HC Deb 18 June 1973 vol 858 cc163-202
Mr. Ross

I beg to move Amendment No. 283, in page 1, line 13, after 'as' insert: 'a metropolitan authority for the West as defined in subsection (4) below, and'

Mr. Speaker

With this amendment we are to take the following amendments, all, with the exception of the last, standing in the name of the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross):

'Part III
Metropolitan Authority Area by reference to existing administrative areas
Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority. The county of the city of Glasgow.
The county of Bute.
The county of Dunbarton.
The county of Lanark.
The county of Renfrew.
The county of Argyll (except the district of Ardnamurchan; the electoral divisions of Ballachulish and Kinlochleven).
The county of Ayr.
In the county of Stirling—the burgh of Kilsyth; Western No. 3 district: the electoral divisions of Kilsyth East, Kilsyth West.
Regional Authority Area by reference to existing administrative areas
Glasgow The county of the city of Glasgow.
In the county of Dunbarton—the burghs of Bearsden, Clydebank, Milngavie; the district of Old Kilpatrick (except the electoral divisions of Bowling, Dunbarton).
In the county of Lanark—the burghs of Bishopsbriggs, Rutherglen; in the Eighth district the electoral divisions of Bankhead, Cambuslang Central, Cambuslang North, Hallside, Rutherglen, and those parts of Cambuslang South and Carmunnock electoral divisions lying outwith the designated area of East Kilbride New Town; in the Ninth district, the electoral divisions of Baillieston, Garrowhill, Mount Vernon and Carmyle, Springboig.
Lanarkshire In the county of Dunbarton—the burghs of Cumbernauld, Kirkintilloch; the district of Kirkintilloch and Cumbernauld.
The county of Lanark (except the burghs of Bishopsbriggs, Rutherglen; in the Eighth district, the electoral divisions of Bankhead, Cambuslang Central, Cambuslang North, Hallside, Rutherglen, and those parts of Cambuslang South and Carmunnock electoral divisions lying outwith the designated area of East Kilbride New Town; in the Ninth district, the electoral divisions of Baillieston, Garrowhill, Mount Vernon and Carmyle, Springboig).
In the county of Renfrew—the electoral division of Eaglesham.
In the county of Stirling—the burgh of Kilsyth; the Western No. 3 district; the electoral divisions of Kilsyth East, Kilsyth West.
Argyll and Clyde The county of Argyll (except the district of Ardnamurchan; the electoral divisions of Ballachulish, Kinlochleven).
In the county of Dunbarton—the burghs of Dumbarton, Cove and Kilcreggan, Helensburgh; the districts of Helensburgh, Vale of Leven; the electoral divisions of Bowling, Dunbarton.
The county of Renfrew (except the First district).
Ayrshire and Arran The county of Ayr.
In the county of Bute—the burgh of Millport; the districts of Arran Cumbrae."

No. 287, in Schedule 2, page 2, line 14, insert: 'the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority and'.

No. 284, in page 1, line 21, at end insert: (4) The county of the city of Glasgow, the counties of Bute, Dunbarton, Lanark, Renfrew, Ayr, part of the county of Agyll and part of the county of Stirling, shall be a local government area known as the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority, and shall comprise the areas described in column two of Part III of the said Schedule, being administrative areas existing immediately before the passing of this Act.

No. 285, in Schedule 1, page 144, leave out lines 1 to 13.

No. 286, in page 144, line 24, at end insert:

No. 288, in page 2, line 18, at end insert 'the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority'.

No. 289, in page 2, line 20, after 'addition', insert: 'in the case of a region, islands area or district'.

No. 290, in Clause 4, page 3, line 36, at end insert: '5A. The first ordinary election of councillors for the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority shall take place in 1974, the second such election shall take place in 1977; thereafter such elections shall take place every fourth year'.

No. 291, in Clause 5, page 3, line 41, at beginning insert: 'The Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority and'.

No. 292, in Clause 23, page 12, line 5, after 'of' insert 'the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority'.

No. 293, in page 12, line 9, after second 'he' insert 'Authority'.

No. 294, in clause 24, page 13, line 19, at end insert: 'the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority'.

No. 295, in clause 28, page 15, line 23, after means' insert: 'the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority, or'.

No. 296, in clause 56, page 32, leave out lines 4 to 21.

No. 297, in Clause 87, page 46, line 21, after 'means', insert: 'the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority or'.

No. 298, in Clause 108, page 60, line 16, at end insert: '(a) in the case of the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority, as the metropolitan rate;'.

No. 299, in page 60, line 25, at end insert metropolitan,'.

No. 300, in page 60, line 38, after second 'the', insert 'metropolitan,'.

No. 301, in Clause 109, page 61, line 3, after second 'the', insert 'the metropolitan rate, the'.

No. 302, in page 61, line 10, after 'year', insert: 'the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority and'.

No. 303, in page 61, line 12, after 'their', insert 'area or'.

No. 304, in page 61, line 12, after 'the', insert 'metropolitan or'.

No. 305, in Clause 110, page 61, line 42, at end insert: '(4) The provisions of this section shall in relation to the metropolitan rate apply to regional councils and the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority as they apply to regional councils and each district which falls within their region'.

No. 306, in Clause 119, page 69, leave out lines 44 and 45 and insert: '(a) in the case of a contribution to the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority one-quarter and to the Regional Councils within the metropolitan area one-half, (b) in the case of a contribution to any other Regional Council, three-quarters'.

No. 307, in Clause 131, page 76, line 3, at end insert: 'in the case of the Strathclyde Metropolitan Area, the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority and in every other case'.

No. 308, in Clause 135, page 78, line 34, at end insert: 'in the case of the Strathclyde Metropolitan Area to the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority and in every other case'.

No. 309, in page 78, line 37, after 'applies', insert: 'in the case of the Strathclyde Metropolitan Area to the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority and in every other case'.

No. 310, in page 78, line 42, after 'transferred', insert: 'in the case of the Strathclyde Metropolitan Area to the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority and in every other case'.

No. 311, in Clause 141, page 80, line 23, after 'transferred', insert: 'in the case of the Strathclyde Metropolitan Area to the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority and in every other case'.

No. 312, in Clause 145, page 85, line 38, after 'shall', insert: 'in the case of the Strathclyde Metropolitan Area be the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority and in every other case'.

No. 313, in Clause 147, page 88, line 13, leave out 'Regional Council' and insert 'Metropolitan Authority'.

No. 314, in page 88, line 14, after 'for' insert: 'the Strathclyde Metropolitan Area including'.

No. 315, in page 88, line 19, leave out 'Regional Council' and insert 'Metropolitan Authority'.

No. 316, in Clause 156, page 93, line 23, before 'Regional', insert: 'The Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority and'.

No. 317, in page 93, line 27, after 'words', insert: 'The Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority and'.

No. 318, in Clause 170, in page 99, line 4, after 'means', insert: 'in the case of the Strathclyde Metropolitan Area, the Strathclyde Metropolitan Authority and in every other case'.

No. 319, in page 99, line 5, at end insert: 'and in the Strathclyde Metropolitan Area the region of the authority shall be construed accordingly;'.

No. 320, in Schedule 23, page 227, line 7, after 'authority', insert: 'or in the case of regional planning proposals within the Strathclyde Metropolitan Area, the appropriate local authority functions'.

No. 321, in page 227, line 11, after 'authority', insert: 'or the local authority, as the case may be,'.

No. 270, in Clause 159, page 94, line 13, at end insert: 'except in the Strathclyde region where it shall be a district council',

standing in the name of the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel).

