§ Lords Amendment: No. 71, in page 147, line 1, at end insert:
|"Greater 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 burgh of 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 First district.|
|Lanarkshire||In the county of Dunbarton—the burghs of Cumbernauld, Kirkintilloch; the district of Kirkintilloch and Cumbernauld.|
|The county of Lanark (except the burgh of 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 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).|
|The county of Bute (except the burgh of Millport; the districts of Arran, Cumbrae).|
|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."|
§ Mr. Gordon Campbell
I beg to move, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.
Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the House if we were to take, with this amendment, Lords Amendment No. 72, in page 147, leave out lines 2 to 12, and Lords Amendment No. 9, in page 32, leave out lines 6 to 23 and insert:(11) In accordance with such directions as the Secretary of State may give, the regional councils of Greater Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Argyll and Clyde and Aryshire and Arran, shall combine or have joint consultations in regard to the discharge of any of their functions.They deal with the same subject.
§ Mr. Ross
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We have just ruled that we shall take amendments to Schedule 1 before anything else. As Lords Amendment No. 9 has nothing to do with the schedule but relates to page 32 of the Bill I trust that by our decision, having ruled out the matter, we shall be able to vote on that amendment also.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Campbell
My suggestion was that Lords Amendment No. 9 be discussed with the other two amendments as it is closely related to them. But if there were to be a Division upon it, that would be taken soon afterwards.
This is ground over which we in the House have been many times. Right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House will have been considering this matter for more than four years now, in various groups and by themselves. They 725 will have been considering the whole question whether the area known as Strathclyde should be one region or whether it should be divided into four, which is now the proposal of the other place.
The main arguments which have been advanced in another place come to this: that with four separate regions, united by joint arrangements ad hoc for such functions as the Secretary of State may direct, it is possible to meet all the major needs for the planning and development of Strathclyde as a whole while retaining the advantage of rather smaller authorities for the personal services.
We in this House have considered various possibilities which would be better for the personal services, in the opinions of some hon. Members, but in the end we in this House reached the same conclusion that the Wheatley Commission reached unanimously, that Strathclyde should be one region.
The proposition now advanced by the House of Lords, although in new form, in substance goes over the ground which this House has covered, both in Committee and on Report. In Committee we rejected by a large majority an amendment which would have created an indirectly elected Strathclyde metropolitan authority. One of the main considerations there was that such an authority would have been little more than a joint committee of the four constituent regions and, therefore, an ineffective instrument for determining policies for Strathclyde as a whole.
On Report, when an amendment was considered to provide for a different form of metropolitan authority for Strathclyde, the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) said that thisshould 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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th June, 1973; Vol. 858, c. 168.]Therefore, we on both sides of the House were agreed on the need for an elected authority for Strathclyde, and efforts were made in Committee and on the Floor of the House in a determined attempt to find an alternative which would be better than the alternative put forward by the Wheatley Commission. We concluded that we could not find a better alternative or one that did not have major disadvantages. In another 726 place it may have been felt that joint arrangements or joint consultation would have been good enough; but this House clearly concluded—the Government agree on this—that the likelihood of a joint committee of this kind reaching agreement and getting things done was not very great.
The promoter of the amendment in another place, the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, put it forward on a tentative basis saying that it would give this House yet another opportunity of looking at this matter again. He did not have greater confidence in his amendment because he provided the built-in means of undoing it as simply and as quickly as possible. He has given the Secretary of State the power, by simple direction and without consultation or inquiry of any sort, to require the four regions into which he proposes to split Strathclyde to consult or combine for the discharge of any of their functions. Indeed, I think that the power would enable the Secretary of State to direct them to combine for all their functions if he thought fit. This is clearly quite unprecedented as a power for a Minister to use without any check on how it should be operated.
§ Mr. Campbell
This is a new approach. It is not something which was included in any of the variations which we considered in this House. It has often been argued that all the strategic planning decisions for Strathclyde will be taken by the central Government anyhow. But whenever that argument is raised, Hunterston is mentioned. I cannot, however, accept Hunterston as being an example of anything, because it is unique. It is a site of national importance, whatever happens to it. The likelihood of there being another place of that kind in the area is small. The central Government have clearly become engaged in the Hunterston issue, and it would have been bound to go to central Government anyway.
§ Mr. Sillars
I am sure that the Secretary of State agrees that Hunterston is a part of the Ocean Span concept. Therefore, it is not simply Hunterston about which we are talking but a strategic planning concept that runs right across Scotland from west to east. At the end 727 of the day, will not the right hon. Gentleman or the then Secretary of State be the person making the final decision?
§ Mr. Campbell
What the hon. Gentleman has said is not out of line with what I was saying, that is, that Hunterston is a key area the planning of which needs to be on a national scale. Therefore, it cannot be an example. There are unlikely to be other places of that kind cropping up in the Strathclyde region. It is unique.
There have been other cases of planning permission being sought. There was the Murco case, and others from the past, which did not involve sites of this kind.
I do not expect that every hon. Member will necessarily agree with what I am saying, but I must make it clear that in the Government's view Hunterston is not an example of an ordinary planning permission case. It is unique. We believe that the majority of applications for planning permission will normally be dealt with by the planning authority for the region. That will mean that considerations affecting the whole estuary and valley of the Clyde would be taken into account by the single planning authority. Considering the four regions which are proposed, and given the normal modern catchment areas for travel to work, recreation and shopping, there is little prospect that the four regions now delineated in the Bill would be anything like self-contained in their provision of housing, transport and roads, recreational space and shopping, and this is without taking into account the amount of guided redistribution of population which will have to take place if congestion is to be relieved in those cases within the Strathclyde region where it exists. Given Strathclyde as one region, there will be a local authority body interested in seeing these problems as a whole and balancing one local interest against another. Given the split now proposed by another place, there must be an outside authority regularly to force one or other of the four regions in the Strathclyde area to take account of some of the requirements of another of the regions in the general public interest.
This is not simply a matter of putting appropriate patches of colour on a map or drafting high-sounding policy 728 statements. It is a question of how the regions and districts spend their money, and problems of the kind I have been describing can be expected materially to affect how, where and when money is spent in the Strathclyde region.
§ Mr. David Lambie (Central Ayrshire)
The right hon. Gentleman has put a strong case in support of the argument that the four regions as proposed in the Lords amendment could not be viable. They would be competing against each other because they would be too small and there would be overlapping. Why does not this apply to Fife? Surely there is greater overlapping in Fife, yet the Government have accepted that Fife shall be a region on its own.
§ Mr. Campbell
That is not what I told the House. I said that the four regions would be vying with each other. I did not say that they would not he viable. I said that they would be conflicting with each other's interests and there would have to be a body, which is recognised in these amendments in the way I mentioned, a kind of joint committee—an unsatisfactory one in the Government's view—which reconciled the major public interests over the area of Strathclyde.
Because the matters I have described will be delineated in the first instance in regional reports and structure plans, and because these have to be submitted for my approval, it may be argued that Government intervention on these matters is unaffected by the split of Strathclyde. But there is a world of difference between a local authority and central Government dialogue based on proposals initiated by the local authority and prepared within the background of national policy and a dialogue between central and local government based on instructions to the local authority that its plans must contain certain specific provisions which the local authority would otherwise certainly not have included. The second kind of dialogue can never be completely eliminated. But I would hope that, if the Strathclyde region is retained, it will be comparatively rare. I need hardly remind the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) and, particularly the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon), of the time which was devoted during the last 729 administration to ministerial interventions in the dialogue about land use and population movements in this area.
The Government have spent more than four years considering this matter, since the Wheatley Commission made its recommendations. We were struck by the size suggested by the Wheatley Commission and have studied the various possibilities overcoming that. In this House alternatives have been considered and it was interesting that those considered retained the size. What we looked at were alternative possibilities for organisation and structure, the three-tier system being one.
However, this House, after long debate and consideration of such alternatives, decided that the one region for Strathclyde was the best of the possibilities considered. The mover of the amendment in the other place, the noble Lord Hughes, making a speech in the first debate in the House of Lords on 23rd March 1971 after going into Opposition, said that had the Labour Government continued in office they would have provided proposals much along the lines being put forward by this Government for the Strathclyde region.
I recognise with the noble Lord Hughes, and have described to the House, how many of us have been looking closely, and investigating in depth, the possibility of alternatives. But Lord Hughes accepted at the beginning—and during the time he was Minister of State in the then Government he was, I understand, responsible for the first round of negotiations and consultations with the local authorities—that a Labour Government would have proposed similar suggestions in following the Wheatley Commission on this.
Now, at what I can only describe as the twelfth hour, at the very end of our consideration of the Bill in this Session, this amendment has been put forward. I know that it is done with the best of intentions, and to give the House another opportunity of looking at this important subject, but I believe that the considerations which moved us in the House on earlier occasion to take the decisions we took are unaltered, and I do not think that there are any arguments to make us accept the amendment.
There are many other matters of revision which the House of Lords is putting 730 to us today in respect of bringing the Bill up to date and making small changes, on which we on this side will be glad to commend the amendments to the House. But I do not believe that at this twelfth hour it would be wise for the House of Commons to accept this one, which is a change of massive proportions on a matter which we have considered many times, and most carefully, in the House.
§ Mr. Millan
I agree with the Lords amendments and disagree with what the Secretary of State has just said. I do not propose to speak at length because the matters have already been exhaustively discussed in this House.
It has been increasingly recognised that the Wheatley Commission, in supporting this structure for the West of Scotland, subordinated everything else to planning considerations. The Secretary of State has rather given the impression that those of us who were worried about the impact of a huge region such as Strathclyde on other local authority services have not been aware of the strategic planning considerations. That is certainly not so. I am sceptical about some of the arguments on planning grounds for a region the size of Strathclyde, but I claim no special expertise in strategic planning, and I have been willing to defer to the view of those experienced in this field that something like the size of the Strathclyde region was necessary for strategic planning purposes.
But what I am equally clear about is that what is suggested now for Strathclyde, or a region of this sort, is completely unsatisfactory and unsuitable from the point of view of education and social work, and from the point of view of a number of other local authority services as well—for example, police and fire services.
What many of us have tried to do—this is an important point to make for the local authorities in the West of Scotland which have been against Strathclyde—has been to maintain a structure which would satisfy the planning considerations but would also produce an effective structure for education, social work and the rest.
We have made various attempts to that end. It was first moved in Committee that there should be a three-tier structure, with the top structure for the whole of Strathclyde dealing with planning and 731 associated services on the basis of indirect election. Incidentally, that original suggestion had been put up because the arguments up to that point had been that to have direct elections in three tiers was too complicated for the ordinary Scottish elector to understand—a view which I do not accept for one minute. But, in deference to that point of view, the local authorities in the area—with the exception of my own local authority of Glasgow, which has throughout been in favour of the Strathclyde region as it stands—and hon. Members in this House were willing to have indirect election, but, of course, elected members as members of the top-tier authority.
That, predictably, was turned down simply on the ground that it was indirect election. When we came back to Report in the House, a three-tier system providing for election at every level was introduced. That was turned down, again predictably, on a reversion to the original argument, that having three elections was too difficult for the electors to understand.
I do not accept any of those propositions. But it is not for those who have been the proponents of the Strathclyde region to try to dissect, in the way that the Secretary of State, quite ineffectively, dissected, Amendment No. 9 as being inferior to what was produced in Committee and on Report when earlier attempts to achieve a compromise and a solution which would satisfy all considerations were rejected by the Government.
I take the view that what has been proposed in another place is inferior to what was proposed in Committee and on Report in the House of Commons, when we wanted to have a three-tier system at every point. Nevertheless, I feel strongly that what we shall do in Strathclyde is wrong for the West of Scotland. The planning considerations, however important they are, have been given an importance well beyond what they should have been. But I would still be happy to support the House of Lords amendment.
Admittedly the provisions for the combinations of directions by the Secretary of State are not as adequate as the propositions which were originally made in Com- 732 mittee or on Report in the House of Commons. Nevertheless, with co-operation in the area, they would give the opportunity to provide a structure for planning in the whole of the West of Scotland which I feel could adequately deal with the planning problems involved.
Incidentally, what the Secretary of State said about Hunterston was completely unconvincing. We know that many other planning applications whose impact is considerably less than that of Hunterston are already brought to the Scottish Office now, such as applications for hypermarkets which are not unique and which do not have the national significance of Hunterston. Unfortunately, those who have pressed the Strathclyde region so vigorously will find this out to their cost when the region is established. We think that the important planning considerations will devolve on central Government, despite the operation of the Strathclyde region.
What is proposed in the House of Lords amendment—inadequate as it may be in comparison with other amendments which were turned down—is a better solution to Strathclyde than what the Government are proposing. For that reason, I support the amendment.
§ Mr. John Smith
I hope that in the course of the debate Members on both sides of the House will support Strathclyde and argue the case for it. However, I do not, and I should like briefly to state my reasons for thinking that the Lords amendment is preferable to the Government's proposals. As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) said, a number of variations were tried by those who feared the complications of Strathclyde in an attempt to reach agreement in the House on an alternative solution. Each time the attempt has been made, it has been defeated.
The important thing at this stage of our consideration—whether it be the twelfth hour, the eleventh hour or whenever—is to look as carefully as we can at what we are doing. What we are doing is very important. The decisions in the Bill taken by Parliament will have to be lived with for a very long time.
I was interested that the Secretary of State prayed in aid the views of the House and implied that when the House 733 had come to a firm decision about the region it was undesirable to listen too much to Lords amendments. I hope that he will remember that when he comes to some of the district amendments that he will be proposing.
The principal reason many of us have viewed with scepticism the Strathclyde proposal has been the difficulty of seeing how it would work in respect of some of the important local government services and how it would work in terms of having democratic control in the local authority. This is something that one tends to lose sight of when considering concepts such as strategic economic planning.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Craigton, I have some difficulty in grasping what is meant by strategic economic planning. So far as I can see, we are giving no extra powers to the new local authorities that will be set up under the Bill. I do not know that there will be any fundamental change in the relationship between central Government and local government as a result of the new framework. The same problems will remain, and the same resources will remain to deal with them.
Some people have been attracted by the notion that Strathclyde is, as it were, a new beginning, a new start, a fresh broom for the West of Scotland—a concept that is attractive to us all—but they ought to stop to consider whether any more resources will be available and whether the problems will be any less. Particularly in education and social work, I do not think there will be any radical change. All that we are doing is putting a number of local authorities together and giving them another name. We are not providing any new resources. We are not even giving a proper salary to the councillors to operate the new system.
I am a little sceptical about this new start. Of course, if we are lumbered with it we shall have to make the best of it, but there is still an opportunity to do something to stop it.
One of the curious things about this notion of strategic economic planning is that it seems to apply only to the West of Scotland. The central belt of Scotland is the heart of our industrial structure. It is cut across by three different regions, but strategic economic planning seems to 734 stop half way through the village of Harthill where the Strathclyde boundary ends. There is every need for cooperation between the Central, Lothian, Fife and Strathclyde Regions for the purpose of strategic economic planning. Somehow that is possible in the mind of the Government, but it will be impossible for four similar authorities in the west of Scotland to agree to come together in order to fashion sensible strategic economic planning.
The central Government will continue to have an important role to play in economic development. Although there is much talk these days about local authorities being involved in economic development, their prinicipal responsibility is not for economic development. That is the responsibility of central Government. Whatever the structure, I hope that it will remain a primary responsibility of central Government. I am not in favour of the central Government giving up too much of their power over economic development to local authorities, and there will not be much of that power, whichever Government are operating this structure.
It is curious that some committees are meeting in Strathclyde to assemble the necessary information and work out plans and schemes for management structures within the new Strathclyde Region, while at the same time others are meeting to find ways of devolving to the areas responsibility for all the decisions that will affect individuals. There is a double process going on, with the people serving on different committees trying to work in different directions.
From the administrative point of view it is possible to deal with education and social work by devolving some of the decisions to smaller units, but from a democratic point of view I do not think that it is so easy to keep control of the decisions. It is easy to take on a responsibility and then hand it out to a subarea director of education or social work to deal with it, but the committee, the politicians, and the democrats at the centre will lose control because they will be at the centre and will not know what the minor officials in the area are doing. If administrative devolution is not followed by political and democratic devolution, we shall run into difficulty. Ordinary citizens may find, when they complain 735 about a decision, or ask that a different decision be taken, that they meet an official face and will not be able to relate that official face to a democratically elected politician. That is one of the grave difficulties that will exist in the Strathclyde Region.
It is not true to say that those who oppose the amendment are against local government reform. What is proposed as an alternative is a considerable local government reform, and one which faces one of the main difficulties that we have been under since 1929—the distinction between burghs and counties. Ever since the 1929 Act there has been tension in the country, particularly between the large burghs and the county councils. The split of functions between the two has not worked as well as it should have done. That needed to be tackled in any local government reform.
The Lords amendments face up to that situation. Instead of counties and burghs, we should have united units taking over the principal functions of local government. We should then get rid of one of the main problems. It would mean that instead of the myriad of local authorities in the West of Scotland, there would be only four important local authorities. As the region is the important factor in this structure—it is more important than districts—the important decision is whether we have one or four.
We must remember, too, that the rest of Scotland, the upper half, has eight. We have the odd situation of having one local authority for half of Scotland, and eight for the rest of the country. That cannot be right. There is an obvious imbalance there. It is proposed that there should be four authorities for the West of Scotland, making a total of 12 for the country—12 viable, manageable units responsive to democratic control, but large enough to carry out the important local government functions laid down. I believe that that would provide a much more balanced structure.
§ Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith (Glasgow, Hillhead)
Surely, when the hon. Gentleman says that there are eight regions—I believe that is what he said—for the rest of Scotland and one for Strathclyde, he is leaving out of account the areas involved. I refer not to population but to 736 area. In Strathclyde, part of the population lives in a comparatively small area.
§ Mr. Smith
I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman makes that point, because Strathclyde covers a considerable area as well as having a large population. Strathclyde covers an area of 5,200 sq. miles, in addition to having a population of 2½ million. Therefore, from both points of view the proposal is objectionable.
If the hon. Gentleman studies the areas, he will realise that even the subdivided areas proposed in the Lords amendments are still much larger than many of the regions which the Government themselves proposed and carried through. The hon. Gentleman cannot put that argument forward as a defence.
Before we take this important decision tonight, I should like some of those who have been urging the adoption of the Strathclyde suggestion to tell us what the great benefits will be for the West of Scotland. Throughout Committee and Report, in our consideration of the Bill, hon. Members who have objected to Strathclyde and have been trying to find alternatives have been arguing their case in the face of silence.
I hope that tonight that silence will be broken and that hon. Members will tell us why Strathclyde is so important, and why that structure should be set up. I am sure that the Opposition will not try to defeat a decision of the House once it has been taken. If we are lumbered with it, we shall have to make it work as well as we can. But here is Parliament's opportunity, its last opportunity, to vote against the Strathclyde proposal. I hope that Parliament will reject it.
§ Mr. Lawson
My hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Mr. John Smith) has strongly pressed that someone should say something in support of the Strathclyde Region. I had no great intention of speaking, but I could not allow my hon. Friend's challenge to pass without reply.
I welcome the Government's decision to throw out the Lords amendments relating to this proposal. I am not so happy about certain other decisions, but I welcome this one. I am ready to stand up for Strathclyde anywhere and at any time. I am happy to take up the subject on the arguments usually taken as unanswerable. I 737 refer to the arguments about democracy, for instance, or education, or social work. That last case is usually referred to as being so weak that it is merely mentioned in passing, and we focus our attention on planning.
On the subject of democracy, my hon. Friend referred to education. I shall speak more fully on education in a moment. But my hon. Friend suggested that our education set-up is run in such a way that people in the localities feel that they have a real say in what is happening, that there is a much more sensitive type of democracy operating there than would be possible if we were operating in the larger region.
My hon. Friend might recall what normally happens when an education authority takes a decision to zone certain schools. That happens in all our areas. We have all come under fire on this, although it is a local government question, and we all know the indignation which parents can feel and express about it. In many cases, their protests seldom make any headway. In my own area, in two recent cases of zoning, the people who were against the decision did not feel that they had much of a say. They did not feel that they were consulted in any way which gave them an opportunity to affect a decision which had been taken.
I am not trying to judge the rightness or wrongness of a particular decision on zoning. I am arguing that local people feel that their voices count for little, or not at all, when it is a matter of zoning. For example, on the question of democracy—
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. John Smith
It is very difficult to argue about particular cases, but does my hon. Friend recall that in Committee the Secretary of State, when pressed to define what would be devolved to officials, gave zoning of schools as one example, feeling it better that it should be decided by officials rather than by democratically elected councils accountable to the people?
§ Mr. Lawson
I take it that the Strathclyde Region will itself decide how this will be done. It is a matter that will be decided by the elected authority.
§ Mr. Ross
The Secretary of State suggested that there would be a scheme. We have not seen a scheme. But, when we asked for an example, he said that the kind of matter to be decided locally by the officials would be zoning of schools. The only thing we do know is that a local official will decide this.
§ Mr. Gordon Campbell
Hon. Members are purporting to quote me. I was asked for some examples of the sort of matters that might be delegated by the new council, if it wished to do so. I gave a list, one item of which was the zoning of schools.
§ Mr. Lawson
The Secretary of State has, as we know, hazarded an explanation. I hope that the regional authority will have a large voice and will itself decide on a matter of this kind. Here is a matter that affects people intimately. Many people with whom I have been concerned felt that, so far as democracy went, it did not go very far.
