§ 4.5 p.m.
had the following Notice on the Order Paper: To ask His Majesty's Government whether, in view of the tendency in present day legislation to centralize control and administration in Whitehall, and generally to prevent the establishment of responsible resident direction and management, they will, having regard to the strong Scottish feelings in these matters, set up a representative Committee of Inquiry to examine the principles and to make recommendations for effective devolution of control and administration in Scotland; and to move for Papers.
The noble Viscount said: My Lords, the Motion which I am submitting to your Lordships to-day concerns a matter which is causing great feeling in Scotland, and therefore I make no apologies for raising it in your Lordships' House. I do not want to be too long, but I should like very briefly to sketch the history of this matter over the past twenty or thirty 648 years. First of all we had the First Great War and during that time, as is not unusual where you have military and other operations going on in defence of the country, affairs became centralized in Whitehall. Scottish affairs became centralized more and more, with the result that at the end of that War Scottish feeling had been very much aroused and demands were made for devolution, just as they are to-day. What happened? The Government of the day in 1919 appointed a Speaker's Conference, of which I had the honour to be a member. That Conference had as its subject not only devolution for Scotland but United Kingdom devolution; that is, devolution for Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland.
That Conference had a great many meetings. In the early part of it Ireland was swept away from its considerations owing to affairs which happened in that country; then we considered England and Wales, and finally Scotland was the only country left in the arena. Certain recommendations were made by the Conference which in due course were carried to the Government, but those recommendations were passed by a majority of one only and consequently nothing happened. From that time dissatisfaction in Scotland increased and with it the desire to obtain greater control over their own affairs. About five years afterwards the first step towards meeting this discontent was taken in the appointment of the Secretary of State for Scotland with a seat in the Cabinet, which gave him higher and more important rank. That was very acceptable to Scotland. Eight years elapsed and in 1934, when Sir Godfrey Collins was the Secretary of State for Scotland, St. Andrew's House was established as the administrative centre of Scotland, and to St. Andrew's House were attached the Departments of Health, Agriculture and Fisheries and Education. In addition, there is the Scottish Home Department, the General Board of Control and other smaller Departments, like Welfare, Aftercare, and Special Areas Branch. These measures necessarily involved the more constant attendance in Scotland of the Secretary of State for Scotland, and he was provided—and this was another measure towards devolution—with the services of an additional Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State to assist him in his augmented duties. That meant that 649 there were two Under-Secretaries of State for Scotland instead of one.
Except amongst the extreme Scottish Nationalists, these reforms met with general approval in Scotland, as they gave more local control and, as I have so often heard it said in Scotland, saved many long expensive journeys to London which had been necessary in the past. No doubt St. Andrew's House would have been extended and the reforms improved upon; but unfortunately the Second Great War broke out in 1939 and we have had again the old tendency towards centralization in Whitehall. This grew apace during the war, until, with the passage after the war of legislation nationalizing coal, civil aviation, electricity and transport, and regulating town and country planning, the degree of Whitehall centralization has once more become absolutely intolerable and is resented by every Scotsman.
Even before this nationalization legislation we had such issues as Prestwick airport, Rosyth naval base, the Forth road bridge, and others which aroused considerable Scottish feeling. The result is that to-day there are very few Scotsmen who are not demanding some further devolution of administration and control of their affairs in Scotland. In order to decide the best methods of devolution for present-day conditions they are universally demanding the setting up—and I use the word very deliberately—of a representative Committee or Commission of inquiry to report and to advise upon what should be done. Your Lordships will observe that in my Motion I am advocating and urging the formation of such a representative Committee, and I am convinced that in doing so I have the bulk of the people of Scotland behind me. Now let me remind your Lordships that, whilst Scotsmen are a nation of soft-hearted sentimentalists as far as their own country is concerned, where their interests are concerned they are very hard-headed; and when any question arises affecting those interests, before arriving at a decision they like to know all the facts. Therefore it is vital to Scotsmen to-day to know all the facts about the situation so far as devolution is concerned and to be fully apprised concerning it in order to be able to come to a wise, just and Scottish decision upon it.
650 Quite recently there was a conference of the Scottish Labour Party in Dundee. If your Lordships will bear with me, I should like to give a very short account of what happened at that conference. First of all there were, as I understand it, six motions put forward by Labour delegates each advocating an inquiry into the question of setting up a Scottish Parliament. That did not meet the views of the executive and so finally there was a composite resolution which asked for the appointment of a representative Committee to examine the question of "Scottish legislative devolution." This was passed by 111 votes to 82. I have tried to fathom what "Scottish legislative devolution" means, but I cannot quite make up my mind. However, that was the motion which was passed as a compromise by that conference.
But the most interesting point was that the executive spoke and voted against that resolution. Their secretary, Mr. John Taylor, in speaking against the resolution on behalf of the executive, made what I believe was a most remarkable statement. He is reported as saying—I quote from the Scotsman:He had had intimate opportunities of seeing the Scottish administrative machine at work and during the past two years of seeing the Labour Government at work.Then he added this:He had dropped any desire for devolution immediately they had secured a Socialist Government for Britain.Can you beat it? I wonder how many Scotsmen agree with him and whether they, too, have all been blinded by the Socialist nostra which have been poured upon them and have been suffocating them during the past two years. I submit that the results of the recent municipal elections sufficiently answered that—and I should say the answer is definitely "No."
I would further suggest that Mr. Taylor is under another serious delusion. I would submit that there are now very many people in Scotland who are even more desirous of devolution than they were before the advent of the Socialist Government, and indeed that it is largely owing to that Government's many acts of centralization of Scottish affairs in Whitehall that the strong desire for devolution in Scotland has been growing so persistently. Another member of the Conference, Mr. L. P. Thomas, of Selkirk and 651 Roxburgh, did not agree with Mr. Taylor, and this is interesting, because for his part he told the conference—and again I quote from the Scotsman:There was a large party of public opinion in Scotland which was being soured because the matter was not being fully investigated.Who is right? Taylor or Thomas. I put my money on Thomas. But I beg your Lordships to listen to this. Mr. Taylor went on to say:In the past it was true that there had been a considerable desire for devolution in the Scottish Labour Movement, but it was based on the fact that under Tory Rule Scotland never had had a fair deal.If the Scottish Labour Executive really believe that nonsense, then obviously they should support an immediate Committee of Inquiry because they may wake up one morning to find that a Unionist Government has once more been returned to power.
I had hoped that Mr. Woodburn, our new Secretary of State for Scotland—whom I wish well—who was trained in the school of Mr. Tom Johnston as his P.P.S. in the last Parliament, would, like his late chief, have taken a different view, because we know the view that Mr. Tom Johnston takes, and would have supported this inquiry. But he, too, from his speech at the conference, seems already to have absorbed some of the Whitehall dope and been "chloroformed," like so many of his Socialist colleagues.
Having pointed out these very interesting facts—because they are interesting facts, showing how the Labour Party have changed their views, and that they are not, I submit, representing Scotland properly to-day—I want to say, if I may be allowed to do so, what my own views are on this matter. I do not like to make speeches of this kind without giving some constructive suggestions. First of all, I am averse personally to setting up a Scottish Parliament to-day, and I am going to give four reasons why. They are perfectly understandable and self contained. My first reason is that it would mean a considerable administrative and Parliamentary dislocation in the relationship of Scotland and England at a time when we are faced in Great Britain with the worst economic situation we have ever experienced. Secondly, it would mean additional taxation at a time when we are already very heavily overburdened with taxation. Thirdly, it would mean very 652 heavy expense in constructing new Parliamentary buildings and other administrative buildings in Edinburgh, even if such construction were feasible at this time of grave housing scarcity. It would also mean many more civil servants and many more salaries. Fourthly, and finally, it would mean breaking up Great Britain into two Parliamentary areas at a time when the unsettled state of the world demands for many reasons the greatest unity within our island.
Those are the reasons, put quite briefly, why I am against the setting up of a separate Parliament in Scotland today. On the other hand, I have certain ideas with regard to the form of devolution I would advocate, a form of devolution that would not include the adverse factors which I have just set out. If I may be allowed to do so I would very briefly tell your Lordships my mind on these matters. My ideas, are those that are based on the conferment of more executive authority in Scotland as opposed to the existing advisory system under which Whitehall is practically the sole executive to-day. It is something that would enable Scottish customs and ideas to be incorporated in all legislation for Scotland and would enable the passage of special Acts of Parliament for Scotland where Scottish customs and conditions are involved, instead of such measures being, as they so often are, tagged on to English Acts. We had examples of that only this last Session.
I visualize also a state of affairs under which, in the case of a nationalized industry, Scotland should have executive authority in administering it, subject, of course—I agree here—to following the general policy in England. As an example of this, I would point out the case of the nationalized electricity industry. What happened? Scotland was split up into two. The North of Scotland was kept, and the other half, which was the most important and the most populated part of Scotland and therefore, if I may say so, the most luscious part from the English point of view, was handed over to Whitehall. There was no necessity for this, because in any case England was taking all the surplus of electrical energy in excess of Scottish needs and would continue to do so. There was no necessity to take the South of Scotland and put it under Whitehall whereas formerly it was under Scottish companies.
653 Then take the case of the nationalization of Scottish road transport. That is another instance which requires more executive control in Scotland. Scotland is not content to have these matters controlled from Whitehall, where little or nothing is known or understood of Scottish conditions. I would instance also civil aviation in Scotland. That is another matter which should be more directly controlled from Scotland. Much bother and feeling have been caused by that matter. I believe that investigation by a properly constituted Committee of Inquiry would show that there are many other matters essentially Scottish that could be taken under the wing of St. Andrew's House, thus expanding the duties and importance of St. Andrew's House and making it even more useful than it is to-day.