Mr. Ross

When the Wheatley Commission reported, one staggering fact emerged, that it proposed seven regions for Scotland but one of them would contain half the population of Scotland. This was the region of the West, centring upon Glasgow. The region stretched from Oban down the coast to beyond Girvan, with the heart and centre at Glasgow, and to many of us a stumbling block to such reorganisation was the fact that such a big region could not possibly be termed "local government". We felt that there would be an element of remoteness in such a region, particularly when we learned that it would deal with personal services like education and social work.

As Secretary of State, I found it difficult to agree to this part of the Wheatley Report but when the present Government produced their version in this Bill, following their White Paper, we discovered that, big as it was, the west region was to be even bigger. The Government added a considerable part of Argyll, the islands of Cowal, Tiree, Mull, Islay, Jura and Colon-say and the whole area of Cowal and Kintyre, centred on Campbeltown.

But in the context of the balance of the rest of Scotland this region just is not on. More than half the population of Scotland is to be under one education authority.

The obvious step from that—and I am surprised that there has been no amendment to that effect—is to have one education authority for the whole of Scotland. The new set-up is contrary to the advice given to the Royal Commission by the Scottish Education Department, and I doubt whether there is a single civil servant in the Department who agrees with this structure.

I sought to find a way out. One of the ways considered was to retain what was claimed as the essential feature of the west region—strategic planning, covering the whole of the estuary from Glasgow north-west and north and from Glasgow west and south. I suggested in Committee that we might have one metropolitan authority on the basis of an ad hoc committee indirectly elected. Many of my colleagues disagreed with me. We had had enough of ad hoc committees.

Since then, in Committee, we have taken decisions which, whether we like it or not, ensure we shall have ad hoc bodies in Fife—to deal with the estuaries of the Tay and the Forth. Indeed, the Government themselves threw aside, in relation to the Highlands, the strong plea by Wheatley for one Highland area authority for dealing with economic and industrial development. If ever there was a time for that, because of North Sea oil developments, it is now. The Government did not have that. Instead of having one Highland region we have a truncated Highland region and three Islands areas—and there are now so many islands in the west region that I am beginning to wonder whether we should call that an islands region as well.

We have reached the serious situation that unless we do something about it we shall have this west region unwieldy in itself and unwieldy in relation to the rest of Scotland, an unbalanced pattern of regional authorities. So I am proposing an amendment to meet the points which my hon. Friends have put forward, and I am suggesting that we should have a third tier, and that that third tier should be an elected tier to retain the benefits of the principles of wider planning seen by the members of the Committee as well as Wheatley to be essential, to deal with strategic planning, questions of major industrial development, Glasgow overspill, transportation, roads, traffic management, ferry services, water, sewerage and flood prevention.

We could have the first election in May 1974, for one term of three years, and the next election in 1977.

The regional authorities would be four—Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Argyll and Clyde, taking in Renfrewshire, Dunbartonshire and Ayrshire and Arran. Their functions would be the remaining functions presently given to the region—education, social work, regional housing, fire, police, valuation, the countryside, tourism, and the other functions.

An aspect I want to stress is the fact—I hope that the Glasgow Herald will take note—that below that will be the districts already in the Bill. We do not wipe out the districts. What we effectively do is provide a new metropolitan authority which is elected, and divide between it and the four regions the regional functions, but give to the middle tier the personal services, particularly those of education and social work.

That would get rid of the stumbling block which I found when I was Secretary of State and which has not been removed. The Secretary of State himself, right up to the Committee said that he was searching for some way to get over the business of this monster authority which would dominate the whole of Scotland and would not give us really local government and in whose area there would inevitably be a feeling of remoteness, which would remain.

So that is my proposal. Within the boundary of this misnamed Strathclyde region it would provide for an authority discharging only those functions directly related to major strategic planning, and retaining the estuarial planning aspect. The four regional authorities would be discharging important services in respect of which the personal touch is absolutely essential. To try to deal with the educational problems from Tiree to Turnberry in an area which contains all the educational problems of Scotland—Lanarkshire, Glasgow, Renfrewshire, parts of Ayrshire—is to get—

It being Ten o'clock, further consideration of the Bill, as amended, stood adjourned.


That the Local Government (Scotland) Bill may be proceeded with at this day's Sitting, though opposed, until any hour.—[Mr. Clegg.]

Bill, as amended (in the Standing Committee), further considered.

Mr. Ross

To put all of these together into one region is to invite disaster.

The Secretary of State should know that the consultative committees that have been preparing for the transition are in deep trouble with the mass of detail involved. I do not think that any delay will help them. The difficulty arises in the almost impracticable task being laid upon an authority for such an area. I plead with the right hon. Gentleman to think again. The regional authorities dealing with these services are still large enough to meet the Wheatley criteria for regional authorities. They are compact and reasonable units of local government. The district authorities will continue with the functions already granted to them.

If we do not take such a step I am sure that not only will there be chaos in the transitional period but there will be chaos when this system starts. There will be disaster and a lack of confidence in the new set-up. This may become a touchstone for the future of this form of local government reorganisation.

Undoubtedly someone will say that we are interfering with the Wheatley principle of two tiers. When the Government made a change in respect of the Highlands, the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland they were departing from Wheatley just as they were departing from Wheatley when they made a change in respect of Fife. If it was argued then that Parliament, in making such changes, was keeping in touch with the real situation on the ground I do not think that we can ignore the fact that, even if it means a departure from Wheatley in respect of certain aspects and functions, by having an elected third tier we would be doing the same thing again. We shall be meeting a real problem facing us in local government. We are forced into this position by the size of the area.

People may be asking why we should have these areas for the new regions. They coincide with the area health boards which have been set up in Scotland. If it is all right for the organisation of health and medical services, it fits in with what was said in the Green Paper on the administration of the reorganisation of Scottish Health Services, accepted by this Government although published by the last Government. This spoke of promoting co-ordination between the board and local authorities and the advantages to be gained if the areas of the board and the local authorities were conterminous. The areas involved here will be conterminous. Bearing in mind all that depends upon this, not just the prestige of the Government and Parliament but the need to meet the real needs of local Government, particularly on those touchy subjects of education and social work, I hope that this amendment will be accepted.

Mr. Bruce Millan (Glasgow, Craigton)

I support briefly but strongly everything that my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) said. A major criticism of the Wheatley Commission's Report is that the organisation it provides subordinates everything to the planning considerations.

A number of objections have been raised to the Strathclyde region which Wheatley recommended and which the Government have incorporated in the Bill. There is the obvious one that, compared with other regions, Strathclyde is far too big. It will dominate the Scottish local authority structure, and there is considerable apprehension about that. There is apprehension about the difficulties of organisation within the region in view of its formidable size and its geographical range and disparity. There is the objection, to which I attach particular importance, that it will be extremely difficult effectively to organise education and social work as personal services in this area in a way which will satisfy the people that the authority understands their problems and is sensitive to the needs of local areas. From extensive inquiries of people who are involved in education and social services, I have found virtually no one in favour of a region the size of Strathclyde.

More generally, all the local authorities in the area with the exception of Glasgow are against the Strathclyde re- gion. People with widely differing political opinions but with vast experience of local Government administration are virtually united in opposition to the proposed Strathclyde region. We cannot set that opinion aside as being of no special importance.

All that the Government have done to meet these fears has been to provide that in the Strathclyde region, and only in the Strathclyde region, the regional authority shall produce a scheme of education and social work administration for the approval of the Secretary of State. The fact that the Government have inserted that provision in the Bill is sufficient demonstration that they recognise that there will be difficult problems in education and social work if Strathclyde stands as it is at present.

