HC Deb 01 December 1971 vol 827 cc431-2
17. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when legislation for a Scottish Assembly will be introduced in accordance with the pledges of Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

I have nothing to add to my reply of 17th March, 1971, to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang).

Mr. Grimond

I do not have the reply in my head. Are we going forward with this farce? Is it not time the Government dropped the pretence of the ludicrous proposals of the Home Report and seriously offered instead to the people of Scotland a form of self-government?

Mr. Campbell

I did not repeat the reply because it was rather a long one, but it made clear what the position is. Paragraph 322 of the Home Report recommended that devolution on the lines proposed—not necessarily the precise proposals—would need to have regard to the new pattern of local government following action on the Wheatley Commission Report. At present we are pressing on with all the work involved in local government reform.

Mr. Edward Taylor

Will my right hon. Friend deny absolutely the scandalous suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman that we are not serious about a Scottish Assembly? This plan was welcomed by the party in Scotland and by the Scottish people and it requires the greatest and most serious consideration.

Mr. Campbell

As my hon. Friend will recognise from what I have said, we intend, during the life of this Parliament, to put forward proposals based on the Convention proposal put forward by the Constitutional Committee.

Mr. Ross

While the Secretary of State and his colleagues are having second thoughts and teetering on the brink of doing nothing at all about this, will he stop cutting down the ranks of Scottish Members of Parliament who participate in Committees of the House?

Mr. Campbell

There is no question of that, and we debated it last week. Hon. Members are able now to serve on the Scottish Select Committee, a new Committee, in addition to Standing Committee. There is no question of teetering. We are engaged in the reform of local government, and the right hon. Gentleman must know that this is a massive task involving a great deal of consultation. Although the proposals we have put forward are generally acceptable, there are still several exceedingly difficult problems to solve, and the House will then have to consider the legislation. The Constitutional Committee recommended that this must be settled before going on to constitutional changes.