Let us take the wider question of democracy. Are my hon. Friends suggesting that local government democracy, whether in a district, a small or a large burgh, or a county council, has been more democratic than central Government democracy?
Are my hon. Friends telling me that they are less easily reached by their constituents, that they are less able Ito respond to the problems of their constituents than even the district councillor is? It has not been my experience.
I represent a constituency that is as sound as any in its democratic ideas and I am not prepared to say that local councillors in my area are more accessible than I am. I hope that that is the case with any of my hon. Friends and hon. Gentlemen opposite. I disagree that a small authority is necessarily more democratic. It is sometimes more difficult to reach a local official than it is to reach a central Government official.
It is a Liberal idea that we solve the problems of democracy, the ever-growing centralisation of power in a modern State, by breaking it up. In so far as these problems can be solved, they are solved by improving representative institutions. The more we can improve Parliament, the more effectively can the Government be controlled. The more the effectiveness of 739 councillors can be improved in regional and district areas, the more effectively democracy will function.
It is not a question of size but rather a question of how effective the representative member or members happen to be. A small village of 200 or 300 people can be virtually without democracy. That can apply to counties, as anyone who comes from a large burgh or county council area will be aware. There can be nearly civil war—an exaggerated term—but there has been dispute and conflict over years between the representatives of the large burghs and those of county councils. I question the value to democracy if more authorities result in more conflicts.
What is proposed here is to set up four authorities of comparable size covering virtually the same river valley area, with a closely knit economy. These authorities of similar size and occasionally conflicting interests could be put potentially, albeit without intention, at each other's throats.
My hon. Friend asks whether we can have a planning example where there might be conflict. Recently, Lanarkshire County Council sought to attract British Leyland to come to a part of Lanarkshire where it thinks—and I agree—that it has an excellent site. Lanarkshire has done a first-rate job in its effort to attract British Leyland. But if we had the four suggested authorities in that area, it might be difficult or impossible for those four authorities to agree that it should be the Lanarkshire site. It might be considered that it should be a site in Renfrewshire. There is even a dispute in Lanarkshire, because people who come from the Stonehouse area want it to be there. But the majority of representatives from Lanarkshire have agreed that the site chosen by Lanarkshire County Council is excellent and on this basis will go ahead.
I put the point that for democracy it is a matter not of size but of the nature of the representative institution and the quality of the representatives. This is the question to which we are seeking to find an answer in the matter of democracy.
Much has been said about social work, and hon. Members may recall that I had 740 a lot to argue on that when the social work Bill first came before the House. It may be that I made a contribution towards having social work left with the large burghs. An important point I made then was that social work and housing were part and parcel of the same kind of service. It appeared to me and others that it was a mistake to separate social work and housing. Separate housing and social work authorities would create difficulties, with, possibly, the housing authority shunting its problems to the social work department, and the like.
As I understand the Bill with which we are here concerned—this is not now in dispute—housing is a district authority function. The principal argument with which I was concerned some years ago was to keep these two things together. They are not to be kept together. Housing is separate from social work, whatever we do. If regions are divided up and Strathclyde is given social work, it is separate from housing. It is as well to have it on the basis of a single region as on four regions in this connection so long as it is separate from housing.
§ Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdrie)
Does my hon. Friend recall that the campaign which was launched in Lanarkshire to bring the social work service to the burghs was launched by Motherwell and Wishaw town council, and held in the council chamber? I think I am right in saying that my hon. Friend supported that campaign wholeheartedly.
§ Mr. Lawson
I said earlier that there could be no local authority that had more to commend it than the joint burgh of Motherwell and Wishaw. I repeat that. Certainly Motherwell and Wishaw saw the argument which was principally as I described it—the importance of the two services going together—and that if these services were separated there could be a lot of trouble. The services are to be separated. Social work is to be separated from housing. There can be no disadvantage in social work being administered by a county such as Lanark, or a larger county. There can be no advantage in its being with the total region.
§ Mr. Millan
My hon. Friend's recollection of what happened about the question of social work is not accurate. The 741 reason for keeping social work in the burghs has little to do with the housing question. The point was that the large burghs were already health and welfare authorities and it seemed unsatisfactory therefore to take certain functions away from them when we knew there was to be local government reform, thus providing an opportunity to reconsider the whole question of social work. That is the accurate story of what happened.
§ Mr. Lawson
I am talking of the approach that I took to the argument. Perhaps my arguments counted for nothing at the time. Nobody can say that I claim they did. I merely made a contribution on that occasion. I maintained that difficulties would arise if social work were separated from housing. They are now being dealt with separately, therefore social work could just as well be dealt with on a regional basis.
Let me take this matter a little further. There is what is called social security. A lot of people regularly go to the social security office and officers from the Department of Social Security go to houses to make inquiries. I often hear commendable reports of these officers. Sometimes one hears criticism, but more often one hears, "She was a very nice lady"—or perhaps lad—"who told me all about it". There is no reason why such officers cannot function as sensitively in the interests of people on a wider basis. It is not a question of size but of the kind of people who handle the inquiries and the type of facilities with which they are equipped.
One of the problems which has occurred in the children's panels—my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) will be aware of it—is that it is extremely difficult to fulfil their obligations because of the lack of facilities. Time after time it has been shown that, because of the size of the authority, they are unable to obtain the necessary facilities.
That is only part of my argument. My final point deals with education, which seems to be the all-important argument. I have made only one comment concerning the democratic control of education. The regions with which we are concerned contain some of the most difficult education problems in Scotland. I do not agree that if we take the most difficult areas 742 in Scotland and bring them into one we shall compound all the difficulties. It may be that a single region can handle the education problems that confront that part of Scotland more effectively than smaller authorities have been able to do and more effectively than four authorities.
I do not think we can be happy about how the education problems have been handled in the West of Scotland by whichever authority it happens to be. I am not bragging about how effectively the Lanarkshire education authority has handled its specific problems. I doubt whether others from that part of Scotland will argue that, because everything is excellent and shows signs of becoming more so in those areas, one dare not disturb it by setting up a single regional authority.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Alexander Wilson (Hamilton)
Surely my hon. Friend must agree that most of the problems besetting the Lanarkshire education authority arise from the cutting back of expenditure by central Government? It is not fair to castigate the Lanarkshire education authority which would willingly give better facilities, even under this Government.
§ Mr. Lawson
I was not aware that I was castigating. If one ventures a suggestion of doubt, it is immediately taken that one is castigating. I am not castigating Lanarkshire, but I am not bragging about Lanarkshire. I am not saying that in Lanarkshire there is something that must not be disturbed and that any change is bound to worsen the situation. I was trying to express a hope that perhaps a change will be of substantial benefit.
One of the difficulties regarding education—perhaps the difficulty—is that of teachers. There is an absolute shortage and a maldistribution of teachers. The absolute shortage we might not be able to do much about. The absolute shortage, we are told, is not so great taking Scotland as a whole. However, there is clearly a considerable maldistribution of teachers within each education authority area. The maldistribution is apparently such that the education authorities cannot do much about it. Teachers may prefer to teach in one area rather than another. They may prefer to teach in one education authority's area rather than another.
743 Suppose Glasgow—I cite Glasgow in case I am challenged about Lanarkshire—said to some of its teachers that it would like them to go out to Easterhouse. I have no doubt that many excellent teachers are ready to go and do readily go out to Easterhouse. I cite Easterhouse as an example where there may be difficulties. Teachers preferring not to go to Easterhouse might well cross the border into Dunbartonshire, where a new education authority would be extremely happy to welcome them.
The important point is that with the present set-up each education authority is delighted to encourage into its area all the teachers it can get, even at the expense of other education authorities. One cannot expect one authority to be much concerned about another. I am suggesting that it might be easier for the single authority which is responsible for half the schoolchildren of Scotland to handle the problem of the maldistribution of teachers more effectively than the problem has been handled under the separate county council and city authorities up to the present. I do not see this as being an argument against the regions coming together, but possibly as a powerful argument for establishing a single region.
On the basis of the argument of education, local democracy and social work and studying them all—I should have liked to have spent more time and gone into them more closely—I come down in support of keeping Strathclyde as Strathclyde was.
§ Sir Myer Galpern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
I find myself in a unique position this afternoon. Having been Chairman of the Standing Committee I had to decide whether I ought to participate in the debate. As hon. and right hon. Members know, it is the practice for the Chairman in Committee, when he is called upon for a casting vote, to give that vote to the form of the Bill as it left the House on Second Reading. Therefore, recalling what I had to do on the question of the payment of salaries to members, and giving my casting vote on that basis, I feel that I can properly come now on the basis that I would speak for and vote for the Bill as it left the Committee stage in the Commons.
744 The argument is that Strathclyde as a region will be far too big. We have had one strong supporter of that, arguing for the amendment, in my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) who, in my opinion, is rapidly becoming the Brian Clough of Scottish politics. He made a surprising and what I consider to be a wholly uncalled for and vicious attack upon the calibre of the members elected to Glasgow Corporation to represent the citizens of Glasgow.
I have had experience over a great number of years of being associated with and fully involved in local government in Glasgow, and I strongly resent the wholly unfounded allegations and accusations made against the competence of members who represent the city of Glasgow at the present time. In his allegations and criticisms against the members of Glasgow Corporation, I think that my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire makes a strong argument for having the Strathclyde Region. He says that we have failed to solve our development programme.
§ Sir M. Galpern
Is it, therefore, unreasonable to say that the geniuses from Saltcoats and Central Ayrshire should come in to the Strathclyde Region and give us the benefit of their knowledge and expertise in helping to solve our problems?
§ Sir M. Galpern
We have not heard about the great prowess of the people in Central Ayrshire, but we are, nevertheless, prepared to accept my hon. Friend's statement—I take his word for it, he is a good judge—and I am prepared to say, "Come on in and give us a hand". I think that that is a good Socialist principle.
We seem to be losing sight of the fact that we are reforming local government to deal with the next 40, 50 or 60 years—well into the twenty-first century—and 745 in order to anticipate local government needs we seem to consider that regional functions will remain static. That is the big fallacy of the argument against including the Strathclyde Region or, for that matter, any other region.
Let us consider education and social work. Do we believe that education will remain in its present form for the next 40 or 50 years? When we talk of education today we are wondering how it will fit in to the region as it is today, but surely no one in this House in his senses believes that education will remain in its present form in the next 40 or 50 years.
Residential accommodation is one aspect in which I believe there will be a tremendous advance in the years ahead. Another is in Outward Bound schools such as Glenmore Lodge, particularly with the raising of the school leaving age. Look at Glasgow's position. We send pupils to residential courses at Glenmore Lodge, and we sent children to residential courses at Toward Castle and all over the West of Scotland. As a former convener of our education committee I know that, from the point of view of administration, it would be a far better proposition to have control of the whole area to which we send or, for that matter, any other authority send our children.
I can envisage a tremendous development in the whole concept of residential education. It is something that no authority will be able to avoid. Why is it not better to have the whole area of the Strathclyde Region where we could have the accommodation suitable for the purposes of residential education?
We bring children from France and take them to Glasgow and to many other authorities. We brought a class of school children from Canada recently and put them in one of our West of Scotland schools for a month or two, and we then sent a whole classroom of children over to Canada. Why cannot we do the same thing with children from Oban, bring them into the city and give them closer contact between city, town and country? That is another development. If it is good enough for bringing children from abroad, surely they can be brought from different parts of Scotland, over which one authority will have the sole direction and formulation of plans in that direction.
§ Mr. Gregor Mackenzie (Rutherglen)
With all his knowledge of education—my hon. Friend knows how I respect his views on these matters—surely he is not suggesting that in the Strathclyde Region there would be one central administrative unit covering the whole of that region? Even at the present time, no one is thinking in terms of administering from one centre. One thinks of breaking it up for administration from an everyday viewpoint.
§ Sir M. Galpern
Yes, one central overriding education authority. Whatever powers it would wish to delegate to local authorities in the various districts would be a matter for it to decide.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
The point is that there will be no local authorities to which powers can be delegated. They may be delegated to administrative units, but that is not a matter of democracy or local government.
§ Sir M. Galpern
All right. But there will be one central authority that will be responsible for all the education work in the region. As my right hon. Friend has indicated, we do not yet know how these functions will work and that is why we must be watchful to see exactly how it all unfolds.
Social work is another sphere in which, as was shown in a recent Select Committee investigating the whole question of probation and its relationship to social work, small units are now out of date. We must have much larger areas and an inter-relationship between probation and social services and all the work that goes on with hospital almoners and so forth. In that sphere, as in education, why not try to project what the future will bring in this most important field of social work in the context of the whole Strathclyde Region as it will be? In all these things, we look to the future and give an opportunity to those in control to formulate their plans according to what we envisage will be the needs of the community.
As I understood my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Mr. John Smith), and as was argued in Committee, there could be a three-tier system, but the difficulty there lay in bamboozling the public with three elections. That in itself was an admission that there should be an overall authority still, which would 747 be the third tier. There is, at least, a yielding. But even those who are against that plan yield to a certain extent to the fact that there should be some authority which would have the overall consideration regarding certain matters of local government.
§ Mr. John Smith
My hon. Friend is taking the line that that is a concession. We were trying to be reasonable in trying to meet the strategic planning argument without sacrificing education and social work upon the altar of strategic economic planning. One of the troubles with being a reasonable man is that a compromise is always taken as weakness. I suggest that it is a sign of strength.
§ Sir M. Galpern
I do not think that. At least in one aspect it is recognised that there should be an overall body. The difference is on whether education and social work should be brought together under the same umbrella.
I hope that we shall consider the matter from that angle. If we find—and as the Foreign Secretary said the other day that he did not know whether he was doing right or wrong when dealing with the supply of arms and the embargo imposed on Israel—that we are doing the right thing, we shall be able to look at the whole set-up after four or five years' experience to see whether there needs to be some radical amendment to what we decide today if we agree to the Strathclyde Region.
I understand that we are also discussing Amendment No. 72. No mention has been made of that. This is the only opportunity we shall have to debate it. I am surprised at those hon. Members who have different views upon it. If we agree to the concept of a Strathclyde Region, because it gives a greater manoeuverability and flexibility in operation, equally and locally we must support a greater Glasgow area.
I support the Committee, but I oppose the Secretary of State in his purely political expediency in trying to take out of the greater Glasgow area those burghs—
§ Mr. Galbraith
Surely the hon. Gentleman is contradicting himself. Did he not say that he would support the Bill as it 748 left the Committee? The Bill, as it left the Committee, had the Strathclyde Region in it and it had some of the peripheral areas taken out of Glasgow.
§ Sir M. Galpern
I am sorry the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) was not listening to what I said. That is exactly what I am saying. I am supporting both propositions: the Strathclyde Region and the greater Glasgow area which includes the peripheral burghs that we included. Is that not what the hon. Gentleman is saying?
§ Mr. Galbraith
My recollection of the Committee is that it went on for a very long time. I may have recollected wrongly, but my recollection of what happened was that the Committee took out of Glasgow certain of the peripheral areas—left them in mid air, if one likes, but it took them out all right.
§ Sir M. Galpern
I am right. In any case, whichever way it is, I strongly support the proposition that areas such as Bearsden, Milngavie, Rutherglen and Bishopbriggs are properly placed in the greater Glasgow district. There is no argument about how many people travel in daily or what journeys are made. The fact remains that 99.9 per cent, of the people in Eastwood, Bearsden or Rutherglen all have their being based on Glasgow.
I am not interested in statistics, journeys or shopping expeditions. What I know stems from my being a native of Glasgow, living in Glasgow and watching the Glasgow scene every day. I know quite well that the inhabitants of areas which the Secretary of State for Scotland is now prepared to take out because of political expediency feel that their areas ought to be within the greater Glasgow district. They need not fear that they will be submerged.
One of the great arguments in Committee was on the value of community councils. We did not do much about it but we argued that community councils could be important adjuncts to community councils. Bearsden, for example, 749 could have two or three district councils to look after purely local matters, where people could make representations to their elected representatives to the greater Glasgow district.
Therefore, I hope that the House will reject the Secretary of State's proposition to exclude these areas and I hope he will put them in again.
§ Mr. Michael Noble (Argyll)
I do not intend to detain the House for long, but I agree with almost everyone who has spoken on the amendment that to bring on the Bill today has made a mess of things. I do not think that the other place was very clever, and nor was the management of this House which arranged for the Bill to come forward on a Monday and not on a Tuesday or a Wednesday when we should have had more time. It is an almost impossible task for the House to do justice in the short time available to the extremely complicated new concept which the other place has introduced. Perhaps some believe that we should take the whole thing back and start again next year. Heaven forbid, because ultimately we should be no better off than we shall be tomorrow morning or whenever we finish.
I am informed, I am sure reliably, that my county council met last week and in an almost unprecedented state of unanimity voted 52 to 1, I believe, in favour of getting away from Strathclyde. It would have voted a short time ago, not quite so strenuously, to get away from Inverness, or almost anything else. To date the county council has supported me and I have supported it with a good deal of understanding and sympathy.
We speak of local government as though we were still in the horse and cart age. I have a good deal of sympathy for the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) in his brief remarks about democracy. I am certain that I get more letters about purely county council affairs every week than the appropriate member of the county council does. People write to me as a Member of Parliament because they hope that I can do something and because they do not believe that their county council will. I am not saying whether they are right or wrong, but almost all right hon. and hon. Members have this experience. I have never carried out a complete study but I guess that about 80 per cent, of the 750 letters I get each week are on purely county council matters. If that is so, the day is past in many respects when the local councillor, whether a county councillor, a district councillor or a borough councillor, was the person to whom ordinary men and women naturally appealed for justice. Instead they appeal to us and that is sadly only too obvious.
However, there is still deeply implanted in many breasts in Argyll, including those of the county councillors, the view that they do not want to have anything to do with Glasgow. I am sure that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern), who spoke up bravely and well for the councillors he had worked with and known for many years, may have a perfectly good and valid point. Right or wrong, however, there is a widespread fear throughout the Strathclyde area that it will be dominated by Glasgow, a fear which has been expressed particularly strongly since Lord Hughes moved his amendment.
In the original plan that I put forward for forming local government, in the comments I made to Lord Wheatley's commission and on almost every other occasion that I have spoken about the matter, I have said consistently that we need the smallest sensible number of top-tier authorities and certainly a larger number of district authorities than Lord Wheatley and his commission proposed. For that reason, but not only for that reason, I cannot possibly support the amendment which suggests that we should add a further four top-tier regions in Scotland at the drop of a hat and at the whims of six or seven noble Lords who—and I envy them—did not spend as long as we did discussing the implications and difficulties of this exceedingly complex problem.
I cannot accept it, sad though I am that a suggestion of mine to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and to my noble Friend Lady Tweedsmuir when she was in the Scottish Office that we should have a Clyde area is very similar to one of the four proposals by Lord Hughes. At that time I believed that the idea could have worked. It was turned down, and I am not now prepared to wreck what is left of the Bill by allowing at this late stage, a further four top-tier 751 regions, a move which does not make sense.
We could argue about it for hours and in so doing we should only do a great disservice to what I believe to be the right process now which is to let all the people in the area around Glasgow people who are scared of Glasgow—right or wrong—to get together and work out a sensible scheme to make sure that they are not dominated, if that is what they fear, by a number of hooligan councillors from Glasgow, if that is what they believe. Let them make their own plans to ensure a good and efficient Strathclyde region. The scheme would need a lot of sense and good will, but it is possible and I believe that it will happen.
§ Mr. Lambie
I support the amendments passed in the House of Lords and I oppose the motion in the name of the Secretary of State. For many years I have campaigned for the abolition of the House of Lords, yet today I am forced to say "Thank God for the House of Lords." It seems strange in a discussion of local government that Labour Members who support the Lords amendments have to give thanks to the majority decision of the other place and hope that the second chance offered to this democratic House will be taken and that the amendment will be agreed to.
I am not speaking today as a Member of Parliament voicing his own opinions. I have had more letters and communications during the passage of the Bill than I received on major legislation such as the Bill which took us into the Common Market. Every letter, every telegram, every telephone call and every communication I have received on this subject, with the exception of those from Glasgow Corporation, has appealed to me to use my power to vote in support of Lord Hughes' amendment. I have not yet received a letter from any citizen of Glasgow telling me to support the Government tonight. The only communications I have received to that effect have come from Glasgow Corporation.
I stay in the constituency of Bute and North Ayrshire, but I represent the constituency of Central Ayrshire covering the major part of the North Ayrshire area. Within that area public opinion is 752 generally reflected through our local Press. We have four local newspapers, and each one, reflecting public opinion, has come out in support of Lord Hughes' amendment. The most Tory of the newspapers is the Troon and Prestwick Times, and on Friday the editor's opinion column stated:One can only assume that the Conservative Party have a death wish in Scotland. They must know that the apathy of the West of Scotland citizens, which has enabled them to get away with this disgraceful misuse of a Bill designed to improve local government, will give way to fury when the effects of regionalisation are eventually felt … That fury will be expressed at the polling booths and it is doubtful if Ayrshire will return even one Tory Member at the next election.I draw the attention of the Under-Secre-tary of State, who represents Ayr, to that statement from one of the newspapers that circulates in parts of his constituency. Those of us supporting the Lords amendment are here today in support of public opinion throughout Scotland and, I contend, public opinion within Glasgow itself.
§ Sir M. Galpern
Will my hon. Friend cite examples of the supporting evidence of people, other than local government support, in Glasgow?
§ Mr. Lambie
I stated that I had not received one letter from anyone in the Glasgow area giving me an opinion of the Bill.