This provision is temporary. If the Bill goes through as it stands and the provision remainds, there will be in the West of Scotland a scheme of educational administration which virtually repeats the present educational administration pattern but which will be under the overriding authority of Strathclyde regional headquarters. I am sure that will be an ineffective and unsatisfactory form of educational administration.

What makes the Government's proposals even more unsatisfactory is that it is in the West of Scotland that the major educational problems, particularly in teacher supply, arise. It is also the area which contains the authorities with the most severe social problems and the greatest difficulties in organising social work. There is a good deal of dissatisfaction with the organisation of social work in Glasgow arising from the massive size of the problem and the difficulty of attracting suitable staff. In the area that has these problem authorities—I am not being critical of the authorities—it is proposed to put all the authorities together and to create an enormous authority which will have massive and in some respects insurmountable problems to overcome. There is an alternative solution, and it is the one provided in these amendments.

I have always supported the three-tier solution for the West of Scotland. That was my view when I was at the Scottish Office, and it has not changed. I have always been in favour of the three-tier arrangement proposed in the amendments.

The change is that the other authorities in the West of Scotland, again with the exception of Glasgow, now favour the solution in the amendments. At one time the authorities in the West wanted a rather different solution. The proposals which they put forward, in one case abolishing the present district councils, I found unsatisfactory. But as my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock said, the solution that we have now includes the district councils as they are at present with the full range of district functions. It provides for the overall strategic planning and associated services to be dealt with in the Strathclyde area as a whole through the metropolitan authority. But it has the tremendous advantage of giving the whole range of functions, including these very important services of education and social work, to four regional authorities which fit neatly into the pattern of health board administration and by themselves are a solution designed to perform the functions which the amendments allocate to them.

In Committee there were objections that the metropolitan authority was to be only indirectly elected. At the time I felt that if a system had been proposed in Committee like the present one involving three sets of elections, that would have been the objection which a certain number of members of the Committee would have fastened on to as being the provision which damaged irretrievably the system being put forward. As it turned out, it was the fact of indirect election which was seized upon by the opponents of the scheme. That again is dealt with in this series of amendments.

As for the necessity for three elections, it is an insult to the intelligence of the Scottish electorate to suggest that it would be impossible to operate such a system involving three elections. That is absurd.

The system before us now is the one that I have supported all along. It meets all the major objectives of Wheatley in terms of planning and the rest. It gives a better solution to this very important area of the West of Scotland. I hope even at this late stage that the Government will accept it.

Mr. Edward Taylor

The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) and his hon. Friends obviously have put a great deal of thought into their very interesting proposal, and there is no doubt that what they suggest has the support of a large number of people in the west of Scotland. However, as the hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) said, this view is not generally shared by the Glasgow authority, although even in the Glasgow Town Council a number of councillors think that what is proposed is a good idea.

I wish to draw attention to two special difficulties involved in a three-tier arrangement which have not been fully dealt with in the persuasive arguments that we have heard from the Opposition. The first is that obviously it would be a complicated arrangement. However, what concerns me most is the situation in the metropolitan authority in terms of planning staff and transport staff, and what rights it will have to demand information from the second-tier authority, the regional authority.

In making arrangements for what is loosely termed "strategic planning", it is clear that the metropolitan authority will have to have at its fingertips all the information about the general planning to be conducted by the various regional authorities. It might find that the attitude of Glasgow and Lanark and of Argyll and Clyde completely different. A very dangerous situation would arise if we gave the planning functions to the regional authorities, Glasgow and Lanarkshire, only to find the metropolitan authority demanding a great deal of complicated and detailed information on matters about which it required information in order to reach its various decisions. That could involve a grave clash in the arrangements of an authority.

10.15 p.m.

For example, what does the regional director of planning in Glasgow do if his authority is demanding a great deal of information urgently for a decision that it has to take and he has instructions or requests coming from the metropolitan authority wanting a great deal of information for strategic planning decisions that it has to take? A similar position could arise with transport planning, future housing developments, and so on.

The alternative is to have a highly qualified planning staff in both the metropolitan and the regional authorities. If we are to have this arrangement and we find that the staff in the various regional authorities and the conveners thereof do not agree, then, unless we have perfect men working in all the various authorities who are prepared to co-operate all the time for the common good, we could have a series of running battles upon which the Secretary of State would be called to adjudicate.

Although this is obviously a carefully thought out scheme which has great attractions, particularly regarding the proposed Glasgow regional authority, my fear is that the functions proposed to be allocated to the regional authority would create a non-stop conflict in which the Secretary of State would have to act as a constant referee.

Mr. James Sillars (South Ayrshire)

I shall not attempt to reply to some of those allegedly major points made by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor) because they were administrative trivia. He has sought desperately for some means to justify his stand against these amendments. If that is the best that he can come up with, I suggest he had better go away and, instead of writing that article on Friday night, do some thinking about the subject.

We are discussing plans for the reorganisation of local government operated and manned by people with common sense and good will on behalf of people in the Strathcylde area. Therefore, any information required by any tier of government, whether it be up or down the way, would obviously be readily forthcoming from whichever level the request was made.

There has been much debate over many years in Scotland as a whole, and certainly in the west of Scotland in particular, about the advisability of a Strathclyde region as defined by the Government or, indeed, by Wheatley. There are still exceptions. Some people have remained true to the Wheatley principles, and I concede immediately that others are still dazzled by the concept of strategic planning. However, with those two exceptions, most people agree that it is indisputable that Strathclyde is far too large and will be far too remote from the people when we examine the situation within the context of Scotland.

There is almost universal agreement—again with those two exceptions—that, because of the size of Strathclyde compared with other authorities, Scottish local government is now seriously out of balance.

The amendments are designed to improve the situation within the strictures of the Report stage of the Bill. Neither my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) nor I suggest that the amendments are absolutely 100 per cent. ideal, but they are the best alternative that we can offer to the scheme laid down by the Government, given that we are on Report.

In Committee strong arguments were advanced against the amendment that I moved for a three-tier basis because of the non-elected aspect of the top tier. However, there was wide agreement with the principle of a three-tier system as a solution to the Strathclyde situation.

The amendments seek to allocate to an elected top tier those functions which can be taken out of the personal services of local government and discharged by people who are not subject to the enormous pressures of those representing constituents on the personal services, such as social work and education.

The second tier as devised by the amendments makes them of much more reasonable size for the purpose of operating such services as social work, education, the police and the fire service. Nothing since the completion of the Committee stage of the Bill has made me alter my opinion that an authority which embraces half the police force of Scotland is far too large and too dangerous in our society.

The districts in the Strathclyde region are not touched by the amendments. My right hon. Friend asked the Glasgow Herald to take note of that. It may be within the knowledge of every hon. Member present that on the day after our amendments were tabled the Glasgow Herald published a leader attacking them, and by doing so misinformed the paper's readers. It may not be within the knowledge of the House that a good friend of mine, Mr. William Paterson, the county convener of Ayrshire, attempted by a letter to correct what the Glasgow Herald had said but, in its traditional way and in keeping with the reputation of that paper, the letter failed to appear in its columns. That was a piece of sharp practice on the part of the Glasgow Herald which I hope will not be repeated.

With the two exceptions that I mentioned, I do not think that anyone can object to the amendments on the basis that they go against the principles of Wheatley. The Bill, as the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Gray) knows, is not Wheatley, and never has been. There is to be a Border authority, which was not suggested by Wheatley. There is to be Argyll in the west, which again is not Wheatley. There are to be all-purpose authorities in the islands, which again were not suggested by Wheatley. We shall need joint boards of some description to be provided by statute or agreement—perhaps informal agreement—between Fife and Tayside, and Fife and the Forth region—again a departure from Wheatley. The Government have provided river purification boards, which represents yet another departure from Wheatley.

