HC Deb 25 April 1967 vol 745 cc1421-67

8.0 p.m.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I beg to move Amendment No. 31, in page 19, to leave out line 8.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)

It will be convenient if, with Amendment No. 31, there are discussed together Amendment No. 32, in page 19 leave out lines 9 to 19; Amendment No. 33, leave out line 21; Amendment No. 34, leave out line 27; Amendment No. 46, in page 21, line 47, at end insert 'Inverbervie Town Council'; Amendment No. 41, in line 50 leave out from 'Council' to end of line 9 in page 22; Amendment No. 50, in page 22, line 11, at end insert 'Laurencekirk Town Council', and Amendment No. 53, in page 22, line 23, at end insert 'Stonehaven Town Council'.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I am agreeable to all those Amendments being taken together, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as they all concern the same point.

We come from a relatively placid spell during which we have passed a number of Government Amendments, and I hope that the same may be true about these Amendments to the Schedule, though I think that we may be moving into a slightly different atmosphere. I am sure that I speak on behalf of all those of us who have Amendments of this type to Schedule 1 when I express our gratitude to Mr. Speaker for selecting them, because I think that they are—certainly my Amendments are—identical to those that were moved in the Committee. We then withdrew them in view of assurances from the Minister of State that the points we were making were still under consideration and were, indeed, subject to consultation with many local authorities, and with others outside the House.

This fact merely serves to highlight the haste accompanying the introduction of such a complex Measure covering, as it does, so many different local interests which are very firmly held. The need for further debate and consultation is also stressed by the fact that in the provisions of the Bill there is no room for public inquiry, which means that if we are not successful here in our endeavours this evening—although we may hope that things may happen in another place—this is the last opportunity for discussing the make-up of different regional water boards in Scotland. That makes it all the more important that we should have this opportunity to discuss them further.

The arguments I used on Second Reading and in Committee are known, certainly to the Minister of State, and I shall not repeat them, but I should like to deal with one or two salient points which, I believe, are important, and which I want to emphasise. The effect of my Amendments is to put the whole of the County of Kincardine into the North-East of Scotland Water Board. The Bill as it stands splits the county in half.

Two other suggestions emerged in our earlier discussions. The first, put forward by the Minister of State, not only in Committee, but in discussions with local authorities, was that the whole of Kincardine might go into the North-East Board, taking that area of Angus served by the Loch Lee Water Board. I never found that suggestion particularly attractive—although the Minister of State may, in principle, have found it acceptable—because it would create in the County of Angus exactly the same anomalies, perhaps on a greater scale but of the same type, as those I am trying by these Amendments to avoid being created in Kincardine.

To try to clear up one set of anomalies merely to run into another does not constitute either a sensible or a logical course of action. As will be seen in col. 476 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, I made this point in Committee. I do not think that this alternative is practical. It does not clear up any of the difficulties that are at present created, but merely transfers them to a different area. I therefore reject that suggestion.

The second main suggestion was that the Loch Lee Water Board might be put under the authority of a water development board. This question has been discussed rather more generally but not exactly as to the form the board would take, so that it was never discussed in detail in Committee. This point of view has been put forward tentatively since the Committee stage in consultations between local authorities and the Department of the Minister of State.

On the other hand, I understand that those consultations have not reached any definite conclusion at all so that it would seem that this alternative has so far not offered any sensible or practical solution. That fact may highlight the very short timetable we have had for working on the Bill. I am not aware, and having spoken on the telephone this afternoon to the Clerk of the Kincardine County Council I know that he is not clear, either, what stage the consultations have reached. I therefore reject the idea, but not in principle—there is a germ of good in it. However, with the very limited timetable we have to deal with this Bill we cannot consider this as a sensible or practical proposition.

I appreciate the concern of the Minister of State over all these consultations and the opportunities there have been. I would also express my sorrow that I was not able, at very short notice, to attend the meeting in Aberdeen on 29th March. The notice given for that meeting was extremely short—less than a week—and it was not possible for me to attend. On the other hand, I know that the Kincardine County Council has had very full discussions with other authorities in the North-East, and that the Angus County Council at the meeting of 29th March, as my hon. Friend the Member for Banff (Mr. Baker) who attended, will confirm, put forward the county's position very clearly. That is a position in line with what I have tried to put forward before, and which I am again putting forward now.

The interesting thing emerging from the consultations with the Kincardine County Council is that no objections have been raised by the other local authorities in the North-East Water Board—Aberdeen City, Aberdeen County, Banff, Moray and Nairn—to the bringing-in of the southern half of the county into the North-East area. As my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Wolrige-Gordon) says, most of them welcomed the idea.

That is the attitude throughout the North-East. There has not been any objection from the County of Angus. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne) will confirm that there has been no objection to the southern half of the County of Kincardine going into the North-East Regional Board. It is this wide measure of welcome from the other members of the North-East Board, and no objections from the East of Scotland Board that gives me heart in arguing in favour of these Amendments.

The Minister of State stuck very closely in Committee to the principle of source-to-tap—a principle that is embodied in the Bill. It is a principle that it is right to adhere to as far as is possible and practicable. The one thing that has disappointed me is that he stuck far more closely to the principle in terms of source than in terms of tap. If he wants to stick to the principle he should stick to it all the way. As I demonstrated in Committee—and I will not now weary the House with the arguments I then used—the Schedule as it now stands, with the County of Kincardine being divided into two, constitutes a very clear breach of the principle at the tap end. If the Minister does not accept my Amendments he will still be left with a breach of his sacred principle—a principle that I respect.

Whether the hon. Gentleman accepts my Amendment or maintains the position as it is in the Schedule, there is bound to be a breach of that principle. The Schedule is a breach at the tap and what I propose, as I have freely admitted, would be a breach of the principle at the source. I suggest that it is far better to breach this principle at the source rather than at the tap end when so much of the weight of local opinion supports the Amendment.

In view of the limited time for consultation on this matter and as there can be no public inquiry and as there is to be a breach of the principle anyway and as my Amendment would represent local opinion, not only that of Kincardine County Council, but that of the neighbouring local authorities, I hope that the Minister, even at this stage, will find his way to accepting the Amendment.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

I want briefly to support what my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) has said. As a representative of Aberdeenshire, which is irrevocably in the North-East Region, whatever happens to the Schedule tonight, I want to re-emphasise that the whole of Kincardine is most welcome to join that region, and we look forward to that day with keen anticipation.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

I am very pleased that territorial ambition is still left in the North-East, but whether that will be fully realised by later Amendments remains to be seen.

There is a part of the argument of the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) which I did not follow, although he laid great stress on it. He said that somehow there would be a breach of the principle of source to tap, if not at the source end, then at the tap end. I will give way if he wants to elaborate on that, but I did not follow that part of his argument.

We are debating the first of a series of three groups of Amendments. I am certain that there would be many more if we gave way on the principle. I know that from my recent meetings with local authorities, when it has been murmured that if the Government gave way to so-and-so, others would insist that we should give way to someone else. In other words, this is not just a debate on a county for whom, I must confess, I have a natural affection, as it is nearly as small geographically as I am—all the more delightful for that—and which deserves consideration by Ministers on that account.

In fact, I have gone out of my way from time to time to serve Kincardine and I am pleased that its representatives were not unduly perturbed when the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns and I fell out in Committee on one occasion. I can well understand their agony that for this purpose the county should be riven in two, and I see the logic of the argument.

The hon. Gentleman said that there were two propositions to preserve the principle of source to tap, one of which we ought not to pursue, namely, the water development board proposition. This was that the Loch Lee scheme should have a water development board serving the North-East Region and the Eastern Region. That is not a proposition which I would rule out. If the Eastern Region combined with the North-East Region, it would be part of the same board. By the way, there is a misunderstanding about the attitude of the Angus County Council, some mistake between Angus and Kincardine, but no doubt it can be ironed out. However, I will come to that later.

I will stick to the argument about the breach of the source-to-tap principle. It is not for the Government to propose that we should take the whole of the Loch Lee scheme from the North-East to the East and put that up as a proposition without having proper consultations. No one has ever suggested this, not even at the meetings held in both regions on 10th March and 29th March.

If the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) reflects, he will agree that this position is not unparalleled by that in his own county of Perth, although there was no dispute between the Eastern region, Dundee and Angus that they should "lose" the Loch Turret scheme to the Central Scotland Water Development Board. In other words, Perth did not argue that it should retain its territorial integrity in order that the East of Scotland Region should run the Loch Turret scheme, most oil whose water is consumed outside the East of Scotland area. It said that it wanted its territorial integrity, but that the Loch Turret scheme should be run by the Central Scotland Board. This was a perfectly sound and sensible argument which the Government accepted.

8.15 p.m.

If that were the position in this case, I would agree that a water development board might have been a possibility and that the Loch Lee scheme might have been a possibility as a water development board. That is a matter which could still be discussed, although I feel that Angus would not like it. It is a matter entirely for the Angus County Council to discuss with Dundee which, of course, has a vital interest. It is suggested that in order to stick to the principle, if the North-East is willing to include North Kincardine and South Kincardine, it must take part of Angus which is serviced, as the South of Kincardine is, by the Loch Lee scheme.

