HL Deb 20 November 1951 vol 174 cc381-400

4.12 p.m.

LORD CALVERLEY rose to move to resolve, That it is expedient that His Majesty's Government should introduce at an early date a measure granting self-government on domestic affairs to the Kingdom of Scotland. The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Resolution to which I have the honour to ask this House to give attention has a certain connection, I suggest to your Lordships, with the very important debate to which we have been listening for the last hour and a half or more, because, if this Parliament will consider a modest measure of devolution for the Kingdom of Scotland, I believe that that will be most helpful in saving the congestion which afflicts our Parliament down here at St. Stephen's. Your Lordships may ask why I, of all persons, should introduce this Resolution. It is not a new one. I gave notice of my intention to raise this matter about three months ago. It was then put down to be raised for debate on October 16, but, as your Lordships will remember, we have had a General Election. I mention that point because there is no partisan element in the bringing forward of this matter today. Originally, I wanted to give a little prod to the Labour Government, which has now given place to a Conservative Government.

I cannot lay claim to any great knowledge of Scotland, and I certainly have not taken the trouble to go into the tomes of history in order to try to make it appear that I know a very great deal about very little. But, of recent years, mixing with and trying to obtain the opinions of, shall I say, young Scotland, in some of the schools in that country, I have come to the conclusion that those young people have a good case for claiming that their fathers and, ultimately, they themselves should manage their affairs in Edinburgh, or some similar place, through a Parliament of their own, charged with the function of legislating in domestic matters. I had the great privilege of being one of His Majesty's Royal Commissioners appointed to inquire into the administration of justice in courts of summary jurisdiction, and our Commission decided that, instead of asking witnesses to come down from Scotland to London, we would go to Scotland and try to get the opinion of a cross-section of the people there who were interested in the administration of justice. One effect of that course upon myself was that I came to realise that there was in Scotland a rising tide of nationalism which could be dangerous if it did not have a safety valve—or perhaps I should say that it would be dangerous if the sentiment were suppressed in a way that savoured of hardship.

I became converted to this idea that it is imperative that we should have a Scottish Parliament by no less a person than the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose. I am sorry that he is not able, owing to indisposition, to be in the House this afternoon. When the noble Duke became leader of a movement that he called the "Covenanters," I came to the conclusion that if such a level-headed man was ready to assume the leadership of such a movement there was no reason in the world why I should not be a humble disciple. There is another reason, however, why I have brought this matter before your Lordships this afternoon. I was looking through the original document of the Act of Union last week, and I noticed that most of the signatories, on the English side, were members of this House, whilst nearly twenty of the signatories, I believe, were Scottish Peers. It appeared to me that the House of Lords must have had a lot to do with that Act of Union. Therefore, I thought that your Lordships might well reconsider what was done in 1707 to see whether you could not agree upon some measure of devolution in the administration of domestic affairs in that great Kingdom of Scotland.

In a children's encyclopaedia, which I looked at yesterday, I noticed that it was stated that one of the important reasons for the Act of Union was that the English were great lovers of law and order. and they desired that the Scots should have that same feeling of respect for law and order as exists in this country of ours. Anyone who has sat in another place knows how, when there is what is known as a Scottish day, most of the English Members feel they have a good excuse to go to the pictures, or to pursue some other lively avocation which they find convenient, leaving the day to the Scots. When I was a Member of the other place, I noticed that the Scots set a great example in the matter of the brevity of their speeches. They arranged the programme beforehand, in order to fit in a long list of speakers, and they voluntarily applied to themselves the ten-minute rule. Whilst there, was not a gun, if any Scotsman went over ten minutes, he was certainly looked on with disfavour by his colleagues. Another act of appeasement by the Imperial Parliament was the setting up of the Scottish Grand Committee. I submit to your Lordships that this is a matter of common sense. In order that we might have more time for Imperial affairs, we should give to the Kingdom of Scotland the right to legislate for their own domestic affairs. I had in the back of my mind a very good reason why a Yorkshireman should be one of the first to bring this question before your Lordships but, though it is a relevant story, I will not detain your Lordships. Should any noble Lord desire to hear it, I will tell him in the smoke room.

