HC Deb 14 November 1977 vol 939 cc51-213

Order for Second Reading read.

Mr. Speaker

I have selected the amendment in the name of the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Leo Abse (Pontypool)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I hesitate, after the arcane discussions that have taken place, to put a point of order to you, but mine is brief and will, I hope, be understood by you as being necessary.

You have evidently decided not to call the reasoned amendment in my name and the names of 50 other hon. Members on both sides of the House. It might well be understood here that, with our esoteric procedures, there is difficulty on your part in calling such an amendment, despite the opinions expressed on both sides of the House, but it will be difficult for people in the Shetland Islands, upon whose good will we depend so much, bringing in as they do more than 60 per cent. of the oil that is needed to maintain and stabilise the economy of our country, to understand how something of such urgent importance to themselves could, on the face of it, be perfunctorily placed on one side.

I therefore ask that the reasons for your decision be spelt out so that the Islanders may understand that the fact that you have found that you cannot call this amendment does not mean that the issues that the amendment raises are excluded from consideration by this House, and that the Chairman of Ways and Means will be able to reconsider the issue when the matter comes before the House during the Committee stage.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member has referred to the people of the Shetland Islands who might find difficulty in understanding the way in which we conduct our affairs—and they will not be alone in that. I see that there is also a reference here to Northern Ireland and other parts of the United Kingdom. I cannot commit the Chairman of Ways and Means. He has complete discretion in the selection of amendments, but I am sure that he will have taken note of what the hon. Member has said.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the ruling that you have just given, was your reference to Northern Ireland intended to suggest that the Shetland Islands, like Northern Ireland, are separate from Scotland? I do not believe that it would be understood to mean that, and I doubt whether you intended to imply that.

Mr. Speaker

I had no such intention, and I am perfectly innocent in this matter. The House knows that I never express views on legislation that is before the House. I have to maintain the rules of order, and that is enough of a task. I certainly did not intend any interpretation to be made outside the House about Shetland and Ireland in connection with the Scottish issue.

4.28 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Bruce Millan)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Bill, has consented to place her prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, when he opened the Second Reading debate on the Scotland and Wales Bill, stated that that Bill had been prepared on the basis of four guiding principles. As those four guiding principles also underlie the proposals in the Scotland Bill, I make no apology for quoting them again at the beginning of this debate.

The first principle was a respect for the diversity and distinctive traditions of Scotland and Wales—and, of course, the Wales Bill dealing with the Welsh situation will be debated tomorrow; secondly, the conservation of the economic and political unity of the United Kingdom; thirdly, the continuing and unimpaired sovereignty of Parliament, which is what devolution is about; and, fourthly, fairness to the whole of the United Kingdom.

Within those principles, what this Bill represents is a major constitutional change. I think it is perfectly proper and sensible for the House to approach any major constitutional change with a good deal of care and give it a good deal of consideration. I do not complain about that. But I hope that we do not approach this Bill, as I think certain Members of the House approached the previous Bill, on the basis that it is not possible to change the existing constitutional arrangements of the United Kingdom, that what we have at the minute is a perfect representation of the processes of government and that no change could be for anything but the worse.

There are many Western countries with traditions of democracy which organise government in a way very different from that in which we organise government at present in the United Kingdom. In particular, the kind of centralised government system that we have in the United Kingdom at present is not much repeated among other Western industrialised countries. In most of these other countries—and we believe that this should apply to the United Kingdom as well—there is a great deal more decentralisation and devolution of power from the centre. We start from the basis that there is a very strong case for making the same kind of arrangements now in the United Kingdom.

Any change, of course, should be well considered and should have the full attention of this House; but the issues underlying the Bill have been before the House and the country throughout the life of this Parliament, and indeed very much longer than that. In the case of Scotland there has been interest in the subject of devolution for at least 50 years.

To come to the more recent history of the matter, following the Kilbrandon Report the Government issued a series of White Papers which have examined the issues and, to some extent, also narrowed the issues.

May I mention very briefly what we have done in the way of consulting the House, and indeed consulting the country as a whole. We published a consultative paper in June 1974. We issued a White Paper in September 1974 describing the outline of the proposed scheme for devolution, and then a further White Paper in November 1975 which filled out the details of the scheme. The White Paper of August 1976 made certain adjustments in the proposals in the light of comments made in the House and elsewhere. We considered a Bill in the last parliamentary Session, and we had another parliamentary statement in July of this year which again made certain modifications in our proposals.

I do not believe that any major Bill introduced in the House in recent years has had such a long history of detailed consultation both within the House and with interests outside. At each stage of consultation the Government have listened attentively to comment and we have made changes in our proposals in the light of those comments. Indeed, in the period since the timetable motion on the Scotland and Wales Bill fell last Session we have reviewed further in the light of the debates in the House—and I shall explain some of the consequences of that later—what the provisions of the Bill ought to be. We have had discussions with the Liberal Party, with other parties, and with many of our own supporters. We have in fact had a very comprehensive series of discussions over recent months with anyone who was prepared to accept that there was a constructive need for devolution proposals and anyone who was prepared to make sensible and constructive suggestions in the context of a workable and worthwhile scheme.

Mr. David Price (Eastleigh)

Does not the right hon. Gentleman admit that the publication of the Government's White Paper, "Devolution: Financing the Devolved Services", which has appeared since the original Scotland and Wales Bill was before the House, has put an entirely new light on the whole issue because in it the Government clearly reject devolving taxes?

Mr. Millan

We did before. But I shall come to the question of finance later. I am concentrating at the moment on the point that there has been most detailed and comprehensive discussion on the proposals in the Bill, and even this short recital of the history gives the lie to those who say that the scheme has not been adequately considered. Incidentally, it also gives the lie to the charges of inflexibility on the part of the Government, because we have made certain substantial changes in the proposals that we are bringing forward.

Although I do not wish at this stage to deal with the amendment tabled by the official Opposition, I must say that it is absolutely scandalous, in the Scottish context, and in view of Scottish opinion in particular, that, at this very late stage in the Bill—[HON. MEMBERS: "In the Bill?"]—at this late stage in the debate—all that the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition and her Friends are proposing is a continuation of discussion with, no doubt, the objective of preventing the House from ever reaching a conclusion on this matter. We are determined that the House should reach a conclusion on this matter, and that is what the Bill is about.

Secondly, if we are to make a constitutional change, with all its implications, I believe that the change should be on a basis which will give any Scottish Assembly a worthwhile range of powers. It would be worse than useless—it would be damaging both to the United Kingdom and to Scotland—if we were to produce, as a result of legislative changes of this nature an Assembly with only a very limited capacity to take decisions and act on them.

All that we have had from the Opposition in recent months in the way of ideas—if one can call them that—about what ought to be done with regard to Scottish government has been some suggestion that we should have an Assembly in Scotland with absolutely no effective powers of decision-making at all. I believe that to be completely unacceptable to Scottish opinion. More than that, I believe that it would be very damaging to government in Scotland and in the United Kingdom as a whole.

I would rather we did nothing than that we introduced a Bill for an Assembly with no more than the limited consultative and advisory powers, which are now, as I understand it, the kind of powers that the official Opposition suggest that any Assembly should have. If there were ever to be a recipe for conflict, I believe that that would be it.

Thirdly, I believe that, if we are to make a change of this major nature, we ought to be as clear as we can be that the change commands popular support. The evidence is overwhelming that the Scottish people want more power of decision-making in Scotland than the present system can give. There is equally overwhelming evidence that they do not want separation and independence. They want to remain part of the United Kingdom. This is not simply something which is demonstrated by public opinion polls, although they reinforce my view of Scottish opinion; it must be known to anyone who has been engaged for any period of time in Scottish politics.

This is an issue of tremendous importance in Scotland. It has been so for many years, and it will not go away. It is not an issue that will disappear. It is not an issue which will comfortably go to sleep, if it is neglected or set aside, and allow us to continue as if nothing had happened.

Mr. Dudley Smith (Warwick and Leamington)

I am following the right hon. Gentleman's argument, but I wonder whether he could tell me, as an English Members, what I should say to my constituents about this legislation? What possible benefits can accrue to them from it?

Mr. Millan

I shall deal a little later with the English dimension. But if the hon. Gentleman's constituents are, as I believe, concerned with the unity of the United Kingdom, I would advise them not to ignore the feeling in Scotland on the question of devolution.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

May I ask my right hon. Friend, arising out of that question, what precisely the Members of Parliament from Scotland will do in this House while legislation is being carried through the Assembly in Scotland?

Mr. Millan

If I may be allowed to develop my argument, I shall come to some of these—

Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith (Glasgow, Hill-head)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Millan

Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to answer one question at a time? Mr. Speaker stated that a large number of Members wanted to speak in this debate. There was some complaint about it being only a one-day debate. We have lost some time—I am not complaining about that—with points of order, but if hon. Members keep interrupting me my speech will be longer than I should wish.

May I deal with the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) has raised with me? I think that he is referring to the question whether Scottish Members of this House, when the Assembly is operating, should have full power as Members to deal with legislation in this House. If that is what he is saying, I would simply say at this stage that we do not believe—and Kilbrandon made the same point—that there is any effective or practicable way of having Members in this Chamber whose powers are limited only to certain bits of legislation passing through this House and who are not fully involved in all the legislation going through this House.

Mr. Timothy Raison (Aylesbury)

Will the tight hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Millan

Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to continue? I was just finishing the point about whether there is popular support in Scotland for a measure of this sort. I said that that is now well established and, in my view, it cannot be seriously in question. May I also say that those who have a doubt about that will, of course, have plenty of opportunity, during the referendum campaign following the passage of the Bill, to test Scottish opinion. For my part, I have very little doubt about what the Scots will say about it.

Mr. Bruce Douglas-Mann (Mitcham and Morden)

Speaking as one whose vote tonight and on Wednesday is by no means yet certainly decided, I should be most grateful if my right hon. Friend would indicate to me what he regards, for the purposes of Clause 82, as a satisfactory vote in the referendum—whether he would consider that a vote of 50 per cent, of the population, giving a bare majority in favour of the referendum, was sufficient to justify the introduction of this legislation, or whether he will accept, in the course of our proceedings, an amendment to the Bill which would require at least a minimum number of people participating in the referendum to justify the commencement of the legislation.

Mr. Millan

I want to say something about the referendum a little later, but if my hon. Friend will look at Clauses 81 and 82 taken together he will see that, even after the referendum, the commencement order depends on a decision of this House. We shall, of course, consider amendments when we reach the Committee stage of the Bill, but I do not think that I want to give an answer on that point now.

I wish now to turn to the Bill itself—

Mr. Raison

I wish to go back to the point made by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). It is, as the Secretary of State must be aware, of fundamental importance in this argument. Can the Secretary of State at least put one matter on record? If the Bill goes through, Scottish Members of Parliament will no longer be able to ask Questions here about health, housing, education, and so on. They will no longer be able to raise Adjournment debates about those subjects. The reason is that those matters will not be within the competence of the Secretary of State and, therefore, there will be no answerability. Will the Secretary of State make quite clear that what I have said is true?

Mr. Millan

What the hon. Gentleman says is not true, but I am not aware that at the moment Scottish Members are particularly enthusiastic about having Adjournment debates on English education matters. [Hon. Members: "Scottish."] I do not imagine that that situation will change.

Mr. Raison


Mr. Millan

If the hon. Member will allow me to continue as regards Scottish matters, of course, it will not be possible to raise with the Secretary of State for Scotland matters for which he is not responsible. That is absolutely rudimentary, and I am surprised that there should be any doubt about that.

I turn now to the Bill itself. I do not intend, in view of the time available for the debate, to describe the Bill in any detail, but I wish to say something about the major respects in which the present Bill differs from the Scotland and Wales Bill.

I should like, first, to make a general comment about the Bill taken as a whole. Like its predecessor, the Scotland Bill provides for a directly-elected Assembly with powers to make primary and subordinate legislation. Arrangements for elections to the Assembly and qualifications for membership remain as before. An extensive range of functions is given to the Scottish administration—most aspects of local government, health, education, social work, and most aspects of the physical environment. But these are functions which, I emphasise, are domestic to Scotland and on which decisions can be taken by a Scottish Assembly absolutely without detriment, damage or disturbance to other parts of the United Kingdom.

In dealing with powers and functions of government where there is a strong United Kingdom interest—for example, in economic and industrial powers—the Bill does not provide for devolution to the Assembly. For instance, the industrial functions of the Scottish Development Agency will be carried out under guidelines which will be laid down by the Secretary of State. There need be no feeling in the House, as I understand still exists among certain hon. Gentlemen, that any devolution of powers to Scotland must necessarily be at the expense of another part of the United Kingdom. In my view that is not so. We are legislating for a considerable increase in decision-making in Scotland, but I do not believe the Bill will act to the detriment of the political and economic unity of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Galbraith

The Secretary of State keeps on saying—he has said it several times—that the Assembly will have more power in Scotland. Can he explain the extent to which the Assembly will be able to legislate more widely than the existing Scottish Grand Committee? It appears that there will be precious little difference between the two.

Mr. Millan

The Scottish Grand Committee legislates only within the context of the House as a whole. It does not have any separate legislative power and the difference between the Scottish Grand Committee and the Scottish Assembly provided for by the Bill is that the latter will be able to legislate without reference to the United Kingdom Parliament on the subjects for which the functions are devolved.

Mr. Teddy Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)

The Secretary of State has mentioned the guidelines for bodies such as the SDA, the authority for the Scottish new towns, and so on. The members of these boards are, we understand, to be appointed by the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Assembly under guidelines to be laid down by the Secretary of State. Can he say precisely what happens, and who does it, if these agencies do not follow the positive guidelines laid down by the Secretary of State?

Mr. Millan

There are questions of vires which arise, and I shall say something about vires in a moment. There is also the question of override powers, and I shall say something about those, too, if I am allowed to continue with my speech instead of answering detailed points.

I was saying that, rather than try to go through the Bill in any kind of comprehensive way, it would be useful for the House if I were to describe briefly some of the improvements in the Bill compared with the Scotland and Wales Bill of last Session.

First, I believe that having separate Bills for Scotland and Wales is in itself a very considerable improvement and will make consideration of the Bills by the House that much more comprehensible.

Secondly, to come to the question of Government intervention in the legislative or executive actions of the Scottish administration, the new scheme that is provided for in this Bill considerably reduces the scope for dispute between the United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Executive. However carefully we draw lines between devolved and non-devolved matters, there are bound to be circumstances in which the legally proper exercise of devolved powers may have unacceptable repercussions on matters affecting the whole of the United Kingdom.

The Government are anxious that the area of intervention should be restricted to what is necessary in the interests of the United Kingdom as a whole, and the Bill has been redrafted to make clear that these powers will be available only where the activities of the devolved administration would adversely affect matters for which the Government will remain directly responsible throughout the United Kingdom—for example, defence, trade, the economy and industrial relations. These powers will not be employed in relation to the English dimension, if I may call it that, of devolved matters such as health and education. I want also to make clear that in any case the exercise of these powers will require the approval of Parliament—the reference is in Clause 36.

Mr. Leon Brittan (Cleveland and Whitby)


Mr. Millan

I ask the hon. Gentleman to remember that this time is coming out of the rest of the debate.

Mr. Brittan

That may be so, but the Secretary of State might remember that that is because of the scandalous action of the Government in reducing the time for debate to one day. My point is a simple, factual one: will the Secretary of State explain precisely the difference between the overriding provisions in this Bill and the provisions in the Scotland and Wales Bill as regards the prevention of actions which impinge on the non-devolved ones? The explanation that has been given does not seem to stand with the text of the Bill

Mr. Millan

I have just given the explanation. The drafting of the previous Bill allowed for intervention in a case where the actions of the Assembly were considered by the United Kingdom Government to have detrimental effects on functions, such as education or health, which, of course, remain the responsibility of this Parliament for England. In the case of an action by the Scottish Assembly in relation to a function which is devolved to that Assembly, the new drafting reserves power of intervention only where such action affects matters which are for the Parliament of the United Kingdom as a whole—for example, trade and defence. It does say that, and I ask the hon. Gentleman to look at it more closely. We shall no doubt decide the detail of this matter on Clause 36.

Thirdly, we have provided a clearer definition of powers because the Scotland and Wales Bill contained specific controls over the exercise of certain devolved functions where the Government had certain reserve powers or where powers devolved to the Assembly were conditional on approvals or qualification written into the Bill. We have removed many of these in this Bill with the intention of making a clearer division of functions between the Scottish Assembly, on the one hand, and the United Kingdom Government, on the other, so that we can reduce the area of possible conflict between the Scottish Executive and United Kingdom Ministers.

Let me give three examples of matters that have been dropped from the Bill. There were powers in the previous Bill regarding private and public sector rents; there was a power in the previous Bill regarding model schemes for rent and rate rebates; and there was a power related to Scottish teachers' pay. These are all potentially matters of considerable importance and sensitivity, and provisions relating to them have been dropped from the present Bill.

We have also simplified the operations of the scheme relating to EEC and other international obligations, which were reserved completely in the previous Bill. We believe on further study that the provisions of the previous Bill would have caused unnecessary delay and friction between the United Kingdom Government the Scottish Executive. Therefore, in this Bill we have devolved responsibility for implementation of these international obligations but at the same time we have taken, in Clause 62, concurrent powers for the United Kingdom Government to implement any agreement at their own hand if desirable or necessary. In other words, at the end of the day this House can see that these international obligations are discharged, but there is no question of removing them completely from the scope of the Scottish Assembly.

Next, I refer to the question of vires, which caused considerable argument during the passage of the previous Bill. We have again improved the provisions. The Scotland and Wales Bill provided that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council should decide whether an Assembly Bill was within the Assembly's legislative competence if this issue were to arise before the Bill received Royal Assent. This provision is retained in the present Bill, in Clause 20, but it now contains machinery for the conduct of legal proceedings in the courts involving devolution issues arising after Royal Assent. Although these issues can be considered and determined in any court, they may be referred to higher courts, and it is now provided that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council will act as the final court of reference.

I remind the House that the original argument, which particularly adhered to questions of pre-Assent secrutiny, was regarding political intervention in matters of vires. The provisions in this Bill completely remove the possibility of political intervention by the Secretary of State and make these matters ultimately matters for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

The next matter which I mention briefly—again, we had very long debates on the subject during the Committee stage of the previous Bill—is that of premature dissolution of the Assembly. There was a feeling in the House that, unless there was a power for premature dissolution, the Assembly might become unworkable because of changes in the political complexion of the Assembly, owing to by-elections or other reasons, and we have now provided in Clause 4 a new provision, with certain safeguards, allowing for premature dissolution.

Finally, on the changes that we have made in the Bill, I want particularly to mention the question of the referendum. The Bill as it now stands incorporates the provision for a referendum, which will be held after the Bill has been enacted and must be held before it is brought into operation. I repeat, therefore, a point that I made earlier in response to an intervention. There can be no question of an Assembly settlement for Scotland being imposed against the wishes of the Scottish people, because they will have the opportunity to make a decision about this matter in the referendum, which will be held after the passage of the Bill.

The provisions generally are similar to those which we had described during the Committee stage of the previous Bill. As the Bill will principally affect those people living in Scotland, the referendum will be held in Scotland only—I say that for clarification—and the full arrangements for the referendum, including the question to be put, are set out in the Bill. The details are in a schedule to the Bill.

We believe that the incorporation of the referendum provision, which will no doubt engender a fair amount of discussion in the House, is a considerable improvement on the previous Bill by making the final decision on the Bill subject to a popular vote in Scotland itself, although, as I said earlier, the commencement order for the Bill will also have a parliamentary procedure attached to it.

Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)

What is to happen after the first General Election in which a majority of the United Kingdom Members in this House are, say, Labour, but a majority of the non-Scottish Members are, say, Conservative? Are the Government seriously imagining that, in perpetuity, 45 million Englishmen will put up with the situation in which the Government of the United Kingdom is to be determined on some occasions by those 71 Scottish Members? If that is so, is it not perfectly clear that the right to vote in this referendum ought to belong to the whole of the people of the United Kingdom and not only to the people of Scotland?

Mr. Millan

I do not believe that that follows from the premise of my hon. Friend's question, but in any case I do not accept the premise. These matters can, and no doubt will, be discussed in considerable detail during the Committee stage. But I have already stated the Government's view—it has not changed since the previous Bill—as to those who should be entitled to vote on the question in the referendum. I have explained that in the Government's view it is not practicable to have certain hon. Members excluded from voting or debating particular issues that come before this House.

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)

My right hon. Friend keeps on saying that these matters will be considered during the Committee stage and that he, as the principal Scottish member of the Government, does not have time to deal with them now. But as the Government have adopted the rather unusual procedure of not allowing any Committee stage discussion if the Bill receives its Second Reading, since they propose to introduce a guillotine motion post haste, there may never be a time when my right hon. Friend will have an opportunity to go into these matters. In these circumstances, is not my right hon. Friend treating the House in a cavalier fashion by refusing to answer these questions?

Mr. Millan

My hon. Friend should read the timetable motion. In our view, it provides for ample opportunity to discuss these matters at the Committee stage. My hon. Friend's argument can be presented again when we come to the debate on the timetable motion. It is possible to deal with all these matters in considerable detail, but for me to do so now would be unpopular with those hon. Members who want to make speeches themselves. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am delighted that the House is so anxious to listen to me at length, but I want to pass to another matter on which there was considerable debate when we considered the previous Bill, and I want to say what has happened since that Bill was before us. I refer to the question of finance.

Mr. Kenneth Baker (St. Marylebone)


Mr. Millan

If I have constant interruptions, this speech will go on for a very long time.

Mr. Baker

May I refer the Secretary of State to the question put to him by the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham)? On what constitutional principle is the right hon. Gentleman acting that allows Scotland to have considerable devolved powers and a separate Assembly, yet still allows its over-representation here? Many English Members feel that this is basically unfair. On what constitutional principle is the right hon. Gentleman acting to justify this anomaly?

Mr. Millan

The position regarding the number of Members remains as it was explained by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House during the debates on the Scotland and Wales Bill. We do not believe that the Bill before us, taken by itself, provides justification for reducing the number of Scottish Members in this House. However, the House can come to that matter again in Committee.

I was about to say something about the financial arrangements, because one of the criticisms during our consideration of the previous Bill concerned the lack of a provision for any independent revenue-raising power on the part of the Scottish Assembly. Considerable further thought has been given to that matter since the previous Bill was debated. The Government published a White Paper in July this year. I shall not attempt to go over the general arguments adduced in it. I simply say that the Government have never as a matter of principle opposed the granting of marginal tax powers.

I would go further and say that there would be many advantages if we could produce a satisfactory marginal tax power for the Scottish Assembly. I believe that it could only be marginal, because we are funding the Assembly on an expenditure basis, on needs for the functions for which the Assembly will be responsible, rather than on a revenue basis, which is the basis that would be adopted if we were looking to have the amount of money going to the Assembly based on the amount of revenue raised in Scotland.

Therefore, I believe that all that we have been talking about in all the argument that we have had about tax-raising powers has been marginal tax-raising powers. But if we can find satisfactory powers I think that that would be an advantage. We have described in the White Paper the various tax powers that we have considered in considerable detail. There are considerable disadvantages in all of them.

We can return to this matter in Committee, but at present we remain firmly convinced that there is no real alternative to the block fund system of financing the Assembly. If we are to continue with the block fund, as we believe we must, it is important to make the arrangements for its operation as satisfactory as we can. In particular, it is important that we try to reduce the area in which there may then be argument between the Assembly Executive and the United Kingdom Parliament.

Mr. David Price

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the absolute heart of parliamentary power is the power to control supply and vote taxes, and that devolution is about that? If he is not prepared to devolve that, surely it is a complete charade to talk about devolution at all?

Mr. Millan

If the hon. Gentleman or anyone else can produce sensible proposals on this matter, we can consider them during the passage of the Bill. But the Government's conclusions were set out in considerable detail in the White Paper of July this year.

It is important that these matters are dealt with at length in the White Paper.

If the Assembly is to be financed by a block fund, we should try to improve the practical arrangements as much as we can. In particular, the Government recognise that there is a need for good information about needs and standards of public service in the various parts of the United Kingdom during the block fund negotiations. Therefore, we intend to consult the Assembly about arrangements for setting up an independent advisory body to collect such information and advise both the United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Executive. In my view, in practice, that advice would be generally available. The statement that the Secretary of State would have to lay before the House on the financial arrangements, under Clause 46, would make that inevitable. I hope that that arrangement will make the methods of determining the block fund a good deal more explicit, and their fairness more demonstrable, than would be the case without the independent advisory body.

I think that I have already said that if the Assembly wishes to bring forward ideas about marginal tax powers we shall certainly be willing to discuss them with it. We believe that it would help the Assembly as well as this House in the planning of public expenditure if we could settle the levels of public expenditure in Scotland for more than a year at a time—say, on a four-year basis—by means of a formula system. That is something that we shall provide when the Assembly is established.

Mr. Abse

Will my right hon. Friend explain how such an advisory body would take into account the needs of the whole Kingdom, and what guarantee there would be that other regions would have their fair share? Apparently a whole administrative machinery is to be set up with the consequence that there will be continued pressure that the Assembly should have a larger share that may be based upon chauvinism and not upon need.

Mr. Millan

We intend similar arrangements for Wales. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about England?"] As I have already said, one of the advantages from the English point of view of having the independent advisory body collecting the information, which will be not simply about Scotland and Wales but about the United Kingdom as a whole, is that the basis upon which the settlements are financed as between the United Kingdom Government and the respective Assemblies will be a good deal more explicit than it would otherwise be. I hope that that will make a considerable difference from the English point of view as well.

In the last few minutes I have gone over some of the important changes that have taken place in discussions on the Scotland and Wales Bill in preparation for this Bill.

Mr. Fred Evans (Caerphilly)

My right hon. Friend has gone to considerable trouble to paint in glowing colours the alterations that have been made since we debated the Scotland and Wales Bill. However, had it not been for the pressures put on the Government we would have had the Bill, the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill, with all its inherent faults which the Government have now discovered. Is it not just as likely that in this Mark II version there are just as many dangers and false philosophies in its approach to devolution as there were in the original Bill? When we were discussing the Scotland and Wales Bill the Leader of the House practically told us "You will have the Bill and nothing but the Bill". It seems that the same attitude is being taken today.

Mr. Millan

My hon. Friend can share the credit for the changes that have been made. We have made considerable changes and we have considerably improved the Bill.

I return to the question whether it is possible to have a satisfactory system of political devolution in the United Kingdom within the political and economic unity of the United Kingdom. I believe that it is possible and that the Bill represents a satisfactory and workable arrangement which will provide a considerable improvement in decision making for Scotland. I believe that it will do that without detriment to the rest of the United Kingdom.

I warn the House and those who take a different view that there is a danger in saying to the Scottish people that they must choose between the status quo and separation. I hope that hon. Members will be aware of the danger of saying that that is the only choice.

The Scottish people want more decision making in Scotland. They want an Assembly. They want matters involving Scottish interests and circumstances to be decided in Scotland. They do not want separation. They do not want to be put in the position where the choice is between the status quo and independence. I ask hon. Members to weigh that carefully before they decide how they will vote on the Bill.

Over a period of many years the House has recognised, in the arrangements that it has made through the Scottish Office and through the office of the Secretary of State, that there are special Scottish circumstances. Governments of both parties have recognised that there is a special history and tradition and a special way of doing things in Scotland which must be recognised. We cannot deal with these different characteristics and diversities of the Scottish situation by continuing to pile more and more powers on to the Secretary of State for Scotland. From that point of view, we have almost reached the end of the road.

If we are not to pile yet more powers on the Secretary of State, the most sensible and satisfactory way in which we can meet the legitimate needs of the Scottish people is to set up an Assembly, as provided for in the Bill.

Our proposals are securely based on the continuing unity of the United Kingdom. That is what the vast majority of the Scottish people want. Within the continuing unity there is room for diversity and for giving greater scope for the expression of Scottish identity. That is what the Scottish people desire. It is what our proposals for political devolution are all about.

We propose, within the continuing union, to give the people of Scotland much improved democratic participation in making their own choice on matters which primarily are of concern to themselves. I believe that such a reform will strengthen the unity of the United Kingdom and that failure to make it could weaken that unity.

Parliament now has a historic opportunity to make a constitutional advance which we cannot afford to let slip. After this long period of debate the Scottish people have a right to expect that Parliament should reach a firm conclusion on the Bill. That conclusion should be to give the Bill a Second Reading. I commend the Bill to the House.

5.16 p.m.

Mr. Francis Pym (Cambridgeshire)

I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: this House, in pursuit of its aim to achieve a substantial improvement in the government of Scotland within the United Kingdom, declines to give a Second Reading to the Scotland Bill and instead calls on Her Majesty's Government to summon a Constitutional Conference to examine defects in the Parliamentary and administrative aspects of the government of Scotland, to recommend reforms including the creation of any new institutions it may find necessary, to consider the implications of its proposals for the rest of the United Kingdom, and to report not later than July next. I protest to the Leader of the House about the limit of time for the Second Reading debate. The Secretary of State himself complained about it and restricted the length of his speech as a result. The time limit puts Mr. Speaker and the House in an unreasonable and, in some respects, an impossible position. Proposals that have been made through the usual channels and by hon. Members have been rejected by the Lord President. His imposition of an unacceptably restricted time limit shows him in his true colours as Leader of the House. We do not like it. His motto is "Muzzle the argument and get on with the vote."

The Prime Minister and the Government have made much play of the idea that the talking should stop, that the Bill should go through and that the people of Scotland should accept it or reject it. We oppose that because it offers the Scottish people the wrong choice. The choice is whether or not they want this scheme; no other choice is on offer. The impression is given that this is the only choice and that it has been made. It is not. The holding of a referendum, however desirable, is no substitute for a proper choice nor is it a solution. The referendum does not absolve the House from considering this or other constitutional proposals in great detail.

In The Times this morning the Leader of the Liberal Party says that we must get the Bill on the statute book so that the Scottish people can express their view in a referendum. The only view that they can express is whether they want a bad scheme or not.

The fact that there has been so much controversy about devolution is no reason for trying to force through the House one particular scheme on the ground that "Something has to be done; this is something; therefore we must do it."

I wish to persuade the House to make a drastic change in the handling of this issue. It is to that end that I moved the Opposition amendment. The case for this approach has never been argued in the House. I wish to make it and then to turn to the Bill itself. This is the double responsibility that I shall seek to fulfil this afternoon.

We are addressing our minds to a proposition of quite exceptional importance. We are dealing with the foundations and structure of the government of the United Kingdom. We are dealing with our own country and heritage, with all its infinite variety and character. We are contemplating a major change in our practice.

Opinions differ about what would be the implications and ramifications were the Bill ever to be enacted. That is a matter of judgment, but everyone is agreed that nothing would ever be the same again. It follows inescapably that before we decide to take this fateful step we should be as sure as is humanly possible, first that we are making a change that will be a positive improvement in the government of our country and of benefit to our people. We must achieve something that will be of help to the people of Scotland, otherwise it is not worth doing.

Second, we must be sure that we are not making a change that could turn out to be for the worse. Unless the House can satisfy itself on this, clearly it would be wrong to make a change, at least until we find a satisfactory way of doing it. We are all acutely aware of the controversiality of the subject, the plethora of documents and views upon it and the high degree to which it is politically charged. The debates we had on the Scotland and Wales Bill last winter showed just how deeply people feel about it.

I want to strip off the wraps this afternoon and look at the issue as objectively and dispassionately as I can, at this thing we call devolution and all the paraphernalia surrounding it.

Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)

In the process of stripping off the wraps, as the right hon. Gentleman has put it, it would help our debate if the following were to occur. The right hon. Gentleman is calling for a constitutional conference, to which, presumably the Conservative Party would make a notable contribution. It would help if he would tell us which specific proposals he would seek to bring forward at such a conference.

