§ 3.31 p.m.
The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Commander T. D. Galbraith)
I beg to move,That this House takes note of the Report of the Royal Commission on Scottish Affairs (Cmd. 9212).I am quite sure that the whole House regrets the absence of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. He was very anxious to take part in this debate because he felt it must inevitably touch on almost every facet of Scottish administration. Unfortunately, as the House knows, his medical advisers have ordered him to rest, so that he has been denied an opportunity to which he was much looking forward. I am sure that all right hon. and hon. Members will hope, with me, that he will soon be back in his place again, completely restored to health.
The appointment of the Royal Commission, whose Report and recommendations we are to discuss this afternoon, was announced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 24th July, 1952. That announcement saw the implementation of an undertaking, given three years earlier, by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, when, acting in another capacity, he authorised the issue of a manifesto calling attention to the changes which had come about in recent years and the doubts as to their bearing upon the financial and economic relations between the two countries and also his intention, when in a position to do so, of advising that a Royal Commission might be appointed to review the situation and to make recommendations.
The Commission was composed of eminent people from many walks of life and with differing political views. It held its first meeting on 3rd October, 1952, and its unanimous Report, dated 21st July, 1954, was presented to Parliament six days later, on 27th July, 1954. The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State have informed the House that the Government accept the principal recommendations of the Commission—that is, those relating to roads, justices of the peace, Departmental practice and animal health. It seems to me that we now enter on 905 another stage in the evolution of Scottish administration, a process which has been continuous over a long period of years. It may be helpful to the course of this debate if I survey, as shortly and quickly as I can, the principal features of the road we have travelled up till now.
It was in 1885 that the first Scottish Secretary was appointed. That provides a starting point for what I might call the modern development of our Scottish administrative system. Under the Act of 1885 the Scottish Secretary assumed many of the powers and duties which previously had been exercised by the Home Secretary, the Privy Council, the Treasury and others. Hon. Members who have studied the matter will remember that it was the practice during the nineteenth century and in the opening years of this century to establish individual boards and commissions to administer the developing functions of the central Government. That board system was firmly established when the Scottish Secretary was appointed in 1885. He accordingly became responsible to Parliament for those boards and new boards, such as the Local Government Board, the Board of Agriculture and the Board of Health, as they came into being.
Following the Report of the Haldane Committee, in 1918, the practice of setting up ad hoc bodies for the administration of the business of the central Government was to a large extent abandoned. It followed in 1928, in accordance with that principle, that the Scottish Boards of Agriculture and Health and the Scottish Prison Commissioners were abolished. Their statutory functions were vested in four departments to act under the control and direction of the Secretary of State, who had assumed that dignity in 1926.
In 1937, in anticipation of the opening of St. Andrew's House as headquarters of the Scottish administration, the whole structure of our Scottish administration was again reviewed by a committee which was presided over by the late Sir John Gilmour. That committee recommended that the functions of the statutory boards and of the Fishery Board should be vested in the Secretary of State and that he should have power to make suitable arrangements for discharging them.
Effect was given to that recommendation in the Reorganisation of Offices 906 (Scotland) Act, 1939. By that Act the Secretary of State became responsible for all the functions which previously had been exercised by the ad hoc boards and departments, except those of the General Board of Control. At present those functions are assigned to four non-statutory departments, the Departments of Education, Agriculture, Health and the Scottish Home Department. The Secretary of State having absorbed the functions of the old boards, the tendency has been to assign to him new functions of a comparable kind which have since arisen. Also, he has acquired other functions of a particular Scottish interest; for example, his responsibility for the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board.
The importance and the range of the work of the Scottish Office was emphasised when a Minister of State was appointed in 1951 and when an additional Under-Secretary of State was appointed in 1952. Another change which has come about was due to the desire of hon. Members on both sides of the House for greater opportunities to debate purely Scottish legislative Measures and matters of purely Scottish interest. As a result, the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn), when he was Secretary of State, introduced arrangements under which Scottish Bills go to the Scottish Grand Committee after they have had their First Reading: and the Estimates are examined by that Committee for six days during the year.
We are all familiar with these arrangements. I think the credit for them goes to the right hon Member.
The process of devolution was carried further by the transfer of powers to the Secretary of State under the recent Electricity Act and by the proposed transfer of certain of the Minister of Food's functions as well as by the acceptance of the recommendations of the Royal Commission. The allocation to the Secretary of State of duties defined primarily on a geographical basis—I mean in relation to Scotland—rather than on a functional1 basis, indicates one way in which the existence of distinctive Scottish conditions; is recognised.
907 The Commission commented on that fact and I will quote its words to the House. It said:This is equally true of the duties which the Secretary for Scotland assumed in 1885, and of those which the Secretary of State has more recently acquired.In short, it seems that the acceptance by the Government of the main recommendations of the Royal Commission marks a further stage in the historical process which has gone on now for a considerable time.
Before I deal with details in the Report, it would perhaps be the wish of the House that I should again, on behalf of every one of us, express our gratitude to Lord Balfour and his colleagues for the very thorough and expeditious manner in which they carried out this inquiry and also for the comprehensive and competent Report with which they have provided us. Whatever our views may be as to the Commission's conclusions, we must all have been impressed by the very wide range that it covered, including almost every subject of domestic interest. The Commission has also dealt with matters on which doubts have been expressed as to whether Scotland was being justly treated. The facts which are set forth in the Report, and the Commission's comments upon them, should go a long way to resolve any doubts which previously existed.
But that is not to say that in all matters the two countries do, or can, share in exact mathematical proportions. The Report contains many examples as to how the two parts of the United Kingdom fare in different spheres. I should like to refer to two of them, because I happen to be particularly familiar with them. I would remind the House that the population of Scotland is 11.7 per cent. of the population of England and Wales. Our housing expenditure during the last five years, as the Commission pointed out, was over 20 per cent. of that of England and Wales, while the expenditure on our rural water supplies was 32 per cent. of the amount spent in England and Wales.
I am not commenting on these figures, but they indicate to me that there is no rigid adherence to any strict mathematical formula and, rather, that every case is dealt with on merit and in relation to its effect on the interest of the peoples 908 of the two countries. I do not, however, suggest that this is an appropriate occasion to embark on an elaborate statistical examination of the expenditure of Scotland in relation to that of England and Wales.
The Commission paid attention to a number of matters, and included among these were the Ministerial arrangements in the Scottish Office. These the Commission seems to have accepted almost without comment, except to say that the Minister of State should be recognised as carrying the initial responsibility for affairs of the Highland and Islands and that there should be no division of the Secretary of State's statutory functions, as that might well impair his authority as Scotland's Minister. That is something, surely, of the greatest importance to our country.
I have no doubt that hon. Members will express views on these matters during the debate, and may even express views as to the division of responsibility and duty between the three Parliamentary Under-Secretaries; but so far as they are concerned, the Commission has passed them over in silence—I presume, accepting as logical and sensible the duties which are assigned to the Parliamentary Secretaries. I would point out, however, that that division of duties has an additional merit in that it is arranged in parallel with the functions of the corresponding English Departments.
Another matter to which the Commission paid particular attention was our Parliamentary procedure and the scope of proceedings in the Standing Committee. One paragraph of the Report seemed to me to suggest—perhaps it was only an implication, but it was a fairly pointed one—that the Scottish Grand Committee should sit much more frequently. These are the actual words used by the Commission:that save in the case of the present Parliamentary Session"—that is, of course, the last Session—its capacity to expedite the consideration of Scottish legislation has not been severely taxed.Hon. Members will have their own views about that.
I was happy to find, in another connection, that the Commission seemed to me to come to a very wise conclusion. What it suggested was that while Scottish Mem- 909 bers were sitting in the Grand Committee they could not possibly at one and the same time be in attendance at another Committee which might well be considering a United Kingdom Bill in which there were important Scottish provisions. What I gather from that is that we must balance in our minds the amount of work that the Scottish Grand Committee can perform for the benefit of our country.
I know perfectly well, and so do other hon. Members, that there are those in our own country who imagine that when the Scottish Grand Committee is not sitting Scottish Members are at a completely loose end and have nothing whatever to do. But any neutral observer would, I am sure, find that that was far from the truth.
There is another point that I would call to the attention of those who are of the opinion that the Scottish Grand Committee should be in constant session. I refer to the complete impossibility of Scottish Ministers performing their duty under these circumstances. If the Scottish Grand Committee were to meet each day at 10.30 a.m., even if the House rose punctually at 10.30 p.m., which it often forgets to do, the Ministers could not possibly work for the number of hours which would be expected of them. There comes a time when the strain on human nature is such that one cannot endure it further.
In turning to the Commission's recommendations, I would remind the House that the Commission framed these recommendations having in mind certain principles on which, in its view, our Scottish administration should be based. These were the desirability of settling Scottish business in Scotland, the recognition by all Ministers of Scotland's national status, the need for full consultation on policy, both when it was being framed and when it was being carried out, and the need to recognise the vital community of interest between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. I am happy to inform the House that the Government readily accept these principles as providing a satisfactory basis for the effective and acceptable discharge of the functions of government in Scotland.
The Commission reviewed the assignment of Ministerial responsibility for particular subjects and came to the con- 910 clusion that where Ministerial responsibility for any particular function is at present assigned to a United Kingdom or Great Britain Minister, it should be divided on geographical or national lines only—"only" is the operative word— when there is clear evidence that a division would serve Scottish interests better than the present arrangement, and that Scotland's community of interest with the rest of the United Kingdom would not suffer. For reasons which, apparently, seemed quite conclusive to the Commission—and which, again, I am glad to inform the House, the Government accept—the Commission recommends no alteration in the Ministerial responsibility in regard to Scotland of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Supply.
The House knows that the Government have accepted the Commission's recommendation affecting the responsibility of the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation for Scottish roads and bridges, the responsibility of the Lord Chancellor for Scottish justices of the peace and, with one qualification, the responsibility of the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries for animal health in Scotland. All these are to be transferred to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. In that connection, it may be worth noting that with the transfer of responsibility for the roads, all the functions with which local authorities are concerned will in Scotland be the responsibility of the Secretary of State.
The Commission made a number of important recommendations affecting Departmental practice. Referring to the authority which has been devolved upon the Scottish Controllers of United Kingdom and Great Britain Departments, the Commission said that the real matter at issue was not what individual powers should be devolved to the Scottish Controller, but rather what powers must be retained at Departmental headquarters. The Commission went on to refer to the importance of the duties which are performed by the Scottish Controllers in representing the Scottish point of view when policy is being formulated. The Commission further considered that increased responsibility should be reflected also in the status of the Scottish Controllers. The Government are in complete sympathy with the Commis- 911 sion's objectives in these matters, and I am glad to say that the President of the Board of Trade has intimated a substantial increase in the powers of his Board's Scottish Controller over the allocation of existing factory space, with authority to approve capital expenditure up to £20,000 in relation to the extension of a factory.
While the Commission has not put forward any spectacular proposals it has made a number of very important recommendations which, in the Government's view, will be a useful contribution to the efficient and harmonious administration of Scotland's affairs, and I want to assure the House that the Government are in complete accord with the Commission's view that United Kingdom and Great Britain Ministers should take the same personal interest in the exercise of their Departments' functions in Scotland as they do elsewhere. That my right hon. Friends will continue to do.
This Report, with its review of matters of great importance and of mutual concern to the peoples of the United Kingdom, the Commission's conclusions on them and its recommendations, are pregnant with possibilities for an even closer understanding between the two peoples and of the interdependence of the two countries. In war, we stand or fall together. In peace, no less, we share each other's destiny. For 250 years now a single Parliament has directed our affairs to the great advantage of both nations. We who have the honour to represent Scotland in this House can have no fear that her interests will be neglected, for if they are, then surely we must be failing in our duty. While never forgetting the needs of our own people, nor the proud history of our race and nation, let us continue to work in ever closer understanding and harmony with those with whom we share this island, for the greater well-being of all its peoples.
§ 3.53 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
I should like, first, to associate myself and my hon. and right hon. Friends with the regret that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman expressed at the absence of the Secretary of State and its cause. I would mention particularly my right hon. Friend the Member for 912 Greenock (Mr. McNeil), who asked me, in view of his own unavoidable absence, to express his regret at the indisposition that has attacked the Secretary of State. We all wish him a quick recovery and a speedy return among us.
The right hon. Gentleman's illness is pertinent to this debate because there is no doubt whatever that the strain of office on Ministers in these modern days is exceedingly great. A former Minister, who has had experience of both the Foreign Office and the office of the Secretary of State for Scotland, has informed me that of the two offices the more onerous and the harder worked is that of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The Secretary of State for Scotland has a very large number of decisions to make, and he has to be responsible for a number of departments that in England have a Minister each. To acquire understanding of all these many and diverse problems is in itself a very severe strain on the energy of even the most robust man. We therefore hope that the Secretary of State will soon recover.
I would associate myself and my hon. and right hon. Friends, also, with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's thanks to the Commission which has carried out this work. The fact that it has not been able to discover any revolutionary proposals, or the fact that we have not been able to discover any revolutionary ones in those it has submitted to the House, and the paucity of the recommendations, do not indicate the amount of time and energy that its members devoted to this investigation. It is a mistake to think that the work the Commission has done is wholly reflected in these three recommendations, which appear to be trifling. The Report, as a close reading will show, carries far greater implications for change and improvement than are evidenced by the recommendations or those points in the Report that one can pick out as definite changes.
Our debate today is of a very unusual, one could almost say unique, kind. Every year we try to review the state of the nation, but it is only every five years or ten years or even every twenty years that we have the opportunity of reviewing the state of the Union. This Royal Commission has been investigating how the Union between Scotland and England is working, where it is breaking down, where 913 it is working successfully; and the Commission has made certain recommendations for the improvement of our mutual work.
Anyone who thinks that this feud between Scotland and England, the sort of cold war that has gone on for hundreds of years, will be ended by the recommendations of this Royal Commission is, I think, rather optimistic. A good many people in Scotland who are feeling very nationalistically-minded recall the Arbroath Declaration. Indeed, the origin of nationalistic-mindedness of all in Scotland can be traced back to the distant times when the Arbroath Declaration was made. For the sake of those who have forgotten it and who will read it in HANSARD I would take this opportunity of putting it on record. It was made in 1320 by the barons, who said they spoke on behalf of the people of Scotland. They declared:For so long as there shall be one hundred of us alive we will never consent to subject ourselves to the dominium of the English. For it is not for glory, riches or honours that we fight: it is for liberty alone, which no good man relinquishes but with life.That is a grand declaration, as grand as the Prime Minister's declaration of defiance of Hitler and the Nazis at the beginning of the war.
I say this and I recall those words because I think it ought to be known that every one of us in Scotland is brought up in and imbued with that spirit, and there is not one Scotsman but feels it in his own mind, and is determined that he is not going to be dominated by anybody at all, and especially not by our southern neighbours. That spirit, that national consciousness, has never been wholly eliminated in Scotland, and it is only by the clear recognition on both sides of the Border of the existence of that spirit that our mutual relations can be relatively satisfactory. It must be recognised that in the marriage between England and Scotland the words "I obey" did not occur. It was a marriage without any obedience being introduced. That has to be understood.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Co-existence is the right word.
The sense of tidy-mindedness that exists among administrators has led 914 to continual and, indeed, continuous attempts to get rid of what appear to be anomalies in the administration of Scotland and the administration of England, but the Scots have resisted these attempts through the generations. They fought their own nobles. Allied with the Church they defeated the nobles. They fought their own king, as they fought English kings, and they fought their own king when he was also King of England. They defied the Church and everyone else who made any attempt to impose rules upon them that they did not adopt of their own free will. The resistance that has gone on now for hundreds of years to what they regard as English encroachments has become a national habit, and if causes of defiance do not exist, I think. sometimes, that we even look for them.
It was the strength of this tradition that made people, when the Union of the Parliaments took place in 1707, regard it as a betrayal of Scotland, a sell-out, a surrender of Scotland's interests, and there is no doubt whatsoever that that spirit, that feeling that something went wrong then, has persisted ever since as an undercurrent in our national thought. On the other hand, if we look at this without emotion and intelligently, we have to realise that 1707 was the turning point in the prosperity and progress of Scotland.
Up to 1707, Scotland never had peace. The people of Scotland never had an opportunity to develop their agriculture or to do anything to give them that accumulation of prosperity which makes a nation rich. From 1707 onwards, Scotland went ahead by leaps and bounds. It never looked back until we came to the slump of the inter-war years. That prosperity came because we had mutual help and co-operation and—a very important part in consideration of this Report—we had a share in the English trade in which,. up to then, we had been rivals and not partners.
There were periods after 1707 in which everyone was almost agreed that Scotland should be called North Britain, and we still have relics of that in the names North British Railways, the North British Station Hotel, and a great many institutions of that kind which still exist in our midst. Indeed I can remember when letters were sent to many people, addressed "N.B." [HON. MEMBERS: "They still do."] Of course, we recognise 915 that there are certain weaknesses in geographical teaching in the South of England, and these tend to come out even in the addressing of letters.
We have no objection to our English friends remaining English and being proud of their heritage and destiny. They can sing, "There must always be an England," but they must not object to our singing, "There must always be a Scotland." This cold war which has gone on for a couple of hundred years between English people and ourselves is due to the lack of appreciation of these national feelings, and I am of the opinion that this indifference to national feelings, that unfortunately exists in England, was largely the cause of our losing America, might have lost us India, and certainly helped us to lose Ireland. Carried to an exaggerated extent, it could result, in spite of our economic loss, in the loss of Scotland. The Commission has emphasised this point: why has this discontent again become evident? Its Report states:It has, we think, been aggravated by needless English thoughtlessness and undue Scottish susceptibilities.We are touchy, and we are conscious that we are touchy. That is the sum and substance of it.Harmonious relationship, however, does not depend only upon efficient and acceptable administration. History shows that misunderstandings due to thoughtlessness, lack of tact and disregard of sentiment can be serious. Misunderstandings if not openly discussed, tend to grow with the years and to hinder unbiased judgment on practical issues. It is our duty, therefore, to consider, also, what may be termed the emotional dissatisfaction which was disclosed in much of our evidence.That sensitiveness is always there. Irritation is frequent, but the desire for separation between England and Scotland is very spasmodic.
Between the wars, it become very strongly expressed. There was an economic reason for that. At one time between the wars, Scotland had 30 per cent. of its insured population unemployed. Those who were unemployed saw their industries disappear, sometimes bodily with the whole population connected with them, down into the South of England. They saw industries growing up rapidly all over England, but none growing up in Scotland. They saw the prospect of Scotland becoming a desert, 916 so to speak, relatively to the South of England, with its Great West Road, Birmingham and other places which were thriving and becoming more prosperous.
In the five years between 1932 and 1937, out of 644 new factories in Britain, creating new employment, Scotland had six. At that time, the Governments of the day did not believe that Governments should interfere with industry. It was a matter of allowing industry to go where it suited it best, and Scotland, under those conditions, felt that if they had a Government of their own they would be able to control that and deal with this industrial blight which was spreading over Scotland. Therefore, during that period, my party and Scotland generally were making demands for a Parliament for Scotland and Home Rule for the Scottish people. When the war came that situation was changed, because during the war and during the Coalition, the Government accepted responsibility for the distribution and allocation of industries.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton), and my right hon. Friend Mr. Tom Johnston, who was Secretary of State for Scotland at the time, looked into this question, and together, under the Coalition, were able to bring a great many industries to Scotland, such as the aluminium works at Falkirk, and industries to Dundee and Lanarkshire. This was the beginning of an entire change in the trend of industry.
When the Labour Party came into power, they were able, not by direction of industry, but by what one might call the deflection of industry to deflect it away from London, Birmingham and other places into new areas which have now become prosperous areas. I need only mention Dundee, which has been changed from a town which was practically dying to a town throbbing with energy and prosperity.
Since the war, a large number of industries have been introduced into Scotland. New jobs have been created for 120,000 or 130,000 people. Areas have been given alternative employment and there has been a redistribution of mining and population. Generally speaking, one can say that, since the war, Scotland has had a period of economic prosperity unrivalled in its history.
Why, therefore, in these circumstances, did an agitation arise on the question 917 of separation from England? The Report summarises this, and I am summarising a great deal of what the Re port has investigated. It says:Much of the dissatisfaction that exists in Scotland is due to the increased intervention by government in everyday life; economic difficulties; and lack of knowledge of the extent to which devolution of Scottish affairs has already taken place.I am sorry to say that the party opposite must accept a considerable part of the responsibility for these misunderstandings, because they used Scottish national feelings as a weapon with which to attack nationalisation and falsely allowed many people to believe that everything was being run from London. When we read the evidence put forward by the Royal Commission the most astonishing thing is that in nearly every case when people put forward complaints about rule from London the Commission, with a few questions, was able to elicit the fact that those giving the evidence had never made any inquiry as to what the facts were.
Are there not two different things? There is Government administration and the administration of the nationalised industries. Is it not a fact that while Government administration is carried on from St. Andrew's House the administration of the nationalised industries is carried on from London?
§ Mr. Woodburn
I can sympathise with the people giving evidence before the Royal Commission when even the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland does not know that one of the principal nationalised industries reported upon and complained about has been administered wholly, and has always been wholly, within Scotland with the exception only of co-ordinating policy which is agreed in London.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
The original nationalised industries—the Army and Navy—have always been run from London.
§ Mr. Woodburn
The proof of this Tory responsibility is that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) disclosed this as a deliberate purpose when he addressed the young Unionists in his own constituency. He is reported as saying: 918All this emotion that is being generated in Scotland can properly be turned into the channel of getting rid of the Socialist Government.
§ Mr. Woodburn
He expressed the belief thatbefore the General Election the Unionists would be able to capture the votes of a large number of people who are showing such enthusiasm for Scottish Convention.A more cynical approach to an important Scottish emotion I have never heard in my life. If that is the type of electioneering that has made the present Government the Government of the day they ought to be ashamed of it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Warmongering."] There is further proof that this was all a "phoney" agitation. It was like the Housewives' League agitation about food. It has all disappeared now.
This agitation was largely "phoney," largely a political stunt. The proof of that is to be found in how little change the Commission has been able to suggest and, more than that, how little change the present Government have been able to suggest once they came into office and came to know something about the facts. I must except from that remark the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. He does not seem to know the facts even now.
The Commission's Report shows clearly that as a result of intelligent planning and Government help in guiding industries to the Development Areas, Scotland is relatively prosperous and that, economically, there is at present in industry very little to complain about. All the talk about decentralisation of the nationalised industries has been so much bunk and has been debunked.
Legislative evolution is, of course, a different question altogether. It is based on economic needs and the facts. I thank the right hon. and gallant Gentleman for the tribute which he paid to the efforts which we on this side of the House made with the agreement of all parties in the House. It is interesting to note that even the Communist Party had a representative at the time, when, on behalf of the then Labour Government, I introduced the White Paper on Scottish Affairs, in 1948.
919 In view of the present Report, the words of that White Paper are very interesting. We said that our proposals were intendedto do everything possible within the framework of the British Constitution and the existing parliamentary system to meet Scottish desires while preserving Scotland's rights in Parliament.That was the limitation.
As a Parliament we can take some satisfaction from the investigations of the Royal Commission into this matter. The Commission's Report states:It is difficult to see how this machinery could be altered to permit of further devolution without a drastic revision of the longstanding arrangements for the consideration of Bills, or how the responsibility for considering Scottish legislation could within the present Parliamentary framework be placed more surely on the Scottish Members of Parliament. Any substantial widening of the existing Standing Orders might have the effect of virtually removing Scottish business from the Floor of the House, which would be unacceptable to a large body of Scottish opinion.I would go further and say that any attempt to lessen Scottish rights in this House would be deeply resented and bitterly resisted.
The net outcome of the Report is that no serious economic problems arise from existing arrangements and that no serious administrative difficulties have arisen. Many of those complained about were due to misunderstandings. That was clearly disclosed in cross-examination. The overwhelming body of expressed opinion to the Commission was against any separation of our Parliaments.
The Commission make minor recommendations and suggest three changes in Ministerial responsibility. It recommends the transfer to the Secretary of State of responsibility for animal health, for the appointment of justices of the peace, for roads, bridges, piers and ferries. An interesting omission from these recommendations seems to be the Ministry of Works. In the body of the Report the Commission seems to conclude that this is a Ministry which is ripe for transfer to the Secretary of State. The Report states:The wide range of responsibility delegated to the Ministry's Scottish Controller has been recognised by grading his post as one of Under-Secretary status, i.e., a grade senior in rank to that of the senior officers in regions in England and Wales. The functions discharged 920 by the Ministry, which are largely of an executive character, lend themselves to devolution, and nearly all decisions affecting the Ministry's work in Scotland are taken in Scotland.Yet, curiously enough, the Commission makes no comment on this and does not say why it has not recommended the transfer of the Ministry of Works. Beyond that paragraph in the Report, it does not even say whether it has considered the matter.