The Secretary of State for Scotland is a sort of Pooh Bah. He spends most of his time down here in London, which, of course, he should do, as he is a member of the Imperial Parliament. But it would be impossible for this Pooh Bah, even though he were a genius, to apply himself to all the differing matters which come up for the well-being of the Kingdom of Scotland. I see a smile on the face of the noble Lord before me, who is an ex-Secretary of State for Scotland—I believe that it is a reminiscent smile: I hope that he will rise and give us the benefit of his experience while in office. I believe that a step forward has been taken by the Prime Minister in suggesting to Parliament that, in addition to a Secretary of State and two Under-Secretaries, there should be a Minister of State for Scotland. I understand that we shall not have the privilege of looking on his countenance in this House too often. He will be at St. Andrew's House, where he will let not only the civil servants but the people of Scotland feel that there is somebody with a grip upon Scottish affairs. I welcome the new Minister, not only as a Minister of State but as an old friend, whom I have known for more than fifteen years. Perhaps he will allow me to say that I wish him well in his new office and that I hope he will have good health to do what he wants to do. I have often wondered why Mr. Tom Johnston left Parliament and took up his permanent abode in Scotland. He was a great Secretary of State. He and his collaborator, Sir John Erskine, between them, shed light even in the Highlands of Scotland by the development schemes they were able to bring into being. That is some excuse for the fact that he no longer enriches the debates in another place.

I suggest that the Imperial Parliament should delegate some of its duties to a Scottish Parliament, perhaps on the Ulster model—but there I do not wish to dog-matise, or to particularise in any way. I think the Nationalist movement in Scotland, whose reports I have received, are wrong in wanting a new Royal Commission to look into the question of a Scottish Parliament. I think we should grant that without a Royal Commission and, instead of the Commission, should set up an informal working party to go into detailed questions. I am well aware that the noble Lord, Lord Catto, and his Committee are considering the financial aspects of the relationship between England and Scotland, but we need not wait for a report from the Catto Committee. If we can agree upon the principle of a Scottish Parliament, we can surmount the other difficulties, which I feel are not so important as that of establishing the principle.

There are greater reasons, spiritual and psychological reasons, for giving Scotland a Parliament of its own. In the past, the Scottish people have made greater contributions to the world of culture and learning, of theology and the arts, in proportion to their population, than any other nationality, including the English. These are what I might call the invisible exports of Scotland. Because of the contributions that Scotsmen have made to the world, and which have placed the Kingdom of England particularly in their debt, I believe that it is our duty to recommend that Parliament shall be re-established in the Kingdom of Scotland. I will not touch on the military achievements of the Scottish people, except to say that during the war, when I was a welfare officer, I had a Scottish division training in my area, a division which went abroad for D-Day and that final victory over the enemy which brought an end to the war. These officers and men, and their gallant general, made me feel that I was greatly in their debt, and it saddens me to think that so many of them, friends of my own, no longer survive. I conclude by bringing this matter sympathetically before your Lordships. The Scots, with their great love of freedom, with their high standard of education, with their reputation, both as fighters and as men of peace, demand that we should give them a measure of devolution of government to conduct their own affairs as they like. These men, especially the soldiers, have kept faith, but they have not received the fulfilment of promises. I ask this House to see that their descendants receive the fulfilment of those promises, which is their due. I beg to move.

Moved to resolve, That it is expedient that His Majesty's Government should introduce at an early date a measure granting self-government on domestic affairs to the Kingdom of Scotland.—(Lord Calverley.)

4.30 p.m.


My Lords, I feel that my old friend Lord Calverley has shown great courage in raising such a matter as this, he being a Yorkshireman. I suppose what he wants to tell us and help us about is, in the language of the Yorkshireman: "What's to do?" Well, he did not tell us, "What's to do," other than to tell us to have a Scottish Parliament.


And "Have a go, Joe."