The amendments are seeking to give strategic and other aspects of planning their full weight and importance in Scottish local government. They are trying to do that—no more and no less—but they do not make the fundamental error which the Government have made so far of subordinating every other service to the planning functions of local government. Everything in its place has a place, and the amendments, which seek to put everything in their place, given the problems that we face on Report, ought to command the support of the House.

Mr. Grimond

The proposed creation of a large Strathclyde area is clearly of importance to every Scottish Member and to everyone in Scotland. I can see that there are certain arguments for it, but I should have thought that they were based largely on the need for planning certain aspects of the economy. Where I differ from the Government's approach is that it seems to be putting the cart before the horse to consider how this type of planning will be carried out before we know what Kilbrandon will say and what the Government will say about its report.

It may be that much of the planning for which it is considered necessary to have a large authority in the west of Scotland will ultimately prove to be the kind of function that can be done by a Scottish Government. To consider this aspect of local government in detail before we know what Kilbrandon will say, or what the Government's views will be on it, is to do things the wrong way round.

I am not one of those who think that all the regions, districts and island areas in Scotland must be of about the same pattern or the same size—far from it—but I feel that the creation of this large authority will lead to difficulties.

I want to refer particularly to Amendment No. 270, in my name and the names of my hon. Friends, which seeks to place responsibility for social work on the districts. The Government may accept the amendments in the name of the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross)—I do not intend to go into that—but we are to some extent dealing with the same difficulty. There may also be a similar amendment to deal with education, but I have put down this amendment about social work and it is to that that I wish principally to speak.

Whatever else may be said, this is certainly a field for which the Strathclyde area will be much too big. As has been said, the existing social work services deal largely with individuals. It is very important that they should be felt to be conducted within the ambit of the individual's life by people to whom the individual can have ready access. The Secretary of State may say that that can all be worked out under the schemes produced by the different authorities, but it seems a laborious process to create a difficulty and then to try to solve it.

As it stands, the Bill gives the impression that social work, in the Government's eyes, can be carried on within the whole population of the west of Scotland. So far as case work goes, that is a misconception, and the responsibility should be given to districts.

But an even stronger argument is that social work will become more and more concerned with the community. It will be preventive by improving the whole standards of the community and not simply by dealing with case work after individuals have fallen into trouble through one reason or another. For this purpose, it must be centred on the community.

Anyone in Scotland knows that there are very strong communities in the west of Scotland. There are strong communities under the very shadow of Glasgow. I am amazed at how Paisley and Greenock have maintained their personality and community feeling although the area will soon be built up more or less all down the Clyde. In areas further out, the feeling is even stronger.

It is a wholly misconceived view of social work to think that it should be taken out of the natural community. On the contrary, its only hope of success is to be centred in the natural community. Again, if the Secretary of State says that that is not his intention and that, under the schemes drawn up, the communities will be able to have powers devolved to them, I would still ask why it is necessary to give the impression in the Bill that he believes in a further centralisation of community work, the withdrawal of the main decisions within the community and the disruption of a great deal of good work that is going on in certain parts of Scotland.

Therefore, while there are certainly difficulties about the creation of this huge region in general, what I particularly want to say to the Secretary of State—perhaps I have misunderstood something in the Bill and this will not happen—is that it seems a very mistaken step to remove the social work, which is so concerned with the community, from the very communities on which it depends. I should be grateful if he could explain whether that will happen and, if so, what the reasons are for bringing it about.

Mr. Clark Hutchison

I have a great deal of sympathy for what the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) is trying to do. Strathclyde is obviously too big a region. I have always said so and I still say so. If this proposal goes through, I have not the slightest doubt that within 10 years we shall have to alter the arrangement.

I may be asked what my solution is. It is this: do not have this Bill at all. I have yet to find anyone who really wants it; I must put that on record. But if we have to have it, the solution is to leave Glasgow as it is—an all-purpose authority.

10.30 p.m.

Mr. Mackintosh

I have some sympathy with the speech of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Michael Clark Hutchison). The more I look at the Bill and the more I hear about it from the Government Front Bench, the less happy I am about the whole thing. The basic principles on which the Bill is based are now a total botch due to the Government's weakness, and I have much doubt whether the Bill is worth having at all.

The interesting point is that there was a long debate in Committee about the size of the western region, which took quite a number of sittings. I wonder why it has been re-raised on Report. Apart from the skill of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) in wording the amendment, the basic reason why it has been re-raised is the Government's wetness in giving way on the question of Fife. By giving way on the principle that the Wheatley Report enunciated, of city regions, which would have divided Fife, by simply accepting the argument that Fife had a big enough population to fit into the various numerical requirements that Wheatley set out, the Government re-opened the whole question of the west of Scotland. If one is not to have city regions in the east, why have them in the west? Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and Ayrshire all have enough people to fulfil the numerical requirement. If one takes the view of local government that the present Government took in relation to England, that one does not want a city region basis but chunks of population to do the services at an economical rate, there is no case for the Strathclyde region. They have led to the re-opening of this question by allowing their defeat in Committee on Fife to become a fixed situation in the Bill. I gather that the Government do not intend to undo this or to re-open the matter at this stage.

The Bill is based on no principle at all. It is not based on the Wheatley city region principle or the principle to which the Government have turned in England, of tight metropolitan units, with amalgamated counties leading to sufficient population outside the metropolitan units at least to give a smaller number of units of local government.

Mr. John Smith

Perhaps my hon. Friend would explain how the city region was exemplified in the Highland region, the South-West region and the Central region of Scotland.

Mr. Mackintosh

I should be glad to do that. My hon. Friend has read Wheatley and he knows the argument perfectly clearly. It was not exemplified. The point was that the Government took this as the most desirable form of region, because they stressed the importance, above all, of the strategic planning function, on which the transport system, economic development, land-use planning, overspill and the overall pattern of distribution of major functions within the area were based. They said that this was best organised on a city region basis.

The city region basis fitted five areas, two of them absolutely clearly: Dundee and the hinterland, and Aberdeen and the hinterland. Edinburgh and the Forth region and Glasgow and the Clyde region fitted into the situation. They may have sub-divided Central Scotland but they based it on the Grangemouth-Falkirk complex, saying that this provided an adequate centre. The Highlands did not fit into this and cannot be made to do so.

The Government said that the economic problem of Highland development in strategic planning terms gave the Highlands sufficient cohesion to keep it as a unit rather than to attempt to fit it into one of the patterns into which it did not fit. If one were conducting this principle properly, and pushing it furthest on the question of the Borders, one would have a Carlisle and Solway region and, at the other end, a region including Berwick-upon-Tweed; but it is too radical for the present Government or the previous Government to look across the Border for their organisation.

The original Wheatley proposals went as far as could be gone in pushing the strategic city region concept for Scotland. It was on this that this huge area of Western Scotland was based. I accept that this is a very big area. This is not, however, a disqualification in local government terms, if one stuck to the principle of the Wheatley Report. After all, the Opposition have taken pride, since the years of Herbert Morrison, in the Greater London Council. Even now the Inner London Education Authority is a bigger education authority and is running more in the way of education than is being proposed for the Greater Glasgow area.

Mr. Gregor Mackenzie

My hon. Friend will recollect that the ILEA does not cover an area quite so diverse as Argyll and South Lanarkshire.