It is, however, in the minor recommendations that the principal importance of the Report lies in eliminating those irritations which muddy so much the good relations of the two countries. Appendix VII of the Report refers to a Treasury Circular which was issued in 1946. I must accept my share of responsibility for the fact that that Circular has not yet been made effective. I recognise that there are great difficulties of a trade union or negotiating character in relation to it, but from 1946 to 1955 is rather long for Civil Service organisations and the negotiators to make up their minds that Scottish status in the Civil Service must be recognised as something quite special and quite separate from those which apply in the regional organisations. I hope that whoever replies to this debate will let us know whether there will be immediate progress in this matter, because I can visualise procrastination continuing for another ten or twelve years. This is an important factor in eliminating irritation.
The Ministry of Works, for example, has an Under-Secretary who has access to a Minister. He is able to deal with the Minister directly in matters of policy. He has considerable power in the matter of making policy decisions. Without reflecting in any way on the Ministry of Works, I must point out that a great organisation like the Ministry of Labour, which covers the whole of Scotland and has far more important work to do, has no person of that standing in charge in Scotland. When the Secretary of State is discussing matters with Ministerial Departments it is a great disadvantage if the official who is sitting at the round table has not the necessary standing to, express opinion and carry weight. I hope that the Government will see that the importance of the Department is raised to such an extent that it will be represented by people of a status comparable to that 921 of those who represent the other Departments. I refer my colleagues to Appendix VII of the Commission's Report and to the Treasury Circular because I believe it is extremely important that effect should be given to the Circular.
As to the separation of Parliaments when the setting up of the Commission was announced, Mr. John Wheatley asked the Secretary of State whether the Commission would be considering the question of legislative separation of powers. The Secretary of State gave an answer which could be read in several different ways. He did not debar the Commission from taking evidence on Scottish Home Rule and separation, or from considering it. All that he seemed to suggest was that eventually it would be a matter for Parliament to decide. That was really no guidance, because obviously only Parliament could decide such a thing. It was not very informative.
The Commission was handicapped by the feeling that it was doing something that it was not asked to do. It took evidence on and discussed the subject with some of the organisations but, feeling that it was not its business, it did not examine the matter very thoroughly. The result is rather to give a Mahomet's-coffin feeling to this part of the Report, because it is neither one thing nor another; it is neither reporting fully on these investigations nor not reporting on them at all.
In view of the fact that the Secretary of State seemed to be reserving consideration of this problem for the Government, I would ask whether the Government have considered it. Are they considering the question whether there should be an investigation by themselves or by anyone else into political separation, or has the matter just drifted away without any consideration? If they have considered it and have turned it down, perhaps they will let us know. If they have turned it down, what are we to do to make the present system work more satisfactorily
I endorse what the Under-Secretary of State has said, namely, that the Commission has done a very good job for this House by laying down the principles on which the relations of the two countries are to work satisfactorily. These principles should be put into the guide book for all new Members of Parliament who come here from all parts of the country. They should be stuck on the flap of the 922 brief cases of all Ministers south of the Border, and all Permanent Secretaries might have them put into a little frame on their desks. If these principles are kept in mind, much of the irritation which has taken place in the past can be avoided in the future. I think these principles might also be put into HANSARD so that everyone may find them if they have been lost sight of. They are:(i) The machinery of Government should be designed to dispose of Scottish business in Scotland.That is a warning to all Empire builders.(ii) When it is advantageous for Scottish business to be dealt with by United Kingdom or Great Britain Ministers, there should be full understanding and recognition by these Ministers and by their officials that Scotland is a nation and voluntarily entered into union with England as a partner and not as a dependency.(iii) Scotland's needs and points of view should be known and brought into account at all stages in the formulation and execution of policy, that is to say, when policy is being considered, when policy is decided, and when policy is announced.I hope that the Scottish Office will notice that.When policy covers the United Kingdom or Great Britain, its exposition should specifically indicate the extent to which Scotland is affected. Ministers must be clearly seen to take the same interest in the effect of Government policy in Scotland as elsewhere.(iv) Effective arrangements should be made within these Ministries to ensure that Scotland's voice is heard at all these stages.(v) The vital community of interest between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom must be recognised.What do the Scots want? I am sure that that is a question which worries English people when they hear us making all this noise. Apart from these administrative steps, Scotland wants a realisation in this Parliament that the economic affairs of Scotland cannot be left to economic chance. Scotsmen in all parts of the country, and especially in the Highlands, realise that if those things are left to chance they will deteriorate, and that some parts of them do. Unless there is intelligent planning we cannot save Scotland and Scottish industries.
The Scottish Council for the Development of Industry has performed a very great and useful function in this respect, but it covers only a part of the field. At the time of our White Paper. we formed the Scottish Economic Conference. I do not say that it was perfect, 923 or that it was the only body that could do the job, but at least it was something which would bring all the economic organisations of Scotland together and give them a chance to understand each other, even if they did not get any further than that.
That was agreed by the whole of Parliament at the time. The Commission heard evidence from the Scottish T.U.C. which, curiously enough, was not in favour of the idea at the time but has since reconsidered its views, and has made representations to the Royal Commission that the Scottish Economic Conference should be recalled and made use of. The Royal Commission heard that evidence and made no comment upon it. Lord Balfour was a member of the Economic Conference when I was the Secretary of State for Scotland. It may be that he did not like the thing anyway. I do not know. The Commission gave no indication of having heard the Scottish Trades Union Congress in this regard, and the T.U.C. in Scotland has expressed itself as disappointed.
I understand that last week or the week before it actually had a deputation to the Secretary of State who, I think, has promised to consider the matter. Whether the Scottish Economic Conference is recalled or not, consideration should be given to some kind of economic Parliament for Scotland, so that Scotland can be surveyed as a whole and seen with all the relative importance of the different things. If it is not to be that organisation, it is up to the Secretary of State to devise some new organisation which can do it.
It is also important that there should be recognition in this House that Scottish Members of Parliament have rights and duties equal to those of any other Members. I know that Mr. Speaker will do his best to see to that, but I do detect impatience at times with his fellow countrymen. While I sympathise with it, when it comes as part of the irritation against there being a large number of Questions for Scotland on one particular day, I would point out that it causes irritation on the Scots' side as well. We are not responsible for the Scots filling the whole of the Order Paper this afternoon. and we have asked on several occasions that the distribution of ques- 924 tions over several days should be considered so as not to cause irritation to our English colleagues in this House.
I notice that the same irritation does not affect our English colleagues when the Questions concern Kenya, the Colonies, Central African Federation or people away in the "wild and woolly West." They are all enthusiastic to take up time on those subjects. We must have a recognition here that the Scots have rights the same as anyone else. They resent impatience, or even goodnatured tolerance, in the House when they are putting Questions to their Ministers, because there must be a recognition that it is part of the business of the House to deal with Scotland in the same way as dealing with anywhere else.
The Government too often, and Parliament, also, discuss United Kingdom questions as if they were a matter only for English Members. Sometimes it is looked upon as almost an intrusion if a Scot rises to take part in a debate on foreign affairs, or something of that kind. We have to be careful about that. Transport, and all these other things are to be our affair now. There have been occasions when matters affecting the United Kingdom have been almost a closed shop to the Scots who wanted to take part in them. That does not apply to right hon. Gentlemen, who have certain privileges in the House. I am talking about the more humble back benchers who do not have such a call on the attention of the House.
The final point I make is that there should be a greater tendency on the part of the Government and of the House to allow Scotland to experiment. There is far too great a resistance to Scotland's doing something, merely because England is not ready to do it. In certain legislation, like that on furnished houses, control of prices and the tenancy of shops, we led the way. Scotland is a country of such a size that experiment is possible without the tremendous expense and the risk that is involved in a country like England. I think there should be greater readiness to enable Scotland to experiment with legislation and try to get things done. I am sure our southern neighbours would benefit from that.
I would appeal to our colleagues in all parts of the House to realise that it 925 is the duty of all of us, English and Welsh as well as Scottish Members, to make this United Kingdom Parliament work harmoniously and satisfactorily. We on our side have no desire to be awkward, nor do we want to be unreasonable. We do not want to abuse our rights, but we regard the crowding of Scottish Questions on the Order Paper as wrong. I ask the Government and the usual channels to take that matter into consideration and see whether they will not reconsider the proposals we have made.
The Secretary of State is now to be responsible for transport as well as a great many more things and it will be impossible to crowd all these Questions in on a Tuesday every eight or nine weeks. I hope, therefore, that the usual channels will look on this matter sympathetically and see what can be done.
I apologise for speaking at such length, but the subject of the Union is important. When we are reviewing the state of the Union it is not surprising to find that there have been difficulties here and there and now and again. What has been surprising is that the difficulties have been so few and so trifling. This Royal Commission sat for all these weeks and I cannot see that it received any evidence of substantial abuse, obstruction or irritation. What there is is of a trifling character and is a tribute to how this partnership of the United Kingdom is working.
I regard this as a great example to the world because it shows that we can have one unit and yet preserve our individuality and our colourful diversities. As the United Kingdom we can contribute to the well-being of the world, and the Scots can give their colourful contribution as can the English, Welsh and Irish. That is a remarkable thing and it has lasted for 250 years. I took the liberty of using this illustration when a few years ago I was entertaining Empire delegates in Edinburgh Castle. It was at the time when India was seriously considering whether she would remain in the Commonwealth or not.
I am informed that the representatives present were greatly impressed by the fact that we had been able to do that. Of course, once the delegates got to Scotland it was quite evident that we were not part of England, whatever the English might think. It struck the Empire dele- 926 gates very forcibly as a result that it was possible for India to be India and yet to be a part of the Commonwealth. I like to think that that might have had some effect on India deciding to remain part of the Commonwealth family.
We Scots want to be Scots, and there is no good anybody trying to alter that. Some Scots may do it voluntarily, but they will not be pushed. Emotionally, if we are asked whether we want Scotsmen to govern us most people would say "yes," but that has to be qualified to the extent that we are convinced that it is wisest for us all to co-operate and to work as a United Kingdom. We cannot, at the same time, try to cement the world into a great world unit and yet advocate the dissolution of this great democracy which has been an example for so long to the rest of humanity.
I believe that the Scots alone, with the English, the Irish and the Welsh, have a contribution to make. There is no guarantee that legislative devolution would not bring greater problems. My own view is that the cure will be worse than the disease, because the disease has not proved to be serious. Our task is to start with the present and see what improvements we can make. We must see it works well and improve on it. It is all a matter of good will and mutual co-operation among our four countries.
The Royal Commission's Report is a step forward. I would say it is more important than it seems on the surface, and I hope that hon. Members who have not read its recommendations in detail will read it through more carefully, for it deals far more with the spirit than it deals with the material things of life. This union, both in Scotland and in England, is spiritual. These national antagonisms have long memories. The Irish remember for hundreds of years, and we in Scotland talk about Bannockburn as though we had taken part in the battle. When our friend, David Kirkwood, was on these benches it only required a few interruptions to cause him to turn his mind back to Bannockburn as the way of dealing with interruptors. That kind of feeling is inside all of us.
Unfortunately, this patriotism, as we call it, involves an education that teaches us antagonisms to other countries. May I quote a little illustration of that? When I was a very small boy somebody came 927 to my school to find out whether there were any beautiful singers who could join a choir. I was picked out as one whose voice might help the praise. I was flattered and delighted, but when I heard that it was an English church—never. Because of that prejudice I lost the chance of a magnificent musical education.
I use that illustration to show that even in infants of seven or eight years there is that feeling. I can remember sitting in the Barclay church one day listening to a lecture about the Covenanters. The reverend gentleman, when he came to describe Archbishop Sharp's monument in St. Andrew's, said, "I could spit on it." That is the feeling against any attempt to dominate Scotland by imposing things on them. We can be coaxed; we cannot be driven.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ Major W. J. Anstruther-Gray (Berwick and East Lothian)
I cannot follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) in being a beautiful singer because I am neither beautiful nor am I a singer, but I would follow him when he said that most of us want to be Scots. Most of us now in this Chamber are Scots and are proud of it.
If I may, I should like to add my voice to what was said by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Under-Secretary of State about my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. We miss him and we look forward to his return. I must also join with my right hon. and gallant Friend and the right hon. Gentleman in complimenting Lord Balfour in particular for producing this Report. I say that not only because Lord Balfour happens to be a constituent of mine, but because we all know how much of the duty and work of preparing these Reports inevitably falls upon the chairman.
I, personally, like this Report and I support it. I recognise that its recommendations have been criticised in some quarters as not being sufficiently revolutionary, or, to use the words of my right hon. and gallant Friend, not sufficiently spectacular. I am not among those critics, because I think the Report is right, and I endorse what was said by the right hon. Gentleman when he quoted from the Report: 928Much of the dissatisfaction that exists in Scotland is due to increased intervention by Government in everyday life, and lack of knowledge of the extent to which devolution of Scottish affairs has already taken place.I am quite prepared for drastic measures, but only if the case is proved that the position is desperate, and I do not think anybody looking at Scotland today can say that the state of Scotland is desperate. On the contrary, it is a fact that Scotland is sharing in the period of growing prosperity which the whole United Kingdom is enjoying. We have record production, record consumption, record employment and a record level of wages, although I am bound to add that the level of unemployment in Scotland is still higher than that in England and the average level of income per head is lower, in Scotland than in England—and as long as that continues there can be no room for complacency on either side of the House. I am sure that no complacency will be found. It is a challenge for us in Scotland to face the problem squarely, but let us face it from a true background; and the background has been set out clearly in the Report and in the facts and figures at the end of the Report.
Let us look at this background of achievement in Scotland, both in terms of improvement from one year to the next and also in terms of comparison with the situation in England. Perhaps I may first deal with health. Everybody must be thankful that at long last the figure for maternal mortality has been brought below 1 in 1,000. It now stands at 0.9 per 1,000. That is an improvement even over the last two years, for the figure in 1951 was 1.1 per 1,000.
The rate of infant mortality has fallen from 37 per 1,000 in 1951 to 30 per 1,000 last year and that of respiratory tuberculosis has fallen from 37 per 1,000 in 1951 to 23 per 1,000 in 1953. I think the House will allow me to mention the particularly fine work being done in my constituency at the East Fortune Sanatorium, where a devoted staff work day and night, under leadership which I can only call inspired, to combat this human peril.
I turn from health to building. The building of houses proceeds apace. The figure for 1950 was 25,000. For 1953 it was 39,000. There has been a sharp upward trend in expenditure on school 929 building work from £8 million in 1950 to £17 million worth of building in 1953.
I turn from a comparison between today and yesterday to a comparison between Scotland and England. There, again, the figures are admirably and clearly set out in the Report. No doubt most hon. Members have read them, but I hope they will allow me very quickly to refer to the main points. Scotland's population is 11.7 per cent. of that of England and Wales, but the share of the housing grant—and my right hon. and gallant Friend mentioned this—which Scotland receives is more than 20 per cent. It is, in fact, 20.5 per cent.
§ Major Anstruther-Gray
These are the housing grants. I will come to education to meet the point which the hon. Member has made. The share of the education grant is 13.9 per cent. compared with our population of only 11.7 per cent.—a satisfactory figure, although not as satisfactory as the earlier figure. In the National Health Service the expenditure is 12.5 per cent., compared with 11.7 per cent. as the figure for our population.
Finally, dealing with lesser figures which are not so strictly comparable, we find that for rural water and sewerage work there was an expenditure of 32 per cent. for Scotland; and for agriculture and fisheries, including grants for drainage, for ploughing, for the hill sheep and cattle subsidy, for the calf subsidy and for the white fish subsidy, the figure was no less than 46 per cent. of that in England and Wales.
I will leave the directly comparable basis and mention one or two other propositions where money has certainly not been unduly stinted by the Treasury. It has been a benefit to Scotland that £2 million should be spent on the Prestwick Airport, that £1 million should be allotted to Highland roads, that £2½ million should go to the aero-engine factory at East Kilbride, that £2 million should go to capital development at Scottish universities and that a £2 million grant should be made for new fishing vessels and engines in Scotland. Much has also been spent—and this very much affects my constituency. particularly the hill areas of it—and is being spent on 930 electrification of the more remote rural areas.
For me to repeat too many of these facts would become weary for those who know them, but the country should be aware of them if they are to make up their own minds about whether there is any truth in the suggestion that we are getting less than our fair share.
§ Major Anstruther-Gray
The hon. Member is quite right to raise the question of the engineering base at Renfrew, but the fact is that an increasing amount of money has been spent on employment in connection with aero-engines in Scotland over the last few years and we cannot deny that a great deal of the money originates south of the Border.
§ Major Anstruther-Gray
Nobody would suggest that one can establish in every instance a case of Scotland getting such favourable treatment as would make it almost unduly favourable, but I maintain that, by and large, the figures produced for us by the Commissioners who wrote this Report are sufficient to substantiate an impartial judge in saying that Scotland is by no means getting less than her fair share.
If I may leave that subject, which appears to be controversial with the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin)—although I do not think what I said is controversial with the facts—perhaps I may turn to the machinery of government, where the hon. Member may be in agreement with me.
One of the most important innovations which the present Government introduced was the establishment of the new office of Minister of State for Scotland. I think that that has justified itself absolutely. I do not want to base the argument-—and I will not do so—on the question of personnel. I think the office itself gave scope for an able Parliamentarian in either House to fulfil a function which was much needed.
In the past one was often conscious of the fact that what was necessary was that a deputation should be able to go to Edinburgh or Glasgow and meet a Minister of Cabinet rank on any subject of public concern. I was resentful that a 931 deputation had to travel all the way to London. They should be able to meet the Minister in our own country. Furthermore, it often occurred in the past that, although the Secretary of State made an appointment in all good faith, he was brought down to London by matters quite out of his control, such as a Cabinet meeting or other urgent business, and was bound to fail to keep his engagement.
To my mind, nothing was more vexatious to public bodies in Scotland and other bodies than for them to make an arrangement and then find themselves palmed off with an Under-Secretary when they wanted to meet the Secretary of State. [Laughter.] I noticed the laughter, but we have to recognise that my right hon. Friend is a Privy Counsellor holding the post of Minister of State and I am quite sure that hon. Members opposite would be the first to complain if, when they had an appointment with the Secretary of State, they were met instead by one of the three Under-Secretaries, admirable though they may be.
§ Mr. McInnes
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggesting that when deputations meet the Under-Secretaries they are palmed off and that when they meet the Secretary of State they are not palmed off?
§ Major Anstruther-Gray
Whatever the oil, it comes from the fountainhead, if it comes from the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)
Has not the hon. and gallant Gentleman been suggesting that the Minister of State is a Minister of Cabinet rank? Is that so? Is it not a fact that when deputations are received by the Minister of State they are invariably told that he, the Minister of State, will report to the Secretary of State?
§ Major Anstruther-Gray
My understanding is that the Minister of State is undoubtedly of Cabinet rank, although I readily agree, of course, that the Minister of State must be in close consultation with the Secretary of State. It would be intolerable and bad machinery to have two Ministers for Scotland, each with complete autonomy. There must be one in charge, but a Minister of State with Cabinet rank can take a position senior to any of the three junior Ministers. After all, as the hon. Member for Hamilton 932 (Mr. T. Fraser) knows from his own experience, the Under-Secretaries devote themselves to certain subjects.
My hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Snadden) deals with agriculture; my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson Stewart) deals with education and my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith), now acting Secretary of State, deals with housing. The Minister of State has the advantage that he can take a bird's eye view of the whole working of the Department without getting too much bogged down in smaller detail.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacPherson (Stirling and Falkirk Burghs)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has been talking about a Minister of Cabinet rank, but does he not agree that that is a purely conventional phrase which bears no relation to the actual position of the Minister? The situation now is that with seven Ministers of State we have three grades of Minister, a Secretary of State, or a Cabinet Minister, the head of a Department and, at the bottom, the Under-Secretary of State and in between a Minister, who is called a Minister of Cabinet rank, but who, in fact, is not a Minister of Cabinet rank.
§ Major Anstruther-Gray
I want to go as far as I can to meet the hon. Member. If I agree with him that there are three grades of Ministers, Minister in the Cabinet, Minister of State with Cabinet rank and Under-Secretary, will that satisfy him? The Minister of Cabinet rank is more suitable, being one grade above an Under-Secretary, for dealing with deputations which require to see the Government representative in Scotland.
Now let me return to another important recommendation of the Committee, dealing with transport. One hon. Member opposite asked a pertinent question about transport this afternoon. Responsibility for roads and bridges in Scotland is to be transferred from the Minister of Transport to the Secretary of State for Scotland. I welcome that and particularly in the sort of case of a bridge over the Don, where local knowledge must be of great value. One need never fear that a Secretary of State will lack such local knowledge, whereas an English Minister of Transport has probably never been there.
933 Before giving my humble approval too completely to this transfer from a Minister of Transport to a Secretary of State of authority on roads and bridges, I must be allowed, if it does not cause offence, to say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I will be really satisfied only when I see a start made with the building of a Forth Road bridge.
I turn from that to the Council of State. I note the Report's recommendations about the desirability of reconvening the Council of State. Let me read the exact words:… we hope that the desirability of reconvening the Council of State will he carefully considered.That is, if the appropriate circumstances arise. That is the correct inflection of the Report. It would not be a help now to reconstitute the Council of State. The Council of State, as it worked in the years of the Coalition Government during the war, was constituted of all the ex-Secretaries of State.
Who would that be today? At once there springs to mind the name of Thomas Johnston. He would be one. Then, of course, the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) and his right hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil). Those would be the three representatives on the Socialist side of the House.
Then we come to Liberals—and I see a Liberal Member (Mr. Grimond) in his place. The hon. Member would agree with me that Lord Thurso, whom we used to know as Sir Archibald Sinclair, would be the Liberal. Of the National Liberals, there would be two, Lord Rosebery who held office for a short time in the Caretaker Government, and the right hon. Mr. Ernest Brown. Finally, we come to the Government side of the House and where there would be only one, my right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot).
§ Mr. Douglas Johnston (Paisley)
The hon. Member has forgotten that Lord Alness was not a Secretary of State, but Secretary for Scotland in 1934.
§ Major Anstruther-Gray
I am told by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove that Lord Alness was not a member of the Council of State that served under Mr. Thomas Johnston, and I had better hasten to safer subjects where I know the facts.
§ Mr. Johnston
If the hon. Member will turn to the list at the end of the Report of those who gave evidence, he will discover the name of Lord Alness as being a member of the Council of State.
§ Mr. Elliot
As a member of the Council of State, I do not remember any occasion on which Lord Alness sat.
§ Major Anstruther-Gray
I had better allow that controversy to pass over my humble head. The inclusion, or otherwise, of Lord Alness will not alter the strength of the point I was about to make which was that, apart from the three right hon. Gentlemen who are at present Members of the House the other noble and right hon. Gentlemen would all be persons well above 70 years of age. Although we know politicians can be very fit and kicking at 80 years of age, they would be people of considerable age.
A more serious point is that of the five we are considering, if I include Lord Alness, two are already members of another place, where they can make their voices heard, and one of the others is no less than the Scottish National Governor of the B.B.C. If he cannot make his voice heard in every house in Scotland, who can? So, in fact, of these venerable gentlemen, all but one or possibly two, have every opportunity of making their voices and views available in public affairs. I do not think that the time has come when a useful purpose could be served by the convening of the Council of State.
I come to the recommendations about the Scottish Grand Committee. The Report comes down quite firmly against any suggestion that the Committee should meet in Scotland, and I am glad that it does. Nearly all hon. Members understand that such a suggestion is not really practicable, but it is good to see that the Commission have appreciated the position although none of its members have been Members of the House of Commons. Paragraph 83 of the Report deals with the point. It says:If Scottish Members were to sit in Scotland as members of the Scottish Standing Committee, they could not at the same time be available in Westminster for the consideration of business which, while not exclusively Scottish, might none the less be of great significance to Scotland. To invite Scottish Mem- 935 bers to choose between taking part in a debate on foreign affairs in Westminster or on a Scottish Bill in Edinburgh, both of which may be of the highest importance, would place them in a difficult dilemma.That is only the fringe of the problem. What would happen when there was a narrow Government majority or when the Government had no majority at all? What would happen to the principle which we now observe of adding a number of Member for English constituencies, many of them in fact Scottish by birth and some by residence, to bring the balance of the Committee as nearly as possible in line with the balance of parties in the House? Unless we had such a balance, we should find that the Committee was perpetually advocating one course and perpetually being overruled by the House. That happened just after the war, and the system proved largely unworkable, with the result that the Committee seldom met.