That brings me to another aspect of devolution. I ventured to advance this publicly about two years ago. I personally have felt for a long time that the Secretary of State for Scotland's Department was politically under-staffed. He has an enormous number of intricate subjects to deal with in Scotland, as well as having to attend Cabinet and Cabinet Committee meetings in London and Parliament. Yet in all these important and multifarious duties he has only two political Under-Secretaries to help him and take some of the burden off his shoulders. These two political Under-Secretaries have also to travel in Scotland and from Scotland to London and back to perform their Parliamentary and other duties associated with their office. As a result—I submit that this must be the case—the Departments located in Scotland do not have the same degree of political supervision as the similar Departments have in London, nor is Parliament as a consequence in so close a touch with those Departments as it would be if there were more political supervision. I venture to suggest that there ought to be at least four Scottish Parliamentary Under-Secretaries assisting the Scottish Secretary of State, thus giving the Secretary of State more leisure to consider his problems of government, of which there are so many, and incidentally providing more Parliamentary control of action in the carrying out of policy.
There is another way I can think of which might give Scotland more control 654 over her affairs. At present the Scottish Grand Committee in the House of Commons; considers and advises upon Scottish affairs generally. This Grand Committee might be given a larger measure of control over purely Scottish affairs than hitherto. Then there is a further matter, in connection with finance. Quite recently, it was brought to my notice that there is a Motion on the Order Paper in another place, under the names of twenty-eight Scottish Unionist Members of Parliament, the object of which is that the Scottish Grand Committee should be given more control over finance; it should be able to examine the financial estimates and expenditure and consider them and, of course, when this is done, send them back to the Committee of Supply, which is the regular procedure. That seems to me a very reasonable Motion, and would be another way of giving Scotland a say in her expenditure. I have no idea whether that Motion is likely to be accepted in another place, but I do urge that, if this does not happen, at least the proposal which is contained therein might be included in the terms of reference of any Committee of Inquiry which is set up.
To sum up, I hope I have shown your Lordships that there are other ways of devolving more responsibility to Scotland in the direction of her own affairs than by establishing a Scottish Parliament. It is those other ways and that other form of Scottish devolution that I personally should like to see established, and not a Scottish Legislative Assembly. Not only is that my personal view, but I believe it to be the view held by Scottish Unionists and others throughout Scotland. Just let me add this in conclusion. The Motion which I have put down to-day has not been moved in any light spirit. Whether what I have outlined finds universal approval in Scotland or not, the principle of my Motion for some form of devolution will, I am sure, find wide approval; and a refusal by the Government to accept the proposal, which is a very reasonable proposal, for a Committee of Inquiry will only anger Scotsmen and urge them on to greater efforts to secure what they believe they have every right to ask for and to receive. I beg to move for Papers.
§ 4.29 p.m.
THE DUKE OF MONTROSE
My Lords, I am very glad to see so many noble Lords present from north of the Tweed, 655 and I am sure we are grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, for bringing forward this Motion this afternoon. The over-centralization of Scottish business at Westminster has long been under serious consideration, but we have not found any cure for it up to the present. We recognize that this over-centralization exists and efforts have been made to get round it by a whole series of experiments. We have tried the "guillotine," by which debates can be closured, but that is absolutely the antithesis of democratic rule. We have tried the kangaroo method by which whole paragraphs or sections of paragraphs can be skipped, and that again is the antithesis of Parliamentary government in a democratic country. We have tried delegating Parliamentary business to Commissions and Committees, and we have tried on a large scale issuing Orders in Council. Indeed, the tendency to issue Orders is a growing and a bad one, as it may lead to dictation. All these things are just experiments, just palliatives to try to get round over-centralization. The cure which we now have at the back of our minds is the only real cure for over-centralization and congestion of business. When you have congestion in business, administration or anything else, what is the cure? The cure is to devolve what you cannot do yourself on to the shoulders of others. There is no way round it. And there is no cure other than to devolve all Scottish affairs to a Parliament or a Legislative Authority in Scotland.
I speak from these Benches as a Scottish Liberal, and I say that devolution of government is the real cure. We have a feeling that if we get devolution, control of the administration, and the management of our own affairs, a lot of our minor difficulties will disappear. That is the foremost principle on our Liberal platform in Scotland. Probably, from what he has said, the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, thinks that we go too far, but all the same we will support the noble Viscount fully, on the principle of what dear old Euclid used to say when I was at school—that the greater includes the less. But I am speaking as a Liberal, and I say that the Liberal proposal of devolution of government to Scotland never intended and never dreamed of separation or the breaking up of the United Kingdom. Separation has never been one of 656 our Liberal claims. I ought to know, because I have been connected with this movement longer than any other person in this House.
Some people say that I am a leader in this matter. Some people liken me to Thomas Muir, our loyal Scottish patriot, who talked in 1787 of Parliamentary reform, and talked so energetically that they called him "the pest of Scotland." Now, some people say that I ought to suffer the same fate as he did, and be banished to Botany Bay for life! I leave my fate to your Lordships, but I would say this, speaking seriously. How can any person of sense or reason ever believe in breaking up the United Kingdom and in separation? On the one hand we have the picture of misery, unhappiness and loss of trade between, say, Eire and the United Kingdom—all because of separation. We have the same picture of loss of trade and unfriendliness between Eire and Ulster; again, all because of separation. On the other hand, we have the picture of peace and prosperity through the union between Ulster and the United Kingdom, and peace and prosperity in that small, self-governing, peace-loving community, the Isle of Man. When you have such, examples of misery caused by separation on the one hand, and of peace and prosperity through union on the other hand, how can any reasonable man say that there is anything to be gained by separation? There is nothing to be gained by that.
I am aware that now and again we see statements in the papers, and we hear statements made, about the independence of Scotland, her independent sovereignty, and so forth. But those outcrys are merely the voices of irresponsible people, of unbalanced enthusiasts; they do not represent the opinion of the great mass of Scottish people. Your Lordships well know that every great political movement is troubled by its enthusiasts and its extremists. That may be taken to be a joke, but I know that when I was a Tory candidate the enthusiastic tariff reformers were the greatest source of bother and trouble to us. They split the Party. Your Lordships on the opposite side of the House may laugh, but what about the Labour Government to-day? Is not their bother the enthusiastic Communist who tries to spread his pernicious theories to others? You have your en- 657 thusiasts and your extremists, and so have we in this Home Rule movement. But I will guarantee that a spirit of moderation, opposed to separation, prevails in the minds of the Scottish people to-day.
Our policy is contained in a nutshell, and that nutshell contains some words which Joseph Chamberlain used when we discussed devolution in another place. These were his words:My idea is to get rid of everything in the Parliament of Westminster which is not absolutely essential to the security and integrity of the Empire. It is only in this way that we can relieve our over-burdened Parliament of work which prevents it giving due attention to world and Imperial affairs.That is as true to-day as it was when it was uttered by Joseph Chamberlain, and I feel confident that the great mass of Home Rule supporters in Scotland would be glad to accept self-government within the United Kingdom. Perhaps that idea disturbs the mind of my noble friend Viscount Elibank; certainly it disturbs the minds of a good many other people who might be inclined to support self-government but for the idea of a Parliament being set up in Scotland.
Why should the word "Parliament" disturb your Lordships' minds when you are talking of Scotland? Is it not a fact that 654 years ago, in the time of John Baliol, we had a Parliament in Scotland? Not only that, but we maintained a Parliament in Scotland for 400 years after. We built a Parliament House in Edinburgh in 1639, in the reign of King Charles I—a Parliament House to house our Parliament. We carried on a Parliament in that House until the Union in 1707. We never had any ruling body in Scotland unless it was called a Parliament, and I have enough spirit in me to call old and respected institutions by their proper names. Therefore, what we advocate is a Parliament in Scotland. If a Committee are appointed to go into this question, as my noble friend, Viscount Elibank, has suggested, I hope the members of that Committee will go on a tour of all the self-governing communities in the British Isles, as I did in 1934. I should be surprised if that Committee did not come back and say they were amazed at the way in which self-government had promoted speed, economy and efficiency in those communities.
658 Some of your Lordships will remember that great statesman, Lord Craigavon—I think perhaps he was better known to many of you as Sir James Craig. Well, in the course of that tour, I went to Ulster, and I met him when he was Prime Minister there. I also met his Cabinet and saw the Parliament at work. I said to Lord Craigavon one day: "You have had Home Rule now for fourteen years. You yourself used to be against it if ever any man was; but you sank your personal opinions and you have tried to make it work. Well, after fourteen years of it, what do you think now?" This is what he said. I took it down because I thought it was so important and so true. His words were:As matters stand, the Charter of our liberty is bound up with our Parliament at Stormont. It has taken us fourteen years of Parliamentary work to make up leeway. In 1920, we were undoubtedly behind in recognized standards in regard to agriculture, education, licensing laws, housing, local government, poor law administration, industrial development, and social services. All these had been sadly neglected. We are now able to claim that we are on the fairway towards remedying a generally unsatisfactory state of affairs. Our ambition is that Ulster shall stand well in the vanguard of progress and prosperity.Those were his words, and Ulster has indeed endeavoured to stand in the vanguard of progress and prosperity. In the first year of her own Parliamentary rule she saved £300,000 in her Budget and she passed twenty-six Acts for the benefit of her country and her people. Beyond that, she has. under her own rule greatly developed her agriculture until a position has been attained whereby she exports to us every year hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of poultry produce, dairy produce and livestock. Further, she has established a great linen industry, a great flax industry, a great shipbuilding and engineering industry. Some of the largest shipyards in Great Britain are to be found in Ulster. And with all this development Ulster has never failed to balance her Budget. Not once has she failed. All the time, too, she has paid a fairly big Imperial contribution. Over and above that, she has made presents of many thousands of pounds to Great Britain to help her in her war-time needs.
