all, a Bill is a Bill, and you cannot swallow it without some discussion. It is a very curious thing that speaker after speaker has told us, "This Bill has been introduced over and over again. We cannot take all its details; we differ from it in its details; we cannot swallow it as it stands; but nevertheless, just for the moment, shut your eyes and take it as it stands." If this Bill has been tried so often, if you have had it through so many years, if you are all agreed as to the principle, do not you think you might have got it into a little better order, so that each one of its defenders had not to rise and say, "I must not be understood as taking the whole Bill; there are many things I do not like; but just accept it as a general principle, without asking for any details?" That has been said over and over again. We were told that the Speaker's Conference reached unanimous and satisfactory conclusions. I would say, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I would say the same if Mr. Speaker were here, that, while I have the highest respect for Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that I am not getting a little tired of Speaker's conferences. We have had about enough of them, and I think this House can settle these matters for itself just about as well as Speaker's Conferences can. We are told that the Speaker's Conference came to agreement on essential points. They decided what might be delegated and what might not. They decided some financial details. But, when they came to try to define how the Assembly was to be constituted, who were to be the people 840 charged with carrying out all these details, there they found themselves in hopeless disagreement, and gave up the task.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I am not going to argue the matter, but the very quotations that have been given during the Debate have shown that to be the case. They did not agree as to how the Assembly should be constituted, or who should be the people to carry out the terms which they, in anticipation, thought might possibly be arrived at. There is one point which is, surely, of the very first importance, and that is as to what, when this new Legislative Assembly is established for Scotland, is to be the relation of the Scottish members to the Imperial Parliament in England. In the Memorandum that is prefixed to the Bill, there is this perfectly clear statement:The representation of Scotland in the Commons House of the Parliament of the United Kingdom will continue as at present until separate provision is made for devolution in England and Wales, when the representation of the component parts of Great Britain in the Parliament of the United Kingdom will fall to be reconsidered and readjusted.Scotland, according to the distinct anticipation of those who are responsible for this Bill, is entirely to lose its present amount of representation in this Imperial Parliament. But what did my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson) say? He announced the assent of his party to this Bill; but nothing would induce him, he said, to allow any alteration whatever in the representation of Scotland in this Imperial Parliament. I entirely agree with him, but, surely, that is a very fundamental point. It is not a mere unimportant detail, but one which governs the interpretation of the real meaning of this Bill.
Take another point. The representation of Scotland is to be doubled. Of course these small details are beneath the sublime attention of those who drafted the Bill, otherwise a little research would have enabled them to discover that there are not single Members for all the constituencies in Scotland. They do not settle the matter by simply saying every constituency is to have two Members in stead of one. That is a small detail which we cannot expect these sublime in- 841 tellects to trouble themselves with. But I must remind them that my own constituency has three members. I suppose they will now allot us six! There are to be 148 Members. At that rate how many Members are to be in the English Parliament? I think the same proportion will give 1,200 Members.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
The doubled number of the Scottish Parliament and the 2,000, as my hon. and gallant Friend says—I should not have put it so high—will all have to be provided with salaries. The expenditure will be very considerable. We shall have certainly, in all, 2,000 Members drawing, I suppose, £400 each. These are not small matters, and they show, to my mind, that, in spite of all this unanimity which we are assured prevails, in spite of annual demands stretching over some eight or nine years, you have not succeeded, unanimous as you were, carried away by an overpowering enthusiasm which is certain of its own rectitude, in framing a Bill which any of you say you are prepared to accept. It is not exactly good legislative business.
But I am going to take bigger ground. I want the House to consider what is this national entity which you are going to cut off from the whole of Southern Britain and constitute a national item by itself. Is there that intimate sympathy of race and feeling between the remote fishermen of the Hebrides and the Orkneys and Shetland, or even Inverness-shire, and the Lanarkshire population, or that thick population in Glasgow constituted very largely by an influx during recent years of 1,500,000 from Ireland? Is that exactly a homogeneous population? Where do you think the strong sympathy exists which is to bind together the Hebrides with the coal mining districts of Lanarkshire? Do you think the Northern parts of Scotland will be so very pleased to be ruled, as they inevitably would be, by the packed population in the slums of Glasgow and the mining districts of Lanark? I do not appeal to Members of the Liberal party because they have their own fish to fry, and are apparently guided only by party considerations. But I ask hon. Members opposite who, I know, feel and think deeply upon this Bill, do they not think 842 there is something in what I say about this breach of sympathy between different parts of Scotland? Then have hon. Members ever considered whether there is not a very close connection between certain parts of England and Scotland? Are they aware that there are many businesses carried on in Glasgow and Manchester the partners of which live half of each week in Glasgow and half in Manchester? Manchester and Glasgow are far more closely connected in sympathy and in daily intercourse than Glasgow and Edinburgh, certainly than Glasgow and Inverness. Do hon. Members know that the pilots of Aberdeen and Newcastle know each other by name, meet each other constantly and feel like brothers to one another? Aberdeen and Newcastle are far more closely connected together than Glasgow and Aberdeen. You cannot draw these distinctions exactly. It would not be true in race, in religion, in feeling, or in business relations.
Do you think we have not drawn enormous advantage from our brothers South of the Tweed, to their advantage too? We have sent them Prime Ministers, Lord Chancellors and Archbishops of Canterbury and of York. Do you think that will go on when you have built a high wall of division between the two countries? Do you think you will be accepted readily and easily as the rulers of your brothers South of the Tweed when you have told them "No, you shall have nothing to say in the least to any concern of ours. We shall do you the pleasure of coming and voting upon your water Bills and anything else, but we will not allow you to intervene in anything whatever except the Post Office and Foreign Affairs." Do you think you will get great advantage for your own country in the long run by this? Hon. Members on this side may say, "We will have a compromise. We will go so far with you." I am against the whole thing. It is mischievous from beginning to end. I will not temporise with it. Is it not perfectly certain that if you establish two separate Parliaments the line of political complexion of those two Parliaments will be violently opposed, that the Government of one will be absolutely different in spirit and in tone from the other? That must extend not merely to domestic affairs but to foreign affairs, and you may have two Governments ruling within this 843 island absolutely opposed to one another, not only in private and domestic matters, but on the large issues of peace and war and of foreign policy. Will that add to the strength and respect in which we are held?
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Then are we to understand that foreign affairs would be in the hands of the English Executive?