Mr. Pym

If the hon. Gentleman will be patient he may find that his question is dealt with.

I want to turn the spotlight on devolution and seek to reveal what we are really talking about and dealing with. I will be as frank with the House about my own party's position as I shall try to be in anything I say about the position of any other party. Whatever views right hon. and hon. Members may have about devolution in one form or another, in principle or in practice, there is no general sense of genuine support for making the changes proposed in this Bill—certainly not on the Conservative Benches. There is certainly no such support on the Government Benches. There is a feeling of deep unease in both the major political parties about this Bill. There are differences of view within the major parties and within the minor parties, too. It would be surprising if it were otherwise.

There are too many unanswered questions, too many doubts for it to be possible to say that anything approaching a broad measure of agreement exists. Furthermore, although I cannot substantiate this with hard evidence, my judgment is that there is no broad measure of agreement, either about devolution in general or about this Bill in particular, in the country at large, north, south, west or east of any border. There is a sense of confusion and anxiety. There is frustration, too, because the Government, the House of Commons, the parties, including our own, have not so far been able to come up with a solution which commands general and widespread public support. In my view this flows in large part from the manner in which this subject has been dealt with here and by the parties.

All parties have considered this subject, and very thoroughly, too. All of them reached a series of conclusions, all of which in turn have been criticised. This is certainly true of the Conservative proposals but no less true of the proposals of anyone else. At least we have to agree on that. The widely sought-for acceptable solution has not yet been found. Maybe it does not exist. That does not mean that some scheme cannot be made to work if there is good will and a genuine desire for it. But such a scheme does not exist today and it is high time we faced that fact. We have also to face up to the politics of it. The stakes are dangerously high. The Scottish National Party is campaigning quite openly for the break-up of the United Kingdom. So long as this remains a free country it is entitled to do that. Very few people agree with it, even in Scotland. I agree with what the Secretary of State has said about that. Never mind. That is the nationalist's proposition and they can slog away at it until eventually they exhaust themselves in disappointment.

Mrs. Winifred Ewing (Moray and Nairn)

Will the right hon. Gentleman get the position of my party right? It does not seek to break up the United Kingdom but to break up the Treaty of Union in relation to the Parliaments. If he gets that right will he then, perhaps, get the Conservatives' policy right? Is he telling the House that we are to go on having commission after commission, or is there some point at which his party says, "We have had enough commissions. Now we must get down to fundamental proposals."? When will the Conservative Party be prepared to produce a Bill that is right?

Mr. Pym

The policy of the hon. Lady and her party is undoubtedly designed to break up the United Kingdom as we know it. If the hon. Lady will await the development of my argument she may learn something. All the rest of us, apart from the nationalist parties, have the strongest desire to maintain the unity of the United Kingdom and actually to strengthen it if that is possible. I have no wish to claim any monopoly of virtue on this point from these Conservative Benches but we do regard ourselves as pre-eminently the party of the Union. It is part of our title, as it is of our right hon. and hon. Friends in the Ulster Unionist Party.

I acknowledge, of course, that the Labour Party would claim no less interest and responsibility in maintaining the unity of our country. But this is precisely the area where the first major division between us and the Government arises. They see, or say that they see, no danger in this Bill for the unity of the United Kingdom. In Clause 1 they claim that the provisions of the Bill do not affect the unity of the United Kingdom. Maybe they do not do so, directly or expressly. But by implication they most certainly do. Our basic feeling, our gut instinct, is that the consequences of this Bill, if enacted, will in the course of time damage the Union and could conceivably prove fatal to its continuance.

I know that that vital matter was debated in Committee last Session and that the Government won the vote. But not only did they not win the argument; every hon. Member who spoke on that occasion spoke with unusual eloquence and force to express dissent from the view that the Bill did not affect the unity of the United Kingdom. Today, nearly a year later, that doubt and anxiety is greater, not less, inside and outside the House. Of course we shall come to debate this issue again, but in different circumstances. There is the possibility of a severe limit on time. I believe that the true feeling of this House is against such a restriction, but we shall see.

There is also the relentless, remorseless pressure from the Prime Minister and his hierarchy which is being brought to bear on Labour Back-Benchers. I believe that the intervention of the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Evans) indicated this. It is self-evident that the normal process of discussion and persuasion within the Labour Party has not caused any noticeable change of opinion. On the contrary, misgivings have increased. So, although the Prime Minister has not yet said it from the Dispatch Box, he and his lieutenants have certainly been talking in terms of escalating the issue into one of confidence in the Government—if that is possible.

Without doubt the Prime Minister has been linking the continuance and survival of his Government with getting this Bill through. I do not think that it is a secret to anyone that pressure of a powerful kind has been applied to the extent that some Labour Members seem to be taking the view that they will vote in favour of the Bill even though they do not believe in it. The significant fact is that the Government have not made this a confidence matter. They are right not to do so. Such treatment cannot be appropriate in a matter of major constitutional change for which a broad measure of agreement is highly desirable, almost essential.

It is fundamentally wrong to approach a major constitutional reform in a dramatically partisan and party political way. We have done it before, and I should have thought that we would have learned our lesson by now. In the bitterness of inter-party conflict no wise or enduring constitutional reform can be achieved. This is the basis upon which my right hon. and hon. Friends have tabled this amendment. As I said the other night, if my proposal had been accepted when it was made, months of work could and would have been done already.

The position is that all parties have come to the conclusion that, with nothing approaching agreement, let alone unanimity, some form of devolution is possible and desirable. Every party has come up with a different solution. Yet there has been no attempt between us—except in the context of the Scotland and Wales Bill in this Chamber last year—to try to find common ground. It may not exist, but I am confident that, if a genuine attempt to find it were made, there would be an infinitely greater chance of this House making a constitutional change that would be a real improvement on the Bill and in government generally.

When we consider the options, the case for the approach that we advocate seems to be overwhelming. The options lie between separation at one end of the scale—only a tiny minority of people believe that there is any merit in that, so nothing more need be said of it—and, at the other end of the scale, no change of any kind.

There is a substantial body of opinion in favour of the status quo, but there is also a widespread desire in Scotland to do things differently and to do them in Scotland. Many people in Scotland feel that the Government are too remote from them and that they cannot get through to those who make the decisions. So, I might add, do many other people in other parts of the United Kingdom. But these problems are made worse in Scotland by her separate administration and sense of difference—I agree with the Secretary of State on that point—and by her distinctive institutions.

The Conservative Party has long accepted that the status quo is not satisfactory and that a new method has to be found to meet the needs and circumstances of Scotland. In between separation and the status quo the most logical position is federation, which the Liberal Party has long advocated. I suppose that it is just imaginable that one day this country will turn itself into some kind of federation. That remains to be seen. I am certain that this country does not want to do so now or in the foreseeable future. Some people in Scotland might like it, but the English do not want it. They are not even thinking about it, because they think that it is quite unnecessary. They wish to continue as they are. Obviously it is ridiculous to contemplate imposing federation when it is not wanted, so that is not an option either.

It may be true that many English lack what is regarded as an adequate degree of understanding of and sympathy with Scotland in desiring better arrangements in Government, but it is equally true that many Scots are apt to forget that the United Kingdom is a partnership, that Scotland is a part of it, and that any partnership, if it is to work successfully, must be acceptable and agreeable to all the partners.

We are left with the question: is there a solution between the status quo and federalism that would commend itself as workable and enduring? The Government have produced a scheme which has many supporters, but also many detractors. It is a scheme which no member of the Kilbrandon Commission recommended or favoured, and which, in the opinion of the Opposition, has some potentially fatal flaws in it—that is, fatal to the unity of the United Kingdom.

The Conservative Party has come to the conclusion that what is needed is an Assembly of a more limited kind than that put forward by the Government—an extension of Parliament in Scotland, but without a separate Executive, to carry out many of the functions of Parliament in a new way north of the border. We have been of the view that such an Assembly should be directly elected, but we recognise that the scheme that we favoured has been subjected to a substantial degree of criticism, as has the Government's scheme.

In particular, our scheme has been criticised for its proposals for handling legislation and the disagreements that would arise between the Assembly and this House. In the light of public comment and all that has happened since those proposals were first made, in a speech at St. Andrew's University on 4th October I suggested a modified version of the Douglas-Home scheme, which was designed to monitor and scrutinise the work of the large and powerful Executive that Scotland already has and to have a more limited rôle in legislation. That proposition has not yet had the scrutiny needed before it can be put to Parliament, even if the Conservatives were able to do so from the Government side of the House. In our view, the right forum for this process is the conference. That is why we have tabled the amendment in these terms.

Mr. Gordon Wilson (Dundee, East)

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the views of the Kilbrandon Commission. The majority of the members of the Kilbrandon Commission supported the notion of legislative devolution to Scotland, and only one member, a Conservative Member, supported the proposition of a non-legislative, non-executive Assembly of the kind that the right hon. Gentleman is proposing. How does he hope to control and monitor the activities of the Executive within an Assembly which has no power to legislate or to administer?

Mr. Pym

Contrary to what the Government say, I find that in Scotland it is not the absence of an Executive which is a public grievance, but the lack of any public scrutiny of the Executive that already exists.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Answer the question.

Mr. Pym

That is precisely the point. In Scotland, I find to my surprise that the elaborate system of Government that we have is largely unknown. That is largely due to the fact that the scrutiny and control takes place down here and is very little understood in Scotland.

Tine Minister of State, Privy Council Office (Mr. John Smith)

Perhaps I may put the question more clearly. If the Assembly that the right hon. Gentleman proposes has neither executive power nor legislative authority, how can it purport to control, monitor or do anything towards the Executive?

Mr. Pym

It will have a very much stronger voice in Scotland and will be able to make representations in a much stronger way. The monitoring of the decisions that take place in this House would be very much clearer if it were done in public in Scotland. If there were not a restriction on the time for the debate, I should be prepared to speak for an hour and a half on this matter. I made the contents of my speech public, and I have indicated how I think that it would work. The Secretary of State criticised it, and that is fair. But his own scheme is subject to a great deal of criticism. That is why I am trying to argue for a totally different approach to the subject.

Some of my right hon. and hon. Friends and some Labour Members believe that the Scottish Office is perhaps the most rigorously controlled Department in Whitehall and that it is called to hook in more detail than any other Department. But that is heard and seen to such limited extent in Scotland that even the existence of the process is not widely understood. If the process were carried out in Scotland, it would go a long way to fill the gap in our parliamentary practice that so many people in Scotland feel exists.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

The right hon. Gentleman is trying to have the best of two mutually impossible worlds. Would it not be more honest to admit that it is impossible to have an Assembly—especially any kind of subordinate Parliament—that is part, though only part, of a unitary State? What the right hon. Gentleman is putting forward is ridiculous.

Mr. Pym

What is important is what powers are given to any Assembly that is created and the job that it will do. Many people believe that the status quo is the most perfect form of government that it is possible to have. Others, of whom I am one, feel that that is not an acceptable proposition and that there are alternative and better ways of doing it

There have been suggestions from a number of hon. Members that another solution would be for the Scottish Grand Committee to conduct its business on a regular basis in Scotland. The difficulty is the implication that it has for this House where all hon. Members can participate in and vote upon all business. I do not think it likely that this House would agree to a restriction that would inevitably flow if some hon. Members were regularly absent in another part of the United Kingdom not on a balanced basis between the parties. Our view is that all these schemes, and no doubt others, that lie between federation and the status quo shoud be thoroughly examined and tested.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

The right hon. Gentleman has been pursuing a nihilistic argument, setting out all sorts of possibilities and then arguing against them. But at the beginning he said that the Union was a partnership, and that any solution should be acceptable to all the parties. Therefore, if he and his party are unable or unwilling to produce a solution, what are the Scottish people to do if they find the present situation unacceptable? Should they dissolve the partnership, as is usual in these matters?

Mr. Pym

The point of the argument that I am making is that if we in this House handle this important subject in a totally different way it is my conviction that we can achieve a practical solution. I am not putting up a series of arguments and cases and then knocking them down. If we approach the matter in a different way, we can come up in a reasonably short time with a practical solution, bearing in mind all the evidence and facts that we now have and all the thought that has already been given.

The conference which I want to see created, and which my right hon. and hon. Friends propose, would have to consider the defects in the existing government of Scotland and the reforms necessary to overcome them. It would then have to consider the effect of the reforms on the rest of the country and on the House. Given the work that has already been done and the fact that the Civil Service could prepare assessments of the various schemes, I do not envisage that it would take longer than nine months. It seems that nothing but good could come from the parties working through the arguments together.

Out of that procedure itself will emerge two or three options upon which the House could first decide, followed by the people of Scotland. The very holding of a constitutional conference would bring into focus the practical alternatives. It is my conviction that the manner in which the issue is handled is of the essence of the solution that is eventually found. The result of the way in which it has been handled so far is that we have a thoroughly unsatisfactory Bill before us. If we cannot do better than this, I do not think that we are giving a very good account of ourselves.

I remind the House what the Leader of the Liberal Party, the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel), had to say about the issue on 22nd February. He said: There has never been any consultation or any kind of cross-party talk of the kind mentioned by the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire. He went on to say: The right way would have been to consult, consult, consult and reach agreement on sensible proposals and then go on to develop them."—[Official Report, 22nd February 1977; Vol. 926, c. 1272.] I regret that later the right hon. Gentleman changed his mind. After the pact in June he said: … it would have been unacceptable to go back to wide discussions?"—[Official Report, 14th June 1977, Vol. 933, c. 229.] Not only do I think that it would have been acceptable; I think that it would have been by far the wisest way of proceeding. We on the Opposition Benches are still of that view.

I turn to the Bill, which is certainly a marginal improvement on the last one. For my part I welcome the changes as far as they go, including the decisions to divide up the Bill and make a more clear-cut division of powers by removing some of the powers of the Secretary of State. Unfortunately there is still an enormous number of defects. The Bill, or any other Bill, must be tested by a number of questions. For example, does it improve the Government of Scotland by meeting the criticisms and weaknesses that are felt to exist? Does it contain a sound method for the proposed division of powers? Does it make clear who is responsible for acting in the areas of new government and how to proceed in areas of overlapping responsibility? Does it embody an acceptable system for resolving disputes? Does it abide by the principle that if our country is to remain united, each part of it must belong to the Union on similar and compatible terms, though not necessarily identical terms?

In my opinion the answer to those questions is "No". I must remind the Government that they have never answered the questions that are contained in the White Paper entitled "Devolution within the United Kingdom: Some alternatives for discussion" that was published in June 1974. In paragraph 56 there are asked some direct questions about a scheme just such as the one that the Government have brought forward. Those questions have never been fully answered. I hope that the Minister of State will address his mind to that when he replies.

The truth is that the Bill will not bring government closer to the people. The fact is that it will bring still more government to weigh down upon the people. For that they will have to pay some millions of pounds extra a year. It will create another mini-Whitehall and Westminster. At the same time, and as the Government have acknowledged, it will reduce the effectiveness of Scotland's voice in the Cabinet.

We all know how a Minister who does not have a powerful Department behind him is less well placed, and that certainly applies to Scotland. I do not think that Scotland wants a weaker Secretary of State. That would be a heavy price to pay—namely, to exchange one set of Ministers in Westminster for a less effecttive set in Edinburgh. I do not think that the people of Scotland realise that the new Executive will not be able to create jobs, reduce prices or do anything of that nature.

The division of powers to which the Secretary of State referred is an important aspect of the Bill. There will be many areas of dual responsibility and many types of dual responsibility, but there will not be the sort of dual responsibility where each tier of government is responsible for its own sphere.

The Scottish Executive is made subordinate to the Secretary of State. Sometimes the Executive must act on the instructions of the Secretary of State, however much it dislikes them. That does not look like a satisfactory relationship between two elected Executives, bearing in mind the powers that are set out in the Bill.

There are some powers that can be exercised by the Scottish Executive only with the consent of the Government. There are others that can be exercised by both the Secretary of State and the Scottish Executive, but there is no indication of which takes precedence in the event of a disagreement.

There are other powers relating to the SDA and other public bodies that can be exercised subject to guidelines that sometimes the Secretary of State is obliged to issue and that sometimes he can choose to issue. In other cases the Executive has to "have regard to" aspects of national pay policy, which the United Kingdom Government specifically draws to its attention.

What does "have regard to" mean? Does a Scottish Secretary have to follow the guidelines, is he to note them or can he ignore them? That is hardly a clear division of powers. Would it not have been better if the Government had chosen to follow the principles underlying an Act that has actually worked—the Government of Ireland Act which devolved a general power to legislate and administer, apart from matters specifically listed as excepted and reserved.

Mr. John Smith

The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the Government of Ireland Act with at least a hint of approval. Perhaps he will clarify his position. At present he seems to be better at criticising than in putting forward constructive ideas. What would the Conservative Party bring to his proposed consultative commission? Would it bring forward the proposal to have an Assembly without executive or legislative authority? There was legislative authority under the Government of Ireland Act. What is it that the Conservative Party would bring forward by way of proposals at the constitutional commission? Would it be anything more than the Douglas-Home proposals?

Mr. Pym

It is quite untrue to say that I have made an unconstructive speech. The first part of my speech related to a totally new way of handling the whole matter at the conference that we have in mind. I have acknowledged that the Douglas-Home scheme and the variant of it that I suggested have been subject to criticism in the same way as the Government's scheme and the schemes put forward by everybody else. But how is the issue to be thrashed out? The answer is by going through the argument on an all-party basis at a conference. That is the way to thrash through it. Having completed the constructive part of what I am saying, I am coming to make a few abbreviated comments on what I think are some of the principal criticisms to be made of the Bill.

Mr. Dalyell


Mr. Pym

No, I have already given way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Milan

Give way.

Mr. Pym

If the right hon. Gentleman suggests that we should have more interruptions, will the Lord President give a second day for this debate? How about that for a bargain?

Having created such a complicated division of powers, one might have hoped that the Government would create a foolproof procedure for resolving the disputes that inevitably will arise but they have not. It is not Parliament or the Judicial Committee but the Secretary of State alone who may veto a Bill if he believes that it is incompatible with the European Community or other international obligations. I do not know whether I heard the right hon. Gentleman correctly. At any rate, what he said about that was not my reading of the Bill. Moreover, if a Bill passed by the Assembly contains a provision that would or might affect a reserved matter directly or indirectly, the Secretary of State may call upon Parliament to resolve that the Bill should not proceed. That is proposed to be done either by a single vote in each House or by two votes in this House.

Even if a Bill is not ultra vires it may be overruled by a simple vote in another political body—namely Parliament. Why do it that way? The European Community obligations are all laid down in writing and there is a European Court to which such matters may be referred. Would it not be better to rely on the courts to resolve such an issue? I am sure that that would excite the Lord President, but I think that it would be the right way of dealing with such matters, thereby relying on the general power of Parliament to legislate for the whole of the United Kingdom if it strongly disapproves of an aspect of a Scottish Assembly Act.

On finance, the Government have indicated that they are prepared to devise a formula for allocating funds covering a number of areas, but the arrangements do not appear in the Bill, even though they are vital to the effective operation of the scheme.

The House should be able to consider how this would work. But is it wise to grant power to spend money without needing to be responsible to the electorate for raising at least part of it? Power to raise or lower taxes, even if only marginally, would give a devolved Administration less cause to blame Westminster every time it could not afford one of its pet projects.

There is not time for me to comment on the size of the Assembly, or the more important constitutional fact that we are moving in Scotland under this Bill to single-Chamber legislation, with all the faults that implies. Scottish Bills could be enacted in a single Chamber in Edinburgh and repealed within a few weeks by two simple votes in this House.

Leaving the detail of that aside because of the time factor, I come to the central defect which remains the implications for the House of Commons. It is simply that after the Assembly is established Members with Scottish seats will be able to vote on matters affecting England on which neither they nor other Members of this House will be able to vote in regard to Scotland. If the Bill for Wales is enacted, there will be in this House four different categories of Members, all with different rôes and responsibilities. Indeed, in that event this House would have five different rôles—one for Scotland, one for Wales, one for Northern Ireland, one for England, and one for the United Kingdom as a whole, and all different. Only the people of England will have the whole range of Government activities examined by Members from every part of the United Kingdom.

That cannot be right. It cannot be stable and cannot endure. That was a fundamental flaw on which the original Irish Home Rule Bills foundered. What was acceptable as an anomaly for 12 Members of Parliament representing Northern Ireland in the very different and special circumstances that exist there cannot possibly he acceptable for almost one fifth of the membership of the House of Commons.

It is not sufficient just to reduce the number of Members of Parliament, nor is it satisfactory for some Members of Parliament not to vote on certain issues. Every part of the United Kingdom should be governed on the same lines. I agree with the Prime Minister who said at the end of last year: … in our judgment, we cannot have a country which is part federal and part unitary."— [Official Report, 13th December 1976; Vol. 922, c. 985] My right hon. Friends and I have been arguing that same point ever since yet the Government are still set on the very course the Prime Minister said he did not want.

To sum up, one can either go further than this Bill or less far. This Bill is not the solution, as I have briefly sought to show. I come back to our amendment, which is a positive and constructive proposal for breaking the impasse, for finding the best solution, and for meeting the special circumstances of Scotland. It is infinitely more important to achieve a practicable and workable reform than to rush hastily into this reform in which this House in its heart does not believe.

Several hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Before I call the next Member may I tell the House that, with brief intervals, I intend to be in the Chair throughout the debate. I shall endeavour to see that every shade of opinion, as I have listened to these matters over a long period of time, is heard. I shall do my best. I hope that hon. Members will not feel it necessary to come to the Chair to seek my advice on when they are likely to be called. I shall do my utmost to see as best I can that everybody is called.

5.55 p.m.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)

I was deeply moved, in the speech of the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym), to hear him enunciate the principle that should apply to this Bill—namely, that a constitutional change of this importance should not be passed through a deeply divided House of Commons and that, if these changes are to be made, they should be made with as near full-hearted consent—the phrase was not originally mine—as can be achieved. I take it as a sign of grace in the right hon. Gentleman, who was the Chief Whip in 1972, when an even greater constitutional change than is proposed in this Bill was carried through by a majority of only eight, that he now speaks for so many in saying that that is not the atmosphere and not the way in which such changes should be made.

There is inevitably a certain repetitiveness in this debate after those which took place a year ago. We recall that the Bill of last year, containing a Scottish Bill Mark I, received a substantial majority on Second Reading, but that three months later it foundered on what was in form a procedural motion but was well understood by the House to be a verdict on the Bill itself.

What was the reason for that apparently striking change between a majority for the principle and then, after a number of sittings in Committee, the dismissal of the same principle, the dismissal of the Bill itself? It was, I believe—I think that this will be supported by a number of hon. Members who lived through those days of debate—because the House had come to see that there were deep, unresolved, and perhaps unresolvable, questions which the Government had not answered and had shown no indication of being able to answer. That is where we are again this afternoon.

This afternoon the Secretary of State for Scotland showed himself unable to explain what would be the function of Scottish Members in this House. But behind there looms the much larger question not of the function of Scottish Members in this House in regard to Scottish affairs, but of the whole functioning of this House, when 71 of its Members come from a part of the United Kingdom where the responsibility for a great range of legislation, and consequently of policy, is borne by elected representatives elsewhere.

This is the question with which, by an iteration for which he should be praised rather than blamed, the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) has identified himself. It is not the fault of the hon. Gentleman that the Government cannot answer the question. Nor does it answer his question to say that if he goes on asking it he will not be allowed to vote. Nor does it solve the question, or resolve the dilemma, to tell the House that the measure is to be whipped through on a three-line Whip, or to whisper outside the Chamber about votes on matters of confidence.

The fact that the question has never been answered is the evidence that we are in this legislation attempting to do something which runs contrary to a principle established by common sense, by experience and by endless debate over decades, namely, that it is not possible within a unitary parliamentary State to devolve widespread legislative authority to an elective Assembly in one part of that State unless the State itself is to be resolved into a federation. The question as to the position of Scottish Members after such a change as this Bill proposes, the question whether they are all to vote or none is to vote, or half of them are to vote, is not a conundrum or a trick question. It is a theorem which illustrates an underlying principle which time and again we are seeking ways to affront. I repeat that experience—painful experience, experience attended with tragic results—has shown that there is no means of circumventing the logic of the question which the hon. Member for West Lothian has so insistently posed.

I expect that the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President of the Council, if he does me the honour to notice my remarks when he replies to the debate—

Mr. Millan

My hon. Friend the Minister of State, Privy Council Office, will be replying.

Mr. Powell

Well, if I am not to have that honour, then there will be others who will deploy the same argument. At all events, the Lord President has frequently thrown back the precedent, as he would fain claim it to be, of the government of Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1972. He understands, of course, perfectly well what is the answer to his question, but it is well that it should be understood generally and that there should be no suggestion that there is any way out, or any resolution, offered by the experience of Northern Ireland.

There is in the first place, as has often been observed, the entire difference of scale. It is one thing for 71 Members, or half that number—especially in Parliaments where majorities may be narrow—to hold the balance on great issues of policy. It is quite a different thing, during decades in which such narrow majorities have been unusual, for a very small number of Members to have been tolerated in this House and for the adherence of the majority of them to one of the great parties to have been overlooked, not without criticism, by those who belonged to other political parties.

But I will not rest upon the matter of scale, though in itself the de minimis rule applies—Northern Ireland has been de minimis in this matter over the last 50 or 60 years. But that does not go to the heart of it. Does anyone who knows anything about the story of the 1920s really imagine that Home Rule was forced upon the people of Northern Ireland, as forced it was, in order to strengthen the United Kingdom; that it was done in order to tighten the ties between that Province and Great Britain? On the contrary, it was done in order to achieve by two steps, since one step proved for the time being to be impracticable, what people already then knew was the true meaning of Home Rule—the separation of the island of Ireland from the United Kingdom. It was only the fact that the motivation of the majority in the Province was not nationalist, that their overwhelming desire was so to use the institutions they had been given that the union would not be disturbed or threatened, which during all that period prevented the inherent consequences of devolved legislation in a unitary State, even upon that tiny scale, from becoming evident.

But, of course, it is something quite different which is proposed in the Bill, and the Government themselves recognise that it is something different. The Government recognise it in the Bill itself by the crass contradiction between Clause 1 of the Bill—with its bland assertion, which flies in the face of experience and of common sense—and Clause 81, which appeals to the popular will as expressed by referendum, not in the United Kingdom but in Scotland. Why, Mr. Speaker? If this is a constitutional reform, a reform which, as the Government assert, will leave the United Kingdom intact, but undoubtedly a constitutional reform which will put one part of the United Kingdom in an entirely new and—dare I say?—privileged position, then, if this is a United Kingdom Bill, if it is a measure which recognises and sustains the union, to whom, if not to this House, to whom beyond this House, ought that issue to be submitted? Not to the people of one part of the United Kingdom but to the people of the United Kingdom as a whole.

There is only one set of circumstances, there is only one context, in which it is right and logical to go to a part of the people of the United Kingdom and say "Do you agree with this or not?" Those are the circumstances in which such a question was put in 1973 to the people of Northern Ireland, namely, when the question is: "Do you want in or out?"

The reason why this referendum is to be limited to the people of Scotland is that the Government recognise—it is an implicit admission—that what is at stake in this Bill is the separation of Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom, on which, of course, it should be the people of Scotland, and ultimately the people of Scotland only, who should have a voice.

This is a Bill by which the whole Kingdom is affected, by which every hon. Member of this House is affected, by which every constituent of every hon. Member of this House is affected. There is a list set out in Part I of Schedule 10 of the subjects on which the Scottish Assembly will be empowered to legislate. Hon. Members might do worse than spend part of the time between now and 11 pm reading Part I of Schedule 10 of the Bill. As they do so, hon. Members representing constituencies in England should say to themselves "On all these questions it is even chances that the decisions in the future as to the law which is to apply to my constituents will be taken by the deciding vote of Scottish Members of the House of Commons, Members who in that context are irresponsible; that is, who have no corresponding responsibility upon that subject to their own constituents."

On housing, planning, health and all the rest, the law for England is to be made by an assembly in which often enough the decision will be in the hands of Members representing Scottish constituencies, by the majority within the 71. What would the Government not have given in the last three years for the difference between the minority and the majority among 71 Members of the House? Occasionally they have been eased round a difficult corner by a very much lesser margin than would be available from 71 Members.

Mr. Raison

Would not the right hon. Gentleman also stress that it is not only the law of England that will be so affected but the law of Wales and the law of Northern Ireland, and that Members representing constituencies in Wales and Northern Ireland should also bear these facts in mind?

Mr. Powell

That is certainly true. I did not mention the Welsh in this context, because we are to come to them tomorrow, and I confess that I thought I might be engaging in de minimis if I associated little Northern Ireland with England in the injustice which we shall jointly suffer, and which our constituents will jointly suffer under a constitution of this type.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Michael Foot)

I want to get quite clear from the right hon. Gentleman how he seeks to remedy the injustice. I do not want to misunderstand his amendment in any way. The amendment is That this House declines to give the Scotland Bill a second reading so long as Northern Ireland, an integral part of the United Kingdom, remains deprived of any devolved or local administration above the level of district councils. If we were at some future date to be able to get, say, a devolution for Northern Ireland on the same scale as is proposed in this Bill for Scotland, would that overcome the right hon. Gentleman's other constitutional objections to the Bill?

Mr. Powell

I cannot really believe that the right hon. Gentleman has read our amendment so myopically, or that he is unaware that whereas in Scotland they have regional administration and district administration, we in Northern Ireland have democratic control over only the most minimal subjects. In our amendment we are concerned with what those in Scotland already possess, with local administration of the general policies and laws which are decided for the kingdom as a whole. Let us by all means devolve, and devolve to democratic assemblies, the administration of the laws which are made in this House and of the policies which are framed in this House. That we can do without incurring the curse which this Bill incurs. But if we go beyond that, there arises again the West Lothian question, to tell us "In that event you must resolve the Union into a federation unless you are to end up in inextricable contradictions and injustices in the House of Commons, which is the essence of our Parliamentary Union."

Mr. Foot

Will the right hon. Gentleman apply his mind to this question? Did not the West Lothian question—I perfectly agree with him that he was entitled to call it that—apply during that period earlier when we did have the devolved constitutional situation in Northern Ireland? Is he advocating the restoration of a position in which the West Lothian question would still be applied to Northern Ireland?

Mr. Powell

In answer to that, perhaps I might read words from the policy statement of my own party, which it arrived at three years ago in what was called the Portrush Declaration: we do not believe that devolution itself would be appropriate. A British federal system would serve the dual purpose of maintaining the Union and ensuring the democratic rights of the entire Ulster people. From the beginning to the end of this question, from the days of Isaac Butt in the 1860s right the way through to the present, the theorem has been understood, by those who had the patience to understand it and were not blinded by what they thought were contemporary political necessities, that one cannot in a unitary State devolve legislative power to the representatives of a part of that State unless one resolves the State itself into a federation.

Of course, if there be found some way, after all these years, some way which has escaped 100 years of British politicians, or if there is to be a British federation, a federation of the United Kingdom, we in Northern Ireland shall claim—I use words which we reiterate—the same rights as are enjoyed by any other part of the kingdom. But our supreme interest is in the maintenance of the unity of the United Kingdom. We do not claim to be a nation; we claim to be a province of this nation. So we of all who come to this House have a vested interest, perhaps greater than any, in the preservation of the parliamentary Union. It is because we believe that the parliamentary Union would inevitably be eroded and then dissolved if such a measure as this were to be forced into operation that my hon. Friends and I, as we did last Session, will vote against this measure at every stage until it is destroyed.

6.14 p.m.

Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)

I have no intention of following the argument of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) relating to Ireland. However, I accept that the West Lothian question, if that is what it is to be called, is a central weakness of the proposals before us. I am not at all sure that it is a central weakness which is soluble merely by the application of logic. I do not think that it can be answered only in these terms. It can be seen and answered only within the context of not only these proposals but the reasons for these proposals and, above all, the background of these proposals.

