HC Deb 24 November 1971 vol 826 cc1444-93

Standing Order No. 62 (Nomination of Standing Committees)

Leave out line 3.

Line 19, after 'that', insert—

  1. (i) for the consideration of any public bill certified by Mr. Speaker as relating exclusively to Scotland or of a public bill (or part of a public bill) ordered to be considered by a Scottish standing committee, the committee shall be so constituted as to include not less than sixteen members representing Scottish constituencies;
  2. (ii).

Standing Order No. 69 (Scottish Standing Committees)

Leave out paragraphs (2) to (4).

The Motion gives effect to the unanimous recommendation of the Select Committee on Procedure concerning the First Scottish Standing Committee. It will be within the recollection of the House that I undertook to allow more than the normal time for this debate, and I think it will be recognised that I am doing that tonight. I will briefly set out the purpose of the Motion, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, if he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will reply at the end of the debate to answer the points raised.

The purpose of the recommendation is to make it possible in future for the First Scottish Standing Committee to have 16 members if that is decided to be the right number. It does not in any way preclude a larger Committee if that is decided through the usual channels.

The position in England is that a Committee of 16 is allowed, but the actual size of a Committee on any particular Bill is always settled through the usual channels. In my six years as Opposition Chief Whip I never once had any difficulty with the Government of the party opposite in getting the size of Standing Committee that I asked for. Any size I asked for was always conceded to me.

It is important to recognise that the Motion in no way says that every Scottish Standing Committee has to have 16 members and no more. It says that, like English Committees, it is possible to have a Committee of 16 if that is what the usual channels agree, but, equally, it is possible to have a larger one if that is the decision of the usual channels after consultation.

This seems to me to be a reasonable proposal. It is the unanimous recommendation of the Select Committee on Procedure. The First Scottish Standing Committee will be put in the same position as the English Standing Committees, and I have pleasure in commending the Motion to the House.

8.8 p.m.

Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrew, West)

I will not pretend that we are not disappointed about this. We received a promise that the various points of order which were raised when this idea was first announced would be taken into consideration and that the matter would be placed before the House. The only part of that promise which has been kept is that the Leader of the House has brought the Motion before the House. We objected to the proposal and we still object to it.

The argument advanced by the Leader of the House, based on his experience as Tory Chief Whip when he found little difficulty in achieving the size of Committee he wanted, is not relevant. We know the background, which is the difficulty of the Conservative Administration in conducting Scottish legislation. This difficulty arises not from the Standing Orders of the House, but from the position in which the Government have been placed by the decision of the Scottish people. Such a small number of Tories were elected by the people of Scotland that the Government are finding difficulty in manning Committees. This was spelt out last winter and we wondered what means would be taken to deal with it.

The Government have found a recommendation by the Select Committee on Procedure. I understand the reasons for the Committee's recommendation, but the reasons for the adoption of the recommendation have nothing to do with them and are concerned with the Scottish conditions that prevail. This recommendation does not only affect the Standing Orders of the House but is a challenge to the democratic decision of the Scottish people.

Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)


Mr. Buchan

We all know that that is the reason. If the right hon. Gentleman says that no difficulty has been experienced in the past, why does he now seek to change the situation? There are two new factors. One relates to the recommendation of the Select Committee on Procedure; the other lies in the political reality faced by the Tory Party in Scotland and in this House.

I do not accept that the Scottish Standing Committee is in the same position as other legislative Committees of this House. The Scottish Standing Committee is seen in the Scottish Press and by the Scottish people to be Scotland in Parliament. In the same way as, for example, the proceedings in this Chamber are reported in the English Press, proceedings in the Scottish Standing Committee are reported in the Scottish Press. Unlike the other United Kingdom legislative Committees, which do not unfortunately impinge to any great extent on the public consciousness, the proceedings of the Scottish Standing Committee achieve that end. It is the one Standing Committee which makes the necessary democratic link with the public. Therefore, it is important that the size of that Committee should remain as it is.

Anybody who has served on a Scottish Standing Committee, as on any other United Kingdom Standing Committee, will know the difference. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is not as good."] There is a very important difference, and I do not accept that it is not as good. The difference is that debates in the Scottish Standing Committee strike at fundamental matters of principle. They are much less legalistic, less technical and, perhaps, more political than the discussions in other Standing Committees. But surely the whole nature of the House of Commons is that it is a political body. If we lose this aspect of political discussion in Standing Committee, a whole dimension of our parliamentary democracy will have gone.

The weakness of Parliament at present is the difficulty of connecting with the world outside. Events can take place in this Chamber which hardly cause a ripple outside because of the difficulty of making contact. Hence the demand for the televising of parliamentary proceedings. The proceedings in the Scottish Standing Committee make this kind of impact, and it is important that a broad section of the Scottish electorate and Scottish constituencies should be represented on the Committee.

The right hon. Gentleman said that the new procedure would put the Scottish Standing Committee in the same position as the other United Kingdom Standing Committees. He said that it would be for the Committee of Selection to decide. There are other criteria for the Committee of Selection to consider according to the nature of the legislation, but by and large it decides the matter on the relative importance of a Bill. Surely we do not need to look at a particular Measure to decide the size of a Scottish Standing Committee.

When non-controversial matters come before a Standing Committee which do not involve fundamental matters of principle, the Opposition co-operate with the Government, as happened last Session, in carrying such a Measure through without argument or difficulty, but such Bills tend to go straight upstairs. There are other Bills which affect the nature of Scottish society so fundamentally that we believe they should be debated on the Floor of the House. Therefore, we hope that the Leader of the House will take back his Motion and amend it. He should remember that any matter involving a fundamentally important principle is always voted upon on the Floor of the House and this must be borne in mind when considering the work of the Scottish Standing Committees.

It will meet our requirements if the right hon. Gentleman amends the Motion to provide for a minimum of 16 members, except in the case of Bills which have been debated on the Floor of the House and voted upon, when the minimum should be 30 Members.

Mr. Whitelaw

I have looked at this matter. The problem is that under the present procedure of Standing Order No. 67(2), if 10 members object to a Motion to take a Bill upstairs and to refer it to the Scottish Grand Committee, the Bill in question must be debated on the Floor of the House. Therefore, it would be open to 10 Members at any time to ask for 30 Members on the Standing Committee simply by operating such a process. I thought that was the sort of procedure that hon. Members opposite were seeking to safeguard, but the hon. Gentleman's proposal would be very difficult to implement.

Mr. Buchan

I am sorry, but I believe that the right hon. Gentleman is now showing that there is a political reason behind acceptance of this proposal.

Mr. Whitelaw


Mr. Buchan

It results from the difficulty which faces the Tory Party. It is strange that at this particular moment of time the House should lay aside the existing traditions of the House which, so far as I know, have never been abused or questioned and that we should now be asked to agree to this proposal. We must ask why it is being done.

I appreciate that some excellent work has been done by the Select Committee on Procedure, but on this matter there have obviously been a number of complaints and considerable gnashing of teeth—and teeth will be provided to the Tory Party during the coming winter. I realise that the Select Committee on Procedure feels that the practice in the Scottish Standing Committee should be in line with that in United Kingdom Standing Committees. But the Government have forgotten the two important factors I have outlined. The first—and I repeat it—is that the Scottish Standing Committee is seen as a debating Chamber, in the same way as this Chamber is seen as a debating chamber in English eyes. The second factor is the difficult problem which faces the Tory Party over this issue.

For all these reasons, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not try to pass off this matter as a little local difficulty but will recognise the fundamental principle involved and will come forward with a suitable amendment.

8.20 p.m.

Sir Robin Turton (Thirsk and Malton)

It is quite clear from the speech of the hon. Member for Rendrew, West (Mr. Buchan) that the Scots are a very political body. However, I should point out that the Select Committee on Procedure looked at what is at present a nonsense, and now that it tries to put it right the hon. Member seems to impute to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House some malevolent party content. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]

If hon. Members look at Standing Order No. 62, they will see Save in the case of the Scottish Standing Committees, the Committee of Selection shall nominate not less than sixteen nor more than fifty Members. We were alerted to look at Standing Order No. 69 and we found that of the two Scottish Standing Committees, one is of the size selected and the other has the old, unreformed size of 30 with the additional Members. Quite clearly, there must be a change. At the moment, that is an anachronism. It was caused by changes in Standing Orders made during the last five years.

Until now, bringing in no party feeling, the House has always felt that there should be greater flexibility in the size of Committees. Bills differ very much in their content. In our Report, there is the entirely novel idea that we should go back to the 1880s and have Select Committees dealing with technical Bills or technical parts of Bills. Select Committees, of course, require very small numbers of members. That is why we believe that there should be greater flexibility, and I thought that the party opposite believed the same.

Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us how much time the Select Committee spent on this question?

Sir R. Turton

I am afraid that I have no measure of the time. Certainly the Committee spent a considerable amount of time discussing Committee stages. Hon. Members have to remember that the Committee was sitting for a whole year on the subject. If I had been asked to time with a stopwatch every occasion on which the Committee touched on the idea of Select Committees and the peculiarity of the Scottish Committee, the total would have been very difficult to evaluate. Certainly there was no hasty decision. I also remind hon. Members that the parties were nearly evenly divided on our Committee.

I approach this matter not from any party standpoint. I am anxious to try to make sense of the Standing Orders of the House. At the moment, the Standing Orders regarding Scottish Standing Committees make nonsense.

Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)


Sir R. Turton

I have explained that already. They are contradictory.

Mr. Buchanan

I accept what the right hon. Gentleman says about the consideration given to these matters by the Select Committee. The right hon. Gentleman has also stressed the importance of flexibility, which we on this side of the House accept. However, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the importance of a Bill, having regard to the other Scottish aspects to which I have referred, could be determined by whether it was debated and voted upon on the Floor of the House? Would not that give the flexibility required?

