HC Deb 18 June 1973 vol 858 cc203-81
Mr. Mackintosh

I beg to move Amendment No. 3, in page 143, leave out lines 9 and 10 and insert 'The County of Argyll'.

Mr. Speaker

With this amendment it will be convenient to discuss Amendment No. 12, in page 144, leave out lines 7 and 8.

Mr. Mackintosh

The amendment arises over the question of the best location of the greater part of the county of Argyll, and the question whether it should be included in the Highland region or the west region.

There was dispute on this matter on the Wheatley Commission in the sense that the majority recommended that this area should be included in the Highland region but there was a note of dissent by the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston) and the hon. Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson), who argued that it would be better put where the Government have now proposed, that is, in the west region.

It is worth looking quickly at the arguments adduced by the note of dissent. The chief argument was the size of the Highland region. It was alleged to be too large geographically and, therefore, that the larger part of the county should be put in the west region. My only counter to that point is that having taken it out of an admittedly large geographical area, it was put into a region which was the biggest in population and is geographically huge. The region now numbers 2½ million people, which is half of the population of Scotland.

The second argument has more cogency. That argument was that it is difficult to get transport from parts of Argyll to the proposed capital of the Highland region, that is, to Inverness, and that the natural transport routes are from Argyll to Glasgow.

Oddly enough, I may be contradicting my earlier arguments in our last debate—

Mr. John Smith

That is nothing unusual.

Mr. Mackintosh

—because basically this ties up. Basically, the point being made by the note of dissent is the city region argument. Some have said that no one has explained that argument. I thought that it was fairly clearly stated and well known. The arguments for including Argyll in the west region are basically the city region arguments. The natural transport routes from this area run to Glasgow, the nearest major industrial, commercial and cultural centre.

Another argument is that for higher education the children from the senior secondary schools tend to look to Glasgow as their major higher education and university centre.

Then there is the argument that the nearer parts of Argyll, particularly those on the Clyde estuary, are party commuter suburbs for the industrial area, certainly for professional work in the Clyde valley.

These arguments, together with the fact that the major institutions, for Instance, for social care, schools for the hard of hearing and special facilities for training handicapped children from that area tend to be located in the Glasgow area, are all traditional, well-known city region arguments. Although Argyll is remote and widely spread, in this sense it focuses in on Glasgow and the west. This is why the Government took the major decision and accorded with the note of dissent and put it not in the Highlands region but in the west region.

The counter-arguments appear to be marginally stronger and ought to be put in the House. The first argument—curiously this is the argument which chiefly moves my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Mr. John Smith) in his attack on the whole concept of the city region based on Glasgow—is that my hon. Friend is frightened that this area will be so large, impersonal and deadening in practice that it will not understand the interests of areas such as that which he represents in North Lanarkshire. My hon. Friend finds that the existing administration of education, for instance, is too remote and impersonal, and he thinks that it will be worse if it is transferred to Glasgow.

If that is true of an area so similar in social characteristics to Glasgow as North Lanarkshire, how much more true would it be of areas so different in social characteristics as Kintyre, the Islands of Jura, Islay, and even the far side of the Clyde estuary, where the social conditions are markedly different although there are the many connections that I have described with the Glasgow region? If my hon. Friend's point is that this will be deadening for remote parts of Lanarkshire, it is much more true in Argyllshire, where the social composition is so different.

Again, because a large part of Argyll is island in character, it has for traditional and planning purposes been included in the past with the seven crofting counties. They have tended to be dealt with as a unit for planning or remedial purposes, attempting to check de-population and to bring in light industry, and attempting to stimulate tourism, forestry and development.

11.45 p.m.

For all these purposes, the seven crofting counties including Argyll have been treated as a unit. They were put together for such purposes as the Highlands and Islands Advisory Panel, the Highland Transport Board, and, by the last Labour Government, for the Highlands and Islands Development Board services. For all these Argyll was treated as part of the Highlands.

Whether the city region argument linking Argyll with Glasgow is stronger or weaker than the common planning problems and common social problems, the affinity of outlook, that link it with the Highlands area is the question. I believe that what separates this region, particularly it swestern area, from the Glasgow conurbation with its own distinctive problems is the question of social outlook.

The major problems in Scotland are Clyde Valley problems. They are tremendously difficult and complex. The question is whether Argyll's major problems link it more naturally with that area or with the other problems which we have traditionally regarded as typical of the Highland counties.

There are one or two more special points. First, the majority of witnesses on this issue recommended that Argyll went in with the Highlands region. One exception was the county of Argyll which split in one case in favour of going into the Highland region and then when it reconsidered the matter came out in favour of the western region. Argyll's going into the Highlands was supported by the Highlands and Islands Development Board which has practical experience of attempting to stimulate development in the area.

An important small point is the democratic point. This point was made in the earlier debate. The Highlands and Islands Development Board is exercising a number of powers. It has been said that these powers will not be granted to the new authorities by the central Government. They were granted by the last Labour Government to the Highlands and Islands Development Board. It has some jurisdiction which we normally associate with central Government.

If Argyll went in with the other crofting countries, the Highlands and Islands Developments Board could become the planning authority for that region and it would then be under the strict local democratic control which all of us in the House want. It could simply be absorbed by the Highlands region because, as was said in Committee, the board's powers could be extended by order to the new areas in Moray and Nairn and these powers already cover Argyll. We could therefore see the disappearance of the board as an ad hoc authority, with its full planning and expenditure powers being transferred as a planning agency to the Highlands Regional Authority.

I know that exceptions have tended to break into this possibility of placing the Development Board under the Highland authority. These are particular mistaken with the removal of the Islands from their proper place as part of the strategic planning area of the Highlands. It was a pity to remove the Orkneys, Shetlands and Outer Isles in that respect, but I would accept the separation of these islands in other respects.

There have been so many departures from the basic Wheatley concept that it is probably a mistake to press this strongly, but the basic link of the outlook of the landward area of Argyll in its attitude and its tradition seems to me to be more in common with the other areas in the Highlands than with an area dominated by the industrial development problems which there are in the Glasgow industrial conurbation and which will undoubtedly absorb the energies of the western region of Glasgow.

It is in the greater interests of Argyll that my preference in the one case for the city region argument should be subordinated to the major point about the connection in planning problems, depopulation problems, highland development problems, in outlook, and attitude with the Highlands. The balance may be a fine one, but I think it is worth making these points.

I think that Wheatley was right on this. It is a matter of balance. I think that the balance comes down just on the other side from the Government.

Mr. John Smith

I shall be brief in my remarks. My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) was wrong in saying that his amendment is the Wheatley solution. It is not. Wheatley did not say that the whole county of Argyll should be put in the Highland region, but that is a minor point. My hon. Friend put the case persuasively for Argyll being in the Strathclyde region. The major transport and communication links are with the region, he said.

Mr. Mackintosh

The city region argument.

Mr. Smith

I do not think that it is the city region argument. My hon. Friend uses that expression as a shorthand for compressing a number of things into one phrase. Just because there are said to be better communications between parts of Argyll and Glasgow, we cannot necessarily adopt what he calls the city region argument. He said that this was a marginal argument. I do not believe that it is all that marginal.

His reason for favouring putting it in the Highland region was the attitude and outlook of most people in Argyll. If he was right about what he said about the attitude of the people, he conflicts with my opinion. I speak as someone who spent most of his young life in the heart of Argyll. I think that I have some knowledge of what the people there think and believe and I do not think that his view is shared by the people there. I do not think that the people in Campbeltown or Dunoon associate themselves closely with Inverness. I do not think that most of Argyll can be regarded as a crofting county although it may have to be so defined for the purposes of some crofting legislation. The majority of the people, certainly in mid-Argyll and Kintyre and even parts north of that, wish to be in Strathclyde and I hope therefore that the amendment will not be accepted.

Mr. Russell Johnston

For my part I could read out the note of reservation in the Wheatley Report, but I suspect that would not be acceptable. The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) started off by founding part of his arguments on the experience of the hon. Member for Lanarkshire North (Mr. John Smith) so that the subsequent remarks by the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North seemed somewhat churlish.

Nevertheless, it was not a striking argument since it was based on the question of remoteness and, as he said, the basic reason for the note of reservation was the problem of remoteness within the Highland region. I accept that this is an argument of balance. It is not a conclusive argument. On balance the degree of remoteness for people in Argyll vis-à-vis Inverness would be greater than vis-à-vis Glasgow.

The second point is the social composition question. That was probably answered quite adequately by the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North from his own personal experience and it was also underlined by the evidence in the note of dissent of all the various and varied organisations which operate from Argyll to Glasgow.

However in referring to the Highlands and Islands Development Board the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian did not refer to the arguments put in the note of reservation. It is worth whole putting on the record conversely that it was not the view of Mr. McGuinness, who was at that time in charge of regional planning at the Scottish Office, that, because the Highlands and Islands was designed for economic planning considerations, it was necessarily a suitable area for local government.

Likewise the same distinction was made by Professor Grieve who was then Chairman of the Highlands and Islands Development Board. He said on page 297 of the Wheatley Report I keep on saying that what we"— that is the board— say has limited relevance in some ways to this business of local government. In fact, the amount of economic work the board was doing was not, nor should it necessarily be, a determinant in laying down local government boundaries.

The social point raised by the hon. Member for Larnarkshire, North is underlined by the statistics, such as those about crofting. The crofting population was estimated at only 4.7 per cent. of the total population of Argyll in 1966, compared with 27.9 per cent. in Ross-shire and 42.3 per cent. in Sutherland—a very big distinction. I imagine that in all cases the figures are now down.

Finally, the total area of the Highland region, according to the original Wheatley proposition, was 14,100 square miles, of which Argyll was 3,100. Therefore, even if we remove Argyll we are left with a Highland Region of considerable size. I agree that it would perhaps exacerbate the already large problem of the West region, but it does not exacerbate it so much more than it would if it were transferred back to the Highland region.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

Some of the pros and cons have been expressed by the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh). It is a question of how much weight one attaches to them.

There was criticism of the majority recommendation of the Wheatley Corn-mission that the Highland Region proposed was far too large geographically, and that it could be made smaller by making the three island groups separate units and making a change in regard to Argyll.

Secondly, there is the question whether Argyll looks to Glasgow or to Inverness. On the criteria that we have used elsewhere, it seemed clear to us that most of Argyll looks to Glasgow as its regional centre rather than to Inverness.

I know that the hon. Gentleman is concerned about how the Highlands and Islands Development Board might fit into the future pattern in the Highlands. The Government have not sought to bring the board into the new structure of local Government in a planning capacity or any other capacity. What we have done is to make it clear that the existing county of Argyll will remain within the board's area and that that area is to be considered later with a view to seeing whether the whole of the Highland region should be within it.

I wish to make that clear, because every time the question of part of Argyll going to the Strathclyde region is raised there is some anxiety about whether it would leave the area covered by the board. I take this opportunity of repeating that it would not.

The Government think that the Bill as it stands is the best answer. The hon. Gentleman said that it was a marginal question, and therefore I ask the House to leave the Bill as it is.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. Clark Hutchison

I beg to move Amendment No. 6, in page 143, line 30, column 1, leave out 'Forth' and insert 'Lothian'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

With this amendment we may discuss Amendment No. 22, in page 147, line 20, column 1, leave out 'Forth' and insert 'Lothian', and Government Amendments No. 141 and No. 143.

Mr. Clark Hutchison

Now that none of Fife is in the Forth region, the name "Forth" is obviously a misnomer. The purpose of the amendment is to change the name to "Lothian", an honoured and traditional name which is very acceptable to all the people in Edinburgh and in that area.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

I am glad to be able to accept the amendment for the reasons which my hon. Friend gave and because of the changes which took place in Committee.

Amendment agreed to.

12 Midnight

Mr. Mackintosh

I beg to move Amendment No. 8, in page 143, line 35, at end insert— 'The parish of Cockburnspath'

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this amendment it will be convenient to discuss Amendment No. 9, in page 143, line 36, at end insert 'except the Cockburnspath'.

Mr. Mackintosh

I can deal with this amendment almost as briefly as the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison) dealt with Amendment No. 6. This is a probing amendment. The parish concerned is on the northern slopes of the Lammermoors. By tradition it has been associated with Dunbar, being linked in particular in church matters through the presbytery. The presbytery considered that the parish should be put into the Forth Region or, as it is now to be called, the Lothian Region. There were two meetings in the parish on the subject. The first resulted in a marginal decision to stay in the Borders and the second was a marginal decision to be transferred to the Lothian Region.

The salient factor which worries people in the parish is that an area health board has been established for the same area and covering the same area as the Borders Region. Will it now be the case that, if the parish is in the Borders Region, and therefore in the Borders health board area, when patients are committed by GPs to hospitals for that area, if the case is a fairly elementary or straightforward one, it should go to the Peel hospital which is the central hospital in the Borders health board area because that is the general hospital for the Borders area?

If that is the case, the transport situation is a difficulty. Those people without cars will not be able to visit relatives in Peel Hospital and return within a day. The normal visiting hours will not fit into the very inadequate bus connections. The question is whether for health purposes patients can be treated as if they were still part of the present South East of Scotland area. The GPs for Cockburnspath will be based in Dunbar. The transport goes north and south and not east to west. Will GPs be able to refer patients to the Edinburgh or Berwick-upon-Tweed hospitals as they have done in the past? This problem is a consqeuence of creating a new Borders Region and area health board. I should be grateful for clarification.

Mr. Younger

I appreciate the importance of this issue to those in the area. We received strong representations from the presbytery. We examined the evi- dente again carefully in the light of those representations. Our examination suggested that for the purpose of services and facilities in terms of distance and communications there may be a slightly stronger orientation towards Dunbar than towards Eyemouth and Duns. For instance, Dunbar is eight miles from the village of Cockburnspath with 50 direct bus trips each way a week. Eyemouth and Duns are respectively 14 and 13 miles distant with 38 bus trips a week between them.

However, the evidence is by no means decisive and the Government recently sought the opinion of local authorities in the area. That is something which we try to do in this sort of case. That is an important matter. Broadly the authorities and the joint committees in the Borders opposed any change, while those in the Lothian Region, as it was named a few moments ago, supported the possibility of a transfer, with the exception of Dunbar Town and District Councils, the nearest authorities across the border, which suggested that the wishes of the residents of the parish should be paramount. The authorities representing the parish wish to retain the present position.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned that there was a public meeting in April. He said that there were two meetings. I am not sure which was the second meeting. The one which I heard about took place in April and was attended by about 20 per cent. of the population of the parish. There was a narrow majority of 47 to 41 in favour of the Bill as it stands.

The Government do not feel that there is sufficient justification for the amendment in the light of that evidence but would propose to refer the matter to the Boundary Commission for early consideration of the case in the fullest possible detail. It will be able to do so with more time and facilities at its disposal than we have had. I hope that it will be realised that this is not the end of the story. We think that we must go ahead at present on the narrowly balanced argument as it stands but the Boundary Commission will be asked to look into the matter.

