HC Deb 02 March 1971 vol 812 cc1395-6
Q4. Mr. Eadie

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the diversity of Ministerial responsibilities in Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland already has a very wide span of responsibilities, including the co-ordination of the operations in Scotland of all Government Departments concerned with physical, industrial and economic development. Under successive Administrations other functions have been exercised in Scotland by Ministers whose responsibilities are countywide: but all my right hon. Friends whose responsibilities extend to Scotland work closely with the Secretary of State.

Mr. Eadie

Is the Prime Minister aware that his Government are very unpopular in Scotland, where there is great dissatisfaction with them? Is he further aware that the situation is not helped when hon. Members find their Questions shuffled about to other Ministries, especially when they deal with confused development area policies?

The Prime Minister

Successive Governments have examined the question whether Trade and Industry should be a country-wide Department or whether it should be split so that part is in Scotland. I examined this question again when I became Prime Minister. I came to the conclusion which I held previously in 1963, and which was shared by the then Secretary of State and by the present Secretary of State, that on the whole it is more helpful to Scotland to have a country-wide Department concerned with trade and industry.

Mr. Buchan

Is the Prime Minister aware that nearly all his Ministers appear to be on the one committee which is holding back the progress of this Bill enormously? Secondly, will the Prime Minister tell the House which Ministry will be in charge of the selling-off of State pubs to private breweries, because this is of great significance?

Mr. William Hamilton

Mr. Younger.

The Prime Minister

Obviously, that will have to be done through this House. As for the general responsibilities for trade and industry, I repeat that I think that Scotland benefits from having these matters dealt with on a country-wide basis which ensures that development can be handled to her advantage. I had a long discussion recently with the Scottish T.U.C., and there was no request for trade and industry responsibilities as such to be moved to the Secretary of State for Scotland.