Sir R. Turton

If the hon. Gentleman suggests that more and more Scottish legislation is to be debated on the Floor of the House, I, as an English Member and one who likes Parliament to be interesting, would deplore the change.

May I give the historical background as I see it? The old idea was that these Committees should be large in size. During the 40 years that I have been a Member of the House, I have seen them dwindling. The major change affecting Scotland was made on 24th October, 1968, when the last Government proposed a Second Scottish Standing Committee and that in size it should have a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 50 members. That was a wise decision of the then Leader of the House—

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)


Sir R. Turton

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to finish my sentence, even though he is a former Secretary of State for Scotland. At that time the only objection came from the Liberal Party, which made a mild protest since it felt that if the number of members dwindled further, the small Liberal Party might be excluded completely. However, all Scottish Labour Members thought that it was a wonderful idea to reduce the numbers from 30 to 20, and the Conservative Party agreed.

Mr. Ross

The right hon. Gentleman said that he wished to give us the history of this matter. However, he should get the history right. It was not the last Administration, but the Administration before that. Prior to that, there was only one Scottish Committee. It was a case not of reducing numbers but of instituting something quite new for a special purpose, to which we agreed.

Sir R. Turton

I am told that the Second Scottish Standing Committee was set up on 24th October 1968—

Mr. Ross


Sir R. Turton

I thought that it was done during the period in office of the previous Administration. Perhaps I have my history wrong, or possibly the right hon. Gentleman has a different history.

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

Perhaps I might assist my right hon. Friend. A Second Scottish Committee was first set up in the early 1960s, when a Conservative Government were in office. The change to which my right hon. Friend refers, reducing the membership of United Kingdom Committees to 16, occurred more recently during the term of office of the Labour Government.

Sir R. Turton

I apologise to the House. Those facts must be correct if two Secretaries of State for Scotland agree.

The major change occurred on 19th December, 1968, when the Second Scottish Standing Committee was reduced from 20 to 16 members. Judging from the remarks of the hon. Member for Renfrew, West, one would have expected loud protests. In fact, there was none. It was agreed to on the nod, and col.1698 of the OFFICIAL REPORT records that fact.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

Has the right hon. Gentleman taken account of the fact that the Second Scottish Committee normally is used for very different purposes? It is primarily the vehicle for processing Private Members' legislation, which is frequently not of such a controversial nature and does not require the extensive scrutiny which Government legislation involves. I was one of the beneficiaries of the setting up of the Second Committee in 1968 when I promoted a Bill concerned with the Highlands which met with agreement.

Sir R. Turton

I doubt whether Private Members' Bills are always noncontroversial.

I applaud the move of the last Labour Government to bring down the minimum size of Committees to 16 members. I suggest that these matters should be outside the realm of party controversy and that our aim should be to try to get good sense. When people outside this House look at parliamentary procedure, they want to see a sensible system.

Bills differ very much in degree. In the case of legislation like the Local Government Bill for England or the Housing Finance Bill for Scotland, no one would suggest sending it to a Committee of 16 members. I have seen many odd Scottish Bills about feu rents and similar matters. I cannot believe that it would be felt desirable for all Scottish Members to take up time on these subjects. I have no political animosity. I am trying to make our Standing Orders make sense. I am trying to see that the House does not waste its time and that back-bench Members are not serving on Committees in which, because of their technical nature, they have little interest.

Let us have big Committees where there is a lot of party controversy. If there is no great party controversy and the Committee is concerned with a technical matter, it is wrong to prevent the Committee of Selection appointing a Standing Committee with fewer than 30 members.

Dr. J. Dickson Mabon (Greenock)

The right hon. Gentleman is speaking as the Father of the House and Chairman of the Select Committee. Does he realise that he has already told us at least three things which are wrong? If he enters fiercely into the argument, he must not lose his non-partisanship by being wrong on so many occasions.

One interesting point which was made earlier concerned the amount of time spent on this proposal. Many other proposals have gone through without controversy. We are having three hours on what we say is a controversial proposal. In the report there is one small part on page 14 and another on page 15. In only one small section of the Select Committee's Report is there any reference to this controversy. Yet this side of the House takes great exception to what is being proposed.

As Chairman of the Committee, does the right hon. Gentleman realise that he is in the midst of a prickly situation? Perhaps he should reconsider what he has been saying. We feel that this attempt to reduce the size of the Committee is an attempt to curb the number of Members who want to speak on highly controversial Measures. It is not a matter of non-controversial Bills it is a matter of this recommendation allowing it.

Sir R. Turton

I realise that when I talk about Scotland I am entering a prickly field. I have long experience of the fact that Scottish Members have a curious kind of skin which emits prickles at the least movement. I want hon. Members to realise that we had evidence. The fact that we had evidence is shown in our Report. The Committee, which consisted of hon. Members from both sides, considered the question of Committees and the desirability of having small Committees on small technical Measures. I cannot understand why there is lack of confidence in the Committee of Selection. Surely the Committee of Selection must decide the size of Committees, no doubt helped by the usual channels and by members of the Committee of Selection who are representative of the party opposite and of Scotland. Why are they so frightened of having the same discretion applied to their Committees as English Members have?

I doubt whether the intervention by the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon)—that this is the only part of our Report which is controversial—was correct. Probably there are many hon. Members, some even from Scotland, who will find our recommendations—for example, on time limits for speeches—extremely controversial.

There is no party feeling in the recommendations. It is a mistake to have an exception to the general rule of flexibility in the size of Committees regarding one of two Scottish Committees. The House may think that the Scottish Grand Committee might be able to deal with some of the big Measures which really affect the constitution of Scotland, like the Common Market, and so on. I leave that to Scottish Members to argue, However, I beg them to try to appreciate that the First and Second Scottish Committees should have a degree of flexibility which, unlike every other Committee provided for in Standing Orders, they do not have at present.

8.33 p.m.

Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)

I am sorry that I find myself in such disagreement with the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir Robin Turton). I am sorry, too, that he took the Second Scottish Standing Committee as a means of arguing his case.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) has indicated, there is quite a history in this matter. It was the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble), when Secretary of State for Scotland, who introduced it. He did not introduce it without approaching the Opposition. I was part of what was called the "usual channels", and therefore, was conversant with what went on. One of the conditions laid down and agreed concerning the Second Scottish Committee was the need to speed up certain legislation. Both sides agreed that one condition should be that no controversial legislation—not necessarily only Private Members' Bills—should be sent to that Committee. This was a device the need for which we all recognised. We did not want, when in the throes of arguing over some highly controversial Bill, to hold up legislation which we all agreed would be useful.

The Second Committee was set up at the request of the right hon. Member for Argyll, with our agreement. Subsequently, it was made a regular thing. It was set up initially for one year, the intention being to look at it again. It was my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and others in the Labour Government who gave it a permanent basis. When it was put on a permanent basis, it was agreed with the then Opposition, who are now the Government, that the Committee would maintain its special form of being concerned only with non-controversial legislation, and when I was a Scottish Whip I would have done my best to ensure that that condition was observed.

When the second Committee was set up properly, in the sense of being made permanent, the question arose whether the Liberals could be represented. One of the factors which decided us on having a Committee of 30 Members was that in a smaller Committee it would not be possible to give the Liberals the representation which we wanted them to have. I am aware that the Liberals now have only three Members instead of five and that it may not be possible to maintain the Liberal representation on the Committee, but that was our concern at the time, and it bears out the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) that this Standing Committee is different from a United Kingdom Committee. It has so much more of the character of a Scottish Committee arguing Scottish matters. It is not the Grand Committee. The kind of work done in this Committee used to be done by the Scottish Grand Committee. All Scottish Members participated in debating the legislation during the Committee stage of the Bill, and it was in order to make the procedure less cumbersome that the composition of this Committee was agreed to.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock was opposed to the setting up of a Standing Committee, as distinct from the Grand Committee, but agreement was finally reached, and this Standing Committee was set up. But it was always understood that it was the Grand Committee cut down to do the kind of work which the Grand Committee used to do, but in so many ways doing it so much more cumbersomely.

I am sorry that the Leader of the House, after giving us an assurance that he would consider the matter with great care, is not even prepared to listen to our arguments.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has had to leave the Chamber for a few minutes. I have undertaken to make notes of what is said while he is away. It is his intention to hear as much of the debate as possible.

Mr. Lawson

The right hon. Gentleman knows how concerned we are about this issue. It was no gift to me to be offered three hours in which to debate the matter. I am not concerned with debating it. What I am concerned about is not to lose the right regularly to have a Committee of 30 Members. Our approach to the Leader of the House is very reasonable. We say that for most purposes we are prepared to accept a Committee of 16 Members, but that when we are presented with a Bill which we regard as very important or as controversial, and we know that so many more of our Members want to participate in debating it, there should be a larger Committee. That is all.

We want some kind of guarantee. We would have left it to the Leader of the House to decide the matter. The right hon. Gentleman was undertaking to consider the issue and to bring forward some Amendment to provide for what we want. I know that the Leader of the House will say that he is reasonable, and that when an approach is made to him he will agree to a larger Committee meeting to consider a Bill of importance, but that is different from what we want. We are dependent on the Leader of the House, or on the Government, saying "Yea" or "Nay". The Government will have complete power by this change in the Standing Order. That is very different from having some kind of guarantee.

The nearest thing that we could find to this procedure was that which the House agreed should apply when there was an objection to a Bill being sent upstairs to the Grand Committee. The procedure is that the Members who object rise in their place to say that they object.