Be that as it may. Being a complete Scotsman—every drop of blood in my veins is Scottish—I feel that I should say a few words on this matter, and more particularly as some twenty years ago in a by-election I had to compete for votes with a Scottish Nationalist. Naturally, I had to "mug up" this question, so to speak, and I came to the undoubted conclusion that we were far better off carrying on slowly but surely towards getting the major portion of our affairs into our own hands. Without doubt, this has been going on ever since. The noble Lord has said that he has heard certain young people who seem keen to have a Scottish Parliament, I take it, in Edinburgh. As an indication of the extent of that feeling in the country, I would mention that I took part in the last Election in many constituencies in Scotland, and only twice was this question raised. On each occasion the questioner seemed quite satisfied with what I told him.

This is a delicate matter and, I feel, is one that must be decided by Scotsmen themselves. As I have said, I am convinced that we are better off as we are. Economically, there is no question about it. I am not going to tell your Lordships the economic situation when I went into this matter many years ago, but I have no doubt that it is the same now, if not rather more in favour of us Scots. Our affairs are gradually coming more and more into St. Andrew's House. I am the Chairman of the National Joint Council of Scotland, which is the equivalent of the Burnham Committee in England, and I have a great deal to do with St. Andrew's House and the officials there. I find that hardly a year passes without some new question of legislation in regard to Scotland coming more into our hands. The noble Lord will know that in the other place time and time again there come before the House Bills in which certain clauses do not apply to Scotland. Every consideration is given to the peculiar situation in which Scotland might find itself if the Bill were carried through in terms which would apply quite well to England, but not to Scotland. We then have Scottish Bills which refer to Scotland only. All that seems to me to be going slowly but surely in the direction which we all desire.

The noble Lord mentioned the Catto Committee. The Catto Committee have not issued their Report. With great respect to the noble Lord, even for that reason I believe that this debate is premature. He knows that the Catto Committee are going into the economic and commercial situation in regard to Scotland, and we must wait and see what their Report says. The noble Lord also mentioned the question of a Royal Commission. That is something that may be necessary at some time, but it would be most inadvisable to set up a Royal Commission before the publication of the Catto Report. The noble Lord, Lord Calverley, seems very keen about Scottish affairs. I do not know whether it is possible, but if the noble Lord so desired we might have him naturalised a Scot, and he might then add another syllable to his name and call himself McCalverley. We are grateful to the noble Lord for his kindly interest in our affairs, although I cannot help feeling that he is rather premature in putting down his Motion, and that these matters should be left to Scotsmen to deal with in due course when we have studied the Catto Report. I thank the noble Lord for the kindly things he has said about our race, and I am sure that all Scots will be flattered that he has taken such a great interest in our affairs.

4.37 p.m.


My Lords, my noble friend the Duke of Montrose was to have taken part in the debate at this stage, but to his regret he is prevented from attending your Lordships' House to-day owing to a slight indisposition. I do not wish to allow the occasion to pass without any voice being heard from these Benches, although I confess that it does not appear to me that this is a really suitable occasion for a debate on a matter of such great importance as that which is the subject of this Motion. The question of a Scottish Legislature, I am sure your Lordships will all agree, should be fully discussed, after due notice, with the formal participation of the leading members of your Lordships' House and after due consideration and deliberation by the several Parties in the State. We cannot say to-day, with a very sparse attendance of your Lordships, that this is such an occasion.

We who sit on these Benches represent the only Party which has ever taken a keenly sympathetic interest in the proposal for a Scottish Legislature, and the only one which has given prominence to this subject in its Election addresses. It was our intention to bring this matter formally before your Lordships by a Notice of Motion during the last Parliament. However, certain aspects of the question having been remitted to the Committee referred to by the noble Lord who has just spoken, the Catto Committee, who have been thoroughly examining the financial and general economic relations between Scotland and England and the United Kingdom as a whole, we thought that your Lordships would prefer to await the Report of that Committee before having a formal debate on the subject. For that reason we have not put down that Motion, but we hope to do so as soon as the Report has appeared. Perhaps the noble Lord who replies for the Government will be able to tell us when that is likely to be, for the Committee has been sitting now for a very long time and their findings are beginning to be awaited with some impatience. Without entering into that question at large, let me say that we cannot regard the appointment of a Minister of State for Scottish Affairs as inevitably a substitute for the creation of a Scottish Legislature. At the same time, we cordially welcome the noble Earl who will reply to this debate and who is the first incumbent of that office. He has had long experience in another place, and we welcome his participation in the proceedings of your Lordships' House. We give him a cordial welcome on the occasion of his first appearance not only as a Minister, but also as a member of your Lordships' House.