Further, when there was a narrow Government majority, what would happen to Scottish Members who hold Government office for a United Kingdom Department? We must not forget my right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove who has been Minister of Health and Minister of Agriculture. We must not forget that we have had Chancellors of the Exchequer sitting for Scottish constituencies. One can think of two without racking one's memory—Sir John Anderson, now Lord Waverley, and Sir Robert Horne. One would debar such people from their English appointments or, if one did not do that, how could a Government majority be maintained in a Committee sitting in Edinburgh? It would not be possible. The Report adds:Theoretically this difficulty could be met if the Scottish Standing Committee were to meet in Scotland during a Parliamentary Recess, but there are substantial objections to such a course. First, this proposal would mean that Scottish legislation should be examined only within a very rigid timetable and Scottish Bills, however urgent, could not be considered until Parliament had adjourned for a Recess.That means that unless Parliament saw fit to adjourn for a Recess the Scottish Standing Committee could not meet at all. What would happen suppose the Committee were sitting during a Recess and the deliberations were prolonged, as they were for 26 sittings on the Housing Bill last year, and the House reassembled before the Committee stage of a Bill ended? 936 We should have to go back to Westminster and we should be unable to make any further progress on the Bill. It is clear to all hon. Members, and I hope to all who read the Report, that the proposal for the Committee to sit in Edinburgh would not be workable.
That is not to say that there is no improvement to be made in the system. It has always seemed to me that our system whereby all hon. Members invariably are members of the Scottish Standing Committee is not the best one. It is a mistake that willy-nilly all hon. Members should be tied to attending the Committee for the Committee stage of all Bills. I make it clear that I am speaking only of the Committee stages of Bills. When we consider Motions for the Second Reading of Bills in the Scottish Standing Committee, then all Scottish Members have a right to be there, just as every hon. Member of the House has a right to be in the House for the Second Reading of a Bill. When we come to the Committee stage, every hon. Member of the House has not a right to serve on Standing Committee A or Standing Committee B. Certain Members are appointed.
I do not think that Scottish Members could complain if they had a right to sit on one or other of two Scottish Standing Committees. So that I do not make more of a case than I wish to make, I would say that, for the consideration of the Estimates during the six days that we have allowed, the whole 70 of us would require to retain our right to attend the Committee, just as every hon. Member has a right to attend in the House when Estimates are debated here. However, purely for the Committee stages of Bills, I see no advantage in all 70 of us attending.
On the contrary, there are grave disadvantages. I am sure that it is the experience of all of us that, because we were tied so closely to the Scottish Standing Committee in the last Session, Scotland's voice was inadequately represented on the other Standing Committees of the House. For example, there were only three Scottish Members on the Standing Committee which considered the Mines and Quarries Bill, and I doubt very much whether they could play their full part in the deliberations. They may have looked in at the meetings of the Committee, but then they had to go down 937 the corridor to where the Scottish Standing Committee met. As a result, Scotland's voice received less than her fair share of representation.
I hope that the House will forgive me for giving my views in detail. It is desirable that hon. Members should be united on a matter of this sort, though of course it is not necessary that we should be. The system could be altered by changing Standing Orders by Resolution of the House. It could be done by a majority vote if the case is strong enough, but it would be much better if we reached a unanimous decision.
What exactly does one suggest? I suggest that there should be constituted a Scottish Standing Committee A and a Scottish Standing Committee B, each with 35 members so that we could each serve on one or the other. To that basic 35 there could be, say, 15 Scottish or English Members added. The number could be 25—I do not think that it is even necessary to stipulate the exact number. The point might be left to the Selection Committee. Thus, those of us who were required to sit on other Standing Committees would be able to do so.
In addition, it would release Ministers such as my hon. Friend the Member for Scotstoun (Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison) who served last year as Under-Secretary of State for War. Again and again it occurred to me that his time would have been better spent in the national interest had he been allowed to stay at the War Office instead of being compelled to spend so much time in the Scottish Standing Committee. He had to sit there just because it was necessary to keep up the strength of the Government side in that Committee. At present it would release my hon. Friend the Member for Pentlands (Lord John Hope) who is at the Foreign Office.
It should not be forgotten that Scotland should be represented adequately at the Council of Europe meetings at Strasbourg and on other Parliamentary delegations which go overseas. It is not practicable to say that if we send a Government supporter from Scotland there has to be an Opposition Member to pair off with him on every delegation. That would be intolerable. How would it work in such a case as the not unimportant visit to Japan not long ago, when only two Members went? If one was a Scottish 938 Member, we could not have another Scotsman and no English Member at all. It meant that two Englishmen went on that occasion and not a Scottish Member; and so I urge the House to consider this point to see if something can be done.
I feel that the Royal Commission has done a good job of work. It has set out facts which prove that, by and large, Scotland is getting her fair share. It makes recommendations which allow the machinery of Government to be improved in certain respects. The particular respect that appears to me most desirable and most easily achieved, with common consent from all sides, happens to be the reconstituting of the Scottish Grand Committee into Scottish Standing Committees A and B. I hope that the Government will be prepared to examine it carefully and that right hon. and hon. Members opposite will also give it their attention. In that way the representation of Scottish interests at all debates in the House, and not only on Scottish affairs, and also outside the House on all Parliamentary delegations and deputations, would be more certainly assured.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ Mr. John Taylor (West Lothian)
I will not follow the hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Major Anstruther-Gray) in the first part of his speech, but I think that consideration should be given to that part dealing with the composition and modus operandi of the Scottish Grand Committee. I wish to make it clear that I speak entirely for myself and express a purely personal point of view on this matter, because many of my colleagues feel that it would be a mistake to reduce the numbers of the Scottish Grand Committee at any time and at any part of its work. There is much to be said for that point of view.
Dealing only with the technicalities of this matter, it has often appeared to me possible—at least the point is worthy of consideration—to establish, not quite the complicated machinery suggested by the hon. and gallant Member, but one small committee responsible for dealing with the Committee stages of what are generally agreed to be non-controversial Bills, or Measures of minor import affecting Scottish affairs. There were one or two such Bills during the last Session. Such a committee could be added to by the Select Committee in consultation with 939 the usual channels in order to observe the right proportion between the parties. Members interested in particular Measures who might not be Members of the Standing Committees could be added. By that means we could avoid many of the disadvantages and irritations that befell us during the last Session.
However, I do not think that the point is of very much importance. It is fresh in our minds, because the Scottish Grand Committee was rather over-loaded last Session. I think that that situation could have been avoided. It was largely due to bad planning and timing by the Government. There could have been a better spread-over of Scottish business through. out the Session.
It is not regular, nor is it normal, that the Scottish Grand Committee should have so many Bills to discuss as it had during the last Session. It is not necessarily a sign of great Scottish activity when the Scottish Grand Committee is busy. Indeed, I could argue—though I will not do so this evening—that the contrary is the case; that Scotland is not receiving its full share of representation on the Floor of the House if the Scottish Grand Committee is excessively busy. But I think that there is room for consultation about the right methods of dealing with matters of minor legislative import and the way we handle them in their Committee stages; though that is a matter for later consideration, because the Report does not make any suggestions along those lines.
As a whole, I consider that the Report follows the lines that most Scottish Members expected. It produces no surprises to those of us who for many years have made a study of the political, administrative, economic, industrial and legislative affairs of Scotland. It is a disappointment to those who believe—most of them with complete and, indeed, passionate sincerity—that the establishment of a Parliament in Edinburgh with power to legislative for Scotland would be to the economic advantage of the Scottish people. There are many who hold that view sincerely. Indeed, it is a view shared by some of my colleagues. I appreciate their sincerity, and to those who hold that view this Report is disappointing.
Many of us recognise that a belief exists that a Parliament in Scotland would 940 be to the economic advantage of the Scottish people. We have endeavoured for many years to make careful, objective and conscientious inquiry into that belief to see if it is justified and if we could reach conclusions to enable us to support it; or find logical reasons why such a view should not be supported. We have conducted our inquiries in an honest endeavour to be fair and unbiased.
To achieve this absence of partiality, we have had to subdue our emotions, because emotionally every Scot is a nationalist. Our history, culture and traditions all have a very special and powerful appeal to the Scots, for we are an emotional race. The picture conceived by the average Englishman of the Scot as a pragmatic, dour. taciturn person is far removed from the facts. One has only to go to any Scottish social function, or Scottish political meeting—when some speakers are addressing them—to discover that we are a highly emotional race, one of the most emotional and sentimental in Europe—sentimental in the best sense of the adjective.
To the Scot, patriotism is not the last resort of rogues; it is the first instinctive and congenital urge of every one of us. We are patriotic, and emotional about our patriotism, but I think that it is just to say that we are also practical and cautious. It is because we are so patriotic and wish to discover what is best for our country and people that we have been able to put mere emotionalist patriotism in its correct perspective in making inquiries such as the one which we are now examining, and our own inquiries into the advisability of amending the Act of Union.
Again and again those of us who, for our own satisfaction, have spent some time in making inquiries and researches, and examining grievances, have discovered that those grievances are not wholly Scottish. So often they have proved to be Scottish aspects of British grievances or problems, which would have existed irrespective of the locale of the Government. This was particularly so in the immediate post-war period, when it was so essential for Britain, as well as Scotland, that there should be a considerable amount of economic organisation and control. The result of most of our inquiries and researches, undertaken privately and with much the same terms 941 of reference as those of the Royal Commission, were very similar to those which that Commission has reached.
I commenced my own inquiries with a very strong bias in favour of complete legislative and economic devolution. I had then returned to Scotland after an absence of 20 years, and I brought back with me all the emotional and patriotic fervour of the exiled Scot, which is more perfervid than that of the resident Scot. The exiled Scot is inspired in his exile by the heart-stirring, additional appeal of nostalgia; by the kind of songs we used to sing in exile, such as:From the lone shieling on the misty islandMountains divide us, and a waste of seas,Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland,And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.They are very moving lines, which are inclined to tint the attitude of the exile and to colour even the black tenements of the most fetid of our slums in somewhat roseate hues.
It was with these feelings that I and many of my colleagues commenced inquiries in an endeavour to reach the truth. But contact, study, research, experience and thought all steadily overcame sentiment, and gradually—indeed, ruthlessly, though often very reluctantly— I was driven to conclusions similar to those reached by the members of the Royal Commission, a responsible and expert body of men and women who spent nearly two years in a close and thorough examination of the case in all its aspects. Inevitably, the Commission discovered that grievances which were thought to be due to London control were common to other parts of these Islands.
I have heard Tynesiders, using many familiar phrases, make out an excellent case in favour of a Tynesiders' Parliament in Newcastle. In describing all the benefits that would accrue, they have quoted exactly those grievances which are recorded on the other side of the Border. If we read the reports, speeches and propaganda documents of Welsh Nationalists, we find exactly the same kind of grievances, which are British grievances, and are not confined to Wales, Scotland, Tyneside or London.
The Commission has discovered possible ways of remedying some grievances. such as by transferring duties and responsibilities, but its suggestions and 942 recommendations are all extremely minor ones. That, to me, is not a sign of weakness, but it is a very significant fact. The most significant part of this Report is what is not in it. The fact is that after this exhaustive, somewhat expensive and very ably conducted inquiry, only minor suggestions have emerged. Faced with the important and responsible task of examining changes in the financial, economic, administrative and other functions of Government, the Commission decided that substantial changes in the structure of the Union would not be advantageous to Scotland.
The Government are not proposing to differ. They accept the Commission's conclusions. It would have been extremely difficult for the Government to reject them. It would have been especially difficult for a Unionist Government to reject them, on the grounds that no devolutionary changes were proposed, and difficult for any Government to reject them, because the proposed changes are of so minor a character that they do not very much matter. We are left to consider what comparatively minor changes seem advisable. On the whole, those which have been suggested by the Commission will not do anybody any harm. They might improve certain legislative matters to some extent, and we should welcome the fact that the Government have accepted them.
Upon reading the conclusions and recommendations of the Commission, one gets the impression that it was in some difficulty in finding anything to recommend, and seized with some relief upon these minor matters. As a party man, I regard that as an unspoken tribute—I was about to say an eloquent tribute because I cannot use those two adjectives together—to my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn). It was he who, at no expense to the country, reached similar conclusions about six years ago and introduced several changes. Here and there the Report contains oblique references to those alterations and changes, and it is clear that they have mostly proved to be satisfactory.
I am glad that that tribute to my right hon. Friend has emerged, because he was criticised. pilloried and harried at the time of his Secretaryship of State. He now has every reason to feel satisfied, 943 because he has been completely vindicated. He was criticised not for his conduct as Secretary of State, but because of the recommendations he made, which were along the lines of those which the Royal Commission has now made. I know of few more solid, representative and sincere Scots than my right hon. Friend. It was a very painful and resent-making process to hear him criticised as being not a good Scotsman because he refused to be unreal and unobjective in his approach to legislative and devolutionary questions.
There is one other point which has been briefly mentioned, and perhaps this may be a matter for discussion through the usual channels. I should like to mention it now because, ever since I became a Member of this House, I have had a special interest in it. It is the question of the method of dealing with Scottish Questions to Ministers at Question time.
About three years ago, I placed on the Order Paper a Notice of Motion, thinking, in my innocence at that time, that it might have some important effect. It was under the heading "An Early Day," and in it, in conjunction with some other hon. Members from both Scotland and England, I put forward a proposal that Questions which related to Scottish affairs and which had to deal with a specific Ministry in England might be taken either before or after other Questions affecting that Ministry on the day appointed for those Questions. I am afraid I have not made that very clear.
Let me illustrate it. Let us suppose that there was a Question about education in Scotland. Why should we not have such a Question answered on the same day as Questions on education affecting England and Wales are taken? Similarly, Questions for other Ministries —the Ministry of Labour, the President of the Board of Trade and so on—could be taken on their present regular rota.
Other suggestions have been made, but I do not think they are quite as good as this one, because this would ensure a steady flow of Scottish Questions and would obviate, every six or seven weeks, the state of boredom affecting other hon. Members of the House and prevent them exercising their adrenal glands in anger by caustic and sarcastic comments when we take up a large part of Question 944 time. It would solve a great many difficulties, and would provide more frequent opportunities of getting early answers to our Questions.
§ Mr. Taylor
I think that our experience of civil servants, and particularly our experience of the Scottish Office, is that when we in this House decide that a course of action is for the benefit of our country and nation and that it is our clear decision, though it creates difficulties of an administrative character for the Civil Service, the civil servants get over those difficulties. It is their job so to do.
I put forward the suggestion because I think the idea is sound and that it is a practical suggestion. I would not agree that the fact that it creates Civil Service difficulties and administrative problems is a sufficiently important objection to prevent it being carefully considered. Indeed, I recall that, when this Motion was placed on the Order Paper, several hon. Members opposite discussed it with me and said that it was an admirable idea. In fact, it was discussed by some hon. Members upstairs at a place where hon. Members opposite who represent Scottish constituencies discuss their business.
Whether it was rightly or wrongly reported to me I do not know, because one can never trust reports of party meetings which are held behind closed doors, and I suggest to hon. Members opposite that they should never trust any report of party meetings which have been held behind closed doors. Therefore, this might have been someone trying to pull my leg, but I was told that the idea was rejected by hon. Members opposite only because it had emerged from the opposite side of the House, which seems to me an insufficient reason for refusing to consider it.
I think that this is a matter for the usual channels. It would produce a more steady and even flow of Scottish Questions, instead of the present arrangement, under which for two or three weeks it might be possible to reach the third or fourth of the Ministries involved in the rota, while one week we go to the top, followed by six or seven weeks of dead silence and complete inability on the 945 part of any Scottish hon. Member to question the Government on any subject. I think that is a bad state of affairs.
This right of their Member of Parliament to question Ministers in this House is one of the most important rights possessed by the people of this country, and it ought to be a regular right which is directly available to Members of Parliament and, indirectly through them, to all the citizens of this nation a t any time. It is a bad thing that there should be five or six weeks during which a whole nation is debarred the opportunity of putting Questions to Ministers.
§ Mr. Taylor
That is an alternative suggestion, though I myself regard that prospect with a considerable amount of misgiving. However, perhaps it requires more mature thought.
I have spoken longer than I intended, and I must now resist the temptation to go into other aspects of Scottish affairs. Having nailed my colours to the mast, I would add that I believe that the Commission on the whole has produced a good Report. I also declare my belief that the Commission could not have produced any other type of Report. I believe that, if we take a representative body of people from these islands—and this is a United Kingdom responsibility— and take them in the main from Scotland, though with representatives from other parts of these islands which are represented in this Parliament, and give them the same terms of reference, asking them to take an objective and full view of the economic, financial, legislative and administrative problems, we should get precisely or substantially the same type of Report as we have here.
We shall only get a different type when the terms of reference give the Members of the Commission the opportunity to express their own opinions on how Government can best be transferred to Scotland. Such a question was not in the terms of reference of this Commission, and therefore they express no views upon it. Nevertheless, I should like to join those hon. Members who have expressed their thanks to these ladies and gentlemen who spent nearly three years of careful, painstaking and conscientious work in 946 considering the contents of this Report and presenting it to us.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
I shall try to be as brief as possible, as so many hon. Members wish to speak and it is quite impossible for all of us to cover all aspects of this very important question. In regard to the attitude of Scottish Members of Parliament to the Report, we recognise that it is right and proper that we should express a certain amount of regret, because, as has been said already, we are a profoundly sentimental nation and a nationalist nation, and we do feel a strong longing towards old forms and old ways, and even a desire to revert to those old forms and old ways. When we see it proved beyond peradventure that we must adopt new ways, we do so, but unwillingly.
So there is a certain piano note running through the speeches of hon. Members today. But it is not because of the unimportance of the subject we are considering, for we are considering one of the greatest problems of our time—the problem of the relation of the great units of government to the lesser units of government. In our century the world has grown so small that all the great units of government tend to press more and more closely upon the smaller ones, and the smaller units feel an uneasy suspicion that they will be crushed out. And they long for the time when the world was not so closely connected up and when there was an occasional chance of a small nation leading an independent life in some distant spot where its vast neighbours did not wake it up every morning with terrifying threats as to what they were going to do about its existence.
That time is past, however. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) talked with approval of the Declaration of Abroath. Yet that Declaration itself bristled with sentiments which would be greeted with a great deal of indignation if they were enunciated today in this House. It declared that the Scots coming from a distant land had invaded Scotland and had exterminated the original inhabitants, and, therefore. claimed the right to speak not merely as inhabitants but as victors. And, if I remember rightly, the source of their origin would make them justly more suspect to many hon. Gentlemen 947 opposite, for they claimed to have come from Spain. They would also be subject to indignation from other parts because their original source, they claimed, was the Levant. So they had fought their way, sword in hand, solidly from the East of the Mediterranean via Spain to Scotland, and they claimed that this gave them a greater right to speak for Scotland than the original inhabitants who, anyhow, they said, they had exterminated.
The difficulties of our time are not to be disposed of in this rather airy way. We have to consider how we can best live in our modern century. At this very moment there is meeting here in London an assembly which has, I think, perhaps greater possibilities of good for the world than any other which could possibly have been brought about—the meeting of the Commonwealth Premiers which is going on now. The fact that it brings, by automatic association, Premiers from Asia, Pakistan and India, into close correlation with the great leaders of the Pacific—such as the Prime Minister of Australia and the Prime Minister of New Zealand, who himself has been responsible for a most hopeful resolution in the Security Council—and that these things are being discussed here, in a great world assembly, is a fact of which each of us is acutely conscious. This is not the kind of assembly from which we wish to divorce ourselves, even in a minor degree.
We have a greater feeling of confidence in the Union today than we had even a few years ago. We have at our gates two Parliaments which have separated themselves to a greater or lesser degree—the Parliament of the Irish Republic, which has separated itself completely, and the Parliament of Northern Ireland. Many of our friends in Scotland say that they do not wish to go as far as the Parliament of the Irish Republic. But are we so sure here that we even wish to exchange our status for that of the Parliament of Northern Ireland? I do not think that is the view of hon. Members on either side of the House. We wish to stay here, with the responsibility and authority which full membership of this great assembly gives us. I am sure that anything which would weaken that would he for the ill and not for the good both of Scotland and of the great Union which we are discussing this afternoon.
948 That is not to say that everything is perfect in the state of the Union. The Report speaks forcibly about many great divergencies, which operates to some extent to the disadvantage of our country of Scotland. But what we are considering now is how they could best be remedied, and whether this could be done by a further degree of severance between the two countries. I think it is the reluctant conclusion of every one of us in this assembly that it would not be an advantage and that, for good or ill, as the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. J. Taylor) has said, we have to tackle problems which cannot be conjured away by discussing them in Edinburgh instead of in London.
They would follow us across the border: the problem of riches and poverty, the problem of peace and war, the problem of the new engineering developments which are necessary if we are to keep our place in the modern world, the problems of trade. All these do not become more easy to discuss if we discuss them in Edinburgh; they become more difficult to discuss for, if we do that, we have to come back again here, or to some other great assembly such as the United Nations in America, to settle them finally. Problems do not become any easier to discuss if, having first discussed them in Edinburgh, we subsequently find ourselves discussing them in the United Nations. The more we can thrash out these problems in a preliminary manner amongst ourselves, the greater the authority with which we speak in great international conferences such as the United Nations.
These are the problems we are all considering nowadays, and this is what is at the back of all our minds in considering the questions raised by the Report—some of these are not important to any absolutely crucial extent, though important to us—as to whether the electrical affairs of Scotland should be conducted by the Secretary of State for Scotland or by the Minister of Fuel and Power, or whether the transport problems of Scotland should be conducted by the Secretary of State for Scotland or by the Minister of Transport here in London.
Personally, I think that in both of these cases the right solution has now been found. The Kingdom of Scotland is a natural electrical unit. There is a natural 949 electrical frontier which runs across the Border—cutting the lines in only one or two places—as against the synthetic electrical frontier which was originally created running through the heart of industrial Scotland, and cutting all the lines. It seemed to me to be foolish at the time, I opposed it then, and I am glad to say that the frontier has been moved south. However, I do not say that it is a matter of fundamental importance.
§ Mr. Rankin
Will the right hon. Gentleman develop the point about electricity a little further? He said that Scotland was a natural electrical unit. Is it also a natural coal unit, a natural educational unit and so on? Where does that argument terminate?
§ Mr. Elliot
Scotland is not a natural unit for everything, only for certain things, and I was giving electricity as an example. Scotland is more of a natural coal unit than a natural trade unit, but we would have the greatest difficulty in getting right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to agree that the National Union of Mineworkers should be split at the frontier with Scotland.
§ Mr. Elliot
The labour questions run naturally and inevitably across the frontiers. That is why there cannot be separation there or separate Acts of legislation. We have the great trade unions, with their affiliations running completely across the frontiers, and it is for that reason, amongst others, that I think it would be so difficult for the dream of separation, which has so often been preached in one form or another, to be brought to any kind of fruition.
§ Mr. Rankin
Then the argument of the right hon. Gentleman applies exactly to his own illustration of electricity and transport.
§ Mr. Elliot
Not at all. An electrical current is not the same thing as a human being; the positive and negative poles are not the same as the Liberal and Conservative, or even the Labour and Conservative Parties. The fact that litmus paper turns red when we apply one kind of electric current to it, and blue when we apply another, has nothing to do with the party colours. Electricity and politics, 950 although similar in many ways, are not identical and can easily be divided. But the hon. Gentleman does me too much credit in asking me to speak longer, when every other Scottish Member is wishing me to speak shorter.
This problem is brought sharply to our notice by the fact that the Secretary of State for Scotland is not able to be here today because, to our great regret, the weight of his office, for the time being, has proved to be a crushing burden. We all saw it happen to Tom Johnson, whom we saw wasting under that burden. I had to carry the burden myself, and I know it is a very heavy and severe one.