After visiting Ulster, I went to Eire, and I there saw Mr. Cosgrave and Mr. De Valera. We had many talks. I do not say that I agree with their policy, out what I do say is that they have 659 developed their country's agriculture enormously under their own rule. They have established a great hydro-electric scheme on the Shannon. I am not sure whether it was the first to be set up in the British Isles, but it was certainly one of the first. They have also established a large aerodrome which may be used by very heavyweight aircraft. It is one of the largest and best aerodromes in these islands. Now they have come forward to make a trade treaty with the United Kingdom. We shall all be glad to know when it is signed. Maybe it has been signed already. I hope that both sides will derive the greatest possible advantage from it. The people of Eire have done more for themselves than we should ever have done had the ruling of Ireland continued to be done from Westminster.
Next, I went to the Isle of Man, and there saw the little Manx Government in operation. The people of the Isle of Man got self-government in 1866, so they have had it for eighty years. Eighty years ago the Isle of Man was just a small and comparatively bare island, with practically no substantial material advantages. There were no factories, no foundries, no coal mines, no great ports, no great fishing industry, no great amount of agriculture. Since the Manx people have had self-government they have established a very prosperous touring industry, and this has proved a great spur to their agriculture. Consequently they now have two great industries in touring and agriculture. The island is now one of the wealthiest places for its size, in Great Britain. So much is this the case that their taxation is about one-third of ours.
The Manx Government do not hesitate to spend £12,000 a year on developing their industry of touring. When I was President of the Scottish Touring Association, for years I went to Westminster and said that I wanted a grant. I explained that we wanted to do in Scotland what they had done in the Isle of Man, because in our view Scotland has some of the greatest facilities in the British Isles for touring. What did I get? I got £250. Yes, that was what I got from the Treasury. I got £250 for the purpose of developing a great touring industry. I say that that was perfectly absurd. If we get self-government for Scotland, and are thereby in a position to manage our own affairs, we shall do 660 as they do in Eire and spend from £20,000 to £30,000 a year in this way, and we shall probably get a good many million pounds back in return.
The illustrations I have given, I submit, do show what happens under self-government. If you ask yourselves, "Under what authority do the people live here in England and in these communities of which I have spoken?", the answer is: "Under the supremacy of their own Parliament on their own soil." But in Scotland under what authority do we live? We live under the supremacy of a single Secretary of State. All these self-governing communities live under the supremacy of their own Parliaments on their own soil. We live under the supremacy of a Secretary of State and the heads of his Departments. That one Secretary of State has charge of 18 Departments, and he has authority to issue orders. He does issue orders, and so do his senior heads of Departments, and those who fail to obey such orders may be, in certain circumstances, heavily punished. Those orders have the power of an Act of Parliament, but they have not the authority of an Act of Parliament behind them. In Scotland, being a democratic people, we object intensely to this system of government. We object to it greatly. It is really a dictatorship.
Some people say, "Let us try governing by means of the Grand Committee." I say, "No, it would never work." First of all, if you are to have the Grand Committee trying to rule Scotland, is it going to work in England or in Scotland? If it is going to work in England, that would mean that we in Scotland would be no better off. If it is going to work in Scotland, what are the constituents of the members of the Scottish Grand Committee going to say? They will say: "We return our members to go to another place and sit at Westminster to deal with United Kingdom affairs, Imperial affairs, and foreign affairs. Now you expect them to sit in Edinburgh and deal with local affairs in Scotland." The constituents would never agree to it. The Grand Committee would not be representative enough of Scotland. It would be too small. There is only one man in it now whom you can call a farmer, but agriculture is our greatest industry. We have not a single person on the Grand Committee who knows very much about 661 fishing, and hardly anyone with any practical knowledge of afforestation. And those three industries, be it remembered, are our three greatest industries.
If we get self-government we will see to it that industry as. well as other interests is properly represented and we will try to govern our industry in a much better and more representative way. In the case of a Grand Committee, if the Government's representatives find themselves in a minority, what is going to prevail? Is the will of the majority of the Committee going to prevail, or has the matter to be discussed again in another place? That would mean two debates instead of one. I am afraid that the Grand Committee idea would never work. As regards finance, it is said that Scotland would never be able to afford self-government. Why should she not be able to afford it? I am proud to think that we in Scotland have never leaned on charity from England, or from anywhere. We are not a nation of mendicants. We would lose all our grants and all our doles, but these grants are not free gifts. They do not come from a fairy godmother or a Father Christmas with a bottomless stocking: they are the proceeds of taxation.
Our Scottish people pay their taxes on the same basis as the English. What happens? The taxation revenue goes to Whitehall and we get some of it back in the form of doles and grants. We are getting back our own money, which ought never to have left Scotland in the first place. We should handle it ourselves. We have always paid our way financially and we are still doing it. What has deteriorated is our ability to pay an Imperial contribution. In 1921, after paying all our own expenses for Scottish services, we were able to pay an Imperial contribution of £86,000,000. In 1931, after the bad trading years, we paid only £25,000,000. That is a fall of £61,000,000 in ten years. To-day, I am told, we are paying under £10,000,000 as our Imperial contribution. If this dictatorship system continues it will not be long before we do not pay a penny. The only way to repair this state of affairs is to give us the management of our own affairs, to let us try and rehabilitate our industries and people, keeping them at home and acquiring wealth. Then perhaps we shall be able once again to pay a decent Imperial contribution.
662 These are some of the reasons why we should have self-government. What country in the world, I wonder, could remain quiet at seeing all its affairs nationalized and the country as a whole de-nation-alized? For when you nationalize industry in Scotland, and take the administration and control of Scottish services to Whitehall, you are de-nationalizing Scotland. Would any people with a spark of pride sit still and see their country de-nationalized without making any effort at all to save themselves? No. When Tom Paine, the Parliamentary reformer, wrote his famous Declaration of the Rights of Man, there were more Members of Parliament in the one county of Cornwall than in the whole of Scotland. In his time there were not wanting people who were bitterly opposed to Parliamentary reform. But who is there to-day who would go back to the conditions of the time of Paine? Surely the people who advocated Parliamentary reform in Paine's day were right in what they said and largely right in what they did. They were real leaders of the people. Your Lordships and Parliament in Westminster may have the power to compel us to remain in a union, and to have our domestic affairs dealt with here in Westminster, but any Union of Parliaments can never last without a union of hearts. And you will never have a union of hearts so long as the Government here in Westminster endeavour to prevent the Scottish people from having a voice in the management of their own affairs, in their own way, in their own Parliament, on their own soil.
§ 4.54 p.m.
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
My Lords, I rise to support the Motion moved by the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank. I intend, with your permission, to deal with the matter broadly and I can assure noble Lords opposite that so far as the broad principle is concerned I do so in no Party political spirit, because past history shows that no Party has really appreciated this problem to the full. If I speak with some force, I do so because my conscience tells me that in these days of difficulty and crisis those who really have their country at heart must speak out when it is the moment to do so. If I have to accompany the noble Duke to Botany Bay for so doing, I shall find myself in very good company, and when we discuss the problem of devolution while picking oakum I 663 only trust we shall be able to hear each other.
In company with many other noble Lords across the Border I have from time to time pressed the need for some measure of devolution of control for Scottish affairs and, I submit, not without considerable justification. I agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, that the various measures which he enumerated, taken in the past—for example, the setting up of the office of Secretary of State and of St. Andrew's House, which of course has done very excellent work—were steps in the right direction. But from the point of view of urgency, however, I cannot honestly approach this matter without bearing in mind that that urgency has been increased to-day. It has been increased firstly, because events move very much faster today than they did, and secondly, because of the policy adopted by His Majesty's Government and the actions resulting from this policy which they have carried out during their term of office, especially during the last few months.
In the debates on the Civil Aviation and Transport Bills which took place in your Lordships' House, we felt it our duty from Scotland to put forward what we believed to be the feelings of a great number of sane and sound-thinking people in the north on these matters. I can assure your Lordships that those feelings now have grown into a burning topic. At that time I know we were credited with exaggeration. We who travel our country know this to be a fact, and this knowledge is supported by the views expressed to us by foreigners who have visited our country and talked with our people. As your Lordships know, we have entertained many foreigners lately, more especially during the last summer owing to that remarkable achievement, the Edinburgh Festival, about which I shall say a word later, and we have come into contact with many opinions from other countries. If my estimation of these feelings was true a few months ago, it is doubly so now.
The necessity for the question of decentralization and "responsible resident management" being thrashed out has always been, in my humble opinion, absolutely vital, and I feel honestly with all my heart that this necessity is even more vital now because at last His Majesty's Government have come out and 664 displayed themselves in their true colours. What I said to your Lordships a few months ago—and I say so again, having weighed my words very carefully, though, I believe, they are resented by noble Lords opposite and those who lead them—is being proved to be the truth. I said that His Majesty's Government's policy was really National Socialism; in other words, Nazism. From a policy camouflaged then behind a form of moderation and lip service to liberty and freedom, it has grown into one more binding and far-reaching, whereby the liberty of the individual in this country is fast disappearing altogether, and whereby the very life blood of the community is being taken over—its industries, its services, its finance, nay, its very freedom—until finally it is now proposed that the right of veto over all legislation, of which there has much that has been ill-considered during the last few months, is to be curtailed.