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Scotland has always been a very strong ally and partner under present circumstances in regard to these matters, but if those affairs are to be carried out by an Executive violently opposed to them both in domestic as well as Imperial affairs, it will be a most unfortunate conjunction. By this scheme you are risking the danger of a very serious diminishing of the weight of this Empire in foreign policy. Hon. Members say that there is a universal feeling in favour of this Bill in Scotland. I know quite well that if you go to a popular meeting and you say, "Would you like Homo Rule?" several voices will reply "Yes." But when those people go home they ask themselves what is really meant by Home Rule. They say, "Are we in Glasgow to be governed by a Parliament sitting in Edinburgh?" or the people in Inverness may say, "Are we to be governed by a Parliament dominated by the half-Irish population of a great part of Lanarkshire?" Are you sure that they do not look upon this as they look upon the blessed word "Mesopotamia," as being something which sounds enticing and tempting, which rolls nicely from the tongue, but which has no meaning behind it? It is a sound that signifies nothing. I do not believe that there is any real, effective demand for this Bill in Scotland, and I feel certain that the thinking part of Scotland is not only apathetic about it, but that if they thought that it was going to take any practical form their apathy would soon be changed into bitter and active opposition.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
My excuse in taking part in a debate on a Scottish Bill is that the question of Scottish Home Rule is only a portion of a much larger question, namely, that of devolution. I 844 have been in favour of devolution all my life, not merely as an Irish Nationalist, but as a Member of the Imperial Parliament, deeply, sincerely and enthusiastically concerned for the maintenance of the authority of the British Empire. My right hon. Friend who has just spoken made an interesting speech which is full of unconscious humour. It is delightful to have a real, good, fine unconvertible diehard in these days. Since my right hon. Friend and I entered this House we have had all sorts of experiences and all conditions and proposals for Home Rule for Ireland and the rest of it, but my right hon. Friend remains on the implacable rock of die-hardism. When he was speaking about the division of race and creed and locality in Scotland and the fact that there was a strong Irish National entity there, I heard one of my hon Friends say, "Is there such a place as Scotland at all?" If there be a nationality or a nation in the world which by its history and by it is marked and unmistakable characteristics has a nationality, and which has all through shown a nationality of its own, I would pick out Scotland even more than Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman is concerned about the future of Scotsmen in England. I think they may be left to take care of themselves. If it would please my right hon. Friend and it would secure his vote for the Second Reading of this Bill, I would recommend my Friends to insert a special Clause that Sir Harry Lauder shall not be prevented from singing in English music-halls. The right hon. Gentleman talks about the close relations between business men in Glasgow and Manchester. There are close relations between Englishmen and Scotsmen in all parts of the world. I am afraid that we must dismiss the so-called arguments of the right hon. Gentleman as the worn-out armoury of the die-hard creed.
I must express surprise and misgiving that this Debate has more or less tended on party lines between my hon. Friends opposite and hon. Members on this side. It is not a party question: it has ceased to be a party question. My right hon. Friend does not represent his own party on this question. Many of the older and more trained men of the Tory party are convinced advocates of evolution. I know no man who opposed the grant of autonomy to Ireland more than my old friend—we call him Walter—Lord Long, 845 but he has publicly declared, at meetings convened by himself or his fellow Conservatives, that he saw in a system of devolution the one remedy for the state of things in this House and for the co-ordination and co-operation of the Empire as a whole.
In 1885, out of 103 Irish Members, we had 85 who were returned in favour of Home Rule for Ireland. That was the most crushing verdict in favour of a policy that was ever given by my countrymen, and yet we had to wait almost two generations before the will of the Irish people was not dominated and defied by the English, Scottish and Welsh representatives. That was an injustice to Ireland. Let me take a Scottish case. I must here speak delicately because I am getting into the question of theology, which I have always avoided. There was a dispute in Scotland as to an interpretation of articles of the Scottish Presbyterian creed, and the country was divided into two bodies, the minority body being known as the "Wee Frees." I care nothing about the theological differences of Scotsmen. That is their affair, and does not concern me. But here was I an Irishman, and here were English and Welsh Members being asked solemnly to decide whether we were in favour of the larger and more modern policy of the doctrine of pre-destination or the policy of the die-hards represented by my right hon. Friend opposite. What right had I to decide that matter for these people?
It may be said that, as I have been a resident in London for 55 years, I have a right to speak of English opinion. I am one of a body of Irishmen who are resident in Great Britain, and who are as good citizens as those of any other nationality and just as determined to do their duty, but having lived all these years in this country, I think that I understand and sympathise with the point of view of Englishmen when they are over-borne on local English affairs by Scottish and Irish and a minority of English opinion. I remember that Sir William Harcourt brought in a Bill to establish local option in England. The overwhelming majority of English Members was against it. The majority of Scottish and Welsh Members was in favour of it, and then there was a decisive controlling Irish vote at that time in the House of Commons. There was not a single Member of the 80 Members of our 846 party who was not against local option, and the condition of their supporting the Bill for imposing local option in England was that it should not be imposed in Ireland.