We have to consider how best the inevitable burden upon the Secretary of State for Scotland can be relieved while at the same time maintaining the intimate relationship of the Secretary of State for Scotland in the affairs of the Cabinet and the intimate relationship of Scottish Members of this Parliament from which the Cabinet derives authority. That will have to be done by compromise measures. There is no ideal solution. The thought of the 19th century was that by separate Legislatures a satisfactory solution could be found. I do not think that that is right.
It is easy enough for either side to cast stones at the zeal of one of the other parties for a more or less nationalist solution in certain conditions. The right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire was good enough to quote some remarks of my own, but I could quote from speech after speech, in debate after debate, when the party of which he is a distinguished member preached very far-reaching alterations in the relations between the two countries, alterations which it is not anxious further to pursue today. To continue that controversy would be a mistake. We should not get anywhere fruitful by that.
We have all come to the conclusion that along the lines of a closely integrated, rather than disintegrated, community we shall succeed. We certainly do not believe that progress will be made along the line of disintegration. That conclusion involves some very important and interesting facts in relation to which I wish to give only one quotation. It is a quotation from the Commission's Report, a Report signed by distinguished men of all political parties. One point in para- 951 graph 71 of the Report is worth repeating again and again. It states:Real income in Scotland "—that is, the standard of living in Scotland—depends in the main on the enterprise and initiative of private industrialists, both Scottish and foreign "—this is the verdict of Sir Patrick Dollan—
§ Mr. Elliot
He is quoting with the utmost approval from the Report of the Cairncross Committee:and within the varying limits set by government fiscal and monetary policies and direct controls, it falls on them "—that is, on the industrialists—to make the decisions which will determine the future of the Scottish economy.That is the measure commended to us.
§ Mr. Elliot
It is the Royal Commission's quotation of the Cairncross Committee's Report, and the Royal Commission commends it to us, as its message, in paragraph 71.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I quite agree, so far as that is possible on an economic basis, but it was reported today, for instance, that there may be a Development Area in the Highlands. If it is not possible for private enterprise to make ends meet by starting an industry in the Highlands, quite clearly it cannot be left entirely to private enterprise to subsidise the maintenance of the population in a great part of our country.
§ Mr. Elliot
That is perfectly true, but I think that the right hon. Gentleman has omitted to look closely—although the Commission certainly did—at the words… within the varying limits set by government fiscal and monetary policies.…My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh. South (Sir W. Darling) recently put forward a view which would certainly transform the position in the seven crofting counties. He suggested that there should be a remission of taxation, partial or complete, within being. The solution he put forward is not a fairy-tale solution but is that adopted by Australia with regard to its Northern Territories. The 952 Cairncross Report states this point of the necessity of private enterprise in set terms. The Royal Commission Report says, after giving its own views:A similar view has been summarised as follows in a recent statistical account of Scottish life.The Commission, therefore, says that the view contained in the sentence which I have just quoted—which appears in the Cairncross Report—is similar to the view which it has put forward.
We shall have to keep in mind the rapid developments now taking place, and the great necessity for avoiding the rigidity of the too great unit, whether private or public. There is a danger that the flexibility which is necessary if we are to adapt ourselves to the rapidly changing conditions of the new times may be impaired if we hamstring it completely by too great units. I think that our fiscal, monetary, and political policies should have that always in mind.
We cannot ignore the fact that we are moving into an industrial revolution quite as great as that through which we have just passed. It may well be that Scotland, which was a pioneer in the first Industrial Revolution, will be a pioneer in the second. I hope that the second industrial revolution will not bring to our country such terribly squalid results as did the first. Although the first Industrial Revolution brought, it may be, great wealth to Scotland it also brought great squalor and bitterness which has persisted even to our own day.
I hope that it will be possible for the new revolution to be launched in somewhat more favourable circumstances, but, for good or ill, our lives in the new century are linked with the lives of the great State. It is within the boundaries of the great State that we shall find ourselves operating and in which, during the whole of our political lifetime, we shall need to operate.
We are now discussing therefore, how best to marry, to interdigitate, the powers of the small State with those of the great, which is the overwhelming political and economic necessity of our time. We are indebted to the Royal Commission for the consideration it has given to our problems, and we are doing well to devote a whole day to a discussion of the Report.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)
I find myself in very substantial agreement with the presentation of the problem by the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot), but I differ from his conclusion that this Report has pointed the way to a solution of the problem. The Commission was given the job of examining the differences between the larger and the smaller political and economic units to see how the problems affecting Scotland could be dealt with and whether or not a greater measure of separation, or separation in the full sense was required.
When we examine the remit, we find that the Royal Commission was given a very wide field indeed but that it has interpreted the words used by the Secretary of State in reply to a Question put to him in a needlessly narrow manner. In consequence of that interpretation and what has followed from it, I would say that the two years have been largely wasted. The Commission has produced a Report which is very largely an endeavour to put the seal of approval on the status quo. Almost every question which is examined by the Commission is examined with a bias in favour of the continuance of the status quo.
I do not intend to suggest that we should work for separation, but I do say that that is the problem that was presented to the Royal Commission. There has been in Scotland for many years a strong feeling that because of the administration of governmental arrangements under which the country functions, Scotland was not getting a fair deal, or was not enabled to develop as Scotland might have developed, or was not able to tackle the problems confronting her as she could have done if she had been separate or had a greater measure of separation than she has.
That is the viewpoint that is quite widely held, and I took it that that was the viewpoint which was to be thoroughly examined, and that then we would have a Report stating whether this was sound or unsound, to what degree we could have more separation or to what degree greater separation would be injurious to us as a country. That matter was not dealt with at all in the Report; in fact, the whole cardinal point has been missed.
Therefore, this Report. apart from the useful statistical information it contains 954 is largely a waste of time. I am sorry to say that, but I am endorsing the remarks of many of my hon. Friends. I feel that an opportunity has been missed and that this job will have to be done again. It still awaits examination—whoever is to do it, I do not know—and until it is done, the misgivings which are quite marked in many parts of the country will not be allayed. The complaint remains.
When we examine the basis of the matter, we find that it is not the small details of administration with which the people of Scotland are concerned. They are concerned with certain basic economic problems. These economic problems relate to feelings of national pride, prestige and status. There is a fairly strong feeling among Scottish people that they have been treated as of an inferior citizenship status. The Commission points to the relatively worse housing conditions in Scotland as compared with England—and I would emphasise that the word "relatively" is important in this connection. It points to the relatively poorer health standards in Scotland as compared with England and Wales. It points to the relatively greater unemployment, or the fewer job prospects in Scotland as compared with England and Wales. [Interruption.] Usually England and Wales are classified together.
§ Mr. Lawson
The Commission points to the relatively poorer pay in Scotland as compared with England. I repeat that what is important is this term "relative." It is true that conditions in Scotland have improved in some respects. Our housing standards are higher than they used to be. But compared with England, they are worse.
I regret the bias in this Report, because the existence of this bias has defeated the whole purpose for which the Commission was set up. It states that in Scotland there are some 15.5 per cent. of the people living more than two to a room, whereas in England the percentage is 2.1. Then in the next sentence it hastens to say:On the other hand, the proportion of households living in shared houses in England and Wales was 15.1 per cent. whilst the Scottish proportion was 7.7 per cent.Clearly here is an endeavour to counterbalance, or wipe out, the very bad figure which was given previously—2.1 per cent. 955 compared with 15.5 per cent. in terms of overcrowding.
What do we know about these shared houses? Presumably a lovely mansion house shared by two or three families is a shared house. There is no standard of comparison at all in this connection, but this sentence has clearly been included for the purpose which I have just stated. There is no other purpose than that of endeavouring to suggest that conditions in Scotland are being misread and appear much worse than they really are. What is important for Scottish people is this relatively worse position as compared with elsewhere.
Health standards in Scotland have improved, as we would expect them to. After all, we are not living in some remote part of the world. We are part of one of the nations with the highest standard of life in the world, and one would expect that Scotland would improve with the rest of the country. Therefore, it is no argument to say that Scottish standards have improved as compared with what they were many years ago.
What is germane to this question is how Scotland compares with England. Scottish people seize on such matters as the worse health conditions in Scotland in terms of infant mortality and particularly of tuberculosis, and they say, "Here is an example of what we are suffering from the kind of Government under which we live."
Similarly, on the question of unemployment, the Report states:Although in 1953 the percentage of unemployment in Scotland was more than twice that in England, it was in itself a low rate and the difference between the two was only 1.6 per cent.That 1.6 per cent. means that English unemployment was half Scottish unemployment. As a matter of fact, in these post-war years Scottish unemployment has been more often than not three times higher than English unemployment.
§ Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
Surely it is not fair to say that the degree of dissatisfaction which is felt will be the same so long as the proportions are the same. For example, if there were one unemployed man in England and two unemployed men in Scotland, the rate of unemployment would still be double.
§ Mr. Lawson
I am speaking from memory, but I think it will be found that a fifth of the unemployment of the whole country is wholly Scottish unemployment. If there are some hon. Members who cannot appreciate the point of relativity in this connection, let me explain that it is how we compare ourselves with others, what we see others have achieved and what we have ourselves failed to achieve. The position of Scotland relative to England in terms of unemployment is worse now than it was in the inter-war years. In the interwar years it was not double.
Consequently, people want to know, if we can practically wipe out unemployment in England and cut it down to 1 per cent., why we cannot do the same thing in Scotland. It is a feature which is very important to us. If evidence is needed of it, any important organisation dealing with the point always seizes on the fact that it is regularly twice and sometimes three times the English level. It is the question of relative conditions, standards and opportunities which is so important, and it has been missed by the Report.
The matter of opportunities for work is expressed in unemployment, but it is also expressed in another feature of Scottish life which I do not think is mentioned in the Report and of which, certainly, no serious account has been taken. This is the constant drain of Scottish people out of the country. It is a major question in Scotland. The 1951 census showed that more than 500,000 people born in Scotland were living in England. What is the answer to that? The fact that unemployment is as low as it is in Scotland is in large part accounted for by the constant movement of people out of Scotland.
Figures which I have show that 572,900 people who were born in Scotland were living in England in 1951. The number of people who were born in Scotland but had become domiciled in England, United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa was about 1¼ million. Ninety years ago the ratio of Scottish population to English population 957 was one to five, whereas it is now one to nine, and during that period Scotland lost in proportion to its population eight times as many people as England did. Why is that so? The Report gives no answer.
The answer is not to be found in any romantic desire of the Scottish people to wander over the face of the earth. People do not come down from the Highlands to Glasgow and other industrial areas for romantic reasons; they do so to get work and to improve their standard of life and to obtain opportunities for their children. If we want an explanation for Scottish emigration, we need only look at migration within Scotland, for the cause is the same in both cases.
There is nothing romantic about England to Scotsmen but there is clear evidence that Scotsmen find that they have not the same opportunities in their own country as they have elsewhere. For example, standards of payment elsewhere are much better than in Scotland. One reason for that is that the new type of industry which has been growing up pays much better than the old industry. One gets much better wages in the automobile industry around Coventry than in the shipbuilding or railway rolling stock industries in Scotland. Scotland is overwhelmingly based on the old industries and has attracted very little new industry. Imagine the effect upon Scotland of a slump in shipbuilding. The situation is the same in terms of locomotive building.
§ Mr. Lawson
I am not arguing for a Scottish Parliament. I am saying that the Commission has failed to examine the question and has given us no answer, and I want an answer.
There is another point which illustrates the biased nature of the Report. On page 19 in the section dealing with unemployment there is reference to factory facilities which have been provided in Scotland since 1945. After giving the figure of the amount to be spent and the acreage of factory space to be provided, the Report says:These figures are higher than in any other Development Area in Great Britain.That is clearly another attempt to say that Scotland is getting a far better deal than 958 any other area. I do not know where the Commission got its figures.
The Board of Trade Journal for 2nd October, 1954, dealt with the introduction of a new system of classifying factory areas and factory development, and I find that Scotland comes third on the list in terms of space area in new factory development. The North-East Development Area has more than 20 million square feet, South Wales has practically 19 million square feet and Scotland has just over 16 million square feet on the new basis of estimating. On the basis in operation prior to August, 1954, in regard to the money spent on factory building Scotland again comes a very poor third. The Commission has not carried out the task which was given to it, as is clear if one looks at its terms of reference, and the job still remains to be done.
The Report refers to Government expenditure upon various contracts. I associate myself with paragraph 71, to which the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove referred. The Government should use its powers with discrimination, placing orders not merely to obtain the cheapest products but to assist development and prevent decline. What is being done in respect of electronics in Scotland is a case in point. The Board of Trade has given valuable assistance, and similar action should be taken in other instances.
I would mention the disappearance of wagon building in Scotland, which very definitely affects my constituents. Nothing but repair work is being carried on there now simply because there has been a changeover from wood to steel and a private enterprise businessman has failed to keep himself abreast of the time. Scottish people cannot be left to the mercies of businessmen who prefer to move their industries elsewhere. We must have governmental interference, guidance and encouragement with the object of maintaining and raising Scottish standards.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Sir Ian Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, West)
I do not share the views of the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) about the "futility" of the Report. I believe that the Commission has done a very useful job of work and produced a very readable document 959 which is full of very important information. It has made some sensible and practical recommendations.
I propose to deal with only one because a considerable number of my Scottish colleagues wish to take part in the debate. Although the speeches have been of a very high order this afternoon, they have been a little on the long side, and I shall try to cut my contribution as much as possible in the interests of my fellow countrymen.
The transfer of the responsibility for Scottish highways and their attendant bridges, tunnels, piers, and ferries from the Minister of Transport to the Secretary of State is an important, practical, and far-reaching proposal. Anyone who knows anything about internal affairs in Scotland at the moment will appreciate that transport is one of our great problems, and roads are one of the fundamental aspects of transport.
For that reason I wholeheartedly welcome the acceptance by the Government of the recommendation to transfer responsibility from the Minister to the Secretary of State. I am only sorry that in his statement in this House on 7th December the Secretary of State said he did not think the transfer would be effected until the spring of 1956. That was for reasons which he outlined, and had to do with accounting, the gathering together of staff, certain legislation in connection with the Road Fund, and so on. If any means can be found to speed up the transfer, that will be most welcome in Scotland.
You will have observed from the Order Paper, Mr. Speaker, that in recent years a considerable proportion of the Questions addressed by Scottish hon. Members to the Minister of Transport have been on the subject of roads and bridges. I think that on both sides of the House we have made it clear that we have not been happy under the administration of the Ministry of Transport. Anyone who troubles to look through the memoranda of evidence submitted to the Royal Commission by the various associations of local authorities in Scotland, by business and commercial organisations such as the Edinburgh and Leith Chambers of Commerce, the Scottish Council of the Federation of British Industries, and so 960 on, will see that the question of highways in Scotland has been giving all those bodies concern.
It is not at all surprising, therefore, to find, in paragraph 131 of the Report, this statement:The criticisms which we received regarding the Ministry of Transport referred mainly to highway matters, and were more serious and more widespread than in the case of any other subject which was brought to our notice. They applied to the Minister's responsibility both for trunk roads, where the expenditure is entirely borne by the State, and for classified roads.I can emphasise from one example how very right the Commission has been in coming to that view. There is one trunk road well known to most hon. Members from Scotland, the trunk road running between Edinburgh and the North via Stirling, which has been cut off in its middle at Turnhouse Aerodrome for several years, and there has been great difficulty in trying to get a diversion road constructed to take the flow of traffic.
Permanent closure was decided upon as long ago as February, 1953, and though I have had a most voluminous correspondence with the Ministry—I took the trouble the other day to weigh the papers and found that they weigh more than 1½ lb.—it was only a week ago that the Minister said, in answer to a Question, that the new route had been settled. That is only a preliminary stage and, under the complicated machinery which has to be gone through, it will be a considerable time yet before the new road is constructed. Meanwhile, bus operators and other road users of this main arterial highway in Scotland are put to great inconvenience.
Had the Secretary of State had control and responsibility for our main highways in Scotland, I do not for a moment believe that this state of affairs would have arisen. I am convinced, particularly knowing the present Secretary of State, that the whole matter would have been settled a long time ago. For that reason I am glad that the responsibility for highways is to be transferred to him. I hope that the transfer will be as speedy as possible.
Although that transfer will bring some immediate benefit to Scotland, it is only part of the story. The question of finance enters very largely into this problem. There is no doubt about this, and it is touched upon very forcibly by the Royal 961 Commission, in paragraph 138. where it makes plain that expenditure should not be based on the traditional Goschen formula but should be on what is described as an assessment of requirements. The Commission goes into some more details on this matter, in paragraph 133 of the Report, from which hon. Members can see that from road mileage statistics in Scotland a case can be made for an increased grant.
I think, however, that the real strength of our claim for an increased grant for new and improved highways in Scotland lies in the nature of the geography of Scotland which makes essential the provision and upkeep of roads linking together scattered communities who dwell in sparsely populated, and what I would describe as physically difficult, country. Every one of us, with the recent blizzards in the North in mind, will appreciate just how bad conditions can become over our road system in a wide area of Scotland.
I imagine that very considerable damage must have been done by ice and snow to the roads, both main and secondary, in that part of the country. I therefore hope that my right hon. Friend and—in his unfortunate absence, which we all deplore—the Joint Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, East (Mr. Henderson Stewart), will not hesitate to start tackling the Treasury on the subject of a more generous allocation of money for the construction and maintenance of roads.
I should like to indicate to my hon. Friend a possible practical line of approach. The Trunk Roads Act, 1946, provides, in Section 1 (2), that the Minister of Transport—who, in Scotland, will, so far as highways are concerned, soon be the Secretary of State—may make an Order designating an existing road as a trunk road. I happened to be a member of the Standing Committee which considered that Measure in 1945, as I think you were, Mr. Speaker. I remember moving a number of Amendments which would have led to some important roads in the North of Scotland being designated as trunk roads.
Unfortunately, the Minister of Transport, at that time the right hon. Member for East Ham, South (Mr. Barnes), was not able to accept those Amendments. I quote from col. 1344 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of Standing Committee D, 962 6th December, 1945, when the Minister was good enough to say this about my proposals—and I ask the Joint Under-Secretary to pay particular attention to it:the hon. and gallant Member can rest in the knowledge that a road running, like he has indicated, all around the left-hand top part of Scotland is attractive, and a case can be made out for it. It would complete what we have done on the other side of the coast, and that will be borne in mind."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee D, 6th December, 1945, c. 1344.]I think those were quite encouraging remarks by the Minister, in dealing with my Amendment. I hope, therefore, that as soon as he is in a position to do so my right hon. Friend will consider utilising the Trunk Roads Act to designate a number of existing roads as trunk roads, and thereby transfer the responsibility for their upkeep to the State from the hard-pressed local authorities in the more remote areas of Scotland.
There is just one other point I wish to raise—what I might call the problem of priorities. As I understand the position, at the moment the Government have approved of a certain number of road works in the North of Scotland and elsewhere, and also of the construction of a single tunnel under the Clyde at Whiteinch.
§ Mr. Rankin
It is the Government of the hon. and gallant Member; there should have been a twin tunnel.
§ Sir I. Clark Hutchison
As a citizen of Edinburgh, I am not begrudging Glasgow this tunnel, but I think it ought to be satisfied with one-half of the twin at the moment.
§ Sir I. Clark Hutchison
Those are important projects, and I certainly approve of both.
I think that, with the exception of the local Members who represent constituencies in the North of Scotland, I probably know the roads in the North as well as any Member in this House. I have travelled over practically all of them on various occasions, and I fully realise the need for their improvement and extension.
963 The time has now arrived when we in Scotland should know what the overall future programme for roads, bridges, and tunnels is to be, and should have some idea of the degree of priority which is assigned to each project by the Government. I hope, therefore, that my right hon. Friend will be able to give some indication on these matters at a reasonably early date, even before he takes over his new functions as Minister in charge of highways in Scotland.
We in the South-East and in Edinburgh are particularly interested, as the hon. Members who represent Glasgow will appreciate, in the prospects of early construction of the Forth road bridge. As successive Ministers of Transport and the various Ministers representing Scotland know, I and numbers of my hon. Friends have on many occasions discussed this matter with them, together with representatives of their Departments and of local authorities.
We have raised the matter in this House and elsewhere by speech and by Question, and we have been disappointed that no more definite progress has been made. I hope, therefore, that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State—and, in his absence, my hon. Friend the Joint UnderSecretary—will take this matter seriously to heart and will endeavour to let us know, and to let all Scotland know, as soon as possible when this great project is likely to find a place in our programme of highway extensions.
§ Mr. Speaker
May I make an appeal to the House for some brevity in speeches? I am making no complaints about the speeches that have hitherto been delivered, but my recollection, as an old Member of the House, is that among Scottish Members there was frequently a tacit understanding or self-denying ordinance whereby we allowed as many Members as possible to speak. If that could be carried out on this occasion, I am sure that it would be to the general satisfaction of the House.
§ 6.33 p.m.
§ Mr. L Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I have a great deal of sympathy with what the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Sir I. Clark Hutchison) said about roads. I very much hope that the 964 Government will listen to what he said and will, as a first step, designate some trunk roads in Orkney and Shetland.
§ Sir I. Clark Hutchison
Some of the Amendments which I moved to the 1946 Bill actually dealt with Orkney and Shetland roads.
§ Mr. Grimond
Unlike all previous speakers, I am in favour of legislative devolution for Scotland. My reason certainly is not that I have any dislike of the English. In fact, I am surprised to hear some of those who wish to hug the English more tightly to their bosom talking about carrying on a cold war with them and about endless disputes with the old enemy.
In my experience, the English are extremely patient. They would get through their Parliamentary business in about half the time if Parliament were not clogged up by speeches of other nationalities. What I want is a federal system which will give the English and the Welsh, as well as the Scots, the power to govern themselves.
Secondly, I am not an ardent fan of the more ebullient type of Scottish nationalist. I do not even mind if people give their address as "N.B." I have known many excellent Scotsmen who always gave their address "N.B.," and who were much better Scotsmen than some of those who go about looking like minor characters out of Compton Mackenzie and talking synthetic Lallan.
I should like also to deal with some of the arguments advanced by the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot). Those of us who believe in some form of devolution do not want separation. We want the sort of thing which, after all, is being widely practised throughout the world; that is, a federal system, a system which we are encouraging in other parts of the Commonwealth. The right hon. Gentleman himself has played a notable part in the creation of that system, or in encouraging other parts of our own Commonwealth to advance towards it.
I am profoundly suspicious of statements like his that there are natural units for electricity. I cannot believe that had the boundary of Scotland not happened to be where it is, the right hon. Gentleman would ever have thought that that particular line was a natural division in 965 the electrical world. I am rather suspicious, too, of arguments based on the hydrogen bomb. I do not believe that in the long run New York will be any safer from the hydrogen bomb than Brussels. As to small countries in the modern world, I do not think that Switzerland or Denmark get on so very badly. Indeed, in many directions there is a tendency away from unwieldly centralisation.
I recognise, however, that the Commission which we are discussing was concerned largely with administration and considered itself to be debarred from discussing legislative devolution. Therefore, the thinking of the Commission was bound to be coloured by the assumption that Scotland is merely a part of Great Britain, and that it must always develop in the same way as the rest of Great Britain.
The Commission, therefore, diligently and properly examined whether Scotland was getting its fair share of attention and money and so on, but if Scotland is a nation, as she claims to be, with her own facet of the European tradition, she should be contributing something specific to the world. She should be developing her own tradition, not as an ingrown, bitter form of nationalism, but as a gift to the general advancement of civilisation; and she should be offering her sons and daughters something more than a mere "Goschen formula" share of material prosperity.
It is on those grounds that those of us who believe in some form of self-government for Scotland would base our case. I do not think that the Commission took that feeling into account. I do not blame the Commission for failing to do so: I am not sure that it was within its terms of remit.
In paragraph 286 of the Report, the Commission wrote:The Highlands as a whole are not in every particular to be regarded as a special reserve which requires measures differing in genus as opposed to differing in degree from those applicable elsewhere.That is a guarded statement, and I am not clear what "special reserve" means, but the Committee seemed to conclude that there is nothing really which distinguishes the Highlands in kind from the rest of Great Britain.
Of course, all rural areas throughout the world have certain problems in 966 common, but when one area differs in soil, geographical features, and climate, and has an absence of industry, not to mention differences in the type of people and, indeed, of language, it surely cannot be maintained that there are not fundamental differences in kind between that area and other parts of Great Britain. I do not think that the Commission accepted that fact. This is an example of the assumption which influenced the Commission's thinking in assuming that the development of Great Britain as a whole must be along the same lines. Incidentally, it is due to that attitude that the Highlands arc in their present state today.
