§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
It has been said that the time for bringing in this Bill is most inopportune in view of the fact that you, Mr. SPEAKER, are presiding over a Committee dealing with the question of Devolution. I submit, with all respect, that the time is not inopportune but is most opportune and most appropriate. We do not know when the Report of the Devolution Committee may come out and we are not aware what the terms of that Report may be. If the, Report of the Devolution Committee falls short of setting up in Scotland a subordinate Parliament, there will be great dissatisfaction in Scotland. There are various grades of devolution. It may be that the plan that will be recommended or adopted will be the extension of the Grand Committee system. If that is offered to Scotland as the solution for the long-standing demand for local self-government in Scotland, there will be profound dissatisfaction with any such proposal. Scotland demands a subordinate Parliament whose constitution has been defined by the Imperial Parliament with all the necessary limitations which the Imperial Parliament may wish to impose. Our discussion this afternoon may be helpful to the Devolution Committee when it comes to adjust the terms of its Report.
There is one important factor to be considered in regard to the grant of a subordinate Parliament to Scotland and that is the present position with regard to the Government of Ireland Bill. The Government of Ireland Bill now before the House has altered fundamentally the whole situation as regards devolution. The Irish Bill sets up two Parliaments in Ireland. The very fact that subordinate Parliaments are going to be set up in Ireland brings the case of Scotland into the forefront. It would be intolerable under ordinary conditions if a Parliament were set up for the whole of Ireland, and nothing in the shape of a subordinate Parliament were offered to Scotland; but the position is greatly aggravated by the line which the Government 2006 has taken in trying to solve the Irish Home Rule problem by setting up two Parliaments. The fact that the Government are proposing to set up in Ulster, and only for two-thirds of Ulster, a subordinate Parliament with great powers—a separate Parliament for one remote corner of Ireland, aggravates the position in regard to Scotland. It would be intolerable if, as the result of the Government's proposals, there was established a subordinate Parliament for two-thirds of Ulster, with all the adornment that that Parliament possesses, and you refused to the whole of the ancient realm of Scotland a subordinate Parliament. Therefore, the time is most fitting that we should review the whole of the circumstances regarding the demand of Scotland for Home Rule in the light of the proposals before the House and the country for setting up subordinate Parliaments in Ireland, and more especially taking into account the position in Ulster. It is quite possible that the Southern Parliament will not be set up, but if we find, as I have no doubt we shall, that the Ulster people work their Parliament well, and we have for six counties of Ulster a separate Parliament, how can anyone resist the claims of Scotland for a separate Parliament for the whole of Scotland? The claims of Scotland would become irresistible.
While the agitation for Home Rule in Scotland has not been loud or violent, or associated with any great outcry and clamour, the question has been before the Scottish people for many years, and has become the test question at every bye-election. In the recent bye-elections in Edinburgh all the candidates pledged themselves in favour of Home Rule.
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
Yes, including the Solicitor-General. No Scottish candidate, unless he sits for a University constituency, could stand before his constituents and refuse to grant Home Rule to Scotland. The University Members-occupy a different position from the ordinary rank and file of Scotland. This Bill has been before the House on many occasions. The principle of the Bill was endorsed by the House as far back as 1894, when a Resolution was passedThat it is desirable, while maintaining the powers and supremacy of the Imperial 2007 Parliament, to establish a legislature in Scotland for dealing with purely Scottish affairs.In 1895 the House also passed a ResolutionThat it is desirable to devolve upon legislatures in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England the responsibility for the management and control of their domestic affairs.In 1908 a Bill was introduced granting self-government to Scotland, and was passed on Third Reading by a large majority. In 1911 a Bill to grant self-government to Scotland was passed. In 1912 the House adopted the following Resolution:That in the opinion of this House the measure providing for the delegation of parliamentary powers to Ireland should be followed by the granting of similar powers of self-government to Scotland as part of a general scheme of devolution.In May, 1913, the House passed the Second Reading of the Government of Scotland Bill by 204 votes to 159. I understand that the Bill which I am now moving, which has come down through a good many stages, was mainly originally drafted by the present Secretary for Scotland. Therefore, he has some responsibility for the Bill, and I hope he will give it his most benevolent consideration to-day. The Bill provides for the setting up in Scotland of a Scotch Parliament. The supremacy of the Imperial Parliament is to remain unaffected. No one in Scotland desires to interfere with the freedom of the Imperial Parliament. There is no claim for any reasonable body of opinion in Scotland for anything more than a subordinate Parliament to manage our own purely domestic local affairs.
It is provided that the Scots Parliament shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Scotland, with certain limitations outlined in the Bill. The Scots Parliament shall not have power to make laws in respect of the Crown, the making of peace or war, the Army, the Navy, the Territorial Force, treaties or any relations with foreign States, or relations with other parts of His Majesty's Dominions, dignities or titles of honour, trade with any place out of Scotland, the granting of bounties on the export of goods, any postal service, lighthouses, buoys or beacons, coinage, legal tender, or any change in the standard of weights and measures, trade marks, patent rights, or the collection of 2008 taxes imposed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, or public loans made in Scotland before the passing of this Act. The House will pardon me for giving some details as on former occasions when Scottish Home Rule Bills were before this House complaint was made that the mover and seconder both at large did not speak of the provisions of the Bill.
The Executive power in Scotland shall continue vested in His Majesty, the King, a Lord High Commissioner shall be His Majesty's representative in Scotland, there shall be a council to be styled the Privy Council of Scotland chosen by the Lord High Commissioner, and the power delegated by His Majesty to the Lord High Commissioner shall be exercised by the heads of such Scottish Departments who will be set up, and whose appointments may be determined by Scottish Act or by the Lord High Commissioner. They shall be designated the Scottish Ministers and shall be Members of the Privy Council of Scotland, and shall be an Executive Committee of the Privy Council of Scotland.
The Scots Parliament shall consist of 148 members; that is, two for each parliamentary constituency except Dundee, which will return four. Dundee is a double-member constituency and returns two Members to this House, and the doubling of that representation necessitates four Members. The electors of members of the Scots Parliament shall be the parliamentary electors for each constituency with the addition of peers. Each elector shall have two votes, and in Dundee four. The Scots Parliament shall, unless sooner dissolved, continue for five years. Scottish representation of the House of Commons shall continue as at present, and until such time as provision is made for devolution in England and Wales when the representation shall be readjusted. In the meantime, if a subordinate Parliament is granted to Scotland the present representation of 74 Members shall continue in this House without diminution. That is only a temporary expedient. In the event of a system of devolution being carried out for England and Wales no doubt this House will adjust the representation. Therefore it is not desirable in the meantime to interfere with the present representation until the whole matter is finally adjusted.
2009 There shall be a Scottish Exchequer and a Scottish Consolidated Fund separate from those of the United Kingdom. The proceeds of all taxes levied in Scotland under the authority of the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall be paid into the Exchequer of the United Kingdom. There shall be paid out of the proceeds of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom in each year to the Scottish Exchequer such sum as may be determined by the Joint Exchequer Board established under this Act to represent the net cost to the Exchequer of the United Kingdom at the time of the passing of this Act of Scottish services after certain deductions, and a sum of £500,000, diminishing in each year after the third year of payment by the sum of £50,000, until it is reduced to the sum of £200,000. Provision shall be made by the Scottish Parliament for the cost of Scottish services.
The Scottish Parliament shall have exclusive powers to levy taxes of heritable property situated in Scotland. The Scottish Parliament also shall have power to vary any Imperial tax by way of addition, reduction or discontinuance so far as respects the levy of that tax in Scotland, and may impose in Scotland any independent tax, provided that it is not substantially the same in character as an Imperial tax, subject, however, to certain limitations. The Scottish Parliament shall not have power to impose a Customs duty whether import or export, and shall not so vary a death duty as to impose the duty on the moveable property not being a leaseholder's or tenant's interest in land of any person domiciled in England or Ireland. The power of the Scottish Parliament to vary an Imperial tax shall not be exercised with respect to the stamp duties mentioned in the schedule to this Act. The appeal from the Courts in Scotland to the House of Lords shall cease, but there shall be a right of appeal to His Majesty the King in Council, and all enactments relating to appeals to His Majesty the King in Council and to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council shall apply. All existing laws, institutions and authorities in Scotland, whether judicial, administrative or ministerial, and all existing taxes shall, subject to certain modifications, continue.
2010 The principle of the Bill may be summed up as follows. The creation of a Scottish Legislature and a Scottish Executive responsible to it, with powers to deal with matters of peculiarly Scottish interest, which are at present regulated by Scottish law and administered by Scottish officials and provided for by Scottish Estimates. The Imperial Parliament has far too much to do, and sometimes does it badly. There is far too much power in the hands of the Executive and too little power in the hands of Members of this House. The new rules of procedure under which Bills are sent upstairs have by no means worked perfectly. A Bill is sent upstairs to a Committee of seventy Members, and there has been a difficulty last Session in finding a quorum of twenty. One defect of the system is that it is far too exacting upon the time of Members of this House. Further, it removes largely from the purview of the House many important Bills which are thrashed out by a small number of members of the Committee. Of course, the House has an opportunity when the Bill comes down for the Report Stage to discuss it, but there is a general understanding under these new rules that when Bills are sent upstairs to be dealt with by Committees the work of the Committee shall not be reviewed unless in very exceptional circumstances.
Owing to the great pressure of work in this House there is a neglect of Scottish business. No time can be found for the adequate discussion of Scottish affairs, and when Scottish Bills are brought before Parliament or go before Committees they suffer from emasculation owing to the fact that Scottish Members are faced with the alternative of rescuing as much as they possibly can. When a Scottish Bill is in Committee upstairs the great majority of the Scottish Members may be in favour of certain proposal which is desired by their constituents, and the Scottish Minister in charge of the Bill, for reasons apart altogether from Scotland, and solely because of the effect upon some Department of State or the position in England, may oppose a well-reasoned Amendment for which strong grounds can be argued in the interests of Scotland. He may be defeated in the Committee upstairs, but when the Bill comes down for the Report stage and Scottish Members attempt to impress upon, the House the 2011 necessity of carrying through the amendment they carried in Committee upstairs, the House well understands the procedure that follows, when Members drop in from all parts of the House and vote in the Lobby against the proposal without any conception of its merits. There is need of decentralisation. You may call it devolution, but I like the old word decentralisation. There is need in the interest of the United Kingdom. We spend some time in this House discussing the condition of parish pumps and similar trivialities, while great problems are knocking at our doors and no adequate time can be found for the discussion of them. There is need in the interest of the British Empire. There is a demand that more time of the Imperial Parliament be devoted to the great problems that affect us as one of the greatest Powers in the world. There is need also in the interest of the world, because if there is one thing more than another that the War has taught us, it is that Britain more than ever is a great World-Power exercising great influence all over the world.
I will deal with the matter from the Scottish point of view. The Members from Scotland have no proper control over Scottish affairs. That control is entirely in the hands of the executive and the Scottish Office. The Scottish Members have no control over administration or officials. They are helpless in these matters unless by powers of persuasion, and Scottish business as a consequence is not well done. From a purely business standpoint the position is eminently unsatisfactory. There is a strong feeling in Scotland that one of the worst places where Scottish business can be attended to is Westminster, and there is a desire that more of the business of Scotland shall be done in Scotland on the spot. In these matters Parliament is on its trial. There are wild forces outside this House that have an utter contempt for Parliamentary institutions. We know that Parliament is one of the great bulwarks against revolution, one of our great defences for liberty and freedom. If we allow Parliament to be brought into contempt by any lack of effort to make Parliament more efficient to do its work, ours is the blame. The House should guard itself against allowing Parliament, through not conforming to 2012 the spirit of the age by adapting itself to new conditions, to fall into disrepute and contempt. How are great reforms carried through? It was said of the Kingdom of Heaven that it "Suffereth violence and the violent take it by force"; and it may be said of the Houses of Parliament that they suffer violence and the violent take them by force. I do not mean to say that this House will be intimidated by acts of violence, or by direct action of any kind to do what the House is not inclined to do. But I submit that nearly all great reforms in the past have been preceded by times of disorder and violence in the country. We recall, for instance, the pulling down of the railings in Hyde Park, the smashing of the windows of Cabinet Ministers. In connection with Catholic emancipation the repeal of the Corn Laws and the recent women's suffrage movement there were scenes of violence.
It will be a lamentable thing if the impression should go abroad that before you can bring any great public question into full prominence, and before you can obtain redress and compel Parliament to attend to claims made for reform, there must be associated with the demand a certain amount of violent agitation. I do not argue for a moment that this House should give way to disorder, that it should be intimidated by violence, but I say that the House should carefully guard against giving the impression that so long as advocacy for a certain reform is carried on in an orderly, drawing-room, afternoon fashion, no attention would be paid to it by the Government. The present deplorable condition of affairs in Ireland is an apt illustration. To-day we have all great parties in the State united and willing to give a large measure of Home Rule to Ireland after long years of political strife that divided the two great parties asunder. When we look back upon Mr. Gladstone's campaign, I am sure all sane men in this House and in the country will reflect that it would have been far better for this country, for Ireland, and for the Empire if we had taken time by the forelock and in Mr. Gladstone's day had given to Ireland that measure of Home Rule which might then have satisfied the Irish people, and would certainly have saved this country and Ireland from the very deplorable condition in which we find ourselves.
2013 Let me say further, in support of my claim for the better government of Scotland, that in Scotland most of the fundamental relations of husband, of wife, of parent and child, of master and servant, of landlord and tenant, religion and education, law and rating, are different from the English system, and different in the mode of administration. There is no Ulster in Scotland. The Highlanders and Lowlanders will work together. There is no religious difficulty in Scotland. We have all sorts of religions and beliefs. There is a great measure of toleration, and no religious rancour. Scotsmen are loyal, and, whether you grant home rule to Scotland or not, they will not threaten, if you refuse to concede it, to kick the King's crown into the Clyde. I believe that a Scottish Parliament would not be unduly partisan. I think men of all ranks and classes would come together to work for the good of their country. There is a great wealth of civic public spirit to be brought into the service of the State. I believe that the Corporation of Glasgow claims that the municipality of Glasgow is the first on the earth. Intelligent foreigners come from afar to worship Glasgow institutions—the tramways, gas and electricity. Scotsmen have been trained in town councils and county councils, and in other local authorities in the conducting of public affairs. There are many eminent public men in Scotland who would be willing to serve in a Scottish Parliament, but who cannot afford to come to London.
This House is not to take it that the present Scottish Members are a fair sample. I certainly think myself we have left far better men behind us in Scotland. There is a great fund of public cure spent in Scotland. Many men engaged actively in business affairs in Scotland could find time to attend a Parliament at Edinburgh who cannot break up their homes and leave their business to come here to London. Therefore, I say that we should seek to associate more closely men of affairs in Scotland with the administration of their country. Home Rule in Scotland would be an object lesson to the other parts of the United Kingdom and to Ireland in the display they would give of orderly Government. If Scotsmen are one thing more than another, they are good business men. They know how to conduct affairs. There is another aspect of this question, and that is Scottish sentiment 2014 and national pride. It is the fashion nowadays to decry the spirit of nationality. We heard the refusal here to acknowledge Ireland as a nation. I hope no one will deny that Scotland is a nation. Love of country and national in stitutions and patriotic feeling inspires deepest sentiments of the human breast. Do not let us decry that. Love of our homes, of our schools, of our literature, of our ballads, of our country, does not make us any less efficient citizens of the Empire. The loyalty of the Scottish people to their own country makes them all the more alert in upholding the great traditions of the British Empire. Scotsmen are scattered all over the British Empire in all the outposts of the Empire, and wherever the flag is flying there you will find Scotsmen taking their full share in maintaining the best traditions of the British race. We have been told one of the weakening effects upon British prestige in the world, and especially among our own Colonies, and notably in America, is failure upon our part to deal fully with Ireland and solve the Irish question. No such complication can arise with regard to the attitude of Scotland. As I said before, notwithstanding what this House may do, the Scottish people will remain loyal, and although you may refuse to grant this control of our own affairs in Scotland there will be no deep resentment and no factious action taken by the people in Scotland or by Scotsmen all over the world. But if this House, in its wisdom, should see fit to restore some of the glories of the ancient Parliament in Edinburgh there is no action which this House would take that would give such a thrill of joy to the hearts of the Scottish people and to Scotsmen all over the face of the earth. I beg to move.
