HC Deb 25 November 1987 vol 123 cc277-83

Mr. John Moore, supported by Mr. Secretary Walker, Mr. Secretary Fowler, Mr. Secretary King, Mr. Secretary Ridley, Mr. Secretary Baker, Mr. Kenneth Clarke, Mr. John MacGregor, Mr. Secretary Rifkind, Mr. Norman Lamont, Mr. Tony Newton and Mrs. Edwina Currie presented a Bill to make a further provision in relation to the National Health Service, the testing of sight and instruction in matters relating to health and welfare and to amend the Medicines Act 1971: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time tomorrow and to be printed. [Bill 59.]

4.37 pm
Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to establish a Scottish Parliament, elected by a system of proportional representation, to assume legislative authority on all matters of public policy relating to Scotland under reservation of matters; relating to defence, international and economic affairs which shall remain the preserve of the United Kingdom Parliament, to provide for changes in the constitution and functions of certain public bodies; and for connected purposes. The Bill complements the motion that was introduced on Monday by my right hon. Friend the leader of the Liberal party. I have no wish to weary the House with such matters, but the demand for a measure to devolve political power to the constituent parts of the United Kingdom is more than a passing fancy and will not go away. Nor is the issue wholly Scottish. The motion seeks to reach a wider audience of hon. Members than did the predominantly, and understandably, Scottish debate on Monday.

It is essential for the long-term success of the policy of decentralisation that the Scottish measure is endorsed broadly by the whole House. In addition, the essential features of the decentralisation proposed for Scotland by the Bill should eventually be translated, suitably, to other nations and regions of the United Kingdom.

In essence, the Bill seeks a devolved legislative body to be called a Scottish Parliament. It would be granted tax-raising powers; it would deal with all domestic matters; except defence, international affairs and United Kingdom economic policy. Reduced to those bare essentials, the Bill has considerable support across all parties, in the media and in the broad sweep of public opinion in Scotland, embodying as it does the proposition that such a proposal should be enshrined in law in the near future.

I do not think it is a matter of any great contention that a measure such as this is urgent and necessary because of for example, the congestion of business in the House, the inexorable increase in pressure of time under which we all work, the defective quality of some of the legislation that is often produced on Scottish matters, the insidious infiltration of English notions into our civil and criminal law system and, perhaps most important of all, the lack of effective parliamentary scrutiny of the administrators in St. Andrew's house.

It is a matter of slightly more contention that reform is also necessary because of the party political balance, which currently leaves the governance of Scotland in the hands of a party that has only minority support in terms of Scottish votes and seats. There is no guarantee that that unsatisfactory position will change in the near future There are therefore compelling and positive reasons for seeking a change by means of a carefully considered, democratic and thought-out measure of reform that is necessary and long overdue.

Nothing should distract us from the urgent need for reform, even if there is less agreement on the necessary component parts of that package. The proposals that we put forward—we have made no secret of it—contain a number of checks and balances that we consider essential First, there is the need for a system of election that relates seats directly to votes. Secondly, we perceive the need to bring about a parallel and simultaneous reduction in the tiered structure of Scottish local government. Thirdly, we face up squarely to the need to redress the balance of Scottish representation in this House en route to a United Kingdomwide system of devolution, with the consequences that that has for the role of the Secretary of State for Scotland.

We believe that parts of our proposals would meet the political needs of the present and command widespread support throughout the United Kingdom. Of course, we recognise that other political parties have different political components in their own schemes and that party political interests are obviously directly at stake. The ultimate test should be that the reform should command widespread public support in Scotland and beyond. All our party political interests should be subordinate and subservient to that aim.

The Secretary of State for Scotland —at least as of Monday night —appears to believe that the measure should be enacted, but only if there is evidence of widespread public support for it. Regrettably, the Government's test of public support appears to amount to people having to take to the streets to demonstrate their interest. That, indeed, is what the Government may eventually face if they continue their prolonged inaction.

I introduced a Bill in the last Parliament to establish a Scottish Parliament. I was voted down, having been opposed by Mr. Gerald Malone, the then hon. Member for Aberdeen, South—[Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

Order. The hon. Gentleman needs to be heard.

Mr. Kirkwood

Not for much longer, Madam Deputy Speaker. I shall continue for as long as I have the privilege of serving in Parliament to raise the need for legislation of this sort —until the Government, or some future Government, see fit to give Scotland and the other constituent parts of the United Kingdom a meaningful measure of political decentralisation.

Mr. Allan Stewart (Eastwood)


4.44 pm
Madam Deputy Speaker

Is the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) seeking to oppose?