Today the Secretary of State tried to claim that by splitting the Strathclyde area we would divide the proposed region into four smaller regions that would not be viable. I questioned him about his decision to unite the county of Fife within a new region, because all the arguments he put against splitting up Strathclyde apply equally to the decision to make the county of Fife a region in its own right and to split the southern part of Fife from the Forth estuary and the northern part of Fife from the Tay estuary. If we look at the numbers proposed for each of the four regions, we see that Greater Glasgow has 1,182,000—surely a big enough unit to be viable as a local government unit; Lanarkshire has 573,000; Argyll and Clyde 455,000; and my part of Ayrshire and Arran 366,000. Are not these viable units? They have the area and the population and, in terms of local government, the 753 ability to run the personal services with which local government is concerned.
The Secretary of State and those who support his amendment must believe what I am saying, because they clearly accept smaller populations for the other regions which are designated in the Bill. For example, the Highlands is to have 172,000 the Grampians 442,000 and, biggest of all, the Lothians 700,000, while the Borders will have only 96,000. Obviously the four regions into which Strathclyde would be divided would be viable if those proposed regions are viable. The Borders, with 96,000 people, can be considered a region in its own right and a viable proposition, according to the Secretary of State. Ayrshire, with a population of just under 400,000, should also be considered a viable region. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about quality?"] Certainly, one should have the quality—I accept that. But one has to give the people in Ayrshire and the other regions of Strathclyde the benefit of the doubt that they, too, have quality, including Glasgow. I want to give Glasgow the right to rule itself but I do not want to give Glasgow the right to rule Ayrshire, which is what we are discussing now.
There is no doubt about the opinions of local authorities in the Strathclyde area. When Lord Hughes called his meeting of local authority representatives in Glasgow on 10th September, 40 of the local authorities represented stated that they supported his amendment; nine stated that they were in favour of the Strathclyde region and, therefore, in favour also of the amendment now put forward by the Secretary of State today; seven had no feeling, or did not express any feeling at that meeting on the matter. If one considers not only the number of local authorities which attended that meeting but also the electorate represented by those bodies, one realises that the overwhelming opinion comes out even stronger in favour of Lords Hughes' amendment.
For example, local authorities with electorates of just under a million, 948,000—are for Strathclyde as it stands; others with electorates of 728,000 are in favour of a break-up of Strathclyde. From these figures one could expect that in the present Strathclyde region there is a majority opinion among the electors in favour of the splitting-up of Strathclyde.
§ Mr. Ian MacArthur
I have listened to the hon. Member's statistical argument with great interest, but, if he wants to present his case fairly, does he not recognise, according to the debate in another place, that the Minister of State received representations after that meeting with local authorities which represented a totally contrary balance of electoral interest and a totally contrary view to that which the hon. Gentleman has explained to the House?
§ Mr. Lambie
I am quoting the figures given to me by Lord Hughes and quoted by him in the other place. Anyone who studies the rating review of local authorities, their populations and electorates, will find that the figures I give are justifiable. Among the electorates of all the local authority areas within Strathclyde there appears to be a majority in favour of Strathclyde as it is. If one excludes Glasgow, which has 601,000 electors, one finds that the majority of people within the four regions are in favour of the Lords amendment. For example, 728,000 are for the four regions proposed and 347,000 are for Strathclyde as a single region. The overwhelming majority of people—a two-to-one majority—outside the Glasgow area are in favour of the Lords amendment. It is clear, therefore, that the overwhelming majority opinion of people outwith Glasgow within the Strathclyde area is in favour of the Lords amendment.
§ Mr. Lawson
I do not know whether my hon. Friend was at the meeting, but I was and my clear impression was that it was against the division of Strathclyde. Few people had any knowledge of what would happen subsequently, but the Lord Hughes had a roll-call vote, and anyone could have told him what the result would be without even going to the meeting. The meeting was very definitely against the division of Strathclyde.
§ Mr. Lambie
I attended that meeting. I never go to any meeting looking for a decision and taking it by acclamation. I am a democrat, and I take a decision by people being willing to stand up when their name is called and stating whether or not they are in favour of a proposition. I know that my hon. Friend is a great supporter of the undemocratic 755 institutions in Europe, and perhaps they work that way in Europe, but I hope that we never reach the stage where we work on the principle of acclamation for local government decisions in Scotland.
I am in a difficulty here, because I am one of the few Members of this House who would rather see Scottish Members out of it and in their own Chamber in Edinburgh. But here, as in my former opposition to the House of Lords and in wanting it abolished, I have to change my mind, because it would have been better for the people of Ayrshire if we had been included within the English Local Government Act instead of having this Bill. I say that because in, for example, the Greater Manchester area, which has a population equivalent to that of the proposed Strathclyde—roughly 2.7 million—the English Members and the Government, which the Secretary of State is supposed to represent, decided that for the personal and local government services they would break up that area not into four districts but into 10. Surely, if it is good enough for the city of Manchester and the areas surrounding it to deal with the personal services, such as education, housing and social services, on the basis of a division into 10 districts with populations ranging from 174,000 to 541,000 under an English Act, it is a good principle to put into a Scottish Bill.
§ Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)
Arising out of the question of 10 districts, is my hon. Friend aware that there has been an increasing correspondence with the central department to resolve criticisms and warring factions? Also, is it local democracy when the central department decides the matter for them and acts as referee? Would it not be better if they had power to make decisions for themselves, which would at least be democratic?
§ Mr. Lambie
If my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) thinks that by having Strathclyde we shall have no warring factions, I would say that he did not attend a meeting of the Labour Party in Glasgow on Sunday. The Labour Party has now started the warring factions, before we have actually decided the principles of the Bill. In view of all these interventions, I 756 think that I should speak more about Glasgow, because I have never seen such a great attendance of Glasgow Members.
§ Mr. Hannan
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is the accepted practice of this House that Members should make allegations of that character which are unfounded and cannot be substantiated?
§ Mr. Speaker
That is not, in fact, a point of order, but the hon. Member has disposed of the matter by withdrawing what he said.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Lambie
Sometimes when one is arguing in banter, the report of what is said looks different in print. I certainly withdraw. I was making the point that in the Government's English Act of Parliament they have divided the Greater Manchester area into 10 districts, equivalent in power to the four councils which we now want for the Strathclyde area, and I was saying that what is good enough for Manchester should be good enough for the Glasgow area.
To get back to my main opposition to the region of Strathclyde, I have been told on many occasions, mainly by my own colleagues and friends, that it is Labour party policy to support the Wheatley Commission and its report, and I can accept that. Various Scottish conferences of the Labour Party have it on record that we in the Labour Party support the principles enunciated by the Wheatley Report. One must remember, however, that what we are discussing today is not the Wheatley Report. We are discussing today a Tory Government's Bill giving their interpretation of what John Wheatley said, and it is on that basis that I am really against the whole principle of Strathclyde.
According to the OFFICIAL REPORT at col. 834, Lord Wheatley summed up in one paragraph his whole idea of local democracy and local government in a Lords debate on local government reform. It is this idea of Lord Wheatley's to which I object, and this idea is contained within the provisions of the Bill. Lord Wheatley stated: "… if we want to get veal democracy we must try to build up a system containing units 757 with real power. What the consumer of service would want … is not necessarily to have the council round the corner: what he is looking for is that an official of the local authority supplying the service should be readily available round the corner.That represents my whole criticism of the concept of Strathclyde, because it will mean that the power of the local councillor will be eroded while the power of the official will be increased. We shall reach the stage where we get local government by official and not by councillor.
There is another criticism of the Bill in Lord Wheatley's first sentence, because he said:…if we want to get real democracy we must try to build up a system containing units with real power."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 23rd March, 1971; Vol. 316, c. 834.]Unless we change the financial structure of local government, no matter how big we make local government units we shall never get units of great authority because while the central Government are financing local government to the tune of anything from 60 per cent, to 90 per cent., as they will be doing when these new proposals become law, we shall never have units of great power. In the Highland Region for example, rateborne expenditure will in future be financed by over 90 per cent, of Government grant. I accept that when the Government are paying 90 per cent, of the cost of rateborne expenditure they will have 90 per cent, of the say, so that there will be no real power in the Highland area.
If Strathclyde becomes a reality, the Government will be financing between 60 per cent, and 70 per cent, of the rateborne expenditure of that new region. No one in this House will tell me that the Government will give £70 for every £100 spent by the Strathclyde area and not demand to know where the money is being spent. In fact, we are building up a dinosaur, an animal which is big in bulk but which has no power or intelligence. We are building up a local authority like Strathclyde which will be large but will have no power at all because it will not have financial control over its own affairs. It is unfair of the Secretary of State to say that the local authorities will be given power by him once the reform of local government structure is completed.
This is not only my argument. If we look at past arguments from the Wheatley 758 Commission and arguments presented by the Secretary of State in various White Papers on local government finance, we find that the same proposals are put forward. In the White Paper on Local Government Reform published by the Secretary of State in February 1971, we were told:The Government accept that the proposals for local government reorganisation are incomplete without a thorough re-examination of local government finance.The Government have carried out a restructuring of local government but they have not yet carried out a restructuring of local government finance. In fact, all they have done is to publish a Green Paper which surveys all the possibilities, but they have said that they will not interfere with the present method of financing local government and that in future local government finance will come from the two main sources from which it comes at present, namely central Government grants and local rates.
Lord Wheatley himself in his report supports my argument when he says:We cannot overlook the crucial relevance to our own recommendations of securing a proper financial system for local government.He comes out clearly in support of the point of view, which I am putting forward tonight, that it is not possible to consider his ideas for the reform of local government without stating how one intends to finance the new local government units.
Throughout the whole of the Wheatley Report, in the evidence and in the final report, there occurs this theme: that we have to get a reorganisation of local government and that we must have bigger areas in order to get more power away from the central authority. Lord Wheatley's whole idea was to build up local government into something viable and strong, to devolve on to a local level the powers which are on a national level. I support that idea, but the Bill does not support it. That is why, when people tell me that I should vote in support of a policy which was adopted at the annual conference of the Labour Party—the policy of supporting the Wheatley Commission—I reply that they have not read the Wheatley Report. They have not understood that, without reorganising local government finance, one cannot and dare not reorganise the local government 759 structure. This is why I support the Lords amendment.
Local government is not abstract; it is about people and about local communities. We must give credit to people who have devoted their lives to the service of local government. I may have been harsh on some of my colleagues in Glasgow but, speaking in the general context, we have got to give credit to those people who have given their lives to the service of local government. If we ever think of local government not as a people's service, not as people dealing with local communities, but as a service which can be provided by officials on a gigantic scale, we shall be doing a disservice to the traditions of local government and to the people who have been employed in it in Scotland.
People in local government have to be approachable and easily reached. In a situation such as exists in my constituency, for example, where one of the electoral areas includes the burghs of Stevenston and Kilwinning and the landward area of Irvine district council, and that electoral area elects one representative, the local councillor will not be approachable. He will not be the man down the street or the man round the corner. In fact, he may not even be the man who stayed within that electoral area. He may be someone from Paisley, Argyll or Glasgow. In the burgh of Kilwinning there are 7,000 electors, and they will get one-third of a councillor. That does not provide a local government service. If we think that democracy will continue in this country with this proposed type of local government organisation, we are thinking wrongly.
Strathclyde can never be considered a region of local government. It is too big to be considered as a solid local government area. In fact, the population of the Strathclyde area as proposed by the Government will be larger than most of the countries which form part of the United Nations.
The Government will never be forgiven by the people of Scotland, whatever their political affiliations, if they push this proposal through with the votes of the English Tory majority. This is bad local government. It is not democracy. It will only generate frustration and bitterness among communities and, instead of 760 uniting communities, it will divide them. For that reason I hope that Scottish Members at least will stand up tonight and be counted in support of the amendment sent to us from the other place.
§ Mr. Galbraith
I shall not answer the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) because that would take much too long. We have already been over this ground a great deal.
My only reason for intervening is that I am the third Member for Glasgow who has been fortunate enough to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker. The other two hon. Members, those for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) and Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern), disagreed with each other. The hon. Member for Craigton wanted to split the Strathclyde region. The hon. Member for Shettleston wanted the region to be kept. I disagree with both of them, and for that reason I intervene briefly.
To begin with, I confess that I had some doubts about the size of the Strathclyde region and I flirted with the idea of perhaps splitting it up. To that extent I am sympathetic to the point of view expressed by the hon. Member for Craigton. Finally, however, I found myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Shettleston that Strathclyde should remain one region. I do so for geographical reasons. If one looks at a map, one finds that the bulk of the population live in and around Glasgow.
Other areas such as Lanarkshire, Dunbarton and Renfrew have been mentioned. The people who give these areas their large populations are virtually on the outskirts of Glasgow. Beyond a radius of 20 or 30 miles from Glasgow there is a great deal of land but hardly any people. It may be that the Strathclyde area is too big as an area of land, although the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) can scarcely argue that since he has been responsible for increasing the land size of Strathclyde and for bringing in Girvan and a large part of Ayrshire which belongs to it.
I do not deny that each of the areas into which it has been suggested that Strathclyde should be split would be viable on its own, if it were differently situated, but unfortunately all these areas 761 are situated around Glasgow. The only possibility might be Ayrshire itself, if the bulk of the population were in the north part of Ayrshire rather than in the south.
§ Mr. Baxter
The hon. Gentleman does not seem to recognise the geographical position of Central Scotland. Does he not recognise that the central area, Stirling and Falkirk, is adjacent to Kilsyth and Cumbernauld, much nearer to Kilsyth and Cumbernauld than Glasgow? It is a comparatively small area. Why were two populous areas in the Strathclyde area not included in the central area?
§ Mr. Galbraith
One might put the question the other way round and ask why those two areas were not put in the Strathclyde area. It would be ridiculous because they are too far to the east. Cumbernauld is virtually on top of Glasgow and was built as a new town to take the overspill from Glasgow.
I am trying to explain why I started by flirting with the idea of splitting Strathclyde, because I thought the size was excessive, but have now come round to the same way of thinking as the hon. Member for Shettleston that Strathclyde must be one area. It is wrong that Strathclyde should be split into four areas as Lord Hughes suggested. These areas are not in isolation. If they were, they would stand on their own like Fife. These areas are very much bound up with Glasgow, which is the heart of the urban area. For these geographical reasons, I have come to the conclusion that I must part company with the hon. Member for Craigton and support, partially at any rate, the hon. Member for Shettleston.
The hon. Member for Shettleston said that he would support the Bill as it left the Committee. I interrupted to say that I wished that was what he would do, because he is not supporting the Bill as it left Committee. When the Bill left Committee there was the Strathclyde region and a bit of the periphery taken off Glasgow. That is where I differ from him. The Strathclyde area should be one unit but, as the Government have suggested, we should clip off the periphery from Glasgow.
People who feel strongly about the matter from the Glasgow point of view, as 762 persuasively put forward by the hon. Member for Shettleston, forget that everyone who lives in the whole of the Strathclyde area will be getting his living not out of Glasgow, Bearsden, Paisley, Wishaw or wherever it happens to be but out of the Strathclyde area.
As was pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble), there is great fear among people living outside Glasgow that the new region will be dominated by Glasgow. I understand and sympathise with that, not because there is anything wrong with the councillors of Glasgow, who are probably superior to those with whom the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire may be associated, but because the size of Glasgow, if it were the Greater Glasgow, would enable it nearly to dominate the whole region. But if it is the smaller Glasgow, the Glasgow of its present size without the peripheral areas added, the people in Ayr, Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Dunbartonshire and Argyll have no need to fear. If, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll suggested, the people in those areas merge, they can easily overcome the vote of the Glasgow councillors.
§ Sir M. Galpern
Can the hon. Gentleman explain why Glasgow Chamber of Commerce unanimously supports the inclusion of Bearsden and the other peripheral parts?
§ Mr. Galbraith
Because it expects the situation to be the same as it was in the past. It is still thinking that all the rates will be paid by Glasgow and therefore takes the view that people who get their livelihood in Glasgow are evading their responsibility by living outside Glasgow and ought to be councillors in Glasgow. However, they will not be councillors in Glasgow; they will be councillors in Strathclyde.
The hon. Gentleman and his friends—it is interesting to see where he has his friends—are looking at things in an old-fashioned way and have not woken up to the fact that a revolution is taking place in local government and that people's loyalty will not be to the Girvan area or Dunbarton, but to the region.
If my right hon. Friend allowed me to have my way—which unfortunately he will not—I would split up the existing 763 Glasgow in the way London has been split up. I would like to see this done. It has been suggested several times by the New Glasgow Society. I believe in accepting things as they are and having Glasgow remain its existing size. It is big enough. We should leave out the periphery. The people living in the country districts surrounding Glasgow have nothing to fear from being overborne by the might of Glasgow.
I disagree with the other two Glasgow Members who have spoken and agree with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. James Sillars (South Ayrshire)
I hope to be reasonably brief, because I have covered the subject twice—once in Committee and once on Report—but the Lord Hughes amendment is somewhat different in certain aspects.
My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) failed to understand our arguments about democracy. We are not arguing that the present local government structure in Scotland should be broken down even further because we equate parochialism with democracy. If he examines our proposed amendments objectively he will see that we are arguing for the abolition of the county councils, the district councils, the small burghs and large burghs and for the creation of new authorities, fairly large authorities in comparison with the Borders, the Dumfries and Galloway area, Lothian and certainly Fife and The Highlands.
It is not a question of a tremendous desire by the people attacking Strathclyde to get so far down into the grass roots that viable units of government, local or otherwise, do not exist.
§ Mr. Lawson
My hon. Friend seems not to keep in mind that there will be district councillors and regional councillors. Is the suggestion that the district councillors and the regional councillors will be so much less able to represent his constituents than he as the Member of Parliament?
We operate at entirely different levels, for different functions. I sometimes find that the councillors are in closer touch with my constituents than I am, simply because they live in Scotland seven days a week. I sometimes 764 find myself in closer touch, because on one day of the week, a Friday or a Saturday, I hold a surgery in part of my constituency. But I would not suggest that on local government functions in their entirety and on the policy involved in local government I'am nearer the people than some of my friends representing places like Saltcoats, New Cumnock, Muirkirk, Cumnock, or people representing areas such as West Kilbride, or Largs.
§ Mr. Baxter
My hon. Friend spoke about the terrible crime of parochialism. What is wrong with parochialism, with looking after the interests of one's own area and one's own people? I can never understand why that useful word should be so decried by people who do not seem to recognise that it is the function of democracy to be parochial at times and at other times to be broader in outlook.
§ Mr. Sillars
I must disagree with my hon. Friend. One can become parochial to the point of destruction when attempts are made to create new road systems, water systems, police systems, social work systems. Like my hon. Friend, I have been a member of a local authority and seen parochialism at work. I do not always condemn it, and it is sometimes helpful to have a parochial point of view, but a structure in which parochialism becomes dominant as opposed to the wider view is destructive, and something we should resist. I was not promoting that sort of idea in supporting the Hughes amendment.
My hon. Friend raised the important question of the quality of the representatives. The same principles apply to any kind of establishment or organisation. In an establishment of 630 people, even if they are elected by one of the most sophisticated electoral systems in the world, one will find a given proportion of exceptionally able people, able people and ordinary people and a minority of mediocrities. In a council of 18 members, somehow or other democracy seems to shake the bag and we find people who are exceptionally able, able, ordinary and mediocre. The same applies to a bowling club as to the highest legislative council in the land.
The creation of a Strathclyde regional council with only 100 members does not mean that it will have 100 of the most 765 able people in the whole of Strathclyde. What happens there will be no different from what happens in this Chamber or any other chamber in the country.
One of the tests we must apply to the Lords amendment is to ask which will give us the best local government structure over the whole range of functions. That is how we must decide between the Lords amendment and the Secretary of State's suggestion that we reject it and replace the suggested authorities with Strathclyde. There are many local government functions at the regional level, such as education and social work and the police service. We can pass lightly over the fact that we are to create a police force of 6,500. When we talk about control by a democratic society, we remember that that function has the least number of factors of control built into it, justifiably and for reasons that we all know. Other functions include the fire service, planning, water, roads, transport, airports, flood prevention, coast protection, parks and sewerage. There is a whole range of local government functions that deserve to be examined in relation to the ideas advanced by the other place and by the Secretary of State.
It is pretty clear from all the previous debates and from what the Secretary of State has said that the Government, unlike my hon. Friends the Members for Motherwell and Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern), have pinned their case on the argument that strategic planning is so important that it must be elevated above all else, that every other function of local government should be subordinate. The Government seem to cast into a category of lesser importance functions such as education and social work and the police and fire services. I cannot agree. When evidence was given to the Wheatley Commission by the Scottish Education Department, witnesses were aghast at the idea of an education authority going well beyond a population of a million. They thought that the optimum size was probably about 250,000. They were aghast at the thought of half the population of Scotland coming under a single education authority.
Among those involved in social work there are divisions of opinion. There are those who look for a structure which gives promotional opportunities and who 766 tend to welcome the Strathclyde region, but many people concerned with the day-to-day aspects of social work are appalled at the size of such an authority. The optimum population size suggested by expert witnesses was again about 250,000.
It was not a good parallel for my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell to draw between the work of the social work department and the work of the social security departments attached to the Supplementary Benefits Commission. The latter work within a narrowly defined remit, whereas the social work department worker requires flexibility in his character above everything else.
