HC Deb 26 October 1977 vol 936 cc1432-4
16. Mr. Tim Renton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what further consultations he has had with industrial bodies in Scotland regarding the Government's new plans for Scottish devolution.

Mr. Gregor MacKenzie

Industrial interests in Scotland have been fully consulted in the course of preparation of the Government's devolution proposals. No requests for further consultation have been received recently.

Mr. Renton

Did any Government Minister consult the Scottish CBI during the Summer Recess for its views on Scottish devolution? If my understanding that no Government Minister did so is correct, are the Government so blinded and prejudiced by preconceived ideas that they are not ready to seek the advice of any Scottish experts who are opposed to their views?

Mr. MacKenzie

The hon. Gentleman has been totally misinformed. I met the Scottish CBI not many weeks ago. I am conscious that some of its members do not go all the way with us on devolution, but there are many industrialists in Scotland, including the members of the Scottish Council (Development and Industry), who are fully seized of the opportunities that devolution will bring.

Scottish industrialists do not understand a word of the Opposition's proposals for devolution as reported in the Press, even after having met the official Opposition spokesman. Scottish industrialists, whether in the CBI or the Scottish Council, are not in favour of any form of separatism. They favour what is included in our proposals—the preservation of the industrial integrity of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Alexander Wilson

Does my right hon. Friend accept that it is not so important to discuss devolution proposals with Scottish industrialists, who in the main have been found lacking as regards investing in Scottish industry, but that it is very important to discuss the problems of devolution with the Scottish people?

Mr. MacKenzie

We have been doing exactly that. We have talked to the Scottish Trades Union Congress and many other people in Scotland. As has been indicated by Ministers who are concerned with this problem, we shall present the matter to the Scottish people.

Mr. Crawford

May I suggest that the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton) should consult the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) and ask him whether he consulted industrialists in Scotland before he wrote his October 1974 election address, in which he said that he wished for a Scottish Assembly with economic powers?

Mr. MacKenzie

I do not know whose responsibility it is, but it is not mine.