HC Deb 20 March 1974 vol 870 cc1014-5
14. Mr. Steel

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the implementation of the Government's proposals for a Scottish Assembly.

Mr. William Ross

As has already been made clear, the Government intend to undertake discussions with representatives of Scottish public opinion before bringing forward any proposals.

Mr. Steel

Will the Secretary of State confirm that since the election he has undergone a blinding conversion to the view that there should be an elected assembly in Scotland?

Mr. Ross

No, I do not think so. The Labour Party and I have said all along that there is no blinding jump on the road to Damascus here.

Mr. Lawson

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the whole of the Kilbrandon Report has been badly vitiated by the very narrow interpretation of the terms of reference by the commission and that the majority of its members appear to have reached their conclusion before studying the evidence? Will he ensure that we have a Green Paper, not a White Paper, so that we can discuss this matter without any commitment whatsoever?

Mr. Ross

I take note of what my hon. Friend has said. The truth is that people talk about Kilbrandon, but very few have ever read it and have no idea what it proposes. I have heard people say, "The time for talking is over. Let us get down to action." They have not read Kilbrandon either. Kilbrandon said that the survey proved that there was no clear evidence of what the people want.

Mrs. Winifred Ewing

We know what we want.

Mr. Ross

Judging from the behaviour of the hon. Lady and her Friends during recent days, I do not think they know what they want.

What is relevant is what Kilbrandon said in paragraph 112: We would expect our Report to lead to public debate and the formulation of a more clearly defined public opinion. Only then will it he right for decisions to be taken. That is where we are starting.

Mrs. Ewing

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that after the report Lord Kilbrandon was also widely publicised as saying that if the people want it they will have to vote for it? The ballot box results show what proportion of the people are already doing that. Wait until the next election and see what happens then.

Mr. Ross

If anything, the election results in Scotland showed that the great majority voted against separation.