§ [THIRD DAY.]
Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [22nd November],
That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty, as followeth:—
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's moat dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—[Mr. Roy Bird.]
§ Question again proposed.
§ 3.18 p.m.
§ Sir ROBERT HORNE
It is the reputation, I believe, of Scotsmen all over the world that they are inclined to talk a great deal about their own country, but a certain number of my compatriots at the present time believe that we do not talk enough about it in this House. I think they somewhat misunderstand the procedure of the House of Commons and how much of its business is concerned with Scotland as well as other parts of the Kingdom. To-day I propose to take up some of the time of the House in discussing matters which are of high importance to the northern part of the Kingdom. But before I proceed to do that, may I be allowed to make one or two very brief observations upon an event which occurred yesterday. It was announced last evening that we shall be expected to pay what we owe upon the American debt at the due date in December. The question therefore arises; what are we to do? I have no doubt whatsoever that we ought to pay. In the first place, for Great Britain to default after the quite extraordinary recovery which she has made during the past year, and the prestige which she has resumed in the economy of the world, would be a disaster not merely to us but to the whole credit structure of the world. In the second place, I am convinced that upon merely sordid considerations, we shall do much better for ourselves by paying than we should by defaulting.
236 How should we pay? I have no doubt that we ought to pay by the shipping of bar gold. But there is a qualification which I ought to attach to the suggestion. At the present time we have £140,000,000 of gold in the Bank of England—a larger sum than we had in September last year. We have lived long enough off the Gold Standard to know that we need not be at all frightened by the absence of some of this gold at the present moment. Moreover, the present amount to be paid is certainly not large enough to create any perturbations. But the Treasury must unite that action with another. In ordinary circumstances the absence of that gold would lead to a reduction in the monetary circulation; that must not be allowed to happen. If the shipment of this gold were to have the effect of a great deflation in this country it would be most harmful to every interest concerned, and I hope, especially as the Chancellor of the Exchequer must within a short time deal by Bill or by Order with the amount of the Fiduciary Issue, that steps will be taken to see that the amount of money available in this country is in no wise lessened.
What are the anticipated results of this action? The first consequence is on the Budget. It seems to me perfectly obvious, when dealing with this question as a budgetary matter, that we should suspend the Sinking Fund in so far as it is necessary to pay this debt. It need make no difference to the Budget figures of this year. After all, the Sinking Fund is specially for the payment of debt—and this is one of the country's debts. No one could quarrel with that action on the ground of principle. Six months ago it would have been possible to take exception to a suspension of the Sinking Fund on the ground that it might defer the conversion of some of the country's debts, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer, supported by his monetary advisers in the City of London, with an astuteness and skill which we must all admire, has cleared out of the purview of the present situation any difficulties connected with conversion for a long time to come. Therefore we are in a very advantageous position at the present time so far as this is concerned.
What is the next effect? It is a fall in the pound. As far as I am concerned it will not give me the slightest anxiety 237 to see the pound fall lower than the figure at which it stands to-day. It has not yet fallen so much as prices have fallen, and if the pound drops to three dollars or less this country would still find it a very convenient currency. The fact is that we should be in the position of having to buy less imports and more of our own manufactures, which would give employment in this country. We should also help our export trade. So far as our purchasing from outside is concerned, we are in the happy position of buying greatly from countries which are already on a sterling basis, and, therefore, we have nothing to fear. But I do not wish the House to believe that there is no disadvantage in the action which the American Government has taken. The real trouble is that it is delaying that revival of prosperity to which we are all entitled to look. It is an action which stops the advance which all nations should have made together in co-operation. It seems to me to impose a special duty and responsibility upon us.
The most disappointing feature to me in the whole of the results of the Ottawa Conference was the report of the monetary conference. It seemed to suggest that we could do nothing unless we combined with other nations of the world. I have never believed that to be true, and at any rate the result of the action of America has been to force us to turn in upon ourselves. After all, we are in a powerful position. We are the centre of a great sterling area which represents more than half the trade of the world. We are, to use a fine phrase of the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), the leading ship in a convoy, and I hope, in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, that we shall have the courage to take the action which responsibility and leadership impose upon us, so as to help the world out of its present troubles.
Now I come to the question upon which I rose to speak—namely, the question of my native country. It is somewhat disconcerting to turn one's mind from these great world problems, which reveal more and more the necessity of unity of action on the part of nations, to proposals which would create a division between two nations which today form a harmonious and homogeneous community. The passage in the King's Speech which refers especially to Scotland 238 deals with it in a very restricted way; in relation to some proposals for the reform of Private Bill procedure. But a wider issue has been forced upon our attention by certain movements which have been taking place in Scotland. The banner of Home Rule has once more been raised. This is not a new issue. The Home Rule question was debated and discussed at considerable length some years ago, and then fell into abeyance. It has emerged again. It is a notable fact that it has received its chief importance in those communities in Scotland which are most distressed, and I believe that the present movement has really had its origin in the state of great depression into which Scottish communities have fallen at the present time. Many think—wrongly as figures will show —that they are more depressed than any other part of this island. There is a sense of defeat amongst a considerable portion of the population, to which Scottish people are not accustomed. There is a feeling of a loss of pride, which may be unjustified, but nevertheless is there and ought to be dealt with.
The movement has not yet attracted a large number of supporters but it is not to be discounted. I am not one of those who deride the Scottish Home Rule movement, nor am I disposed to treat it lightly. On the contrary, I am as sensitive to the same influences as most of my countrymen. It is perfectly true that, going about the world to the extent that I do, I see this question perhaps in a better perspective. Contrary to what some people in Scotland think, I find that the prestige and reputation of our race are as high and as great as they ever were. But at the same time I am as eager as they are that there should be no lessening of the spirit of Scotsmen in Scotland, and that there should be the opportunities for enterprise and the chances of achievement which we would all like to see in existence in Scotland. I am as perfervid a Scotsman as any man who breathes. I believe with my whole soul that a prosperous Scotland strengthens Great Britain and is a benefit to the British Commonwealth to a far greater degree than the proportion of its population or wealth would suggest. But to-day I am going to curb any tendency I might have towards expression of patriotic sentiment, and if the House 239 will allow me I will present a quite cold matter-of-fact analysis of the position as I see it, coming to it, I hope, with an impartial and fresh mind.
As I read the speeches of those who advocate Scottish Home Rule at the present time, I find that there are certain main features which are common to all of them. In the first place, they complain that unemployment is worse in Scotland than it is in England. They suggest, by that complaint, that somehow this Parliament looks after unemployment in England better than it does in Scotland. That is a wholly fallacious view, as we in this Parliament all know. This Parliament deals impartially with the whole island, as far as unemployment is concerned. You can easily bring matters to a test, because the highest percentage of unemployment that you will find anywhere in this island exists in England. There is a district in England which is worse than any in Scotland, and when you come to compare districts which are truly comparable and which are often mentioned as the most distressful, you will find that Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire are entirely eclipsed in the figures of unemployment by the counties of Durham and Glamorgan.
§ Sir R. HORNE
The Welsh are showing the kind of wisdom that is generally attributed to the Scot, because, knowing that the amount of their unemployment is so much greater than that elsewhere, probably they realise that they would find great difficulty in providing unemployment benefit by themselves, and they are wiser to rely on the richer country than to seek any separation. Let us see how this argument runs. "Unemployment is rife in Scotland. Therefore, there should be a Scottish Parliament." It is perfectly obvious that there is some missing premiss in that syllogism. How does it require to be stated? "Unemployment is rife in Scotland; Parliaments are the cure for unemployment; therefore, there should be a Parliament in Scotland." You have only to state the proposition in that way to see how false the whole assumption is. Are Parliaments the cure for unemployment? What has this Parliament been doing ever since the 240 War and how much has it achieved to cure unemployment?
§ Sir R. HORNE
Look out upon the rest of the world. The Congress of the United States of America has been attempting to deal with unemployment. How much has it achieved? The Parliament of Germany has been dealing with unemployment for several years. How much has it achieved? Take the Parliaments in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. All have been dealing with unemployment. Who can say that Parliament or parliamentary action is a cure for unemployment to-day? The fact is that an argument could be stated with far more plausibility in this form: "Unemployment exists in every country where there is parliamentary government. Therefore, let us do away with parliamentary government." There would be more plausibility in that suggestion because, looking upon the world as a whole, I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that in Italy, which is under a dictatorship, more has been done to cure unemployment than anywhere else. Parliament is a false reed to lean upon, as a cure for unemployment, which, because of economic conditions, is shaking the whole world.
What is the next complaint? It is that industries are leaving Scotland and drifting south. That is a matter that does not depend upon Parliament. That is a purely economic question. You find exactly the same drift going on from the north of England to the south. I happen to belong to a body called the Scottish Development Council, and I take such part as I can in its proceedings. There is one thing of which I am perfectly certain, and that is that so far from a separate Parliament in Scotland stopping the drift to the south it would encourage it. After all, what does the industrialist or the trader say to himself when he is considering his business? He says, "You are going to set up another Parliament in Scotland. It is to have complete legislative powers over all the things with which I am conected in trade and transport and the like. You say that you will not pass provisions which will in any way hurt industry, but how do I know that in the assertion of your legislative powers those provisions will not do something which will do me an injury in the markets 241 outside Scotland? Therefore, I must put my works where I shall have the biggest market, and if I have to seek a market in. Great Britain it will be in England rather than in Scotland." That is no fantastic consideration, as the House will probably hear to-day from a fellow Scottish Member who has very good evidence of the effect of the proposal upon people's minds. Accordingly, I say to those who think that a Parliament in Scotland would help to keep industries within their own country, that they are labouring under a great delusion.
It is also said that Scotland is overtaxed, and that picturesque countryman of my own, Mr. Cunninghame Graham, has within recent times uttered a sentiment which I think might have been copied from Mr. de Valera. He said:He believed that a commission sitting upon Scottish finances would find that England owed an enormous sum for taxation in the past, and for misapplication of Scottish money.That is the Irish claim in another form. What are the facts, so far as we know them? It is impossible to give figures which are up to date, although I am glad to think that the Treasury is taking trouble now to provide us with statistics which will show us what is happening even at the present time. So far as we can gather from the most recent statistics that we have, which were taken in the year 1925, Scotland was at that time paying rather less than the contribution which, upon the basis of population, she ought to make to Great Britain's revenues, and on the other hand she was receiving in grants a larger amount than, upon the basis of population, she would strictly be entitled to. That, I think, is perfectly fair. It is obvious that Scotland is not so wealthy a country as England and, so long as she is part of the same system with England, she is entitled to the full benefits derivable from that union. If she chooses to be independent and to run her own finances then, of course, she must take the consequences.
I am afraid that those consequences would be embarrassing to Scotland and that she would not be so well off in those circumstances as she is now. I think so for several reasons. We know something of what has happened in the seven years since 1925. If we look at the education figures we find that a much larger grant per pupil goes to Scotland 242 than goes to English schools. Again, if we examine the figures of the grants for road-making, we find that Scotland gets back in road grants about £1,000,000 a year more than she pays in motor licence duties. Again, if it is true, as apparently it is, that there is more unemployment in Scotland taken all over than there is among the same proportion of English citizens, it is quite clear that Scotland must be drawing a larger subvention from the Unemployment Insurance Fund than the basis of population would indicate. All these instances seem to show that, so far from it being true that Scotland is being unfairly treated at the present time, she is in fact reaping the benefit to which she is justly entitled, as a member of the community of Great Britain, instead of managing her affairs in a separate Parliament in Scotland.
Some of the other statements which are made upon this subject are even more extraordinary. For example, it is said that only two days in the year are given to Scottish business in Parliament, whereas we know that the great bulk of the business which goes through Parliament from day to day is applicable to the whole Kingdom and affects Scotland as much as any other part of it—and, if I may say so, Scottish Members are as vocal as their English colleagues. Another statement is that Scottish Members are flouted in the House of Commons. It was even said at a recent meeting that they are trodden upon here. When I read such statements I wonder in what assembly in all the world would my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) and his colleague the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) be listened to with more appreciation than in this House or with greater admiration for their sincerity and ability. To anyone who knows the House of Commons, what nonsense it is to say that Scottish people are not listened to here. All these things seem to show that this propaganda is being operated upon grounds of prejudice and distrust, which are really unworthy of the cause in which they are employed.
Let us turn now to the kind of schemes which are put forward for Scottish Home Rule. I direct the attention of the House first to the fact that Scottish Home Rulers are already split into two parties, and as one might believe they trounce each other with much more vigour than they 243 apply to those of us who disagree with them both. They are the Nationalists and the Moderates. At the head of the Nationalists is Mr. Cunninghame Graham and at the head of the Moderates is the Duke of Montrose, both picturesque and aristocratic figures in Scotland. The difference between these two distinguished men may be readily seen when we find that Mr. Cunninghame Graham says that the Act of Union is the greatest curse that ever came upon Scotland and has always hung like a millstone about our necks, while, on the other hand, the Duke of Montrose takes the contrary view which he put in the "Times" last week. Nobody, he says, denies the great benefits which Scotland has obtained from the Act of Union. In that view he seems to concur with no less an authority than Lord Morley who was a very ardent Irish Home Ruler but was also an accurate historian. In his "Life of Walpole" he writes:Brilliant as was the lustre and real as was the importance of Blenheim and Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet, those glorious days were infinitely less fruitful in fortunate consequences to the realm than the 6th day of March, 1707, when Queen Anne went dawn to the House of Lords and gave the Royal Assent to the Act approving and ratifying the Treaty of Union between the two Kingdoms, henceforth to be known as Great Britain.That view I believe is justified by the whole of the history which has followed. Both England and Scotland have benefited infinitely from the union of Parliaments which then took place.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
But you know that those who signed that Agreement were traitors to Scotland. Every one of them had his price.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I know my hon. Friend's view on that matter. I think he will find it difficult to get support for that view from historians who have dealt with the matter faithfully. I know it is a common tradition among those who have always criticised the Act of Union, but I do not think that it is completely justified in history. Both the parties which I have described to the House are anxious and indeed determined that no mere county council is to be given to Scotland if their demands are met. A glorified county council is something which both are resolved to oppose. They each want a Scottish legislative chamber with 244 final powers. But apparently there is going to be a little trouble in that connection. In the first sketch of their programme this Parliament was described as "sitting in Edinburgh." In a later edition of the programme the words, "sitting in Edinburgh" have been struck out, probably for very good reasons. There was, in my constituency, not long ago a municipal election in which a Nationalist candidate stood, and he was unwary enough to say that the Parliament was to sit in Edinburgh. He was immediately overwhelmed by dissent from the audience. It cannot be said that Glasgow and Edinburgh, therefore, are agreed upon that matter. Now comes a voice from Aberdeen and the voice from Aberdeen says that the people there are not going to be ruled "by a wheen Edinburgh lawyers and Glasgow bodies." When Inverness is going to speak, do not know, but undoubtedly the Highland counties of Scotland have a far better claim for Home Rule than has any other part of Scotland. They talk a different language, they have a different literature, they have preserved their language: they belong to a different race, they have not been afflicted with the taint which has overcome the South of Scotland from adopting the English language in place of their own. They, as the real original inhabitants of the country, would be entitled to claim Home Rule for themselves, and I think that if one began to get down to "brass tacks," as it is vulgarly said, we should have to admit that the Highlands are able to make the best claim of anybody for Home Rule.
The Nationalists are eager to have what they call Scottish sovereignty. Mr. Compton Mackenzie, for whom I have a very wholesome respect because he worsted me in a rectorial election last year, puts the matter as strongly as Mr. Cunninghame Graham. He is for none of your moderate policies. He tells us in a. recent speech with a charming naïreté, that devolution ought to be spelled "devil-ution." Another of his supporters tells us that the Moderate party is offering not the fruit but the husks of nationhood to Scotland, and now comes the vice-president of the Nationalist party, who has recently resigned. He says that the Nationalist party is drifting towards Communism and 245 a pro-Irish attitude, and he has resigned his place in the organisation in consequence. Without wishing to raise the flames of racial feeling, I must make this comment, that it would be a very natural thing that the Irish people should support this cause. There are in the industrial districts of the West of Scotland something like 25 per cent. of the population who are Irish, and that is far and away the most populous part of the whole kingdom.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I have them from very high authorities. They could easily form the determining element in the balance between the Scottish parties, and you might find that what you had believed to be Scottish Home Rule, turned out to be a form of very insidious Irish domination in our politics. While I have every respect for the Irish people, that is a result which I do not wish to see in Scotland. But while disagreeing with the Nationalist party in nearly everything that they urge, there is one thing in which I do agree with them as against the Moderate party. I, for one, am not for making either a Dominion or a Province of the ancient Kingdom of Scotland, which has given its line of kings to Great Britain and to the British Empire.
What is the programme that the Moderate party put forward? They reserve to the present Parliament—with some optimism some of them assume that the Scottish Members are always to keep their place here—all matters connected with the Crown and its succession, the defence forces, foreign affairs, and Dominion affairs, except the question of emigration, and so far as finances are concerned, upon which, believe me, they are very vague, the questions of Customs and Excise and the contribution which Scotland is to make to the Imperial revenue are to be remitted to a statutory Commission of the two countries, upon which Scotland is to have at least half—that is the way they express it—of the representation.
Let me examine for a moment these propositions. Take, first of all, this question of finance. It is laid down in the programme that it is not desired to have a Customs Duty as between Scotland and 246 England—no Customs barriers between the two countries. That has one inevitable result, that the Customs duties round the whole coast of the two countries must be identical, because if they were not, it is obvious that everybody would ship to the port where the duty was less and bring the goods by rail into the other country. Accordingly, it is clear that the statutory Commission, whatever else it is to do, must have a uniform system of Customs duties all round the coast. That means that Scotland can have no indirect taxes by which to replenish its Exchequer. It must just receive its appropriate proportion of the Customs duties which are collected at all the ports of the United Kingdom, and it is going to be no better and no worse off than it is now.
But how are they to meet these possible deficits, to which I have referred, which would occur in the Scottish Budget, and how are they to provide funds for the great schemes which they propose for the help of unemployment in Scotland? By direct taxation? Can Scotland bear any more direct taxes? Why, the hypothesis of the whole proposition is that Scotland at present is much worse off than England. How is it to bear the taxation which a Scottish Exchequer would put upon it in order to raise extra funds? As soon as you begin to examine any of these propositions separately, you find that the two Kingdoms now, Scotland and England, are so interlocked and interwoven in all their interests, financial, industrial, trading, commercial, transport, every one of them, that you cannot break them asunder without grievous injury to both countries.
If you want an illustration of it, take the question of railways. We had this question Up in Parliament only 10 years ago. At that time Sir Eric Geddes, who was Minister of Transport, proposed, as a good Scotsman, to group all the Scottish railways together separately from the English railways, but he was met with a storm of protest from Scotland which completely overwhelmed him. There was not an interest in Scotland that did not claim that that scheme must be given up. The chambers of commerce, the railway companies themselves, the great municipalities, the Highland Reconstruction Association, every interest in 247 Scotland you can think of, protested against the Scottish railways being grouped apart from the English, and insisted, from the point of view of the stability of Scottish finances, that the Scottish railways should be kept connected with the English railways with which they had been so long associated.
§ Sir R. HORNE
No. They laid great stress upon the financial results to Scotland and the menace of increased freights upon Scottish trade. That is the kind of thing that affected them, and in that connection may I just say that while the programme of this Moderate party in Scotland includes the postal, telegraph, and telephone services among the things which the Scottish Parliament should keep, the Duke of Montrose has now dropped that suggestion, and very wisely, because Scotland would have found that the delivering of a letter to the Outer Islands would have been very expensive, and she could never run a postal system on anything like the cheap lines on which it is operated as part of the combined system. The same kind of considerations apply to the railways. I do not want to weary the House with figures, but let me remind the House that not merely these various associations I have described but all the Scottish Members of Parliament united in the same protest. I remember in particular the late Mr. William Graham saying that this was one of the few occasions upon which all the Members from Scotland were of one mind in asking the Minister of Transport to cancel his scheme, and to make a new one by which the Scottish railways should be connected longitudinally with the English railways. That, again, is a practical illustration of the proposition which I have put forward, and I venture to say that, in the interests of the Scottish people to-day, if you put the Scottish railways under a separate legislative authority, it might easily enact Measures totally incompatible with those which apply in England.
If you proceed to the question of trade, the same views apply, and I should like to add one special word about labour. We all in this House know that trade 248 unions do not limit their operations to one part of the kingdom. They go over the Border, and their members are widespread throughout England and Scotland. What would be the result suppose you had in Scotland a legislative assembly of a different colour from that which you had here in Westminster, and different rules were laid down with regard to trade unions 3 After all, this is a very small island with a very close set population. What would be the effect if, for example, the Scottish Parliament made different laws with regard to the hours in mines from those operating in England? The Federation of Miners is one body and, of course, acts as one organisation in both countries.
Again—and I give this simply as an illustration which will occur to many—what would have been the situation during the last great general stoppage of work if you had had in Scotland, as you might readily have had, a Parliament which was Socialist and here a Parliament which was Conservative? Could you ever have settled a great national question like that? Imagine the appalling confusion and chaos which would have been brought upon the country by a divided authority in these two portions of this small country. Surely that is not a result which any of us would wish to see. And it is no fantastic idea. Look back to the last 50 years of Parliamentary records, and you will find that repeatedly there was a majority of Scottish Members of a different political colour from the majority in the House of Commons at Westminster. It would be perfectly certain that, as between Scotland and England, you would have legislatures which would be entirely at odds, and would legislate in a totally contrary sense. So far as I am concerned, I entirely disagree with the Socialist view of policy. But I would rather have the United Kingdom governed by a body which was Socialist than I would have different political legislatures in the two ends of the island. I am perfectly certain the latter would be much worse—for the interests of the country.
All these considerations which I have given to the House, I hope without prejudice on one side or the other—I have attempted to apply a fresh mind to the subject—have led me to the view that nothing could be so disastrous for both 249 Scotland and England as that this union should be annulled. Are there any things which we can do which can help to avoid some of the unpleasantnesses that have occurred at the present time? There is an indication in the King's Speech of a Measure which is designed to meet some of the objections which Scottish people are at present raising. The House may know that in the year 1899 there was passed in Parliament a Bill for the setting up of Provisional Order Procedure in Scotland by which, instead of Scottish private Measures, coming here in the form of Bills, they could be taken before a committee in Scotland and proceed by Provisional Order. The procedure by Provisional Order is much cheaper than that by private Bill, because it requires only one inquiry in Scotland, whereas under private Bill procedure there are inquiries in both Houses of Parliament. In the end, of course, a Provisional Order comes to the House of Commons on Third Reading, and is subject to any comments which require to be made. The Secretary of State for Scotland also has the power of excising any provision which he thinks is ultra vires or detrimental to the general interest.
That Provisional Order procedure has been circumcribed in several ways. In the first place, all electricity schemes have been excluded, and have to proceed by private Bill. That restriction need no longer exist. At the time the Provisional Order scheme came into operation, electricity was still regarded as a matter of very much difficulty. There was little understanding about it, and so much misapprehension, that it was regarded as being necessary to proceed through the two Houses of Parliament according to the regular method. But we have had plenty of experience of these Bills now, and I venture to suggest, in connection with the changes which the Government propose to make, that that restriction should be cancelled. There is also another restriction to the effect that application can be made to the Chairman of Committees by any person interested in one of these Measures, who can claim to have the Bill heard before Parliament instead of under the Provisional Order system, either on the ground of its magnitude or because it raises a new principle. We have had a deal of experience of that particular restriction, and I hope that the Government now will propose to 250 allow far more Measures to proceed by Provisional Order than has hitherto been the case, and that they will to the fullest extent take away this discretion upon the part of the Chairman of Committees and allow practically everything to be heard in Scotland. It will enable the process to be made very much cheaper, and it will also have this result: Many people of very small means will be able to make their representations in Scotland which they have not the wealth to make before committees in Westminster. These are remedies which, I think, are immediately called for, and with which, I am glad to think, the Government are dealing.
There is another matter which, I think, would be a question of legislation which I would like to bring before the House. I do not know whether anybody realises the vast amount of work that comes before the Secretary of State for Scotland. He is, indeed, a, Cabinet in himself. He has got to do for Scotland what the whole Cabinet has to do for the rest of the country, and I think that he ought to have more assistance. At the present time he has got one Under-Secretary. Scotland is not unduly remunerated in this respect by the munificence of the Imperial Parliament. The Secretary of State has still the salary of a junior Minister, 22,000 a year, instead of £5,000 which is paid to every other Secretary of State. [Interruption.] I think I am right in my figure. With the Secretary of State for Scotland so poorly remunerated, it would not he a great strain upon the generosity of Parliament to ask that another £1,200 or £1,000 a year should be paid to an Under-Secretary, who would relieve him of part of the very onerous duties which he has to perform. It seems to me that an Under-Secretary for Agriculture and Fisheries alone would have plenty to do in dealing with Scottish affairs, and the other Under-Secretary could look after the other matters. At any rate, it seems to me that that is a reform which might readily be granted at the present time.