Therefore, we had this astonishing spectacle, and it was surprising that some English Member—except that the English are the most patient people in the world and the most good-natured—did not get up and say, "Here is a question of our personal habits. The majority of the English people are against this proposal, and yet it is to be imposed upon us by the hordes of Welsh Puritans, English Non-conformists, Scottish Presbyterians and Irish advocates of Home Rule." Could you have a more ridiculous spectacle than that by the grouping of parties you should have imposed on English domestic habits, by the votes, not of English Members in this House, but chiefly of Scotch, Irish and Welsh Members, a Bill establishing local option. My right hon. Friend criticised some of the details of the Bill. I am not sure that, on further study of the Bill, I would not object to many details, but I understand that what we are voting on now is the principle—
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
On the Second Reading of a Bill, unless there are some Clauses which are so vital as to constitute a principle, it is the practice, of the House to vote on the principle of the Bill. I see that there are some Clauses here with regard to religious equality. I think that they are unnecessary. My objection would be that you do not want in any Bill relating to Scotland to provide for religious equality and religious fair play. My right hon. Friend was honourably connected with education in that country, and they have in Scotland a system of education which compares favourably with any other system in the world.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
Even in the elementary schools all religions get exactly the same treatment, which is what we are trying to secure in England, and I hope to secure the support, in this matter, of Scotsmen who have given such a splendid example in their own country. I consider that any defence of religious equality in Scotland is unnecessary. I have had some remarkable examples in my own time, and more or less in my own political history, 847 of the assertion of the principle that religious conviction is a matter which should be left to the individual conscience and should not be brought into politics either in favour of or against any citizen of the country. When you look at the representation of Glasgow and the composition of the Ministry and find two or three men, Irishmen by race and Catholic by upbringing, among the most powerful members of the Ministry, I think that it will be admitted that Scotland has given one of the best examples in the world with regard to this fundamental principle—except perhaps my own country, which I may be pardoned for mentioning. Ninety per cent. of the Irish party were Catholics, and yet that party elected three Protestant leaders in succession, one of them Mr. Parnell who was the most powerful political leader in Irish history. You, Sir, were in the House and so was your predecessor when a remarkable event took place. The Foreign Office Vote was put down. Sir Edward Gray, as he then was, was the Foreign Secretary and there was a tumultous audience of about 10 Members. That was a few months before the War, and there was this attendance of 10, mainly cranks, who, instead of discussing the very grave and menacing questions which existed, raised questions concerning Hong Kong and Shanghai which were important in their way but small compared with the policy of the British Empire in view of what was to happen within a few months' time. At a quarter past 8, after the cranks had had their say, we got the great question of whether the East Surrey Water Company should be allowed to take some more gallons of water every year from a little river called the Wandle. The House was rapidly filled up and the question was debated in ardent and passionate speeches. Some said that if this Bill were carried typhoid fever would stalk through the streets of Croydon, and others said that if it were not passed consequences more horrible still would ensue. The debate went on that night and for the next two nights. It occupied 12 hours. You had 12 hours given in the House of Commons to the East Surrey Water Company and four hours devoted to the policy and the interests of the Empire. That made a profound impression upon me. Your predecessor in the Chair, Sir, was one of the 848 greatest Speakers which this House has ever had, and was well known to be a man of conservative and cautions opinion I remember that Lord Ullswater, with whom I had had no conversation whatsoever on the subject, declared that he was profoundly impressed by this exhibition. I do not know what was his opinion on devolution, but evidently he thought there must be something wrong in an assembly which will devote 12 hours to the East Surrey Water Company and fours hours to the foreign policy of the Empire.
I cannot understand why my right hon. Friends opposite should speak as if the proposals of this Bill were contrary to their principles. The Bill is in fullest accord with their principles. They call themselves Imperialists. I am willing to call myself an Imperialist, if I am allowed to define the phrase. The real truth is this: The House of Commons is a diligence of the eighteenth century trying to do the work of a modern express train. The parish pump can intervene to embarrass and postpone discussion of the greatest and most important questions of our world-wide Empire. The position is a little, better now, but I remember the time when, on a sultry afternoon in July, when nine-tenths, or a considerable proportion, of the Members had gone to their spas or other resorts, the Indian Budget was brought into a House of Commons that had not more than twenty Members in attendance. It is inviting disaster thus to neglect the duties of our Imperial Parliament. Apart from my strong sympathy with the desire of the Scottish people to deal with their own affairs, I sympathise with this Bill as the first step towards that noble enlargement of the duties and character of this House which I think is equally essential to domestic peace and the maintenance of order abroad.
§ Mr. F. C. THOMSON
I shall not detain the House long, because there are many Scottish Members, apart from English Members, who wish to speak on this Bill. Reference has been made to the Motion on devolution which was before this House in 1919. On that occasion I voted for the Motion, as it had in view devolution all round and a scheme entirely different from the system of this Bill. The Speaker's Conference was set up, and, although the members of it came to a decision with regard to the powers that might be devolved—they were not asked to pronounce upon the desirability of 849 devolution or against it, the House of Commons having voted as it did in 1919—yet they found extreme difficulty in arriving at the composition of the bodies which were to be set up. Of course, there is a great deal of work for this Parliament to do. The thing we must be certain about is that in curing one evil we do not create several evils. It is no good to ask for the Second Reading of a Bill and to say in a general way that you are merely asking for affirmation of a principle. This Bill is before the House. It is true that it is a copy of Bills that have been introduced previously, though I note that in one or two details it differs from the last edition. For instance, it no longer provides that the questions of naturalisation and alienage shall be reserved. That would lead to our having different laws with regard to naturalisation in England and in Scotland, which would be a very undesirable position.
Questions of company law are not reserved, and you would have a different law in England from that in Scotland. Employers' liability, workmen's compensation, trade union questions, industrial disputes, and so on, are not reserved to the Imperial Parliament. I do not think that my Labour friends, or all of them, would approve of having Labour questions dealt with in two separate Parliaments. Such procedure would lead to the gravest inconvenience. Then there are the railways. They are not a reserve service. I was in the House in 1921 when Sir Eric Geddes originally proposed that there should be one Scottish group of railways. I had a sentimental attraction to that proposal because, being a Scotsman of a very attached kind, I liked the old names of the Scottish railways, the Caledonian, the North British, and so on. But the whole of Scotland was unanimously against Sir Eric Geddes' proposal. I remember deputations coming here to see the Scottish Members, and their saying, "Do everything you can, you who represent Scotland, to get the proposal turned down. We want the railways on the East Coast of Scotland to remain attached to the railways on the East Coast of England, and the railways in the West attached to the railways in the West of England." That position was taken up with great keenness. Sir Eric Geddes gave way and the proposal for the Scottish group was dropped. Under this Bill railways are not a 850 reserved service. In that I see an opportunity for very serious trouble. This Bill shears off from this House all Scottish administration. It is not a system of devolution all round. The Secretary for Scotland would disappear from this House and his functions would be divided among a number of Ministers in Edinburgh. If this system were adopted, those of us who are fortunate enough to return to future Parliaments here would have no Scottish Minister in the House. The Bill would take away to Scotland all Scottish administration. We would have no Scottish Minister in the Cabinet.
§ Mr. THOMSON
I do not wish to say anything disrespectful of Northern Irishmen, for whom I have the greatest possible respect, but, after all, Scotland is a very much greater country.
§ Mr. THOMSON
My point is that at present we have a Secretary for Scotland who is able to put before the Cabinet the Scottish point of view on all questions We would no longer have a Scottish Minister in the British Cabinet. The reserved services would touch Scottish interests from time to time and the 74 Scottish Members here would be without any link with the Executive Government in London. These are perfectly fair criticisms.