The right hon. Gentleman's objection to this reasonable suggestion is that it would be abused, but apart from odd instances when feelings have run strongly on either side, it has not been abused. We regularly send Bills to the Grand Committee for a debate on the principle unless there are strong objections. This is the right of the Opposition to say. "No, we want to debate the Bill in the House." No one wants to take away this right. Therefore, if we agree to preserve it, and if there is no risk of abuse in this respect, there should be none when we are concerned with the size of the Committee.

We would not be concerned with the size of the Committee when it was dealing with a non-controversial Bill. Perhaps once in a Session there is a highly-controversial Bill. Scottish hon. Members used to be and still are more nearly full-time than most Members. They are professional politicians with no interest except here, and it is sometimes very difficult to keep Members off a Committee. With a membership of 16, I presume that seven would be from this side and nine from the party opposite. Many of our Members would feel that, on perhaps the most important part of our duty, dealing with the Committee stage of a Bill, they would have no proper facility to represent their views.

Sir R. Turton

We have the same problem in England, of course. We have the same flexibility, with 16 as the minimum and 50 as the maximum. But, with a controversial Bill, the selection committee appoints 45 or 50 and not just 16.

Mr. Lawson

Not necessarily. This is not decided by the committee of selection but by the Government. The hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) knows the objection to this Measure. It stems from the Government's difficulties in manning the Committee. Some hon. Members opposite have found it a tremendous burden. Most of us on this side enjoy those Committees. Because of this difficulty, there was an earlier attempt, persumably before the Committee of the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton considered the matter, to reduce the size of the Committee. All I can see is a notice to the effect that the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour) submitted a paper, which presumably mentioned the size of the Standing Committee. The hon. Member for Fife, East was so fed up on one occasion at having to sit through a Scottish Standing Committee that he refused to support his own side. We appreciate his desire to get out of that.

The other hon. Gentleman who makes up what is called the Scottish representation is the hon. Member for Gla9, gow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith), who I do not think will challenge what I have said so far. [Interruption.] I have always had a great admiration for his integrity and straightforwardness. I should not like him to undermine my confidence in his honesty. He said a number of things to the Committee, but all that I can find that he said about the Standing Committee was this: … I agree that at the present moment the size of the Scottish Committee seems to be too large. I cannot see why it should be bigger than an English Committee. It has only got 71 people to draw from, and I would have thought that a number of about 16 would be very much more appropriate when you are drawing from 71 Members. The hon. Gentleman talked about Closures and various other things, but that was all I could find in the evidence submitted to the Select Committee to justify its coming to the conclusion it did. I found no evidence of careful consideration such as was given by the right hon. Member for Argyll, for example, when he asked us if we could set up the Second Committee. There were comings and goings over a period, and it was recognised that it was important for us all.

The hon. Member for Hillhead will agree that while he plays a considerable part in Committees he does not want to spend more time than he can help on them. He says a couple of sentences, and they are summed up as long and careful consideration and scrutiny on the part of the Select Committee. I am disappointed. The matter is dismissed on page xiv in a very small paragraph, the kernel of which consists of only three sentences: Scottish Members"— it does not say "two Scottish Members"— drew the attention of Your Committee to this point"— the size of the Committee— and suggested that the minimum number on the first Scottish standing committee should be reduced to sixteen members from Scottish constituencies, the maximum number of 50 being retained. The Leader of the House pointed out that 'the size of standing committees is related mostly to the particular type of Bill' and thought that the Scottish standing committees should be the same size as other standing committees. Your Committee recommend that this change be made. I will not speak for long. It is sometimes thought that I have a fault of speaking for longer than some of my hon. Friends, but we want to come to a conclusion fairly early, so I will be brief. But I must say that the Leader of the House has been a disappointment. We thought that we had put forward a reasonable proposition, which could function, with good will. When occasion arose, we thought, we could meet our particular needs, but on most occasions the Committee would be of the smaller size. But that is not to be. We are simply having this change pushed through.

The time given to debate the matter makes no difference. As I said before, I should have readily sacrificed the time for debate. I am not interested in that. I am interested in what is happening, and I do not like it. I regard it as most unfortunate. I am surprised that the hon. Member for Dumfries—now one of the Under-Secretaries of State—should have been prepared to allow it to be done. I thought better of him.

It is most regrettable, and I am disappointed in more ways than one. The Leader of the House talks a great deal about our paying so much attention to this matter. He shows that he has long since made up his mind and that nothing that could be said will make any difference to him. He intends to push the change through. He is not even interested in the arguments which are being advanced.

8.56 p.m.

Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith (Glasgow, Hillhead)

I had not intended to speak—I certainly have not prepared anything—but I have been provoked by the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson), who made an excellent and carefully prepared speech.

In my view, the fuss which the Opposition are making, the time they are taking on this matter, a matter agreed by the all-party Procedure Committee, and their presence here in serried ranks on the benches opposite this evening, all add force to the argument for reducing the size of the First Scottish Standing Committee and making it a workmanlike Committee instead of merely a talking shop. The hon. Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) put his finger on the point; he wants to see his name in the papers—though nobody else does. I do not want to see it, anyway.

Mr. Buchan

I can understand that. In view of what he usually says, there are very good reasons why the hon. Gentleman should not want his name in the papers.

Mr. Galbraith

Not my name, the hon. Gentleman's.

Mr. Buchan

But the hon. Gentleman also said that he did not want his name in the paper.

Mr. Galbraith


Mr. Buchan

I acknowledge that, unless the hon. Gentleman understands the simple point that Parliament belongs not to the Members of Parliament but to the people of this country, he will not understand our argument. It is important that the people know what the hon. Gentleman says as well as what we on this side say.

Mr. Galbraith

The hon. Gentleman underestimates the intelligence of the Scottish people. They can take a point if it is made once, or, perhaps, a difficult point if it is made twice. The hon. Member for Motherwell reckoned that if the Committee were as small as 16, there would be seven Socialist Members on it. There is no need to have an argument repeated seven times for it to sink into a Scottish audience. They are usually pretty quick off the mark.

The trouble is that these arguments go on and on ad infinitum, to such an extent that I am now incapable of taking in anything said by a member of the Opposition. I have trained myself to do it. I did it when I was a Scottish Whip for seven years. I was opposite number, so to speak, to the hon. Member for Motherwell, and perhaps that is why we have a sneaking regard for one another.

The fact that it comes before a large Committee does not necessarily mean that a matter is dealt with any more thoroughly. Often, it means that it is not dealt with so expeditiously. Moreover, when the Committee is drawn from only a small number like 71, Scottish Members are not able to serve on other Committees. This is a serious disadvantage in being a Scottish Member of Parliament. One is inward looking the whole time.

The hon. Member for Motherwell could probably make my speech better than I can myself. I can make any speech he cares to make. As for the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross)—when I find it difficult to go to sleep at night, I just think of him making one of his notorious speeches. We have really had too much of this.

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman will have no trouble about sleeping tonight.

Mr. Galbraith

The right hon. Gentleman is quite right. I did not intend to listen to him.

I remember the late Colonel Walter Elliot—and I have repeated the story before—saying that the trouble with Scotsmen was that if one got them all together in a chamber which was well-heated and if there was somebody to take down every word that they said, and one paid those Scotsmen into the bargain, one would never stop them talking.

This is the trouble with the Scottish Grand Committee and the First Scottish Standing Committee; and it would be the trouble in the House if there were not some of our kind friends from across the Border to apply a little prodding to make us get on with the work. I firmly believe that this suggestion of the Procedure Committee, which has had all-party blessing till this stage, will help our deliberations in Scotland. There is nothing fixed about it. That is made quite clear by the Father of the House, my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir R. Turton). It gives flexibility. The suggestion of the hon. Member for Renfrew, West does not give flexibility, because every time it is decided that there should be a debate on Second Reading on the Floor of the House, automatically—

Mr. Buchan

indicated assent

Mr. Galbraith

I do not like "automatically". But automatically if the Second Reading were on the Floor of the House the Committee has to be 30; but I want flexibility. If the hon. Gentleman's colleagues who come from south of the Border have faith in the system of the usual channels and the Procedure Committee to see that in appropriate cases the United Kingdom Committees are larger than the minimum, I do not see why the Scottish Members should not, as they are Members of Parliament, have faith in the same organisation.

8.57 p.m.

Mr. William Small (Glasgow, Scotstoun)

I feel that the House has been listening to a somnambulist, a man who has been sleeping and who then wakes and discovers that he is still speaking. Such a man generally talks nonsense.

Let us look at what is happening in terms of the recommendations for 16 men. This is a diminution of the rights of democracy in an election petition at the ballot box, that enthralling event when the choice is made as to the representative quality of members, apart from party affiliation, and the decision taken has been quite excitingly in favour of this side of the House.

It appears that behind the Motion is a restriction on the style of debate and the nature of Committees. My hon. Friends who are musicians will know that there are eight keys in one octave and that with two hands the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. The Prime Minister must have read the report, because he has now composed the "broken melody", that is, to break the Scottish Members if he can.

The presence of the Lord Advocate reminds me of a story. I do not normally speak in Latin and tonight I shall let hon. Members off the hook. The story is about a case which was presided over by Mr. Justice Darling many years ago, about someone who, peddling his wares, sold stinking fish to a parson. I quote the ruling in the advice to the jury: If he happens to know that his fish do stink, he must not cry, 'Fresh fish, fresh fish', nor is he any more entitled to do so if he happens to know that his customer cannot smell. The electorate in Scotland can smell on this matter, and this manœuvre stinks.