May I suggest something more? There is, in my view, far too much of the departmental work of Scotland done in Whitehall. I think that these Departments ought to be more accessible to the people concerned in their operation, and that really, in general principle, there should be retained at Whitehall only that 251 kind of Department which is necessary for the Parliamentary side of their proceedings. There should be concentrated in Edinburgh—I say boldly "in Edinburgh"—all the main work of the Departments which look after the business of Scotland. What is the condition of those Departments at the present time? I do not think that the House has any realisation of the difficulties under which Scottish business has to be conducted. The Secretary of State for Scotland has in Edinburgh a, dark room in the buildings of the Courts, and I venture to say that every delegation that goes to the Secretary of State gets a very poor impression of the amount of dignity which is accorded to him by the Imperial Parliament. And the Under-Secretary has to share the room with him! So far as the Departments are concerned, they are spread over the town, with long distances between some of the buildings. If you have to go to more than one, you must travel through various streets to get at them. I say that this is not only bad for business, but it is unworthy of the dignity of Scotland.
I hope that the Government will now take in hand the building of a suitable edifice which will accommodate all the Departments engaged in Scottish business, and which will also provide suitable accommodation for the Secretary of State. There is a site which is free and available for the purpose—the Calton site —and plans were prepared for some such building, but difficulties were made by a society of architects with regard to the type of building proposed to be erected and it has not gone on. I should like to be assured by the Secretary of State for Scotland that the erection of such a building is now in contemplation. It is a suitable time to undertake the work. It is something which must be done sooner or later, and this time of distress, when people are out of work, is a suitable opportunity for building that accommodation which Scotland undoubtedly requires. I have only sketched some of the devices which I think that the Government might adopt at the present time, not only to make the conduct of Scottish business much more easy, but also to give the impression of Scotland's position in this Kingdom which it deserves.
252 May I refer to two more suggestions? One is that the Office of Works should not be confined entirely to this part of the island, and that there should be in Scotland a Scottish Office of Works. There is no reason why there should not be. There is no difficulty so far as administration is concerned and the Department is not legislative. If there were a Scottish Office of Works the two offices would not cut across each other, and they could always have liaison arrangements by which they could purchase the materials they required on the best possible terms. There ought undoubtedly to be a co-relative portion of the Office of Works in Scotland which would employ Scottish people and give consideration to the claims of Scottish architects. The other thing which is in my mind is that factory inspections are done from the Home Office both for England and Scotland. I do not think that the Home Office is the proper place for the Factory inspection Department; it ought to be in the Ministry of Health. I hope that a reorganisation will be made by which both in England and Scotland the Health Department will undertake the factory inspection. If that be done, the Health Department, which is already an entirely separate office in Scotland, would have the duty of looking after the inspection of factories in Scotland.
I do not want to weary the House with a long dissertation upon the operations that might be undertaken by the Government, but I have given a sketch of a few which might now be taken up with great benefit to the administration of Scottish business. 1 have been speaking to the House with candour and in a matter of fact way upon a question which, I must confess, is very near my heart. I do not profess any less passion for my native land than those candidates for Parliament who in the Lowlands of Scotland go to their meetings in a kilt to the playing of bagpipes. In my view, that does not do anything to enliven patriotic sentiment in Scotland. I am sure that we are all anxious to do our best for our native country. I am so convinced that all the projects for a separate Scottish Parliament would so weaken our influence in this House where Scotsmen play a very prominent part, and so lessen our prestige throughout the world, that I would give the last 253 ounce of my strength to fight it. I believe that in this battle I should have the great majority of my countrymen at my side.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I am about to perform what is perhaps the most delicate task that falls to a Member of Parliament who does not represent a Scottish division, that is, to take part in a Debate where Scottish problems only are under discussion. I venture to do it because I am in a rather favourable position to consider some of the suggestions made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne). I should like right away to inform him of the impression which his speech made upon my mind. It looks to me as if the Tory party in Scotland is afraid of the Nationalist movement in that country, and that the right hon. Gentleman is doing his level best to make his own seat safe at the next general election. The right hon. Gentleman has made some astonishing statements in his speech. He is one of the leading supporters of the Government who favour economy on all hands, and yet he now wants public relief works in Edinburgh and more Ministers for Scotland provided of course the money goes to Scottish pockets. That is an extraordinary state of affairs.
I have great sympathy with the desire for devolution, but every argument that the right hon. Gentleman employs and which the Scottish National party may employ in favour of devolution for Scotland can easily be multiplied many times over in favour of devolution for Wales. Whenever the right hon. Gentleman or his friends argue in favour of Home Rule for Scotland, they will find at once a claim justly made, not only for Wales, but for England too. In this connection it must be remembered that I am an Englishman for political purposes. Let me analyse what the right hon. Gentleman has just propounded. I want first to make a protest. We have to confine ourselves to this Home Rule issue because the right hon. Gentleman opened the Debate with it, but the subject is very remote from the actual facts of life. There is not a single Member for Scotland or Wales, however clamant he may be for devolution, who can for a moment say that Home Rule for either Scotland or Wales is an imminent issue. It cannot, 254 at any rate, be compared in importance with our industrial and economic issues. I am astonished at the right hon. Gentleman, to whom I have paid tribute more than once for his grasp of financial and economic affairs, that he should come to the House and ask Parliament to spend a day on an issue of this kind merely because he is afraid of Mr. Cunninghame Graham and the Duke of Montrose.
While I feel keenly for Welsh Nationalism I have often wondered what makes a people into a nation. I spent three weeks in the Balkans recently studying the conditions of the 14,000,000 Yugo-Slav people who were thrown together under a Peace Treaty at the conclusion of the War. There are together, under one regime, Macedonians, Turks, Gypsies, Croats, Montenegrins and Serbs. I always thought that language had a great deal to do with nationality. If we are to have a scheme of devolution, Wales has ten thousand times more claim on the score of language than Scotland. Wales has, at any rate, retained its language. There are three of us on this Front Bench now who can speak the Welsh tongue. I doubt on the other hand if there is a single Member from Scotland who can speak anything but English. I thought once that the culture of a nation determined its nationality, and that religion—whether a people belonged to the Greek Orthodox Church, the Protestant or the Roman Catholic Church—was another important factor. I was disillusioned. I have come to the conclusion that the foundation of nationality rests neither on religion, language nor culture. The best description of the qualities of nationhood appeared in a newspaper the other day:A nation is a people who believe that they have done great things together in the past, and who believe, too, that they can do bigger things together in the future.That seems to me an admirable summing up of the meaning of nationality. If I ask hon. Members for Scotland whether they have done great things together in the past, they would all probably say "Yes." But I wonder if they are capable of doing as big things together in future as they have done in the past?
Not only do Scottish Members want to establish a Parliament in Edinburgh 255 or Aberdeen, but they want representation here as well. Those who represent English constituencies would never allow that. I have often wondered why the Scottish people complain so much that they are not getting a square deal at the hands of our Parliament. I have been looking at the records of the present Government. There is not a single representative from Wales in the present Cabinet, but there are three and a-half Scotsmen, the half being the Prime Minister—he represents an English constituency.
I must pay this tribute to the Scots quite sincerely; they undoubtedly have a better conception of what intellectual attainments mean to the youth of their country than have the folk across the Border. Their desire for a higher standard of education is proverbial, but they must not forget that quite as keen a desire can be found among the people of Wales. Hon. Gentlemen who care to note the figures of the number of boys and girls in the secondary schools of Wales and in England will find that the contrast provides a remarkable indication of the difference in outlook on education in the two countries. I must add that the difference between Scotland and England is also very marked. We have one thing in Wales which the Scottish people have not yet achieved. We close all our public houses on Sundays—and there are some Welsh people who would close them every day of the week. There is a difference, therefore, between these three separate peoples living in these islands.
I would conclude what I am saying on this point by warning the right hon. Gentleman that one claim which has been advanced in the propaganda for devolution for Scotland and Wales has fallen completely to the ground. I have been a member of the Select Committee on Procedure in this House, and that claim for devolution was put forward there by many witnesses in this way. They said: "The Parliamentary machine is clogged in the House of Commons. The Rules of the House are not flexible enough to express the will of Parliament itself. We must, therefore, send all Scottish business to a Scottish Parliament, and all the business that pertains to Wales ought to go to a Welsh Parliament, in order to 256 relieve the congestion in this House." The answer to that is a very good one, and, in my view, it is a conclusive answer. When the Irish people were represented in this Parliament it was similarly held that if they could have a Parliament of their own and went home to transact their own affairs the congestion in this House would be relieved, but as a matter of fact there has been no difference whatsoever, since the establishment of a Parliament for Southern Ireland, in the pressure of business on this House of Commons. There is one thing, however, which I wish to say in a whisper as it were, that I for one would consider this House to be a very dull place indeed if we were without a single Scotsman. Whilst I agree that on cultural, historical, and even on religious grounds there is a strong case to be made for devolution both for Scotland and for Wales—and for England too—with a federal Parliament transacting the whole of the business common to the three communities, I would like to tell the right hon. Gentleman that his speech on this subject this afternoon, by comparison with the bigger problems which are confronting us to-day, was nothing but a mockery.
Before the right hon. Gentleman came to the subject of Scotland he seemed to traverse the whole of the United States, and as he was entitled to deal with the United States, with debts and with the monetary question I may he forgiven if I say a word or two on issues that are dearer to some of us than devolution for Scotland or Wales. I am very sorry that the Government have not seen fit to deal with some of the problems which are of fundamental importance to our people. After all, the vast majority of our folk care little about the abstract principles of which the right hon. Gentleman has spoken. What hope have the men and women working in factories, in coal mines and workshops, in the fields and on the farms, of getting anything out of this Ring's Speech? There is nothing about a 48-hour working week, nothing about a Factories Bill, nothing about the tendency which is growing all over the land to destroy the six-day working week. It would astonish hon. Gentlemen if I told them of the growth of Sunday trading among some sections of the community in this country; it is literally appalling.
Those of us who are interested in some of these questions thought that the Gov 257 ernment would, in the King's Speech, have implemented the report of the Select Committee on the Conditions of Life in Shops. In this Debate many hon. Gentlemen have talked about agriculture, a large and important industry, others have dealt with coal mining, shipbuilding, transport and the rest, but perhaps it is not generally known that the largest single industry in this country is that of the distributive trades. It employs nearly 2,000,000 people, twice as many as are engaged in agriculture and twice as many as in the mining industry. The vast majority of those people have looked to Parliament ever since the time of the late Sir Charles Dilke, a quarter of a century ago, to maintain decent conditions of employment for them, and on behalf of those who take an interest in this section of our industrial population I must say that we are sorry the Government have completely left them out in the cold.
Let me pass to something else. This King's Speech is one of the most puny and puerile documents I have seen during the 11 years I have been a Member of Parliament; but however weak and disappointing it is the speech of the Prime Minister the other day was really appalling in the extreme. I have begun to wonder what is wrong with the Prime Minister, and 1 hope hon. Gentlemen will pardon me when I say that in my view his political soul is in bondage. He cannot speak as he used to do. He is preaching to-day a gospel quite contrary to that which he preached for about 30 years. He is manacled to the capitalist system, which he has denounced for more than a quarter of a century, and I was not in the least astonised to see that hon. Gentlemen belonging to the Liberal party and the Tory party were as disgusted with his effort during this Debate as we were. I cannot conceive that the whole of this Session is to be devoted exclusively to the two or three problems mentioned in the King's Speech, and I would like the Government to let us know whether it is at all possible to take any action on the lines of the recommendations of the Select Committee on the Conditions of Life in Shops.
Then I must mention the growth of tote clubs in this country and of dog-racing tracks too. I come now to points that are entirely non-partisan, and I feel 258 sure that every Member will agree with me when I say it would be a calamity for our country if the tote club business were allowed to develop. I hope that all of us, to whatever party we may belong, will set our teeth against the undermining of the morale of our people by those clubs. I ought to say by way of parenthesis that it seems to me the only flourishing industries in this country at the moment are tote clubs and dog-racing tracks. That is a terrible thing to say. I do not blame the Government entirely—
§ Mr. DAVIES
Yes, and dirt track racing too. These are not partisan questions, and I am a little astonished that the Government have not included something about tote clubs and dog-racing tracks in their programme of legislation. I would point out that local authorities have no power to prevent the construction of clog-racing tracks within their boundaries. They have some power over some areas which are subject to town planning, but where industrial districts are already in existence they seem to have no power to prevent the construction of dog-racing tracks. In Manchester the other day a company asked the city council for permission to construct a dog-racing track in one quarter of the town. The council unanimously turned down the request, but there is no law behind the city council to support their decision. I would like the Government to look into this problem.
I would finish by saying how very pleased I was to find the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) commenting so well on the subject of the League of Nations and its work. It was very pleasing, coming from him above all people. I have very little knowledge of international affairs; I am quite a novice in those great issues. But it has impressed itself upon my mind that Members of the House as a whole are not conversant with what is happening in Central Europe at this moment. Unless I am gravely mistaken, the country that provided the first shot in the last war may very soon provide the first shot in the next war, and that is Yugo-Slavia. I would like the Foreign Secretary, as representing our Government, to keep his 259 ear to the ground and to watch the Balkans once again. I trust he will urge the League of Nations to do something else, to see that the Powers which drew up the Treaties which threw those peoples together into new States in Central Europe shall secure that those Treaties are carried into effect, instead of allowing the peoples in those new territories to quarrel among themselves, lest at some time soon we see a rising once more of one of those small nations against the other.
I also support the League of Nations. I know that criticisms are brought against it, but however, weak the League may be, however difficult its task, I hesitate to think of Europe without a League of Nations at all. Before I sit down may I say this about war as a whole? It is an observation which was made the other day by an old gentleman standing at the Cenotaph, and I cannot close my speech with a better quotation. When the two minutes' silence was over he turned round to a, friend and said, "This silence, my son, is as nothing compared with the silence that will follow the next war."
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHAN
I shall not follow the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down in the many topics which he has raised in his interesting speech. I propose to return to Scotland. His observations seemed to me to bear out, on the whole, the arguments which were used by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) who expounded with great moderation the difficulties in the way of any scheme for a separate Scottish Parliament. That question is a very old question. Those who turn to the second volume of Professor Trevelyan's "History of Queen Anne's Reign" will find that in 1707 all those modern arguments were brought up against the union. I am not proposing to retrace the ground which my right hon. Friend has so amply covered. I would only add one point to his case. We are told that Scottish business is swamped in this House because of the numerical inferiority of Scottish Members. If you had a parliament in Edinburgh, in a year or two you would have exactly the same complaint from the point of view of the Highlands, which would have only about 12 per cent. of the representation and would be entirely at 260 the mercy of an enormous Lowland majority representing different interests. No, however much you may subdivide representative institutions, you will always be met at every stage by the complaint of minorities.
It is easy enough to pull to pieces any scheme put forward for Scottish Home Rule. Whenever the proposer of a novelty is forced to come down to particulars, he is in a difficult position. But when you have driven your most stately coach-and-four through those schemes you have not solved the problem. It is to the fundamentals of that problem that I would ask this House to turn its attention for a very few minutes. I would ask especially two questions: What is the exact nature of this sentiment of dissatisfaction which is behind the Scottish movement What element of substance and of value is there in that sentiment?
First, let me say that many arguments brought against Scottish Home Rule are merely foolish. We are told sometimes that a Scottish Parliament would be a fiasco and that it would be a kind of enlarged, noisy, incompetent town council. What earthly warrant is there for that view? The Scottish people, with a long tradition of democracy in their bones, are at least as capable of running a parliament successfully as any other race. Moreover, we all know that there is in Scotland to-day a great deal of public spirit and administrative ability which, for various reasons, cannot find an outlet in this Parliament, but might, in a domestic legislature.
Let us get rid also, once for all, of the absurd argument that because Scotsmen are successful in England and in the Empire and take a large part in their maintenance, it does not matter what happens to Scotland. It is not with what Scotsmen outside are doing that we are concerned, but with Scotland herself. That argument misses the whole point. Many people believe, rightly or wrongly, that there is a danger of Scotland sinking to the position of a mere Northern province of England. Finally, there is the argument, not so often put into words, but which I think lies at the back of the minds of a good many people. It is what I would call the genteel argument. They think that Scotland is, after all, only a province, that Scottish affairs are provincial, and that it is out of date 261 and a little vulgar to fuss too much about minor local attachments. I do not think we need bother about that class of person, the class who are quick to discard honest local loyalties, and who would fail to be citizens of the world, but are only waifs.
I believe that every Scotsman should be a Scottish Nationalist. If it could he proved that a separate Scottish Parliament were desirable, that is to say that the merits were greater than the disadvantages and dangers, Scotsmen should support it. I would go further. Even if it were not proved desirable, if it could be proved to be desired by any substantial majority of the Scottish people, then Scotland should be allowed to make the experiment, and I do not believe that, England would desire for one moment to stand in the way.
I turn to my first question, as to the nature of and the reason for this feeling that something must be done, and done soon, if Scotland is not to lose its historic individuality. All is not well with our country. Our population is declining; we are losing some of the best of our race stock by migration and their place is being taken by those who, whatever their merits, are not Scottish. I understand that every fifth child born now in Scotland is an Irish Roman Catholic.
§ Mr. BUCHAN
I am not responsible for it; but it was given to me by a careful inquirer. Our rural population is shrinking, and many of our industries are decaying. Our ancient system of law and justice is not what it was. Our Churches, perhaps, have no longer the same hold upon the hearts of the people. In language, literature and art we are losing our idiom, and, it seems to many, that we are in danger very soon of reaching the point where Scotland will have nothing distinctive to show to the world. Many of those misfortunes are shared with England and indeed with the whose earth, but some are special to Scotland. Those statements are based upon facts, though they may sometimes be too highly coloured, and the fear which springs from them is an honourable fear. Far be it from me to decry it.
262 Who are those who feel this alarm for the future of Scotland? In the first place it is chiefly the youth of Scotland. Do not let us despise it or call it a whim of hobbledehoys; the temper and the spirit of youth are an influence that we cannot ever afford to disregard. As a University Member I have had opportunities of coming a good deal into touch with the younger generation of Scotsmen and Scotswomen, and I have been at some pains to try to discover what sections exactly were infected with this dissatisfaction. There is the crank, with whom we need not concern ourselves. If he were not a, Scottish Nationalist, he would be a Communist or a Fascist or some other extravagance. Then there is a considerable section of young people who are Nationalists on romantic, historical or literary grounds. That is a respectable type. You may say that that is only a phase with them, and that it will pass. Yes, but it is also found among young people who are hard-headed, ambitious and practical; who are shaping out for themselves careers in medicine, law and business. Very few of that class would agree for a moment to any of the schemes of Home Rule at present put forward, but they all feel the dissatisfaction. They all believe that much is wrong with Scotland, and that it is the business of Scotsmen to put it right.
That feeling has spread also to certain classes who have long left their youth behind. The discontent of some of the small burghs with the Local Government Act of 1929 has caused many worthy people, to whom Home Rule would otherwise be anathema, to question in unmeasured terms the wisdom of the whole present system. The feeling has probably not gone far among the working class. They have grimmer things to think about. On the whole it has not affected the business community to any large extent. But it has infected a very important class who do a good deal of the thinking of the nation. I would have this House remember that it is not any scheme put forward that matters. Those schemes may be crude and foolish enough in all conscience. It is the instinct behind that matters, and unless we face that instinct honestly and fairly we may drive it underground, and presently it will appear in some irrational and dangerous form.
263 The main force clearly in the movement is what might be called the cultural force, the desire that Scotland shall not lose her historic personality. I am afraid that people in cultural movements are always apt to run to machinery for a solution. Machinery will never effect a cultural revival. I would remind the House that the greatest moment in Scottish literary and artistic history was at the end of the eighteenth century when Scotland was under the iron heel of Henry Dundas. To imagine that a cultural revival will gush from the establishment of a separate legislature is like digging a well without making an inquiry into the presence of water-bearing strata. Still institutions do play a part in cultural life, and machinery cannot be disregarded. I would ask the House to consider whether, inside the present system, it is not possible to devise reforms which will not only be defensible on the grounds of greater efficiency, but will do much to satisfy a legitimate national pride, and to intensify that consciousness of individuality and idiom, which is what is meant, or at least is what I mean, by national spirit.
My right hon. Friend has outlined a number of changes within the four walls of the present system. I would go a little further, and suggest that there are three main headings which our policy might take. In the first place, there are questions of pure machinery. There is the question of Private Bill procedure referred to in the Gracious Speech. Then we should get rid once and for all of the entirely indefensible system of "tacking'—tacking Scotland on to English Measures in one or two interpretation Clauses, which are usually obscure, and sometimes quite impossible to construe. Agriculture, education and health are already administered in Scotland, and I think that the other problems of Scottish administration should be administered from Edinburgh, and that Whitehall should be no more than a London office for the Scottish Secretary. Again, the salaries of Scottish civil servants should be revised to bring them to the level of those of the greatest Departments of State, and so to attract the best men to the Service. Scottish administration should not be regarded as a backwater, but as one of the main currents of the 264 stream. I give these as examples—I could give many more—of reforms, some trivial, some important, which would do a great deal to convince Scotland that she was not regarded as a mere Department like the Department of Health or the Department of Labour, but as a sister nation, with her own compact and organic system of Government.
But efficiency is not the only thing to aim at, and machinery is not the only thing that matters. In spite of our reputation as a hard-headed and impassive race, everyone knows that we are highly susceptible, that we have a great affection for the colour and the spectacular side of life. We want a visible proof of our nationhood. If I may say so with profound respect, the recent frequent visits of their Majesties to Holyrood have done an enormous amount in that direction. I think we ought to do more. The Secretary of State for Scotland at this moment, as my right hon. Friend has told us, has no proper local habitation, just a back room in the Parliament House, and I do not think the Under-Secretary even has a desk. If we created in one building or in one area a dignified and worthy centre of Scottish administration, we should do a great deal to enlist Scotland's interest in her own administration. Glorify Edinburgh as against Whitehall, raise Scottish salaries to national and not provincial scales, provide a worthy home for your Scottish Secretary, and you do something which is not only the logical consequence of Scotland's constitutional position, but would be an outward and visible sign of Scotland's nationhood.
There is a third point which is more important still. We want a Scottish policy. We have never had one; we have only had a policy tacked on to English policies in a Clause or two which my hon. Friends must have thought to be peppered with unintelligible jargon. While agriculture, education, health and other branches have many points in their problems which are common to English problems, they have many which -are individual and idiomatic. The mere fact that Scotland is constitutionally to a large degree a distinct unit gives us a chance of planning ahead in Scotland in a way that is not possible for any other part of Britain. The Scottish National. Development Council is an excellent 265 thing, but it will never succeed without a big backing from Parliament. Our ancient system of education has in some ways declined, and we want the opportunity to plan ahead to improve it, realising that it is something wholly different from the system in England. I want to see Scottish Members, over and above their particular party affiliations, regarding themselves as a Scottish party who will treat Scottish matters purely from the point of view of Scotland's interest. We shall quarrel among ourselves; we shall differ violently; but we shall always differ on Scottish lines. I do not, of course, mean to suggest that there should be an overriding loyalty. It would be a bad day for Scotland if Scottish Members ever came to support a Measure which was for the moment good for Scotland, but was demonstrably bad for England, or the Empire, or the world. In that case it would in the long run be bad for Scotland. I do not, therefore, suggest an overriding loyalty, an overriding interest, but a determination that Scottish affairs shall be a first charge upon their care and attention.
The conclusion to which I have been forced is that, real as the needs are, to attempt to meet them by creating an elaborate independent legislature would be more than those needs require. Such a top-heavy structure would not cure Scotland's ills; it would intensify them. It would create artificial differences, hinder co-operation, and engender friction if we attempted to split up services which Scotland has had in common with England for 200 years. Today the industrial problems of all Britain are closely related, and, if we attempt to localise them, we shall lay the axe to the root of all healthy development. It is our business to realise that, while Scotland is a nation in a true sense, she is also a nation in the closest corporate alliance with her Southern neighbour in most practical matters, and to attempt to separate them would be a costly blunder. I do not believe, and no Scotsman believes, in spending money without a proper return. Further, I believe that it would produce a far more sinister result —it would check the hope of that true material and spiritual development which Scotland needs, by turning her attention from the things which really matter to the barren task of working a clumsy and unnecessary machine.
266 The arguments of those who desire a separate legislature for Scotland would have been more effective 50 years ago, for 50 years ago people still believed that the one cure for all our troubles was what they called the antiseptic of self-government. They thought that a Parliament was a panacea for every disease of the body politic. Do we quite believe that to-day? We have seen, in many parts of the globe, Parliamentary institutions falling into disrepute. I have not lost my faith in Parliament; I have not lost my faith in democracy; but we realise to-day as never before that there is no magical efficacy in a Parliament—that it all depends on how it is handled, and what conditions we desire to meet. A Parliament mishandled, a Parliament which is more than the conditions require, would not be a sedative for our troubles; it would be an irritant. Moreover, I think we have learned to-day as never before the evils of a too narrow nationalism. I believe as firmly as ever that a sane nationalism is necessary for all true peace and prosperity, but I am equally clear, and I think we all agree to-day, that an artificial nationalism, which manifests itself in a barren separatism and in the manufacture of artificial differences, makes for neither peace nor prosperity.