§ Sir DONALD MACLEAN
I beg to second the Motion.
The able and comprehensive speech of the hon. Gentleman who has moved happily relieves me of the necessity of elaborating many of the points in connection with this Measure. The comments I intend to make will be as brief as I can possibly compass them, realising as I do that on a question of this kind there is not a single Scottish Member in the House who would not desire to take part in the Debate should time permit. I should like at the outset to make a comment or two on the notices 2015 of Amendment which are on the Order Paper The first one is that of my hon. Friend, a friend now of many years' standing, the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik). He proposes to move with all the frankness and courage which distinguish him in this Parliament that the Bill should be rejected. My hon. Friend has lived so long in the dungeons of Doubting Castle that I fear there is little or no hope of inducing him to leave those gloomy recesses and join with us on the broad highway with the happy pilgrims. But I am happy to think that the representation of the Scottish Universities in this respect is vindicated by his colleague, who will, I think, be found in agreement with those who express agreement with this Measure. The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Kidd) has given notice to move:That this House declines to proceed with the Bill, as inopportune, in respect of the fact that Mr. SPEAKER'S Conference on Devolution has not yet reported.I should like to make clear on behalf of, I think, all Scottish Members present who support the Bill, that we hope very earnestly that the action which we are taking to-day will not be regarded as savouring in the least degree of any disrespect, either to you, Sir, or to the Committee which you are fortunately presiding over. We realise to the full that the duty which you have undertaken, and your colleagues, is one of the very greatest difficulty and delicacy. I certainly do not claim, and I am sure the Mover does not claim, that this measure is incapable of amendment or that it does not call aloud for very drastic amendment before it is really in a fit state to reach the Statute Book. I am sure my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland, although one of the original parents of the measure, will no doubt express complete agreement with what I have said. Since the fortune of the Ballot gave the opportunity of raising this question, it cannot be without advantage, since we approach it in this spirit, that the views of Scottish Members on this question should be ventilated and guided as we hope, or at any rate given to the Government in their consideration of what is a real, urgent and pressing question. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Mover in what he said as to the wider issue 2016 which is comprised in such a measure as this, that is, the curative results which must accrue from devolution of Parliamentary duties to subordinate Parliamentary institutions.
The attack on Parliamentary institutions, or indeed on such a measure as this, does not come from reactionaries, although there are some people still left who think the best form of Government is the purely autocratic one. But the real danger to Parliamentary institutions lies in the power of the advocacy from the other extreme. Not only in this country but the world over there has been a revival of the anarchist spirit, and I use the word "anarchist" in its proper sense, not as meaning a person who simply wants to blow up people and buildings, but as meaning people who do not believe in government at all, who really believe in everybody being left to do what he thinks best for himself. The development from that crude and chaotic system into the Soviet position is only just one or two steps up, and it is from that quarter that the greatest danger to Parliamentary institutions at present arises, so that it is of the utmost importance that that should be met. There is no answer to the charge that this House is really unable to cope in any adequate sense with the immense burden of legislative and administrative business on its shoulders, so therefore to the extent that we can meet that by a proper scheme of devolution we are not only meeting a demand in justice from the particular part of the United Kingdom to which the measure applies, but we are dealing with a much wider evil, and rendering, as I hope this House will in due course render, a great service to the establishment of Parliamentary authority not only in this country but in other countries which have looked to us certainly during the last 200 years for an example of how Parliamentarly institutions should be set up and how they should be worked.
I also agree with what my hon. Friend said as to the status of the Members who would be summoned to such a Scottish Parliament as is adumbrated in this measure. Although I am resident south of the Border and have been practically all my life, I entirely agree with the hon. Member that it is futile to suggest that the cream of Scottish representation is 2017 to be found in the Scottish Members of Parliament. Scotland is not a land of leisured men. It is, I know, the happy-hunting ground, or large portions of it are, of men who have either succeeded to leisure or who have achieved leisure, but Scotsman have got to work hard. It is a difficult country to make a fortune in, and that is why they leave it in such large numbers. That is where they get their apprenticeship, of course, and there is nothing like the leisured class in Scotland amongst the real active Scottish men as there is in the more fortunate portions in the United Kingdom south of the Border. You are, therefore, left in your choice of representatives to men who can afford or who elect practically to give up their business. The conditions of Parliamentary life now exclude the certainty which used to be one of the conditions of Parliamentary days, in what one must call now almost the olden times, of practically a six months' recess. That has gone, and men who are going to represent Scotland in any proper sense here must make up their minds to spend pretty well nine months of the year in London. That at once completely excludes a very large, and indeed the dominant section of Scottish men and women who can give from their vast store of business knowledge, of Scottish sympathies, and of intimate association with the working of social problems—I say it cuts them clean out of the Scottish representation.
That is stating very imperfectly, I know, the real, main case in favour of this Bill. The case is that purely, Scottish problems should be dealt with by Scots people in Scotland, and it is because we feel so deeply and strongly about that that even under the circumstances of the Committee sitting under the distinguished presidency of Mr. SPEAKER, we cannot forego the duty, as we think, of debating and voting for the principle of this Measure to-day. I will only just state one instance of the working of the Scottish Grand Committee, and I say after some experience of it that it is the best of the Committees upstairs. It is homogeneous, with one or two visitors from England, and by that I mean a few Members representing English constituencies. Just let us visualise what happens there, with Scottish Members sitting there in very creditable numbers, taking all the conditions and the arduous nature of Parliamentary 2018 life into consideration. You practically never have to wait for a quorum more than a short time. At the other end of the room we find representations of the great Scottish local authorities, and some Scottish businessmen or public men who have found time to come up to London to advise and assist. They come for a day, and they cannot spare any more time, and these local authorities are in Scotland deprived, often for weeks at a time, at a most important period of their business, of important officials and representatives, and everybody knows how disturbing a factor that is in the continuity of public administration. Every one of the Scottish local authorities at some time every year lose the services of their chief officials, and often many of their ablest administrators The whole atmosphere is wrong. It is not on the spot dealing with the question by men whose whole minds are directed to the local conditions. Take an example by supposing there had been a Scottish Parliament with an executive responsible to it set up, say, 10 years ago.
What, think you, would have been the position with regard to housing to-day in Scotland if there had been a Scottish Parliament dealing with that most important point? First of all, the labour troubles on the Clyde, the dangerous propaganda which finds its home along the banks of the Clyde would be, I think, almost non-existent to-day if you had not got the housing problem. That is the breeding ground of it—the almost insupportable conditions in which people have got to live. Does anybody think for a moment that if we had had ten years ago a Scottish Parliament dealing with that question, it would not have been well on the way of settlement to-day? Of course it would. Why has it not? The pressure upon this House has been enormous, and my right hon. Friend, I am sure, will understand me when I say—indeed I think I can speak for all Scottish Members—we appreciate to the full the efforts which he and his colleagues have put up, but they are dealing with an almost impossible position. He has got to have his wrangle—shall I term it?—at any rate his active, earnest discussions with officials in Whitehall over every really big step in regard to questions affecting Scotland. It is only necessary to press that one question on the House for it to be seen what an 2019 immense relief it would be, not only to the House, but what a curative effect it would have on the whole social conditions of the United Kingdom if some such subordinate Parliament of this kind were in active operation.
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that, quite apart from the business side of it, sentiment plays a great part. No statesman can neglect sentiment for a moment. He has no vision at all; he has no idea of his duties, or what his work can be made worth, if he neglects sentiment. Sentiment is one of the greatest assets, if properly used, and one of the greatest obstacles if improperly used, or not thoroughly understood, through all social progress, and to say that Scottish sentiment is not in favour of some such measure as this is to neglect a glaring, obvious fact. There is scarcely a Scottish Member to-day who will have the courage to join my hon. Friend in his attack, and to say it is not wanted in Scotland. There is not a candidate who now comes before a Scottish constituency at a by or General Election who will not say that he is in favour of such a wide scheme of devolution of local self-government in Scotland as amounts to what we call Home Rule. They have been converted to that, and there the position really is. If my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition had been here to-day—unfortunately he has been prevented from being present—he; would be in complete accord, and he asked me to say so with regard to the statement I have ventured to lay before the House in support of the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ 1.0 P.M.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
Let me, first of all, most cordially reciprocate the expression of friendly feeling on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean), even although he offers me kindly commiseration for my failure to follow him on some bold line of constitutional innovation. But I wish to express the respect with which I have listened to the speeches of my hon. Friend the Mover and my right hon. Friend the Seconder. It is satisfactory, in the first place, to know that my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew (Mr. Johnstone), under that demure and sober exterior, pursues his point, with which he moves on strictly loyal, conservative 2020 and even sombre lines. But I am rather surprised at one or two of the arguments used by him and also by the Seconder. They tried to argue that, so far from being ill-timed, this Bill is specially opportune, in view of Mr. Speaker's Conference, which is now going on. I confess I did not follow the logic that, because a conference is now considering the question, they think it is peculiarly one in regard to which Parliament should now pledge itself to a particular scheme embodied in this Bill, and that it would help the Conference by the pronouncement of such an opinion. And what is the scheme? I do not think I need go beyond the words of my right hon. Friend in denunciation of this Bill. He is far from agreeing with many of the provisions. He would not for a moment think that it could stand on the Statute Book as it now is.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
So far from agreeing with many of the provisions, I said that many of them required very drastic amendment. I do not know of any Bill of any importance that does not require a very considerable amount of amendment before it reaches the Statute Book.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
At all events, I am entitled to say that my right hon. Friend went a long way to damn with faint praise. There was one point I never could find in either the speech of the mover or the seconder, and that is the clear distinction between the executive and the legislative. They seem to mix these together, when they are separate. Can anyone contend that the Executive in Scotland is not now absolutely separate from any English influence whatever in every direction? My hon. Friend the Mover gave a long list of subjects which were completely distinct in Scotland from anything in England—the law, the Church, the poor law, land law and marriage. He has got all that separation. What is he wanting now? What is to be accomplished in that respect by establishing this new Parliament? Both my hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend, failing in that argument, fell back upon what I confess is a very strong argument indeed—that of sentiment. But is the sentiment all on one side? Do they think that they who are advocating this newfangled constitutional proposal are the only Scotsmen who are animated by patriotic sentiment? There is nothing I 2021 love more than my country. Every tradition of hers, every habit, every foot of her soil is dear. I have steeped myself in her history, and I have even, I am sorry to confess, been tempted to destroy good paper in trying to write something about her history. I am full of that love, and I yield to no man in that. There has been a reference to my constituency. My constituency apparently does not count. Something like three-fourths of my constituents are Scotsmen who have found their place outside the limits of Scotland and in the Empire. They have helped to make the Empire. They are bound together by a love of Scotland more than by anything else. I have seen constituents of my own who have called upon me all over the Empire, in South Africa, India, in the most distant parts of Canada, everywhere I have found those who were actual constituents of my own.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
To an extent which I do not think can be equalled by any other constituency represented in this House. Do hon. Members think that their country's great name and fame, or that their patriotism, is to be pitted upon the establishment of a little Parliament of 140 people in Edinburgh? Do hon. Members think that their patriotism is to be formed and supported only upon that? Let us get really to the kernal of the matter. Let me ask my hon. Friend beside me and those who support him: are you anxious to get rid of the Act of 1707?
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Yes, but I am afraid some of the allies of the hon. Members are. I have here the account of a meeting at which my hon. Friend made a speech in moving the principal Resolution. That Resolution was very high sounding and very calculated to terrify the candidate for Parliamentary representation. This Resolution purported to come from a meeting "representative of all classes and every stage of political opinion in Scotland." Itaffirms its profound belief in the alienable right of the Scottish' people to self-government, declares its conviction that the present centralised government at Westminster is an unsuitable and inadequate medium for the expression of the aspirations of the Scottish people. …My hon. Friend went on to speak about self-determination, a word he said he did not like. If it meant the power to 2022 determine the independence and "cut the painter" or the setting up of Dominion Home Rule, he wanted, he said, to make it clear that he was not in favour of any of these things.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Quite so, but the motion was supported by that model of calm, sober, and well-balanced political thought the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean). He said he accepted all the implications of the Resolution. Nothing but pure independence would satisfy him.
§ Mr. NEIL MACLEAN
I said that self-determination was to us in its implications and meaning that the people of a country should have the right to say what form of government they wished to have over them.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
I think that is just what I have expressed. My hon. Friend opposite has told us that his opinions carried him so far that he would give the Sinn Feiners the right to establish a republic in Ireland. But there were more things in this notable meeting. The seconder, I observe, was a reverend gentleman who apparently gives to his duties as a parochial minister such leisure as he can spare from his Parliamentary candidature. I refer to the reverend gentleman who opposed my hon. Friend on the Front Bench. This reverend gentleman (the Rev. Malcolm McCallum) in seconding my hon. Friend's motion said he accepted it without any dilution and without any mental reservations. He went on in elaborate and highly sentimental terms to express an absolute demand for full and absolute independence and separation for Scotland. That shows plainly that many of the supporters of my hon. Friend's proposal mean the annulment of the Act of 1707. I observe that at the same meeting an aristocratic adherent of the League expressly stated what he, for one, thought—"I hold that mere Homo Rule is no remedy for the wrong done in 1707." My hon. Friend beside me says something about the man not being possessed of all his mental faculties. I daresay that is the case with a good many of his supporters.
I want the House to look at this: Will hon. Members or anyone who is really interested in Scotland refuse to agree to 2023 this: that had it not been for the Act of 1707, passed by the dextrous skill and ability of a party majority, that within a few years from then Scotland would have pronounced for the Jacobite cause and there would have been civil war between England and Scotland? The thing is perfectly evident. No man reading the history of Scotland can have any doubt about that. Sir Walter Scott was a man not defective in his love for Scotland, for his recognition of her national spirit and traditions, and all that has made her great. Sir Walter Scott has given us in a striking passage in Rob Roy his view of the question. Throughout the whole of the novel he indicates here and there the necessary sentimental regrets for the loss of a parliament in Edinburgh. The objections to it he puts, not into the mouth of Bailie Nicol Jarvie, keen Scotsman as he was and jealous as he was of his country's honour, but into the mouth of that immortal specimen of selfish, cringing, false, sycophantic, lip-service Andrew Fairservice, who imputed the dropping of one shoe of his horse to the deteriorating influence of the Treaty of Union. The bailie turned upon him and said:Whist, Sir, whist! It's ill-scraped tongues like yours that make mischief atween neighbourhoods and nations. There's naething sae gude on this side o' time but it might hae been better, and that may be said o' the Union. Now, since St. Mungo catched herrings in the Clyde, what was ever like to gar us flourish like the sugar and tobacco trade? Will onybody tell me that, and grumble at the treaty that opened us a road west awa' yonder?Under that Treaty of Union the advancement of Scotland has been unparalleled. Do Members forget that in 1707 the City of Glasgow was a picturesque town of 12,000 inhabitants? Apart from the past, let us look at what we are now in Scotland. Are we so closely united that we are willing in Scotland to find our entire representation in a little Parliament in Edinburgh? Will my right hon. and hon. Friends say that Glasgow and Edinburgh are more closely connected than Glasgow and Manchester?
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Then I entirely differ from my hon. Friend. There are hundreds of men who have branches of their business in both towns, and who spend half the week in Manchester and the other half in Glasgow. That is not the case as between Glasgow 2024 and Edinburgh. Is there any connection between Aberdeen and the ports on the west coast of Scotland? Will anyone deny that Aberdeen and Newcastle are as closely connected as they possibly could be? Speak to any of the people in Aberdeen, and you will find that any pilot or captain on the trading vessels going from one place to the other is familiar to people in both towns. Is there any close conection between Inverness and Edinburgh? Do you think that Inverness is not perhaps just as ready to take a decision from the Scottish Office here as from a little Parliament in Edinburgh? The settlement of things on the spot is not always such an absolute solution of every trouble. My right hon. Friend was especially strong on insisting that things must be done not only by Scotsmen, but by Scotsmen on the spot. I had a good long experience before I came into this House, constituting one of those degraded Scottish Members to whom my hon. Friend has referred, and I remember that very often I used to go down to settle difficulties in the locality. Some 40 years ago I went down to one town where a most bitter and internecine fight which was going on prevented the whole of the educational work of the place proceeding. I heard both parties, and I really felt the greatest difficulty. The arguments were very strong on both sides, but when the meeting was over a representative of each side had a private conversation with me, and they said: "Whatever you do when you go back to London, see that you send a decision one way or the other. We cannot give way to the people on the other side, but we are only too ready to see the matter settled one way or the other." That very often occurs in administrative work.