The truth is that if we were to examine any constitution we would find it full of flaws. I shudder to think of what the right hon. Member for Down, South would make of the British constitution if we were to try to write it out in full legislative form and analyse it clause by clause. I can think of no constitution that would be more shot through with flaws—as the right hon. Gentleman claims this is, on one particular and obvious point. Would any of us have devised a British constitution in which we would have failed to take action on the sovereignty of the elected Parliament and then said "By the way, we shall have a chamber at the end of the corridor which can delay and overturn these measures"? What nonsense. What denunciations we would have received from the right hon. Member for Down, South.

Therefore, we have to look at this in the perspective of the weakness of all constitutions. We have to say, given a constitution which will have flaws, can that constitution operate because the will of the people is such that it should operate? One thing that we have to devise here is precisely the kind of solution which will command the support of the general will behind it. That is the only reason that this place works, and it is the only reason that the proposed Assembly and the new structures, both of this place and in the Assembly, will work—if there is the general will to make it work.

It is no use saying that Northern Ireland was exceptional because of the de minimis argument. I accept this, but what this is saying is that there was a flaw in the situation which was tolerated and which worked. It worked for half a century, however badly, because it was a de minimis situation. That, at least, was deserting logic. That was at least dealing with the practicalities of the situation—that there was a general acceptance that it should work for a period until a flaw developed. If I were sure that the Assembly proposals would work comfortably for half a century, during that process I think that we could find the necessary change and, above all, the modus vivendi which would allow it to operate.

There was a deep political reason—not the logical reason—for its failing in Northern Ireland. It was a political reason. It was the presence of partition. It was that which caused the breakdown in Northern Ireland, and not the illogicality of the constitution.

Mr. Powell

The hon. Member is entirely right in saying that, apart from the de minimis argument, it worked only because of the determination of those concerned, under constant threat as they were, not to use the powers which they had in any fashion which would differentiate them from the rest of the United Kingdom. The hon. Member has the point.

Mr. Buchan

That implies that there was a particular attitude, not linked to the constitution, which made it prevail. I am suggesting that it is possible to develop around this the kind of attitude—a different attitude—which will allow this to prevail, and there is no reason to think that that cannot happen.

I accept what the right hon. Member for Down, South says and what the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) has said about there being a weakness in Clause 1, which provides that the provisions do not affect the unity of the United Kingdom. I hope that they are right in their assertions. But it is by no means to be taken for granted, and it cannot be legislated for, that the Bill will not affect the unity of the United Kingdom. We all know that it is because of the dangers facing the unity of the United Kingdom that this measure has been brought in, at any rate at this particular time. But we cannot then follow that argument into the central weakness that the right hon. Gentleman has been developing on the basis of the problem facing Scottish Members here and particularly to argue it on the basis of numbers. He said that this was not the main point with which he was concerned, but it was an important point of his argument when he showed the difference between that and the 12 Members from Northern Ireland—the de minimis argument.

The truth is that the 71 Scottish Members here will not be acting as a block in any sense but will be representing political attitudes. Were they here representing a block in the kind of majority that the right hon. Gentleman wanted my right hon. Friend to get over the last two or three years—a built-in majority of 71—that would be a different proposition. But that is not the proposition. In no sense would they be behaving like a block.

If we are to preserve the unity of the United Kingdom—if we in Scotland are to express our nationhood in this particular way and at the same time recognise that we are members of either another nation or, at any rate, another state of the United Kingdom—it follows that the will behind making this operate must be of such a kind that the 71 Members will not develop as a block in this particular way.

The background of Ireland was that the Irish representation, in fighting for what happened in Ireland, behaved like a block. This is a very different situation. The right hon. Member for Down, South made an effective speech and, as always, it was sombre. I accept that tone. Any man who irresponsibly examines this Bill and irresponsibly supports or rejects it is a fool. There are dangers in what we are doing.

The argument has always been whether there are fewer dangers. I change my views from Monday to Tuesday and from Tuesday to Wednesday, but I am clear about one thing: if the matter is to be resolved in the way that hon. Members opposite have proposed, namely, a rejection of the concepts of the Bill, such a rejection must not take place in this House. I believe that the question has passed from this House and that it must be decided by the popular will in Scotland.

The right hon. Gentleman suggested that the introduction of a referendum in itself could cause the fragmentation of the unity of the United Kingdom and that such a referendum should be posed to the whole of the general will—in other words, to the whole of the United Kingdom. Again we come back to the point that we are dealing with this matter against a political background and against a background of attitudes. The logic of the right hon. Member for Down, South breaks down at this point.

It is not acceptable that a decision to be made in Scotland should be subject in any sense to a veto by the people of England. I accept totally and absolutely the right of the people of England to exercise their vote in this referendum. But I think it would be wrong and foolish for them so to exercise it, even though they have the right to do so. We have the right to do many things in this world, but for the greater good of the United Kingdom I believe that the people of England should not seek to exercise that right. I believe this problem has passed into the hands of the people of Scotland and it is they who must make the decision. Any other decision will be a false and, therefore, unacceptable decision.

It is therefore right, first, to have a referendum and, second, that the people of Scotland should decide. The weakness in the referendum proposals is precisely because the Government have nodded vigorously when I talked about the general will and the political situation which prevails. That is what we must consider. In other words, there is no overwhelming demand for devolution in Scotland which must be answered by a referendum. On the contrary, there has been the development of a particularly nasty form of chauvinism in Scotland which has greater or less support.

That is the question which must be answered, because otherwise the popular will cannot be exercised. We cannot form an Assembly, with the functions that undoubtedly will be created and the conflicts that undoubtedly will arise between the Assembly and the United Kingdom Parliament, whether on matters of finance or anything else, if it is against a background in which any such conflict, disagreement or defeat is resolved by an accidental slip into separation.

That remains the prevailing argument. In other words, the general will, if it is to be carried for an Assembly, must be carried for only the Assembly. We must also face up to the question that this general will must express itself as seeking the Assembly to remain precisely because it has rejected the alternative—the separation of Scotland. Therefore, we are pushed inexorably into the argument for the second question in a referendum. The right hon. Member for Down, South referred to this in relation to the Home Rule situation in Northern Ireland. That is precisely the problem here. We must have an Assembly starting in the knowledge that, at any rate for the time being—there are no Medes and Persians even north of the border—the Assembly will be given the opportunity to work without fear of separation. This is the necessity for the second question. Without it, I believe that nothing will be solved. Furthermore, I believe that this is expected in Scotland.

I believe there is no great demand for devolution in Scotland. People who express the great heart of the mystery by saying "I was in Scotland for X weeks or X days. I spoke to X number of people and none of them raised the subject of devolution. They raised the question of jobs and the problems of the economy." are absolutely right. There is no crying demand for devolution. I accept that completely. But my nose tells me that it is still there, although my nose may be wrong.

The last time I spoke on this matter, on 22nd February, I said that if the Bill was defeated there would be a strong reaction in Scotland. I was wrong. There was no march or demonstration and not one window was broken in St. Andrew's House. Even the SNP knew that it could not mount a demonstration. I could therefore be wrong on this occasion, but I still think that the right thing to do is to pass the Bill and to put the proposition to the Scottish people to decide.

Mr. Raison

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us how many letters on devolution he has received, even in the last few days?

Mr. Buchan

I have had none. I honestly confess that. I am quite straightforward about it. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) wrote a letter last week to the Lord President making precisely this point. He will be making his own case, but I think that he agrees with me that whether or not one accepts devolution it is right that it should be settled in Scotland and not defeated in this House.

The main point I wish to put to my right hon. Friends in the Government is the necessity for the second question. I wish to raise one or two points, particularly since the, major Opposition party takes it upon itself, the second time around, to seek to defeat the Bill on the spurious argument of a constitutional conference. The Opposition should at least enlighten the House about what they propose to put in its place. It was left to the right hon. Member for Down, South to spell out the central flaw.

The right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire did not offer any suggestions about what should happen. He will recall that after the failure of the last Bill there were inter-party talks. We are entitled to know what the Conservative Party proposed in those talks. This matter not only affects the Conservative Front Bench; it affects its rank-and-file Members. The Conservative Party could be right in what it proposed, but it would be valuable to know whether it proposed anything. It would be valuable to know whether the move for a constitutional conference was merely a means of preventing devolution from happening, because I have lost count of the number of alternatives that have been brought forward.

The latest proposal put forward by the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire is that there should be some means of monitoring the rôle of the Scottish Office. We have, with respect, a dozen bodies in Scotland busily doing that, from the Scottish Executive of the Labour Party itself to the STUC and other bodies. This is no solution to a major constitutional problem. If the Opposition intend to vote against the Bill, I hope that before the night is out they will at least give us the alternative that we should seek.

With those few remarks, and because I know that a great many right hon. and hon. Members wish to speak—to say nothing of my intense dislike of "could kail re-het" and the fact that I am not particularly good at action replays—I hope that right hon. and hon. Members who are in doubt about supporting the Bill will at least accept that the right way of dealing with it, if they wish to oppose it, is by passing the Bill so that the opportunity may be given to the people of Scotland to vote either for it or against it. I hope, too, that they will support me and my hon. Friends who seek the inclusion of the second question because, without the second question, I fear greatly for the consequence—even of having a referendum on the single question. My loyalties will be strained greatly when it comes to such a referendum if we do not have the second question which alone can settle the main problem.

6.31 p.m.

Miss Harvie Anderson (Renfrewshire, East)

I know that the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) will forgive me if I do not take up any of his arguments. No doubt we shall have other opportunities to pursue them at closer quarters.

I intend to speak briefly, since the curtailment of debate is such that many right hon. and hon. Members from all parts of the United Kingdom and all equally affected by the Bill will not have an opportunity to express their views.

The many hours of debate on the previous Bill—a Bill so similar to this one—simply served to show the defects and deficiencies which are before us again. The Secretary of State made a point about the improvements which had been made to the Bill, but I suggest that such alterations as have been made do not alter the central fact, which is the impossibility of devolving as suggested while maintaining the unity of the United Kingdom. That was demonstrated clearly in our debates on the previous Bill, and it is not altered by any so-called improvements in the present Bill.

In our previous debates, the argument was won on every count when we came to discuss the clauses. It is important to remember that the remaining clauses were never even brought before the House. Yet now we have the return of almost the same Bill, tragic in its likelihood of paving the way to the break-up of the United Kingdom. It holds within it no cure for unemployment and no recipe for the stability of the United Kingdom. It seeks to divide the authority of this sovereign Parliament in a way which makes conflict between Westminster and Edinburgh inevitable. It creates the unacceptable situation in which Scottish Members at Westminster can vote on education, housing and other devolved matters in England but not in regard to these same matters in their own constituencies. Questions have been put to the Secretary of State today on these very points. So far, he has made no reply.

The Bill also leaves unresolved the number of Scottish Members who should come to Westminster. It must be clear that the overweight of present numbers left with limited functions and full voting power would create immediate dissension. That again has been made clear by a number of right hon. and hon. Members today during the speech of the Secretary of State.

Devolution in Scotland is a dead subject. One has only to talk to the first 20 or 200 people whom one meets. It is unlikely that two or 20 will mention it. They will talk of unemployment, of prices, of inflation and of the essential matters that touch the lives of many families.

As for the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that there is widespread support for this change, it is wise to recall—it has not been mentioned so far today—that every professional and business body is against the proposals in the Bill, and they are the very people to whom the Government are looking to create the new jobs which are the basic essential for the whole of the United Kingdom. This Bill will add no hope in that direction.

If we are to divide off the five million people of Scotland, there is a case for Merseyside, for the North-East and for the South-West.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

What for?

Miss Harvie Anderson

For the United Kingdom, about which the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) cares so little. In their own way, these places have special problems and distinctive histories—just as distinctive as the Scottish people and quite as diverse. People there have similar hopes and fears. Yet, at the time of the proposed referendum—though I do not want to digress on this too far—they will not be allowed their say.

We have all this before us, with the terrible consequences plain to see for all who are prepared to look closely at the history of Scotland, at the history of our people and at the problems, both those well known and, perhaps more importantly, those lying only just beneath the surface. It may be that those of us in the central belt of Scotland have a greater responsibility than others to make those problems lying just beneath the surface clear to one another, if not to make them public, as I sometimes think they should be.

I hope that this measure, which I believe to be striking at the roots of the constitution, will be regarded for what it is. In my view, it is put forward in the hope that it will save seats—seats which have been put at risk by bad government in recent years.

This measure is opportunist, divisive and greedy. But for the existence of oil, it would never have been brought forward. Yet those nearest to the oil have the wisdom to see already the dangers of basing the future on a temporary benefit.

The tragedy is that what we do today will have its full effect upon succeeding generations. We are one nation. We divide at peril to ourselves and to the delight only of our enemies. The Government seek to hand over the ways but not the means. The cost to Scotland will be an overwhelming bureaucracy—expensive and crushing. We would be the most over-governed and the most expensively over-governed country in the world. In my view, the problems inherent in the Bill would result in the break-up of the United Kingdom.

It is for those reasons that I and so many right hon. and hon. Members will vote against the Bill.

6.37 p.m.

Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)

I do not propose to speak for very long. However, having listened to the Cassandra-like speech made by the right hon. Member for Renfrewshire, East (Miss Harvie Anderson), following, as it did, other speeches from the Opposition Benches, I feel that I have to say a word or two.

There has been a great deal of gloom and doom from the Opposition, and I think that it stems from ignorance. The right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) said that we were rushing headlong into this. The right hon. Member for Renfrewshire, East said that it all started with oil. Can she tell me why, three years before oil was discovered, we had the great declaration of Perth from her leader at that time, the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), and the setting up by the Tory Party in Scotland of its own constitutional commission with distinguished people from Australia and Canada? It even had a Scottish judge on it before he was reminded what his judicial impartiality really meant and that he should not serve on Tory committees. All that started with the right hon. Lady's own party.

What we have had over the past two years has been a running away, a retreat from Perth. However, Tory election addresses still have it. I collect them.

Mr. Galbraith

Clearly the right hon. Gentleman has not read mine.

Mr. Ross

I am referring to right hon. and hon. Members who decorate the Opposition Front Bench. They talk of a legislative Assembly for Scotland. I have in mind the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger), who is my own Member of Parliament, and I have in mind the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor). They all have a past on this matter. Indeed, we had dramatic evidence from the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) that the hon. Member for Cathcart was at one time even toying with the idea of becoming a member of the Scottish National Party.

To suggest that the Government are rushing headlong into this matter is nonsense. We were told that the wraps were going to be taken off Conservative policy today. But when the wraps were taken off, we found nothing but political nakedness—and that after 10 years of Tory cogitating on the subject.

Mr. Galbraith

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that nakedness is better than hypocrisy?

Mr. Ross

It depends on who is naked. Even hypocrisy can be naked. But I would not accuse the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) of anything other than consistency in this issue—his head has been in the political sands for years and years.

The right hon. Member for Renfrewshire, East says that no one in Scotland wants this Bill. Let this Bill be turned down by an English majority in the House and she will discover what the people of Scotland think. The last Bill remained alive and the Government said that they would bring it back. Now we have the new version. I warn English Members against playing politics with this issue.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that as Secretary of State for Scotland his record was of being wrong about everything? Again, on the Second Reading of the Scotland and Wales Bill in the last Session, the Minister of State responsible for devolution predicted Ulster-type violence in Scotland if we did not get the Second Reading, and we did not get it.

Mr. Ross

We did get the Second Reading of that Bill. The hon. Member for Cathcart is wrong again. We got it with a comfortable majority. I have always said that he is wrong, and continually wrong, and I am right in saying it again.

The fact is that there has been a long history of this process. A Bill to create a Secretary of State for Scotland was turned down 95 years ago. Then there were second thoughts, and a responsible Minister was appointed in 1885. We then got the same kind of speech as has been made today by the right hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West. The Church of Scotland opposed it. The Educational Institute of Scotland opposed it as detrimental to Scottish education. But we have had the development of government in Scotland from that time. In 1926, the Secretary for Scotland was elevated to the rank of Secretary of State, and his place in the Cabinet was assured. In 1939, the offices which were in London were transferred to Scotland.

Mr. Douglas Crawford (Perth and East Perthshire)


Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman was a Tory all that time—indeed, an industrial adviser to the Tory Party.

There has been a logical development of a build-up to devolution for Scotland through executive devolution. It has happened under both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. We have our Secretary of State. People talk of asking Questions of him. But one can only ask him Questions on one day in a certain sequence, and one is limited in the number of Questions one can ask. He answers for about seven or eight different Departments.

Again, one of the dangers in a narrow majority is that the right hon. Gentleman has to be in this House so much. But there are nearly 7,000 civil servants in Scotland whom he is supposed to control, so that when this kind of executive devolution goes too far the danger is of government not only by bureaucracy but, it may well be, by a second-class bureaucracy without proper ministerial supervision.

We come now to the next logical step—and it is logical; we are not rushing into it headlong. After the Tory constitutional committee, the Government set up the Kilbrandon Commission. It investigated and reported. For years the parties have discussed its findings between themselves. For two years as Secretary of State, I was interviewing and meeting people in Scotland from all sorts or organisations, seeking their comments about the Kilbrandon Report. There has been nothing headlong about the process, and the consultation has been open.

If the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire did not participate in all this, it was his fault. He declined an invitation. I know that I met various hon. Members, because we have been concerned about this for so long. If people claim that because they did not get a letter about it it is not important, they are wrong.

Of course this Bill will not solve all the problems—that has never been claimed for it. But it will lead to better and closer government, and to my mind this House will turn the Bill down at its peril. To accede to the suggestion for some constitutional conference from which we must have a reply by July would be to enable the Tory Party to avoid a vote tonight because it has no policy.

Mr. Galbraith

When did the right hon. Gentleman change his mind about the merits of this matter?

Mr. Ross

I did not change my mind. One of the troubles about people who make points like that is that they know nothing of the history of this matter in the Labour Party in Scotland. I pointed out in my last speech on the issue that the Labour Party has been dealing with this matter since before 1945. It held a special conference which stated that a decision should be delayed until after a Speaker's Conference. But instead of a Speaker's Conference we had a constitutional commission, and after that commission reported a decision was taken by the Scottish Labour Party conference. So there has been a clear development. At the same time, since 1945, there has been the build-up of powers of the Secretary of State, and the next logical step is legislative devolution.

What we are faced with is the question whether we are to leave thing alone and do nothing. I say we do that at our peril. We have a Parliament in which there are only 71 Scottish Members, who usually act not as Scottish Members but as part of more than 630 Members who make the decisions. The more that process goes on, the more we give the argument to those who favour separation. I am utterly opposed to separation and will fight it with every breath I have, but this Bill is the right step to take at this time.

6.48 p.m.

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

I welcome the opportunity to be speaking more or less in agreement with the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), although perhaps some of our reasons differ. Like him, I believe that we have before us a Bill for Scottish self-government which will work. Like the right hon. Member for Renfrewshire, East (Miss Harvie Anderson), I do not think that it represents any kind of final settlement. In politics there is no such thing. But I hold the view that it can provide a stable basis upon which an effective and responsible Parliament can be worked out, evolved and constructed in Scotland which, by the practice of government—which itself is important—can evolve a more durable system, and, equally, work out more durable relationships with England—and within England, for that matter.

Last Friday I heard the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell)—already much quoted, though he has temporarily left the Chamber—say that the difference between the Bills today and tomorrow and the joint Bill which preceded them was no more than a rearrangement of seats in a railway carriage. He did not go so far as to say that the engine driver was a raving lunatic, but I think that that implication also was clear in his remarks.

I think it right, therefore, briefly to "rake a little cauld kale" if only a little—with respect to the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan)—by listing the reasons why my right hon. and hon. Friends and I regard these proposals as sufficiently acceptable for us to support the guillotine on them, although we did not do so on the previous occasion, though we voted for the Second Reading. I say that despite the fact the Bill does not meet many of our long-standing arguments and cannot be regarded as federal.

For the record, then, I shall quote a short passage from a letter which I wrote to the Scotsman on 18th February this year: The problem is —and the problem remains, in fact— should one make it possible for the acceleration of legislation", which some would say is inadequate, or should one not? The Liberal view is simple. We want self-government for Scotland and we want it to be meaningful, acceptable and workable. And for us this means a fair electoral system and taxation and economic powers— I am referring to that deliberately, because there lies the lack, and I shall explain what I mean. In other words, we want A federal solution. That is what we want, but we should be very willing—and have always said so—to enter discussions with a view to reaching some compromise. Over two years ago. I suggested a constitutional conference to Harold Wilson …. —a matter overlooked, perhaps, by the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym)— I think that it would be excellent for the Government to be defeated on the guillotine. Obviously, the problem would not go away. They must be forced genuinely to consult, genuinely to talk, genuinely to find a fair solution. That, I believe, they have done. I think that the Government have talked and have consulted genuinely, and in my judgment the result is reasonably fair. As for the Government's record, I pay tribute to the open-minded and reasonable way in which the Minister of State at the Privy Council Office, who is now present, approached these discussions, which I had responsibility on behalf of the Liberal Party for having with him. Hon. Members on the Back Benches who have more direct access to him through their membership of the same party will know that he is not an easy man with whom to negotiate, but he is a fair man, and I wish that to be stated.

At the same time, we have the steadily hardening position of the official Opposition to any generally acceptable form of devolution, and this, to our mind in the Liberal Party, has made the concept of a constitutional conference, which we were advocating three years ago, less and less realistic. I listened carefully to the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, as other hon. Members did I am sure. He rejected the idea when it was first proposed three years ago, and one remembers—this was touched on, I think, by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock—how the Conservatives treated the Kilbrandon Commission. Their way of treating it was to set up a commission of their own. That was the reaction of those who are so interested and anxious to achieve a consensus on this matter.

The variety of minimal solutions which we have heard of since clearly shows that there was nothing productive there. I see the Lord President of the Council nodding his head. If I recall aright, he had discussions with the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, but I do not think that they particularly galvanised the Lord President. In my view, therefore, it is nonsense for the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire to say that what is now proposed is all terrible and there has been no time for discussion. The Conservatives have had a decade and more to discuss it.

Why is the present Bill better? First, the financial arrangements are better in two respects. There is the Government's willingness to consider sympathetically—that is in the White Paper—direct taxation powers if costs are met. As the House will recall, we proposed that income tax powers be given to the Assembly. The Government demonstrated clearly that that would cost about £8 million directly if it were possible to vary the tax, which is the whole point of it anyway, and about £8 million indirectly, and that it would result in the necessary employment of about two 2,000 civil servants, who, ironically, would be placed in England. I do not think that we in the Liberal Party could argue for cutting down bureaucracy and, on the other hand, argue for a solution of that kind.

Second, there is the Government's declared intention to explore a fixed formula for a block grant over a number of years—I think that this will get away from the annual haggle which has been often criticised, and was criticised on the last Bill—linked to an independent advisory body.

Next, there is the reduction of the Government's powers of override and a clear restriction to non-devolved areas. Further, there is the establishment of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as what one might call a quasi-constitutional court. It will be something of that sort. It is not the full-fledged arrangement which we argued for, but I think that it is a step in the direction we want, a step in the direction of introducing a federal element.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

I apologise for interrupting as the hon. Gentleman is listing the advantages of the Bill, but, before he strays too far from matters of finance, will he say where in the Bill these improvements are covered? Is he not simply relying on the White Paper, which is no more than an indication of what the Government might be able to do but which is definitely not provided for in the legislation before the House?

Mr. Johnston

That is self-evident. I am well aware of it. I did not think it necessary to point out that these matters are not in the Bill. They could not be in the Bill anyway. The fact is that on both those matters, for instance, the Government persuaded us—they did some persuading too—that it was right and proper that the Assembly itself should have a clear opportunity to express a view as to whether it was prepared to take on the cost involved of differential finance raising powers and whether it thought it right that the block grant should be on a fixed formula over a number of years instead of annually, as hitherto. I see nothing wrong in that.

Finally, there is the range of matters mentioned by the Secretary of State—the question of powers over teachers' salaries, rents and rates, the question of the Parliamentary Commissioner, the method of work of the Assembly and the like. In my opinion, that is all summed up by saying that the hallmark of the Bill represents more genuine independence of action than previously existed.

Mr. Britton

On the question of taxation, is not the truth that the hon. Gentleman tried to persuade the Government to introduce taxation powers into the Bill—if they were to exist, they could perfectly well come in this Bill—but he failed to persuade them? They, he says, persuaded him, and he is now left with the hope that some future body or Assembly will succeed where he has failed in persuading the Government. That hardly seems particularly dramatic or radical.

Mr. Johnston

I think that it is the first time that any Government have said that they would favourably consider direct tax-raising powers for a Scottish Parliament. With respect to the hon. Gentleman, I do not think that his record of achievement in these matters is outstanding.

The Liberals have recognised and stated that, given the state of Scottish opinion, the ultimate legislation will represent a compromise, which is what one has been engaged upon. There are, therefore, two matters which I should quickly mention on which we consider that changes should have been made but on which we did not succeed in persuading the Government during our negotiations. The first relates to economic powers and the guidelines which, as the Secretary of State said today, remain with the Secretary of State in regard to the Scottish Development Agency and the Highlands and Islands Development Board, as well as in regard to the Welsh Development Agency, for that matter.

The idea that the whole balance of the United Kingdom economy would be toppled if one gave to the HIDB, with its annual budget of £8 million, the right to determine its own guidelines in dispensing grants, loans and the rest is absolute rubbish. The same is true in the case of the Scottish Development Agency, though there the sum of money is much larger, about £400 million. The real controlling factor is the total budget, because then one has the normal interplay of politics, the pressures from different areas and so on. I think that that is a change which could well have been made.

Mr. Raison


Mr. Johnston

I am reluctant to give way since there are so many hon. Members wishing to speak.

Mr. Raison

The hon. Gentleman is a Member of the Liberal Party which, as I understand it, is mad keen on incomes policy. One of the features of the arrangement presented in the Bill is that the Scottish Assembly would be able to pay teachers or its other public servants—large numbers of them—a great deal more than the going rate. All it has to do is to pay regard to Government policy. It would not have to do anything about it. Does not the hon. Gentleman recognise that there is a serious problem here in that the Scottish Assembly would be free to do whatever it liked with incomes policy, and would this not have major effects on the Government in the United Kingdom?

Mr. Johnston

That is a valid point, and one that we have often discussed. Incomes policy is a United Kingdom responsibility, and I have no doubt that the Westminster Parliament would, of necessity, have to discuss the matter with the Scottish Assembly during the period of any such statutory policy. If there is no statutory policy, the only power that exists is that of persuasion. That is to a large degree the present position of the Government, because they have a voluntary incomes policy, the implementation of which depends upon persuasion.

I was expecting the hon. Gentleman to raise the argument that a Scottish Parliament would suddenly double teachers' salaries. That argument is produced by those who live in cloud-cuckooland. The Assembly would not do that. It would not be political reality to adopt such a policy.

The idea that the Assembly would distort the United Kingdom economy is equally nonsense. Regional development is a distortion of the free market anyway, and what one has to ensure is that it is done in a fair way. In this context I ask North of England Members—some of whom I understand are thinking of voting against the Bill on the ground of its being an economic threat to their area—to realise that that is not the case. That is not the intention of the Bill in any way.

I now come to the question of the voting system. It makes me furious to hear the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) going on about democracy. He does not appear to give tuppence for the gross distortion under the existing system. I spoke at length on this matter on the occasion when the previous Bill was debated, and I shall do no more than make a quick point rather than repeat what I said then, particularly as the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth (Mr. Ewing), has come into the Chamber.

I said then: It is all very well for the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland to shake his head, but if the system of government proposing two members per constituency is followed through there will be a possibility of a large overall majority for a party that may receive only one-third of the votes. In Scotland at present the Labour Party has 36 per cent. of the votes and takes 57 per cent. of the seats. That is not fair, and cannot be justified. In reply, the hon. Gentleman said that the House should not worry because there was a Committee system that would protect minorities. He added: While this is something that has been widely welcomed throughout Scotland, little has been said about it. With that system there is an absolute guarantee that whoever is in the minority, and no matter for how long they are in the minority, they will still be involved and have some say in the formation of legislation before it reaches the Assembly."—[Official Report, 14th January 1976; Vol. 903, cc. 493–4.] This is now no longer the case. The reason for what, which I am not criticising, is to give more power to an independence of action within the Assembly, but it has the effect that the Government must think again about the whole question of the voting system.

There are many other matters to which I should like to refer, but it would be unfair of me to take up too much time, and I shall therefore conclude by making two points. It would be a stupid person who would deny that the establishment of the Assembly will produce many problems, but, however serious the problems may be, they will not be as serious as those that would arise if no Assembly were established.

The great majority of Scots want self-government without separation from the United Kingdom, but if they are denied any change the frustration will be enormous. The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock was right when he spoke about the history of the matter. What Conservative Members should realise is that this is not a new issue. It was in 1950 that the National Covenant was signed by more than 2 million people. The feeling was ignored by the major parties until it was espoused by the one-issue party, the SNP, and translated into votes that threatened the establishment of the two major parties. All the present travail, outrage and fear at the prospect of the break-up of the Union could have been averted by the United Kingdom responding earlier to those feelings. The Ides of March were well foreshadowed.

The question of representation in this House is a matter of genuine concern among English Members. In the event of devolution, English Members will be wholly entitled to object fiercely to Scottish Members, by their votes, helping to carry through the House matters dealing with English education, housing, health, and so on, but even if a federal proposal had been put forward that overlap would not have been avoided, as the right hon. Member for Down, South said.

Given that that situation exists, it is imperative that clear conventions are involved—and much of this House operates on conventions—by which Scottish Members do not vote on such matters. I do not regard that sort of thing as impossible. It is a choice of alternatives. Either one does that, which I agree is not a marvellous idea, or one does the other thing, which is less acceptable.

Mr. George Cunningham

If there were a convention that Scottish Members did not vote on matters applying only to England, how would such a convention apply to deciding which party should form the Government at Westminster after a General Election if one party had a majority of British Members, and another had a majority of non-Scottish Members?

Mr. Johnston

This is a United Kingdom matter, and if the hon. Gentleman says that there will be complications I shall have to agree with him, but I do not think that those who advocate devolution and say that something must be done about it can pretend that the problem does not exist and try to evade it.

Mr. Malcolm Rifkind (Edinburgh, Pentlands)

The hon. Gentleman says that the issue cannot be evaded, but if he allows the Bill to go on to the statute book he will be evading the issue.

Mr. Johnston

The hon. Gentleman is one of those who have recently, almost by a miracle, it seems, discovered federalism as the only possible solution. I said earlier—perhaps the hon. Gentleman was dozing when I said it—that if this were a federal Bill, with clearly separated functions, this problem would not arise. The only way in which a solution can be produced is through the conventions of the House, rather than through legislation, because by the construction of the Bill, we are debarred from producing a solution by means of legislation.

I regard the passage of the Bill in its present form—or at least in a similar form—as essential. It provides a better begininng than the previous Bill did for the reform of Government in Scotland. Because this measure does not contain everything that I want, that is no reason for my opposing it. It is all very well for Conservative Members to laugh. Until recently they never mentioned federalism, and now they say that we cannot have what the Government propose, because it is not federalism. I believe that we shall end up with federalism. If we block the dynamic of change, we shall have separatism. I do not believe that this Bill will damage the unity of the United Kingdom. The status quo is the thing that has damaged the unity of the United Kingdom.

I speak both as a Liberal and as one who, on 30th November 1966, introduced the first Bill for Scottish self-government since the war. I wish the Bill before us today a fair passage.

7.9 p.m.

Mr. Gordon Wilson (Dundee, East)

My party regards the Bill as the first step along the road to self-government, and we are sure that the Scottish people will regard it as the first step towards obtaining national justice for Scotland.

