§ Order for Second Reading road.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE(Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, it would not be necessary to occupy much time in describing the Bill, as it was well known to all the Scottish Members. He might say generally that it was for the purpose of extending the powers of the Secretary for Scotland, and giving him charge of numerous matters not placed under his control under the Bill of 1885. Considerable inconvenience was found to exist in certain matters inconsequence of the jurisdiction of the Secretary for Scotland being so limited; and it was thought desirable, both for the purpose of raising the powers of the Office, increasing its dignity, and preventing complication and inconvenience to the public, that this Bill should be brought in. The Bill was quite short, and he did not require to go over its provisions. So far as it went, he believed it would be practically acceptable to all the Members from Scotland. He trusted that, after reasonable discussion, the second reading would be agreed to.
§ Motion made, and question proposed, "That the Bill be now road a second time."—(The Lord Advocate.)
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, & c.)
said, that Bill had been discussed a good deal, and it was discussed in the House last night; but he did not think it would be decent to allow it to pass its second reading without some little discussion. The result of last night's discussion was to show that the Scottish Members were eminently dissatisfied with, the present state of things. But they were pretty well agreed that the remedy was not to go backwards, but forwards; and instead of abolishing the Office of Secretary for Scotland, which was so far a failure, they ought to add to the duties and make the Scottish Secretary a more important officer. In that way they might at last attain the object they had long aimed at, to have a more distinctive administration, so that the business of the country might be better attended to, and that they might have an opportunity in the House of obtaining information to questions from a responsible officer in regard to Scottish affairs. In consequence of the Secretary for Scotland being in the House of Lords the Scottish Members in reality found themselves, for all practical purposes, worse off than before; because formerly they had the Home Secretary and the Lord Advocate in the House, from whom they could get any information they wanted. But the present Secretary for Scotland was in a superior sphere—up in the clouds, so to speak—and they could not get at him. The Lord Advocate was himself placed in a very humiliating position. He was a sort of inferior Under Secretary—a kind of mouthpiece in the House of Commons to the noble Lord who was Secretary for Scotland. The Lord Advocate had descended from the high position formerly held by his Predecessors. It would be very much better for the administration of Scottish affairs that the Secretary for Scotland should be in the House of Commons. He hoped the Bill, if passed, would transfer the administration of law and justice in Scotland from the Home Office to the Secretary for Scotland; for it was quite plain, as the result of the discussion yesterday, that at present the establishment of the Secretary for Scotland had not work enough. He thought the Bill 1920 was a step in the right direction, and that they might yet be able to go a good deal further. He did not wish to raise the question as to whether the Secretary for Scotland should not be an officer of much higher position—a Secretary of State, with, perhaps, a larger salary. But he was inclined to think, looking to the political difficulties with regard to making a sixth Secretary of State, and also in regard to the salary and other reasons, it would not be desirable to press this matter too much. He thought it would be enough to accept the Bill in its present form, as they would have made a considerable step in the direction of extending the duties of the Office. With regard to the Scottish Secretary being raised to a higher position, and if possible included in the Cabinet, he noticed that in the discussion on the previous night an effect was produced upon the minds of some hon. Members by the suggestion that they had only some 12 or 14 Members to choose from when a Conservative Ministry was in Office. He confessed that there was a good deal in that objection; but he got over the difficulty by dissenting from the doctrine that it was absolutely necessary that the Scottish Secretary should be a Member for a Scottish constituency. There were always a number of distinguished Scotchmen who sat for places outside of Scotland, especially among those who sat on the Conservative side; and, for his part, he would be quite willing that the choice should be extended among them. He might take for illustration the case of the Chief Secretary for Ireland at that moment. He was a Scotsman; but the Under Secretary (Colonel King-Harman), who, whatever his virtues and his faults, was a most typical Irishman, arid so properly held an Irish Office, sat for an English constituency because he could not get an Irish constituency to return him. That difficulty, therefore, he did not think need stand in the way. He did think that the Scottish Secretary should have more work, more rank, and more consideration, even although it might not be possible to make him by law a Cabinet Minister—such a rank in the Government as would insure that Scotch legislation, should not be shunted, as was now the case, to the month of August. There was one provision in the Bill to which he wished to allude. 1921 It was that which, while transferring to the Scottish Secretary the Department of Law and Justice, exempted from him the right of advising Her Majesty as to the exercise of the prerogative of mercy. That, he thought, derogated from the dignity of the Office, and he hoped they would have an explanation of it from the Government. The Scottish Secretary, advised by the Scottish Law Officers, would he infinitely more able to advise on such matters than the Home Secretary; and therefore he hoped the exemption would be withdrawn. With these observations, he heartily supported the Bill, and hoped they would have Committee on it on a very early day.
§ MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
said, he would make a few remarks on this Bill, not as a Scottish Member, but as one who had held the Seals of the Home Office, and that recently; and what he was desirous of saying was that while he should certainly support the Bill, it appeared to him that it did not go far enough, and that it would be perfectly safe and much more convenient, as a matter of official and public arrangement, if the Secretary for Scotland were made a Secretary of State, or at least had all the functions in Scotland which the Home Secretary had in England. He said that distinctly from his experience. He became Secretary of State soon after the present system was established. He was bound to say that, having gone to the Home Office under the impression that it would not be desirable to create another Secretary of State, in lieu of the Secretary for Scotland, he left the Office quite convinced that that was the only practical arrangement, and that any compromise between the present system, and that could not-last, and while continued would be a great inconvenience. The Bill before them excepted from the function of the Secretary for Scotland, under the proposed reorganization of the business, the duty, in the first place, of advising Her Majesty as to the exercise of the prerogative of mercy. Now, it would be almost absurd that if they took from the Home Office, as was proposed, all supervision with respect to law and justice in Scotland, it was almost absurd to leave in the hands of the Home Secretary, when he knew nothing whatever of Scottish legal arrangements—for he would, under this Bill, cease to have any connection with them—this right to 1922 advise Her Majesty. The Home Secretary would exercise that prerogative with, no knowledge whatever. His Office would know nothing about Scotch judicial affairs, so that he would be advised by persons in the Office who would have officially nothing to do with the subject whatever; and so even with the most able Home Secretary, one most anxious to do his duty, a greater risk of failure of justice he could not conceive. On that round—were it on that ground alone—he thought it extremely inconvenient to transfer all the business connected with law and justice, and yet to retain that one and peculiar business of advising the Crown with respect to the exercise of the prerogative of mercy, not only in capital cases, but in far less important ones, with which the Home Secretary had daily to deal. It might be said that if they transferred to the Secretary for Scotland there were insurmountable difficulties in the way, because on technical grounds he could not have access to Her Majesty for the purpose of advising the exercise of the Royal Prerogative unless he were a Secretary of State. But he would point out that the Home Secretary had nothing to do with the exercise of the prerogative of mercy in Ireland, where there is no Secretary of State. At present all cases in which it was desirable to exercise the prerogative of mercy in Ireland were dealt with by the Viceroy and his Government at Dublin; therefore the technical difficulty which had been set up was no real difficulty at all. It was desirable that the Secretary for Scotland, having the whole of the departments connected with law and justice transferred to his charge, should also have as his right this right to advise on the prerogative of mercy, just as the Irish Department or every Governor of a Colony had. He hoped, therefore, that in this respect, even if the name "Secretary of State" was not given to the Secretary for Scotland, the Home Secretary would be relieved of this function. He admitted that if the Secretary for Scotland performed all the duties of a Secretary of State it would be better that he should have the title, and the only objection seemed to be that if they made his position that of a Secretary of State they would have to give him the salary of a Secretary of State. 1923 But it did not at all follow that persons holding offices in Scotland or in Ireland should have the same salary as those holding offices in England, and it was not the ease at present. There were a great many cases where the salary in Scotland or Ireland was not the same as the salary attached to a an office with the same title in England, for the very simple reason that the amount of business was far greater in English Departments than it was in Scotland or Ireland; and in settling the salaries of the great Officers of State, Parliament had always had regard to the amount of work which they were called upon to do, and the salaries were graduated accordingly. Therefore on that point he did not think there was any real objection to the Secretary for Scotland being or having the functions of a Secretary for State. He would have to discharge precisely the same duties, only of course in a smaller proportion, as the Secretary of State for England; and, having duties on a smaller scale, it would only be reasonable that his salary should be so much less. But there was another, and, he thought, very strong reason why the Secretary for Scotland should be a Secretary for State, and it was that from time immemorial every Secretary of State had been in the Cabinet, and it appeared to him most important that the Secretary for Scotland, considering the