That is why we in Scotland are becoming really startled. I am going to put it even more strongly. We are appalled at the ease with which this country is gradually being mesmerized, deluded and made apathetic to a degree absolutely unbelievable in these islands. To my mind, it is one of the greatest dangers in this country that it seems that we never can see that the unlikely will one day happen. That is what happened in Germany. You really cannot entirely blame the German people, except for the fact that they never woke up until it was too late. That is, I am sure, what is happening to us to-day. I have read, as no doubt many of your Lordships have, booklets written by various leaders of the present Government—such things as Problem of a Socialist Government, and others. I admit they were written perhaps as far back as 1934, but they were written by responsible men, and men who are holding positions of great responsibility to-day. I agree that they were written some considerable time ago, and that the writers may have learnt much since 1934; they may even have changed their opinions. I doubt it, however, for the very reason that what they wrote in those books—you can go and read it for yourselves, if all the copies have not already been bought up, as I believe they were by the Labour Party—has been carried out step by step: Orders 665 in Council, interference with the Constitution, right from the start to the finish.
I know these are stern words, and they should not be said without having been duly weighed. But I feel the time has come to speak out. I am convinced that there is a hard core in the ré gime at the head of the country to-day of which, if they will allow me to call them such, many honest-to-God believers in Socialism in its truest form are totally oblivious. But, unfortunately—and, I am sure, unwittingly—they have sold themselves body and soul to a movement which in the end intends, if it can, to gain complete power over the population. Are we really so blind as not to see that this in its very incipiency is a complete and absolute parallel to the early stages of the Hitler ré gime, except that Hitler was, at least, efficient? There is, I believe really and truly, a hidden motive behind the present ré gime which must be disclosed to the country. It is true that this country is slowly stirring from its apathy, but it must be awakened at once if our liberties are not to disappear altogether.
We in Scotland, like many of you in England, believe in independence and freedom, and not in the road to serfdom. But we are, after all, I maintain, only blazing the trail for other parts of the British Isles which lie far away from London, though probably we lie the farthest. The north of England, Wales and Cornwall, all those places, under the present ré gime of nationalization and centralization will suffer in a degree according to the distance which they are away from the centre. It has been proved again and again, and no more potently than in Scotland, that under centralization the further you are away the greater the slowing-up process there is in business, and, above all, in local government affairs. It only stands to reason. We have tried in Scotland to warn His Majesty's Government again and again of what would happen, but each time some Government spokesman has given a bland and serene denial. Whether it was a shortage of fuel, or a shortage of food, each time the late Minister of Fuel and Power, Mr. Shinwell, or the present Minister of Food, Mr. Strachey, have proclaimed that, "There will be no shortage; there is no crisis"; and dead on time, when the moment arrives, along comes the shortage and the crisis.
666 We fully appreciate that world conditions have played a very considerable part in increasing the difficulties of any Government which might be in power to-day but, as I have said before in your Lordships' House, what makes us mad and wild is that His Majesty's Government, instead of directing their energies to trying to find a solution of their difficulties, have from day to day continued to refuse to put first things first, and have continued to go on with their Party schemes and their little shibboleths. It is a long record of Party first and country second. The day has now dawned when we in the North think that the Government have had a fair chance, and in view of their record, which we cannot find very inspiring, we feel that if they are still bent on pulling the country down to its knees, we in Scotland ought to be allowed to have more of a say in our domestic affairs. I do not want to be vulgar, but we have come to the conclusion that they could not run a hencoop, let alone a country. We feel that, given the chance, we can possibly plug some of the holes with which the ship has been scuttled through bad management—at any rate, at our end of the ship—and if that can be done, perhaps we can close one of the bulkheads before it is too late.
I can assure your Lordships that I am under No 1llusions, nor are those who think as I do, as to the complexity of this problem. The more you think of it the more difficult it seems, but that is no reason for not trying to find the answer. I am confident that the number of people in Scotland who want separation is very small, but those who want more power to deal with our own domestic affairs, which we understand, and which we know from bitter experience you do not, are large in number and they are growing every single day. I, personally, am not one of those who are in favour of any form of separation. I find myself unable yet to go so far as the noble Duke who preceded me. I must say, if he will allow me to say so, that I enjoyed his speech; it was most refreshing; he talked a lot of sound common sense. He has lived in our country for a long time, and he knows it well. But I for one am not prepared to go to the length to which he is prepared to go to-day. Whether in future some form of Dominion status, or something like that, will prove necessary, 667 I do not know, but if this is so it will have to come by evolution. I repeat that we realize how difficult a problem this is We do not really know the answer ourselves—at least, I do not—and that is why we are pressing so strongly for some Committee of Inquiry to be set up which can really go into this matter and, if possible, find a solution. It takes time to set-up committees of inquiry and such committees take even more time to reach conclusions.
In Scotland to-day, as I have said before in different words, you have an uneasy bedmate. The last time I spoke I called Scotland an unwilling partner. Well, uneasy bedmates soon become unwilling partners; and that docs not breed for happiness or unity in these times of great crisis. I very much doubt if there is full realization of the extent to which Scotland contributes to the pool in the way of production, considering its population compared to that of England. I think it is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 5,000,000 to 40,000,000—about one-eighth. I would like very briefly to give your Lordships some figures which, although I cannot verify them, I believe to be reasonably accurate.
Is it realized that in 1946, with 1,500,000 workers in Scotland, Scotland produced one-eighth of the coal, nearly one-third of all the new ships, 40 per cent. of the builder's castings, 45 per cent. of the steam locomotives made under private enterprise, 16 per cent. of the railway wagons, 50 per cent. of the steam-raising plant, 25 per cent. of the coal mining machinery, 100 per cent. of the jute, 90 per cent. of the sewing machines, 33 per cent. of the carpets, 75 per cent. of all the oat products, 23 per cent. of the biscuits, 66 per cent. of the kippers, and last but not least 100 per cent. of all the whisky—a record of which it. is easy to be proud. I mean, of course, the whole record and not the production of whisky. There are many other articles I could enumerate, and shortly, when we have satisfied our own needs, I think hydro-electricity will also be exported to this country to our advantage.
I want to say only a few words more. There is a re-birth in Scotland to-day. You had only to be present at the Edinburgh Festival to realize that. I was, I regret to say, one of those who doubted 668 the wisdom of holding that Festival as early as we did, or even as to the possibility of overcoming the insurmountable difficulties of accommodation, and I should like here and now to pay a tribute to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh and those who worked with him to achieve this very remarkable success. It was not just the lovely music which we heard and the good acting, but it was as if—and those who were there will bear this out—the soul of a nation was being re-born right in the midst of the country, and culture became alive again. It did actually put Scotland right on the map abroad. An enormous number of foreigners visited us, and if your Lordships could have heard what they said about our country I really believe you would almost have blushed.
Turning to the local and smaller industries on the other side of the picture, let us take the cities which are nearest to me, the large cities of Dundee and Arbroath. Look at their condition compared with what it was in 1921 after the 1914-18 war. Industries have been set up and unemployment has very nearly vanished in those cities which in 1921 were the blackest spots in Scotland. They have got themselves going and they have risen, I maintain, by their own exertions and the initiative of their public men, and not with any help of His Majesty's Government.
Last, but not least, we go on producing some magnificent men. All over the world you will find them still. They are still there and still at the head of all the various organizations. Can you wonder, as the noble Duke said, that we want to have more handling of our own domestic affairs? Quite frankly, the last effort of His Majesty's Government has shaken us to the core. They have started using their steam-roller majority to fiddle with the Constitution. I want to know: Are they going to stop there, or are they going right up to the top? We want to know in Scotland. Frankly, we do not trust them one yard—I do not. Noble Lords may laugh, but it is no laughing matter because things move too fast in these days. That is why we consider the matter is urgent. We consider that this is the first step we must take in order to protect what we believe in and to protect our own interests.
669 Only the other day in your Lordships' House the noble Lord, Lord Brand—no mean economist—warned us that the only way for salvation was to travel the hard road. We feel in Scotland that we can travel that road best untrammelled and unfettered by central control from Whitehall, at any rate so far as our domestic affairs are concerned.
THE EARL OK PERTH
I wish to intervene for one moment only, because I do not think the noble Duke—who is not present at the moment—said he was in favour of separation. So far as I understood him, all he said was that he was in favour of setting up a Parliament in Scotland dealing with Scottish affairs within the framework of the United Kingdom.
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
I did not say he was in favour of separation. He spoke of Parliament and I said I could not go as far as that.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
My Lords, we have just heard three speeches of considerable eloquence and I am sure your Lordships will be in no doubt about the sincerity of the speakers. They have shown quite clearly, from three different points of view, the desire which they consider exists in Scotland for a greater measure of devolution. The noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, who is not with us at the moment, may not have said he was in favour of separation, but he certainly said that the Scottish Liberal Party were in favour of a Parliament in Scotland and Home Rule for Scotland. He not only said it to-day, but he has said it for a great many years. Personally, I agree with my noble friend the Earl of Airlie and I am not in favour of Home Rule. I would remind the noble Duke that if the Scottish Liberal Party at the last Election did have Home Rule for Scotland as the main plank of their platform not only did they not win a single seat in Scotland but they did not even retain any of the seats they held before. Therefore, it is perfectly fair for those of us not in favour of Home Rule for Scotland to point out to the noble Duke and his supporters that there does not seem to be a general wish in Scotland for Home Rule, let alone for separation.