The County Clerk of Angus is under the misapprehension that we are simply arranging for administrative representation on the boards. In his letter about the position of the county if the Loch Lee Scheme were to be considered as part of the North-East Region, he says: In view of the harmonious relations which have always existed between the Counties of Angus and Kincardine and, particularly in view of the fact that the Water Authorities in this area honestly wish to make a thorough success of the proposed new Eastern Regional Water Board, I think it can fairly be said that no exception would be taken to a proposal that for administrative purposes the representation of Kincardine County Council should be confined to the North-East Water Board. I personally find it rather difficult to understand what the great advantage would be in having a representation of two Members on a large Board as opposed to representation of one Member on each of two large Boards, but there may be some factors of which I am unaware. Angus County Council, however, cannot agree to any suggestion that if Kincardine are allowed to have their total representation on the North-East of Scotland Regional Board it must follow that any part of Angus should also be included in that area governed by that Board. As you will observe from the Loch Lee scheme distribution system in Angus, a copy of which I enclose at the request of the Convener, mains are laid over a greater part of the County of Angus and in many cases happen to be within only a few hundred yards of the mains laid by the existing Burghal Water Authorities". The County Clerk could not be friendlier. I understand that he wrote this letter in consultation with senior elected members of the council in an effort to meet Kincardine's problems.

But they are problems which are consequential to other people. I have not consulted the City of Dundee, but the minutes of the meeting of 10th March in the City Chambers, Dundee, a meeting of all the members of the proposed Eastern Region with Kincardine County Council representatives present in the form of their Convener, Mr. Saunders, and the Deputy County Clerk, Mr. Wood, show that they said very little while in Conclusion it is recorded: That the problem of Kincardineshire being under consideration by the Minister, no comment was offered". It was unfortunate, to put it at its least, that it was left like that, because the East of Scotland Region, like the North-East, ought to have said something to us and should have said whether it felt that it would settle on a water development board with Loch Lee. It would mean that Angus would be buying water from the Loch Lee scheme. It would have to make allocations between the two regions. It is a rather big proposal for a small problem, but it is a possibility and it should have been investigated.

If we were to put the first proposition to Dundee and to Angus, I am certain that they would reject it, not only because it would impose on Angus the territorial agony of being divided, as is the case with Kincardine and other parts of Scotland, but also because it would place additional financial burdens on the other members—Perth and Dundee—in the East of Scotland combination. I am not saying that they should not accept these burdens, but they should have worked them out and decided whether they were for or against them.

I have met Kincardine and the principal authorities in both regions, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is convinced that the original proposal is the only one he can accept in present circumstances as being fair. I agree that it is not fair to Kincardine, but many other proposals are not fair to other places. It is the fairest my right hon. Friend can get in the circumstances, and he cannot accept these Amendments. We have given much thought to this. There have been many meetings, quite apart from the three I have mentioned. There have been informal discussions. I do not see any way out of it. If we were to give way just for the sake of Kincardine on the source to tap argument, we would legitimately have to give way on a number of others elsewhere in Scotland. That would disrupt Schedule 1 beyond repair.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

The Minister of State has been trying to knock down two propositions which my hon Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) did not advance. My hon. Friend suggested that the County of Kincardine should go into the North-East of Scotland Water Board. This was not an argument with which the Minister of State dealt. The Minister of State dealt with two other propositions—first, that the Loch Lee scheme should be taken out and put into a water development board, and, secondly, that the whole of the Loch Lee source to tap should be hived off and put into the North-East Region.

The second proposal, as the Minister of State suggested, would be totally unacceptable to local authorities in the County of Angus; and there are substantial arguments against it. The objections to splitting Angus apart in this way, because of the nature of the existing systems of supply in the County of Angus, would be more substantial than the objections to splitting Kincardine apart as the Government propose; but this was not the case advanced by my hon. Friend. Nor did my hon. Friend suggest the less objectionable possible solution of hiving the Loch Lee scheme off into a separate development board. I would not be enthusiastic about that scheme, either, but it was not what my hon. Friend suggested.

My hon. Friend said that the County of Kincardine should be moved into the North-East of Scotland Water Board. This is not a proposition to which the County of Angus or any of the local authorities in Angus would take exception. The Minister of State's answer to this was, by inference, that it would disrupt his rules and principles.

Dr. Mabon


Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

It was an argument which the Minister of State advanced only by inference. He did not answer my hon. Friend.

Dr. Mabon

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman is allowing me to comment on this. The letter from the Angus County Clerk says that there is no objection in Angus to Kincardine's sending its representatives to the North-East of Scotland Water Board and having none on the East of Scotland Water Board. However, that would be a quite intolerable position. As the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) argued in Committee and elsewhere, he regards the Loch Lee scheme as being the principal source of supply. It would, therefore, mean that the representatives of Kincardine on the North-East of Scotland Water Board would be there although their principal source of supply was being operated by another board. That would be nonsense.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I still do not think that the Minister of State has answered the perfectly reasonable case advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns. I have intervened only to emphasise that there is no objection whatever from the point of view of the County of Angus to the proposition of my hon. Friend. There would be objection to the propositions which the Minister of State was answering, but these were not the propositions made by my hon. Friend. I am only too happy to support the Amendments.

Mr. Doig

I assure my hon. Friend the Minister of State that Dundee is emphatically against any alteration in the present set-up of the Board of which it is a part. This matter was carefully worked out by the Advisory Committee to ensure that each unit was viable. If we start taking off bits here, before long we shall be taking off other parts. The arguments advanced in Committee in relation to Stirling, for example, are just as valid as the arguments now advanced by the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith). The moment we start chopping and changing we shall reduce one unit until it is too small for the amount of water available, although another unit may be made too large. This particular part of Kincardine may well be fairly small. I do not know how much water it consumes.

Dundee has carefully considered the way in which this has been drawn up. It is not the way that Dundee wanted it to be drawn up; but Dundee has considered the matter as it was proposed and has accepted it on that basis. If we start chopping and changing now and take bits off here and there, it is feasible that Dundee will no longer want to carry on on this basis.

After all, Dundee stands to lose probably more than any other authority in the region, because it is by far the largest user and the largest supplier. It has a bigger stake than any other authority. Dundee Town Council is absolutely opposed to any cutting off of any part of this area. The council would welcome it if the area were increased. The Report of the Advisory Committee confirms that the amount of water available is much greater than that which will be used. Therefore, Dundee is looking for a bigger area, not a smaller one.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. MacArthur

This debate, and those which are to follow, illustrate the difficulty into which the Minister of State has got himself. Obviously, it was very tempting to my hon. Friends and myself to make a heyday of Schedule 1 from the moment when the Bill was introduced, but the hon. Gentleman, who has been generous in recognising the part which we have played, will be the first to accept that we have behaved most responsibly in this matter.

I am bitterly disappointed, however, at the way in which the hon. Gentleman has handled these Amendments and the matters still to follow on Schedule 1. He will recall that, when we first started our proceedings in Committee, we objected to the haste with which the Bill had been brought before the Committee. We asked for time, but we were denied it. We said that we needed extra time to discuss with our local authorities the fundamental effect which the Bill would have on their water undertakings and their future. Later, we proposed that there should be a public inquiry procedure under Clause 1 so that points of the very kind put forward tonight could be exposed and debated in public and that any reasonable and responsible challenge to the groupings in Schedule 1 could be made and, I hope, carried through. This, also, was denied us.

Later in Committee, we considered the same Amendment as that which my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) has moved so ably, and others of my hon. Friends, the Members for Moray and Nairn (Mr. G. Campbell) and for Banff (Mr. Baker), as well as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) moved Amendments dealing with local points of grouping principle under Schedule 1. In every case, the Minister, who handled the question most courteously at the time, explained that we need not worry too much—this was the implication—all these matters were subject to negotiation and consultation, and he assured us that he would be having lots of consultations with all the bodies involved.

We accepted that, as did the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland—I think I can speak for him here—and withdrew the Amendments on that assurance. Now, we have the same Amendments before us. Mr. Speaker has been good enough to allow them to be selected because they were withdrawn, in the light of assurances given by the Minister of State, and we sought to reintroduce them. But we now learn, to our dismay, that the consultations have not got very far on this group of Amendments. Indeed, I wonder whether my hon. Friend had any indication at all from the Minister until tonight about the course of consultations so far.

It is extraordinary to hear the Minister say that the county clerk of Angus, for whom we all have great respect, as he has, is under some apprehension. He can be under a misapprehension only if the process of consultation has not gone very far. If the County Clerk of Angus is under some misapprehension, it is not his fault; it is the Minister's fault for not carrying the negotiation and consultation far enough.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for letting me intervene to put this right. I am basing what I say about the county clerk's misapprehension on what the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns has said. The county clerk has got the idea from somewhere that it is only representation that we are talking about. I am taking the hon. Gentleman at his word when he says that there is no objection from Angus. Of course, there is no objection from Angus based on representation, but not based on territorial adjustment. In fact, I do not think that the county clerk is so wrong here. I think that the hon. Gentleman has either misunderstood the county clerk or conversations have gone wrong somewhere, though not with me. I am clear on both sides.