Mr. Stewart

Yes, Madam Deputy Speaker. I congratulate the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) on a neat piece of parliamentary footwork because, by his introduction of the Bill today, he has effectively forced the Labour party to defer consideration of its Bill, which was originally planned for next Monday, until after next week. That little bit of manoeuvring shows the disunity of the devolution ranks—a disunity that was underlined by the backbiting and bickering that we saw among Opposition Members in Monday's debate. It is underlined again and again by what happens in Scotland, too. For example, recently the so-called festival of democracy was held in Glasgow. It was supposed to be a fun-filled day of united devolutionary fervour, but what happened? First, the Scottish National party pulled out; then the Social Democratic party pulled out; it was followed by the other part of the Social Democratic party; and, finally, the Liberals pulled out, too. That is an example of the fact that there is no unity whatever when one gets behind the slogans.

Monday's debate, and the hon. Gentleman's speech today, are remarkable for the absence of any real effort to point to tangible advantages for the people of Scotland of having a Scottish assembly. We know, however, what the costs and damage would be. The leaders of industry and commerce have made it absolutely clear that they do not believe that an assembly would be in the interests of the wealth-creating sector. The costs would not only consist of setting up an assembly, although the Scotland and Wales Bill of the last Labour Government estimated that 1,000 extra Scottish civil servants would be created by that measure alone. There would also be the costs of uncertainty, the wholesale and unnecessary reorganisation of local government and the costs of extra taxation. Let the House be in no doubt about the ambition of the Left in Scotland to use an assembly to increase taxation on the minority, or taxes on industry and commerce, to finance extravagance —just as it has done under the rating system in Scotland. There would also be constant conflict between an assembly and the House.

It is breathtaking for the Liberal party to say that it recognises that its proposals involve a major constitutional problem, best known as the West Lothian question. The Leader of the Liberal party has told the House that there is no answer to the West Lothian question, but that he will go ahead with his proposals in any event. That question is an example of the conflict that would inevitably arise and which cannot be avoided.

Take, for example, 1964, or 1974, when Labour Governments had a majority in the United Kingdom but not in England. It would not be tolerable for Scottish Members to vote on measures that the majority of English Members did not want, when neither Scottish nor English Members had any right to vote on similar measures that affected Scotland. The result would be constitutional chaos.

I believe that there are genuine doubts among English Labour Members of Parliament about Scottish devolution. Many of them may recall the wise words of the present leader of the Labour party, who said in 1978: The irony of devolution is that it will smash beyond healing the unity of Britain …These devolution proposals offer a maximum of risk with a minimum of gain to the Scots people. I urge English Labour Members to take this opportunity to abstain on the vote, to show their doubts about devolution. I urge my hon. Friends to oppose a measure that would result in no gains for the people of Scotland and would involve real costs and disadvantages for them. It would inevitably lead to a constitutional crisis for the United Kingdom and the House.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 19, (Motions for leave to bring in bills and nomination of select committees at commencement of public business):—

The House divided:Ayes: 97,Noes: 263.