Let us next consider civil aviation. In paragraph 139, the Commission very properly said that the British European Airways Corporation had given Scotland a fair share of its services. Nevertheless, aviation could be of much greater importance to Scotland, and may require a greater form of development and, possibly, even different standards. Does anyone really doubt that if Scotland had been free to develop in her own way, she would have treated Preswick rather differently and would have hastened the development of the Preswick Pioneer and the helicopter?
The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) spoke about Scottish industry and of the continual tendency of Scottish unemployment to remain above the level of that in England. He mentioned the different rates of pay that are offered in Scotland and the difficulty of getting investment in Scotland. I think that the Commission was a little complacent about those things, too, although it set out the figures and certainly expressed some regret.
Let us consider law. I understand that a very distinguished Scottish lawyer is to wind up this debate on behalf of the Opposition. Is he satisfied that Scottish law has developed as it might have developed? Has it been able to play its part in the law of the Commonwealth?
As for the government of Scotland in its wider aspects, it is difficult today to get people in Scotland to man the various boards and committees, which are merely advisory. I do not wonder that it is difficult, just for the reason that these boards are advisory, and so few of them 967 have power to do anything. I do not think we shall get active people to remain in a position where they are simply advising and examining and have no power to act.
The Secretary of State seems to me to have a burden of work out of proportion to his actual authority. My impression is that his authority is far too closely circumscribed by the Treasury. I notice that it is an office which does not attract people for long periods, or attract those who, for any reason, leave it to return to it. It is strange that there is only one man, Mr. Thomas Johnston, who has made a great name for himself in that office, which ought to be of the first importance.
I am bound to conclude that there is an unfortunate feeling in Scotland today that, in some spheres at any rate, the glittering prizes lie outside our country, and that inventors, scientists, politicians, and civil servants have to get out of it if they want to achieve the full use of their talents. I know quite well that there are shining examples to the contrary, and I am glad to think that there are some in art and literature.
Coming from Orkney I am glad to be able to point to the fact that Eric Linklater and Edwin Muir are both Orcadians. I know too, that Scottish law, the Church, and the universities—and I would also mention in this connection the "Scotsman" newspaper—maintain in Scotland a specific Scottish culture and outlook. However, I do not think that will flourish indefinitely unless there is a real conviction in Scotland that the Scots have control over their own destiny, and, as they have nationality in common, can settle a common pattern for their lives. I doubt whether that feeling is strong enough in Scotland today. I doubt if they have the leadership which only a Government of their own can give.
I seem nearly to have used up the time I may take and I cannot now, as I had hoped, deal with various other matters in the Commission's Report, especially the question of roads. However, there is one other side to this picture which I have been drawing. Local government in Scotland badly needs examination.
I do not believe that the finance of local authorities in Scotland can stand up 968 much longer to the pressure put upon it. I believe, too, that the business in this House needs examination. It may well be that a solution to the problem of our business here and to that of local administration will be found in some form of legislative devolution, which would introduce a third tier, so to speak, into our country, in the same manner as it has been introduced in London through the London County Council.
I put the matter thus briefly because there are many others who want to speak. I hope that this House will accept the fact that those of us who want more power in Scotland to deal with our own affairs do not want a nasty, bigoted little nationalist State hugging its own peculiarities and thriving on its own grievances. We do not complain that the Imperial Parliament has been ungenerous. We accept that in many ways Scotland has been exceptionally generously treated.
We do not complain that we get bad service from what have been called the English Departments. Of course, any of us who have to go to see, for instance, the President of the Board of Trade, or any other Minister, receives extremely courteous treatment. We do not complain that the English have bullied us. Nor do we want separation from them, or Customs of our own.
We are, however, concerned not only about the future of our country but, as I say, about its contribution. Is it contributing? Is it developing? We believe it has something more to contribute than it is giving at the moment, and we believe that there is some danger of its being swamped by mass-produced ideas and secondhand values. Looking at the position as a whole, our present system of government, with all its virtues—because it has very great virtues—is, like all other things in this world, capable of improvement. In the growing complexity of affairs, that complexity to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, it may well be that there are certain problems which can be more expeditiously and satisfactorily dealt with in Edinburgh.
As to the arguments which have been adduced in this debate about the Scottish Grand Committee, and about the consideration of Scottish questions in this House. the obvious solution is to deal with them by some form of Legislature in 969 Scotland. At least that possibility should be considered. These are not questions which the Royal Commission felt it was entitled to examine very far, and I make no complaint about that.
I think the Commission has compiled a good deal of useful information, but statistics are not all. I beg the Government seriously to consider the feeling that they know exists in Scotland, the feeling which still exists in spite of what they have done, and to think in all honesty whether there are not things beyond statistics, more important than statistics, and whether the situation in Scotland is as happy as it should be.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr)
I am very glad to follow the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), and to hear the latest plan or programme for restoring the fortunes of his party. Doubtless he is heartened by the recent experience in Inverness.
§ Sir T. Moore
Why not? The Liberal Party increased its vote. However, that is by the way, and I intend to follow your exhortation, Mr. Speaker, and to resist all attempts to draw me into any extravagant or unnecessary conversation.
I am glad to have an opportunity of taking part in this debate because I want to deal, shortly but, I hope, objectively, with the alternatives, as I see them, to our acceptance of the Royal Commission's Report. I think that I shall thus also deal with the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland. My justification for this intervention, slight as it may be, is that 1, as everyone knows, am not a complete Scot, but share my blood with that other nation whose form of government—in Ulster—a number of Scots, a great number of Scots, seek to imitate.
I should preface my remarks by saying that I share the view, expressed by my right hon. and gallant Friend and all those other hon. Members who have spoken, that the Commission has done a remarkably good job of work. It has examined every criticism and every suggestion with meticulous care. It has pinpricked practically every suggested weakness in the present system, and it has 970 given its recommendations with reasoned conviction. Indeed, there is only one issue on which I find myself in some slight conflict with the opinions of the Commission, and that is civil aviation.
There is a strong feeling in Scotland that if the Secretary of State for Scotland had had greater control over that sphere, then we should have had feeder services at Prestwick long ago, without which Prestwick, of course, can never be a truly international airport. The fault, of course, if fault there be, lies with the previous Government in setting up a nationalised Corporation and giving that Corporation complete control over the operational routes of Scotland.
I shall not speak of the Council of State, because that has been dealt with by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Major Anstruther-Gray). Although I, as does everyone else here, apparently, except one, support the main conclusions of the Royal Commission's Report, we have to remember that a large number of honourable and loyal Scots feel differently. I think, therefore, that it is only fair to them, and only reasonable—and many of them are respected constituents—to examine the cause for their feelings.
Is it emotional, as has been suggested? Or is it practical? I think that, perhaps, it is a combination of both. It is emotional in that they want to conform to the nationhood of Scotland. Whenever two Scots get together anywhere in the world the Scottish nation exists, and anyone who has travelled a little, as I have managed to do, has become increasingly aware, as I have from recent experiences of speeches at Burns suppers and from reading the reports of speeches at similar festivities throughout the world, that the nationhood of Scotland is quite secure without any interference by us, and does not require confirmation by us of its existence.
On the practical side there is a stronger basis for argument. Many well-meaning critics talk about the depopulation of the Highlands. They say that they suffer from the condition of the roads and that certain bridges are necessary, and they all complain of the high scale of British taxation. Rightly or wrongly—and hon. Members opposite believe rightly—they say that all these things could be remedied or rectified if complete 971 control of these matters were in Scottish hands.
They forget that there are other bridges to be built and other roads to be maintained, and that others pay equally high taxation, and possibly through the payment of that taxation help to bring a better life to Scotland. I think that with the Crofters Bill and the various schemes of devolution that are still operating, and will continue to operate even after the publication of this Report, these complaints will be met and remedied.
I believe that trade is far too interlocked with that of England to require or permit of any change taking place. What are the alternatives? To my way of thinking they are simple. They are two—to do nothing at all, or to give Scotland some form of self-government according to the Ulster model, as has been suggested time after time by the Scottish Home Rule Party in Scotland. There is, of course, a third course, which commands little, if indeed any, support in Scotland. It is complete separation from England.
If nothing at all were done it would exacerbate such criticisms as already exist, and would give the impression that we in this House and in Britain generally were uninterested in the future prosperity of Scotland. That would take an awful lot of answering when we visited our constituents. Therefore, we arrive at consideration of the Ulster model. We must give far more thought to that proposal than has been given to it so far by a large number of people who freely advocate it in Scotland.
First, we should remember that the people of Ulster never wanted the self-government which Ulster now has. It was forced upon them by the British Government, because the only alternative was incorporation in the Irish Free State. All they wanted was to remain part and parcel of the United Kingdom. Since the alternative was too awful to contemplate—and experience has proved it—they naturally chose government for themselves.
Secondly, we in Scotland should consider England in our somewhat selfish approach to this problem. Scotland sends to this Parliament 70 skilled, competent, and highly-intelligent people, together with 16 Peers who, I assume, have the 972 same qualifications. Let us face it. It would be a bad day for Britain, for England, and for all who look to Britain and England for leadership and guidance if those 70 Members were withdrawn from this House.
§ Mr. James Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
There are 71 Members from Scotland, and the hon. Member is one of them.
§ Sir T. Moore
I laid myself open to that remark, and expected it.
Like Ulster, we might be permitted to send a few representatives to this Parliament, just as a reminder of former glories and of the fact that Scotland still existed, but with all due respect and regard for my Ulster friends, I cannot believe that their influence in this House is anything comparable to the influence of the Scots. I am sure that Ulster Members would be the first to admit it.
Once the demand for Home Rule for Scotland had been granted, Scotland would cease to make her traditional, historical, and urgently needed contribution to the great affairs of the Commonwealth, the Dominions, and the world and the issues of war and peace—all those things which at present are largely guided by the wise, sane, far-sighted influence exerted by Scottish Members in this House.
I wonder if all those good Covenanters who see in Scottish self-government a cure for their ills really conceive what the future of Scotland would be under self-government. They have the examples before them of those moderate, Liberal Governments behind the Iron Curtain which disappeared overnight, once their purpose was served.
I understand that the proposal for a new Scottish Parliament is to double the present Scottish membership of this House, making 140. That would be the Scottish House of Commons. In Argyllshire there would be two Tory Members instead of one. In Ayrshire there would be 10 Members instead of five, no doubt six of them Socialists and four Tories. All this would proceed on a party basis, and the end would be that Scottish Home Rulers, Scottish Liberals, and Scottish Nationalists would disappear and play no further part in the affairs of Scotland.
An argument could be made out if a federal system were adopted, and England 973 had her own Government, and Wales and Scotland theirs, and there was an Imperial Government. That has been advocated by many Conservatives for many generations past, but it is far too big a constitutional issue for me to embark upon now, apart altogether from it being out of order. If all our respected and honoured friends in Scotland seriously considered what are the alternatives to the Commission's Report they would have second thoughts before refusing to accept it.
§ 6.59 p.m.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
I am sure that I speak the minds of hon. Members on both sides of the House when I say that as a composition the Commission's Report makes very easy and pleasant reading. Its content, of course, is a somewhat different matter. All through the Report we detect the hand of the skilled draftsman. How much thinking the draftsman or draftsmen did in the composition of the Report and how much thinking the members of the Commission are matters which one can only mention and on which I assume there will be no answer whatsoever.
Despite that, I pay my tribute to the work which the Royal Commission did on the remit that was given to it. A great deal has been said in the course of the debate to the effect that there was a certain amount of vagueness in the remit which was given to the Commission by the House. I do not agree with that view. As another hon. Gentleman has pointed out. the remit was wide. No issue in which this House and Scotsmen are interested could not have come within the scope of the Commission in taking the remit into consideration. By failing to do that, the Commission failed to produce the type of report that many of us had hoped for.
My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) referred to the fact that the Commission has not adequately treated the economic problems that face Scotland. He mentioned the loss of the wagon industry; he might have deplored the fact that we never managed to achieve in Scotland a motor industry comparable with that which exists in the centre of England. I could expand that comment to include the bicycle industry.
The right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliott) tried to present the crucial problems with which we are dealing, and 974 he referred to the paragraph dealing with the investment of private industrialists. Are we to attribute the fact that we have not a motor industry of any consequence in Scotland to the private industrialists, or to the inadequacy of Government stimulus and action? If the private industrialist is to get the credit of carrying so much of our prosperity on his shoulders, he must also carry the blame which can properly descend on those shoulders. He is not entitled to the credit which the right hon. Gentleman sought to give him.
If one looks at the bonus shares issued by firms in Scotland—and indeed all over the United Kingdom; but I keep to Scotland specifically—one sees that the private investment which should come from the surplus created by industry is not sufficiently ploughed back for the development of new industry but is dissipated in big profits and in bonus share distribution. That is going on today. Messrs. G. & J. Weir, and the East Kilbride Dairy Farmers are samples.
The problems arising from the economic chaos of the country have not been adequately faced by the Commission in its Report. At the very moment when we are discussing the Report, we are trying to retain in the West of Scotland, and in Glasgow particularly, a light industry connected with the maintenance engineering base at Renfrew for the servicing of civil aircraft; with what help from Scottish Ministers? Perhaps they will tell us what they are doing to retain an industry which employs 800 people, whose well-being is at stake if the industry is not retained. The area particularly needs light industry, and cannot get enough of it, because it is still far too much dependent upon shipbuilding and engineering.
Not one of my constituents can forget the period when 66⅔per cent. of the shipbuilding workers and 33⅓ per cent. of the engineering workers were walking the streets looking for jobs. That memory still dominates their minds and brings mental distress when they think that it could possibly recur in Scotland should a slump develop, as it conceivably could in heavy industry. On the last day before the Christmas Recess I directed the attention of the First Lord of the Admiralty to the fact that the new orders on the books of Clyde shipbuilding firms amounted to 100,000 tons as against 1,200,000 tons three years ago. Is that 975 not a situation which is potentially grave? That is the situation in the West of Scotland and in my division in particular at the moment.
It is a pity that the Royal Commission had nothing more pertinent, and less complacent, to say about the economic situation of Scotland. I therefore followed with interest the statement of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirling-shire (Mr. Woodburn) that we ought to have a Scottish Economic Parliament. The Scottish Trades Union Congress is gravely disturbed at the lack of such an organisation. Immediately we say that, we pose the problem that was posed by the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove and which is in the mind of every hon. Member at the moment. A Scottish Economic Parliament would have regard to a particular problem that shadows the minds of almost every worker in Scotland, but if we apply that principle to the economic aspect of our affairs, should we refuse it to the social aspect and other aspects of the life of our people, including the political aspect?
We face this matter from one of two different points of view. The hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Major Anstruther-Gray) suggested a system whereby we could manipulate the Standing Committees of this House so as to meet the demands that are made upon us; but that cannot be done, for the simple reason that no hon. Member can be in two places at the same time. We all know that the pressure of international problems, Commonwealth affairs, foreign policy and defence now absorb so much of our time that the job of dealing with Scottish affairs at odd times of the day places upon the individual Member a strain which he finds it almost impossible to sustain.
Therefore some of us think that the only way in which we can approach the problem properly is not to go on shuffling and reshuffling the old pack of cards, but to try to get a new structure. Such a structure would not be a new revolutionary, separatist movement. The idea of separatism does not come into the question. It is a case of getting a form of organisation which will function more easily and more adequately. So we suggest that we must look at the problem along those lines, the creation of a new structure with certain defined functions. 976 It would deal with education from the Scottish point of view and with housing, health, town and country planning, agriculture and those things that could easily be assigned to a Scottish legislature.
In its conclusion, the Report accepts the idea that one Minister, the Secretary of State for Scotland, is sufficient to do all these things. The right hon. Gentleman is the Minister of Education, Health, Housing, Town and Country Planning, Cabinet duties—everything. And what happens? He collapses under the strain. He cannot do it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove, who has experienced it, agrees that the strain is almost insupportable, and the present Secretary of State finds it to be so. Is that a system which we in this House claim will go on functioning not only on economic lines but on social, and political lines, one by which we want to see the work of our nation carried on?
§ Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison
I do not think we must argue too much on the unfortunate state of the health of the Secretary of State for Scotland. Many Ministers in other Government Departments have also found their burden heavy and have collapsed.
§ Mr. Rankin
Yes, but I can call in aid my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire, who said that the burden of the office of Secretary of State was perhaps heavier on the individual than the burden imposed on any other Departmental Minister. I am not casting any reflection on the present occupant of the office, we all regret his illness, but it has been admitted that the illness of the right hon. Gentleman has been precipitated by his duties to some extent.
It has been suggested that there might be other ways of dealing with the matter, such as through the Standing Committees, about which the Royal Commission had certain things to say. The result of their inquiry into the present procedure is presented in the Report in a most inadequate way. In order to show the amount of time that we presently have, the Report states that six days are allotted to deal with Scottish Estimates in the Scottish Grand Committee. That is not adequate if it is turned into hours. It becomes 15 hours for all the Scottish Estimates with, in addition, two days in Committee of Supply in the House.
977 Those six days contrast with the 26 days given for United Kingdom Estimates. When one contrasts the two in terms of days, it seems that we in Scotland have nothing to quarrel about, but if we turn those days into hours, the six days for Scotland become 15 hours and the 26 days for the United Kingdom Estimates become 143 hours, which is an entirely different proposition, and it would seem to indicate that the amount of time given to Scotland under present Parliamentary procedure is insufficient as compared with the time allotted for the consideration of United Kingdom Estimates.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Henderson Stewart)
May I interrupt the hon. Gentleman to put things right for the record? What the hon. Gentleman has said is quite true, but he should add that the United Kingdom Estimates often include important Scottish features and therefore Scotland is included in those Estimates.
§ Mr. Rankin
I used the words "United Kingdom," and I believed that the hon. Gentleman would realise that I was talking about United Kingdom Estimates. I am dealing with the claim that we have adequate time allotted for consideration of Scottish Estimates in the six days, and that it is a fair apportionment in view of the time given for the consideration of United Kingdom Estimates. Yet, when it is turned into hours, it assumes a completely different significance. And there is the further fact that we are limited to 2½ hours in the morning and no more, although when we discuss the Army, the Navy and the Air Estimates in the Chamber, there is no limitation and so the 143 hours can be increased considerably, as they have been by all-night sittings. I am only putting the point that the Royal Commission ought to have presented the case in that way, so that those who read the Report would have all the facts of a situation inadequately presented in the Report.
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
I believe that the rules of arithmetic are the same both north and south of the Tweed. I would ask my hon. Friend, for whose arithmetical powers I have great respect, whether he has not made a mistake in getting to 143 hours. There are 6½hours in a Supply Day, and I make 26 times 6½ 169.
§ Mr. Rankin
That makes it even worse. I will let my right hon. Friend into a 978 secret which perhaps it is not fair that I should reveal. To check my view, I put it to a person of authority in the service of the House, and he worked out the figures for me. As one who is not usually a questioner of authority, I accepted his arithmetic without examination.
§ Mr. Rankin
No, he was an Englishman.
There are one or two other points with which I should have liked to deal, but I will leave them alone, for I realise, Mr. Speaker, that you have difficulty in fitting us all in.
The remarkable thing about the Report is the frequency with which it reiterates the fact that Scotland is a nation. On pages 12, 16 and 95 we have assertion of this fact. If it is a nation, then the attributes of nationhood should go with it. That is where the Royal Commission has failed. It has failed to give us the guidance that it might have given us. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell that we cannot set this problem aside. It faces us, and if we do not get to grips with it today, we shall require at some future date to deal with it because we cannot evade it.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir (Aberdeen, South)
The hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) regretted that the Royal Commission's Report was, in his view, rather complacent. He is absolutely right to question any complacency in this House. On the other hand, the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Wood-burn) said that the Report had come to the conclusion that the state of economic prosperity in Scotland at the present time was unrivalled in its history. The Royal Commission is, of course, reporting the situation as it sees it today, but that does not mean to say that we should not question whether there are any arrangements, either in the economic field or in the administrative field, which would serve Scotland better in the future.
Various hon. Members, and in particular my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Major Anstruther-Gray), quoted the per- 979 centages, which are shown on pages 113 and 115, of the proportion of Government expenditure on the chief services in 1954. As to the pure Goschen formula of 11/80ths per cent., I think we can conclude that justice has been done.
Nevertheless, even if a fair share, and an extra share, of United Kingdom Government resources has been spent on Scotland, we must all be concerned by the fact that the average level of income per head, output per head, employment per head, and investment per head is lower than in England and Wales. The question that I wish to put to the House is whether the Goschen formula as such is the correct yardstick for Government action.
The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) drew attention to something of great importance to all who represent industrial constituencies. That is the flow, south of the Border or overseas, of both skilled and unskilled men and women. He questioned how this came about. I think it is true that the larger industrial centres of the south and those which have been developed longer historically are bound to offer greater opportunities to our countrymen than are local areas. We should also recall as a matter of pride that it is one of the greatest personal characteristics of our countrymen that Scotsmen and Scotswomen will try their lot if they are given a chance in young countries or in competitive areas where the challenge is greater than it is at home. The hon. Member for Motherwell said that it was not for romantic reasons that Scotsmen went south; but it is for romantic reasons that Englishmen go north, particularly to Gretna Green.
I am a firm believer in emigration to the Commonwealth and in the Government actively doing everything they can to encourage it, particularly the emigration of complete families. It is a mistake to think that migration is a one-way traffic, or that it is primarily caused by difficult conditions at home. Indeed, often exactly the opposite is the case. Hon. Members will no doubt have read the first Annual Report of the Oversea Migration Board published in July. It recalls that its predecessor, the Overseas Settlement Board of 1938, found that at a time when there was considerable unemployment in this country between the 980 wars there was a considerable net inward flow of population into the country.
As another example that migration is by no means caused only by difficult conditions at home, it is interesting to learn that when the threat of war in Europe came upon us the rate of emigration from the United Kingdom was absolutely static. It would be very interesting if the Joint Under-Secretary could give us some figures as to the inward and outward flow of population in respect of Scotland at this time.
The fact of 1955 that we have all to face is that the balance of economic power in the world has shifted, and the strategic environment of the Commonwealth has changed. Therefore, we must expect, and I firmly believe we should encourage, a flow of our best people to our partners in the Commonwealth. However much we wish to encourage the growth of the Commonwealth, which is our strength, we must also try to ensure, as much as it is in our power to do, that Scotland herself is a sound basis for operations.
When we read the Report we must divide our criticism into that which concerns the Government and that which concerns the ability of Scots men and women themselves. The Royal Commission has reported as a matter of fact how closely interwoven is the industry and commercial life of Scotland with that of her southern neighbour. Surely, then, it is logical that we cannot separate the State of Scotland from the State of the United Kingdom; they either win or fail together.
My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Sir I. Clark Hutchison) quoted what the Report said about the Goschen formula. Granting that it applied only to the highway policy, I submit that it should be taken a stage further. The Report says:We consider that the expenditure from public funds involved in the discharge of these responsibilities should be based not on the Goschen formula, but on an assessment of requirements.My right hon. and gallant Friend the Joint Under-Secretary said that the Royal Commission showed that we had carried on a further stage in an historical process of development. I submit that if we are carrying on the historical development 981 in a logical way we should base the proportions of expenditure not only on the Goschen formula but particularly on specific requirements, if we regard Scotland as part of the United Kingdom. We should give special treatment to special problems, or to special areas, as would be done with England and Wales.
Take housing, for instance. Paragraph 36 of the Report says:…that Scottish needs are relatively greater than those in England, we have been unable to find any evidence of failure to appreciate the exceptional difficulties in Scotland which do, in our opinion, justify exceptional treatment.That is a point, because if, for example, there were serious unemployment in Lancashire due to circumstances outside private industrial control, such as import restrictions in the trading countries concerned, or undercutting of prices in places such as Japan, there would be special Government action.
We have said that the Highlands, which have particular problems outside their control, must have special action. We realise that areas distant from the main markets suffer from the difficulties of freight charges, which is why we await with special interest—and only wish we had it today—the Report from the Minister of Transport on the reorganisation of roads and the modernisation of the railways.
We can conclude from the Report that a thriving industry in Scotland is a reflection of the general prosperity of the United Kingdom as a whole. It may, therefore, be necessary in certain cases for the Government to do as they would do overseas in uneconomic areas, and act as a partner with private enterprise. They should go out of their way to provide the main services, roads, electricity, harbour installations, for private enterprise to develop.