importance of his duties and responsibilities, should be a Member of the Cabinet. Now, there was no way he knew of in which that could be assured without his being made a Secretary of State. No promise made in debate by a Minister in this House would govern future Prime Ministers in selecting their Colleagues for the Cabinet. The Ministers in the Cabinet, excepting the Lord Chancellor, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Lord President, and the Secretaries of State, were selected by the Prime Minister, and it would be impossible to lay down any rule, except by Statute, which would guide future Prime Ministers. But so far as the Statute Book was concerned, the Cabinet was a body unknown to law. The Cabinet had never been mentioned in any Act of Parliament, nor in any formal Resolution of this or the other House. But it had always been the rule that Secretaries of State should be Members of the Cabinet, and if those sitting near 1924 him were of opinion that it was essential that the Secretary for Scotland should be in the Cabinet, the only practical way of carrying that wish out was to make him a Secretary of State. He had imported no politics into the discussion, and had said nothing about the question whether the Scottish Secretary should be a Member of this or of the other House. That would be altogether foreign to the purposes of the Bill, and could not be imported into it. But he thought it was important, now that they had an opportunity given them by the Bill, that they should take care that the functions of the Secretary for Scotland were the functions of a Secretary of State, including the duty of advising Her Majesty as to the exercise of Her prerogative of mercy. There were other exceptions, for instance, as to the control of reformatory and industrial schools in Scotland, which he thought should not be made. It would be very much bettor that these functions should be given to the Secretary for Scotland, instead of remaining with the Home Office. He strongly supported the Bill, and he only hoped that it would be carried further.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
said, he was sorry that the Bill was not introduced at au earlier period of the Session, for at this late date it was utterly impossible to import into it Amendments of any consequence, and he was also sorry that the course pursued with regard to other Bills, as to which there was a strong desire existing among Scottish Members that they should be proceeded with, had not been followed in this case, and the Bill allowed to he before the country until the commencement of the next Session, when it could have been proceeded with and discussed at leisure. He desired to place on record his opinion that the Bill would be a most unsatisfactory enactment, and could not be regarded in any respect as a final measure. It proposed to consolidate in the Secretary for Scotland some of the duties tit present exercised in respect to Scotland by the Home Secretary. The principal duty which would be so transferred was that relating to law and justice. He presumed that the reason for this transfer was the duty which the Secretary for Scotland had to perform a year ago in connection with certain disturbances in the West of 1925 Scotland, when he was the Minister who directed the use of the military forces then employed; but if that was the reason, he could only say that under the existing arrangements the Secretary for Scotland was able to enforce law and order in the most summary fashion, and by military aid. There were a number of offices which shared jurisdiction in Scotland with that of the Scottish Secretary. They had the Woods and Forests interfering in some matters, the Local Government Board in others, the First Commissioner of Works in others, while the Secretary to the Treasury also interfered in Scottish, matters not relating purely to finance. If they wanted to have a permanent or satisfactory Act dealing with this matter they must consolidate all these details of administration in the Scottish Secretary. He would go further. There was one official intimately connected with the Scottish Office, and also with the Home Office—the Lord Advocate. When the Act appointing the Scottish Secretary was passed, it contained a provision that nothing in that Act should derogate from the duties and rights performed by the Lord Advocate, either by law or by custom. He knew that one motive which strongly actuated a number of Scottish Members with regard to the appointment of Secretary for Scotland was the belief that the affairs of Scotland would be better administered in the hands of a trained lay politician than in the hands of mere lawyers—gentlemen appointed direct from Parliament House to the Treasury Bench without any previous administrative experience. If the Secretary for Scotland was to practically control the entire administration of Scottish affairs, they must follow the precedent of England and Ireland, and have the Secretary for Scotland administering the Office with legal officers only assisting him. This would necessitate a rearrangement of the duties as between the Lord Advocate and the Secretary for Scotland. They were told that some arrangement had been come to, but it was a purely voluntary one. There was a great preponderance of opinion among the Scottish