Mr. Mackintosh

I am not defending the inclusion of Argyll, to which we shall come later. This was not proposed in the Wheatley Report. On the other hand, it covers a larger area in numerical terms. There is no argument, certainly taking the English example, why one cannot have a very large population covered by one authority provided there is reasonable decentralisation of administration.

The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) pointed out the importance of social communities for social work. This is true. There are at present amalgamated social work units which devolve to the natural community. My constituency is one where this happens with the organisation of social work.

It is arguable strongly that the number of facilities which must be provided in terms of institutions requires a larger catchment area than the communities in which one operates the casework and the casework load. All this can be fitted well into such an area.

I accept the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock, that once the Government abandoned the Wheatley principle inasmuch as it can be applied to Scotland and accepted in Fife, due to political pressure and because of what happened in Committee, the argument that when there are 300,000 people together in a group we can have a local government unit, it opened the way to claims from places in the west of Scotland with traditional local government units to the effect "If it is all right for Fife, why is it not all right for all the areas around Scotland?" That is the principle on which the English Local Government Act has been based.

The Government must decide whether they will yield to whoever pushes on this view or whether they have a sensible concept of local government left. If they have that, I have not heard it tonight.

Mr. John Smith

My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) has misunderstood the nature of the amendment, which he attacked. The amendment proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) proposes that there should be a metropolitan authority not for the city of Glasgow but for the whole of the Strathclyde region. The amendment proposes that, although there may be a case—I am not convinced of it—for the strategic economic planning of the area described in the Bill as Strathclyde, there is not a case for every other service being subordinate to planning. One means by this that the whole concept of Strathclyde was created because of strategic economic planning.

I do not believe that the new local authorities will be allowed to have the power for strategic economic planning that the Government envisage or that Wheatley thought might be possible, because the Secretary of State will intervene and exercise his power as the economic overlord of Scotland whenever he thinks necessary. Do we seriously imagine that the future of Hunterston, for example, will be decided by the Strathclyde authority? Of course it will not be. It will be decided by the Cabinet and by the Secretary of State as a member of the Cabinet implementing governmental policy. [Interruption.] I am being optimistic. I am taking it as a hypothetical example.

We are setting up an authority geared to do a job which it will not be allowed to do. We are sacrificing our personal services on an altar which is not worth the sacrifice, because there will not be room for manoeuvre for these local authorities because of the position of the central Government.

My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian has the curious notion that the only reason the amendment has been tabled is a certain decision taken about Fife. My hon. Friend seems to think that just because a certain decision was taken about Fife that invalidates the whole Wheatley concept. It does not. That stands or falls on its merits.

The amendment was tabled in an attempt to solve the problem of government in the west of Scotland. It has little to do with Fife. I do not think there is any magic in sitting down one night and saying "We will have city regions in Scotland". I did not hear one justification from my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian for the concept of city regions. He kept saying "It is planning. There is something to be said for a city region". Why is it good for planning to have a city region? Of course, those of us who have constituencies in the west of Scotland and try to envisage how the educational problems and the social work problems are going to be solved are horrified at the thought of the Strathclyde region. There will be administrative decentralisation. Much of what happens in educational matters will continue as at present. There will be sub-directors of education for areas of the west of Scotland under a supremo who will have so many schools under him that he will not know what they are called. There will be more teachers in the Strathclyde region than there are pupils in some of the other regions of Scotland. It will be unmanageable.

I am worried that there will be administrative decentralisation but no bureaucratic decentralisation to follow it. Democracy will be at the centre. There will be a super committee in charge of the region dealing with half of Scotland, and the administration is decentralised. I suspect that the officials who are operating at the decentralised level will not be subject to proper democratic scrutiny and control because the administration unit will not match the unit of democratic control. There has been too little thought about democracy in the Bill.

We have to get more than just a good system of planning and administration. We have to make it consistent with democracy in which people in localities can make their views felt in the centres of power. It is because these problems have not been solved by the Government's proposals that we should support the amendment. The amendment was not acceptable in Committee, but improvements have since been made to it. I agree with the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison) that we have not solved the problem of the west of Scotland. But the tragedy is that within a short time we shall have to try to solve it again. In the meantime there will be undemocratic administration in the region.

Mr. Douglas

I give an undertaking during this stage of the Bill that this is the first time that I have spoken and that it will also be the last. My reason for being reticent on the other parts of the Bill is simply that I believe that parts of it have a certain durability, and my reason for distaste with the west of Scotland, if not with the whole, is that the region of Strathclyde lacks even the aura of durability.

Although reform of local government in the past in Scotland has lasted for about 50 years I do not believe that the reform in the west of Scotland will last 10 years. In a short period the whole fabric of local government, if it can be called local government, in the Strathclyde region will deteriorate, if not disintegrate, and we shall have to try to patch up the system. I hope that because of what happens in the west of Scotland we shall not feel compelled to interfere in and reform the whole of local government in Scotland in five or 10 years' time.

Many hon. Members have referred to the planning function. As the Minister for Transport Industries said on Friday, one of the things we have to remember about planners is that they believe that they have a degree of immortality which, if it does not make them completely immortal, gives them the impression that they are going to have at least three times the allotted lifespan of normal individuals. Other people have to live with the planning decisions. Everything else in the west of Scotland has to be squeezed into a space in a jigsaw that the planners have carved out. I do not see this.

10.45 p.m.

Under the 1972 Act everything of major importance will be called in by the Secretary of State. He will have to make a decision on overall stragetic planning for Scotland. I do not see how it will be possible to take a decision of major importance, such as the siting of an oil refinery in the West of Scotland, that will not be called in by the Secretary of State. I cannot understand why we must distort the other important functions of local government to fit the idea of strategic planning.

If there was a case for strategic planning in the west of Scotland in 1969, before the massive and welcome discoveries of oil, there is an equal, if not greater, case for strategic planning in the east of Scotland. When we wind up with two or three regions, we should take the logical step and say that in the 1970s, moving into the 1980s, strategic planning should be the function of the Secretary of State, in legal as well as practical terms.

Although it was published in 1969, the Wheatley Report has dated very quickly. I do think we can redress the balance in the Bill. I do not think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) would claim that his skilfully drafted amendment is perfect, but it is certainly within the compass of the Bill, and gives us an opportunity to try to avoid inflicting on the people of the west of Scotland a form of local government that will not meet their distinct local needs. It will not meet the educational needs. We cannot have an education authority embracing half of Scotland's population, even though it is said that the responsibility will somehow be devolved. A similar argument applies to important aspects of social work.

Perhaps more important, the Wheatley doctrine having been breached, the people of the west of Scotland will not he content to see that the only part of Scotland that remains inviolate is Fife, when it has to go through an administrative uproar.

I should like briefly to say something about my own constituency, because I do not intend to speak again in the debate. The Wheatley estuarial argument apparently applies for the whole of Scotland. Because of the Government's acceptance of that argument, with which I broadly agree, Kincardine is taken out of the central region and is in Fife. It is a small town closely allied to the central region, and it was in that region. Although there might be difficulties, I should like the Secretary of State to discuss with the local authorities involved whether the estuarial argument, the principle of Wheatley, can at least stretch across the Kincardine Bridge from one part of my constituency into the region of Fife.

We have an opportunity in the amendment partially to adjust the balance. It will not be a complete adjustment. If we do not take the opportunity, the House will certainly regret it. More important, the people of the west of Scotland will have to put up with a bad decision, made because the Government have proved inflexible and have been closely thirlled to concepts of strategic and economic planning which might meet a desk survey but do not meet the needs of local democracy.