My hon. Friend spoke of the intense nationality of Scotsmen and of the way in which they must above all things have their cases dealt with in their own country. I will take a not unimportant part of the northern country as an illustration. I wonder if my right hon. and hon. Friends are acquainted with Orkney and Shetland. If they go to address a meeting there, as I have frequently done, let them bear in mind this warning: Never speak to any Orkney or Shetland audience as if they belonged to Scotland. There is nothing that they more resent. I am certain that they very much prefer to have their cases settled by Scotsmen 2025 in close contact with this Imperial Parliament than by those with whom they have little communication or intercourse who would sit on a little local body in Edinburgh. What would be the result of this Bill? Mr. Speaker, your Conference, no doubt, has various schemes before it. Will it be helpful to your Conference that this proposal, with all its attendant expense, should be thrust forward with the approval of Parliament? I suppose that this new Parliament in Edinburgh will have to be paid. It will have to be housed. It will have costly elections, and it will have all sorts of servants and officers. In these days, when we speak of curtailing expenditure, I do not think that this Bill offers any very strong aspect of economy. Are hon. Members sure that this new Parliament will be welcomed by the chief authorities in Scotland? I see my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton (Sir W. Raeburn) who is at the head of a very great institution, the Clyde Trust. Does he not think it possible that this Parliament in Edinburgh may wish to put a hand pretty deeply into the matters of such a Trust? Are the great town councils, the Town Council of Glasgow, which my hon. Friend says foreigners come to worship, and of Edinburgh, the great County Council of Lanarkshire, and so on, to come cap in hand, and do you think that they will like to come cap in hand to this new Parliament which will be not much more important than themselves, although, according to my right hon. Friend, it is to have all the cream of Scotland, and we the unfortunate Scottish Members are only to be the dregs that are sent up here, because the cream will not come?
I want very shortly to examine this Bill. As an example of amateur draughtsmanship, it is really one of the most amusing things possible. I am not going, however, to discuss the faults of drafting. Let us look at some of its actual provisions. This is to be a Single Chamber Government. There is to be no House of Lords. It may pass any Measure by a single vote without any appeal in regard to a vast number of important Scottish affairs. The powers of the Scottish Parliament are in some respects to be very large. Are my hon. Friends who are large landowners in Scotland aware that this Bill, to which many of my Unionist friends believe that they have pledged themselves 2026 and are bound to support, gives to the Scottish Parliament exclusive powers to levy taxes on hereditable property? This Parliament might impose a 20s. Income Tax upon every landlord in Scotland without an appeal to the House of Lords. This is the Bill which my hon. Friends have pledged themselves to support. There is something more in the way in which the judiciary hold their posts. It is one of the very first points of our Constitution that this matter is subject to a vote of both Houses of Parliament, but the judges in Scotland under this Bill may be deprived by a majority of one in a single chamber. Under these circumstances I wonder what a Scottish judge who was called upon to intervene and give his decision upon a large industrial question would feel about the security of his tenure.
The Secretary for Scotland was blamed for the readiness with which he assented to the desire of the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean) to discuss a certain important question which was subject at the time to judicial action. Does the hon. Member think that a Parliament in Edinburgh would not be apt to take up and discuss very freely such judicial questions. I find that there is to be no appeal to the House of Lords, but there is to be an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. I wonder what has made my hon. Friend so very fond of this judicial Committee of the Privy Council rather than of the House of Lords. The House of Lords consists of a very large majority of Scotsmen. There are three Scotch ex-Lord Chancellors upon it and of the four Lords of Appeal, two are Scottish. Why is that Appeal Court so dominated by Scotsmen to be set aside, and why is the hon. Member so ready to trust the judicial Committee? Under Clause 22 there is not a single action that can be taken by the Executive or by this Parliament in Scotland that may not be made the subject of long and costly litigation. I think my hon. Friend in getting his Bill drafted seems to have consulted a lawyer who saw in it a good opportunity for his profession. I would like to ask what is the meaning of the words at the end of Clause 23,the continuance in office of the Lord High Commissioner shall not be affected by any change of Ministry.Are these words known to any Parliamentary draftsman and how are they to 2027 be interpreted? I would also like to ask, Have we any proof that this Bill is desired in Scotland? I notice that one speaker at this great demonstration said that ten years ago Home Rule for Scotland was a purely academic question. What happened to this Bill last year? The interest was so intense that Scottish Members could not be induced to attend in sufficient numbers to make a House, and this measure which has been so eloquently described, was thrown out because the House was counted out.
Sir H. COWAN
The Bill was not introduced until 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and the Scottish Members had no reason to believe that it would be taken at all. Under these circumstances I do not think it is fair for the right hon. Gentleman to use that argument.
§ Sir H. CRAIK
Whatever the circumstances may have been, a movement which has been so eloquently described as having behind it such a weight of public sentiment might have induced Scottish Members to remain in the House after 4 o'clock on Friday. I observe that last month there was another demonstration at which my hon. Friend was the principal figure, and it was to be held at Coatbridge. It was to be held under the auspices of the Scottish Home Rule Association, but only some twenty persons or so turned up, and after consultation with the speakers in the Central Committee Room, it was announced that the meeting would be postponed on account of the small attendance. "This was," said the Provost, "the first time that a meeting of a public character of this kind had to be abandoned," and it was stated that they thought it a pity to ask the speakers to address such a small number. In regard to this movement I think you should take care that you do not create discontent and a sentiment of a very different sort to what you want merely by reiterating these fancy complaints, which have no substantial foundation. I think my right hon. Friend should remember a sentence in Shakespeare's "Coriolanus," which runs:That rubbing the poor itch of your opinion, Make yourselves scabs.Is it not possible that that may come out in this constant provocation and appeal to discontent? There is nothing so easy to rouse as discontent and fancy grievances. 2028 It is easy for hon. Members to come to me and say, "I cannot vote against this Bill because I am pledged to it." They must, however, remember that when a question, however obscure and unimportant, is raised at an election meeting it is tempting in this way to assent to it. You may say it is an excellent proposal, although the bulk of your audience do not care a button for the question, and you are very glad to get on with the next. Those who are going to be candidates should think carefully before they decide and give such flimsy pledges. When we are considering the Second Reading as a rule we are simply supporting the main provisions of the Bill, but a new fashion has now grown up, and hon. Members go thoughtlessly into the Lobby in favour of a Bill because they have been told all their objections will be altered in Committee. That is a very easy way of soothing one's conscience, but it is not a very safe one. Do let us get away from that and see what we are doing by this Bill. I have tried to point out what it is thought we gain, but what are we to lose? Is there any part of the United Kingdom that has a greater place in the Empire compared with its population than Scotland? What is our position in the Cabinet, in the Church, and in law? What, too, was our position at the Peace Conference? Do hon. Members forget that Scotland is the predominant element in this Government? Did not my right hon. Friends the Lord President of the Council, and the Leader of the House, as well as the right hon. Member for the Gorbals Division, form a very strong element in the Peace Conference?
This Bill is marvellously ill-timed. We are now engaged, and solemnly engaged, with all the thought we can possibly give to it, in trying to solve a secular feud in Ireland brought about by differences of race and religion, and by immemorial, un-forgotten and unforgiven wrongs in the past. Is all that to be held up by this purely frivolous comedy of trying to work up a storm in a teapot by endeavouring to reconstruct the British Constitution—an effort on the part of a small clique of Scotsmen not in any way representative of Scottish opinion? I for one am prepared to wait and see the decisions of the Conference over which you, Mr. Speaker, are presiding, because I am convinced I that those decisions will be fraught with 2029 wisdom, and I am content to await them with a patience for which I ask no help whatever from philosophy. I will, indeed, wait as long as you think fit. Let us not interfere in a delicate question of this sort while it is under your consideration, by adopting an ill-constructed and fanciful scheme stirred up by men of no importance in Scotland, and fostered by but a small clique and advocated by fanatics—a scheme likely to provoke jealousy and anger on the part of their neighbours. Do hon. Members think that the day is altogether past when the jealousy of England may be aroused if sufficiently provoked by this narrow parochial suggestion? Over and over again these jealousies have wrought desperate evil in Scotland; in the days of Queen Anne, in the days of the Churchills and Armstrongs and during the Premiership of Lord Bute, and in later days when we have had outbursts of fanatical hatred on the part of Englishmen against Scotland. Nothing is so likely to provoke these as this attempt to tinker with the constitution. You are going to create a Scottish Parliament! But you propose to reserve to yourselves the right to interfere in English affairs. No, we have plenty of difficulties to settle still without that. We have plenty of work to do without endeavouring to reconstruct the whole constitution, and if your Conference, Mr. Speaker, can provide some scheme or some system of Scottish Committee by which Scottish business can be expedited, I am sure we shall welcome it. At the same time I must say there is no indication that any Scottish business, which up to the present has gone to a Grand Committee, has not come out of that Committee shaped by Scottish opinion. The hon. Member who moved the resolution, and I presume the right hon. Gentleman who seconded it, distinctly attempted to anticipate that the decisions of your Conference would produce absolute disappointment, but I do suggest that we should wait for its Report, and meanwhile should rather turn ourselves to more serious matters and not engage in the frivolities of amateur constitution mongering.
§ Mr. STURROCK
I follow my right hon. Friend, the member who has just spoken, with some trepidation. But I do feel justified in saying this, that whatever 2030 may be his views as a University Member on this very important question, I do not think they are in the slightest degree representative of any great body of public opinion north of the Border. I agree that this Debate has a certain air of unreality. But that always happens in the House of Commons on a Friday afternoon, and it has that air of un-reality for this reason, that I admit there is no organised body of opinion in Scotland strongly in favour of a measure of Home Rule. I listened with interest and deference, as I always do, to my right hon. Friend the Member for Peebles, who conveyed a message from his leader, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Paisley, to the effect that he was in entire sympathy with the purpose of our discussion this after-noon. For thirty-three years the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Asquith), who is now the leader of the dissentient-Liberals, represented East Fife in Parliament, and, although I am an East Fifer, I have yet to learn that he ever raised a finger on behalf of Scottish Home Rule during that time. I have been engaged in Edinburgh in endeavouring to secure the return of Edinburgh men for Edinburgh seats. My right hon. Friend has been endeavouring to foist an Englishman upon the very capital of Scotland. As a convinced Scottish Home Ruler, I have a right, when I see these things going on in our own country, to complain of the insincerity of my right hon. Friend in giving lip service to a cause, while he not only does nothing for it in Scotland, but does his best to make it certain that Scottish representatives will not be returned to the House of Commons.
He then went on to make an attack upon the Scottish representation in Parliament, and suggested that we were not the cream of Scotland by any manner of means. He suggested that, if we had a Parliament in Scotland, we should secure very much better men to go there, after having made the admission that, although he is a Scotsman, he has lived all his life south of the Border. I think that is a most fallacious argument; Everyone who knows Scotland—and I claim to know it better than my right hon. Friend does—knows that there is the utmost difficulty in getting men to come forward for public service there in any capacity. We know very well that in the town councils, the parish councils, or the 2031 education authorities, which are purely local, and which could be served by the men who, my right hon. Friend suggests, would come forward as candidates for a Scottish Parliament, you cannot get them to come forward at all. I think that is deplorable, and greatly to be regretted, but there is the fact, and it is no use trying to argue for a measure of Scottish Home Rule on the ground that you are going to get better men to come to a Parliament in Edinburgh than to come to the Parliament at Westminster. I am sure that many other hon. Members feel the difficulty that I feel, when this Bill is brought forward at a time when the Conference over which you, Sir, are presiding, is busily at work, and, as we who are outside it believe, is moving towards the preparation of a Report which will deal with the whole subject of devolution; but, if we go to a Division, I shall certainly vote in favour of this Bill. Although it is perfectly clear that, as it is unworkable in its present form, it will need drastic amendment, yet for all that one can give a vote in favour of it to-day, in the hope that, on the next occasion, it will be amended so as to fit in with the general feeling of the House and of Scotland.
I hope that we shall keep in front of us the strong sense of the reality of the position in reference to Scottish Home Rule. I have spoken on the subject in Scotland, without, I confess, finding that any very great interest was enlisted in the matter. My right hon. Friend referred to meetings which have been convened for the discussion of this question, and which had to be abandoned because of the poor attendance. It is perfectly true that, as I have said, there is no very strong or sincere backing for the proposal in Scotland. At the same time, looking at the matter from the point of view of the Imperial Parliament, it is obvious that we must have some measure of devolution, in order to get rid of the congestion of business in this House. This Bill, however, is not the correct way to deal with that, or, at any rate, the machinery ordered by the Bill is not going to secure that purpose so well as it will, I hope, be secured by the scheme which will emerge from the Conference over which you, Mr. Speaker, are presiding. We Scottish Members in this House know that, while the question of Ireland's grievances, and of her desire 2032 for Home Rule, is constantly coming up, we have scarcely any opportunity of discussing the affairs of Scotland. In the last Session we had less than four hours for the discussion of the whole of the Scottish Estimates in Committee of the whole House. That is an entirely inadequate allowance, and gives rise to the feeling that Scottish business does not have the consideration that it deserves. Therefore, whatever may be the view of those who represent University constituencies or other centres of unenlightenment, I shall vote for the Bill, with the feeling that it is due to Scotland, whether we can carry it through as it is or amend it, or whether we are merely expressing our strong view that we must have a measure of devolution and secure greater attention to Scottish affairs; and in the belief that it is good that Scotland should know that those who try to represent her here feel how inadequate is the share she has in the time of the Imperial Parliament.
§ Major GLYN
The Mover of this Bill, in the course of his speech, in which he sketched out its main provisions, seemed to go into detail with a carefulness which rather destroyed the importance I should be inclined to give it. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik) stated, a series of questions have been put at all elections for purely political purposes. I do not know whether the people who put those questions are sincere in their desire, or whether they have any knowledge of the history of the Union, but I feel very doubtful whether they would be as keen as they are if they were fully aware of the situation. It seems to me that this time, when the whole fabric of our constitution is being remodelled, is a most unfortunate time to raise a question of this sort. In saying that, I do not in the least go back upon what I have always said and still maintain, namely, that, owing to the overloading of this Chamber, and to circumstances which did not exist in 1701, there is an undoubted and most justifiable desire upon the part of Scotsmen to consider Scottish affairs on the spot, and with such safeguards for maintaining the Union in all its integrity as will retain for Scotland the great advantages she has gained from that Union, and will ensure that the benefits that have come to Scotland through trade, and to England through that association with Scotland, will never be forgotten.
2033 It might possibly be well to look back to those days of 1707, which, to me, have a peculiar interest, since a forbear of my own was Lord High Commissioner, and was charged by Queen Anne with the duty of bringing about that Union. He was unable to do it id that year and the duty was carried out by someone else. He himself was fighting in the Marlborough Wars. It is somewhat curious that after our fighting in Flanders there should be in this House an early opportunity taken of breaking up that Union, since as I conceive it, it will break down all that was good in the Union and will do nothing towards supplying what we desire, a better system of management of Scottish affairs by Scotsmen in Scotland. Whilst fully agreeing with the principle of the government of Scotland requiring alteration in that direction, I have every confidence and every hope that the solution that your Committee, Sir, will bring forward, will undoubtedly be far better than the attempt at constitution-making proposed in this Bill.