Mr. MacArthur

I gave way to the hon. Gentleman so that he could clear the point up, and I am obliged to him for his intervention. He said that the county clerk was under some misapprehension, and I am glad that he has now made the point clear, because I would not wish to cause him difficulty in this matter.

At another stage, the Minister of State said that these were matters which could still be discussed. This is not the stage at which these matters should still be discussed. They should have been determined long ago, or there should be provision for their open and public discussion in the future. There is no such provision. The hon. Gentleman asks us now to agree to Schedule 1 as it stands. The Bill was rushed into Committee. We had no chance properly to consult our local authorities.

When my hon. Friends and the right hon. Gentleman raised these questions on Schedule 1 in Committee, we were told that there would be ample negotiation and consultation, yet now, on Report, the penultimate stage of the Bill in this House, we find that the consultations have been inadequate. The hon. Gentleman still tries to force us to accept the Schedule as it stands, without any provision for these fundamental matters to be exposed or heard publicly in the future. This is most unsatisfactory.

I have heard my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns put his argument, and it seems to me to be a good one. I cannot say whether, in the ultimate, he is right or wrong, but it sounds to me like a jolly good argument. The fact that he has had no answer from the Minister is a reflection of the weakness of the hon. Gentleman's position.

Mr. Manuel

I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not overheating his mental processes too much. Would he not admit that those consultations have been successful in the main, and have saved a good deal of public money that would have been expended if this course had been followed, and which would have been unnecessary in the majority of cases? There will obviously be exceptions that will need to be hammered out, and we are in the democratic process of doing that tonight.

Mr. MacArthur

We are doing that tonight with a large Government majority, although it has been substantially eroded in the Divisions and the trend is for us and not against us. The fact remains that the Minister, with his majority behind him, is stifling any change. I very well remember in the debate on the principle of the Bill the Minister referring to the Orkney and Shetland question, which will be raised shortly. He gave us hope that there might be some change, and when we came to the Committee stage we believed that a message of encouragement would be given. That message was that there would be consultation, and now we are waiting. Perhaps the Minister will have something to say about that later.

My hon. Friend has advanced his case very clearly and well. If he wishes to divide the House I would say to him that on a matter of principle, because this is the last opportunity we have to debate these issues, my right hon. and hon. Friends and I will go into the Lobby with him.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I wish to answer some points that have been raised in the debate, but, first, I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) for his support in the matter, which not only concerns the practical effects on the county of Kincardine, but involves a matter of principle.

I was very interested in what the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Doig) said, which I am sure will be noted in the County of Kincardine and also in Angus and Aberdeen, which have no objections to the proposals I put forward tonight. I did not like the slightly sinister, "big brother" attitude, which he expressed apparently on behalf of Dundee but I will give the hon. Member the benefit of the doubt. I am sure that the feelings of the citizens of Dundee in this matter are not fully reflected in what the hon. Gentleman said tonight. I hope that that is so.

As my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne) said, the Minister completely missed the point in his answer to the debate, because I said that I was not arguing for Kincardine taking half the County of Angus into the North-East area. I rejected that argument and said that I had also rejected it in Committee. I was arguing for the perfectly simple division at the county boundary between Kincardine and Angus, and asked that the County of Kincardine in its entirety should go into the area of the North-East of Scotland Water Board, with no appendage from Angus.

So far as I know—I ask the Minister to deny this if he can—the County of Angus has no objection to that happening. Of course, it has objection to its own county being divided, but that was never suggested, and it was never put forward by the County of Kincardine in its discussions with the County of Angus. All that Kincardine asked for was the reaction of the County of Angus to Kincardine's keeping its entirety and entering the North-East board.

I base my argument entirely on the source-to-tap principle, which I accept, and which has been the basis of so many of the Minister's arguments. I referred to that on 2nd February in the debate on the principle, reported at c. 82 of the OFFICIAL REPORT Of the Committee proceedings. The Minister said that this was something new that was introduced tonight. It was not. I referred to it again in Committee, as reported at c. 476 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Committee proceedings. The hon. Gentleman makes a mistake in thinking that there is only one end to the source-to-tap principle. There are two ends; the source is the beginning and the tap is the other end. I agree with the principle, but what about the end where the water ceases running and reaches the extremities of the possible limits? I am sorry if the hon. Gentleman did not understand what I meant in Committee, but this was argued at St. Andrew's House with the local authority representatives.

Dr. Mabon

I do not understand this Calvinistic argument. This is a theological argument if there is one. My understanding of the source-to-tap principle is that the Loch Lee scheme supplies the residents of Kincardineshire, not all those in Kincardineshire, and a large number of residents in Angus. It is recorded in our minutes of my meeting with the Kincardine County Council on 24th February that The constituent authorities"— that is, Angus and Kincardine— each reserved their entitlements in advance with the result that when one of them required additional supplies urgently, difficulties arose notwithstanding that the needed quantity of water was available in the scheme. These difficulties would be removed on the introduction of the source-to-tap principle which could provide flexibility within each region. That was the engineering advice which we were given.

I ask the hon. Member what he means by the tap end. The principle of the source-to-tap supply is a whole principle. If the hon. Member thinks that I have been abusive, that is because I do not understand what he means by the tap end of the source-to-tap principle.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

It is perfectly simple. The Minister has chosen a limit that is arbitrary for the taps. The proposed line dividing Kincardine is utterly artificial; the taps do not end here. Distribution is already taking place aross this line from south to north and in the future can take place from north to south when the Glen Dyl scheme comes into operation. My argument is no more arbitrary than the very intransigent and stubborn line which the hon. Gentleman has taken. If I am Calvinistic about the tap end, he is being extra Calvinistic about the source end. Because of the arbitrary attitude which the hon. Gentleman has adopted, I ask my hon. and right hon. Friends to support me in dividing the House on this proposal.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill:—

The House divided: Ayes 179, Noes 113.

Division No. 318.] AYES [8.44 p.m.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Neal, Harold
Alldritt, Walter Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)
Allen, Scholefield Gregory, Arnold Norwood, Christopher
Anderson, Donald Grey, Charles (Durham) Oakes, Gordon
Armstrong, Ernest Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) O'Malley, Brian
Ashley, Jack Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Orme, Stanley
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Oswald, Thomas
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Barnes, Michael Hannan, William Palmer, Arthur
Baxter, William Harper, Joseph Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Beaney, Alan Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Park, Trevor
Bence, Cyril Haseldine, Norman Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Hilton, W. S. Pavitt, Laurence
Bidwell, Sydney Hooley, Frank Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Binns, John Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Bishop, E. S. Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Pentland, Norman
Blackburn, F. Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Booth, Albert Hoy, James Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Boston, Terence Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Price, William (Rugby)
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Rankin, John
Brooks, Edwin Hynd, John Reynolds, G. W.
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.) Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Cant, R. B. Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Jones, Dan (Burnley) Rose, Paul
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Coe, Denis Kenyon, Clifford Rowland, Christopher (Meriden)
Coleman, Donald Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Ryan, John
Concannon, J. D. Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Sheldon, Robert
Conlan, Bernard Lawson, George Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Slater, Joseph
Cronin, John Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Spriggs, Leslie
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Lomas, Kenneth Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Loughlin, Charles Symonds, J. B.
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Luard, Evan Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Thornton, Ernest
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) MacColl, James Tinn, James
Davies, Ifor (Gower) MacDermot, Niall Urwin, T. W.
Davies, Robert (Cambridge) McKay, Mrs. Margaret Varley, Eric G.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Mackintosh, John P. Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Dewar, Donald Maclennan, Robert Wallace, George
Dickens, James MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Doig, Peter MacPherson, Malcolm Watkins, David (Consett)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Wellbeloved, James
Eadie, Alex Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Whitaker, Ben
Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly) Manuel, Archie Whitlock, William
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Mapp, Charles Wilkins, W. A.
Ensor, David Marquand, David Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Faulds, Andrew Mason, Roy Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Fernyhough, E. Mikardo, Ian Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Finch, Harold Millan, Bruce Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Miller, Dr. M. S. Winnick, David
Ford, Ben Milne, Edward (Blyth) Winterbottom, R. E.
Forrester, John Molloy, William Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Fowler, Gerry Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Freeson, Reginald Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Galpern, Sir Myer Moyle, Roland Mr. McBride and
Garrett, W. E. Murray, Albert Mr. Harold Walker
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Burden, F. A. Errington, Sir Eric
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Campbell, Gordon Eyre, Reginald
Astor, John Carlisle, Mark Galbraith, Hn. T. G.
Baker, W. H. K. Clegg, Walter Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)
Balniel, Lord Corfield, F. V. Glover, Sir Douglas
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Costain, A. P. Goodhart, Philip
Black, Sir Cyril Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Gower, Raymond
Bossom, Sir Clive Dance, James Grant-Ferris, R.
Braine, Bernard Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.) Gresham Cooke, R.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt. Col. Sir Walter Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Gurden, Harold
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Drayson, G. B. Hall, John (Wycombe)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M) Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hall-Davis, A. G. F.
Bullus, Sir Eric Elliott, R.W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Harris, Reader (Heston)
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Smith, John
Hawkins, Paul Maginnis, John E. Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Heseltine, Michael Maude, Angus Stodart, Anthony
Higgins, Terence L. Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Hiley, Joseph Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Hill, J. E. B. Mills, Peter (Torrington) Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Holland, Philip Miscampbell, Norman Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Hordern, Peter Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Temple, John M.
Hunt, John More, Jasper Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Iremonger, T. L. Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh van Straubenzee, W. R.
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Murton, Oscar Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Nabarro, Sir Gerald Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Nicholls, Sir Harmar Walters, Dennis
Jopling, Michael Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Ward, Dame Irene
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Kaberry, Sir Donald Page, Graham (Crosby) Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Kimball, Marcus Page, John (Harrow, W.) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Kitson, Timothy Percival, Ian Worsley, Marcus
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Prior, J. M. L. Wright, Esmond
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Pym, Francis Younger, Hn. George
Loveys, W. H. Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Lubbock, Eric Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
MacArthur, Ian Scott, Nicholas Mr. Grant and Mr. Monro
Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Mr. Ross

I beg to move Amendment No. 35, in page 20, line 33, after 'Rutherglen' to insert 'Milngavie Town Council'.