We do feel that we are being very greatly neglected at the present time, and that centralization—which is practically the 670 watchword of the Socialist Party—is deleterious to Scotland. There is nothing new about centralization. It was dangerous to Scotland many years before the Socialist Party had ever arisen. Looking back over some of my father's speeches of the old days, I see that in a speech in 1886 at Linlithgow he said that the great menace to Scotland in the future was a centralization of all things in London. That was 61 years ago, even before the day of Keir Hardie. We have always felt there was this difficulty. Speaking in a non-Party manner, I think there is no doubt that in the last twenty or thirty years things have tended to come to London, and not only from Scotland. London has increased out of all proportion and people are bringing everything to London. If I were an Englishman I should regard that in itself as being very deleterious to England There is no question as regards Scotland that in the last two years we have had more power taken from us.
Here let me say that I wish the present Secretary of State, who has just taken over, the best of good fortune. He rather reminds me of the time when the late Lord Alverstone, who was then Lord Chief Justice of England, came to me when I was a boy (Lord Alverstone was President of the Surrey County Cricket Club) and asked me if I would take over the captaincy of the Surrey eleven. I said that as Surrey was the bottom county it could not possibly go any lower under my captaincy, and therefore I felt that I could accept. I cannot help feeling that Mr. Arthur Woodburn is in much the same position in regard to Scotland. We really have been let down within the last two years. Every year Scottish Peers on both sides of the House have come down here and have been told they had come to make trouble; but we came only to try to get justice, which we never did get. Take the case of the Electricity Act. We asked for a separate board for Scotland. Were we given one? We certainly were not. I think we were given one representative—I am not sure.
§ THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
But London was given a separate board—London, which incorporates Whitehall, and even Transport House, which I understand is even more important! London is given a separate board whereas we in Scotland, hundreds of miles away, 671 who have our own troubles and our own affairs, are given a single representative. When I was Regional Commissioner during the war we were allowed to use our own judgment, up to a point. We are allowed one man on the Electricity board, while London, which is at the hub, is given a committee of its own. After all, I think even people in London would admit that we have in Scotland persons of knowledge and experience who would be quite capable of running an Electricity board in Scotland.
Or take the Town and Country Planning Act, which was brought out with such a furore and which we were told was going to alter the whole face of Britain—and for all I know it will, though not in my lifetime. We are allowed one part-time member on the board. What exactly a "part-time member" is I do not know. But surely one would have thought that Scotland, where the Londoners are, I understand, going to cut out large portions for public parks so that they can go there during August and September and relax from Whitehall, should be allowed something more than one part-time member. However, there it is.
In the Transport Act there is no provision for a Scottish board at all, yet one would have thought we needed one, considering the nature of the roads in Scotland, where you sometimes have to go a hundred miles, instead of going across country for fifteen miles. We have no say in the matter at all. Things like these have made the people in Scotland feel that we are being badly treated. And we have every right to think so. The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, who initiated this debate, mentioned the Scottish Labour Party Conference which took place recently in Dundee. At that Conference Mr. J. Taylor, who was the Secretary, naïvely said—so far as I could make out—that he was in favour of Home Rule for Scotland, until the Labour Party got a large majority. When the Labour Party got a large majority in the country he said, "I see no reason for Home Rule in Scotland." This was a man who had been stumping up and down the country in common with other Labour candidates in 1945, having as one plank in their platform Home Rule for Scotland. The Party having got in, he left Scotland to walk the plank. His 672 remark, I take it, has crystalized the views of the Labour Party in that district. Perhaps it is not without interest to recall that in the municipal elections in Dundee there was a violent swing against Labour and there is no longer a Labour majority in Dundee. So they cannot think much of Mr. Taylor or his committee.
But let us go to someone far more important than Mr. Taylor. Your Lordships may recall what the Prime Minister, Mr. Attlee, said about Scotland in 1945. He said that he was in favour of a measure of devolution of authority in Scotland within a federal framework. I do not quite know what that means; but certainly, so far as we know, nothing of the kind has yet been attempted by the Labour Government, and this, I presume, must be only one of the many things on which the Prime Minister appears to have been out-voted in his own Cabinet. At any rate we have heard nothing more since he made that announcement when he became Prime Minister in 1945. All we do know is that he is academically in favour of devolution for Scotland. But we have got past the days of academic statements. We want something practical.
I do not agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, that we want four more Under-Secretaries. What we want is to give to the local authorities the executive powers that have been taken away from them. We have an excellent body of men in Scotland—in fact I think Scots are notorious for their powers of argument; and they certainly do conduct their own affairs, on local authorities and in the burghs, exceedingly well. But all this authority has now been taken away; it is taken over first by the panjandrum, if I may use the expression, the Secretary of State of Scotland, and then possibly it goes on to London. The first thing that should be done is to restore that executive power so far as possible to the municipalities, the burghs and the towns. Could we not have that to start with, and then some Commission of inquiry? I do not want a Star Chamber Commission, like the one now sitting on the Press. We want the Commission to be as public as possible so that everything can be threshed out; then we could get back to managing our own affairs in our own way. We do not want to have an iron curtain on the Cheviots. We want the right to administer our own affairs.
673 Only the other day I was at a place where they wanted to get a small licence in connexion with food regulation, or something of the kind, and they had been having difficulty. I said, "What did you do? They said, "We had to write to Colwyn Bay." Fancy some authority in the Orkneys or the Shetlands or the Outer Isles having to write to Colwyn Bay for a twopenny-halfpenny licence! We want to have things of that sort in our own hands. It would make for better feeling, better governing, and better ruling in Scotland, and it would relieve a great deal of the congestion there is in another place now. It might even be possible to allow private Members once more to bring in a Private Member's Bill, which they are not allowed to do at present. We want a Commission, an honest one, which the Government would accept, and which would give back to us in Scotland the power that has been taken away from us in the last two years. In the case of the Hydro-Electric Act, Mr. Tom Johnston, being a very able Socialist, got 75 per cent. of the work under that measure contracted out, because he himself was running it; the other 25 per cent. is now run by the Central Electricity Board in London. That is only one example. Why should not the whole 100 per cent. be run from Scotland? In my view—and I am sure I am speaking for the majority of the people of Scotland—we do not want Home Rule for Scotland. We are not extremists and we do not want a separate Parliament, but we do want greater power to manage our own affairs.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ LORD TWEEDSMUIR
My Lords, I shall be very brief. We have listened to forcible and reasoned arguments from noble Lords more fitted to speak than myself. Surely this problem is not so much one of independence for Scotland as one of greater independence for Scotsmen to run their own affairs. No one has ever succeeded in preventing Scotsmen from taking part in the running of other countries, and running those countries successfully, but they are progressively being prevented from running their own affairs in their own country. This is not the first time that we have brought this matter up on this side of the House. On each occasion before, we have been gently chided by His Majesty's Ministers for exaggerating the problem. The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, and the noble 674 Earl, Lord Rosebery, both made references to the Scottish Labour Party Conference in Dundee last month. I think that the deliberations and resolutions of that Conference must convince the Government that the feeling I have mentioned extends to all political Parties.
Members of the Government Bench will remember that in the General Election of 1945 a great many of their colleagues put in the very forefront of their Election programmes the decentralization of Scottish affairs. They made a good case for it. Their conviction was, no doubt, sincere; but their conversion was startling, to say the least of it, once the Election was over. No doubt, they were persuaded by powerful d arguments of such devastating logic, and we should very much like to hear what those arguments are. As I said earlier, this is not the first time that we have thrown ourselves against the genial defences of the noble Lord, Lord Morrison. The noble Lord is too much a realist to tell us now that we are exaggerating this problem. He knows, too, that there is a growing body of opinion in Scotland which does not regard advisory councils or consultative committees or assurances, or any such poor provender, as a satisfactory substitute for resident and responsible management of Scottish affairs.
There has been some talk of those people in Scotland—and undoubtedly there are some—who look to separation as the only way out. It is worth remembering, in passing, that there was a time in the eighteenth century when there was no feeling of separation in the North American Colonies. The British Government of that day found that feeling hard to stir up, but stir it up they surely did by refusing the dwellers in those territories a reasonable control over their own affairs. Our plea, contained in the Motion of the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank is an extremely moderate one. We must at all costs be reasonable in this matter. Unless we bring a reasonable approach to it, we cannot hope to effect a reasonable solution. I take it to be a basic and inescapable fact that financially and politically this Island must always be one. We will do nothing or say nothing to injure by one iota the essential unity of Britain at this time. The formulation of broad policy must always take place at the centre, but its 675 application should be decentralized, so far as possible. We must have, and I think we always will have, an administration that covers the whole of these Islands. But that is no bar to the people of Scotland, and other distant parts, applying it to their own conditions. Unless we have that reasoned decentralization we shall continue in the grip of this remote control which dehydrates everything it touches.
The noble Earl, Lord Airlie, went deeply into the question of Scotland's economic resources in this day and age, and I will not go over that again. Scottish industry and commerce are a substantial part of that of the whole industry of Britain, and yet her share and her control over her own affairs lessens as each year passes. I say nothing against central planners. They are, no doubt, sincere and gifted men, but it is not surprising that when they plan they think in terms of the centre, and not of the more distant regions. It is not surprising, too, that they are a little impatient of those people who may be in the outlying regions and who raise differences of local conditions as a difficulty, and whose wants and needs do not tally with the policy of complete uniformity. That is no charge against the good will of the planners; it is merely the inevitable working of that system. That is why the effects of centralization are felt on the perimeter first, and that is why we in Scotland feel what will be felt a great deal nearer London in the years ahead of us if this process is not arrested.