The question about the hospitals must be a matter for the health board itself, but I think I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance he seeks by pointing out what I am sure he knows but which should be made clear—that there are other cases of what are known sometimes as outwith area arrangements for places on the periphery of hospital catchment areas. In every case of which I know, the most sensible arrangements from the point of view of the patients are gone into. I hope that will be some consolation to those in the area who may feel worried about this aspect. I therefore recommend the House not to accept the amendment, on my assurance that this matter goes to the Boundary Commission.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. Younger

I beg to move Amendment No. 10, in page 143, line 47, leave out 'divisions of Kilsyth East, Kilsyth West' and insert: 'division of Kilsyth West; the polling district of Kilsyth East (Banton)'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we shall take the following amendments standing in the name of the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Baxter):

No. 11, in page 143, line 47, leave out 'divisions of Kilsyth East' and insert 'division of'.

No. 15, in page 144, line 11, leave out 'divisions of Kilsyth East' and insert 'division of'.

No. 26, in page 148. line 15, leave out 'divisions of Kilsyth East' and insert 'division of'.

No. 38, in page 149, line 40, leave out 'divisions of Kilsyth East' and insert 'division of'.

Government Amendments Nos. 14, 25 and 37.

Mr. Younger

Amendments Nos. 10, 14, 25 and 37 resolve the previous anomaly of the division of the village of Banknock by the boundary between the Central and Strathclyde regions by including the whole village within the central region. The amendments are in response to an undertaking which I gave in Committee to examine whether a more satisfactory boundary might be drawn to avoid splitting Banknock, and having the support of Stirling County Council.

The amendments tabled by the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Baxter) go rather further in seeking to transfer the whole of Kilsyth East electoral division to the Central region. The electoral division contains two polling districts, centred on the villages of Ban-knock and Banton. The local authorities in the area have indicated that the predominant links of the electoral division of Kilsyth East, except for the area around Banknock, are westwards with the Strathkelvin district. Banton, is in fact only about two miles from Kilsyth, which it is agreed should remain within the Strathkelvin district. The Government amendments deal with the outstanding anomaly, and I ask the House to accept them and to reject those of the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Robert Hughes

I beg to move Amendment No. 280, in page 144, line 2, column 1, leave out 'Strathclyde' and insert 'West'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we are to take Amendment No. 281, standing in the name of the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. William Ross), in page 148, line 42, column 1, leave out 'Strathclyde' and insert 'West'.

Mr. Hughes

This is simply a question of naming. I do not know whether the name "Strathclyde" is universally accepted. Wheatley thought of broadly the same area as being described as the "West region". I do not think that it is a matter of very great importance, although I am subject to correction by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) when he returns. I should be interested to know whether the Government are prepared to accept the changes suggested.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

We have tried where possible to get the majority opinion of those in the areas. We have not tried to impose names. I can respond to the hon. Gentleman's request for information. The name "Strathclyde" was suggested by 17 authorities in the area and the name "West" by four. One authority recommended "West of Scotland" and the rest did not comment. That is why "Strathclyde" seemed to be the most popular name. I recognise that the area of this region does not coincide precisely with the ancient kingdom of Strathclyde, but we think that a pedantic reason for throwing it out.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. John Brewis (Galloway)

I beg to move Amendment No. 13, in page 144, line 9 at end insert: '(except the burgh of Girvan; the district of Girvan)'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

With this amendment we will take the following amendments:

No. 16, in page 144, line 15, column 2, at end insert: 'In the county of Ayr—the burgh of Girvan; the district of Girvan'. No. 40, in page 150, line 50, column 3, leave out: 'the burgh of Girvan; the district of Girvan'. No. 41, in page 151, line 3, column 3, at end insert: 'In the county of Ayr—the burgh of Girvan; the district of Girvan'.

Mr. Brewis

At this late hour I wish I could speak as briefly as did the hon. Members who moved the last few amendments. I have cut down what I wanted to say, but as no Member from the South-West of Scotland was on the Committee on the Bill I would be grateful to be allowed to spend a few minutes on this matter.

Nobody denies—least of all do I—that Ayrshire is a splendid county or that it enjoys the loyalty of its inhabitants including those in the Girvan district. If there had been a choice for them between an Ayrshire region and joining the South-West Region I think the people of Girvan would have preferred to be in the Ayrshire region. My hon. Friend the Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) put the average view very well when in Committee he said he did not like the idea of splitting off any part of a county that historically belongs to it, but this is not the choice. There is not to be an Ayrshire region. The choice for the Girvan district is between being in the huge Strathclyde Region dominated by Glasgow or in the South-West Region. Everybody knows that the Strathclyde Region is far too big. Wheatley said so. The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) said the same thing this evening; Mr. Paterson, Convener of Ayr County Council, has also said it and predicted chaos.

If Girvan goes into the South-West it will have three representatives on the regional council. If it goes into Strathclyde Region it will get about one-third of a representative shared with Maybole and about 16 other villages. In other words, it will get nine times the representation if it goes into the South-West, and it is at regional level that the important decisions are to be made under the new system of local government. One might say that, in the South-West, Girvan would be a fair sized salmon whereas in the Strathclyde Region it would merely be a minnow swimming up the Clyde.

The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) put forward various arguments about Girvan looking north, but those arguments could be made to say that Stranraer should belong to the Strathclyde Region. If one lives in Stranraer one goes to Ayr for football matches and the races, and one goes shopping in Glasgow, but that does not mean for a moment that one necessarily has community with Glasgow.

I think my right hon. Friend has been very much influenced by a petition which was taken round the Girvan district by, I believe, two charming young ladies. We here all know how easy it is to sign a petition if one has no pecunicary interest or obligation involved. I think we know about the value of signatures on a petition.

There were two mis-statements about that petition. The first was that if the district of Girvan went into the South-West the Girvan old folk would end their days in the Waverley House, Stranraer. It is an unsuitable building at present. What was not said was that this building is to be replaced this year and there will be a brand-new building ready, probably by the time the Bill becomes law. It was then said that if someone fell ill he would not go to Ayrshire hospitals but would be trundled over country roads to far-distant Dumfries Hospital.

So strong were these representations and so powerful were their effects that Girvan Town Council put out a special public announcement which said: In order to allay the fears and worries of the elderly, infirm and parents in the Burgh of Girvan regarding future medical treatment the Town Council have decided to publish the following excerpts from letters received from the secretaries of the Boards of Management of Southern Ayrshire and Ailsa Hospitals and the Dumfries, Galloway and Crichton Royal Hospitals. I will not read all the statement. The relevant point was that there would be no change in the present treatment of patients at Ayr. There was to be no question of sending patients from Girvan to hospitals in Dumfries. It has never been the policy in the National Health Service to recognise boundaries for patient care. The statement added: What must be remembered is that administrative boundaries are not clinical boundaries.

12.15 p.m.

Mr. Sillars

Is that the statement which mentions my name?

Mr. Brewis

Yes, it is.

By then the harm had been done. The Secretary of State had been impressed by this petition and without consulting any of the convenors in the south-west or the Provost of Girvan he accepted the amendment in Committee.

The hon. Member for South Ayrshire put forward various arguments in Committee and no doubt will do so again. I must deal with them as shortly as possible. He started off with a prehistoric argument and I do not think I need pursue it too far. He said that the boundary between Carrick and Galloway was the Deil's Dyke. The hon. Gentleman then correctly spoke about Kyle, Carrick, Cunninghame and Galloway being the four ancient districts in the South-West. He said that Galloway was quite separate from the other three. I do not know how he worked that out.

Another boundary given in the traditional Galloway toast at a banquet is to all the wives and wains from the brig end of Dumfries to the braes of Glenapp which is well into Ayrshire. I would like to mention the old rhyme which goes: Twixt Wigton and the toun of Ayr Portpatrick and the Cruives of Cree No man need think to bide there Unless he court with Kennedie. So for centuries, up to the late 1600s Carrick and Galloway were together.

Geographically this is perhaps a wide description but not far off the original Merrick district proposed in the Bill and now changed. If anything, it shows that the kinship goes even further than Girvan. For more years than Ayr has been the administrative capital this area was probably ruled as often from Castle Kennedy, Stranraer, as from Cassillis or Blairquhan.

There is no clear boundary between Carrick and Galloway. The present county boundary is probably largely the marches of the estate in Wigtownshire which was purchased by the Stair family 200 to 300 years ago.

Coming to more modern times, the hon. Member for South Ayrshire made several mis-statements in his speech in Committee. Taking fishing first, he said that the main landing place for the fishing fleet of Girvan was Ayr. Girvan is a fishing port in its own right with boat agents, chandlers and repairers established there. Landing are frequently made at Portpatrick in Wigtownshire, and McMillan of Stranraer is probably the biggest buyer of fish in that part of Stranraer.

The land and system of farming in Wigtownshire and Carrick are quite indistinguishable, being largely hill farming, with dairying on the better land. The main markets for black-faced sheep are at Barrhill in Ayrshire and Newton Stewart in Wigtownshire, and for Ayrshire cattle Castle Douglas in the Stewartry, Newton Stewart and Ayr. There are no differences. There are as many Galloway farmers in Ayr as there are Ayrshire farmers in Newton Stewart or Castle Douglas.

There is a small mining community in Dailly but no coal mining in Galloway. The mining communities in Ayr and Dumfries are connected through the National Union of Mineworkers branch, and the links of the Dailly miners are just as much with Kirkconnell and Sanquhar as with Lanarkshire.

Mr. Sillars

Before leaving this morning I told the District Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers that comments of the nature of those made by the hon. Gentleman would probably be made in the House today. He said that the connection between the Dailly men and the Dumfries men was confined to history a long time ago and was a welfare connection. Dailly is part of the Ayrshire District NUM which is an integral part of the Scottish area NUM.

Mr. Brewis

The hon. Gentleman probably knows more about this than I do, but I think he will agree that the Dailly men belong to the Ayrshire and Dumfries branch.

Mr. Sillars


Mr. Brewis

I will accept that.

The hon. Gentleman said that Girvan continued to be serviced with water from an Ayrshire source. That is not strictly accurate. The reservoirs at Penwhapple, Glendrishaig and Pinmacher were all created by Girvan Town Council and until the water re-organisation much of the landward area of Ayrshire was serviced from Girvan.

The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) suggested that the work pattern was that workers came from Girvan on the 8.45 a.m. train and worked in Ayr, coming north. About 20 regular travellers get off that train, only five of whom come from Girvan. That is a very small sample from which to establish a work pattern.

Mr. Ross

How many go to Prestwick, Troon and Glasgow? The train goes right on to Glasgow—the area with which the people object to being connected.

Mr. Brewis

I understand that 20 people got off the train at Ayr and that only five people from Girvan work in Ayr.

Mr. Ross

I got on the 8.15 a.m. train this morning at Ayr and many people got off the train, which came from Girvan. Many people who were on the train when it arrived at Ayr stayed on and went to various other destinations in the Strathclyde area.

Mr. Brewis

I might tell the right hon. Gentleman that I was on that train, and than 17 people got on at Girvan.

The right hon. Gentleman went on to make the seemingly extraordinary statement that people thought that the Kilmarnock by-pass would enable people to get from Girvan to Glasgow in 15 minutes. However, I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman knows that Girvan is a very long way from Glasgow. The distance, I understand, is 55 miles.

Mr. Ross

The Girvan town council has accused me of deliberately attempting to mislead the Committee and that this was the only conclusion which could come from that report. Does the hon. Gentleman agree with that? Does he agree that I deliberately misled the Committee in having been reported as having made that statement?

Mr. Brewis

I am a bit more gracious that the right hon. Gentleman on these occasions. I remember how many times he refused to give way to Lady Tweedsmuir when she spoke about "thrifty" council tenants and was reported as having said "shifty" tenants. The right hon. Gentleman would not accept her correction. However, I will accept his version—

Mr. Ross

It is not a matter of accepting my version. I was accused of a deliberate attempt to mislead the Committee—

Mr. Brewis

Possibly the right hon. Gentleman succeeded in misleading the Committee. Whether he intended to do so, I do not know. I should have thought that the only point in making that remark at all was to give the impression that Girvan was a great deal closer to Glasgow than it is.

Mr. Ross

But did I make that statement? The hon. Gentleman has a copy of the OFFICIAL REPORT before him. Will he turn to page 2 and see what is says there?

Mr. Brewis

There is no page 2.

Mr. Ross

I mean page 2 of the cover. This is something about which everyone should know in any report from the House of Commons.

Mr. Brewis

I am afraid that I am quite unable to get the point. Page 2 of the cover reads: The following Members attended the Committee ….". In any event, I think that the right hon. Gentleman has been able to intervene enough. Perhaps I might be allowed to get on with my speech now.

Mr. Ross

No. Page 2 reads: Members who wish to have copies … Then, No proofs can be supplied. Corrigenda slips will be published and attached to the brown paperback issues. They are not, simply because of printing difficulties. But, as the hon. Gentleman knows, reporters make mistakes, and opportunities are given to Members to correct those mistakes.

Would not it have been fairer of the hon. Gentleman, he having known me since he first came to this House and I having been here for 27 years, if he had acknowledged that one cannot deliberately mislead a Committee which is sitting with maps before it in relation to distances. The hon. Gentleman says that I may not have deliberately misled the Committee but that I did in effect mislead it. I said that people thought that the opening of that by-pass would enable them to get from Girvan to Glasgow a quarter of an hour sooner. That one word "sooner" was omitted by the reporters. Everyone on the Committee knew that even with modern means of transport it was impossible to cover 55 miles in 15 minutes.

Mr. Brewis

Well, I do not think it is worth pursuing. The right hon. Gentleman made this extraordinary statement that people thought that the by-pass would enable people to get from Girvan to Glasgow in 15 minutes. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman did not mean to mislead the Committee. But that is what he said, and he had the chance to correct it.

Mr. Ross

That is what I was reported as saying. If I had suggested that, does the hon. Gentleman think that the Under-Secretary would have accepted it? Does he think that the hon. Members for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor) would have accepted it? Does he think that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hill-head (Mr. Galbraith) would have accepted it? After all, some of those hon. Members live in Ayr. The hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) should employ a little more of the graciousness that he claims to have.

12.30 a.m.

Mr. Brewis

I have been gracious enough. I shall now get on with my speech. I have already been on my feet a long time.

I turn now to some of the past actions by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock. When he was Secretary of State for Scotland he produced a White Paper on the Scottish Economy 1965–70 Within the framework of his national plan he promoted study areas, of which one was South-West Scotland, which included Galloway, Girvan and Cumnock. Why did he do this if, to use his own words, Galloway and Carrick were completely separate areas?

Thereafter, the right hon. Gentleman set up the South-West of Scotland Economic Planning Council covering the same area. That council asked the Scottish Office to carry out a special study. That was done and published as "The Strategy for South-West Scotland." Why was that done if these two areas were completely separate?

Again, but this time on the initiative of the Scottish Tourist Board and the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon), who is not here, the South-West Tourist Association was set up. This, too, included Girvan as one of the most active members. We made an excellent tourist film, "The Quiet Country", in which the advice and expertise of members of Girvan Town Council was much appreciated. Girvan has never been a member of the Clyde Tourist Association. Indeed, in tourist terms it has been known as the gateway to Galloway.

Since the White Paper came out in February 1971, Girvan has been an active member of the Regional Joint Committee and the District Joint Advisory Board. Everything has gone extremely smoothly, and it was a considerable shock when the Secretary of State made his announcement in Committee. Every hon. Member will have received a letter signed by all the county conveners in the South-West and by the Provost of Girvan asking that this decision be reversed. I may add that, to my knowledge, all the other small local authorities in Dumfries and Galloway are also in favour of Girvan coming into the South-West. That is also the view of the professional local government officers represented by NALGO.

