HC Deb 18 June 1975 vol 893 cc1371-3
4. Mr. Fairgrieve

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how his policies for Scotland will be affected by the results of the referendum.

Mr. William Ross

As my right hon. Friend the Prime Miinster said in his statement to the House on Monday, 9th June, the Government intend to give a lead to the country in working together to play a full and constructive part in all Community policies and activities; my colleagues and the departments under my control will offer a similar example to Scotland.

Mr. Fairgrieve

I welcome that reply. Will the Secretary of State give me assurance on two points'? First, will he assure me that he will urge on his Cabinet colleagues the early implementation of Article 138, paragraph 3, of the Treaty of Rome, so that we can elect our members direct to the European Parliament from Scotland, instead of having them selected for us by the Westminster administration?

Second, will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that he will resist the dreich and dreary separatist policies and ideas of the Scottish National Party and other newly-founded European vocalists who would like us to operate in the European institutions as 5 million people—putting us on a par with Denmark and Ireland—instead of as at present, with the 55 million United Kingdom muscle, with Germany and France?

Mr. Ross

On the first point, I think that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister did say that the matter of direct election was one for consideration by all parties in the House. Certainly I shall give it due thought.

As regards the hon. Gentleman's point about separatism, I do not think that there is any doubt that there was no great joy for those who proclaimed separatism in the result that came forth from the referendum.

Dr. Bray

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Commission has undertaken a major exercise to encourage industrialists from the more prosperous European countries to invest in South Italy but has decided that it could not undertake a similar exercise in relation to Scotland, pending the referendum? Will my right hon. Friend explore with the Commission the possibility of such an exercise?

Mr. Ross

This is one of the things about which we have already heard. There have been suggestions that there was uncertainty about investment and that investment plans were being held up by the uncertainty in relation to the referendum. That uncertainty has been removed. I sincerely hope that with the ending of that uncertainty, plans for investment will come to fruition in Scotland.

Mrs. Winifred Ewing

Will the right hon. Gentleman convey to his right hon Friend the Prime Minister the gratification felt on the SNP bench that the timetable for the Assembly is not to be held up, irrespective of the result of the referendum? Will the right hon. Gentleman now consider very urgently the question of direct representation across the board on all the institutions of the EEC'? The SNP bench is aware—as no doubt the right hon. Gentleman is aware—that we have a Commissioner who is a Scot, and a judge who is a Scot, but nevertheless they are not there as Scots as of right; they merely happen to be there, and their appointments are due for revision. Will the right hon. Gentleman express his view about direct representation across the board, including the position of his own office, and accept that we would like him to have every possible assistance and would like an additional Minister to be appointed on this matter?

Mr. Ross

First, in respect of the Assembly and what the hon. Lady has said, there never was any question of its being held up. Why people should rise to every rumour put forward, I do not know. On the point about representation, there is a later Question on the Order Paper about that, but I assure the hon. Lady that I do not agree with her rather more parochial outlook, which, indeed, implicitly spells out separatism.

Mr. Steel

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that some of us are a little disappointed that he has not shown a more enthusiastic welcome for the decision of the Scottish people in the referendum, and that we expect this from him now, if rather belatedly? On what date will the Government's White Paper on devolution now be published, if it is not to be delayed as a result?

Mr. Ross

I cannot give the exact date for the publication of the White Paper, but it will be in the autumn. That is clear from what has been said.

Mr. William Hamilton

Does my right hon. Friend agree that if there was one party in Scotland that got a bloody nose as a result of the referendum result, it was the Scottish National Party? Will he now give an assurance that he will get on with the introduction of the Scottish Development Agency Bill in this House and get that on the statute book, because it is quite clear, is it not, that nothing in the Treaty of Rome inhibits us from implementing the policies inherent in that Bill?

Mr. Ross

On the latter point, there was never any doubt about that. Long before the referendum, I was urging this House, and particularly the Conservative Party, to co-operate with us and not to obstruct us, as Conservative Members nave been doing in that respect. I hope that we shall get an early opportunity of seeing whether any new co-operation is forthcoming.

Mr. Rifkind

Does the Secretary of State realise how grateful the House and the country were that he himself did not decide to resign following the rejection of his advice by the Scottish electorate? Does he now reject the remarks made by his junior colleague the Under-Secretary—the Minister responsible for devolution matters—who said on 3rd June that if the people of Scotland voted "Yes", it would represent a substantial setback to the cause of devolution?

Mr. Ross

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary is entitled to his own opinions, on many matters We are all entitled to our own opinions. I could cite a lot of opinions from the Opposition side of the House—but I would not ask the hon. Gentleman to bear with me in that.