Mr. Lambie

I support the amendment. Further, I am greatly in agreement with the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison). The Bill should be thrown out. I am glad to find some support. I have been saying for four and a half years that the concept of local government reform based on the principle of greater areas is wrong. During the last stages of the reorganisation proposals more and more people are beginning to agree that such reform is wrong. It is becoming understood that the idea that there was something fundamentally wrong with local government in Scotland was a suggestion put forward by people who wanted to destroy local democracy and local government in Scotland.

I support Amendment No. 283 because at this stage it is the best possible amendment with which to try to gain something from the ideas of Wheatley and from the ideas put forward in the White Paper of February of last year—namely, reform of local government in Scotland. In expressing my support I shall approach the argument from a different line. Until now we have heard arguments on the basis that personal local government services will be too far away from the customers and that by removing such services—for example, education and social work—from those who would be using them we shall be denying them a fundamental principle of democracy.

I shall turn the argument round to another argument that goes through the whole of the Wheatley Report and the White Paper to which I have referred. Most of the people in the Labour Party supported the principles contained within the Wheatley Report on the basis of estuarial planning. They did so on the assumption that when the bigger areas were established more financial power would be given to those areas by central Government.

Throughout the whole of the Wheatley Report, in spite of the fact that by the terms of its remit it was not allowed to discuss finance, the suggestion appears that if we are prepared to accept larger local government areas there would be a decentralisation of national government finance. The Wheatley Report states: We cannot overlook the crucial relevance to our own recommendations of seeing a proper financial system for local government. I could accept the Strathclyde region, with all its imperfections, from a democratic point of view if Strathclyde were given complete control of its finances, if it were given the right to raise its own taxation and to spend its money in the way that it thought best on various personal services such as education and social work.

The Government conditioned local authority representatives. In that respect I have a tremendous criticism of local councillors. They were conned by Wheatley and the Government. They were told that they would receive financial control. They were prepared to give up a lot of the democratic principles which have always been part of Scottish local government to obtain greater financial control.

In February 1971 the Government issued their White Paper, paragraph 67 of which said: The Government accept … that the proposals for local government reorganisation are incomplete without a thorough re-examination of local government finance. Here we are discussing the final stages of local government reorganisation, and we have not yet had, as the Government promised in 1971, a further re-examination of local government finances. Lord Wheatley in his maiden speech in another place said: If you are not prepared to face up to the consequences on finance and structure, then you have no right to seek the counterpart"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 23rd March 1971 Vol. 316, c. 835.] At that stage he was telling the Government that they had to consider local government finance as well as local gov- ernment reorganisation and structure. We have not had any discussion on local government finance. Yet we are to have the principles of Wheatley forced on us.

A number of hon. and right hon. Members have made the point that the Government have departed from Wheatley in the original Bill and in the Bill as it stands now. They have departed from Wheatley completely on structure and have not considered the Wheatley recommendations on local government finance. Yet they still seek to ram this down the throats of the people of the west of Scotland. They are still to have Strathclyde. A lot of my hon. Friends say that this is Wheatley, it is Labour Party policy and it must be supported. They say we shall be going against party policy in supporting the amendment moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). They have not yet grasped that we are not dealing with Wheatley.

Until we have a reorganisation of local government finance we cannot say that we can reorganise the local government structure. My hon. Friends who have taken this view are wrong and should reconsider their former arguments and instead put forward arguments in support of the idea of local government finance reorganisation. If the Government do not accede to these arguments my hon. Friends have no right to support the Government on Strathclyde. They must support the amendment. I am against the concept of Strathclyde. I do not like the name. It reminds me of too many lords. I would rather call it the West of Scotland because that is what it is. It is the centre of Scotland.

The burgh of Saltcoats will declare UDI if these proposals go through. It is the only way we shall get control of our local finances and make a better job of it than my hon. Friends from Glasgow have done. I would be prepared to support this amendment, not only on financial but on democratic grounds. We cannot have more than half the people of Scotland in a local government area and call it local government. I would accent the principle, if the Government were to put it forward, of considering the whole of Scotland a local government area.

I would be in agreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) on this. It would be better to have Scotland as a local government area than to have half of Scotland as a local government area and the rest of the country divided into minor regions. The Secretary of State is being unfair to Strathclyde by putting forward these proposals.

11.0 p.m.

Compare the number of councillors per head of the electorate in this West Central region of Scotland with the number of councillors per head of the electorate in the rest of Scotland and what do we find? In my own area in Ayrshire we shall have eight regional councillors; that is, one regional councillor to represent 18,000 voters. That is not local democracy. Compare that with what is to happen in the Secretary of State's constituency. Nairn will have two regional councillors; that is, one regional councillor to represent 3,000 electors. That is in a Tory area. In a Tory area only 3,000 voters are needed to elect one councillor; in a Labour area 18,000 voters are needed to get one councillor. Talk of gerrymandering in Northern Ireland! We are gerrymandering now with the Government's proposals for local government in Scotland.

The time is now opportune to throw out the principles contained in this Bill. As a start we can support my right hon. Friend's amendments, however imperfect they may be.

Mr. Russell Johnston

There are a great many strands in these arguments, many of which are contradictory. I would remind the House that the Wheatley Commission reached the conclusion that there should be a west region, to give the description ascribed to it by the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie). That conclusion was reached only gradually; it was not dreamed up overnight, as the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North (Mr. John Smith) was saying it was. It was a conclusion towards which we were pushed inevitably.

We were asked to try to reform local government. The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire said there cannot be local government in the country if one of the local authorities is half of Scotland; that then government would no longer be local and would be too impersonal. That may be. There are two factors; one is popu- lation, the other is geography. If we are talking in this instance of half Scotland we are talking of population. We are also talking of reform, not only for 10 years but for possibly 40 years or 50 years. In the changing economic situation there may be a considerable shift in population distribution. It is not easy to draw the lines, and that is one point to remember in the first place.

Secondly, to underline that, we shall undoubtedly be dealing with a fast-changing situation not only economically but in terms of all the services. What is shied away from now may be perfectly acceptable in 10 or even five years' time.

I am not making a political point when I say I find it slightly amusing that on the Labour benches there should be so much stickiness about planners. I am not looking particularly at the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North, who appears bemused, but there have been attacks on the planners. The hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Douglas) launched himself into one with some enthusiasm.

What is planning? What is it all about? It is about a lot of things hon. Members of the Labour Party believe in. It is about a lot of things hon. Members on both sides of the House accept. It is about the rational working out of resources, the rational integration of the various functions and services to improve the quality of life. That is what it is about.

Mr. John Smith

Before the hon. Member launches himself too far on this I would like him to be clear about the nature of my objection. I said I do not believe that the central Government would surrender the planning powers of central Government to local government. I would go further: I do not think they ought to, either.

Mr. Johnston

I will deal with that in a moment. It relates to what the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire said, which was a fair point.

I do not think that the attack on the Wheatley concept because it gives pre-eminence to planning is justifiable. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) said that we ought at least to be talking about a local government set of services manned by people of good sense and good will. I think that all these rather scarey things which people keep saying about bureaucrats and planners with no sensitivity or understanding or knowledge of local conditions contain a considerable amount of exaggeration and are not a fair reflection of the quality of the work we get from officials in local government and, indeed, also in central Government social services, operating on a much bigger scale.

Mr. Sillars

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that it is not unfair to say that people of good will can make mistakes because of the bureaucratic nature of the machinery in which they find themselves? Does not he quite frequently join me in criticising civil servants for not discharging their functions properly outwith the South-East area of the United Kingdom? In doing so, we do not cast reflections on their good will or lack of good will.