Against this overwhelming weight of argument there are undoubtedly people who want to go in with Strathclyde. I admit that at once. If the feeling were as strong as the Secretary of State thought when he allowed the amendment, why were the Girvan Town Council and the Girvan District Council re-elected with more or less the same people who had been representing them before? This was very much a live political issue in the area. If so many people want to go into Strathclyde, why did they not elect more members to the councils who supported that argument?

We want Girvan in the South-West. It has much to contribute by way of expertise not only in tourism, but in attracting industry. Girvan wants to be in the South-West. Will my right hon. Friend now recognise that his first thoughts were right and change his mind? If so, we shall greatly respect him.

Mr. Sillars

I rise to answer the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) who has sought to interpret the situation in South Ayrshire on what he claims is a better basis than the hon. Member for South Ayrshire.

I will deal first with his last point about the recent elections. The hon. Gentleman suggested that the district and town council elections confirm a particular view about where Girvan should be in local government reform. However, the hon. Gentleman will be aware that Girvan District Council takes an entirely different view of the matter from the Girvan Town Council. I should think that, being an experienced politician, he would know full well that many factors are involved in elections, not least political ideology. Of the four candidates returned to the Girvan Town Council this year two, to my knowledge, were opposed to the official majority view of the Town Council that Girvan should be allocated to the South-West.

Therefore, I turn the question round. If people felt so strongly for the South-West, why did they not attempt to unseat Mrs. Armstrong who is in favour of inclusion in Strathclyde? The reason is that there are political considerations out-with those involved in the structure of local government which weigh more heavily that the local government argument does on the minds of those who promote candidates.

The hon. Gentleman has, by and large, used the brief submitted to him in terms of comments from Girvan Town Council. All the members of the Standing Committee received this sheaf of comments shortly after the decision was taken about Girvan, and recently every Member of Parliament has been issued with the same sheaf of comments, and I want to answer those comments because in doing so I shall answer the hon. Gentleman.

The first point concerns the South-West Tourist Association. I think that it was last year when I was in Girvan that I picked up the official Girvan Holiday Accommodation Handbook. It is entitled "Girvan and South Ayrshire Holiday Accommodation Handbook" and it deals almost exclusively with Girvan and South Ayrshire. It lists to the north and south of Girvan such places as the Maidens, Barr, Barrhill, Kirkoswald, Dunure, Dalrymple, Maybole, Dailly, Colmonell, Ballantrae and New Cumnock, all of them in South Ayrshire, and all the districts mentioned are involved in the South-West Tourist Association.

New Cumnock is in the area of the South-West Tourist Association. Are Girvan Town Council and the hon. Gentleman arguing that we should allocate New Cumnock to the South-West of Scotland? It is a tenuous argument that is being put forward, and it does not stand examination. It is not a great pillar of principle on which I should base my argument if I were the town council or the hon. Gentleman.

Next, it is argued that Girvan Town Council is "democratically elected by a majority of electors in South Ayrshire". That does not stand examination either. I have had consultations with several people in Girvan, and not only on the basis of petitions presented to me. I was interested to hear the hon. Gentleman earlier quote the advertisement that was an underwriting of my stated position and correcting any misinformation given about the National Health Service in the Girvan area. As I said on Second Reading, my post bag was fuller on this issue than it had been on any other since I became a Member of this House, and surpassed even that which I experienced on the Common Market debate.

The hon. Gentleman did not mention the petition presented by the Girvan District Council, which is a responsible civic body, or the petition from the village of Dailly expressing concern about being allocated to the South-West. My view —and it is my view and I accept that it is open to contest—having taken all the soundings from the area concerned, is that the people who represent the majority on Girvan Town Council do not represent the majority of the people in the whole area affected.

The hon. Gentleman, like Girvan Town Council, put forward the argument about water. This is the weakest argument of all. They say that the source of Girvan's water has been Penwhapple, Glendrishaig and Pinmacher reservoirs which are all within the area of the Dumfries and Galloway region as defined in the Bill. That is true in literal terms, but perhaps I may refer the hon. Gentleman to the original Bill which was before the House on Second Reading. Clause 145 says that that part of Girvan concerned with water was a transferred function to Strathclyde. That was done by the Government on the basis of the report by the Scottish Water Advisory Committee, which said, about Girvan's water: Thus, we recommend that South Kincardineshire be statutorily defined as part of the proposed East Region for water supply purposes and that the Girvan district be similarly defined as part of the West Region for water supply. Although it would fall geographically within the South-West region as originally defined in the Bill, for all practical purposes—storage, pumping and supply—it would lie within Strathclyde and would be a function of the Strathclyde Authority. That is the third of their comments that fall by the wayside on examination.

The hon. Member's fairest point related to the harbour. I readily conceded when I met the provost and members of the action committee that it was remiss of me not to stress the significant contribution made by Girvan Harbour to the Clyde fishing. But a consultant's report submitted to Girvan Town Council underlines the fact that, while Girvan contests Ayr's prime position in inshore fishing on the Clyde, Ayr nevertheless has tended to be the main centre. The hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) is nodding vigorously at that. As I explained to the Provost, although it was remiss of me, he and the town council should not read that as acquiescence by me in the proposition that Ayr should be the prime centre for ever more.

Next, we are told that Castle Douglas and Newton Stewart have the largest sheep sales in that part of the country. I am pleased to hear that, but it does not add to or detract from the argument that Girvan is an integral part of Ayrshire. They mention the Dailly miners as part of the Ayr and Dumfries division. I have already dealt with that.

They then go back to the point I mentioned previously, about Girvan representing the majority of electors in the whole of South Ayrshire. I put it to the hon. Member, as I put it to the action committee, representing the town council, that he has not thought through the implications of the Bill as originally presented.

I understand that as originally defined, the boundary did not take in the alginate industries. We should have had to draw the boundary further north to embrace the alginate industries in the Merrick district. If we had done that, given the importance of Girvan as a tourist area and the importance of Turnberry Hotel to Girvan as a tourist area, there would have been very serious arguments for taking Turnberry into the Girvan area. If one did that one would be almost bound to take in the Maidens, because there is a community of interest between Turnberry, Girvan and the Maidens, on the one hand, and the Maidens and Girvan, on the other. One had to think ahead, instead of just accepting the line on the map drawn by the Government. Not enough folk in Girvan Town Council thought enough about the people on the outskirts of that area. I have to do so, however.

Mr. Brewis

One would normally expect that line to be redrawn to take in the alginate industries. I do not see why the boundary should be north of the alginate industries site.

Mr. Sillars

I am saying that that is something for debate. The hon. Gentleman does not have the same problems, but I, as the Member for South Ayrshire, have to consider how far north the Merrick boundary should go to include a vital organisation in tourist as well as in industrial terms.

The hon. Member made much of my right hon. Friend's argument about the train going from Girvan to Ayr. I hope that he was only joking. The hon. Member and I have had enormous difficulty in fighting to defend this line. It adds nothing to our defence for Girvan Town Council to be joined by the hon. Member in downgrading the importance of a line which we have always regarded as the lifeline of that area. The hon. Gentleman knows that, if that line goes an awful lot else between Ayr and Stranraer goes with it. I regard this attack as sheer madness both by the hon. Member and by Girvan Town Council.

12.45 a.m.

On the alleged mistake of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), it may interest the hon. Member for Galloway to know that I informed the provost and members of the action committee shortly after the Standing Committee of the error in reporting, but in spite of having had the error of reporting pointed out to them, they persisted in circulating the childish remark about my right hon. Friend to Members of Parliament.

I set out in Standing Committee the criteria upon which one should judge whether Girvan was an integral part of Ayrshire or could be allocated to the Galloway and Dumfries region. We dealt with education, the health service, transport, communications, travel-to-work patterns and industry. My argument basically is that decisions which are taken to the north of Girvan, immediately to the north or further north, will be the fundamentally important decisions determining that area's economic and social welfare whether it is in the South-West or not.

The decisions taken to the north of Girvan will be the crucially important decisions and, while I do not like the size of Strathclyde, Girvan should have a voice as of right where major policy-making decisions which impinge on Girvan are made, and they will be made to the north of Girvan area and not to the south. I ask the Government to stick to the decision of the Standing Committee, unanimous at that time, to keep Girvan as an integral part of Ayrshire.

Mr. W. H. K. Baker

Banff and Girvan can hardly be said to be contiguous and it may be wondered why I support my hon. Friend's amendment. This arises out of the success I had at Committee stage with my amendment to transfer responsibilities and powers from the regional authority to the district authority.

I had a letter shortly after that from Councillor Kidd who is convener of Girvan Town Council Harbour Committee. He wrote in congratulatory terms. Subsequently he came to Banff to look at a harbour administered by a local authority. I met him and he put to me some of the argument adduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) for this amendment.

The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) made the claim—and I do not dispute it—that Girvan District Council covers a larger area than that of Girvan Town Council. It is fair to point out that when the decision to say "yea" or "nay" to the Wheatley proposals and the White Paper was put before the Town Council, it was in favour of both by a majority of six, by nine votes to three.

I do not wish to rehearse some of my hon. Friend's argument but I shall mention two points—first the administrative point that since the White Paper and the Bill were published, Girvan Town Council has gone a long way with the steering committee for Dumfries and Galloway region with regard to future integration. A lot of work has been done, but there has been no form of consultation or contact with Strathclyde region. If the amendment is not accepted, all the work which has been done will, in a sense, have to be undone and much more done.

My hon. Friend mentioned one very significant fact which the House should bear in mind. If the Girvan area goes into the Dumfries and Galloway region, it will have three regional councillors and six district councillors. If it goes into the Strathclyde region it will have only one regional councillor and two district councillors.

I conclude by mentioning what has already been mentioned, that is, that the port of Girvan now has a fleet of 22 fishing boats fishing out of its harbour. I know from experience in my constituency how important it is to the local community to have an active fishing fleet not only fishing out of the town but landing its catch there. It is, perhaps, premature to say that we shall be returning to that matter a little later. To a large extent, the viability of a harbour must depend on an active fishing fleet. I mention that now to illustrate the fact that, in my opinion and as a result of submissions made to me, that is one more reason why Girvan as a viable economic unit, would do better in the Dumfries and Galloway region than in the Strathclyde region.

Mr. Ross

I am surprised that the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) should give the weight of his influence to the rather intemperate and childish remarks of a Girvan town councillor. I cannot understand how people can come to a denial of its history. The hon. Member spoke about Galloway embracing Carrick.

I must apologise to the House because I was not present to move an amendment in my name in relation to Strathclyde and the west. But if the hon. Member would care to return to the dawn of history, he will realise that Strathclyde stretched from Dumbarton, right along the Clyde, through Dumfries and right into Cumberland. That part which was then called Galloway was Kirkcudbright and Wigtown. As one moved up, certainly a part of South Ayrshire may well have been construed then as Galloway, but it was an entirely different kingdom—and we are talking in terms of kingdoms—that followed thereafter. One of the ludicrous things about Strathclyde was that the other part was actually in Dalriada. There is nothing in history to support this Strathclyde business, or to support the hon. Member in relation to that.

Administratively, thereafter Ayrshire was broken up. What is now Ayrshire was broken up into Kyle, Cunningham and Carrick. Girvan has always claimed to be in Carrick. During the Committee stage I was invited to Girvan for a Burns supper. What was the name of the club? It was the Carrick Burns Club, not the Galloway and Brewis Burns Club.—[Interruption.] It was not dry; far from it. As a result of that, I was persuaded to go to another club, which was even less dry, the Brigton Burns Club.

In terms of administration, Girvan has been in Ayrshire and has never objected to being in Ayrshire.

The hon. Member for Banff (Mr. W. H. K. Baker) had better get things right. He said that Girvan Town Council met on the subject of Wheatley and agreed with Wheatley. It agreed with Wheatley, but Wheatley put Girvan into the West Region. Thereafter, it was the White Paper and the Bill that took it out. That was the doing of the present Government, and not Wheatley. If the hon. Member wants to know the real reason why Girvan was taken out of the West Region, let me tell him that it was simply that everyone was appalled by the size of the West Region and started to look around for methods of making it smaller. Anything they did with Girvan was rendered nugatory by what was done to Argyll. It was nonsense so to distort history and administrative pattern.

The Wheatley Commission considered as one region the whole of the West plus the South-West. The hon. Gentleman's argument about what was done by the Economic Planning Commission is an argument for extending Strathclyde right down to include Stranraer. That argument falls on grounds of size and population. From that point of view we were right to maintain what had been a community and a community spirit in Ayrshire with part of Ayrshire being in Strathclyde.

The hon. Gentleman did not support me on Strathclyde. He thinks that Strathclyde is all right even with Girvan in it and he voted for it. He does not want it to be broken up. On what kind of principle is he prepared to stand?

The town council accuses me of a deliberate attempt to mislead the Committee. I let it be known in the Committee that there was an error. I went to the OFFICIAL REPORTERS, who took note of my correction. I sincerely hope that it will appear in the bound copy. The hon. Gentleman knows that there have been printing difficulties.

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman was not prepared to give me the benefit of the doubt even when I confronted him with it, stating that it was an error. HANSARD is full of errors. There is a wonderful one in a speech by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison); the hon. Gentleman spoke about Liberton School in Edinburgh but it appears in HANSARD as "Libertine School".

After I had made a speech in an agricultural debate, during which I mentioned Auchincruive College, I received a note from the OFFICIAL REPORTERS asking me to confirm that I had said "Often Crude".

When the hon. Gentleman reads something that is obviously wrong, instead of jumping to the obvious conclusion and thinking, "The right hon. Gentleman did not say that", he thinks the worst. He could have asked anyone in the Committee. He has seen the maps we had in Committee when we discussed Girvan and Glasgow. The distance is 57 miles. It would be nonsense to suggest that one could travel that distance in 15 minutes. Should it not have been obvious to anyone who knew anything about the House of Commons and its Committees and how they work that a mistake had been made somewhere? That possibility is recognised by the invitation to Members inside every copy of HANSARD to make corrections.

I am not surprised that Girvan Town Council was straining at every gnat to prove its case. However, I am disappointed that the hon. Gentleman should have lent whatever weight he has to the council. Then he wriggled when I asked him to do the honest and fair thing and recognise that a mistake had been made. He said that I had misled but not deliberately.

The hon. Gentleman can take it from me that I did not use the phrase. He can ask anyone who was in the Committee.

I am not worried about the childish attitude of Girvan Town Council or of some temporary town clerk. It is not my habit to resort to deliberate attempts to mislead. The Committee is composed of Scottish Members, four of whom come from Ayrshire. Yet another lives in South Ayrshire. They know the distance between Glasgow and Girvan. The maps for each region were before us.

1.0 a.m.

Now we come to the business of the trains. Will the hon. Member tell me the time of the train on which he travelled?

Mr. Brewis

It left Stranraer at 7.34 a.m.

Mr. Ross

Never mind when it left. What time did it arrive at Girvan?

Mr. Brewis

At about 8.30 a.m.

Mr. Ross

In his original statement the hon. Member obviously looked at an out-of-date timetable. I hope the information about the people who travelled on it was a bit better than about the timing of the train. Many of the people travelling on that train were going to the Ayr Technical College. I hope that the hon. Member counted them and I hope that he asked everyone on the train where they were going and when they were coming back. He has not answered any points about that.