To that degree, it is partisan and political in character, and goes against every method of what we call political democracy, that if one goes to the ballot box one's rights should be evercised on the number of Members one wishes to have on a Committee. To that extent I condemn that condition and the recommendation of the Select Committee as a squalid political manœuvre.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown (Glasgow, Provan)

I will not try to emulate the analogy drawn by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Scotstoun (Mr. Small) with stinking fish. I am by nature slightly more generous. Unlike the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith), I shall not say whether this is a prepared speech or one that I am making off the cuff. If ever I make a good speech, I am not too sure which is the best way of setting about it.

Unnecessary suspicion has been aroused on this question. I shall not make any of the wider political points which have been made by my hon. Friends the Members for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan), for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson), and for Scotstoun. It is not a wise move to try to get through a Measure about which there is disagreement at four o'clock on a Friday afternoon, especially when it was not on the Order Paper until that very day. I hope that the Leader of the House will not accuse me of being suspicious without evidence, whatever he says about some of my hon. Friends. It was sheer chance that we had the opportunity to debate this question. It is not due necessarily to the generosity of the Leader of the House; though, he having been caught out once, I give him full marks for having been generous since then in the assurances he has given.

The case for change has not been established. I do not want to object to the change if there is merit in it or if there is something reasonable about it. Despite what the people of Scotland have decided at the ballot box, if there should be a small Committee of 16 Members it would be intolerable to tie down members of the Government in Committee. After all, we may be in the same position ourselves again. It would be intolerable and irresponsible to tie down as Lobby fodder three junior Ministers who should be discharging their responsibilities to the people of Scotland, even though we do not always agree with what they are doing. As I should resent being treated in that way myself, so I can understand junior Ministers resenting it.

I cannot understand how a man with such great natural charm as the hon. Member for Hillhead can be so offensive in his arguments. He made one valid point. He finds it abhorrent to share in the work of Scottish Committees. He may be genuine in his desire to share in the work of United Kingdom Committees together with other Government backbench Members, but we on this side are deprived of the opportunity of so serving.

I do not believe that it would do any of us any good in Scotland if we were forced to admit that we had taken a certain view on this matter mainly because the people of Scotland had shown so little confidence in the Conservative Party. This could give rise to misunderstanding outside because of the need to obtain sufficient Opposition hon. Members to man a Committee. This could arise with a Measure like the Housing Bill, not because there are party disagreements, although of course there are, but because of the need, in the interests of the legislation, to have a number of hon. Members on the Committee who are able to improve the Bill.

It is understood that while the Opposition membership of any Committee is unlikely to win any major arguments in debating a Bill brought forward by the Government, it is able to educate the Government on parts of the Bill, whatever it is, and for this reason it is important to have on any Committee the maximum number of hon. Members, within reason, who have knowledge of the legislation being discussed. This must happen in a democracy.

The crux of the argument seems to be that there is likely to be agreement through the usual channels. Never having been in those channels it is difficult for me to contest this argument. However, during the time I have been in Parliament some very peculiar things seem to have happened in those channels. Indeed, I sometimes feel that I am swimming in totally different ones from those in which my party is in consultation.

We must make up our minds whether we want a big Committee not just because a Measure may be controversial but because of the ability of hon. Members to bring knowledge to bear on the subject under discussion. I am sure that many of my hon. Friends would have liked to have been members of the Committee which examined, for example, the Divorce Bill, which would be limited to a membership of 16 under these proposals if the Bill was considered in the Second Committee.

What will happen if the First Committee is sitting at the same time and there is difficulty in finding sufficient hon. Members to staff the other one? Will the Government have to rely on English and Welsh hon. Members to man the two Committees, or even only one of them? While I would not necessarily disagree with that, we must accept that it could have political implications for both major parties in Scotland. Is this state of affairs within the thinking of the Leader of the House and, if so, does the Secretary of State object to it?

I am willing to be convinced on this issue. I remain unconvinced, however, that all these matters can be resolved through the usual channels. Nor am I convinced that we will be able to get large enough Committees to deal not simply with controversial legislation but with some major aspects of legislation affecting, for example, Scotland. This could seem to be uncontroversial but in fact it could turn out to be controversial. In other words, I have fears about this, but I am willing to accept the Minister's reassurance.

9.8 p.m.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

Many of the points that I might have made have already been dealt with. It remains a fact that if we are to accept the Government's proposals, which stems from the deliberations of the Select Committee on Procedure, we shall be doing so on evidence that is plainly too scant.

As far as one can see, there are three strands of evidence in support of the recommendation. One is an undisclosed memorandum from the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour). The second is the opinion of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith), whose evidence boils down to the fact that he found being a member of Standing Committees a boring experience. I assure him that that is not a common view. [Lauhter.] It may be a common view among hon. Members opposite, but I do not think that even on that side—

Mr. Galbraith

I have had too much of it.

Mr. Maclennan

If the hon. Gentleman has had too much of it, there are others who will doubtless take his place.

Mr. Galbraith

The hon. Gentleman is making more of this than is necessary. My point is that it is a great pity if Scottish Members are restricted almost entirely to serving on Scottish Committees. It makes them inward-looking. When the hon. Gentleman has been in the House a little longer and has had the opportunity of serving on English and United Kingdom Committees as well as Scottish Committees—perhaps he has done so already—he will probably recognise, and I defy him to deny, that there is a difference in approach, not necessarily to the disadvantage of the English Committees.

Mr. Maclennan

It may be that my experience is more limited than the hon. Gentleman's but I can draw my own conclusions. I am only too well aware that under the present system it is quite possible for Scottish Members to serve on more than one Committee. I sat on no fewer than four Committees at one time during the 1969–70 Session. It involved a certain amount of logistic problems on occasion, but it was possible to be an active member of all four and to make useful contributions. Even the hon. Gentleman would not seek to place too much weight on the evidence, he gave, which really boiled down to a couple of sentences in which he said that he found it boring.

The third and, perhaps, most significant contribution was made by the Leader of the House who stated that he thought that Scottish Standing Committees should be the same size as other Standing Committees. That statement lacked any argument in support. It was only an assertion.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

That is not quite what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House said. He did not say that they should be the same size but that the same rule governing size—that is, between 16 and 50 members—should apply to the Scottish Standing Committees as applies to the other Standing Committees.

Mr. Maclennan

I accept that in referring to the evidence of the Leader of the House, the Select Committee compressed his arguments in a way that might have given rise to over-simplification. Nevertheless, it is plain that he was suggesting that the principal reason for recommending a change would be one of logic. In my view, that is the most unsatisfactory basis for making a constitutional change, particularly as it affects the relationship of Scottish Members to their functions in representing the people of Scotland. If we are to accept the logic of that position, we will find ourselves following extremely strange paths. It could strictly be argued in logic that Scotland enjoys a much too large parliamentary representation because we have 71 Members out of a House of 630, but no one would seriosuly argue that the logic of that position should be sustained.

The fact is that the Scottish Standing ing Committees exercise quite different functions from those of the English Standing Committees dealing with Bills, and it is extraordinarily insensitive, to put it no higher, of the Government to fail to take account of this difference. Is not the Secretary of State aware of this difference? Can he deny that the Press takes a much more detailed interest in what is discussed in Scottish Standing Committees in comparison with the interest shown by the English Press in what is discussed in English Standing Committees? In fact, the fourth estate—the Press—plays a very intimate part in the proceedings of Parliament in this respect.

We have in a sense taken account through the institution of the Scottish Standing Committees of the problem of remoteness from central Government, which is the penumbra of this debate and has, unfortunately, not been sufficiently allowed for in the Government's argument.

This is not simply a matter of numbers, nor can it be a matter of practicalities. Suppose that the Opposition are forced, at the behest of the Government, to choose seven of their Members to serve on a Standing Committee dealing with highly controversial legislation—and let us not be confused about who makes the choice. The Committee of Selection may decide the number, but it is the Government who, in the last analysis, decide that only seven Opposition Members will serve on the Committee. That ensures that the voice of Scotland will be less clearly heard and less representatively expressed. If we look at the matter in terms of geographical representation of the different areas of Scotland or in terms of the different interests which Opposition Members representing Scottish constituences express in the Committees, we realise how limiting this proposal is.

Government back-bench Members do not represent such a broad cross-section of Scottish life as Opposition Members. Therefore, as the hon. Member for Hillhead suggested, Members opposite face the prospect of simply repeating what another hon. Member opposite has said. Their philosophy is the same, as is the class from which they stem, their education and schools. But that is not true of the Opposition. We are drawn from every class of Scottish life, from every region of Scotland and from every conceivable background. We bring these different qualities to our debates and we regard them as enriching. That is why we resent this blatantly political manoeuvre.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)

Mr. Eadie.

Mr. Alex Eadie (Midlothian)

May I at the outset—

Mr. MacArthur


Mr. Deputy Speaker

I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon: I did not see him rise to his feet. If the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) will give way to the hon. Gentleman, I will call him after the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) has spoken.

Mr. Eadie


Mr. MacArthur

I attempted to speak several times.

Mr. Eadie

This is not good enough.

9.23 p.m.

Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)

The hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie), who always claims to believe in fair shares, must allow me to say a few words on this important matter.

I welcome this proposal because it makes utter sense; it is totally fair. There have been changes made before in the composition of the Scottish Committee. There is nothing new in changing its composition. Changes have been made in our Committee procedure. I remember that the Second Scottish Committee was set up at the instigation of right hon. and hon. Members opposite with support from this side of the House. That Committee has done admirable work.

Mr. Buchan

Before the hon. Gentleman starts to lecture us, will he say whether he heard the arguments for and against the proposals? Did he hear the history of the proposals outlined on both sides of the House?