Mr. Manuel

Hear, hear.

Mr. Ross

If my hon. Friend, who represents Milngavie, will restrain himself for a minute, I will explain the Amendment.

It has been brought to our attention that, while the major part of the district of Milngavie Town Council is in the limits of supply of Glasgow Corporation, there is a relatively small part which was taken into the burgh under an extension of the boundaries for which Milngavie Town Council is the local water authority in terms of the Water (Scotland) Acts. The Amendment does not affect the boundaries of the proposed Lower Clyde Region. It ensures, however, that Milngavie Town Council's limited functions as a local water authority are formally transferred to the Lower Clyde Board under the Bill. I am sure that the Amendment will give as much joy to the hearts of patriotic locals in Milngavie as Celtic's achievement of getting into the European Cup Final tonight has done.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Grimond

I beg to move Amendment No. 36, in page 21, line 20, to leave out 'Kirkwall Town Council'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I think that it will be convenient if Amendments No. 37—in line 21, leave out 'Lerwick Town Council'; No. 38, in line 22, leave out 'Orkney County Council'; No. 39, in line 23, leave out 'Stromness Town Council'; No. 40, in line 27, leave out 'Zetland County Council'; and Amendment No. 74, which is on a separate sheet of paper, in page 22, line 24, at end insert:

Orkney and Zetland Water Board. Limits of Supply of:—
Kirkwall Town Council
Orkney County Council
Stromness County Council
Lerwick Town Council
Zetland County Council.
are discussed at the same time.

Mr. Grimond

That certainly will be convenient to me, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I should like to say how grateful I am both to the Clerk's Department and to Mr. Speaker for allowing Amendment No. 74 to be discussed. I tabled it, but it went astray between the Table Office and the printers. There is a small misprint in it in that "Stromness County Council" should read "Stromness Town Council".

It will come as a surprise to many hon. Members that I have tabled these Amendments, which were put down in Committee, because I and I think most Members of the Committee gathered the impression from the Minister of State that he would make an Amendment to the Schedule in respect of the Counties Orkney and Shetland. The Amendments are designed to remove the existing water boards in my constituency from Caithness and Sutherland. Amendment No. 74 is designed to constitute a new water hoard including Orkney and Shetland. We understood at one time that that would be acceptable to the Government.

Not only am I surprised to have to move these Amendments, but rather sad. I take the view that on this sort of matter, which is not party contentious in any way, as representatives of the people we should be able to have a free discussion and that, at the end of it, the weight of argument and reason and the wishes of local people should prevail. In this case, they have not prevailed.

I heard the Minister of State say about the last Amendment that once he began making exceptions to the Schedule, there would be no end to it, and, therefore, he could make none.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

I did not say that.

Mr. Grimond

I regard that as being the death of good government. The whole point of politicians is that they should be able to make exceptions, whether they are Ministers or Members of Parliament. We are sent here to amend what appear to be good paper schemes by representing the views of our constituents and also the facts of life and geography. I have found that the test of a Ministry is how far it is able to make exceptions. If it is able to make none, we might just as well leave government to civil servants or, better still, to a computer.

It has been represented to me by the Minister that, in regard to some previous schemes of which we did not approve, he has not received any great complaint from our local authorities. This time, I am afraid that he is receiving a great many complaints. In my experience I have not known an occasion on which all the local authorities of Orkney and Shetland and all those serving on them have been so aggrieved by the conduct of the Government.

I think that I am entitled to read to the House some of the telegrams which have been sent. The first is from Zetland County Council and Lerwick Town Council: As we await today the arrival of Royal Commission on Local Government Shetland County Council and Lerwick Town Council note with astonishment the proposed terms of the Water Bill to be submitted to Parliament. This prejudging of issue involved is a cavalier disregard of the wishes and argued case of the people of these Islands. We must interpret this as an affront to the members of the Royal Commission as they make their journey to Shetland. This essential familiarisation has not been undertaken by the Government or the drafters of the Bill. The terms of the Bill display well the complete lack of knowledge and general public will react with implacable hostility to centralisation. I have received a telegram from Orkney as well. It says: Confirm having sent following telegram to Doctor Dickson Mabon today: Orkney County Council are bitterly disappointed to learn that despite the impression given at the meeting on 31st March no amendment is proposed to the present form of Schedule 1 of the Water Bill. They wholeheartedly support the views expressed by Jo Grimond in his letter to you of 19th inst. and earnestly urge you to act thereon. Further, I have received a telegram from Stromness, saying: Herewith copy of telegram sent to Dr. Dickson Mabon: Stromness Town Council deplore the outrageous folly of the proposal to set up a water authority comprising Caithness, Sutherland, Orkney and Shetland. This decision conflicts greatly with your attitude to the position of Orkney in your discussions with Mr. J. Grimond, M.P., and also at the meeting held in St. Andrew's House on 31st March. The decision to constitute a water board as proposed is obviously an exercise in paper planning with absolutely no regard to the peculiar problems of an island community such as ours or to the geography of the area. My Council strongly urges you even at this late hour to reconsider the matter and make the necessary amendments to the Water (Scotland) Bill. We have done all that we can to try to accommodate the Government. Not even the Minister of State will suggest that I have been unreasonable at any time during these proceedings.

The local authorities were asked first of all to agree to an amalgamation within the counties. They agreed to that. Now they have agreed to an amalgamation between the counties. Throughout, these negotiations have not been about how the Bill can be amended to meet the needs of local people, but how it can be amended so that the Scottish Office can preserve the Bill as near as possible to its original form.

I feel bound, once again, to go over some of the facts of the situation. Orkney and Shetland are two groups of islands, and that cannot be reiterated too often. That fact alone makes them an exception to the rest of Scotland, whether the Minister likes it or not. It justifies an exemption in their administration. They are surrounded by great stretches of sea. Is it realised in the Scottish Office that from the north of Shetland to Caithness is as far as from London to York? The Government apparently accept that Ross and Cromarty is too far from Caithness, yet one can motor to Caithness and back in a day. Would even the Scottish Office suggest having a water board covering an area from London to York, and across the sea? It is facts of this sort which justify an exception, yet they appear to have been ignored.

9.0 p.m.

It is agreed that Ross and Cromarty should have a separate board, though this area is actually contiguous with Caithness and Sutherland. It is possible to pipe water from one to the other, to drive up there and back in a car, or to go by train, but there are no steamer connections between Caithness and Shetland, and only yesterday the Local Government Commission was stuck in Orkney. It is all very well for hon. Gentlemen opposite to laugh, but we are setting up an organisation in which many people will constantly be stuck in these places because of weather or because there are no seats available on aircraft, and to local people in my constituency this is not a laughing matter. On the principles laid down in the Report we should have separate authorities. It is said that the factors which should determine what authorities are set up are physical ones, but these have been ignored, and so have the wishes of the people of Orkney and Shetland.

Where is the new headquarters of the water board going to be? We have no natural communications with Wick. There is no piping of water to Caithness, and, if the board is to be set up, the obvious centre is Kirkwall. There is at least a steamer connection between Shetland and Orkney, but there is none between Shetland and Caithness. It is possible occasionally to go from Shetland to Orkney, attend a meeting there, and get back in one day, but to attend a meeting in Caithness one has to be away for three days, and perhaps much longer if one cannot get a seat on a plane, which is extraordinarily common.

Where we are on the map does not matter for all purposes. Surely the Scottish Office knows that our connections are with Aberdeen, and to some extent Inverness. We have our own county council, and in this we differ from the Western Isles. Not in history, nor in tradition, nor in language are we the same as the Highlands. We are not being joined to the people with similar problems. We have different traditions and different local authorities, but all this is being cast aside as of no importance. If this proposal is going to be steam-rollered through, at least Kirkwall and not Wick should be the headquarters of the board.

It seems that in the minds of Ministers uniformity is all important, but look at what the Government are doing to Scotland. They are setting up innumerable ad hoc bodies with different boundaries. For hospital purposes we have to go to Aberdeen. For the Crofters Commission and the Highland Development Board we go to Inverness, and now we may have to go to Caithness. What is the purpose of this, especially in front of a Royal Commission which has to unscramble all this?

I am indebted to an hon. Gentleman opposite for pointing out that it was a conclusive reason against putting Skye in the Western Isles constituency that its communications ran the other way. Communications between Skye and the Western Isles are a great deal easier than those between Caithness and Shetland.