How many people travelled from Girvan to Dumfries to get to work? What about Girvan to Stranraer? I do not know whether the hon. Member realises it but there are people sitting in Glasgow in the offices of the Scottish Region who are desperately anxious to close stations and now they have found an ally in Girvan Town Council. Trains do not mean anything to it. The hon. Member should appreciate the considerable difficulties that have been created for him. If he had fought as hard to save the railway line from Dumfries to Stranraer he might not have been faced with some of the travelling difficulties experienced over the last few years.

It is childish for the hon. Member to suggest that Girvan never has been in Ayrshire and never is likely to be. It is not true.

Mr. Brewis

The right hon. Gentleman was not in the Chamber when I started my remarks. I said that if there were to be an Ayrshire region I agreed that Girvan would want to be in that region, but that is not the question.

Mr. Ross

That makes it all the more difficult to understand why the hon. Member voted against my previous amendment which was to create an Ayrshire region. I know that we have upset the hon. Member. He has to catch that flight to Brussels. It might be better if he stayed in Brussels. He has not yet come up with the suggestion that Girvan be annexed by Brussels. He has received the treatment tonight that he deserves for putting up such an argument.

I hope that the Government will stand by their decision. There is no doubt where Girvan lies from an administrative or geographical point of view. It belongs within Ayrshire. I have quoted a statement in the 1968 White Paper on health reorganisation saying that it would be a good thing if the area health boards and the local government areas were coterminous. From that point of view our proposals provide a far better solution. I hope that the Government will stand by their decision.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

The amendment asks the Government to change back to their original preference. The Government have never doubted the close links which exist between Girvan and Ayr. Originally we felt that Girvan's connections with Dumfries and Galloway and that region would justify transferring it. Therefore when we examined the Wheatley Commission proposals we thought that the fact that Girvan is included with the Dumfries and Galloway region in the area covered by the South-West Tourist Association and the economic planning consultative group indicated that it could be so transferred. It would also have had the advantage of adding to the resources of Galloway and Dumfries region and reducing to some extent the size of the Strathclyde region, about which a lot has been said.

The issue is not clear-cut. My hon. Friend has given other reasons why the Girvan area might be included with the South-West region. The Government felt at the Committe stage that Girvan had more community of interest with Ayr than with Stranraer, and supported the amendment, which the Committee unanimously accepted.

Representations have since been received from Girvan Town Council, authorities in the proposed Dumfries and Galloway region and a number of individuals, but these reinforce the fact that there is a considerable division of opinion locally. It is one of those problems on which opinion seems to be divided. We have not received fresh evidence that we believe would justify our altering the view expressed in Committee and changing the proposal yet again.

Therefore, although I quite understand why my hon. Friend has made the case tonight and is suggesting that we should go for our original preference when considering the Commission's report, I do not believe that the arguments are strong enough to make us change again.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment made: No. 14, in page 144, line 11, leave out 'divisions of Kilsyth East, Kilsyth West' and insert: 'division of Kilsyth West; the polling district of Kilsyth East (Banton)'.—[Mr. Younger.]

Mr. Maclennan

I beg to move Amendment No. 363, in page 144, leave out lines 29 and 30.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

With this amendment we are to discuss Amendment No. 364, in page 144, line 31, leave out '(except the district of Tongue and Farr)'.

Mr. Younger

Would it be for the convenience of the hon. Gentleman and the House also to take Amendments Nos. 365, 366 and 367, the next group of amendments selected?

Mr. Maclennan

I would prefer not to do so. Although both groups of amendments affect the county of Sutherland, there are very different considerations.

The purpose of Amendments Nos. 363 and 364 is to transfer from the district authority of Caithness to the district authority of Sutherland the districts of Tongue and Farr, lying on the north coast of the county of Sutherland.

When the Wheatley Commission initially reported, it proposed that a district authority should be created consisting of the greater part of the county of Ross and Cromarty and the greater part of the county of Sutherland, but excluding the districts of Tongue and Farr from that new district, which it proposed should be connected with the new district of Caithness.

It is the view of the overwhelming majority of those living in the districts of Tongue and Farr, and particularly of the district council, that when they gave evidence to the commission supporting the transfer of the parishes of Tongue and Farr to the Caithness council they did so in the expectation that a new authority embracing Ross-shire would be created. It was felt that probably the centre of such a district authority would not be Dornoch, as at present, but Dingwall, lying further to the south, and it made very little sense, as they saw it, to have the parishes of Tongue and Farr linked to the district that was to be governed from the headquarters of Dingwall. That underlines the acquiescence in the initial proposal. However, the situation was changed when the Government decided not to accept the Wheatley recommendation on the district of Sutherland, Ross and Cromarty but rather to have a separate district for Sutherland. It was felt, and it has been strongly expressed to me, that the district of Tongue and Farr should be brought back into the historical unity of Sutherland.

There are some quite respectable arguments which have been put forward in support of retaining the proposed connection of Tongue and Farr with the county of Caithness. I shall refer briefly to them. It is the case that a substantial number of people living in those two parishes travel daily to work at Dounreay in Caithness. The shopping centre for most of those people is Thurso. Many of the existing services are based upon Thurso. However, there are important differences, both geographical and economic, between Tongue and Farr and Caithness, as I think the Under-Secretary of State will concede.

The crofting nature of the parishes of Tongue and Farr is still predominant and the character of the area is much more closely allied to that of Sutherland as a whole. There is a further point, which has given rise to considerable anxiety, relating to the existence of the junior secondary school at Farr. The educational function is not, of course, the function of the district. However, it is apprehended in the north of Sutherland that if the district of Tongue and Farr is joined to the district of Caithness there is a possibility that the local authorities would look unfavourably upon continuing the junior secondary school at Farr.

That is of less concern, however reasonable or unreasonable it may be. As education is a regional function it is not wholly reasonable. None the less, it is a real anxiety. The over-riding concern stems from the fact that Sutherland for many years has been a single entity and Gaelic speaking until remarkably recently. Indeed, in part of the district of Tongue and Farr Gaelic is still quite a common language. I refer particularly to Melness on the west side of the Kyle of Tongue, which, if the Government's proposals went through, would be connected with Caithness. The historic unity is something which the people of the area are anxious to have preserved.

There is the further point that the population of the district of Sutherland is already very small. It is in the region of 12,000 and declining. The people of Sutherland as a whole do not wish to see the district rendered any smaller. The district council, at my request, carried out a survey of opinion in the Tongue and Farr area. Each of the councillors went round his or her area asking the people in which district they would prefer to be. The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in Sutherland. The figures were of the order of two to one in favour of remaining in Sutherland.

The point must be made that the county council for Strathhalladale made a strong case for the two parishes being transferred to Caithness. In a matter of this kind, the local functions of the district being so relatively minor—I have already complained of that to the Under-Secretary of State—it is reasonable to give way to the views of the people most directly affected.

I think that the views of the people most directly affected are quite clear. The county council—and Sutherland is perhaps not always known for the consistency of its approach to these events—has considered the matter on a number of occasions, and each time has concluded that it is desirable that Farr and Tongue should remain in the country. I hope that the Government will accede to that request.

1.15 a.m.

Mr. Younger

I accept that this is an extremely difficult problem. Perhaps it is a small matter in terms of population compared with the rest of Scotland, but it is extraordinarily difficult to assess where the balance of the right decision lies. One thing which has not changed is the official view of the various bodies which have looked at this matter. They have never wavered from their view that the real community of interest of the parishes of Tongue and Farr in fact and in the practice of daily life works towards

The Wheatley Commission originally proposed that Tongue and Farr be included in the Caithness district because Thurso served as a centre not only for the western half of Caithness but also for the adjacent part of Sutherland. After the publication of the White Paper, both Sutherland County Council and Tongue and Farr District Council accepted this boundary as reflecting accurately local community of interest.

There has been a change of view by both these authorities, each for slightly different reasons, but I do not think that this alters the fact that the genuine community of interest of the people who live their lives there and the way in which they practise daily lives lead one to conclude, as it led Wheatley and the Government originally to conclude, that the community of interest lies with Caithness.

I accept that there may be other views among many of the people living there. This is an important point and it is valuable to have had a survey done on the point. But it is true that it is very much easier usually, when one is asking for this sort of opinion, to get one which favours the status quo than one which favours any sort of change, and this is a change in an area which looks at present to Sutherland County Council for its services.

I would find it difficult to go in the face of what I feel sure is the genuine community of interest here. I understand the views of the hon. Gentleman and of his constituents and I am grateful to him for putting them. I accept that the southern lobe of the Tongue and Farr area around Altnaharra may have stronger links with the rest of Sutherland than with Caithness, and I propose to refer this to the Boundary Commission to determine a definitive boundary at an early date, which might alter the positioning of the border of Tongue and Farr parishes, possibly towards the Sutherland area if the commission so decides. But on the generality of the question I feel that the community of interest genuinely is towards Caithness and that in all consistency we should stick to it.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. Maclennan

I beg to move Amendment No. 365, in page 144, line 33. leave out 'the electoral division of Kincardine' and insert: 'the burgh of Tain; the electoral divisions of Kincardine Edderton and Tain'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

With this we shall take the following Amendment: No. 366, in page 145, line 5, leave out 'Tain'.

No. 367, in page 145, line 8, leave out: 'the electoral division of Edderton and Tain' They, too, stand in the name of the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan).

Mr. Maclennan

The purpose of the amendments is to transfer to Sutherland the parish of Tain and the electoral division of Edderton and Tain. The background to this group of amendments is in the Government's White Paper in which precisely such a proposal was made, for reasons which seemed to the Government good at the time and which were highly welcome to those living in my constituency. Once the Government had decided to reject the Wheatley Commission's proposals for the single district authority of Sutherland and the County of Ross they embarked on rectification of the boundary of Sutherland to treat the Dornoch Firth as a single entity so that the southern boundary of Sutherland would not run along the river but include both sides of the strath to take in the parish of Kincardine and the parishes of Edderton and Tain.

This proposal seems to me a lot of sense in economic terms. It is obvious that the two sides of the Dornoch Firth should be more closely linked than they are at present. The Under-Secretary knows my view, which strengthens every day, that they should be linked by a bridge. When the Secretary of State put forward these proposals they were welcomed, I understand, by the burgh of Tain as well as the County Council of Sutherland, hut, I understand, soundings which were made in the landward area of Tain and Edderton did not reflect the same unanimity of view, so there is a division of opinion about the merits of this proposal.

Nevertheless, I think the Government's view was right, as I have already told the Under-Secretary, and I hope that he will have the strength of mind and purpose to revert to the reasoning which led to the proposals being put in the White Paper. This is the more important, perhaps, in the light of the Government's refusal to accede to the request in the earlier amendment that Tongue and Farr should be included in the County of Sutherland. He has by his earlier decision succeeded in lopping off a large part of the historic unity of Sutherland, and a substantial number of people have been transferred out of it—not, of course, in geographic reality, nor, indeed, in way of life, but they will sense a separation. I hope that he will consider that he has done enough to cut up Sutherland and that he will look with favour upon the estuarial unity of the Dornoch Firth and accede to this proposal.

Mr. Younger

The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) has given a very fair account of the events which led to this. We had two conflicting pieces of evidence which led us to different opinions at various times. We originally included the burgh and district of Tain in the proposed Sutherland district because we took the view then that there were sufficient links between the two sides of the Dornoch Firth to justify this, at the same time making an increase in Sutherland's size and population, a consideration which was uppermost in our minds at that time, because of the decision to make a larger number of districts, which inevitably tends to produce smaller districts and problems of size.

It rapidly became apparent after this decision had been announced, when discussions were held with some of the local authorities concerned, that there was a strong feeling about the wrongness of splitting Easter Ross. The feeling was that Easter Ross, including Tain, was in itself a coherent community which should not be divided. It was accepted that while Invergordon and Tain served as local centres within Easter Ross, the areas around both these looked southwest, towards Dingwall for many more specialised services in the daily lives of the people living there. For instance—and this is only one example—Tain is the centre of public transport services for the whole of Easter Ross and the trends at present suggest that there will be increasing travel-to-work links with the Invergordon developments.

The structure in the Bill recognises the strong community of interest within Easter Ross and the connections between Easter Ross and Dingwall. It leaves the north-west part of the Tain district, the parish of Kincardine from the upper Oykel Valley to Ardgay, in the Sutherland district, particularly because of the pattern of settlements and the lines of communication.

Although the hon. Gentleman is quite right to say that we must be concerned about the size of the Sutherland district, particularly after the parish of Tongue and Farr, or most of it comes out of it, we must still bear in mind that the community of interest which applies to those who will be living in the future Sutherland district is a firm basis upon which the new area can have some meaning. If we were to add Tongue and Farr and Tain this would increase the resources of the Sutherland district by a large amount and it would have been at the expense of cutting across a natural community in Easter Ross.

I have no doubt that even after this is done—that is after Tain is put back into Easter Ross—Sutherland will still have sufficient resources to discharge the functions we are giving to it. I am sorry not to be able to respond to the hon. Gentleman's request because I know that he feels strongly about it, having come to see me about it some time ago. I am afraid I do not feel that it would be right to split the natural community in Easter Ross to increase the size of the Sutherland district.

Mr. Ross

To what extent will the Government be able to refer a matter like this—and it is difficult for those of us who are not au fait with the local situation to decide—to the Boundary Commission? It would be better for many of these problems to be settled fairly objectively, if possible.

Mr. Younger

It is possible to refer anything to the Boundary Commission. There are a number of things which I have given assurances will be referred to the Commission at once. This is a rather more major matter than other subjects which we have referred. This is a large community in terms of the surrounding Tain area and I would not like to create uncertainty by saying that this was to be referred to the Commission.

Any question of the edges of this area which the right hon. Gentleman felt should be referred could be so referred. It would be a mistake to use the Commission at this stage to let us escape from taking what is a rather difficult decision. I am afraid that following all the discussion that has taken place, with the hon. Gentleman and with the local authorities concerned, we have the difficult and invidious task of taking a decision, right or wrong. We have a considerable amount of evidence supporting what we propose, not only from the Boundary Commission but from other sources. I am afraid that the time has come to take a decision.

Mr. Maclennan

I confess that I am extremely unhappy about the Under-Secretary's decision and even more unhappy about the inflexibility of his reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). This does not involve any principle at all. It is a matter of geographic history and gradual economic development. His reply to my initial remarks indicated the over-preoccupation with the past which has characterised the Government's whole approach to development in the Moray Firth area. It is wrong to seek to confine developments in Easter Ross to one very narrow strip of coastal land. The whole of this area in Easter Ross and East Sutherland will become a single economic area and it is bound to be divided artificially at district level.

1.30 a.m.

When the bridge across the Dornoch Firth is built, the community of interest between Dornoch, the eastern part of Sutherland and Tain will be at least as strong as, if not stronger, than any interest which at present links Tain to areas to the south like Dingwall and Invergordon. The Minister might find if he consulted his hon. Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Gray) that there is not so much a community of interest between Tain and Dingwall as rivalry, which explains the initial desire of Tain to come in with the eastern part of Sutherland.

I hope that the Under-Secretary of State will reconsider his unwillingness even to consider the possibility of the matter being referred to the Boundary Commission.