Mr. MacArthur

I heard the hon. Gentleman's speech in extenso and I heard other speeches. I apologise to the one or two Members whose speeches I missed. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will allow me to say what I wish to say. I propose to flatter him by spending quite a bit of my speech in commenting on his remarks, which I heard completely and which I disagree with totally.

There is nothing new in changing the composition of Committees of this House. Change is welcome if it makes sense. The hon. Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) said that the Scottish Committees are rather different from other Standing Committees because they debate matters of great principle which are watched very carefully in Scotland. I think that was the general trend of his remarks, and to a large extent I agree with him. These Committees are important. They debate Scottish Bills which are important to the people of Scotland. The Scottish Committees are watched by the Scottish Press more than other Standing Committees of the House are watched by the newspapers in the South. In parenthesis I would say that I am sorry we are not reported a little more than we are by the B.B.C. in Scotland because a large part of the great debate in Scottish national life takes place in the Scottish Committees.

However, I would suggest to the hon. Gentleman that it is not so much the Scottish Standing Committee which is the forum for these great debates, but that it is the Scottish Grand Committee which debates the great matters of principle. It is the Scottish Grand Committee which holds the equivalent on Scottish Bills of Second Reading debates. It is not so much the Scottish Standing Committee which deals with these broad matters of principle to which the hon. Gentleman referred.

Mr. Buchan


Mr. MacArthur

I do not want to make too much of this point. I simply make the point to the hon. Gentleman that the Scottish Grand Committee is not affected by this proposal. The Scottish Grand Committee will continue, and the Scottish Grand Committee will continue to deal with the matters of great principle, having Estimates days and matter days, and the equivalent of Second Reading debates by debates on the principles of Scottish Bills.

The hon. Gentleman also suggested that because the Scottish Standing Committee was of such importance to Scottish national life a larger number of Members should be able to take part in debates in that Committee, but I would suggest that it is not the number of Members actually on the Committee which secures this interest in the working of the Scottish Standing Committee and arouses the Press reporting and comment to which the hon. Gentleman referred. It is not the number of Members. Surely, it is the quality of the debates in which they engage; and I do not believe that the quality of the debates is necessarily improved by enlarging the membership or obtaining artificially a large number of Members on the Committee. I do not accept his apparent argument that the debates in the Scottish Standing Committee will arouse less interest in Scotland in the Scottish Committee because on occasions there will be fewer Scottish Members on the Committee.

The hon. Gentleman and others have had some fun because of their claim that we on this side have had difficulty in manning the Scottish Standing Committee. They can believe that if they like, and if it brings them any comfort, but I would remind them that we have manned the Scottish Committee very well, very efficiently. We have had all our Members there; they have all taken part, and done extraordinarily well, and it has been a joy to us to help the Government to get through the excellent legislation which the Government have been bringing forward.

However, I would make the point which, I think, most hon. Members would accept, that Scottish Members work very hard in Parliament. There are 71 of us, as the hon. Member remarked just now, and, perhaps, it is arithmetically, overrepresentation, but we carry jointly a very large share of the work of Parliament. That is because not only do we take part, in the great debates on the Floor of the House, and at Question time, in United Kingdom affairs, but also we deal with Scottish Bills, and we have our own Scottish Committees and our Scottish Ministers. The load we carry is certainly not less than that which every other Member of Parliament welcomes as part of his duty here.

Indeed, I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) reminded us that in one Session, which was, admittedly, a very protracted one, after the 1966 General Election—a Session which went all through the summer months and to the end of the year before it ended—there were 71 Sittings of the Scottish Grand Committee and the Scottish Standing Committees. That illustrates the amount of work which Scottish Members handle and have handled. We all do a good deal of work, every single one of us, and because of that there are occasions when I think that perhaps we take less part than we should like to in the Committees on United Kingdom Bills. We have all, I am sure, had experience of sitting in Committee on a United Kingdom Bill—from my point of view, rather less than I would like. Indeed, I remember—the hon. Gentleman will, perhaps, point to this as an illustration of a temporary drop in our numbers on this side—sitting in Committee on a Scottish and a United Kingdom Bill at the same time—the rating Bills. It is not a comfortable process. I dislike having to sit on two Committees at the same time. I think the hon. Gentleman will accept that this happens to both parties, in Government and in Opposition and, even if we accept that there are occasions when we need to sit on two Committees at once, it would be more sensible for Scottish Members to exercise their influence and make their voices heard more frequently and more loudly on Committees considering United Kingdom Bills.

Surely, the central point is that we are not by this proposal putting Scotland at any disadvantage compared with England. All that is proposed is that the same Standing Committee rule should apply to Scottish legislation as applies to legislation for the United Kingdom. I find it hard to discern from the speeches I have heard any reasons to persuade me that we should not conform to rules which work pleasantly, harmoniously, sensibly and constructively for the conduct of United Kingdom business. This is the unanimous recommendation of the Procedure Committee, which considered all the relevant arguments, and on which a Scottish Member served, and it would be unreasonable for the House to reject the proposal, which I see as sensible and fair.

9.26 p.m.

Mr. Alex Eadie (Midlothian)

My job is not to refrain from embarrassing the Government but rather to embarrass and harass the Government as much as possible. However much the Leader of the House may have represented himself as a model of conciliation, I was in the House when he tried to sneak this Motion through without debate. The argument that the Government are coming before the House as a model of conciliation is condemned by their tactics in trying to get the Motion through without debate.

Five or 10 minutes ago we experienced the kind of tactics that the Opposition have to stand when confronted by this Tory Government. I make no apology for harassing or embarrassing them or for not consoling them in their dilemma. Their dilemma is that they are a minority party in Scotland. We are the majority party in Scotland, and that means that we have a right to voice our opposition when the Government, in trying to escape their dilemma, try to sneak legislation through the House.

We know that this is a squalid manoeuvre and the right hon. Gentleman knows that it is an attempt to solve the embarrassing position of his Government. It is no use his telling us that everything will be all right and that we shall work through the usual channels. Having had experience of Parliament, we know that working through the usual channels means consultations. We are not daft. We have been in industry. We know that consultation does not mean management and that if the Government cannot have their way through the usual channels, they will exert their right as a majority to have their way. It is a mockery to suggest that the usual channels can solve this problem.

Many hon. Members feel that the Government have done great damage to political discussion by using the guillotine indiscriminately to curb discussion—[HON. MEMBERS: "Like the Labour Government."]—but we did not set ourselves up as a paragon of virtue. We believe that there should be more discussion, argument and debate in the House. If it embarrasses hon. Members to sit in Committee because their horizons are limited, that is too bad. There is a wide horizon of opinion in this House. We have recently debated the Housing Finance Bill, but there are some hon. Members who do not know how council house tenants live, so how can they try to make an argument in debate?

We were lobbied today by hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people from Scotland, which an hon. Member opposite treated with arrogance and contempt for people's opinions. We should thank God that they came down to Parliament, because it shows faith in parliamentary democracy. It is when they stop coming that we should worry. Some of us prize parliamentary democracy, which is sometimes a fragile flower. Some of our forbears had to fight to get it.

Parliament belongs not to the Government but to the people. The Government are in office for only a certain period. The day will come when the people decide that they do not want that kind of Government. Before that day comes, however, we have a responsibility as an Opposition to make sure that they do not destroy the rights of the people to debate in Standing Committee.

Scotland is a nation, not just a region. We as a substantial majority party are entitled to see that these matters are discussed. So we will oppose the Government tonight. Whatever they may say, this is a squalid manoeuvre brought about by their own difficulties, from which it is not our job to extricate them.

9.32 p.m.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

We have had an interesting debate. I hope that the Leader of the House will appreciate that Scottish Members feel strongly on this. May I thank him for his consideration on the two occasions when I met him in his room to discuss this, when we tried to resolve what must in the end be a question of faith and the acceptability of assurances by him or by me?

It has been suggested that a contentious matter which was the subject of a Division on Second Reading merited a much larger Committee. The right hon. Gentleman gave his reasons, which I understand. He is prepared to trust me, because I am a reasonable man, as I am prepared to trust him, but changes take place and 10 people may rise to spoil things.

In the same way, he must appreciate our difficulty. Our only guarantee in this Standing Order is a membership of 16, and the rest will be questions of powers. Any Motion about the size of the Committee and what hon. Members are on the Committee will be entirely in the right hon. Gentleman's hands. And it is no use trying to convince an awkward customer like my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown) about the usual channels.

Mr. Harold Gurden (Birmingham, Selly Oak)


Mr. Ross

Yes, I know—the hon. Gentleman is going to tell us about the Selection Committee. But we are dealing with the rules under which the Selection Committee and its Chairman will have to work. Any initiative in determining the size of Committees—

Mr. Gurden

indicated dissent.

Mr. Ross

The hon. Member should have been here at the start to correct his right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. He should not have come to correct me.

I appreciate what the Leader of the House has done and the consideration which the Select Committee on Procedure has given to this matter, but they have failed lamentably to appreciate the sensitivity of this. There is no reason why they should. It is obvious that the Committee did not send for a memorandum from the Clerk of the House on the history of the Scottish Committee. If it had, there would be no excuse, other than just a human error, for the Father of the House getting matters wrong about the history.

Sir R. Turton

The right hon. Gentleman must recollect that, on the Select Committee on Procedure we had a Scottish Member who sits on the benches opposite and who had full knowledge of the history of the Second Scottish Committee.

Mr. Ross

My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) is not here at present. But my hon. Friend entered this House in 1966—

Mr. Gordon Campbell

What better prosecution witness!

Mr. Ross

I do not grant any accolades to professors of constitutional history, but I suggest that many hon. Members present tonight have been part of the history of the development of Committees.