Members that the Secretary for Scotland should be a Secretary of State, thus securing for him a seat in the Cabinet. But that was a matter which it was evident they could not discuss in Committee, when the second 1926 reading was only carried on the 10th of August. They could only take the Bill as it stood, hoping that they might get more in the future. The Minister for Scotland would not be very often called upon to advise the Queen as to the exercise of Her prerogative of mercy, and while he agreed that he should have he power, he thought the infrequency of its use made it a matter of small importance. But the question of reformatory and industrial schools should surely be entrusted to the Scottish Secretary. Persons were constantly applying on account of a change in family circumstances for the removal of children, from, reformatories and industrial schools, and in all such cases applications had to be sent to the Home Office. These schools and reformatories were maintained to a great extent by local contributions: they were managed locally; and why, in the name of commonsense, they should not be handed over to the Scottish Secretary he could not conceive. Reference had been made as to the question of salary in the event of the Scottish Secretary being a Secretary of State, but there was one way of solving the matter, which, though it might not commend itself to the occupants of the Front Bench, might yet possibly not meet with any hostility in the country. He suggested that some re-arrangement of the work of the various offices might be made, whereby with the total amount of salaries kept at the present sum, a salary equally liberal with the rest might be found for the Secretary for Scotland. There was another anomaly in addition to the industrial school question. It was proposed that the important question of technical education should remain with the Science and Art Department, instead of being entrusted to the Scottish Department; and he would again urge that there could be no satisfactory or adequate settlement which did not amalgamate all these departments, so far as Scotland was concerned, and put them in the hands of the Secretary for Scotland, he thought the right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) had conclusively proved that it would be for the public convenience, and certainly in conformity with the national sentiment of Scotland that that functionary should be made a Secretary of State. He was certain that if they took the Bill now 1927 they would have to take it as it stood; and, if they did so, instead of waiting till it could be more satisfactorily discussed, the result would be that for many years to come the status of the Scottish Secretary would be determined, during which time nothing could be done to enlarge his Office in the direction desired by the Representatives of the people of Scotland.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
said, that this was not to be a final Bill. It was called for by the difficulty which arose in preserving law and order in Scotland not long ago. Under the other Act, the Home Secretary was in theory responsible for law and order in Scotland. He was responsible for the employment of the military, for instance, if any occasion arose. On the other hand, the practical control of all these operations was almost of necessity—at any rate, as a matter of convenience—in the hands of the Secretary for Scotland. That created a position which he felt to be intolerable, that, as Home Secretary, he was responsible for movements that he did not control and direct; whereas the Secretary for Scotland, who was giving the orders requisitioning the troops, and directing the naval expeditions, as they were called, and taking all the steps for the preservation of law and order, was not legally responsible That was a position which was untenable, and though this Bill might not satisfy the aspirations of the hon. Members representing Scotland, it was mainly intended to cure the anomalous and untenable position on the very important subject of law and order, He thought it fulfilled that modest object effectually, and so far was a useful Bill, which he hoped hon. Gentlemen from Scotland would not decline to accept. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) criticized the reservations in the Bill, as he understood they were prompted by these reasons. The exercise of the prerogative of mercy was taken out for the reason of etiquette rather than anything else. It was because the Secretary for Scotland was not a Secretary of State, and it was only a Secretary of State who had direct access to Her Majesty at all times. In the case of Ireland there, was no necessity for communication with Her Majesty, because the Lord Lieutenant was her direct 1928 representative, and exercised the prerogative of mercy himself. He (Mr. Matthews) had not himself felt any difficulty in the exercise of the prerogative of mercy, so far as Scotland was concerned, even though the Office of Secretary for Scotland had been in existence during the whole time he had been Home Secretary, for the reason that there was no difficulty in his communicating directly with the Scottish Judges. Therefore, if the Bill passed as it stood, and the powers of the Secretary for Scotland were extended as proposed, he did not anticipate any difficulty in the Home Office continuing to exercise the prerogative of mercy in the case of Scotland. It was said, why not make the Scottish Secretary a Secretary of State? Two reasons struck him. There was the question of expense. He did not believe in the possibility of keeping the Secretary of State of so important a country as Scotland permanently at a lower or different level than other Secretaries of State. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) suggested levelling down. He (Mr. Matthews) did not believe in inequality as to the emoluments and advantages of Secretaries of State, and he did not think it would last long. Then he saw an objection in adding to the necessary Members of the Cabinet. His experience was limited, but he thought Cabinets were already large enough; and to add another necessary and inevitable Member to every Cabinet seems to him an undesirable thing. With respect to the reservations as to the Reformatory and Industrial Schools Act, the Coal Mines Act, and the Factories and Workshops Acts, the idea was that it was desirable that the administration of these Acts and the rules and regulations concerning them should be uniform in all parts of the United Kingdom. It might be that the list of exceptions was not altogether well and wisely chosen, but still that was the idea which prompted their reservation. The functions transferred by the Bill to the Secretary for Scotland were certainly important enough. If he were driven to the wall, he should say they were so important that they would quite justify his being a Secretary of State, because he was now made responsible for law and order, which, after all, was as important a function as a Minister could discharge. This Bill was not a final one; 1929 but though, it did not give to Scotland all she wished and desired, he thought it was calculated to make what the circumstances of last year and the year before showed to be a necessary and pressing change. In that view, therefore, he trusted it would be accepted by the Scottish Members.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
said, one statement of the right hon. Gentleman was satisfactory—namely, that the Bill was not to be looked upon as a final one. That statement might give Scottish Members an inducement to press the Government with the view of getting a little more. The question which, to his mind bulked most largely in connection with the Bill was that raised by the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Elgin and Nairn, with reference to the Scottish Secretary being a Member of the Cabinet. He would have risen earlier if he had not expected his hon. Friend (Mr. Anderson) to move his Amendment, and he thought it would have been the most convenient course to have taken the discussion upon that question, so as to have obtained a very definite expression of opinion upon that substantial point. He did not care very much whether the Secretary for Scotland was called a Secretary of State or not, nor did he want him to have a larger salary than he had at present. He thought £2,000 was quite enough for the duties he at present discharged, and probably it would be enough for the discharge of the duties which would hereafter be laid upon him. He thought the question of salaries paid to Secretaries of State was one for the nation; and he hoped it would be considered seriously in the future whether they were not too highly paid. But what they really did want was that the Secretary for Scotland should be a Member of the Cabinet. During the time that the Office had been in existence there had been a Secretary for Scotland, if he might say so, of every sort. They had had Members of both Houses of Parliament. They had had noble Lords and Gentlemen who had been in the Cabinet, and others who had not been in the Cabinet. Though he thought that except under very rare and exceptional circumstances the Secretary for Scotland should be a Member of the House of Commons, still he would not put that into an Act of Parliament, or so fetter the judgment of 1930 future Prime Ministers, But more important than that he should be a Member of the House of Commons was that he should be a Member of the Cabinet, so as to have some direct control over the conduct of Business, and over the forcing on the Government of proper consideration of Scottish measures. He would give just one instance—and, in doing so, he did not wish to say anything which would be painful to the Lord Advocate—which illustrate clearly the position in which the Secretary for Scotland was placed. On Friday, a week or a fortnight ago, the Scottish Members had an invitation from the Secretary for Scotland and from the Lord Advocate to meet them in one of the Committee Rooms on the Monday following, to discuss whether technical education in Scotland should be dealt with by a separate Bill or be dealt with as part of the English Bill. On the Monday, after Question Time, it was announced by the First Lord of the Treasury, in response to a question, that the Government determined to deal with Scottish Technical Education by a separate Bill; and it turned out that there was a meeting of the Cabinet on Saturday, and that the question was then determined upon. So that owing to the Secretary for Scotland not being in the Cabinet he was ignorant of its deliberations.