But the problem is insistent, and must be faced. I believe that the kind of reforms which I have tried to sketch, and which my right hon. Friend has sketched, would meet what is sane and honest in the present movement—and there is in that movement a great deal that is both honest and sane. In the future it may be necessary to go further; I do not know; I have no gift of prophecy. But if we assert our national individuality, and give it a visible form in our administration, at any rate we are creating a foundation on which can be built any structure which the needs of the future may require.
May I be allowed to say one word to my friends who regard this whole question as trivial—trivial compared with the great economic problems with which we are faced to-day? I do not deny for a moment the gravity of these other problems, but, believe me, this question is not trivial; it goes to the very root of the future not only of Scotland but of Britain and of the Empire. Britain cannot afford, the Empire cannot afford, I 267 do not think the world can afford, a denationalised Scotland. In Sir Walter Scott's famous words,If you un-Scotch us, you will make us damned mischievous Englishmen.We do not want to be, like the Greeks, powerful and prosperous wherever we settle, but with a dead Greece behind us. We do not want to be like the Jews of the Dispersion—a potent force everywhere on the globe, but with no Jerusalem.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ Major Sir ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR
I feel no little diffidence in breaking into a Debate which has been distinguished by three such brilliant speeches as those to which we have just listened, and in intending, as I do, to give to the Debate a slight twist away from the line which up to now has been followed. We have listened to these three speeches, each of them remarkable and impressive, with interest and instruction, but at the same time, in the case of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), not without entertainment at hearing him, a Welsh Member for an English constituency, discussing the question of Scottish Home Rule. I was, however, struck by one observation that he made. It struck a responsive note in my own mind, and it is my justification for the course I propose to adopt in my speech. Important as I believe the question of Scottish Home Rule to be—and I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) that it is a vitally important and fundamental question—it is not, to my mind, so immediate and urgent, and does not at the moment grip me in the same way, as the question of unemployment and the appalling conditions of so many of our fellow-countrymen at home, in my own town, in my own county, and in all parts of Scotland.
It is not particularly a Scottish problem. Of course, it is not particularly a British problem. It is a world problem, and it can only be handled effectively by the proper handling of large issues of world policy. But, even if we had a trade recovery to-morrow, and even if it proceeded at a rate greater than any of us would now venture to prophecy, the symptoms alone would leave behind a scar which would mark the life of our 268 country for many a long year to come. Unemployment is bad in Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) has said it is worse in some parts of England but, taking Scotland by and large, and not measuring one district in one country against another district in the other, it is certainly even more serious in Scotland than in England.
I do not wish to twist the subject of the Debate so far as to deal with the fundamental issues of policy which lie at the roots of the disease of world depression. I am going to deal merely with the symptoms of unemployment. I realise that it is our duty to try to bring home to the people that they should concentrate their attention largely upon those fundamental issues, and that it is useless to propose remedies for the symptoms of unemployment which would themselves aggravate the disease of trade depression. Having said that, and keeping it always in mind, I would suggest that we have reached a point at which the frustration of young men and women leaving school and going out fully equipped for life, the moral and physical deterioration, the loss of skill and habits of work and discipline and the aggregate of human misery caused by unemployment are threatening to cripple our powers of industrial recuperation even when trade revives, and to infect our social organism with the germs of revolutionary desperation. The vagueness of the reference in the Gracious Speech from the Throne to the subject must have struck a chill into the hearts of many who supported the National Government at the last election. This question of unemployment is the crux of all our domestic problems. We have balanced the Budget, we have restored the national credit, we have converted the War Loan, and we have lowered the price of money. How are the Government going to use these advantages to stop the rot that is afflicting the minds and bodies of scores of thousands of our fellow-countrymen?
The first direction in which I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to turn his eyes is in the direction of the land. I do not want to repeat the speech that I made in introducing the Estimates for the Department of Agriculture a few months ago. A ruthless pruning of expenditure, even on land settlement, was essential until the finances of the country had been 269 restored. I have never, either before I entered the Government or while I was in it, failed to take every opportunity of arguing the case for land settlement in Scotland. Now there is a great opportunity. Land is cheap, stock is cheap, money is cheap, and thousands of men are hungering for land. There are two great weaknesses in the structure of our agriculture at present. The first is the breakdown of the landowning system, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Sir F. Acland) drew attention yesterday and to which the present Minister of Education, when Minister of Agriculture, drew attention in one of the last speeches he made as Minister of Agriculture to his constituents at Boroughbridge about seven years ago, a breakdown which leaves industry drained of the capital which it needs for the energetic exploitation of scientific discovery and for its adaptation to changing economic conditions.
The second weakness—that is the one that is relevant to the argument that I am addressing to the House—is the absence of a peasantry. How many times has the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) pointed out that countries like France and Germany, and small industrialised densely populated Free Trade countries like Belgium and Holland, have from two to four times the number of men upon the land in proportion to population that we have. And he is right. Now is the time to repair those weaknesses, and the instrument is at hand in the Land Utilisation Act. The smallholders show a stronger resistance in times of adversity than any other category of farmers. The percentage of failures, including the men settled 10 years ago, at the height of the boom in prices in 1921, when admittedly the rate of failures was exceptionally high—in all the years since the War the rate of failures is only 6.2 per cent. in the aggregate. Nor is it true that you must only have countrymen settled. The successes include miners, cabinet makers, blacksmiths, tailors and many others, men quite untrained for agriculture and not even country bred. As was shown in the investigation made by the Society of Friends, there are scores of men in the mining industry who have only recently gone into it and are longing to get back to the land. 270 Of course, such a policy presents difficulties of finance, and it is to those difficulties that I wish now to address myself. Any scheme for dealing with the symptoms of unemployment, if it is not to do more harm than good, must not be such as to aggravate the disease of trade depression. That implies the avoidance of wasteful and unremunerative expenditure which will increase the burdens upon industry of rates and. taxes. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs said the other day that you could do this thing without putting a burden on the taxpayer, many Members laughed, but he was quite right. The argument is very often loosely and wrongly used that the cost of unemployment benefit can be deducted from the cost of public work. It is always to be remembered that, if you spend £1,000,000 on a particular public work and you employ 4,000 men for a year, at the end of that lime, unless they can be reabsorbed naturally into industry, or unless you can give them some other public work at the cost of fresh expenditure, you have to go on paying their benefit and for 40, 60 or 80 years or whatever it may be you have, in addition, to pay interest and sinking fund on your £1,000,000 loan, which is only adding another burden of rates and taxes on the back of industry. But, if the public work is remunerative, then, out of the income that you are receiving for the use of that work, you can pay your loan charges and there is no addition to rates and taxes, and the whole transaction is to the benefit of unemployment and to the enrichment of the country.
Now let us apply these principles to the problem of land settlement. To settle a man on a family farm cost on the average last summer £1,137. This is one of the chief types of farm, of 30 to 50 acres with outrun or a share in sheep stock club, which we need in the Highlands to repopulate our glens and straths and settle the people there. That work is work of vital social importance. I have pressed it always upon successive Secretaries of State for Scotland. I hope the present Secretary of State will be able to give us an assurance that that work will continue. But it is not unemployment relief. The net cost to the State of settling a man on a 10-acre market garden holding was £685 last June or on a holding of the same size 271 with pigs and poultry, £602. This is not the preliminary cost but the net cost allowing for outgoings, rent, and loan charges. A market garden cost the State only £453 while a poultry holding cost only £444. Yet on such holdings in suitable places smallholders are earning a livelihood and maintaining their families. It costs the State to maintain in idleness a family consisting of man, wife and three children no less than £76 a year. In six years the State will have paid out, in order to keep that family in soul-destroying idleness, no less than £456, more than it would have cost, even at the prices of last June including the price at which you had then to borrow money, to settle them permanently on a four acre market garden or poultry holding. Moreover, they would be bringing up their children well. Their life would be healthy and their souls contented and they would be giving employment to others. Here is the choice that I put to the right hon. Gentleman. Will he spend, on these June figures, £453 or £444 on either of these two types of holding to produce this result in perpetuity or £456 in doles for six years and, if the man is not reabsorbed into industry, still more doles?
Of course, it must be remembered that, if land settlement is to proceed on a large scale—it is provided for in the Land Utilisation Act—there must be advances of capital to enable men who have no capital of their own to equip their holdings. This will add to the preliminary cost of the scheme but should not add to the ultimate net cost to the State. On the other hand, the situation has changed in two respects which are favourable to a scheme of land settlement since last June. In the first place, money can be borrowed more cheaply, which must bring the net cost of a 10-acre holding with pigs and poultry well below £600 and, of course, the cost of the 2685holding would come down proportionately. In the second place, we have received the report of the Unemployment Insurance Commission. They made it clear that we cannot go on thinking that we can merely afford to pay unemployment and transitional benefit to these men. The majority report says:This should be made clear at once, that no solution of the problem is possible unless the community is willing to spend a 272 good deal of money on this service. For our part, we think that the expenditure is well worth while, that it is indeed an essential part of the provision for unemployed workers.If the amount of money required for training is taken into account—and it is stated in the report of the Commission that the minimum sum for occupational training only is £15 for a nine weeks course in one year—if you allow the unemployed man only one course of nine weeks in each of those six years, there is another £90 to be added to the cost of his maintenance. Therefore you have brought up the cost of the maintenance to £540. You have got it into the region where perhaps all those four types of holdings and certainly three of them will become a defensible financial proposition for the State, and, incidentally, make a difference between useful, happy, productive work, permanent for a man and his family, and doles going on indefinitely until these men are eventually absorbed into industry. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to realise that every consideration points the same way. The most economic organisation of agriculture, the re-enforcement of our social structure—we remember the phrase which the Lord President of the Council used to use, "the balancing factor in our national economy—the health of the people, the interests of the children, and the future of the race seem to point, not in an opposite, but in the same direction as the considerations of finance which lay at the root of the problem of trade depression. The way is clear for action on the lines of land settlement, and I beg of the right hon. Gentleman to take that course.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
It is not for me to say. There is ample evidence in the thousands of applications which the Department of Agriculture have received and have not yet dealt with, in the evidence which they have found whenever they have started to constitute holdings of a latent demand which does not express itself until a scheme is started, and in the inquiry instituted by the Society of Friends into the previous occupation of miners in particular, to show that there are scores of thousands of families willing and anxious to take the land. The only practically limiting factor with which I think we need concern ourselves at the 273 moment is the amount of energy and finance which the Government are pre- pared to put behind the project.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us how many men he put on the land when he was at the Scottish Office?
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
I dealt quite bluntly and frankly with the House in regard to that matter at the beginning of my re- marks. I told the House the position in which we found ourselves. I can tell the hon. Member that within the limits of the money available we went full-steam ahead while I was at the Scottish Office, but at a time when it was necessary to cut down expenditure in order to balance the Budget and to restore the national credit and to get money down to the price at which it can now be obtained, from a 5 per cent. basis to a 3½ per cent. basis, we had certainly to cut—and I defended it at the time—even land settlement. Now, when we have achieved these objects, is the time when we ought to use the advantages which our policy has given us.
But more still must be done. I hope that the right lion. Gentleman will be able to give us an explanation of the announcement which appeared in the Times "this morning about the scheme which the Government are introducing for giving help and providing work of different kinds for the unemployed through the National Council of Social Service. Is there a similar body being constituted in Scotland to co-operate with the right hon. Gentleman in Scotland? What arrangements are being made there, and what money will be available for these purposes there? It is admirable. I notice that the only feature which is absent from the scheme is that there is no mention of playing-fields. I think that there is a direction in which useful employment might be found and that the Government in Scotland could well co-operate in the provision of playing-fields with the National Playing Fields Association. We are greatly behind in the equipment of recreation fields in our Scottish towns and cities and it is very important that they should be extended.
The Prime Minister said the other day in the Debate that local authorities were to be encouraged to embark upon remun- 274 erative expenditure. Good I But equally necessary is it that they should not fall behind with expenditure which may not be remunerative but which is absolutely necessary and the postponement of which would be false economy. One example of that is to be found in dilapidated, insanitary, and overcrowded school buildings, and I hope that, in spite of advice which the right hon. Gentleman may receive from some quarters, he will press on with the reconstruction of such schools and will not leave behind him—for I believe that it will be false economy—a crushing legacy of accumulated arrears to his successor.
I come to the question with which we originally opened the Debate. There are, indeed, as I have pointed out, many directions in which activities in Scotland should be stimulated, and the question is whether the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland, or anyone in his position, would feel that there was a greater impulse behind him and that his hands were being strengthened the more if he had not merely to deal with a House of Commons which naturally regards, or many Members of which, at any rate, are naturally inclined to regard, Scotland as merely one part of the British Isles, and also with a Treasury and with other Government Departments who cannot be expected to regard Scotland as their most important, and certainly not their sole, preoccupation; but if he had behind him a Parliament of Scotsmen whose sole preoccupation was the development of their country and the welfare of its people—I cannot help feeling in matters such as I have been discussing, land settlement, housing and other similar questions, the development of our educational system to which the lion. Member for the Scottish Universities referred, that in all these questions, he would find more powerful support in a Scottish Parliament than necessarily he could find in this Assembly. My right hon. Friend the Member for Hillhead has impressively performed to-night his function of advocatus diaboli, and he and the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities have said that Parliaments are not a cure for unemployment. That is true, and I certainly dissociate myself, if that be necessary, from the arguments which have been used that if you had a Scottish Parliament in Scotland you 275 would immediately be able to abolish unemployment. What is also true is, that there is a demand growing insistently from the Scottish people that they should be given the right, which they believe is theirs inalienably, to control their own domestic affairs.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead and the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities have declared impressively that Scotland is culturally and commercially in a low and distressed state. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was a sense of defeatism in Scotland. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities said that there was a feeling that Scotland had no longer anything distinctive to show. Though it would be no panacea for our ills, and though it would not be able to introduce at once legislation to solve the fundamental questions on which the problem of unemployment depends, a Scottish Parliament might well be able to give a psychological impulse to the Scottish people at the present time. It might well be able to give them a feeling of greater confidence. It might well enable Scotland to draw into its legislative and administrative deliberations the services of Scotsmen, who, engaged as they are in every kind of activity in Scotland, are unable to come here to give their services to Scotland in the House of Commons, but who would give them gladly and willingly for shorter periods of the year in a Scottish Parliament. The control of banking, transport and of many of our industries is moving southwards. The control and the activities of industry as a result of rationalisation in industry and in some departments of the public service, the Rosyth Dockyard for example, are tending to ebb southwards. Scotsmen feel the need of a political and administrative centre in Scotland which will act as a counter-magnet to the attraction of London, as a power-house of Scottish energy directed by Scotsmen familiar with Scottish conditions to the solution of Scottish problems, for the regeneration of their native land.
The legislation passed here, as my hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities said, is often not well adapted for Scotland's conditions. It is sometimes not of the nature most urgently required. The hon. Member for 276 the Scottish Universities referred to what he called the indefensible practice of tacking on to English Bills a Measure for Scotland by means of an obscure and in-comprehensive application Clause. If Scotland in existing circumstances is to get any progressive legislation at all, it is necessary to proceed by means of such a Clause, otherwise legislation for Scotland will lag far behind English legislation. Time is limited. We cannot claim, as long as we are Members of this Assembly-70 Members out of 615—precedence for all our Measures. It means that the English Measure must be introduced, and that if there is time the Scottish Measure will come along.
As long as you have Scottish business dealt with in this House you will have to face that dilemma. Either you have the application Clause in one of its various forms—I think the best form was the form which the Government used in dealing with two Bills in which Scotland was interested last Session, the Housing and Town Planning Bill and the Children Bill—or you must wait for your legislation. There are many things for which Scotland cannot wait. Sometimes there may be things which Scotland wants, but which the Government might say: "That would be a dangerous precedent. If we have that Bill for Scotland we shall have to have another Bill like it for England. It would create all sorts of difficulties for us in England." Therefore Scotland has to go without. The system of tacking on Scottish Measures to English Bills by the Application Clause cannot be abandoned, as long as we are sitting here in this Parliament, without injury to Scotland, and without depriving it of the benefits of the legislation which it requires. The only alternative method for dealing with the situation is to hay e a Scottish Parliament dealing with these questions in Scotland.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Mr. Skelton)
Can the right hon. and gallant Gentleman give the House any idea of the kind of Parliament he has in mind?
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
I am coming to that in a moment. I am going to disappoint my hon. Friend and I will give him reasons why I shall disappoint him. The right hon. Member for Hillhead referred to the need of reinforcing minis- 277 terial control, of lightening the burden upon the Secretary of State for Scotland by providing him with an additional Under-Secretary, and of concentrating Government offices in Edinburgh. The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities suggested increasing the salaries and remuneration of the Scottish civil servants, and bringing them up to the English level. Incidentally, I might say that the Government propose to introduce a measure for improving the method of dealing with Private Bill legislation. All these things are admirable as far as they go, and all of them would be useful in the preparatory work for Scottish Home Rule, but they will never satisfy the demand of the Scottish people, and they are no substitute for Scottish Home Rule at the present time.
Most of my right hon. Friend's arguments were directed against the exaggerated arguments of the separationists. There is no effective demand in Scotland for separation, and I am not going to waste any time in dealing with the absurdity of the demand for Dominion status.
§ Sir R. HORNE
The demand with which I dealt was the demand of the more moderate of the two groups. I did not deal with the other nationalistic view, because a. fortiori the argument against the other applied to them. I dealt with the only programme before Scotland at the present time, which would deal separately in a Scottish Parliament with the finances of Scotland, the trade of Scotland, the postal services of Scotland and the labour of Scotland. It is to these questions that the right hon. Gentleman will have to reply.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
I have a note about the railways. The right hon. Gentleman certainly did attempt to answer arguments which have never been used by moderate Home Rulers. I do not regard the separation argument as an important one, and I do not regard the separation party as a powerful party in Scotland. Therefore, I do not want to spend too much time on it. The right hon. Gentleman did use an argument that a Scottish Parliament would abolish unemployment, 278 an argument which has never been used by moderate Scottish Home Rulers.
Lieut.-Colonel C. MacANDREW
Has not the right hon. Member who is now addressing the House just said that a Scottish Parliament could magnetise things in Scotland?
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
That is not quite the same thing. I was dealing with the argument that a Scottish Parliament would abolish unemployment, and I say that is nonsense. Surely, the hon. and gallant Member agrees with me on that. If so, why does he interrupt? I am now coming to the main argument of the right hon. Member for Hillhead, but I do want to say that there is not much substance in the argument about separation.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I wish to put the right hon. and gallant Gentleman right on this matter. It is one of the reasons put forward for Home Rule in Scotland that they are suffering at the present time worse from unemployment because they are attached to England, and the remedy they offer is the setting up of a Scottish Parliament. That is the argument to which I referred.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
It depends how it is put. If you say that the setting up of a Scottish Parliament will abolish unemployment, or will remove unemployment, and that some people have said that, I say that it is nonsense, and I would never agree to it. If, on the other hand, you say that you are going to give an impetus to Scottish life to have concentrated upon Scottish problems the brains and the intelligence of Scotsmen living in Scotland, acquainted with Scottish conditions, and you say that that is going to do something to strengthen Scotland and to enable it to grapple more effectively with the evils of unemployment, then certainly it is true, and that argument may be used both by the extremists and the moderates. I am not going to deal with the question of Dominion status, which has been mentioned in this Debate. I would never suggest that Scotland should aim at such a humiliating position as Dominion status. We are a mother nation of the Empire, and it is absurd that we should claim the lower status of a daughter nation. The movement of the Nationalists is, as the hon. Member for the Scottish 279 Universities said, a movement largely of youth, joyous inexperienced youth. The Nationalists are the playboys of Scottish politics, as visionary, unpractical and irresponsible as they are romantic, attractive and fervent in their patriotism, numbering in their ranks as they do many of the choicest spirits in Scottish art, literature and oratory.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that not only are the interests of Scottish trade and other interests inextricably intertwined with those of England, but that, for so long as it is possible to look forward, great and fundamental decisions of imperial and international policy which affect the welfare and destiny of every family in Scotland they will be taken in this House. Therefore, if I am to choose between separation or "Dominion status" on the one hand, and the Union as it exists at present, with the hope of administrative reform on the other hand, I should unhesitatingly choose the Union. Fortunately, there is a third and better choice, a measure of Home Rule, which would preserve the representation of Scotland in this Parliament and offer ample safeguards against the rupture of any of the business and commercial ties between the two countries, but which would leave Scotland free to manage its own domestic affairs.
Now I come to the right hon. Gentleman's arguments against that proposal. Re says that it will frighten industry. I agree that separation would frighten industrialists and business men, but there is nothing in this proposal to frighten them. They have not been frightened in Northern Ireland. They are proceeding with their work in Northern Ireland. They are proceeding with their industries perfectly unhampered by the fact that there is a Legislature in Belfast.
§ Sir R. HORNE
Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman seek for Scotland the constitution of Northern Ireland?
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
I think it would certainly satisfy the great mass of Home Rulers in Scotland, but for reasons that I shall give I am not going to specify the particular kind of constitution in detail. That is a matter for Scottish public opinion to decide. Scottish opinion has 280 not ripened to the point at which it is possible to lay down in detail the constitution which is to be advocated.
As regards finance, that is the crux of the question. The right hon. Gentleman said that the proposals of the Home Rulers are very vague. That is their wisdom. [Interruption.] Certainly. What is the good in not being vague, what is the good in being precise, when you have not the facts? I could imagine nothing more foolish. What we want is to get an inquiry about the facts of the financial relationship between the two countries. We must settle down to that earnestly and sincerely, because that is going to be the crux of the Home Rule question. I hope the Government will do something to enable us to get the facts of the financial relationship of the two countries. That the financial problem is soluble has been proved by the case of Northern Ireland.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to transport. He said that the Duke of Montrose had deliberately made a distinction between posts, telegraphs and telephones on the one hand, and transport on the other.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
I think the right hon. Gentleman did make a particular point about transport. At any rate, I am dealing with transport now. In a letter to the "Times" he certainly drew that very distinction. In his letter to the "Times," in one paragraph, he drew the contrast between the Duke of Montrose's proposals in regard to posts, telegraphs and telephones on the one hand, and transport on the other. The answer to that is that posts, telegraphs and telephones are conducted by the General Post Office, based on London. What object would there be in rupturing that organisation? It is working very well throughout the country. There is no great question of policy concerned. No Scotsman would want any other method of delivering letters. You cannot continue to have a General Post Office functioning all over England and Wales as well as Scotland under the control of a Scottish Parliament. It functions in Northern Ireland under the control of the General Post Office but not under the Northern Ireland Parliament. Transport is very different. Take the question of the railway companies. Grouping need not be 281 broken up because you have a Scottish Parliament. Railway lines and steamship lines cross frontiers all over the world. Why on earth, because you are going to put up a frontier for certain very limited purposes between England and Scotland, should you break up the grouping of the railway systems?
But if all the right hon. Gentleman's arguments are sound, if all these difficulties cannot be overcome, what a crime we committed when we drove a frontier across Ireland, inflicting these terrible results by dividing Northern Ireland from Southern Ireland and from England! It does not seem to have dealt a deadly blow at business and commerce in Northern Ireland.
Now I come to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State. He asks: What are my proposals? The limits but not the details are definite. We must not relax our hold on things in this House; on the conduct in this House of national and Imperial affairs. These things are vital, and we must certainly continue to have our share in their control. We are a mother nation in the Empire, we have responsibilities in every part of the Empire which we shall continue to bear, but we can, and we' ought, to have control of our own domestic affairs, in the same way as Northern Ireland and as the Isle of Man, without any serious results to the Empire. [Interruption.] Hon. Members may not have realised that there are five Legislatures in the British Islands, and to add a sixth really would not mean the downfall of the Empire.
I have many friends among those who are opposing Home Rule and many among those who are advocating it. Let me, if I may, without being impertinent address a word of counsel to each. To those who are opposing Home Rule I say that there is a third choice between extreme nationalism and standing on the Union, but I do not know how long that option will remain open. It may be withdrawn. Opinion in Scotland is rising, and if this demand is frustrated the extremists will seize and exploit their opportunity. Instead of adopting a negative attitude, I would suggest that the business interests of Scotland should lend their weight and counsel to those moderate Home Rulers who wish to work out a scheme which will at once satisfy Scottish opinion and at the same time provide ample safe- 282 guards for the business interests of Scotland.
To those of my friends who are supporters of Home Rule I would say that what matters is not Home Rule, and still less—to return to the question of the Under-Secretary of State—any particular form of Home Rule. This is only a means to an end; and the end is the welfare of Scotland. Therefore, what matters is the success of Home Rule in achieving that object. Self-governing institutions need for their success the support of men in every department of Scottish life, representative men and women, and organisations in every branch of national life. We cannot indeed wait until we have converted the right hon. Member for Hillhead. In the first part of his speech he adopted a position of impartial and objective detachment, but in the end he came to talk about fighting to the last gasp against the Home Rule proposals. But we must be prepared to conciliate reasonable and politically unprejudiced Scotsmen. The Prime Minister is committed to the policy of Home Rule. Two years ago he promised an inquiry into the question of Scottish self-government; and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to let us know whether the Government have any plans for such an inquiry in order to elucidate the facts, particularly in relation to finance, which ought to be put before the Scottish electors before the next election.