The one Scottish Member to give evidence in person to the Committee, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith), made a few remarks and has now departed. He is not interested in replies to his points.

My first comment about the Select Committee on Procedure is that it did not give enough time to its consideration of these matters. I understand that there was a letter from the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour)—

An Hon. Member

Where is he?

Mr. Ross

I think that he is in Australia. The letter is not even printed in the Report of the Committee. Then the hon. Member for Hillhead appeared before the Committee, for some reason. The Committee wished to see him about a point related to Closures, and then he was asked, "By the way, about another matter …" I think that he was asked one question, and he answered it as part of a sentence. I have the evidence before me. I could read all the questions and answers in respect of this matter and it would take me exactly two minutes. That is the published evidence. It may be that the Committee spent hours in deliberation, though I doubt it very much.

Then his lordship himself, the Leader of the House, suddenly was seized of the importance of this matter and the desire to get efficiency. I wish that the hon. Member for Hillhead were here. Out of justice to the House, I think that I ought to read exactly what took place. The Leader of the House was asked by the Chairman: I would like to pass to two other short points on the Scottish side of the business. The suggestion has been made that some Scottish Bills should go to the Scottish Grand Committee or the Scottish Standing Committee for Report stage. Would that be a possibility? The Leader of the House replied in his customary brief form: Yes, I think it would be a possibility. That was that point finished. Then the Chairman said: The other odd thing about Scotland is Standing Order No. 69. Whereas the other Standing Committees have recently been cut down to size, there is a very high proportion of the Scottish Members — 30 — on the First Scottish Standing Committee. Is not that now rather out of line with your other Committees? That was a bit of a leading question. Having been led, the right hon. Gentleman replied: Yes. We would very much like to have Scottish Standing Committees of the same size as other Standing Committees, and I do not think there is any good reason why they should not be. Then the Chairman asked: The Second Scottish Standing Committee is, I think, the nomal size of 16? The Leader of the House replied: Yes. But we do not see any reason why Scottish Standing Committees should not be the same size as other Standing Committees. That is slightly repetitious, this advancing of cogent reasons. The Chairmen then asked: Is there any difficuly in manning the two together when they have 46 Members between them? The Leader of the House answered: We just do not think that there is any reason why the Scotisht Committees should be different from other Standing Committees. It is virtually becoming tautologous now. One notices the cogency and the piling up of reasons. Once they have come to Standing Committees, it is reasonable that they should all be subjected to the same test. He does not say what the test is. It would be interesting to know.

The right hon. Gentleman has a reputation for being fair. He made a statement about a fortnight ago on the work of the Committee on Procedure. He felt it right to make that statement and then dealt with how it should be handled. What he did not tell the House was that he tried to slip this proposal through without giving prior notice to the House, and he put it down for a Friday. Fortunately, somebody was there just to say "Object". If he could have got it through in that way, he would have done so. I do not object to his doing it on a Friday. The great point which he made was that Friday is like any other day. Why did he single out this item to be pushed through in advance of making a statement to the House about the whole business of the Committee on Procedure? He has not told us yet. It boils down to the point that either he knows very little about the history of the Scottish Committee or, if he does, he is not concerned about it.

The right hon. Gentleman knows that there are 44 Labour Members from Scotland, 23 Conservatives, three Liberals and one Nationalist. When we take from that number the Ministers in other Departments, the Tories are pretty thin on the ground to do the work as it should be done. Therefore, they cut down the Committee in size. There are no objections on that side because, quite frankly, hon. Members opposite have never been all that enthusiastic about serving on Scottish Committees. I have yet to recall an occasion when we had a Sittings Motion suggesting that we should meet on Wednesdays as well as Thursdays which was greeted with enthusiasm, either now or in the days when the leader of that band of people was our friend Sir Colin Thornton-Kemsley who used to delight us with speeches on this subject. I do not mind them, but I object to the rights of the majority being diminished and Members who are willing to serve on Committees being denied the opportunity of serving their constituents.

The Father of the House has been misled, not only about the history of the Second Scottish Committee but about its purpose. It was made clear when it was set up that it would deal with noncontroversial, technical Bills. It is wrong to talk in terms of technical Bills in relation to the First Standing Committee. Its Bills are not technical Bills. I have always been in favour of greater use of the Second Standing Committee, which usually meets on a Wednesday and does not interfere with the other Committees, for law reform Measures, for example. There is no reason for them to be held up. It is of considerable advantage to Scottish Members who draw places in the Ballot if they bring forward purely Scottish legislation. It means that instead of waiting in a queue for the Committee dealing with Private Members Bills, their Bills can be slotted in. I have seen that Committee deal with as many as four or five in one day. It is wrong for hon. Members, such as the hon. Member for Hillhead, to give a wrong impression of our approach to legislation. When it comes to major legislation, that is an entirely different matter.

I turn now to the origin of the Committee in 1906. [Interruption.] I mean 1907. It was a Liberal Government, anyway. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman was here at the time. Nor was I, for that matter. Changes were made in 1922, when there was a considerable cutting down of these Committees. However, the Scottish Grand Committee was not touched. In 1948 further changes were made concerning the size of Committees. Again, the Scottish Grand Committee was left unchanged.

It is not usual for the Leader of the House to dismiss something which is anomalous as nonsense when there is this history behind it. He should have asked why it was not changed in 1922 or in 1948. Why did this system last right into about the 1960s? When I came to the House in 1946—and some of my hon Friends came here before then, in 1945—every Scottish Member had the right to be on every Committee considering a Scottish Bill. Many of us used that right because, having been sent here from Scotland, we reckoned it our job to be on every Committee considering Scottish legislation. I know that it was troublesome. In those days the Secretary of State had to appear in the Committee. There was a system of pairing, which meant that a Member could opt out of the Committee to do other business.

Reference has been made to the difficulty of having to attend two Committees. Many of my hon. Friends already serve on more than one Committee. Some of them are on the Select Committee on Procedure and on the Select Committee on Expenditure, which used to be the Estimates Committee. Many of us serve on two Committees sitting simultaneously, and we are still able to do our legislative work. Very often when an English Measure contains provisions relating to Scotland Scottish Members duplicate their work by attending the Committee considering that Measure and attend the Scottish Committee, too.

There were some changes in the Committee procedure following the report of 1957. I gave evidence on behalf of Scottish Labour Members, as did George Willis, a former Minister of State for Scotland. It was not a case of three sentences in those days. It was Walter Elliot, whose name was mentioned somewhat facetiously, who was Chairman of the Select Committee on Procedure at that time. Evidence was taken from the then Secretary of State, Jack Maclay, and from that doyen of the House, who was as well remembered as a Tory Chief Whip as Secretary of State, James Stuart. The evidence lasted for about three days, and it is interesting to note that the Scottish Committee was not brought down to the same size as the other Committees. Everyone recognised the uniqueness of the Scottish Committee, and the House must appreciate that.

Before the right hon. Gentleman gives us the reply which has been prepared by the Scottish Office—and I know what sort of reply one gets from the Scottish Office—he should consider what happened the other night. He should ask his advisers to look at what was said by the Balfour Commission on Scottish Affairs about the Scottish Grand Committee and the Scottish Committee, and the power and influence which Scottish Members have over Scottish legislation.

I am sorry that the Liberals are not here tonight, but I see that the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Donald Stewart) is present. He will not be on the Scottish Committee unless the Tories give up one of their places. If they do, the chances are that the hon. Gentleman will vote with us and the Tories will be in a minority. Not that I should object to that.

When we were the Government, and put through the Highland and Islands Development (Scotland) Bill, most of the Liberals were from the Highlands but, on the basis of proportional representation, I do not think that they were entitled to be Members of the Committee considering that Bill. That is what happens when the size of a Committee is reduced. The adequacy of geographical representation is reduced.

I hope that the case we are making will not be dismissed as nonsense, or as something rather odd, because if we reduce the size of a Committee—be it an English Committee, or any other—we reduce the extent to which it properly represents the make-up of the House of Commons. The original idea was that a Committee should represent the composition of the House. This is why there should be English Members on the Scottish Standing Committee. It is a Committee of the House and they should be represented upon it.

I believe that on this matter the Government have gone too far and I hope that the Leader of the House will think again. The Scottish Standing Committees have a significant place in the eyes of the Scottish public. The Secretary of State should reread the Tory Constitutional Committee's comments about this matter and its conclusions about our control of Scottish affairs. Yet here the Government are reducing the influence of Scottish Members, and it is we who suffer from it. Although the Government do not have a majority in Scotland, they will have a bigger proportion of their Members on the Committee to maintain their majority as a reflection of the majority in the House. We shall be denied representation to a greater extent.

This procedure will apply not only to technical legislation. There is to be a Scottish Housing Bill the Second Reading of which will, I presume, be taken on the Floor of the House and it will then go to the First Scottish Standing Committee. That Bill will affect every constituency in Scotland. It is a vital matter and we shall need as big a Committee as we can get. The more the Committee is reduced in numbers the greater the number of people who are unrepresented.

What is to happen on the Report stage? The Leader of the House, who knows a great deal more about procedure than I do, knows that procedure is dictated not by the size of a Committee but by what happens in the Committee and what is discussed in it. Therefore, it is not good enough to say that hon. Members will have sufficient opportunity to discuss various matters on Report, because they will not. The hon. Member for Hillhead talked about belonging to a shortened Committee, but if he looks up what was said by the former Jimmy Stuart in 1957 he will appreciate that even a small Committee of Scots can talk for quite a long time if they think they have to.