§ Mr. THOMSON
I remember that we had my colleague Captain Elliot, an exceedingly efficient Under-Secretary and, the British Constitution not being uni-cameral, we also had a most experienced Scottish administrator, Lord Novar, in the other House. As we are asked here to affirm a principle, I am pointing out difficulties in connection with the Bill now before the House which are worthy of our attention. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities in his praise of the speeches made by the Mover and 851 Seconder of the Motion for the Second Reading. They were eloquent speeches and were animated by a spirit of genuine Scottish feeling, but I would point out to the hon. Members opposite that they possess no monopoly of that feeling. The Union of 1707, though unpopular at the time in both countries, and certainly an object of vehement unpopularity in Scotland, was a remarkable achievement. It has very few parallels in the history of the world. I do not think any of my hon. Friends can point to another case of two nations, hostile to each other for hundreds of years, entering into a single Parliament, and after a period of years working it successfully and harmoniously.
§ Mr. THOMSON
There may have been a little of that, but I do not think there was much. I am not at the moment going back into the actual discussions on the carrying through of the Union, but I am pointing out that the Union brought great prosperity both to Scotland and to England.
§ Mr. THOMSON
I think my English friends are a little too apt to assume that all the benefits from the Union have gone to Scotland. That is very far from being the case. As was pointed out by the Noble Lady the Member for Perth and Kinross (Duchess of Atholl) earlier in the Debate, the British Empire has grown up since the Union of 1707. I make bold to say we should never have beaten Louis XIV, we should never have had the great victories of William Pitt in the Seven Years' War, and never beaten Napoleon had England and Scotland not been united and working together in the utmost friendliness.
§ Mr. THOMSON
I have dealt with my objections to this Bill and shown that it 852 would not be a benefit to Scotland. I was at the moment dealing with the point raised by an hon. Gentleman opposite as to the position of Scotland as an historic nation. I thoroughly agree as to Scotland being an historic nation, but I am pointing out that by her partnership with England, though she gave up independence—
§ Mr. THOMSON
—she preserved all that was worth preserving in national life, her church, her law, her separate system of education, which has gone on all through the centuries, and her own system of local government. All these things have been preserved and the merit of the Act of Union is that it has brought the two countries together, but at the same time preserved both English and Scottish nationality. That is a point which I do not think is sufficiently realised by hon. Members on the other side. One great thing which has come from the Act of Union is, that, in England, Scotsmen have been regarded by Englishmen as members of their own race and, as has been pointed out, Scotsmen hold a very considerable proportion of the most responsible posts in the Empire, and have done much to help in building up the Empire. Before I sit down let me quote the words of a great Scotsman who was a most ardent Scottish patriot, and at the same time a believer in the Union. I refer to Sir Walter Scott. In an earlier Debate reference was made to the memorable words of Bailie Nicol Jarvie in the novel of "Rob Boy," dealing with the Union. I thought the reference an apposite one and I looked it up. Sir Walter Scott puts these words into the mouth of that famous Glaswegian:There's naething sae gude on this side o' Time but that it might has been better and that may be said o' the Union. Nane were keener against it than the Glasgow folk with their rabblings and their risings.Then he goes on to point out the great advantages which Scotland derived from free trade with the Colonies. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] But does anyone deny that under the system prevailing before the Union, Scotland was shut out from trade with the English Colonies and was it not a great improvement that we got facilities to trade with the English Colonies? One of the great merits of the Act of Union was that we got these facilities.
§ Mr. THOMSON
I do not think my hon. Friend really scores any party point by taking up my quotation in that way.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
Has the hon. Member read the work of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities on "A Century of Scottish History?"
§ Mr. THOMSON
To resume my quotation. Bailie Nicol Jarvie proceeds in these words:Now since St. Mungo catched herrings in the Clyde what was ever like to gar us flourish like the sugar and tobacco trade? Will ony body tell me that and grumble at the treaty that opened us a road west awa' yonder?At the time of the Union the population of Glasgow was only 13,000 souls, but we know what has been the development of Scottish industry and the benefits which have boon reaped from the union. My last quotation is also from Sir Walter Scott, and it shows that though he believed in the union he was a fervent Scotsman. He was dealing with the teaching of Greek in Scotland which had been languishing, and was urging that there should be further opportunities for studying that language, and speaking at the opening of the Edinburgh Academy in Edinburgh a century ago he said:He would have youth taught to venerate the patriots and heroes of their own country along with those of Greece and Rome and to know the histories of Wallace and Bruce as well as those of Themistocles and Caesar and that the recollection of the fields of Flodden and Bannockburn should not be lost in those of Plataea and Thermopylæ.There again they had a great Scotsman recognising what Scotland had gained by the union and at the same time proud as any man could be of his Scottish nationality and the immemorial traditions of his great country. Now and in the future, working hand in hand with England, Scotland will continue to play the great part which she has played ever since the two countries came together after centuries of strife and discord.
§ Mr. DUNCAN GRAHAM
While reading quotations from Sir Walter Scott's 854 book, it would have been just as well if the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen South (Mr. F. C. Thomson) had made one, which would have been more apposite to the character of Sir Walter Scott than any he made. For instance, Sir Walter Scott wrote:Breathes there the man with soul so deadWho never to himself has said'This is my own, my native land.'There is no Englishman, I hope, either in this House or outside, who would say that Scotland has not a separate and distinct nationality. We are all agreed on that. I would further remind my hon. Friend that Sir Walter Scott was a crusted Tory. He had very many admirable qualities, but, like any other individual, he had good and evil qualities. He was a crusted Tory of the type of my hon. Friend, if he will excuse my saying so. If Sir Walter Scott had lived 60 or 100 years after his time, he would have been among those who took part in the rebellion of 1715 against the Union. He was not only a Tory but a Cavalier. He was a Jacobite. He was a very strong supporter of all that the Jacobites stood for, and if anybody opposed the Union of 1707 it was the Jacobites.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
There is indeed. It is because of that touch of the Jacobite in me that I am here to-day supporting the proposal for Scottish Home Rule, and not from any dislike for or from any desire to do damage to the other parts of Britain, or of the British Empire.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
It will be agreed, I think, that the Scottish people can have a very strong love for their own land, as distinct from England and Wales, and at the same time, a very strong belief in the ability of their country as a whole to develop along much more progressive lines in the future than they have been able to do up to the present. I do not differ, to any very great extent, from what has been said about the value that has accrued to Scotland from our connection with England. Scotland in 1707 was a very poor country, but so was England. We had a very small population in Scotland then, and England was, 855 comparatively speaking, not much in advance of her. The source from which England drew its wealth at that particular time was not the North of England—it was from your Midland and your Southern counties. England was then, like Scotland, an agricultural country. To-day conditions are very much different. Britain is an industrial country and the source of England's strength to-day, from an economic standpoint, is that part of our common country, England and Scotland, which has developed since 1707. No Scotsman who knows his history would for a moment question the value of the connection between Scotland and England.