The business of this House grows increasingly congested. The hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) referred to Ireland, and said that the absence of Irish Members had not relieved the pressure on the business of the House; but does anybody doubt that if we had had the Irish Members here during the last 10 years the congestion of business would have been a great deal worse than in fact it has been I It would he a great advantage to this House, to the Government and to the Empire, if domestic issues were withdrawn from its purview and it was able to concentrate on larger questions of international and imperial policy. The demand undoubtedly exists. The fact that the right hon. Member for Hillhead has raised this Debate is the clearest testimony to its increasing insistence. It is a demand which is right in itself, and if it receives the support of Scotsmen in an in- 283 creasing degree, as it is, it will undoubtedly have to be conceded in some form or other by this House of Commons. Let me remind the House what was said by a famous English Member of this House, Mr. John Pym:That form of Government is best which doth best actuate and dispose every part and member of the State to the common good.It is in that spirit that Scotsmen would work self-government. Their national life would be strengthened and invigorated, and they would be able to make not a less but a greater contribution to the common purposes of our two countries and to the commonwealth to which we both belong.
In conclusion, may I offer to the Secretary of State—I have to do this before he has spoken in the Debate—my congratulations upon his assumption of office? He came to the office with the approval and goodwill of his Scottish colleagues of all parties. The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities said that we ought to try to form ourselves into a Scottish party in dealing with Scottish questions, with something of a feeling of the unity of Scottish interests which would transcend the ordinary barriers of party divisions. In that connection the Secretary of State would naturally be the leader, and it would be the wish of Scottish Members on matters which do not touch upon party politics, and which transcend all party divisions to give him our wholehearted support.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Let me say a word or two first of all about the proposals of the right hon. and gallant Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) in regard to smallholdings. I want to put one or two questions to him which I hope will not be considered impertinent or cheeky. When one hears a speech coming from a man who has held Cabinet rank, the ordinary man is apt to regard him as something exceptional. That is the ordinary view taken by the ordinary man and, therefore, I want to say what I feel about it. The right hon. and gallant Member for Caithness made some criticisms about smallholdings, and my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) interrupted and asked what he had done. Cabinet Ministers seem to be different when 284 sitting on the Front Bench from what they are when sitting where the right hon. and gallant Member is now sitting. Only a few weeks ago I asked the right hon. and gallant Member why he was not giving smallholdings in Scotland—
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
I have been quite frank with the House. We are now faced, as everybody will admit, with a very serious position in the amount of unemployment in Scotland. The Prime Minister has already told the House that he is anxious to encourage remunerative work. It is now possible, as I have shown in the course of my speech, to borrow money at present rates and settle men on the land without putting a strain on the national finances. When I was at the Scottish Office it was not possible to do that, and because we refused to do it then we are in a, position to do it now.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I do not see it that way at all. Let me put the issue simply and honestly. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman held the office of Secretary of State, and the position is that as he has left the office and sits in another part of the House he now says that things are different. When he held the office he said the same thing as will be said by the present Secretary of State for Scotland. It may be that things are somewhat different from what they were when he was Secretary of State, but he did not resign from the Cabinet on this issue. He resigned on Free Trade. If the Government had remained loyal to Free Trade he would still he a member of the Government—and its decision on the question of smallholdings would hare been the same as it is to-day. Therefore, he would have stood at that Box as a. member of the Cabinet and made a speech saying that they could not go on with smallholdings in Scotland; exactly the same speech as will be made by the present Secretary of State. If Ottawa had gone Free Trade the Cabinet decision about smallholdings would have been the same and the right hon. and gallant Member would still have been a member of the Cabinet. [Interruption.] In any case there would have been only two changes, and it cannot be said that they would have dominated the Cabinet.
The financial situation may be different but the Cabinet is substantially the same, and the Cabinet has decided against the 285 policy. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] The Secretary of State is going to say so in a moment. He has said all along that the financial situation does not allow it. He has already told us that it costs £600 for each smallholding. Assuming that 5,000 are put on the land in Scotland and 10,000 in England, that is 15,000 altogether; which is not very much when there are 3.000,000 unemployed. See what the cost is? The cost is roughly about £9,000,000.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
The hon. Member, I think, would be fairer if he referred to the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow and saw what arguments I used. I dealt with all sorts of other factors.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The right hon. Gentleman said that £600 would be the cost of certain types and £435 the cost of other types. Let me take an average of £500, and my figure of £9,000,000 is correct for 15,000 people. That is 15,000 people on the land out of an unemployed total of 3,000,000. The right hon. Gentleman is a great man and I am not, but he comes here and puts that forward as a proposition for solving the problem and makes that the burden of his speech. He speaks as a member of what was once a great party. I pay my respect to the Liberals of the past when I see what politicians accomplish now, even in the party to which I once belonged. I think the Liberals were a great party and that they accomplished wonderful things. The right hon. Gentleman proposes to settle 15,000 people on the land at a cost which he estimates at £7,500,000. Is that not merely tinkering with the problem of unemployment? I often ask myself what is wrong with me when I come to analyse such proposals. I ask myself whether I have something in my make-up that prevents me from seeing the depth of a problem. I am not against settlement on the land. If men want to work on the land I welcome any proposal that will provide them with the honest toil that suits them. But at the best this is a meagre solution and does not face the realities of the situation.
Let me turn to another issue in this Debate. One has to some extent to face the Scottish Home Rule problem. I differ from all previous speakers in their criticism of the extreme group. In British politics extremists have not always great numbers to support them, but it must be 286 remembered that in the past extremists have often become the party. In Ireland the moderates were set aside. It might have been well for Britain if the moderates' advice had been taken at the time it was given. In British politics the Liberals were swept aside for the extremists who occupied the Government Front Bench, though one would hardly call them extremists now. In the Scottish Home Rule movement it is the extremists who have power. The moderates have been created only since the extremists have captured public favour and public votes. The moderates could never have polled the votes that the extremists polled at the Scottish Universities. The Scottish moderates can never make the sentimental appeal to the electors that the extremists make. Consequently this House has to dismiss the moderates.
What has to be faced is the extreme movement, and in certain quarters that extreme movement is making an appeal. From my point of view it makes an appeal in a limited way. It is an appeal to the professional and middle classes. It has no strength among the working classes. I meet lawyers and sheriffs, and nearly every one of them is in sympathy with the movement. I met a distinguished sheriff of the City only the other day and he was a keen Nationalist. His first question was: "Why is the canal stopped?" It is the same with the doctors and the higher paid civil servants. I differ from the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) and the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) in their statements about the Irish in Scotland. I represent a bigger Irish Catholic population than any other man in Scotland. I have never been much questioned about Scottish Home Rule by any section of the population in my Division, and that is because it is purely a working-class division. Least of all have I been questioned by the Catholic Irish. Every demand that I have got from the Irish has come from the non-Catholic Irish.
§ Sir R. HORNE
I have here and could quote at length a declaration made by the vice-president of a certain organisation.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I am coming to that. The House should remember that I once introduced a Bill for Scottish Home Rule. It was a moderate Bill, drafted on Liberal 287 lines. At the time I knew nothing about Parliamentary draftsmanship, and the man who helped me to draft that Bill was a great Parliamentarian, the late Mr. Pringle. In those days it was we who started the discussion of Scottish Home Rule. To-day we find the discussion initiated by others. I think that in many respects the movement is anti-Irish. It is quite easy to prove that some Catholic or Irish are associated with it. Mr. Compton Mackenzie is a distinguished Roman Catholic, but he is not Irish by any means. Indeed part of the motive power behind the movement is anti-Irish. I have involved myself in great risk in discussing this point. There is nothing that can be so easily twisted as statements on religious or racial matters. I represent more religions and more races than any man in this House. I have in my division a Jewish population, in addition to the Catholics and a large section who are strong Presbyterians, and I represent a fair number, possibly a larger number than anyone, of people who have no religious beliefs at all. Part of this movement is anti-Irish. Its supporters say, "The Irish have taken our jobs. They are coming across here and taking our work. If we had a Scottish Parliament we could stop them from doing it." Who has not heard that statement? That is one of the motives behind the movement; anyone who knows Scottish politics knows that that is one of the drives and urges behind it.
What was said by the hon. Member who represents the Scottish Universities was true, that one of the fears is the growth of the Catholic religion in Scotland. I fear that less now than I did in my youth. For good or ill, one of the great things done by the Liberals or the Coalition in this House was the passing of the Education Act for Scotland. Who would have thought 20 years ago of seeing every school, Roman Catholic as well as Protestant, owned by the public authorities? Who would then have thought that every school teacher in Scotland would to-day be a public servant and not the servant of a religious organisation? That Education Act has meant that the Catholic child has approximated more and more to equality with the Protestant child. When I was a boy, very young, very few Catholics went to the universi- 288 ties. To-day there is remarkable growth amongst the Irish Catholics of the desire for education. Education is being sought by them with a desire and ferocity equal to that of their Scottish Presbyterian brothers. Catholic and Protestant parents alike seek a good education for their children, particularly in arts.
The other day, in the Smokeroom of this House, I discussed with some Conservatives and Liberals the youth of today, particularly the female part of the population. My parents were Scottish. My father had charge of the kirk plate and went through the silver on Sunday. When I was to be christened he made my mother carry me miles because she would not go to a church to which contributions were made out of State funds. She carried me on her back with five others running behind her. She saved in order to give her family an education and her family are looked upon as having done well. Yet, speaking with all due respect, I say that the women of to-day are better even than the women of my mother's time. I think the women in Glasgow and in Scotland generally are the finest generation to which our country has given birth. Take any test you like—the illegitimate birth-rate, the morals of the streets, cleanliness, anything you like, and, even with unemployment, the modern women more than compare with any generation of women who have gone before them. We hear a lot about how the older women could cook and so on. I am not very long married and my wife is a typical Glasgow woman —just a typical, decent, fairly good-looking—[Laughter.] I mean that she is a typical Glasgow woman of to-day, just as, I suppose, I am typical in the fact that I drifted into marriage. You start and you drift into it and it is not because of any great capacity in himself that a man chooses well or chooses badly. But I say that from every standpoint my wife compares with any of the women of an earlier generation and I think it is the same generally with the women of to-day. As for the men of to-day, I know of young men who have never been in employment in their lives and who have families. Many of them are better men than I was at their age when I was in work. In book-learning, in general knowledge, in acquaintance with politics and science, many of them excel the young men of an earlier generation. Far from 289 being demoralised, I say that they are cleaner and better than their forebears were at the same age. No, I do not accept the demoralisation theory in that respect. But I would plead with my Glasgow colleagues, nay with Members of this House generally, to come with me and to see the real demoralisation which is taking place. I would ask them to go to the Glasgow Sheriff Court any morning after there has been an eviction. We have been discussing Home Rule to-day, but what is the overwhelming problem for the people in Hillhead and in Glasgow at the moment. It is not Home Rule. It is how they are going to keep their houses. If hon. Members would go to the Glasgow Sheriff Court to-morrow they would see demoralisation but not demoralisation caused by unemployment. The most awful power in Britain is fear. It was fear that put Britain into the War. It was fear that carried on the War. It is fear that makes us go on preparing for another war and it is fear, that is killing our people to-day.
In that court which I have mentioned you will see hundreds of women, women of 35, women of 60, haggard in appearance and everyone of them demoralised, but not demoralised because they are not working. These women, although they have families, all have to work and they are far more demoralised than the men. It is not unemployment which has caused that demoralisation but the lack of income and the problem which we have to face is the problem of getting income into the pockets and the homes of the great mass of the people. For my part I would welcome some form of local government or national government in the hands of the Scottish people. I can see none of the gravity in that which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead indicated. He drew a picture of a general strike, of a Bolshevist Government in Scotland, or rather a Socialist Government in Scotland and a Tory Government here. I wish I could see that picture as easily as the right hon. Gentleman appeared to see it. But even if it were so there would be nothing dreadful or awful in it. You might have a Socialist Government here and a general strike for the whole of Britain.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The right bon Gentleman would rather extend the area. That makes the thing better. It suits me. The only difference between us apparently is that we would like to cover not only Britain but other countries as well. But on that point may I say that in regard to this Scottish demand it is all nonsense to talk about reforms. In passing, I wish to enter a caveat in regard to the appointment of Scottish Secretaries under the present system. I can stand a good deal of slush at the time of a man's death for example, but not when men are living and can stand up for themselves and there is a great deal of slush about appointments in this House. It is excusable perhaps when a new Member is making his first speech. We always talk slush on those occasions and the new Member is always told that his speech is the finest we have ever heard. The same thing applies to new appointments and in this case I wish to dissent from it and I am not to be moved from that dissent. I would be a liar if I said that I approved of the appointment of the present Secretary of State for Scotland. In all our hearts we know that he ought not to be there. He has been 21 years in this House. I have been here for 10 years and during that 10 years he has taken practically no part in the public affairs of the House of Commons. [Interruption.] I ask hon. Members how many times has the present Secretary of State for Scotland taken part in those affairs? How many of us know him as an active Member of this House of Commons in the same degree as his predecessor? To what extent has he shared in the life and work of Scottish Members here? Any of us who would honestly answer those questions would have to say that the right hon. Gentleman has not done so.
That is bad enough, but there is a second thing which I have against him. Other holders of this office have been reactionary but he is probably the most reactionary holder of it that I have known. Therefore I cannot say that I view his appointment with delight or approval. As regards administrative changes we are told that it is proposed to put factory inspection under the Scottish Office. I would not mind that if those responsible would show us what good such a change was going to do, but I cannot see what good is to be achieved 291 by having factory inspection under the Scottish Office. I say that it would be a change for the worse. I would not mind if you put it into the hands of the Under-Secretary, but God forbid that we should hand anything more over to the Secretary of State for Scotland.
There is one curious thing about Secretaries of State for Scotland. They alter in name—we have had Mr. Willie Adamson, Lord Novar, the present Home Secretary, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Caithness, and now we have the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenock (Sir G. Collins)—but they are all the same. It has been the same Scottish Secretary all the time —Sir John Lamb. It is the most reactionary Department in the whole Government. Hon. Members may think that sometimes I claim a great deal, but I can claim this, that as regards constituency complaints and complaints from individuals I carry more than my share. I must be a terrible worry to the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland and the Lord Advocate in regard to these matters. The curious thing that as regards the Lord Advocate sometimes the reply which I receive is different in tone from other replies. It is not always the same. As regards the Under-Secretary, there is no single holder of that office whom I have known whether Tory, Liberal or Labour who has not applied himself to the job. Mr. Joe Westwood worked hard on it and did greater work than ever I expected. He did magnificently. So did Mr. Tom Johnston. There have been Conservative Under-Secretaries in the past and there is the present Under-Secretary of whom we can say that he will look into your case and give you a reply which has something of human feeling in it. But as regards the Secretary of State the replies are always of the same type, whether they are signed "Archibald Sinclair" or "William Adamson." The reply is always the same —cold, cruel, mean. I have never known of a Department crueller and meaner than the Scottish Office. Unless you are going to hand over Scottish affairs altogether to a Scottish Parliament, far be it from me to consent to factory inspection being handed over to an autocracy which is in my view cruel and unfair.
292 As regards the demand for Scottish Home Rule, Parliament would do well not to dismiss it with the cheap sneers which so often greet demands for reforms of that kind. There is a genuineness behind this demand. It is, as I have said, in the main a middle-class movement. I and the few who sit here with me, welcome it in so far as it represents the progress of human liberation, a progress which has gone on in Ireland and is going on in India, which has captured our Colonies and is now moving into Scotland. We welcome that movement but we hold that the movement is only good in so far as- it applies itself to the great poverty problems in our midst. We say that far greater than Home Rule for Scotland, or for England, or for Ireland are the great fundamental economic problems, the problems of a community which is producing untold wealth and untold poverty. Whether you have Parliaments in London and Edinburgh and Dublin or not does not matter if the problems of economic want and economic misery are not solved. No Parliament and no Government, local or national, will last or will have a meaning for the people, which does not wipe out needless poverty in the country which it governs.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Sir Godfrey Collins)
The House has listened, as it nearly always does, to a very moving, human speech from the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), who paid, and rightly paid, a noble tribute to the poorer classes, which, I am sure, touched the hearts of many hon. Members who heard it. When we cast our minds back to the intense depression which this country has suffered during the last 10 or 12 years, I feel sure that the world as well as Great Britain admires the courage and fortitude with which our people have faced these unhappy years. The right hon. and gallant Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair), who preceded him, asked me one or two questions, and he told the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) that his policy while he was Secretary of State for Scotland was a policy of full-steam ahead within the means at his disposal. Let me assure him that that is my policy, too. I thought I detected in parts of his 293 speech that he thought the crisis which faced this country 12 months ago had passed, but I am sure he must be as conscious as I am that the crisis has not passed and that large sums of money cannot yet be forthcoming for schemes which are dear to his heart and to the hearts of other hon. Members.
His Majesty's Government, by the inclusion of Scottish affairs in the Gracious Speech from the Throne and by arranging for the Debate to-day, have shown, I think, real and sympathetic interest in Scottish affairs, and it is in that spirit that I take part in this Debate. It was opened by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), who dwelt upon the deep depression which has faced Scotland during the last few years, and he attributed the demand for Home Rule in Scotland partly to that deep depression. I agree that that depression has caused many minds to seek a solution of their problem by the setting up of a separate Parliament in Edinburgh, and before I come to the particular questions which my right hon. and learned Friend addressed to the Government, may I remind the House of Scotland's present export trade, how large that trade has been in the past, and how sharp has been its fall during the last two years?
The figures are indeed very remarkable. I have here a statement, sent to me from the Board of Trade at my request, showing the value of domestic exports from Scotland per head of the insured workers in 1929 and 1931. In 1929 the figure was £53 per head, but in 1931 that figure had dropped to £28. In the very short period of two years the export trade from Scottish ports had dropped by nearly 50 per cent. Can we wonder, therefore, at the extreme depression which exists to-day in Scotland? Then I have here figures which show the percentage of unemployment in Scotland during those two years. Taking the figure in January, 1930, and comparing it with 1932, the percentage of unemployed workers has increased from 14.7 to as much as 27.7; in other words, a 10 per cent. increase during the short space of two years.
I have given some figures showing the extreme fall in our export trade, and in some quarters it is not fully realised how largely dependent the Scottish coal trade is on her export markets. Upwards of 294 nearly a quarter of the Scottish output of coal is dependent upon overseas markets, and we all know how those markets during the last two years have shown contraction, but in that connection I am glad to remind the House that this year the Scottish export trade in coal has turned the corner and is showing a fair increase. The figures for the first three-quarters of 1932 show that the foreign coal shipments from Scotland have increased in comparison with 1931 from 4,780,000 tons to 5,490,000 tons—a very considerable increase during the last nine months. I am sure the House hopes that that increase will continue in the future.
But with these figures of decreased exports and increased unemployment, is there any wonder at the extreme depression which exists in the minds of many Scottish people? Let me remind my fellow countrymen that while India is unsettled India cannot buy locomotives, which have been largely made in Scotland as in former years; while Russia is unsettled and considers herrings sinful luxuries, she is not a ready buyer of the herrings which our Scottish fishers are so skilled in catching; and while the Australian exchange is so heavily depreciated, Australia is unable to buy freely Scottish products. I will not on this occasion touch on the Government policy for dealing with these matters, but I only remind my hon. Friends in this House of these facts to show how vitally dependent Scotland is upon her export trade. Until that export trade is righted and international trade starts again, there must be, I fear, considerable distress in our native land.
That is the background, which exists in Scotland to-day and has existed during the last 12 months, which, I think, has created this demand for a separate Parliament. Naturally, in times of distress, people turn to various remedies to improve their economic situation. Let me turn now to this demand. So far as the Government are concerned, Home Rule for Scotland is an academic question, and I have not asked my colleagues to consider it. Throughout my remarks on this subject, I am expressing my own individual views, although later I will explain fully the views of His Majesty's Government on certain questions which have been put to me by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hill- 295 head. Let me consider the case as presented by the Duke of Montrose in his letter to the "Times" of 14th November. Sir Alexander MacEwen, in his book "The Thistle and the Rose," largely covered the same ground. The Duke of Montrose said:The only thing which will save Scotland as an industrial nation is intensive development, activity in public departments, and the service of the best brains.The Duke went on to say:We will never get these things until we have the control of our domestic affairs in Scotland.Can these results be obtained to-day under our present system? Let me consider them one by one. As to "intensive development," I believe that our industrialists, our workers, our public bodies, and the people of Scotland are aroused to the vital importance of this matter and are actively applying themselves today in many different ways to the question of a solution. For instance, the Scottish National Development Council are actively pursuing their investigations, and they have to-day a number of subcommittees at work. We look forward with interest and hope to their report, and any concrete proposals from a representative Scottish body would naturally be considered most favourably, as we are genuinely anxious to assist recovery from the present depression and to brighten the home lives of our people in Scotland.
The Duke's second point was "activity in public departments." My short experience as Secretary of State for Scotland has revealed to me, as I am sure it was revealed also to my predecessors, that the civil servants in all the Departments under my control are not only a very capable and hard-working staff, but are keen and zealous in the interests of Scotland. If there be any lack of activity in any sphere of the many-sided activities of the work of the Secretary of State for Scotland, and Scottish Members of Parliament or others bring it to my knowledge—and if I know my fellow-countrymen aright, they will not be slow to criticise in this as in other matters—I shall welcome their criticisms with a view to remedying any shortcomings which may exist, and I shall willingly act as a medium for stimulating action if practical proposals are put forward.
296 The third point in the letter from the Duke of Montrose was that the service of the best brains would not be available unless a separate Parliament were established in Scotland. It is not so simple or so pleasant to touch on this point, but let me remind the House that a very widely signed Memorial against the setting up of a Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh was signed by many of the best brains in Scotland, who view that proposal with consternation. The Duke of Montrose's points of intensive development and activity in public departments can, I submit to my colleagues in this House, be fully met under the present system, but there is room for alteration and improvement, and that is contemplated by the present Government. The community of interests between Scotland and England extends over a vast field and embraces trade union law and organisation, industrial legislation. Factory Acts, workmen's compensation, friendly societies and insurance, social services, railways, as was pointed out by my right hon. and learned Friend, and a vast range of industrial and financial enterprise. In my view, a separate Parliament in Scotland would be a definite handicap to the trade, industry, and well-being of Scotland, and in my opinion—and naturally I am only speaking my own mind on this subject—it would be a distinctly retrogressive step.
The House listened with deep interest to -the speech of the senior Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan), who touched on a point which is always dear to all Scotsmen, Scottish sentiment and the distinctive Scottish characteristics which have made our little country a great race in the eyes of the world. If I understood him, he meant that mere machinery of Parliament would not develop these gifts. These gifts to which he referred, if I understood him aright, were gifts of the spirit and, I am sure that every hon. Member, and everyone who fears the introduction of a Scottish Parliament, will do all they can to cherish and nurture this distinctive Scottish sentiment we all admire. My fellow-countrymen value and cherish their heritage of having had for a long period, representation in the Imperial Parliament. They demand to-day that legislation adapted to the needs of Scotland must not be frustrated by the fact that Scottish Members are a minority in this 297 House. Let me hasten to add that, during the 22 years I have had the honour of being a Member of this House, I have not detected any desire on the part of my fellow-English Members to delay the passage into law of any legislation demanded by Scottish Members. From observation I can say that Scotland is to-day in the Imperial Parliament well able to safeguard her interests and control her destinies, and, at the same time, exercise her due weight in the Imperial Parliament.
Let us, therefore, as realists address ourselves to what can be done to improve the economic position and well-being of Scotland, both in town and country, and a t, the same time give expression to those distinctive national characteristics which mark Scotland as a nation. I link together in common policy the material well-being of our people and the expression of the spirit of Scotland on the lines of our historic past. It is with these objects in view that I turn to some matters of more immediate interest. The paragraph in the Gracious Speech reads:Bills relating to Scotland will be introduced to amend the procedure governing, private legislation, to facilitate the administration of civil justice, and for other purposes.Let me briefly explain the Government's proposals. As hon. Members for Scottish constituencies know, if private legislation takes the form of an opposed private Bill, it must be referred for Inquiry to Select Committees in each House of Parliament sitting at Westminster. This system also applies to a certain proportion of Scottish Private Legislation. The' remainder is dealt with by Provisional Orders under the special Scottish procedure established by the Act of 1899. I propose that the proportion dealt with under the Scottish procedure, by Inquiries conducted in Scotland, should be increased. Of course the Provisional Orders, after the Inquiry in Scotland, require confirmation by Parliament. My broad object is to secure that a greater proportion of Scottish Private Legislation should be examined in a Scottish atmosphere in Scotland. In the past some purely Scottish local matters including such as burgh extensions, and other matters involving much time and expense, have been dealt with by Select Committees at Westminster. I propose to try to avoid this in future, and hope, after 298 consultation with the Parliamentary and Departmental authorities concerned, to introduce a Bill very shortly. The other Bill will be based on the recommendations of the Royal Commission presided over by Lord Clyde. It is intended to expedite and cheapen litigation in the Court of Session.