All this is being done on the basis of uniformity. I was disappointed by the remarks made by the Father of the House. He will know that after a Second Reading in an English Committee, the Question is put forthwith on the Floor of the House. But when a piece of legislation goes to the Scottish Committee for discussion in principle and comes back to the Floor of the House, if six of us put down our names the matter has to be debated all over again. Why did not the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir R. Turton) seek to change that odd practice? I hope I am not putting ideas into his head.

One matter which the Committee on Procedure examined was that if it is suggested that a Scottish Bill should go for consideration in principle on Second Reading to the Scottish Grand Committee—that is, to a very large Committee—10 hon. Members may stand and object. This was what worried the Leader of the House a little earlier. On an English Bill 20 hon. Members must stand and object, but somehow or other history or something else struck the Father of the House in that regard and he said, "We will leave this alone".

Sir R. Turton

I was a member of the previous Select Committee on Procedure and we recommended that particular procedure because, since there were fewer Scottish Members, it was only right to provide for only 10 hon. Members to object. This is why we are trying to get uniformity on this matter. On the Scottish housing Bill there can be a Committee of 50 members if the Committee on Selection agrees.

Mr. Ross

The right to object to a Scottish Bill going to Committee for Second Reading is not a right given to Scottish Members but a right given to the House of Commons. Therefore, if it is justified for the sake of uniformity in regard to the Committee on Procedure, it is equally justified elsewhere. The Father of the House and his Committee should have been logical on this matter.

I should like hon. Members who serve on the Select Committee to read the new Standing Order. Standing Order No. 62 states: (1) Save in the case of—

  1. (a) the Scottish Grand Committee,
  2. (b) the Scottish Standing Committees,
  3. (c) the Welsh grand Committee, and
  4. (d) a standing committee for the consideration of a bill on report,
the Committee of Selection shall nominate not less than sixteen nor more than fifty Members to serve on each standing committee for the consideration of each bill committed, allocated or referred to it. We amend that by replacing "Scottish Standing Committees". The Amendment is to insert in line 19, after "that", (i) for the consideration of any public bill certified by Mr. Speaker as relating exclusively to Scotland or of a public Bill (or part of a public bill) ordered to be considered by a Scottish standing committee, the committee shall be so constituted as to include not less than sixteen members representing Scottish constituencies; —that is, 16 of the possible 50.

But the Standing Order will go on to sub-paragraph (ii), which has the proviso that for the consideration of any public bill relating exclusively to Wales and Monmouthshire, the committee shall be so constituted as to include all Members sitting for constituencies in Wales and Monmouthshire. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will explain this. There are not many Bills which are exclusive to Wales and Monmouthshire. But if we are concerned with a principle, how is it possible to justify that part being left in? If the answer is that there is no difficulty with it simply because there is so little legislation of that kind, it is not a satisfactory answer.

This brings me back to the point that the matter arises from the dilemma the Government are in because the people of Scotland sent so few Tories down here that they cannot manage. They would be far more honest if they admitted it. We cannot accept a further lessening of our rights. They were diminished after the 1957 Report, and now more are being taken away. It is no good the Secretary of State speaking of the usual channels, because on the basis that the Leader of the House would not trust our word about our attitude on the question of hon. Members standing for the Second Reading principle, we cannot accept that we should be left at the mercy of whichever Government may be in power or of whoever may be Leader of the House in the future, and the possible cutting of the number to 16.

I advise my hon. Friends to oppose the Motion.

9.59 p.m.

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

We have had a lively debate on this subject of importance to our parliamentary procedures for dealing with Scottish legislation.

The effect of the Motion is to bring the First Scottish Standing Committee into the same position as all the other United Kingdom Standing Committees. Many of them deal with Bills covering Scotland as well as England and Wales, but some deal with Bills that affect only England and Wales. The change was a unanimous recommendation of the Select Committee on Procedure, which consisted of Members from both sides, including a Scottish Labour Member.

The Standing Orders governing the size of all the other Standing Committees were changed by the House in 1968, when the last Government were in office. I do not believe that that was done for political reasons. It was done when the right hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) was Leader of the House, and I believe the reason he did it—

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Ordered, That the Motion relating to Scottish Standing Committees may be proceeded with at this day's Sitting, though opposed, until half-past Eleven o'clock.—[Mr. Whitelaw.]

Question again proposed.

Mr. Campbell

I believe that, among other things, the reason was that he was setting up a number of new Select Committees, which meant that the membership of the House as a whole would be stretched in manning even more Committees in addition to the Standing Committees. But the hon. Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan) seemed entirely to overlook that change in 1968 which had been made in the rules governing the size of the other standing committees. My right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Sir R. Turton), the Father of the House, and the Chairman of the Select Committee on Procedure, drew attention to the fact that the other Standing Committees had been subject to that change, reducing their minimum to 16, in 1968. What is being proposed now is that the Scottish Standing Committee should be treated in the same way, instead of being an anomaly.

The hon. Gentleman suggested that the proposal now, providing for a minimum of 16 to bring the Committee into the same position as other United Kingdom Committees, had come suddenly out of the blue to meet a special situation arising from the proportion of Scottish Members on the two sides of the House.

Mr. Buchan


Mr. Campbell

Was that the reason why it was done in 1968 for all the other Standing Committees, in the time of the right hon. Member for Coventry, East? Of course not. It was done because, among other things, there were new Select Committees being set up by the right hon. Gentleman, then Leader of the House, including a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs on which Scottish Members were asked to serve as well as on the Standing Committee and the Grand Committee.

The hon. Member for Renfrew, West suggest that the Motion before the House should be amended in such a way as to tie the size of the Committee to the question whether a Bill was to be debated on the Floor of the House on Second Reading or be referred to the Scottish Grand Committee. But such a new factor could upset the present considerations which influence whether a Second Reading is taken on the Floor—which does not always include a vote, as I shall point out.

The three main considerations governing that matter at present are these. First, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House reminded us, there is the right of no fewer than 10 Members to rise in their place to defeat a Motion that a Scottish Bill be referred to the Scottish Grand Committee. Then there is the question of a vote. If a Bill is highly controversial and there is to be a vote on the Second Reading—it may be quite a short Bill; it is within recent memory that a Bill of only three Clauses was highly controversial—its Second Reading is taken on the Floor of the House and it is voted on here because only procedural Motions can be put in the Scottish Grand Committee.

There is a third important consideration which should not be overlooked. Important Scottish Bills—they may be very long—which are not controversial and which are not to be opposed on Second Reading may nevertheless, because of their significance for Scottish Members, and perhaps other Members, be taken on Second Reading on the Floor of the House. Such a Bill was the Highland Development Bill. It was agreed between the two sides of the House that it should be debated on Second Reading on the Floor although, when it was first published—we were in opposition at the time—we said that there was no question of our voting against its Second Reading. So there are three considerations, which at present are the most important considerations which govern whether a Bill is considered on the Floor of the House at its Second Reading or is referred to the Scottish Grand Committee.

The point is that if the question of the size of the Standing Committee on a Bill were also to be included as another factor, that would be a temptation for either 10 Members to get up to try to keep the Bill on the Floor of the House or to cause a vote, although it was not really a controversial Bill, because they were concerned to govern the size of a Standing Committee and were not concerned about the merits or about whether there should be a vote on the Floor of the House.

The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) raised some very interesting points. He and I were both Scottish Whips for two years, on each side. I was the Government Scottish Whip and he was the Opposition Scottish Whip. We were then the Scottish "usual channels". I confirm what he said, that we were able to make arrangements extremely amicably during that period together, including the setting up, for the first time, of the Second Scottish Standing Committee.

The hon. Member raised the question of Standing Order No. 67(2), to which my right hon. Friend referred, and asked whether my right hon. Friend was suggesting that there may be abuse of the rule whereby not less than 10 Members could stand. My right hon. Friend was not suggesting that. He was just pointing out that that safeguard for back benchers could be used in future for a different purpose. As I understand it, at present it is a safety valve for back benchers in a situation in which the two Front Benches have agreed that a Bill should be referred to the Scottish Grand Committee. If not less than 10 Members rise, together they can defeat that. This was done about four years ago and it is within the memory of hon. Members that it was done by a group of back benchers, including the Liberal Members and the two Nationalist Members of that day. It was, therefore, a group of back bench Members, and not either of the Front Benches, who rose and mustered at least 10 and thereby stopped a Motion for the referral of a Bill. In reply to another point raised, they were not all Scottish Members. So there has been an occasion when this has been done. But at present, this is a safeguard in order to ensure that discussion takes place on the Floor of the House on Second Reading.

If this new factor were introduced, the purpose of doing this, or indicating that a vote, which could be an unofficial vote, was to take place on a Bill, could be to govern the size of the committee—something quite different from the intention of the present Standing Orders.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown) was sympathetic about Ministers' positions, and said that to have perhaps three Scottish Ministers on the Standing Committee of a Bill was wasting the time of at least one of them. I thank him for his sympathy, but I am also concerned about back benchers' positions as well as Ministers' positions. Back benchers should be free to be able to take part in the deliberations on other Standing Committees and not be permanently on the Scottish Standing Committee.

The longest United Kingdom Standing Committee sessions I have ever had were not in the Scottish Committee; they were—I was joined with other Scottish Members in this—on the Standing Committee on the Transport Bill about three years ago, which was a marathon. There were Scots on both sides. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, were the Chairman of that Committee, and I need not remind you of the occasion. On that Bill, I admit that I missed the opportunity of serving on the Scottish Standing Committee, which was dealing with a Scottish Sewerage Bill. But I was engaged in very important Scottish transport matters with other hon. Members from both sides of the House.