The movement for Home Rule in Scotland is not in my opinion greatly assisted by the form of communication sent to Members of Parliament by persons who have absolutely no business to dictate to Members of this House, nor have they any right to state that hon. Members are not representing the views of their constituents, because I have been at some pains to discover on what foundation gentlemen residing in Hope Street, Glasgow, have discovered any reason why I am not carrying out my duties to the satisfaction of my constituents. The form of the Resolution as it is put undoubtedly antagonises me from supporting the Bill, because I know that the sentiments of these people who urge me to vote for this Bill are certainly not the sentiments of the mover nor, I believe, of the seconder, and I am afraid that the executive would very soon be captured by those persons who are represented by Members of this House such as the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Neil Maclean), who would very soon use whatever machinery was set up to embarrass the relationship between Scotland and England and to support in every way within their power industrial unrest and trouble which might unfortunately arise between the executives of the two countries. In the time of the Act of Union of 1707, Scotland had been much 2034 disgusted by the action of the English Parliament which, when Mr. Patterson was Governor of the Bank of England, decided that the fortunes of the Bank of England would be assisted by 3,000 colonists being transported to the Isthmus of Darien. If you read the contemporary records of that period, the failure of the Darien scheme undoubtedly caused great feeling between the two countries. There was another curious incident in the case of a certain Captain Greene, commanding a British vessel, who appeared in the Firth of Forth, and the Edinburgh crowd, thinking it was an attempt at intimidation by England, were organised by the opposera of Union with England and did their utmost to create prejudice and stir up trouble, and the rabble of Edinburgh that followed the suit of the Duke of Hamilton, who was a most strenuous antagonist of the Union, were influenced by all these outside and relatively trivial considerations. Whilst we admit that the situation after 200 years obviously requires alteration yet I feel confident that, whilst we desire to see a change through the means of decentralisation, devolution, or whatever you may call it, yet I am sure the fortunes of Scotsmen and the happiness of both nations are in far better keeping in your hands, Sir, than they will be in a Measure which in my opinion is ill-conceived, ill-timed, badly drafted, and unlikely to be beneficial to Scotland or to this country.
§ Mr. WILLIAM GRAHAM
The speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Craik)—we have all ceased to expect anything advanced or progressive from the universities—proceeded on at least two fallacies. The first was that the people of Scotland had no real desire for self-government, and that this claim is artificial, and the second was that what we desired was something which would lead to separation, either at an early date or in the long run. In the minds of all Scotsmen and Scotswomen who have had the honour of service on local authorities, there is not the least doubt on this problem. The Convention of Burghs and other representative institutions in Scotland, town clerks of all political complexions, and very often of none, and municipal authorities of all kinds, are absolutely clear and united on the need for self-government. On the second problem, while I am willing to admit that 2035 there may be men in the labour movement who stand for something which may be regarded as separation, that is not the request of the Scottish people. All that we are asking in any scheme of self-government is merely such power as will enable us as a country to play a more efficient part within the British Empire, to maintain the union with this country and to continue our beneficent domination of the world. That effectively disposes of two leading contentions which were behind the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. Speaking as a constituent of his, I am also entitled to say that he does not represent the attitude of mind of a very large section of the professional people who have passed out from these universities and are playing a striking and important part in world improvement to-day. They have realised that self-government is necessary. They are advocating it in other spheres, and to that extent I feel that the right hon. Gentleman is not altogether representative of his constituents.
I should like to make it clear on behalf of labour that we are by no means tied to the provisions of this Bill. As a matter of fact, from many points of view it is a thoroughly bad Bill. We are discussing something which is largely an academic proposition, but beyond that we could discuss this Bill and suggest a vast amount of improvement and still, I think, play a quite useful part on a Friday afternoon. For example, the Bill provides for a single Chamber. It is commonly assumed that Labour is devoted to the principle and the method of single chamber government. I can imagine a State in which we have carried public ownership, democratic control and representative institutions to a far greater extent than we have succeeded in carrying those forces to-day. Even in that State it might be well to have a Second Chamber for the purpose of revision or for the purpose of relating specific Acts of Parliament to the wider needs of the country, to England, and to the world abroad. There are two schools at least in the consideration of all legislation. There is the school which springs from party controversy and political conflict in the constituencies. To a large extent we are compelled to belong to that school. There is another school, the school of the political scientists, and the school of the economists, who apply what 2036 is really the judicial mind to Acts of Parliament and look to the abiding consequences of the Acts. A force like that, and I am speaking only for myself, I should like to see represented in a second chamber. I believe that Scotland has great qualities and powers of philosophy and political science which might enable us as a people to provide one of the very best second chambers in the world. To that extent I find myself in slight conflict with the Bill. The Bill presents a curious combination of the left wing advanced movement in the second chamber idea and of the reactionary idea in the suggestion that the final court of appeal should be the judicial Committee of the Privy Council. I cannot imagine anything more unrepresentative. I should like to see the closest association throughout between any final Court of Appeal and the people over whose destinies it is presided.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
I understand that it was substantially in the position of a Second Chamber. I apologise if I have misunderstood the Bill. The point that I have mainly in mind is this, that if we in Scotland are going to make our contribution to the economic reconstruction after the War, some measure of this kind, very much improved, is absolutely necessary. I will illustrate that by a reference to two spheres. One sphere was described generally during the War, and even before, as Labour legislation, and the other the sphere of the municipal authorities and the kindred forms of public enterprise and activity. In the sphere of labour legislation dealing with labour conditions, there is not the slightest doubt that we have a structure which is common to the whole country, namely, the Ministry of Labour, which presides over questions of wages, remuneration, hours of work and conditions of employment, all of which must be general so far as the United Kingdom is concerned. Though that is admitted it is true also that in Scotland we have distinctive trade unions, and distinctive labour organisations and we have certain industries which are closely associated with that country both from the point of view of its capital and the point of view of its labour. I will take an illustration, and I regret to have to take a painful illustration, of the value which might come from 2037 immediate local treatment of a great labour difficulty. In Scotland the building trades are united on substantially a national basis, but at the present time, thanks to a misunderstanding, and the difficulty of securing acceptance of an award, there is, unhappily, every prospect that the building trade in Scotland will come to a standstill through a strike on Friday next. Representatives of the building trade are in London and are about to discuss matters with the Ministry of Labour. There you have from the point of view of Scottish housing, treated by a separate Scottish Department from the point of view of labour and capital engaged in the calling, a substantial Scottish structure, a set of circumstances for treatment on the spot in Scotland, which would save time in hours of crisis in handling a difficult situation and perhaps help us to arrive at a satisfactory solution. I am not suggesting that the delay by reference to London will be great, but I am suggesting that we should gain in almost any circumstances by having, to a large extent, devolution in the treatment of our labour troubles so far as Scotland is concerned by a local and immediate handling of an issue of that kind. There are other peculiarities in Scottish industrial conditions which would lend themselves to substantially the same point of view.
If we look at it from the standpoint of the contribution of the Scottish local authorities to economic progress and reconstruction, the case is even stronger than the one I have quoted. Recently, in Glasgow, on two Provisional Order inquiries, I was very much impressed by the fact that these municipalities found it necessary to come to a court of that kind in order to obtain powers to increase, say, the public health assessment, the public library assessment, the public park assessment, and other assessments upon which the welfare and happiness of the people largely depended. I take it that in any other municipalities will be promoting orders. They have all the expense of enterprise of that kind. They have the delay, and they occupy the time of Members of this House. I do not think that any Member would deny that they are dealing with propositions which are largely general in character. It is perfectly obvious that because of circumstances arising from the War, because of new needs and duties imposed by Departments 2038 of State, public health assessment, public library assessment and so on must be largely increased. These things are largely matters for general statute, and they could be generally dealt with by a Scottish Parliament under a scheme of devolution or self-government such as we do not enjoy at the present day. On these grounds the case for Scottish self-government is strong and overwhelming. There are other grounds, political and almost personal in character, to which one might allude. Nearly all students of Scottish and other politics within recent times have been impressed by what seems to be a very important consideration. We haves extended the franchise. We have given the vote to very large numbers of men and women who did not formerly possess it. We have made the structure of State, so to speak, much more democratic, and yet in the very midst of that process there has been a growing separation between the masses of the people and the government, local or national, upon which they depend. Almost anyone of us would have said that the logical consequence of the extension of the franchise and of this wider interest in political and local affairs would have been to increase the efficiency of representative institutions; that they would have been more thoroughly representative of the electors over whom they preside, and more representative in their deeds and the relationship of those deeds or thoughts to the outlook of the people. But most of us have been impressed by the fact that almost the very reverse is true. There is a growing separation between these authorities and these institutions and the masses of the people. There has been a divorce between the instruments of government and the people over whose destinies they preside.
How can we remedy a state of affairs of that kind? We regard with interest the argument for so-called direct democracy, but even in a small country like our own that is not possible. I have never met anyone who suggested that we could all be present in an assembly of this kind. It is recognised that we must be represented by delegates of varying powers and ability, but so far we have proceeded along the lines of all that is best in direct democracy by trying to give the people of the country a direct share and responsibility in the Government, and I believe that any measure of devolution, 2039 provided that it is adequate, or any measure of self-government would have that very desirable result so far as the Scottish people are concerned. I should press it beyond that, and say that we are not entitled as Scotsmen to conclude that everything is accomplished when we provide a structure, even a government in Edinburgh, with the speed in government and legislation which it would bring about, but I attach even more weight to the spirit and sentiment which are the inevitable accompaniment of that change in our legislative and administrative machinery. There is a very great deal in the idea that we possess a power, even if we do not exercise it to the full extent. I think along these lines there would be substantial gain in Scottish political and economic progress.
There is another consideration which has impressed every Scotsman. Rightly or wrongly we have been to a large extent an arrogant people. We have seen our conquests spread over a very large part of the civilised world. We have understood that for many years we have been successful in dominating England for England's good. We find Scotsmen in all the colonies. We have built up vast economic and other riches—at the expense of other people to some extent, and very often for their good. We believe that that is the inevitable destiny of the Scottish people, the inevitable call to their activities. That at least is our sentiment. Are we realising that to the full at the present time? I think as one who has, I admit only inadequately, studied these things that we Scotsmen are failing. We are failing under what is a physical strain which is increasing year by year. If there is anything which a Scotsman likes it is a scientific analysis of a Parliamentary Bill. He looks not merely at its political problems and considerations, but also at its economic effects. The intelligent and well-meaning Scotsman in this House comes south to London with all these ideas and brings them in a very large measure especially if he happens to be a young and somewhat unguarded representative. He finds after a very few months' experience that he requires a process of rigorous specialisation. He cannot survey the whole range of legislation in this House. It is absolutely impossible. He is forced to confine himself to a certain number of Scottish Bills 2040 or to a certain class of legislation which is the sole class to which he has the time or opportunity to devote his mind. There is no time to read the elaborate reports of the Departments. Every Department of State is stored with the riches of investigation which no man ever employs in many cases, or very few men ever read. All that is useful work at the time but in application in the statutes of our country it is relatively lost or wasted. Under a physical test of that kind no Scotsman can remain satisfied. We have been denied systematically the free expression of our individual and national genius and the loss can only fall with greater effect not merely upon Scotland but also on that very large part of the world, including England, over which we have the honour to preside. I wish to press these considerations very strongly indeed.
Then there is a last point to which I wish to allude. Personally, if I may be forgiven the statement, I have made it clear in this House and elsewhere, that in the Labour movement I stand strongly by the constitutionalist school. I want to see the highest and most advanced of our aims realised through representative institutions. I am thoroughly convinced that you cannot graft on to the experience and traditions of the people of this country Soviets or forms of government which may be useful enough elsewhere, but are out of keeping with our experience and can only land us into difficulty and chaos. But we cannot rest content with that statement of our position. We can only defend constitutionalism in this country, whether in legislation or the economic sphere, if we make that constitutionalism a reality. We must give the people the fullest opportunity. We must give them that local power or that national power, without being narrowly nationalist, which they thoroughly deserve. Many of us have found in the great industrial difficulties of this country that the strongest argument which is always used against us is the comparative failure of Parliament and local authorities and representative bodies. Let us not forget that we have not tried either Parliament or these local representative assemblies. A very large section of the electorate of this country has never taken the trouble to give a vote. To a large extent, therefore, it obtains the government, local and national, which it deserves, but at the 2041 same time weaknesses in the structure remain, and one of the greatest of these weaknesses is excessive centralisation.
Some years ago I read a speech, I think by Lord Rosebery, which dealt with this very problem, and if anything the evil has been accentuated since then. The Scottish people are keenly alive to these issues. They are not asking this Bill in any spirit of separatism or narrow or bigoted nationalism. They are asking a Bill of this kind in order that they may be more efficient as a legislative force in their own country and throughout the great administrative activity of all the local bodies. It is a perfectly sound and reasonable plea. It is going to provide many of us with the strongest protection against the unconstitutional effort which is strong in some parts of the country and will dethrone all real sound effort unless we are prepared to deal with it. It will allay the fears that are in our minds, and we push it, not because we look to Scottish economic or material gain, but because we wish to continue that tremendous part which we have played in the world's affairs for what I hope has been the world's good.
Lieut.-Colonel Sir J. HOPE
When I saw that this Bill was coming forward to-day I was at a loss to know why it was brought before us—whether it was in order to reaffirm the principle which was rightly and very unanimously declared by this House last June, that some form of Devolution of business from the Imperial Parliament was urgently required or whether it was brought before us as an alternative to the probable recommendations of the Conference over which Mr. Speaker is presiding, from which shortly we may anticipate a report. From the speeches of the Mover and Seconder of the Bill I am still somewhat at a loss to discover whether this Bill has been introduced for the first object or for the second object. I remember that when two days were allotted to discussion of the principle of Devolution last June the right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) protested that two days were excessive and a waste of time. Yet we are occupying another day in forcing an open door. Every Member whose name appears on the back of this Bill voted in favour of the principle of Devolution last June and only 34 Members opposed it. If this is intended to express the 2042 opinion that all Scottish Members are most desirous that some form of devolution for Scottish business should be adopted, and that Scottish business should be referred to an assembly in Scotland, I am cordially in favour of it, but if it is intended to anticipate or prejudice in any way the Report, or is to be an alternative to the Report, which we shortly expect from Mr. Speaker's Conference, I am certainly not in favour of this Bill.
No speaker has gone into the details of the Bill. Hitherto we have had simply a repetition of the Debate of last June. There is a good deal in the Bill which is certainly out of date now. The promoters have not brought it up to date even in respect to the restrictions of the powers of a Scots Parliament. Though the Bill is four years old they have not thought it necessary to put in the excepted subjects—submarine cables, wireless telegraphy and aerial navigation—which were regarded as reserved subjects in the Government of Ireland Bill. Those subjects, of course, have arisen since this Bill was originally printed. I am certainly not in favour of an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. I prefer what is suggested in the present Government of Ireland Bill, namely, appeal to the House of Lords. I notice that it is proposed to give the Scottish Parliament control of Income Tax with regard to Schedules A and B, but to leave to the Imperial Parliament the remaining Schedules C, D and E. That seems rather an extraordinary division of power. None of these details has been dealt with so far. Further, in any form of election I prefer the proposal of the Government of Ireland Bill for Proportional Representation. There is no provision in this Bill for such a principle.
If the Bill has been introduced for propaganda purposes, let me say that it is practically condemned by the Scottish Home Rule Association. Their circular has already been referred to, but it has not been clearly stated that they say this Bill is not broad enough or comprehensive enough to be commended to the people of Scotland. Does not that make this an unreal debate? The Bill is not really enthusiastically supported by the Proposer and still less by the Seconder, who says that it requires drastic amendment. No single speaker has given whole-hearted support to the Bill. It seems to me that we should have been far better employed 2043 in criticising and discussing the details and considering in advance, how it would be possible to alter the Bill in such a way that it might be grafted on to some homogeneous and compact scheme for giving Devolution to all the different parts of the United Kingdom. I am sure the majority of Members of the House are, in favour of such a scheme. That question has hardly been touched upon. I think we would do well to adjourn this Debate at once and postpone further consideration of the Bill until the report of Mr. Speaker's Committee is before us. Then we Scottish Members could discuss our views and promote the principles we have at heart in the light of that report. I feel sure that Scottish Members would be only too glad if it were possible to discuss it in the Scottish Committee.
Sir J. HOPE
I am tware of that, but perhaps the promoters may suggest that they may not get an opportunity for Scottish Members to discuss the Report after its issue. It is quite possible that after the Report is issued we Scottish Members either can discuss it amongst ourselves by special arrangement or we could ask for a special day so that, without interfering with other Government business, we could discuss the Report from the point of view of Scottish Members. I think that would be a far better allocation of time. If we adjourn the Debate now we could get on to the third Order, which is of great importance to many Scotsmen; I refer to the Duplicands of Feu-duties (Scotland) Bill. That is held up by this somewhat unreal Debate. I am strongly in favour of some form of devolution for Scottish business being provided as quickly as possible. I am not going to vote against the Bill; I intend to support it, provided I am not in any way committed to details which are quite impossible, and have been declared as impossible even by the nominal supporters of the Bill.