I turn to another matter mentioned by the right hon. Member for Hillhead, that is the question of the erection of a Government building to house the staff at Edinburgh. During my first official visit there it was apparent to me, as it had been to my predecessors, that the existing arrangement, whereby 10 different Departments are scattered in 22 different buildings throughout the city, is neither conducive to economy nor efficiency. Moreover, the condition of many of these buildings is hardly consistent with the dignity of a capital. A centralised building in Edinburgh to which all sections of public life could come for the transaction of business with responsible heads would have real and obvious advantages, and I feel certain that, sooner or later, such a building must be provided. Accordingly, in conjunction with the First Commissioner of Works, I am working upon a scheme which may meet the situation I have described, but I must warn the House that, at the present time, financial considerations are paramount in England as in Scotland. I shall, therefore, endeavour to be ready for the opportunity when it comes, but I cannot undertake to say when the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be able to give favourable attention to my proposals.
I now turn to certain administrative changes to which my attention has been directed this afternoon by several hon. Members. I am also carefully considering this problem to find out by what means Scottish administration can, to a greater extent than at present, be carried out in Edinburgh. Progress on these lines is undoubtedly, to some degree, dependent on the erection of a centralised building, but, at the same time, I have little doubt that, even in present circumstances some devolution of work to Edinburgh, and in particular that which concerns the local authorities, is both possible and desirable. I am sure the House will not expect me to go further on that point, having been such a short time in office. May I remind the House 299 of the departmental position in Scotland and England? The great bulk of the work in the important services of education, health, housing and agriculture are done to-day in Edinburgh by the Departments charged with these Services. We have here, in London, besides a branch of the Scottish Education Office, the Scottish Office which handles a great variety of work of different kinds, and there is a liaison between Edinburgh and London. I am considering further development and, particularly, the transfer to Edinburgh of further administrative work so that the local authorities may get immediately in touch with those concerned.
The senior member for the Scottish Universities is very interested in the Records Office. We have been making an examination of these very old records, and I am glad to he able to tell him they are a valuable addition to our knowledge of public life in Scotland 200 to 300 years ago. Examination of these records reveals that they are, speaking broadly, only in need of cleaning and airing. Most of them are in a well-preserved state.
The right hon. Member for Hillhead asked me about the financial relations between England and Scotland. A few weeks ago I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to arrange for the preparation of a return giving the particulars of revenue and expenditure in relation to these two countries. He acceded to my request, and I hope, therefore, that it may be possible to publish the figures at a very early date. These figures will give to the people of Scotland the financial relations between the two countries. I feel sure that when they are published they will be carefully studied by my fellow-countrymen, who will thus realise the full implication of the demand for a separate Parliament sitting in Edinburgh. The right hon. Member for Hill-head also addressed to the Government a question regarding the appointment of a further Under-Secretary. The arrangement in the past has been that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary is charged with Health and Housing, under the general supervision of the Secretary of State. A few weeks ago I asked the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Skelton) who, I may say, has been very helpful to me, if he would also undertake to give me a large measure of assist- 300 ance in regard to the work of education; and the Under-Secretary will be charged in future not only with Health and Housing but Education as well. The appointment of an additional Parliamentary Under-Secretary is an interesting suggestion, and I hope the House will not expect me to go further on that point than I have this evening, having regard to the paramount necessity for economy in the spirit as well as in the letter.
I have endeavoured this evening, quite briefly, to deal with the question of a separate Parliament for Scotland. I have endeavoured to show that, in my judgment, it would be against the best interests of Scotland. One reason why I regret that this question should have come to the front is because it will divert the attention of my fellow-countrymen from the realities of the case, and lead them to endeavour to solve their problems by some fresh political device. That is the gravest feature of the situation. They would seek out their remedies and try to solve their problems by the institution of a fresh Parliament. There is no hope for Scotland if she pursues that policy in the present time. I sincerely hope, now that this question has been ventilated in the House this evening and the subject approached from many quarters, that those who I know are good Scotsmen will in future direct the thoughts of the young to the more immediate problems which face our country so that our material well-being will be improved in the future. My fellow countrymen may be slow starters, but they are good stayers. Britain, including Scotland, has her back to the wall to-day. We have surprised the world during the last 12 months, and we hope in Scotland that we will regain our export markets so that our trade may prosper and our people find employment in work suitable for them. No one would suggest that all is well with Scotland, but her prosperity and her future greatness will be found, as in the past, to reside in the character and genius of her people. While I hold my office, my policy will be what was, I am sure, the policy of my predecessors, jealously to guard the true and best instincts of my native land. Therefore, I call upon my fellow countrymen, irrespective of party, to assist the Government and the Secretary of State in common 301 action designed to encourage our people and to restore prosperity to our native land.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. MILNE
I am sure that I express the feelings of all Scottish Unionist Members when I say that we cordially welcome the programme of legislation foreshadowed in the King's Speech. Last winter I cast my vote in favour of every Measure proposed by the Government, and I hope during the coming Session to continue my loyal support. I did not get on my feet merely to say that. I want to draw attention, not so much to what the Speech contains, as to what it omits. I venture to think that Scotland is not receiving sufficient consideration. Scotland has her own special problems, which demand special treatment and special legislation. What is troubling me is that the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills has gone out of existence; it has ceased action. Six months ago I drew attention to this matter. I was speaking on the Town Planning Act, and I reminded the House that the Scottish Standing Committee had sat for only five days, or to be accurate, for four mornings and part of a fifth. That was on the 6th June. Since then the Scottish Standing Committee has not met on a single occasion and it has practically gone out of existence because the Government have failed to provide it with any work. I am not overlooking the fact that a couple of days are allocated for the discussion of the Scottish Estimates, but I never remember a more dreary lackadaisical business than that discussion. It is not the fault of the Scottish Members. The reason is that we know that nothing will result from our discussions. In short, we do not want conversation, we want legislation.
I seldom remember a more animated scene than one night last winter when this Assembly discussed the fate. of the Waterloo Bridge. It was a matter of not the slightest consequence—just the architectural design of a bridge—but everybody was interested in it because they knew that something was going to happen. I quite recognise the enormous difficulties of the Government; there is so little time, and so much to be done; but I cannot rid my mind of the feeling that Scotland does not receive her due 302 share of Parliamentary time. Last winter we placed upon the Statute Book several Measures which related solely to England, and last week we were engaged in discussing English secondary education. When the Debate concludes, we shall proceed to the consideration of the London Transport Bill, a Bill to regulate the omnibus traffic in London. I have a profound respect for the Minister of Transport, but, if he were here, I should like to tell him plain and straight that if all the omnibuses in London were to run down the Embankment into the Thames, and Waterloo Bridge collapsed on top of them, we Members for Scotland would not be unduly disturbed.
But we are disturbed, we are filled with disquiet, when we consider the situation of our own country. I dread to look at statistics relating to Scotland. For the first time since the census was instituted, the figures show a decline in our population. Last week I chanced upon a report. It is not propaganda, but a prosaic report issued recently by the Department of Agriculture upon the acreage and production of crops in Scotland. On page 6 is the general survey of the Department, showing that the total area under crops and grass in 1931 is the smallest since 1876. The area of arable land is the smallest recorded since returns were first made in 1866. Permanent grass, on the other hand, is the largest area on record. Our land is going out of cultivation. I share the admiration of the Scottish Members for our fellow-countryman, the Minister of Agriculture. We admire and applaud his energy and his decision. His predecessor solved the problem of the wheat grower. The present Minister is on the way to rehabilitate the livestock industry. But the future of wheat and even of live-stock does not constitute the problem for the Scottish farmer. Oats, barley and potatoes are of paramount importance to him, and I would pray the Ministry of Agriculture to give us a second display of action, but action this time directed to the solution of the problem of the northern farmers.
There are many other evils which are crying out for attention and legislation. Reference was made to one of the most significant and alarming tendencies of the time in the drift south of industry away from Scotland. I know that business men and 303 captains of industry tell us that the causes are economic. They say that legislation is of no avail and worse than useless. I cannot think so poorly of this High Court of Parliament as to believe that it is powerless to arrest, or at any rate to control, the drift south of industry away from Scotland. I would earnestly beg the Government, even at the eleventh hour, to revise and enlarge their programme of legislation. I would not have it be supposed that we regard the Government as entirely unregenerate. I detect in the gracious words from the Throne some signs of awakening interest in Scotland and a promise of legislation. The mountain has laboured and brought forth a Bill to regulate the procedure in the Court of Session and to remedy some defects in the machinery of Provisional Orders. But that is not all. Let us be thankful for small mercies. I see that there is also a cryptic reference to a Bill for other purposes. That may mean little, or it may mean, let us hope, a great deal.
I turn with pleasure to another and more hopeful proposal emanating from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne). He wants to reorganise the Scottish Office. That is a reform which is long overdue. I speak with confidence on this subject, because I speak with some special knowledge, and I know more about it perhaps than even the right hon. Gentleman. The position in any other country but Scotland would be regarded as intolerable. The whole government of Scotland is focussed in the Scottish Office, and the address of the Scottish Office is Dover House, Whitehall. Not a single official, not a single clerk, not even an office boy is stationed in Edinburgh. The Secretary of State is provided with a room. Let me be entirely accurate, however; the Secretary of State does not even have this room. It is a species of back parlour situated at the top of a stair in Parliament Square, and he has to share it with two advocates who supervise in an advisory capacity private legislation in Scotland—responsible and important work. When the Secretary of State for Scotland visits Scotland—I use the word "visit" advisedly. It is the term employed by our newspapers—and goes to this room, I do not doubt that he finds it swept and garnished, but I will tell him 304 a secret. He is unaware of the fact that these two advocates, so long as he remains in occupation of that room, are evicted and separated from their papers and records, and have to go on holiday. The work of that department is therefore brought to a standstill.
I wonder sometimes, when I wander round the palaces of Whitehall, what Englishmen would think if they were told that every time the President of the Board of Trade or the Home Secretary had occasion to enter his office, the work of an important branch of his Department was brought to a standstill and the officials had to go on holiday. It is a comedy, it is a burlesque, or, if you will, it is the tragedy, of what was once the Kingdom of Scotland. It is not merely a matter of economy; there is more in it than that. It is the cause of gross injustice. Suppose a. member of the public has important business with the Scottish Office. He can send a letter; but it may be a matter of urgency which cannot be settled by correspondence, and he may want an interview. He can have his interview at a price—provided he is willing and able to snake a 400-mile journey from Scotland to Dover House, Whitehall.
The Scottish Office, the whole of it, should be transferred to Edinburgh. We have complete confidence—I have for my part—in our new Secretary of State, and we have the most entire confidence in our well-tried Under-Secretary of State, but what we fear in Scotland is the company they keep. We see them sitting on the Treasury Bench. The words "The Treasury" are words of evil omen in Scotland. In these matters the Treasury has been a cruel step-mother to Scotland. I say with profound respect to the Secretary and the Under-Secretary that if this reform is left to the tender mercies of the Treasury, then good-bye to any hope of its ever coming to pass. I would assure them that in their struggles with the Treasury, when they are wrestling with the powers of darkness, they have behind them the united support of the whole of the 70 Scottish Members.
§ 7.33 p.m.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Milne), because he has given us some enlightenment on the reasons for the delay in replying to letters sent to the Scottish 305 Office. I sent them a letter which it would take about five minutes to reply to, and I have specially seen the Under-Secretary of State about the matter, and I still await a reply. I can see to-day the proof of what I have said many a time in my native land, that this idea of Home Rule for Scotland can be raised at any time in order to side-track the working class of. Scotland from the great economic problems of which they are the victims. When the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) is so eloquent on this subject and spends such a tremendous amount of time on it, not only in this House but in the country, then I, as a Socialist, am very suspicious. But he started to-day far away from Scotland, he was away across the wild Atlantic sea in America, and he said that Britain ought to pay America considering the great recovery we have made. I am going to keep that phrase for my closing remarks, because it is very interesting to us on these benches —"the great recovery we have made." There is no hint of poverty there. Then he went on to wax eloquent, and I agree with him on that, about our love of our native land. It is perfectly true that Scotland has a distinct language. We are a distinct race, we have a distinct literature, we have songs that are entirely our own, and we have given to the world the most outstanding working-class poet the world has ever seen, Robert Burns. Many characteristics of the Scot are peculiarly his own, and it will be an ill day when Scotland surrenders those characteristics.
But after I have said all that, and after I say that I am in favour of Home Rule for Scotland in no uncertain fashion, I have no desire to "cut the painter." I think it would be bad for all concerned. But why is it that the right hon. Member for Hillhead and the senior Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) sidetrack the whole of the Gracious Speech, as it is called, in favour of Home Rule for Scotland? There is a reason for it, and the reason is serious. It lies in the outlook of the present Tory Government. What do they fear, what do the right hon. Member for Hillhead and the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities fear? They fear an educated working class.
§ Sir R. HORNE
Really, that is an unworthy insinuation on the part of my hon. Friend, when all my life I have been trying to help education throughout the whole community. I myself, as a boy, went to an ordinary parish school, where all my friends were of the ordinary village people, and they are my friends still. I have no desire to discourage education in Scotland.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
The right hon. Member for Hillhead knows perfectly well that I do not wish to say anything against him as an individual, or against the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities as an individual. I have said here time and time again that as individuals they would not mete out the treatment that they do as administrators here in making laws for the country, and I still say so. The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities distinctly stated that the young men and women in the universities in Scotland are desirous of Home Rule. So it is because the educated section of the people are becoming alive to it! But that is not what I was going to say when the right hon. Member for Hillhead interrupted me. I said this was the policy of the Tory Government—because this is a Tory Government. If ever there was a Tory Government, this is one. They may hold the right hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald) as a hostage, but that is all. The policy is given out by the Minister of Education. What does he say? That the children of the working-class to-day are, on the average, being better educated than are many of the children of the middle-classes, and that this has got to stop. That is the outlook of the Government. That is, in essence, what the Minister of Education said at the Box there. The first to give utterance to that sentiment was the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy), when he was Minister of Education. He said, just as the Minister of Education in the present Government said the other night in my hearing: "What are we going to do with all the working-class if they are educated up to this standard? They will not work. They will want something higher." Of course, they will want something higher, and that is the danger; and that is what we see here as far as Home Rule for Scotland is concerned. In my opinion, that is why the right hon. Member for Hillhead said distinctly in his 307 own constituency that he would require now to approach this question with an open mind, that he had always been against Home Rule for Scotland, but that the time had now arrived when they would have to approach it with an open mind, because the demands for it were coming from the educated section of the community. It is because of that that they have to attend to it. I do not object to Home Rule for Scotland, but I do object to the whole time of this House being taken up, because to me Home Rule for Scotland is a mere bagatelle compared with the situation with which this country is faced.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Yes, but after I have said that there is a reason—this is the natural outcome of the economic depression from which our country is suffering. The young, the strong, the intelligent are looking for a way out. Metaphorically speaking they are saying, to use the Biblical phrase, "What shall I do to be saved?" They are wanting a way out, they see no hope. Again, I hope the right hon. Member for Hill-head will not object when I quote once more from his speech here to-day. He said that Parliamentary action was no use. Those are his words, and they will be used in evidence against him. The right hon. Gentleman is a great Parliamentarian and I am a Parliamentarian. I believe in Parliamentary action. It has been my quarrel with the Communists ever since the Communist movement took a grip in this country. I believe it is still possible, on the anvil of the Floor of this House, to forge out our Socialist policy. It is because of that that I am a Parliamentarian. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead tells my fellow-countrymen and women that through Parliamentary action we can solve this riddle of the universe. We can solve it through Parliamentary action, and it would materially assist in the solution if we had a separate Parliament in Edinburgh.
I hope you will excuse me for being a bit personal to them, Mr. Speaker. They are the two leading lights. The rest do not matter, because they are a lot of diehards. They do matter in things in Scotland. I have a lot to say to the 308 Liberal the right hon. Member for Caithness (Sir A. Sinclair) before I have finished here. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead and the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities saw a bogey, which was the Irish. That is the Irish problem. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead who brought the Irish to Scotland? Who? Ask the Chairman of the Tory party, Lord Stonehaven. It was his great-grandfather who brought the Irish to the west of Scotland because they were cheap labour. We were all right then, but now the descendants of those Irish have assimilated all the outstanding good characteristics of the Scot. Their educated children go to the Glasgow University. There you will find their sons and daughters. We were all right as long as our forefathers were serving the ruling class of Scotland. The trouble is that the Irish in the West of Scotland have supported the working-class in Scotland. They have stood by the Labour movement and because of that everything is all wrong. It ill becomes the senior Member for the Universities of Scotland, who, in his book on Montrose shows the great friends that the Irish were to the Duke of Montrose. The senior Member for the Universities makes out Montrose as one of the greatest Scotsmen that ever lived, and I do not think that be is far wrong.
After having said all that, let me turn to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Caithness. Like a great many other hon. Members who rise up in this House, he seems to think that we have no memories and that we do not remember when they were in office. He has only just come from office. When Scottish affairs were before the House on the very last occasion, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness was then the Secretary of State for Scotland, less than a couple of months ago. He has the audacity—this rich landowner, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caithness—and he has the habit, of rising in the House and of twitting the present Government because they have not done certain things. That is the reason why I interjected and asked what he had done when he was in office. He stopped the whole business. He started to talk there to-day about getting the smallholder back to the land. Among the first things he did when he went to 309 the Scottish Office was to stop the whole business. Not a single ex-service man was put on the land while he was in office. He said that they should be put on the land, that land is cheap and money is cheap and that there are 10,000 idle hands still looking for work. I want to say to him, before I go on to the Gracious Speech from the Throne, that I know what it is to work on the land and that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Caithness never did. He viewed it from afar. Distance lends enchantment to the view.
I want to ask questions of him and the Liberal party, because back to the land is one of their strong planks. He was in great favour with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George). Whether it was throwing out a sprat to catch a whale I do not know, but there are no two ways, he was very friendly with his greatest enemy. He complimented him on three different points. In his famous statement, the right hon. Gentleman for Carnarvon Boroughs stated that he was going to conquer unemployment. He was a conqueror. The right hon. and gallant Member for Caithness is backing up that idea. I would like to ask the Liberal party: What are the men going to do on the land? What are they going to produce? What kind of article is there a shortage of? Is there a shortage of wheat? Is there a shortage of any article? None! They do not know what to put the men to.
Why do men work? It is in order to produce what is required to live a decent, comfortable life. Everything that mankind requires to-day is already produced in abundance. There is not a single article that men and women in civilisation require but what is already produced and stored away in abundance. If there were any article of which there was a shortage, millions of pounds would be found to build works or factories to produce that article. There is no shortage of money or of men and women to work. Super-abundance, that is what we are faced with. That is the trouble, a superabundance of everything that man requires. Yet the Liberal party and the Tory party are looking for work—work for somebody else; it is always work for the other fellow, when the work is all done. What is required is that the minds 310 of men should be turned from the idea of looking for work, and on to the idea of how they are going to distribute what is produced and how best to utilise the great power of production of which we, in civilisation, are the joint heirs.
We, as Scotsmen, have contributed no mean part in making possible this great engineering age, or, as John Ruskin puts it, the cradle of it was Lowland Scotland. It was there that James Watt discovered the separate condenser which made the steam engine of commercial value and which accomplished the greatest revolution the world has ever seen. From it has flown all our great productivity and the output of man's ingenuity in tapping the sources of nature and making nature do man's work. We are the joint heirs of this glorious inheritance but millions—we used to say tens of thousands—of our fellow creatures in our own land have to be content with a miserable pittance of 15s. 3d. a week to maintain body and soul together. While that is the case, along comes this insignificant arrangement called:His Majesty's Most Gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament.I am quite satisfied that, if His Majesty understood the situation of the vast majority of his subjects, he would never have been a party to such a Speech. I have no complaint of Him, for I know nothing about Him; but can all those who were responsible for this Speech be innocent? They know; they have been among the people. The Prime Minister time and again has sat at the firesides of the working folk of this country—all over it, in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, apart from foreign countries. He has mixed with them; he has lived with them; and he knows their joys and sorrows. The King knows nothing about it, so that I have no business with Him; my business is with those who are responsible for it, and who know the situation, and who still claim that they are Socialists. The Prime Minister of England still claims that he is a Socialist, and this is what he produces. If there is a line here which gives any indication that this has come from a man who understands the situation of the working class at the moment, I do not know what the English language is.
Think of the tens of thousands of homes to-night, all over Britain, where the folk 311 honestly and sincerely voted for this National Government. They believed that this National Government would do something. They reasoned with themselves, and said, "Here is a combination of the outstanding Socialists, the leaders of the Socialist party—they are leaders without a doubt, with no one challenging their authority that they care about—the leaders of the Liberal party, and the leaders of the Tory party. Never was there such a powerful combination." So reasoned the working class in Britain. Their lot was terrible in the extreme, and the heads of these three great parties used their influence on this mentality that was abroad at that moment, with the result that we had an avalanche, the like of which politically we have never had in this country before, and they gave to the Prime Minister and his colleagues a blank cheque. They said to them, metaphorically, "We have implicit confidence in you; go and do what you can to make Britain safe." Majorities the like of which were never seen before—the Minister of Pensions had a 60,000 majority—were absolutely handed over by Britain to this Government, and, after a year, what do we find? We find that the right hon. Member for Hillhead says, "Britain should pay America, considering the great recovery we have made." In the name of the working class, I want to know where that recovery is. It is not in the homes of the working folk of this country. There never were so many sad sorties in Britain, not even during the War, as there are at the present moment; and all that this Government, which has had all that wealth, all that power, and all that trust given to it by the people of this country, produces, after a year, is this insignificant paper which they call "His Gracious Majesty's Speech from the Throne." There is nothing in it that is going to ease the lot of the working class of this country by one iota.
Let me come to the paragraph below that referring to Scotland, which says that there are to be Measures dealing with rent restriction. We on these benches have been promised, the folk in the country have been promised—and promised by the Prime Minister—that we were going to get, not rent restriction, but rent reduction. I wish the working class of Scotland were able to listen to this Debate that we have had here to-day 312 about Home Rule for Scotland, in which we have been told about the awful conditions under which the Secretary of State for Scotland has to exist in Edinburgh. It would make a cat laugh. No; the folk in Scotland, the working class in Scotland—the class that matter—are interested about their rent more than they are about Home Rule for Scotland. This rent question is a very serious question. It is the most grave question as far as the working class of my country, and also of England, are concerned. What is the rent question? It deals with the homes of the people—not with houses, but with their homes. It is homes that the folk want, not houses.
I would like to draw the attention of the House, and particularly of the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, to the fact that it is only since the War that Parliament interfered with rents. In 1915 the landlords, the owners of the houses in our country, thought they had a right to raise the price of the houses in the same way as the rest of those who were profiteering. They thought they had a right to have an increase in rent. It is not necessary for me to go through the whole thing to-night; it is sufficient to say that in the West of Scotland we "downed tools." I took a very active part in stopping their works in Scotland, because they had 200 people up before the Rent Court—it was in its infancy then—and, out of the 200, 58 had either fathers or brothers fighting on the fields of Flanders, and at that time the soldiers had not received any increase in their wages. The result was the passing of an Order-in-Council at that time, that for the duration of the War and six months afterwards, there would be no increase in rents.
Six months after the War the Coalition Government, the boys who had won the War, said they were the boys to win the peace, and they said at that time that there was going to be no increase in rents. But, when they got back to power, they gave the factors, as far as the West of Scotland was concerned, an increase of 33⅓ per cent., and 25 per cent. of that increase was to do the necessary repairs, which had not been done during the War. I am only telling the House that to remind them that Parliament had to interfere to save the people from the rapacious action of those who owned the homes 313 where the people lived. Since then they have had another increase of about 60 per cent. Every section of the community has had a decrease in income. Even Members of Parliament have had reductions in their wages. The only people I know who have escaped are the rapacious blood-sucking lot, the property owners. They still have the same increase that they got immediately after the War, when the working-class on the average had three times the wages which they have at present.
The great honour of being Secretary of State for Scotland carries with it some responsibilities. During the administration of that great Secretary of State the Liberal Member for Caithness, for the first time within the memory of living man, the population decreased. I hope we shall not have complaints against the present Secretary of State. I hope he will be worthy of the position that he occupies. The Secretary of State for Scotland is responsible for the health and the welfare of the people. Up to now he has never made one move to assist the shipbuilding and engineering industry. No one in the House has a closer association with the shipbuilding and engineering industry than he. He represents a shipbuilding constituency just on the other side of the Clyde from mine. He knows what it would mean to that industry if we could set work going on the building of the Cunarder. I do not want him to be like some Secretaries of State that I know of who hardly ever raised their voice in the Cabinet. I want him to be a Secretary of State that we Scotsmen can be proud of.
