HC Deb 14 December 1983 vol 50 cc1009-14 4.26 pm
Mr Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to set up a Scottish Parliament; and for connected purposes. The provisions of the measure would establish a devolved system of government effected by a Parliament based in Edinburgh within the context of a federal system in the United Kingdom as a whole. Governance of Britain would benefit by the setting up of political, legislative and administrative machinery north of the border more in line with the needs and aspirations of the Scottish people, and at the same time, retaining bonds and ties that have been built up between Scotland and the other constituent parts of the United Kingdom over the centuries of social and commercial intercourse.

To succeed, a Scottish Parliament would need to be real, fair and efficient, and to be seen to be so. To be real, the Parliament would need to be able to raise taxes and to disburse expenditure. Political authority would be impossible if no such financial provision were granted. To be fair, the Parliament would require to be elected by some system of proportional representation. The present mismatch between votes and seats in this place is indefensible and would be seen to be so in any body set up. To be efficient, the new Parliament would need to preside over a much slimmer local authority bureaucracy. The 1973 reform has been found wanting in many respects. It has not been a success and the relationship between the new Parliament, the Scottish Office and regional and district councils would be recast to make the system financially tighter and more accountable to the electorate.

To provide for future development, the new Parliament should be given residual legislative competence. For those who do not understand English, that means that it should have the power to legislate in some matters that, prima facie, have not been devolved. A system of judicial review would be required to decide any question of vires in the event of any dispute, but, to enable that devolution to take place as smoothly as possible, the Bill would restrict the powers of competence in the federal Parliament to matters relating to the Crown, defence of the realm, crimes of treason, treaties with foreign states, and nationality. The devolved powers could then emerge with no other reservations. Any other system would create extremely serious problems for the coherence of the Parliament's legislative programme.

Drawn in these terms, the Bill could possibly be described as maximalist. It seeks to achieve the greatest degree of decentralisation of political and administrative power consistent with the integrity of the United Kingdom. I accept that hon. Members in other parties may have difficulty in accepting the Bill in those terms, especially details such as proportional representation.

The Bill provides an opportunity to test the opinion of the new Parliament on the principle of home rule. The details of the scheme are open to negotiation and discussion across party lines. My hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) has taken the initiative of contacting the chairmen of all recognised parties north of the border. Political parties will sell the principle of home rule short if they seek to monopolise the issue. We should meet to seek all-party agreement in whatever areas we can. That would be a positive way in which to proceed.

The dust and the heat of the June election have subsided. Now is the time to start laying solid foundations for much-needed and thoroughgoing reforms. Even if it takes 10 years to achieve those reforms they will still have been worth waiting for if we have made use of the time now available to work out the details properly.

The legislative system in the House does not allow Back Benchers to discharge their duties effectively. It is not possible to scrutinise the Government's legislative programme to any significant extent. That is due in pan to the volume of business visited on Members of both Houses, in part to the way that central Government have assumed and arrogated to themselves powers that they had no right to assume, and in part to the piecemeal way in which we have allowed the constitution to be reformed without any long-term or deep thought being given to the process.

Imaginative and radical reforms are required to make the system more responsive, accountable and efficient. Transacting Scottish business four or five times a year in the Scottish Grand Committee in Edinburgh is a futile and empty gesture of little substance. We must push real power and responsibility away from the House to the lowest level consistent with efficient administration, giving ordinary people a greater stake in determining the decisions that affect their lives.

I seek to introduce the Bill as a positive contribution to the debate on home rule. I do so not for any party political, nationalist or chauvinistic reasons, but because we need to stimulate the democratic process and overhaul of the entire system of government. This is an important measure for the Scottish people and it is also in the long-term interests of the United Kingdom.

4.33 pm
Mr. Gerald Malone (Aberdeen, South)

If the Bill has the misfortune to be accepted, the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) is likely to find out that 10 years is a long time in politics. I oppose this measure for a number of reasons. The hon. Gentleman suggests that it will introduce a parliament that will be "real, fair and efficient" and that the Bill could be described as "maximalist". Judging by his proposals, this will be a complicated measure and will do much to complicate the procedure of government in Scotland and nothing to simplify and streamline it.

The hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire failed to make the case to prove that the measure is necessary. I suggest that it certainly is not necessary. Over the years, the issue of devolution, home rule or whatever it is called has been debated long and hard in Scotland and it has been emphatically rejected by the Scottish people. In 1979 it was rejected in the Scottish referendum when 36 per cent. of Scottish people did not bother to vote and 31 per cent. voted against devolution. As the Labour party said then, a vote at home was a vote against. Therefore, in 1979, 67 per cent. of Scottish people were against devolution. The Scottish National party argument shows the extent to which home rule is not wanted in Scotland because that party's share of the vote in Scotland declined between 1974 and June 1983 from 30 per cent. to 11 per cent. The measure proposed by the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire in his ten-minute Bill is almost exactly the type of independence that the Scottish National party has been advocating for years in elections in Scotland.

Behind this measure is the lie that Scotland is not well served by the present system. It is worth pointing out that Scotland does better than most other areas of the United Kingdom, as shown by any indicator of Government expenditure in Scotland. Scotland has a Secretary of State in the Cabinet, and I believe that we would give up that advantage if a Scottish Parliament were implemented in any shape or form. Scotland does better on health expenditure, education and regional aid than any other area of the United Kingdom. To suggest that Scotland is not doing well is nonsense, so why do we need a Scottish Parliament? All those advantages contribute to the welfare of Scotland, and a Scottish parliament would do away with many of those advantages.

Part of the strength of the United Kingdom is that it is represented in the House and its power is not derogated by any other Parliament. I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman proposes a Parliament that will be a focal point in Scotland for an interest that will be against the Union, and I cannot support that. I believe that such a Parliament would mean the eventual breakup of the United Kingdom and the power of the House would be reduced. For those reasons I oppose the Bill.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of public business):

The House proceeded to a Division

Mr. Gordon Wilson (Dundee, East) (seated and covered)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. With the temporary headcover of an Order Paper, may I ask you to make a ruling about the method by which the vote will be taken? [Interruption.] Now that a top hat has been provided, the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) is right to say that I look like an English toff, but without it I cannot proceed with my point of order.

The Bill relates to the constitution of a Scottish Parliament. I therefore put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that the vote should be restricted to Scottish Members in view of the democratic mandate that they received in the general election and the fact that 72 per cent. of the Scottish electorate voted for parties which included in their policies a parliament of some sort for Scotland. Against that background, I ask you to make a ruling to show that this Parliament is not the English Parliament continuing, as one of your predecessors said, after the Union.

Mr. Speaker

I must tell the hon. Gentleman that I have no power to direct or guide the vote of any Member in the House.

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East) (seated and covered)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You have greatly disappointed me, Sir. I had hoped that you would allow Members of Scottish descent to vote on this issue and exclude the Sassenachs.

Mr. Speaker

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman that assurance.

The House having divided: Ayes 111, Noes 244.