What is obvious on the facts of history and geography, and on local feelings, is that there is no case whatsoever for this amalgamation. However, in an effort to make less nonsense of the whole thing the local authorities agreed that there should be one board between Orkney and Shetland. There is some sense in this, because there are sea communications, and it is possible occasionally to attend a meeting in one county and get back to the other in much less time than it takes to get from either of them to Caithness. Further, we share the same problems. We are islands, and groups of islands, and it is this fact which creates our problems.

I think that a very disturbing feature of this whole matter is that the Government have made no effort to justify their proposals in terms of what good they will do to ordinary people. The disadvantages are plain. Most of our water schemes are finished. We do not want a great advisory staff. It is certain that this will greatly increase the cost of our water supply. It is very curious that the Government suddenly, and rather late in the day, have put forward the view that the Northern fire services are satisfactory. I wonder whether they realise the position. They are trying to encourage economy in the country in general and have brought in S.E.T. to try to squeeze people out of the service industries.

They say that the Northern fire services are satisfactory, but do they realise that, whereas the cost of the fire brigade before the new arrangements were made was about £200 a year in Shetland, in the first year of the new arrangements the cost rose to about £545—and I do not complain about that—and that today Shetland's contribution is £9,000 a year. This is one-sixth of the total cost. This example is being held up by the Government—in this year, when everybody is supposed to economise—as being an example that should be followed.

I feel I have been misled about this matter. I got the impression throughout the previous proceedings that exceptions would be made and Amendments would be put down. I want to remind the Minister of some of the things that he said. In the Second Reading debate I was told that I would be very happy with what the Minister had to say. In Committee—admittedly among other things—he said: It is right to say that the islands are exceptional … while I see the point about the position of the islands, it is not fire or police that we are dealing with but a service which is essential y a physical one. That is true.

The Minister went on: I should like the right hon. Gentleman to accept our good faith in this matter. Let us attend the meeting on 31st March and have this discussion, and let us see if we can consider Amendments affecting Shetland, Orkney and Caithness and Sutherland, which we shall have the opportunity to do on Report. Later he said: We shall then be in a position to estimate what kind of amalgamation we can make in this part of Scotland, which is in a different situation from that elsewhere".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 16th March, 967; c. 489–91.] It became clear as time went on that entirely new objections were being put up. First, it was not pressed that we should form one water board in Orkney and Shetland. Later on it was. We did not think that it was a good idea, but we accepted it. It was never sug- gested at any point in Committee that one essential, if Orkney and Shetland were to be separated from Caithness and Sutherland, was that Ross and Cromarty should come in. Why it should be thought that a good reason for making a mistake about us was that the Minister had been unable to make a mistake about Ross and Cromarty I do not know. Why should we suffer because Ross and Cromarty—doubtless for good reasons—refused to go in with Caithness and Sutherland?

It is clear that when the Minister spoke to us of a compromise he meant a compromise which would suit the Scottish Office and would enable it to keep the Schedule intact. It is clear that he was not talking about a compromise which would give a better water supply to our people, or a compromise which would meet their desires. He may have had that wish at the back of his mind, but more and more his argument has been that he cannot make any exception in the Schedule, and that it does not matter who has to suffer so long as he gets the Schedule through Parliament. He would like to do it with good will, but if he cannot get the good will he will do it somehow in any case.

It is monstrous to expect Orkney and Shetland to help out Caithness and Sutherland and to contribute towards the cost of a large headquarters on the mainland. It is no good his telling us that there will be a travelling committee in the area. It will probably be extremely expensive, and there will be little purpose in it. There will not be a saving in the number of officials, with 100 miles to go across the sea—and Caithness has an extremely high water rate.

This is making a farce of local democracy. It is simply throwing out of the window all the concessions offered by our local authorities. It will be possible, of course, at some future date, to alter the Bill, but unless the hon. Gentleman can show that he is willing to do this, I do not know how he can expect continual co-operation from local authorities which have fallen over backwards to meet arguments from the Scottish office which have very little bearing on what I regard as the important thing, serving the people whom the local authorities and I represent.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

The speech of the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) showed an extraordinary lack of perception about the problems in the North of Scotland and was unjust to the Minister of State's efforts to obtain an accommodation in an extremely difficult situation. I was astonished that he should say that the local authorities of Shetland and Orkney are satisfied with his Amendments. The widest publicity was given in the North of Scotland to the objection of the County of Zetland to the compromise proposal which was hammered out at a difficult meeting held by the Minister of State at St. Andrew's House on 31st March.

The right hon. Gentleman's proposal is an absolute nonsense, in that it concedes that geography is not the most important question by proposing to link the Islands of Orkney and Shetland, which are separated by 90 miles of water, and taking exception to the linking of Orkney and the mainland, which are only 15 miles apart. Geography is, of course, important in the North of Scotland, but it is by no means the prime consideration. The argument has been repeatedly stated—the right hon. Gentleman appears to have failed to grasp the point of the Bill—that the benefit of skilled technical advice will be available to people in the entire area of the water board.

I am astonished that a member of the Liberal Party should be so satisfied with the status quo, especially in the Highlands, where so much needs to be done, and that he is content with the water supply as it exists and does not envisage any industrial development which will require new water supplies or expanded water services. In my constituency, such hopes are held out. Anything which will make the provision of these water services more efficient and workable is welcome.

The meeting in St. Andrew's House, which we all attended, illustrated the Minister of State's patient approach to the areas set out in the First Schedule. Each authority, in turn, was asked for its views and, at the end of the day, we appeared to have reached an acceptable compromise—with the exception of Caithness, which made its opposition clear immediately for very good reasons, which it gave in evidence to the Scottish Water Advisory Committee, and which formed the basis of the Committee's recommendations on which the Bill is based.

It is extraordinary that the right hon. Gentleman has not even turned to the reasons given in that Report for so grouping these counties. After this meeting, at which it appeared that an acceptable compromise, with the exception of Caithness, had been worked out, it was then put to the local authorities concerned, and one by one they rejected it. If we are to accommodate local democracy in the way which the right hon. Gentleman suggests, I fail to see what more could have been done.

Simply because the right hon. Gentleman has not had his way on the Bill is no indication that the normal processes of consultation have not been carried through. Each point he made has been argued time and again—on Second Reading, in Committee and at the meeting to which I have referred—and these arguments failed to persuade the local authorities concerned.

9.15 p.m.

The proposal that Orkney and Shetland should form a separate authority concedes that geography is not the key, but there are other points which are unacceptable about the proposal. One is that it is numerically far and away the smallest proposed board, with probably the smallest rateable value. I question whether it would form a viable financial unit. It is well known that one of the problems of the most northerly counties is attracting skilled technical advisers and local authority staff. The right hon. Gentleman knows this and it is disingenuous of him not to have mentioned it.

But the position in Caithness is special. It has an advanced water set-up, in terms both of development and of the services of the skilled men available. No fewer than four people are specially engaged to look after the supplies of water. This is the clear nucleus for a water board for the whole northern area.

The right hon. Gentleman tried to suggest that there was a peculiar and special reason, because they are islands, which made their problem somehow different from that of the rest of Scotland. But the Bill provides not only for the association of Skye with Inverness in one authority, but also for the association of Lewis with Ross and Cromarty and for the association of Bute with Ayrshire. These are all islands associated with the mainland. What is irrational about that?

The right hon. Gentleman said that they do not have a separate county council. That may be so, but it is an entirely different question. It is related to the structure of local government and has nothing to do with insularity. It appears that the right hon. Gentleman is trying to have the best of half a dozen different arguments at the same time, and his remarks make absolute nonsense.

Caithness has made it clear from the beginning that it has the nucleus of a water service which could form the foundation of a successful unit for the entire North of Scotland. Sutherland was prepared to accept the compromise proposal which was before the meeting in St. Andrew's House. However, the problems of Sutherland are somewhat different because if one is to apply the source-to-tap principle, which was the subject of so much debate on an earlier Amendment, then this area supplies part of Ross and Cromarty. It is regrettable that Sutherland could not go in with Ross and Cromarty. That simply stems from the fact that Ross and Cromarty is unwilling to be so associated. However, I would deplore any action by my right hon. Friend to force Ross and Cromarty into unwillingly going in for such a regional unit.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is getting rather wide of the Amendment.

Mr. Maclennan

With respect, Mr. Speaker, this is a consequential point flowing from the fact that we are discussing the Northern regional board.

Mr. David Steel


Mr. Maclennan

As I was saying—

Mr. David Steel

Give way.

Mr. MacLennan

I am addressing myself to the point made by Mr. Speaker. The effect of removing Orkney and Shetland from the Government's proposal would have a substantial effect.

Mr. David Steel

Why does the hon. Gentleman think that it would be deplorable for his right hon. Friend to force Ross and Cromarty into a board, but that it would not be deplorable to force Orkney and Shetland in the same way?

Mr. Maclennan

The proposal that Ross and Cromarty should be set up as a separate board was contained in the recommendations of the Scottish Water Advisory Committee. It makes absolute sense as it stands and it would be unnecessary, from the point of view of efficiency, size, geography or anything else to try to alter—

Mr. Speaker

Order. This confirms Mr. Speaker in his belief. We are not at the moment discussing Ross and Cromarty.

