HC Deb 05 May 1970 vol 801 cc196-9
Q5. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that there are three Treasury Ministers in the Cabinet, he will include an additional Scottish Minister.

Q7. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Prime Minister if he will include an additional Scottish Minister in the Cabinet.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has now held this post longer than any of his predecessors, is a very effective representative in the Cabinet of Scotland and of Scottish interests.

Mr. Hamilton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that none of us on this side of the House will be in the slightest degree alarmed by the answer which he has given? All of us in Scotland are highly gratified with the results achieved by my right hon. Friend in Scotland and for Scotland and regard the attempt by the Opposition to decry the fact that my right hon. Friend is not in the inner Cabinet as a sheer bit of nonsense?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He will appreciate that my right hon. Friend needs no second voice to further his work for Scotland inside the Cabinet and throughout the Government machine. If his predecessors had pressed the case of Scotland with similar vigour, he would not have inherited what he did.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

When is the Secretary of State to be given a first voice in the inner Cabinet? The Prime Minister has told us that the Secretary of State is summoned to the inner Cabinet, like the Minister without Portfolio, or the deputy chief bottle-washer at the Ministry of Public Building and Works, when the affairs of his Department are under consideration—

Mr. Faulds

MacFauntleroy, sit down!

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Will the Prime Minister say whether this reflects his opinion of his right hon. Friend's competence or of Scotland's interests?

The Prime Minister

The longer the hon. Gentleman goes on the more he shows his total ignorance of the Government machine, and ignorance which he will have for a long time to come and which is likely to grow rather than diminish. My right hon. Friend is present on all occasions when anything affecting the interest of Scotland is discussed. Unlike his predecessors he pipes up for Scotland and fights for Scotland.

Mr. Rankin

I accept what my right hon. Friend has said on this matter, but does not he realise that another matter is inherent in this Question? Has not the time arrived when Scotland deserves one representative in the inner Cabinet all the time and one representative in the Cabinet itself?

The Prime Minister

The phrase used by my hon. Friend is not known to the constitution of this country. As I have said, I assure my hon. Friend that, whenever any issues affecting Scotland are involved, my right hon. Friend is there. I wish that I could portray to the House the effectiveness of my right hon. Friend not only in meetings, but also outside individual meetings, in the pressures which he puts on all his colleagues to see that the interests of Scotland are safeguarded.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

Would the Prime Minister give an idea of the range of subjects discussed by the inner Cabinet which do not affect Scotland? Would he agree that the exclusion of the Secretary of State for Scotland from the inner Cabinet is an unprecedented devaluation of the office and an insult to Scotland?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. I have already answered this question twice. What the hon. Gentleman will never know, nor will any of us, is the basis on which decisions were taken in the Conservative Government by cliques, not Cabinet committees.

Mr. Maudling

Is the Prime Minister aware that his reply to my hon. Friend was a little obscure? Could he confirm that the reason the Secretary of State is not in the inner Cabinet is not his personal qualities, to which tribute has been rightly paid, but the fact that the Prime Minister does not consider that the Secretary of State for Scotland should be in the inner Cabinet?

The Prime Minister

The concept of the inner Cabinet is not one known to the constitution. All decisions are taken by the Cabinet itself or by appropriate Cabinet: committees. My right hon. Friend is present on all matters affecting Scotland. En many other matters, as I have said, both in his internal administration within Scotland, which arouses the admiration of hon. Members opposite, even if they will not admit it publicly, and also in his work for Scotland, his work transcends both in duration and in quality that of any of this Conservative predecessors.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

If there is no constitutional position of an inner Cabinet could the Prime Minister say what 11 Ministers and the Chief Whip were doing for a whole day at Chequers one Sunday without the Secretary of State for Scotland?

The Prime Minister

It is not the practice to reveal these matters, any more than there was any revelation of the meeting of the Cabinet at Chequers to plan the election programme in 1963, nor was there any information, until it was given by Mr. Nutting, about secret conclaves in Chequers before the Suez operation, unknown to the Cabinet.

Mr. Hector Hughes

While nobody doubts the real needs of Scotland or decries the excellent work of the Secretary of State, would the Prime Minister in recognising the employment needs of Scotland and the interests of industry, trade and commerce, reconsider his answer with regard to appointing separate Ministers for each of these Departments?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend will he aware of the wide-ranging responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Scotland. He will also be aware that the same Secretary of State introduced the Highlands and Islands Development Board when right hon. Gentlemen opposite refused to do so and indeed threatened to vote against it. They will also know that, due to the activities of my right hon. Friend, emigration from Scotland has been sharply changed, as can be seen from the latest figures published by my right hon. Friend.

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