On this question of the building of the Cunarder, I have done everything a man can do short of sacrificing my Socialist principles. I have gone to every type of man in the House. I have tried to move everyone inside and outside the House. I believe, if a census was taken, the House would vote that, if the Cunard Company are not getting on with the building of the boat, the Government should get on with building it. I should like the Secretary of State to sail down the Clyde from Broomielaw to Greenock. There he will get something that will stagger him. He will understand why it is that I can scarcely keep my temper when discussing this question. I see the finest shipbuilding yards in the world 314 lying idle, stark and stiff. You find slip after slip all moss and grass-grown—not a hammer, where the river ought to be resounding with tens of thousands of men driving in the rivets that have made Britain famous the world over. All that is silent now. It is not only shipbuilding. You can go right through the engineering shops. At Motherwell and Wishaw you see steel works after steel works derelict. If you go further into the heart of Lanarkshire, you see mine after mine shut, and village after village deserted. If it was possible for our folk to get away from Scotland, they would go. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead and the senior Member for the Scottish Universities tried to inspire and instil into the House the spirit of Scott's verse:Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,Who never to himself bath said,'This is my own my native land'.Now it is a land of poverty. What is the flag of Scotland? A flag of yellow with a lion rampant red. The flag of Scotland to-day is not a rampant lion, but poverty rampant in its very worst form. It is not, as some would try to make us believe, that it is an agitation headed by a few Communists—a few disgruntled, ignorant individuals. It is simply the individual that Burns spoke about:See yonder poor o'er-labour'd wight,So abject, mean and vile,Who begs a brother of the earthTo give him leave to toil;And see his lordly fellow-wormThe poor petition spurn,Unmindful tho' a weepin' wifeAnd helpless offspring mourn.There is no finer race of men and women in the world, no higher skilled or better educated, and they are right up against it. I know the finest educated men and women, who are prepared to work for £2 10s. a week. A friend of mine advertised for a manager for a cinema in Glasgow. There were two chartered accountants and four M.A.'s, unemployed school teachers, among 90 applicants. Men and women are willing and anxious to give of their best to their native land. They can find no outlet. They are not even on the. Employment Exchange. I hope the Scottish Office will take this business to heart and will go into it and see if there is no way out. It is no use looking for work. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead said they 315 had all tried. Of course, they have, and they have all failed. All the Governments and all the statesmen in civilisation have approached the problem from the same angle, that is, they are all looking for work. We are faced with a world of sellers. All want to sell something, and nobody wants to buy. Let the statesmen of to-day turn their minds in another direction. We have come to a time in the history of the world when we have to change our outlook. Instead of bending our energies upon how to work, let us think of the possibility of reducing the hours of work. It never seems to dawn on the ruling classes of this country that our sons and daughters, that we of the working class, have a right to leisure, to play, to enjoyment instead of having to toil and toil all the time. Let them think of the advisability of reducing the hours of labour and of sharing out the work which has to be done. It is true that men who are unemployed and have not worked in a factory would think that it was a great thing to be able to get into a factory and commence work. It is the ambition of the working class to work in the factory. The collier's lad wants to be a collier. Why? Because he does not know any better. We Socialists know better. We know that the collier's boy, the engineer's boy, the labourer's boy, the working class child is the heir of all the ages and that he does not require to go and moil and toil in the way his predecessors did.
The rulers of to-day ought to be looking at the position from the point of view of distributing the great power of productivity. Until this is done, there will be no peace. There cannot be any peace. You may try to crush our spirit as you tried during the War. It was thought that by imprisoning and deporting some of us you would crush the spirit of revolt. You thought that it belonged to the Clyde at that time, but the spirit of revolt and the love of liberty are innate in man. Even the black savage taken from the wilds of Africa to the cotton fields of Carolina revolted against slavery. Men will rise above it, and it will be a bad day for this or any other Government which stands deliberately in the way of the working class of this or any other country enjoying the full fruits of their toil. What could be done at once? 316 They could give the unemployed man £1 a week instead of 15s. 3d. I stand for that. I have always stood for it and shall continue to do so. They could give the wife of the unemployed man 10s. a week—the unemployed man and woman, 30s., and five shillings a week for each child. Apart from the human side of the business, the Christian ideal or anything of a humanitarian kind, it is sound economics. There would be on an average an increase of 10s. a week going into about 2,500,000 homes in this country. That would mean that nearly £1,500,000 would be spent every week. The money would not be invested in the Argentine or in Brazil, which never pays, as Russia has done, although you always blame Russia. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh!"] It is true. The money would be usefully spent by the unemployed. To-day in this inclement climate, in our mad and ridiculous weather—I was the first Socialist to stand in Parkhead, where Professor Robertson Watson described the weather as "mad and ridiculous"— we have children underfed and under-clothed. The mothers of the children are gasping for the money. They would spend the money in the shops. They would go to the grocer, butcher, tailor and bootmaker, and they would spend the money at once. The retailer in turn would require to go to the wholesaler to get his stock renewed. He would be sold out. The wholesaler in turn would require to go to the manufacturer, with the result that it would set the wheels of industry humming. That is the first step, and it would be a humane step.
What does it mean? It means—what we Socialists have always stood for—that there is only one way to get it, and that is by taking it from those who have it. The Government can go on tinkering with the question, but we were sent here to fight on behalf of the working class of this country who are more downtrodden, comparatively speaking, than at any period in history. If a sane Socialist regime were holding sway to-day, the people of the country would be living in comparative comfort instead of at the moment in degradation and fear. As my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) said, the greatest disease and the most awful thing which our folk have to face at the moment is fear and 317 dread of what is likely to happen. The mothers of our children are crying—their voices have reached well nigh up to God—"What am I to do with my boy?" "What is to become of my son?" They do not know what to do, and in the midst of that terrible state of affairs—not in Russia or Germany, where they have their own troubles, but in our native land—in the midst of that terrible tragedy a King's Speech is brought forward which does not touch the fringe of the problem. I shall vote against the Address, and I shall use all the power I have in the country, as I have always done, by telling my class how they have been robbed and treated in a shameful manner by the present Government, in whom they placed their confidence, so that at the earliest opportunity they will chase them off those benches,
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Lord DUNGLASS
The House will not expect me to follow the hon. Member who has just spoken into all the points which he put before us in his very lengthy speech. I am going to divide his speech into two main spheres. The first I can sum up best in his own words, when he said that the Tories were bad and the Liberals were worse, but tactfully omitted any reference as to where his own party stood. In the second part of his speech he invited me, or whoever followed him, to go with him into the distressed districts in Scotland and to sympathise with him with the unemployed in their difficulties. I can assure him that I am going to accept that invitation, because I, too, have some knowledge of what it must mean to leave school with nothing to face but unemployment, and what it means to people to stand at the street corners with the knowledge that they are simply going to be submitted to that same deadly routine. But I am not such a fatalist and not so helpless as the hon. Member and other hon. Members opposite. I prefer to concentrate on the remedy, and to start the wind blowing which will unfurl the flag of Scotland over a happier working population.
I should like to refer to the speech of the late Secretary of State for Scotland. I have heard him make two speeches since he went into Opposition. The first speech was on the Second Reading of the Ottawa Agreements Bill—a 318 speech perhaps thin in substance but rich in oratorical effect, and with genial good-humour, he twisted the terrors of Protection and the fate of the Protectionists into his audience for all the world like the old Scottish Minister who, in his part of the world, used to distribute the certainty of Hell among the sinners of his congregation, complacent in the knowledge that his own constant, rigid, unswerving adherence to doctrinaire principles would gain for himself a certain place in Heaven. Then we had the right hon. Gentleman's speech this afternoon. The oratorical effect and the geniality and good humour were there, but where was the conviction? I never heard a more lukewarm defence of any system than he made in his proposals for Scottish Home Rule. The people of Scotland are acute-minded. They wish to know whether a system of Scottish self-government would be good or bad for them, whether it would lead to more employment or to less employment, whether, in short, it would make Scotland a happier place. They want evidence. They do not want hon. Members to come along and merely to make it a plank of their political party programme.
I would ask the House to face the realities of the position so far as the outlook of Scottish industry and agriculture is concerned, in the condition of the world as it is to-day. It seems to me that now and for a year or two to come we have to face a position like this, that each country will try to reserve to itself a maximum of its own home market for its own producers, and that over and above that each country will be willing to take a proportion of imports, which will be the result of international arrangement and international bargain. When we look at the outlook for Scottish industry, I would invite hon. Members to focus the spotlight on this fundamental change that we are entering an era of control, that we are entering it consciously, on equal terms and even on advantageous terms, with the strength the British Isles commands.
What then does Scotland demand in regard to a policy? Our difficulty is, of course, unemployment, but I would analyse it further. If one looks at the incidence of the figures of the distribution of unemployment one finds that our problem, although the general level of 319 unemployment is high, is rather one of distressed areas than of distressed trade. When one carries the analysis further, one finds that the unemployment concerns four trades in the main, coal, iron and steel, engineering and shipbuilding, and I would say that if the Government by any policy that they can bring forward can help to break the back of unemployment in those four trades, the problem with which we have to deal in Scotland will be very much easier and will be well within our control, because we can bring in agriculture at the other end of the scale to help to absorb our people, and we can bring in schemes of land settlement, which I regard of very real value.
Therefore, we must demand of a constructive, long-term policy that it should operate among these basic trades, and it must operate in this way: It must seek to relieve them of charges which are crippling them at the present time, and by economy, and, if possible, by the reduction of taxation, allow them to play a better and more profitable part. It must try to secure and to explore new markets. I would ask hon. Members to realise that it is only on the successful marketing of coal, steel and the products of our engineering industries in Scotland that those unemployed people are going to return to the jobs in which they are skilled and around which they live. I would ask the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) to go with me to his own constituency. There 51.8 per cent. of the insured population are unemployed. In my own constituency the percentage is 33.3 and in Renfrew it is the same. One has only to go into those districts to realise that no temporary measure is doing more than fiddling with the fringe of the problem. We have only to go to these districts to realise that these communities, complete with their little retail traders round the skeletons of their factories and blast furnaces, cannot be moved short of wholesale emigration. Therefore, we are back again to this point, that on successful marketing and upon our success in securing markets for coal, steel and engineering products the solution of our unemployment problem in Scotland not entirely but in great proportion depends.
This is not the place to assess the probable effects of the Ottawa Agreements, or 320 to decide the effect of any future arrangement which the Secretary for Mines may make with Scandinavia or other foreign countries to increase the sale of coal. As the Debate has taken a turn towards Scottish Home Rule I will content myself with this comment, that in future there will be two markets open to the Scottish producers, the market within the shores of the British Isles—an unrestricted market, in which Scottish producers will be able to compete on exactly the same terms as their opposite numbers in England—and, secondly, the market we may be able to obtain in response to economic demands or the strength of our bargaining power. I hope that by no hasty or ill-considered word anyone of our countrymen will prejudice the full enjoyment of the home market for our own heavy industries and for our agricultural industry, or that by any hasty or ill-considered word they will prejudice and forfeit the great bargaining power which this country can wield successfully only if we remain united.
I live on the Border and have always taken the view that we have successfully borrowed the canniness of the Highlander to make a living out of the Englishman. We have done it very successfully. I hope that I am not bigoted on this question and I am not afraid that Scotsmen would make a mess of the question of Scottish devolution and Scottish self-government. When a Scotsman sets the heather on fire he looks at the strength of the wind and the direction from which it is blowing. What we do not want is the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) coming along and dropping stray matches in Scotland. Therefore, I say to the producers in the heavy industries, and also to the people who work in them, that as they have the home market available and also the whole bargaining power of Great Britain at their disposal to find new markets in every part of the world it is up to the Scottish people to try and secure that position and bring more work to our people in that way.
The case of agriculture is even better than that of the heavy industries. Practically the whole of our meat market is in London, and to create a situation in which there might be some restrictions on our agricultural produce going into the English market would be folly. I invite all those in Scotland who dabble with the question of serf-government to realise 321 that we want to be certain that it will not in any way injure our industries of coal and steel, shipbuilding and engineering, and the still greater industry of agriculture. I have not time to deal with these questions at any length. I beg the Government to realise that it is dangerous to treat smallholdings and land settlement as an emergency measure. The greatest care must be taken in selecting tenants and in selecting the land on which the smallholder is to grow his crops. It is also necessary to avoid the mistake of putting the smallholder into actual competition with farmers who are producing the same goods on a- larger scale. The smallholder will succumb. The ideal smallholding, to my mind, is one upon which a man can grow vegetables and fruit, and perhaps keep a pig or two, make enough to feed himself and perhaps provide a supplement to his wages or compensation for his meagre unemployment benefit; in other words, to keep him alive and his family well fed. If the smallholding is situated near an industrial town he would be able to dispose of any surplus produce easily. All I ask is that the Government will keep that in mind.
Let me remind the right hon. and gallant Member for Caithness of two things that have made land settlement possible on a reasonable scale—factors which he did not mention—first, that you have now a secured market, and, secondly, that you have a Government which is wilting to raise wholesale prices and keep them at a level which is not hopeless for the producer. The present violent fluctuation of prices is death to the smallholder. The hon. Member for Dumbarton Binghs quoted from our great national poet Sir Walter Scott, and also brought in perhaps our greater poet Robert Burns. The doctrine of independence which Robert Burns gave to Scotland did not mean that we as individual Scotsmen should carve and hew our lonely way, and, in doing so, tread on our neighbour's toes. He meant that we should fit into such society as that in which we found ourselves in the best possible way to help the whole community. H the Government will help Scotsmen by a sympathetic appreciation of our legitimate needs and of our very real and sincere national feeling, that will go a, long way; and I hope it will 322 never be said of a Scotsman that he helped to break up the British Union or that he made its power for good less, in a sadly harassed world.
§ 8.53 p.m.
I should like to put before the House one or two reasons which have not so far been mentioned in the Debate in support of the undesirability of setting up a Parliament in Scotland. In the King's Speech there is a reference to a proposed amendment in Private Bill legislation, which in itself is a proof that Scotland, if it requires development, will get it at the hands of the British Parliament. Ever since the Union development has been going on, no doubt at greater speed since 1885 with the creation of the Secretary for Scotland. The right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) in his able speech referred to Private Bill legislation which was created by the Act of 1899, and since then ninny things have been passed as regards local government to the benefit of the people of Scotland. The Department of Agriculture was established about 20 years ago, and there has been the Scottish Education Department and the Department of Health, both growing steadily in authority. Why then, when we are getting this development, should we find this agitation springing up for a Scottish Parliament, which raises constitutional issues of the greatest magnitude? The answer is that it is owing to the serious problem of unemployment. If this problem was facing Scotland only there might be some reason in the argument; but that is not the case, because no country is unaffected by unemployment. It is the outcome of world conditions; and I cannot see how the question of unemployment eau be an argument for setting up a Parliament in Scotland.
Those who advocate this policy base their arguments on two heads, first, sentiment, and, secondly, the need for solving the economic problem. As far as sentiment is concerned it is said that the English people consider that Scotsmen are not fit to govern themselves. We have not very far to go to prove the fallacy of that argument, because out of the last 10 Prime Ministers six have come from Scotland. The advocates of Scottish Home Rule try to pretend that the Union was forced upon Scotland. But we find that the Union was not forced upon 323 us at all. If we read history carefully we find that the Union was a perfectly sane, business deal so far as Scotland was concerned. The hon. Member for Dunbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) in an interruption' of the speech of the right hon. Member for Hillhead seemed to suggest that the Union had been forced on Scotland. I do not think that a Scotsman ever admits defeat, and I should be sorry to think that we were defeated at the time of Union any more than we are defeated in 1932.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
If you read history you will find that all Scotland, rightly or wrongly, was against a union of the Parliaments. I am not saying whether that was for good or ill. Scotland as Scotland was against the union of the Parliaments. The picture down in St. Stephen's Hall is the greatest black spot in the history of Scotland, because every one of those individuals that goes before Queen Anne handing away Scotland's separate Parliament had his price.
I think my hon. Friend will find that Scotland came into the union as an independent Kingdom and equal partner, and on terms mutually agreed. However, we will leave the matter there, because I do not want to be at cross purposes with my hon. Friend and many others wish to speak. We do not want to judge the union by the fancied wrongs of two-and-a-quarter centuries ago. Surely we have gained enormously from the union if we look at the facts. Let us leave the sentimental appeal and take the economic point of view. At the present time we find nations becoming more and more interdependent. As far as Scotland and England are concerned, they are geographically, historically and socially very closely linked together. We hear certain things said about industries drifting South. They are, and that is a very unfortunate state of affairs. But does anyone suggest that a Parliament in Scotland is going to attract industries that would come South for economic reasons? The right hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair) said that a Parliament in Scotland would magnetise industry. Did anyone ever hear such nonsense? No one who studies industry, no one who looks at the reasons why industries come South, would believe for a moment in such magnetism.
324 The people who advocate Scottish Home Rule, as has been said, pride themselves on their vagueness. It is only by vagueness that they are able to create any enthusiasm for the cause. They are so vague that they do not even know whether they want their Parliament in Edinburgh or in Glasgow. There was a Speaker's Devolution Committee set up in 1919, which reported after many sittings. There were so many sittings and so much talk at cross purposes that it was quite impossible to come to any agreed finding on this problem. As long as advocates of Home Rule keep vague they do manage to get a certain amount of support, but when they are definite they are up against very serious trouble indeed. The only thing that would not be vague about a Parliament in Scotland would be its cost. The putting up of another Parliament building, to say nothing of the staffing of the departments, the paying of Members of Parliament, and the cost of new legislation, would be very considerable indeed. There is no question about that. The advocates of Scottish Home Rule say that that would be more than offset by the millions out of which Scotland is swindled by the English. For some reason it is generally 1921 which the Scottish Nationalists cite for their example of how we are losing money. Scotland's contribution to the Imperial Exchequer in 1921 was about £120,000,000, of which we received back about £33,000,000, leaving a balance of £87,000,000 which the Scottish Nationalists hold was entirely spent in England. Let us consider that statement. How was that £87,000,000 spent? It was spent on the interest of the War Loans and national loans, on war pensions, the various Civil Services, the Navy, Army and Air Force, a total expenditure of over £1,000,000,000. Therefore, the Scottish share of that expenditure was less than 10 per cent.
But that is not the whole of the picture. Out of the interest on War loans, War pensions and so forth, a great deal of money was actually going back to Scotland. In addition there was the building of ships and other equipment for the fighting forces. Incidentally I think that we in Scotland ought to be very grateful for the large share of the naval programme which has come to Scotland this year, a share which, if there had 325 been Scottish Home Rule, would not have come to us. Let us look at the money we get in other ways. In the three years from 1928 to 1931 the expenditure on the Scottish roads under the Ministry of Transport was over £1,500,000 more than our contributions to the Road Fund. We certainly were not being swindled in that; we were getting a very remarkable gain. As has been said, an investigation is going on as to the amount paid by Scotland and the amount that Scotland receives. Take the eleven-eightieths, which is the proportion we get of Government grants, and consider the difference in population since that was fixed compared with now, and it is quite possible that the people who have stirred up this question of a Scottish Parliament may find that instead of their proposal doing Scotland any good we Scotsmen have had more than our share. They may damage us instead of helping us. I cannot imagine that the people of Scotland wish to pay national taxes in addition to Imperial taxes and local rates.
Unemployment is a problem which is as serious in Scotland as elsewhere. We sometimes hear it said that the percentage of unemployment in Scotland, 26.6 per cent. last year, is worse than that of Great Britain, which was only 21.4 per cent. That is a reason given by some advocates of Home Rule for a Parliament in Scotland. But if we look at parts of England and Wales we find a very much higher percentage of unemployment than that of Scotland. That proves at once that a Parliament cannot deal with the problem. The advocates of Home Rule cannot have it both ways. In the industrial areas of Wales the percentage is a good deal higher than that of Scotland. About a month ago Lord Maclay, who was Shipping Controller during the War, had a letter in some of the Scottish newspapers, in which he pointed out that orders for 11 out of 12 of the great ships which we build on the Clyde come to us either from England or through English channels. He, of course, is a very strong opponent of any change in the present system of an Imperial Parliament here.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) came to Scotland not long ago and said that the Liberal party would regard Home Rule as being among its main purposes. I do 326 not know when the right hon. Gentleman will he in a position to put that proposal into force. He has perhaps heard that we are rather slow at seeing a joke. He probably thought that Scotland would not see that joke but I think our people are able to see it. How can the right hon. Gentleman advocate political nationalism for Scotland and in another breath denounce economic nationalism for the rest of the world. Everyone knows that economic nationalism must follow political nationalism. We have an example of that in Southern Ireland. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland mentioned Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man but took good care not to mention Southern Ireland. If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman looks back to what was said by Isaac Butt in. 1874, when he sent a message to this Parliament asking for Home Rule for Ireland, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will find that the Irish demands then were very moderate—just as moderate as those of the most moderate Scottish Home Rulers to-day. But look at what those demands have led to and the position which now exists in Southern Ireland. The Scottish people have that warning. Let them remember that there cannot be a Parliament in Scotland without that Parliament coming into conflict with the Parliament here. The very reasons which are advanced to show that we should have a Parliament in Scotland, prove that there would be friction between such a Parliament and the Parliament here.
Those who advocate self-government seem to think that they would get it on their own terms. What a fantastic idea. Of course nothing of the kind would happen. It is possible that up to now this proposal has not been taken seriously but I am convinced that there will be intense opposition to it, if it once gathers way in Scotland. I am sure that the people do not want it. They appreciate the fact that it would do enormous harm. It would he a dangerous policy, even in prosperous times, but at a moment when we are in such difficulties as we are in at present, it would be little short of madness. We are renowned in Scotland for our common sense and our thrift. They are both splendid characteristics. Let us keep them and let us not turn to extravagance and futility.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Lord SCONE
In the course of to-day's Debate we have heard a variety of arguments for and against Scottish Home Rule, and I think that any visitor here who had not come prepared to prejudge the case would agree that the opponents of Scottish Home Rule have had very much the better of the argument. They have given many reasons why such a Measure would be a very great disservice to Scotland. The protagonists of Scottish Home Rule, on the other hand, have been unable to show any reason whatever why it should be of service to Scotland. I suppose that we may regard as the leader of the Scottish Home Rulers, among those who have spoken to-night, as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair). I am sorry that he is not in his place as I have a few hard things to say about him and I prefer to be rude to people before their faces rather than behind their backs. I have listened to a great many speeches from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman in the course of the last few weeks but seldom have I heard one less inspiring than the oration to which he treated us to-night for the space of something like an hour.
He started by referring to "definite proposals" for Scottish Home Rule, but he went on to speak of these proposals in a manner which was completely indefinite. Indeed, as regards policy, he contradicted himself not once nor twice, but many times in the course of his speech. I submit that he was unable to show any cause whatever for the introduction of Scottish Home Rule. To judge from his argument, one would think that the greater portion of the Scottish people were panting for some such Measure. Such is by no means the case. It is true there is a certain element among the people of Scotland, largely drawn from the middle classes, though with a certain amount of working-class support, which desires a separate Parliament in Scotland. But that portion of the Scottish people is not one which is of very great importance, nor are any of its members to be regarded as true leaders or great figures in Scottish national life. If the majority of the Scottish people ever do demand Home Rule it is obvious that they will have to get it. They will get 328 it, however, not as Southern Ireland got it, but rather by constitutional methods and those others of us who now oppose it, if such an event ever came to pass, would do our best to make the system work ever though we did not believe in it. But if Scottish Home Rule does come to pass it must be given time. Some 10 years will be necessary before its opponents will venture to suggest a reversion to the conditions of affairs which we find to-day. I do not believe, however, that the day will ever come when there will be a majority among the Scottish people in favour of Scottish Home Rule. There are no signs at present, despite all the efforts of Liberals and Socialists, that that is so and I do not think that a case can be made out for Scottish Home Rule at the present time.
Turning to the subject of agriculture. I could not agree at all with the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Milne) when he said that the measures taken by the present Government to relieve agriculture were of little benefit to Scotland. It is true that we have our own special problems which have not yet been dealt with, but it is also true that the most important branch of Scottish agriculture is the livestock industry, and, obviously, the steps taken in that respect will benefit the Scottish livestock industry equally with the English livestock industry. At the same time, I would respectfully ask the Secretary of State for Scotland to confer with his colleague the Minister of Agriculture as to whether something cannot be done in the near future to assist those branches of agriculture which have a particularly Scottish importance, that is to say the production of oats, barley and potatoes. The Minister of Agriculture has said that he considers the best way out of the present potato difficulty to be the setting up of a Potato Board. That I agree with, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will use all his influence to see that such a board materialises in the near future. As regards oats, we have here what seems to be the simplest problem of them all and the reason why it has not been dealt with appears somewhat obscure. Scotland can produce all the oats necessary to feed her population and I cannot see why we should permit the importation into this country of any oats. It may be that at the present time commercial treaties stand in the way of such 329 exclusion. Then why should not such treaties be denounced now, even if they could only be brought to an end in a year? I do not see why we should import when we can produce what our population needs.
