HC Deb 09 July 1975 vol 895 cc505-6
2. Mr. Reid

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress his Department has made in its work on the Scottish Assembly.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Harry Ewing)

My Department, in conjunction with the Cabinet Office Constitution Unit, is urgently pressing ahead with its consideration of the many complex issues involved in establishing the Scottish Assembly. As was announced last month, the Government intend to publish a White Paper on devolution in the autumn.

Mr. Reid

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Will he confirm that it is his intention to press ahead with the publication of the Assembly Bill as soon as the White Paper is published? Will he further confirm that he will have no truck with the absurd delays and prevarications suggested this week by members of the Conservative Party?

Mr. Ewing

I confirm the first point. It will be the Government's intention, as soon as possible after publication of the White Paper, to press ahead with publication of the Assembly Bill. In relation to the other point raised by the hon. Gentleman I expressed some surprise during the weekend. I thought that the road to Dundee, in which town the Conservative Party Conference was held, had nothing on the road to Damascus when it came to conversions, but I understand that the position has again been reversed.

Mr. Sproat

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the very great and growing concern in Scotland, especially in the light of local government reorganisation, about the huge extra financial burdens and huge extra bureaucracy which some concepts of a Scottish Assembly could impose? Is he aware of the fears in Scotland that Scotland might become the most over-rated, over-taxed and over-governed country in the world?

Mr. Ewing

The hon. Member really surprises me—although I ought not to be surprised. The hon. Member, representing as he does the Conservative Party, ought not to assume that the views of the Conservative Party represent the views of the people a Scotland. That is where the great mistake is being made.