HC Deb 20 November 1968 vol 773 cc1294-5
41. Mr. David Steel

asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will now move to set up a Select Committee on the Scottish Office with powers to meet publicly in Edinburgh.

Mr. Peart

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer I have just given to my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton). I am afraid the same considerations apply.

Mr. Steel

I was afraid that would be the answer. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is very strong agitation and concern in Scotland that the government of Scotland should be open to greater scrutiny by Members sent to this House from Scottish constituencies? Will he, therefore, accept that there is genuine pressure for this by Members of all parties, and will he make an early announcement in favour of setting up such a Committee?

Mr. Peart

I am aware of this and I am not unsympathetic. The subject is one of a potential number for future Specialist Committees.

Mr. Stodart

When and if the right hon. Gentleman decides to set up this Committee and it wishes to sit in Edinburgh, will he ensure that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State does not put the same difficulties in the way of that Committee as were put in the way of the Specialist Committee on Agriculture when it wanted to go to Brussels?

Mr. Peart

I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman is referring to my right hon. Friend or to myself. I put no difficulties in the way of that Committee. I believe in Select Committees. I was the first Departmental Minister to appear on agriculture, and I gave every encouragement to the Committee.