4.41 p.m.


My Lords I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Calverley, that I welcome any Motion on the subject of Scotland by an English Peer. If English Peers would devote themselves to a study of Scotland and Scots affairs with the same interest as Scottish Peers—a notable example is my noble friend Lord Teviot, who has just sat down—to English affairs, then and only then will the full fruit of the Act of Union of 1707 be felt in Scotland. For that reason I should like to say that, although I am not in the least anxious to bring him up to Scotland and naturalise him, I am very glad to find an English Peer taking an interest in our affairs. I am told that there are some 3,500,000 signatures on the Covenant. As the last Census gave the population of Scotland as some 5,000,000, that means that a good many children have signed that document as well as other people. I am more enforced to that view because I gather that none of the hard-headed business men who run the affairs of the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow and the industries of those cities have appended their signatures. Therefore, it seems to me that the signatures on that document are in the unhappy position of proving a little too much. At a dinner not very long ago I was sitting next to a rather prominent man who is a very able and successful farmer and who takes a large part in public affairs. I asked: "Have you signed the Covenant?" He said: "Oh, yes." I said: "You do not want home rule?", and he replied: "Of course not." I rather imagine that you can judge of the movement by those two points that I have mentioned to your Lordships.

There is one thing about the movement which is rather conspicuous, and that is that it is principally a movement which is founded on sentiment. I rather differ from my noble friend Lord Teviot about the way in which Scots affairs are managed. I can recall Bills introduced into Parliament for the sole benefit of Scotland, and my analysis of those Bills has shown that they seem devised by our authorities without much interest in peculiarly Scottish conditions, apparently in order to make the net tax return from Scotland rather larger than it would otherwise be. I will not give your Lordships instances of those Bills. We have also the unfortunate fate very often to be included in separate Bills on the lines of English Bills. We are in a very difficult position. We cannot discuss the matter on the English Bill because it is not a Bill for Scotland, and when it comes to Scotland we are told that the whole thing has been decided by the Bill which has gone through for England. I could give your Lordships instances. There was the lamentable application of the Transport Act to peculiarly Scottish conditions. There was the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) (Scotland) Act passed at the end of last Session. I expressed my opinion to your Lordships on that Bill. I will give your Lordships an even more recent instance. My honourable friend Mr. Fraser, the Under-secretary for Scotland, has reduced the assembly of the burghs of Scotland almost to sullen rebellion by his insistence on trying to apply to the burghs of Scotland the regulations with regard to fowls and rabbits which are in force in England. Happily, that has failed. I give your Lordships those points to show that Scottish affairs do not get adequate consideration in Parliament, and to show that they should get more sympathetic consideration and especially more time. Your Lordships will remember that at the end of last Session we read a Bill for the second time on a Tuesday, and we passed it through Committee and all the remaining stages on the Thursday of the same week.

The Home Rule Party in Scotland is rather conspicuous in that they never take up genuine grievances. They are always concerned with sentimental matters. I rather imagine that if the Party were to take up those solid matters they would have to get an altogether much more solid structure. Under this Government we have a great advantage; we have a Minister who really can speak for Scotland, and speak with some authority. He has two great advantages, one of which is the name he bears. When I first found that I might be of use to people in Glasgow, I discovered that the greatest possible advantage to any man in Glasgow was to be known as a friend of the Earl of Home. The members of the Trades House, the members of the Merchants House, the members of the Corporation and every sort and kind of man in Glasgow seemed to know and to be a friend of the Earl of Home. The same was true of Dumfries to Berwick. Many years ago I had the honour of speaking at a meeting composed mainly of farm servants, at which the noble Earl was in the Chair. It was perfectly clear to me the kind of possessive affection which was felt towards him from everybody in that Assembly. Moreover, his intense interest in boys and the Boys' Brigade has kept him in touch with the rising generation of Scotland, and only the other day up in the North of Scotland I heard of a new example of his goodness of heart. He will be very much missed, but his son who bears his name will deal with Scottish affairs with an authority which very few others could emulate, and in addition to that we have in your Lordships' House somebody answering for Scotland who really knows Scotland.