§ Mr. KIDD
I beg to move to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words,this House declines to proceed with the Bill, as inopportune, in respect of the fact that Mr. Speaker's Conference on Devolution has not yet reported.2044 Judging from the speeches I have heard, the Amendment reflects the genuine mind of every Member of this House. The hon. Member for Renfrew (Mr. Johnstone), who is the stepfather of this Bill—
§ Mr. KIDD
That hon. Member rather suggested that, somehow or other, if the Devolution scheme was not satisfactory to Scotland, they would not have it, but I wonder what warrant he had on behalf of Scottish feeling or Scottish Members to indicate beforehand that the Report of a Committee representative of all types of mind in this country, and also of the Colonies, would be adversely received. The suggestion that we should pass this Bill, and then somehow or other fit the scheme of Devolution in with this Bill rather suggests a singular absence of the well-known Scottish sense of sequence. The discussion evoked by this Bill has, I think, served a useful purpose. I think most hon. Members will agree that there is a strange confusion cultivated in the public mind on the subject of Home Rule on the one hand and Devolution on the other. I rather fear some hon. Members find themselves in a difficulty in freely discussing this Bill by the fact that that view has been cultivated in the constituencies, and I am not sure that it has not occurred also in the universities. So far from Home Rule and Devolution being one and the same thing, one is truly the antagonism of the other. Home Rule at this stage of our progress sets out deliberately to cultivate the idea of nationality. Devolution, on the other hand, starts on the presupposition that the nation has been absorbed in the larger political unit. That is challenged by the claims of a spurious nationality. [HON. MEMBERS: "How spurious?"] Spurious in the sense that you are trying to resuscitate that which has grown into something larger.
§ Mr. KIDD
Home Rule is a constant and growing challenge to the supremacy of this Parliament, while Devolution sets out with the deliberate intention of not only not attacking the unity of this Parliament, but really assisting it in its labours. I think that is a perfectly fair definition of the two. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"] Home Rule and Nationalist 2045 feeling has been warmed up for the last few years by the somewhat indiscriminate talk about the rights of little nations. I hope I shall have the assent of the House to the statement that the rights of little nations, and the exercise of those rights, must always be dependent upon two considerations. The exercise must be consistent with the legitimate interests of the larger political unit, and, secondly, and this is much the more serious consideration, the exercise of those rights must always be subject to the higher law, which, in order to secure the better life of all mankind, compels co-operation. I hope I am fair in putting these limits to the rights of little nations.
Scotland, perhaps, is the very best example the world can afford of the continuous growth of political development. In saying that I do not want to go back to the clan system, in case I should challenge the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Dr. Murray). I am well aware of the particular accident, if it were an accident, of primogeniture which assisted that development into the great partnership represented by the Union. We in Scotland would not have our English friends believe we are insensible of or ungrateful for the great advantages which Scotland has secured from that Union. On the other hand, I trust that they will agree that Scotland has contributed not a little towards the glory of that Union. As was pointed out by the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik), that Union of ours has given a finer example to the world to copy than is afforded by any other political union. I observe that this Bill is admittedly modelled on the Irish Bill of 1914. Why they went to the unhappy country of Ireland to find a constitution for a prosperous and constitutional country like Scotland, I leave it to the hon. Member for Renfrew to explain. If you want to transfer all the difficulties of Ireland to Scotland, then the best way to do so would be to adopt this measure. I leave out of account the excellent point made by my hon. Friend (Sir H. Craik) with regard to the cost occasioned to Scotland by this Bill, and that is no small concession to make, because Scotland is never indifferent on the subject of the bawbee. In Clause 31 (2) the framers of this Bill openly anticipate the conflict which is likely to 2046 arise between the Scottish Parliament and the Union Parliament. I discover in the terms of that section the difficulties of the situation which were created by the hon. Member for Renfrew when he set himself to promoting this Bill. Under this section provision is made that an Act of Parliament may be passed by this Parliament affecting Scotland, and in relation to the same matter an Act may be passed by the Scottish Parliament. In the event of a conflict the hon. Member for Renfrew graciously promises that the Scotsmen will drop their own Act of Parliament and become subordinate to this Parliament. That indicates a complete want of knowledge of the Scottish character. We may not create so much fuss as they do in Ireland, but in the matter of dourness we cannot be excelled, and if you find the Scottish Parliament passing an Act which comes into conflict with an Act of Parliament of this House, I appeal to every Scottish Member to agree with me that we cannot conceive of the Scotsmen in that case giving way to the statute emanating from here. That indicates the inevitability of conflict between this Parliament and the Scottish Parliament.
On the question of finance, the Scottish Parliament is to be allowed to impose fresh taxation. The right hon. Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean), who approached this Bill with extraordinary timidity compared with the courage of the hon. Member for Renfrew, frankly admitted that Scotland was not a place of leisured classes, and that it was a bad place in which to make a fortune. I entirely agree with him, but he gave that as a reason why Scotsmen found their way to England. May I suggest that we have a way of attracting English finance to Scotland? If you have a Parliament in Scotland with a right to impose taxation on its own behalf, how would that jeopardise the credit of Scotland in the way of getting finance from London? Is it likely that if I come to borrow money in London for a Scottish enterprise I am likely to be offered assistance when the man who lends to me knows that his money is to be at the mercy of a Scottish Parliament which is to have power to impose a duplicate taxation? I happen to be more than I care to mention in the position of a borrower, and I say to the right hon. Member for Peebles, with his 2047 knowledge of finance, to consider well before he supports a Bill which will result in doing infinite damage to the credit of the people in Scotland who may be requiring money. You cannot affect the wealthy man, but the man who has his way to make and only has his brains with which to do it, the man who desires money in order to fructify what he has, that is the man who is going to be hit under such a Bill as this. Reference was made by the right hon. Member for the Universities with regard to the subject of appeal, and here again you see this attempt to stir up national jealousies, and feelings, and antagonisms. What is to be the nature of the appeal? In any case in our Scottish courts wherein there comes under review the exercise of the powers of the Scottish Parliament, where the question is raised as to whether the Scottish Parliament has acted within or beyond its powers, there is to be an appeal, but on one condition, that the consent of the Scottish court is got before the appeal can be carried to the Privy Council here. That has followed the Colonial example, but there again I ask, how will that affect Scottish credit? Take a commercial case in Scotland, where the London plaintiff follows the Scottish defendant to a Scottish court. Will you encourage commerce between the two countries when the London plaintiff knows that if he desires to challenge some point of administration under this Bill he cannot bring the case for review to England, unless he first of all gets the consent of the Scottish court?
Running right through this Bill you have a menace against every substantial interest of the Scottish people, and these proofs of inevitable conflict were bound to be found in a Bill which discovered as its model the Irish Bill of 1914. The Irish people have never confused Home Rule with Devolution. They know exactly what they want. They are not out to assist this Parliament by having powers from this Parliament delegated to a local body in Ireland. They are out to satisfy what they call a national feeling, what they call a separate racial feeling. They are out—let it be disguised as they may care, to do it—to challenge the power of this Parliament, and no man in this House representing a Scottish constituency will suggest that that is what Scotland wants. The proof of what I say 2048 was discovered the other day in the remarks on the Home Rule Bill for Ireland of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Paisley (Mr. Asquith), who carried his affection for Ireland to this point, that he was quite ready to give Ireland substantially dominion government, Hitherto dominion government has only been granted where representation here was impossible. Where, on the other hand, representation was possible here—and in the case of Ireland it is excessive—then the conditions were not present to justify the grant of dominion government. But now the right hon. Member for Paisley has discovered a new ground for the grant of dominion government, and his ground is because of the separate racial feeling in Ireland. That is to say, that he accepts race as a condition sufficient in itself to justify the grant of a Government which to all intents and purposes amounts to independence. I think there is only one part of Europe where that rule has been applied, and that is the Balkans, and it has not been a great success there. You may attempt to Balkanise Ireland if you like, but for God's sake do not attempt to Balkanise Scotland. The Irish Bill really has not the slightest bearing upon the desires of Scotland. Nationhood is merely a stage in the progress of a people. Some have not reached it, some have passed it. Ireland, on her own confession, has reached a stage between the two. To talk of the rights of small nations when you speak of the Balkans, and then to use the same phrase-in relation to Scotland, is to go very near to offering an insult to the people of Scotland. Scotland has passed the stage of nationhood. Her nationhood has been absorbed-in a wider area. Ireland has never, in a sense, enjoyed a perfect nationhood. The Bill the other day was a kind of desperate effort on the part of this Parliament to give to Ireland the fullest measure that in these days could be given, in order that she might realise the feeling of a nation, and in the hope that, having satisfied that instinct, she would gradually develop politically until she could take her place in some devolution scheme with England, Scotland and Wales. Just because of that essential difference between the Irish and the Scottish position, the treatment of the two countries must be very different indeed. I will only say, in conclusion, that the world is shrinking every 2049 day. I go down to Scotland every weekend. My ancestor in 1707 would have started at one end of the session and reached here at the end of the next. Science holds up to scorn the attempt to restore that which has already served its turn. Advance is causing the world to shrink more day by day. We should await with the utmost confidence therefore the proposals of the Conference now sitting on this great subject of Devolution.
Might I suggest that four great tests can be put forward as to whether the devolution proposals will be satisfactory? In the first place, the scheme of devolution should relate to the whole kingdom. You cannot test the relation of one part to the other, or all the parts to the central Parliament, unless you have a scheme at one and the same time fitted to them all. The second test I bring forward would provoke the indignation almost of my hon. Friend the enthusiastic Home Ruler from Glasgow. It is that we must not make any attempt to play to the spirit of nationality. If you lead devolution along the lines of seeking to satisfy a spirit of nationality, which surely is not represented by any bulk of opinion in Scotland, then in that direction danger lies. The third test will be that, in devising a scheme, we should do our best to secure that the local bodies, in whatever local areas may be fixed, shall not have any tendency to come into conflict in their laws with this Parliament; and, lastly, we should strive throughout, despite the creation of these local bodies, to maintain that unity which does not run too swiftly, perhaps, but still runs steadily, and which makes for the constant, growing strength of our country as a whole.
For these reasons, I submit that sound, sober Scottish sense dictates on this occasion that we should wait for the devolution proposals of the Conference. I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles was a little bit sensitive—and rightly so—as to whether it was courteous to that Conference to introduce such a Bill as this at such a time, and certainly the hon. Member for Renfrew indicated almost menacingly that, unless the devolution proposals came up to the extravagant standard of this Bill, they would not be accepted by Scotland. These two facts together rather suggest to my mind that to submit to this Bill is to be 2050 discourteous to the Conference; but, even assuming there is no intention to be discourteous, I suggest that sound sense dictates that we should wait for the Conference proposals. Unless we do so, then, so far from assisting the Conference in their delicate and difficult task, so far from showing any appreciation of the extraordinary amount of talent which must have been devoted to their proposals, we shall be doing our best to hamper them, and, in doing so, not only shall we do injury to Scotland, but to England and Wales as well.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
I beg to second the Amendment of my hon. Friend, and thank him very much for the admirable speech he has made on the subject. He has left very little to be said about this Bill, which he has torn to tatters, and I am perfectly certain the proposals go a great deal further than, at all events, the majority of Members of this House desire to see.
There has been undoubtedly in the past a good deal of artificiality about this agitation. I think that artificiality still continues. There is a certain amount of bullying about it which is most offensive in respect of letters addressed to Members of Parliament from a body like the Scottish Home Rule Association. It is a most impertinent production. It does not tend to their receiving from us any sort of decent consideration for a resolution. The difficulties for Members, no doubt, have arisen from the fact mentioned by my hon. Friend, that devolution and Home Rule have been confused on platforms, and that many people who have advocated Home Rule really do not mean it in the sense we understand it here at all, but some measure of further devolution on the lines of the Private Bill Procedure Act which we have had in operation for Scotland for a number of years. Personally, I am always astonished when statements are made like that of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh that all local bodies, and I do not know who else, have expressed strong views about this. In the constituency which I represent I have never been asked a question of this sort, except once, and that was at the last election I have never mentioned it myself in any address, and I do not think I have ever mentioned it in a speech. But at Ayr, in the last election, I was asked whether I was 2051 in favour of Scottish Home Rule, and I said that probably it would be essential in time, as part of a general scheme, to draft for Scotland some mesure of devolution for local purposes, in consequence of the manner in which the business of this House was increasing. That is the only occasion I can recall on which the subject has even been mentioned in the constituency, and it is a very varied constituency, as well as a very intelligent one; of course, it would not have returned me if it had not been. Up to 1918 it was part lowland and part highland, so that, unlike most members, I have been returned by both Celtic and Saxon elements, and both appear to agree with regard to this. Certainly, so far as this Bill is concerned, I would very much sooner not be seen in this House at all than have pledged myself to support a measure of this sort. It is full of faults, and I was delighted to hear the hon. Member for Edinburgh say it was a thoroughly bad Bill. I cordially agree with him.
§ Sir G. YOUNGER
I am not doing that either. There are some phases which could pass muster in any Bill, but there are others of a very drastic character, and the Bill contains proposals which it strikes me no one in Scotland would desire to see passed. I do not want, however, to go into the details of the Bill at all. It is no good kicking a dead horse. So far as I can see, the Bill as it stands and following this Debate is as dead as a door nail.—[HON. MEMBERS: "No"!]—All of the speeches that I have listened to since I came in have been against it. At the same time I frankly admit that the time probably will come when there must be a general scheme of devolution to remove the burden of local affairs off the shoulders of this Parliament. Then will be the opportunity to deal with this matter. I trust it will not be a scheme like this, because, so far as I can see, this Bill will lead to endless trouble. It would unquestionably bring into conflict the Imperial and the Scottish Parliament, and that is what obviously is expected from the fact that Clause 31 appears in the Bill. Why we should carry a measure into law in order 2052 to snub the extreme views of certain people? That in itself is sufficient to warn one off the grass, and to warn one to have little or nothing to do with such a project.
I am not going to repeat the arguments that have been used in support of this Bill. While I agree that the speech of my hon. Friend, the Member for Linlithgow, was a very good speech in form, I have always been surprised that an hon. Member who represented a constituency which has been so closely associated with the very best of Scottish history, should come to this British House of Commons and decry the spirity of nationality. That would seem to suggest that there is not that imagination in the county of Linlithgowshire which I should have thought any man who lived there would have possessed. One would have supposed that a man of Linlithgowshire would have aspired to have the palace of Linlithgow restored to its pristine glory in the life of Scotland.
One of the reasons given by some hon. Members against passing this Bill is that there has been no agitation in favour of it. But the Scottish people have a way of their own of agitating in favour of measures in which they believe. Why should the fact be disregarded that the convention of the Royal Burghs unanimously decided a few years ago in favour of Home Rule? Does my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow think that this House of Commons should wait until we have window smashing, hunger striking, and things of that sort in Scotland before there will be a belief in the sincerity of the people who support this Bill? Have they to go in for vile measures of that sort in order to show that they are alive? Scottish Home Rule is alive, but is it suggested by my hon. Friend that in order to prove his sincerity he should go on hunger strike and that his word will not be accepted until there is nothing left of him but a shadow on the wall? That is a strange method of arguing against a movement of this sort simply because there are no hunger strikes, no direct action, and, what is perhaps a greater test, no thirst strikes, that there is no sincerity. Does it not imply an invitation to any group of persons who are in favour of some reform or another to the effect that unless they break the law the House of Commons will not believe them? I am sorry to say that 2053 some of my own constituents have adopted that doctrine, and have taken the law into their own hands. That, however, is perhaps due to the fact that there is not sufficient transport from the mainland. But it is a dangerous doctrine. I am sorry to see the hon. Member who is of the legal profession, the members of which are supposed to be pillars of law and order, supporting the doctrine in this House that no person is in earnest unless he breaks the law!
The most prominent argument against the Bill, my hon. Friend considers, is that there is a Committee sitting on devolution. He and I were trained in a school of Scottish sentiment that believes that "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." We do not know what the Report of the Conference on Devolution will say. Unless that Report is satisfactory, it is suggested, it will not be accepted. My hon. Friend criticised the hon. Member for Renfrew for saying, as I understood, that unless the Report is satisfactory to him he will oppose it. If the Report is not satisfactory to my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow, will he oppose it or not? Will he accept Mr. Speaker's Report? Reports have often gone into pigeon-holes and stayed there. There is a Report on Rural Transport in Scotland which has been published for over two years, after submission to this House. Nothing has yet been done for transport in Scotland. I think the House is taking quite a proper and discreet view of the situation that we have the opportunity here and now of passing a Bill which clearly establishes the principle of a Parliament for Scotland.
