HL Deb 05 August 1887 vol 318 cc1340-2

Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 3a—[The Marquess of Lothian.)


remarked, that his noble Friend (the Marquess of Lothian) had on the previous stage of the Bill referred to a letter he (the Earl of Wemyss) had written to a meeting of the Convention of Burghs, over which his noble Friend presided, when the agitation was at its height for the establishment of this new Office. That letter, according to the newspapers, was received with loud and prolonged hisses. What was the nature of that letter? In it he said he believed the proposed new Office was wholly unnecessary, and to that opinion he entirety adhered. When he said that he was not expressing merely his own individual opinion, hut a view which was shared by men of the highest distinction—men who had filled the Office of Lord Advocate—and men of business. Having been for four years under Lord Aberdeen's Government, Scottish Lord of the Treasury, he had seen that if there were cordial working and unanimity between the Scottish Lord of the Treasury and the Lord Advocate, Scottish business could be done and admirably conducted without the creation of any Office of this kind. What had happened was that the Home Secretary had taken into his hands business that up to that time had been left in the hands of the Lord Advocate. He went so far as to say that during the period when this Scottish Secretary had no existence—when the business of Scotland was conducted by the Lord Advocate and by the Scottish Lord of the Treasury working together—the measures passed for Scotland would compare favourably with those that during the" time were passed for England and Ireland, so that the creation of this Office was unnecessary, and rather a retrograde step than otherwise—rather a stop in the direction of separation than one of cordial union. But the Government of the day had given in to the popular superstition or desirer, and the result was that they had got a Secretary of State, so-called, for Scotland, and he did not believe business was done one bit better than before his appointment, while the country had to pay something like £10,000 a-year for the Scottish Office. He had taken this line, that there was not enough work for the Lord Advocate and the Secretary for Scotland too, and the result had justified that view. For what was this Bill? It was a Bill to find work for the Secretary of State—to give him additional work. He hoped it would do so, for he had felt so much compassion for his noble Friend's position that he had offered to supply him with French novels. Now, by the passing of this Bill, he felt relieved from this undertaking.


pointed out that the meeting to which the noble Lord had referred was not a meeting of the Convention of Royal Burghs, although that body had had a great deal to do with it, but a meeting representing all classes of the community. He did not think their Lordships would expect him at this time of day to go into any defence of the Office. The noble Lord's experience of the business of Scotland had been derived from his having acted for four years as Scottish Lord of the Treasury. He had no doubt that during that time Scottish business was arranged to the satisfaction of the noble Earl, and also to the satisfaction of the people of Scotland; and if the noble Earl could have been made Permanent Secretary for Scotland, the business would no doubt have been conducted in an equally satisfactory manner. That was not thought possible, and subsequent to the noble Earl's retirement from Office a state of matters arose that did not give satisfaction to the people of Scotland; and in obedience to a strong desire on the part of the Scottish people, and after full consideration by both Houses of Parliament, the Office of Secretary for Scotland was created. The noble Earl said the Office cost the country £10,000 a-year. Of course, such an Office could not be conducted without some expense; but he must point out that it did not involve an additional expense of £10,000. He thought he might fairly say the additional expense did not really exceed £7,000; and it appeared to him that if the affairs of Scotland could be conducted for so small a sum, there was not much reason to complain. The noble Earl had said the Secretary for Scotland had nothing to do; but that was not his experience. Since the noble Earl had so much experience, he should like to take an opportunity of offering him some work to do. He was quite sure it would be greatly to the advantage of Scotland, as well as that of the noble Earl, because it would let him know the amount of work that really had to be carried on in that Department.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 3a accordingly, and passed, and sent to the Commons.