§ 11. Mr. Home Robertson
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make it his policy to introduce devolution of decision taking in Scotland to the lowest possible level.
§ Mr. Lang
I am glad to say that the policy of devolving decision making in Scotland to the lowest possible level, which the hon. Gentleman advocates, is at the heart of the Government's approach. For example, the creation of local enterprise companies, national health service trusts, school boards and our proposals in the citizens charter and for local government reform are ample evidence of that.
§ Mr. Home Robertson
None of those bodies is elected. Scots did not vote to be guinea pigs for rail privatisation, any more than they voted to be guinea pigs for the poll tax. Has the Secretary of State not noticed that what we have 320 been voting for—consistently, and by very large majorities, for 20 years—is control over our own affairs in Scotland? Is it not sheer hypocrisy for Ministers to plead for subsidiarity from Europe while denying Scotland's local and national democratic rights? Finally, will the Secretary of State tell the Prime Minister that any stock-taking exercise that fails to take account of those matters can only be described as fraudulent?
§ Mr. Lang
I should have expected the hon. Gentleman to know that article 8b of the proposed new European Communities treaty refers specifically and exclusively to relations between the Community and individual member states and is not concerned with those states? internal affairs. For the past 20 years, and for a very long time before that, the people of this country have been voting for Members of this House and, thereby, electing a Government of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Salmond
If we are to believe the inspired press leaks about ?taking stock?, the Secretary of State will be styling himself as Scottish prime minister. Does he not believe that a real Prime Minister in a real Parliament should have a real mandate? The Secretary of State clearly has no such mandate. Does he think that the people of Scotland do not know the difference between a prime minister and a Westminster puppet on a string?
§ Mr. Raymond S. Robertson
Does my right hon. Friend agree that to the people of Scotland it is a matter of grave concern indeed that, while the Labour party chunters on daily about a Scottish assembly sitting in Edinburgh, fewer than half the Scottish members of the parliamentary Labour party bothered to come up to Edinburgh for the meeting of the Scottish Grand Committee on Monday?
§ Mr. McLeish
Following the Prime Minister's patronising and pathetic remarks in Scotland at the weekend, can the Secretary of State indicate when the so-called stock-taking will end? Will he acknowledge that there can be no real substitute for decision-making powers in Scotland, exercised by a Scottish parliament? We do not want further debating opportunities; we want real decision-making power. Will the Secretary of State acknowledge that the most important stock-taking issue about which we want to hear from him is Rosyth naval dockyard? We want to hear that Rosyth will get the nuclear refit, securing jobs in Scotland and, in particular, in Fife.