A great deal has been made of the jealousies that may arise between England and Scotland if a Parliament is set up in Edinburgh. I do not see why there should be any jealousy. I was very sorry to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose Burghs in that see-saw speech of his, in which nobody knew whether he was for or against Home Rule.—at any rate he made some remarks—suggested that my right hon. Friend (Sir D. Maclean) was inconsistent because, while he pleaded for Home Rule for Scotland here, he was supporting an Englishman who was fighting a Scottish constituency! I hope the sentiment of Scottish constituencies will never be so narrow-minded as not sometimes to welcome Englishmen from across the border to 2054 represent them in this Parliament. English constituencies are not narrow-minded in reserving themselves for Englishmen to represent them here. We have in the Member for Aberdeen beside me (Mr. Rose) a distinguished Englishman. The Secretary for War represents a Scottish constituency, which does not show narrow-mindedness. English Members ought to be very grateful to Scotland for removing themselves across the border. We can now, I think, safely leave England to manage her own affairs. We have gone to the trouble in past generations of training Englishmen in the science of government.
I think, now that the Czecho Slovaks and Jugo Slavs have self-government, that we might venture to leave the English people to manage their own affairs. If they do make a bungle of it, we are not far away. They can call us back across the Border in order to help them out of the mess again. I do not think that there is any reason to fear that there will be any recrudescence of national jealousy between England and Scotland. Of course, we do not intend to leave England to manage Imperial affairs without our assistance in whatever Imperial Parliament may be instituted. It would be a very cruel thing to leave the management of these bigger affairs to the English Members. They will have our assistance in managing the Imperial affairs of the Kingdom as well as the affairs of the world generally.
The chief reason for having a Parliament in Scotland is not that we do not like to be associated with English Members, but is illustrated by the pathetic appearance of my hon. Friend the Member for West Edinburgh (Mr. Jameson). He has been waiting for the chance of bringing in a little Bill that is wanted in Scotland, and he has to wait for the crumbs of time that fall from the table of the Imperial Parliament. There is a chance that he may not get time to bring in that Bill. If we had a Scottish Parliament, the Duplicands of Feu Duties Bill would be given an important place in the King's Speech, and he would, have no difficulty whatever in introducing and completing a reform that has been called for in Scotland for some time. I simply mention that as an illustration of the way that small measures, and big measures, have been hampered not owing to the ill-will of the English Members, 2055 but to the physical impossibility of getting them through the House of Commons. Our attitude towards certain questions has been somewhat different from the attitude of England. We are more advanced than the people of England, for instance, with regard to the land question, and we should have settled some of these matters long ago were it not for the difficulty of getting them through the House of Commons. In Scotland we have always taken a different view on the temperance question, but it is only within recent years that we have been able to carry a Bill which the great majority of the Scottish representatives were in favour of 30 years ago. These are illustrations of the way in which legislation has been hampered, sometimes owing to the conservatism of this House, and also by the mere physical impossibility of getting these measures considered. Some of our Scottish unionist friends—I do not know what name they claim for themselves now; they change their name every weak, just like the Germans did during the War, when we saw the advertisement columns of our newspapers full of announcements that Herr Schmidts desired to become plain Mr. Smith—are now in favour of two Parliaments for Ireland, so they might give Scotland one little Parliament of her own. This spirit of nationalism that is growing pari passu with the spirit which inspires the League of Nations is not at all opposed to that idea, and I believe that by giving Parliaments to these units, racial or national, to manage their own affairs, we shall arrive at a League of Nations called the Parliament of Man.
§ Mr. JAMESON
I beg to suggest to the hon. Member who moved and the right hon. Baronet who seconded the Amendment that they are really taking this Bill rather too much to heart. No doubt the Bill has very many defects, but I venture to suggest that it should be approached in this sort of spirit: De mortuis nil nisi bonum. Nobody expects, I suppose, that this Bill is actually going on to the Statute Book, and, although I shall certainly vote for the Second Reading, I shall do so, and I speak in the spirit of one who says:I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.2056 I therefore excuse myself from examining the concrete proposals of the Bill, which I admit are not the subject of very great enthusiasm. At the sme time, we are having a very pleasant Friday afternoon's discussion, and I see, from the beaming faces of hon. Members from Ireland, that they have come into the House to enjoy the luxury of a Home Rule Debate conducted in an atmosphere of complete amiability. Taking advantage of that spirit, I think that we can derive a good deal of instruction as well as pleasure out of this discussion. I am bound to confess that I have a good deal of sympathy with the remarks of the hon. Member for North Midlothian (Sir J. Hope), when he said, perhaps in reference to the Duplicands of Feu Duties Bill, upon which I look with a good deal of prejudice in its favour, that probably the people of Scotland would be better with just that scrap of bread than the large slice represented by the Bill which we are at present discussing.
At the same time dots of Scotch people have minds above these matters of mere concrete interest. Most of the arguments pro and con upon this subject of Home Rule have been repeated ad nauseum, but I have been pleasantly disappointed this afternoon, and I have heard one of the most stimulating and interesting speeches that could possibly have been delivered from the hon. Member who represents one of the divisions of Edinburgh. The newest argument on the other side was perhaps the historical argument of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik), and the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Major Glyn), and nobody is better qualified than they are to speak upon historical points. The right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the Scottish Universities, is the author of one of the most delightful books in Scottish history of the last few centuries, and his historical references to-day were of great interest. The problem as we have it before us at present and as it existed in 1707 does not compare at all. The problem then and now is to adjust the relations of England and Scotland. The question in 1707 was whether the Union should be an incorporating union as it was finally made or a union by federation, and it was decided to make it an incorporating union.
I would like to point out that this union is not the most successful method of dealing 2057 with a problem of that sort, but it was a very exceptional course to follow altogether. In uniting two countries or two entities which have been possessed of self-governing powers the normal and usual and the most successful method has, in modern times, been the Federal method. You have the Federation of the United States of America, the States of Holland and Switzerland, and in the British Empire federation has been the method adopted for unifying all our great Dominions such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and, lastly, South Africa. That has been the method of bringing together and unifying in a higher unity all those smaller entities that have had the gift of self-government before. I think that was certainly the proper method to have applied in 1707 to the union of England and Scotland, because, after all, these two very ancient nations were very much alike, but at the same time they are also very different, and accordingly I think the proper method to have adopted, and the method which we should now in a modified way adopt, is the Federal method. That is the method best adapted to the people of these islands.
I rather disagree that the Union of 1707 is a glorious episode in Scottish history, and it is one which, I think, we have very little reason to pride ourselves upon, because those who are acquainted with Scottish history of that time must know that that incorporating union was much against the instincts of the Scottish people. I do not anticipate any evil results from the jealousy which will be excited in England at the rise of a Scottish Parliament. I have too much confidence in the magnanimity and generosity of this great country of England to believe that. We smaller nations have to keep up a somewhat aggressive attitude in order to bring ourselves into notice. It is rather the instinct of self-preservation, because we know if we do not assert ourselves perhaps we might cease to exist, or be forgotten. But in our heart of hearts there is nothing we envy or admire more in the great English character than her majestic sort of generosity towards smaller nations, and the sort of amused and generous, and almost admiring, indifference, if I may use a rather mixed phrase, with which England regards the sometimes rather amusing antics of those smaller and more aggressive nations.
2058 I do not think in the matter of finance which has been alluded to by the hon. Member for West Leeds (Mr. J. Murray) we need to fear the evil consequences of keeping English capital out of Scotland After all, English capital goes into Canada, Australia, South Africa and all over the world, and it is not deterred from going there because of separate systems of law or parties, and I do not see why it should be deterred by a small Parliament set up in Edinburgh. I should like to conclude by saying that although I shall vote for the Second Beading, I do not think the most enthusiastic admirer of this Bill thinks it is actually going to become law, because no one would suggest that while the Committee on Devolution is sitting. It is to that Committee first of all people look who like myself are anxious to see a Measure of Devolution extended to Scotland.
§ Captain ELLIOT
There are one or two points which might appropriately be made in connection with a Debate of this kind. We all agree with the last speaker that this Debate to some extent is a series, of rhetorical exercises. I wish to say, first of all, as an unrepentant Scottish Nationalist, that I do not yield to anybody in my admiration for the nation and country of Scotland or for the great deeds she has done or her exploits in the War. I have a certain amount of right to speak on this point, because I have served in a Scottish regiment throughout the War. The Honorary Colonel was the Czar, who commanded 15,000,000 men; the Colonel-in-Chief Sir William Robert son, who commanded 7,000,000 men; and then there was the Colonel of the Regiment, who commanded 500 fighting Scots Greys; and I think he was the proudest man of the whole three, and he had every reason to be proud. But that is no reason why one should support these rather old-fashioned and antiquated ideas of national Parliaments, which are now fading away in every direction. When I heard the 18th Century attitude of the Mover and Seconder of a Bill of this kind, the Seconder being the right hon. Member for Pebbles, a near neighbour of my own, a typically 18th Century figure, representing an expiring party—when I heard these views aired in a Legislative Chamber of this kind, it seemed to me it was time someone should rise and point out that the world has moved 2059 since the year 1707, and that we should get back to the idea of a national Parliament is utterly fantastic and absolutely anachronistic. Nothing astonished me more than to hear support from some of the advanced wings of British politics—the Labour party—of a solution of this kind, support from a party which is fiercely and consistently international in politics, a party consistently opposed to the national settlement which we are proposing to give to Central Europe, which is to be the paradise of self-determination, although there the principle of self-determination has wrecked it almost beyond hope of repair. Now the Labour party has come down to back up a similar proposal for Scotland I think it is an example of confused thinking which it would be difficult to parallel in the history of Parliament. The Leader of the House pointed out only a few nights ago how difficult it was to reconcile the attitude of the right hon. Member for Paisley in opposing Customs rights being given to Jugo-Slovia, and saying at the same time that they should be given to Ireland. Surely, if it is bad in the one case, it must be equally bad in the other. What is sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander. You cannot support these things for Ireland, and oppose them for the nationalities of Central Europe.
The Scottish nation has a right to claim self-government, but if it chooses to renounce it, it is entitled to do so. Not to renounce it is, I think, to take a step backwards. The claim for Devolution is entirely separate. Devolution is absolutely necessary. Anybody who sweats through morning and afternoon committees and tries to keep up with ordinary affairs will realise the justice of the claim for it. There was no man I pitied more last year than the Secretary for Scotland, who had to consider amendments in the early morning, then to attend a morning and an afternoon committee, as well as the sitting of the House and to do the work of his Department as well. But may I point out that the units of Devolution are growing up under our eyes, and they are not national units. The things people are most interested in are the local authorities and their growing importance in the scheme of our life. These local authorities are being given greater powers every day, 2060 and their cry is for still greater power. That is a real live issue in the country. What the local authorities are interested in are new schemes for local and Imperial taxation which are now falling into a hopeless state of confusion, and these schemes would be only hindered by superimposing upon the local authorities an entirely artificial Parliament in Edinburgh, with power to vary again this already complicated taxation. The units of Devolution often start with natural growing units that begin with the local authorities. We have already before us a scheme for some sort of Home Rule for the London area, and undoubtedly Devolution will come in other big urban areas like the Manchester district.
The contribution to political thought which has been made in late years by Lenin and Trotsky should not be dismissed in this haphazard way by the Labour party. They have made indeed a most valuable contribution to our political systems. Their idea of an industrial, as against a geographical franchise, of a devolution to areas with similar interests which nationalities do not have now, is attracting more and more attention, and the live issue to-day is not an academic Parliament like a Parliament in Edinburgh, but a unit such as might be found in the Clyde Valley, where, for instance, it would have been possible to settle housing schemes on far more satisfactory lines than by any sort of system of sending Members to a theatrical and an anachronistic futile body sitting in Edinburgh. Undoubtedly this Soviet system has in it elements of great strength, and it is right it should be discussed by a legislative body such as this. Nobody can deny that the system of delegation to committees and sub-committees and sub-sub-committees is bad. The Soviet undoubtedly is one of the most antidemocratic things that has ever been invented. But the mere mechanical multiplication of Parliaments will not solve this problem. We must try to get some new idea of large devolutionary units, and we must not fall back on the retrograde idea of national Parliaments, which nowadays is utterly absurd. The idea of drawing a national boundary across the Cheviots would injure the national life both of England and Scotland.
I shall take the three examples of Health, Agriculture and Trade Unionism. 2061 I was, I confess, surprised to hear the Member for the Western Highlands (Dr. Murray) pleading in favour of the national system, because the Western Highlands constitute a highly devolutionary unit under the medical scheme of the country. You cannot get away from the fact that salt water is a natural health boundary. You have an antiseptic fluid running all round the shores of this Kingdom, and the unit inside it should be treated as what it is—a single individual health unit.
§ Captain ELLIOT
The larger the unit can be made the better, but certainly division inside an island is an artificial division, and should not be originated if it really does not exist. Housing and health have, unfortunately, become closely connected. Housing should be devolved far more than it is now; but in regard to health, devolution has gone too far, and should be reversed. The Medical Research Committee, for instance, is an Imperial Committee, which was set up as distinctly apart from the Health Boards for Ireland and Scotland and the Ministry of Health of England. We understand that this Committee is to be supervised by a Committee of the Privy Council, consisting of the Secretary for Scotland, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and the English Minister of Health. Can anyone suppose that, in the midst of his already crushing duties, the Secretary for Scotland will have the smallest chance of learning the intricate details of the disease of osteo-malacia or rheumatoid arthritis? The Minister of Health of England, a gentleman who is already sufficiently dangerous on account of his suave and persuasive manner, will, to use a vulgar Americanism, "put it all over" the Secretary for Scotland and the Chief Secretary for Ireland. They will not have a chance. In this, as in so many instances, when you split off a subordinate partner from the predominant partner, instead of the subordinate partner getting Home Rule, he simply has to submit to the dictation of the predominant partner.
In the case of agriculture, I will take the one instance of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act. This is run in an absolutely centralised fashion from London, and in an efficient way which it would be utterly impossible to parallel if we had a second administration for Edinburgh. 2062 There are members of this House who have under way a Bill to remove that from the purview of the central office, and put it under the administration of an office in Edinburgh. A more fatal thing for the Scottish live-stock trade could scarcely be conceived. Here you have a typical example of health legislation in actual practice, dealing with the diseases of animals. You have a permanent Board in England, in permanent session, with a secretary or clerk who is on duty day and night, with inspectors who can be turned on to any part of the Kingdom to deal with an outbreak of disease, and an organisation which it would be utterly impossible to parallel in Edinburgh without a tremendous amount of waste and overlapping. The setting up of a Scottish unit would simply mean that, when anything happened in Scotland, the whole of Scotland, instead of, as now, merely two or three counties, would be absolutely cut off. It would not mean more liberty for Scotland, but less liberty. It is futile to say that Scotland will never have, for instance, foot-and-mouth disease. Undoubtedly an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease may occur in Scotland, as it did some years ago in Edinburgh; but under a centralised system, run from London, you could segregate an area in Edinburgh, and allow the great up and down traffic to take place through Carlisle without any trouble. If you had a Scottish Board, the English Board would shut down Scotland absolutely, and forbid any importation of live-stock from there, just as happens in the case of Ireland to-day. An hon. Member shakes his head. It happens repeatedly that an outbreak in Donegal or Galway makes an entire closure of the whole of the immense Irish live-stock traffic. If you had this suggested system in Scotland, you would get exactly the same result. In the case of sheep scab, again, the Board administers the whole thing, and there is no hindrance to the trains loaded with Scottish sheep coming down to England, which cross the border every day of the week. If there were a separate Board in Scotland, you would have this artificial boundary, at which every train would be stopped and every sheep examined, just as happens now in the case of live-stock coming from Ireland. When one goes through Carlisle or Newcastle, and sees the live-stock expresses pouring down without stop or 2063 delay, and realises that there are people who would wish to stop them, and would count every sheep and look at every sheep for an infectious disease like sheep scab, it makes one wonder what century we are living in.