As the noble Earl, Lord Rosebery, said when he gave us an excellent example, centralization was not started by this Government; it started close upon a century ago. It has been recognized in the last few years for the steadily devitalizing force that it is, a force which devitalizes and saps the vigour of a nation. If Britain is to find her way out of this present crisis it will be with vigour and vitality which we cannot now afford to lose. There is another powerful tendency at work; power is gradually passing in this country from the Legislature to the executive. Nationalized industries are powerful instruments in the hands of the executive. Their connexion with the Legislature I take to be in the evolutionary phase now. It is extremely ill-defined in many cases. Thus, 676 for the first time, the great mercantile nation of Scotland finds its industries under remote political control.
The noble Earl, Lord Airlie, spoke of the Amendments which we put forward, which I shall always believe were eminently reasonable, on the Civil Aviation and Transport Bills. If they had been accepted, they would have given a reasonable measure of resident and responsible management, such as we need. His Majesty's Government, I am quite certain, realize that the growth of Scottish opinion on the subject of decentralization has gone forward in the last year with even more rapid momentum than in any of the years preceding it. They realize, too, as I am sure they must, that if centralization proceeds in its present form there will be fewer and fewer chances for men of energy and brains and enterprise to earn the due rewards of their talents in that part of the country in which they were born, for they must inevitably be drawn towards the centre.
Less and less responsibility will repose in the hands of those who manage local affairs. More and more frequent will their references have to be to the control authority. As I sit down, I agree most cordially with the noble Earl, Lord Airlie, when he said that what is happening in Scotland now is in fact the touchstone of affairs in Britain generally, and what we now contend with in Scotland will soon be felt in Yorkshire and Lancashire, and will eventually creep by degrees towards the centre. This problem has been stated to-day with all the eloquence at our command. That it is a problem, I think is generally agreed. The proposal contained in the Motion of my noble friend, Lord Elibank, I consider to be a reasonable and sincere one, and I have pleasure in supporting it.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ LORD POLWARTH
My Lords, in rising I should like to make an apology for absence on behalf of my noble friend, Lord Selkirk. I am sure many of us are sorry he cannot be here to-day. We know the great interest he takes in this subject, and the wide and long experience he has in regard to it. He is, unfortunately, absent in the United States, where he is doing a very good job of work endeavouring to show what part 677 Scottish enterprise can play in earning the dollars which are to be our salvation.
I spoke to an Englishman on this subject of devolution the other day, and he said that to raise the matter during this present crisis in the country's affairs was like complaining of dry rot at the moment when the house is on fire. That may be, but the fact remains that when the fire is put out—as put out it will be—the dry rot will still have to be treated, and the sooner the treatment is decided upon the better for all of us. I do not claim to speak with the eloquence or experience of the speakers who have gone before me. I wish only to speak as one who, like my noble friend, Lord Airlie, spends a great deal more of his time in Scotland than in your Lordships' House, and therefore as one who ventures to think that he is in touch with Scottish opinion of all classes. Those of us who are so in touch are becoming ever more aware of the growing dissatisfaction, not in any one class but throughout the whole of Scotland. You have only to go to Edinburgh and speak to a tram conductor or a railway porter, or go into the country and speak to a farm worker, and you will receive some very forthright views on the subject which might surprise some of the noble Lords opposite.
What is at the bottom of this matter? It seems to me that the basis of it is an apathy on the subject which is born of ignorance—ignorance of the problems, of the conditions and of public opinion in Scotland. I should have liked the noble Lord, Lord Morrison, before he comes to the defence, as I gather he will to-night, to be supported by other noble Lords on his side of the House, because that would have been some indication to us that His Majesty's Government are not so apathetic as they appear to be.
This is no new problem. I do not claim that it has been given birth by the present Government. We saw it before the war in such organizations as the railway companies and in some of the other large industrial companies, many of which had grown to such a size that they were not capable of unified central control. Recently even the Lord President of the Council admitted that every day we are seeing more and more the evils that go with bigness. But the problem has been intensified by the present Government. It 678 has been intensified by their transfer of large parts of industry to the State. It has been intensified by the growing restrictions which have been imposed on the responsibility and initiative of local authorities. It has been increased by the concentration of power at the centre, and by the resultant loading of so many burdens on the shoulders of the Secretary of State. There is an intolerable Lord on the person and the personality of the Secretary of State. In the Coalition Government during the war, that staunch and genuine Scotsman, Mr. Tom Johnston, had the support of a number of other Scotsmen in other posts in the Government—Sir John Anderson, Sir Archibald Sinclair, Sir Andrew Duncan, and others. In this Government the Secretary of State has to all appearances stood alone, with remarkably little support from his colleagues.
Other speakers have touched on the administrative and legislative sides of this problem. I want to say a few words on its industrial aspect because, in these days of nationalized industry, the two are inextricably mixed up. I know that this is a problem which affects not only Scotland but the whole country, and I am glad that we are to have an opportunity before long of debating this peculiar aspect of it. But what I submit is that the degree of centralized power which is being acquired by the Government in these industries is justifiable neither on economic nor on moral grounds I challenge the Government to find any economist who would openly justify absentee ownership or absentee control, and yet both of these are being clothed by statutory powers. I submit that no man can manage that which he cannot conveniently and easily see. He cannot understand the broad problems of an area unless he reads the newspapers published in that area. It is a fact that nobody in London to-day reads the papers which are published in Scotland, any more than anyone in Scotland reads the papers published in London, because the majority of the so-called London papers which appear in Scotland are, in fact, Northern or Scottish editions in which a great deal of the home news is changed to suit the particular area. Therefore, I would submit that it is economically and fundamentally inefficient to have a structure with such a high degree of centralization.
679 Nor can it be justified on moral grounds. By spreading responsibility His Majesty's Government are showing that they have confidence in their citizens; by withdrawing it they make it plain that they are not prepared to trust any but the members of the narrow governing clique. It is undemocratic and contrary to the whole dignity of man for one large portion of the community to be controlled by another portion who live at a distance, and I think it is peculiarly cynical that Scotland, which has contributed perhaps more to the conception of the dignity of man and to that priceless quality of independence of thought than any other country, should at the present time stand enthralled in so many respects by a long distance administration.
I will not keep your Lordships much longer, but I do want to ask His Majesty's Government to tell us this: Are they satisfied with the present state of affairs or are they not? If they are, let them say so categorically, and defend that view. If they are not, will they tell us what they intend to do about it, because that is the question on which Scotland is demanding an answer? I would finally say this, in all seriousness. During the last two years, the reluctance of the Government to understand the problems which peculiarly affect Scotland—problems which have been expressed clearly and frequently in your Lordships' House—. have driven many thinking men in Scotland to seek some other solution to their problems, some solution which will enable those problems to be handled by people who are resident in the country and who have a knowledge of it. It is, as I have said, manifestly no use piling further duties on the shoulders of the Secretary of State. These problems will be solved not by the few but by the many. Scotland will be untrue to her traditions if she allows the present situation to continue, and I therefore ask His Majesty's Government, apart from any questions of Party, to consider very seriously what action they will take to set up an inquiry such as the noble Viscount has recommended. If they do not, they do so at their own peril.
§ 5.50 p.m.
My Lords, I will stand for but a moment between your Lordships and my noble friend Lord 680 Morrison, whom we all wish to hear reply to this Motion. I have listened, as have all, Scots in particular, with keen interest to this debate. I find myself cordially in agreement with the remarks made by my noble friend Lord Tweedsmuir. If your Lordships will allow me briefly to state my opinion, I would submit that the issue which faces us in Scotland to-day is one which must be resolved with all possible speed. I suggest that Scotland should regain the power freely to manage her own domestic affairs with full authority and responsibility, whilst making with others her contribution to the Imperial Parliament in London.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ LORD HUTCHISON OF MONTROSE
My Lords, I just want to give utterance to a few sentences on this Motion. First of all I wish to say how grateful I am to my noble friend Lord Elibank for bringing this matter forward, especially at this time. I support him. I admired the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Rosebery, and I thought that his remarks were very much to the point. In industry, banking and other matters in England you have the advantage of some of the best brains that have come from Scotland. Scotsmen run activities of that kind most efficiently because they are so well trained in business matters, administration and all else that concerns these great industries. The reason the present Government have not been successful in dealing with national affairs is that, unfortunately, they have not a single Scot among the Big Five or Six at the top of the Cabinet. There is not one Scot among them. I would strongly recommend my noble friend Lord Morrison to convey that to leading Members of the Cabinet, and to point out to them that they will never meet with success until they do leaven the Cabinet in the way at which I have hinted.
There is no doubt whatever that we have suffered very greatly in Scotland through centralization of control in London in regard to all kinds of matters that affect us financially and in other ways. I regret that the Committee of past Secretaries of State set up by the former Secretary of State, Mr. Tom Johnston, has been dissolved, and I hope that the present Secretary of State, who was brought up in the school as P.P.S. to Mr. Tom Johnston, will revive that Committee. That Committee with their experience of the 681 past, working in a Scottish place, would be able far better than almost any other Committee to point out to the Government what is weak and what is required in Scottish administration. Scottish administration to-day depends very largely on the personality of the Secretary of State. If he is able to come down here and get what he wants, Scotland more or less progresses on a level keel. But when you get people down here who know nothing about Scottish affairs—Scottish local affairs, in particular—and who try to legislate and send out regulations dealing with Scotland, then the people of Scotland strongly resent it. I hope that when the noble Lord, Lord Morrison, replies on behalf of the Government, he will not just say that the Government have this matter under very careful consideration, but will give us some hope that a Committee such as I have suggested will be set up to look into the matter very carefully and report to the Government, and that the Government will take action accordingly.
§ 5.56 p.m.
