HC Deb 17 March 1971 vol 813 cc1388-9
1. Mr. Strang

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will issue a White Paper outlining his proposals for a Scottish Convention before the Bill implementing the reform of Scottish local Government is published.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Gordon Campbell)

The report of the Scottish Constitutional Committee recommended that proposals for constitutional reform in Scotland should take into account and follow the action being taken on the reform of local government. It is not possible to estimate now whether the proposals for constitutional reform will be formulated before the local government Bill is published.

Mr. Strang

When does the right hon. Gentleman intend to make an announcement on his proposed Scottish Convention? Has the plan been discreetly shelved?

Mr. Campbell

We are acting in accordance with the recommendations of the Constitutional Committee in dealing with local government reform first and then with the constitutional proposals.

Mr. Grimond

is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Orkney and Shetland is pleased with the local government proposals? As to the Scottish Convention, did not Scottish reform appear in the Queen's Speech, and, if so, why has it been abandoned, because this was some time ago? Does this mean that nothing is to be done until after the next General Election?

Mr. Campbell

I am grateful for what the right hon. Gentleman said about Orkney and Shetland and its response to the White Paper on local government. As to the Gracious Speech, it was stated, after the mention of local government reform: At a later stage plans will be laid before you for giving the Scottish people a greater say in their own affairs. That means within this Parliament, but not necessarily this Session.

Mr. Ross

Surely we expect the Gracious Speech to relate to the Session of Parliament in which it is made? Why on earth was it put in at that time if the Government had no intention of doing anything about it?

Mr. Campbell

We made it perfectly clear at the time that this related, like other matters in the Gracious Speech, to a time after the proposals for local government had been dealt with. It was announced that a White Paper would be issued during this Session because of the interest in constitutional proposals. It was made clear that these would come at a later stage.

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