That explains the reason why we have attempted in the short period of this discussion to impress on our Friends the fact that the Bill which we are now considering is not intended to affect anything in the nature of a separation. I have already said that Scotland was a poor country in 1707. We at least—and I hope hon. Members do us the credit of believing this—have no desire to worsen the conditions in Scotland. We want to improve them. It would be a silly thing for us to attempt to argue that we were reverting to a state of things of which all of us are not too proud. In this Bill we have tried to make it perfectly plain that we have no desire to take any action that could be in the slightest way detrimental to the interest of the Empire as a whole It is true that our Bill is not a perfect one, but I have seen quite a number of Bills introduced into this House by right hon. Gentlemen sitting opposite, when they were in the occupancy of the Treasury Bench, of which nobody would say they were perfect.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
The imperfections of this Bill are the only thing about which hon. Gentlemen are agreed.
§ 3.0 P.M.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
We do not pretend that this Bill is a perfect one, but we do say that we are quite willing to discuss its imperfections in a reasonable way, with a view to finding the best means of getting put on the Statute Book a Measure that will ensure the better treatment of the domestic questions that concern the life of the Scottish people, and, incidentally, enable the English people to 856 look after their own affairs in exactly the same way. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik) said that there was no effective demand for this Bill in Scotland. There may not be very much demand in the Universities, but there is no question of the demand among the common people and the industrial and trading classes in Scotland. There is a very sincere desire, which has often been expressed, in favour of the principle of devolution. There is no more representative organisation in Scotland than the Convention of Royal Burghs. On innumerable occasions that Convention has put it on record that the time has come when Scottish self-government should be established. The gentlemen who represent Scottish finance in the Convention have mostly been voters on the other side, and most of them are members of the party which occupy the benches opposite. They are certainly not Labour Members. This is not, as is suggested, a purely Socialist proposal. I read an article in a leading journal, circulating in the West of Scotland, on Wednesday of this week, dealing with this particular question, in which the Unionist party are advised to be cautious in considering this matter because, in the opinion of the writer, it is animated largely by a Socialist ideal.
I do not know that I require to waste any time in dealing with that aspect of the question further than to say that this Bill has time and again been introduced by Members of the Liberal party, and I have yet to know a constituency held by a Liberal representative where that Liberal has not had to pledge himself in favour of Home Rule. We are only in the natural order of succession, so far as this particular question is concerned, and I am not taking any particular credit for it. This is a proposal that has the support of the representatives of every section in Scotland except the privileged classes, and some of them too. In any caste, I should like to advise some of our opponents on the other side to consult that particular article in the "Glasgow Herald" to which I have referred. It is, in my opinion, an effective reply to the statement made by the right hon. Member representing the Scottish Universities, who stated that there was no effective demand in Scotland. Here is what 857 the leading journal speaking for the Tory party in the West of Scotland said no later than last Wednesday:That the continued development of Scotland on Scottish lines is necessary, both to the efficiency and well-being of Scotland and to the strengthening of the British Commonwealth of Nations, we not merely grunt, but strongly maintain, and that some additional measure of devolution is necessary for that development is obvious to the most casual student of public affairs.I should like to ask my hon. Friends opposite who differ from us, Who speaks for the Tory party on this question? Are they expressing the views of the intelligent section of their own party inside our own country? I venture to say that if Scotland can be unanimous on the claim that we are putting forward, the English Members should have no objection to it being put upon the Statute Book. I cannot conceive of any opposition coming from the English Members in a case where the Scottish Members themselves are absolutely united, and I put it to you that this is the considered and the real and true opinion of the Tory party in Scotland.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I believe you would, but we expect, if the Bill goes to Committee, that we will get perhaps more than is contained in it now. Some criticism was made of the suggestion that the Scottish Parliament, if set up along the lines proposed by this Bill, would contain only a Single Chamber. The greatest period, perhaps, of Scottish history, from the sentimental standpoint, was the period prior to the Union in 1707, and during all the years that Scotland had a Parliament prior to that time—and they had it for almost as long a period as England—it was a Single Chamber Assembly, and the laws that were made by that Single Chamber Assembly were quite as good as the laws that were made in England.
§ Mr. PRINGLE
You had a system known as the Lords of the Articles, which had a profound influence on the legislation.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
The system was that of a Single Chamber, and in any case there is no particular virtue in a Double Chamber. No one who pro- 858 fesses to be a member of the human family—who does not claim to be superior—would justify the continuance of the present House of Lords, and even Tory Members of the House profess to be favourable to a reform of that House, a reform which would get rid of some privileges of certain individuals who are there, not because of any particular merit they have, but because they were fortunate enough to be born the sons of their parents. Nobody can justify that sort of thing. The people in Scotland are sufficiently intelligent to be able to pass legislation devoted exclusively to their own domestic affairs with a single chamber Assembly. You might as well argue that a town council should have a double chamber, that it should have its House of Lords. We are only claiming the right to deal with our own domestic affairs. We are not seeking to interfere with matters of trade, the fiscal question, or financial questions. We are only asking in this Bill that we shall have the right to deal with purely Scottish questions in accordance with Scottish ideals and Scottish aspirations.