The main burden of economic development in Scotland is placed fairly and squarely in the Report on private enterprise, in paragraph 71, as quoted by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot). I suggest that the Treasury should examine its regulations for the giving of credit and loans from financial houses.
It was not so long ago that Scotland's "barefoot boys," as they were called, could start without a penny and build up 982 great enterprises, not only for their own benefit, but for their country's, on the strength of the personal confidence placed in them by men and firms of long experience in the taking of commercial risks. If some failed, which they certainly did, the risks taken were more than justified by those who succeeded.
The success of Scotland's prosperity naturally depends on the personal wish of Scotsmen and women to equip themselves for the life of this 20th century. That is why I found it rather disturbing to note the Report of the Glasgow Productivity Committee—if Aberdeen may dare to comment on Glasgow—which has just been published. It is based on 18 months' study of the city's technical educational facilities. It said:Of the hundreds in Glasgow who enrolled annually in the first year of trade courses, 10 per cent. never attended a single class, 30 per cent, gave up by January, and only 25 per cent. enrolled for a second term. Of that 25 per cent., only 5 per cent. received some certificate of qualification at the end of three years.The Report concluded:The old Scottish thirst for self-education, self-improvement, and self-advancement seems to have become not only unfashionable but almost lacking in social virtue.I mention that, not only because it is cause for concern, but so that we can try to get into the right balance the part that can be played by the Government in relation to that of private industry and the individual.
The Royal Commission's Report could have not been spectacular unless it recommended a separate Scottish Parliament, entire State control of all industry, or direct State subsidies. But the main theme of the Report is that there should be better administration. There are several practical suggestions which have already been adopted by the Government.
So far as Ministerial responsibility has gone, I submit that the system is excellent whereby the Minister of State works in the field and the Secretary of State keeps close attendance in the Cabinet. Indeed, I doubt whether we all realise the extent to which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has had the Prime Minister's ear and, therefore, his attention, and how, in his own way, he has done a great deal for Scotland. I should like to join with those who have expressed the wish that he will soon be restored to good health.
983 I should like to say a word on the Report's comments on Parliamentary Government, including the Scottish Standing Committee. The Report said that the Committee was equipped in every way to deal with all legislative work. I feel that a good Parliament is one which sees more laws taken off the Statute Book than are put on, where there is time to think, to read, and even to travel, and to consider exactly where we are going.
So far as the Standing Committee is concerned, I regret, now having had the experience, that we discuss the Scottish Estimates upstairs, because without doubt it is the House of Commons itself which is the senior debating Chamber. I rather welcome the idea of the separation of the Standing Committee, but I will not develop that theme, in consideration to my neighbours.
Naturally we all champion our Scottish rights and opportunities in this House. The overriding conclusion to which we are driven by the Report is that we should be very wary lest we favour too parochial an approach. That is not the attitude of the people we represent. They have long been used to running other countries' affairs for them. They do not expect us at Westminster to spend an undue proportion of time on discussing purely domestic issues.
Our task is to influence the Sassenachs south of the Border by just being as forthright as we can from within the ranks. Scotland is a voluntary partner in the Union with England and Wales. We must take our share—and a large share—of responsibility in the great issues of foreign and Commonwealth affairs, defence, and the wider matters of Government.
The Report tells us that the feelings of resentment between our two countries are occasioned by frustration in Scotland and lack of tact in England. We should also guard against our always having some kind of suspicion that our rights and dignities are being impugned, because it is just that which causes that impatience with our affairs which is of little concern among us as colleagues here, but which is not understood in the country, and which causes considerable ill-feeling outside the House.
984 It is just that kind of thing which gives rise to calls for a separate Scottish Parliament, which the Report rightly rejects, even if it were on the Northern Ireland pattern. It says very clearly that it did so, because it wouldinevitably reduce the prestige and standing of Scotland and her rights in Parliament at Westminster and would therefore weaken her voice in British and world affairs.Lastly, in this discussion should not we remember that it is only just over 100 years ago that Scotland learned to bury the hatreds born of the Covenantry wars, and found her future in a country and people free from bitterness between Highland and Lowland? Surely in 1955 Scotland is confident of its powers as a nation, and can afford that tolerance and vision to live in the world, which is her only surety for her greatness.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Mr. John Timmons (Bothwell)
I do not intend to comment on the remarks made by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir). I want to deal with certain economic aspects and to follow on to some extent where my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) left off. There is one point on which I do not agree with him. He enumerated all the ills from which Scotland suffers, but he did not say who was responsible. It was not Englishmen who were primarily responsible for all the evils from which Scotland suffers today. We are suffering because of the lack of enterprise and imagination of Scottish industrialists. I say that advisedly.
When I think of the inter-war years and the extent to which Lanarkshire suffered from mass unemployment, not for weeks or months but for years, and when I think of Stewart and Lloyds who uprooted their plant and the families of their employees and transferred the whole lot to Corby, leaving Bellshill derelict, I must say that I do not want to experience similar events again. We have made some progress since the West of Scotland became a development area. believe that in my constituency there is the biggest Development Area of factories in Scotland, but all our problems have not been solved.
I want to point out some of the difficulties with which we are confronted. We have introduced new industries into the 985 West of Scotland. I hope that as a result of this debate something will be done to ease the unenviable position in which new industries in particular find themselves in Lanarkshire. I have had discussions with representatives of many firms which have come to the area from England and America. They have set standards which Scottish industrialists cannot meet, and they are inclined to be critical of the standards set by English and American firms in such matters as wages, welfare standards and conditions of employment. It is not too pleasant to have to face these facts but they are true.
Many of the new firms face a problem which our Scottish economy has not attempted to meet. Our Scottish economy has not attempted to adjust itself to meet the new developments which are taking place in the light industries. Light engineering firms require strip steel, laminated steel and synthetic wire which is used in large quantities. None is available in Scotland. The materials have to be brought from Wales or from places near London and it costs 108s. per ton to transport them by road to the factories.
That is not the worst handicap. One managing director described his difficulties to me a fortnight ago. He controls an American firm which is fulfilling export orders for markets in America, Canada and Australia. The shipping position in the Clyde is not helpful. There are no ships to carry export goods and to deliver them quickly to these counties. The result is that the finished product has to be sent by road to Tilbury for dispatch to New Zealand and Australia, instead of being sent to Glasgow, which would save road charges.
Lord Bilsland, Chairman of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry, has played an important part helping to develop new industries in Lanarkshire and the West of Scotland generally. He is associated with Colvilles. I do not know whether he is in America now, but a visit by him was projected during which he was to try to attract new industries from America to the West of Scotland. No one is in a better position to meet the new situation than Lord Bilsland. Colvilles are proceeding with a £20 million development. Stewart and Lloyds have been developing 986 recently at Bellshill, but there is no provision for a strip mill or for laminated steel, and no other firm in Scotland is producing synthetic wire for which there is a big demand by the new industries.
If we are to encourage new industries from America to Lanarkshire or to the West of Scotland generally, something must be done. This is the area where most of the unemployment is suffered. Advantage must be taken of all the opportunities which are offered. I hope that the Secretary of State for Scotland will place this matter of supply before the Ministry of Supply and try to arrange some assistance in the development of the production in Scotland of laminated steel, strip steel and synthetic wire which are three of the important semi-raw materials required by the new industries.
If the people in America knew of the circumstances here they would think twice before bringing in new industries. If we are to invite new industries into the area, we must try to assist them in every way and we must not hamper them by causing unnecessary transport expenditure. We must ensure that factories are available which can fulfil the needs of the new industries.
I want to comment on other aspects of the Report. The Secretary of State has power delegated to him to deal with roads, bridges and other aspects of Scottish life, but what is the use of that if at the same time the Treasury retains complete control of finance?
On the general structure of Scottish Government—of self-government— say quite frankly that hon. Members may call me a Scottish nationalist if they wish. The greatest nationalists I have met are Englishmen. Why should not I be one? However, I hope that the time will never come when we have in Scotland a structure of Government on the lines of that which exists in Northern Ireland. After all, that is only a glorified county council.
I appeal to the Secretary of State to note the difficulties confronting new industries in the West of Scotland. Great possibilities exist, and I think that the Secretary of State should make representations to Colvilles, and possibly to Lord Bilsland, that they must adjust their steel industry to meet the needs of the new industries in Lanarkshire and the West of Scotland. If that be done, I have no 987 doubt that there will be greater opportunities for going further ahead.
About a month or five weeks before Christmas, with three of my colleagues, I was invited to meet the Coatbridge Town Council to discuss the problems in the Coatbridge, Airdrie and North Lanark area, including the question of mass unemployment in that area and the need for the development of new industries and the provision of new factories. We have got nowhere so far. I ask the Secretary of State to consider the appeal of the local authorities and to see if there is anything which can be done to stimulate employment in that area. In the Coat-bridge labour exchange alone there are approximately 1,400 people signing the register. The figure at Airdrie is not quite so heavy. The whole of North Lanark is suffering greatly from unemployment. Looking back, I do not think that there have been many new factories built within the past three or four years, at least in Lanarkshire.
There are plenty of firms willing to come into Lanarkshire. I had a discussion with a representative of an American firm which was willing to take a factory, if one could have been provided. But there is no possibility of getting a factory or of asking these people to wait for two or three years before one can be built. I suggest that the Secretary of State consults his colleagues at the Board of Trade to get something done in the way of building factories, so that new firms may be accommodated and employment stimulated in that area.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
The main value of this Report is that it brings a question which has been worrying Scotland down from the plane of emotion to the plane of realism. As was said by the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. J. Taylor), we are an emotional people. If one wanted any evidence of it, one need only look at our national heroes—Bonnie Prince Charlie; Rabbie Burns; Wallace—all tragic and highly coloured figures. [HON. MEMBERS "Mary Queen of Scots."] Yes, and Mary Queen of Scots, and others which are lesser figures than the ones I have instanced.
I have watched this discontent. I did not like the words of the right hon. 988 Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn), who, I thought, overstressed the matter by using words like "feud" and "dispute." I think the feeling is more that of uneasiness among the ordinary people of Scotland, though there are some who are more violent. As I have watched this uneasiness grow, it has seemed to me that it mostly started emotionally and then that those who were convinced in these views sought to support their emotion by practical figures.
If we bring this down to the realms of practicability, I think that this Commission has done us an immense service. The hon. Member for West Lothian also said that he was reluctantly driven to his conclusion. So was I. I started off with this same emotional predisposition towards the idea that something more was needed, and I have been reluctantly driven to the conclusion that the movement along directions that many hon. Members have spoken about in varying degrees would, in the long run, be a mistake for Scotland.
With that preface, I wish to say that I think that there is general contentment with the Report. At least, I find myself generally in content with the Report of the Royal Commission and, my goodness, how careful one must be nowadays to avoid the term of opprobrium, "complacency." Unless one is criticising something, one always runs the risk of being dubbed complacent. It is not a complacent Report at all, but in the general picture which is painted there are certain portraits which are not quite as rosy as others.
As has been said, the income per head of population in Scotland is lower than in England. The unemployment figure, though trivial at present, is higher in proportion than in England; and I think that there is some reason to suspect that productivity in Scotland is not quite so high. This leads to and deserves serious thought. It was in order to combat that very situation—and to this I would draw the attention of the hon. Member for Bothwell (Mr. Timmons) and the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire— that the Scottish Council, long before they gave it credit for doing so, started to attract industry into Scotland. That was in the days of the old distressed areas, later renamed more happily Development 989 Areas, and it was helped along by the Establishment of Industry Act.
The Scottish Council has done a great task in developing existing industries and bringing in new ones. When I first read the Report, I thought that perhaps the finance available to Scottish industry was lacking or difficult to secure; or that there was some other unnecessary hurdle which had to be cleared by Scottish industry but not by English industry. I made exhaustive and acute inquiries, and I am bound to say that I do not think there is any heavy criticism that can be levelled at the financial facilities available to Scotland.
Apart from the Scottish Bank, the main body, the Industrial and Commercial Finance Corporation, set up for the purpose of financing rather smaller concerns, was, as a matter of fact, surprised at the lack of demand made upon it by Scottish industry. So it started a Scottish branch in Edinburgh, but still the demand upon it lagged behind what was expected. I am wondering if the corporation can relax a little from the stringent examination through which it puts applicants and the very high standard of security which it demands. It does not exist to duplicate the facilities of the bank. It is supposed to be something less tight than the bank, and that is the reason why it was set up. I should like to see it take a slightly more lenient attitude towards inquirers.
Something has been said about the progress made in the matter of developing industries and attracting new industry to Scotland. It is interesting to see what has happened when they have come there. The Report refers to this. It is one of the major satisfactions from the industrial and economic angle that over 360 concerns have established themselves in the Scottish industrial estates, and that 200 of them are of Scottish origin. I think that not a bad answer to the hon. Member who was criticising Scottish industry.
§ Mr. Hutchison
The hon. Member can easily find them, if he is interested. I have no reason to think that they are 990 smaller than those from England or from America. At any rate, out of 360 concerns, 200 are of Scottish origin, 130 are from the United Kingdom, 23 from the United States of America, and nine are offshoots of Government Departments. Those figures represent considerable progress. These concerns have been attracted by the advantages which Scotland offers, and I want to list some of them, because one or two disadvantages have been outlined.
First, labour is available. That may be regarded as a tragic gloss on the unemployment situation, it is true, although we must keep a very close watch upon the amount of skilled labour which is now available, so that we do not denude existing industries. Skilled labour is beginning to be in short supply, but, by and large. there is a good supply of labour, and most firms which have come are highly satisfied. One American concern writes:We have the highest regard for Scottish labour. The Scots are a hard working, industrious people.Another writes that the quality of our labour is excellent. Many more such examples could be given, and it is a great tribute to the Scottish workers that, to use a phrase common in the United States of America, they "keep their heads down."
Then there are the low rentals—the system by which Scottish industrial estate factories are made available upon a subsidised basis. Another advantage is that, everything else being equal, priorities in Government contracts are available to concerns situated in industrial estates. There is also a very reasonable supply of steel. Certain technical types are scarce, it is true. There is no strip steel mill in Scotland, but there is an abundant supply of other types. Shipyards can get their steelplate very easily from Scottish concerns.
§ Mr. Timmons
I have never said anything about the supplies of ordinary steel. All I was concerned about was laminated steel and strip steel, which is required for the new industries and which is not produced in Scotland.
§ Mr. Hutchison
Yes, and I agree that there is also a scarcity of steel wire. There are some gaps, but many types of material required by ordinary manufacturing concerns are easily procured in Scotland. There are good supplies of 991 machinery and coal. Although not as good as it might be, sea transport is adequate, and the sea is very close. Finally, there is the great aptitude of the Scotsman for learning and picking up new ideas, and his general delight in education.
That is a fairly considerable catalogue of advantages, but I want to insert one criticism into my panegyric. As far as I can see, there is too much delay and red tape before concerns which seek to locate themselves in Scotland receive final approval. In the last two or three days, I have been given the names of one or two concerns which had wanted to come to Scotland but were so frustrated because of the time taken to get through all the red tape of various Government Departments that they went to Holland or West Germany, where the whole process is much easier. I know that when we are looking after public money we have to be very careful. I do not suppose that these concerns from overseas had had much to do with Government Departments before, but they stated quite frankly and bluntly that the amount of delay in Holland and West Germany was much less than in this country.
I wonder if something can be done to ease that difficulty. I do not know how many Departments are concerned in an application by an overseas industrialist to come to Scotland. I should imagine that the Board of Trade and the Treasury are concerned, and probably the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, and also the Ministry of Labour. I wonder if the process could be short-circuited in some way. Perhaps my hon. Friend would consider setting up an inter-Departmental committee which could examine whether the amount of time and red tape which has to be gone through could be reduced in some way, perhaps by one Government Department making another Government Department its agent.
That brings me to a wider problem, which springs from the question of the location of industry. The original idea of legislation in this respect was to provide work. The old name of "distressed areas" indicates the whole purpose of the operation. This purpose has now been largely achieved. There is no longer anything like the amount of distress which 992 we set out to alleviate between the two world wars. We now have to deal with a changed structure, and I believe that other claims must now be considered. There are the claims of diversification, such as could be introduced into the Glenrothes area and mining areas, by which ancillary trades would be provided for the employment of the wives and daughters of the men employed in the mines.
There are other areas which are living on a single industry and where diversification is needed. I believe that the time has passed when we should focus all our attention upon Development Areas. I believe that we should even reduce the amount of help available to them, in order to spread it more widely. That plan was put forward by the Scottish Council, who wanted to see whether my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland could move in that direction. The plan was turned down because it was thought that it would be hurtful to the development areas themselves. That may be true, but if those areas no longer require as much help as they have been getting in the past. pro tanto that amount should be made available elsewhere. That recommendation has been made in the Cairncross Report, and it is well worthy of further consideration. We should stop regarding the desirability of the introduction of an industry purely upon a geographical basis, and take into account the character of the industry itself.
Many of the industries which have come to Scotland are merely branches of bigger concerns elsewhere, and if a recession or a slump materialised there would be a danger that the latest arrival—the one in Scotland—would be the first to be cut off. I should like to see preference given to concerns who were manufacturing from the very beginning and were not merely branches of other and bigger concerns. There are, therefore, two aspects of the matter which have to be considered. First, we must decide whether we should continue merely to give the development areas the priority of contracts and other help—such as the low rental buildings which the Government or other organisations have set up for them—and, secondly, we must bear in mind the particular type of industry which is seeking to come to Scotland.
993 In case I have seemed mildly critical of what has been going on, I want to stress the tremendous value of the Secretary of State for Scotland which is felt by Scottish industry. I realise that he has a terrific task to perform, and that he has very great statutory responsibilities. In those cases where he has not a statutory responsibility to put forward Scotland's views I hope that his colleagues will consult him at an early stage; not at the stage when the problem comes to the Cabinet, but at a previous stage. All those colleagues into whose Departments he has no statutory right to intervene should recognise that Scotland may have quite a considerable problem in dealing with the policies which they are considering. They should go to him and ask him for his views at an early stage.
I want to touch on one other matter, and it is analogous, because I am trying to treat the industrial side of this question in this short review. I am afraid that there is a lack of of liaison between pure research and the users of research. The subject of research is mentioned in the Report, and it was the subject of an application by the Scottish Council to the Secretary of State. I am glad to say that the Secretary of State, along with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, has been able to make a small sum of money available for a survey to be made.
Our pure research is second to none—I am now talking about Britain as a whole—and the names flash through one's mind of Sir John Rutherford, John Logie Baird on television, Whittle in connection with jet aircraft, and so on, and they are absolutely at the top of the tree. I believe that pure research, or its value, is sometimes allowed to dwindle before it is applied. It was said by Livy of Hannibal that he was able to win battles but not to exploit them, and I believe that, particularly in the case of small concerns—small engineering concerns, even small garages or small painting firms—they do not really know what research can make available to them.
They hear about things being discovered, but they have not been able to link them up in direct application to their own particular tasks. Such concerns have not got men whom they are able to spare to go round hunting to see what research has been discovered. In 994 big industries, the problem is not so acute, because they very often have their own research organisations, helped by the D.S.I.R. I am not so worried about them, although, there again. I do not think that applied research scientists are coming forward in the same way as are pure research scientists, but I am worried about the small concerns.
In the United States of America, they have an organisation called the Mellon Institute, which is a hybrid affair, partly State and partly private enterprise, while in Canada they have a Government organisation, and it is the job of these people to discover what pure research has made available and give it to the users in the country and tell them, "If you do this, you will get such and such a result." I think the whole impulse has got to come the other way round. Instead of a man in his garage or another in his small engineering works wondering if he is up to date and whether some new form of motive power or lighting would help in his case, the impulse should come from the other end. The research organisation should seek these people out and tell them what they have found, perhaps even charging them on a "no cure, no pay" basis for what is available.
This pioneer review is being carried out in Scotland, and is costing only £3,000 in order to discover by what means this knowledge can be made more available. I should like to see it extended and go further. This is something in which Scotland might well lead. We have heard today how we in Scotland always have to wait until England has decided that something is to be done. Let us try to take a lead about this and ensure that our own research organisations in Scotland will bring all the benefits of pure research to the user.
May I close by saying that I believe that this Report is a heartening document. It has provoked every kind of thought about an advance in practical self-government from the almost standstill position which I am prepared to take up, to those who would go quite a long way. It does remove the gnawing suspicion, which a lot of people had that there was something not quite fair in the treatment of Scotland in these economic and industrial matters. So far as I am concerned, it has removed that suspicion, and I hope it has also removed it from very many minds, 995 so that, uninhibited, we can go on our way to build an even greater Scotland in the future.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)
I cannot agree with the praise of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Scotstoun (Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison) for the Report that we are considering. It seems to me that when he suggests that those of us who are dissatisfied with the Report, and discontented with some of the things that still exist in Scotland, are being emotional, he is not being very accurate.
I do not think I have heard a more unemotional speech this afternoon than the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson), who gave a very straightforward and factual survey of various ways in which conditions in Scotland are still relatively worse than they are in England and Wales, and of our reasons for being anxious about them.
It also seems to me that those who feel that the suggestions made in the Report are constructive contributions towards solving the Scottish problems are themselves being guilty of some emotion and of concealing the facts from themselves. For instance, when it is suggested that we are going to solve Scotland's transport problem by adding to the many offices of the Secretary of State the new office of Scottish Minister of Transport, I think that those who gain satisfaction out of that idea are being emotional rather than realistic.
When the party opposite were in opposition, they appealed at every stage for greater Scottish control of Scottish affairs. They now put forward this proposition for a Scottish Minister of Transport as being a step in that direction, but, of course, in isolation, it can be quite the reverse. If we judge Scottish control of Scottish affairs in a democratic sense, what does this proposal mean in Parliamentary terms? It means that when Scottish Members of Parliament want to keep in touch with transport developments in Scotland, they will find their Questions transferred, at Question time, from the Minister of Transport to the Secretary of State for Scotland, which will lead to even greater congestion in the Questions to the Secretary of State, and, therefore, to an even more inadequate opportunity to deal with Scottish transport problems.
996 I agreed with the hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Major Anstruther-Gray) when he looked this gift horse rather carefully in the mouth and said that he would really begin to believe in the suggestion that the Secretary of State should be responsible for transport in Scotland when he saw the Forth Road Bridge beginning to be built. I begin to feel that Members of the party opposite ought to change their slogan from "The Right Road for Britain" to "The Right Bridge for Britain." For my part, of course, the right bridge would not be the Forth Road Bridge, much as I would like to see it, but the Tay Road Bridge.
The point, however, is that by making the Scottish Secretary responsible for Scottish transport developments, we do not get to the crux of the transport problem or to the whole problem of Scottish Government. The fact is that the Forth Road Bridge, or the Tay Road Bridge, or the twin Whiteinch Tunnels, depend on the Treasury, and the Secretary of State will still have to go to the Treasury and fight his battles with them, just as the Minister of Transport had to do in the past.
In a country like Scotland, with its special economic handicaps, the difficult problem that faces us is how we are to get some sort of autonomous financial treatment for Scotland within the United Kingdom financial framework. It is all very well to talk about legislative devolution, as the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) did, but that will not solve the real problem for Scotland, which is a financial one of being able to get greater Scottish control of the money required in order to do the things that Scotland really needs.
The noble Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) said that, in her view, the Goschen formula was an unsatisfactory one, and I completely agree with her. I think we have to deal with these things on their merits in each case. If we take the case of education, Scotland receives her funds strictly in accordance with the Goschen formula, which means, of course, that the actual initiative in education in Scotland is tied to what England does.
What we do in any year for education is decided, in fact, by what England is able to get out of the Treasury. We in 997 Scotland have a university tradition which is very different from that of England, and today we have twice as many university students in proportion to the number in England, but we still only receive funds in accordance with the Goschen formula, and we have to readjust our education expenditure and relate it to something that has been decided not in relation to Scottish universities, but in relation to the needs of England.
I do not think that that is a very satisfactory proposition. My complaint against the Royal Commission's Report is that it does not face this very difficult problem and provide an answer to the question how we are to do away with the discrepancies between economic standards in Scotland and in England and Wales, pointed out by my lion. Friend the Member for Motherwell.
I have always felt that one of the less admirable of the Scottish traditions is the toast one hears quoted frequently:Here's tae us, wha's like us?That about sums up the atmosphere in which the Royal Commission's Report has been written. It has tackled the complicated and very difficult problem of Scottish government within a United Kingdom framework in a mood of complacency and self-satisfaction.