For English members, the Union of 1707 was a fairly minor event. In a sense, it was the incorporation of Scotland within their body politic. They did not change their place of meeting. They did not change their procedure. Scotland was merely swallowed up. It did not affect the governing of England. For that reason, it was broadly accepted within England, although it is interesting to remark that there was opposition at Westminister at that time from high Tories who did not want Scotland to be brought into a union with England.

We are now beginning to see high Tories from both the Left and the Right who are opposed to any change in the constitutional structure for Scotland. But for Scotland, the incorporation into union, the disappearance of a Scottish Parliament, was a major event which affected the life-style and the method of government of a nation of some 800 years. Almost as soon as the Act was passed, the Union's safeguards were being breached by the House, so much so that within about five years the Union was almost repealed within the House of Lords—it came within four votes. Then and subsequently some who favoured repeal were amongst those who had been most active in pushing it through 1706 and 1707.

We must also remember the declaration that was made in the House, that it was the Parliament of England continuing rather than a new body which had been created. This has stuck in the gullets of Scots' lawyers and the Scottish people ever since.

The right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) was right when he said that the Union was a partnership. Of course the Union may have started as a partnership, but we in Scotland certainly over the past 70 years, have found that far from Scotland being a partner it has increasingly been regarded as a region or a province. It is not acceptable in Scotland to be considered to be a province when it is a nation. What may be acceptable to Northern Ireland Members cannot be stood by ourselves. It must be remembered that the Union was established between two sovereign countries and that there still is in Scotland a strong feeling of nationhood which has given rise to objections to the manner in which we have been governed.

It is no accident that the Bill has reached the Floor of the House of Commons, even if it is for the second time. It has been part of a build-up over the past 80 years. The first Home Rule motion was introduced in 1809. Subsequently there was a whole series of similar attempts by parliamentarians from Scotland to restructure the constitutional position, to give Scotland a better position within the United Kingdom.

Mr. Robin F. Cook (Edinburgh, Central)

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Scottish Parliament, which he is recalling with such affection, was elected by barely 2,000 people throughout Scotland, that until 20 years before the Act of Union it met for only two days a year to appoint the Lords of the Articles and go away, and that one of its last pieces of legislation was an Act carrying through the serfdom of the salt panners? Does the hon. Gentleman think that that institution had such a vast effect on the life-style of the Scottish people?

Mr. Wilson

It is typical of the hon. Gentleman to try to get a laugh at Scotland's expense. It is part of his whole wish to sneer at his own country. He should be ashamed of himself. He is distorting the history of Scotland, because he well knows that as a result of the Union of the Crowns the Scottish Parliament was under the control of the Crown—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)

Order. The Chair would like to hear the argument.

Mr. Wilson

Secondly, the hon. Gentleman has taken one bad example of what the Scottish Parliament did. I could quote many other good examples of reforming legislation undertaken by that Parliament—such as providing legal aid are setting down the institution of an education system in Scotland. There are many other examples that the hon. Gentleman would do well to consider.

The last point that the hon. Gentleman made in objection was that the Scottish Parliament was undemocratic. For goodness sake, what was this institution at that time? It was not until the Reform Bill of 1832 that some changes were made towards a development in democracy. From whichever side of the border we are, we must realise that in those days parliamentary institutions were oligarchic and not democratic. I am sure that the Scottish Parliament would have followed the process of democratisation in the same way as the United Kingdom Parliament has done, and probably achieved democratisation much faster.

We in Scotland object to the smug assumption that this House is the norm of good government and economic management. If there were any arguments in favour of that, they have been demolished by the reduction in the standards of the Scottish people over the years. What the Scottish people want is a governmental organisation, backed by a democratic Parliament with full powers to control the Scottish economy. This is where the Bill is defective, but, as I have indicated, this is a first step and is no final constitutional settlement. It is what the Scottish people want that will be decided at the end of the day.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

The hon. Gentleman said that as a first step he wants to secure an improvement in the economic position of the Scottish people. In what way will this Bill help to bring that about?

Mr. Wilson

The Bill will help by improving the quality of government, by bringing the Scottish Office, which I do not rank as one of the most efficient of the bureaucratic offices in the United Kingdom, under democratic management. It will provide, through an effective committee structure better ways of monitoring the administration of the country. Secondly, it will bring pressure to bear through the Executive structure for the proper negotiation of Scotland's share in the oil revenues and the resources of Scotland.

Mr. Teddy Taylor


Mr. Wilson

The hon. Gentleman should remember that by adopting that attitude he is prepared to deprive his own people and his own constituents of a fair share of what is theirs. Thirdly, the Scottish Assembly will naturally accrue powers to itself as and when the Scottish people themselves indicate the speed at which they wish to go. If the hon. Gentleman is a democrat, I do not think he will consider it wrong that that should happen.

It is not difficult for us in the Scottish National Party to give the Bill some support. I suspect that it is difficult, however, for the Unionists to do so. They have a great difficulty. They must decide whether the existing structure of administration is healthy and good. They must decide, if they are to reform it to meet the demands of the Scottish people, how to go about it. They may have to decide whether to go for decentralisation. Do they want decentralisation or further centralisation, which was the fashionable theory for so long? Do they want fully to integrate Scotland into England so that the Scottish legal system is fully integrated and the Scottish education system is altered so that it becomes part of the British education system? That would be a much more logical stance than the stance they are adopting, trying to maintain separate Scottish institutions without having a parliamentary and legislative back-up which allows for some reform.

I was interested in the contention made earlier that the Scottish Members of Parliament were very well integrated within the British Parliament. It is true that the Scottish Members have voted and followed the party line faithfully over the years. However, I have recently obtained a copy of a paper entitled "Studies in Public Policy" from the University of Strathclyde—No. 6, "A Test of Political Integration of Scottish Members of Parliament," covering the period before there were members of the SNP in the House. The first finding that the author, Mr. Keating, made from his analysis was this: Scottish M.P.s contributed only 7 per cent. of the members and accounted for only 7.6 per cent. of the attendance at non-Scottish standing committees in this period. As they comprised 11.3 per cent. of the membership of the House of Commons, it is immediately apparent that they made a less than proportionate contribution to this work. Other findings by Mr. Keating were as follows: Scottish Members were rarely to be seen in committees on Bills relating only to England and Wales. That should come as a great satisfaction to Members from English constituencies. Where United Kingdom Bills contained separate provision for Scotland, Scottish membership of the appropriate standing committee was higher. From the early 1950s, Scottish M.P.s participated in United Kingdom standing committee work to a decreased extent. Scottish membership of committees on Bills in the category Trade, Industry, Transport, Agriculture and Fisheries was higher than the average. These are subjects of specific concern to Scottish Members. Scottish membership of committees on Bills concerned with Foreign, Commonwealth, Colonial and Defence matters was very low. Over the period, the pattern of specialisation by Scottish members in standing committees became more pronounced. That is an indication that over that period Scottish Members were quite rightly extremely interested in matters of specific concern to Scotland, and devoted a great deal of their time and attention to those matters. It also indicates that there is a need for a Scottish Assembly which will give more time to the supervision of those Scottish matters that Scottish Members have had to pay so much attention to in this British House of Commons.

Mr. Raison

The hon. Gentleman has just made the point that Scottish Members are closely interested in Scottish matters, yet he intends to vote in favour of a Bill which will prevent Scottish Members playing any part in this House on a large number of Scottish matters.

Mr. Wilson

The hon. Gentleman has got it wrong, because there will be Scottish Members of the Assembly who will be given the primary responsibility of dealing with the functions of the Scottish Executive. It is right and reasonable that those matters should be dealt with in Scotland, and it will be much to the advantage of the country.

Mr. Galbraith

The point is that, according to the document that the hon. Gentleman has just read out, Scottish Members form an excessive part of the membership of those committees dealing with financial matters, and that because they are not dealing with housing, local government and education they will no longer be able to make the same contributions to those committees.

Mr. Wilson

The right hon. Gentleman has also got it wrong, because where subjects are not devolved Scottish Members, who will still be in this House, will have the right and opportunity to be represented on the committees, so that the interests of Scotland will be taken care of in that respect. But the matters being devolved will come under the scrutiny of elected Members of the Assembly, who will have that democratic duty placed upon them.

It is right and proper that those elected for other purposes should not be able to interfere in the affairs of the Assembly. The Secretary of State for Scotland, who will still be in this House and dealing with a good number of functions, will in no way be responsible for the work being carried out by the First Secretary of the Praesidium—or whatever it is—of the Scottish Assembly. The First Secretary will be responsible to the Scottish Assembly. Therefore, that part of the jigsaw fits in quite well.

I should like to say one pacifying thing to the English Members, if I may dare to do so. One of the propagandists of the Union was Daniel Defoe, who is known for a work called "Gulliver's Travels" [Hon. Members: "What?"] I am sorry. I should have said that he wrote "Robinson Crusoe". I must have left my childhood behind me much more than some other hon. Members. Daniel Defoe wrote in support of the Union: A prosperous and contented Scotland, far from impoverishing England, could only add to England's wealth and security. In the event, the Union has not added to Scotland's wealth and prosperity, though it has certainly added to England's security and wealth. Conversely, a discontented Scotland will not be a comfortable partner or a particularly good friend in adversity to England. Therefore, it is better that the Scots should be allowed to express themselves in their own parliamentary fashion.

If hon. Members are worried that after devolution Scots Members will be able to vote on English matters—though that is a custom that my hon. Friends and I have tried to avoid—I can assure them that, should they put forward an amendment to prevent Scottish Members from so interfering in the affairs of England as to cause the discontent to which reference has been made, my party would willingly support it. If there is a subsequent proposal to establish an English Assembly, we shall be well inclined. We should give the English Members support for the creation of that Assembly if that was what they wished.

The hon. Members from Northern Ireland have been offered a constitutional convention which may give them an increased membership in this House. It is a crumb of hope, and they may believe that it will come to pass, but they may find themselves continuing under direct rule. If they wish to have a highly centralised form of government, if they wish the supreme authority of this House to be maintained, without allowing any devolution of powers, they may find themselves in a trap and never have an Assembly for Northern Ireland.

I could go on to criticise the Government for their timidity and delay. But my hon. Friends did that in the pre-run of this debate last year. As for the Tories, I was not disappointed by the speech of the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire. He clearly enunciated the Conservative Party's policy on devolution—that it does not have one and that it does not intend to do much about devolution. The English king most relevant to the Conservatives is Ethelred the Unready. They are quite unready to assume any responsibilities in playing their part in government. If there were any doubt about that, one has only to point out that in Scotland the CBI, their main ally, was uncertain and critical of Conservative devolution policy. We had a hint that the Conservatives might be interested in the Government of Ireland type of solution for the Scottish Assembly. We shall seek to move an amendment so that they may have the opportunity to vote for that notion, which seems to commend itself to the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Will the hon. Gentleman answer one question from an English Member? What would be the position of the Scottish National Party on the Shetland Islands, if they should decide by referendum that they preferred the status quo? Would it still be the SNP's position that they must have the hon. Gentleman's brand of Scottish separatism stuffed down their throats, regardless of whether they wanted it?

Mr. Wilson

The SNP's position on Shetland has been made abundantly clear. So far as I am aware, the Shetland Island Council has decided not to hold the referendum, so we shall just wait and see what it decides to do. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is the hon. Gentleman's policy?"]

Mr. James Sillars (South Ayrshire)


Mr. Buchan


Mr. Wilson

The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) is always loth to give way to me, so I cannot see why I should give way to him now. The island council decided to have a referendum. Since then it has changed its mind. We shall have to wait and see what it wishes to propose.

The SNP's attitude to the Bill is clear. We consider that it represents a beginning, the planting of the seed. I hope that the House will not, out of deliberate intent or invincible ignorance, spurn the wishes of the Scottish people, which have been clearly indicated over a long period, for more control over their own affairs. Scotland both expects and demands that the Bill shall have its Second Reading tonight.

7.29 p.m.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

Note, note—let my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council—note the words in the opening sentence of the speech of the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson): "the first step along the road to self-government". I gently tell my hon. Friends, before anybody says too much about my being sometimes, but by no means always, in the so-called Tory Lobby in the next three days, that it would be the same kind of thing as saying that my right hon. Friends on the Government Front Bench are in the Scottish National Party Lobby. I hope that neither of those things are said, because the argument should not be conducted on that level. It should not be said either that I am in the Tory Lobby or that anyone else is in the SNP Lobby. Let us get that argument out of the way.

I hope that the Lord President noted what was said by the hon. Member for Dundee, East, yet again about gobbling up oil revenues. Unless it has exclusive use of the oil revenues the Assembly is not much use to those in the SNP who sit on the third Bench below the Gangway.

Mr. Foot

We are not introducing the Bill for their benefit.

Mr. Dalyell

The Lord President says that the Bill is not for their benefit. Maybe that is his intention, but some of us are concerned that it is the effect of what he does. Some of us think that it was precisely for their benefit, no doubt unintentionally, that this Bill was introduced. Let us be clear who will be the beneficiaries if the Bill is passed—the SNP.

Mr. Foot

My hon. Friend is quite wrong.

Mr. Dalyell

If I am wrong, that must be demonstrated.

One of the major objections to the Bill is that it provides not the remotest chance of a lasting settlement between Scotland and England. Do any of us believe, wherever we sit in the House and on whatever side of the devolution argument we have been, that the governmental arrangements formulated in the 1977 Scotland Bill will still be operational in 1987 or 1990?

My hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) said that he would be happy if the Bill were to last half a century. In reply to his interesting speech I say that the Bill has no chance of working for half a century or even for five or 10 years.

The Bill is a stepping stone to further changes of some kind or another. It is not a stable resting place for five or 10 years, let alone centuries. Perhaps the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) had a point when he said that we would end up with federalism. I think the end result will be worse than that. This measure has not a hope of lasting.

I shall spare the House alliterative lists of being able to vote on the gut issue of politics in relation to Birmingham but not Bathgate. The fact is that the question with which I interrupted the Prime Minister on Thursday about my voting on issues affecting West Bromwich but not West Lothian, and his voting on issues affecting Carlisle but not Cardiff, is all too real and will not just go away.

If these alliterative lists simply symbolised some technical problem in the Bill, the House could be certain that Ministers would have ironed it out since February, if for no other reason than to spare themselves from having to listen to grinding repetition from me. That alone would have been ample reward and would have made their work solving the West Lothian-West Bromwich problem worth while.

The truth is that the West Lothian-West Bromwich problem is not a minor hitch to be overcome by rearranging the seating in the devolutionary coach. On the contrary, the West Lothian-West Bromwich problem pinpoints a basic design fault in the steering of the devolutionary coach which will cause it to crash into the side of the road before it has gone a hundred miles.

For how long will English constituencies and English hon. Members tolerate not just 71 Scots, 36 Welsh and a number of Ulstermen but at least 119 hon. Members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland exercising an important, and probably often decisive, effect on English politics while they themselves have no say in the same matters in Scotland, Wales and Ireland? Such a situation cannot conceivably endure for long.

The hon. Member for Dundee, East said that members of his party would not vote on English matters, but that does not face up to the problem of the need for a Government to be sustained. The real problem is that of having a subordinate Parliament in part, though only part, of a unitary State.

Hon. Members will recall that between 1964 and 1966 the then Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson), had enough to say about 12 Ulstermen voting in the tight Divisions. Twelve is an anomaly that could normally be borne with fortitude, but 119 is an entirely different matter.

A second of my lengthy list of reasons why this proposed settlement cannot conceivably endure and will have the life of a butterfly lies with the inevitable frustration of the Assemblymen being unable to honour the promises that they have made on account of what they would claim are lack of powers over the economy from Westminster and lack of money from a parsimonius English Treasury that is unwilling to allocate oil revenues. Within weeks of arriving at the High School they will be clamouring for more. Not only will the SNP Members clamour for more, but the Conservative and Labour Members will also do so. Everyone in the Assembly will be united in clamouring for more.

If the object is to counter the SNP, we must diagnose that much of its impetus is fuelled not by a desire for 150 Assemblymen in Edinburgh but by a desire for North Sea oil revenues and a mosaic of petty dissatisfactions, some of which are the responsibility of central Government and more of which have little to do with government of any kind. For example, governments, local or national, cannot do much about the condescensions of football commentators which are as irritating to me as they are to the SNP.

We are voting tonight to jump from the bank of the river on to a log raft which is bound to break up as we are carried downstream to a separate Scottish State. This is a journey upon which this party is united in not wanting to embark.

I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) is not in the Chamber. When he refers to "an on-going process—1926, 1939", some of us must ask "Where does this on-going process stop?" The logical conclusion is that an "on-going process" leads to the solution that the SNPs want—a separate Scottish State. It is no good saying that we are all involved in an "on-going process". If we do not want separation, someone at some time has to make up his mind precisely where this on-going process stops.

Before we come to the question of voting I would like to ask my hon. Friend the Minister of State a factual question to which I genuinely do not know the answer. It concerns the new clauses about the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Have the Judicial Committee or the judges been consulted and what is the Judicial Committee's view of the task which has been handed to it? Is it up to the Judicial Committee to decide what might seem at one level to be pure questions of law but what at many other levels may be thought to be the most delicate issues of political decision. What do the judges themselves think about it?

I come to the question of voting. The Tory amendment seems designed to patch up internal disagreements. I must say to the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) that it seems that the amendment has been spatchcocked together in an ill-thought-out haste, the kind of haste that has bedevilled so much of the discussion on devolution. It was spatchcocked together without thinking, to try to slap together the best of both worlds, and it is therefore muddled. One can have umpteen constitutional conferences, all thrashing round, to use the right hon. Gentleman's words, but they will not be able to devise a way in which a subordinate Parliament can operate in part, but only part, of a single kingdom.

It is no use pretending that constitutional conferences between now and July will do anything which discussion in the House of Commons did not achieve in January and February. Therefore, I hope that some of the Conservative Members who showed a serious interest in January or February will abstain from voting on a frankly unworthy amendment which they must know in their heart of hearts is disreputable. For my part, I shall be one of the first into the Government Lobby to vote against the Conservative amendment.

I turn now to deal with my vote on the main Question. In the past every one of us has voted for aspects of his or her party's policy about which we were less than enthusiastic. On occasions we have had to swallow and vote. This Bill, however, is different. Public expenditure cuts, Health Service charges and other matters, we may dislike. But they are subject to change and alteration. This Bill, if passed, leads to irrevocable consequences. Once an Assembly is established in the High School, I do not see it being abolished in the lifetime of any of us here. We should be saddled with it long after the next election and long after dozens of elections after that—certainly by that time in the form of a separate Scottish Parliament.

It may be said "Ah! But there is the referendum." Here the House will forgive me for being once bitten and twice shy. Last year many of us, not me, did vote for the Second Reading of the Scotland and Wales Bill because we were given to understand that the Government regarded Second Reading literally as an agreement for the House of Commons to debate and examine their plans for devolution. That was the argument put forward. I did not go along with it. I think I am being fair on this. However, hardly had hon. Members emerged from the Lobby than Ministers began saying something different—saying that the House of Commons had voted decisively for the principle of devolution. This was quite a different story.

Before 22nd February 1977—Black Tuesday or Good Tuesday according to view—how often were we taunted with the tease—those of us who took a different view of the guillotine—that we had voted in favour of the principle of devolution and therefore were under an obligation to accept the guillotine?

Even having said all this, if I thought that the desire for an Assembly in Edinburgh was the considered judgment of the overwhelming majority of the Labour Party members in Scotland I might not have decided to vote against my Government. Indeed, there are many members of the Labour Party in Scotland who, quite honourably, do not think that a Member of Parliament should vote against the three-line Whip. I understand and respect that view. There are a great many fewer who believe nowadays in an Assembly for its own sake. Their major feeling, as we found in the Shetlands and elsewhere, is that they deeply regret that the party was ever hooked.

Perhaps this was best put by Ernest Leslie, the East of Scotland AUEW organiser, at the end of a meeting of trade union officials under the chairmanship, the other Thursday, of David Graham, who is known to some of us. What Ernest Leslie said to me was "You cannot possibly abstain. I shall be angry with you if you vote against the Labour Government and even angrier if you do not." That represents the feelings of many of those who have worked hard over the years to sustain Labour Members of Parliament.

I confess to irritation with only one grounp of my hon. Friends. It is not the pro-devolvers or those who believe in loyalty to the party come what may. I respect them. My vexation is with those who say "Of course, when we have got the Assembly we look to folk like you to stop separation." I reply "You have no right to say that when you have put such a formidable weapon as an Assembly in the hands of the separatists." The only difference this time is between those of us who think that we have to take on separatism now and others who judge chat we can fend off the challenge later. By that time—this is my judgment—the devolutionary coach, if this Bill is passed, will be on a motorway without exit roads to a separate Scottish State—a journey on which my right hon. and hon. Friends are unwilling to embark.

7.37 p.m.

Mr. William Craig (Belfast, East)

I can follow very easily the remarks of the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell). He argues his case well. I can understand and appreciate his fears, even though I do not share them. I was elected to this House on a specific undertaking to work for the maintenance of the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I was also elected on the specific undertaking to seek the re-establishment in Northern Ireland of a Parliament of Northern Ireland with powers no less than the former Stormont.

It is true, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) said, that as we framed our policy we saw the logical development of a federal State of the United Kingdom and that that would serve all our interests to the best advantage. But we were realistic enough to realise that the United Kingdom, as a political entity, was a long way from seriously examining the possibility of the federal approach. Many people did not even understand what the word "federal" meant. We in Ulster certainly recognised that we might have to reach the federal State by stages of devolution. We saw nothing inconsistent in that posture.

The question I ask is: having been elected on such a basis, can I support this Bill? I certainly cannot turn it down on the basis that devolution is in conflict with the essential unity of the United Kingdom. I can turn it down only if I am satisfied that this measure would not work and would contribute to the dissolution of the United Kingdom. However, as a principle it does not follow that this would be the case.

Next to the current Irish debate, this must be the longest debate to occupy the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It has been hashed about in one way or another for at least 15 years, and we have come to the point where a decision of some sort must be taken. The last thing that we can afford to do is to put this question into an indefinite limbo.

We have to face this question on a number of different grounds. Perhaps the most immediate is the discontent that exists in Scotland. I am in no position to judge the size of that discontent, but the House will ignore it at its peril. It is certainly clear that a considerable number of people feel that the mode of government in Scotland could be improved. Perhaps one of the encouraging aspects of the Bill is that if Parliament, in its wisdom, decides to approve these proposals it will be for the people of Scotland to decide whether or not it improves the form of government. I cannot honestly say that I am totally happy with that situation, but surely it should answer the argument that the Bill could be in conflict with the will of the people of Scotland.

One reason why I am inclined to support the Bill is that it tackles a problem of a much broader dimension. I feel that there is a major need for parliamentary reform. Parliament has not changed much through the years in practical terms, but circumstances and conditions have changed. The scope and extent of government affecting people has changed, and this is making itself felt in every part of the United Kingdom community.

There is a growing disenchantment with the way in which the House works. I believe that our fault lies not in examining proposals for change but in the fact that we have not really looked at constitutional reform in a big enough way. It has been far too much like a patchwork quilt. We have people taking cards off the top of the pack and throwing us into vague institutions in Europe—institutions which the Government have told us may well be enlarged in scope and size, and whose character may be changed. Yet there has been no real thought-out policy on the constitutional impact of such changes. At the bottom of the pack, we have people taking cards away for devolved institutions—local governments and regional councils. In the middle, we have never managed to get the total picture of how best the United Kingdom should be governed. That is what I should prefer to see happen, but if anyone can persuade me that that is likely to happen after 15 years of arid debate, I shall be the most surprised man in Parliament. I am now convinced that if we are to improve the government of the United Kingdom we should make a start. Provided that we do that in such a way that we do not jeopardise the essential unity of the United Kingdom, I am prepared to give it a try.

There is a great deal in the Bill that I can commend. It makes a good, honest effort at doing a difficult job inside a unitary State. It is bound to be experimental in nature. We are tackling something of which we have not had a great deal of experience. The Bill has struck a reasonable balance in the distribution of power and of power sharing in a way that does not offend my nostrils. But there are some aspects which will need a great deal more thought, and at the moment I should be against them. I should like to think that the House, in its wisdom, will give me and other hon. Members the opportunity to try to improve the Bill as it makes its way through the House.

I can make one categoric statement. I find the idea of a fixed-term Parliament very damaging to the whole concept of parliamentary democracy and Cabinet Government. By "Cabinet Government", I mean the doctrine of collective responsibility. We take a very big risk in the way that this is written into the Bill, and it needs to be looked at again.

I am not very happy with the machinery for appointing the Executive. It is typical of the sort of tizzy that we have got ourselves into in this House. We want to experiment with devolved parliamentary institutions, but because of nervousness, we want to do it without people realising the full extent of what we are doing. Therefore, we call it not a Scottish Parliament but a Scottish Assembly, and we do not call it a Scottish Executive, Government or Cabinet; we use some new terminology. There is to be a Chief Secretary to head the Administration.

Looking at the way in which these matters are phrased, I wonder whether we are getting Cabinet-type Government. The Secretary of State will appoint the Executive—admittedly on the advice of the Chief Secretary as defined by the Assembly—but the Bill leaves me puzzled about what happens when the Chief Secretary wants to remove one or other of his Scottish Secretaries. Does the Secretary of State automatically take his advice? Is it for the Chief Secretary to say that he wants to dispense with so-and-so's services and to ask for his resignation? There is nothing in the Bill which automatically brings about that situation, because the proposal is not structured on the basic concept of British parliamentary government. However, perhaps that is a point to be pursued in greater detail in Committee.

The same could be said about my criticism of the financial arrangements. I go along with much of the thinking in the White Paper. There is a lot of sound sense in the White Paper, but there is nothing in the Bill that makes sense. The Bill states that Her Majesty's Government will make available to the Scottish Assembly and Executive a sum of money, no doubt after proper negotiation. We are not told on what basis that negotiation can take place or what the object of the negotiation will be. I have no doubt what it should be, because Scotland is to remain part of the United Kingdom, is to share the same burden of taxation, and is to contribute, according to its means, to the revenue of the whole United Kingdom. But how are we going to guarantee that the Scottish taxpayer will get equal treatment with any taxpayer elsewhere in the United Kingdom, or that he may, if his need is such, get more than he contributes? There must be some precise guidelines to assist in this kind of negotiation. It would be better to have the guidelines in the Bill and to let the Bill go through with fair winds than to have a major storm right at the beginning.

The really difficult part of the Bill for most hon. Members seems to be representation in this House for Scotland. I have a feeling that we are getting our parliamentary pants in a twist over nothing. On the one hand, the argument is that the essential unity of the United Kingdom must not be disturbed, and, on the other, the argument is that this Parliament of the United Kingdom must be used as the Parliament of England and that it would be wrong, when it is acting as a Parliament of England, for hon. Members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to influence the decisions on legislation solely affecting England.

Of course, as we experiment with devolution, the procedures and practices of this House must take account of new situations. I do not see the need for the whole of the House of Commons for the United Kingdom to meet and deal solely with legislation that is exclusive to England. We know that the House cheerfully sends Scottish business to a Grand Committee, but in theory it comes back to the House. Northern Ireland business is sent to a Northern Ireland Committee, although it must be said that very few hon. Members ever know what goes on in that Committee.

Mr. James Dempsey (Coatbridge and Airdree)

They are never here.

Mr. Craig

I do not know whether they are here, but it seems that they have put a great deal of trust in the Northern Ireland Committee.

I am not saying that the present form is necessarily the right form. There are various procedural methods that can be developed.

Mr. George Cunningham

Will the right hon. Gentleman address himself to the other difficulty, of how we decide which Government take over after an election if there is a majority, let us say, of Labour Members for the whole of the United Kingdom and a majority of Conservative Members for England alone? If that is to result in a Labour Government, how long are 45 million Englishmen going to put up with that?

Mr. Craig

Is the hon. Gentleman talking about a Government for the United Kingdom or a Government for England? Let us not forget that the essential power of Government still resides in this House. That will still be so even if the Bill becomes law. The House will continue to have control of the major sources, if not all the sources, of taxation. It will have essential control over the broad guidelines of economic activity. In reality it will control social economic policy. All that can happen in Scotland will be a variation of priorities according to local problems. It would be foolish to exaggerate the powers of the Bill beyond that.

We must adjust our thinking to a totally new situation. If the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) is not happy about the way in which the Government of the United Kingdom are elected, in the sense that they are also to be the Government for England, it is time that England started doing some thinking about having a Parliament of its own, or English regional Parliaments. Let us move towards a federal United Kingdom. I shall support that every inch of the way.

One aspect that bothers me is the great hustle and bustle that it shown by the Government in dealing with this thorny and difficult issue. It is an issue that does not have anything like the urgency of the situation that faces Northern Ireland, where there is a con- spicuous lack of hustle and bustle. If we do not do something in Scotland in the reasonably near future, something will happen, but that applies even more so if something is not done fairly soon in Northern Ireland. If something is not done, the chances of peace will further diminish. People are dying in Northern Ireland.

I have sympathy with my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux) and some of his colleagues for having seen the need to table an amendment to the effect that the Bill should not be given a Second Reading, because of the Governments' attitude towards Northern Ireland. However, I take a rather different point of view from that which is expressed in the amendment. I am not terribly interested in whether we now have another tier of local government. What annoys me about the approach to Northern Ireland is that we have the most undemocratic form of Government that can be envisaged in a British sense.

Under the constitution as is stands certain powers are devolved to an Assembly that no longer exists. Those powers, instead of being redistributed into the Mother of Parliaments, are administered by Order in Council in a most arbitrary and undemocratic manner. They are dealt with by a Parliament that has little shadow of a mandate and little understanding of the problems. It is most unsatisfactory.

Should I facilitate the Government in their hustle and bustle and the shortening of debate on this controversial issue on Wednesday when the same desire to act is not shown in Northern Ireland? I shall support them tonight, because I think that the principle is right. I believe that the Bill has the makings of a very good beginning. However, I shall be doing a great deal of thinking between now and Wednesday, for the reasons that I have outlined.

8.6 p.m.

Mr. James Sillars (South Ayrshire)

There has already been a fair amount of disagreement about the Bill inside and outside the Chamber. I think that I shall carry almost everyone with me when I say that there is little excitement about this measure in Scotland. The reason is not that people have gone off the boil on the need for a Scottish Parliament but that there is nothing in the Bill to get excited about. Cosmetic improvements cannot disguise the fact that the Bill is not different in essence from the acutely depressing White Paper that was published in the autumn of 1975. There has been no significant leap forward in the Governments centralist imagination or their understanding of the historical forces at work in Britain and in Europe.

Despite the depressed outlook, my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) is quite right. The Bill has an enormous importance. Its correct name is the Catapult to Scottish Independence Bill. I shall explain why. However, one must confess immediately that it is a matter of judgment, and that all our judgments can be wrong. Indeed, only history will tell us who is right and who is wrong in their judgment on a constitutional issue of this sort and of this magnitude. I readily confess that it is simply a matter of judgment.

An Assembly that has no direct influence on the Scottish economy, and which is impotent on the fundamental question of the oil reserves, will not satisfy an increasingly self-confident and assertive Scottish nation.

It is important to impress upon the House why we need an Assembly, a Parliament, or a Scottish Government with economic power and a share in the oil revenues. The Bill specifically denies the Assembly the right and the means to reverse the catastrophic trend that has been so obvious a feature of Scottish economic performance since the early 1960s. The trend has been well charted by a series of reports, the latest of which is that produced by the Manpower Services Commission. Perhaps the most basic indicator is the Strathclyde Regional Report, which projects at its most pessimistic that 70,000 jobs will be lost in manufacturing between 1976 and 1983 in the Clydeside conurbation in the West of Scotland.