Despite the arguments about the fire and police services and education and social work, the Government seem to stick to the idea that strategic planning must be put above all else. They are wrong because they will not give Strathclyde strategic planning functions of a general competence beyond local authorities' present planning functions. The Secretary of State told me that Hunterston was a bit different. He says that everyone acknowledges its special character, its uniqueness, and that as Secretary of State he must attach it to himself. He says that it cannot be accepted as a good example of strategic planning.
Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that Hunterston will not produce its strategic planning demands on the Strathclyde, Tayside, Forth and Lothian regional authorities? If Hunterston goes ahead, a tremendous demand for resources and infrastructure will result. That will affect the strategic plan of Strathclyde, and will also affect Tayside, Forth, and Lothian. The Secretary of State will not say "Let those authorities get on with it", because the magnitude of the Oceanspan concept will demand resources from central government which the Secretary of State will have to control.
Even if my previous argument fell, which I do not think it does, no one can ignore the fact that an authority covering half the people of Scotland could not be allowed to plan strategically in its own right as though the rest of Scotland would be unaffected. That will not happen. If Strathclyde had strategic planning powers and obtained resources internally to promote a strategic plan, it would affect the Highlands, Tayside, Lothian, the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway. That could 767 not be allowed to happen. The Secretary of State would have to intervene. He has laid the ground already for intervention.
In his reply to some of the proposals put forward by the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs, the Secretary of State made it clear that he has rejected some of the suggestions for an overall strategic planning body for Scotland. That is because he says that local government will deal with such matters. However, in Land Resource Use in Scotland he says:Such machinery—he refers to the machinery suggested by the Select Committee—would not reflect the realities of land use planning, which is at present, and in the Government's view must remain, a joint responsibility of elected central and local government, each reacting on the other.It is important to note the place which the right hon. Gentleman has grabbed for central government in any set up which emerges from what the Select Committee or the House says.
The right hon. Gentleman gave us an example of where he thought strategic planning could operate on the basis of a local authority with its own competence. That example was given on the basis of democratic decision. He mentioned Murco. He said that Hunterston is not "on". Is he saying that if we get another development of the character of Murco it will follow that from the Strathclyde Regional Authority, whatever its decision happened to be, there might be the possibility of appeal to the Secretary of State? But would the Secretary of State say, "It is nothing to do with me. That is a strategic planning function of Strathclyde Regional Authority?"
The Secretary of State knows full well that if we get one or 10 more Murco's they will all go the same way—namely, local planning decisions, local planning inquiries, regional planning decisions, regional planning inquiries and finally to the Secretary of State. We make the decision, in fact, at the end of the day.
I submit that the Hughes amendment puts local government functions in perspective. It gives added weight to strategic planning, but no more and no less than strategic planning deserves, given the restrictions which are bound to be 768 placed upon it by central government. It gives appropriate regard to the other equally important functions. It places them in an appropriate geographical and population setting within influential reach of the people and within a democratic structure.
I hope that no one imagines for a moment that there are those who are afraid of Strathclyde because they are rather afraid of Glasgow. There are those who oppose Strathclyde because they do not agree about Glasgow's problems or because they do not know about its problems. I care deeply about Glasgow's problems. It has been my privilege on occasions, and it will be my privilege again at the Govan by-election, to find myself on the doorsteps of the people of Glasgow. They are the salt of the earth, They are as good a people as the people from Ayrshire.
I want for Glasgow a good, effective, viable and democratic local government service. I want it as much for the people of Glasgow as I want it for Ayrshire. It is my sincere belief that the Hughes amendment will give better local government for all of the people in Strathclyde and not just the authorities outside Glasgow. That is a matter which I wish to impress on the Government and especially to my hon. Friends from Glasgow. There is no question of being anti-Glasgow. I believe that the Hughes amendment in practice would be good for everyone.
§ Mr. Baxter
I thought that the Secretary of State, in the course of his first remarks, would have expressed gratitude to the members of the other place for giving so much thought and consideration to this difficult Bill and for coming up with so many amendments which at least they thought were amendments to improve its structure.
Unfortunately, the right hon. Gentleman did not think fit to express appreciation to his colleagues in another place. That is to be expected because the attitude and frame of mind seems to be prevalent in the Government that this measure must go through irrespective of whether it is good, bad or indifferent. They are not concerned that it may undermine local government rather than lead to the revitalisation of local government, which the Wheatley Commission thought its report would bring about.
769 The concept which Wheatley had and which apparently the Government seemed to imagine—namely, that by making larger areas such as the Strathclyde region we shall get a better quality of councillor—is one with which I do not agree. By and large the quality of the councillors throughout Scotland is of a high standard. The amount of progress which has been made by local authorities since the war, not withstanding the cold and clammy hand of the Department in Edinburgh which has been placed on many worthwhile projects, has been remarkable. It is not the case that local authorities have retarded progress. It is the fault of central government that progress has been held back.
The right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) expressed the view that in a recent vote a proportion of his local authorities—in fact, 50-odd to one—did not want to be associated with Glasgow. I do not think that the good people of Argyll are anti-Glasgow. They recognise that Glasgow has a problem which is interwoven not only with the great social problems which have evolved over the ages, but with the great cost of curing such problems. That is why the people of Argyll, and the people of other parts of the Strathclyde region, have some worry about joining the Strathclyde region.
The great social needs of Glasgow have not as yet been fulfilled. Even those which have been fulfilled have not all been paid for. That is not the fault of Glasgow but the fault of succeeding Governments which have not recognised that Glasgow had a unique and difficult problem to solve which was not approached in any shape or form by any other city in Great Britain. Succeeding Governments did not appreciate the magnitude of the problem which faced Glasgow.
By and large, Glasgow has done a good job in trying to bring about a revolution in the lives of its people. But that is where the crux of the problem is met. That is the problem of who has to pay for the services. The tragedy of the Bill and of the amendment presented by another place is that it gives no lead or guidance as to how the great Strathclyde region is to be financed in future.
If we break the back of that problem, if we cure the problem of how to finance 770 local government, the problem of establishing areas of good administrative size falls into place and no difficulty need arise. That is my condemnation of the Government. They have been given an opportunity by the House of Lords to rethink the whole content of the Bill. They should have decided to recommit the Bill to the House in the next Session. They know the full implications of the Kilbrandon Report. If forecasts are true, that report forecasts some things which I have been advocating for many years. It forecasts that we must have a central authority in Scotland, whether it be called a central commission, a Scottish parliament or something else. It must have power over broad planning activity, from university education to primary education, from the highways to the byways of our land, and over the planning of our cities and their centres, so that we do not have one area of Scotland planning without a full and proper regard to those areas adjacent to it.
This is a terrific condemnation of not only the Government but each and every one of us. We have not the breadth of vision to see that we must try to inculcate into the plans for our towns and villages in Scotland a co-ordinated scheme bringing into being not only good educational aspects and good planning but, especially over the years that lie ahead, great aspects of recreation. We have failed to recognise that. The recreational and environmental aspects of life are becoming more important every day.
These amendments presented to us by the House of Lords are excellent in many ways but do not go far enough. They restrict me greatly here, because in the new set-up proposed for the Strathclyde area Cumbernauld and Kilsyth are being placed as one group. Cumbernauld Corporation, Kilsyth Town Council and practically all the people of that area recognise that they would be better going into the central area, which would give this area a greater degree of flexibility, to move themselves and to utilise the great advantages of Cumbernauld New Town and Grangemouth, the foremost port of Scotland in many ways.
By virtue of the House of Lords not going far enough, we are curtailed in putting forward amendments which we believe could have helped to bring about 771 a better structure of local government in Scotland. I do not have the time to repeat some of what I said in the Scottish Grand Committee about the wrongness of the whole concept of local government which the Wheatley Commission and the present Government have more or less accepted. It shows how foolish we or the Government can be when I say that if one makes mistakes on the small things of life one is bound to take them into the bigger things of life. He who seeks to make perfection of the small things has every probability of making perfection of the large things. An old Scottish saying is, "Look after the bawbees and the pounds will look after themelves." So it is with moral considerations, or with considerations of justice.
In the Kilsyth East area the small village of Banton has a population of about 600 people. The other small village making up Kilsyth East is Banknock. The Government, in their wisdom or otherwise, after representations, have put Banknock into the central area, leaving the village of Banton to go into the Strathclyde area. Most of those who live in Banton work in Bonnybridge, Falkirk and the central area. Our drainage goes to Bonnybridge. The central purification plant is there. The whole structure of that area has always been a structure connected with Stirling. My granddaughter was born in the Stirling Infirmary a couple of years ago.
We in Stirlingshire, after the war, tried to conceive a better method of looking after the health of our community. The voluntary hospitals and the local authorities co-operated. The concept that we conceived was based upon the purchasing of the Airthrey Castle estate for a large hospital. The reason for that purchase was to be able to take in people from Kilsyth, Queenzieburn Old Cumbernauld and right on to Bo'ness. That concept should have been followed in the local government idea, bringing into the central area a viable and sensible unit. Instead of that, the very opposite has been done, with small villages such as Banton being put into the Strathclyde Region.
When one does an injustice to the weak or the small, one will do an injustice to the strong or the large.
772 That is the theme of my condemnation of the Government. A great error of judgment has been made. A great opportunity has been missed. There is nothing wrong with Government or an individual having second thought and giving a little more consideration to the problem. What would be lost? Local government would not stop. It is continuing. There is nothing wrong with it. It is doing yeoman service. But what stops it? A fortnight ago a circular was sent to all local authorities saying that the Government had decided to cut back on schools hospitals and other public buildings, and that the only exception to that would be housing. Who is cutting back? Who is curtailing the activities of local authorities? It is the Government who are guilty. Those are the guilty men.
§ Mr. Baxter
At times we all get a little carried away with the thoughts that come to mind and flow from the tongue. I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I should cast any reflections upon hon. Members in too harsh a manner. With all due respect, however, and speaking as an elder statesman of local government, having served in local government for many years, I think that this was a great and glorious opportunity to bring to local government a new impetus and new concept. But the Government should have waited until Kilbrandon gave the lead. They will not build a good building without solid and sensible foundations. The foundations of local government and its advancement or retardation must be based on finance. If it does not have that power, it will have nothing.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
With the exception of the Secretary of State, I think that I am the first speaker in the debate whose constituency is not affected by the amendment. It is with some temerity that I enter into the debate.
I echo something that was said by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars). Hon. Members representing all parts of Scotland have a responsibility to consider this very important matter in the context of the shape of the economy, planning and structure of local government in Scotland as a whole. The debate 773 has not been harmed by the evident disunity in the ranks on the Opposition side of the House. I do not conceal from the House the fact that my Liberal colleagues are split asunder on this issue. My right hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) is in favour of the Lords amendment and my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston) is in favour of the pure milk and water of the Wheatley Commission, which does not surprise me. I have undertaken to them both to put their views succinctly to the House—as I have—compared them with each other, and sent them to the battlefront.
My own views on this matter have been somewhat mixed. There has been a change of opinion in Scotland as a whole—I am not talking about the Strathclyde Region—as the Bill has progressed. There has been a movement of opinion away from the original structure as seen in the Royal Commission Report and as reflected in the amendment moved by the Secretary of State.
One has to look at the history of this. One of the first things that I did after the Royal Commission reported was, in concert with the local authorities in my area, to campaign for the creation of a separate Borders region. This was one of the few questions on which, in my experience as a Member of Parliament, all the local authorities had been united. At the end of the day, the Government accepted the arguments, and when the White Paper was published there was, indeed, a separate Borders Region created.
That, I think, knocked a dent in the mould the Commission had created, and I accepted that that was so. But when the Government were defeated in Committee on the question of Fife and accepted that, and Fife came into its own as a region, it was not just a dent that was knocked in the mould. For the whole of the East of Scotland, taken east of a line down the middle, the whole Wheatley concept had by that time been destroyed. We were faced with an entirely different pattern of local government.
Therefore, in discussing the Strathclyde Region, we have to say that the House and the Government have accepted a fundamental change from the original Wheatley concept on the eastern side of 774 Scotland, while the Government are at the same time resisting absolutely any similar fundamental change on the western side.
I believe that that is an illogical position, and it is right, in view of passing events, that the Government should have another look at the Strathclyde Region. I do not pretend that this is the most satisfactory way of doing it, on a Lords amendment at the last minute, and discussing it in this way, but we are up against a deadline at the end of the session. But, having been given this opportunity by the Lords—the Lords vote itself was a reflection of the gradual change of opinion—on balance, I come down in favour of the amendment as presented by the other place.
There is an additional argument which has just been put by the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Baxter). One of my criticisms of the original White Paper, and, indeed, of the Wheatley Report, was that no opportunity was being taken in reforming local government to transfer any major powers from central Government to the new regional structure. Now we have inspired leaks about what the Kilbrandon Commission may report. It seems possible that we may have to discuss—the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) is one of those who have already expressed themselves forcibly in favour—some form of devolution of legislative and executive power to Scotland as a unit. I have always been in favour of that, and there is a growing general opinion in favour.
If that were to happen, one obvious candidate for transfer from this House to a Scottish assembly or executive of any kind would be the whole of local government. There would be no point in dealing with local government matters at Westminster. One would otherwise have a completely unbalanced situation in Scotland, with half the population under this assembly or executive, and half the population in one of the regions if we were to accept the retention of Strathclyde as it stands. That does not make democratic sense. It manifestly makes democratic nonsense.
But I am most persuaded by the argument of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire, that anything that such a powerful region did in terms of strategic and 775 economic planning would be bound to have an effect on the other regions of Scotland. If there is to be strategic and economic planning on that scale in half of Scotland, why not have it for the whole of Scotland as one unit? It makes more sense.
I have never felt passionately about these issues, because I have broadly taken the view that it is the Members of Parliament in those areas, who know the areas, who should debate the matter but for all those reasons, I have come down, on balance, to the belief that this is an issue which affects us all. I say that as a Member of Parliament from outside the area. I shall vote for the Lords amendment.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Dempsey
I understand that there is a general desire to make progress on the amendment, and I shall therefore be brief, but I feel that some things remain to be said.
First, I find it difficult to understand why the Secretary of State breached the principle of regionalism in the North, South and East, yet he has dug in his toes on any compromise concerning the West. The right hon. Gentleman has been totally inconsistent in his attitude towards the whole concept of the Wheatley proposals in taking up this adamant attitude against any improvement in the regional organisation he has been promoting for the West of Scotland.
I have always believed that there was a need to reorganise local government. Naturally, certain services were uneconomic, and there were administrations which were not viable. Structural improvement was required. But the great danger arising out of reorganisation is that units can become too large, in the same way that, prior to reorganisation, units were too small. That is happening in the matter under discussion.
I believe that the proposed region is far too large. That is why I support Lord Hughes' amendment. I see no cause for a great deal of argument about what social services would best be organised on a regional basis, or on a reduced regional basis, as proposed in the amendment. The fact that this part of the country runs from the west coast almost to Beattock near the Borders should con- 776 vince the Secretary of State that his proposed area is too large. The title of the Bill, the Local Government (Scotland) Bill, is a misnomer. It is no longer local government. What the right hon. Gentleman is establishing is a mini-parliament for the West of Scotland. He is creating a situation in which government is too far divorced from the people who live in that area.
The situation reminds me of a parallel with another part of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland has six counties. Strathclyde has six counties. Northern Ireland's population is 1½ million. We have 2½ million. Northern Ireland is to have a full-time Assembly. We are to have 99 voluntary councillors. If one part of the United Kingdom can have a full-time assembly for its six counties, the six-county area in our part of the country, with 99 voluntary councillors, is far too large for any authority to administer. I am convinced that that is so. I said the other day that, if the chief constable wanted to take a week's holiday, he could decide to visit all his police stations and disappear for a week. That is how large the area is.
There are counties in Scotland somewhat on the large size where chief officials have never visited all the institutions in the county. How much more difficult will it be if officials have to take a deciding interest in essential social services over such a large area.
In my own town of Coatbridge we have 18 councillors. They are to be replaced by two councillors. How does the right hon. Gentleman expect two councillors to give the same local personal service to their constituents when they must represent the large area to which I referred? How is it humanly possible to do it? It cannot be done. Local service will suffer and contact between the elected representatives and the people will be prejudiced. We pride ourselves on having the finest democracy in the world because our constituents—plain John Citizens—can contact their representatives when and where necessary.
The Secretary of State for Scotland still has time to rethink this matter. As someone who has had the privilege of serving on the Lanark County Council for 14 years in various capacities, I can say that 777 there are times when local knowledge is essential. If one talks of certain improvements in a locality one must have a picture in mind of the nature of that locality, the type of services which exist and the problems and habits of the people. In order to guide any authority, one must have the value of local knowledge.
That will be impossible under the regional council because, with a system of sub-committees and executive committees, my two councillors cannot be on every sub-committee. Therefore, a stage is reached when sub-committees of people representing different parts of Ayrshire may arrive in my town to determine matters which can only be determined by local knowledge. It is indicative of the unwieldy structure of the new council proposed by the Secretary of State for Scotland.
I appeal to the Secretary of State at this last minute to reconsider his attitude and to remember that we are doing everything possible to provide services which we can boast are personally managed. Strathclyde Regional Council—with the greatest respect to and greatest appreciation of dedicated officers and councillors—cannot provide a personal service to the men, women and children of this area because it is a physical impossibility.
The whole structure is bound to become unwieldy, impersonal and unmanageable. One will come face to face with the problem of delegating super powers to officials and creating more bureaucracy. I can see bureaucracy rearing its ugly head, not out of any personal ambition for someone to become a bureaucrat, but because it is unavoidable as the results of the powers that will be imposed on individuals.
Suppose people make complaints about a coat stolen from school, about a bad roadway or about serious water leaks. Where are they to go? Is the present County Buildings at Hamilton to be the headquarters, or is it to be Glasgow Corporation? I would have it on the beautiful beach of Ayr. Is that where our people have to go to make their complaints, to see the officers in charge and to get justice? They are paying rates and taxes to maintain this type of structure.
If the Secretary of State feels that by the proposed region he can avoid joint 778 consultation or joint activities between authorities, he is making a fundamental mistake. There always will be regions contiguous to the Strathclyde Region dealing not only with questions of strategic planning. There will need to be talks and discussions about mutual water and drainage services—they have to have them between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland—apart from what will be necessary when large regions are established. There is no guarantee that there will not be the necessity for joint action. The right hon. Gentleman said that if one has four regions a great deal of joint activity will be required. That will be necessary even if there are only eight regions in Scotland. The only solution to that is to abolish all the regions and have one system of government in Scotland if the Secretary of State wants to avoid contiguous areas demanding mutual consultations.
Because I believe in local government, I believe in consumer services. It is the consumers who matter as it is the consumers who are to pay for water, drainage, homes, planning administration and the industrial development. Surely, the least we can do is to ensure that the consumer has the right to a system of government within reasonable proximity to where he or she lives and works.
The last review of local government was in 1929, 44 years ago. I predict that we shall not wait another 44 years for the next review, because the proposed region advocated by the Secretary of State for Scotland will break down long before then.
§ Mr. Ross
It is indicative of the concern of the people certainly of the West and many people south of the West that the matter that created immediate interest and controversy in the Royal Commission's Report was the size of the West Region. We are now almost at the very last hour in our consideration of this Bill and we are still discussing Strathclyde or the West Region. When we have made this decision in respect of Strathclyde, we still have to consider the content of the districts with Strathclyde and the question of Glasgow itself.
The Secretary of State must consider that he was unwisely guided when in 779 February 1971 he issued a White Paper in which he said in respect of boundaries:The boundaries illustrated may be altered slightly after consultations with local authorities … but the general structure, and the number of regions and the number of regions and districts, are not open to adjustment.He further said:The Government's decisions are accordingly set out in this White Paper. The structural proposals which it contains are intended as a prescription for action and not a basis for negotiation.
§ Mr. William Hannan
My right hon. Friend will recall that, in the House of Lords, Lord Hughes said, in discussing the White Paper and referring to the boundaries—he was glad to note it—… from which the Government have not departed—as we would not have departed—except in detail."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 23rd March 1971; Vol. 316, c. 816.]Why this turnabout by the noble Lord in another place from the speech in which he accepted all that was in the White Paper on the boundaries?
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Ross
My hon. Friend should have read what my noble Friend said on 15th October when he explained what had happened. He started with the point that I am making, about if we had produced a White Paper. We had not produced a White Paper because we had not finished our considerations, and it may be that Lord Hughes at that time thought that a large Strathclyde was something that we would come to.
What he did say was that the White Paper conclusions of the Government were final and that it was a great pity that they had not followed my instructions, namely that if there were a White Paper it should be a document for consultation and not one of decisions.
My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson), probably anticipating a reference from me, referred to the White Paper on social work which was put forward after consultation with hon. Members and members of local authorities. It was changed with agreement from hon. Members to give powers in respect of social work to the large burghs as well as to the counties.
It is wrong, after more than two years—February 1971—to say these are the decisions, that is the number of districts, 780 that is the number of regions and we shall not move from them. The Secretary of State, who has handled the Bill from the start, must have been a sad man this morning if he read what was said by the political correspondent in the Glasgow Herald:The measure has earned the reputation of being the most ill-starred, worst-managed Bill in the present Government's programme. Maplin not excepted. Today it returns to the Commons for consideration of Lords amendments. Never at this stage of proceedings has the House been presented with such an unmade bed of a Bill.This is perfectly true. The Government are bending and contorting the procedures of the House to enable them later to implement what I consider to be one of the most jerrymandering proposals I have ever seen at this stage of a Bill.