Division No. 80] [4.50 pm
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Alton, David Buchan, Norman
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Caborn, Richard
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Callaghan, Jim
Ashdown, Paddy Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Ashton, Joe Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Barron, Kevin Cartwright, John
Beith, A. J. Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Blair, Tony Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Clelland, David
Corbett, Robin McKelvey, William
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) McLeish, Henry
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Maclennan, Robert
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Dewar, Donald Martin, Michael (Springburn)
Dobson, Frank Maxton, John
Doran, Frank Meacher, Michael
Douglas, Dick Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Duffy, A. E. P. Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Dunnachie, James Moonie, Dr Lewis
Eastham, Ken Mowlam, Mrs Marjorie
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) O'Neill, Martin
Fatchett, Derek Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Faulds, Andrew Pike, Peter
Fearn, Ronald Reid, John
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Richardson, Ms Jo
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Robertson, George
Foulkes, George Rooker, Jeff
Galbraith, Samuel Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Garrett, John (Norwich South) Rowlands, Ted
Godman, Dr Norman A. Salmond, Alex
Gould, Bryan Sedgemore, Brian
Graham, Thomas Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Short, Clare
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Home Robertson, John Steel, Rt Hon David
Howells, Geraint Strang, Gavin
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Straw, Jack
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Johnston, Sir Russell Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Kennedy, Charles Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Lambie, David Worthington, Anthony
Litherland, Robert
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Tellers for the Ayes:
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Mr. James Wallace and Mr. Archy Kirkwood.
McAllion, John
McAvoy, Tom
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Carttiss, Michael
Allason, Rupert Cash, William
Amess, David Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda
Arbuthnot, James Chapman, Sydney
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Chope, Christopher
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)
Ashby, David Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Atkins, Robert Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Colvin, Michael
Batiste, Spencer Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Benyon, W. Cope, John
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Couchman, James
Boscawen, Hon Robert Cran, James
Boswell, Tim Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bottomley, Peter Curry, David
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n) Davis, David (Boothferry)
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Day, Stephen
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Devlin, Tim
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Dickens, Geoffrey
Brazier, Julian Dorrell, Stephen
Bright, Graham Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Dover, Den
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Dunn, Bob
Browne John (Winchester) Durant, Tony
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Buck, Sir Antony Evennett, David
Budgen, Nicholas Fallon, Michael
Burns, Simon Favell, Tony
Burt, Alistair Fenner, Dame Peggy
Butcher, John Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Butler, Chris Fookes, Miss Janet
Butterfill, John Forman, Nigel
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Forth, Eric
Carrington, Matthew Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Fox, Sir Marcus McLoughlin, Patrick
Franks, Cecil McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Freeman, Roger Major, Rt Hon John
French, Douglas Malins, Humfrey
Gale, Roger Mans, Keith
Gardiner, George Maples, John
Garel-Jones, Tristan Marland, Paul
Gill, Christopher Marlow, Tony
Glyn, Dr Alan Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Goodhart, Sir Philip Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Mates, Michael
Gorst, John Maude, Hon Francis
Gow, Ian Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Gower, Sir Raymond Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Greenway, John (Rydale) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Moate, Roger
Grist, Ian Monro, Sir Hector
Ground, Patrick Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Morrison, Hon P (Chester)
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Moss, Malcolm
Hanley, Jeremy Moynihan, Hon C.
Hannam, John Neale, Gerrard
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr') Neubert, Michael
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Nicholls, Patrick
Harris, David Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Haselhurst, Alan Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Hayes, Jerry Oppenheim, Phillip
Hayward, Robert Page, Richard
Heathcoat-Amory, David Paice, James
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Patnick, Irvine
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Patten, Chris (Bath)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Patten, John (Oxford W)
Hind, Kenneth Pawsey, James
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Holt, Richard Porter, David (Waveney)
Hordern, Sir Peter Portillo, Michael
Howard, Michael Powell, William (Corby)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Price, Sir David
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Rathbone, Tim
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Redwood, John
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Renton, Tim
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Rhodes James, Robert
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Riddick, Graham
Irvine, Michael Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Irving, Charles Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Jack, Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Jackson, Robert Roe, Mrs Marion
Janman, Timothy Rossi, Sir Hugh
Jessel, Toby Rost, Peter
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Rowe, Andrew
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Ryder, Richard
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Sackville, Hon Tom
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Sainsbury, Hon Tim
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Scott, Nicholas
Kirkhope, Timothy Shaw, David (Dover)
Knapman, Roger Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Knowles, Michael Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Lang, Ian Shersby, Michael
Latham, Michael Sims, Roger
Lee, John (Pendle) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Skinner, Dennis
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lightbown, David Soames, Hon Nicholas
Lilley, Peter Speed, Keith
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Speller, Tony
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Lord, Michael Stanbrook, Ivor
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Stern, Michael
Lyell, Sir Nicholas Stevens, Lewis
McCrindle, Robert Stewart, Allan (Eastwood,
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Maclean, David Sumberg, David
Tapsell, Sir Peter Warren, Kenneth
Taylor, Ian (Esher) Wells, Bowen
Taylor, John M (Solihull) Wheeler, John
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman Wiggin, Jerry
Temple-Morris, Peter Wilkinson, John
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Wilshire, David
Thurnham, Peter Winterton, Mrs Ann
Townend, John (Bridlington) Winterton, Nicholas
Tredinnick, David Wolfson, Mark
Trippier, David Young, Sir George (Acton)
Twinn, Dr Ian Younger, Rt Hon George
Waddington, Rt Hon David
Wakeham, Rt Hon John Tellers for the Noes:
Waldegrave, Hon William Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn and Mr. Bill Walker.
Waller, Gary
Ward, John

Question accordingly negatived.

5.2 pm

Mr. Michael Brown (Brigg and Cleethorpes)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The House has just been invited to make a very important decision on a very important constitutional matter. It was apparent to hon. Members who have just voted in the Division that official Opposition Members moved in all directions. Some went to the Aye Lobby and some went to the No Lobby. Can we have some guidance as to their stance?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

That is not a point of order for the Chair. Hon. Members are entitled to go into whichever Division Lobby they choose.