It is when we consider the policies of industrial regeneration and the machinery to ensure that that regeneration will happen that the superiority of an Assembly or Parliament with economic power begins to emerge. A number of those who seek to deny the Assembly power place all their faith in central economic management and the principles of uniformity and harmonisation in the application of traditional regional policies. That continues despite the evidence that centralist policies and an obsession with uniformity have not worked.

The centralist theory is that when expansion takes place in the rich areas of England, and once it has mopped up all the spare industrial capacity and spare labour in areas such as the Midlands and the South-East of England, it moves into the development areas of South Wales, the North-East and the North-West and up into Scotland. That theory has never worked in practice. It has no prospect of working in the near or distant future. The expansion that arises in the Midlands and the South-East of England will be retained in those areas to cope with their unprecedented unemployment problem in the post-war period. If we continue to believe in and pursue centralist conceived regional policies, the decline of Scotland will continue, and in two or three years we shall be talking of levels of unemployment in Scotland of about 250,000.

We argue, on the other hand, that the United Kingdom has as wide a diversity in its economic make-up as it has in its social make-up. I know that I carry the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) with me in saying that the reason for this wide diversity in economic make-up is the uneven development of British capitalism. Diversity of problems and potential is a fact. If these problems are to be solved and our potential developed, it will be done only through creating the machinery of government which will allow different policies to be applied in different places.

The only hope for Scotland is economic self-management. If we are to achieve a substantial acceleration in our rate of economic growth, which is a prerequisite to a rapid upturn in employment prospects, and if we are to create an inherently strong Scottish economy out of the branch factory shambles which is at present falling apart, we shall require an instrument of decision making and resource allocation which, being Scottish based and obsessed with Scottish priorities, can feel and touch the everyday situation in a way this place never can.

With the base of the Scottish economy in danger of structural collapse, and with thousands of our people facing permanent unemployment, with all that implies in the erosion and disruption of individual personalities, it is the needs of the people that should determine the extent of constitutional change and the powers to be exercised by the Assembly. But that is not the case. Expediency is paramount. It is the electoral prospects of the Labour Party and the shabby deals done in the corridors of this building which are determining the character, rôle and powers of the Assembly.

In this exercise Scotland is being treated, not as a nation, but as a political fiefdom to be manipulated in order to extract a "tribute" of seats towards a Labour majority in the next Parliament. This Bill is the least the Government calculate they can give without serious loss of support in Scotland, and the most that can be given without losing the guillotine motion on Wednesday. The Bill does not reject economic powers because there is no case for it. It is simply that the Government cannot deliver through Westminster. If this Bill contained economic powers, its defeat would be assured tonight, never mind on Wednesday.

The Bill is also deficient in that not one Scottish institutional finger can be laid upon the oil, nor can the Assembly decisively influence oil policy, nor determine an approach to resource management of oil which can make a significant contribution to the regeneration of Scotland's technical and engineering base.

I know that often, when a Scot talks about a Scottish share of the oil, he invites growls of disapproval. I do not advocate that all the oil revenues should go to a Scottish exchequer. I believe that there should be a split, 30 per cent. for Scotland and 70 per cent. to the rest of the United Kingdom, based on the pre-election assessment in the Labour Party that Scotland had 30 per cent. of the development needs area of the United Kingdom. But I want Scottish control of the downstream potential and of oil company purchasing and technical policy.

I make no apology for advocating such a policy. Those who turn scathing attacks on us have apparently taken a vow of silence on the giant take by the multinational oil companies. That criticism applies to the left wing of the Labour Party as much as to its right wing. If it is right for the oil companies to dip their hands into the pool, why is it wrong for an economically depressed area, facing industrial collapse and the agony of enduring mass unemployment, to demand its share of the wealth, especially when that represents our one chance of breaking out of the cycle of poverty and despair? There are no Texaco or BP oil directors living in slum houses, but there are thousands upon thousands of Scottish people occupying such places. In the next three weeks there are to be television broadcasts from an area in Glasgow which is shameful to us all, and we know that there are no oil directors in socially deprived areas. Scotland has 18 out of the 21 areas of deprivation in the whole of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Robin F. Cook

The hon. Gentleman has referred to a forthcoming television programme, which is set in a council estate. Does he not agree that the problems which gave rise to the poverty and deprivation in that area may be the product, not of lack of money, but of wrong policies having been applied in the past? Perhaps what we need is, not more money slopping around, but a clearer analysis of what we want to do and clearer policies to meet the situation.

Mr. Sillars

A number of hon. Members on this side of the House formerly served on the Glasgow Corporation, and they will tell my hon. Friend that throughout their careers there was a grave lack of financial resources which compelled them to take policy decisions which they knew basically were not correct in the long term. I am not saying that an abundance of money will be the cure-all to these problems. My hon. Friend makes a good point, but if one is short of resources before one even starts the problems will never be solved.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher (Edinburgh, North)

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that Glasgow has had a smaller share of cash for housing than any other city in Britain?

Mr. Sillars

No, I am not.

Mr. Heffer

I hope he is not, because it is not true.

Mr. Sillars

I am not saying that. I am saying that Glasgow has not had a sufficient allocation of resources to overcome the problems that beset the people of Glasgow and the policy makers.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

Compared with Liverpool, for example?

Mr. Sillars

I am not saying that Liverpool has had an abundance of resources and that because Littlewoods is there the people of Liverpool do better than people anywhere else. I am addressing my remarks to the situation of the people of Glasgow and to the lack of resources and potential for resources in a policy involving oil sharing.

Claims for economic powers and a direct share of oil will, I suspect, be met by the charge from the Government that to concede these would place in jeopardy the essential unity of the United Kingdom, to borrow that well-used phrase. Nothing must disturb that unity, even if the price is that Scottish people continue with soul-destroying levels of unemployment and the poverty of mind and spirit which that condition carries with it. It is an impossible price to ask, and it is tragicomic that such a price is asked for a United Kingdom that can never be the same in the future as it has been in the past. Over five years ago our entry to the Common Market changed the United Kingdom. Indeed, for Scotland the United Kingdom's entry to the EEC made independence not only essential but easier to achieve. That will remain the case so long as independence is pitched within the context of the European Community, and I believe that the referendum result in Scotland cannot be reversed.

Before we entered the EEC, independence was readily equated with separation in the minds of the people. It is still in the mind of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). The people exercise a sensible anxiety about access to major world markets for Scottish products and an act of separation—that is to say, involving Scotland leaving an important customs union—would place us in considerable industrial difficulty.

There are no such worries when we discuss the Scottish independence within the customs union of the European Community. There would certainly be a change in Scotland's political status and standing, but no fundamental change in our trading relations with the rest of the United Kingdom, or alteration to our right of access to a home market of 250 million people in Europe.

All Common Market countries enjoy independence, but it is an independence qualified by the rules of the treaty and shared sovereignty. To argue Scottish independence within the EEC is to put an anti-separatist case. A Scotland independent in Europe would retain a close working relationship and partnership with England in that great togetherness known as the customs union of the Common Market. Both countries will have a common interest and family-based associations quite unique in Europe. It will, however, be a partnership of equals, with Scotland gaining what we lack now—a direct voice and vote in the Council of Ministers where the real decisions will increasingly be taken.

Independence within the Common Market will, I believe, become the only practical independence argument in Scotland in the years immediately ahead. At present Scotland is on the outer fringe of Europe geographically and politically. We can do nothing about our geography, but we can do something about our exposed and vulnerable fringe political position.

Given that we are in the Common Market to stay, there is a compelling logic about the case for Scottish independence within that organisation. One only needs to mention independence in that context to feel the political pulse of the Unionists beat in rapid time. In fact, it very often moves my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian to forget about his normal question and write long detailed letters to the Scotsman.

Some people might believe that it is foolish to forecast independence arising out of the kind of Bill and the kind of Assembly being discussed tonight. But the reason I will vote for the Bill is that once the Assembly is established it will become the institution through which the Scots will focus on the issues of the economy, oil and other resources, and the growing dimension of Europe. Inevitably that Assembly will seek economic power, it will seek a say in oil policy, and circumstances will compel it to reach out for a direct part in European decision making.

I know that it is the fond wish of the Government that this Assembly will be the means of ending agitation for Scottish independence, and that it will take the heat out of the matter, but both the Government and this House will be foolish to believe that. [Interruption.] I am glad that some Members agree with me.

It is by the treatment of this crucial Scottish issue by some of those who are now agreeing with me, and by the grudging, carping, hostile way that the majority of people in this House have approached over the years a legitimate Scottish aspiration, that the middle way of mild devolution has been all but removed from the agenda. The day is now long gone when the Scots could be bought off with the shadow of Home Rule. Perhaps two years ago a good devolution package would have done it. I doubt very much whether that will be enough in the present and particularly future circumstances, especially when we have an institution which will focus on Scottish problems, and on which the Scottish people will focus as a solution to their problems.

This Assembly will not be the end of the argument. It is simply the beginning of the end of Whitehall dominance of Scottish affairs. The Assembly is the start of a process of fundamental change. It is the first step in what will become for Westminster a forced march along the road to Scottish independence within the European Community.

This House may do what it likes tonight on the Second Reading of this Bill. It can do what it likes on the timetable motion on Wednesday. This House can say what it wants up until the next election, and then will come the decision of the Scottish people. I do not think that there is anything that anyone can do about it. It is a matter of judgment, I agree, but, in my opinion, a Scottish Parliament is coming whether Westminster likes it or not.

8.24 p.m.

Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith (North Angus and Mearns)

I certainly agree with the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) in that I believe that, in relation to this subject and many others, nothing stands still. We are dealing with something that is moving, and we cannot stay in our present position. That is why we have to approach this whole subject constructively and positively and not negatively.

I find myself very much in agreement with what was said by the right hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Craig), in that we are examining here the whole of our structure of government and the institutions of government. I believe that we are simply kidding ourselves in this House if we try to deal with this question simply as a manifestation of nationalism or of particular political movements in Scotland, Wales, or any other part of the United Kingdom. I believe that we have to look at this question, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) did, in the context of the United Kingdom as a whole.

We in this House all believe in democracy, but, having listened to some of the speeches in the debate, my concern is that many hon. Members see democracy and the institutions that go with it as something far too static, instead of as something that is evolving and changing. I believe that we have to be ready to evolve and change if we are to turn our institutions to the best service of the people of our country.

The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), whose logic I respect in relation to this matter, argued that it is not right for us to move because of the extent to which we have a unitary State at the present time. It is true that for many generations—indeed, for centuries—we have had this unitary State, but it has not, I suggest, been absolutely static. Changes have taken place which in one sense have strengthened the unitary State. I have in mind the tremendous forces moving us towards centralisation during the whole period since the unitary State was formed.

The development of industry and commerce and the development of a modern economy have made the State very much more centralised than hitherto. We have seen this process also in the development of the institutions of government itself. Indeed, we have now reached a stage where, of all the industrial democracies in the world, with the possible exception of Japan, we are probably the most centralised. Certainly we are one of the most centralised States in the Western world. We have, therefore, to recognise that we started as a unitary state but have become increasingly more centralised.

What we face today is not just a manifestation of particular feelings in particular parts of the United Kingdom. It is very much more the reaction of people to the way in which our unitary State has developed, particularly in more recent years. Together with many of those to whom I speak in Scotland and elsewhere, I feel that there is a basic dissatisfaction with the machinery of government of our unitary State. It is not confined to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland but applies also to many parts of England. There is a very high degree of disillusionment in many parts of the United Kingdom, and it is not confined to the two countries affected by the constitutional Bills.

It is the democratic institutions in which we believe which are under test. If we fail to meet this test and fail to respond to it, the worry is that not only the United Kingdom will suffier. Many of the institutions of modern democracy will also suffer if modern democracy shows itself unable to meet the challenges which face it at the present time.

What concerns me more than anything else—and certainly brings me to the views which I have and which transend any question of Home Rule for Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales—is the overriding need to reform the institutions of democracy within this country, because, as I said, it is democracy itself that will fail unless we respond constructively and positively to it.

As I said a moment ago, one of the biggest failures of the development of our unitary State is to have allowed the degree of centralisation to become as concentrated as it is at present. What we have to do is to turn back some of that centralisation if we are to have any hope of maintaining the respect that we ought to have for our democratic institutions.

What we need more than anything is the dispersal of power. We have tried the dispersal of power in some ways—for example, in relation to the dispersal of administrative power. But I believe that we have got to a new stage—I am saying nothing particularly novel in relation to this, and certainly I repeat what the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) said—when the last thing we want in this debate is simply cauld kale het up.

I believe that we have to look beyond the dispersal of administrative power, which we have seen over recent generations, to a wider dispersal of power which extends to legislative and political power. Frankly, one of the things that has turned me to support devolution in one form or another—I have come increasingly to this view in recent years—is the absence of willingness on the part of the central institution of the United Kingdom Parliament itself to be prepared and ready to reform itself. That has given the biggest and strongest force towards devolution.

It is not surprising that that has happened. Indeed, I believe that in this respect to try to consider some form of devolution is the only course open to us. It may not be the best course. Frankly, I should far prefer to see Parliament constructively reforming itself from within. But in the 13 years that I have been in this House, that is something that has not happened. Every time there has been any attempt to come to the democratic reform of our institutions here, nothing has happened.

Therefore, I believe that we have to look at this issue round the other way, and instead of necessarily reforming from within—something that has not happened; I shall come to the question of timing, which is the critical thing—we have to consider the matter very much more from the outside. We have to see how we can try to influence our democratic institutions and achieve the kind of dispersal of power which I believe is so necessary at present.

I have spoken on what I feel is the way in which we should approach this whole question of devolution. I do not intend tonight to go into the details of this Bill, because my views on it are in many ways well known. What I have tried to describe is what motivates me and many thousands of others to whom I speak. Over the last two years I have become attracted to the other alternative, which the right hon. Member for Down, South mentioned, of reform along federal lines in order to meet this situation, because in relation to constitutional reform, it almost certainly offers us the best prospect of stability.

Equally, however, I accept—I hope in a sense of realism—that a system such as the federal system is impossible of achievement in the short term because the major partner to the United Kingdom—England—is, as of now not prepared to accept it. But again, at the same time—this is the dilemma in which people such as myself and many outside the House find themselves—I believe that the problem in the short term is of such intensity that we cannot wait for the long term and for the largest partner in the United Kingdom to come to this point of view.

Therefore, accordingly, I judge the proposals that we have for devolution, and the Bill before the House, in terms of the question whether they could fit in or evolve towards—I believe that democratic institutions can never be fixed—a structure that could eventually be one that is federal in type.

Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch and Lymington)

Is my hon. Friend aware that the position in England is not static? For instance, the New Forest District Council—covered by part of my constituency—has recently passed unanimously a resolution calling for the establishment of regional councils. That is, effectively a call for the replacement of county councils and the democratisation of health and water services. My hon. Friend may take comfort from the fact that others are beginning to stir towards his vision.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I am grateful for what my hon. Friend says. The last thing that I would do, holding the view that I have, would be to dictate to my colleagues south of the border what they should do. Having taken a particular line on this issue, and having had correspondence south of the border, I am encouraged, because I believe that a more constructive and positive view is being taken.

I come back to my central point. What I have to judge is whether the Government's proposals do or do not help lead us towards a form of devolved structure which could eventually evolve into a federal type structure for the United Kingdom. The basic question—to put it in the terms of the right hon. Member for Down, South—is: how do we move from the unitary state to a federation? I believe that we shall not be able to move to that situation in one step. We shall have to go by stages and I believe that one of those stages can be a form of devolution.

I also believe that this Bill is better than the last Bill. It contains more of a federated structure in terms of division of powers, and so on. In that respect I believe that it is an improved step in the right direction. All I hope is that the Bill can be improved in Committee. I support the Second Reading of the Bill. I welcome the fact that the Government are at least attempting to meet the very big challenge which faces the country at present.

To those hon. Members who oppose the Bill I would simply say in all humility that time is no longer on our side. We have debated this subject for years. The debates simply cannot continue to go on for ever, because unless there is action of some sort people will become impatient and frustrated.

I am totally convinced that the majority of people in Scotland want to remain part of the United Kingdom. But if we delay we shall find that impatience and frustration are the sort of things which turn people from being moderates into extremists. To my own Front Bench I say with all sincerity that, while I respect what my right hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgehire said this afternoon, we must face the facts about constitutional reform in relation to this House of Commons.

We all want broad agreement. But remember that the constitutional change of entry to Europe was not achieved with full agreement. In the end it had to be achieved by a number of people deciding that this was the right thing and having the resolve to follow it through. That is why I say with sincerity that lip service to devolution is not enough. None of us as hon. Members or as parties can have the respect of anyone if we say that we support devolution but oppose every practical step to try to bring it into effect. Nor do I feel that the challenge will go away if we ignore it.

I yield to no one in my support of the integrity of the United Kingdom. As one who has spent all his life in Scotland—and who hopes to continue to do so and my family after me—I say with the deepest sincerity that the biggest danger of all is that of doing nothing. That is the price which we must face tonight.

I end with this warning. If we do nothing, or if we delay too long, it is the United Kingdom—in which most of us so passionately believe—which in the end we shall betray.

8.39 p.m.

Mr. John Mendelson (Penistone)

Anyone taking part in this debate could not wish to follow a more interesting and impressive contribution than the one which we have just heard. I therefore consider it fortunate that I am speaking immediately following the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith).

The hon. Gentleman has given us a model of the way in which one expresses disagreement with one's own Front Bench. On this occasion that is a model in which I am greatly interested, because I shall follow the remarks that the hon. Gentleman made in that part of his speech.

The hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns avoided one great difficulty. That, too, has characterised this debate. He talked very largely about matters other than the Bill before us. It is curious that, as we look back upon the speeches which have been contributed so far, we find that many right hon. and hon. Members talked about the Bill only by the way, as if it were a minor part of the subject under discussion. They talked about all manner of other aims and purposes which they have, and they ended up speaking briefly about the legislation which is supposed to be the centre of our debate.

My hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) himself does not really want the Bill for its own sake and for its major purposes. He agrees fundamentally with those who want the Bill as a stepping stone to something else. That is not the attitude of the Secretary of State. He wants the Bill and nothing but the purposes of the Bill.

Then we turn to our colleagues representing the Scottish National Party, whose attitude is now crucial in many ways. We have seen two interesting and contradictory developments in recent times. Since we last debated this legislation, the SNP has held its annual conference, at which its members decided after due consideration that separation was the only policy for them. However, today they turn up and say that they will support the Government on this legislation. They do not want the Bill for the purposes of the Bill; they want it as a stepping stone to something else. They do not disagree with me about that, because they are honourable men who always accept the truth when they are confronted with it. Clearly there is no disagreement so far.

Then we come to other right hon. and hon. Members, and we find that there is a small minority of them who support the Bill. Indeed, only a very few of them will even contribute to the debate.

I turn first to the bulk of my right hon. and hon. Friends. They display a lukewarm interest—never mind wholehearted support, to quote the phrase of a famous leader in British politics at present. I see at the far end of the Treasury Bench a senior member of the Cabinet, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade. I am willing to give odds of 10 to 1 that no future historian will describe him as a wholehearted supporter of the proposal now being advanced by the Secretary of State for Scotland. We have no majority of feeling of support or argument in favour of this legislation, and I challenge anyone to produce evidence to the contrary.

At the same time, we find my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, of whose sincerity I have know for many years, saying that this is a most important piece of legislation. If it is, it should be supported on its merit and not in the highways and byways of British politics for all sorts of other reasons.

Here we come to the fundamental difficulty facing the House and the country. If it really be true, as the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns said, that this legislation is so long overdue and needed that we must begin the great process of remodelling all the purposes and structures of British democracy, surely right hon. and hon. Members ought to agree to support it, and to accept the historic responsibility for doing so, as a piece of legislation which is good and stable in itself, and for no other reason than that.

Mr. Hamish Watt (Banff)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the catalyst for this Bill was the legislation that took us into the Common Market?

Mr. Mendelson

I had intended to deal with the Common Market aspect later, but I will do so now. Of course it has something to do with this issue. The right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath)—I regret his absence—told us in a previous debate that he was basically favourable to this legislation because, since our entry into the Common Market, the argument, prominently advanced, that it might do harm to the all-embracing position of the House of Commons had become less important. Of course, he is right. If he has been in favour of puncturing the all-embracing importance of the House of Commons by entering Brussels, it does not matter very much if he chips away at the House in some equally irresponsible manner. That is his consistent attitude, but it is not mine.

Some hon. Members think that the Common Market situation is not involved in all this discussion; I warn them that it is. It is involved not only in the substance of the matter. I warn particularly some of my hon. Friends that it is also involved in the peculiar procedures which the Cabinet have adopted in introducing a Bill of major constitutional importance with a guillotine motion even before the Committee stage, with the purpose of not allowing the House to see where it got on the legislation if we were to give it a Second Reading.

I warn some of my hon. Friends that if we allow the Government to carry the guillotine motion on Wednesday, the Government may use the argument as a precedent when the Bill for direct elections to the Common Market comes before us. Let the Government do it on one subject and they may say that they want to do it on another. That is why some of us will not vote for the guillotine on Wednesday.

The need for parliamentary and structural reform is realised in many circles, but one objection I have to that kind of reasoning is that while I believe fundamentally that there are grounds for dissatisfaction with the central direction of our affairs, I equally believe that this shows itself in constitutional discussion in very limited circles not because people are dissatisfied with the constitution and its procedures but because they are dissatisfied with the economic and social reality of the treatment of our affairs over so many years and under different Governments.

I call in aid an illustration which can he denied or confirmed, if he wishes, by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister recently went on a semi-official visit to Scotland, where he met all manner of people, and a very good job it was. He is a popular man. He had a number of interesting things to say. But let my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State tell us how many Scotsmen or Scotswomen actually questioned the Prime Minister about devolution, or this Bill. Hardly any did so. They questioned him on unemployment, and, as one Scotsman put it, gave him a "roasting" before the Scottish Executive Committee of the Labour Party.

I do not know whether that is true in those terms, but it is certainly true that unemployment and economic ills were in their minds, and not devolution or tampering with the constitution. Hon. Members may be right in saying that it is now time to wake up and consider the constitutional situation. I am not a federalist, but they may be right and I may be wrong. What I am saying is that what is dangerous to democracy is to creat illusions before the people of Scotland and Wales, making them believe that their economic problems and ills can be cured by setting up Parliaments in competition with the House of Commons, creating ideas which will not be fulfilled.

Indeed, the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) and my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire ought to agree with me, because they do not believe it either. They merely want to use the Scottish Assembly, once elected, as the continuing place of fighting government in London. That is their purpose. Their purpose is not constitutional improvement; it is to have an arena at their disposal. Of course Members in the SNP cheer me for the first time, because I am telling the House the truth, but I do not want the destruction of the United Kingdom and they do want it, as declared at their own conference. I do not want my right hon. and hon. Friends to lend their good name to the creation of instruments which, as surely as night follows day, will bring about the dissolution of the United Kingdom.

We come, then, to the difficulty facing us tonight. Behind the Government's intentions there are general purposes and ideas worth supporting, but for the implementing of such structural changes of direction in the process of long-term improvement of our political system, three preconditions ought to be fulfilled. It ought to be done without illusions, without creating the impression that one is doing something else. The dilemma in which the Government find themselves is not being able to agree to the further demands for the grant of full economic independence to Scotland is precisely that they know—certainly, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade knows—that the economic proposals of the Scottish National Party are nonsense. My right hon. Friend will never agree to them—all honour to him for that—and neither would I. That is their dilemma. First, therefore, the beginning of such structural change must be done without illusion.

Second, it ought to be done with the keen support of the majority of hon. Members for the proposals themselves. Third, it ought to be done, if possible, with the widest possible agreement throughout the House of Commons. If we are to begin a change of this kind, as the late Mr. Gaitskell used to say, referring to the Common Market, as far-reaching as to change 1,000 years of history, it ought to be done in the same way in regard to devolution.

On all those three grounds, this proposal falls down. It is put together, in the main, for immediate political purposes. No one can deny that charge. It is not worthy of the occasion, and that is why I shall oppose it in all its stages.

8.52 p.m.

Mr. Iain Sproat (Aberdeen, South)

I am glad to follow the speech of the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson), because it was a fine speech. I thought it a brave speech, and I agree with his conclusions. It was a brave speech, just as the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) was brave, although I disagreed with his conclusions. It can do nothing but good for Parliament when hon. Members on both sides stand up and say what they believe, without fear of their own Front Benches.

I add this point in support of what the hon. Member for Penistone said when he spoke about the Prime Minister's recent visit to Scotland. Having asked how many people had spoken to the Prime Minister about devolution, the hon. Gentleman gave his own answer—"Not many", implying that there was a lack of interest in devolution but considerable interest in jobs and prices. He is right. The hon. Gentleman may be interested to know that the most recent opinion poll showed, over a fairly large sample of 1,000 or so, that only 3 per cent. of the people of Scotland gave devolution as their political priority.

There can be no doubt that, as so many hon. Members have said, this is a piece of political opportunism. One could scour the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland and not find a hundred men who believed that this Bill was good and was being brought forward for reasons other than an effort to patch up the Labour Party's prospects in Scotland.

I can give hon. Members on the Government side of the House a piece of comfort. They do not need this Bill, because the opinion polls, for what they are worth, appear to be showing that the Labour Party is doing rather better in Scotland than it has been of late. Therefore, however well you do at the next election—I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker. I said "You", but I mean the Labour Party—

Mr. Speaker

I hope to be all right.

Mr. Sproat

And so say all of us, Mr. Speaker. However the Labour Party may do at the next election in Scotland, it will succeed or fail not on this issue but on the success or failure of its economic policies.

I think that it was the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) who said that many old arguments will be rehearsed both today and during the coming weeks if the Bill has its Second Reading and goes to Committee. I think that that is right, and it should be right, because it was noticeable that it was the repetition of arguments which were not particularly arcane, and not particularly subtle, but which amounted to hammer blows of common sense that finally destroyed the Scotland and Wales Bill, and that is what we must do here.

I have found during the last few months in Scotland that the reason why there is a tide of opinion growing against the Bill—I do not say how strong the tide is, but such tide as exists is against the concept of a Scottish Assembly—is that people are saying in a straightforward and common sense way "We have enough government. We are fed up with regional councils, district councils and community councils, and whatever else happens, we do not want another tier of government." That is an old argument, but it is one that is swaying many minds in Scotland, and allied to that is the fact that most people think—and I believe rightly—that there are too many civil servants and there is too much bureaucracy, and they do not want any more.

I think I am right in saying that this afternoon the Secretary of State for Scotland said that if the Government had been able to think of a good way of giving taxation powers to the Scottish Assembly, they would have done so. It is merely the fact that nobody has been able to think of a satisfactory method of doing it that has stopped the Government from taking that step. That is another fear of the Scottish people, because if there is one thing upon which all parties are agreed it is that there is too much taxation. That is what the majority of people believe.

If the Scottish Assembly were set up, and if after a few months in existence it chanced to find a further way of taxing people in Scotland, that would put off people from all parts of the political spectrum. That is why, if the Bill gets a Second Reading, if the guillotine motion is passed, and if the Committee stage and Third Reading go through, the people of Scotland will throw the Bill out. It is a dangerous principle to rely on referendums to do the job of the House of Commons, and therefore I propose to fight the idea every inch of the way in this House. But if the matter goes to a referendum, I shall fight it there and be confident of victory.

Apart from the arguments about more bureaucracy, more government and more taxation—powerful though they are in people's minds—at the end of the day the key argument which will sway the people in Scotland—and which should sway the people of the United Kingdom as a whole, and would if they were given the chance—is the slippery slope argument. Of course, I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns and the right hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Craig) when they say that we should look at the way in which the House is run. Of course we should consider possible changes in the constitution. Nobody is saying that the status quo is totally satisfactory. What we are saying is that this particular Bill is a bad Bill and that if it is implemented it will lead us down the slippery slope towards the break-up of the United Kingdom.

I remind the House that seldom is it that words of wisdom drop from the lips of SNP Members, yet tonight we were privileged to be present on such an occasion, because the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) said something like this: "we regard this Bill as being the first step down the road to separation". That is the truth. It is not just a question of the judgment of SNP Members. Their judgment has been so wrong in so many instances that we might not give much weight to them, but it is not just a question of judgment. The fact is that we now know that that is how they would act in a Scottish Assembly. They would seize every opportunity to drive a wedge between people in Scotland and those in England.

Almost the only Member who has spoken tonight strongly in favour of the Bill for its own sake—perhaps I should not even say that, but he certainly spoke in favour of the Bill—was the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars), who spoke of the Bill as being a rotten, lousy Bill but one which he would support because it was the catapault to independence. Thus, there is the crazy situation that if the Government win tonight they will do so on the backs of those very people who are most dedicated to that objective which the Government claim they oppose; namely, the independence of Scotland.

Coming to the slippery slope argument, I cannot say how far down the slope the Bill will take us or at what time. However, I was interested to hear the hon. Member for South Ayrshire speak of the appalling prospect of 250,000 unemployed in Scotland. If there were 250,000 unemployed in Scotland and if there were a Scottish Assembly, would not a fury arise in that Assembly, with shouts and demands for "Referendum now" to see whether Scotland should separate? If such a referendum were held and if, on the backs of unemployment, it were answered in the affirmative, how would this House react to it?

This afternoon the Secretary of State for Scotland failed to answer a key question which has been put time and time again in the House. How does he justify the fact that Scottish Members will be able to vote on a broad range of matters affecting England whereas English Members will not be able to vote on similar matters affecting Scotland? Had there been an answer to that question, surely the agile minds of the civil servants and Cabinet Ministers would have come up with an answer. They have not come up with an answer because there is not one. It is impossible to explain why 45 million or 50 million people in England should in certain circumstances allow their destinies to be ruled by Scottish Members of Parliament providing the balance for a Government who would not otherwise be in power at all.

That is an unstable element in our constitution which follows inevitably from the clauses of the Bill. It cannot be got round at all. It cannot be got round by saying that Scottish Members will not be allowed to vote on these issues, because then there would be perhaps a Labour Government in the United Kingdom whose majority depended on Scottish Members of Parliament but not having a majority in England and not being able to get their legislation in 80 per cent. of the United Kingdom.

Nor can the problem be solved by saying that the number of Scottish Members will be cut, because then the Scottish people would say "We have not got our fair representation on matters of taxation, defence, foreign affairs and North Sea oil."

It is an insoluble conundrum. In a unitary State, which we are, a permanent advantage cannot be given to one part of the United Kingdom unless correspondingly and necessarily the other parts of the United Kingdom suffer a disadvantage.

Let the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) be assured that, if the Bill goes through, more help for Scotland will mean less help for Merseyside. There is no way round that. The formula cannot be fiddled with by saying that independent boards will be set up for the English regions, because even that will not secure that Scotland does not get more than her fair share. If a board is set up to decide how much money Scotland should get, the result will be that Scotland will get more than it would otherwise get, and that will mean less for the hon. Gentleman's constituents. In a unitary State everybody should get the same, on the basis of need and not of geography.

I have stated an insoluble conundrum which cannot be got round except on the basis of federalism. Everybody in the House tonight, except possibly the Members of the Liberal Party, will agree that we are not considering federalism tonight and that the people of the country do not want it. Therefore, the Bill contains certain unstable elements which will be a permanent irritation within the United Kingdom.

If the Bill goes through and there is a Scottish Assembly, we know from what the SNP has said that it will use every means it can to cause trouble between England and Scotland. Everything that went right for Scotland would be attributed to the benevolence of the Scottish Assembly. Everything that went wrong for Scotland would be attributed to the shackles that still bound Scotland to Westminster. English hon. Members would say—and, even more, their constituents would say—"We refuse to allow a majority of 71 Scottish MPs to give us a Government that we do not want and to let them legislate on matters in which they have no constitutional responsibility."