§ MR. J. H. A. MACDONALD
If I remember rightly, the Cabinet on the Saturday appointed a Committee with power to deal with the matter, and it was dealt with just before the decision was given.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said, he could only state what was known to the public. If the Secretary for Scoland had been in. the Cabinet they should not now have been in the position of discussing Bills which had only been in print before them for a few days. It was an open secret that if the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had remained Secretary for Scotland, being a Member of the Cabinet, this Bill, and, in all probability, other Scottish measures, would have been produced a long time ago. He did not think either the Lord Advocate or the Secretary for Scotland was to blame; but, undoubtedly, if Lord Lothian had a place in the Cabinet they should have had these measures sooner, and would 1931 have been able to give them much more adequate consideration and discussion. He did not know whether his hon. Friend below him (Mr. Anderson) intended to propose the Amendment of which he had given Notice; but what they ought to endeavour to impress upon the Government, and get some further distiuet—he did not say pledge, but statement from them to the effect that, so far as they could, for the future they would endeavour that the Secretary for Scotland should be in the Cabinet; and if they could not pledge themselves that he would be in the Cabinet, they ought to state that they saw the difficulty that arose through the Secretary for Scotland not being in the Cabinet, and as they had given him very high and important duties in appointing Judges and directing law and justice, they ought to recognize that, with such important duties to discharge, the Secretary for Scotland should be in a position to hold Cabinet rank. There were some minor points to be considered. He thought all the six Acts which were here excepted were in the original Local Government Bill of 1883. He quite saw that there were objections to dividing the duties of inspecting under the Factories and Workshops Act and the Mines Act; but, with regard to the practical working of these Acts, he must point out that there was a strong feeling in Scotland that the factories and workshops inspection was not adequately done in Scotland at present. He did not say it would be better done if it were under the Secretary for Scotland but, undoubtedly, the grievance that was at present felt could be more quickly brought home by an appeal to the Secretary for Scotland than by an appeal to the Home Secretary. He did not see any adequate reason why the Industrial Schools Act should be excepted. That was just one of the Acts that he thought ought to have been referred to the Secretary for Scotland. His hon. Friend the Member for North East Lanarkshire (Mr. D. Crawford) had had on the Paper a Bill dealing with the question of day industrial schools in Scotland. That Bill had been withdrawn and therefore he was in order in referring to it. He had not the least doubt that if the Industrial Schools Act had been under the control of the Scottish Office it would have made progress, for they 1932 knew the Scottish Office was in favour of the reform contemplated by that Bill—the establishment of day industrial schools in Scotland as in England. He was himself in favour of the transference of the Industrial Schools Act to the Scottish Office, but, at the same time, admitted that there were certain obstacles in the way. He also wished to call attention to the 2nd sub-section of Clause 2, which was identical, he thought, with the words in the original Bill. Complaints had been made by several of his hon. Friends with regard to the delay that had taken place in the presentation of certain Returns, particularly the local taxation Returns, by the Scottish Office. These were amongst the Returns which were transferred by the Act of 1885 from the Home Office to the Scottish Office; but no adequate staff had been provided, as in the case of the Education Department, to do this clerical work, and that was the cause of the inordinate delay that had occurred. It was not quite fair to blame the Secretary for Scotland or the Lord Advocate for that delay, because there was not actually a clerical staff to do the work. Therefore, he earnestly impressed upon the Government to make provision against the recurrence of such delays in the future. The extra work that would accrue under this Bill would be very much larger than under the Bill of 1885, for, of course, all Scottish Returns would now come through the Scottish Office, and not through the Home Office. It was very difficult to enforce Amendments to the Bill in Committee; and he hoped the Government would see, from the strong expression of opinion to-day, that the establishment of this Office would not be permanently satisfactory unless it meant that in nine eases out of ten the holder was to be a Member of the Cabinet.
§ MR. CRAIG SELLAR (Lanarkshire, Partick)
observed, that this was a Departmental Bill, and he hoped the Secretary of State for the Home Department would agree with them that it was only an instalment of what they might hope for in future Sessions. While he said this was a departmental measure, it was also one of great importance, because it regulated the arrangements between the Home Office and the Scottish Secretary's Office. So far as he could judge, both from the meetings they had had in 1933 private, and from the discussion in the House to-day, Scottish Members were unanimous that this Bill, even as a Departmental Bill, should pass. If that were so, they had still before them a very important measure—the Technical Education Bill. They had nearly two hours remaining to discuss it. The principle of technical education had been largely discussed last night, so that even in the short time still at their disposal he thought they might have the decision of the House on the matter. He therefore hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Elgin and Nairn (Mr. Anderson) would not move his Amendment now. If he did move it, and it were carried, all the hon. Member would do would be to wreck the Departmental Bill that all the other Scottish Members desired to see carried. Why should not the hon. and learned Member move his Amendment as an instruction on going into Committee? But if the hon. and learned Member would take his view, he would not move his Amendment either now or on going into Committee, but would reserve it till next Session, when they might hope to have she matter fully discussed. He thought the remarks which had been made on the subject by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) were conclusive, and in time the Secretary for Scotland must be a Secretary of State. He therefore hoped the House would take the second reading now, and go on to the Technical Instruction Bill.