Mr. Maclennan

I appreciate your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, and I will conclude by congratulating my hon. Friend the Minister of State on his patience in listening to this argument being adduced by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland on so many occasions. The right hon. Gentleman has absolutely failed to confront the financial problems that would ensue for Orkney and Shetland if the Amendment were accepted.

The Minister of State has done his best to accommodate the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman has failed only because the local authorities concerned do not find the proposal which he is making tonight acceptable. In these circumstances, my hon. Friend has had no alternative but to fall back on the original scheme put forward by the Scottish Water Advisory Committee.

Mr. Alasdair Mackenzie (Ross and Cromarty)

I regret the tone of the speech of the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan). My right hon. Friend has represented Orkney and Shetland for many years and is only too well aware of the problems of the area. We are all sent here to represent our constituencies. The hon. Gentleman spoke as though my right hon. Friend had no business to put forward the views of his constituency, but I am glad to say that that has not been the view of the Minister of State.

Mr. Maclennan

Is the hon. Gentleman referring to the views of the Orcadians or the Shetlanders, remembering that the views of those two counties on this matter appear to be quite different?

Mr. Mackenzie

My right hon. Friend has put forward the views of the people of Orkney and Shetland. He has every right to do this and I stress that the Minister of State has taken an entirely different view from the hon. Gentleman and has tried to arrive at a reasonable solution in dealing with this matter. These problems are difficult to solve. We are considering an unwieldy area and must, if we are to get anywhere, consider these difficulties in a calm and deliberate way, leaving personalities aside.

I suggest that a mistake has been made from the outset. I am not saying that the present grouping is as it should be. The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland seemed to indicate that there are no problems peculiar to the islands. Perhaps he has never lived on an island. I spent the first 15 years of my life on an island, and I know that islands still have peculiar problems today notwithstanding the progress we have made in communications.

There is still time to look again at this grouping. Ross and Cromarty is very happy about the present situation. Sutherland is very anxious to come in with Ross and Cromarty. I personally would be quite happy to see that happen, as we have the amalgamation of the police forces and various other things coming along. In my opinion, the best grouping would be Ross and Cromarty and Sutherland. Caithness and Orkney, and Shetland, 100 miles across the sea, should have its own water board. I am quite convinced that that would be a better arrangement than is now proposed.

I support my right hon. Friend, and I implore the Minister of State to look again at this matter before the Bill reaches the Statute Book.

Mr. Gordon Campbell (Moray and Nairn)

I support the Amendment moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Membr for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). Having heard him make his case in the Grand Committee on the Second Reading of the Bill, I am amazed that the Government are still trying to push through the Schedule entirely unchanged in this respect. The Minister of State himself intervened in that Second Reading debate to say that the right hon. Gentleman was making a good case, but has so far taken no notice of that case in anything he has done.

The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) has told us how patient the Minister of State has been and other hon. Members have said how accommodating he is, but the trouble is that there are no results from his being patient and accommodating and, though he may listen, there has been no change in the Schedule—

Mr. Manuel


Mr. Campbell

No, not now—I shall be very brief. I will give way in a moment.

The Government do not seem to be able to adapt their schemes to the geography of the North of Scotland, and particularly to these two groups of islands. Whether they are wedded to having 13 regional boards—a mystical number—I do not know, but in this case it seems that there could be no harm to the Government's proposals as a whole if the number were increased to 15. There is no particular merit in sticking to the 13 regional boards proposed.

Mr. Manuel

The hon. Gentleman will, I hope, believe that I know something of the Highland problems. The point I cannot get over is this. The Minister of State called this meeting at St. Andrew's House, all these delegates arrived, there was a long discussion, and a compromise agreement was reached. It was then ratted on. Does the hon. Gentleman think that that sort of thing can be repeated time and again? How often should the Minister of State do that, and could he have any faith that the delegates would not later disagree what they had agreed at previous meetings?

Mr. Campbell

I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman is concerned with Highland problems but, as I learned of it, the compromise agreement in this case was the bringing in of Ross and Cromarty. There is no reason why the Government should have stuck to 13 regional boards, and on any change being decided they must bring in yet another large area to join with Caithness and Sutherland. What has been called a compromise was a completely new proposal involving the bringing in of yet another of the regional boards which would otherwise have been separate.

My point is that these islands create a special problem. The Government seem to be quite unaware of these problems of geography, communications, travelling and representation which the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland has lucidly explained. That is why I do not accept the mention of this as a compromise. The Government should have been prepared to allow an extra board or two boards in the North of Scotland and not tried to stick to the same number. I hope that it is still not too late for the Governmen1 to change their minds.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. David Steel

I speak on this matter without any profound local knowledge, but, as a Member of Parliament for another part of Scotland, I am concerned with the principle which is here involved and which should give all hon. Members cause for grave anxiety. Here is a case when the elected Member of Parliament for a particular constituency and the local authorities within that constituency are unanimously agreed on one point of view.

Dr. Mabon indicated dissent.

Mr. Steel

They have agreed on a compromise. They have agreed to come together in one board, even though they did not want that at the outset.

When I was in Orkney in January, as the guest of the local Member of Parliament, I was buttonholed by local authority representatives and newspaper editors and others about the Bill before it had got to Committee and when it was not causing any great controversy in my constituency. I was asked what I as a Member of Parliament unconnected with Orkney and Shetland would do about it. I can assure the Government that there was very strong feeling at that stage before the matter had been even fully discussed.

I have had cause to complain to Scottish Ministers before about the increasing tendency of the Government to ignore the obvious interest of a Member of Parliament in Government decisions which affect his constituency and the part which Members of Parliament, regardless of party, must play in being answerable to their constituents for what happens in the House. Here we have a most blatant case of a kind which has never happened in my constituency, but we should be gravely concerned about letting this go through in case it happens to us. Which of us is to be next?

I suppose that most hon. Members have had the letter signed by the Vice-Convenor of Zetland and the Senior Baillie of Lerwick Town Council in which they point out that to attend a daytime board meeting in Wick from Shetland involves an absence of two nights and three days. Quite apart from the administrative costs, they ask: where are the members prepared to serve in these circumstances? This is a valid point. They go on to say that they have offered to combine to form one water board and they dispute the need for and dread the cost of any larger combination.

They end the letter—and this is the point which concerns me—by saying: We protest at the manner in which the administration in the name of Parliament rides rough-shod over minority populations, ignoring their requirements and arguments. This appears to be an example of bureaucracy usurping the dignity and duty of Parliament and we appeal to you to oppose this measure thus obtruded and forced upon you. I am prepared to give any amount of appreciation to the Minister of State for the fact that he has had meetings to meet these points, but at the end of the day something is being done against the clearly expressed wishes of the local authorities and Member of Parliament for the area.

I draw the Minister's attention to the conclusion of the first leader in the Scotsman this morning, which followed our debate yesterday on the way in which the Government's regional policies were being pursued. The leader said: It is a profound mistake to think regional regeneration is a technical planning operation for experts, with the advice of some nominated amateurs. It is a political task, most likely to be efficiently performed by enlisting the enthusiasm and creative enterprise of those who feel greater urgency about improving the country or region in which they live than do distant politicians and officials". I accept that there can be cases and have been cases in the past and will be cases in future when one Member of Parliament may be grinding his constituency axe, or when a group of local authorities may be grinding their axes against the national interest, but when a Member of Parliament and the local authorities are joined together to make strong representations to the Government about how Government policy should be applied, when there is a conflict of interest, there is a very great burden on the Government to show that it is most strongly and clearly in the national interest not to accept the advice of the local people. A very clear burden of proof rests upon them, not a marginal, but a substantial balance of argument. If hon. Members from other constituencies let this go through, we do not know what will happen to us next.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

I am obliged to you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to reply to the debate thus far. The last two speeches, coming from intelligent Members who take a very active part in Parliament, have shown a terrible ignorance of what has gone on. I am sure that they would not have said what they have said if they knew all the facts as I hope to disclose them now. I do not hold anything that they have said against them, because I know that they spoke without full knowledge of what has gone before.

The idea that I met the local authorities concerned, that they wanted the solution, and that the Government wickedly denied them it, is a piece of nonsense. When we held the meeting on 31st March in St. Andrew's House the representatives of five county councils and of the burghs attended. Not all the burghs from the different counties were individually represented. There were representatives from the counties of Shetland, Orkney, Caithness, Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty. The Members of Parliament were invited. I made a specific point that the Members of Parliament would attend this meeting. We discussed in this case, not just one item which was Schedule 1 to the Bill, but other matters. The meeting began for me at 10 o'clock in the morning. I did not finish with the county of Shetland until twenty minutes to seven that night.

On the Bill we took from 10 o'clock in the morning to twenty past one. Later on we discussed some consequences of it. I do not say this merely to boast. I say it to show the immense attempt which was being made, I thought by everybody at the meeting, to get a compromise. I realised that we should not get a unanimous compromise. We did not.