I should not have minded so much had it looked at the problem and said, "These are very difficult problems, but perhaps at the moment the way in which we are attempting to deal with them is about the best we can do." Instead, it went out of its way positively to suggest that the present arrangements are as near ideal as we are going to get. That was going a great deal too far.
I had a foreign visitor here recently, a student of political science, who asked if the Scottish Secretary was Scotland's Prime Minister. My reply to him was that the Secretary of State was not only in a sense Scotland's Prime Minister, but the difficulty was that he was the whole Scottish Cabinet into the bargain. On personal grounds we all very much regret the absence of the Secretary of State from our debates today, but it is significant that on the occasion of this debate on the present method of Scottish government and the burden it places on the Secretary of State, he should be 998 indisposed and absent. He has ample reason for feeling overburdened by what we put on his shoulders. To pass over to him responsibility for electricity in Scotland, as has been done, and now responsibility for Scottish transport, is no solution to the problem. I think it will make things more difficult.
I was sorry that the Commission turned down the suggestion that some of the Under-Secretaries at the Scottish Office might be promoted and given Ministerial rank. I think there is something in that suggestion by which the Secretary of State would, in fact, be Scotland's Prime Minister at Cabinet level.
I was also sorry that the Commission turned down a suggestion that the Scottish Grand Committee might hold some of its meetings in Scotland. The hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and East Lothian supported the Commission in its rejection of that proposal. He said that the obstacles which the Commission mentioned were insuperable. To me it seems that the objections put forward were not in fact insuperable, although they were made out to be so.
If we could have meetings of the Scottish Grand Committee in Edinburgh that would have tremendous advantages, and would greatly stimulate the interest of the Scottish public in Scottish Parliamentary Government. I think it would stimulate the interest of Scottish newspapers in what goes on in Parliament in relation to Scottish business. It would certainly make things very much more easy for Scottish citizens wishing to obtain access to Members of Parliament to put their views before them. They would not then have to make an expensive overnight journey to meet their Members.
The Commission conceded the weight of these arguments, but said that it was difficult to carry out the proposals for two main reasons. They were that the Scottish Grand Committee would need to meet in Edinburgh at a time when Parliament was sitting in Westminster, or that some time would need to be taken out of the Parliamentary Recess. I do not think either of those difficulties is insuperable. I think it would be quite practicable to hold several Scottish Grand Committee meetings at week-ends in Edinburgh, perhaps on Fridays and Mondays. On Fridays most Scottish hon. Members try to get away to work in their 999 constituencies and on Mondays Parliamentary business is often of less importance.
If we had a will to do it, it could be done. I do not suggest that it should be every week-end or even a large number of week-ends, but merely a few week-ends during the Parliamentary Session. It would be equally practicable, without interfering with the holidays of hon. Members, the work of hon. Members in their constituencies, or the political travels of hon. Members, to take a week out of the Parliamentary Recess for meetings of the Scottish Grand Committee.
The increase in the amount of time available for discussing Scottish business by even a small extension of this idea would be very great. At the moment we meet in the mornings for only 2½ hours, and very often the business we do in the mornings faces competition from other Committees. Even in the last Session— when the Grand Committee was working much harder, I suppose, than ever in its history—we met altogether for about 100 hours. If we had just one week of the Parliamentary Recess for meetings in Edinburgh we should meet for nearly half that amount of time—about 40 hours—and if we had two or three week-ends in addition we should have an amount of time for meetings of the Grand Committee equal to that during the whole Parliamentary Session of last year.
Of course, I am not suggesting that the meetings of the Scottish Grand Committee should be completely transferred to Edinburgh. The hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and East Lothian said that that would create very great difficulties in getting business through, but I do not see why we should not hold meetings here when we wish, and in Edinburgh when we wish. That would be an advance very acceptable to Scottish citizens. It is one to which we ought to give more attention.
§ Major Anstruther-Gray
Would the hon. Member entirely eliminate the attendance of any hon. Member sitting for an English constituency?
§ Mr. Thomson
I do not see that we need to have them in Scotland, but I would have no objection to taking them there. After all, we have to spend the 1000 prolonged periods in London, and it would be very good for English Members to spend a little time in Edinburgh, getting to know Scottish ways and feelings. I see no particular objection to that. That question could be dealt with when we got down to the details of the suggestion.
I would also have a Scottish Question time in Edinburgh. It would relieve congestion here during Question time, and it would add to Parliamentary interest in Edinburgh. It would be a very good thing indeed to have Scottish Questions spread out a little by that method.
When the new Government proposal goes through, we shall be in the position of having 10 opportunities a year here of questioning the Secretary of State for Scotland for all the Departments for which he is responsible; and, including the Lord Advocate's Department, they will now amount to eight separate Departments. In other words, we shall have 10 Parliamentary opportunities at Question time, as against the 80 opportunities of English Members to question their parallel Departments. Obviously, something must be done about this kind of congestion. The kind of acceptance of the situation that we find in the Royal Commission's Report will not be satisfactory as a long-term solution.
There is a tendency from the benches opposite to suggest that these problems of Scottish Government arise from the Socialist policy of nationalisation. This point is mentioned in the Report, and I certainly think that the greater interest in Scottish governmental problems during the last few years has been the result of the greater centralisation that has taken place. My point, however, is that the need for the maximum amount of devolved decision is complementary to the centralised planning that is going on. In fact, there is no solution to Scottish problems except on the basis of economic planning.
It is true that paragraph 71 of the Report points out that Scotland depends a great deal on the initiative and enterprise of those who run her industries; but that initiative and enterprise demands the framework of State planning if we are to be able to solve Scotland's economic problems. The big advances which have been made in Scotland during and since the war have all been on a foundation 1001 of planning. There is no solution to Scottish problems unless it is a solution within the general framework of Socialist ideas.
It is quite false to imagine that private enterprise is somehow or other decentralised. Some of the biggest businesses which began in Scotland — I think of I.C.I., for instance—have themselves been becoming more and more centralised in London. The real choice facing the people of Scotland is between an irresponsible centralisation through the growth of big business and a continued effort by the people of Scotland to keep planning democratic and devolved, to prevent it becoming too bureaucratic. That is the real choice that is presented to us, and I do not think that the Royal Commission faced up to it.
I am sorry that sonic of the poor innocent English back benchers whom we kidnap to become Members of our Scottish Grand Committee have not come in and risked being told what Bannockburn was all about by standing up and speaking on these matters. Of course, the problems of having democratic government in Scotland and democratic control of Scotland's affairs are only part and parcel of the general problem of maintaining democratic government in the United Kingdom in the kind of world that the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) was describing. The problems of Scottish government are also the problems of English government, and they ought to be seen in that context. I hope that one day a Royal Commission will be set up, with that kind of remit, to go into that proposition.
§ 8.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Niall Macpherson (Dumfries)
The House will have been delighted with the breeziness and constructiveness of the speech of the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson), although I rather feel that he was not quite fair to the Royal Commission.
The hon. Member accused the Commission of not having faced up to the financial problem. It seems to me that it could have faced up to it only in one way: by fixing a formula, which is the very thing which has been almost universally attacked from all sides. There was no other way in which the Commission could have faced up to it. The financial 1002 position changes all the time. it varies from industry to industry and from Department to Department, and it would have been surely quite impossible for the Royal Commission to have given a definite solution on such a matter as that.
There is another aspect. After all, one must bear in mind what the remit of the Royal Commission was. It was to inquire into:arrangements for exercising the functions of… Government in relation to Scotland.As the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) has said, it is quite plain that the Commission regarded Scotland as a nation. It started with that bias, if such it can be called. The 14 members of the Commission were not chosen because they were or were not Home Rulers. They were chosen for their individual qualifications.
Those 14 men and women have produced a unanimous Report, in the course of which they have dealt not only with the administrative functions of government, but also to a large extent with the form of government in Scotland. They have stated quite definitely that in their view, in considering the form of government in Scotland and the close relationship between the United Kingdom and Scotland, the vital community of interest between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom must be recognised. I think it follows from that that the Commission eliminated altogether the idea of an entirely separate Government for Scotland. What it did do was to consider the possibility of a Government on the Northern Ireland model, and that it dismissed in very definite terms, on the specific grounds that such a form of government could not, in its view, further the special needs and interests of Scotland.
It is particularly important that we should bear in mind that very practical approach, that the Commission had in mind the question, "Is this going to benefit Scotland or is it not?"
§ Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)
The Royal Commission says thatMinisterial statements at the time of our appointment made it clear that this remit, was not intended to include consideration of Parliamentary devolution.… In consequence we sought no evidence on these matters.
§ Mr. Macpherson
It may not have sought evidence, but it got it in abundance and, what is more, the Commission went out of its way to go to Northern Ireland to see the form of Government there.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)
The hon. Member should await his own opportunity of catching my eye —if he does.
§ Mr. Macpherson
As to the more specific point, whether the Commission considered actually existing legislative arrangements, I agree with the hon. Member for Dundee, East that it did not consider that more than superficially, the more's the pity, but that was not in the Commission's remit, I agree. However, it is a different matter. I shall be coming to that shortly.
The Commission had to consider and did consider whether this system satisfied the needs of Scotland. That is what the Commission set out to do. It had to answer the question whether the functions of government were satisfactory for Scotland and whether the system met with broad popular consent. It started by admitting the existence of dissatisfaction in some quarters. Indeed, it would have been very peculiar indeed if there were not dissatisfaction with the form of government in some quarters, although it is important to distinguish between dissatisfaction with quality and dissatisfaction with the system.
I think it may be taken as quite natural, as the hon. Member for Dundee, East was saying in effect, that if there is reason for altering any arrangements just now, as, in his view, there is in order to get a more realistic form of Socialism in Scotland, we, were we in Opposition, would take the opposite view. We should take the view, if England were going the whole way of Socialism, that Scotland in her turn must consider whether she wanted to go that way also If England were to go Communist it would be even more important that Scotland should consider, and should have the right to consider, whether she would follow in that wake.
1004 As it is, the Commission has shown quite conclusively that an honest and conscious endeavour is being made to see that Scotland has her fair share, and that, indeed, Scotland is being helped to catch up.
§ Mr. Douglas Johnston (Paisley)
I am interested in the point the hon. Member has raised. Does he suggest, then, that either country could contract out of the Union?
§ Mr. Macpherson
I would say quite definitely that this is a partnership, and a partnership can always be dissolved. It is not a question of contracting out. Nobody is advocating that it should be dissolved, but, in my view, if circumstances arose in which it would be to the advantage of one party or the other to dissolve the partnership, then that would be a matter for consideration.
I was saying that Scotland is being helped to catch up. I was very much impressed with a phrase in the prize essay of Professor Turner on Scottish Home Rule. He quoted figures—I think given by Dr. Pryde—suggesting that…at the time of the Union the ratio of England to Scotland in terms of population was five to one"—at the time of the Union the difference was not so very great—but in wealth it was 38 to one.Is not that a tremendous distance to catch up? In all the circumstances, is it surprising that even after 250 years we have not entirely caught up yet?
These figures undoubtedly have changed tremendously to the advantage of Scotland between that day and this, and whatever the causes one has to admit that Scottish Home Rule was not one of them. These tremendous advances and this catching up have taken place without Scottish Home Rule. The Commission accepts as a fact that there has been an increase in dissatisfaction, and it gives three reasons for it. The right hon. Member for Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) was wise to add a fourth. There is the study of history in Scotland which, after all, is not such an old thing. People in Scotland are very much more aware now of Scottish history and of the grievances of the past, though perhaps not so aware of the advantages of the past, than they were.
1005 We must, of course, deal with the practical considerations. I wish to come to them now. The hon. Member for Dundee, East questioned the advisability of the Government's decision to accept the Royal Commission's Report in the matter of the handing over of roads to the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Scotland. He did so on two grounds. One was that the Secretary of State was overloaded already. The other was that there is danger that in the future, in spite of the Commission's Report, the amount of money which Scotland may receive for roads will not be determined in accordance with the needs of Scotland but in accordance with a formula.
We must watch that very closely indeed. We are entitled to ask the Government to give us their views on this matter. In accepting this recommendation, how do the Government view the proportion that is to be spent on the roads in Scotland? The percentage of trunk roads in Scotland of those of England and Wales is 31.
§ Mr. Macpherson
Yes, in mileage, and the percentage mileage of classified roads is about 22. How shall we settle this matter? It has been suggested already that if the Forth Road Bridge had to be paid for out of a formula for roads allotted to Scotland there would be a great outcry against any Government that came to such an unwise decision.
The hon. Member for Dundee, East also referred to university grants. On the question of university grants, Scotland has undoubtedly done pretty well, with a percentage of over 14 overall.
§ Mr. Macpherson
Students' grants are a different matter altogether. The trouble is that the university grants are fixed in accordance with the needs of universities by the University Grants Commission and not in relation to any formula at all, whereas students' grants are fixed in relation to a formula. That must be wrong, and I hope that the Government will look at that matter again. There is about one student in Scotland for every six students in England and Wales, and it must be quite wrong that this relationship 1006 should be fixed under the Goschen formula. In England and Wales there are State scholarships, but the Advisory Committee recommended in 1944–45 that there should not be State scholarships in Scotland.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I am sorry to stop the hon. Gentleman, and I do not want to waste the time of the House, but I think he is under a misunderstanding. This House settled, as a deliberate piece of policy, what the grants should he for Scotland, with no reference at all to the Goschen formula.
§ Mr. Macpherson
The amount spent over-all on education has to come within the Goschen formula. That is the difficulty. If the Ministry and the Secretary of State for Scotland were prepared to spend more than that formula, and increased the grants for students in Scotland, they would have to take it away from some other part of the Education Vote. The money spent must have a relationship to the Goschen formula. I think that I am right in saying that. It cannot be right to fix that proportion in relation to such a very much higher number of students. The Report brings out the facts that the grants to students in Scotland were less than one half in the year under review than for students in England and Wales.
The Report makes a reservation. If it is true that only two out of five students in England and Wales live within 30 miles of a university whereas two out of three in Scotland do so, it undoubtedly makes a big difference. The third qualification of the Report virtually amounts to the statement that it is traditional for Scots students to have a lower standard of living than students in England and Wales. I admit that that is a gloss on the reasons given, but it must be looked at if we are to get the best possible results in education for Scotland.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
Has the hon. Member looked at the grants that are given to Scottish universities, and has he come to any conclusion whether those grants are adequate?
§ Mr. Macpherson
Yes, I have looked at them, but there is no doubt that the Royal Commission accepted that there was a lower standard for students in Scotland than in England and Wales.
§ Mr. Macpherson
I did not say that. I said I had looked at the matter.
On the question of investment, the Royal Commission's Report is definite in saying that had it not been for the joint arrangement between Scotland and England there would have been far fewer factories coming to Scotland. It quotes the Scottish Council for the Development of Industry as giving that evidence, and accepted it. That is of tremendous importance. The Report lays great stress on the economic unity of the two countries. We should give due weight to the point made by the hon. Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) that each suggestion should be considered on its merits irrespective of any proportion that may exist between Scotland and England and Wales.
Owing to a number of matters, and not least to the higher unemployment in Scotland than in England and Wales, special consideration must be given to new measures. Any industrialist coming to Scotland will judge the situation on its merits, which are merits of profitability. We can attract industrialists to Scotland on that basis, and on no other. Therefore the problem is to secure that industries which come to Scotland will be satisfactory from the economic point of view.
We shall do that only if we give appropriate incentives. At present, in a Development Area the factories can be provided at low rents in the initial period. It is open to doubt, however, whether that is the best solution, because it makes it too easy for the industry to leave. In my view, a far better way is to give support to the industry itself in the early stages, whether by taxation reliefs, as is done in the Colonies at the present time, or by a subsidy during the initial period. Only on that basis can we give encouragement to industry to come to Scotland.
I close by saying that while I have certain reservations regarding the Report, and while I would like the Joint Under-Secretary of State to comment on the question of roads, I think we owe a deep debt of gratitude to the Royal Commission for this Report, and to the Government for having set up the Commission and for having cleared the air. We now know where we stand, we have had a 1008 clear exposition of all the factors affecting the choice before us, and in taking note of this Report we should take note of it with real approval.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)
I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson) as to the degree of satisfaction with which we have received this Report. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson), I think it leaves unanswered the question to which most Scots people wanted an answer. The background of the setting-up of this Commission shows that it arose as the result of a considerable agitation in Scotland arising from the desire to obtain for Scottish people a greater control over their own affairs.
I think the hon. Member for Dumfries inaugurated a debate on this very subject in 1948, and he certainly did not then express the views that he has expressed tonight. In fact, most of the speeches from hon. Gentlemen opposite were of a totally different character then from what they have been today. They were, of course, using this issue for political purposes, as the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) was honest enough to admit publicly.
As a result of that agitation, and as a result of the serious concern which arose from a number of factors—some of which were mentioned in the excellent speech delivered by my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell—it was felt that we ought to have some guidance as to the extent to which it was possible to give Scotland a greater degree of control over its own affairs. There was, however, a demand that before that we should have information as to the financial arrangements between the two countries, and the possibility of separating their respective income and expenditure. It was for that purpose that we had the Catto Committee.
Arising from that Committee, this Commission was appointed, endowed with all the status of a Royal Commission, not simply a committee. The terms of reference required the Commission to review, with reference to the financial, economic, administrative, and other considerations involved, the arrangements for exercising the function of Her Majesty's Government in relation to Scotland. That consists of everything. The functions of 1009 Her Majesty's Government consist of Parliamentary devolution, if that is necessary, as well as administrative devolution.
Yet the Commission goes on to tell us that as a result of the reply of the Secretary of State—we are all sorry that the right hon. Gentleman has not been able to be present today—it then refused to consider the question. What was his reply? It was:The Royal Commission can ask for evidence, or receive evidence from any quarter, but the question of whether there should be Parliamentary or political devolution is, I think, a matter for Parliament itself."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th July, 1952; Vol. 504, c. 771.]That is true; of course it is a matter for Parliament. Everything in the Report is a matter for Parliament. Therefore, this matter should not have been omitted because of that.
I consider that the responsibility rests with the Secretary of State, who ought to have made that clear. He did not make it clear that the Commission could obtain evidence and make recommendations on that subject, which was what most people in Scotland wanted.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
The Secretary of State was more specific than that. He said, as reported in the same column of the OFFICIAL REPORT as that from which my hon. Friend quoted:The Royal Commission will deal with administrative devolution.
§ Mr. Willis
That limits it even more. The Secretary of State went on as I have quoted.
Therefore, the responsibility for the failure to give Scotland what Scotland wanted—some advice on this important matter, based on evidence collected over the previous years—rests with the Secretary of State. I believe that the Conservative Government have played a confidence trick on the people of Scotland over this matter. I trust they will receive their due reward.
If that is not true, then the responsibility rested with the Commission itself. While I recognise that the Commission has done an enormous amount of work in preparing its Report, the Report is most unsatisfactory. The terms which it uses are undefined. At times it is difficult to follow exactly what the Commission means, and at other times it contradicts itself.
1010 There seems to be confusion of thought among the members of the Commission as to what they actually wanted and what they intended to say. For example, after telling us that it was not going to consider the question of Parliamentary devolution, in paragraph 78, the Commission said:Any substantial widening of the existing Standing Orders might have the effect of virtually removing Scottish business from the Floor of the House, which would be unacceptable to a large body of Scottish opinion.If the Commission had never taken evidence about that, what right had it to say these things? As a matter of fact, my experience is that what it said is wrong. Most of the people to whom I speak would be willing to have the business transferred, provided that we retained the unity of the United Kingdom and did not lower the prestige of Scotland. I am certain that all Scottish local authorities would prefer their Provisional Orders to be considered in Edinburgh instead of their having to come to London.
§ Mr. Willis
But they have to come here before the House of Commons.
If the local authorities wish to approach Members of Parliament to oppose Provisional Orders or raise matters on certain Clauses, they have to come to this House to do it. I am certain that most Scottish local authorities would prefer the Provisional Orders to be dealt with in Scotland so that they would not have to come to London, entailing the expense which that involves.
There are large numbers of other things which are purely Scottish and which Scotsmen would prefer to be done in Scotland, but in view of the limited time available, I have no opportunity to develop those points. I feel that the Commission has failed to do what the people of Scotland expected it to do, and sooner or later we shall have to appoint another Royal Commission to do that job of work.
I should like to conclude by saying that if the Secretary of State was correct in saying that this question of legislative devolution was not a matter for the Commission, but for the House of Commons, then the Government ought to tell us what their policy is. Have the Government any views? If so, the House is entitled to know them.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. C. N. Thornton-Kemsley (North Angus and Mearns)
The ordinary man in the street, anticipating the Report of a Royal Commission on Scottish affairs, would expect to find three things in particular. He would expect to find first the answer to the question, "How is Scotland doing vis-à-vis its partners in the United Kingdom?" He would then expect to find the answer to the question, "Would Scotland be better off if she had a Parliament of her own?" Thirdly, he would want to know, short of that, whether there are any practical steps which can be taken to improve the administration of Scottish affairs. I have a very short time to speak and I do not propose to say anything about the last of those three points. They have been very adequately covered in the debate.
I want to deal with the financial aspects of the matter. How is Scotland doing vis-à-vis its partners in the United Kingdom? The Catto Committee spent two years devising ways and means of extricating the facts about the financial position from Government accounts. As a result, we had the White Paper on Revenue and Expenditure in 1952–53. I do not propose, the House will be relieved to hear, to enter into any detail about it tonight, although I might have done had I more time.
What emerges from that review particularly is that Scotland, with a population of 11.7 per cent. of Great Britain's total, contributes 9.23 per cent. of the total revenue and receives 12.34 per cent. in fairly strictly local expenditure. On the other hand, Scotland's contribution to the unallocated general expenditure is only 7.95 per cent. of the total, instead of 11.7 per cent. on a population basis. So, on a purely financial argument, no one could suggest that Scotland does not do "Very nicely thank you" out of this arrangement.
Moreover, in respect of domestic expenditure, Scottish agriculture and fisheries, with 43 per cent. of the total for England and Wales; rural water supplies with 32 per cent.; housing with over 20 per cent.; roads with over 13 per cent.; and the National Health Services with over 12½per cent.; in all these cases Scotland's share goes far beyond the population ratio. I conclude this portion of my remarks by saying that it is 1012 utterly untrue to suggest—and surely no one can again suggest it; and it is one of the thanks that we owe to the Commissioners—that Scotland is hardly done by financially.
What about the question of devolution? Whatever the Commission's interpretation of the Ministerial interpretation of their remit may have been, it seems at least to have flirted with the idea of grasping the nettle—grasping the thistle would, perhaps, be a better term—of self-government for Scotland. The Commission received evidence in favour of a Scottish Parliament within the framework of the United Kingdom from the Scottish Covenant Association. It received evidence in favour of complete self-government from the Communists and the Scottish Nationalists. and the members even flew off to Ireland to see how things were done over there.
Having done this they contrived to lift the curtain a little on their own views by stating that the organisations whose evidence was opposed to Parliamentary separation, which included the Convention of Royal Burghs, the Association of County Councils, the Scottish representatives of the Federation of British Industries and the T.U.C., represented what the Commission said was a "Broad cross-section of responsible Scottish opinion."
Of course, it might have gone much further. It might have pointed out that for the last 25 years there has been only one Scottish Nationalist returned to the House of Commons. It might have pointed out that at the last General Election, out of 71 Members elected for Scottish constituencies, there were 35 supporters of the Unionist Party, who are not in favour of legislative devolution, 35 Members of the Socialist Party, who are rigidly opposed to it, and the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) who is, I think, alone in favour of it. Only one inference can be drawn, and that is that the feeling in favour of separatism is not sufficiently strong to over-ride the normal party affiliations of the vast majority of Scots men and women. And that is as it should be.
I conclude by saying that I am sure that the Report is absolutely right in deploring the ignorance of the extent to which Scotland already looks after its own affairs. Public opinion in Scotland should be more informed about the time 1013 that is allotted to the discussion of Scottish matters in our Houses of Parliament here, and about the work that we do in the Scottish Standing Committee in the time at our disposal.
I would go so far as to say that I should be in favour of a poster campaign, a campaign of newspaper advertising, supported even by public funds, to show the people of Scotland that they have their own Departments of Agriculture, Home Affairs, Health, and Education. They should be shown that the Secretary of State for Scotland is not only completely responsible for the administration of all these Departments but is also responsible for the administration of town and country planning, local government, public order, hydro-electricity, and so on; and that, in common with the United Kingdom Ministers, he is responsible for forestry, fisheries, and Development Area policy.