Mr. Dalyell

It is about nine hours since I last intervened in the debate. It often happens that important issues surface in the middle of the night. What is the philosophy of referring questions to the Boundary Commission? Will the Minister assure us that where there are changes, for example, in travel-to-work patterns and in the siting of factories the Scottish Office will be liberal in referrals to the commission?

Mr. Younger

With the leave of the House, I will reply to the hon. Gentleman. I would expect the Secretary of State—and I hope, his successors—to regard the Boundary Commission as ready to have matters referred to it as and when appropriate. The Bill gives power to the Secretary of State to refer matters to the Boundary Commission at any time.

I do not want to give the impression that we would think of using the Boundary Commission for major changes all the time, but the arrangements are very flexible and I shall certainly see that where major changes of circumstances arise the matter will be referred to the commission. I will try to see that this is liberally interpreted.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. Younger

I beg to move Amendment No. 17 in page 146, line 49, leave out 'by Cowdenbeath'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

With this we will take Government Amendments Nos. 18, 20 and 21.

Mr. Younger

These are drafting amendments merely to adopt the official and more precise description of the Gray Park polling district used to define the boundary between Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline districts. This will be more convenient for the usage of the electoral returning officers in the course of their work.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 18 in page 146, line 50, leave out 'station area' and insert 'district'.—[Mr. Younger.]

Mr. Younger

I beg to move Amendment No. 19 in page 147, line 3, leave out 'North Fife' and insert 'North East Fife'.

The amendment changes the name of the "North Fife" district back to "North East Fife" to accord with the local wishes. In the original consultations on names "North East Fife" was suggested by three authorities in the area and by a joint meeting. "North Fife" had no support. After the changes had been made in the original layout of Fife we considered that the name "North East Fife", which was wanted by the majority of authorities in the area, should be returned to.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: No. 20, in page 147, line 18, leave out 'by Cowdenbeath'.

No. 21, in line 19, leave out 'station area' and insert 'district'.

No. 22, in line 20, column 1, leave out 'Forth' and insert 'Lothian'.—[Mr. Younger.]

Mr. Younger

I beg to move Amendment No. 23, in line 25, leave out 'electoral division of Abercorn' and insert 'electoral divisions of Abercorn, Winchburgh East and Winchburgh West'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

With this amendment, it will be convenient to discuss Government Amendment No. 24.

Mr. Younger

These amendments taken together transfer the electoral divisions of Winchburgh East and Winch-burgh West from the City of Edinburgh district to the West Lothian district. We have considered the position of Winch-burgh further in the light of representations from all the local authorities concerned supported by the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), who has been to see me about the matter.

It is now clear that the connections of Winchburgh with Edinburgh are very much less close than those of Kirkliston, Dalmeny and South Queensferry, which are to remain part of the City of Edinburgh district. The community of interest of Winchburgh at district level is pre- dominantly westwards, reflected in the strength of communication links with Broxburn and Linlithgow, in the travel to work patterns towards these centres, and in the use of shopping and recreational facilities there made by the residents of Winchburgh, as well as in its character as a largely mining community.

I think that these changes will be welcomed in the areas concerned. Certainly I believe that they have the support of the hon. Member for West Lothian, and I hope that the House w ill accept them.

Mr. Dalyell

On behalf of the local authorities, the people of Winchburgh and myself, I should like unequivocally to thank the Under-Secretary for his courtesy and for the way in which he agreed to do what we all thought right in terms of Winchburgh. However, I am still unhappy about Dalmeny and South Queensferry. I am sceptical about whether the inquiries which have been made have revealed the true feeling in Queensferry and Dalmeny which, especially in the light of the Fife decision, I believe is in favour of West Lothian.

I ask the Under-Secretary precisely what kind of inquiries have been made recently in the case of Dalmeny and Queensferry? I believe this so-called departmental inquiry to have been rather desultory. I cannot find a single person in Queensferry or Dalmeny who was consulted. What consultations have taken place?

In the course of the debate on the previous amendment, I took the opportunity to ask about referrals to the Boundary Commission. As Hewlett Packard grows and certainly as oil developments take place, the relationship between Edinburgh and Queensferry will probably change. If it does, I should like to see a referral to the Boundary Commission in two or three years.

I hope that the Government are seized of the fact that there is real disquiet in country areas neighbouring cities that they will be swamped by the cities. It was one proposition to go along the lines of a divided Fife. From the point of view of Queensferry and Dalmeny people, it is totally different. Fife will be by itself. But here are they spatch-cocked in with this enormous and famous city of Edinburgh. I doubt whether it is good for the people of Queensferry and Dalmeny that they should be so spatchcocked.

Mr. Younger

I very much appreciate the hon. Gentleman's concern, and I know that he has reported to me that some of his constituents feel very upset about this change. I can understand people in South Queensferry and Kirkliston feeling that they do not wish to be sucked into the edge of a great city. That is very natural, and we have many other cases where people feel that way. But we have to look at the genuine community of interest as people live their lives. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we have taken seriously his representations and done our best to look at and study as many of the details as we can with convenience and sense in this matter.

South Queensferry and Kirkliston are nearer to Edinburgh than to any one centre in West Lothian. They have strong travel-to-work connections with Edinburgh. Over 20 per cent, of the resident employed population of South Queens-ferry, for instance, work in Edinburgh, and Kirkliston is visibly expanding as a commuter-based settlement.

I have looked at accessibility. South Queensferry is eight miles from Edinburgh and is comparable with a place like Currie, which is in the Edinburgh district, and has direct road and rail links, but it is 11 miles from Linlithgow and 14 miles from Bathgate. That is not the be all and end all, but it is a tangible difference.

There are 151 each-way rail services per week to Edinburgh, and the journey time is 14 minutes. There are 385 bus services each way per week to Edinburgh, taking 25 minutes, which is again comparable with Currie, whereas there are only 38 bus services each way to Broxburn and none direct to Bathgate or Linlithgow.

From the information I have been able to obtain that is a reasonably accurate assessment of the public transport facilities. Although we may sometimes feel cynical about them, those, after all, are supposed to reflect the needs of the people and their desire for travel.

Reverting to the travel-to-work situation, I think I gave a figure of over 20 per cent. The actual figure is 27 per cent., whereas the figure for the rest of West Lothian is 5.6 per cent. These figures probably seem soulless to those who are concerned, but we must be objective. South Queensferry has natural links with Edinburgh. However, if circumstances changed substantially the situation would be looked at again.

Mr. Carmichael

Are the dates for those figures the dates that were given in Committee? In other words, are they 10 years or more old?

Mr. Younger

These were the shopping patterns, which were rather old because of the retail survey. However, the transport arrangements can be looked up to date by studying the time tables.

Mr. Dalyell

At quarter to two in the morning I do not propose to keep hon. Members waiting on long-drawn-out arguments about particular points, as they have their own problems. However, I should like this to be regarded as an open question over the years. If it does not work out, I hope that the Government of the day will look favourably on a change of the Act.

Amendment agreed to.

Further amendments made: No. 24, in page 147, line 32, leave out 'electoral division of Abercorn)' and insert: 'electoral divisions of Abercorn, Winchburgh East and Winchburgh West)'.

No. 25, in page 148, line 15, leave out from 'electoral" to "West)' in line 16 and insert: 'division of Kilsyth West; the polling district of Kilsyth East (Banton))'.—[Mr. Younger.]

Mr. Mackintosh

I beg to move Amendment No. 27, in page 148, columns 2 and 3, leave out lines 19 to 41 and insert:

Eyemouth Eyemouth and East District of Berwickshire.
Duns Duns and the northern half of the Middle District of Berwickshire.
Coldstream Coldstream and the southern half of the Middle District of Berwickshire.
Lauder Lauder and the West District of Berwickshire.
Kelso Kelso Burgh and District.
Jedburgh Burgh and District
Hawick Hawick Burgh and District.
Melrose Melrose Burgh and District.
Galashiels Galashiels, and the electoral divisions of Stow and Her-riot and the northern half of the north district of Selkirkshire.
Selkirk Selkirk and the southern half of the north district of Selkirkshire and the southern district.
Innerleithen Peebles Innerleithen and district.
Peebles Peebles together with Peebles, Linton and Broughton districts'.
Mr. Deputy Speaker

I understand that it will meet the convenience of the House if with this amendment we discuss Amendment No. 245, in page 2, line 1 [Clause1], after 'region', insert 'except the Borders region'.

Mr. Mackintosh

I will be as brief as possible. The point concerns district authorities within the Borders Region.

The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) and I asked my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon) whether he would be kind enough to move an amendment along these lines in Committee. It was difficult, being excluded from the Committee, for us to put our point and it was not moved exactly in the way that we wished, although we were deeply indebted to my hon. Friend for putting forward our argument. He argued that as a second-tier authority in the Borders it would be better to have strengthened community councils. The Minister rebutted this proposal by pointing out that we did not want a different system in the Borders compared with the rest of Scotland. That was a perfectly sound and reasonable response to the point.

I wish to put forward a different argument. We wish to have the same two-tier structure as the rest of Scotland. The Borders Region is much smaller in terms of population and resources. It does not make sense in a smaller and weaker region to make the districts as large as in the rest of Scotland, and we want smaller districts to accord with the geographical distribution and arrangements within this particularly small region.

As the Under-Secretary knows, the Borders Region, with 97,000 inhabitants, is smaller in inhabitants and resources than the average of the second-tier district authorities proposed for the rest of Scotland. What worries us in the Borders Region is that with this type of small region in terms of population and resources it is possible that the four new districts proposed by the Government—rather amorphous districts with no history, except the old county of Peebles—will not have the strength or the viability that will be necessary, and rapidly the Borders will become a one-unit government. It will become a single-unit government, and that will not fit in with the two-tier system which the Minister is seeking to establish.

The amendment suggests that instead of four districts based on rather vague geographical areas—except for one, and that is the former county of Peebles—there should be 12 districts, each based on one of the existing active small burghs in the area with its hinterland area. The amendment suggests how the area could be divided among 12 existing small burghs and retain their historic connections and their local enthusiasms which is seen in all the Borders festivals and sports and rugger club rivalries. These activities can be of tremendous help in local government in stimulating each to emulate the other in house-building programmes and in attempts to beautify and improve the burgh and its precincts. We would in that way get viable district authorities which, though smaller than the average district, would be in the same proportion to other districts as the Borders Region is to the average region in Scotland.

I am proposing a miniaturisation job which is in keeping with the Government's own ideas in regional terms. In population terms the Government have created a region that is far smaller than any other region and smaller than the average district. It is therefore legitimate to say that we should carry the logic through for this geographically thinly populated area and have smaller but essentially viable district units.

The unit that I have suggested would average 8,000 persons per district as opposed to the average proposed at present of 24,000. The chief function of these districts would be housing, a duty which they could well perform. Burghs such as Eyemouth and Kelso, without this degree of population and without a hinterland, have satisfactory housing records. They have done this partly because of their intense loyalty, historic traditions and a desire to see their burghs flourishing. They could build on that if they were enlarged into districts, as I proposed.

I am not asking for a fundamental change in the two-tier structure, the powers or the functions set out in the Bill. I am merely asking for a greater number of districts and seeking to capitalise on existing local patriotism and sentiment to make the system more viable.

Mr. David Steel

I warmly support the amendment moved by the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh). The hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that neither he nor I served on the Committee, and this is the only opportunity that the House has of discussing local government reform as it affects the Borders Region.

It is worth casting our minds back to how we arrived at the present situation in the Bill. The Royal Commission originally recommended that the Borders Region as we know it in the Bill should be part of the South-East Region which it recommended and that a district council should be created which would cover exactly the same area as is now proposed by the Government to be the Borders region.

In their White Paper, the Government responded—I am eternally grateful for this—to the very strong representation from the Borders Region, and altered the Wheatley recommendations so as to create the Borders Region as it now is in the Bill. Having done that, they then seemed to feel—this is where they made a mistake—that it was necessary artificially to divide the Borders Region into four districts of the same ilk as those in other parts of Scotland. Having done that, they then decided that these districts were rather small, and therefore removed from them three major powers which other districts will have. The result is profoundly unsatisfactory.

I therefore proposed one solution, my Amendment No. 245, which was to make the regional authority of the Borders a unitary authority, in the hope that more powers would be given to the community councils based on the existing burghs. We have already had a debate on the community councils. I do not agree with the Government's view, but they have stuck by it and it is now clear that their concept of community councils is much more limited than I would have wished.

Therefore, the solution of the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian is quite right. Taking into account the fact that, under the Government's proposals, community councils are to be given no statutory powers, it makes sense to miniaturise the framework of local government, accept the pattern that runs throughout the Bill and accept district authorities based on the existing burghs.

This matter was raised in a very short debate in Committee by the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon). I do not mean it unkindly when I say that he did not pursue the amendment with the vigour and eloquence with which the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian and I would have wished to do. In reply, the Under Secretary said: … I do not see any evidence of the need for a completely different structure in the Borders". The amendment now meets that point, because it proposes basically the same structure.

The Under-Secretary also said, …I do not think it would he welcomed by the people in the Borders."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, First Scottish Standing Committee; 8th February 1973, c. 329] I must emphatically put the Minister right about that, if he is not immediately satisfied by the fact that the two hon. Members representing the area are themselves agreed. I have discussed this with many people in existing local government. It is fair to say that they themselves have not pressed their case with the Government as strongly as they might have done, because they were so obsessed in the early days of discussion with escaping from the clutches of Edinburgh that everything else was subsidiary. Having won that point, it is fair to say that they let the other argument go by default. But I put forward this argument in the debate on the White Paper in the Scottish Grand Committee in July last year.

It is only more recently that I have got from the local authority personnel in the Borders area a very strong feeling, as they move nearer to the reality of local government reorganisation, that perhaps the district authorities as set out in the Bill are a mistake. The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian said that Peeblesshire, or Tweeddale as it will be called in the Bill, was the only one of the district authorities that exists at present and that the other three were new creations. Accepting that this is so, I am afraid that the structure of Peebles County Council adds weight to my belief that the district authorities, with their limited powers, will not be a success.

I am not saying that Peebles County Council is not an efficient body. I think it is, but, from a democratic point of view, there is no stampede to serve on it. Since the war there have been very few elections in any of its electoral districts. Peebles is geographically large, while small in population.

Given the peculiar difficulties of the Borders, the answer is to focus on the natural communities to which people feel an intense loyalty. They are not the counties or the artificial districts but the burghs and their surrounding countryside. The Government should seize the opportunity of these natural loyalties and the peculiar characteristics of the Border burghs, their intense local and community activity, as reflected in the common ridings, in the amateur operatic societies, in the rugby clubs and in the community activity which in many other parts of the country has withered away but which is very strong in the Border communities.

Of necessity, we are rather late in the process of this legislation in raising this fundamental matter. But I am convinced that the amendment moved by the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian has got exactly right some of the feeling which exists in the area. It will work and would be far more meaningful than the scheme in the Bill.

Mr. Younger

I agree that this is well worth discussing and that this is the time to discuss it. I am grateful to the two hon. Members for raising it.

The pattern proposed in the amendment moved by the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) is based firmly and rightly on community of interest between town and country, which was used in defining all the new areas and which was suggested by the hon. Member in his correspondence with us.

