HC Deb 09 July 1980 vol 988 cc538-40
15. Mr. John Home Robertson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many of his Department's officials were involved in the discussions about the future government of Scotland.

Mr. Younger

Three were directly involved.

Mr. Home Robertson

Will the Secretary of State give an unequivocal under-taking that the Royal High School in Edinburgh will not be sold until this House and the people of Scotland have had an opportunity to give their verdict on the Government's plans for the future government of Scotland, if, indeed, the Government have any thoughts and plans on that subject?

Mr. Younger

The Government have no plans to sell the Royal High School. No doubt those right hon. Members who formed the previous Government are wondering why they spent £3.2 million of hard-earned money on building it.

Mr. Donald Stewart

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think it subversive of democratic ideals that the House is today to debate the return of some form of self-government, including economic powers, to Northern Ireland? Does he not think that odd in the face of the Government's refusal to do anything about the vote of a majority of the Scottish people for an Assembly?

Mr. Younger

The right hon. Gentleman and I will not agree on this matter, but I think that the Scottish people made their view of this matter extraordinarily clear. I think that one thing upon which all hon. Members will agree is that, whatever else it is, Scotland is very different from Ulster.

Mr. Sproat

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that it is costing the taxpayer some £75,000 this year just to keep the Royal High School heated, and so on? What income is coming from organisations such as COSLA which are using the building? Does my right hon. Friend expect the school to make a profit or a loss this year?

Mr. Younger

We are only just beginning to make some use of the building involving certain organisations. I shall try to find some figures for my hon. Friend about the amounts involved. I hope that this facility, which was provided for a different purpose, can be used by an increasing number of people.

Mr. Grimond

Has the right hon. Gentleman any proposals for any change in the future government of Scotland?

Mr. Younger

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the talks between the parties have been concluded and a statement will be made as soon as agreement is reached between the parties about their results.

Mr. Bill Walker

Will my right hon. Friend acknowledge that the people of Scotland want more effective and more efficient government? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear".] This could best be achieved by making use of what we already have, and perhaps making use of it in Scotland.

Mr. Younger

I appreciate what my hon. Friend said. I have no doubt that the people of Scotland look very carefully at the way Government decisions are taken. I was somewhat surprised that practically none of them turned up at the Select Committee sitting in Edinburgh on Monday.

Mr. Millan

Since the so-called all-party talks were nothing to do with devolution, but only with comparatively minor matters of parliamentary reform, why is there such a long delay in producing the document? After all, there will be very little in it.

Mr. Younger

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, certain matters have to be cleared up before the agreement of the parties on the talks, but I can assure him that he will be receiving the requisite draft for his approval very shortly.