Not only is he responsible for the bulk of Scotland's domestic functions but, as Scotland's representative in the Cabinet, he overlooks the policies of Great Britain's Ministers as they affect Scotland; and, as the Commission has pointed out, and as more than one hon. Member has said tonight, he is in a very real sense Scotland's Minister.
§ 9.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Johnston (Paisley)
I start by joining in the expressions of general regret at the absence of the Secretary of State. At the same time, I express the hope that he will soon be returned to his usual vigorous health. There are few tasks more difficult than that which the Secretary of State for Scotland has had. While many of us may disagree profoundly with the right hon. Gentleman's politics and his policy, we are all conscious that he has many personal qualities which endear him to hon. Members on both sides of the House. There are many others whose absence I regret, Members representing English constituencies and a number of Ministers for the United Kingdom and Great Britain Departments. I note with pleasure that a member of the Board of Trade is present, and I noted earlier that the Leader of the House was here. But after all—
May I interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman to 1014 say that the Home Secretary also was present?
§ Mr. Johnston
I noted that for a moment or two the Home Secretary was present. But they stayed only for a short time.
The absence both of the Ministers and of the Private Members lends a touch of unreality to this debate. It is a debate on the state of the Union with only one partner present. I do not altogether blame either the English Members or the United Kingdom Ministers for their absence; for I am conscious of the fact that on many occasions we Scottish Members have made it clear to the English Members and Ministers that we did not welcome their intervention in our debates. But, on an occasion such as this, I think that we might have extended a welcome, or made it clear that their presence would have been welcomed.
I very much regret the absence of the Prime Minister. I well understand his reason, but I should have liked to have seen him here. After all, his illustrious ancestor, John Churchill, was not only the English Commissioner of the Union but his shadow overcast the whole Union and probably brought it about. I am sure that none of the Scottish Commissioners sat in Edinburgh without considering what John Churchill would do had the Union not been brought about.
There is one person we are glad to see, and that is the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate, who was Solicitor-General for Scotland. We have deplored his absence on many occasions; we hope to hear him frequently in our debates and that he will enjoy them.
The most remarkable thing is that such an examination of the state of the Union as this, which rarely takes place, has brought forth so few complaints. It must be remembered that the Union, so far as Scotland is concerned, started with almost universal disapproval. The Scottish Commissioners returned to their homes after voting for the Union in fear and trembling. There were riots in Edinburgh, and John Churchill said that it would not have been carried had it not been for the state of martial law in Scotland. It is sometimes forgotten that a few years afterwards the Union was saved by only three or four votes in the House 1015 of Lords when a proposal was made for its dissolution.
It is clear that the Union, not accepted for a long period, gave rise to many difficulties in its beginning. Then for a long period of years nationalism was quiescent in Scotland. It is only really since the end of the Second World War that it has risen again. To some extent I blame the present Government who were then in Opposition. I believe that they did much to stir up and make use of that nationalism. It is noteworthy that the Government's chief newspaper supporter in Scotland has been much less fervent since this Government came into power in its support of Scottish nationalism than when the present Government were in opposition.
While much of the dissatisfaction with the state of the Union is unreal, and much was artificially created, there is and has been—and will probably continue to be—in Scotland a body of opinion which will always examine the Union in a critical way. That is because the majority of Scottish people desire to keep their nationality. They desire to feel that they are Scotsmen, and that a Scotsman is somewhat different from an Englishman. They fear that the continuance of the Union will cause what they regard as peculiarly Scottish qualities to disappear. Having an aristocracy which was initially dominated by the Court, and, when the Court went to London, became Anglicised and later was still more Anglicised by the English public schools, it is remarkable that in the absence of a strong Scottish Press, and the absence of a Parliament, we have retained so much of our individuality and nationality.
The dissatisfaction which exists can be grouped under two broad heads—economic or material, and spiritual. I want to deal with the economic side first. There is a general feeling among the Scots that they are, if not a poorer nation, at least more poorly rewarded for their efforts than the English. To take an example, the material rewards of the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Milligan), the Lord Advocate, are half those of his comparably opposite number in England. There are many other such cases. That is not a new situation. One hundred and fifty years ago, when Henry Erskine was twitted about 1016 the rewards which he had received for his professional labours, as compared with those of his brother, Lord Chancellor Erskine, he replied that he—Henry Erskine—played at the shilling table while Tom played at the guinea table. The rewards which we are willing to offer, either in public or private service, are considerably less in Scotland than in England, with the result that many people move from Scotland to England.
It is difficult to say how far it is possible for any Government to remedy that situation, beyond doing something in the realm of purely Government service. What the Government must do is to have regard, in their expenditure, not to a Goschen formula, or any similar formula, but to the needs of both countries. I think it was the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir), and also the hon. Member for North Angus (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley), who suggested that when Government expenditure is considered regard should be had, not to populations or areas of territory, but to the needs of the two countries. Unless we have regard to the very different needs of the two countries, the most grave economic difficulties will emerge in Scotland. I feel sure that in Scotland the Government will have to adopt very many different expedients from those which are adopted in England. I feel sure that, whatever Government are in power, they will be required to undertake much more interference with industry in Scotland than with industry in England.
I was interested to note how much reliance was placed by the hon. Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South on private enterprise, and yet she represents a constituency which, in one sense, has been conspicuous for its lack of enterprise in the fishing industry. Here is a case which I think will require to be considered by the Treasury, the Board of Trade and the Scottish Office in an entirely different way from that in which the same industry in England is being considered, because it is clear that unless steps are taken by the Government to build and commission trawlers in Aberdeen, in five or 10 years' time there will be no trawling industry in that part of Scotland. The expedients which have been found sufficient in the eastern ports and Hull and Grimsby have not been found sufficient in Aberdeen, and the Government will have to decide that quite different expedients 1017 are necessary unless Aberdeen is to cease to be a fishing port.
There are many others, and we had expected that there would be many others. Last week, we had a Crofters Bill, which proposes a method of dealing with agriculture in the seven crofting counties which is entirely different from the methods of dealing with agriculture in other parts of the world, and I suggest that my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirling-shire (Mr. Woodburn) made an important 'point when he said that Scotland is such 'a small country that the Government must try experiments and adopt expedients which are quite different from any applied in other parts of the United Kingdom.
Very often, in the small part of the workings of government which I have experienced, I have seen things held up because England was not ready to move or because they were not expedient for England. So many things which would have been valid for Scotland immediately were held up because they would not have been valid for England until some time in the future. Accordingly, I suggest that the Government, and particularly the Secretary of State for Scotland, must at all stages consider not only a United Kingdom solution, but must consider whether or not a different solution is better for Scotland.
I would say that this is particularly necessary with regard to the amount of interference which the Government propose in industry. I know that this Government are committed to a policy which, broadly, is that of laissez faire, but laissez faire will not do in Scotland. We have seen our industry declining, the amount of our capital expenditure in industry falling below that in England; we see that our income is less and our productivity less. The reason is that in Scotland we have not got either the enterprise or the capital to devote to much of our industry.
Much of industry in Scotland, while nominally under the control of persons in Scotland, is in fact controlled from England. We have several examples of this. The great steel firm of Colville's, whose issue was floated the other day, while largely controlled in Scotland, is ultimately a member firm of the Iron and Steel Federation, and its policy is much tied to the general policy of the Iron and 1018 Steel Federation, though it is located in Scotland, and though, I am glad to see, the manager is now a Scotsman. The same applies to John Brown's of Clydebank. I suggest that these are circumstances which the Government must constantly keep in mind, first in their general policy and, secondly, in expenditure on general Government contracts.
I turn from the economic to what is quite as important, what I might call the spiritual. Individual nationalism is a very irrational belief, but the fact that it is irrational does not make it any less real. A belief in nationalism since mediaeval times has been one of the moving forces in Western civilisation and is now the moving force in the East. It is easy to cross this nationalism, easy to cause it dispeace, it is easy in this House to rouse the ire of Scottish hon. Members. I think the noble Lady the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South was right in saying that it arises from two quite different causes. It arises, first, from the conduct of business—to which I shall turn in a moment—and, secondly, from the fact that Scottish hon. Members are perhaps too easily hurt—that they wear their hearts too much on their sleeves—and English Members are too easily irritated by what they regard as Scottish pretensions. I think we could do much by common understanding to remove those complaints. We could do very much to remove them by the better conduct of business in this House.
I suggest that the difficulty we got into at the end of last Session and the disagreements and difficulties between the two sides showed what bad management can bring about. I suggest that it is up to the Secretary of State to make it quite clear to the Leader of the House that Scottish business is as important as any other business and should not necessarily take place after English business has been conducted, as was the case, hon. Members will recollect, over the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Bill on which we started one night at 10.30. That is the sort of thing which irritates everyone. I suggest that it is up to the Scottish Office to consider the planning of its business and to get it spaced as far as possible throughout the Session.
I was interested in the suggestion put forward by the hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Major Anstruther-Gray) for a change in the 1019 mode of operating the Scottish Grand Committee. The same suggestion was put forward in a different form by my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. John Taylor). I see certain virtues and certain difficulties in that suggestion, but I think it is worthy of examination. It is only by removing the causes of friction between the two sides and between hon. Members representing Scottish constituents and hon. Members representing English constituents that we can conduct our business properly.
This examination of the State of the Union, which in some ways has been disappointing and has proceeded upon a disappointing Report, is not the end. The genius of the British people in politics lies in the fact that they have constantly modified, and sometimes unconsciously modified, their form of Government. The form of Government which was set up in 1707 is very different from the form of Government today.
I sometimes think that the most promising of all the reforms ever suggested was the one which was never adopted because of the strong opposition of the House of Commons. That proceeded upon a Commission set up by James VI and I, over which Francis Bacon presided and of which the other only member, if I recollect correctly, was the precedessor of the Lord Advocate. It produced a plan for the unification of the Kingdom which, in many ways, had more virtues than that of 1707. But the English House of Commons of those days did not like it, and no more was ever heard of the plan.
There is no doubt whatever that we shall go on modifying our method of dealing with our business and our Constitution, and it may be that depending upon the circumstances and on the times of the future, we will evolve a more pleasing, more sensible and more happy way of dealing with our difficulties.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Henderson Stewart)
I must begin by expressing, on behalf of the Government and particularly on behalf of Scottish Ministers, our gratitude for the very kind references to the absence of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, particularly the generous remarks made this evening by the two Opposition 1020 Front Bench speakers. We all very much hope that the Secretary of State will have a good holiday and will find the sun beneficial, and that he will come back in his usual form. I might even go the length of hoping that it would be in accordance with the wishes of the House if tomorrow we sent my right hon. Friend a note to say that universally the House had wished him well. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
We have been discussing a matter of considerable constitutional importance, of importance not only to Scotland but to the United Kingdom. Indeed, its interest may well spread beyond these islands. I feel that the House has dealt with this difficult and important matter in an admirable way. On the whole, the approach has been, with perhaps one or two slight temporary exceptions, a judicial approach. The hon. and learned Member for Paisley (Mr. D. Johnston), who wound up the debate on behalf of the Opposition, reflected all the high traditions of the legal profession in the admirable way in which he approached this matter.
On behalf of the Government I thank the House for the, generally speaking, warm welcome that has been given to the Report of the Royal Commission. There have been hon. Members who felt that it did not go as far as they would have liked, but I think everybody recognised that it is a well-written document. It has even been described as a wise Report —I share that view.
It certainly is a Report of great value to Scotland in that for the first time it has set out in plain, simple language how our country is now governed. That has never been available to the nation before, and I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Major Anstruther-Gray) that the extent of the ignorance in our country of the way in which we govern ourselves is sometimes quite staggering. If this Report has done nothing else it will have made plain, I hope, to our fellow countrymen how we manage our affairs.
So many subjects have been raised that it is impossible for me, in the time at my disposal, to deal with them all, but I can assure the House that the speeches that have been made will be very carefully considered, and those to which I am unable now to refer will not be forgotten.
1021 Functions are to be transferred to the Secretary of State in three cases. It would be useful, I think, if I were to inform the House what is the machinery and what is the time-table. Transfers in the case of justices of the peace, animal health, and roads will be by Order in Council under the Ministers of the Crown (Transfer of Functions) Act, 1946. The Orders in Council will be laid before Parliament and will be subject to negative Resolution procedure.
§ Mr. Stewart
I was about to give the time-table. It may well be something like this. In the case of justices of the peace the effective date of transfer will be 1st April, 1955.
§ Mr. Stewart
It is intended to lay the Order in Council during February.
Animal health functions are a rather more complex matter, and I am not, unfortunately, able to give the House the exact date. It is, however, hoped that it may be possible to effect the changeover by 1st April. The Order in Council will be laid, if possible, before the summer Recess, but, in any event, this year. The effective date of transfer, in the case of roads, will be 1st April, 1956, but I am not able to say when the Order in Council will be laid. It will be as soon as possible.
§ Mr. Stewart
I should have said that 1st August, 1955, will be the date of changeover in the case of animal health functions.
I come to another relatively small point, namely the status of the Scottish Grand Committee, and the problem of Parliamentary Questions. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian made a very interesting suggestion, which was taken up by one or two hon. Members, about the working of the Scottish Grand Committee. That is a matter which, I suggest to my hon. and gallant Friend, may be pursued by him and brought to the notice of the usual channels, which would be the right way of proceeding.
The same applies to the proposals about Parliamentary Questions, to which 1022 the right hon. Member for East Stirling-shire (Mr. Woodburn) referred. There may be something to be said for them, but the Prime Minister himself was asked to deal with this matter, and he expressed the opinion:All these matters are internal matters of the business of the House and may well be made the subject of continuous interchange through the usual channels or, if need be, through exceptional channels."—OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th December, 1954; Vol. 535, c. 775.]I invite the right hon. Gentleman, if he still feels strongly about this matter, to take it up in that way.
The next point was with regard to the Scottish Economic Conference. I can quite understand that the right hon. Gentleman should have a kindly feeling for that body because he instituted it. I fancy that the ideas which inspired him at that time were admirable ideas, but all I know is that he called the Conference a few times; it was called again once by his successor, the right hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil); and then it was not called any more. Therefore, I can only assume that the then Secretary of State for Scotland came to the conclusion that it was not serving the purpose that, perhaps, the right hon. Gentleman himself had had in mind.
As he knows, the Secretary of State for Scotland met the Scottish Trades Union Congress on this matter only a few days ago. He told the Congress that it was still possible for him to call together that conference if occasion should arise.
But he pointed out, as I am sure the House will appreciate is relevant, that in the last 3½ years the very creation of the office of Minister of State, Scottish Office, and the fact that that Minister, in carrying out his duties, had made constant contacts with industry, with the Highlands, with agriculture, and so on, had made the calling of another Economic Conference less necessary than it was some years ago. At any rate, our view at the moment is that we are not persuaded that it is necessary, but that does not mean that revival is entirely ruled out. Perhaps the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire will feel that that is a reasonably satisfactory answer to him.
As to the broader question of the administrative recommendations of the Royal Commission, there has been a good deal of talk about the Scottish Controllers 1023 of the United Kingdom and Great Britain Departments. The Commission was quite clear about this, and its recommendations are accepted by the Government without any conditions at all. It recommended that Senior Officers of the United Kingdom and Great Britain Departments should normally be designated Scottish Controllers. We agree with that. The Commission recommended that the salaries of the Scottish Controllers of the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Labour, who are at present on Assistant Secretary scale, should be raised to the maximum of that scale. That has now been done.
Attention has been drawn to the case of the Ministry of Works. As we all know and recognise, we have in Scotland a very gifted civil servant in charge. His status is slightly higher than that of those in charge of the other two Departments, even after theirs has been raised. I do not think that we should cavil about that, or necessarily demand complete uniformity. The fact that we have that situation in the Ministry of Works in Scotland seems to reflect the possibilities of even greater devolution, where the functions of the Department are largely of an executive character.
As to the problem of handing over the Ministry of Works administration to the Scottish Office, I can only say to the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire that, as he knows, this possibility was examined by the Commission. On the evidence before it, it came to the conclusion that there was no call for the transfer, and that the present system worked very well from the point of view of the interests of Scotland.
§ Mr. Woodburn
The hon. Gentleman said that the Commission had considered this matter and had come to this conclusion. In the only part of the Report which, as far as I can see, refers to this matter, the Commission came to an entirely opposite conclusion. It came to the conclusion that this Ministry was ripe for devolution.
§ Mr. Stewart
I think, with respect, that the right hon. Gentleman has not read the Report as we read it. I read the Report quite clearly as indicating the view of the Commission that there was no need for a transfer of the functions of the Ministry of Works to the Scottish Office.
§ Mr. Woodburn
There is one very important point in regard to these so-called Scottish Controllers which is more important than this aspect. Are they to have direct access to the Minister, as an Under-Secretary has, or are they in turn to go through an Under-Secretary before they reach the Minister? It is not so much the salary that is paid with which we are concerned, as to whether these persons have the authority of an Under-Secretary in Scotland, as is the case with the Ministry of Works?
§ Mr. Stewart
I think I am right in saying that the status of Under-Secretary carries with it direct access to the Minister.
§ Mr. Woodburn
The hon. Gentleman has said that the arrangement come to by the Government is that these people shall not be Under-Secretaries. The question I am putting to him is whether these Scottish Controllers will have direct access to the Minister in the framing of policy, as is the case in the Ministry of Works in Scotland.
§ Mr. Stewart
I do not want to use words here of which I am not absolutely sure. I think I can be quite confident in assuring the right hon. Gentleman that the Government desire that these Scottish Controllers should have powers and duties devolved to them to the fullest possible extent, and I have no doubt that, in any case where it is thought necessary, the Scottish Controllers will have immediate access to United Kingdom Ministers.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Am I to take it that the hon. Gentleman is just guessing about this matter, and that he is not in a position to tell us now what the powers and duties of these Scottish Controllers will be? Is he prepared to make an early statement to the House that these people will be put in the position recommended by the Royal Commission, in order to get rid of inferiority in dealing with Scottish business?
§ Mr. Stewart
I have said, and I repeat, that the recommendations of the Royal Commission with regard to these Scottish Controllers are accepted fully and entirely. If what I have said earlier is in any particular not exactly right, I may be able to correct it, but I believe that it is absolutely correct. In a sense, what I have said answers the question 1025 regarding the Treasury Circular of 1946. In effect, the Royal Commission has repeated the essence of the Treasury Circular, and that view, as I say, we have accepted.
I come to the Goschen formula, to which several hon. Members have referred. The Goschen formula is attached to only one Scottish service today, and that is education. In every other case the machinery works in a different way. The Scottish Departments estimate what they will require, and the estimate is based upon Scottish needs. In the case of roads, the Commission stressed that the criterion should always be need and not any fixed formula. That we accept. Broadly speaking, that is the way in which we intend to proceed.
§ Mr. Stewart
Equalisation grant, I agree, is another example. That and education are the only two services to which the Goschen formula is directly attached, but I did not count equalisation grant as a service.
The facts in the Report prove what I have said. Figures have been given to show that where there is a special need in Scotland our proportion of grants has very often been far in excess of the Goschen formula. The examples are housing, health, hill farming subsidies, development fund advances, and others which I could cite. Both parties can take credit for the establishment of a system which is not rigid or tied firmly to a formula but is moveable and elastic. I hope that we shall always be able to continue it so.
On the broad question of whether we should be dealing with a proposal about Home Rule or not—
§ Mr. Elliot
Surely it is the case that education, although linked to the 11/80ths, begins on a different formula entirely, and is of a much more favourable basis in Scotland than the 11/80ths would give?
§ Mr. Stewart
That is true. The education grant is in three parts but I was recognising that, by and large, the 11/80ths principle applies to education.
§ Mr. Stewart
On the general question of Home Rule, I thought that the hon. and learned Member for Paisley put into 1026 words what most of us in this House have felt. He said that the remarkable thing is that so few complaints have been made about the state of the Union in this debate. That is true. The fact is that this House recognises that the Union has been an outstanding success. All that we have heard today in the way of criticism has been directed towards improving the machinery of the Union.
It is true that the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) would have gone a little further. It is true also that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) was no doubt obliged to go a little further because he had to defend the policy for which his party stands. However, though I listened with close attention to the hon. Gentleman, the only reason I could pick out for his advocating Scottish Home Rule was, to use his own words, "That Scotland might make its contribution." I confess I could not follow the hon. Gentleman.
I see nothing in the present arrangement to prevent Scotland from expanding its contribution to the utmost extent; indeed, I would say that already the contribution of Scotland to the world is of a remarkable character, and the fact that we do not have a Parliament of our own does not alter that.
§ Mr. Rankin
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to reinforce my criticism by a quotation from HANSARD, as follows:We all know that this problem of Scottish Government is the subject of meetings, discussions, articles in the newspapers every day. We know too that some of the great Scottish newspapers—the 'Daily Record,' the 'Daily Express' and the 'Scotsman' take very strong views upon this. To pretend that there is not this quite serious agitation in Scotland and that these are not, in fact, matters of the greatest concern to Scotland, is simply to deny plain facts."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th November, 1949; Vol. 469, c. 2128.]The hon. Member who said that was the hon. Gentleman himself.
§ Mr. Stewart
That was in 1949. Very remarkable changes have come over our country since then. I must confess that my own views have undergone considerable changes.
If I may pick up points about the Home Rule argument, it is true that the Secretary of State said in the House that he thought the Commission should not deal with Home Rule because that was a matter for Parliament. I do not think anyone would dispute that, but although 1027 the Commission was asked not to examine this question, it did receive evidence on it. The evidence was overwhelmingly against any form of Scottish Parliament, and that evidence came from many responsible bodies in Scotland.
§ Mr. Stewart
No, the General Council of the Scottish Trades Union Congress —not an unimportant body—
§ Mr. Stewart
The Convention of Royal Burghs, the Association of County Councils, and the Scottish representatives of the Federation of British Industries.
§ Mr. Stewart
These are facts which the Commission has reported. There is not time to go too far into this matter, and I can only say that the evidence from those highly responsible and representative people seems to accord entirely with the facts as we know them.
Perhaps I should add this last word about Home Rule. I was sorry that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) said he did not think the Report was of much use, and that it disappointed him. I am sure he would have been delighted if it had recommended Home Rule. Granting that that was the main interest of the hon. Member, I put it to him that before the case for a Scottish Parliament can be properly considered, it is surely essential to know what subjects could be separately administered in Scotland.
The Commission concluded that the only additions that could at present be made to those functions for which the Secretary of State was already responsible were those in respect of roads, animal health, and justices of the peace. It follows, therefore, that the whole range of the economic and industrial functions of government would remain the responsibility of the United Kingdom Parliament, even if a Scottish Parliament were set up. By bringing that out so clearly and unanswerably, the Commission has made a valuable contribution to Scottish political thought at this time.
What should one say in conclusion? I believe I express the views of most of my Scottish colleagues when I say that whatever shortcoming there may still be 1028 in the form of our Scottish government or in the general development of our country, this much should be said in the interests of both historical accuracy and national pride. The past 10 or 15 years —the years since the Report of the Gilmour Committee—have seen a steady, persistent, and in many ways remarkable, advance in the direction of both Scottish devolution and social and economic expansion. To those advances all parties have contributed. I am not claiming for my party any greater credit than I would offer to the party opposite. We have all contributed to these very remarkable advances.
Let hon. Members think for one moment of those advances—increased power to the Scottish Grand Committee, to which both parties contributed; the appointment of additional Scottish Ministers; the transfer to the Secretary of State of responsibility for electricity; the setting up of the Scottish railway authority, the Scottish Transport Council; the changes proposed in the Crofters Bill; the coming transfer to the Secretary of State of the duties of the Minister of Food in relation to Scotland; and the changes relating to roads, animal health, and justices of the peace recommended by the Royal Commission.
What has been the effect of this increased devolution upon the social and economic status of Scotland? More than a quarter of a million new houses have been built since the war. We have all contributed to that, and it is a very remarkable performance. Water, drainage, and sewerage work has been done—again, all of us taking part—to the extent of £36 million. In the economic field, in hydro-electrical development, forestry, and industry, there has been an advance never equalled in the history of our country, and probably not equalled in the history of any similar country in the world.
I claim that among us all we have shown Scotland proof that this Parliament can meet any reasonable demand for further administrative devolution, and that by the present method we are advancing the good cause of Scotland. I think we may be well satisfied with the work that we are doing.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That this House takes note of the Report of the Royal Commission on Scottish Affairs (Cmd. 9212).