§ LORD MORRISON
My Lords, this has been to me, at any rate, a very interesting all-Scottish debate, which, I think, could easily have gone on for several days longer and probably have produced an even greater number of constructive suggestions than we have had. I cannot remember listening, in your Lordships' House, to a debate in which so many constructive proposals and diverse proposals have been made, ranging from the one just put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Hutchison of Montrose, to the effect that one of the Big Five in the Cabinet should be a Scotsman, to that made by the noble Viscount who initiated this debate, in such an interesting speech, that there should be four Under-Secretaries for Scotland.
At the outset, I think I should, on behalf of the new Secretary of State for Scotland, thank noble Lords for the good wishes they have expressed towards him and for their kindly references to his appointment. Next, I would like to echo what Lord Polwarth has said, and to express my own personal regret that the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, is not able to be with us this afternoon. He has always shown himself so keenly interested in all Scottish affairs that the debate does not seem really complete without his presence 682 here. We all hope that he will soon be back among us again.
This debate has covered a very wide field, and, like Scottish debates generally, which are not easily understood by Englishmen, it has brought out a great diversity of views but an underlying unity of purpose. That I think is something which Englishmen often fail to understand—that, although so many diverse views may be expressed on all kinds of points, there is underlying them a deep unity of purpose—and it is something which I propose to comment upon. Now I would like at once to make one or two things clear, or as clear as I possibly can. What I have to say at this stage I thought would be easy, but, having heard what has been said by some of the speakers, I am not quite so sure about that. The first point that I wish to make is that this is not a matter of Party politics at all—I note that at least one noble Lord agrees with me—and I am not approaching it in any Party spirit. I should have thought that surely there are enough differences between political Parties in this House and in the country, and that no one would be desirous of adding to them. In my opinion—and I express it with great humility—it would be a tragedy if Scotland were to be torn asunder by reason of this issue of devolution, or whatever you care to call it, which we have been discussing this afternoon, being thrown into the cockpit of Party politics. I can say definitely, whatever anyone else may say, that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is approaching this in an earnest endeavour to interpret the spirit of Scotland as a whole. I freely admit that, on the whole, in this debate noble Lords have not spoken from the Party point of view, although my noble friend the Earl Airlie came, I thought, on the border-line.
§ LORD MORRISON
My Lords, I have here, but I will not trouble the House with them, a series of resolutions passed by Scottish Conservatives, Scottish National Liberals, Scottish Liberals, and Scottish Labour representatives in Scotland, all of which testify to the great demand of all sections of the community 683 in Scotland for the fullest possible scope in the management of their own affairs. Probably, some of your Lordships saw an article by the Editor of a well-known Sunday newspaper, published on a recent Sunday, in which he announced the result of a poll taken in Scotland by one of the newspapers belonging to his group. The result was that 75 per cent. of those in the poll declaring themselves Conservatives favoured some kind of self-government for Scotland; 80 per cent. of those who declared themselves Socialists were in favour of self-government; and 70 per cent. of those who said they were Liberals also shared that opinion. I have No 1nformation as to the exact question put to these people, nor am I sure what they understood by the term "self-government," which is capable of various meanings, but I do not dispute, nor as far as I know does anyone else, that this is an important topic in Scotland to-day.
This Editor went on to say, and I quote his exact words:Do not think that because Scotland is seeking to control her own affairs she is demanding complete separation and independence from England. That is not the case.I think your Lordships who know the people of Scotland much better than I do would also accept that view, and indeed the debate this afternoon has borne that out. If I may say one further word, no less an authority on Scotland than the noble Earl, Lord Rosebery—who asked me to excuse him, which I readily do, for not being able to stay to hear my reply—said something similar quite recently:In my view, Home Rule for Scotland would not be wise.And he almost said the same thing this afternoon.It would necessitate the setting up of a separate Scottish Parliament which would be a slow and costly business and might do much to break the essential links with the rest of Britain.The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, covered the same points this afternoon. The noble Earl added in a picturesque phrase, that, "No far-seeing Scotsman wants to build an iron curtain on the Cheviots."
For these reasons therefore I hope we are all agreed on two points—though we are not agreed on all—(a) this is not 684 a Party political question; and (b) there is a strong demand from all sections of the Scottish people for a greater control of their own affairs. If I may, I would like to add one further point which I hope will also be agreed. Indeed, I do not see how any noble Lord, having listened to this debate, could do other than agree with this. When we leave generalities and come down to proposals for definite action the position becomes less simple. To-day's speeches have certainly borne that out. The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, gave a brief and most interesting review of the development of control in Scotland which I shall have the pleasure of reading again tomorrow. He went on to make constructive suggestions which I am certain will receive the closest consideration from the Secretary of State. He referred to the Electricity Act, the Transport Act and the Civil Aviation Act, on all of which I propose to say a word in a moment or so. To my mind, the outstanding note of his speech was that he was definitely opposed to a Scottish Parliament. He advocated four Under-Secretaries and the giving of power over finance to the Scottish Grand Committee. I am certain he will not expect me to reply to these very valuable and interesting constructive points on the spur of the moment, as I had no notice that the noble Viscount was going to raise them, and he will be the first to admit that they require consideration from someone with more authority to speak than I have.
He was followed by the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, who gave me the impression that he was prepared to go a lot farther than the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, but was very definite that he was not in favour of separation. I was particularly impressed by the noble Duke's references to the troubles of the Conservative Party from the enthusiasm of their enthusiasts, and the equally serious troubles in the Labour Party from the enthusiasm of their enthusiasts. As the noble Duke spoke from the Liberal Benches, perhaps that Party is not troubled with any enthusiasms. And then came the noble Earl, Lord Airlie, who appeared to me to have come down here with his notes a little mixed, and another speech entirely had got into the middle of his notes. He gave an excellent speech on Scotland in the first and third parts, and somehow an entirely different speech, 685 in which he accused even innocent noble Lords on this side of being in effect Nazis and followers of a system equal to anything Hitler ever produced—
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
I do not wish to interrupt and I hesitate to do so, but I think I said that that very tendency on which they were leaning had an effect on Scottish affairs. I was trying to say that the sooner we came to some conclusion about exactly where we stood, the happier we in Scotland would be. And may I answer this about the noble Lord's first point, about Party politics? I said that, speaking from the broad point of view, I approached this question from the nonparty point of view, but when it came to the question of urgency, then I was bound to bring it into the realm of Party politics because of the Government's action.
§ LORD MORRISON
That was why I was endeavouring to explain that there had been some mistake, and that the two speeches had got a little mixed. It has happened to me before now and I thought it had happened to the noble Lord.
§ LORD MORRISON
I was going to say that I have no doubt the excellent speech of the noble Earl, Lord Airlie, will be received by his many supporters in Scotland with enthusiasm, but I hope he will be warned by the wise words of the noble Duke to beware of enthusiasts, because apparently the quickest way of destroying a political Party is to allow enthusiasts to control it.
I had intended to make a lengthy reply to the excellent speech of the noble Earl, Lord Rosebery, but I would only say that the suggestions he made, as befits those coming from one who has held such an eminent position as he has, will be very closely considered by the Secretary of State and by the Government. On the delightful and thoughtful speech of the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, I have only time to make one comment. He seemed to assume that proposals for devolution in Scotland had been turned down by the Government. I can assure him this is not so. That is not the position.
Criticism has been made in this debate of various forms of administration. Some 686 of these forms, I would remind your Lordships, are new and there is much to learn. Some have considerable achievements to their credit. The Government are in full agreement with the view that in the management of socialized industries there should not be undue centralization and there should be scope for Scottish initiative in the handling of issues that can best be determined on a Scottish basis. I hope your Lordships will agree that there is no one solution which can be applied to the variety of industries now being brought under public ownership. Each case has to be considered individually and the form of organization worked out which will enable that industry to function with the maximum efficiency and give the best service to the community. In short, the aim of the Government is to secure a proper devolution from the centre and proper machinery for consideration of local problems.
Take coal, for instance. A Scottish Divisional Coal Board have been set up which, within the overriding authority of the National Coal Board, have administrative autonomy and are able to coordinate development in the coal mines in their areas. I think, however, it is clear that Scottish miners and managers are proving that the new order is one which they appreciate. The Scottish Divisional Coal Board have taken advantage of their authority to press on with particular projects, which have perhaps been worked out more fully in Scotland than in certain other parts of the country. Drift mining, for example, is likely in Scotland to make a material contribution to coal production in the course of the next few years, and developments here are considerably more advanced than in any other coalfields. Again, one of the few big new pits which have recently been started in Britian is in Scotland, and the latest technical improvements which are being incorporated are in a special degree the result of Scottish engineering skill and foresight.
So far as the miners are concerned, I think it is reasonable to draw attention to the fact that, in spite of the attractive calls of many competing industries, the manpower position in Scottish pits has improved from 79,365 at the beginning of the year to 81,128 on the first of this month. This provides some indication, at least, that Scottish miners are content with the present degree of devolution.
687 Moreover, the production of coal has shown a striking increase, and in the last week for which figures are available Scottish miners have exceeded all recent figures for production—490,000 tons for the week ending November 8. This is the highest since last March.