§ MR. ANDERSON (Elgin and Nairn)
said, he did not wish to occupy the time of the House beyond a few minutes, because he had had an opportunity to express his views in connection with the Vote for the Scottish Office. He thought the Scottish Members had not been quite fairly treated by the Government, in view of the very strong expressions of opinion given yesterday at the Scottish Office, to the effect that a provision ought to be inserted in the Bill for the purpose of mailing the Secretary for Scotland a Secretary of State. That point was to be considered, and he thought they ought to have heard from the Government what conclusion they had come to on the subject. But they had had nothing of the kind. What he wanted to hear was the view of the Government on the subject. And although the advice tendered by the hon. Member who had 1934 just addressed the House was very valuable, he thought the best way to test the opinion of the Scottish Members on the question was to move his Amendment. He therefore begged to move—That no Bill dealing with the powers and duties of the Secretary for Scotland will be satisfactory which does not provide that the office of Secretary for Scotland be held by one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State.He was as anxious as the hon. Member who had just spoken that the Bill should be passed, and therefore, without any further remark he proposed to take a Division on his Amendment.
To leave out from the word "That'' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "no Bill dealing with the powers and duties of the Secretary for Scotland will he satisfactory which does not provide that the office of Secretary for Scotland he held by one of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State."—(Mr. Anderson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
said, he would have seconded the Amendment were it not that it was quite impossible to introduce such an Amendment in Committee, He had taken an opportunity at the private meeting of Scottish Members to say that he believed the provisions of this Bill were perfectly inadequate to satisfy the constituencies of Scotland, and to say that were the views of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) carried out, and the Secretary for Scotland given the status of a Secretary of State, there would not be much difficulty in arranging the reservations which were proposed in the Bill. It would be more satisfactory that they should have no Secretary for Scotland at all than that they should have a Secretary who was not a Member of that House, and who was not in the Cabinet. Even the Home Secretary had not dared to say that the duties laid upon the Secretary for Scotland were not such as to entitle him to be raised to the dignity of Secretary of State. He hoped that the Government would make a concession on this matter to Scottish Members, who had been long suffering this Session in regard to legislation. He believed that the Members for Scotland were unanimous with regard 1935 to this proposal. For a little country like Scotland the salary might be smaller, but there was nothing in the objection that the Cabinet would be unduly enlarged. Out of the large number of Members of the Cabinet, surely Scotland was not getting more than her fair share in having one single Member in the Cabinet. He believed if the Scottish Members were united they would be perfectly able to carry the suggestion of his right hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh in Committee. He was speaking from no Party point of view, for this was a matter which did not affect Party; but he would say that if the Bill was carried as it now stood, it would not be worth the paper that it was printed upon, because it would not settle the question in Scotland, and the agitation would have to be carried on constantly until the change took place But if the Government made this concession and raised the Secretary for Scotland to the position of a Secretary of State he believed it would give general satisfaction, and would settle the question for some time to come. Otherwise, he believed they should have to look to Home Rule in order that their affairs might be better attended to.
§ MR. ASHER (Elgin, & c.)