There is no way in which one can set up a Scottish Assembly giving a permanent advantage to Scotland that does not mean that other parts of the United Kingdom with far worse problems, such as Merseyside with its unemployment, will be permanently disadvantaged. That means building into the system elements of instability and injustice that in the end could lead only to the break-up of the United Kingdom. That is why I shall continue to oppose the Bill every inch of the way.

9.6 p.m

Mr. Robin F. Cook (Edinburgh, Central)

I am conscious that it is invidious to inflict a further speech on the House, particularly as some hon. Members have been sitting here for five hours listening to the same debate, and particularly as I have made six or seven speeches on the matter to the House already. If I have any excuse for inflicting another speech on hon. Members, it is that I can no longer support the conclusion that I reached in my previous speeches. A year ago I should have made exactly the same kind of speech as was made tonight by the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith). Indeed, I think that I am right in saying that I did make very much the same speech as he made.

I had so often told my colleagues the horror story of what would happen to the Labour Party in Scotland if we failed to get the guillotine that I succeeded in convincing myself that it was true, though, sadly, I failed to convince them. The interesting thing which converted me is that when the guillotine failed the roof did not fall in on the Labour Party in Scotland. The hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) asked how many letters about the matter we had received. I think that I am right in recollecting that I have not received one letter on devolution since the collapse of the guillotine motion.

Perhaps more to the point, I have canvassed people in my constituency and I have addressed 20 to 30 meetings there and elsewhere in Scotland, and not once has anyone spontaneously asked about devolution. People have certainly asked me about unemployment, wages and prices. I even have had constituents who sincerely asked me about the future of Namibia and the West Bank of the Jordan, but not about the future of devolution for Scotland.

In desperation, in the past month I have gone round my constituency raising the issue at every meeting that I have addressed, I suspect making something of a bore of myself at the meetings of my residents' associations. I found only one constituent who was prepared to say that he would argue strongly for the survival of the Bill.

Mr. Watt

How can the hon. Gentleman make such an assertion when there has been no opportunity to test the temperature of the political water in Scotland? There have been no by-elections which would give the House an indication whether the roof has fallen in on the Labour Party in Scotland. We look forward to the first possible by-election. It is a matter of urgency, for then we shall see whether the hon. Gentleman can make such an assertion.

Mr. Cook

I gently remind the hon. Gentleman that we had district elections in May this year, the extraordinary feature of which was that the Labour Party did marginally better in Scotland than in England. That suggests that devolution is not the issue that it is cracked up to be. If there were a by-election in Scotland next week, the SNP would fight it, not on devolution, but on unemployment, urban deprivation and prices. The last thing it would mention is the devolution Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) clearly gains a different impression from his constituents. I am not surprised, because in his mind there is no distinction between the case for devolution to Scotland and the case against unemployment and urban deprivation in Scotland. If he sells devolution on the basis that it will help to solve the problems of unemployment and urban deprivation, it is small wonder that his constituents say "Yes, we'll buy that. We'll accept that." But what happens in the long term when they find that it does not cure unemployment and urban deprivation? The hon. Member was frank in pointing out the consequence—that they will demand something more and different. My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire made a powerful case against the measure when he pointed out how it would end up.

The fact that I discovered that my constituents do not appear to feel particularly strongly about devolution does not mean that it is necessarily wrong in principle. I have always had reservations on the matter and I am not trying to over-dramatise my conversion. Although I had reservations, I was able to swallow them because I believed that there was a deep conviction in Scotland in favour of devolution. Once I lost that faith, my reservations loomed up much more sharply.

Hon. Members have referred to two major obstacles. First, what do Scottish Members do in this Chamber after devolution? On a number of occasions before the Committee stage of the Scotland and Wales Bill I tried to raise that question. I raised it in 1974 when my right hon. Friend the then Prime Minister gave me an extraordinary reply. He said there would be plenty for Scottish Members to do because his mail dealt mainly with local authority matters which had nothing to do with the Commons. I raised the question last year in a caucus of Scottish Members on this side of the House when we were preparing our response to the White Paper. I was voted down in my attempt to include a statement on this issue on the ground that if we were to say anything about it it would alarm and upset English hon. Members. In the event, English Members were capable of discovering the issue for themselves. That was, of course, the rock upon which the last Bill foundered.

After devolution, the position of Scottish hon. Members will be untenable. I shall be able to vote on matters concerning English education, for example, but English Members will not be able to vote on Scottish education. What would I say to a constituent who came to me and asked me to discuss education? I should have to tell him that if he wished to discuss Scottish education he must find a member of the Scottish Assembly, but that if he wished to discuss English education I could hear him as I still had some influence and even responsibility for that.

Last spring we had a debate on the closure of some teacher training colleges in Scotland. Five minutes before that debate ended the doors of the Chamber opened and in trooped the sleeping English Members of the Committee to vote down the Government's motion. They voted without knowing what had been discussed, without knowing the names of the colleges concerned, and certainly without knowing how to spell them. They got away with it because it was a procedural motion and was of little consequence.

Let us suppose that after devolution we have a similar situation in which the Labour Government are seeking to close some teacher training colleges in England. The doors of the Chamber would open and in would troop the Scottish Members who would vote for the motion and carry it not knowing the names of the colleges concerned and without a single constituent affected. Would English Members tolerate that? Ministers and others have suggested that that situation is not new and that we have had to put up with the Irish for some time. I remind my hon. Friends that every time the Ulster votes are critical Irish Members come in for criticism.

My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) referred to the statements by the former Prime Minister on this matter. I have with me the chapter and verse of that situation. The Prime Minister said in May 1965: The House has no jurisdiction over large matters, including two Measures coming before the House this week, so far as Northern Ireland is concerned. I would hope that Northern Ireland Members, who are here, and who are welcomed here, for the duties they have to perform on behalf of the United Kingdom in many matters affecting Northern Ireland, would consider their position in matters where we have no equivalent right in Northern Ireland." —[Official Report, 6th May 1965; Vol. 711, c. 1561.] In other words, the Prime Minister was saying that the Irish should keep their noses out of non-Irish issues. I urge each hon. Member to ask himself how long he imagines any Leader of the Opposition or Prime Minister would fail to ask the same questions after devolution. It can only be a matter of days, if not hours, before the one who finds himself politically disadvantaged makes that very same statement about Scotland.

I turn to the other major stumbling block, that of finance. I appreciate that the Government have made some move on the financial question since we last debated this subject. I appreciate that we have had a White Paper which suggests that there might be supplementary taxation. But that is not in the Bill. It is a matter for negotiation and, presumably, for future legislation. In the meantime, we shall create an Assembly which will be in the delightful position of having the right to spend public money without the discipline of having to raise a penny of it. It is truly power without responsibility.

We have to be honest about this. The Assembly will inevitably expand public expenditure. There can be no doubt about that. Any new democratic body will find new ways of spending public money. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire and some others who argue in favour of devolution have put the case that there is a need for a searching inquiry into the way in which Scotland's affairs are handled and the way in which its services are dealt with. It is inconceivable that such an inquiry would fail to turn up areas where services must be expanded and where wholly new services must be provided. It will provide the means of spending more money.

I can speak with some authority on this matter because I have written the housing policy for the Labour Party in Scotland on which it intends to fight the Assembly elections. On every page of that policy there is a demand for more money. Which member of the Assembly will stand up and say "Let us not ask for more money for Scottish houses"? Of course no one will do so. Instead they will put it in the bid that will come down here for the block grant.

What position shall we be in? We shall be in the reverse of the Assembly position. We shall get none of the credit for spending public money. We shall get all the odium of collecting it or denying the improvement in the services that would have come from the money if granted. Worst of all, we shall have an acrimonious debate on the issue once a year. We have been very fortunate in Scotland in that we have about a 20 per cent. to 30 per cent. higher public expenditure than the rest of Great Britain. We have got away with that because Parliament was never asked what should be the right level of public expenditure in Scotland. This Bill causes Parliament to address itself to that question once a year. It would be difficult for some of my hon. Friends to come up with the same answer that the Government have found without asking us over the past two decades and it will be even more difficult for them to justify increasing the disparity to meet the additional demands of the Assembly.

I refer to my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire again. I hope that he will read Hansard tomorrow. He appeared to give the impression that there can be no getting away from the fact that Scotland is an area of unique deprivation. I am bound to say that it cannot look quite so self-evident to some of my English colleagues. If we look at the table of earnings, we find that Scottish wages are now higher than those in every region in England except the South-East. If there is a case for higher public expenditure in poorer areas, the case is for it in the South-West and East Anglia, where wage earners now take home a fiver less than in Scotland but whose Members of Parliament are to be asked, once a year, to vote for a block grant which would increase public expenditure in Scotland at the expense of their areas.

In other words, we are devising a system which maximises the temptation to the Assembly to demand more money and makes it most difficult for this Westminster Parliament to grant the money. There will inevitably be a collision course. What will happen in that collision? I invite hon. Members to cast their minds back to the earlier exchanges today between myself and the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) in which I was rash enough to point out to him that the Scottish Parliament before 1707, on which he was reflecting with great affection, was controlled by the Earls of Rosebery and the Dukes of Argyll, who manipulated it to their own purposes. What was the response I got from the hon. Member?—that I was insulting Scotland by not standing up for its Parliament. If that is the case with the Parliament of 1707 and if I can no longer criticise the sixth Duke of Argyll, how much more impossible will it be for me to criticise the democratically elected administration in Edinburgh?

Mr. Dalyell

My hon. Friend should not forget the name of the Scottish National Intellectual Society, which is called after Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, who believed in domestic slavery.

Mr. Cook

Fletcher introduced a Bill to the Scottish Parliament which gave power to the landlords to enslave any vagabonds found within their parishes. Fletcher, who did not wish to give up the Scottish Parliament because he saw that such powers would go from it, is the man who is remembered with such affection by the Scots.

It is worth emphasising that the points to which I have drawn attention are not details of the Bill that can be remedied. The Secretary of State said that this matter had been more chewed over than any other piece of legislation that we have considered. I agree with him. If there were a solution to the problems, the Government would have found it. It is unfair to blame them. These problems are inherent in the concept of devolution to one part of the State.

We are in this difficulty because we are not to have Assemblies for the English regions. Because of that, we have the difficulty of what Scottish Members do at Westminster, which to them is a federal Parliament and to English Members is a domestic legislature. It is because of that that we are faced with a stumbling block on finance. Any power to raise revenue in Scotland would create a tax unique to Scotland, which therefore would be politically unacceptable to the Scots and administratively cumbersome to the civil servants. It is because of that that we have the difficulties over reserve powers. If these were part of the panoply of a federal Parliament over a number of subordinate Parliaments it would not be criticised, nor would it be controversial. It is because these proposals apply only to Scotland that they are perceived as discriminatory and an affront to the Scottish people.

We are creating a distinct tier of government for 15 per cent. of the population. It is no wonder that certain fundamental anomalies spring from it.

Where do we go from here? I find myself, as so often in the last four years, in the frustrating position of descending from the lofty heights of constitution-making to grubbing about on the Floor, wondering how to fix the tactics for this week. My answer to the latter question is clear. This week I shall vote for Second Reading and for the guillotine, because I want to kill not the Bill but this issue. I do not think that we can do that in this Chamber.

If we try to do that on Wednesday we shall have the Daily Record and the Scotsman, if it is ever printed again, having screaming headlines criticising what happened here. A week later they will both organise polls from which they will discover that 60 per cent. of the population repeat those headlines as their settled opinion.

If we are to kill the issue, it can be done only in the referendum to follow the Bill. I have a lively expectation that that can be done. If I am right in reading the mood of my constituents, it will be defeated, not by a majority vote against it, but by the fact that we shall have such an unimpressive proportion voting that no Government in their senses will be able to claim that they have a mandate for major constitutional change.

I am flattered that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) should have referred to my letter to the Lord President and has stated that he intends to follow a similar course of supporting the Bill in order to get the referendum. I understand that he intends to go to Scotland to campaign in the referendum. I applaud his decision and shall welcome him to Scotland. I enter only one caveat. I hope that not all 40-odd English rebels will join him in campaigning against the devolution proposals in the referendum. If that were so, it might not serve the best result that I wish to achieve.

I believe that this is an honourable course. It is tactically sound. I hope that this House will have the good sense to trust the discretion of the Scots and give them the chance to bury this issue once and for all.

9.25 p.m.

Mr. David Price (Eastleigh)

I find myself in the awkward position of being the first English Back Bencher from the Opposition Benches to speak in this debate.

I hope that the Leader of the House will feel thoroughly ashamed of himself for having allowed only one day for Second Reading. I have a motion on the Order Paper censoring him for that. The right hon. Gentleman thinks that this is an important Bill. I remind him that in 1886 Mr. Gladstone allowed 12 days for the Second Reading of the Government of Ireland Bill. There was a 12-day Second Reading for his Government's second Government of Ireland Bill in 1893. I remind the right hon. Gentleman that on both occasions there was First Reading debate. In 1912 Mr. Asquith allowed seven days for his Government of Ireland Bill, but we are allowed only one day.

The truth is that the Bill is an enormous confidence trick. Perhaps I am like the little boy in the Hans Andersen story, it being necessary to point out that the emperor of devolution has no clothes. A good many of the speeches that we have heard recently—at least the last four—have all been on the same theme.

I am a little surprised by the proposed action of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook). He made a strong attack on the Bill, only to announce that he will vote for its Second Reading. Nothing brings more disrepute to Parliament than for a Member to make a strong speech against a Bill only to announce that he will vote for its Second Reading. Nothing brings more disrepute to Parliament than for a Member to make a strong speech against a Bill only to announce that for entirely different reasons he will vote for it. That is a reform of our procedures that we can well do without in legislation.

The Government's declared purpose is to devolve power from the United Kingdom Parliament at Westminster to a new legislative Assembly in Scotland—at least, as I understand it, that is their purpose. I note that no one disagrees with me. I hope that I carry the House with me when I say that the first test whether an elected Assembly has real power or is only a debating society lies in the control of expenditure. If an Executive or a Government have to come to an elected Assembly to receive authorisation to spend money, I believe that that Assembly has the first characteristics of being a Parliament. Under the Bill the Scottish Assembly will not be empowered to vote Supply. It will have the limited power of being able to discuss the distribution of block grants decided in Whitehall and Westminster. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central explained what would be the consequence of this limitation. I agree with everything that he said.

The second test of the power of an elected Assembly lies in its right to control taxation. The executive branch of Government must not be able to raise taxes without the consent of the elected Assembly. In terms of the British Parliament, that principle was clearly stated in the Bill of Rights of 1689, which stated that Levying money for or to the use of the Crown by the pretence of prerogative without grant of Parliament for longer time, or in other manner than the same is or shall be granted, is illegal. As Ivor Jennings has observed, so fundamental is this rule that the courts will infer that a power to tax has not been granted unless there is a clear intention to the contrary in an Act of Parliament.

As we all know, Parliament can devolve part of its taxing authority to a subordinate elected authority. We do that in a respect of local government. The taxing powers are conferred within specific areas and according to specific rules laid down from the House. Under the Bill the Scottish Assembly is given no such power to raise taxes. That is no surprise. However, since then the Government have given us their White Paper entitled "Devolution: Financing the Devolved Services", in which they make it quite clear why they do not think it would be right to grant taxing powers to the new Assemblies. Their reasons are formidable. They reject a revenue-based system for Scotland because it would lead to wide variations between standards of public services in different parts of the country. The poor areas would come off worst. They then say that it would be incompatible with the distribution of resources to the different parts of the United Kingdom according to their needs, as the great majority of people consider desirable. If the Government are right in those reasons, and I suspect that they are, surely it is the strongest reason against devolution of taxation powers from this Parliament. I suggest that if the Government are right in their judgment, the whole exercise of so-called devolution is a sheer confidence trick, because the new Assembly will have fewer taxation powers than the humblest district council within our system of local government. In fact, it will have none. We shall have a situation in which district councils in Scotland will have rating powers but the elected Assembly will have none at all. I need not outline the situation that that will produce.

In parliamentary terms, nothing effective is being devolved, other than a bit of legislation. I say "a bit of legislation" because we all know that when we seek to introduce a Private Member's Bill we are severely restricted in what we can achieve if we do not obtain a Money Resolution from the Government. Legislation without the power of the purse behind it is largely ineffective. Many hon. Members come to this place with great ideas on legislation, but when they win a place in the Ballot they find that they are greatly restricted in what they can do if they do not have a Money Resolution. We have a position under the present Bill in which the Government are not prepared to give power to vote Supply or taxation to the new Assembly.

We already have a precedent in this House, which many of us have experienced. I have been conned once in my 22 years in this House, and I shall not be conned again. I was conned over the reform of local government following the Redcliffe-Maud and Wheatley Reports, because the eventual legislation dealt only with functions and geography and did not deal with taxation and supply. The situation has been identified since by Frank Layfield and his colleagues, and one hopes that the same mistake will not be made again. Let me remind the House what Frank Layfield said in his report: Whoever is responsible for spending money should also be responsible for raising it, so that the amount of expenditure is subject to democratic control. I believe that if we are concerned with the way in which the democratic process is working, we must take the view that we have not got the situation right in seeking to reform local government, and that this has become more and more apparent. Similarly, I do not believe that this House is correctly fulfilling its traditional functions. I look hopefully to our Select Committee on Procedure to try to get our own affairs a little more in order. I praise my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann), the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, and also the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English), who is the Chairman of the General Sub-Committee of the Expenditure Committee. They are both making brave efforts to try to get the House to modernise its procedures so that we can carry out our traditional functions more efficiently.

Those are the matters to which we should be lending our minds—the reform of our own procedures, and the putting right of local government taxation, because it is still wrong. If we get that situation right, there may be room later to see whether there is need for another tier of government. We may eventually come to the view that this reform can be carried out only on a federal basis, but before we condemn the unitary system let us try to make it work in two obvious areas where it is creaking at present.

For these reasons, I believe that the Bill does nothing to deal with our immediate problems. Those Labour Members who point to the importance of achieving a more successful economic policy have got at the guts of what is bothering people in Scotland. People turn to the Scottish National Party for comfort because Governments are not succeeding in their policies for Scotland. It is the policies that are wrong, rather than the structure of government.

To go ahead and pass this Bill tonight will be wasting our time here when we have many more important things to do in the interests of the people of the whole of the United Kingdom, including the people of Scotland. It will be a divisive measure, and I very much hope that the House will throw it out.

9.35 p.m.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) said in the course of his speech that what he wanted was Scottish independence within the Common Market. I found that a very interesting phrase indeed, and it drew to my mind what happened recently when President Giscard d'Estaing had with him in Paris the Prime Minister of the Province of Quebec and said publicly in France that he wished to support the independence of Quebec.

We ought to take that into consideration when we are considering the question of an Assembly in Scotland. We should remember that there are old ties between Scotland and France. Are we to see the chief officer, or whatever he will be called, from a Scottish Assembly being invited to Paris and told by the French President "Long live the independence of Scotland"? I do not know whether that will happen, but it has happened already in regard to Quebec.

I think we ought to take note of the phrase used by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire when he spoke of independence within the Common Market. It is quite clear that a number of Members in this House see this Bill, as my hon. Friend put it graphically, as the catapult of Scottish independence. We ought to take careful note of that type of statement.

What does the new Bill do? Is it fundamentally different from the Bill that we had before us previously? The answer to that question is that it is not fundamentally different. There have been changes—changes welcomed by hon. Members, especially on the Conservative Front Bench—but the Bill is basically the same. My right hon. Friends obviously do not want to see the break-up of the United Kingdom, and they see the Bill, as many of my hon. Friends on the Back Benches see it, as the way to stop the break-up of the United Kingdom. They say "If we do not do this, the break-up will come", and they are still saying it, despite the fact that, as my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire had to admit, there is little excitement over this Bill in Scotland.

If there is little excitement in Scotland over the Bill, I can assure him that there is a lot less excitement over it in England. There is, in fact, no excitement whatsoever. But excitement is likely to be whipped up once again just at the moment when interest is waning and enthusiasm is rapidly ebbing away. That is what is happening, and that is the situation facing us.

My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) made an absolutely brilliant speech, and his conclusion was one that I think my hon. Friends should take into consideration. It was that the Government should withdraw the Bill and stop us all from having any embarrassment. There is no enthusiasm for it at all in this House or in the country. Apart from the SNP nobody wants it. [Interruption.] I do not know whether my right hon. Friend the Lord President likes it. I do not know many who are enthusiastic about it.

I think that the Bill is irrelevant in one sense but highly dangerous in another, and it is dangerous precisely because it is the first step towards the breaking up of the United Kingdom. I find myself in the greatest difficulty over the Bill. [Interruption.] Of course, some hon. Gentlemen, like many other people, are always willing to give other people advice on what they should do in relation to their party. They should look after their own. I shall concern myself with my party.

The central flaw in the Bill is that to which a number of right hon. and hon. Members have drawn attention. That is the question of what, precisely, is to be the rôole of Members from outside England coming here to vote on and to decide upon legislation that would apply here but not in the country from which they come. That is the central question. The Government do not have an answer. No one else has an answer. However, it seems to have been brushed aside as though it is irrelevant. It is not irrelevant. It is absolutely fundamental.

The problem to which I return is that devolution was in our manifesto. That was much to my regret, but it was there. No doubt it was also in a great number of election addresses up and down the country.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

It was not in the hon. Gentleman's manifesto.

Mr. Heffer

It was not in my personal manifesto but it was in the manifesto that we flogged around the doors and it was drawn to the attention of my constituents. When I say "flogged" I do not mean that it was sold. Perhaps the documents were sold. I do not know. All I know is that my agent takes care of that sort of thing.

Unfortunately, devolution was supported at the 1976 party conference. I heard the debate there. It was not a very long debate. The votes were overwhelmingly in favour of the proposals. It is true that devolution was in the manifesto first and then went to the conference afterwards. It is usually the other way round, as things should be. Nevertheless, that is what happened.

I must also say that, as a member of our National Executive Committee, I have raised the issue on a number of occasions, as the Lord President knows. I have fought most strenuously, and I have been defeated not once but at least three times on this question in the NEC. Therefore, I have to ask myself, as a democrat, whether I accept the views without agreeing with them and reserving my position to fight to change them within my party. I do not always like decisions that are taken, but as long as we have a democratic party and can fight to change those decisions, I can do so. We do not have a so-called democratic, centralist organisation. We have democracy.

I shall continue to oppose this devolutionary process because of the dangers in it. But how am I to do it? My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central might not want 40 Members from across the border going up to explain how Members sitting for some English seats feel about it. But if my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) is willing to have me in his constituency, I am prepared to go and to argue—if it ever gets to the referendum stage—as strongly as I possibly can on a Socialist basis to the Scottish working class movement why I think they should oppose this legislation being put into operation.

There is a danger with regard to referendums. I fear that the people of Scotland, rather than voting on the legislation, might be asked to vote for James Callaghan, Prime Minister. That is the danger. I hope that we shall get an assurance from the Government and from the party, in particular, that when the referendum comes we shall not be arguing on that basis because what killed the Common Market argument was the fact that the leaders of the three main parties all campaigned for it. When ordinary people expressed the view that it was marvellous, who was I to say that it was not? Luckily, 8 million of them said it was not.

With regard to the percentage of the vote, shall we have a situation where perhaps only 40 per cent. vote, 51 per cent. of that total agree and the legislation is passed? I trust not. I hope that if it is possible we shall write into the Bill a clear percentage. That must obviously be done before we can possibly agree to legislation of this kind.

I find myself in this awful situation. We have been put into that situation by the Government and by the way in which the matter was handled and accepted by party conference. Many of my colleagues in this House are in exactly the same position. Perhaps I am in a slightly more difficult position because I am a member of my party's Executive. But I do not change one word of my opposition to this concept. I think that it is serious and dangerous for this country.

We have a long way to go before the issue ever gets to the referendum stage. I do not even know whether I shall vote for the Bill. Even if I do, there is still the Third Reading and there is still the referendum. Incidentally, I could almost forgive the other place if on this one occasion—[Interruption]. Perhaps their last act of any importance will be with regard to this question. Quite seriously I ask my Government, even at this stage, to take into consideration the obvious lack of enthusiasm and support on this side of the House and to consider, even if the Second Reading is carried and we go into the various Committee stages—

Mr. Abse

How can my hon. Friend possibly expect to have any credibility in a campaign on a referendum against the Bill if, on the principle of the Bill, which is the Second Reading, he goes into the Division Lobby to support the Bill?

Mr. Heffer

Because some of us believe in our party and because we accept that the Bill is promised in the manifesto. I have always argued in this House in favour of the manifesto. When, for example, some people wanted to stop steel nationalisation, I was one of the first to argue at that time that it was in the manifesto. I ask my hon. Friend to take that into consideration.

We all have divided loyalties. This is a very difficult speech for me to make. Credibility also means loyalty to one's party and to the movement. I think that the Government are totally wrong. I hope that we can stop this Bill in a democratic manner. But I also believe that it is my job and my responsibility within the party, holding the position that I do, to help to sustain the Government while urging them to change their minds.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

May I tell the House that both Front Benches have agreed that they will not be seeking to catch my eye for the winding-up until 20 minutes past 10? That allows me roughly another half hour. If we can have 10-minute speeches, it will enable some other hon. Members to get in who otherwise will fail to do so.

9.52 p.m.

Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)

The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) advised us to look at the reserve powers of the Scottish Assembly, which are set out on pages 48 and 49 of the Bill. I have done so. They go from Group 1, health, through social welfare, education, housing, local government, land use, and so on, and I notice that at Group 17 we have fire services and fire precautions.

At 3.30 tomorrow, the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) is to open a debate on fire services and fire precautions. It is perhaps ironical to consider that, if this Bill were already law, he would of course be able to refer to the situation in England but not to the situation in his own constituency or in Scotland, because that would be reserved to the Assembly in Scotland. The Member for Central Ayrshire in the Assembly in Scotland would tell the hon. Gentleman that he was poaching and that it had nothing to do with him. That points to the absurdity of what is now known as the West Lothian question, that a Scottish Member could raise in this House all the matters relating to the English fire services and fire precautions, but nothing to do with Scotland.

The West Lothian question is usually posed in that form, and never gets an answer. I should like to pose it in a slightly different form, which is that, speaking roughly, if this Bill becomes law someone residing in Scotland will have the equivalent of two votes, someone residing in Wales will have the equivalent of one and a half votes, someone residing in England will have one vote, and, as at present, someone resident in Ulster will have half a vote.

That position has been defended by the Minister of State, who is to reply. He said in one of our previous debates that we should not have a crude uniformity about these matters; we should have richness and diversity. He said that it was absurd to treat everyone exactly the same, because we thrive on diversity. He waxed lyrical on the subject.

While the hon. Gentleman was speaking previously in that debate, I asked myself "Where have I heard this argument before? Where have I read this argument before?" Of course, it was precisely the argument raised by the Duke of Wellington and the high Tories against the great Reform Bill. It was the argument that it was quite unnecessary that a vote in the constituency of Westminster should have the same value as a vote in Old Sarum, that it was in the richness and diversity of the voting arrangements that the true glory of the House of Commons lay. That argument was again advanced by Disraeli on the great occasion of the "fancy franchise".

So the Minister of State is in a very high Tory tradition if he says that the concept of one man, one vote is a drab, uniform concept, that we must get away from it, and that there is no need whatever to complain because the Scots are to have two votes while the English are to have one, the Welsh one and a half and the Ulstermen only a half. If that is the best answer the Government can give to this version of the West Lothian question, it is obviously insufficient in the second half of the twentieth century. I hope that if they can they will think of a better argument.

It has been suggested that the way to get over this difficulty is to adopt a convention, a sort of self-denying ordinance of the Scottish Members not to speak or vote on English questions. Rather as you, Mr. Speaker, and your deputies, by unbreakable tradition, do not vote, so it is hoped that by some convention the Scottish and Welsh Members should not vote on English questions. No suggestion has come from the Government of such an offer, no suggestion that such a convention should be given.

Of course, there are two strong objections to it. The first one is that the Scottish and Welsh Members in this House would have practically nothing to do, because they could not discuss Scottish matters, they could not discuss Welsh matters, and they could not discuss English matters either, nor vote on them. They would be restricted to Namibia and Anguilla and such matters, and so they would be earning very easy money.

The second and, I suspect, real objection is that it would go against the whole point of this exercise. Everyone knows that from the start, when the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) took this matter up, the whole purpose of the exercise was that Labour Scottish Members should go on voting, that there should be more of them, and that they should go on voting. It was because he feared that there would not be enough Labour Scottish Members if he did not do something about it that the whole exercise was started. Everyone who knows anything knows that.

If that is so, it seems to me that the chorus of strictures, some of them very high-minded—one cannot but be impressed by the speeches, if not by the consequential votes—about the dangers of this course and about the need to produce a Bill which is justifiable, valid and desirable in itself, whatever its other merits or demerits may be, must make some impact at least on the Minister of State. He has a great reputation on these matters. So does the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Will the Minister of State answer the West Lothian question, either in the form posed by the right hon. Member for Down, South, or by the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), or in the more refined form in which I have put it—namely, the different values of the different votes according to which geographical kingdom one happens to be sitting it? Unless he can answer that, I do not believe that anyone can, and if no one can, the Bill must go.

9.59 p.m.

Mr. Bruce Douglas-Mann (Mitcham and Morden)

I listened with great sympathy to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer). I have not had the same agony of mind over my decisions on the Bill, but I have thought hard about it and, having travelled a rather different road, arrived at the same conclusion. My hon. Friend clearly presented to the House the serious conflicts of principle which he felt were involved in his arriving at a decision. I do not feel, from my position as someone who abstained—

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Ordered, That the Scotland Bill may be proceeded with at this day's sitting, though opposed, until Eleven o'clock.—[Mr. Tinn.]

Question again proposed.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

Having abstained on the Second Reading on the Scotland and Wales Bill and voted against the guillotine motion on it, I have, naturally, devoted a great deal of serious thought to my approach to the present Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about pressure?"] No, it is not a matter of pressure. No doubt, hon. Members opposite will delude themselves, but it has not been a matter of pressure. It is a matter of being anxious to ensure that what we do as Members of Parliament are the right things to be done. My reservations in opposition to the Scotland and Wales Bill and my reservations now—I certainly have reservations about this Bill—are intellectual. I feel that, on balance, it would be preferable if we did not have the Bill. It would be preferable if we did not have the situation created by a minority, possibly a small minority, in Scotland where there is pressure for a measure of this kind.

I listened with great respect and interest to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook), who had arrived at the same decision as I have reached, though by a different course. Initially, my hon. Friend had been in favour of the measure, and he has now come to the view that on balance, it is probably undesirable but that the best thing to do is to accept that Westminster is not the best place to defeat it. I accept that there is pressure in Scotland for a measure of this kind. I do not know how strong it is. No one on either side of the House knows how strong it is. We have not had a referendum, which is the only means of finding out just how strong that pressure is. I should have preferred something on the lines of a Second Reading referendum saying "Do you want a Bill of this kind?"—I know that it would cost £2 million, but so what?—and then, if necessary, assuming that the first referendum showed that there was a majority for the principle, a Third Reading referendum saying "Here is the Bill. Do you approve of what we have done?" But that is not what we are to do.

If we had had such a referendum and we knew that there was strong pressure in Scotland for a Bill on these lines, I do not think that many of my hon. Friends who have reservations would have objected. Perhaps my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) would still have resisted it, but most hon. Members who have reservations about the present Bill would have accepted the results of a referendum which showed that, with 65 per cent. or 70 per cent. of the Scottish people voting, the overwhelming majority wanted a measure of this kind. We should all have accepted it, I think. We do not yet know whether that is the case, but we have to accept, if only on the evidence of the polls conducted by the Scotsman, that there is pressure for a Bill of this kind.