We have had these discussions today, but I have heard it said by many people time and time again that somehow or other in respect of Strathclyde we must stay by the sacred words of Wheatley. It is a little late in the day to talk about the sacred words of Wheatley, because the Wheatley proposals applied to the whole of Scotland. They were balanced proposals and principles to be applied throughout the whole area. I remind the House that Wheatley proposed that there should be a strong Highland Region and argued very strongly for it. But we have not got one. The Highlands are now spread over five regions or island authorities—that is, two regions and three island authorities. There is a Highland Region, an island authority for Shetland, one for Orkney and one for the Western Isles, and Argyll is part of Strathclyde.
The East Region, now Tayside, has lost a considerable part of Fife. The Lothians Region has also lost a part of Fife as well as the Borders. Now there is a new Fife Region which we never had despite all that was said about the White Paper—no scope for negotiation or change of heart. We have a new Borders Region which was not in the Royal Commission. The Strathclyde we have is not the Wheatley Strathclyde, because, troubled as we were about the Royal Commission's suggestion, we now have that great part of Argyll in Strathclyde. No one can convince me that there is a community of interest between 781 Tiree, on the one hand, and Troon, on the other—they do not even speak the same language.
§ Mr. Ross
One is surrounded by the sea. I will come to the hon. Gentleman later. I do not know whether it is fair to attack him because he has enough on his plate. Not only did he disagree with me but I gather he disagreed with a former Member for Pollok, who rejoices in the name of Lord Strathclyde and is his own father, in respect of the attitude he is adopting.
The changes have already been made and are enough to make John Wheatley turn in his bench. The changes that have been made have run counter to the underlying important assumptions of the Royal Commission, such as strategic planning, social cohesion and viability. All these have been thrown overboard in respect of these changes and the strange thing is that the one place that was the subject of greatest controversy is the one place in respect of which the Secretary of State digs in his heels.
I know that this is a difficult and complex problem, but if we have to depart from Wheatley to meet the peculiar needs of the Western Isles or Orkney and Shetland, surely we could have departed to a certain extent in respect of the largest area of local government, the suggested Strathclyde Region. When I looked at what Wheatley suggested, I began to wonder whether the Secretary of State thought that it was the MacDonald Report, because if the Wheatley Report has not been massacred it has certainly been fairly well mauled.
Let us look at what is being suggested. I know that it will take a long time to reach the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur), but there is still hope for him. We tried both in Committee and on Report to meet the need that there are certain functions in local government, such as strategic planning, including strategic housebuilding, major roads, ports and the rest of it, and it may be that we shall require an authority to deal with that on a broader scale. However, we should not allow the need for that to be done to destroy the possi- 782 bility of getting something that we could still call local government in respect of education and social work. Anyone who can calmly vote for an education authority that will control over 2½ million—half the population of Scotland in one education authority—with more teachers under its control than there are children in some of the other regions—
§ Mr. Galbraith
Will the right hon. Gentleman direct his mind to the extremely persuasive argument put forward by his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern) on the question of education?
§ Mr. Ross
I do not accept that by creating a bigger organisation one achieves a better and more efficient service. It is easier to move people about within a smaller area. I wish Glasgow were able to move people about within Glasgow. I wish Ayrshire were able properly to move people about within Ayrshire. The same applies to Renfrewshire. I can assure the hon. Gentleman, from my own experience in education and teaching, that it is a greater problem to move people about over a wide area than when it is broken up into much smaller areas, which are still not very small. The fact is that in every one of these areas there is a problem of maldistribution. If one cannot solve the problem within a limited area, one will not be able to solve it within the greater area.
§ Mr. Lawson
Would not my right hon. Friend agree that it might be an advantage if one got rid of the competing areas, one competing for teachers with another?
§ Mr. Ross
There is a certain amount of co-operation in this respect at present. I do not know whether my hon. Friend appreciates this, but the areas will still be competing. The problem here is what I fear. Many people say they will not teach in Glasgow, which is quite wrong. My own daughter teaches in Glasgow. My hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire taught in Glasgow. But one of the grave dangers, if we put all the local authorities with problems into one, is that people may try to get out of that area.
It is no accident that the Scottish Office opposed this large area in its evidence before the Royal Commission. 783 The Secretary of State must know the attitude of the Scottish Education Department. The Minister responsible for education during my term of office was my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan). He has always taken this position. He argued it, and he knows that our arguments were not conclusive at that time. The same applied equally to social work. If there is any service that is personal, any service in which much more local representation is required, where there is someone to give support, it is this kind of service.
My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston said that such a service can be carried out in this wide area with social security. He will remember that social security did not start on this wide and national field. It started as a local government service, and he will recall the kind of service that his authority gave—he was probably a member of it—in the days when it was called "public assistance". It started as a parish council affair and developed into something else. I warn him of what might well happen here. If such a service can be provided for half the population of Scotland, before we know where we are it will no longer be a local government service. It will be taken over by the central government.
§ Sir M. Galpern
Will my right hon. Friend agree that we have to look ahead to the possible development of social service? Let us take Glasgow as an example. It has thousands of boarded-out children scattered all over the Highlands, down in Ayrshire over a wide area, probably greater than the proposed Strathclyde Region, together with deserted wives and broken homes. The operation of a regional council could make a greater contribution than Glasgow itself, which has to rely on other authorities to carry out its social work.
§ Mr. Ross
I had noted the point and my hon. Friend almost answered it himself. He mentioned the Outward Bound school. He knows that most of these schools are outwith what will be the new extended area. The same thing is true of boarded-out children. My hon. Friend knows that many of these boarded-out children are not so much in Ayrshire but that many are in Aberdeenshire, which is one of the welcoming areas for Glasgow 784 and where a considerable amount of cooperation has built up over a long time. This does not help and co-operation will still be needed between local authorities that are so different.
§ Sir M. Galpern
I agree that there could well be schools at present such as Glenmore Lodge, which is not within the area, but, surely, looking ahead we could establish similar types of schools that will be required in far greater numbers. We could use far more schools if the education authority had control of the proposed area of Strathclyde.
§ Mr. Ross
If my hon. Friend looks at the area, he will need to go way beyond Strathclyde in this connection as, indeed, Ayrshire had to go way beyond Ayrshire. There were residential schools covering the whole of Scotland, in the Lothians, in Abington and at West Linton. So his argument does not meet that point, although I appreciate it. My hon. Friend is being almost as troublesome as a back bencher as he was as Chairman in entertaining us during discussions.
We have not given as much importance as it merits to the closeness of the people being governed. The changes to be made will not give the kind of service that should be received. Quality counts, but there is no guarantee of quality here. There is no guarantee of quality in any Act of Parliament, whether it be quality of a Member of Parliament or quality of a councillor.
I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire in his castigation of Glasgow. Many of us who had responsibilities for governing that city with all its problems—many of them an inheritance from an industrial revolution of well over a century ago—would run away from such problems. Those with responsibility now should be supported and not given the sort of treatment some people would like to hand out. I know my hon. Friend was not being entirely serious and there was a certain measure of facetiousness in what he said.
I do not want to give the impression that I am afraid of being swallowed up or dominated by Glasgow. But some of Glasgow's problems are bound to dominate this new council; it would be 785 wrong if they did not. We should take the chance of breaking it up and preserving a much more wieldy local government set-up. The size is unmanageable. The imbalance sticks out so clearly compared with the rest of Scotland—and changes cannot be made for the rest of Scotland without affecting what happens in this area. The changes we have made make it even more ludicrous to risk having such a large area.
I believe that this should be a blueprint for democracy. In respect of police and fire services—in respect of fire services it runs counter to what Holroyd suggested—I think that the area is too large. The close connections essential for the personal services are being sacrificed for a principle that was thrown overboard by the Secretary of State himself. It is difficult to maintain a position in respect of Strathclyde and estuarial planning for the Clyde when it is being thrown away in respect of the Tay and the Forth, and thrown away deliberately by the Secretary of State.
There is a false assumption that size will give us efficiency. Even if it could, I doubt if it could give a feeling of participation to the local people themselves. For this reason, I prefer what has been suggested in another place.
The right hon. Gentleman said that he did not want the power of being able to combine—that it was an unlimited power. He did not have time to look at it very carefully, because, even as he is proposing amendments here, he could have proposed amendments to write in conditions and qualifications as to whom he would consult and how it would be carried out.
I do not think that the power to combine or the power to get together in the hands of the Secretary of State is unworkable. I think it could have worked, and it would have been more satisfactory if he had taken time out in order to suggest amendments. I sincerely hope that the Government will still think about this problem.
One of the great weaknesses of the argument advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston was in saying that it may be wrong but let us come back to it in four years' time. It will not be working in four years' time. It will only just be getting going. They 786 will be floundering. I do not want us to flounder for ten years and then come back.
It would have been worth while in February 1971 for the Government to have had real negotiations and discussions, being prepared to have open minds. Now, at the very last minute, they have allowed their minds to be pushed in respect of Glasgow and pushed in a way which I cannot support, because I think it is a bit of party-political push they have been given. If they had kept open minds from 1971, we might have reached a solution for Strathclyde. I am not happy about the position.
§ Mr. Galbraith
The right hon. Gentleman has made two allegations of gerrymandering. How can he explain why the Tory councillors in Glasgow wish to have in Glasgow the areas which my right hon. Friend wishes to exclude from Glasgow?
§ Mr. Ross
I wish that he would listen to the House, and I wish that he would listen in time. Had the right hon. Gentleman listened in time, we should not have had this Strathclyde Bill being wished upon an unwilling West of Scotland. There is no doubt about that.
I understand the feelings of my hon. Friends from Glasgow. I am not speaking in an official capacity. I am speaking for myself and for colleagues in the West of Scotland who feel the same way as I do. I am not forcing anyone into the Lobby with me. I ask people to make up their own minds on this issue.
The Government have bungled this from start to finish, and the Secretary of State has no right to be proud of what is being done so late and in such a way that if we disagree with the Lords there is no more time to reconsider it, because we are at the end of the Session.
§ Mr. Gordon Campbell
Perhaps I may deal first with that last point. The reason for us having to deal with these stages of the Bill in the last two weeks of this Session is that the Bill did not reach the other place until June.
§ Mr. Campbell
Not now because I have a great deal more to say about it. With the leave of the House I shall reply briefly to the points which have been raised.
On the last point, it is not our wish that we should be dealing with stages so soon after each other, but we have to finish the Bill by the end of this Session, which is this week.
When a lot of time was being taken in Committee—we thought a lot more than was necessary—the Opposition should have realised that this would automatically be the result. It unfortunately, has meant compressing the stages—
§ Mr. Campbell
I shall come to what the hon. Gentleman said about this in a minute. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan), has had consistent views. I recognise what the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) said, that a Minister who has been dealing with the educational side of the problem has, naturally, been concerned about the prospect of administering education in such a large region. In the same way, Ministers have discussed all this in the Scottish Office, and all the pros and cons have been considered. We came to the conclusion—which apparently, according to Lord Hughes, the previous Government were coming to as well—that the Wheatley proposal was, on balance, the best, even taking account of those considerations of education and personal services.
When the hon. Member referred to Amendment No. 9 and the new and unusual power which it is proposed to give to the Secretary of State to force the four regions to combine on almost any subject, he appeared to accept this as a reasonable alternative to the proposal put forward by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton.
I believe that is an undesirable new power to give to a Minister. I made that clear, and I make it clear again. I do not think that suddenly putting together a completely new kind of structure, all depending upon this central power of the Minister, is something upon which we can take a snap decision today.
788 The hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton also referred to planning in the area of the region and said that problems connected with, for example, hypermarkets, would have to be called in and dealt with by the Secretary of State. I do not believe that that is so. I know that there are planning problems now concerning hypermarkets and other applications on that scale, but if there were a regional planning authority for the whole of the Strathclyde area it would not be necessary for them to be called in. As the hon. Gentleman said they may, in some cases, have to go to a public inquiry and perhaps come to the Secretary of State on appeal but he would not have to call them in the way that has to be done at present—I believe unnecessarily.
§ Mr. Galbraith
This is an important matter. My right hon. Friend is not saying that he will not call in anything; he just thinks that applications may not have to be called in.
§ Mr. Campbell
I am saying that because there are so many planning authorities crowded into a comparatively small area and interests conflict, as my hon. Friend and others have said, it is not at present possible for a planning proposal to be considered by a regional authority covering a wide enough area. That is where some of the difficulties and disputes arise. Hon. Members have brought this point out in debate in the House.
The hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North (Mr. John Smith) said that he would advocate more Government intervention in the affairs of local authorities. If I understood him aright, the hon. Gentleman thinks that central Government could and should intervene and take a greater part in local affairs than they do now. Where national policy needs to be described and stipulated, and guidance given, that is so, but, on the whole, in individual situations in different parts of Scotland, we want the local authorities and the new organisations, so far as possible, to be able to work out solutions themselves. That is the principle to which we adhere.
The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) recognised the differences and disputes that can occur. He was one of those who pointed out that if there are 789 a number of authorities in this area which may not all have the same view, projects which are decided on to make progress will get held up because agreement cannot be reached. A planning area covering the whole of Strathclyde would enable disputes and difficulties to be eliminated on the spot by the planning authority which could settle such matters within the region, and it would not require the central Government to try to knock the authorities' heads together or make progress in some other way, which both Governments have had to do in recent years.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) hit the nail on the head when he said that there was a fear of domination from Glasgow. He said that in Argyllshire and other parts of the proposed region there is an apprehension about domination from Glasgow. I know that it is there. My right hon. Friend is right. He clearly assessed the situation and the choice before us, but I do not believe that there is a reason for that fear.
Quite apart from anything else, the region proposed by the Wheatley Commission will have many more people out-with Glasgow than within the city, whatever the city boundaries are to be. One recognises the fear, but I think that one must dispel it. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) made the same point, and I agree entirely.
I notice that both my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend, who have considered these matters seriously from the point of view of the whole reorganisation of local government and of their constituencies, have, like me, come to the same conclusions about the best course to adopt when the moment arises for a decision. We cannot go on arguing about this for another year or two.
§ Dr. Dickson Mabon
Is it not the case that, quite apart from the false basis for this fear that Glasgow will dominate, following the preliminary evidence of committees and meetings of people concerned with the formation of the region there are those, not in Glasgow, who are banding together to do down the Glasgow people, which is a quite wrong way of approaching this matter? There is not only the fear of domination by Glas- 790 gow, but the fear of Glasgow Members, and it says a great deal for them that they are still willing to support the Strathclyde Region which may, in the initial stages, be anti-Glasgow.
§ Mr. Campbell
The hon. Gentleman is right in saying that this kind of fear promotes another fear, but I think it will be dispelled because at present it is psychological. I hope that as soon as these organisations start working together they will make progress instead of fighting each other, which is what has been happening very often in the past. This is the sort of thing which I believe will be dispelled, because it is psychological. But as soon as these organisations start working together I hope that they will make progress instead of fighting each other, which is what has happened very often in the past.
The hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Baxter) again made it clear that he is against the Wheatley principles altogether and therefore against the Bill. At this stage I cannot comment further on the hon. Gentleman's speech. The hon. Members for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) and South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) again explained clearly their views on the subject. We have listened to their case before and I shall not go over all the points again. I recognise the Ayrshire point of view. None the less, I believe that the course we propose is the best one.
§ Mr. John Robertson (Paisley)
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the Government are against Wheatley except where it concerns Strathclyde? None of the Wheatley proposals has been accepted except for Strathclyde, which the Government are pushing. For every other part of Scotland, Wheatley has not been accepted by the Government.
§ Mr. Campbell
I entirely disagree with the hon. Gentleman. I suggest that he is giving a completely false impression because, if we consider the Wheatley Report, what has happened is that almost all the proposals were accepted in the debate on the report. In this Bill we have concentrated on four or five important issues where differences existed. We must not allow that to obscure the 791 fact that on the whole most of the Wheatley Report has been accepted.
The situation is different from that in England and Wales, where the Royal Commissions Report was departed from considerably. Although the myth has been built up that the Government would inflexibly drive through the Wheatley proposals, we made it clear that this was not so. It was the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Robert Hughes)—who has disappeared at the moment, but to whom I should have been prepared to give way—who told us at the beginning of Committee that the Government would bulldoze the Bill through without changes. We made it clear then, at the outset, that we had carried out many consultations, that we had made changes and that we were ready to make further changes if convinced by argument, and we accepted changes during the Bill's passage. The myth which the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North was busy building with the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) was indeed a myth and we have made it clear by our actions that we have exploded it.
The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock has thrown doubt on the method of dealing with the Bill if the Lords amendment concerning Strathclyde is rejected, as I hope it will be. He asserted that this was being done in an unprecedented way. I have with me amendments in the same form as those put forward by the right hon. Gentleman in his own name for the Land Commission Bill in 1967. The right hon. Gentleman movedThat this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendmentand then proceeded to move amendments to the words so restored to the Bill.
Not only is there a precedent, but I have two amendments put forward in the right hon. Gentleman's own name in which this was done. I want to make the matter clear because some hon. Members have expressed anxiety about what will happen if the amendment is rejected. In our amendments to be taken later, relating to the subject, we have followed precedents which the right hon. Gentleman himself set.
Concerning the debate on the periphery of Glasgow, which is within the Strath- 792 clyde Region and which we shall shortly debate in full, the right hon. Gentleman spoke about that as if it were something which had been done politically by the Government. But the amendments were put down by Lord Hughes, he moved them and they were supported. The noble Lord was on the Front Bench and a former Minister of State in the Scottish Office in the Labour Government. Let us have no more of that nonsense. That was an amendment moved by the Front Bench in the other place and it was supported there.
§ Dr. Dickson Mabon
Is the Secretary of State talking about this group of amendments or is he talking about the third group of amendments, in which case I have no objection to what he says? If he is talking about the first group of amendments, I respectfully suggest, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the right hon. Gentleman is not in order.
§ Mr. Campbell
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The matter was raised in the debate and I therefore felt that I ought to deal with it. Although the other amendments will be reached and debated separately, they are directly linked with this issue and hon. Members raised the question about whether the procedure should be followed and whether precedents existed. The matter will arise if the Lords amendment under discussion is rejected, as I hope it will be. That is why I dealt with the matter.
§ Dr. Mabon
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker said this afternoon that the selection of amendments and the behaviour of the Government had no precedent. He said that he, as Speaker, was willing to set a precedent. I would appeal to the OFFICIAL REPORT to support me in that. Mr. Speaker implied that there were no precedents to the proposals specifically mentioned in amendments (g) and (h) by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross).
I submit, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that we are debating the procedural merits or otherwise of group 3 when we should be discussing group 1. If, however, the Secretary of State persists in this, we must make it clear that he is setting a precedent.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)
I have listened carefully to 793 the debate. My understanding was clear. The right hon. Gentleman was seeking to explain a point. I hope that he will not continue in the same vein.
§ Mr. Campbell
I completed it and merely thought, when giving way to the hon. Gentleman, that he would have something to add concerning Glasgow, which is part of the discussion on Strathclyde. Having had a full debate, and having heard again in a more concise form the arguments deployed in the House on previous occasions, I advise hon. Members to reject the amendment.
§ Mr. John Robertson
There are one or two points that should be corrected for the record. First, in Committee there was no whip on the Opposition side and a—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. That is not strictly in relation to the amendment and not a matter for the House.
§ Mr. Robertson
It is an answer to what has been said, with respect, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The time taken in Committee, the time left to discuss this question now, the way in which we are involved, the lack of information, the fact
§ that we could not have the amendments before us in order to table amendments to them all arise from this point. The Government created most of the trouble in Committee and took up a great deal of time with their own amendments. That should be said and placed on record.
§ The amendments we are discussing and the others to follow had the support of the Secretary of State's noble Friends in another place. The opposition to him today comes from his side, and yet the people who have voiced that opposition are not in their places. One can only presume they have been whipped into line. I came here in some doubt today because I do not like the amendment as it has come from the other place. I was prepared to consider voting, at least in regard to this part of the discussion, for the Government. But the right hon. Gentleman's attitude and the attitude of his hon. Friends are such that I shall support the amendment.