We hope the Government will be prepared to give us some encouragement, and will do something to enable the will of the Scottish people to be carried into effect. The Bill has certain qualities which, we are assured, will not meet with the support of hon. and right hon. Members on the opposite side, or with that of all Members on this side of the House. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] We cannot produce a perfect Bill. That cannot be done, but we have done the best we can to submit to the consideration of this House a Bill which will enable it, I hope, to agree to the principle, and if the Bill be referred to a Committee, it will be the subject of consideration, not by the Scottish Members alone, because it is a mistake to say that the Scottish Standing Committee is composed of Scottish Members. It is composed of Scottish Members, with the addition of English Members, so that English Members, even there, will have some say in the shaping of the Bill. I do not know what the attitude of the Government will be.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must point out that this is not a Bill which affects Scotland only, so that it cannot go to the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
The point I was anxious to impress upon the House was the fact that this Bill would not become law, supposing everybody agreed to vote for its Second Heading to-day. It would have to be considered by a Committee of some sort. In any case, whatever possible objections there can be to the proposals contained in the Bill, so far as we are concerned we are willing to hear what those objections are. If it be at all possible to meet the objections, we are prepared to meet them, because I want to assure hon. Gentlemen on the other side that they have no monopoly of patriotism. Members on this side of the House are just as anxious as Members on the other side to see Britain prosper.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
We have done as much as you, and have contributed as much as you have to the well-being of Britain. In any case, I am not going to trouble myself about your interruptions—
§ Mr. GRAHAM
In these proposals of ours we are anxious really to have established in Scotland a Parliament which will enable us to do our own work, on purely domestic questions in accordance with Scottish ideas, leaving it to England to follow our example, and in the hope that she will set up ultimately—perhaps within a short time—a Parliament of a similar character. This Parliament, then, can become the Imperial Parliament in fact instead of in name. We call our Parliament an Imperial Parliament, but it is not so. Our Colonies are not represented here. We think we ought to have an Imperial Parliament which will be representative of every section of the British Empire. In the matter of patriotism we do not give place to any section of hon. Members, nor in our feeling as to the civilising influence that has followed the British advance. No one is more proud of these things than we are. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Colonies."] Whatever wealth there is in the Colonies is the result of the hard work of ordinary workmen. Whatever well-being there is in this country, in the wealthiest part of this country, is due to those who live in that part where the most shocking con- 860 ditions exist. In the North of England matters are not much better. Take also the West of Scotland, even the best of it?
§ Mr. GRAHAM
There is no question about it. Hon. Members opposite know-nothing at all about it, or about the conditions under which the vast majority of these people live. In the West of Scotland the social conditions existing are such that out of every thousand children born 160 die before they are a year old.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
Of every 1,000 children born to the professional classes less than 50 die before they reach a year. There is no doctor in the West of Scotland more important to the well-being of the British community than are the miners. The poorest amongst them is of infinitely greater importance to the well-being of the community and has done as much, and is doing more, for its well-being than the members of the professional classes. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Social conditions have got to be improved. It is because of their rotten state that you have almost the total representation of Scotland coming from the extreme Socialist section of the community. You yourselves are responsible for the growth of the movement which has resulted in our claim for a Scottish Parliament. The social conditions which have been referred to we are anxious to get rid of, and we cannot do it if we have to depend upon the slow processes at work in this Assembly. We are bound to get some machinery set up which will be more swift in its motion. It would be a pity if the Members of the Opposition in this House have not learned something in regard to the recent history of our country. I remember when the Irish people would have accepted a very modified form of Home Rule and you would not give it to them, but they afterwards compelled you to give them something a long way in advance of what they claimed in the first instance. I hope the present generation of representatives here will be more wise in the 861 treatment of this particular question than the previous generation of legislators were.
I do not pretend to have any kind of the superior qualities of statesmen, but I do know that a great deal of the time of the ordinary Members of this House is wasted largely because of the reasons stated by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), because hon. Members do not know anything about one-tenth of the subjects that come up for consideration, and therefore this House cannot take an intelligent part in the discussions which arise. On every domestic question I think it will be agreed that in Scotland we should take at least an intelligent view, and we are just as much the sons of our fathers as our hon. Friends on the opposite side. We are as anxious for the well-being of our country as they are, and we are not at all desirous of doing anything that would be to the slightest detriment of our own country.
There is nothing in this Bill that would lead anybody to believe that, if it is passed, it would have that effect, and I hope the representatives of the Government will be prepared to tell us that they are willing to support the principles of this Bill, and take up the line of sending it to a Committee, of else of appointing a special Committee to deal with the whole question. I am glad that I have had an opportunity of voicing my opinion on this matter, and I sincerely hope that hon. Members on the opposite side will not approach this matter from the ordinary prejudiced political standpoint. I have tried to keep clear from party politics in this matter, and I can assure hon. Members opposite that there is a possibility of this Bill, if it becomes an Act, being administered in Scotland in the best possible spirit for the well-being of Scotland itself.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker, I want to ask whether it is in order for certain Members of this House to be asked if they will speak for a few minutes, and then be dropped out by others who are allowed to speak as long as they like. I 862 want to know is there any possibility of an independent Scottish Member having a chance to speak?
§ Mr. STURROCK
Is it not a fact that we have had in rapid succession the views of the Opposition Front Bench, and can we not have an expression of opinion from some other part of the House?
§ Mr. PRINGLE
On that point of Order. Has it not been in accordance with the traditions of the Chair to rule that any Front Bench is entitled to only a certain proportion of the speeches in a debate? I submit to you, from my own knowledge, that Members of the Liberal Front Bench in the last Parliament were in some cases excluded from the debate, because one of their colleagues had already spoken.
§ Sir ROBERT HORNE
Perhaps I can put the matter at rest. I have no desire to intrude my views upon the House on this matter, although to me they seem of some importance. In order to relieve the matter of any difficulty, and not to create any embarrassment or irritation, I would venture to say that it is quite obvious that this is a matter of vast importance, on which many Members wish to speak, and, accordingly, this discussion cannot, with the goodwill of Members, finish to-day. I shall, in these circumstances, reserve my remarks to the next occasion when the matter conies up.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
On a point of Order. Does the protest of a Member who has been excluded from speaking, or who thinks that he is going to be excluded, determine the Member whom you will call next?
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I do not wish to take up much time, but I feel that this Bill, as it is presented to-day, is one which we must frankly acknowledge is not just the kind of Bill that is wanted by the organised Scottish Home Rule Movement.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
While it is also true that there is not a widespread demand, we must come back to the reflection that practically every movement—including even the McKenna Duties—has to be organised. Those who come here, as we have done, and experience the working of the machinery which we all have to try to operate in the interests of the country, know that we cannot get through the business which is essential in the interests of Scotland and of the country at large. My distinguished predecessor in the representation of the City of Dundee laid special emphasis on the question of devolution some years ago, and it was acknowledged then on every side that it is required. Take the question of the composition of this House. It would, surely, be preposterous for us to try and rush ourselves into this place; there is no room for us, apart from any other consideration. And if you take the wider question of the Union which has prevailed for so many years, the very name of Scotland has become so submerged that practically through the world at large we are all recognised as part of England. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] So much is that the case that on the Continent, in France itself, I have had the experience that people thought that I belonged to England, and they could not conceive that it was otherwise. This Bill itself does not give us a clear definition. Reference has been made to the fact that spiritual matters will be safeguarded—that there will be no interference with theological views. But there is no clear definition as to the spiritous department—as to whether we are going to have the power, as the Executive ought of necessity to have, to deal with that great question, not only in Scotland, but in other parts of the Empire.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
Scotland has been in an unfortunate predicament in 864 that respect, and very much better can be done. I think we should follow the recommendation that has come from below the Gangway, and that, if the Government are to deal with this matter, it should be by the Scottish representative putting forward fairly and squarely what we require. I submit, personally, that we need a very much stronger type of Bill than the one which is before the House at the present time.
