HC Deb 14 March 1950 vol 472 cc892-3
14. Mr. Rankin

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what stage has been reached in his inquiries into the functions and privileges of the dean of guild and the deacon convenor in certain of the large Scottish burghs.

Mr. McNeil

The inquiries into the matter have been completed. It would not seem that further action at the moment would be appropriate, but I shall keep the position under review.

Mr. Rankin

Could my right hon. Friend indicate to us why he thinks that at the moment further action might not be appropriate in view of the completion of the inquiries?

Mr. McNeil

I think that is a question which might fittingly be directed to someone else.

Mr. McGovern

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this answer will cause great disappointment to all democrats in the Glasgow area? When we are abolishing university representation and plural voting, is it not time that we should get rid of this encumbrance of vested interest represented in Glasgow Corporation?

Mr. McNeil

I completely agree with my hon. Friend that this is outmoded and that the practice has been abused, but I regret that I have nothing to add to the answer that I have given.

Sir William Darling

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this ancient office of dean of guild has been approved by the properly elected principal authorities in Scotland as recently as last year?

Mr. McNeil

I am also aware that this unelected post has had the privilege abused.

Sir W. Darling

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the post is not unelected?

Mr. Oliver Stanley

Could the right hon. Gentleman explain why, if he is conscious of this grave abuse, he is taking no steps to remedy it?

Mr. McNeil

Because time is also a factor that must be reckoned.

Mr. Stanley

Surely if this is a grave abuse, it might take priority over grids for cattle, might it not?

Mr. Rankin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the objection is not to the offices but to the method of election to the offices which is entirely undemocratic.