§ Question put, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 152, Noes 79.795
|Division No. 213.]||AYES||[8.10 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Jessel, Toby|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Dean, Paul||Jopling, Michael|
|Astor, John||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Drayson, Burnaby||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John||King, Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Bell, Ronald||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Kinsey, J. R.|
|Bennett, James(Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Emery, Peter||Kirk, Peter|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Eyre, Reginald||Kitson, Timothy|
|Benyon, W.||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Knight, Mrs. Jill|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Knox, David|
|Biffen, John||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lane, David|
|Body, Richard||Fookes, Miss Janet||Lawson, George|
|Boscawen, Hn. Robert||Fortescue, Tim||Le Marchant, Spencer|
|Bray, Ronald||Fowler, Norman||Longden, Sir Gilbert|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Fox, Marcus||Luce, R. N.|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Galpern, Sir Myer||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Gibson-Watt, David||MacArthur, Ian|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Gower, Raymond||McLaren, Martin|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Green, Alan||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Grieve, Percy||Mather, Carol|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Mawby, Ray|
|Buchanan-Smith, AlicK (Angus,N&M)||Grylls, Michael||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Gummer, J. Selwyn||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Campbell,Rt.Hn.G.(Moray & Nairn)||Gurden, Harold||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hannam, John (Exeter)||Moate, Roger|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)||Money, Ernie|
|Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||Monks, Mrs. Connie|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Haselhurst, Alan||Monro, Hector|
|Clegg, Walter||Havers, Sir Michael||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Cooke, Robert||Hawkins, Paul||Neave, Airey|
|Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick||Holland, Philip||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Cormack, Patrick||Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally|
|Costain, A. P.||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)|
|Critchley, Julian||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)|
|Crouch, David||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Parkinson, Cecil||Speed, Keith||Waddington, David|
|Percival, Ian||Spence, John||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Pink, R. Bonner||Sproat, Iain||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Stainton, Keith||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Proudfoot, Wilfred||Stanbrook, Ivor||Weitzman, David|
|Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis||Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||Stoddart, David (Swindon)||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Sutcliffe, John||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Rodgers, Willlam(Stockton-on-Tees)||Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Russell, Sir Ronald||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Younger, Hn. George|
|St. John-Stevas, Norman||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Tilney, Sir John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Simeons, Charles||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin||Mr. Oscar Murton and|
|Small, William||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard||Mr. Hamish Gray.|
|Ashton, Joe||Harper, Joseph||Moyle, Roland|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Baxter, William||Hatton, F.||O'Malley, Brian|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Huckfield, Leslie||Orbach, Maurice|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Oswald, Thomas|
|Brown, Robert C.(N'c'tle-u-Tyne,W.)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Prescott, John|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Hunter, Adam||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Roper, John|
|Coleman, Donald||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)|
|Concannon, J. D.||Judd, Frank||Skinner, Dennis|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Kaufman, Gerald||Steel, David|
|Dalyell, Tarn||Lambie, David||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Loughlin, Charles||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|Dempsey, James||McBride, Neil||Stott, Roger|
|Doig, Peter||McElhone, Frank||S'rang, Gavin|
|Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.)||Machin, George||Tope, Graham|
|Eadie, Alex||Mackenzie, Gregor||Torney, Tom|
|Edelman, Maurice||McNamara, J. Kevin||Wallace, George|
|Ellis, Tom||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Evans, Fred||Marsden, F.||Whitlock, William|
|Ewing, Harry||Marshall, Dr. Edmund||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlingon)||Mendelson, John||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Gilbert, Dr. John||Mikardo, Ian||Woof, Robert|
|Gourlay, Harry||Millan, Bruce|
|Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Mitchell.Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire.W)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Molloy, William||Mr. John Smith and|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Mr. James Sillars.|
|Hardy, Peter||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ Subsequent Lords amendment disagreed to.
§ Lords Amendment: No. 73, In page 151, line 21, column 2, leave out "Ettrick Forest" and insert "Ettrick and Lauderdale"
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.—[Mr. Younger.]
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this amendment we shall discuss Lords amendment No. 74; in page 151, line 39, column 2, leave out "Merse" and insert "Berwickshire"
§ Mr. David Steel
After the hon. Gentleman's detailed opening explanation, I hesitate to speak but there is one point on which I should like to seek the Under-Secretary of State's assurance. I am not happy with the change of name proposed for what was the Ettrick Forest
§ district. I am unhappy for two reasons. First, the name Ettrick and Lauderdale does, not accurately describe the area. If one were to give an accurate description it would be Ettrick, Yarrow, Gala Water and Lauderdale, but I think that not even the local authorities or the hon. Gentleman suggest that we should give a district a name like that, although at least it would be accurate. But what we have got is a long and clumsy name which is not even an accurate description.
§ I do not want the hon. Gentleman to tell me which town councils said this, that or the other, but in view of the change of name from Merse back to Berwickshire and as the boundaries of Peebles-shire are not being altered, there is a strong case for sticking to the original four county names, as we seem to be heading back in that direction. Although these are boundary changes as between the old Selkirkshire and the new Ettrick and Lauderdale district, they do not seem to be so substantial as to warrant a change of name at all. I cannot put forward an 797 alternative because we are merely discussing a Lords amendment.
§ The Bill elsewhere contains a provision for an authority, once assembled, to submit to the Secretary of State a proposal for a change of name, but is it competent for an authority once elected to submit a request to the Secretary of State for a change of name during the provisional year after the election and before it actually comes into being? There does not seem much point in having a continuing debate on these names after operation has started, but it would be reasonably useful to suggest that where there is still disquiet about the name in a district then, as part of the year's preparation, the authority may submit to the Secretary of State a proposal for a change. Will the Secretary of State consider sympathetically any such submissions which may be made?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Development, Scottish Office (Mr. George Younger)
I am sorry if I unduly curtailed my earlier remarks. I did not know whether the House generally would wish to discuss this point. I will not go into details of who is in favour of which names. We have tried wherever we could to listen carefully to opinion in the areas and have tried wherever we could to go along with local views. In most cases we have managed to do it.
The hon. Gentleman has made a substantial point. Certainly a new authority, once elected, is at liberty to make suggestions about its name to my right hon. Friend. He will look at any request with great sympathy, although I cannot undertake that any change of name would necessarily be accepted. Although there can never be finality on such matters, we should agree to leave it as another place decided. With that assurance, I hope the hon. Member will feel happy.
§ Question put and agreed to.798
§ Subsequent Lords Amendment agreed to.
§ Lords Amendment No. 75: In page 151, line 43, at end inert—
|City of Glasgow|
|The county of the city of Glasgow.|
|In the county of Lanark—in the Ninth district, the electoral divisions of Baillieston, Garrowhill, Mount Vernon and Carmyle, Springboig.|
|Rutherglen||In the county of Lanark—the burgh of 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 out-with the designated area of East Kilbride New Town.|
|Eastwood||In the county of Renfrew—the First district.|
|Kilpatricks||In the county of Dunbarton—the burghs of Bearsden, Clydebank, Milngavie; the district of Old Kilpatrick (except the electoral divisions of Bowling, Dunbarton).|
|Strathkelvin||In the county of Dunbarton—the burghs of Cumbernauld, Kirkintilloch; the district of Kirkintilloch and Cumbernauld.|
|In the county of Lanark—in the Ninth district, the electoral divisions of Chryston, Stepps; the burgh of Bishopbriggs.|
|In the county of Stirling—the burgh of Kilsyth; the Western No. 3 district; the electoral division of Kilsyth West; the polling district of Kilsyth East (Banton).|
|Monklands||In the county of Lanark—the burghs of Airdrie, Coat-bridge; the Ninth district (except the electoral divisions of Baillieston, Cryston, Garrowhill, Mount Vernon and Carmyle, Springboig, Stepps); in the Seventh district, the electoral division of Shottskirk.|
|Motherwell||In the county of Lanark—the burgh of Motherwell and Wishaw; the Sixth district (except the electoral divisions of Bothwell and Uddingston South, Uddingston North), the Seventh district (except the electoral division of Shottskirk).|
|Hamilton||In the county of Lanark—the burgh of Hamilton; the Fourth district (except the electoral division of Avon-dale); in the Sixth district, the electoral divisions of Bothwell and Uddingston South, Uddingston North; in the Eighth district, the electoral divisions of Blantyre, Stonefield, and that part of High Blantyre electoral division lying outwith the designated area of East Kilbride New Town.|
|East Kilbride||In the county of Lanark—the burgh of East Kilbride; in the Fourth district, the electoral division of Avondale; in the Eighth district, those parts of High Blantyre, Cambuslang South, and Carmunnock electoral divisions lying within the designated area of East Kilbride New Town.|
|Lanark||In the county of Lanark—the burghs of Biggar, Lanark; the First, Second, Third districts.|
|Argyll and Clyde|
|Dumbarton||In the county of Dunbarton—the burghs of Dumbarton, Cove and Kilcreggan, Helens-burgh; the districts of Helensburgh, Vale of Leven; the electoral divisions of Bowling, Dunbarton.|
|Renfrew||In the county of Renfrew—the burghs of Ban-head, John-stone, Paisley, Renfrew; the Second. Third, Fourth districts.|
|Inverclyde||In the county of Renfrew—the burghs of Gourock, Greenock. Port Glasgow; the Fifth district.|
|Argyll||In the county of Argyll—the burghs of Campbeltown, Dunoon, Inveraray, Lochgilphead, Oban, Tobermory; the districts of Cowal, Islay, Jura and Colonsay, Kintyre, Mid Argyll, Mull, North Lorn (except the electoral divisions of Ballachulish, Kinlochleven), South Lorn, Tiree and Coll.|
|In the county of Bute—the burgh of Rothsay; the district of Bute.|
|Ayrshire and Arran|
|Cunninghame||In the county of Ayr—the burghs of Ardrossan, Irvine. Kilwinning, Largs, Saltcoats, Stevenston; the districts of Irvine, Kilbirnie, West Kilbride; those parts of the designated area of Irvine New Town within the Ayr and Kilmarnock districts.|
|In the county of Bute—the burgh of Millport; the districts of Arran, Cumbrae.|
|Kyle and and Loudoun||In the county of Ayre—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 Ayre—the burghs of Ayr, Girvan, Maybole, Prestwick, Troon; the districts of Ayr (except that part of the designated area of Irvine New Town within this district), Girvan, Maybole; that part of the parish of Ayr within the district of Dalmellington; the polling district of Coylton.|
|Cumnock and Doon Valley||In the county of Ayr—the burghs of Cumnock and Holmhead; the districts of Cumnock, Dalmellington (except that part of the parish of Ayr within this district; the polling district of Coylton)."|
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
With this amendment, we shall take Lords Amendment No. 76, and the following amendments to the words proposed to be restored to the Bill:
- (a) in page 152, column 3, leave out lines 16 to 20.
- (b) in page 152, line 21, column 3, leave out from ' Lanark ' to ' in' in line 29.
- (c) in page 152, line 21, column 3, leave out ' burghs ' and insert ' burgh '.
- (d) in page 152, line 22, column 3, leave out ' Bishopbriggs '.
- (e) in page 152, column 3, leave out lines 33 to 35.
- (f) in pace 152, line 35, at end insert:
|Rutherglen||In the county of Lanark—the burgh of 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 out-with the designated area of East Kilbride New Town '|
§ (g) in page 152, line 35, at end insert:
|Kilpatricks||In the county of Dunbarton—the burghs of Bearsden, Clydebank, Milngavie; the district of Old Kilpatrick (except the electoral divisions of Bowline, Dunbarton).|
§ (h) in page 152, columns 2 and 3, leave out lines 36 to 47 and insert—
|' Clydebank||In the county of Dunbarton—the burgh of Clydebank; the district of Old Kilpatrick (except the electoral divisions of Bowling, Dunbarton, and that part of the electoral division of Hardgate lying within the parish of New Kilpatrick).|
|Bearsden and Milngavie||In the county of Dunbarton—the burghs of Bearsden, Milngavie; that part of the electoral division of Hard-gate lying within the parish of New Kilpatrick.|
|Bishopbriggs and Kirkintilloch||In the county of Dunbarton—the burgh of Kirkintilloch; those parts of the electoral divisions of Twechar and Waterside lying outwith the designated area of Cumbernauld New Town.|
|In the county of Lanark—the burgh of Bishopbriggs; the electoral divisions of Chryston, Stepps.|
|In the county of Stirling—the Western No. 3 district.|
|In the county of Dunbarton—the burgh of Cumbernauld; the electoral division of Croy and Dullatur and those parts of the electoral divisions of Twechar and Waterside lying within the designated area of Cumbernauld New Town.|
|In the county of Stirling—the burgh of Kilsyth; the electoral division of Kilsyth West; the polling district of Kilsvth East (Banton).'|
§ (i) in page 158, columns 2 and 3, leave out lines 36 to 47 and insert—
|'Strathkelvin||In the county of Dunbarton—the burghs of Cumbernauld, Kirkintilloch; the district of Kirkintilloch and Cumbernauld.|
|In the county of Lanark—in the Ninth district, the electoral divisions of Chryston, Stepps; the burgh of Bishopbriggs.|
|In the county of Stirling—the burgh of Kilsyth; the Western No. 3 district; the electoral division of Kilsyth West; the polling district of Kilsyth East (Banton).'|
- (j) in page 153, line 10, column 2, leave out ' Cadzow ' and insert ' Hamilton '.
- (k) in page 153, column 3, leave out lines 29 and 30.
- (l) in page 153, line 30, columns 2 and 3, at end insert—
|'Eastwood||In the county of Renfrew—the First district.'|
(m) in page 154, line 13, column 3, at end insert—
' that part of the parish of Ayr within the district of Dalmellington; the polling district of Coylton '.
(n) in page 154, line 16, column 3, at end insert:
'(except that part of the parish of Ayr within this district; the polling district of Coylton)'.
§ Amendments (a), (c), (d), (e), (h), and (j) to (n) stand in the name of the Secretary of State; amendments (b) and (f) in the name of the hon. Member for Ruther-glen (Mr. Gregor Mackenzie); and amendments (g) and (i) in the name of the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. McCartney).
§ Mr. Hugh D. Brown
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Could you clarify the situation? What will the first vote be in this series of amendments? Will it be on Amendment (n) or Lords Amendment No. 75?
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant Ferris)
The Question will be, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said amendment.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
As I understand the position, with Lords Amendment No. 75 it seems to be the wish of the House that we should discuss Lords Amendment No. 76 with Amendments (a) to (n). Perhaps the hon. Gentleman's difficulties will thereby be resolved in due course.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
When we get to it I am advised that the first question will be decided on Amendment (a).
§ Mr. Bruce Millan
What my hon. Friend is asking is whether we shall first vote on the Lords Amendment No. 75 and then Lords Amendment No. 76, and then go through from Amendments (a) to (n) or whatever it is after that. Do we take Lords Amendments Nos. 75 and 76 first and then go on to Amendments (a) to (n)?
§ Mr. Younger
Perhaps I could start by reiterating, in what I hope will be easily understood language, that we are now discussing Lords Amendments Nos. 75 and 76 and the Amendments (a) to (n), and that the votes, when they come, will first be on Lords Amendments No. 75 and 76 and thereafter in order on the amendments put down to those Lords amendments. I think that is exactly what you said, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I am asking the House to disagree with Lords Amendments Nos. 75 and 76. I shall ask the House in due course to agree with the Lords in amendments which follow and which have my right hon. Friend's name to them. I hope that leaves everyone in the House clear as to what we are discussing and in what order.
§ Mr. Younger
The right hon. Gentleman is correct. What I am asking the House to do is to agree to the amendments in the name of my right hon. Friend. But the right hon. Gentleman is right to point out that at that stage they will not be Lords amendments. The headmaster has put me firmly in my place, as usual. I shall do a hundred lines and try to show them to the headmaster in the morning. But I think the rest of the House is perfectly clear as to what I said. Having said that, I should like to give the background and the reasons for what I am asking the House to do.
Lords Amendment No. 75 is a corollary to the replacement on the Report stage in the Lords of the Strathclyde region with four separate regions, which 804 the House has just decided to reject. The structure of districts which it entails provides for separate Kilpatricks and Eastwood districts, for the inclusion of Bishopbriggs in the Strathkelvin district—these changes were agreed in the Lords Committee—and for the creation of a separate district comprising Rutherglen and Cambuslang. The Government's amendments, following the proposed disagreement to Lords Amendment No. 75, seek to form separate Clydebank and Bearsden and Milngavie districts, which taken together correspond with the Kilpatricks district, at present before us, and Bishopbriggs and Kirkintilloch and Cumbernauld districts, and to create an Eastwood district. It is proposed in this set of amendments that Rutherglen and Cambuslang should remain in the Glasgow district.
I think it will be evident to everybody in the House that Lords Amendment No. 75 is drafted on the basis of the existence of four regions in the West of Scotland. With the restoration of the Strathclyde region, which the House has decided, the amendment immediately becomes defective. I make no more of it and merely record that fact. But apart from any technical defects, the Government also believe that the district pattern which it constructs does not adequately meet the needs of the areas around Glasgow. That is why I propose to ask the House to disagree to the Lords Amendments.
We have given very careful consideration indeed to this extremely difficult question of the periphery of Glasgow, in the light of the comments that have been expressed in this House, in Committee upstairs, in another place and outside, locally and in the Press. Anyone who has studied the Division and voting records at the various stages of this controversy, and who has seen who has voted for what at various stages, will know only too clearly how very difficult it is for people to make up their minds on this complex collection of difficult issues. But the Government and I remain of the view that there has always been, and still is, a strong case for keeping the Glasgow district as it was when we last considered the matter in this House. Nevertheless, it would be idle to pretend that nothing has happened, to imagine 805 that the question rests now exactly as it did then and that nothing has happened in the interim.
§ Mr. Younger
I am hoping to explain that in the course of what I am saying. The vote in another place which reversed a great deal of what we had done in this House was not a snap decision or a momentary aberration in the middle of proceedings which did not allow for proper discussion. It had clearly been very thoroughly discussed over many months, both in and out of Parliament. In the light of this, we had to concede that in another place those who spoke certainly had a right to invite the Government and this House at least to think again about the Glasgow district and the problem of the peripheral areas.
The views expressed in another place on the general issue of the Glasgow district were that it was too large and embraced communities which would better stand on their own or be attached to a district other than Glasgow. One of the factors that carried weight with their Lordships—this reflected the popular concern to which I have referred—was the thought that the level of electoral representation would be drastically reduced in the peripheral areas and that this might prejudice the provision and standard of services. Another consideration was that although these areas unquestionably had links with Glasgow—I detailed them at earlier stages of the Bill—it was also thought that they had a distinct community of interest of their own. Finally, it was contended that there was sufficient weight of population and resources on the periphery of Glasgow—unlike the situation in some other cities—to form viable districts. It is obvious to all of us that there is force in each of those arguments and that they have to be looked at.
However, when it came to suggesting an alternative structure, the view taken by another place was that Glasgow should be reduced indiscriminately on every side—north, south, east and west—for the sake of reducing it. I do not think this view has ever prevailed in this House and it is certainly not the Government's view. But on this most difficult issue we believe that, as in other parts of Scotland, proposals for change in district boundaries must be 806 looked at individually on their merits, having regard to the natural affinities within and between communities, the scope for drawing meaningful boundaries and the scale of the authorities which might result from the changes.
Looking at these aspects—and each of them has to be looked at ad hoc individually on its own merits—we have to try to marry up a lot of conflicting considerations: whether there is community of interest between these areas and Glasgow, whether there is community of interest between the parts of the areas themselves, what are the views of those concerned in those areas and the views of those concerned in Glasgow.
The right thing to do is to consider objectively one by one the changes which another place has sought to make and see whether the case for each is sufficiently cogent, bearing in mind that we shall not necessarily be faced with an answer which is probably right or probably wrong but more probably a balance of advantages and disadvantages.
As I said several times in Committee, I do not believe that these matters are capable of absolute proof one way or the other. Whatever this House decides tonight, I do not believe any of us will be able to say that this or that case was proved. A tremendous amount of opinion comes into this, as one sees when one examines the views expresed in the Press, in the various papers that we have been given, and in this House.
I shall say a word about each of these areas and try to explain outright why I think the solution should be as I have suggested. I deal first with the area known as the Kilpatricks district. We have contended all along, when this area has been discussed at previous stages of the Bill, that a Kilpatricks district itself does not have a great deal to commend it. It has very little internal cohesion, and there is little genuine community of interest between Clydebank on the one hand and Bearsden and Milngavie on the other. It is no easy matter even to get from one side of the proposed district to the other. In Committee I expanded upon this a little and pointed out that I was not aware of a tremendous amount of traffic and movement between these two areas. I was not aware that large numbers of people in Bearsden and Milngavie moved to Clydebank for their recreation, 807 nor was I aware that people in Clydebank did the reverse movement.
The feeling that this area should not form part of the Glasgow district goes very deep, and that feeling is supported by a considerable number of hon. Members on both sides of this House. It is no use pretending that it is a clearcut solution one way or the other. An amendment in this sense was carried in the Scottish Standing Committee as well as in another place.
There is an obvious dilemma here which neither House has been able to resolve satisfactorily. We in the Government consider that there is an alternative solution which rejects the amendment before us but substitutes two new districts of Clydebank and Bearsden and Milngavie with populations of 59,000 and 36,000 respectively. Of course, the latter is on the low side as the population for a district but it is still comparable in size and resources with some of the other districts in the Strathclyde region.
As regards Strathkelvin, what another place has proposed is that an expanded district taking in Bishopbriggs and Kirkintilloch and Cumbernauld should be set up. Again we recognise the force of the negative side of the equation in that the view that Bishopbriggs should not form part of Glasgow is strongly held and has been vigorously expressed all along. I argued as hard as I could to suggest that there are very strong reasons for suggesting that Bishopbriggs is really part of the genuine Glasgow community. I was disagreed with by another place and with many in this House as well, and this is something which we shall have to consider again. However, it lies closer to the centre of Glasgow than do Bearsden or Clydebank, and the Government believe that in the context of the new structure there are strong arguments for Bishopbriggs going in with Glasgow. Indeed, we think that this would be a preferable solution.
However, in view of what was said in another place and by many hon. Members, we do not consider that the disadvantages of this part of the amendment are so overwhelming as to justify our rejecting it in the teeth of all the objections and the powerful arguments which have been put elsewhere.
808 To turn for a moment to the positive side, the Government do not think that the proposal simply to add Bishopbriggs to the Strathkelvin district is very satisfactory. It was moved by the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North (Mr. John Smith) in Committee and was defeated by 19 votes to six. Its drawbacks are obvious. It would create a district with three separate large centres of population, which would definitely be a disuniting factor. Noises have already been heard to suggest that that would be so.
As an alternative, we would prefer to create two separate districts, one comprising Bishopbriggs and Kirkintilloch, between which there is some community of interest, and the other for Cumbernauld along with Kilsyth.