§ Lieut.-General Sir AYLMER HUNTER-WESTON
Let me say at once that I am in favour of devolution—of Home Rule for Scotland, England and Wales—in matters which do not concern the whole of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; if—and this, I think, is the crux of the matter—if some practical system can be devised by which these local Legislatures can be given powers, both in England and in Scotland, which would not lead either to friction between the two countries or to the probability of separation. But although I am in favour of devolution, to-day we have not to do with devolution or with Home Rule as an abstract principle. We have to deal with the general principle of the Bill which is before this House. It is with this Bill, and that only, with which we have to deal, and I would beg hon. Members to remember this when it comes to giving their vote.
I am entirely opposed to this Bill, because I believe it would be, inevitably, a precursor of friction between the two countries; and, if there be friction, it must inevitably lead to separation, which would be disadvantageous to the Kingdom as a whole, and would certainly be fatal to Scotland. No sane person, I think, would desire to go back to those conditions which obtained in this little island before the Act of Union. This island, which is the very hub and centre of our Empire, on which the whole Empire depends, is geographically too small for separation, and, I think, none but the maddest extremists really want separation. We Lowlanders of pure Scottish descent are proverbially and characteristically canny, and we know on which side our bread is buttered; and I think that all Scotsmen who have anything to do with business know only too well that separation from our larger and richer neighbour in the South would be economically disastrous. This was extremely well 865 exemplified less than three years ago, when Sir Eric Geddes brought in what was to have been a Home Rule Bill for Scottish railways. He proposed to put all our Scottish railways in one group by themselves, so that we might have what we are always talking about, Home Rule for Scotland, in that Department But every Scotsman made an immediate outcry. Hon. Members will remember the pressure that Scottish Members of every party brought to prevent the Government doing what we considered to be disadvantageous to everyone in Scotland, whatever his occupation, whether in or out of commerce, whether employer or employed. We were all agreed that that was fatal to us, and it was only by the great exertions made by Members of all parties and by the considerable pressure which was brought to bear upon the Government by every interest in Scotland, that that Government were induced to alter the Bill and the great English railway companies were persuaded to include Scotland in the two Northern Groups. That is an excellent example as showing that opinion North of the Tweed, though it may be in favour of devolution, is absolutely opposed to anything which would cut us off in any way from the advantages, economic and otherwise, that we at present gain by our union with England and Wales. No Measure of devolution or Home Rule for Scotland or England would have any likelihood of acceptance by the Scottish people if there were the least chance that it would interfere with the great economic and material advantages that we have from our union with England, nor if there was to be any chance of our being cut off from participation in all that England offers to capable Scotsmen in every line of life. We have two Scottish Archbishops of the English Church, we have indeed a Scottish Prime Minister, there are some of my friends who think we have had far too many Scottish Prime Ministers.
I oppose the Bill also because it is unfair, and no Measure which is unfair can ever really lead to proper results. We cannot uphold as either fair or honest the provision that we Scots are to remove all our Scottish affairs from the co-operation of our English Members, and at the same time we are to retain our full Parliamentary powers in this House and 866 are to be able to interfere in every blessed thing with regard to England. That is so grotesquely unfair that it alone condemns the Bill. A proviso which is so absolutely unfair is quite sufficient at once to wipe the Bill off the slate. Further, no Measure of Home Rule or devolution, which is unfair to any particular portion of the country can be anything but fatal to every portion and to the whole. Again, I think an unfair Home Rule Bill would increase the feeling we have already had displayed, for which some of us have to a certain extent given cause, that far from the English Members wishing to retain the Scottish Members in this Parliament, they would only be too glad to get rid of us.
Another reason why I oppose the Bill is that it is very inadvisable to endanger trade and commerce at this juncture when we have so much unemployment and unrest. The Prime Minister has rightly said that confidence, is what he wants to give to the country. He is absolutely right. Confidence is what is required for the country and also for his own party. If we are to have a big change in our constitutional system like this, made without sufficient preliminary study—I think all agree that there is no body of experienced statesmen that has yet been able to give to this subject the study that it deserves—and if that change is to be carried out without the certainty that the majority of the people in Scotland and in the United Kingdom are in favour of it, it will destroy confidence and tend to upset both trade and employment.
Before voting for a Bill involving such great constitutional changes, I must be satisfied—and I think most hon. Members will require to be satisfied—that its principles have been placed clearly before the electors in Scotland and in the United Kingdom, and that there is a great volume of opinion in favour of the change. Another matter which is of very considerable importance to Scotland is whether Scotland is prepared to shoulder the greatly increased cost that this change must involve. By no stretch of the imagination can it be said that this Bill or anything like it has been put before the electors in Scotland or in Great Britain. That is another reason why I oppose the Bill.
867 I oppose it because I consider that many of its provisions are adverse to the best interests of the working classes in Scotland, notably the division between Scotland and England in regard to national insurance, old age pensions, and Employment Exchanges. We are, I hope, on the eve of a comprehensive scheme of national insurance, and national insurance, if it is to be worthy of the name, must embrace the whole of the United Kingdom as well as embracing the major risks to which working men and working women are liable, to wit, loss of health, old age and unemployment. If Scotland is to be cut off from participation in this big national scheme it would undoubtedly be in the very worst economic interests of the working classes of my own country.
My main contention is that this Bill is unfair, and any system of legislation which is unfair and which gives unfair Home Rule to one portion of the Kingdom must be dangerous to all the component parts of the Kingdom, and to the United Kingdom as a whole. It would be especially dangerous to the smaller partners, Scotland and Wales, because they are, necessarily, to a great extent dependent for their prosperity on England. It is because this Bill would be dangerous to the United Kingdom and disastrous to Scotland, that I oppose it.