Division No. 97] [4.36 pm
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Alton, David Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Loyden, Edward
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) McCartney, Hugh
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) McKelvey, William
Barron, Kevin Maclennan, Robert
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) McNamara, Kevin
Bidwell, Sydney McTaggart, Robert
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Marek, Dr John
Boyes, Roland Martin, Michael
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Maxton, John
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Meacher, Michael
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Meadowcroft, Michael
Bruce, Malcolm Mikardo, Ian
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Campbell-Savours, Dale Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Canavan, Dennis Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Clarke, Thomas Neliist, David
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Neill, Martin
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Parry, Robert
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Pavitt, Laurie
Craigen, J. M. Penhaligon, David
Cunliffe, Lawrence Pike, Peter
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Prescott, John
Deakins, Eric Radice, Giles
Dewar, Donald Randall, Stuart
Douglas, Dick Richardson, Ms Jo
Eadie, Alex Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Eastham, Ken Robertson, George
Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n SE) Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Faulds, Andrew Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) Sedgemore, Brian
Fisher, Mark Sheerman, Barry
Flannery, Martin Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Skinner, Dennis
Foulkes, George Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Godman, Dr Norman Snape, Peter
Golding, John Steel, Rt Hon David
Hardy, Peter Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Strang, Gavin
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Torney, Tom
Home Robertson, John Wallace, James
Howells, Geraint Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Wareing, Robert
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Welsh, Michael
Johnston, Russell Wigley, Dafydd
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Wilson, Gordon
Kirkwood, Archibald Winnick, David
Lamond, James
Leighton, Ronald Tellers for the Ayes:
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Mr. A. J. Beith and Mr. Charles Kennedy.
Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Litherland, Robert
Aitken, Jonathan Biggs-Davison, Sir John
Alexander, Richard Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Ancram, Michael Body, Richard
Arnold, Tom Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Ashby, David Boscawen, Hon Robert
Aspinwall, Jack Bottomley, Peter
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Boyson, Dr Rhodes
Baker, Kenneth (Mole Valley) Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Bright, Graham
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Brinton, Tim
Batiste, Spencer Brittan, Rt Hon Leon
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)
Bellingham, Henry Browne, John
Berry, Sir Anthony Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.
Best, Keith Burt, Alistair
Biffen, Rt Hon John Butcher, John
Butler, Hon Adam Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Butterfill, John Hawksley, Warren
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Hayhoe, Barney
Carttiss, Michael Heathcoat-Amory, David
Chapman, Sydney Henderson, Barry
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Clarke Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hooson, Tom
Cockeram, Eric Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Colvin, Michael Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Conway, Derek Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Coombs, Simon Hubbard-Miles, Peter
Cope, John Hunt, David (Wirral)
Cormack, Patrick Hunter, Andrew
Corrie, John Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Couchman, James Jessel, Toby
Crouch, David Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Jones, Robert (W Herts)
Dickens, Geoffrey King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. King, Rt Hon Tom
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Knight, Gregory (Derby N)
Dunn, Robert Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Knowles, Michael
Eggar, Tim Lang, Ian
Evennett, David Latham, Michael
Farr, John Lawler, Geoffrey
Favell, Anthony Lawrence, Ivan
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Fletcher, Alexander Lee, Jonn (Pendle)
Fookes, Miss Janet Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lightbown, David
Fox, Marcus Lilley, Peter
Fraser, Peter (Angus East) Lord, Michael
Freeman, Roger McCurley, Mrs Anna
Fry, Peter Macfarlane, Neil
Gale, Roger MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)
Galley, Roy MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Maclean, David John.
Goodlad, Alastair McQuarrie, Albert
Gow, Ian Major, John
Grant, Sir Anthony Malins, Humfrey
Greenway, Harry Malone, Gerald
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds) Maples, John
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Mates, Michael
Grist, Ian Mather, Carol
Grylls, Michael Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Gummer, John Selwyn Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Mellor, David
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Merchant, Piers
Hanley, Jeremy Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hargreaves, Kenneth Mills, lain (Meriden)
Harvey, Robert Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Haselhurst, Alan Miscampbell, Norman
Mitchell, David (NW Hants) Soames, Hon Nicholas
Monro, Sir Hector Speed, Keith
Montgomery, Fergus Speller, Tony
Moore, John Spence, John
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S) Spencer, D.
Moynihan, Hon C. Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mudd, David Stanbrook, Ivor
Neubert, Michael Stanley, John
Nicholls, Patrick Stern, Michael
Norris, Steven Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Oppenheim, Philip Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Ottaway, Richard Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Stokes, John
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Sumberg, David
Parris, Matthew Terlezki, Stefan
Pawsey, James Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Pollock, Alexander Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Porter, Barry Thornton, Malcolm
Powell, Rt Hon J. E, (S Down) Thurnham, Peter
Powell, William (Corby) Tracey, Richard
Powley, John Trippier, David
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Twinn, Dr Ian
Price, Sir David Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Prior, Rt Hon James Viggers, Peter
Proctor, K. Harvey Waddington, David
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Rathbone, Tim Walden, George
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Rifkind, Malcolm Waller, Gary
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Warren, Kenneth
Roe, Mrs Marion Watson, John
Rossi, Sir Hugh Watts, John
Rost, Peter Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Rowe, Andrew Wells, John (Maidstone)
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Whitfield, John
Ryder, Richard Whitney, Raymond
Sackville, Hon Thomas Wiggin, Jerry
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Wilkinson, John
Sayeed, Jonathan Winterton, Mrs Ann
Scott, Nicholas Winterton, Nicholas
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Wolfson, Mark
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wood, Timothy
Shelton, William (Streatham) Woodcock, Michael
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Yeo, Tim
Shersby, Michael Younger, Rt Hon George
Silvester, Fred
Sims, Roger Tellers for the Noes:
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Mr. Michael Hirst and Mr. Rob Hayward.
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)

Question accordingly negatived.]