There is, incidentally, a certain affinity here with another amendment which was tabled by the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North in Committee, but which he did not move.
§ Mr. John Smith
I would like to clear this matter up. I mentioned such an amendment, but the important difference between it and the one proposed by the Government is that Chryston and Stepps are included in what they propose as Bishopbriggs and Kirkintilloch. I never argued that. Nobody suggested it until it arrived like a bolt from the blue as a Government proposal.
§ Mr. Younger
The hon. Gentleman did not merely suggest such a thing but put down an amendment. [Interruption.] I accept that.
I did not say that the present amendment was exactly the same. I said that it had a certain affinity with the amendment which the hon. Member put down but did not move. We do not know why he did not move it. He was perfectly entitled not to move it.
What we are putting forward has better boundaries and results in a better size of district than the hon. Gentleman's proposal. It involves Bishopbriggs and Kirkintilloch with a population of around 75,000 and Cumbernauld with something like 50,000, but with prospects of steady growth in the future. These would be quite effective districts and there would in each be what there never was in Strathkelvin, a genuine community of interest. 809 This is something we should carefully bear in mind.
What I have said about Bishopbriggs also largely applies to Eastwood. We are aware of the strong community spirit epitomised in the present district council in Eastwood. I visited the district three months ago and this was very clear. It is a large and diverse area, ranging from the moorland country on the Ayrshire boundary to Cathcart and Thornliebank on the edge of Glasgow. Our view was, and remains, that there is no clear dividing line between Eastwood and Glasgow and that the better course is to combine them.
The other view, that the present district council area—that is taking in Eaglesham, which we have put with East Kilbride—should become a district on its own had a fair amount of support when the matter was raised in the Scottish Standing Committee and the vote was 10 votes for and 15 against, which was not an overwhelming defeat, and it has prevailed in another place. There was a different judgment involved here. I would not advise the House to resist this part of the amendment. The population of the district would be about 50,000.
I turn now to Rutherglen. The Government's amendment does not specify Rutherglen as it is proposed to leave it, along with Cambuslang, within the Glasgow district. I must refer to it because it is differently treated in the Lords amendment and the House is entitled to an explanation of the Government's attitude on this issue. The proposed Rutherglen district was never fully discussed in another place; it was part of a package that the other place accepted for Strathclyde as a whole. But it was debated in Scottish Standing Committee, which decided by 15 votes to two that Rutherglen and Cambuslang should go with Glasgow.
It is difficult to make out a convincing case for maintaining the separateness of Rutherglen, although the provost and town council have written a letter in which they do their best to do so. The distance between Rutherglen Town Hall and the city chambers is about 2½ miles. The burgh is hemmed in by Glasgow and the proposed new district, almost more, so with the city boundary projecting 810 at Castlemilk on the west and Shettleston on the north and east.
The links between Rutherglen and Glasgow are far stronger than those on any part of the periphery. For example, people moving house between Rutherglen and Glasgow in the period 1961–66 equalled the total of movements to and from all the remaining parts of the Strathclyde region. The public transport links are striking, with 300 buses a day from Rutherglen to the city centre and 136 train journeys, compared with only 48 from Eastwood and 35 from Bearsden. Rutherglen station is only nine minutes from Central Station. Many more Rutherglen people work in Glasgow than are employed in Rutherglen. Conversely, the number of Glaswegians who come to work in Rutherglen exceeds the number who both live and work in the burgh.
Mr. Edward Taylor
In comparing Rutherglen with Eastwood, and talking about the number of buses and trains, will by hon. Friend bear in mind that not everybody in Eastwood travels to Glasgow by bus and train? Some of the people there have very large cars.
§ Mr. Younger
I accept that. The same argument would apply to some degree to places such as Bearsden. But the figures are fairly significant in spite of that.
§ Mr. Gregor Mackenzie
As the hon. Gentleman places reliance on what was said and done in another place, why did he prejudge the issue of Rutherglen before it has been raised by his noble Friend Lord Selkirk in another place? The decision was taken between the Committee and Report stages. No consideration was given to our case in the other place. The Minister must not mislead us in this way. One of the principal reasons why Rutherglen has been treated differently from the other places is that it did not happen to get the same deal in the House of Lords. It is as simple as that.
§ Mr. Younger
I made that point a minute or two ago, and it is a fair one. But the most important thing we should do now is to address ourselves to the real issues and the right solution for Rutherglen. I am prepared to accept that we should not be bound by discussions in another place. We must make up our 811 minds on the merits of the case, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman will help us to do so.
§ Mr. Mackenzie
The Secretary of State has already made up his mind. He made it up during the time between the Committee and Report stages. Although he now says "Let's all make up our minds", the hon. Gentleman knows that his right hon. Friend will be whipping Government Members into the other Lobby.
§ Mr. Younger
There is not much to answer, because that is the way everything is decided here. I see nothing remarkable in it.
We must now try to address ourselves to the merits of the case. If there is a powerful argument based on facts that Rutherglen should not be part of Glasgow, that is what we should be considering. If there are arguments why it should be part of Glasgow, we should be considering them.
It is often said that statistics can prove anything, but to anyone who knows the area the statistics I have given do not tell an untrue story. Lord Shinwell said last week:I venture to say that Rutherglen is just around the corner. When I lived in Glasgow Rutherglen was part of Glasgow. There were some queer people there, I agree, but it was Glasgow. It was not a hop. step and jump from the Clyde Football Club ground."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. House of Lords, 15th October 1973; Vol. 345, c. 38.]As many of us know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Shawfield ground is divided between Glasgow and Rutherglen. It is rather difficult to see them as completely separate places.
§ Mr. Neil Carmichael (Glasgow, Woodside)
The hon. Gentleman's argument is interesting. I understand that there is a house on the border of Clydebank and Glasgow. One part of the house is rated by Clydebank and the other part by Glasgow. We will not get far with that sort of argument.
§ Mr. Younger
None of these arguments, taken by itself, can be taken as 812 proof. No matter how many journeys I can prove to the House are made between X and Glasgow or Y and Glasgow, in either direction, that is no proof that I am right and that someone else is wrong. We must take the totality of the arguments and make our own judgments. Every hon. Member must do so. There is no other approach.
§ Mr. McCartney
Why does the hon. Gentleman try to persuade us to support the Government's point of view on the basis of these specious arguments? I was born and brought up in Bridgeton. I supported Clyde, part of which was in Rutherglen and part in Bridgeton. The reason why I supported Clyde was that I did not think it would be worth while to support Celtic or Rangers. Are you suggesting that all the people around the periphery of Glasgow should or should not support the Government on the basis of the team which they support?
§ Mr. McCartney
I shall address the hon. Gentleman through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that through the support of teams in the periphery of Glasgow we should agree or disagree with the Government on the reorganisation of local government?
§ Mr. Younger
With respect to the hon. Gentleman, I think that no hon. Member thought that was what I was suggesting. If the hon. Gentleman wants to find a team to support, I suggest that he supports Ayr United, which is now a happy thing to do. For reasons which have been described, hon. Members have never felt—this is borne out by our discussions and by the voting which has taken place—that the case for Rutherglen and Cambuslang is in the same category as the case for some other peripheral areas. That justifies the Government in making a distinction now.
The Government cannot pretend to be convinced that all the changes to the Glasgow district which have been proposed in another place are self-evidently right. However, with the further 813 modifications which are proposed in the Government amendments, we have now arrived at a solution which recognises the strong feeling that these areas should not be part of Glasgow. That is a feeling which I do not altogether share. Having recognised the feeling that these areas should not be part of the Glasgow district, the Government have produced a sensible, viable and logical suggestion which could make sense of Glasgow.
The object of these changes, if we are to recognise that these areas are not to be part of Glasgow, is to produce districts which make sense in themselves, which have a community of interest within themselves and which are not districts botched together with the object of putting them together to make a nice figure on the map, thereby producing districts which do not have an internal community interest.
In some cases, as I have already said, there is a danger that the result might be that some districts will have within them, divisive forces which cannot be successful. This is a most difficult problem. Many solutions have been discussed. Views have been taken in different directions from both sides of the House at every stage. The voting records are fascinating to examine. We must now consider the evidence and make a decision.
The Government have tried their hardest to recognise the freedom of expression. We were trying to do that when the Bill began. We have shown that we are not prepared to be stiff-necked and to ignore completely the views of Parliament. We have tried our best to recognise the views which have been expressed in the House. We have tried to find a solution that will make sense to the districts and will make good district government possible. I urge the House to consider carefully every argument which has been put forward and to proceed as I suggested.
§ Mr. Hugh D. Brown (Glasgow, Provan)
The kindest thing I can say about the Minister's speech is that it was totally unconvincing. It is just as well that not many hon. Members were on the Government side of the House behind the Front Bench when that speech was delivered. If more Members had 814 been present they would have been in doubt about which side to support in the Division.
My position is quite clear. I hope that I am also clear about which way I shall vote, in spite of the difficulties involved in following the amendments. I want the Bill to be restored to what it was when it left this House; not to what it was when it left the Committee, but to what it was when it left the House. To that extent I shall take up a few minutes on this very important matter.
One of the main reasons why the matter needs to be debated is that it has not been debated previously in this context. Every other authority and point of view that has been expressed, even in the previous debates, has been based on four years of marshalling the arguments. They have been based on a two-year period since the Government's White Paper was published and on a year of consultation before the White Paper was published.
We are faced here with a situation in which, because the Government have changed their minds at the last minute, three weeks ago, those of us who want the Bill as it was when it left the House have had only three weeks to campaign for that, as against the two, three or four years of everyone else.
The Minister cannot juggle with previous votes and points of view which have been advanced. We must recognise that this has been a complete sell-out by the Government, not to opinion in the House or to the other place but to party-political pressures exerted on the Minister by the Conservative and Unionist Party outside Parliament. The Minister knows that. That is why he has been totally unconvincing.
We are entitled to protest because the facts were all known and argued. I do not know whether I shall influence anyone. I am hopeful that at least some of my hon. Friends who were rightly obsessed with the Strathclyde argument—I disagree with them but I understand why they thought that that was the most important issue—and who have not been paying so much attention to Glasgow and the peripheral problem will support me and some of my hon. Friends when we plead for what is in the best interests of the Glasgow district.
815 It is important to look back, perhaps for the last time, to what the Wheatley Commission said about the matter. I have been almost blackballed as a Wheatley Commission supporter through and through. We are, however, entitled to remind ourselves that everyone who has looked at the existing Glasgow has found some difficulty about where to put it or what to do with it.
My hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) might have some unusual ideas about what to do with Glasgow. But being the size that it is, within either the Strathclyde region or the Greater Glasgow district it presents the fear of the possibility that it might dominate the whole situation. That explains much of the opposition. The Wheatley Commission recognised this and specially mentioned it when speaking of the course that it proposed, which was to enlarge the city boundaries from their present line but only so far as to take in those parts of the hinterland which would be better served and more effectively administered from the city. The report goes on to say that Glasgow is the most difficult to deal with.
Everybody recognises that, and in the appendices to the report there is evidence further to emphasise this. In paragraph 6 of Appendix 12 the case is made:The total picture, then, is of a city boundary which has remained unchanged for over 30 years".I do not want to get involved over Rutherglen and Cambuslang, which in general terms were going virtually against almost all I am asking for by taking other authorities out. There is a certain amount of logic in taking them all out; or they all could be in. I am making the positive point that they should be in. However, that paragraph in Appendix 12 says that the picture is of a city boundary which has remained unchanged for over 30 yearsduring which time changed conditions have enabled citizens and city workers to live in places at a greater distance from the overcrowded city centre. These outlying places, although not physically separated from the city, are cut off from it by the boundary. This prevents their inhabitants from playing their part as citizens of Glasgow and creates an imbalance in the social structure which may be to the disadvantage of the city.That is absolutely true.
816 If I put the case in more popular terms some will say that I am suggesting, because middle-class elements can move outside the city, that the city loses the benefit of some of the qualities those people have; I could be misunderstood and the argument could be used against me. I have no middle class in my constituency, but there could be a better social mix in a district, by bringing into a district all the authorities, to make a district which makes sense.
This is an argument which concerns everyone, including the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor) whose constituency could equally be involved, if we give the impression that we want more of the middle class in an area—to give leadership, for instance, in Castlemilk. It is not that one class is better than the other but that each has something to contribute towards solving the problems with which we are all concerned. We cannot escape from the problems of vandalism in Drumchapel by hopping into Bearsden. We have to think in terms of an area and of its community as was attempted to be defined by Wheatley.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) quoted the White Paper in connection with Strathclyde, and he was quite right, but I remind the Under-Secretary of what it is to which the Government are committed. There are so many quotations I could make that it is difficult to decide which to make. There was a firm decision by a firm—or was there? There have been consultations for a year and a half, and the time has now come for firm decisions. That is what the Government have said, and they have further said that "We will not change the structure of the boundaries in any significant way." Is the Under-Secretary suggesting that this change here is not a significant change at the last minute? He knows that many authorities have campaigned against it, and were plainly told that it was not on.
There is a point here on which I disagree with my right hon. Friend. The Wheatley Report came out in 1969. There had been discussions with the Labour Government, and they were followed by discussions with the present Government. I am not trying to commit anybody to anything, but I do not think that there was any shadow of doubt that most of the 817 peripheral authorities got the message that they were likely to remain in some kind of Glasgow district. They are in it whether they like it or not. No one had any reason to think that the Government or any strong body of opinion, other than in some of the smaller authorities, would favour any departure from the broad principles I have stated.
In Committee, the Under-Secretary gave the impression—I hope he will take this as a compliment—that he believed in what he was saying at that stage. Does he still believe in it? If he does, who has made the change? Has he been overruled by the Secretary of State for political purposes? Either he should resign or the Secretary of State should resign. Somebody should move over and give the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) a chance because, as far as I can see, he is the man who has accomplished this on behalf of the Conservative Party.
In face of some of the arguments put forward by the Under-Secretary in Committee, it is totally unconvincing of him now to read from his brief that he has changed his mind, or that there is some new argument which he had previously not heard.
The Government have been fair. In Committee they were defeated. The Under-Secretary said that he did not agree with the Opposition in wishing to hive off peripheral authorities and that the Committee would be wrong to accept that argument. When they were defeated, they said they would reconsider the argument and that, if the Opposition had any new ideas to put to them, they would be prepared to consider them. They were defeated and had to look at them.
I remind the House that a month later, having considered the argument, the Government returned with their proposals, and the House by an overwhelming majority justified what was originally proposed. So where has the pressure come from—from this House or the other House? Out of three Labour Lords, two were for and one against. There is nothing there to guide Opposition Members. We had to make up our own minds. Here we have an abysmal retreat by the Government. We all know that it is a retreat from sound principles, well argued at length in Committee, and for 818 what? For political purposes, without the shadow of a doubt, and everybody knows it.
I got into trouble with some of my hon. Friends because I suggested that there was party-political pressure being brought to bear on some of us and hon. Members on the Government benches. Their pressures have been more successful, or they work better than we do on our side, perhaps because they have persuaded or threatened. I almost feel sorry for the Secretary of State. I cannot put the boot in when I see somebody who is so ineffective and helpless as he has been in local government. He is tragic, but perhaps, pathetically, he feels that he is at least doing something for the party. That is the most charitable thing I can find to say. I can see nothing that would have convinced him to change his mind three weeks ago in the way that he has.
I know that it is a difficult case. I know the feeling in the small burghs and in the authorities. They have a tremendous pride, quite rightly so, in their community. They have been frightened for two reasons. They have been frightened because they think—and with some justification, though I cannot commit any future Greater Glasgow district—that there should be another look at the basis of representation. No matter what is done for this area, I genuinely believe that it will always be a Labour-controlled authority. That is why some people want out of it. The only ones who are getting out are the Tory-controlled authorities. [HON. MEMBERS: "Clydebank."] Yes, I know, but there is a reason for that. Nobody wants Clydebank.
§ Mr. Brown
I still want it, but I am still willing to take in the Tory areas of Bearsden and Milngavie as well. When we were arguing about this, I genuinely understood the fear on the part of some of these smaller authorities, though I do not think that that is an argument to which we should attach great weight. But we should at least understand it so that we can perhaps do something about it.
I cannot commit anybody to anything, but I am willing to suggest that we might all have needed to sit down in the future and look at the representations to see 819 whether there should have been more members or fewer members, covering different wards or whatever. That could always have been done.
The second matter that worried people—I hope I do not offend anybody when I say this—is that it is a well-known fact that many people escaped from Glasgow at one time because they were going into low-rated areas. Everyone knows that People would say "I will buy a house in Renfrewshire because it has the lowest rates." It gave the poorest services, but that is another argument.
§ Mr. Brown
If my hon. Friend insists, the very lowest rates, but it did not give any great service. Nevertheless, this was a factor, and many people still believe that if they have anything to do with Glasgow they will face increased rating burdens. Even the housing finance account, as the Minister knows—if he had stuck to his guns he could have justified even that—will minimise the possibility of the unequal burden of rates in these areas. However, what has not got through, because no one is telling the electors in these peripheral areas, is that 75 per cent. of the rate burden will be levied on them by the regional authority in any case, so they have no reason to fear Glasgow or the problems that they think Glasgow has. They have no reason to fear that on account of any increased rates; they will get them under the inflationary policies of the present Government whether they like it or not wherever they are. That is what is worrying.
The last argument to me is the one that I have always felt was right. There is something to be said for the town and country argument. I may be rather idealistic, perhaps naive—again it is a difficult matter to get across—but I think that many people enjoy living in these peripheral authorities. These authorities have many attractions and many more amenities than we enjoy in some areas inside Glasgow. One of the reasons why people go to these areas is to enjoy them. However, as I said earlier, one cannot escape from the social problems within the city by merely hopping over the boundary. Some people 820 think they can do that, but the experience in American cities shows that they will have to go further and further away from what they regard as a problem, whether it is vandalism, delinquency, mugging or whatever.
I should like to think that we as Socialists—I appeal to my hon. Friends, because they know that this is one of the strong arguments that has been put to them in some of these peripheral authorities—can face up to the problems about which we are all concerned.
§ Mr. Galbraith
Will the hon. Gentleman explain how the size of Glasgow will solve these social problems? They are there in his own constituency in Easterhouse, in spite of Glasgow.
§ Mr. Brown
Perhaps I am not making myself clear, or the hon. Member is dense. I am prepared to think that it is the latter. I am trying to suggest that there is an element of people of responsibility who are getting out of the city and therefore, not able to use their talents and abilities in assisting us to solve some of the problems within the city. Equally, I am saying—at least, I thought I was saying this until the hon. Gentleman interrupted me—that the citizens within the present city boundaries have a right to have a say. I am not talking about housing land; I am talking about amenity land, open spaces outside the city which can be shared by them and by those who enjoy them at the moment.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. McCartney
I totally agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown) that the situation in America is that people try to escape from what is happening by going further and further out. Does he agree with me that what he is arguing for—these great Strathclyde and Strathkelvin areas in the Glasgow district—is the concept of that which in practical term is ineffective in the American situation?
§ Mr. Brown
No, I shall not answer it because I am not sure that I properly understood the question. That is one good reason for not answering it. I would have thought that there is general recognition, a common interest, in what I would describe as the Greater Glasgow district as it was presented to us the first time. No one can deny that.
I have studied some of the powerful arguments and understand why people felt strongly against coming in with Glasgow. But we have to break down some of these official barriers with regard to boundaries, and social, cultural and political barriers that have been built up, brought about by the stratifying or separating into distinct communities. In a positive sense we have much to give each other—that is Glasgow, and the authorities round about. I do not speak in this spirit from any desire to dominate any area, which is not in my nature and certainly is not behind Glasgow's belated campaign. It should be borne in mind that when one has four years to prepare a campaign it can be presented in the smoothest and best way. If Glasgow has made any mistakes it is because there has been too little time to do justice to what is a good case. I am sorry that many Government supporters are not even listening to the debate, because I had hoped that even at this late stage the Opposition might have been able to influence them to do what I genuinely believe the Government thought to be right in the first place and which, in their hearts, I believe they think is right.
§ Mr. Millan
I support my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown). First, however, I want to complain about the way in which this whole issue has been handled by the Government. Quite apart from the ineptitude of the general handling of the Bill, both in the other place and in this House, these changes, which have been most unconvincingly presented to us by the Under-Secretary, have been decided upon by the Government at the very last stage of the Bill, without any kind of notice or discussion with Glasgow Corporation.
822 To compound this error, the Government have steadfastly refused even to discuss this matter with representatives of the Glasgow Corporation, not only from the ruling Labour majority group but from the Conservative side as well. In my experience it is absolutely unprecedented for any Secretary of State for Scotland of any party to refuse to meet the largest local authority in Scotland—indeed, any local authority in Scotland—on a matter of absolutely major intrinsic importance to that authority.
Quite apart from the merits or demerits of the question of the boundaries of Glasgow, it is utterly scandalous that the Secretary of State has refused to meet Glasgow Corporation on this matter. I do not think that this has ever happened previously. I know that it is not a particular discourtesy directed towards Glasgow because we have had similar discourtesies directed towards the Provost of Rutherglen and other people. But when the Government make this kind of change at the very last stage of the Bill there is an added obligation on them to discuss it with the local authority most concerned, particularly when, as my hon. Friend has pointed out, that authority has supported the Government all the way through—in the Strathclyde Region as well as in the district—and believed right up to the last minute that the Government would stick to the boundaries originally defined by them and debated and confirmed by this House before the Bill went to the other place.