What did I promise the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond)? I said this in Standing Committee: When we had the meeting in St. Andrew's House to discuss this matter"— I should say that, following the publication of the Report of the Water Advisory Committee in October, in December we had the meeting I am now referring to with the local authorities— there was one representative from Kirkwall who made this point to us. That is the right hon. Gentleman's case. I invited the authorities to send us any representations which they had to make. I asked them to do this quickly. One of the few authorities which took this matter up was Dundee. This was on the issue which affected the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) and others in the east of Scotland. I said to the authorities that if any were dissatisfied with my proposal they should write to me and a meeting would be arranged. Thereafter, the right hon. Gentleman made his point in debates. I was always sympathetic. The right hon. Gentleman has quoted some of the things I said.

I said to the right hon. Gentleman later: That is my difficulty. If I accept Amendments to the Schedule without having consulted properly all the authorities involved in the consequences of the Amendments. I am not being fair to them, any more than I should be by an outright refusal to listen to anyone's case other than what is proposed in Schedule 1. On previous Amendments we have debated the consequences on several counties, not just on the one county. In this case we are debating not just five counties but the burghal authorities in the five counties. I give the right hon. Member credit for this. In Committee he was able to assure us that the authorities in Orkney and Shetland would each unite into one region. This is remarkable. Let me read an extract from the Final Report of the Scottish Water Advisory Committee. The Report says this in paragraph 81, speaking about Orkney and Shetland: We can see no need for two separate local water authorities in Zetland where the total population is under 18,000, or for three authorities in Orkney for a combined population under 19,000. Apart from this, in Orkney the County Council shares a source at Kirbister with the Town Council of Kirkwall but there is no co-operation between them and they have separate pumping installations on the Loch. Further, the County Council's piping passes close to the burgh boundary of Stromness and integration of these two systems would prevent no difficulty In other words, according to this Report, dated October 1966, there were difficulties in getting union in Orkney and difficulties in getting union in Shetland.

I give this credit to the right hon. Gentleman, that, as a consequence of our discussions and, no doubt, his own effective influence on his local people, he was able to convince them that they should take the first step, to unite the islands—Orkney within Orkney and Shetland within Shetland. I paid due regard to this in my final comments on 16th March.

Referring to the meeting arranged for 31st March, I went on to say: I have taken the liberty of asking the hon. Members for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) and for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Alasdair Mackenzie) to join the right hon. Gentleman and myself, and I have asked the respective water authorities to send their representatives to that meeting. If I am to accede to the right hon. Gentleman's request that it should be Orkney united and Shetland united, I ought to agree to it if I am so convinced at that meeting and confident that some arrangement can be made for Ross and Cromarty and for Caithness and Sutherland.— [OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 16th March 1967; c. 489–90.] We entered the meeting, therefore, with Caithness in favour of Schedule 1, with Sutherland in favour of joining Ross and Cromarty, with Ross and Cromarty in favour of Schedule 1, and with Orkney and Shetland in favour only of joining together, not together as Orkney and Shetland but only as Orkney and as Shetland. At the end of the meeting, the representatives there concerned, subject to ratification by their own county and burgh authorities, agreed on a compromise. Four counties and most of the burghal authorities agreed on this compromise, and I assented to it although I said that it was the second best arrangement. The Government's view was that this was not the best way, that it was second best, but we would accept it for the sake of harmony.

The one dissentient was Caithness, which was extremely angry that I had offered the compromise with the other authorities. The compromise was that Shetland and Orkney would combine, and that Caithness, Sutherland and Ross and Cromarty would merge.

I have here a list of all the letters I received. What happened? First, Shetland repudiated the whole agreement. I do not blame the Shetland deputation. I have no doubt that every member of it did his best to convince his respective authority that it should accept the compromise. But they failed, as, no doubt, we would have failed as individuals trying our best in the same position. I blame no one at the meeting, and I am sure that they all went home and did their best to convince their fellows of the sense of it. But the fact is that Shetland repudiated the whole agreement.

The matter goes further than that. There has been a reference to the letter of 24th April from the vice-convenor of Zetland. I draw attention to this passage in it: The Shetland Isles, or the County of Zetland, lie well over 100 miles by sea off the Scottish mainland, and the plan to include them with any part of Scotland for water supply purposes is ridiculous. Thus, even if I were to accept Amendment No. 74, the right hon. Gentleman's own Amendment, I should not be agreeing with the County of Zetland.

The suggestion of the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Alasdair Mackenzie) was that Orkney should join with Caithness, Shetland being left alone, and Sutherland should join with Ross and Cromarty. But Ross and Cromarty wrote to me to say otherwise. I know that Captain Matheson, who led the Ross and Cromarty deputation—I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree—did his very best to convince his compeers of the sense of the compromise, but, nevertheless, Ross and Cromarty wrote to me to say that they could not agree to fuse even with Sutherland, never mind Caithness. This was confirmed by the burghs of Ross and Cromarty.

I am not arguing their case, because the Water Advisory Committee put up a good case for union of the burghs within Ross and Cromarty and the county council. The Government do not dissent from that. We think that it is a sensible and sound proposition, considering the possible future need for greater water supplies in that county. But even the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion tonight has been repudiated by his own county. I do not blame it, but that is the position with which a Minister is faced. It would seem that one cannot please all the people, or even the majority of the people, in this situation. The only counties that are satisfied are Ross and Cromarty and Caithness. Orkney and Shetland are feeling very aggrieved that they are to be combined with each other, never mind with Caithness and Sutherland.

9.45 p.m.

I do not want to go over the arguments in Committee time and time again. I concede that we could have made various compromises, but they must be viable so that the water service staff available in the area are used to the best advantage. Zetland is a good authority which still has many water schemes to do. It relies on consultants in Edinburgh. Orkney and Sutherland employ consultants in Glasgow, Caithness employs one in London, and the small burghs also employ consultants. Taking only water schemes which qualified for rural grant since the end of the war, one finds that about £250,000 has been paid out in consultants' fees. Inverness-shire, which spent about half the amount of the Northern authorities on water, has, because of its strong local engineering organisation, been able to design schemes itself without help from consultants.

One effect of combining the northern authorities would be to reduce their dependence on consulting engineers, since there would no doubt be a regional engineering unit based on the headquarters, whether in Wick or Kirkwall is entirely a matter for the local authorities themselves. There are savings that can be made. I was misrepresented in one way when somebody said that I did not seem to give a damn for the amount of money it would cost. That is not true. I have never pretended to the Committee or to any Members that the Bill would save money, that it would reduce water expenditure. I said that we had to use the present water expenditure to get better value for money, particularly in the proper use of professional staff. I am backed up in that by the Institute of Water Engineers and the British Waterworks Association and other organisations that do not have local government connections and vested interests.

The burden does not fall on the Government to show why we have not changed our minds. We tried to do so; my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State told me that if I could get a compromise agreement acceptable to the majority of authorities we would change the Schedule, because we would not be breaching the kind of principles about which we talked earlier or about which we shall talk later. That was the one hope that I had, and I made an offer which was denied me by every authority present. The only authority remaining consistent to its view was Caithness, which opposed a compromise and supported Schedule 1. That was why my hon. Friend made the speech he did tonight.

I shall not refer to everything that the right hon. Gentleman said tonight. He has a difficult task, representing as he does such diverse counties. But we cannot escape the fact that there is an unfortunate antagonism in that part of the world, apparently centred on Caithness. I do not know why, and I wish that it would die and that the proposed unions would function well. I think that the fire service worked well, based on Inverness, and fire and water are not all that different when it comes to administration.

I do not accept the analysis of the figures given by the right hon. Gentleman. If there is any complaint about the northern fire service let us investigate it, but the right hon. Gentleman's party is supposed to believe in elected regional government, and it seems extraordinary to me that the Liberal Party is not prepared to support the Government in the regional efforts they are making. They have agreed with everything we have done in the Bill except where Schedule 1 has impinged on Orkney and Shetland. It is a pity that we should have constituency interests obscuring a reasonable attempt to get a settlement. I did my best, and I deeply regret that the compromise did not come off. I worked hard to get it, as did the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan), even though he did not like the ultimate compromise that was achieved. So did Ross and Cromarty. We all did our best, but we have been denied a chance of doing this. In these circumstances we can do nothing but return to the schedule recommended by the Scottish Water Advisory Committee.

Mr. MacArthur

May I ask the hon. Gentleman to turn his mind to a point of some importance which was raised by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) when he referred to some earlier declarations by the Minister of State? The hon. Gentleman will recall that on Second Reading he said in an intervention during the right hon. Gentleman's speech: I think that I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that he will be very happy with what I have to say."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Grand Committee, 31st January, 1967; c. 27.] As the Minister will appreciate, this led me to believe that two days later in his winding-up speech he would have some good news for the right hon. Gentleman. I think he misled the right hon. Gentleman in the same way. What he said that time had a very marked influence on my speech, but all he could say on the later occasion was: I will look into … the position of Orkney and Shetland."—OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Grand Committee, 2nd February, 1967; c. 102.] The hon. Gentleman will understand that he has Drought much of this trouble on to his own head by appearing first to give encouragement to the right hon. Gentleman and two days later changing what he said.

Dr. Mahon

The hon. Member must not misrepresent me. I worked hard on this matter. I had to contact every water authority in the area. When a Member objects and asks for consultations that does not mean that the Minister can accede right away to what may be requested even though the authority has a good case. The Minister must consult others. We got the representatives of five counties to assent, and assent from the able it burghs, at the meeting where three Members of Parliament were present It was not easy to arrange that, but, having arranged it, I thought that we could arrive at a compromise.