said, having been connected with the conduct of Scottish Business in the Scottish Office for some years, he desired to express his opinion that the arrangement under which Scottish Business was conducted by the Scottish Secretary would never be satisfactorily settled until the Scottish Secretary was a Cabinet Minister. He rose for the purpose of asking the Government whether they would not be disposed, even at the present stage of the Bill, to make an alteration in the provisions of the Bill to that effect—that was, to make the Scottish Secretary a Secretary of State. He hoped that the hon. and learned Member for Elgin and Nairn would not press his Amendment to a Division; because if it was carried it would be fatal to the Bill, and those hon. Members who were anxious to see the Bill passed would have to vote for the Amendment, in the terms of which they largely sympathized. It was impossible to doubt that the Bill proposed to give to the Secretary for Scotland certain duties which never could be satisfactorily discharged, except by a Cabinet Minister. Would any person approaching the 1936 consideration of the question of the arrangement of Scottish Business ever propose for a moment to transfer the whole responsibility for law and justice in Scotland to one Minister, and yet leave in the hands of another Minister the matter of the Royal prerogative? What was the reason assigned by the Home Secretary for such an arrangement? He said it was necessary, because the recommendation in the matter of the Royal prerogative must be in the hands of a Minister who had access to the Sovereign, and it was only a Secretary of State who had access to the Sovereign. But the right hon. Gentleman entirely forgot that this Bill was putting duties and powers on the Secretary for Scotland that would necessarily require that he should have access to the Sovereign; because, if the whole of the functions of the Home Secretary with regard to law and justice were transferred to the Scottish Secretary, all recommendations to the Crown as to the appointment of superior Judges would also have to be transferred to him. It had not been suggested that a Minister who had to recommend the appointment of Judges would have to go to another Minister and ask him, as a personal favour, to take his recommendation to the Sovereign, for the purpose of having it confirmed. There should be a provision in the Bill raising the status of the Secretary for Scotland to that of a Minister of State. It was quite evident that the financial aspect of the question was a very small obstacle; and with regard to the increase of the number of Secretaries of State, there was no hard and fast line about them. If it was proved that they were creating an Officer who had duties to perform which could not be satisfactorily performed except by a Cabinet Minister and a Secretary of State, then he should be made a Secretary of State; and no question as to the precise number of Secretaries of State should stand in the way of making this a complete and satisfactory measure.
§ MR. FINLAY (Inverness, & c.)
said, in common with many of his hon. Friends, he held strongly the belief that it was expedient that the Secretary for Scotland should be a Secretary of State, and have a seat in. the Cabinet. At the same time, he hoped the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend would not be pressed to a Division. He thought 1937 most of the Members for Scotland were agreed that this Bill was a good Bill as far as it went. He was not prepared to take a step which would have the effect of destroying the Bill because it was not so perfect as they thought it ought to be. And inasmuch as the effect of carrying the Amendment would be to destroy the chance of passing the Bill this Session, the hon. and learned Member for Elgin and Nairn would not got the support of those who held the view which he had embodied in his Amendment; because to vote for such an Amendment would be to destroy the chance of a useful measure becoming law this Session. He joined in the hope that the Amendment would not be pressed to a Division, and that Scotland would get the benefit of this Bill, though he did not think it went quite so far as it ought to go. He hoped the effect of this discussion would be to elicit from the Government some notification that they were prepared favourably to consider the possibility of taking such a step as that which commended itself to the very great majority of Scottish Representatives, if not to all of them.
§ MR. PRESTON BRUCE (Fifeshire, W.)
said, he agreed with those who thought that the Secretary for Scotland should be a Minister of Cabinet rank. But he must protest against a measure of this importance being brought forward at a time of the Session when it was impossible that they could give it adequate consideration. The only way to look at this Bill now was as a temporary measure, strictly confined to the relations between the Home Office on the one side and the Secretary for Scotland on the other. He believed the change it proposed to effect between the relations of those two Departments was a beneficial change. Therefore, he was in favour of the measure going forward. There were in the Bill certain exceptions from the transfer made from the Home Office to the Scottish Secretary, and he had no doubt a good deal could be said against a transfer in these cases. With regard to Reformatory and Industrial Schools, they had transferred to the Secretary for Scotland both the prisons and the educational arrangements of the country; and yet they proposed to retain under the Home Secretary the Reformatory and Industrial Schools, which were connected with these two Departments. 1938 He did not think such an arrangement as that could be permanently satisfactory. A Royal Commission had reported on the subject of Reformatory and Industrial Schools; and legislation, he supposed, was imminent on the matter. The probability was that it would be better to have a separate Bill for Scotland with regard to Reformatory and Industrial Schools; and he suggested that this matter should be at once handed over to the Scottish Secretary so that the Department might prepare a suitable measure on the subject.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.