Since he is not here to-day, and I can do so, therefore, without making him blush, I can say perfectly frankly that at every turn of Parliamentary affairs the noble Lord, Lord Morrison, has endeared himself to me by his complete candour and honesty and a hundred other good qualities which noble Lords who sit opposite and who are his friends will not require me to specify. The fact is, however, that on many occasions in this House, in reply to questions about Scotland, the answer which the noble Lord had to give was: "My instructions do not extend to that point"; "I am unable to say anything about that point," or, "That is a point about which I do not know." That has been the case in Scottish affairs during the whole time that I have had the honour of being a member of your Lordships' House, and it will be a great and welcome change if we who have questions to ask on matters of Scottish policy are answered by somebody who really knows Scotland and Scottish affairs.

Therefore, I would ask the noble Lord who has moved this Motion to withdraw it. It is certainly premature. He himself has confessed that he is not very well acquainted with Scottish affairs—I hope that he may become more so. To an outsider, Scotland looks a smooth surface. Inside Scotland we have our own differences, but they are not the same as differences in England, for one reason which I think is not a bad thing to remember in your Lordships' House. It is that nearly everybody in Scotland, whatever actual name he carries, is affiliated to some great family or another, and owing to that feeling that we have of mutual and common relationship (I am rather proud of the way in which the right honourable gentleman, Mr. Fraser, my namesake, made himself liked all over Scotland in the discharge of his duties as Under-Secretary of State), we carry our differences less far and less fiercely than people South of the Border. I hope that the noble Lord will study Scottish affairs with sympathy and perhaps come back to them again, but at the moment I would ask him to withdraw the Motion, for it is certainly premature. He himself has given the other reason.

4.52 p.m.


My Lords I should like to join with those who have already spoken in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Calverley, for submitting this Motion with regard to Scottish affairs. As the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, has said, various Parties have from time to time made declarations with regard to Scottish affairs, but I feel that the action taken by His Majesty's Government in appointing a very distinguished Scot in your Lordships' House as Minister of State for Scottish Affairs indicates a practical approach to those matters on which we Scots feel very keenly. I fully agree with Lord Samuel that this appointment must not be considered in substitution of a devolution of power to Scotsmen in Scotland to manage their own affairs, but rather in order that such matters may be planned in your Lordships' House with someone who can speak with real authority. I again thank the noble Lord, Lord Calverley, for bringing this matter before your Lordships, and I feel sure that this Motion is an expression of gratitude by a Yorkshireman to Scotland for the many things that Scotland, over the centuries, has done for Yorkshire.

4.54 p.m.


My Lords, before the noble Earl who is to reply begins his speech, I desire to say that I believe that we Scots, not only in your Lordships' House but in the whole of Scotland, are greatly encouraged by the fact that His Majesty's Government have for the first time appointed a Minister of State for Scotland. It is a guarantee that Scotland will get fair attention by His Majesty's Government, and I think that that fact alone is sufficient answer to this Motion. Not only is Scotland to be represented directly in this House, but Scottish affairs are to be properly managed from St. Andrew's House, Edinburgh, where the Minister of State for Scotland is to have his office. I feel, as has been said already, that the choice by the Government of the noble Earl, Lord Home, is about the best guarantee that Scots could possibly have.

4.55 p.m.


My Lords, I begin by expressing my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, for the very kindly reference which he made to my father; I am fully aware that he will be a very difficult man to follow in public life. I am grateful also to noble Lords who have given me such a kindly welcome this afternoon. I am grateful, too, to the noble Lord, Lord Calverley, for giving me this opportunity to explain to your Lordships—for explanation is surely due—why I make my first speech in this House from a position at once so precocious, unmaidenly and exposed. I shall have more to say about the office of the Minister of State. As the noble Marquess has suggested, my duties, as I see the future, will lie largely in Scotland; and therefore my appearances in this House will be necessarily somewhat intermittent. Nevertheless, if there is anything in the hereditary principle, then one who sits in this House under the title of Lord Douglas should, on his sallies from his Scottish fastness, be able to return from England perhaps not entirely empty-handed.