In regard to trade unions, I have not heard any arguments from hon. Members opposite as to how they, who stand for a centralised administration of trade unions, would wish to split off the administration of Scotland from that of England. We had a small practical experience of that in the Nurses Registration Act. The nurses desired to be registered, and a Bill was brought in. It failed, and then what I have always feared happened; the English came down here and said, "We will have self-determination." The English Minister brought in a Bill for the registration of nurses in England. I think it will be within the memory of every Scottish Member that we were bombarded immediately with requests from the Scottish nurses, not for a similar Bill for Scotland, but at all costs to be brought under the administration, of the English Act, because the Scottish hospitals are run for an export trade, and the Scottish nurses knew very well that, if England set up regulations of its own, the Scottish Board would have no real independence, but would simply have to conform to the decisions of the predominant partner. We could not get into the English Act, owing to this vicious principle of nationalism, and we had another Bill for Scotland and another for Ireland—three separate institutions. I remember that the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Sir Henry Cowan) was bitterly opposed to supporting this system of devolution when he had an example in practical politics. He made a very strong and bitter attack on the Scottish administration for bringing in any Bill of this kind. He did not realise what had happened. It was not Scottish Home Rule; it was English Home Rule, and that is what we Scotsmen are all afraid of. Everybody knows that you cannot have a partnership between one nation of six millions and another of forty millions. We are clamouring now that, if Home Rule takes place, England should be broken up into a number of separate units, because we know and fear that, if England ever gets Home Rule, the smaller nations will sink 2064 into the obscurity from which, put it as you like, they were raised by their alliance with the power, the wealth, the ingenuity, and the driving force of the English race. The modesty and humility of the English is an enduring marvel to us who come from the outside. I do not think there is any doubt that we are vastly indebted to England. There is a balance, a poise, about the best class of Englishman, which you do not get in any other country in the whole world. Why do you Englishmen wait until Scotsmen come down and tell you what a great race you are? I have wondered, and I still wonder, when I see some hon. Members stand up and ask about an Irish republic, and Englishmen sit dumb, as if the whole world, the whole Empire of England, would fall, if a few hundreds of thousands of Irishmen happened to set off on their own. We all know that the original self determinationist was the man who went down to Hades, but could not get into Hell and was given matches and sulphur and told to go and self-determine himself somewhere else. I often wonder when the English nation will apply the same vigorous methods to the squalling children of Ireland, who make so much noise. If I were an Englishman I would not offer Ireland a Republic. I would threaten Ireland with a Republic. I am not in any way frightened of an Irish Republic. If we allowed the price of coal on the quay side at Dublin to rise to the price of coal on the quay side at Rouen—our Ally and not our enemy—do you not think that the Dublin housewife would enjoy having the Sinn Fein flag floating over her house because the price of the gas she cooked the dinner with had gone up two or three times what it was before? This wretched country of Ireland is spoon fed at the expense of England, and then Englishmen quiver with terror because it threatens to set up on its own. A country with no coal, no oil, no ships and no sugar, and then it says it will set up on its own, and Englishmen quiver in terror, and say "If anything happens to this country of Ireland we are doomed, we are finished." I heard the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Carson), waving his arms and using that voice of terror and tragedy of which he is such a master, state that if the Irish ports had been in other hands you could not have won this War. I can understand an Irish Member 2065 making an entirely exaggerated claim of that kind on behalf of his own rain-soaked island. But that immediately all the Englishmen should sit round and quiver in terror is a thing I cannot understand. There is no doubt that England could crush Ireland in a week without the slightest trouble, and why on that account she should be so very much terrified of an Irish Parliament is a thing I absolutely fail to understand.
I am only bringing this in as an instance which shows that Ireland and Scotland could be allowed to do whatever they liked, and that the danger is not to England but to Ireland and to Scotland, and that is why, as a Scottish Member, I would protest first, last and all the time against any such system. We have to get Devolution undoubtedly. We have to go a great deal further than this antiquated and anachronistic eighteenth century Bill suggests in the matter of Devolution. That we should proceed on Nationalist lines is a perfectly wrong solution of the matter. The Nationalist sentiment has made a howling wilderness of Central Europe. The artificial barriers which have been set up cut across the arteries of commerce which have been set up by hundreds of years of development. Any hon. Member who advocates a measure of this kind should be forced to live even for six months in Vienna, in Prague, in Budapest, and see what happens when you break off these long established economic partnerships and bring to birth these hasty measures, these jerry-built countries, where you try to breathe the breath of life into institutions whose need has passed away hundreds of years before. It is not a small matter. It is a very serious matter. These things are brought in by minorities and pressed by minorities, and eventually they are carried by minorities, and then the majority wakes up and looks round and rubs its eyes and realises the abyss into which it has been led because it did not take enough interest to manage its own affairs.
There is no claim in Scotland for a national Parliament in Edinburgh. There is a very immediate claim for a revision of local taxation, for an increase in the autonomy of local bodies and for evolving out of these local bodies bigger and stronger federal devolutionary units, but there is no claim for such a Bill as this, and that is why I would support not the Amendment 2066 of the hon. Member (Mr. Kidd), but rather that of my right hon. Friend (Sir H. Craik), who after all is a Soviet Member of Parliament in touch with the new dispensation. He sits as a Scottish Member, although three-quarters of his constituents live in England. He is elected by the transferable vote on an occupational and not a geographical franchise. He is a much more advanced Member of Parliament than that old-fashioned creature (Mr. N. Maclean) who sits smiling from the Pront Fench opposite. Lenin and Trotsky would shake my right hon. Friend by the hand. They know who he is, they know what he is. But they would lead the hon. Member (Mr. Maclean) out and cut off his head as an old-fashioned reactionary who should be wiped out of existence. Therefore, for the three reasons, that this Bill would do harm to Scotland, that it is not on the right lines of development, in that it supports a national as against an occupational unit for devolution, and thirdly, and in some ways most important, that it fosters and revives the spirit and the sentiment of Chauvinist nationalism which has swept Europe like a pestilence for these last four years, I support to the utmost in my power the Amendment in the name of my right hon. Friend (Sir H. Craik).
§ The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. Munro)
My hon. and gallant Friend (Captain Elliot) has made a speech which was interesting and thoughtful and witty, but I do not think the views which he has expressed are shared to any large extent by Scottish Members or by Scottish electors. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes!"] I made a very carefully guarded statement, and I may be wrong in having made it, but that is my view. In so far as his speech related to the Bill, my hon. and gallant Friend said a speech which has already been delivered reminded him of the 18th century. My hon. and gallant Friend's speech reminded me of the 18th century rather than the 20th. I cannot help thinking that had he been in the House—I do not think his name appears in the division list—holding the views he does, he would have been found among those who opposed the remit to your Conference, Sir, which was directed to enter upon an inquiry on this preamble—that the time has come for the creation of subordinate legislatures within the 2067 United Kingdom. Those are the directions to the Conference which is now sitting, in regard to which I shall have something to say at a later stage.
§ Captain ELLIOT
I cannot have made myself clear. I do object to the creation of a subordinate legislature on a national basis.
§ Mr. MUNRO
I do not think there is anything inconsistent between what I have said and what my hon. and gallant Friend has now said. If there is, I apologise to him, because I do not want to misrepresent his views. This is a private Member's Bill, and the Government propose to treat the Bill as is customary in dealing with private Member's Bills, and as was done in connection with a Bill with similar provisions in the year 1913, when the Liberal Government was in power, namely, to take off the Whips and to give the House an opportunity of reaching a free and independent decision upon the matter at issue. That procedure will be followed to-day. Without an undue exhibition of national pride I think we may say that we have had a very excellent Debate, and it must have left certain English Members wondering what the quality of the Debate would have been had those Gentlemen in Scotland, of whom we have heard, who are prevented by business and other circumstances from attending this House, been able to take part in the Debate.
No one can dispute the growth in recent times of the movement in favour of what I should call the principle of Scottish Home Rule. It has certainly gained strength in the country and in this House. There was a time when those who advocated the principle of Scottish Home Rule and a separate Legislature and executive for Scotland were regarded as mere visionaries and idealists. Their views were treated with a sort of gentle irony. I can remember that time well. All that has been changed, and the principle is regarded now, not merely from the sentimental standpoint—which I can by no means ignore and which is certainly not unimportant—but from the standpoint of practical business. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir H. Craik) spoke several times about the small clique of Scottish cranks and faddists who were advocating this movement. 2068 I would remind him that resolutions in favour of this principle have been passed by the Convention of Burghs, which consists of business men. They have affirmed this proposition—That it is desirable that there should be established on a federal basis, but subordinate to the Imperial Parliament, a Scottish legislature and executive for the control and management of Scottish affairs.Is the Convention of Burghs a clique of Scottish faddists and cranks?
§ Mr. MUNRO
My right hon. Friend does not give any weight to the Convention. I differ from him, and I think the vast majority of his fellow-countrymen will differ from him. Let me give him another instance. Is he aware that resolutions in the same sense have been passed by the town councils of Edinburgh and Dundee? Does he attach no weight to them? Are they faddists and cranks?
§ Mr. MUNRO
My right hon. Friend will pause before he describes as faddists representatives of business communities who view this matter not from the point of view of sentiment, but as a practical business proposition. I have received resolutions from other bodies on similar lines, but I do not want to detain the House unduly. Whatever importance may be attached to the views of these people, and on that the House will judge, they consider that the present system is bad business for Scotland and that it will be good business for Scotland to substitute a subordinate legislature with an executive in Scotland for the system in vogue to-day. Speaking for myself, I do not think that at a time when this movement is, as I believe it to be, in a healthy and flourishing condition, it is right that one should forget the pioneers of it in the early days—a small band of men who through good report and evil report, in fair weather and in foul, while they often lost ground never lost heart, and made it possible for the movement to reach the position in the country outside to which it has attained to-day. But if it is true that in Scotland the movement has gained in strength, as I think it has, it is also true that in this House also it has gained in 2069 strength. I need only point to the Resolution of this House which was passed on the 4th of June last year upon which your Conference, Sir, was constituted. In the Debate on the Motion I find that there was an overwhelming majority in favour of setting up your Conference for the specific purpose named, and that the only Scottish Member who voted against it was my right hon. Friend, the Member for the Universities. There was a time when those in this House and in Scotland who advocated Scottish Home Rule were regarded as mere sentimentalists. Their voice was a voice crying in the wilder ness. To-day, with comparatively few exceptions—I do not want to name a figure because I cannot be quite certain—Scottish Members of all parties are pledged to the principle of Scottish Home Rule.
§ Mr. MUNRO
My hon. Friend may be right. My impression, however, is that the question put at the electoral meetings was with regard to Scottish Home Rule. I think I am right in saying that that was the question which was put during the Edinburgh elections, the answer to which was given in the sense I have indicated by four candidates, two representing one party and two representing the other. So far as I am concerned, if the House will forgive me for a moment for making a personal statement, I was in favour of this principle long before I entered this House, but I am bound to say that my experience as a Member of this House greatly strengthened my belief in the principle, and my experience as a Minister has strengthened my belief in the principle still further. The endeavour by the Minister to control a number of Boards which are situated 400 miles from London, in addition to discharging the ordinary Parliamentary and Departmental duties which fall to his lot here, involves a task of difficulty which no one who has not had actual experience of it can comprehend. I hope that the House will not regard me for a moment as being egotistical if I say that, in endeavouring to perform the duties of my office, I have found it necessary to travel no fewer than fifty-four times to Scotland—to do the double journey—and to receive in Scotland no fewer than 186 deputations. Under these conditions 2070 you can never get the best service from the Minister responsible for Scottish affairs, if he has to endeavour to discharge duties which are both important and engrossing at this end and also at the other. I see no solution of the difficulty except on the lines of the establishment of a Scottish Legislature and a Scottish Executive. That is my own personal view, but I know it is shared by the Prime Minister, who, when receiving deputations from Scotland, on more than one occasion in my presence, has avowed himself as a definite supporter of the principle which we are discussing to-day.
It is trite to say so, but I repeat that there are two reasons which seem to me to justify the claim for Scottish Home Rule. In the first place it is in the interests of the Imperial Parliament itself. Perhaps that is the strongest reason. In the second place it is desirable in the interests of Scotland. The Imperial Parliament is groaning under a load of business, Imperial in its character as well as local, which it is almost impossible to bear. To lighten that load would undoubtedly be to its great advantage in many particulars. I know of no means by which that purpose could be effected except by the application of the principle of Home Rule. That the interests of Scotland would be better served I do not think admits of doubt. As Scottish Members know, at present we have often to be content with the crumbs which fall from the rich man's table. There are reforms which are ripe for carrying out in Scotland, but sometimes they have to wait until England, which often lags behind, is in line with Scotland. Our business has often to be conducted in snippets of time which are available after the discharge of the high Imperial duties imposed upon this Parliament. I blame no one; I blame the system.
So far then as the principle is concerned, the arguments in favour of Scottish Home Rule far outweigh any that can be adduced against it. But that by no means ends the matter. Assuming the most complete acceptance of the principle to which I have referred—I cannot assume that it will be accepted in every quarter of the House—there are three questions to be answered. The first is, is it an appropriate method for securing Home Rule for Scotland? The second is, is this an 2071 appropriate Bill for securing Home Rule for Scotland? The third is, is this an appropriate time for securing Home Rule for Scotland? Let me examine those three questions. Is this an appropriate method" It seems to me unthinkable that a constitutional change of such magnitude as this can be appropriately effected in a private Member's Bill. I know of no precedent for such a proceeding, and for the most obvious reason. Surely it is obvious that if you are to effect a constitutional revolution—it is nothing less—of this magnitude, it ought to be done, if done at all, upon Government responsibility, with all the resources which the Government can command in the way of draughtsmanship, constitutional knowledge and experience. Any private Member, I do not mind how gifted he may be, and I have the greatest respect and admiration for my hon. Friend who introduced this Measure, cannot possibly command the resources which are necessary. That is not all. Even if one gets over the fact that the Bill is presented by a private Member, one has further to consider whether this particular Bill is appropriate for the purpose of being put upon the Statute Book and thereby bringing about the establishment of a separate Scottish legislature. The answer to that question, after the Debate to-day, is really not very difficult. Reference has been made to the circular of the Scottish Home Rule Association.
§ Mr. MUNRO
I may have received that letter, but I have completely forgotten it. The circular to which I am now referring declared:The position of the Association so far as this Bill is concerned is, that it is worthy of support in so far as it embodies the principle of self-government for Scotland, but it is not broad enough or comprehensive enough to be commended to the people of Scotland. It is understood this Bill will not pass unless the Government takes it up, and Government is extremely unlikely to do so. We therefore think you ought to support the Bill as far as it stands for the principle of Home Rule.I am all the more free to discuss the provisions of this measure, and, if necessary, to admit that they are faulty, because many years ago I had a certain responsibility for producing the measure in company with a friend of mine who is 2072 not now in the House, Mr. Pringle The hon. Gentleman and right hon. Gentleman who moved and seconded the Second Reading to-day, and Members who who have spoken on both sides, condemned the Bill as a Bill to be put on the Statute Book in its present, or in approximately similar form. There seems to be no doubt at all about that. On that matter the only question is whether this Bill can be regarded in the same light as a Motion for the advocacy of the principle. The circular to which I have referred regards it as standing for the principle of Home Rule for Scotland. If my hon. Friend who moved regards it in that light, then many hon. Members may be willing to vote for the Bill—
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
May I be allowed to say that I entirely regard it in that way—as simply ventilating the question of Home Rule and inviting the House to vote on it.
§ Mr. MUNRO
I rather thought that was the view my hon. Friend (Mr. Johnstone) entertained. Regarded in that light, so far as Members are concerned, they can take any course which they think proper without any direction from the Government. The Bill therefore, as a Bill, is not one which can be commended to the House for acceptance. Really I am not surprised. I do not want to weary the House by further criticism, but I would like to refer to what seems to me to be a very grave omission from the Bill, which no doubt could be supplied in Committee. The Bill as it stands shears off Scottish Administration from the Imperial Parliament, but in the United Kingdom Parliament there are to remain certain reserved powers and many of these will closely affect Scotland. I see no provision in the Bill from beginning to end to regulate the relation of administration as between Scotland and England under that new system. There must be some guardian of Scottish interests, I apprehend, in the United Kingdom Parliament. Who is it to be? What is to become of the Secretary for Scotland? Is that office to continue? Is he to remain in the United Kingdom Parliament as a Member, and to sit in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom? In 2073 Scotland his administrative duties would, I imagine, be broken up into a number of parts, such as a Minister for Agriculture, a Minister for Education, for Health, and so on. I think it is very doubtful, whether there is any provision in this measure which would adjust the relations as between Scotland and England under the new system which the Bill would set up. Therefore, I say the answers to the first two questions I have put are not really in doubt. As a private Member's Bill this could not be regarded as a suitable measure for bringing about so sweeping a change. As a private Member's measure, it could not, as admitted by its sponsors and claimed by its critics, possibly go on the Statute Book in anything like its present form. But there remains the last question which I have put, namely, whether this is the proper time to pass such a measure.