We heard from the Under-Secretary a completely unconvincing case. He does not believe the arguments that he produced this evening for the changes. At the end of his speech, I thought he would probably finish by voting in both Lobbies simultaneously, because he gave as many convincing arguments for the boundaries which were in the Bill before it went to the other place as he did for the changes he is now asking the House to make.
It is true that some of the communities with which we are dealing are separate, identifiable and lively, with a strong sense of community. I do not deny that. But one has only to look at the make-up of other districts both in the Strathclyde Region and elsewhere to see that that is true of many other districts. Small and large burghs have been merged in the interests of local government reform and 823 of a more sensible and effective structure of local government. Such districts exist all over the Strathclyde Region. There is the Kyle and Carrick district, the burghs of Ayr, Girvan, Maybole, Prestwick and Troon, all having their own identities and a strong sense of community, but in the interests of efficient local government they are being brought together.
I want to give similar examples—from Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and other regions of Scotland—to demonstrate to the House that to say that because people living in Bishopbriggs have a close identity with the burgh of Bishopbriggs, or people living in Bearsden and Milngavie feel an identity with Bearsden and Milngavie, that somehow settles the argument is completely to misrepresent not only the general arguments of the Wheatley Report but also what the Government are doing in the rest of Scotland.
A feeling of community is not by itself an argument for separate district status. It has not applied anywhere else in Scotland, and there is no reason why it should apply in Glasgow.
In the broadest economic terms—in terms of transport, wide community interests, leisure pursuits, social mix and so on—the overwhelming argument is for a Greater Glasgow district well beyond the boundary of the present city of Glasgow. This was exhaustively dealt with in the Wheatley Report, and I shall not repeat the arguments outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Provan.
If one wanted to depart from Wheatley and take a particular area out of the greater Glasgow district, by far the strongest case would be for Clydebank. I have always felt that Clydebank not only had a history as a separate community but had a greater sense of separateness and a stronger case for staying out of Glasgow than any of the other areas around Glasgow. But to argue that Eastwood, Bearsden, Milngavie and Bishopbriggs should not be brought into Glasgow simply because they have developed this independent entity, when one knows that they are overwhelmingly linked to Glasgow in every possible way, is to set aside the whole of the Wheatley philosophy and the whole of the philosophy and moving spirit within so much of the rest of the Bill.
824 I have a great deal of sympathy for my hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen (Mr. Gregor Mackenzie), and I take his point that, if these other areas are to be left out of Glasgow, there is an equally good case for leaving out Rutherglen and Cambuslang. Rutherglen and Cambuslang have more industry indigenous to their own area than Bearsden, Milngavie and Eastwood, which have no industry at all.
I am sorry to disappoint my hon. Friend, but, despite that, I shall vote for Rutherglen to be incorporated within the city of Glasgow because I believe that the economic and social arguments mean that Rutherglen and Cambuslang as well as these other areas should come within Glasgow.
We have had no explanation from the Government tonight about why these changes are being made. The people in the area concerned have been treated with tremendous disrespect and discourtesy by the Secretary of State. The Government should be ashamed of themselves for the squalid and shabby way in which they have changed their minds on this important issue.
Mr. Edward Taylor
I am sure that many of us who are fair about these matters, as I know the hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown) usually is, must feel sorry for the Minister. For the past two or three months he has been attacked on all sides by people agitating, on behalf of the burghs, to get out of the Greater Glasgow district. But tonight, having made this great concession, he finds himself with not a friend in sight and everyone attacking him wholesale. I hope he will not take my remarks unkindly because, though I shall not be supporting the point he made, I am sure that many people inside and outside the House, who will not be saying anything, are glad that this ridiculous action has been taken.
It is unfortunate that the discussions on the Greater Glasgow area are doing no good to Glasgow. Many of us regard this as unsavoury. It has, in the context of the Strathclyde Region, produced some rather ignorant and foolish remarks such as those we have heard from the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) about Glasgow. Even in 825 discussion of these amendments grave damage has been done to the general image of Glasgow in this squalid scramble by a group of burghs round Glasgow to get out of it. In these circumstances, the whole episode has not done Glasgow any good.
The basic argument which my hon. Friend put forward has been advanced by the peripheral burghs. It was interesting that while there was a case put by him about the identity of interest within each burgh—my hon. Friend, in his usual splendid way, went through all the burghs saying how Bishopbriggs had something, Milngavie had something and Eastwood had something—the one area which he did not mention was the city of Glasgow within its existing boundary.
If my hon. Friend were to look at Bearsden and Milnuavie and then at Glasgow itself, he would say that here we have a community which has one identifiable community interest. Can we honestly say that Craigton and Provan have more in common with each other than Cathcart and Eastwood? Clearly that is not so. If we were to move away from the Greater Glasgow district, which I support, if there were a case for moving at all, we should not have any change, leaving Glasgow with its existing boundaries.
There surely was a case for saying that we should split Glasgow into four and take a bit of the periphery from each area. One could take the south side of Glasgow and tack on Eastwood. Let us take the constituency of the hon. Member for Craigton and stick on a bit of Bearsden and Milngavie. Let us take the constituency of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) and stick on sonic of the periphery there. This surely is the sensible way to do it to try to achieve a community of interest.
I am aware of the local pressures which are exerted and of the reason for the amendment. It is not because the Government want it. It is probably for reasons which are nothing to do with the Conservative Party but which concern the prospect of the Bill being wrecked by the House of Lords in the next four days if we do not do something to please their Lordships on their amendments. I feel that if a change is to be made in the 826 proposed Greater Glasgow district, it should be done by splitting Glasgow and forming better communities of interest. The Glasgow that was made many years ago is not the Glasgow as a community which we should have now.
All the normal arguments have been advanced and put very ably by the two previous speakers. My hon. Friend must give some indication to the people in these glorious new independent burghs or districts of their financial prospects. We know that for the best reasons, because they were organising campaigns, as the hon. Member for Provan has rightly said, many people in the peripheral areas have been conned by some silly propaganda. Those I speak to are not concerned about the rights they have to run their own cleansing services in Bishopbriggs or Bearsden. They are concerned about cash. They are terrified that, by joining with Glasgow, they will suddenly find a massive increase in their rating values. It appears that way to people who are not fully aware of what is going on in the Bill. They see the situation in Glasgow, where we have very high rates.
More importantly, they see the trend in the south side of Glasgow where the assessments are considerably higher for comparable properties than they are in the eastward part of Renfrewshire. Therefore they are scared, and at this stage of the Bill, when we are just about folding it up, we have to make clear precisely what is the percentage of revenue of the new authorities which will be carried by the region and what will be the scope which individual districts have to make an adjustment in their rates.
I fear that many of the people who have supported the campaigns for independence for peripheral burghs will get a nasty shock, first, when they get the regional rate, and secondly, when they discover that the district rate is only a small variation from that for Glasgow, or anywhere else. Then, in two or three years, there will be a greater shock when they get their new rateable assessments and find that there are common assessments throughout the Strathclyde Region, and we do not have the situation as we shall have over the next two years when they will be working to bring Renfrewshire or Dunbartonshire assessments to a 827 common regional rate. At this stage, we should give them warning of what is to happen.
The arguments have been gone over in considerable detail. My hon. Friend must be aware that, although we appreciate the considerable pressures he has been under, if Lord Wheatley were to look at the proposed districts we are setting up of Glasgow plus Rutherglen and at the other areas, in the event of his untimely and unhoped for decease he would turn in his grave. Like anyone else looking at local government in the future as something sensible and helpful, he would be very upset.
The argument which impressed me, put forward by Labour councillors of the Corporation of Glasgow at the meeting we had the other day, is that it would not be in the interests of good government for Glasgow if one were to have a city with a perpetual Labour majority. I say this in fairness, albeit that Glasgow has not helped to overcome the fears of the peripheral burghs with recent actions, defying the Government over the Housing Finance Act and other activities. I am one of the Tories who do not feel that any city in any circumstances needs to have a perpetual Labour majority. But in Glasgow we have the ridiculous situation of an overwhelming Labour majority whose members know that they are having to provide their own opposition from the splendid efforts of a small group of Conservatives and Progressives in the city. It is not healthy for any district, region or government to have superiority in vast numbers over a long period of time.
Yes, this is one reason why I voted for Strathclyde, because there we have a real community of economic interests, good social links, and on balance the elections for the Strathclyde Region will not give overwhelming advantage to any party.
There is provision in Clauses 13 and 14 for a review of boundaries which can be made marginally at any time, or a full review in five or 10 years. My hon. Friend must be aware that what we are doing may please some people, but it is not good 828 for local government in the Glasgow area or Glasgow district and I do not believe that any good can come from it.
§ Mr. William Small (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
I support my hon. Friends the Members for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) and Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown) in the case they have put forward. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor) reminded me of a man who is always selling things. In these days of tight money if he were selling silk stockings the purchaser would be guaranteed a run for his money.
The Under-Secretary should now be regarded as the Government gourmet. He originally had the recipe for a new form of local government but since then he seems to nave changed his mind. He was convinced that politically, morally and intellectually he began with a good case but he has been diverted by outside pressure to adopt the course he follows tonight. That is no good.
In view of Britain's population problems new towns were needed. It was necessary to build East Kilbride and Cumbernauld to assist Glasgow. How many hon. Members would want to live in a 34-storey block of flats in Glasgow with the sort of amenities that would bring? The nature of the argument and the personality of the city has changed. The majority of people now prefer a wider horizon and green belt around them. For that reason Glasgow needs to expand and a wider area is justified. I support the concept of a wider Glasgow.
§ Mr. Galbraith
I gave my views in support of Glasgow when we were discussing Strathclyde but perhaps I should give my support once more to the Government because here they are doing the right thing. From what I have heard so far—and I apologise that I was not present at the beginning of the debate—it seems that most people who have spoken have been hostile to the idea of a smaller rather than a greater Glasgow. With respect to those hon. Members, they are old fashioned and they have not realised that the whole conception of local government is changing.
If Glasgow were to continue to be an all-purpose authority I could see a good deal of sense in what they say about having urban areas around the city contained within a greater Glasgow area. 829 But that is not what will happen. Glasgow will cease to exist as it is and will completely change. All the important functions will be taken away.
My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor) said that people should wake up and understand what is happening. It is not only the people outside Glasgow who should wake up and realise what is happening to their rates. The people inside Glasgow should wake up too and realise what is happening about their rates. They should get rid of their envy for outsiders. The true reason for this antagonism in Glasgow is that the people in the city believe that those outside are getting away with lower rates, which is absolute bunkum.
§ Mr. Galbraith
No, but my hon. Friend should have said it. He gave the first part of the argument. He said that people outside Glasgow were afraid to come into the city for fear of having to pay more rates. He should have propounded the other leg of the argument, which is that the people inside Glasgow have no reason to envy those outside for paying lower rates. Ultimately they will be paying the same, if not higher rates. People inside Glasgow have to realise that Glasgow is ceasing to exist. Planning is being taken away along with education and social services. Yet practically every Opposition speech has stressed this business of social services, social equality, and social link between one class and another, one area and another.
Her Majesty's Opposition do not seem to realise that these services, which create one community, are to be carried out not on a Glasgow district basis but on a regional basis. They do not seem to have awakened to the fact that a revolution is taking place in local government. And because a revolution is taking place it is legitimate to restrict the size of Glasgow and to have on the periphery areas where perhaps some of the people do earn their living in Glasgow. But if we include areas such as Bearsden, why not go across the hills and include places such as Killearn and the rest? The situation is rather ridiculous. Why should one be seeking to make Glasgow bigger at the 830 very moment when the functions of the district—no longer the city of Glasgow—are becoming less?
My hon. Friend for Glasgow, Cathcart made a good suggestion with which I am most sympathetic—that the right thing to do is not to make Glasgow bigger but to cut it up into its constituent areas. I am certain that if that had been done we would not have the difficulties that we have today in Easterhouse. These difficulties exist purely because these areas have been part of a large city where the local views counted for very little.
Ideally the city should be split up in the way that London has been. We have Westminster—a city of only 250,000; Kensington and Chelsea have a little less. I tell colleagues who represent Glasgow—I am unfortunately in a minority of one—that what I am saying is no disloyalty to the city of Glasgow, where I and my family have lived and had interests for generations. I regard it as something more important than old-fashioned, misplaced loyalty to Glasgow. It is loyalty to Scotland and to the best form of local government one can get there. That is why I support the Government.
§ Mr. Gregor Mackenzie
I am the first non-Glasgow speaker in the debate. We in Rutherglen and Cambuslang, supporting this amendment, do not do so in a spirit of ill will to the city of Glasgow. We have no quarrel with that city, and I hope my hon. Friends will remember that our complaint is against one man only, the Secretary of State, for having made such a shambles of the Bill and having put the people of Rutherglen and Cambuslang in such a different position from everybody else.
I listened with great care to the laboured speech of the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland trying to draw a distinction between the community of interests which we find at Eastwood and the community of interests we find at Rutherglen and Cambuslang. It was the most unconvincing argument I have heard evinced from that box for a long time. It is frustrating to be making speeches here. He and I know that there is one reason why we are being treated differently from any other burgh on the periphery of Glasgow. It is simply that he prejudged the issue before our case had been put by 831 his noble Friend Lord Selkirk in the House of Lords. Indeed, he has heard no one on it. I have been put in a difficult position. I was not on the Standing Committee and on Report Mr. Speaker decided not to call the amendment which stood in my name. This is the first opportunity I have had to put any of the points about which I and others are concerned.
I should first like to say to my Glasgow colleagues that, while we do not bear them any ill will and have no quarrel with them, we are genuinely concerned that if we go into the city of Glasgow our problems, big as they are to us, may be very small to the city of Glasgow and there is a very genuine fear that they will be ignored. We want to co-operate with them in every possible way, and all we are asking now is that we should get precisely the same treatment as every other burgh.
I had hoped that the Secretary of State who has taken these decisions would be here to listen to at least part of this debate, and I am very sorry that he is not here. I do not blame anyone else. I do not blame Glasgow Corporation or the Scottish Office.
This is a personal decision taken by the Secretary of State, but even the Under-Secretary—one of his best friends—would have to admit that the Secretary of State does not know a great deal about West Lanarkshire. During the time that I have been a Member of Parliament for this part of the country he has never put his foot into the constituency, apart from a very brief private engagement when he did not bother to discuss the matter with anyone at all. We have tried desperately hard to talk to him about these matters but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) pointed out, all one gets when one writes and asks—as my provost and as the members of the Glasgow Corporation did—is a very brusque rebuttal, much less courteous than one would expect from a Secretary of State for Scotland.
I used to think that this Secretary of State believed in creating more districts. Indeed, when we first discussed this 832 matter in the Scottish Grand Committee in 1970, he opened the debate from the Opposition benches by saying that if he had a criticism of Wheatley it was that there should be more districts in Scotland. I remember that particularly well, because I followed him in that debate and I said how right he was. I was happy, too, that the Under-Secretary followed me a little later and seemed to be saying the same, and that at the end of the debate the hon. Gentleman who now looks after Home Affairs and Agriculture in Scotland wound up for the Opposition and paid compliments both to the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) and myself, because of the attitude we had taken. So one was encouraged to believe that there was a genuine desire to create more districts around this area than the Secretary of State now sees fit to do. We just do not understand what has happened, and can only suppose that there is a political bias operating against the people who live in my constituency.
I listened with care to the arguments of the Under-Secretary and tried to compare them with what he said about the other places. As I understand his case he is not interested in the amount of industry in Rutherglen, or in the size or community spirit of Rutherglen. He is concerned only with the distance from the centre of Glasgow, and the fact that is bounded on any number of sides by the City of Glasgow. He came to the box tonight and said that Rutherglen is 2½ miles from the City of Glasgow. He said that that is the distance from George Square to the city boundary.
§ Mr. Younger
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would like to know that I said it was from the city chambers in Glasgow to the burgh chambers in Rutherglen.
§ Mr. Mackenzie
A few days ago, I measured in a motorcar the distance from the city chambers in Glasgow to the centre of the area covered by this amendment, and the distance is 5½ miles. But 833 I do not think that this distance argument is very important. If the Under-Secretary of State makes comments about the distance from Rutherglen to Glasgow, I ask him to bear in mind that what we are talking about is not merely Rutherglen burgh, but Rutherglen and Cambuslang which is a very much bigger area.
He then said that we are bounded on three sides by Glasgow. If he examines a map he will find that this again is quite untrue. We are bounded by Glasgow on only one and a half sides of the district which I am proposing, and most of the one and a half sides to which he is referring consists of the River Clyde where we have only two bridges, and the means of communication between one side and the other is important.
This is the whole extent of the Under-Secretary's case—distance, the number of sides and the number of buses running through my constituency to the city of Glasgow. He says that they run through Rutherglen and that therefore Rutherglen must be in the Glasgow district. How many buses go through Bishopbriggs or Eastwood or Bearsden? There may well be 300 buses going through those places as well as the burgh of Rutherglen.
We believe that we can stand on our own. As I have said before, it should be a question of either all in or all out. We may not like being all in, but at least there would be a certain logic about that. But there is no logic in the situation described by the Under-Secretary.
In stating my case for a separate Rutherglen I do not want to detract from the case of Bearsden, Bishopbriggs and the others. They must put their own case in their own way. But when the Under-Secretary talks about the community of interest in Eastwood as being one reason for giving that community separate status, may I remind him that, if we are talking about community of interest, Rutherglen is very much older than any of the areas which he has mentioned. We have a charter dating back from the days of King David in the 12th century, so there has been a community of interest in Rutherglen for a very long time.
The Under-Secretary has quoted my noble Friend Lord Shinwell who said that Rutherglen used to be part of Glasgow. In all charity to my noble Friend, all I can say is that perhaps the years have 834 rather faded his memory of the situation. Rutherglen has never at any time been a part of the city of Glasgow.
We have our own established community. We have our own institutions and we have had those institutions for longer than the institutions in any of those in places mentioned tonight by the Under-Secretary. If he wants to make size the criterion, I suggest that he looks at the Bishopbriggs—Kirkintilloch area with a population of 51,000, at Clydebank with a population of 40,754, at Bearsden and Milngavie with a population of 25,800. Eastwood with a population of 37,547 and Cumbernauld and Kilsyth with a population of 31,347. The Under-Secretary knows that with a population of some 60,000 we are the biggest of the lot.
The hon. Gentleman made some play with the job situation in Rutherglen. We have more industry in Rutherglen than Bearsden and Milngavie and Eastwood and all these other places, with the possible exception of Clydebank, put together. We have a thriving industrial community in Rutherglen with industrial estates employing 15,000 people. In Cambuslang we have one of the oldest established steelworks in Scotland, and long may it remain there. The longer the present Secretary of State holds his job, the less chance shall we have of keeping it there. As to the newer industries, we have Hoover employing 4,000 people with a possible expansion of 3,000 in the next two or three years. In getting those 3,000 there will be very little thanks due to the Secretary of State.
I think I have proved that we have 30,000 jobs in Rutherglen and Cambuslang, that people move between these two communities to find work. I agree that people move out to find work but there are very few industrial workers within this community who travel to Glasgow for work. The majority either work in Rutherglen or Cambuslang or travel to East Kilbride. These are the figures worked out by our local authorities. There is more industry in one factory in Rutherglen than in all the other burghs and communities put together, with the exception of Clydebank.
The Minister is prepared to disregard the age of this burgh, the size of the community—because of the distance and the buses. 835 We are not prepared to accept this. We believe we are being shabbily treated. I say to the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur), whom I see in his place, that I wish the chairman of the Unionist Party in Rutherglen had been as pally with him as some of the folks from Bishopbriggs and Bearsden and elsewhere. It looks now as though that is the only way one has a chance of success.
We have an excellent case for standing on our own. We are one of the oldest burghs in the country. We want friendly, neighbourhood relations with Glasgow and we believe that we can have them much more effectively than any of the other areas mentioned. If the Minister wants to bulldoze the people of Rutherglen and Cambuslang into Glasgow, then let him do it. Let it be his job and not ours. I believe that we should either be all in or all out. We have been very unfairly treated by the Government. I ask the House to accept my amendments.
§ Mr. John Robertson
I think it was Jimmy Maxwell who is reported as having said, "If you cannot ride two horses at one time what the hell are you doing in the circus?" The Under-Secretary gave a startling performance at the beginning of the debate. He argued all sides against the middle and I believe that he has convinced himself to abstain. If he had known the geography of the places he was talking about I am sure he would not have talked so much nonsense.
What my hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen (Mr. Gregor Mackenzie) has said about the number of trade journeys from Rutherglen is true. People probably come from Motherwell, so the argument is that the Secretary of State should take the folk from Motherwell and Hamilton and put them into Glasgow, keeping the folk from Rutherglen where they are because they probably work in East Kilbride. How much nonsense can there be?
There was talk of the community of interest at Eastwood. Does anyone know the community of Eastwood? I know Busby, old Newton Mearns, William-wood, Rouken Glen, but I know no place called Eastwood. I do not know many 836 people who live there. They are all behind big walls in swanky houses. I am told on good authority from people who know the area well that a person who lives in Newtown Mearns does not admit to knowing anyone from Eastwood because he gets a bad name.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward Taylor) lives in the place. He knows it better than anybody else. There is plenty of wealth in Eastwood but there is certainly no community. That is my quarrel with my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown), because community is important. All the history of Glasgow has been the destruction of local communities.
I accept the suggestion of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) that the better solution would have been to break up Glasgow.
§ It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.