The terms of this Resolution, as one would expect from a Yorkshireman, are blunt and direct. In his interpretation of the Resolution, the noble Lord, Lord Calverley, was moderate and exploratory. If I may return to the cricket metaphors which were so bandied about in your Lordships' House last week, I have played against a good many Yorkshire bowlers but I do not know one who paid so little attention to the penetrating of my defences as did the noble Lord this afternoon. He and other noble Lords have raised matters which are giving my countrymen genuine concern. From our coal mines, our shipyards, our engineering, our agriculture, and from many other industries, Scotland makes a notable and decisive contribution to the United Kingdom economy. But that is not all. As noble Lords have said, the high-level and high-powered services which countless individual Scotsmen have given in all walks of life are widely recognised. They run all through the activities of Church and State, of commerce, business, banking, insurance, politics, and the Civil Service—not only here at home but throughout the Colonies and throughout the Commonwealth. Jokes about all the heads of departments being Scots are good jokes because they are based on truth. If I can interpret the feeling in Scotland it is this: if Scotsmen the world over are capable of bearing such heavy responsibilities, then there is a case for a sensible degree of control by Scotsmen over Scottish affairs. But the question is, how fast and how far should we go?

I do not wish to represent the policy now put forward as a Party policy; I hope that such changes as may have to be made may be a matter of agreement between the Parties. They are too important to be thrown into the auction market of Party politics. The Conservative Party have given considerable thought to these matters over the last few years, and we are confident that we can put forward policies that can reconcile Scottish needs with United Kingdom welfare. The first policy is a strengthening of Ministerial representation in Parliament. As your Lordships are aware, up to now there have been two Undersecretaries of State, one of whom deals with housing, health, fire, police and Civil Defence and the other with agriculture, forestry and fisheries. A Bill will shortly be introduced for the appointment of a third Under-Secretary of State, who will be allotted such duties as may seem appropriate. By this subdivision of duties, it is hoped that these important matters will have the detailed attention which is their due, because all of them have a particular Scottish aspect and a particular Scottish flavour.

I come now to the new office of Minister of State. I am going to make one claim on the credit side at once, and that is that I must surely embody one of the quickest fulfilments of an Election pledge in British political history. My office has been charged by the Secretary of State with certain particular responsibilities for the welfare of the Highlands and Islands, for the orderly development of Scottish industry and for close relations with the local authorities. The fact that I shall be largely resident in Scotland, in daily touch with industry and in daily contact with the local authorities, will enable me or any other Minister of State to keep his finger on the pulse of the social and economic life of Scotland. As deputy to the Secretary of State, it is already clear to me, in the short time that I have been in office, that I can do much to help to expedite the business of government and efficient administration by being on the spot.

Although successive Secretaries of State for Scotland, of all Parties, have been willing men and have had broad shoulders, there is an immense amount of work for a Secretary of State to do, and the Minister of State should be able to take a load of detailed work off his shoulders. It is vital to Scotsmen that the Secretary of State should be free and have full time to take his part at the highest level of Cabinet discussion and decision. Such questions as foreign policy and rearmament, international trade and finance, are important to the individual, wherever he lives in the British Isles. In this field, I have already found that there is plenty of work to do, and I regard the problem of the Highlands and Islands as one of the most pressing national problems to which I must give immediate attention. Depopulation and the deterioration in agricultural output which has already taken place, and which, in the absence of the continued remedial measures, may still occur, bring a serious lack of balance into the economy of Scotland.