There is one small point, of which I make nothing, but technically it would not be possible to accept the amendment as it stands because the wording is not sufficiently well defined. Four areas have the expression "northern half", which is not sufficiently good for statute and would have to be changed if the amendment were accepted. I merely put that on record. It is not a fundamental objection.

The present districts in the Borders Region number four. The smallest is Tweeddale with 14,000 population and the largest Roxburgh at 36,000. The others are Ettrick Forest with 32,000 and Merse with 17,000.

Because the size and resources of these authorities are smaller than those in the rest of Scotland, the allocation of functions for districts in the Borders Region differs from those in the central belt.

Mr. Mackintosh

I said that the population of the region would be smaller than the average for the districts in the rest of Scotland and that the scale is less.

Mr. Younger

I took the hon. Gentleman's point, but my point is that because the districts are by their nature, on the small side, that is why the functions are different. The resources for the districts which the hon. Gentleman proposes have to be seen against the fact that the very scale of the Borders Region may be smaller and that although the scale of districts is smaller they have the same functions apart from differences in planning. They will not exercise responsibility for local planning, building control or libraries but they will still have a range of controls.

It is all very well to say that the scale is different and that it can be miniaturised. I admire the idea but we have to be practical and to look at the size of the district and see whether they are big enough to carry out these functions. These are very small districts. The proposed Duns, Coldstream and Innerleithen would have populations of 4,000, while Lauder district would have 5,000, while Jedburgh, Melrose and Selkirk would have 7,000 and the largest would be Galashiels with 15,000 under the hon. Member's suggestion. Some districts in the Highlands have smaller populations because of the geographical circumstances, but this is not acceptable as a general pattern and none of those is nearly as small as the majority of districts suggested here.

These authorities have to discharge a range of functions, for example, housing, fire, refuse collection and disposal, environmental health, amenity services and licensing and other functions. To carry out even these functions, district authorities will require a compliment of specialists and technical staff which would be beyond the resources of a district with a population of only 4,000.

2.0 a.m.

With all our enthusiasm to be flexible and to try to respond to the needs of the area and so on, we must remember that we would be putting on to these areas duties which they simply would not be able to do up to the standard of everywhere else in Scotland, as the population would expect, with such small resources as they have.

Mr. David Steel

Will the hon. Gentleman elaborate on which of these functions is not at present carried out by existing small town councils? Taking scavenging as an example, I have heard some concern expressed that scavenging arrangements may be less efficient, for example, in the burgh of Lauderdale under the new arrangements, whereas they are at present efficiently carried out.

Mr. Younger

That is possibly so. I would never say that necessarily the largest authority is the most efficient and the smallest authority is the least efficient. We can all think of examples where the contrary can be shown.

We must try to be consistent to some extent in our aims in putting forward the Bill. Surely we are all aiming to try to tailor the size of the new units to the task that we are putting upon them. I would be the first to agree that the achievements of some of the Border burghs, some of which have quite small populations, are very much to be commended, I have visited some of them. They do a first-class job with very small resources. But everyone would agree that, however good those have been in the past, it is not a criteria that we can place in any of this local government reform. We cannot say that we shall not reform particular authorities because they have done well. That is no basis for reforming local government. If we did that we should get a complete shambles all over Scotland.

We are trying to produce a system that makes coherent sense all over Scotland. One thing which would not be right would be to impose on such small districts the functions that we are putting on the Border district.

Mr. Mackintosh

I accept the general drift of the hon. Gentleman's argument on the basis of the general approach to the Bill. The weakness in this particular case is that he and the Government have departed from Wheatley in proposing a region of 97,000 people, whose population resources is further below the minimum set for education, social services and so on by the Departments concerned than the districts that I am proposing are below the minimum for their functions such as housing. If the hon. Gentleman is prepared to take the argument for the region, he should be prepared to take it for the district.

Mr. Younger

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will forgive me if I say that that is a brilliant statistical argument. But if we tried to persuade the future district clerk of one of these very small districts that he should not worry about the fact that he could not get enough resources to raise the necessary technical staff to carry out these functions because the size of his district was not proportionately so much less than the size of districts elsewhere, any more than the Borders Region is smaller than other regions, he would say that we were producing a very good intellectual argument but did not have our feet firmly on the ground.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not think that I am being rude to him, but we must be practical and think in terms of a district clerk trying to run an office and a set-up with resources produced by only 4,000 people.

I am sorry to appear negative about this matter. I appreciate that the giving of regional status to the Borders was a risk that we took. It will be welcomed by the people of the Borders. Having taken that risk, which many people before and since have told us was a risk which we should not have taken—there are some minuses as well as pluses from the point of view of those on the Borders—we have to accept some district organisation which might not be thought ideal by the Border burghs and so on. But we cannot make them any smaller than they are. I hope that the House will reject the amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. Mackintosh

I beg to move, Amendment No. 28, in page 148, line 20, column 2, leave out 'Ettrick Forest' and insert 'Ettrick and Lauderdale'.

This is a small point of nomenclature. We are now stuck with the four districts in the Borders. Three of them are artificial creations. One is Tweeddale, the former county of Peebles-shire, but there is a curious L-shaped area in the centre, formed out of sections of three previous counties, which it is proposed to name Ettrick Forest. This name is highly unsatisfactory because "Ettrick" applies to only a half of it and there is no forest. It is somewhat confusing, to put it mildly.

I have had representations from the borough of Lauder and the district pointing out that "Ettrick and Lauderdale would be a better name—[Interruption.]—in this case it is not invalidated, because this gentleman happens to support it. Although I do not like all things dukes and earls say, the fact that they say them does not make them nonsense. "Ettrick and Lauderdale" would be more appropriate, more historic and more traditional than the somewhat misleading title of "Ettrick Forest".

Mr. Brewis

I, too, have had representations on the point. I support what the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) said and hope that my hon. Friend will be able to include "Lauderdale".

Mr. David Steel

I am sorry to break up the happy partnership which has existed up to now, but I cannot agree with the amendment. I hasten to say that I do not necessarily agree either with the name "Ettrick Forest". The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) has made a legitimate objection to it.

On an earlier amendment the Under-Secretary spelled out how a name had been arrived at and who had said what about it. I hope that he will tell us where the name "Ettrick Forest" came from in terms of opinion. I am aware that "Ettrick Forest" was chosen because the Ettrick Forest originally covered roughly they are outlined on the map which the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian brandished. I am not clear whether it extended as far as the borough of Lauder.

However, "Ettrick Forest" is a more accurate description than the hon. Gentleman's choice of "Ettrick and Lauderdale". If that were adopted I believe that there would be strong protests. The largest town in the area is Galashiels. There is a stronger case for "Ettrick Forest" than for "Ettrick and Lauderdale", but I am not particularly enthusiastic about either. I cannot see anything wrong with the existing name of Selkirkshire or a neutral name such as "the Melrose District", Melrose being a town in the area. I hope that the Under-Secretary will not accept the amendment.

Mr. Maclennan

I have a soft spot for the noble Earl the former Conservative Member for Caithness and Sutherland. This is indeed an historical name which it would be a pity to lose sight of. Notwithstanding anything that the noble Earl has said, the burgh of Lauder is greatly in favour of this. As Lauderdale was the last and most sturdy member of the famous cabal in the seventeenth century, it would be amusing to keep it in Scottish local authority terminology.

Mr. Younger

To continue our romantical mystery tour of Scotland, we are in Ettrick Forest. I do not know whether it is because it is now after two o'clock, but I feel a definite aura of flexibility affecting me.

On the question of names, we have always tried, and right until the last moment in the Bill will continue to try, to meet the wishes of those in the area. In giving names to authorities we have always tried to consult the existing authorities in the area concerned or the appropriate joint committee set up to consider local government reform.

Consultations on names were carried out in this case with six authorities in the area. One proposed "Selkirk"; three proposed "Ettrick Forest"; two proposed "Ettrick". Therefore, "Ettrick Forest" was selected as being proposed by the majority, though not by an outstanding majority. Lauder Town Council did not respond to my hon. Friend's initial invitation to suggest names but it has recently made representations supported by the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh), by the Earl of Lauderdale to the effect of the amendment we are now discussing.

It would certainly not be consistent with our general approach on the choosing of names for me to accept an amendment off the cuff at this time of night on Report. I give the assurance, however, that if it can be shown during the next few weeks before the Bill receives the Royal Assent that the majority of local authorities or the district advisory committee favour such a change, we should be happy to meet the majority wishes of the local people concerned if they have changed since we originally took our view. I hope that the hon. Member might feel that this is almost progress and I invite him to withdraw the amendment in view of that assurance.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. Mackintosh

I beg to move Amendment No. 29, in page 148, column 3, leave out lines 31 and 32.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

With it it will be convenient to take Government Amendments Nos. 30, 31 and 32.

Mr. Mackintosh

The amendment asks that the parish of Hume and the electoral division of Hume and Nenthorn be transferred from the Roxburgh district into the district of Merse, as the inhabitants there wish. There is no doubt about the situation. A meeting of all the inhabitants of the parish produced something like 90 per cent. support for the transfer of the parish on the ground that they preferred the traditional linkage with Greenlaw and not Kelso. I met representatives of the inhabitants and I wrote to the Under-Secretary supporting their case and putting the argument before him.

I am sorry to introduce a discordant note at this late hour, but there was one aspect of the affair which I found slightly distressing. After I had met representatives of the Government on this matter the Conservative candidate in the area also met representatives on the matter. A letter was written to me after my representations by the Under-Secretary on 23rd May explaining that the Government were prepared to concede on this point. For some reason the Scottish Office failed to deliver this letter to me until 10 days later when my secretary agitated the Department and the letter was found.

In the interim the Conservative candidate for the area was able first to hold a public meeting calling for the transfer and the next day he reported that he had received a letter personally written to him from the Secretary of State agreeing to a concession. The Conservative was therefore able to say that he had a direct wire to the Secretary of State who wrote him personal letters explaining concessions of this kind. The Member of Parliament received a letter from the Under-Secretary some seven days later when the news had already been released.

I think that it is expected in this House that hon. Members who make representations on such matters should be given information before members of the public, particularly opposing candidates. I hope that the Secretary of State will confirm that this is what happened. I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman had anything to do with this. It is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. Nevertheless, I am glad that he has agreed to concede the point.

2.15 a.m.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

Government Amendments Nos. 30 and 31 seek to transfer the parish of Hume from the Roxburgh district to the Merse district.

The amendment moved by the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) goes further, seeking to move Nenthorn as well. On examining the position of these parishes further, the Government came to the conclusion that there was a case for transferring Hume but not a clear-cut case for transferring Nenthorn. We have been well aware of representations from a number of people in the area about these matters. There was no intention to do other than to inform the hon. Gentleman first, as he had been in touch with us, and he is the first person who should be informed. It is clear from what he said that there was about 10 days' apparent delay between the dispatch of the letter and its reaching him. I shall look into that straight away.

I do not normally write direct to candidates, although normally a letter goes on my behalf. I shall look into that matter. Any member of the public, whether a candidate or not, who writes to me at the Scottish Office is entitled to a reply. Normally I do not sign the replies to such persons, though I or my hon. Friends at the Scottish Office sign replies to Members of Parliament.

I shall look into the missing 10 days, which are the basis of the hon. Gentleman's complaint, because he should have been informed first, and that was the intention. Various other people in the area who had made representations to the Scottish Office received letters signed on my behalf telling them about the Government's intention when the amendment had been tabled. Certainly the hon. Gentleman should have heard first. It was clearly a question of the letter not going to the correct address and not being forwarded that led to the trouble. The hon. Gentleman has been abroad. We have had trouble trying to trace him on occasions. I shall look into whether that was the problem on this occasion.

Mr. Mackintosh

A letter to the House of Commons usually finds me without very much difficulty. This is a perfectly adequate address. The letter had never been dispatched. That was the puzzling thing—not that it was dispatched and mislaid but that the copy was found in the Scottish Office. It is very unfortunate, because on the whole the right hon. Gentleman's officials normally behave with singular efficiency. Who failed to dispatch it?

Mr. Campbell

The trouble arises when Members are away and not at the House, and we need to get information to them quickly. I shall look into this extraordinary point of the letter not having been sent, although it was intended to be sent. I have only just heard about the matter, because I have had no complaint from the hon. Gentleman until now. I am in no position to give him an answer straight away.

In our amendments we are doing what the hon. Gentleman and the majority of people in the area wanted at the end of the day. Therefore, I hope that our amendments will be accepted.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Were the letters to the Conservative candidate and a number of other people in the area sent after amendments had been put on the Order Paper?

Mr. Campbell

When the Government take a decision on a matter affecting a Member who has been in touch with us, as in this case, he is normally informed first, whether it is in the Recess or when Parliament is sitting. Other people who have made representations to the Scottish Office, members of the public and others, are normally informed as well at the appropriate time. When this decision was taken the intention was that the hon. Gentleman should be informed first and other people later. Clearly, something went wrong. I shall look into it, but I have had no notice of the matter and have been unable to look into it before.

The effect of the amendment is to do what the hon. Gentleman wishes.

Mr. Maclennan

My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) has raised an extremely important matter about Government practice in sending letters.

Mr. MacArthur

He should have raised it earlier.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Go back to sleep.

Mr. Maclennan

I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian said. It is a matter of extraordinary inconvenience to Members to have their letters sent anywhere but to the House of Commons. My hon. Friend and I represent large rural constituencies. My constituency covers 6,000 square miles. Letters sent to my constituency at the behest of the Scottish Office can spend time chasing around those 6,000 square miles when arrangements have been made for hon. Members' letters to be looked after properly. It is most unsatisfactory. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will look at the procedure again as it has given rise to considerable trouble to me on a number of occasions.

Mr. Campbell

May I reply, with the leave of the House? We take great trouble, when hon. Members are due to get information, to try to ensure that the information reaches them quickly when it is not clear whether they are available through their House of Commons address. We normally take the trouble to make a telephone call to try to find out from hon. Members' secretaries or in some other way where hon. Members will be. If possible additional action is taken of that kind to ensure that hon. Members get their letters. I agree that when it is not possible to make contact in that way the House of Commons address is usually the best.

Mr. Robert Hughes

May I comment, with the leave of the House? I do not want to make too much of this matter. I know from personal experience how the right hon. Gentleman tries to give information to hon. Members which for perfectly valid reasons he wishes to make available to the Press. Naturally he wants to do hon. Members the courtesy of giving them the information. I had an occasion when a letter was held up over the weekend—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I think that the Chair has been at fault in allowing this discussion to go too far. Hon. Members should be speaking to the amendment. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will bring his remarks to a conclusion.

Mr. Hughes

Many hon. Members make their own arrangements through the Post Office for mail to be forwarded. Apart from trying to find a Member's address the House of Commons Post Office could tell the Scottish Office the best address to which to send any mail.

Amendment negatived.

Amendments made: No. 30, in page 148, line 31, leave out 'the electoral division of Hume and Nenthorn' and insert 'the parish of Nenthorn'.

No. 31, in page 148, line 41, at end insert 'the parish of Hume'.—[Mr. Gordon Campbell.]