Mention was made by several speakers of the transport position in connexion with the Transport Bill which passed through your Lordships' House a few months ago. I would remind your Lordships that it is a little early to speak of this industry in terms of administration, for the detailed arrangements are still being worked out; but the Government's intention was expressed during the passage of the Transport Bill by the Minister of Transport, who said this:I want to give assurances to Scotland similar to those given by me on the Second Reading of the Bill. Honourable Members have pressed for a good deal of devolution and I am satisfied that it will go on. The scheme and intention of the Bill are that there should be full measure of devolution of responsibility in respect of Scotland. I have no doubt that this will be the policy of the British Transport Commission. It is recognized that there is a special case for the maximum devolution consistent with efficiency, but the detailed plan in ensuring such devolution must be left to be worked out by the Commission when it is appointed.Since the passing of the Transport Act, Scottish members have been appointed to the Transport Commission itself (Sir Ian Bolton, Chartered Accountant and Director of the L.M.S. Railway), the Railway Executive (Sir Wilfred Ayre, Chairman of the Burntisland Shipbuilding Company), and the Docks and Inland Waterways Executive (Sir Hector McNeill, Lord Provost of Glasgow and a member of the Clyde Navigation Trust). The Act also provides for the setting up of Transport Users' Consultative Committees for such parts of Great Britain as the Minister thinks fit; and requires that at all times there shall be such a Committee for Scotland.
I would like next to say a few words on the matter of civil aviation, which was touched on by the noble Viscount, Lord Elibank. Here there has been considerable controversy, having its centre in the Prestwick Aerodrome. It is right that the Scottish people should maintain a close interest in this great airport. Under a previous administration they had no guarantee whatsoever that their interests 688 were safeguarded. The name of Mr. Thomas Johnston has been mentioned from the Benches opposite by several speakers to-day as if what he says goes. This is what he said:It was not until the advent of this Government that Prestwick was designated as a civil and international airport.He went on further to point out that only a disservice was done to Prestwick by an attempt made in some quarters to sidetrack the volume of exasperation in Scotland into partisan channels. Since then Prestwick has been established as one of Britain's great air terminals, and in parenthesis may I say that it is intended to undertake the strengthening of its runways in the spring of next year.
A Scottish Advisory Council for Civil Aviation has been appointed under the chairmanship of Sir Patrick Dollan, to advise the three statutory airways corporations on civil aviation matters affecting Scotland. The Minister of Civil Aviation has appointed the chairman of the council a member of the Board of the British European Airways Corporation. A local headquarters of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, with a Divisional Controller in charge, has been established near Prestwick to administer all the aerodromes and ground services in Scotland. In addition, a Scottish Aerodrome Board has been appointed under the chairmanship of the Divisional Controller, Ministry of Civil Aviation, to deal with all questions of aerodrome administration in Scotland. The Board is composed of independent Scottish representatives, together with expert members of the Divisional Controller's staff.
Perhaps a few figures may be useful. For example, on V-E Day the route mileage of all United Kingdom internal services to and within Scotland was 1,992 miles, while the scheduled mileage per week was 29,364 miles. Last summer—and this is, of course, a true comparison, for on V-E Day summer schedules were in operation—the route mileage was 3,754 miles, and the weekly scheduled mileage 66,416 miles, more than 100 per cent. increase. Even that is not the full measure of the situation, because larger aircraft are now used. It is, therefore, clear that Scotland is appreciably better served than she was before. All sorts of other accusations have been made in another place that there is some sinister conspiracy against Prestwick, and 689 that its designation as an international airport may be withdrawn at any time. This is far from the truth. It is the intention to maintain Prestwick and to do everything possible in the present difficult times to develop it.
May I just say a word or two about the Electricity Act, which passed through your Lordships' House a month or two ago? Under the Electricity Act, as your Lordships will recall, the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board became responsible for the generation and distribution of electricity in the North of Scotland district. They are quite independent of the British Electricity Authority and have full power to deal with all electricity matters in their area, subject to the directions of the Secretary of State. The south-east and south-west of Scotland come under the jurisdiction of the British Electricity Authority, which is responsible for generation. Area Boards responsible under the Central Authority for distribution are to be set up for each of the two areas. The Chairman of the North of Scotland Board is to be a permanent member of the British Electricity Authority, and the Chairman of the South-west Area Board has been appointed one of the first members to serve in rotation on the Authority. Consultative committees are to be set up for the North of Scotland District and for the other areas with separate Area Boards.
I hope your Lordships will see that a great deal has already been done to meet the special needs and interest of Scotland, and your Lordships may rest assured that these needs and interests will be carefully watched, not only in the administration or legislation already passed, and the development of enterprise already launched, but also in the framing of fresh legislation and the shaping of new schemes. If I may be allowed one sentence as a postscript, I would add that recently the Lord President decided to establish in Scotland an important economic research institute particularly fitted for Scotland—mechanical engineering—with sub-stations for fuel, building and road research. I have taken some time in mentioning these matters, because I fear that some of the speeches to which I have listened this afternoon were on the depressing side, and put all the emphasis on the disadvantages under which Scotland was said to suffer, and not on anything that 690 was being done for Scotland. I suppose it is customary for those of us who are in politics to tend to exaggerate the points we wish to make and to ignore those that are not in our favour. But I thought it would balance up the debate a little if I gave the information in that way.
The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, will remember that on July 30, in this House, he asked me a question and I assured him that the arrangements for the conduct of Scottish affairs will continue to be kept under a close review. I think he will probably agree with me that that reply did not get any of us very far. On November 4, in another place, the new Secretary of State for Scotland said:I am fully aware of the various sentiments being expressed in Scotland on these matters and am at present exploring the position and best possible action.Perhaps the noble Viscount will say that that does not get us very far either.
§ LORD MORRISON
So far we are in agreement. I think the noble Viscount, with his long experience, will appreciate that my right honourable friend has been in office only a little over a month. The issues are complex and there is no single answer that can be made. The debate this afternoon has shown, as I have said a tremendous diversity of opinion. It would be very easy to set up a Committee, but before you set up a Committee—as I said when the noble Viscount raised this question before—the Government must have a clear idea of the questions with which they wish the Committee to deal. There have been enough suggestions this afternoon to keep a Committee going for many years to come. To-day, however, I can go a little way—not very far, but a little way. The Secretary of State for Scotland authorizes me to say that he is fully conscious of the feeling in Scotland regarding the desirability of a more intimate control by Scotland over its own affairs.
THE DUKE OF MONTROSE
The Scottish Secretary of the Labour Party said that you cannot be a good Socialist and a Scotsman, and people resent that statement very much.
§ LORD MORRISON
The Secretary of State authorizes me to say that he is fully conscious of the feeling in Scotland regarding the desirability of a more intimate control by Scotland over its own affairs, and he is pursuing his inquiries into the possibility of action as a matter of urgency. I am sure the noble Viscount will realize that I have gone as far as I have any authority to go, and in the light of the statement I have just made perhaps he would not desire to press his Motion further to-day. Of course it is not for me to advise him either one way or another. I have made the statement on behalf of the Secretary of State for Scotland, and the noble Viscount will take such action as he thinks wise and prudent.
§ 6.25 p.m.
My Lords, first of all I wish to thank those noble Lords who have so kindly and eloquently supported me in my Motion this afternoon. If I may I would particularly thank the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, for agreeing, as I understood he did, that if he could not get this separate Parliament for Scotland or his Home Rule for Scotland, he would be glad to accept something on the lines of the suggestions I made this afternoon.
As the noble Lord, Lord Morrison, said, this debate has shown that there is great diversity of opinion in Scotland as to how devolution should be carried out. But, as he also pointed out, underlying it there was a great unity of purpose, and that great unity of purpose is that an independent representative Committee should be set up to examine the various points or forms of devolution and to recommend to Scotland what should be done.
§ LORD MORRISON
Would the noble Viscount forgive me? Independent of what? Independent of Parliament?
I withdraw the word "independent." I should have said "representative Committee of Inquiry." The noble Lord has also admitted that there is a strong demand by Scots for greater control of their own affairs in Scotland. That is very important. There is a unity of purpose in that, as well as in the other, and I suggest to the noble Lord—whilst accepting the statement made by the Secretary of State for Scotland that he is fully conscious of 692 Scottish desires for the establishment of more control by Scotland and that they regard it as a matter of urgency—that he should consider this desire for a Committee of Inquiry. It was not mentioned in the reply given us by the noble Lord on behalf of the Secretary of State, but I suggest that he should set up that Committee of Inquiry as soon as possible.
The noble Lord has suggested that we should not make this a Party question. When I put down my Motion I had No 1ntention of giving it the slightest tinge of Party issue, but when the Scottish Labour Party in Dundee deliberately attack the Party which I have the honour to represent in this matter, and say that because there is Socialist rule more devolution is no longer required, then I consider that I have a right—in fact it is my duty—in moving a Motion of this kind to refer to such a fact and to refute it. Having said that, I may add that I was glad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Morrison, say that he hoped it would not be a Party matter. None of us on these Benches wish it to be a Party matter. What we want is a Committee of Inquiry into all these diverse views which have been expressed to-day—and which may be expressed in other parts of Scotland—so that we may get at the real hard facts and know what is the best thing to be done.
Whilst it gives me some satisfaction that the Secretary of State for Scotland does regard this matter as urgent, I feel that mere expression of that does not go far enough, and I cannot say that I am completely satisfied with the noble Lord's answer. What I want to know, and what we all want to know, is: when is this Committee of Inquiry to be set up? Consequently, I propose to put down another Motion, in similar terms, for December 2, on which date the noble Lord, Lord Lindsay of Birker, already has a Motion down. The noble Lord is not here to-day, but he wrote me an extremely nice letter, telling me that he would have to be absent. His Motion is couched in different terms, and although it has a broader survey, it refers only to nationalized industries This would not cover the point which we have debated to-day, and consequently I propose to put down a Motion after his, asking the noble Lord, Lord Morrison, whether the 693 time has now come when he will set up a Committee of Inquiry. With those few words I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.