I am glad to see the hon. and gallant Member for Banff (Sir M. Wood) in his place because if newspaper reports are correct a few days ago he went to the of Tyree and said that the new fiscal policies of the present Government were bound to drive people back to the land. I do not think I misrepresent the purport of his remarks. Surely it is a very remarkable thing that while the Liberal party have been for the last 20 or 30 years proclaiming their devotion to the policy of "back to the land" and declaring how necessary it is that we ought, to re-people our glens and straths—a statement which has of course the complete agreement of everyone of us— the hon. and gallant Gentleman and his colleagues have been voting solidly for the last month or so against a policy which does that very thing. That seems to indicate a distinct cleavage between theory and practice. The hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) bitterly assailed the Liberals, and I think was well justified in so doing. There is one point in his speech upon which I wish to touch. He took exception to some remarks of mine with regard to the Irish population in the West of Scotland. I do not wish to offend the hon. Member, but I still hold to what said, namely, that culturally the Irish population there has not been assimilated into the Scottish population. It is not my purpose now to discuss whether the Irish culture is good or bad, but merely to state the definite fact that there is in the West of Scotland a completely separate race of alien origin, practically homogeneous, whose presence there is bitterly resented by tens of thousands of the Scottish working class.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Will the Noble Lord answer me this? Is it not the case that if you go to the Glasgow University you will find what have stated to be true, namely, that ever so many of the students there have come from Irish parents—I mean poor parents—who have struggled and starved in order to send their boys and girls to a university Surely that is assimilating what we consider to be our outstanding Scottish characteristic.
§ Lord SCONE
I think the hon. Member is quite irrelevant in his interruption, which I do not resent in the least. I said that the Irish population in the West of Scotland has not assimilated Scottish culture, and I stand by that statement. I do not think any such assimilation is proved merely by the fact that they have sent a large number of their sons and daughters to our universities.
I have not spoken long, and I want to voice a protest against certain senior Members who, night after night and week after week, speak here for very long periods. I refer particularly to the right hon. and gallant Member for Caithness and also to the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs. I know the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs is perfectly sincere when he expresses his dismay at the conditions prevailing in the West of Scotland and elsewhere. At the same time, I think—and I say so quite frankly—it shows considerable selfishness on his part, and on the part of the others to whom I have referred, when they know that a very large 'umber of Members wish to speak, that they should occupy so much of the time of the House. I do not want to set myself up as a paragon. I have been here a short time, but this is the tenth occasion on which I have been on my feet, and my speeches have amounted in all to exactly 12 columns. I have never spoken for more than 10 minutes at a time, although I have no doubt I shall speak on various occasions longer than that, but I hope I shall never inflict myself on this House for so long that I shall be regarded by my fellow Members as having outstayed my welcome.
§ 9.18 p.m.
§ Mr. JAMES REID
In view of the lateness of the hour, I will restrict myself to certain practical points which I wish to put forward, and cut very short indeed any general remarks which I may have to make. I do not think any hon. Member up to date, apart from the Secretary of State, has touched upon the statement in the Gracious Speech that we are to have a Court of Session Bill this Session. I think the whole legal profession, and indeed the whole public of Scotland, welcome that announcement, because the procedure of the Court of Session has not been overhauled since 1874, and one of the main reasons for which this Measure 331 is being introduced is the avoidance of delay. In this connection, I desire to say a word about a matter with which it is in the immediate power of the Government to deal, but about which there seems to be some hitch. I am glad to see the Lord Advocate in his place, and I would like to say, and to say with a little emphasis, that there is at present a vacancy on the judicial bench in Scotland. That vacancy occurred before the beginning of the present session, which has now run a pretty large part of its course, and we have heard no reason why that vacancy should not be filled. That is leading directly to delay and to the prevention of litigants getting prompt justice, and I would ask the Lord Advocate, whatever the obstacles may be—I do not need to specify them—to use his most earnest endeavours to remove those obstacles, so that the vacancy may be speedily filled. Whereas England has had numerous additions to her judiciary during the last half century, the number of judges in Scotland has remained constant for the last 100 years, in spite of our population being at least six times what it was 100 years ago.
With regard to Home Rule, I would like to say a few words only, because I want to come to certain constructive suggestions. It seems to me that the grounds which are put forward as a justification for proposals of the nature of Home Rule fall into three classes. You have, first, the cultural group of grievances, which was, if I may say so, admirably stated by the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Buchan) as a loss of our national idiom. I am utterly unable to understand what difference the presence or absence of say 200 persons in a Parliament in Edinburgh is going to make to the development of our national idiom, and it surprises me that the people who get up and talk about the presence of a. Parliament in Edinburgh fostering culture or regenerating industry are mostly of Liberal antecedents. One was always brought up to understand that the Liberal party believed that the less the Government interfered with affairs with which they had no concern, the better.
I am unable to understand how the right hon. and gallant Member for Caithness reconciles his Liberal antecedents, and indeed his present Liberal views, 332 with either his desire to set up a Parliament to interfere in matters which are not political at all, or his desire to spend money and apparently introduce a spate of legislation. As I understood him, the main reasons put forward as justifying the setting up of another Parliament are, in the first place, that they would be able to spend more money than this Parliament will spend on matters like land settlement, and, in the second place, that they would be able to pass a larger number of Acts of Parliament. I do not think either of those things is desirable in itself, and, in so far as they are used as arguments for Home Rule, it seems to me that they can only succeed with persons of Socialistic leanings.
Let me come now to the economic aspect of the question. The main difficulty about the present world situation is the growth of economic nationalism of the narrowest description, and surely the remedy is to keep your economic unit as large as possible. It is impossible that Scotland should exist as a separate economic unit, any more than any of the European units which have proved so disastrous both to themselves and to their neighbours. Accordingly, I can see no justification on the economic side for the setting up of a separate Parliament. All that we have heard, either in this House or outside, have been resounding generalities. Will somebody who advocates Home Rule tell us a single Measure which a Scottish Parliament can pass that this Parliament will not pass and which is going to be of benefit to Scotland in an economic sense? I do not want to delay on that matter but to pass for a few moments to the question of administration. I have mentioned culture and economics, but there is this third group in which there is a sense of grievance, which is justified, and that is the matter of Scottish administration. I do not think it is this Government's fault or that of the Governments which have preceded it since the War.
There is no doubt that at present the administration of Scotland does leave a good deal to be desired. There is no doubt it is quite wrong that it should be necessary for deputations to come from local authorities to London in order to get their problems attended to. It is quite wrong that civil servants and others who have to administer day to day Government in Scotland should live in 333 London out of touch with Scottish sentiment and opinion. It is true that they do their best to keep in touch, but it is impossible to anyone who lives and works in London to keep in real close touch with what Scotland thinks and wants. I do hope that the Secretary of State will take a bold line in the proposals he has outlined and see to it that the heads of the Civil Service are settled permanently in Edinburgh, and that all that is left in London is an office sufficient to keep him informed in the course of his Parliamentary duties and in touch with the English Departments.
I do beg the Secretary of State to use his most earnest endeavours with the Government to get the building of Scottish national Government buildings started at the earliest possible moment. I think there ought to appear in this year's Estimates a sum sufficient to cover the preliminary work. It is not a matter where national economy can be allowed to stand in the way indefinitely. It is a matter where delay means extravagance and expense. It means expense to the Government, because as long as you get Departments scattered about in London and all over Edinburgh, a far larger annual expense is necessary, and, in addition, means that valuable sites in Edinburgh are taken up which might be realised at a profit to the Government. I do submit that the immediate commencement of a really large and handsome building for the Scottish national Government would be an economy to the Government and a great economy to the country. It would mean that administration would be speedier and more efficient, and one knows how much matters of this sort count in local administration.
There is only one other matter I would like to mention in this connection. In passing, I would submit that a second Under-Secretary of State is very urgently called for. Although it may not be absolutely essential when the Scottish Office is centred here, if it is to be in Edinburgh a second representative of the Government should be there always. It would therefore be essential, as part of the reorganisation, that a second Under-Secretary should be appointed. Then I would venture to submit that Departments like the Office of Works and the Home Office should shed their Scottish functions, which should be put immediately under the care of the Scottish 334 Office. It is rather ridiculous that the ancient monuments of Scotland should be under the jurisdiction of a London office. I see no reason whatever why matters of this sort should not be under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State and managed from Edinburgh. I quite see that it is undesirable to split up such Departments as the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Labour. It is, possibly, also undesirable to split up the Ministry of Mines or the Ministry of Transport, but I do happen to know that the absence of branches of those Departments in Edinburgh causes a considerable amount of inconvenience. I suggest that as part of the shift from London to Edinburgh there ought to be provision for the establishment of branches, with responsible individuals in Edinburgh, of such Departments as are to remain unified for the whole United Kingdom. If that were done, and these branches were put under the Scottish Office in a proper building in Edinburgh, the legitimate needs of Scotland would be amply met, and I feel sure that any ground there may be for any demand for a measure of Home Rule for Scotland would disappear if a reform of this character were promptly introduced.
In conclusion, I would say that the longer the Government delay giving full effect to thorough-going constructive proposals of the type I have mentioned, the more danger there will be that these proposals, when introduced, will not satisfy the Scottish national demand. If the Government will move promptly, I have no doubt whatever that the type of proposal I have suggested will be entirely satisfactory. If they will not, nobody knows what may happen, and both from the point of view of practical politics and also of economy, I would beg the Government to make the speediest possible movement in the direction I have indicated.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ Miss HORSBRUGH
I have listened to the Debate, being particularly interested to hear any suggestions which might be made for helping the people of Scotland to-day and bringing back to our native land greater prosperity than we know at present, but I have listened in vain. There have been many surprises during this Debate. I look along the bench now vacant in front of me—the bench that is generally filled or occupied 335 by that section of the Liberal party who have told us that one of the planks in their platform is Scottish Home Rule. To-day one is almost led to believe that they think their plank so fragile that they dare not trust themselves on it. I think they are right. We have listened, at any rate, to one speech from one Member of that section of the Liberal party, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair). We heard first about the glorious future for Scotland, when men and women would be in happiness and would have found contentment for their souls upon what is now in some parts the barren soil of Scotland. No scheme was put forward for bringing them there. Money was needed, it was suggested, but there was no suggestion as to how the money was to be found when a Parliament assembled in Edinburgh. Perhaps when my right hon. Friend and these Scottish Members meet together and debate somewhere in Edinburgh or elsewhere, the soil of Scotland will become more fertile, and the bogs, moors and deer forests of the north will no longer be difficult to cultivate. Then it is quite certain the people of Scotland will be working the soil, because they will be working at a profit.
When the right hon. Gentleman came to the subject of Home Rule, I found that I was wrong in believing there were two parties in favour of Home Rule. There are three. We have had the extremists. We have been told about these people. They would divide up this Kingdom. We have had the moderates, the Duke of Montrose and Sir Alexander McEwen, and we have heard of the vague postponists led by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Caithness and Sutherland. We are not to have a scheme, though we are told the interest in Home Rule is intense, increasing and becoming more definite. We are hearing much more about it, but they say: Do not let us run into a definite scheme. I would have thought that perhaps the right hon. and gallant Member was un certain in his mind whether he wanted it or not if I did not know that it was one of the chief planks in the policy of his party. When speaking a short time ago of another Member of that section of the Liberal party, I suggested that he 336 was wanting the best of both worlds. When I listened to the right hon. and gallant Member for Caithness and Sutherland I realised that he was wanting the best of both Parliaments. He tells us that this Parliament will sit in Edinburgh. He tells us also that it will consist of Scotsmen and Scotswomen who will be living in Scotland. I agree that Scotsmen and Scotswomen can best represent Scotland, and now that we have in a majority of cases Scottish people representing Scottish constituencies we feel that the point of view of Scotland is better put forward. Where among the Scottish Members are those who, perhaps, have not been much in Scotland, and who may perhaps come from the south of England and whom we can say that with an extra supply of intelligence they have been able to absorb a great many of our views during the last few weeks.
One of the difficulties in this Home Rule question is that speakers are apt in the emphasis of a subject to suggest various things in passing which they do not really believe would be brought about by Scottish Home Rule. In his speech the right hon. and gallant Member for Caithness and Sutherland mentioned the closing down of the Rosyth Dockyard. Does he suggest that, if there were a Parliament in Edinburgh, it would be opened once more '? It has been arranged that international affairs and the defence forces would be entirely under the Imperial Government. Why the Imperial Government should open Rosyth Dockyard simply because there is a Parliament in Edinburgh I do not know. We have been told that such a Parliament would save us from losing our Scottish characteristics and our Scottish type. The Debate this afternoon has proved that we are in no danger of losing our Scottish characteristics. My hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) seemed to think that, though the Scottish flag is the lion rampant, it is no longer the best symbol for Scotland. Did not the hon. Member's very speech show that the lion rampant is a, very good symbol? We heard a speech from the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), which showed that the Scottish people are true to type today as they were in years gone by. Why should we go about with this inferiority 337 complex, saying that we have lost our Scottish characteristics, seeing how Scottish Members have sat here from the early hours of this afternoon with tenacity and patience in order to put the views of Scotland before the House? We are told that we are trampled on and that the views of Scotland are not listened to at all. All I can say, if that is so, is that they are put uncommonly badly. Every time I have addressed the House I have realised the patience and attention which Members have given to anything that is said, even by such a newcomer as myself.
The other point that is put to us beside the loss of Scottish characteristics, is that if we had a Scottish Parliament we should have a decrease in unemployment and that our industries would be more flourishing. We should deal very seriously with this question because the severing of the trade and industry of Scotland from that of England is an extremely dangerous suggestion. It is not to be dealt with lightly, because, should such a change take place, the figures of unemployment in Scotland would be increased. I am not going to touch on many of the subjects dealing with unemployment which hon. Members have already mentioned, but I would point out that in our trade agreements with other countries we are trying to bargain for a better market for our goods. If Scotland and England were separated, could we have that same bargaining power? Could we have so much to offer foreign countries in return for their markets? If I may allude to a part of the industries of Scotland in which I am interested, namely, the jute industry, I have visited Denmark lately partly to look into the subject of the sale of jute bacon wrappers for Denmark. I found in many cases that Danish bacon was still being sent to this country in foreign wrappers. In one particular factory, I saw Belgian wrappers and asked the manager if the bacon was being sent into Belgium. I was told that it was not, and I said: "Why should you put it in Belgian wrappers and not British?" Our power of bargaining in that country on that subject is surely this: "If we buy bacon from you, you can at any rate put it in wrappers made in our country." The power of bargaining is very great, 338 and it would be lost to Scotland if this severance were made.
I notice in another part of the propaganda put forward on behalf of Home Rule for Scotland that they talk of the fishing industry and the foreign trawlers. Surely it has been decided in the propaganda that foreign affairs would be entirely under the control of the Imperial Parliament. How then can we say that if a Parliament were instituted in Edinburgh the foreign trawlers would not be near our coasts? How can we deal with a foreign nation when it would be dealt with by the Imperial Parliament and not by the men and women who were sitting dealing with domestic affairs in the Parliament at Edinburgh? We are to have two Ministries of Labour and two different schemes of pensions in the two countries. That will create chaos and unfairness. We have found in the House over and over again what an unfair state of affairs exists under the public assistance authorities when a man in one part of the country is receiving a certain pension and a man in another part is receiving less. Surely we would increase that state of affairs if we had different schemes in the two countries. Workmen going from one country to another would have all sorts of difficulties. See the difficulties which the countries of Europe are having in the arrangement of their frontiers, and how, over and over again, it has proved to be impossible to arrange a frontier except on a geographical basis. When one comes back to this country one is thankful to live in an island whose frontier is the great frontier of the sea.
I would remind hon. Members that in the old days we heard a great deal of walls that were built in the north of England to keep away from England certain tribes of the north. Walls were built and were found to be of no use. Further walls were built, but still the population of the north scaled them. I believe that whatever wall or harrier people tried to put up, we of the Scottish race would scale it. It is not merely a case of being fit to govern themselves. We think we are fit to govern all the world. I would ask those who advocate this scheme of Home Rule if they are willing to see Members who sit for Scottish constituencies shut out from Cabinet rank in the Imperial Parliament? Are they willing to give up for ever the idea 339 that a Member for a Scottish constituency can be Prime Minister of Great Britain? I for one am not willing to give up that idea. Are they willing to shut out Scotsmen and Scotswomen from taking the biggest positions arid from being able to do the largest amount of work not only for Britain but for the British Empire? If they are willing to do that, then we will say that they have lost their Scottish characteristics. Not till then will I believe that they would abandon this scheme of union with England which has brought prosperity in great measure to both countries; not till I have heard that they wish to stick inside their own island and take no part in the government of the world, will I believe that they are going to turn their backs on the Union. This scheme is dangerous, because I believe it will be of detriment both to England and to Scotland. I believe that the Scottish people as a whole do not want it, and that the Scottish people will not have it.
§ 9.46 p.m.
§ Sir SAMUEL CHAPMAN
The hon. Lady the Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) has another fine speech to her credit, and the House cannot wonder how it was that she won for our party such a notable victory at the last election. I want to make the shortest speech on record, and I think that for me to do so will be in accord with the feeling of the House at this moment. The issue of the Debate has been focussed very ably and very accurately by two of my hon. Friends from the Clydeside—work and wages. They said that a Parliament in Scotland, if it was to be of any use at all, ought to provide work and wages; if it did not, it was no use for anything. I am very sorry to have to mention it in this way, but I am the only individual here representing Scotland who has brought four new industries to Scotland in the last five or six years—not that it is any virtue, but I happen to be in the textile business, and know the Continent well, as well as we know Perth and Aberdeen and Edinburgh. People happen to know me and made a bee-line for me when this policy of the Government was initiated.
There are many industries we can develop for ourselves in this country, and that is what we ought to do first of all; 340 but there are certain industries which have not grown up in this country but have developed on the Continent. One of those industries used to be a flourishing one, to a certain extent, in this country a century or two centuries ago. I refer to the real silk industry. I happen to know something about it. Seven to 10 years ago £18,000,000 or £20,000,000 worth of manufactured silk was brought into this country. The Leader of the Opposition pictured the other day the gay scene at the opening of Parliament. All the fineries seen on such an occasion used to come from the Continent. The women of Scotland and the women of England kept the populations of Como, of Lyons, of Zurich and other places in a state of prosperity. The new policy of this country was started originally in 1923 by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer putting on the silk duties. At that time there came to me four of the biggest industrialists on the Continent. They asked me "What is the meaning of this?" I said, "It is the beginning of a new era, my friends." "Oh, well," they replied, "we have had a very good time, we have had four generations of prosperity in Zurich"—this was from a gentleman from Zurich—"and we must just do the best we can. We shall have to come over to this country and make the same stuff here as we have been making abroad." I said, "Thank you. Then you will be employing our own people, Scottish people or English people, and giving them a chance to make a class of goods which has hitherto been made on the Continent." To that they said "Yes," quite good naturedly.
Since that time three silk factories and one dye works have been established here. I should explain that first of all the material has to be woven and then dyed. I am getting down to realities. Then these gentlemen came to me and said, "Where shall we go?" I replied, "There are many great manufacturing places in this country, but before you come to a conclusion do come and see dear old Scotland. They said, "Yes, we will," and one of them came to Dunfermline. I consulted with Mr. William Adamson—I was not doing it from a party point of view—and he came down from Dunfermline and I came down from Edinburgh and we met this gentleman in the 341 Midland Hotel in Manchester, and we plastered him with plans of all the factories we could find. He said, "People who take the trouble to send us these plans deserve recognition," and he went by the next train to Edinburgh. We could not fix him up in Edinburgh, and he went on to Dunfermline and bought there a factory which has been working for six years and is now employing about 300 people. He was the decoy.
When the new Government came into power I went to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and we had a nice little meeting. I told the Chancellor of the Exchequer just as much as I am telling the House at this moment. He was very reticent, but he gave us reasonable further facilities with regard to the silk duty. Then what happened? Within 24 hours the biggest firm in Switzerland made up their minds to leave Switzerland and to come to this country. It is not altogether a foreign firm, because there are Englishmen in it, and there are English directors. They thought, "Where shall we go?" and again they came to me—I do not know why, but they came. I said, "Go down to Dunfermline; there are four mills standing empty." That is the kind of thing we must do in Scotland. We have to find other industries in the place of dying industries. That is what our predecessors always did. If the linen trade goes, it is the duty of any individual who has any influence anywhere to get another industry to put in its place. I said to those gentlemen, "Look at those mills. Carnegie—£40,000 a year for all time—a beautiful garden city." They bought a factory. Then I must mention Loch Lomond. An hon Member opposite made a rampant speech to-night, as one of my lion. Friends called it, but let me thank him publicly in this House for what he did for me about three or four years ago in helping me with that factory on the side of Loch Lomond. It was no stunt of mine. Everyone whom I could get hold of came in to help. There is another factory in Paisley—now four altogether. This is all I have to say. I am sorry to have to read this letter because it refers to me personally. [Interruption.] I am going to read it, and then I am going to sit down. The point is that it focusses the whole of this Debate on the one point of work and 342 wages. The House will see what I mean in a minute. The letter was as follows:As you will remember,"—This is addressed to me—we consulted you last Autumn, as soon as the National Government was formed, as to the possibility of reasonable arrangements being made with regard to the protection of the silk industry"—That was the time when I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer—and asked your opinion as to what you thought might be the trend of events under the National Government. After prolonged consideration, and following the suggestion which you made, that before we came to a conclusion, we should visit Scotland and particularly Ditmlermline,"—[Interruption.] I have always said Dunfermline. If you cannot go to Edinburgh go to Dunfermlinein order to see if we might establish a factory so far north, we decided to transfer our manufacturing business from Winterthur"—that is about 18 miles from Zurich—in Switzerland to Dunfermline. We bought property there, reconstructed it, and in the process have spent many thousands of pounds in making a thoroughly up-to-date factory. The building has been completed and we have, during the last few weeks, installed 150 looms, in order to immediately commence manufacturing, and of course, we do not intend to rest here, but look forward to running the factory on a large scale. My directors in Switzerland have been in constant touch, and have recently visited Scotland."—I want the House to mark this.They have been a good deal perturbed, however, on hearing of a movement for the establishment of a separate Parliament for Scotland. A year or more ago, when we decided to go to Dunfermline, in preference to England, where we had more or less decided to start operations, there was no suggestion of Home Rule for Scotland, and I write to tell you that had we been aware of any movement of this nature, we would certainly not hove started manufacturing in Scotland. Could you give me your opinion as to what you think is the real likelihood of this movement, as we are very much afraid that if it should find the necessary support it might easily lead to separate commercial laws for both countries, friction between the Governments, and the uncertainty of commerce, which would make business even more difficult than it is at present?We have had many eloquent speeches, but that is down to the bedrock of business. This movement is not going to encourage business to come to Scotland, because business people look all round the sides of a question. It is a very difficult and 343 delicate matter to direct their attention to any part of these islands, and they are very sensitive. If this organisation were to gain an impetus, it would inevitably damage the chances of more industries coming to Scotland.
I could give the House much more information on this point. I thank the House for kindly listening to me. It is a most serious matter, and I am only too glad of the opportunity of telling this House, as I told my friends from the Continent, that I believe that the people of Scotland had too much common sense to allow this movement to go any further than it has at the moment, and that they need fear no danger in coming to Scotland and starting new industries.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. LEONARD
I am at a loss at times to determine to what extent the Debates in this House can proceed. As a comparatively new Member, I certainly am surprised that the Debate on the Speech from the Throne has taken the trend that it has. I do not know whether this is becoming a Scottish day, because of the actions of what are termed "the usual channels," but I am inclined to think that the tendency displayed in the speeches were given direction by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hill-head (Sir R. Horne) who certainly made Scottish Home Rule one of the main -topics of his speech, and of course, attacked the proposal. I am also surprised that the hon. Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) should only count three organisations among those that are striving for what is, from many points of view, a desirable end. I have in my hand a manifesto which has the Union Jack placed upon it, the Scottish flag with the St. Andrew's Cross and the flag with the lion rampant. It comes from the Imperial Committee of the Unionist Association of Cathcart.
§ Miss HORSBRUGH
I said that the people in favour of Scottish Home Rule could be divided into three sections, the extremists, who want to go the whole way, the moderates who only want a certain scheme of devolution, and the new party that has been formed.
§ Mr. LEONARD
I was under the impression that the hon. Member referred specifically to organisations.
§ Mr. LEONARD
In any case, I want to refer to this manifesto which was issued by the Cathcart Association.
§ Mr. LEONARD
I am interested to see that the Liberal party is not the only party that has splits in it.
§ Mr. LEONARD
Yes. I referred to the Imperial Committee on the previous occasion, but I omitted it in my second reference. I beg pardon for that. I know that this manifesto comes from a part of Glasgow that has been loyal to the Tory organisation, but which has sufficient numbers in it to produce this rather formidable manifesto. It states:The development of the Empire is now such that the Dominions and Colonies, as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, ought, and are entitled, to have direct representation in a British Imperial Government.Naturally, they go on to say:Scotland, in particular, urgently requires more intensive development by government than the British Parliament, as at present constituted, can adequately give. Measures of Dominion government to Scotland, England and Wales are accordingly essential for the better government of these nations.I am not a believer in Home Rule if such is intended to separate the peoples of this or any other country, but I am a believer in Home Rule that will give a little more intimacy to the common people in Scotland and in other countries than they have in the large controlling units such as this. In order to make the position of the trade unionists of Scotland quite clear on that point, I would like to state that they have considered the matter and that, while they may or may not consider Home Rule desirable, they are definitely of the opinion that in their industrial organisations they are not going to be separated from organisations south of the Border.