Mr. Johnston

I concede that that is a fair point, but the example the hon. Gentleman quoted was on a larger scale. However, I sustain the argument that, in the context of Strathclyde, officials responsible for planning as opposed to the elected representatives are not dealing, in my opinion, with an impossibly large populated area.

The hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North, said that the central Government would not yield up any of their financial resources. Throughout the Wheatley discussions, we asked, "What is local government?" Presumably, in the simplest definition, it is not central Government. If we produce a structure which gives control over local areas rather than to the centre, we are retaining local government rather than central Government.

Despite what the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire has said, there is no doubt that local government had been increasingly subject to so much detailed supervision from the centre that it had ceased to be the sort of local control people often talked about.

Mr. Alex Eadie (Midlothian)

It will have more central control now.

Mr. Johnston

It should have more local control as opposed to central control.

Mr. Eadie

I wish the hon. Gentleman had read some of the debates which took place in Committee, when we went over all these arguments. Main pillar after main pillar of the Wheatley Report has collapsed. This Bill is a dream for the central Government in controlling local government, because it makes it so much easier.

Mr. Johnston

There is a great deal of strength in what the hon. Gentleman says. The key to independence is financial control. Nevertheless, I wish to see a consistent structure based on certain principles. I hope that in future, if not immediately, the financial balance can be altered.

Mr. Eadie

indicated dissent.

Mr. Johnston

The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. He may be right and I may be over-optimistic.

The three functions about which worries have been expressed are education, social work and housing. My recollection is that no compelling evidence was presented to the Wheatley Commission that there was a maximum population in terms of the size of the education authority. Views and opinions were given, and the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) said that the Scottish Education Department had expressed an opinion to that effect, but it was by no means the general opinion of educationists. Nor was any concrete evidence presented upon which a view could be based. That applied to many functions. People said that they thought x million or x thousand was the proper population, but they could not say why. It was a rough "guesstimate".

The Seebohm Committee laboured for three years considering social work in England and Wales. I accept the Seebohm contention that a proper service to the family cannot be provided unless responsibility for social work, housing and education lies with the same authority. The Wheatley argument for effective administrative devolution of social work has not been adequately met, and the concern expressed by hon. Members that a sufficient service would not be provided are unjustified.

The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) said that there are equally large areas in England where the same problems are tackled, apparently effectively. Nevertheless it is natural, in the case of a transition from a number of smaller authorities with long-held and deep-seated loyalties, to find resistance to change. But if we are to reform local government in Scotland on the basis of certain principles—and three is no doubt that on the day that there was a vote on the division of Fife political considerations were more uppermost in some minds than principles—we should adhere to the concept of a west region because it is a more soundly and logically argued proposition than the alternative, attractive though it is.

11.15 p.m.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

This amendment was explained by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), and I shall not go over it. It provides for a system of three tiers for this part of Scotland which would all be elected—this is one of the main differences between this and the proposal put forward in Committee—and the functions otherwise exercised by the two tiers elsewhere would be divided up between the three.

I recognise the amendment as another attempt to deal with a very difficult problem. I believe that this is the most difficult in the whole reorganisation of local government in Scotland. I also recognise the thought and efforts which lie behind these attempts, especially this, after the others had been considered.

The Government are keenly aware of the difficulty of finding the best solution for this part of Scotland, and we have therefore considered the amendments carefully to see whether there is another possibility which could be adopted, bearing in mind the special problems of education and social work to which references have been made.

Let us examine the metropolitan authority as it comes out in the amendment. First, the amendment recognises Strathclyde as a local government unit in its own right, despite its size. This is a step forward from the amendment which we considered in Committee. But, when it comes to assigning functions, this metropolitan authority is to be responsible only for strategic planning and certain impersonal services. If that means something more than simply land use and includes control over the rest of the major resources throughout its area, the question arises whether this metropolitan authority can plan strategically when its own spending is so limited and the biggest user of resources, education, is outside its scope. This was a point continually given in evidence to the Wheatley Commission, and it came out in its report.

This problem would not occur in the other regions, where major functions, including strategic planning and education, are all under one authority. But in Strathclyde, under this amendment, to get strategic planning we should have to have some kind of hierarchy with either the education authority taking orders from the planning authority or both taking orders from the Secretary of State.

As regards the assignment of functions to regions, under the amendment the functions assigned to regional authorities elsewhere are shared in Strathclyde between the metropolitan authority and the middle-tier regions. I am not happy about what is left in functions for those four regions.

The Wheatley Commission rightly attached importance to getting functions grouped in a rational and constructive way under a single authority. But I see no guiding principle in the amendment except that of conferring on the regions everything which can be taken away from the top-tier.

In our view, some of the functions are not merely haphazard but seem to be wrongly assigned. Regional housing, countryside and tourism belong with strategic planning and cannot sensibly be assigned to an authority which exercises no planning functions in its own right.

The functions of the four regions do not appear to have been carefully thought out. The idea seems to be to fatten up the middle tier at the expense of the top tier. It may be argued that the allocation could be wrong, but that it can be adjusted. I do not think that is realistic. We have to look at the amendment as it stands.

We do not believe that the areas are satisfactory. It is not enough simply to say that they coincide with the proposed health board areas. The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) pointed that out, but it was his hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon), who was Minister of State in the Labour Government, who pointed out in Committee that the reform of the National Health Service is not the same kind of operation. It is a single-tier reorganisation and the units are management units responsible to central Government, not to a local electorate.

The four regional areas into which Strathclyde would be split seem to lack internal cohesion. Each of them, except for Glasgow, is simply a combination of districts. We believe that the regions would be less well integrated than the larger unit of Strathclyde itself, which would be held together by Glasgow.

This is illustrated by considering where the headquarters of the new regions would be situated. For example, it might be Paisley, Hamilton or Ayr. But it is worth asking how accessible these places would be by public transport from the outlying parts of their regions—for example, Paisley from Balloch or Campbelltown—compared with the accessibility of Glasgow and its position as the centre of the Strathclyde region.

Mr. Millan

Has it been decided that Glasgow will be the centre of the Strathclyde region? As far as I am aware, it has not yet been decided.

Mr. Campbell

It has been mentioned in the debate. It was one of the principles, when the Wheatley Commission put forward its proposal, that the Strathclyde region should be based on this large city on the estauary of the Clyde.

The personal services of education and social work over such a large area and population raise the main cause for concern. The duty of working out the best pattern will be laid upon the elected Strathclyde authority, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, as provided in Committee.

There are difficulties in a three-tier system, some of which have been pointed out in the debate. In choices relating to local government structure the important issue always is: where does the overall balance of advantage and disadvantage lie? I have described what we see as the major disadvantages in the scheme put forward in the amendment: the deficiencies of the four regions as local government units; the difficulty of assigning a meaningful range of functions to the middle tier of authorities; and the unsatisfactory relationship that would exist between an elected metropolitan authority responsible for strategic planning and elected regional authorities responsible for education.

Mr. Dempsey

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Campbell

Perhaps I might finish this part of my speech.

Few people who have anything to do with local government believe that a three-tier system would work well. It is not just a matter of having three different sets of councillors and three separate elections. I accept that it is not just that extra set of elections, but there is the difficulty that was brought out by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor) of dividing functions among three tiers and the likelihood of friction between them. For example, in housing, in which all three levels of authority would be concerned, there would be planning questions and the raising of a separate rate from the ratepayers. The councils at each level would be separately elected and would each have minds of their own. Suppose that the metropolitan authority agreed with the district authority about the need for an expansion of population in a particular part of Strathclyde: the district authority was prepared to do its part with local housing, but there was a need for some special assistance with housing at regional expense. But suppose that the middle authority, the regional authority, was, not prepared to provide that expenditure and said—this is a good example, and I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to listen to it—that its educational commitments were such that it could not provide extra schools to match the proposed population growth. One would, for practical purposes, have what amounted to a veto on the metropolitan authority's strategic plan. That is the kind of trouble into which a three-tier system of this kind would run.