The problem is stubborn and, to make things more difficult, as your Lordships are well aware, the economic background as regards capital investment is harsh. I am meeting the Highland Panel in the very near future. They have already been charged with the duty of keeping under review the progress made and the published programme of Highland development. I hope to discuss with them what has been done and, more particularly, how best what has still to be done can be put into effect. We have had an immense amount of advice and information, and now we have to consider what action can appropriately be taken. Therefore, I hope your Lordships will perhaps agree that, at any rate at the outset of this term of my office, my intentions are good, although with your Lordships' wide experience of life you will, no doubt, have heard those words before on the lips of many a maiden.


There is one question that I should like to ask the noble Earl. Lincoln used to say that one bad general was better than two good ones. The only anxiety I have about this set-up is this: where does the responsibility lie for taking decisions? I should be very grateful if, in the course of his speech, the noble Earl could make that clear. Am I right in supposing that the responsibility remains that of the Secretary of State for Scotland? I do not quite see for the moment how the noble Earl will be free to take decisions which, I think would be very important, in view of the fact that he is on the spot and is negotiating with these people.


The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Jowitt, is right—the ultimate responsibility rests with the Secretary of State. I think we shall have to work out this scheme as we go along. It is too early to give a definite answer. The Secretary of State will give me as wide a discretion as he can, particularly on administrative matters, to make decisions on the spot in Edinburgh. I have already taken some decisions which are helping to expedite business. As we go along, we shall have to work it out and see how it goes. I hope and believe it will work well.

The Conservative Party have long felt that there has been an over-centralisation in the business of government. In the nationalised industries, units of administration have become so large that they have in many cases failed to make that personal contact between executive, management and workmen, which is essential if we are to get good relations and full efficiency out of the business. In the last six years or so, experience in England has been bad enough, but with regard to Scotland, as regards both the nationalised industries and the local authorities, with distance adding to and aggravating delay, there has been something which amounts almost to active discontent. Therefore, we intend, so far as the nationalised industries are concerned, to take such measures as will establish in Scotland the most appropriate machinery to serve the Scottish needs.


May I say—


Will the noble Lord please allow me to finish this part of my speech?


Does the noble Earl refer to coal?


If the noble Lord had allowed me to finish, I was about to refer to that matter. We are going to try to establish in Scotland the most appropriate machinery to serve the Scottish needs. These are complex matters, and obviously they must all be worked out with the Ministers mainly responsible for the running of those industries. In every case there will be discussions with the Minister responsible for the coal industry, for the gas industry, for the electricity industry and for transport. Further, so far as the local authorities are concerned we hope to unwind much red tape, and particularly we want to secure for local authorities the widest discretion in the running of their own affairs.

Your Lordships will have observed that nothing that I have said so far, nothing which the Government propose, attempts to alter at present the pattern of trade and finance as it now exists between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The noble Lord, Lord Calverley, and the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, I think, would both support the notion of a Scottish Parliament. I will say a word about that subject in a minute, but nothing at present that we propose alters the pattern of trade and finance between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. That is deliberate, because we do not believe that anyone can come to a true judgment on this matter, as the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, and others have said, unless he has the full facts; and the full facts are not available. Sentiment is all very well. Sentiment is a virtue, and without sentiment no country has a soul. But in such matters which affect work and wages, housing and the whole range of the social services and social benefits, agricultural prices and food subsidies, the structure of organised labour, and taxation, sentiment must be tempered and tested by the facts. I do not believe that any thoughtful Scotsman would contest it, and I do not believe that anyone who put his signature to the Covenant would thank any Minister of any Government who acted precipitately on sentiment and endangered lowering the standard of living of our people in Scotland.

I suggest to the House that there is an overwhelming case for establishing the facts, and that is why we propose to set up a Royal Commission which will establish the facts, so that everybody can judge of their significance. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, has reminded me that the Catto Committee are sitting, and he asks when they will report. I was going to reply: "In the late spring," but the noble Viscount will appreciate that in this climate that is a somewhat elastic expression. I have since made some inquiries, and I am told that they hope to report in March, and after that the Secre- tary of State will be in a position to decide the terms of reference that he will give to the Royal Commission. I hope That has answered the noble Viscount's question.