Mr. Gurden

I apologise sincerely to my right hon. Friend for not being present for the whole of the debate. What he is saying now has been a constant problem for the Committee of Selection, as Scottish hon. Members have indicated their wish to be on some of the United Kingdom Committees and we have simply been unable to accommodate them. Would my right hon. Friend deal with this point? Unless I have misunderstood what he was indicating, I thought that the Government Front Bench decided the size of Committees. As I understand it, as chairman of the Committee of Selection, I am always determined, at the beginning of every meeting, to ask whether it is agreed that a certain number shall apply to a certain bill. Is it the responsibility of the Committee of Selection, or is it the Government's responsibility?

Mr. Campbell

As I understand it, it is the Committee of Selection that decides which hon. Members should serve on Standing Committees and the size of Committees. I understand that the Committee of Selection seeks advice on the size of Committees and that it has been possible through the usual channels for the size of United Kingdom Committees to be discussed and agreed.

The hon. Member for Provan asked if it was intended that non-Scottish Members should be included in the composition of the Standing Committee which is the subject of the Motion. It is not the intention to call upon English, Welsh or Northern Irish Members to do this. The proposed change to the Standing Orders includes the words— not less than sixteen members representing Scottish constituencies. With this new flexibility it should be possible to ensure that on a Standing Committee there will always be Members representing Scottish constituencies and that recourse will not be needed to other hon. Members. In the 1959–64 Parliament, when the hon. Member for Motherwell and I were the respective Scottish Whips for part of the time, there were one or two occasions when non-Scottish Members were members of the Scottish Standing Committee when that Committee was very large. This aroused no comment at the time and was accepted, but I do not think that this is necessary in the future with the flexibility that we intend to introduce.

The position is different in the Grand Committee. Since 1919 in the Grand Committee it has been obligatory for at least 10 and not more than 15 non-Scottish Members to be added to the 71 Scottish Members. No Grand Committee which has been set up since 1919 has been without at least 10 additional Members from Wales, England or Ireland. That need not be the situation in the Standing Committee.

Mr. Ross

The right hon. Gentleman now says "need not be". A little while ago he said that it would not be the position. Is the size of the Committee which will consider a Bill, no matter the importance of the Bill—it might be the Local Government Bill—to be determined by the number of Tory Members available?

Mr. Campbell

It is clear from the wording that it is intended that they should be Members from Scottish constituencies. I am sure that that is what hon. Members on both sides representing Scottish constituencies would wish.

The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) said that the Second Scottish Standing Committee had dealt almost entirely with Private Members' Bills. When that Committee was first set up—I was the Government Scottish Whip at the time—we decided not to put Government legislation, however non-controversial, into that Committee, and we did not. It has been only very recently—in the time of the right hon. Gentleman—that two non-controversial Government Bills have gone to that Committee.

I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say tonight that he would like that Committee to do more—for example to consider some law reform legislation. If that happens, it is even more important that the First Scottish Standing Committee should not be large, because this will be yet another Committee doing more work during the week on a Wednesday.

As the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock said, major changes were made to the Scottish Committee system in 1958–59 following the Report of the Select Committee on Procedure which was then presided over by my predecessor as Member for Moray and Nairn, Lord Stuart of Findhorn, a former Secretary of State. It was following the recommendations of that Committee that it was decided that the Grand Committee should not be the Standing Committee for all Scottish Bills. The aim when that important change was made was clearly that there should be a Scottish Standing Committee which would work on the same lines as the other Standing Committees of the House.

On all the other United Kingdom Standing Committees there is agreement, and I here return to the point that was raised by my hon. Friend who was the Chairman of the Committee on Selection. There is agreement between the two sides of the House through the usual channels on the size of the Committee, within the

bracket of what the size should be, depending on the importance of the Bill and other factors of that kind.

Unless the Scottish usual channels have become gummed up since my day as a Scottish Whip, I see no reason why that should not happen in relation to our affairs. In other words, surely we can arrange our Scottish parliamentary affairs as efficiently and sensibly through the usual channels as we arrange our United Kingdom parliamentary affairs?

Mr. Eadie

The right hon. Gentleman must be joking. Consider, for example, what happened in the last Parliament. We found the normal channels completely blocked because of our failure to agree over one of the most important Measures ever to come before Parliament, namely, the Industrial Relations Bill.

Mr. Campbell

I can only tell the hon. Gentleman that where the United Kingdom channels are concerned, the question of the size of Committees has not been a stumbling block. In the same way, I believe that where the Scottish usual channels are concerned, there is no reason why the size of Committees should prove a stumbling block. We may disagree about the content of Bills and there will be parliamentary opportunities for obstruction. Nevertheless, this has not been a problem on a United Kingdom basis, and I see no reason why it should become one on a Scottish basis.

The Motion simply ends an anomaly which has existed since 1968 when the other Standing Committees of the House were given this flexibility by the Labour Party on a proposal by the right hon. Member for Coventry, East, who was then Leader of the House. This Motion will end that anomaly.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 159, Noes 136.

Division No. 18.] AYES [10.20 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Biggs-Davison, John Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.) Bruce-Gardyne, J.
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Boscawen, Robert Bryan, Paul
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Bowden, Andrew Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Burden, F. A.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Bray, Ronald Butler, Adam (Bosworth)
Benyon, W. Brewis, John Campbell, Rt. Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn)
Berry, Hn. Anthony Brinton, Sir Tatton Carlisle, Mark
Biffen, John Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Chapman, Sydney
Churchill, W. S. Jopling, Michael Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Redmond, Robert
Clegg, Walter Kilfedder, James Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Cooke, Robert King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Cormack, Patrick King, Tom (Bridgwater) Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
Costain, A. P. Kinsey, J. R. Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Critchley, Julian Knox, David Rost, Peter
Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Lane, David Scott, Nicholas
Dean, Paul Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Sharples, Richard
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Le Marchant, Spencer Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Longden, Gilbert Shelton, William (Clapham)
Dykes, Hugh Loveridge, John Simeons, Charles
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) MacArthur, Ian Soref, Harold
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) McCrindle, R. A. Speed, Keith
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) McLaren, Martin Spence, John
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Sproat, Iain
Fidler, Michael Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Stanbrook, Ivor
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) McNair-Wilson, Michael Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Stokes, John
Fowler, Norman Madel, David Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Fox, Marcus Mather, Carol Sutcliffe, John
Goodhart, Philip Mawby, Ray Tapsell, Peter
Goodhew, Victor Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Gower, Raymond
Gray, Hamish Meyer, Sir Anthony Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Green, Alan Mills, Peter (Torrington) Tebbit, Norman
Grylls, Michael Moate, Roger Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Gummer, Selwyn Molyneaux, James Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Gurden, Harold Money, Ernie Trew, Peter
Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Monks, Mrs. Connie Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Monro, Hector Waddington, David
Haselhurst, Alan Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Walters, Dennis
Hawkins, Paul Morrison, Charles Ward, Dame Irene
Hayhoe, Barney Mudd, David Warren, Kenneth
Hicks, Robert Murton, Oscar Wells, John (Maidstone)
Hiley, Joseph Neave, Airey White, Roger (Gravesend)
Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Normanton, Tom Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia Nott, John Winterton, Nicholas
Howell, David (Guildford) Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Page, John (Harrow, W.) Worsley, Marcus
Hunt, John Parkinson, Cecil Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Hutchison, Michael Clark Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Younger, Hn. George
Iremonger, T. L. Price, William (Rugby)
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Proudfoot, Wilfred TELLERS FOR THE AYFS:
James, David Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Mr. Tim Fortescue and
Jessel, Toby Raison, Timothy Mr. Hugh Rossi.
Abse, Leo Eadie, Alex Lawson, George
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Edwards, William (Merioneth) Leadbitter, Ted
Armstrong, Ernest Ellis, Tom Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Ashton, Joe Evans, Fred McCann, John
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Ewing, Henry McElhone, Frank
Baxter, William Faulds, Andrew McGuire, Michael
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E. Mackenzie, Gregor
Bishop, E. S. Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mackintosh, John P.
Blenkinsop, Arthur Foley, Maurice Maclennan, Robert
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Foot, Michael McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Booth, Albert Galpern, Sir Myer McNamara, J. Kevin
Broughton, Sir Alfred Golding, John Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Gourlay, Harry Marks, Kenneth
Buchan, Norman Grant, George (Morpeth) Marsden, F.
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Marshall, Dr. Edmund
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Hamling, William Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Carmichael, Neil Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Mendelson, John
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Hardy, Peter Millan, Bruce
Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Harper, Joseph Miller, Dr. M. S.
Coleman, Donald Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen)
Concannon, J. D. Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Heffer, Eric S. Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Murray, Ronald King
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Huckfield, Leslie Ogden, Eric
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Orbach, Maurice
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Hunter, Adam Palmer, Arthur
Deakins, Eric Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund John, Brynmor Pavitt, Laurie
Dempsey, James Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Doig, Peter Judd, Frank Pentland, Norman
Dormand, J. D. Kaufman, Gerald Perry, Ernest G.
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Lambie, David Prescott, John
Dunn, James A. Lamond, James Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Probert, Arthur Spearing, Nigel Urwin, T. W.
Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Spriggs, Leslie Wainwright, Edwin
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Stallard, A. W. Wallace, George
Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy (Caernarvon) Stewart, Donald (Western Isles) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Br'c'n & R'dnor) Stoddart, David (Swindon) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock) Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John Whitehead, Phillip
Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Strang, Gavin Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Sillars, James Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Skinner, Dennis Swain, Thomas TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Small, William Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Mr. James Hamilton and
Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.) Tinn, James Mr. Tom Pendry.

Resolved, That the Amendments to Standing Orders No. 62 (Nomination of Standing Committees) and No. 69 (Scottish Standing Committees), hereinafter stated in the Schedule, be made.

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