Mr. Gordon Campbell

I beg to move Amendment No. 33, in page 149, line 15, at end insert: 'In the county of Dunbarton—the burghs of Bearsden, Clydebank, Milngavie; the district of Old Kilpatrick (except the electoral divisions of Bowling, Dunbarton)'.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this amendment it will be convenient to discuss Amendment No. 379, in page 149, line 30. at end insert: 'Kilpatricks … In the county of Dunbarton—the Burghs of Bearsden, Milngavie and Clydebank; the district of Old Kilpatrick (except the electoral districts of Bowling, Dunbarton).'.

Mr. Campbell

The amendment restores the burghs of Bearsden, Clydebank, Milngavie and the adjoining landward areas to the Glasgow district. These areas were removed from Glasgow by the Standing Committee, which was, however, unable to reach a conclusion on an alternative allocation, thus creating a gap which at present exists in the Bill.

The Government have had to consider carefully what should be done about the situation, which needs to be put right. We have re-examined a wide range of evidence about Glasgow and the surrounding areas and have considered a number of alternative proposals: for example, the creation of a separate Kilpatricks district, with or without Drum-chapel; the inclusion of Bearsden and Milngavie in the Strathkelvin district with Clydebank in the Dumbarton district; the inclusion of Bearsden and Milngavie in the Glasgow district, leaving Clydebank, with or without Drum-chapel, a separate district in its own right; the inclusion of Bearsden, Milngavie and Clydebank in the Dumbarton district, or the division of Glasgow into four or five separate districts, with or without the peripheral areas.

The removal of Drumchapel from the Glasgow district is not justified in view of the very strong links between Knights-wood ward and the rest of Glasgow.

In the discussion in Committee my hon. Friend indicated the strength of the connections between Bearsden, Clydebank, Milngavie and the city of Glasgow saying that these burghs are a natural part of the Glasgow city community, socially, physically and economically. The Committee accepted, as the Government have done, the basic principle underlying the Wheatley Commission's recommendation, that the new local government areas should be defined to reflect the community of interest between centres of population and the areas around them.

I come now to accessibility. The centres of Bearsden, Clydebank and Milngavie are respectively six, seven and eight miles from the centre of Glasgow on major roads. Public transport links are overwhelmingly with Glasgow. Of all the bus connections serving Milngavie, Bearsden and Clydebank 91 per cent., 90 per cent and 74 per cent. respectively are with the present city of Glasgow and there are also frequent suburban train services. Public transport links with centres in other districts are very much weaker, and in the case of Strathkelvin requires going into Glasgow.

The alternative solutions involving the association of Bearsden, Clydebank and Milngavie with other areas are unsatisfactory simply because of relative lack of community of interest these places have with anywhere other than Glasgow. For instance, to add the three burghs as a whole either to the Dumbarton or Strathkelvin district would conflict with what we know not only about their connections with Glasgow but also about the virtual absence of links on the one hand between Milngavie and Bearsden and Dumbarton and on the other between Clydebank and Strathkelvin. The addition of only Bears-den and Milngavie to Strathkelvin, as has been suggested in some quarters, is not justified in view of the very tenuous links between the centres of population. For example there are no public transport services. The centres of population are divided by the built up area of Glasgow city and its associated radial road network.

The creation of separate districts, either for Clydebank or for Bearsden and Milngavie, would not be an acceptable solution. They would have very limited resources for exercising the range of district functions.

What has happened is that it has been shown that it is much easier to agree in Committee to remove something from the Bill than it is to reach agreement on what is to take its place. The Government have looked at the various possibilities with care and have again come to the conclusion that what was originally in the Bill was the best solution for this area, and that which the Wheatley Commission recommended.

Mr. Hugh McCartney (Dumbartonshire, East)

I expected far more from the Secretary of State than the statement he has just made to support putting back into the Glasgow district what we were proposing to call the Kilpatricks district. He has not made one point of any relevance to the proposed new district authority either under the Wheatley Report or under the Bill. He talked simply about the alleged association between these areas and Glasgow insofar as transport arrangements are concerned. We all know that these arrangements are a regional function and in no way detract from or impinge upon the creation of the district authority in the Kilpatricks area, or any other area.

I draw the attention of hon. Members to what Wheatley said. In Chapter 6, headed "The Constitutional Framework", paragraph 113 asks: What is local government for? Local government has a two-fold purpose. First, it exists to supply public services. These may be national services which have to be administered locally, or they may be services of a purely local character. The distinction is rarely clear cut, and we would prefer to put it that local government exists to provide services locally, on such scale and of such character as the nature of each service requires. 2.30 a.m.

In paragraph 114 the commission said: Secondly, it exists to provide local government. This means that services are in a real sense locally controlled. There must be an element of choice exercisable locally. More than that, it is implicit that local authorities should in some degree provide a means for the self-expression of local communities. I hope the Secretary of State will think carefully about that paragraph.

Again, in Chapter 18, "The Meaning of 'Community'", the commission said: A local government unit is a complex thing. It is a unit for the administration of functions and the provision of services. That it what we have been concerned with in Part III of the Report. But it is also a geographical unit: it represents the people of a particular area. The area ought to be so chosen that within it there is as much as posible in common—a convergence of interest, affinities and sentiments. That is what we have in mind when we use the term 'community'. In Chapter 7, "Basic Objectives", in paragraph 128, it says: In our view, reorganisation should seek to secure for local government the following advantages.… Local government should be enabled to play a more important, responsible, and positive part in the running of the country—to bring the reality of government nearer to the people"— and— … should be equipped to provide services in the most satisfactory manner, particularly from the point of view of the people receiving the services.… Local government should constitute a system in which power is exercised through the elected representatives of the people, and in which those representatives are locally accountable for its exercise.… Local government should bring the people into the process of reaching decisions as much as possible, and enable those decisions to be made intelligible to the people. Let us consider that paragraph in relation to what has happened and the Government's proposals in the White Paper and the Bill.

The Standing Committee, as the right hon. Gentleman correctly said, decided on 27th February that the area described as the Kilpatricks district did not properly belong to the Glasgow district—in other words, it had no community of interest with the Glasgow district. That is a completely different thing from saying what the Secretary of State tried to say, that the Standing Committee, for one reason or another—and I have already stated my reasons—could not take a decision to form a district to be known as the Kilpatricks district. In Committee and elsewhere we have heard differences of opinion whether it should or should not include Drumchapel, but in all the discussions those opposed to the proposition have confused regional functions with district functions. Considering what are district functions, and the alternative proposals which the Government are alleged to have considered after their defeat in Committee, it is evidence that the proposals which I made in Committee to detach that area from Glasgow were reasonable and sensible for local government and conformed to every tenet of Wheatley and also statements by the Government at various times, dating back to 1970 when the commission's report was being debated in the House.

I believe, without going into detail, that none of the other proposed alternatives in any way could constitute an area with a community of interest in the sense that we would wish. Therefore, the only two courses are either the original proposal, which was defeated in Committee, or that proposal plus the suggestion made by the Under-Secretary of State in Committee, forming the area into a new district with the addition of Drumchapel. Geographically, that would be the perfect solution. There is an almost complete circle about six miles in diameter with its southern half a completely populated area in which Clydebank, Milngavie, Bearsden and old Kilpatrick are situated. The northern part is less populated and contains recreational land and the Kilpatrick Hills.

The roads and transport between the three burghs are suitable for anything required in a district of that size. The distance between each of the local authority headquarters is only about two miles. With 27.8 square miles or 17,820 acres, the area, excluding Drumchapel, is 1½ times as large as Aberden or Dundee and three times as large as the largest burgh. Again excluding Drumchapel, there is a population of 96,000-plus, which is still growing. All this indicates the extent to which the authority could be made viable.

I must emphasise what Wheatley said, which has been borne out in our local deliberations: More than that, it is implicit that local authorities in some degree provide a means for the self-expression of local communities. We have had in the area the deepest expression of local community interest anywhere in Scotland. We had polls in Milngavie and Bearsden and a referendum in Clydebank. In the Milngavie poll, 70 per cent. of the electorate voted and 95 per cent, of them supported a district of Bearsden, Clydebank, Milngavie and Old Kilpatrick. In Bearsden, 72 per cent. voted and 98 per cent. were in favour of such a district. These figures demonstrate cogently the expression of true local democracy on behalf of the local authorities in the area, with action committees formed from ordinary members of the community, supporting the proposals which I am putting forward now and which were put forward in Committee.

We must also consider the connection between Drumchapel and Glasgow. Today, Drumchapel and the area of Knightswood have drawn closer to Glasgow than to Clydebank, Bearsden or Milngavie. Until 1937 or 1938 Drum-chapel was associated with Dunbartonshire. To this day there are close connections in the churches, which belong to the Dunbarton Presbytery and not to the Glasgow Presbytery. There are other connections through social and recreational organisations. The young people of Drumchapel use extensively the facilities of Milngavie, Bearsden and Clydebank. Various other close connections would be strengthened if Drum-chapel were included in that district.

The Wheatley Report states that local government exists to provide local services of such a scale and character that the nature of each service requires. In the proposed district every one of the functions for which the district would be responsible is being carried out by the local authorities in association with each other through the county council on the one hand and the Small Burghs Association on the other. They have had a long history of co-operation in exercising these functions.

These three burghs in the Kilpatricks area have for a long time had strong ties in social and recreational matters which would become even stronger with the formation of a district authority, ties which would develop an environmental situation which would be to the benefit of the people of Kilpatricks and of Glasgow. No sensible person would suggest that a district authority of the size that is proposed for Glasgow could exercise its functions in the interests of the people of Drumchapel. Clydebank, Bearsden and Kilpatricks better than those areas have been doing for themselves.

There are no natural boundaries to the south between the area and Glasgow. That does not detract from my case. The relationship between Renfrew, Coat-bridge and Airdrie and Glasgow, and between Motherwell, Hamilton and Cadzow and Glasgow in the boundary sense is similar to the relationship between Kilpatricks and Glasgow.

There is an economic inter-relationship and a close balance between one part of the district and another. There is an industrial complex, mainly around Clydebank. Milngavie provides some industry and Milngavie and Bearsden provide housing accommodation for many of the workers in Clydebank. People from Clydebank are employed in Bearsden and Milngavie, and there is a movement of population from Kilpatricks into all those areas.

2.45 a.m.

In the provision of services and facilities, likewise we have a common relationship. We have marketing, shopping, banking, cultural, social, educational, medical and administrative facilities which are complementary to each other. In terms of shopping facilities, the proposals for the development of shopping centres in all these areas approved by the Government, taking account of the provision required for the areas lying contiguous with the proposed Kilpatricks area, provide a form of development which Wheatley considered adequate for district authorities to be formed round.

The Secretary of State referred almost solely to traffic movements in both road and rail services. This is a function of the regional authority. But it is interesting to note that the road network that we have in this proposed Kilpatricks area not only links these sectors with Glasgow but links all the sectors themselves together. There is a comprehensive road system in the area. A transport service is provided by buses linking the whole area. We also have train services. Bearsden, Clydebank and Milngavie are all served by the Glasgow Northern electric train service or "Blue Trains". Three stations being in Bearsden, five in Clydebank one in Milngavie and one in Drumchapel. It is evident that even in transport arrangements for the area, the district has an adequate service.

In terms of traffic movements in the area, which is again a consideration for a district authority, according to the Greater Glasgow Transportation Study under the heading "Location of Activities" it is indicated that while on average less than one-third of the location of activities are within the Glasgow City area, two-thirds is either in the home area or in the rest of the conurbation. Therefore within this proposed district, no preponderant pull towards the Glasgow City area exists. The greater pull is elsewhere in that conurbation. Again this makes out the case for a district authority of Kilpatricks rather than attaching the area to the Glasgow City district.

It is said also on occasions that local migration in and out of this area indicates its strong connections with the proposed Glasgow City district. This is a matter which should be taken with a pinch of salt as justification for not creating the Kilpatricks district. We all know that the desired result of the Government's own intervention in assisting the dispersal of population from Glasgow changes the whole pattern of migration trends, with movements out into new towns such as Cumbernauld and East Kilbride, the development of older towns such as Kirkintilloch, and the voluntary movement of people into areas such as Bearsden, Milngavie and Clydebank. This has changed the pattern, and it will probably continue. Therefore it does not affect the viability of the Kilpatricks area or any other area affected in this way as a district authority.

Wheatley also indicated that the circulation of daily and weekly newspapers was a factor which suggested some community of interest to justify the creation of a district authority. Bearsden was created as a burgh authority after the community had been created but before the local paper was first published. It is interesting to note that Bearsden was created a burgh after a sheriff's inquiry. Having listened to all the relevant evidence he came to the conclusion that Bearsden was a community in its own right, that it had no relationship with the City of Glasgow or with Dunbartonshire as a county, and that it could survive as a viable burgh authority.

The electors of Bearsden at that time voted overwhelmingly in favour of their desire to be described as a burgh authority and as a community with a community interest peculiar to itself.

We have in the rest of the area various local newspapers. It is evident that if a new Kilpatrick district were formed almost certainly a new Kilpatrick newspaper would be likely to be created to serve that area.

Considering all the criteria referred to in the Royal Commission's Report, I suggest that in the proposed Kilpatrick District we have everyhing that is required to justify the creation of a new district. Therefore, I suggest to the Secretary of State that there is no justification, on purely democratic grounds, for endeavouring to merge this area with the Glasgow City District. If his proposals are accepted this area will have six and one-third members representing the whole area. If Drumchapel is introduced it will have three to four members representing the area. If my proposal were accepted we would have a situation where, without Drumchapel, we would have 20 elected members and with Drumchapel 29 to 32 elected members.

In conclusion, I emphasise that every service required of a district authority—and many more—are now built into and well developed in the proposed Kilpatrick District independent of the Glasgow City area. The Government still have the opportunity, either here or in another place, to recognise and accept the validity of the argument that has been put forward. If they do not accept it, I am afraid that the community to which I have referred will condemn them out of hand for destroying local government democracy in their area, and certainly, in seeking to represent the communities both here and in local government, they will feel the draught when it comes to the polls.

Mr. John Smith

I shall be brief, because I realise that persuasiveness at this hour is directly related to brevity.

I need not say much in addition to the comprehensive argument that has been put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. McCartney) for a Kilpatricks district.

The Secretary of State could not have been thinking when he said that a Kilpatricks district could not be viable. Leaving Drumchapel out and confining it only to Milngavie, Bearsden and Clydebank, it has a population of 85,000 and a rateable valuation of over £5 million. If that does not create a viable unit for district authority purposes I do not know what does. The Secretary of State should look at his own constituency to see the size of some of the districts there and the resources which are thought sufficient to make them viable in that connection.

The whole argument about the size of the Glasgow District has not been confined to Bearsden, Milngavie and Clydebank. Other areas, including Bishopbriggs, were involved. I regret that my amendment was not selected by Mr. Speaker. I must accept that decision. However, I suggest that the House and the Committee have made a grave mistake by including these contiguous areas within the City of Glasgow District area.

The basic and fundamental mistake made by the Government and the Committee was to confuse the functions of regions with the functions of districts. While there is an excuse for bringing the contiguous areas around Glasgow into Glasgow for the purpose of regional government, either as an all-purpose authority or as part of the regional set up with the city of Glasgow at the centre, a different set of criteria ought to be applied for the district functions that are set out for local government.