My Lords, any question of constitutional change is one which I do not intend to discuss to-day, I think with your Lordships' general approval. It seems to me that that is a question to which everybody must give much more thought, and I repeat what I said before—namely, that any question of constitutional change could not be referred to a Royal Commission; it must be a matter for the Government to decide. Nothing could be more unnatural or more disastrous for Scotland than that Scotsmen should try to take a narrow parochial view, and try to confine their particular talents within their own margins, particularly in these days when power, both economic and military, is in large systems. It would seem to me that the prosperity, and indeed the survival, of both England and Scotland depends on close and trusting union. I sometimes feel that the great newspapers based on London, and the British Broadcasting Corporation, could help us a great deal more than they do to see ourselves as an organic whole. A more regular, perhaps a better, presentation of news from Scotland or Wales in the English newspaper would help. It is possible, too, I think, from my observation, that an expansion of the general news bulletins to include more of the important items of regional news, might help people to think in terms of our whole Island. It seems to me sometimes that we tend now to think in terms which are excessively regional. I only throw out those thoughts. I welcome this debate, if only because it has given me an opportunity to deploy the Government policies as far as they have gone, and to assure your Lordships that the Royal Commission will be appointed to establish the facts before any further decisions are taken. Therefore, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Calverley, will be content with my explanation and, perhaps, will now withdraw his Resolution.

5.15 p.m.


My Lords, I will not keep you long, but I want to express my personal appreciation at the maiden speech of the noble Earl. I was permitted to co-operate with his illustri- ous father in a boys' movement, when he asked me to be one of his vice-presidents; and having known the noble Earl now for sixteen years it has been a personal pleasure to listen to him this afternoon. I want your Lordships to feel that I was not trying to "cut the nice Scotsman," as was indirectly suggested, I believe, by Lord Saltoun. Nor, because I did not go into a long disquisition on the warring clans of the past, was I talking from insufficient knowledge. I have spent nineteen years in Parliament and have conscientiously listened to Scottish debates, and I remember the late Speaker, Mr. Speaker FitzRoy, saying to me, "If you join in this debate, my lad, you will be scragged." But I found prior to 1939 that the Scots had a dreadful record in housing, that they had a dreadful record in the depopulation in the Highlands of Scotland, and I wanted to help. I think either Lord Saltoun or Lord Teviot, asked why a Yorkshireman should interfere? I am going to tell you the story now. No doubt you have heard it. When James VI of Scotland became James I of England he tried to introduce as many Scottish customs as possible into Whitehall, including the custom that his courtiers should be shod with brogues. He sent a message up to Holyrood, "Send 10,000 brogues down to Whitehall." They got the message wrongly and they read it as "10,000 rogues." They got 10,000 rogues and when those people came to Yorkshire they found it to be such a delectable region that they stayed there. That is why Yorkshiremen have such great qualities. That is perfectly irrelevant, but there is no Speaker to call me to order.

I differ from Lord Samuel, who says that this thing is a matter about which the leaders should meet secretly, in order to decide the future of Scotland. I would rather leave it as Lord Saltoun has suggested, to the 3,500,000 ordinary folks who have signed the Covenant. I am afraid my voice will not reach Scotland, but if that were possible I should tell those 3,500,000 not to let these leaders get away with it, but to go on prodding until they get their Parliament. I introduced this Motion after a lot of thinking. The Motion has been on and off the Order Paper for three months. I have had the privilege of listening to my colleagues. I do not altogether agree with Lord Samuel that this is just a Front Bench affair. I am "fed up" with Front Bench men making long speeches. But one thing I like about this House—again I am out of order—is that we Back Benchers can have our say when we are not crowded out, as we were in the debate on the Loyal Address, when nearly every one of the speeches came from the Front Bench. Having listened to the noble Earl, I have no intention whatever of carrying my Motion to a Division. I hope he will get on with his Royal Commission, though I think we can do without one. I hope I live to see the day when there is a Parliament either in Perthshire or in Edinburgh, and I hope I shall be able to go up there and do a little bit of cheering, not with the Front Bench men but at any rate with the 3,500,000 Covenanters. With your permission, my Lords, I beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

On Question, Motion, by leave, withdrawn.