The speech of the hon. Member for Lanark (Lord Dunglass) I thoroughly en- 345 joyed, although I could not just get his opinion to coincide with those of the hon. Member for the Partick Division (Lieut.-Colonel MacAndrew). The speech of the hon. Member for Lanark, if I received it correctly, was inclined to follow the policy of insular units in order to have countries as self-contained as possible. That did not coincide with the definite statement of the hon. Member for Cathcart (Mr. Train)—with which, by the way, I agree—that more and more interdependence is required, as is recognised in every part of the world. As to the statement of the hon. Member for Lanark, I should like to relate his opinions, if I caught them aright, with his statement regarding unemployment. He stated that in the main unemployment in Scotland is confined to coal, iron and steel, engineering and shipbuilding, and that, if the problems were disposed of in those four activities, Scotland would be practically clear of unemployment. I am prepared to accept that, but I cannot see coal, iron and steel, engineering and shipbuilding being Lettered by the policy adopted by the present Government in regard to the restriction of trade by the imposition of tariffs. If it be the case that the settlement of the problem in these four items of activity would break the back of unemployment, what we want is more freedom of trade, because these activities thrive according to the extent to which commodities are moved about the world.
My last point with regard to unemployment is that which was raised specifically by the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. J. Reid). He is in favour of the application of a form of devolution to administration in Scotland, but, if that be required in administration, it is, in my opinion, required in regard to the control of administration. I have been informed that administration is three-quarters of Government, and, if it be necessary that the administration of Scottish affairs should be in Scotland, and that a Member of the Government should be continually in Scotland, we may as well have a Government in Scotland looking over the administration, especially in view of the recent memorandum submitted to the Government by the Town Clerk of Glasgow, which stated quite clearly, in reference to certain benefits to the City of Glasgow by taking men from the parish, 346 that the administrative action of the chief insurance official took away practically immediately all such benefits as might have been conferred in that way.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead appears to be rather anxious about this question in Scotland, and I think that the attitude which is being adopted by Tory Members opposite has been dictated and fostered because of the meeting held in the Merchants' House on the 14th November, when one Lord and 17 Scottish Knights commenced a campaign against this insidious movement in Scotland. We now see visible evidence in this House of the action that is being taken.
The points contained in the Speech from the Throne are all of considerable importance, and, undoubtedly, there is a grave difference of opinion as to the viewpoint from which we should look at it. I should like to refer earnestly to the contribution of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), who dealt with the League of Nations and matters affecting the Geneva and other international conferences. I regret very much his reference to the gullibility of the League of Nations. If there is one body of men and women of all countries who have striven with courage might and main to see that peace may be brought to this world, it is the organisation known as the League of Nations—[HON. MEMBERS: "The League of Nations Union"] —the League of Nations Union. Therefore, I regret very much the sneering attitude towards those who compose that Union. It is true, as was stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping, that there is more hatred in the world than there was before, but the League of Nations Union is not the cause of that. It is true, also, that rivalry has increased in the world, but the League of Nations Union is not the cause of that. If it be the case, as the right hon. Gentleman stated, that the war mentality has increased, there again I say that, if anyone has worked against that increase in war mentality, it has been the League of Nations Union. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping asked us to look below and see the ferment of nationalism and so forth that is making it impossible for their work to fructify, but, if you look still further underneath, you will see that the cause of the lack of success that has attended their efforts 347 is the fact that we are not prepared to co-operate nation with nation in accepting the real spirit of mutual aid. Every one of the capitalist nations of the world is endeavouring to see how much profit it can get from other parts of the world, and, until that is altered, and the spirit of mutual aid is introduced, we shall never have the advantages that would accrue from lasting peace.
Russia always crops up in discussions on this matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping and the Noble Lady the Member for West Perth (Duchess of Atholl) referred specially to Russia. They are not, however, afraid of the armaments in Russia; that is not what worries them. What worries them is that a new concept of life is growing up in Russia. They understand that the schoolmaster has been abroad in Russia in a way in which he never was before. They know that there are children to-day in Russia who look upon a civilisation as being civilisation if it is based on the common people, children who do not conceive of a civilisation that only displays its advantages at the top of the scale. That is the reason why they are afraid of the movement which is taking place in Russia.
I say quite sincerely that I enjoyed the speech of the Mover of the Address the other day, and I join with him in saying that the will to peace is one of the great factors. But what is the use of willing peace when we are living in war? Without doubt, there is no peace in the world to-day. A simple illustration should prove the point. Not a man or a woman goes into a factory in this country or in any part of the world to-day who does not enter into war with his or her brothers and sisters who are working in another factory in the same street. The measure of success of their employer is taken to be the extent that he forges ahead and leaves his competitors behind no matter how many employer are placed in the street. Father fights son if they are in different establishments, and, while you have that condition in the industrial and commercial life of this or any other nation, you can never expect to have a peace which will give satisfaction. We must really take co-operation in the sense of each and everyone being capable of having a greater degree of equality than at present and the vicious circle of de- 348 pression will go. The circle of depression is caused through the mad stampede for profits, and, once that stampede for profits goes, the vicious circle of depression will go. We cannot wait. We have got to have something done as quickly as possible. We have been told that the Government are taking the long view. I am not foolish enough to deny that that long view must be taken, but there are people in the country who cannot wait on the long view.
I wonder if hon. Members opposite have paid attention to the recent investigations of Mr. Seebohm Rowntree. He has investigated the matter on many occasions before, and he now tells us that, for a man with a, wife and three children, 31s. 6d. will only provide a dietary more rigid than is given in the workhouses, and yet this makes no provision for rent or rates. How can people in those conditions take the long view? How can they wait on a long drawn-out policy? I know reference will be made to the Labour Government, but they were hampered, though they did the best that they could. There is power on the other side. Your great leader, Disraeli, said that power has only one duty, and that is to attend to the requirements of the people. You have the power and I ask you to apply it a little more intimately to the common people. Mr. Seebohm Rowntree said:If one makes economic provision to cover the difference between mere physical subsistence and a very moderate standard of life one arrives for the same family at a figure of 43s. 8d. a week.I am going to ask that this be taken into consideration as something connected with the desire expressed in the King's Speech, something that cannot wait on a long policy, something that you have the power to do something for at present. It may be that the march of science is ruthless, as the Mover of the Motion said, but I do not believe it. Science has provided the possibilities of a life that the people never conceived would be theirs at any time. What is wrong is not science but the fact that the owners of the power to apply that science are ruthless. You find the captains of industry urging that Parliament should not interfere so much in industry's affairs. They want a little more freedom. They see an army of 2,000,000 people on the streets wanting 349 to get work of any kind, and they want to take advantage of it.
Sir Allan Smith, one of the great leaders of industry, has gone far in protesting at Parliamentary interference. He desires that the evolution of sentiment and the development of public opinion should be the guide to the industrial conditions of the country. I do not think there is any Member of the Tory party who would be prepared to admit that even Sir Allan Smith, or the most humane individual controlling industry to-day, should be allowed to do in his factory what the evolution of sentiment and the development of public opinion would allow. We have had to interfere through the medium of our inspectors. We have had to guide industry, and we shall have to do it more than in the past. Reference is made in the Gracious Speech to the effects of unemployment and the need to continue material assistance. It states that that is not sufficient and that the moral of the people must be protected. I am sorry that that recognition has come so late. Your effort has been lost to a great section of the young men and young women of the country. When I talk about the means test, I do not look at it in terms of pounds, shillings and pence at all. I realise that many of the young men and women who come to me in difficulties feel that they are losing their manhood and womanhood. If you want to save the moral of the people, take away the stigma that is on us and allow the young men and women who are able to work, if work is provided, to stand in their lives as men and women, as they are.
The Seconder of the Motion stated, I believe truly, that no farmer desires to pay low wages. I am quite prepared to admit that. But no farmer wants to pay high rents, and I do not understand why the Government, with the power that they have, have not paid a little attention to the rents that farmers have to pay. I turn to the last published report of the Inland Revenue Department, and in Table 47, not dealing with gross income but with the actual income liable to Income Tax, I find that the income from the ownership—not the working of land because that is dealt with separately—of land and houses has increased since 1921, which was the first year that Southern 350 Ireland was kept out of the figures, by £78,922,000. If the farmers are to receive any support, let us turn our attention to that comparatively small body of men who control land and houses and have increased their yearly incomes since 1924 by no less than close upon £79,000,000, and then we shall not require to tax the people who buy their bread and meat in the shops of the country.
With regard to prices, I, like most Members of the House, looked at the newspapers this morning. I found, quoting at least one paper—the "News, Chronicle"—that there is no hope of prices being stabilised. The tendency is definitely on the upgrade, and I have the table for lamb, mutton and beef showing the comparative increases of the various types. In general, it shows a definite increase, as a result of the policy of the Government in regard to meat, of no less than a penny to l½d. a 1b., and in some cases in the retail shops the best cuts have definitely increased. In order to save time and not merely to give my own view, I will put before the House the opinion of the Secretary of the National Federation of Meat Traders Associations who stated in "Reynolds" on the 13th of this month that:any increase in the wholesale price would be passed on to the consumer. We need look for no sensational leap upwards but rather for a slow steady rise with no limit only the point at which the public can no longer afford to buy meat. How British agriculture can be helped by raising the price of meat to a point where people cannot afford it is beyond my comprehension.That is the opinion of a man who, I presume, knows something about the trade. At one time it was possible for people of the country, when meat became too dear, to turn to bacon, but the door shut them, As has already been stated from the Front Bench, the price of bacon has gone up by 9s. a cwt. Again, we find a representative of the metropolitan grocers stating that only the best cuts have gone up and that future prices are problematic. Even if you give the British producer an advantage of 20s. a cwt. against the Danish price of 52s. to 54s. a cwt. it will not come near to what the British pig producer demands. He says that at least it will take from 80s. to 84s. in order to make pig production pay. If bacon is increasing in price as a result of the comparatively small increase applied at the present time, what will 351 the price have to be if you are to satisfy the desires of the pig producers and bring the figure up to 80s. or 84s. I do not wish to appear to be bitter towards any Member on the Front Bench, but I should like to remind hon. Members of the fact that in the early days of the first National Government they gave a promise to this country through the medium of the Food Prices (Prevention of Exploitation) Act, which is still in being because it was renewed. I will read the Preamble:An Act to authorise the Board of Trade in case of need to take exceptional measures for preventing or remedying shortages in, or any reasonable increase in the price of, certain articles of food or drink.That Act is still in force. I do not sea any action pending against the Minister of Agriculture or the President of the Board of Trade because they are doing what this Act was brought into being to prevent. It is perhaps well that it is one of the prerogatives of the President of the Board of Trade to initiate action before any prosecution can take place; but I think the only appropriate thing he can do is to permit the Public Prosecutor to proceed against himself and the Minister of Agriculture for outraging an Act brought into being by the Government, and increasing prices and restricting trade in that way.
I will keep my promise to sit down before the half hour. I am sorry that no indication has been given in the King's Speech as to the use of the Agricultural Utilisation Act. Every hon. or right hon. Member who has touched on the land question to-day has given recognition of the possibilities of putting more people on to the land. We have had certain detailed speeches and if they are favourably considered by the responsible members of the Government, I would suggest that the Agricultural Utilisation Act might be brought into operation to a greater extent than it is at the present time. My last point is in regard to Rent Restriction legislation. If any alteration takes place it should be an extension and not a lessening of control, because it must be patent to every hon. Member that there is a widening degree of distress not touching people who at one time were looked upon as being of the working class as regards ability to pay rent. Therefore, instead of restricting the element of control, it should be widened. 352 Further, I am of opinion that private enterprise can never again cope with the housing conditions of this country, and the sooner the Government realise that that need can only be met by bringing into operation the municipalities and direct labour, the better. Only by those means can we get the housing needs of the community met, with perhaps a possibility of doing away eventually with rent control, which is felt to be so irksome by the people who are the sufferers. I will not touch on other points because of the promise that I made, but I suggest that the references in the King's Speech are not sufficient to satisfy the immediate requirements of the people, and I suggest that the Government, with all their powers, should take their courage in both hands in effecting some improvement in regard to the matters with which I have dealt, thereby helping to relieve the anxieties of the people.
§ 10.29 p.m.
§ Mr. SKELTON
I think the House will agree with me that the hon. Member who has just spoken has, within the limits of time that he set himself, put with the greatest force, terseness and clearness the matters with which he dealt. If I do not follow him into all of them, every one of which in its nature and its importance is well worthy to be discussed, it is because I propose to deal with what has been the main topic of Debate to-day, namely, affairs in Scotland. Speaking I think on behalf of the Government as a whole, and particularly on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and myself, I may say that we welcome most sincerely the opportunity which this Debate has given, at the very beginning of a new Session of Parliament, of a general review of Scottish affairs. Two generations ago a favourite topic was "the condition of England." I am glad that in our generation the first country which has had its condition definitely and particularly inspected by this House in this new Session is my own country of Scotland. Under the Rules of the House we are generally confined to Debates which arise on the Estimates and which are usually restricted, and therefore I think it is a most valuable innovation that we should have this opportunity so early in the Session of debating general affairs in Scotland. Much, of course, has been said on the question of Home Rule for Scot- 353 land, but we should be greatly in error if we thought that the only topic of importance raised is the question of Home Rule. My right hon. Friend and I attach the greatest importance to the suggestions which have been made on the general question of Scottish government and legislation, and it is on this that I want to say a word or two.
The discussion has been concentrated mainly upon suggested alterations in Scottish administration, the erection of suitable buildings for the Scottish Administrative Offices in the capital of Scotland, and the appointment of another Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has dealt with these topics, but may I add one word on the question of administration. Administration grows and changes with the changing years, and the great interest of this Debate has been that it is clear that the time has arrived for a further development and change in Scottish administration. It is now some 50 years since the office of Secretary for Scotland was renewed, after a lapse of over a 100 years, and four years since an important Act was passed dealing with the reorganisation of the Scottish Departments. The main constructive suggestion to-day follows naturally the course of historic development in Scottish administration in the last generation. I should warn hon. Members, when substantive proposals are being considered, that we shall reach matters of great technical complexity. It is going to be no easy matter to decide exactly the lines upon which further development of Scottish administration shall take place, but there is a general opinion that it is desirable that as much as possible of Scottish administration should be done in Scotland. It. has been said: what is the use of developing Scottish administration unless you accompany it by a Scottish Parliament? I cannot follow that argument. It may he that the interests of Scotland and the interests of this island are best dealt with by one legislature with a development of administration for Scotland north of the Tweed. I am not being dogmatic about it, but it may well be the most realistic way of dealing with the situation.
I am not convinced that there is any force in the suggestion that because you 354 develop the administration north of the Tweed you must develop a separate Parliament. I have had administrative connection with the affairs of Scotland only for a year, but I have an hereditary connection with Scottish administration and have been brought up in the atmosphere of administration, and to some extent that interest is in my blood. Let me give an illustration of what is in my mind. When a county clerk or town clerk wishes to discuss with the central authority a housing scheme which presents no such difficulties as make the direct intervention of the Secretary of State or the Parliamentary Under-Secretary necessary, he can carry on all the discussion with the permanent head of the Department of Health in Edinburgh. If there is any very special question raised it may have to be referred to my right hon. Friend or myself. But when the same local government official wishes to discuss some other matter of local government which is within the purview of the Scottish Office and not of the Department of Health, he finds no one in Edinburgh with whom he can discuss the matter. I could add to the examples.
It is clear that we would ease the administration of the local authorities if we could make intercourse between them and the central authority more ready and easy, not on one or two topics of administration but on all. The extra burdens which modern legislation and the conditions of modern public life have placed upon local authorities are very great. The great bulk of local administration is done by men and women who receive no remuneration. Everything that we can do to make the work of local administration in Scotland easy, ready and comfortable, this House and the Government should do.
I do not wish, because the matter has been much canvassed and discussed, to deal fully with the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for ('aithness and Sutherland (Sir A. Sinclair), but if he had been in his place I would have said this to him: He knows, and some of my friends know, that the present Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State is greatly interested in questions of land settlement. I want to tell my right hon. Friend something that I know he does not know, and that is that my present Chief is just as interested in land settle 355 ment as was my late Chief. I am able to tell him that with the frankness of a junior Minister and the frankness of an enthusiast for land settlement. Upon that score my right hon. Friend the late Secretary of State need not have any anxiety.
It is remarkable, I think, that on a day which has been almost entirely devoted to Scottish matters there have not been many suggestions made for reforms and improvements, nor any very novel matters which need immediate remedy brought before the House, yet I take it that this comprehensive Debate has enabled almost every question to be discussed. I would undertake to say that apart from the suggestion made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hill-head (Sir R. Horne) and referred to by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, there are not many matters of public importance or public controversy remaining in the store house of any hon. Member's mind which he has not brought forward. Therefore I feel at liberty to turn for a moment to the question of Home Rule.
In my 10 years' experience of the House of Commons I have formed the view that the duties and the positions of a Scottish Member of Parliament in this united Parliament are not precisely the same as those of an English Member. We are a minority. We are out of Scotland, and we have a special duty while we are here to pay attention to the needs of Scotland. I am speaking of Private Members. I think that Scottish Private Members on all sides of the House keep that in mind and feel that their first duty in the united Parliament is to Scotland. Further, I have always thought and have said it on public platforms and elsewhere that the test for Scotsmen as to whether the Union ought to be continued or not, is whether it has been successful from a Scottish point of view or not. If, as Scotsmen, we were satisfied that the Union had been a failure, then as Scotsmen it would be necessary for us to review the situation and see what ought to take its place. I am sure that that is the right line of approach to this question for every Scotsman in the House.
I am satisfied, for what my opinion is worth, that the Union, far from being a failure from the point of view of Scot- 356 land, has been a very great success and so remains. Most impressive observations have been made on the subject of its effects and on the value of the united Parliament and the united system from an industrial and economic point of view. I do not think that we can exaggerate the importance of the considerations which have been put forward by none better than by my Noble Friend the Member for North Lanark (Lord Dunglass). In the modern world for this country one of the great markets must be the home market, and it is of immense importance to Scotland, as an industrial and agricultural country which exports largely to England, that we should not begin a course of constitutional action, which, however narrow and apparently harmless in its beginnings, may start to work a centrifugal force the end of which one cannot foretell and in the course of which we may get into a position of considerable economic friction as between England and Scotland. Such economic friction would be a tragedy for England but it would be fatal for Scotland.
We produce one-third of the home beef supplies of this country. We export large quantities of woollen goods, coal, steel and iron to England. I do not myself see how Scotland as an industrial country can have any secure foundation for its industries if there is any question of the English market being in jeopardy, and I commend that line of thought, so ably put by my Noble Friend, to the most serious consideration of those interested in the question of self-government for Scotland. I will not go into the various brews of Home Rule which have been suggested, but I cannot forbear from thanking the hon. Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh) for her description of the new party, the "vague postponists" of which we have had the first statement of policy from my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland.
I never heard, I think, either in this House or elsewhere, any proposal put forward with less enthusiasm and with a greater proportion of cold water, because after the elaborate, nay passionate, description of the glories of self-government, my right hon. and gallant Friend concluded by saying that anyway—I have not got him textually correct, but we 357 shall see it in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow—we might at all events have a Parliament for home affairs without any serious results, and that one could picture a Scottish Parliament which would not dismember the Empire. These are not the arguments with which you approach a revolutionary constitutional change. Unless you have better arguments than to say, in a time like this, that you are going to devote your national thought to constitutional rather than to economic problems, or that there are certain things you can do without grievous damage, then I think the question is blown sky-high.
There is the other party, the party which wishes to have what is most briefly described as Dominion status. One hon. Member, I think it was the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), said that in his view—and again I am not quoting him textually—of the various parties, it was the extreme party which was developing most force and life. I agree. I do not believe that you can make constitutional alterations upon a false historic basis, and no historic basis could be more false than one which regarded Scotland as a Dominion. Scotland is an ancient kingdom which, partly by chance, by the turn of fortune's wheel, gave its Royal family to England and which for over 100 years had a Parliament of its own. But when you come to these deeper national things, the fires burn for a long time, as this House knows well. Anyone who remembers the Debates on the Prayer Book knows how subjects which seemed to have become as cold as the ashes of yesterday's fire blaze up when they are approached again in this House.
It is my firm conviction that if you were to set Scotland on the path of separation, however tentative and hesitating were the steps taken to begin with, you would be rousing ancient fires, you would be touching feelings, you would be putting in motion centrifugal forces which, once set in motion, you could not control; and I believe that, take it long or take it short, if you give up the Union between England and Scotland, you are taking a course of action which leads you to complete separation. In any ease, it is not a convenient place for Scotland to stop at, because Scotland is riot a Dominion. The House knows, and it has been well brought before us 358 by Members on the Labour benches, how tremendously engrossed this era and generation are in economic questions. We all know it, but I am satisfied, none the less, that if you were to rouse these ancient national feelings in Scotland, you would stir forces the strength of which you do not realise. Further I say, and I say with all the force that I can command, there is no halting place in logic, in history or in the genius of a people, once you leave Union, to complete separation. It is well that those who are flirting with these ideas should clearly see that such, at all events, is the probability.
It is unnecessary for me to refer to the case of Ireland, which is a special case, but take the case of Norway and Sweden. They were two countries living apparently in complete harmony, but ancient feelings of separate nationality burst out and, for reasons which are very hard for a foreigner to understand, they felt separation was the only course. It was easy enough, and I do not suppose anyone would maintain that Sweden or Norway or the world suffered particularly from. Norway becoming a separate Kingdom. But nobody can contemplate with patience the idea of such an event happening within our own shores. The effect upon Scotland, as a Scotsman I hesitate to contemplate, but I say the effect on England would be very serious too, and the effect on the Empire would be extremely serious as well. The House has to recollect that Scotland has played a considerable part in the development of this great Imperial structure and not only that, but I think no Member, not a Scotsman, will disagree or think I am blowing the national trumpet when I say that the Scottish people do add a definite flavour and strength to the Imperial centre, namely, the United Kingdom. If you deprived England of the assistance of Scotland in its work and task as the centre of the Empire you would weaken England. I know one's own experience with the peoples of the Dominions has been that they keep a specially warm corner in their hearts for Scotsmen, and I do believe it would be dangerous to the Empire to take any step which would run the risk of breaking up the United Kingdom.
359 As to the effect on Scotland, I hesitate to think what it would be, but do not let the House suppose that Scotland is not capable of having a Parliament of its own. I think this Debate has shown that we could probably put up a pretty good debating body, and do not let anybody propose either in this House or out of it, that if Scotland desired and clearly shows its desire for a Parliament of its own that she would not get it. I will not go into that but it has long been clear that if Scotland desired a Parliament of its own nobody in England would prevent it. Let me say this in that connection to those who seek Parliamentary powers for Scotland. I notice that even the Duke of Montrose's scheme, the moderate scheme, contained a suggestion as to the way in which foreign affairs and matters of trade and commerce should be managed and suggested that there should be some form of Joint Commission with England. On that I would say that though Scotland has a perfect right to ask for self-government, if it so desires, it has no right, in my judgment, while asking for it, to suggest that the concomitant of that self-government is a complete alteration in English constitution. That is a separate step and one which I do not think even the keenest Nationalist has any right to take.
Finally, I should like to make this observation. I see no appreciation, in the proposals of either the moderates, the extremists or even the vague postponists, if Scotland had a Parliament of its own, covering only, let us say, the scope of local affairs, of the difficulty of decidciding what that scope should be. This difficulty was brilliantly analysed in the speech of the right hon. Member for Hillhead. Even a Parliament of local affairs only would necessarily have the result that there could be no Secretary of State in the British Cabinet. He would have no function. All the local affairs would be done by the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government in Scotland. All other affairs would have in the British Cabinet a Minister of their own, and if there were to be a Scottish Secretary of State in the British Cabinet and a Scottish Government and Parliament in Edinburgh, the Secretary of State could take no step without treading upon the toes of another Minister because he would have no Department and no sphere of 360 action of his own. The result would be that in the general affairs of the United Kingdom, in all the larger questions, there would be in the Cabinet nobody definitely representing the Scottish point of view.
It is my sincere belief that even assuming that Scotland gained something from a separate legislature—and I think the Debate has shown how doubtful that proposition is—what Scotland gained it would lose by having no Minister in the Cabinet of Great Britain. That would also have the most deleterious effect upon the position of private Members in this House from Scotland. I am satisfied that the value, the weight and the importance of private Members in the House of Commons depends largely upon their having a Minister who is specially responsible for affairs connected with their constituencies. You would find that private Scottish Members without a Secretary of State, of whom they could ask questions and who was the executive officer in whom they were all interested, would be Members of Parliament with a far less definite function than the English Members. I venture to put before the House these considerations; that the loss of a Scottish Secretary of State in the United Kingdom Cabinet would be serious, that it would greatly jeopardise the value of private Members, and that, looked at either from the narrow constitutional point of view, or from the wide national point of view, the institution of a Scottish Parliament would be a danger to Scotland, to England and to the Empire; it would, as my right hon. Friend said in his own view, be a retrograde step. It would. I am sure, rouse those ancient fires of national feeling which are dormant now and have been dormant these last 200 years. But they have in their time burned strongly, and he would be a rash man who said that the embers were now cold.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned," put, and agreed to.—[Captain Margesson.]
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.