I do not think that much of a case has been made against that view. Every time this matter is argued the Government say that it is so many miles from the centre of this or that place to the centre of Glasgow, that one does not know when one is passing from this or that place into Glasgow. The same is true of Paisley. One does not know when one is leaving Paisley and entering Glasgow, but Paisley has not been brought into the Glasgow Region. In my constituency, one does not know when one is leaving Stepps and going into Glasgow. That, too, on this basis should have been included in the Glasgow District.

There has not been a scientific approach to this matter, and I view with scepticism the fact that since the conclusion of the Committee proceedings the Secretary of State and the Scottish Office have been scratching their heads to try to find some solution to this prob-

lem. There has been no sign of contact with local authorites to try to find another way of solving the problem.

The House ought to take this opportunity to adhere to the decision of the Committee. If the House does that, I hope that the Government will go on and consider Rutherglen, Bishopbriggs, Eastwood, and other areas contiguous to Glasgow which have spoken about their desire to form districts of their own. I remind the Government of the views of a former Minister of State, Lord Hughes, who said during the debate in the other place that the Glasgow District as proposed was far too big and that these burghs ought to be allowed to form other districts.

I wish that when we think about local government reform we would sometimes take into account what the people want. The Government's thinking is pervaded by the attitude of what is the best way to plan things for the people. These and other burghs have gone to enormous trouble to put forward clear and lucid arguments, and we have been favoured with a good publication from the burghs involved in the Kilpatricks district setting out rationally and clearly their answers to the Government's case. That is what the people want. It makes sense, and we ought to take action now to do what they want.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 71, Noes 13.

Division No. 162.] AYES [2.57 a.m.
Atkins, Humphrey Green, Alan Money, Ernle
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Monro, Hector
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Montgomery, Fergus
Benyon, W. Haselhurst, Alan Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Biffen, John Hawkins, Paul Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.
Bowden, Andrew Hornby, Richard Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally
Braine, Sir Bernard Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)
Brewis, John Howe, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Percival, Ian
Brinton, Sir Tatton Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Raison, Timothy
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) James, David Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Jopling, Michael Shelton, William (Clapham)
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Kershaw, Anthony Shersby, Michael
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Simeons, Charles
Buck, Antony King, Tom (Bridgwater) Speed, Keith
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Knox, David Sproat, Iain
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G.(Moray & Nairn) Le Marchant, Spencer Sutcliffe, John
Carmichael, Neil Mackintosh, John P. Tebbit, Norman
Chapman, Sydney McLaren, Martin Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Clegg, Walter Maddan, Martin White, Roger (Gravesend)
Crouch, David Madel, David Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Mather, Carol Younger, Hn. George
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Mawby, Ray
Fortescue, Tim Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Fox, Marcus Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C.(Aberdeenshire, W) Mr. K. Clarke and Mr. H. Gray.
Gower, Raymond Moate, Roger
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Lambie, David White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Doig, Peter McCartney, Hugh
Eadie, Alex Machin, George TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Oswald, Thomas Mr. H. Ewing and Mr. J. Smith.
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Sillars, James
Hunter, Adam Steel, David

Question accordingly agreed to.

Amendment made: No. 37, in page 149, leave out lines 40 and 41 and insert: 'the electoral division of Kilsyth West; the polling district of Kilsyth East (Banton)'.—[Mr. Gordon Campbell.]

'Cunninghame: In the county of Ayr—the burghs of Ardrossan, Irvine, Kilwinning, Largs, Saltcoats, Stevenson; the districts of Irvine, Kilbirnie, West Kilbride; those parts of the designated area of Irvine New Town within the Ayr and Kilmarnock districts.
5 In the county of Bute—the burgh of Millport; the districts of Arran, Cumbrae.
10 Kilmarnock and Loudoun: In the county of Ayr—the burghs of Darvel, Galston, Kilmarnock, Newmilns and Greenholm, Stewarton; the district of Kilmarnock (except that part of the designated area of Irvine New Town within this district).
Kyle and Carrick: In the county of Ayr—the burghs of Ayr, Girvan, Maybole, Prestwick, Troon; the district of Ayr (except that part of the designated area of Irvine New Town within this district), Girvan, Maybole.
15 Cumnock and Doon Valley: In the county of Ayr—the burgh of Cumnock and Holmhead; the districts of Cumnock, Dalmellington.'.

The Government amendment divides Ayrshire into four districts as proposed in Committee by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) and the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars). My hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary undertook during the Committee debate to look further into the precise boundaries then proposed.

Our further examination of the position has revealed that while the boundaries proposed in the amendment create certain anomalies, particularly in relation to South Ayrshire in that some areas, including parts of Coylton and Dalrymple, which have a close community of interest with Ayr are included in the district centring in Cumnock, there are no completely satisfactory alternative administrative boundaries which can be used. The Government, in putting forward this four-district structure as acceptable in the circumstances, intend to refer the matter to the Boundary Commission, when it is set up, to recommend definitive boundaries.

The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) has put down amendments to the Government's amendment to transfer from the Kyle and Carrick district to the Cunninghame district the burgh of Troon and the adjoining landward

Mr. Gordon Campbell

I beg to move Amendment No. 39, in page 150, line 33, leave out from beginning to end of line 51 and insert:

area of Dundonald. Troon's connections are however quite clearly with Ayr rather than with Irvine. Troon Town Council indicated, following the publication of the Government's White Paper, that they were content to be in the district centring on Ayr.

I commend the amendment, which carries out what we undertook in Committee.

Mr. David Lambie (Central Ayrshire)

I beg to move, as an amendment to the Government's proposed amendment, (a), in line 2, after 'Stevenson', insert 'Troon'.

I have also tabled the following amendments:

  1. (b), in line 4, at end insert: 'that part of the parish of Dundonald within the district of Ayr'.
  2. (c), in line 12, leave out 'Troon'.
  3. (d) in line 13, after 'district', insert: 'and that part of the parish of Dundonald within this district'.
I am surprised to hear the Secretary of State for Scotland state that Troon looks more towards Ayr than towards Irvine. I should like to prove that the Secretary of State is wrong in that assumption. After the Secretary of State has heard my case for the amendment, I hope that he will reconsider his view and take the opportunity in another place to rectify this wrong.

The aim of the amendment is to remove Dundonald parish including the small burgh of Troon, from the new district of Kyle and Carrick to the district of Cunninghame. The Secretary of State has said that the people of Troon do not want to be withdrawn from their connections with Ayr. He has instanced the policy of Troon Town Council. When this policy was made Troon Town Council was equally divided. The people within the burgh of Troon and within the greater area of the parish of Dundonald who have made representations to me look more towards Irvine, especially the new Irvine, than they do towards Ayr and the old Ayr.

Dundonald parish, including Troon burgh, has been part of the parliamentary constituency of Central Ayrshire since its inception in 1951. With the connection with Central Ayrshire, people look more towards the centre of Central Ayrshire, the burgh of Irvine, than they do towards the county town of Ayr. Therefore, in a parliamentary sense, the parish of Dundonald, including Troon, is part of Central Ayrshire and not part of the parliamentary constituency of Ayr.

There is also a physical boundary between the parish of Dundonald and the burghs of Ayr and Prestwick, and that is part of Prestwick Airport and the associated green belt. The airport lies between the burghs of Troon and Prestwick and because of its position there is a green belt, an area that is zoned for no development. This means that if Troon is to develop, it must develop towards the north and the east. It cannot develop towards the south. It is because of this physical barrier of the green belt associated with Prestwick Airport that all the development in Troon and the parish of Dundonald has been directed towards Irvine and not towards Ayr.

The Under-Secretary of State for Development, Scottish Office, the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger), knows that this is correct. One could not expect his right hon. Friend to know that because he comes from the Highlands. But the Under-Secretary is his right-hand man and lives in the area. There- fore, I cannot accept the present argument of the Secretary of State.

The northern boundary of Dundonald adjoins the designated area of Irvine new town. The parish of Dundonald has been integrated into the planning and direction associated with the setting up of Irvine new town. About one-fifth of the parish is within the designated area of Irvine new town. This makes nonsense of the Secretary of State's statement that the whole outlook of Troon is towards Ayr. The southern fifth of the parish of Dundonald is within the green belt associated with Prestwick airport.

3.15 a.m.

The parish of Dundonald has always been closely linked with the parishes of Irvine and Dreghorn to the north. At one time the main educational centre for the whole parish was the church school at Dundonald. With the development of the burgh of Troon, educational facilities gradually moved towards the new centre of Troon.

The build up of the new town of Irvine means that in future, with the increase in population, the educational centre must move again nearer to the Dundonald-Dreghorn area and not, as the Secretary of State has suggested, towards the area of Prestwick and Ayr.

As regards education, Dundonald and Troon have a greater connection with the designated area of Irvine new town than with the educational areas of Prestwick and Ayr.

For a long time the main centre of industrial expansion in the parish of Dundonald was geared to the utilisation of the harbour at Troon. Lately there has been a gradual cutback in industry in the Troon area. Not long ago the railway workshops at Barassie were closed. The only major industrial activity in the area is at Ailsa shipyard.

We have seen a movement of industry towards the Irvine area. We have new firms coming to the parish of Dundonald and the area associated with it—Monsanto Textiles, the Swedish firm of Skefco, the new development of Beechams. The Irvine Development Corporation is building a new industrial estate at Meadowhead which will merge with the well-established industrial estate of Irvine.

Thus industry is moving towards the Irvine area and not towards Prestwick or Ayr. The movement of people looking for work is also towards Irvine new town.

Because of the tremendous build up of industry in Troon, which we shall see in future to a greater extent, we have seen a corresponding build up of housing. There can be no housing in the southern part because of the green belt associated with Prestwick Airport. The only development can be to the north. As the hon. Member for Ayr knows, we have had tremendous housing development, especially private housing development, in the area of Barassie to the northern part of Troon.

In 1965 the Scottish Development Department asked the Scottish Special Housing Association to build 176 houses at Dundonald, not for the people of Dundonald but to house incoming workers for the Irvine new town area. Even the Scottish Development Department recognised that Dundonald would be a residential area for people coming into Irvine area looking for work. Housing development associated with industrial development has been concentrated in the area from Barassie through Loans to Dundonald, in the area occupied by about three-fifths of the parish of Dundonald.

On the industrial and housing fronts the whole trend of the parish of Dundonald is now looking northwards and towards the designated area of Irvine new town. Because of the build up of industry and housing there has been a tremendous build up of community services in the area associated with Irvine new town. In addition the parish of Dundonald in its association with the Ayr district council has a direct representation on the various committees associated with Irvine new town. Elected representatives from Dundonald sit on various committees associated with the new town—with the new town consultative committee, with the recreation and leisure needs committee and with the housing and community development committee.

The Secretary of State has recognised that, as Dundonald has allowed Ayr district council to make a financial contribution to its committees which are solely associated with the development of the new town, the parish of Dundonald's future lies not with Prestwick or Ayr but with the development of Irvine new town.

I think that I have proved conclusively that the community of interest to which the Secretary of State has referred of Dundonald and Troon lie towards the new town. It has taken us about 45 years to change the system of local government. It was introduced in 1929. We are hoping to change it next year. Within 10 years the population of the urban area will be well over 100,000 and Irvine will dominate the parish of Dundonald. Therefore I urge the Secretary of State not to give an answer now but to look at the arguments and to take the opportunity in another place to support what our amendment proposes.

Mr. Sillars

I have taken a consistent view about the need for more districts in Ayrshire and I am particularly pleased to welcome the amendment, which is similar to one we tabled in Committee. It will be welcomed by the three authorities in the Cumnock and Doon Valley. I am satisfied with the idea of referring to the independent Boundary Commission the definition of the final boundaries between the landward and the coastal districts in Southern Ayrshire. I am sure that the Boundary Commission will be able to find a definition which leaves Coylton and Dalrymple within the Cumnock and Doon Valley district

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

It may be that in the 12 hours of discussion we have had on Report I have missed some significant statement by the Government. May I press for more information on the time-scale of matters that will be referred to the Boundary Commission? Is it hoped to have a report back in one year, two years, four years or how long? I do not think many matters will be referred to it which are of major significance. It would be helpful to local interests to have an assurance from the Secretary of State that when something is referred to the Commission they will be given a rough idea of the timescale. I do not expect a precise answer about what will be minor matters.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

We intend to refer a matter such at that to which the hon. Gentleman has just referred to the Boundary Commission as soon as it is set up. The commission would then have to decide how quickly it could deal with the problems. I hope that some of them can be dealt with straight away and that it can provide an answer quite soon. I am thinking of it being able to produce an answer within, say one year rather than five.

Mr. Ross

I want to express my appreciation of the Government's carrying out their pledge that in principle they supported the division into four districts. I hope that some of the points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) will be dealt with by the Boundary Commission.

I had quite an interest in the point raised by my hon. Friend, because the first parliamentary seat I contested was Ayr Burghs. Some people still refer to Ayr Burghs, but there is no Ayr Burghs. It was then the Burghs and only the Burghs, which leapfrogged over the landward area, starting at Ardrossan, Salt-coats, Irvine, Troon, Prestwick and Ayr. In my original Kilmarnock constituency I also took in virtually the parish of Dundonald.

It is interesting that when parliamentary changes were made by the Boundary Commission in 1950 it linked Irvine with Troon, and linked Dundonald with them. The Government must then take note of the long connection between Irvine and Troon, which will become closer in relation to the future of the Irvine new town.

We have a new town that has just started to grow. The Government can make their own calculations about its eventual size. I think that we shall eventually have well over 500,000, which is far too big for one district, in the area of North Ayrshire, as it originally was. The dominance of Irvine will be felt most in the surrounding area.

What my hon. Friend said is true. I can well remember the private housing developments being put forward round about Auchens Dundonald, to suit the Monsanto works, and there was another firm there—Skefco. Skefco clearly is in the new town area. If I remember rightly, the boundary is the railway line. The other firm is on the other side, but is considered to be within the new town industrial area. That being so, I hope that the Government will not close their eyes to the importance of the matter, not only for the present but for the future.

We are fixing these local government districts for a long time ahead. My hon. Friend is looking beyond politics, because many people consider that Troon is a dieheard Tory area. I do not think that very many people go from Troon to Ayr. They may go from Troon to Prestwick Airport. It will be found that many go into the northern area and to the Barassie workshops. The indications were that the developments just north of Troon represented the best hope of getting future developments. I hope sincerely that the Government will not turn down out of hand the plea of my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire and that they will consider it with some favour. I hope that they will think not just in terms of the present situation but the future.

There will be some considerable events in Troon at some time during July. I hope that those who did not quite make it in a certain championship in the United States will be trying for better luck in the British Open.

My main hope is that the Government, for all that they have done in respect of the four districts, will not close their mind to some realignment, along the lines suggested by my hon. Friend, of the future boundaries.

Amendment to the proposed amendment negatived.

Proposed amendment agreed to.

3.30 a.m.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

I beg to move Amendment No. 42, in page 151, line 36, at end insert: '3. In this Schedule references to existing polling districts shall mean those districts as bounded as at 16 May 1973.'. This is a technical amendment which is a necessary consequential on the use of polling districts in relation to the new boundaries at Auchtertool and Banknock. The alteration of polling district boundaries is affected by sheriff's deliverance, under the Representation of the People Act 1949, and does not require procedure similar to that involved in present local government boundary changes. As it is not inconceivable that further changes in those polling districts may take place before 1975 it is necessary to relate the new boundaries to the present polling districts.

Amendment agreed to.

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