§ Mr. FERGUSON
On a point of Order or Privilege, I wish to make a statement in regard to certain remarks made by the hon. Member for Stirlingshire (Mr. T. Johnston). He threw out an insinuation, anticipating that I was going to vote against this Bill, that in my election it was a matter of the Battle of the Boyne over again. The insinuation was that I was an Orangeman and that I represent an Orange constituency. I want to say that I oppose the Bill because I am a Scotsman as much as he is, and I belong to no privileged class. I have worked with my hands as long as any man who sits on the opposite benches. I belong to a working-class family which has worked in Scotland for the last 250 years. My constituency consists of 4,000 Ulstermen, 7,000 men from the Free State and 23,000 Scotsmen. If I had depended upon the 4,000 Ulstermen to return me to this House I should have been left. It is 868 Scotsmen whom I represent in my constituency. I am the only man among the Scottish Members with the courage to face the question which has been put to me in writing—
§ Mr. FERGUSON
The point of Order is, why was the hon. Member for the Hamilton Division (Mr. D. M. Graham) allowed to talk a lot of nonsense for about half an hour?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Had the hon. Member risen earlier in the day. I would have endeavoured to find a position for him in the Debate.
The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. Adamson)
We have had a very interesting discussion, and I congratulate the Mover and the Seconder on the very high line of argument which they reached. Whatever our ideas concerning the merits of this Bill may be, there is no doubt that it raises a political issue of vital importance to the continued harmonious relationship of the British race, and in view of the grave issues which have been suggested I think that all hon. Members would be well advised to face the problem and get it settled on satisfactory lines. As the House well knows, I am not in the habit of using exaggerated arguments, even on a subject such as we are discussing to-day, but when I hear Member after Member in various parts of the House saying that so far as they know there is no real demand for a Measure of this kind in Scotland. I can only say that I cannot pay them the same compliment as I claim for myself.
In discussing an issue of this kind, I do not take the view that during the years of our national co-partnership with England we have been continually subjected to English domination. We would not allow our English colleagues to do that. I think that during all the years of our national relationship we have been able to hold our own in this House. At the same time I want to say quite frankly to my English colleagues that in this Bill we have a problem which it would be better to face in the interest of the continued harmonious relations between the various sections of the British race, as 869 well as the development of the Empire itself—a subject in which we are all very much interested. I am aware that there are Members of this House, even some representing Scottish constituencies, who take the view that there is not a large demand for Home Rule in Scotland. I say, in reply to them, that, no matter from what aspect of the question we examine the position, we shall find that there has always been an insistent demand for separate government in Scotland. Look at the question for a moment from the historical point of view. You will find that, right down through the centuries, there has been a determined struggle maintained by our people for the recognition of the sovereign rights of Scotland and England. It was that ideal which nerved our people on many a hard-fought field.
The right hon. Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir J. Baird) said that the Act of 1707 was one of the best things that could have happened either for England or Scotland. There is a very large section of his fellow-countrymen and fellow countrywomen who do not agree with him. If he will examine my statement from the point of view of nearly every one of our Scottish histories, he will discover that the overwhelming majority of the Scottish people of that day were against the Act of 1707. To such an extent is that the case that, in nearly every one of those histories, you have a list of the men who were looked upon by their fellow-countrymen of that day as having betrayed the country—not only a list of their names, but, in quite a number of histories of the time, yon will find the sums that were paid to them to betray their country, Right down from then to now there has been a very large number of the Scottish people who have been in favour of Scotland having the right to govern herself.
Many points have been raised in the course of the discussion to which one would like to reply, but the time left is short before the Division, which I hope we will have, and I wish to occupy the moment or two which is left to me by pointing out what is the attitude of the Government in this matter. The Government give the general principle of this Bill their approval. At the same time they recognise that it raises a 870 large and vital issue which is of importance to this country as well as to Scotland, and what they suggest, they are prepared to do is to appoint a Committee to examine this whole question and report to the House. That Committee, they suggest, should be arranged through the ordinary channels. I hope the Bill will get a Second Reading, and in this way will express the feelings of the present Parliament on this important question. If it gets a Second Reading I suggest that it should be committed to a Committee of the Whole House, and in conclusion I hope that the overwhelming majority of Members will give it their support.
§ Several hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. BUCHANAN rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. MACPHERSON rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. STURROCK
I listened, as far as I was able, to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland, and I must say—
§ Mr. MAXTON
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. STURROCK
I must say that I am greatly disappointed by what we have heard this afternoon—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. NEIL MACLEAN rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined to put that Question.
§ It being Four of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.871
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
There will be no Orders read. You have no right, Mr. Speaker, to refuse the Closure. I move the Closure now. [Interruption.] We are going to have the Closure now. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. MACLEAN
On a point of Order. I understood, when arrangements were made for this Debate, that the Closure was going to be accepted by you, Mr. Speaker—
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I should like to know, Sir, whether that was a correct understanding, and, if so, why it was not carried out?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I cannot allow any right of hon. Members to put such a question as that. It is perfectly true that it was my intention in the earlier part of the Debate, but a right hon. Member (Sir Robert Horne) on the Opposition side was not allowed to address the House—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must point out to hon. Members that as long as I am in this 872 Chair, I shall conduct my duties according to my own conscience.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) continues to interrupt, and my attempt to reply to the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Maclean) shows that I must exercise my duties without explanation.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I was sitting listening to the Debate all the time, and you were in the Lobbies or in the bar. My point of order is this: I understand that one of the Members who was not in this Debate until about an hour before the Debate closed, rose to speak. He was not in the House at all, nor had he taken any part in the Debate. A large number of us have been in the House since Eleven o'clock to-day, trying to get an opportunity to take part, and I understand there was some objection taken by hon. Members to an individual, who had not heard any of the arguments put forward on behalf of the Bill by its Mover or Seconder, being allowed to speak. I wish to submit that, if that is the sole reason why you have broken away from the understanding—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I shall not allow this discussion to proceed. The hon. Member is well aware that, on the question of granting the Closure, if asked for, I am always guided by the proceedings up to the very last moment, and I give no promise or understanding beforehand. It would be wrong for me to do such a thing. I have never done it, and never shall do it. [Interruption.] I cannot hear any more. This is a discussion of my conduct in the Chair. There is a proper means of challenging my conduct, if it is desired that it should be challenged, and I cannot hear anything more. The Clerk 873 will now proceed to read through the Orders.
§ Mr. HOGGE rose—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member persists in defying the Chair, and being of opinion that grave disorder has arisen in the House, I adjourn the House, without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 21.
§ Adjourned at Ten Minutes after Four o'Clock, until Monday next (12th May).