I accept also that if there is a real determinaion on the part of Scotland to establish an Assembly of some kind, it is not for Westminster to say "No, you will not be able to have it." We cannot do that. The only result of Westminster's refusing to pass a measure for which there was a strong demand in Scotland if such exists—would be to hasten the pace towards total separation. If we persist in refusing it, we shall be heading towards real confrontation.

Mr. Pym

Will the hon. Gentleman comment on this thought? What is one to make of Labour Member after Labour Member saying that he is totally in disagreement with the Bill, yet he will, notwithstanding that, support it here and defeat it on the referendum? What is the logic and morality of that? What is one to make of it? Where is the conviction, where is the integrity of being for it here and against it in Scotland? What does it all add up to?

Mr. Douglas-Mann

If I may adopt the right hon. Gentleman's own words when he was interrupted on two occasions in his speech, if he will listen he will hear the point that I seek to make. Unlike some of my hon. Friends, I believe that if there is a strong majority in Scotland in favour of the Bill, there is nothing that we as English, Welsh or Ulster Members should do. We can do it, but there is nothing that we should do to prevent the will of a body of Scottish people saying "We are determined to have an Assembly on these lines." It would be wrong for us, while trying to retain the Union, to say "No, we have the institutions, and you will keep them as they are, like it or lump it".

Mr. Pym

Will the hon. Gentleman go on from that logically to say that if the Bill were enacted it would not be right for Members representing Scottish seats to frustrate the obvious wish of the English if that happened to contradict the will of the Government of the day? That seems to be an entirely logical conclusion.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

With respect, no. It is true that the consequence of the Bill will be to force upon us further constitutional changes. The effect of the Bill will inevitably be that we shall have to create new provisions for dealing with purely English matters. That might be an English Grand Committee, or some form of English Assembly, but if that is what the Scottish people are determined is to be the price of remaining in the Union—I do not know whether it is—we have to accept it. We cannot force Scotland to stay in on our terms. If there is that determination, we have to accept that that is the price for a measure of this kind, but I am unhappy about it.

The principal matter is the financial one. It seems likely—

Mr. George Cunningham

Does not my hon. Friend think that there is a distinction to be made? If the people of Scotland want independence, they are entitled to have it without interference from us. Does not my hon. Friend have some hesitation in saying that if the Scottish people want devolution we have to change entirely the governmental arrangements for 45 million Englishmen to accommodate a devolution system which is, in essence, bound to lead to independence?

Mr. Douglas-Mann

We have discussed this on many occasions. I think that it is legitimate for Scotland to say "If you want us to stay in the Union"—and we do—" we want it organised in this way". If the people of Scotland are determined on that, I shall accept it, and the House should accept it, but I do not know whether they are so firmly determined on it that it is necessary to make these fundamental constitutional changes.

Some of the changes will be potential time bombs within our constitution. The biggest one is finance. What will we do when the Scottish Executive overspends, when it gets into the situation of New York? How shall we deal with that situation? There is an easy fiscal answer, but the political answer is much more difficult.

I accept that we can overcome these problems if it is necessary to retain the Union. Many of my Scottish friends, on both sides of the House and outside it, have assured me that this measure is vital. Perhaps it is, but let us test it. The Lord President of the Council rejected the proposal of a pre-legislative referendum. I am sorry about it, but that is water under the bridge. I ask him to assure the House before Wednesday night that, prior to this legislation being carried into effect, there will be a referendum that is not just a test of the majority of those who bother to vote. It is noticeable that there has been a thin attendance this afternoon, even of members of the SNP, and that there are no queues in St. Stephen's Hall. There is not the degree of enthusiasm for and involvement in this issue that there was a year ago.

My right hon. Friend should say that if, at the referendum, there is less than a 50 per cent. vote, and less than a 5 per cent. majority, this legislation will not be carried into effect. My right hon. Friend has a discretion under Clause 82. I shall vote for the Second Reading of the Bill because that is the only means of testing the matter, but I hope that before the vote on Wednesday night my right hon. Friend will tell us how he will interpret the discretion that he has under Clause 82 about whether the Bill should be repealed. I hope that there will be an amendment that will write into the statute the requirement that there must be an adequate majority vote in the referendum. I do not ask him to promise to accept such all amendment, but before we deal with the guillotine motion I want to know how he contemplates that his discretion will be exercised. His assurance on that is crucial.

10.10 p.m.

Mr. Malcolm Rifkind (Edinburgh, Pentlands)

Whenever I try to consider the Government's motivation in bringing forward these proposals, I am caused to remember the bishop's prayer in "Murder in the Cathedral" by T. S. Eliot— The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason. I should like to believe that the Government, in bringing forward proposals for constitutional reform, are motivated by a genuine desire to improve the business and quality of government.

Contrary to what the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) said, this has not been a continuing process. Although in 1945 the abour Party did believe in Home Rule, no reference to it appeared in Labour Party policy documents that the public were allowed to see for 30 years. It was no coincidence that the Labour Party became reconverted to it between February and October 1974.

We know also, that the fact that Scotland is to be offered a greater degree of devolution that Wales arises because of the different political pattern in Scotland from that in Wales. We know, equally, that the fact that the Government had decided that Northern Ireland, which has been represented by 12 members for the past 50 years, now deserves to have a greater number of Members arises from the altered political circumstances. We know that the decision to set up subsidiary boards of the National Enterprise Board in the North-East and North-West was not a decision suddenly arrived at for industrial considerations without any reference to the context of devolution for Scotland and for Wales.

However, unfortunately, it demeans the whole constitutional debate. If the Government believe, as I believe and as some Members on the Government side believe, that there is an urgent need for constitutional reform, the matter must be approached not on the basis of saving seats or winning seats, not on the basis of buying or selling seats, but on the genuine basis of improving the government of the whole of the United Kingdom.

Since we last debated this matter there has been a convergence, which has become clear in virtually all the speeches that have been made today. It is the belief that the fundamental problem to be resolved is not what is in the Bill but what is not included either in the Scotland Bill or in the Wales Bill—in other words, a decision as to the future of this House if devolution is to be enacted.

Most of the speeches have concentrated on the undoubted iniquity of Scottish Members being allowed to vote on English legislation. However, the problem goes beyond that. We must ask ourselves the question: how will this House respond if such a situation should arise? It has been said again and again that it will be intolerable for English Members to live with such a state of affairs for many years. How, then, will they respond to that intolerable situation?

Whichever way they respond, we will end up with a worse situation than the one we have now. They will either insist on second-rate Scottish Members entitled to vote only on certain issues, which will be an unsatisfactory situation, or there will be an overwhelming demand, however illogical, for a reduction in Scottish representation in the House. It will be only a matter of time before the Secretary of State ceases to exist as a separate office. Scotland will have its Assembly and its Executive. Wales will have its Assembly and its Executive. It will be only a matter of time before Northern Ireland will get a devolved form of government, and this House of Commons, instead of being the Parliament of the United Kingdom, will become an English Parliament with added functions for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

That, clearly, is the worst of all possible solutions because if the British Parliament becomes an English House of Commons, the illogical arguments in favour of independence advanced by the Scottish National Party would become very powerful.

The answer is twofold. There is a respectable argument for the status quo or for some minor improvements thereto. Equally, there is a powerful argument that, if constitutional reform is necessary, it must be the British constitution that is reformed, that the government of the whole United Kingdom must be altered to meet that requirement.

I therefore agree with the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mr. Douglas-Mann) that we have a situation in which the people of Scotland—I do not know for certain that this is so—will remain in the Union only if certain constitutional changes are made. This does not necessarily mean that the English must accept that the government of England must change. What they might have to consider is that they have a choice. They must say to the Scots either "We are satisfied with the House of Commons in its present form for England, and if you are not satisfied you must go your own way", or, as the only possible alternative to that proposition, that if the only way of keeping Scotland within the Union is to accept the fundamental reform of the whole British constitution, that is a price that they might be willing to pay.

There is no third course that has any real likelihood of being stable. What the Government offer is a partisan response to a temporary political problem. It may help to deal with that political problem in the short term, but, as hon. Members on both sides of the House have said, it cannot be a solution to the problems of the United Kingdom for three out of the four countries of a unitary State to have a devolved system of government while the fourth, with 80 per cent. of the population, has no such system. That cannot work, and cannot hope to work.

It is clear that the people of England do not wish to be carved up into several regions, and there is no reason why they should, but if the constitutional reform of the government of the United Kingdom becomes a price that must be paid to preserve the United Kingdom, the possibility of an all-England Assembly in some form or other will have to be considered. It could be formed in many different ways, but the important point, the principle, that must be accepted is that all who consider themselves to be unionist—whether in the Labour Party, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party or the Ulster Unionists—all of us who share the desire to preserve the Union, must insist that this House does not become an English Parliament. It must be a British Parliament as long as the Union exists, and for it to be a British Parliament it must have roughly comparable powers and responsibilities for the four countries of the Union. That is the main criterion that we must insist on. If we insist on that but no other, we shall not go too far wrong.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

I call the hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Leadbitter), who will know that we hope to begin the winding-up speeches at 10.20 p.m.

10.16 p.m.

Mr. Ted Leadbitter (Hartlepool)

This is a perfect example of shortage of time, in a poorly attended House, on a major constitutional matter. It reinforces the concern that many of us feel about the haste with which the Bill is being forced through the House.

I opposed the Bill from the beginning, on the ground that it was constitutionally wrong. I have never taken the view that it is a matter between the North of England and Scotland, or between Merseyside and Scotland or anywhere else. It is a matter of constitutional importance, and it is of the essence that the House should have time to argue it out without the guillotine and without pressure from the Executive.

I have listened to the debate, but I apologise for my earlier absence. [Interruption.] It is right that a Member should apologise for his earlier absence. Some do not. I have been sitting here since 8.30 p.m. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I was here between 3.30 p.m. and 4.30 p.m. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I have had meetings inside the House between then and the time I returned to the Chamber.

The point I want to make is that I have listened to some hon. Members on the Labour Benches who have appalled me. They were opposed to the Bill at the beginning. I have read the Bill before us, and I can say that there is no fundamental difference between this and the previous Bill. I cannot accept that where a major principle is involved I should listen without comment to excuses, understandable though they may be. I am not impressed. It is a sad day when I must listen to hon. Members saying "I shall vote for the Bill tonight, but I shall go to Scotland and fight against it later on."

More than that, when there is a lessening of interest in devolution in Scotland and when there is very little interest in it in the United Kingdom as a whole, I am appalled that the Executive should consider it right that we should pass a Bill and then tell the people of Scotland "We shall have a referendum." I cannot understand that. In any case, my experience of the Common Market referendum leads me to distrust any referendum where the Executive wants its will to prevail.

Earlier this week I was asked "What are your views on the Bill?" I had no hesitation in saying "There is no reason for my views to have changed." I shall vote against the Second Reading tonight. I shall vote against the Second Reading of the Wales Bill tomorrow. I shall vote against the guillotine. I shall be able to go to my constituents and say that I have been honest in my convictions.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (West Stirlingshire)

But not honest with the Labour Party.

Mr. Leadbitter

If this Bill should ever become an Act and if the referendum should, by one method or another, result in there being a Scottish or Welsh Assembly, that will be the time when the Labour Party will have to ask itself what its future is to be. The Kilbrandon Report contains a definite recommendation that the number of Scottish Members of this House should be reduced.

If Scottish Members of the Labour Party think that for one moment I, as an English Member of Parliament, shall tolerate their coming here and determining what happens in my constituency when I can say nothing about Scotland, they have another think coming.

The House should take courage. Those who warn about the terrible consequences of the Bill might not be surprised if one day English Members become sick and tired of it all and say "If you want a separate Assembly with independence you cannot come here and determine what happens in England."

10.22 p.m.

Mr. Teddy Taylor (Glasgow, Cathcart)

The hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Leadbitter) apologised for not being in the Chamber all day. If he had been here he would have been appalled and shocked at some of the reasons given for supporting the Bill. Those of us who have been here all day would agree that although we have heard many arguments, there has been hardly any enthusiasm for the Bill. Almost no one has argued that the Bill would do any good for Scotland, England or the United Kingdom.

The only sign of enthusiasm came from the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) and members of the SNP. They argued not that the Bill would do good, not that it would help to improve the constitution, but that inevitably it would be a catapult towards independence—that it would be the "first step on the road", as the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) honestly said. They did not argue that the Bill would do good but they said that it would do something that the Government say that they are trying to prevent.

The right hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Craig) and his colleagues say that we must do something, even though this might be a bad Bill. He said that he had the felling that something would happen if we did not do something with Scotland. That is not an argument for introducing a major constitutional change which could break the Union.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) said that he had changed his mind. He said that he had found that the enthusiasm that he once had was no longer there. He put forward a devastating case against the Bill. He said what a disaster it would be but that he was, unfortunately, going to vote for it. The hon. Member should examine himself. He said that he was going to vote for the Bill because if Parliament rejected it that action would be misinterpreted by some newspapers such as The Scotsman and that the SNP would abuse the situation. He said that we should kill the Bill for ever in a referendum. He said that it is much better to do that in a referendum than to do it here.

I ask him whether there is not a danger of his actions being misinterpreted. Is he not aware of what these one or two newspapers will say about the number of Scottish Members who voted for the Bill? His vote will be used as part of the argument to support this appalling measure. If he thinks that the Bill is as wrong and as dangerous as he has said, it is difficult to understand his justification for voting. for it.

We had the same argument from the hon. Member for Liverpool Walton (Mr. Heffer). He put forward two strange arguments. First, he said that he would campaign against the Bill in the referendum in Scotland but would have to vote for it because it was in the manifesto and second—unusually for him—he said that he would vote for it in the knowledge that the House of Lords might stop it.

Mr. Heffer

The hon. Gentleman should listen carefully to what I say. I did not say that I would vote for the Bill. I said that I had not yet made up my mind.

Mr. Taylor

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I say to him what I said to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central. It is wrong that a Bill which they consider to be dangerous and damaging should be put before the people of Scotland. Surely this is an insulting thing to do and an extravagant waste of public money, involving, as it does, 2½ million. Surely it is wrong to ask the people of Scotland to vote on something which both hon. Members think is entirely wrong.

In fairness to the hon. Member for Walton, the Minister of State to the Privy Council Office should at least answer one question. The hon. Member for Walton put forward the fair point about referendum being confused with other things in some cases. Will the Minister of State give hon. Members the clear assurance that, should there be a referendum in the event that the Bill goes through Parliament, it will be a clear and separate campaign, not mixed up with a General Election campaign taking place at the same time? The Minister of State is laughing but he has laughed at many things. At least let us have a clear answer on this.

Mr. John Smith

Since the hon. Gentleman mentions humour, it would be appropriate for me to ask him whether the Scottish Assembly is such a bad thing and so expensively bureaucratic. He said in a pamphlet issued in October 1974: We will establish a Scottish Assembly and ensure decision-making is removed from London. There will be a separate Scottish Budget.

Mr. Taylor

There is no question of my arguing against the principle of devolution. We are talking about this Bill. However, if the Minister of State wishes to end a debate of this constitutional importance by swapping quotes, let me remind him of what was said on 19th August 1974 in The Scotsman. It was reported: Mr. John Smith, M.P. for North Lanark, claimed that members of the party who were pressing for devolution to a Scottish Government without the loss of the office of the Secretary of State and a reduction in the number of M.P.s at Westminster were being dishonest. Does he still say that the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Lord President and all the others who are telling us that we can have devolution without losing our Secretary of State and without having a reduction in representation are being dishonest? Will he stand up and say that anyone who supports devolution believing that there can be a Secretary of State for Scotland and 71 Scottish Members is being dishonest? We are arguing the case against the Bill.

The fifth argument advanced by some hon. Members is that this is a bad Bill but they must vote for it because people want it so intensely that we cannot wait to try to get it right. This argument was used by some hon. Members who said "We know that it is a rubbishy Bill and will cost a lot of money but we have to do something because the people of Scotland are desperate for it." This is a matter of judgment. We can say only what we ourselves feel and what we consider to be the feeling of the people of Scotland. However, does the Leader of the House remember when he was arguing that we should pass the Scotland and Wales Bill, which was rejected? He said that unless the House passed it there was the danger of Ulster-type violence in Scotland. I do not deny that there has been violence in Scotland—there has been plenty of it—but surely the Minister of State will not say that it can be attributed to the defeat of the devolution Bill in the previous Session.

There have been arguments about federalism. It is true that there are more in the House who are attracted to federalism. It is logical, clear and precise. There is no doubt that there are more generally who are beginning to think seriously about federalism, but we are not talking about that tonight. There may be a case for having a debate and a Bill on federalism, or a White Paper and a discussion, but, the Bill is not about federalism. Those who have not been in the Chamber throughout the debate should ask themselves where are the supporters of the Bill who say that it will improve the government of the United Kingdom and of Scotland?"

The first question that we must ask stems from the argument of the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston), who said that one of the reasons for voting for the Bill is that it has been improved. I accept that there have been changes. However, I honestly advise the House to think carefully whether all the changes have been for the better and whether they are as major as the hon. Gentleman considers them to be.

One change is that we now face an immediate guillotine. We are told that it will be brought forward on Wednesday. It will serve to stifle discussion. I shall make one more quotation. It comes from the splendid occasion when I cheered the Leader of the House because he was saying the right thing. He said: The guillotine is the last resort of a Government who know that they cannot get the full-hearted consent of Parliament but are determined to have their way in any case."—[Official Report, 2nd May 1972; Vol. 836, c. 235.] There have been a number of changes. One example is that we have the assurance that we shall have a four-year budget for the Assembly. Bearing in mind what the hon. Member for Inverness has seen over the past two years in the House, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer bringing forward 12 Budgets in three years involving 12 changes in economic policy, does he think that the Government will agree on a budget for Scotland for four years while in every other part of the United Kingdom we shall see regular changes in economic policy?

If we are to have a detailed argument put before the House every year to justify the block grant, does the hon. Gentleman think that this will necessarily be in Scotland's best interests? As we all know, expenditure per head of population in Scotland is about 20 per cent. more than in the rest of the United Kingdom. That is because of Scotland's special problems and needs. Like a good Scot, I shall continue to ask for more whenever that is appropriate. I ask the Minister of State whether it is necessarily a good thing that every year, with all the special problems arising from the West Lothian question, that there should be argument in the House to justify Scotland having at least 20 per cent. more per head of the population.

Mr. Gordon Wilson


Mr. Teddy Taylor

No, I shall not give way. I have only a short time.

The hon. Member for Inverness said that we shall have the power to fix teacher's salaries in Scotland. I was surprised about that. Pay policies have been introduced by the Leader of the House and others who used to argue against them. I wrote to the Leader of the House to ask him how the system will work. I asked him whether the Scottish Assembly would be free to fix the salaries of Scottish teachers even if the national pay policy said that we should not. The answer was that a clause would be written into the Bill stating that a Scottish Assembly would have regard to national pay policy.

I wrote to the right hon. Gentleman again to ask what would happen if the Scottish Assembly did not have regard to the policy. The right hon. Gentleman gave me a very nice answer. He wrote: As far as your second point is concerned, we anticipate that any difference of opinion between the United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Assembly will normally be settled by consultation but the Government will also be in a position to influence a settlement through the negotiation of the block fund. In other words, we shall have the same position as exists in respect of rents and local authorities—namely the attitude "If you do not behave yourself, you will be affected through the block fund". Action of that type will inevitably lead to clashes.

I believe that we now have a choice which the Opposition are putting to the House. It is a choice between voting for a bad Bill, a Bill which everybody has admitted is bad, and of then putting it to the people of Scotland, and the opportunity of voting for our amendment. We should then be saying "Instead of voting for this bad Bill, let us try to deal with some of the problems we all know exist".

We should certainly seek to ensure that any scheme does not add to the cost of government. This Bill will involve the payment of £13 million in salaries—in a country where we are cutting back on home helps and school patrol attendants. We must also make sure that we do not add to the complexity of government. Those who argue that we should reduce the tiers of government know that it is not an easy matter. But if we go ahead with the Bill in its present form, Scotland will be in danger of becoming the most over-governed country in the world.

We also want to make sure that any scheme arising out of the constitutional conference would give a real and meaningful rôle to Westminster Members of Parliament coming here from Scotland. The whole House has accepted that it would be intolerable if Scottish Members of Parliament were to come down here to vote on essentially English education, English housing and English planning if those same Members had no say in such matters affecting their own country.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Does the hon. Gentleman not appreciate that that is what happens here at Westminster? The Scottish people are governed by Governments from England. If the Conservatives are ever elected again, the Scottish people would be governed, by a Conservative Government which they might not want.

Mr. Taylor

We happen to believe, as most people believe, that we are a united kingdom. One of the reasons for this monstrous Bill arises from the panic into which the Government have been thrown because of their feeling that the Labour Party will be destroyed if nothing is done about the situation. But evidence is showing that the SNP has the ability to destroy itself, as is certainly evident from its policies.

I repeat that in any scheme there must be a meaningful role for Westminster Members from Scotland. There is no easy answer, although the hon. Member for Inverness appeared to suggest there was. The hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mr. Douglas-Mann) asked why we could not adopt the simple solution of having English Members voting on English affairs and Scottish Members on Scottish affairs, and then allowing us all to come together to discuss Mozambique and defence. That suggestion, too, is not so easy as it appears. If we had such a situation, the inevitable consequence on some occasions would be to have a national United Kingdom Government of one party with power only to implement domestic policy in Wales. [Hon. Members: "Oh."]

Let us take the present political scene. We may see a new Scottish Assembly dominated by Conservatives and a few nationalists, in England a Conservative majority, in Wales a Labour majority, and in Ulster the present situation. In that situation one would have a national Government elected by the House of Commons as a whole with power to implement housing, educational, water and planning policy only in Wales. What a constitutional nonsense that would be. Let us not go ahead with it.

We must be clear about the demarcation between the powers of an Assembly and of the Westminster Government. These are not clear, as the Minister of State will admit. He has only to examine Clauses 36 and 37 of the Bill to see the dilemma. The Secretary of State can report any Bill or any executive act to the House of Commons for it to be overturned if he thinks it interferes directly or indirectly with reserve functions. If it were indirectly or directly to interfere in economic affairs or employment matters, it would cover a wide field indeed. There is also concurrent legislation whereby the Government's power from Westminster to impose any form of legislation at all times is not affected.

There are many other things I could say but I promised to complete my remarks by 10.40 p.m.

Those who have listened to the debate—and not all hon. Members have—and others will be well aware that we are in danger of perpetrating a major parliamentary disaster by approving a Bill which few people have any belief would improve the government of Scotland, and which I think most believe in their hearts would do a great deal of damage. We are in danger of approving a major constitutional change without having resolved the most obvious dangers and weaknesses which inevitably stem from trying to arrive at this change. Far from us being given scope and freedom to resolve these things in Committee, we have been told that our discussion on this will be stifled by a guillotine measure.

This is not an ordinary Bill, the kind of Bill which we can change or repeal or amend next year if we find that we have got it wrong. It is a major constitutional measure which will be irreversible unless we have the sense to found it on firm foundations with adequate safeguards.

In recommending the amendment, therefore, and the rejection of the Bill, we do not seek in any way a vote against the principle of devolution—[Interruption.]—not in any way a vote against parliamentary reform, and not a vote against constitutional change. We simply seek to try to persuade Parliament against the nonsense of committing an irreversible blunder—a blunder which I believe would do great damage to Scotland, which would do great damage to the rest of the United Kingdom and which undoubtedly would damage the Union itself.

10.42 p.m.

The Minister of State, Privy Council Office (Mr. John Smith)

I think that the most surprising part of the speech by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor), perhaps even to himself, was the last sentence of it. It took us back to the speech by the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym), who, in his usual careful way, tried to explain what Conservative policy was on devolution. I gathered from his speech that the Conservatives were generally in favour of the principle but thought that the way in which the matter should be approached was to get an all-party consensus on the matter, that somehow the Government had been failing in the past in not seeking such a consensus, and that if a constitutional commission were called it could within six months devise a workable, meaningful scheme, it would not have to he some make-believe Assembly—because the right hon. Gentleman said that it must be of real help to Scotland; otherwise it would not be worth doing.

Then, with a roll of drums, the right hon. Gentleman said that he would be especially frank about devolution—even about his own party. It then emerged that he was talking of a speech that he had made at St. Andrew's University, where he had said that there should be an Assembly. He did not say in his speech that it was to be directly elected, but in "The Right Approach" it says "directly elected", and I imagine that all Conservative speeches are to be construed to make sense out of "The Right Approach." I think we must assume, therefore, that it would be a directly elected Assembly.

That Assembly which the right hon. Gentleman proposed. and which I imagine he would advance to this constitutional commission, would call to account in Scotland the powerful Scottish executive that Scotland already has, investigate and monitor the administrative decisions of the Civil Service, question the policies and decisions of public bodies and agencies, the health service and nationalised industries in Scotland, including electricity, gas and railways, press Scottish opinions, views and needs on the United Kingdom Government when taking decisions affecting Scotland, be involved in considering Scottish legislation, preserve and strengthen the independence of Scottish institutions—and so on in this vein.

What is that all about? One would have thought that was the speech of someone who is committed—as I think perhaps the right hon. Gentleman personally is—to a movement and change of government in this country to give much more control over legislative and executive functions to people in Scotland over Scottish affairs. But, no, the right hon. Gentleman is a prisoner of his shadow Cabinet and of his party's aversion to devolution, and he cannot go that far.

Despite these marvellous powers, the Assembly is to have no legislative or executive powers whatsoever. Therefore, I do not think that the Conservatives would come to a constitutional commission with much in the way of constructive ideas.

Let me rebut the charge that the Government have been unwilling to listen to other views on this matter. It is worth bearing in mind that every political party in the United Kingdom except the Conservative Party gave evidence to the Kilbrandon Commission. On our 1974 consultative document, which has figured in the right hon. Gentleman's speech from time to time, the Conservative submitted no coments. On the 1975 White Paper, although specifically invited to do so, they sent a letter saying that it was not their practice to comment on White Papers of this kind. On the 1976 consultative document on England the Conservative Party was again specifically invited to comment. There was a reply from Lord Thorneycroft's office which said we have considered your suggestion carefully but the Conservative Party organisation does not normally give evidence or comments in such instances and Lord Thorneycroft has asked me to say that he does not wish to depart from our normal practice. The Conservative Front Bench nod in agreement. It is not for me to give them advice on the practice they should follow, but I think it is for me to rebut any suggestion that there has been a lack of willingness to consult other people or that the Conservative Party is a party that seeks consensus on these matters—which is the meaning behind the amendment, which is dignified by the adjective "reasoned" in some comments, that the Conservatives have put down today.

Mr. Pym

Will the hon. Gentleman then say why, so categorically, he and his right hon. Friend the Lord President resisted every overture and approach that I made to have a constitutional conference of the sort I have described? Is not that a surprising reluctance on his part, if an overture was made and he rejected it? How does he explain that?

Mr. Smith

The right hon. Gentleman knows full well the terms of the proposed Select Committee that he put forward to consider all the alternatives considered in the June 1974 consultative document, including other alternatives and including federalism. Any change in the constitution was to be considered, and all was to be done within six months. He knows as well as I do that 75 per cent. of the Conservative Party is opposed to devolution in principle. The Opposition Front Bench know that and the Back Benchers know it.

But there are, perhaps, about 25 per cent. of the Conservative Party—I am not sure about the figures; the Opposition Chief Whip will correct me if I am wrong, but it is roughly that proportion—who are worried about the matter because they think, as I do, that the way in which to defend the unity of the United Kingdom is not to keep the status quo for ever and to say nothing to people in Scotland, Wales and other parts of the United Kingdom who say that they want more control over their own affairs within a United Kingdom, but to realise that just to put up the shutters of the status quo and say nothing to them is no intelligent way to preserve the unity of the United Kingdom.

That is the fundamental case that I put forward.

There are two issues. First, there is a need to decentralise decision-taking and increase democratic accountability in both Scotland and Wales, where already there is a great deal of administrative devolution under the territorial Secretaries of State and their Departments. Secondly, by recognising that need and desire, we shall effectively strengthen, not weaken, the unity of the United Kingdom.

The hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) was the last in a long line of hon. Members who have commented on the question of Westminster representation and put forward the argument that this is some flaw in the proposal that can in no way be corrected, that the Westminster Parliament will remain responsible for British matters, including the English parallel of the matters devolved to Scotland and Wales. The hon. and learned Member likened me to Lord Wellington and Disraeli in one sentence. That was very flattering. If I may be so bold as to make any remarks about that at all, perhaps I might be mildly, critical.

The hon. and learned Member said that after devolution, Scottish Members would have nothing to do in the House of Commons. Scottish Members would not be able to vote on Scottish housing, education and health. That is quite correct. Those are matters for the Assembly. It is said that they would not be interested in anything else. Let me remind the hon. and learned Gentleman of the matters which deeply affect the people of Scotland and Wales and which will remain the sole responsibility of this Parliament after devolution. There is the conduct of international affairs, including our developing partnership within the European Economic Community; policies for national security and defence; trade and industry; employment and industrial relations; the management of the economy; energy; social security; and a great many other matters. That is a great deal.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Will the Minister accept that this is not the complaint? The complaint is that we shall have the powers to deal with English housing and education and all English domestic affairs.

Mr. Smith

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will give me credit. I shall be developing my answer. Perhaps I may correct one misappprehension. I hope that he will be good enough to accept that perhaps he minimised the rôle that Scottish Members would have.

Therefore, I think that it is nonsense to say, as I think the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) said in a debate in Committee on the Scotland and Wales Bill, that 70 per cent. or 80 per cent. of the matters that concerned Scottish Members would be removed from the House of Commons. I do not accept that apportionment. Scottish and Welsh Members are deeply interested in energy policy and the ramifications that that has for our economy. That issue is not devolved. But a more important reason why all parts of the United Kingdom should be fully represented in this House is that sovereignty will remain in this House of Commons.

That sovereignty is sufficiently strong to have the power to modify, transform or even abolish the devolution Act itself. We saw a dramatic indication of this in the case of the Stormont Parliament which was created by this Parliament and abolished by this Parliament through the exercise of its sovereignty. In so far as sovereignty remains in this House of Commons it is important that all parts of the United Kingdom should be fully represented.

As I understand the argument of Conservative Members, it is that we shall have Scottish Members talking on English matters; therefore, what should we do? First, as the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) pointed out, the in-out voting arrangement is not a satisfactory method of doing it. That was considered by Gladstone during one of the Irish Home Rule Bills and rejected in the House of Commons.

The suggestion has also been put forward that there ought to be a reduction in the number of Members from Scottish constituencies. [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] Some voices say "hear, hear" but there are others, including the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher), who argue that we should do no such thing. The Kilbrandon Report made this recommendation as well. [Interruption.] If we are dealing with speeches, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart has not yet explained why he was in favour of a Scottish Assembly with an executive budget in October 1974. There ought to be equivalence of explanation.

Another important reason—[Interruption.] Several Members have specifically asked me to deal with matters in my speech and I am attempting to do so. Some Conservative Members who are baying on the Front Bench were not even here when the questions were asked. They should be careful to listen to the replies.

Another important reason why Scotland and Wales ought to be fully represented in this Parliament is that Parliament will remain an effective oversight for the override provisions in the Bill. The override provisions, if they are exercised by the United Kingdom Government, have to receive parliamentary approval. Therefore, it is important that all parts of the United Kingdom, particularly those parts of the country whose Assemblies' actions may be overridden, should be fully represented in this House of Commons.

There are, of course, some hon. Gentlemen who argue that we should not move towards devolution at all. Let them think about the consequence of that. There are those, like my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), who say that it is impossible within a unitary State to have a legislative Assembly to which powers are devolved. That means that we can never have any legislative devolution within this unitary State. There are those who say that this is quite reasonable, and who believe that we should never have legislative devolution. But it follows from that argument that such people are totally opposed to the principle of devolution. As I understand it, my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian is now totally opposed to the principle of devolution.