That meeting did succeed, but the trouble was that the respective parties repudiated their representatives. Shetland has repudiated the idea of joining with Orkney. We must look at this problem of what would happen if there were a union of Orkney and Shetland. It would have to be with Sutherland and Caithness and Ross and Cromarty. Sutherland cannot survive on its own, but would have to accept union with Caithness and Ross and Cromarty. I worked hard to get that compromise.

Mr. Grimond

I do not want to go over the arguments again, but I must clear the record on one or two points. Let me make it quite clear that Shetland is now quite willing to have a joint authority with Orkney. That is a change, but it is because they understand that it is what the Scottish Office wants. It is not their first choice, but they are willing to accept it as second choice.

Let me also make clear that on Second Reading I put forward the proposition of a water board for Orkney and a water board for Shetland. The Minister indicated that that might be acceptable. Never since then has he said that the only thing acceptable to him was a joint water board. He appears to be saying that we ought to have agreed to a joint water board, but he did not say that earlier. He indicated to me quite clearly that if we would agree to combine the existing water authorities in Orkney in one water board and in Shetland in another subject to consultations and so on that seemed a sensible solution to him. Will he deny that? Will he make clear whether that is a true account or not?

Dr. Mabon

May I make this clear to the right hon. Gentleman. Up to the time of the meeting in Committee, when the right hon. Gentleman withdrew his Amendments to Schedule I, the understanding was that Orkney and Shetland would be reunited. On 12th April the Zetland County Council wrote to the Secretary of the Scottish Development Department thus: I am to advise the Department that the County Council at a special meeting held last Saturday after discussion unanimously agreed to oppose the amalgamation of this County with any other County for water purposes and to fight for a Water Board for Zetland only … Then we have this letter which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) read out, which I thought we had all seen—it was sent to me as a Member of Parliament—signed by the Vice-convener of Zetland, Mr. R. A. Johnson, and the Senior Baillie of Lerwick Town Council, Mr. Eric Gray. It says: The Shetland Isles … lie just over 100 miles by sea from the Scottish mainland and the plan to include them with any part of Scotland …". That was 24th April—yesterday. Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say now Shetland reverses this decision and is in favour of a union between Orkney and Shetland?

Mr. Grimond

Yes, the hon. Gentleman is to understand exactly that. They do not like it but they understand that it would be more acceptable to the Scottish Office. It is clear that its letter refers to the mainland of Scotland. Let me explain how this arose. If the Minister of State had said earlier that in his view we ought to have a joint water board, and if he had given us time for consultation about this, we might have put forward this proposal. Look at what he said in Committee. At column 490 he said: If I am to accede to the right hon. Gentleman's request that it should be Orkney united and Shetland united, I ought to agree to it if I am so convinced at that meeting and confident that some arrangement can be made for Ross and Cromarty and for Caithness and Sutherland."—[OFFICIALREPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 16th March, 1967; c. 490.] Right up to the end of the Committee stage he did not say to me or my local authorities that they must amalgamate among themselves. I return to the timing of this Bill. It takes a long time to discuss these things. It may be my fault, and if it is I did what I imagined was the wish of the Minister of State. I pressed my local authorities to amalgamate. This seemed to make sense I thought.

Dr. Mabon indicated assent.

Division No. 319.] AYES [10.4 p.m.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Bagier, Gordon A. T. Binns, John
Alldritt, Walter Barnes, Michael Bishop, E. S.
Allen, Scholefield Baxter, William Blackburn, F.
Anderson, Donald Beaney, Alan Booth, Albert
Armstrong, Ernest Bence, Cyril Boston, Terence
Ashley, Jack Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Braddock, Mrs. E. M.
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Bidwell, Sydney Bray, Dr. Jeremy
Mr. Grimond

I am glad to see that the hon. Gentleman nods his head. That is what he wanted. I thought that it made sense and it did make sense. Suddenly at the meeting in Edinburgh he produces this alternative scheme for a joint authority. The authorities were somewhat puzzled. There are strong arguments against amalgamation of Orkney and Shetland. If he had said earlier on that this was what the Scottish Office wanted, and had produced good arguments for it, the authorities might have come round to it earlier, as they have now.

I come back to the way in which this Bill has been handled. Throughout the negotiations that I have had, and the hon. Gentleman cannot deny this, we were working in the assumption of a separate board for Orkney and a separate board for Shetland. It is quite apparent that had Ross and Cromarty agreed to go in with Caithness and Sutherland, everything would have been fixed. What sort of argument is this, that a bad scheme would be forced on Orkney and Shetland through no fault of their own but because Ross and Cromarty will not go in with Caithness and Sutherland?

I cannot do otherwise than to ask the House to divide on this Amendment, since I have had no indication from the Government that they are either aware of the difficulties of the local authorities or that they intend to stand by what were the clear implications, the clearest implications that I have ever had from any Minister of the Government, and introduce Amendments on the points referred to.

Question put, That the words "Kirkwall Town Council" stand part of the Bill.

The House proceeded to a Division

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is not in order for hon. Members to read newspapers in the Chamber, unless it is for the purpose of making a speech in a debate.

Brooks, Edwin Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Park, Trevor
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Pavitt, Laurence
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Hoy, James Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Cant, R. B. Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Peart, Rt. Hn, Fred
Carmichael, Neil Hynd, John Pentland, Norman
Carter-Jones, Lewis Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Coe, Denis Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Coleman, Donald Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.) Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Concannon, J. D. Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Rankin, John
Conlan, Bernard Jones, Dan (Burnley) Reynolds, G. W.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Craddock, George(Bradford, S.) Kenyon, Clifford Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Lawson, George Rose, Paul
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Lestor, Miss Joan Rowland, Christopher (Meriden)
Davies, Ifor (Cower) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Davies, Robert (Cambridge) Lomas, Kenneth Ryan, John
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Loughlin, Charles Sheldon, Robert
Dewar, Donald Luard, Evan Short, Rt. Hn. Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Dickens, James Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Doig, Peter McBride, Neil Slater, Joseph
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) MacColl, James Spriggs, Leslie
Eadie, Alex MacDermot, Niall Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.J
Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly) McGuire, Michael Symonds, J. B.
Edwards, William (Merioneth) McKay, Mrs, Margaret Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Ensor, David Mackintosh, John P. Thornton, Ernest
Faulds, Andrew Maclennan, Robert Tinn, James
Fernyhough, E. MacPherson, Malcolm Urwin, T. W.
Finch, Harold Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Varley, Eric C.
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Manuel, Archie Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Ford, Ben Mapp, Charles Wallace, George
Forrester, John Marquand, David Watkins, David (Consett)
Fowler, Gerry Mason, Roy Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Freeson, Reginald Millan, Bruce Wellbeloved, James
Galpern, Sir Myer Miller, Dr. M. S. Whitaker, Ben
Garrett, W. E. Milne, Edward (Blyth) Whitlock, William
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Molloy, William Wilkins, W. A.
Cray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Gregory, Arnold Moyle, Roland Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Grey, Charles (Durham) Murray, Albert Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Neil, Harold Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.) Wilson, William (Coventry. S.)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Norwood, Christopher Winnick, David
Hannan, William Oakes, Gordon Winterbottom, R. E.
Harper, Joseph O'Malley, Brian Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Orme, Stanley
Haseldine, Norman Oswald, Thomas TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hilton, W. S. Owen, Will (Morpeth) Mr. Armstrong and
Hooley, Frank Palmer, Arthur Mr. Charles R. Morris.
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Elliott, R.W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Jopling, Michael
Astor, John Errington, Sir Eric Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Baker, W. H. K. Eyre, Reginald Kimball, Marcus
Balniel, Lord Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Kitson, Timothy
Black, Sir Cyril Glover, Sir Douglas Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Blaker, Peter Goodhart, Philip Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Bossom, Sir Clive Goodhew, Victor Loveys, W. H.
Braine, Bernard Gower, Raymond MacArthur, Ian
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Grant, Anthony Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Grant-Ferris, R. Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Gresham Cooke, R. Maginnis, John E.
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M) Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Maude, Angus
Bullus, Sir Eric Gurden, Harold Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Burden, F. A. Hall, John (Wycombe) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Campbell, Gordon Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Carlisle, Mark Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Miscampbell, Norman
Clegg, Walter Hawkins. Paul Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Heseltine, Michael Monro, Hector
Corfield, F, V. Higgins, Terence L. More, Jasper
Costain, A. P. Hiley, Joseph Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Hill, J. E. B. Murton, Oscar
Dance, James Holland, Philip Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.) Hordern, Peter Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Hunt, John Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Iremonger, T. L. Page, Graham (Crosby)
Drayson, G. B. Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Stodart, Anthony Walters, Dennis
percival, Ian Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon) Whitdaw, Rt. Hn. WMttam
Prior, J. M. L. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Pym, Francis Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Worsley, Marcus
Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Temple, John M. Wright, Esmond
Russell, Sir Ronald Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret Younger, Hn. George
Scott, Nicholas van Straubenzee, W. R.
Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Smith, John Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley) Mr. Lubbock and Mr. David Steel.
It being after Ten o'clock, further consideration of the Bill, as amended, stood adjourned.