The Government, as the House well knows, not so very many months ago—in June of last year or thereby—set up a Conference presided over by Mr. Speaker, of which Members of this House are members—one I see sitting opposite to me—for the purpose of considering and reporting on the whole question of Devolution. I have no official or personal knowledge, of course, of the fact, but I am informed that that Conference is now upon the eve of reporting It seems to me that it would be barely respectful or indeed decent to proceed with this Bill to its subsequent stages without awaiting and considering the report of Mr. Speaker's Conference when it is ready for issue and for consideration. That is quite obvious. But on the other hand I can appreciate that the Second Reading of the Bill, if it is merely to be regarded as an assertion of the desirability of setting up a subordinate Parliament in Scotland, would be at the very worst open only to the objection of redundancy. I cannot see, if I may say so, any disrespect to Mr. Speaker's Conference in re-affirming, as it is proposed to do, I understand, by the sponsors of the Bill, the principle which was really the principle upon which this Conference was set up. That is all, as I understand it, which it is proposed to do this afternoon, and I do not suppose that my hon. Friend who moved the Second Reading of the Bill would propose to proceed with its subsequent stages until the report of Mr. Speaker's 2074 Conference had been issued. In short, if I am not wrong in my interpretation of the proposal of my hon. Friend who moved the Second Reading of this measure, he asks the House to treat it as if it were a Motion affirming the desirability of setting up a Legislature and Executive in Scotland. So viewed, many Members may find themselves in a position to support that proposal. If, on the other hand, it is proposed that this measure should be proceeded with before the Conference has reported, and should be put upon the Statute Book in its present crude form, or anything like its present crude form, many who would otherwise support it would feel unable to do so. That I understand to be the position. But, as I say, I am speaking as an individual, and the House will be perfectly free, without any intervention from the Government, to take any course that they think proper upon the Second Reading.
§ Sir H. MACKINDER
In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has just said, I feel that one is not very willing to give a silent vote. I do not want to discuss the main question, and I merely want to say a few words on what is the practical question now that the right hon. Gentleman has spoken. We have to give a decision in the lobbies directly. I take it the real question before us now is how we shall dispose of the corpse, the Bill being dead. There are two ways of doing this. The Amendment which has been proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Kidd) seems to me to commit the Bill decently to the earth. The alternative, which I gather is rather favoured by the Secretary for Scotland, is of allowing it to disappear mysteriously. We are all fond, as Parliamentarians, of Parliamentary fiction. We know perfectly well that if we take this Second Reading, and then send the Bill to a Committee of the whole House, the Bill will not appear again. But we have heard in this Debate several times of the fact that Parliamentary institutions-are at the present time on their trial, and I feel that one of the things we ought to do, wherever possible, is to be explicit and clear and in harmony with common-sense before the general community that does not understand Parliamentary fictions. In most of our minds, I take it, we really have the feeling that this Bill is inopportune. We have had a most 2075 interesting and a most amusing discussion. I think that Members from England who have been fortunate enough to be present here this afternoon—
§ Sir H. MACKINDER
And from Ireland, must have wished there were more Scottish Fridays in the course of a Session. I think this has been all to the good, but it seems to me we have now something that is not merely humorous, but something responsible. I know the Home Rule Association for Scotland has agreed, apparently, to accept the Vote on this Second Reading as merely a vote on principle, but I am not quite certain that the humour this afternoon will reach the Home. Rule Association of Scotland, and I feel pretty certain that, sooner or later, this Bill will reappear in Scotland as having been endorsed in this House. May I just point out that the Secretary for Scotland himself has so far accepted the proposed enactment in the Bill that he defines it as setting up a separate legislature and Executive for Scotland. The term "devolution," which some of us prefer at the present stage of the discussion, is a term which admits of other practical embodiments than that particular form which has been mentioned by the Secretary for Scotland. The whole question has been referred to your Conference, Mr. Speaker, and I feel it should remain there in its widest terms, and that we should not be limiting the width of that reference by voting on this Bill in the sense in which it has been now defined for practical purposes by the Secretary for Scotland. I feel it would be far better that we should leave the question in the state it now is, namely, that it has been referred in its very widest possible sense to your Conference, and that we should not attempt in any way in a single line to dot an "i" or cross a "t." Therefore, I feel it would be very much better that we should accept the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend, the Member for Linlithgow, and that we should say what we really mean, namely, that we wish the matter to remain with your Conference, that this Bill has been the occasion of an, interesting Debate, but that to pass any decision upon it would be inopportune. I feel that all 2076 the more strongly after hearing the speech made by the Secretary for Scotland.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I do not propose to repeat any of the arguments made in my many speeches in favour of Home Rule for Scotland. But there is one point raised by the hon. Gentleman opposite which Scottish Members ought to bear in mind. That is, whether or not this in an appropriate time to take a division or decision on the principle of Scottish Home Rule. It is quite true—I happen to be a member of Mr. Speaker's Committee—that the subject of devolution was referred to the Committee of both Houses of Parliament, with the view to an all-round solution; but it is also true that, since Mr. Speaker's Committee met, the Government itself has introduced a separate measure of Home Rule for Ireland. I am not at liberty, and I do not think this would be the opportunity, to disclose any of the proceedings that have taken place upstairs under, Sir, your chairmanship. That Report, as has been indicated this afternoon, is likely to be before both Houses before Whitsuntide, when Members will have the decisions at which the Conference had arrived There is the outstanding fact that since the Government, by consent, sent this great question upstairs, they themselves have attempted to deal with one portion of the whole problem. In view of that and of the feeling in Scotland, it does seem to me that any talk about the inappropriateness of the time for bringing forward another Bill such as we have here is itself inappropriate.
I do not agree with my hon. Friend who last spoke in assuming that even the humour of this Debate will not penetrate to the Scottish Home Rule Association. My hon. Friend must remember that the Scottish Home Rule Association is only one of many similar associations in Scotland, and even if you take all these together they do not represent the increasing volume of public opinion in Scotland in favour of Home Rule. Home Rule in Scotland has left not only the sentimental but the legislative aspect, and has become purely and simply a business proposition. The experience of the War, particularly of the control of the various Government Departments over Scottish business itself, has probably made more converts to a system of Scottish Home Rule than all the speeches that have ever been made on Scottish platforms, or by 2077 decisions we have come to here. I am not entering into the merits of the case, but desire to remind hon. Members that however much they may have been impressed with the arguments, that it is ineffectual because of the existence of the Devolution Committee which has practically come to its conclusions, whilst we must also bear in mind that the Government have introduced and intend to carry by guillotine, their Irish Home Rule Bill. It is up to Scottish Members to peg out their claim, which I hope they will do this afternoon by registering a favourable decision for this Bill.
I think it is time that an English Member said one word on this subject. We are often accused of taking no interest whatever in Scottish affairs, and of standing in the way of Scottish reform, by coming in when some Measure for the better government of Scotland is introduced, and voting in the Lobby. I do not sit for a Scottish constituency, but I take a keen interest in Scotland. Yet upon this question I cannot rid my mind of a sense of unreality. Even those hon. Members who have spoken in support of the Bill, and have referred to the volume of opinion behind it, have given the impression that there is no considerable body of Scotsmen who would cross the street to vote upon the Amendment. After all, the value of the Debate is that it has led to one or two expressions of opinion as to the probable development of the system of devolutionary Government as a whole, and, perhaps, as my hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for Lanark (Captain Elliot) has been allowed to offer one or two remarks which are not strictly in order, I may be permitted to follow him in the logical conclusion of his argument, in favour of what I may call the Soviet form of Government as opposed to the form of devolution proposed by this Bill. If you follow the argument of my hon. and gallant Friend and say that all devolution should be dependent upon an occupational rather than upon a geographical franchise, you come to the final result that you will reduce all Local Governments to a system of men sitting in small groups round village pumps and voting whether they shall have the village pig for breakfast the next morning. I believe that there is nothing radically wrong in the Soviet system of Government; it is only because that system to-day connotes 2078 in our minds horrors and tortures which should not be a part of any reasonable form of Government that we are opposed to it. There is nothing radically wrong in the system, but that does not say that it is the best. The excuse for bringing in this Bill at this time is that this is a private Member's day anyhow, and it does not very much matter what sort of proposal is put forward. Scottish Members have complained that during the whole of last Session they got only four hours for the discussion of their business. If there, be nothing more important for Scotland than a Bill of this character, I do not wonder that they got only four hours last Session. It seems to me, if the affairs of Scotland are so distinct from those of England and Ireland and demand so much separate consideration, that they might have concentrated upon pressing upon this British Parliament a subject of greater importance than one about which I do not believe that the majority of Scotland care one way or the other.
§ Sir W. RAEBURN
I am glad of this opportunity, because I did not want to record a silent vote. I am convinced that the great majority of the people of Scotland do not want a Parliament in Edinburgh. It has been said that he would be a bold man who would face his constituents without giving a pledge on this question. I claim to be one of those bold men, for when the question was put to me by an elector I said that I was not in favour of a Parliament in Edinburgh. I addressed my constituents last week, when no question was put to me about Home Rule, and to say that the representations which have been made in favour of this Bill represent the business community is absurd. Has there been a single request from a Chamber of Commerce or financial concern in Scotland in favour of Home Rule? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I know what I am talking about. I have taken the trouble to ask my own business friends in Glasgow and throughout the West of Scotland, and I do not know a single man of commercial standing who cares one straw about a Parliament in Edinburgh; they are quite content with this Parliament. When there is any real demand in favour of a measure before this House we are always inundated with telegrams and letters. I have been bombarded with letters over the Bill dealing 2079 with football, but I have not received one in favour of this measure except one from the Home Rule Association in Glasgow.
There are a great many points of view from which it would be injurious to business if we had a Parliament of our own, but there is not time now to enter into that. We are told that there are men in Glasgow who would attend a Parliament in Edinburgh, but who cannot spare the time to attend here. We all know the difficulty there is now in getting men of business capacity to stand even for our town councils and county councils. How much interest the great majority of the people take in elections is shown by the fact that only some 20 or 25 per cent. recorded their votes in the recent elections throughout Scotland. The danger is the apathy of those who ought to take part, and consequently the pertinacity of a certain section of the community are fast getting control. We should be in the same position with regard to a Parliament of 148 members in Edinburgh. I am speaking as one connected with a large business in Scotland, and I would much rather come to London to take part in this Parliament than attend one in Edinburgh. I shudder to think of the debates that would take place over Scottish business in a Parliament of 148 members. After all, if there ever was a time when Home Rule for Scotland occupied less of the attention of the public in the North, it is now. What has happened in the last few years? You have passed more Bills in this House of Commons for Scotland than you have ever done before in any two Parliaments put together. You have had at least three first-class Bills passed. That is very good evidence that Scottish business is not neglected in this House. You have also now a Scottish Grand Committee which has done very good work. I hope we shall not go back to the old plan of trying to establish a number of separate Parliaments for Scotland and Wales as well as England. [An HON. MEMBER: "Ireland!"] The case of Ireland is absolutely different. I have all along been opposed to Home Rule both for Ireland and Scotland, but I voted for the Irish Bill because of the circumstances which prevail in Ireland at the present time. Where the Union has failed in Ireland, it has been the work 2080 of politicians. But in Scotland we have derived inestimable benefit from the Union. Scotland asked for the Union for commercial and economic reasons more than any other. She has prospered under it, and I do not believe that the great commercial community in Scotland desires to have a separate Parliament. It does desire, as we all desire, a measure of Devolution, and we are likely in a very short space of time to have the result of Mr. Speaker's Conference on that matter. I think wisdom lies in the suggestion that we ought not to pass the Second Reading of this Bill, but should wait until we have the Report of the conference which is dealing with this question. We know that this Bill will never go any further. I understand that some hon. Members are going to vote for the Second Reading on the hypothesis that the Bill will never pass. That is not a very straightforward or noble way of acting. If hon. Members are opposed to a separate legislature for Scotland let them vote against this Bill. There is no doubt that devolution is what they are after. They will get it, but whether or not it will please all of them, I do not know. I believe, however, that an earnest desire exists for it, and I am quite sure that the Conference in its wisdom will devise some means for satisfying all reasonable pretensions in regard to the management of Scottish business in Scotland.
§ Colonel GREIG
I shall not endeavour to talk this Bill out, but I want to put a few things on record. The hon. Member for Dumbarton (Sir W. Rae-burn), and one or two others, have suggested that there has been an unreality about this Debate, and that there is no demand in Scotland for this Measure. I have sat as Member for a large business constituency in Scotland for 10 years. On my first going there, I put forward Home Rule for Scotland as one of the planks in my platform, and by that I did not mean devolution, but a legislature in Scotland. I was always prepared to give to Scotland as much as I would give to Ireland, and no more. What happened at the last Election? Up to that time, Scotland had been largely Liberal, and every Liberal Member there was pledged to Home Rule. At the last Election there were some Coalition Liberals who, as I did, put into their programme that they were in favour of local legislatures for 2081 the different units of the British Empire. How did our Conservative friends receive that? Was any objection made to it? Not at all. They accepted it, and, farther, they accepted a legislature for Ireland. That having been done, there can be no more question, to my mind, about asking for devolution and a national legislature for Scotland, recognising the distinct national entity of Scotland as a nation. Let me read one article of the recommendations of the Convention of Burghs which has been referred to:In the opinion of the Convention it is desirable that the Imperial Parliament should devolve upon the people of Scotland the control and management of their local affairs by legislature and an Executive in Scotland subordinate to the Imperial Parliament.That was in 1910, and they have not materially altered their position since.
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. CHARLES BARRIE
Representing as I do a far northern constituency, I know that the feeling is very much in favour of a certain Measure of Home Rule for Scotland, and I cannot allow this Debate to pass without; stating that I
§ wish to give sympathetic support to the principle of this Measure. The Measure will enable the people of Scotland to consider their own affairs from the Scottish standpoint. That has been their desire for a very long period.
§ Mr. JOHNSTONE
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. BARRIE
Like many other Scottish Members in this House—and I think the majority of the people of Scotland—I believe in a system which would enable us to consider all our local matters from the Scottish standpoint. It goes without saying that Scottish affairs are entirely different from English ones, and they cannot be viewed from the same standpoint, I think, therefore, that it is only fair that all Scottish matters should be looked after in Scotland by the people themselves.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 65; Noes, 52.2083
|Division No. 87.]||AYES.||[5.0 p.m.|
|Balfour, Sir R. (Glasgow, Partick)||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)||O'Connor, Thomas P.|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Irving, Dan||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Jameson, J. Gordon||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor- (Barnstaple)|
|Bottomley, Horatio W.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Lianelly)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kiley, James D.||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Lawson, John J.||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirk'dy)||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Edwards, Allen C. (East Ham, S.)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Sutherland, Sir William|
|Edwards, John H. (Glam., Neath)||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Macquisten, F. A.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Glyn, Major Ralph||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wallace, J.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Morison, Thomas Brash||Wignall, James|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, Consett)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hon. A. (Aberdeen)||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald|
|Harmsworth, C. B. (Bedf., Luton)||Murray, John (Leeds, West)||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Hayward, Major Evan||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Neal, Arthur|
|Hogge, James Myles||Nelson, R. F. W. R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Johnstone and Dr. D. Murray.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Dawes, James Arthur||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Hills, Major John Waller|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Fell, Sir Arthur||Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Jodrell, Neville Paul|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Kidd, James|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Lorden, John William|
|Cautley, Henry S.||Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Lort-Williams, J.|
|Coats, Sir Stuart||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Lowther, Major C. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Lyle, C. E. Leonard||Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, East)||Talbot, Rt. Hon. Lord E. (Chich'st'r)|
|M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Remer, J. R.||Thomas-Stanford, Charles|
|Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Norwood)||Tryon, Major George Clement|
|Nield, Sir Herbert||Simm, M. T.||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Palmer, Charles Frederick (Wrekin)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Yate, Colonel Charles Edward|
|Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander||Younger, Sir George|
|Purchase, H. G.||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.|
|Raeburn, Sir William H.||Sugden, W. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Henry Cralk and Captain Elliot.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER declared that the Question was not decided in the affirmative, because it was not supported by the majority prescribed by Standing Order No. 27, and, it being after Five of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.