But that will not do for the Conservative Front Bench, because it instructed the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart to slip into his last sentence the fact that they were not against the principle of devolution. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart marched right up the hill and was cutting down the devolution argument on all sides, but when he got to the top he could not go over the summit because before sitting down he had to say that the Conservatives were in favour of the principle of devolution.

We have had a lot of hypocrisy and cant during this debate. Let me remind this House that it has been the Labour Government who have put this matter firmly on the agenda of the nation and have asked the House of Commons to come to a decision on it. The House of Commons should remember that it must retain the capacity to act as well as the capacity to argue. That is why we have brought this matter before the House of Commons. That is a very important matter for hon. Members to bear in mind. We shall be able, during the Committee stage, to go into matters thoroughly. What we are considering here is the principle of the Bill.

I can see that there may be other schemes of devolution as well as the one put forward by the Government. We have thought long and carefully about it. I notice that, in the debate, there was very little criticism about the areas to be devolved. Hon Members were not saying that it was wrong to devolve education or health or that it was wrong to retain energy. Similarly, there was very little criticism about the control mechanisms, the override provisions, or the use of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council to deal with questions of vires. My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian asked about this. The use of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is restricted to the matter of the vires of Bills. It is very important to have a legal solution for that problem.

To those who say that the Scottish Assembly will acquire powers, I reply that it cannot acquire powers that this Parliament has not given it. The United Kingdom Government can put the matter before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, whose decision will be binding upon them. My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian asked whether the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council had been consulted. We have ensured that the Judicial Committee and the courts' administrations generally have been informed about the proposals which concern them.

This is an important change. It was foreshadowed in the previous Bill. But we have also introduced post-assent judicial review, which is an important strengthening of the legal mechanisms.

It was interesting that on these important matters—the areas of devolution and the control mechanisms—there was little comment today. Hon. Members tended to talk more about the general principles of devolution. But there may be other schemes for devolution which are lurking in the minds of the Conservative Front Bench, who say that they are in favour of the principle and have been, as I understand it, since 1968. There cannot have been nine years with less thinking on the subject than that done by the Conservative Party. The truth is that the Conservative Opposition have absolutely no policy on devolution. It falls to the Labour Party and to this Government not only to increase the opportunity for democratic control in Scotland and Wales but also to strengthen the unity of the United Kingdom.

The hon. and learned Member for Darwen took me to task for having talked in a previous speech about the richness and diversity of the United Kingdom. I was talking at that time not about Westminster representation but generally about the case for devolution. However, it would be a great mistake for this House to think that at present in Scotland and Wales we can assume that the unity of the

United Kingdom can rest simply upon the status quo of our governmental arrangements. I genuinely do not believe that to be the case.

I believe that the Union is under stress and strain and that, just as we in Parliament from time to time have to reform our own institutions, so we must look to the institutions of the State and see whether this Union is working properly.

In a courageous and dignified speech, the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) showed that he had stuck to the principles which he had declared some time ago and had stayed with them. In a speech which must have been difficult to make for one who is as loyal to his party as he is, he indicated his clear commitment to devolution and his understanding of the processes at work in Scotland today. I agree with his analysis of the present situation. I suspect also that some of the more perceptive members of his Front Bench share that analysis. I hope that even more hon. Members on the Opposition Back Benches share it and that they will not think that the Conservative Party, simply by opposing this Bill and by opposing devolution, will put that movement away and out of the interests and minds of the people of Scotland.

If we pass this Second Reading and move on through the week to take other decisions connected with it, we shall not only improve and strengthen government in Scotland. We shall do a great deal to enhance and revivify the unity of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Ian Stewart (Hitchin)


Mr. Walter Harrison (Treasurer of Her Majesty's Household)

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 313, Noes, 274.

Division No. 4] AYES [11.00 p.m.
Allaun, Frank Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Boardman, H.
Anderson, Donald Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Booth, Rt Hon Albert
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Bates, Alf Boothroyd, Miss Betty
Armstrong, Ernest Bean, R. E. Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur
Ashley, Jack Beith, A. J. Boyden, James (Bish Auck)
Ashton, Joe Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Bradley, Tom
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N.) Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Bray, Dr Jeremy
Atkinson, Norman Bidwell, Sydney Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)
Bain, Mrs. Margaret Blenkinsop, Arthur Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)
Buchan, Norman Hatton, Frank Noble, Mike
Buchanan, Richard Hayman, Mrs Helene Oakes, Gordon
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Healey, Rt Hon Denis Ogden, Eric
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Heffer, Eric S. O'Halloran, Michael
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Henderson, Douglas Orbach, Maurice
Campbell, Ian Hooson, Emlyn Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Canavan, Dennis Horam, John Ovenden, John
Cant, R. B. Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Carmichael, Neil Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Padley, Walter
Carter, Ray Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Palmer, Arthur
Carter-Jones, Lewis Huckfield, Les Pardoe, John
Cartwright, John Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Park, George
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Hughes, Mark (Durham) Parker, John
Clemitson, Ivor Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Parry, Robert
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Pavitt, Laurie
Cohen, Stanley Hunter, Adam Pendry, Tom
Coleman, Donald Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Penhaligon, David
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Perry, Ernest
Concannon, J. D. Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Phipps, Dr Colin
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Janner, Greville Prescott, John
Corbett, Robin Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Jeger, Mrs Lena Price, William (Rugby)
Craigen, Jim (Maryhill) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Radice, Giles
Crawford, Douglas John, Brynmor Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Crawshaw, Richard Johnson, James (Hull West) Reid, George
Cronin, John Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Richardson, Miss Jo
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Roberts, Albert (Normarton)
Cryer, Bob Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Jones, Barry (East Flint) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Dalyell, Tam Jones, Dan (Burnley) Robinson, Geoffrey
Davidson, Arthur Judd, Frank Roderick, Caerwyn
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Kaufman, Gerald Rodgers, Georcie (Chorley)
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) Kelley, Richard Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Kerr, Russell Rooker J. W.
Deakins, Eric Kilroy-Silk. Robert Roper, John
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Kinnock, Neil Rose, Paul B.
de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Lambie, David Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Lamborn, Harry Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Dempsey, James Lamond, James Rowlands, Ted
Doig, Peter Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Ryman, John
Dormand, J. D. Lee, John Sandelson, Neville
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Sedgemore, Brian
Dunn, James A. Lever, Rt Hon Harold Selby, Harry
Dunnett, Jack Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Sever, J.
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Lipton, Marcus Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Eadie, Alex Loyden, Eddie Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Edge, Geoff Luard, Evan Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Lyon, Alexander (York) Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) McCartney, Hugh Sillars, James
English, Michael MacCormick, Iain Silverman. Julius
Ennals, Rt Hon David McDonald, Dr Oonagh Skinner, Dennis
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) McElhone, Frank Small, William
Evans,Gwynfor (Carmarthen) MacFarquhar, Roderick Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) McGuire, Michael (Ince) Snape, Peter
Evans, John (Newton) MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Spearing, Nigel
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Mackintosh, John P. Spriggs, Leslie
Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) Maclennan, Robert Stallard, A. W.
Faulds, Andrew McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Steel, Rt Hon David
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. McNamara, Kevin Stewart, Rt Hon Donald
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Madden, Max Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Flannery, Martin Magee, Bryan Stoddart, David
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mahon, Simon Stott, Roger
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Malialieu, J. P. W. Strang, Gavin
Ford, Ben Marks, Kenneth Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Forrester, John Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Swain, Thomas
Fraser, John (Lambeth N'w'd) Maynard, Miss Joan Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Meacher, Michael Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
George, Bruce Mendelson, John Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Gilbert, Dr John Mikardo, Ian Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Ginsburg, David Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Thompson, George
Golding, John Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Gould, Bryan Mitchell, Austin Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Gourlay, Harry Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Tierney, Sydney
Graham, Ted Molloy, William Tinn, James
Grant, John (Islngton C) Moonman, Eric Tomlinson, John
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Tomney, Frank
Grocott, Bruce Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Torney, Tom
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Tuck, Raphael
Hardy, Peter Moyle, Roland Urwin, T. W.
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Hart, Rt Hon Judith Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Newens, Stanley Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Walker, Terry (Kingswood) Whitehead, Phillip Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Ward, Michael Whitlock, William Wise, Mrs Audrey
Watkins, David Wigley, Dafydd Woodall, Alec
Watkinson, John Willey, Rt Hon Frederick Woof, Robert
Watt, Hamish Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Weetch, Ken Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch) Young, David (Bolton E)
Weitzman, David Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Wellbeloved, James Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Welsh, Andrew Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton) Mr. James Hamilton and Mr. Joseph Harper
White, Frank R. (Bury) Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
White, James (Pollok) Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Adley, Robert Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Le Marchant, Spencer
Aitken, Jonathan Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Alison, Michael Fookes, Miss Janet Lloyd, Ian
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Forman, Nigel Loveridge, John
Arnold, Tom Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Luce, Richard
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Fox, Marcus McAdden, Sir Stephen
Awdry, Daniel Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) McCrindle, Robert
Baker, Kenneth Fry, Peter Macfarlane, Neil
Banks, Robert Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. MacGregor, John
Bell, Ronald Gardiner, George (Reigate) MacKay, Andrew (Stechford)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbsy) Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Benyon, W. Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Madel, David
Berry, Hon Anthony Glyn, Dr Alan Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Biggs-Davison, John Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Marten, Neil
Blaker, Peter Goodhart, Philip Mates, Michael
Body, Richard Goodhew, Victor Mather, Carol
Boscawen, Hon Robert Goodlad, Alastair Maude, Angus
Bottomley, Peter Gorst, John Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Mawby, Ray
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Braine, Sir Bernard Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Mayhew, Patrick
Brittan, Leon Grieve, Percy Meyer, Sir Anthony
Brocklebank-Fowler, C Griffiths, Eldon Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)
Brooke, Peter Grist, Ian Mills, Peter
Brotherton, Michael Grylls, Michael Miscampbell, Norman
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hall, Sir John Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Bryan, Sir Paul Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Moate, Roger
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Molyneaux, James
Buck, Antony Hampson, Dr Keith Monro, Hector
Budgen, Nick Hannam, John Montgomery, Fergus
Bulmer, Esmond Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Moore, John (Croydon C)
Burden, F. A. Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss More, Jasper (Ludlow)
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Haselhurst, Alan Morgan, Geraint
Carlisle, Mark Hastings, Stephen Morris, Michael (Northampton S)
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Channon, Paul Hawkins, Paul Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Churchill, W. S. Hayhoe, Barney Mudd, David
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Heseltine, Michael Neave, Airey
Clark, William (Croydon S) Higgins, Terrence L. Neubert, Michael
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hodgson, Robin Newton, Tony
Clegg, Walter Holland, Philip Normanton, Tom
Cockroft, John Hordern, Peter Nott, John
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Onslow, Cranley
Cope, John Howell, David (Guildford) Oppenheim, Mrs Sally
Cormack, Patrick Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Osborn, John
Corrie, John Hunt, David (Wirral) Page, John (Harrow West)
Costain, A. P. Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E) Hurd, Douglas Page, Richard (Workington)
Critchley, Julian Hutchison, Michael Clark Paisley, Rev Ian
Crouch, David Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Parkinson, Cecil
Crowder, F. P. James, David Pattle, Geoffrey
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'd) Percival, Ian
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Jessel, Toby Peyton, Rt Hon John
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Pink, R. Bonner
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Drayson, Burnaby Jopling, Michael Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Kaberry, Sir Donald Price, David (Eastleigh)
Durant, Tony Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Prior, Rt Hon James
Dykes, Hugh Kershaw, Anthony Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Kimball, Marcus Raison, Timothy
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Rathbone, Tim
Elliott, Sir William King, Tom (Bridgwater) Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Emery, Peter Kitson, Sir Timothy Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Eyre, Reginald Knight, Mrs Jill Rees-Davies, W. R.
Fairbairn, Nicholas Knox, David Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Fairgrieve, Russell Lamont, Norman Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Farr, John Langford-Holt, Sir John Rhodes James, R.
Fell, Anthony Latham, Michael (Melton) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Finsberg, Geoffrey Lawrence, Ivan Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Fisher, Sir Nigel Lawson, Nigel Ridsdale, Julian
Rifkind, Malcolm Speed, Keith Vaughan, Dr Gerald
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Spence, John Viggers, Peter
Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Spicer, Jim (W Dorset) Wainwright, Richard (Colne v)
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Spicer, Michael (S Worcester) Wakeham, John
Ross, William (Londonderry) Sproat, Iain Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Stainton, Keith Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire) Stanbrook, Ivor Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Royle, Sir Anthony Stanley, John Wall, Patrick
Sainsbury, Tim Steen, Anthony (Wavertree) Walters, Denn's
St. John-Stevas, Norman Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Warren, Kenneth
Scott, Nicholas Stokes, John Weatherill, Bernard
Scott-Hopkins, James Stradling Thomas, J. Wells, John
Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Tapsell, Peter Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Shelton, William (Streatham) Taylor, R. (Croydon NW) Wiggin, Jerry
Shepherd, Colin Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart) Winterton, Nicholas
Shersby, Michael Tebbit, Norman Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Silvester, Fred Temple-Morris, Peter Younger, Hon George
Sims, Roger Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Sinclair, Sir George Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Skeet, T. H. H. Townsend, Cyril D. Mr. Jim Lester and Sir George Young.
Smith, Dudley (Warwick) Trotter, Neville
Smith, Timothy John (Ashfleld) van Straubenzee, W. R.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes, 265, Noes 313.

Division No. 5] AYES [11.16 p.m.
Adley, Robert Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Heseltine, Michael
Aitken, Jonathan Drayson, Burnaby Higgins, Terrence L.
Alison, Michael du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Hodgson, Robin
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Durant, Tony Holland, Philip
Arnold, Tom Dykes, Hugh Hordern, Peter
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Awdry, Daniel Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Howell, David (Guildford)
Baker, Kenneth Elliott, Sir William Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Banks, Robert Emery, Peter Hunt, David (Wirral)
Bell, Ronald Eyre, Reginald Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Fairbairn, Nicholas Hurd, Douglas
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Fairgrieve, Russell Hutchison, Michael Clark
Benyon, W. Farr, John Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Berry, Hon Anthony Fell, Anthony James, David
Biggs-Davison, John Finsberg, Geoffrey Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanstd&W'df'd)
Blaker, Peter Fisher, Sir Nigel Jessel, Toby
Body, Richard Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Jones. Arthur (Daventry)
Bottomley, Peter Fookes, Miss Janet Jopling, Michael
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Forman, Nigel Kaberry, Sir Donald
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Braine, Sir Bernard Fox, Marcus Kershaw, Anthony
Brittan, Leon Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) Kimball, Marcus
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Fry, Peter King, Evelyn (South Dorset)
Brooke, Peter Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Brotherton, Michael Gardiner, George (Reigate) Kitson, Sir Timothy
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Knight, Mrs Jill
Bryan, Sir Paul Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Lamont, Norman
Buck, Antony Glyn, Dr Alan Langford-Holt, Sir John
Budgen, Nick Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Latham, Michael (Melton)
Bulmer, Esmond Goodhart, Philip Lawrence, Ivan
Burden, F. A. Goodhew, Victor Lawson, Nigel
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Goodlad, Alastair Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Carlisle, Mark Gorst, John Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Lloyd, Ian
Channon, Paul Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Loveridge, John
Churchill, W. S. Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Luce, Richard
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Grieve, Percy McAdden, Sir Stephen
Clark, William (Croydon S) Griffiths, Eldon McCrindle, Robert
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Grist, Ian Macfarlane, Neil
Clegg, Walter Grylls, Michael MacGregor, John
Cockroft, John Hall, Sir John MacKay, Andrew (Stechford)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)
Cope,John Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) McNair-Wilson, P (New Forest)
Cormack, Patrick Hampson, Dr Keith Madel, David
Corrie, John Hannam, John Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Costain, A. P. Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Marten, Neil
Critchley, Julian Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Mates, Michael
Crouch, David Haselhurst, Alan Mather, Carol
Crowder, F. P. Hastings, Stephen Maude, Angus
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Hawkins, Paul Mawby, Ray
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Hayhoe, Barney Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Mayhew, Patrick Rathbone, Tim Stanley, John
Meyer, Sir Anthony Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Miller, Hal (Btomsgrove) Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal) Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Mills, Peter Rees-Davies, W. R. Stokes, John
Miscampbell, Norman Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts) Stradling Thomas, J.
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex) Tapsell, Peter
Moate, Roger Rhodes James, R, Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Monro, Hector Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Montgomery, Fergus Ridley, Hon Nicholas Tebbit, Norman
Moore, John (Croydon C) Ridsdale, Julian Temple-Morris, Peter
More, Jasper (Ludlow) Rifkind, Malcolm Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Morgan, Geraint Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Townsend, Cyril D.
Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Trotter, Neville
Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Neave, Airey Royle, Sir Anthony Vaughan, Dr Gerald
Neubert, Michael Sainsbury, Tim Viggers, Peter
Newton, Tony St. John-Stevas, Norman Wakeham, John
Normanton, Tom Scott, Nicholas Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Nott, John Scott-Hopkins, James Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Onslow, Cranley Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Shelton, William (Streatharm) Wall, Patrick
Osborn, John Shepherd, Colin Walters, Dennis
Page, John (Harrow West) Shersby, Michael Warren, Kenneth
Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Silvester, Fred Weatherill, Bernard
Page, Richard (Workington) Sims. Roger Wells, John
Paisley, Rev Ian Sinclair, Sir George Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Parkinson, Cecil Skeet, T. H. H. Wiggin, Jerry
Pattie, Geoffrey Smith, Dudley (Warwick) Winterton, Nicholas
Percival, Ian Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield) Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Peyton, Rt Hon John Speed, Keith Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Pink, R. Bonner Spence, John Younger, Hon George
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Price, David (Eastleigh) Spicer, Michael (S Worcester) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Prior, Rt Hon James Sproat, Iain Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and Mr. Michael Roberts.
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Stainton, Keith
Raison, Timothy Stanbrook, Ivor
Allaun, Frank Cohen, Stanley Fitch, Alan (Wigan)
Anderson, Donald Coleman, Donald Flannery, Martin
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Armstrong, Ernest Concannon, J. D. Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Ashley, Jack Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Ford, Ben
Ashton, Joe Corbett, Robin Forrester, John
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)
Atkinson, Norman Craigen, Jim (Maryhill) Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Crawford, Douglas Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Bain, Mrs. Margaret Crawshaw, Richard Garrett, John (Norwich S)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Cronin, John George, Bruce
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Gilbert, Dr John
Bates, Alf Cryer, Bob Ginsburg, David
Bean, R. E. Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Golding, John
Beith, A. J. Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Gould, Bryan
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Dalyell, Tam Gourlay, Harry
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Davidson, Arthur Graham, Ted
Bidwell, Sydney Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Grant, John (Isington C)
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Davies, Denzil (Llanelli) Grimond, Rt Hon J.
Blenkinsop, Arthur Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Grocott, Bruce
Boardman, H. Deakins, Eric Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Hardy, Peter
Boothroyd, Miss Betty de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Hart, Rt Hon Judith
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Dempsey, James Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Bradley, Tom Doig, Peter Hatton, Frank
Bray, Dr Jeremy Dormand, J. D. Hayman, Mrs Helene
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Douglas-Mann, Bruce Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Dunn, James A. Heffer, Eric S.
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Dunnett, Jack Henderson, Douglas
Buchan, Norman Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Hooson, Emlyn
Buchanan, Richard Eadie, Alex Horam, John
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Edge, Geoff Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)
Campbell, Ian Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Huckfield, Les
Canavan, Dennis English, Michael Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)
Cant, R. B. Ennals, Rt Hon David Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Carmichael, Neil Evans,Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Carter, Ray Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Evans, John (Newton) Hunter, Adam
Cartwright, John Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)
Clemitson, Ivor Fauids, Andrew Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Janner, Greville
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Moyle, Roland Steel, Rt Hon David
Jeger, Mrs Lena Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Stewart, Rt Hon Donald
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
John, Brynmor Newens, Stanley Stoddart, David
Johnson, James (Hull West) Noble, Mike Stott, Roger
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Oakes, Gordon Strang, Gavin
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Ogden, Eric Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Jones, Alec (Rhondda) O'Halloran, Michael Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Orbach, Maurice Swain, Thomas
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Judd, Frank Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Kaufman, Gerald Padley, Walter Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Kelley, Richard Palmer, Arthur Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Kerr, Russell Pardoe, John Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Park, George Thompson, George
Kinnock, Neil Parker, John Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Lambie. David Parry, Robert Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Lamborn, Harry Pavitt, Laurie Tierney, Sydney
Lamond, James Pendry, Tom Tinn, James
Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Penhaligon, David Tomlinson, John
Lee, John Perry, Ernest Tomney, Frank
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Phipps, Dr Colin Torney, Tom
Lever, Rt Hon Harold Prescott, John Tuck, Raphael
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Price, C. (Lewisham W) Urwin, T. W.
Lipton, Marcus Price, William (Rugby) Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Loyden, Eddie Radice, Giles Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Luard, Evan Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) Wainwrignt, Richard (Colne V)
Lyon, Alexander (York) Reid, George Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Richardson, Miss Jo Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
McCartney, Hugh Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Ward, Michael
MacCormick, Iain Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Watkins, David
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Robertson, John (Paisley) Watkinson, John
McElhone, Frank Robinson. Geoffrey Watt, Hamish
MacFarquhar, Roderick Roderick, Caerwyn Weetch, Ken
McGuire, Michael (Ince) Rodgers, George (Chorley) Weitzman, David
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton) Wellbeloved, James
Mackintosh, John P. Rooker, J. W. Welsh, Andrew
Maclennan, Robert Roper, John White, Frank R. (Bury)
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Rose, Paul B. White, James (Pollok)
McNamara, Kevin Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Whitehead, Phillip
Madden, Max Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock) Whitlock, William
Magee, Bryan Rowlands, Ted Wigley, Dafydd
Mahon, Simon Ryman, John Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Mallalieu, J. P. W. Sandelson, Neville Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Marks, Kenneth Sedgemore, Brian Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Selby, Harry Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Sever, J. Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Maynard, Miss Joan Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Meacher, Michael Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Shore, Rt Hon Peter Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Mendelson, John Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Mikardo, Ian Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) Wise, Mrs Audrey Woodall, Alec
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Sillars, James Woodall, Alec
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Silverman, Julius Woof, Robert
Mitchell, Austin Skinner, Dennis Wrigglesworth, Ian
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Small, William Young, David (Bolton E)
Molloy, William Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Moonman, Eric Snape, Peter TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Spearing, Nigel Mr. Joseph Harper and Mr. James Hamilton.
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Spriggs, Leslie
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Stallard, A. W.

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 39 (Amendment on second or third reading):

The House divided: Ayes 307, Noes 263.

Division No. 6] AYES [11.32 p.m.
Allaun, Frank Bean, R. E. Broughton, Sir Alfred
Anderson, Donald Beith, A. J. Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)
Armstrong, Ernest Bennett, Andrew (Stockoort N) Buchan, Norman
Ashley, Jack Bidwell, Sydney Buchanan, Richard
Ashton, Joe Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Buchanan-Smith, Alick
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Blenkinsop, Arthur Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)
Atkinson, Norman Boardman, H. Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Booth, Rt Hon Albert Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)
Bain, Mrs. Margaret Boothroyd, Miss Betty Campbell, Ian
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Canavan, Dennis
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Bradley, Tom Cant, R. B.
Bates, Alf Bray, Dr Jeremy Carmichael, Neil
Carter, Ray Hughes, Mark (Durham) Pavitt, Laurie
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Pendry, Tom
Cartwright, John Hughes, Roy (Newport) Penhaligon, David
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Hunter, Adam Perry, Ernest
Clemitson, Ivor Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Prescott, John
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Jackson, Colin (Brighouse) Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Cohen, Stanley Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Price, William (Rugby)
Coleman, Donald Janner, Greville Radice, Giles
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Concannon, J. D. Jeger, Mrs Lena Reid, George
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Richardson, Miss Jo
Corbett, Robin John, Brynmor Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Johnson, James (Hull West) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E) Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Craigen, Jim (Maryhill) Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Robinson, Geoffrey
Crawford, Douglas Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Roderick, Caerwyn
Crawshaw, Richard Jones, Barry (East Flint) Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Cronin, John Jones, Dan (Burnley) Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Judd, Frank Rooker, J. W.
Cryer, Bob Kaufman, Gerald Roper, John
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Kelley, Richard Rose, Paul B.
Davidson, Arthur Kerr, Russell Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Kilroy-Silk, Robert Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Davies, Denzil (Llanelli] Knox, David Rowlands, Ted
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Lambie, David Ryman, John
Deakins, Eric Lamborn, Harry Sandelson, Neville
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Sedgemore, Brian
de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Lee, John Selby, Harry
Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Sever, J.
Dempsey, James Lever, Rt Hon Harold Shaw, Arnold (Ilfora South)
Doig, Peter Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Dormand, J. D. Lipton, Marcus Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Loyden, Eddie Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Dunn, James A. Luard, Evan Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Dunnett, Jack Lyon, Alexander (York) Sillars, James
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Silverman, Julius
Eadie, Alex McCartney, Hugh Skinner, Dennis
Edge, Geoff MacCormick, Iain Small, William
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) McDonald, Dr Oonagh Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) McElhone, Frank Snape, Peter
English, Michael MacFarquhar, Roderick Spearing, Nigel
Ennals, Rt Hon David McGuire, Michael (Ince) Spriggs, Leslie
Evans,Gwynfor (Carmarthen) MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Stallard, A. W.
Evans, John (Newton) Mackintosh, John P. Steel, Rt Hon David
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Maclennan, Robert Stewart, Rt Hon Donald
Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Faulds, Andrew McNamara, Kevin Stoddart, David
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Madden, Max Stott, Roger
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Magee, Bryan Strang, Gavin
Flannery, Martin Mahon, Simon Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mallalieu, J. P. W. Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Marks, Kenneth Swain, Thomas
Ford, Ben Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Forrester, John Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Maynard, Miss Joan Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Meacher, Michael Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Mikardo, Ian Thompson, George
George, Bruce Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Gilbert, Dr John Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Ginsburg, David Mitchell, Austin Tierney, Sydney
Golding, John Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Tinn, James
Gould, Bryan Molloy, William Tomlinson, John
Gourlay, Harry Moonman, Eric Tomney, Frank
Graham, Ted Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Torney, Tom
Grant, John (Islington C) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Tuck, Raphael
Gray, Hamish Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Urwin, T. W.
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Moyle, Roland Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Grocott, Bruce Mudd, David Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Hardy, Peter Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Newens, Stanley Ward, Michael
Hart, Rt Hon Judith Noble, Mike Watkins, David
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Oakes, Gordon Watkinson, John
Hatton, Frank Ogden, Eric Watt, Hamish
Hayman, Mrs Helene O'Halloran, Michael Weetch, Ken
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Orbach, Maurice Weitzman, David
Henderson, Douglas Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Wellbeloved, James
Hooson, Emlyn Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Welsh, Andrew
Horam, John Padley, Walter White, Frank R. (Bury)
Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Palmer, Arthur White, James (Pollok)
Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Pardoe, John Whitehead, Phillip
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Park, George Whitlock, William
Huckfleld, Les Parker, John Wigley, Dafydd
Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Parry, Robert Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W) Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton) Young, David (Bolton E)
Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch) Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford) Wise, Mrs Audrey TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington) Woodall, Alec Mr. James Hamilton and Mr. Joseph Harper
Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton) Woof, Robert
Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E) Wrigglesworth, Ian
Abse, Leo Fry, Peter Mather, Carol
Aitken, Jonathan Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Maude, Angus
Alison, Michael Gardiner, George (Reigate) Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Mawby, Ray
Arnold, Tom Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Glyn, Dr Alan Mayhew, Patrick
Awdry, Daniel Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Mendelson, John
Baker, Kenneth Goodhart, Philip Meyer, Sir Anthony
Banks, Robert Goodhew, Victor Mills, Peter
Bell, Ronald Goodlad, Alastair Miscampbell, Norman
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Gorst, John Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Moate, Roger
Benyon, W. Gower. Sir Raymond (Barry) Molyneaux, James
Berry, Hon Anthony Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Monro, Hector
Biggs-Davison, John Grieve, Percy Montgomery, Fergus
Body, Richard Griffiths, Eldon Moore, John (Croydon C)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Grist, Ian More, Jasper (Ludlow)
Bottomley, Peter Grylls, Michael Morgan, Geraint
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Hall, Sir John Morris, Michael (Northampton S)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Braine, Sir Bernard Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Brittan, Leon Hampson, Dr Keith Neave, Airey
Brooke, Peter Hannam, John Neubert, Michael
Brotherton, Michael Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Newton, Tony
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Normanton, Tom
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Haselhurst, Alan Nott, John
Bryan, Sir Paul Hastings, Stephen Onslow, Cranley
Buck, Antony Havers, Ri Won Sir Michael Oppenheim, Mrs Sally
Budgen, Nick Hawkins, Paul Osborn, John
Bulmer, Esmond Hayhoe, Barney Ovenden, John
Burden, F. A. Heseltine, Michael Page, John (Harrow West)
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Higgins, Terrence L. Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Carlisle, Mark Holland, Philip Page, Richard (Workington)
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Hordern, Peter Paisley, Rev Ian
Channon, Paul Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Parkinson, Cecil
Churchill, W. S. Howell, David (Guildford) Pattie, Geoffrey
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Percival, Ian
Clark, William (Croydon S) Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Peyton, Rt Hon John
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hurd. Douglas Phipps, Dr Colin
Clegg, Walter Hutchison. Michael Clark Pink, R. Bonner
Cockroft, John Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) James, David Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Cope, John Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'd) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Cormack, Patrick Jessel, Toby Prior, Rt Hon James
Cope, John Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Costain, A. P. Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Raison, Timothy
Critchley, Julian Jopling, Michael Rathbone, Tim
Crouch, David Kaberry, Sir Donald Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Crowder, F. P. Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Kershaw, Anthony Rees-Davies, W. R.
Dalyell, Tam Kimball, Marcus Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford) King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) King, Tom (Bridgwater) Rhodes James, R.
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Kitson, Sir Timothy Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Knight, Mrs Jill Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Drayson, Burnaby Lamond, James Ridsdale, Julian
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Lamont, Norman Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Durant, Tony Langford-Holt, Sir John Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Latham, Michael (Melton) Ross, William (Londonderry)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Lawrence, Ivan Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Elliott, Sir William Lawson, Nigel Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Emery, Peter Leadbitter, Ted Royle, Sir Anthony
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Lester, Jim (Beeston) Sainsbury, Tim
Eyre, Reginald Lloyd, Ian St. John-Stevas, Norman
Fairbairn, Nicholas Loveridge, John Scott Hopkins, James
Farr, John Luce, Richard Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)
Fell, Anthony McAdden, Sir Stephen Shelton, William (Streatham)
Finsberg, Geoffrey Macfarlane, Neil Shepherd, Colin
Fisher, Sir Nigel MacGregor, John Shersby, Michael
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) MacKay, Andrew (Stechford) Silvester, Fred
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Sims, Roger
Fookes, Miss Janet McNair-Wilson, P (New Forest) Sinclair, Sir George
Forman, Nigel Madel, David Skeet, T. H. H.
Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Fox, Marcus Marten, Neil Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield)
Fraser. Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) Mates, Michael Speed, Keith
Spicer, Jim (W Dorset) Tebbit, Norman Walters, Dennis
Spicer, Michael (S Worcester) Temple-Morris, Peter Warren, Kenneth
Sproat, Iain Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret Weatherill, Bernard
Stainton, Keith Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S) Wells, John
Stanbrook, Ivor Trotter, Neville Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Stanley, John van Straubenzee, W. R. Wiggin, Jerry
Steen, Anthony (Wavertree) Vaughan, Dr Gerald Winterton, Nicholas
Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Viggers, Peter Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Stokes, John Wainwrlght, Richard (Colne V) Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Stradling Thomas, J. Wakeham, John
Tapsell, Peter Walder, David (Clitheroe) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Taylor, R. (Croydon NW) Walker-Smiih, Rt Hon Sir Derek Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and Mr. Michael Roberts
Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart) Wall, Patrick

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.—[Mr. Walter Harrison.]

Committee tomorrow.

Mr. Speaker

The Instruction in the name of the hon. Member for Nottingham West (Mr. English) is not selected.