Mr. Dempsey

I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman appreciates the real situation. He said that one deficiency is that these authorities are collections of districts. Has he overlooked the fact that Lanarkshire is a water area, a police area, a fire area and one education area? It is an integrated administrative local service area in all those respects. Does he not accept as a fact that it would be suitable to add the additional services mentioned by my hon. Friend in order to complete the integration of the Lanarkshire region?

Mr. Campbell

The hon. Gentleman made this point about Lanarkshire but I stick to what I said earlier, that these four regions appear to be districts that have been put together. As a result of the kind of friction that could arise from dividing the functions as proposed between three authorities we would be driven to a hierarchy that we all wish to avoid. One of the advantages of the two-tier system put forward by Wheatley and adopted in general by both sides of the House for the rest of Scotland is that there can be two tiers of authorities that are separate and independent without one being subordinate to the other. Difficuties arise once we get to the three tiers.

We understand the fears about the Strathclyde authority as proposed in the Bill. It is a large authority in relation to Scotland as a whole, but we do not believe that the amendment deals with this problem. It retains one tier covering the whole area proposed for Strathclyde. The area problem is not reduced.

I should like to deal with one point raised by the hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Douglas) and also by the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North (Mr. John Smith), and that is the question of strategic planning and the fact that the Secretary of State has power to call in planning applications. Hunterston is often cited, but I should point out that the situation there is unique. One cannot take Hunterston as an example, because so often during debates on other subjects hon. Members have agreed that the situation at Hunterston is unique and it ought not to be taken as a typical example of something that could happen in West Central Scotland.

We believe that major industrial planning decisions on the Clyde estuary and elsewhere in Strathclyde could mostly be

left to the new regional authority, but under the planning Acts the Secretary of State is in the position of being able to call in in certain circumstances and to be the final court of appeal where there are objections and a public inquiry.

The Bill's proposals reflect the pattern of communities in the west of Scotland and allow both for the proper democratic control of functions and for the effective provision of services for all the inhabitants of the area. They have been frequently and carefully examined against the alternatives, of which the one embodied in the amendment is the latest in a long line that have had to be discarded because they are second best to the one that was put forward by Wheatley and that the Government have adopted.

I should advise the House not to accept this further proposal for a structure in the area of Strathclyde in preference to the structure in the Bill. I agree that there is no perfect solution for this important part of Scotland—I wish there were—but I commend the solution in the Bill as the best of those that have been considered.

11.30 p.m.

Mr. Ross

We have had a high level debate until the last speech. I can remember the verdict given by a very puritanical old Scot on the sermon of a minister: "In the first place it was read, in the second place it was not very well read, and in the third place it was not worth reading." The Bill is not Wheatley, either in the pattern or in the functions. There are complications in the Bill but what we have is very imperfect from the point of view of local government. We are sacrificing people and their contact with their representatives for something which is unthinkable and would have been ruled out a long time ago. What we have is a blueprint for bureaucracy if not for disaster.

Question put, That the amendment be made:

The House divided: Ayes 97, Noes 137.

Division No. 161.] AYES [11.32 p.m.
Armstrong, Ernest Brown, Robert C.(N'c'tle-u-Tyne, W.) Concannon, J. D.
Ashton, Joe Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Crawshaw, Richard
Atkinson, Norman Buchan, Norman Dalyell, Tam
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Davidson, Arthur
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Clark, David (Colne Valley) Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.) Deakins, Eric
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Perry, Ernest G.
Dempsey, James Judd, Frank Price, William (Rugby)
Doig, Peter Kaufman, Gerald Radice, Giles
Dormand, J. D. Kerr, Russell Rhodes, Geoffrey
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Lamborn, Harry Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Lamond, James Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Eadie, Alex Latham, Arthur Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Ellis, Tom Lestor, Miss Joan Sillars, James
Evans, Fred Lomas, Kenneth Skinner, Dennis
Swing, Harry McCartney, Hugh Spearing, Nigel
Fisher, Mrs. Doris(B'ham, Ladywood) McElhone, Frank Stallard, A. W.
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) Machin, George Steel, David
Ford, Ben Mackenzie, Gregor Stott, Roger (Westhoughton)
Gilbert, Dr. John Maclennan, Robert Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Golding, John McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Tinn, James
Gourlay, Harry McNamara, J. Kevin Tope, Graham
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Marquand, David Torney, Tom
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Meacher, Michael Varley, Eric G.
Harper, Joseph Millan, Bruce Watkins, David
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Miller, Dr. M. S. White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Horam, John Milne, Edward Whitehead, Phillip
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Oakes, Gordon Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Hughes, Roy (Newport) O'Malley, Brian
Hunter, Adam Orme, Stanley TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Oswald, Thomas Mr. David Lambie and Mr, John Smith.
Jeger, Mrs. Lena Palmer, Arthur
John, Brynmor Pavitt, Laurie
Allason, James (Kernel Hempstead) Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Onslow, Cranley
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally
Atkins, Humphrey Haselhurst, Alan Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)
Awdry, Daniel Hawkins, Paul Percival, Ian
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Hordern, Peter Pink, R. Bonner
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Hornby, Richard Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Benyon, W. Hornsby-Smith. Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia Proudfoot, Wilfred
Berry, Hn. Anthony Howe, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Raison, Timothy
Biffen, John Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Biggs-Davison, John Hutchison, Michael Clark Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Body, Richard Iremonger, T. L. Rost, Peter
Boscawen, Hn. Robert James, David Russell, Sir Ronald
Bowden, Andrew Jenkin, Rt. Hn. Patrick (Woodford) St. John-Stevas, Norman
Braine, Sir Bernard Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Brewis, John Jopling, Michael Shelton, William (Clapham)
Brinton, Sir Tatton Kaberry, Sir Donald Shersby, Michael
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Simeons, Charles
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Kershaw, Anthony Soref, Harold
Bruce-Gardyne, J. King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Speed, Keith
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) King, Tom (Bridgwater) Spence, John
Buck, Antony Knight, Mrs. Jill Sproat, Iain
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Knox, David Stanbrook, Ivor
Campbell, Rt. Hn. G.(Moray & Nairn) Lamont, Norman Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Chapman, Sydney Lawson, George Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Le Marchant, Spencer Sutcliffe, John
Churchill, W. S. MacArthur, Ian Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) McCrindle, R. A. Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Clegg, Walter McLaren, Martin Tebbit, Norman
Cockeram, Eric McNair-Wilson, Michael Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Cooke, Robert Maddan, Martin Tugendhat, Christopher
Cooper, A. E. Madel, David Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Cormack, Patrick Mather, Carol Waddington, David
Crouch, David Mawby, Ray Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Dean, Paul Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. White, Roger (Gravesend)
Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Meyer, Sir Anthony Wiggin, Jerry
Emery, Peter Miscampbell, Norman Wilkinson, John
Eyre, Reginald Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Moate, Roger Worsley, Marcus
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Money, Ernie Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Fortescue, Tim Monks, Mrs. Connie Younger, Hn. George
Fowler, Norman Monro, Hector
Gower, Raymond Montgomery, Fergus
Gray, Hamish Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Green, Alan Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gummer, J. Selwyn Neave, Airey Mr. Marcus Fox and Mr. John Stradling Thomas.
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Hannam, John (Exeter) Normanton, Tom

Question accordingly negatived.

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