HL Deb 15 October 1973 vol 345 cc15-104

3.5 p.m.

Report received.

Schedule 1 [New local government areas]:

LORD POLWARTH moved Amendment No. 1: Page 150, line 42, column 1, leave out ("Forth") and insert ("Central").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, seems a long time since we laid down this Bill at the end of the last stage nearly three months ago, and some of no doubt felt a little relief at the time. hope that your Lordships all return refreshed to the discussion of the final stages. This Amendment results from an undertaking I gave at an earlier stage. An Amendment was moved by the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, and accepted by the Government to change the name of this region in the centre of Scotland from "Central" to "Forth", as having a little more character to it than something which was described as being I think parallel to the central station or something of that kind, and I am bound to say the idea certainly commended itself to me personally. I had to undertake however that we would again consult the local authorities in the region concerned, because we have throughout taken the view that on the matter of names the majority view of the local authorities in The areas concerned should be given heed to.

Despite eloquent pleas from your Lordships for the name to be "Forth", I regret to say that the local authorities most concerned. Stirling County Council, Clackmannan County Council, and the Regional Steering Committee of authorities in the region have all requested that we reinstate "Central" as their agreed first preference because the usage has already become familiar and accepted locally. There was another point which they made. It has of course arisen before. It is related that during the war an American warship was directed to proceed up the Firth of Forth and dock at the Port of Rosyth. To the surprise of the authorities on shore the ship was observed to be proceeding onwards in the direction of Stirling. Frantic signals were exchanged saying, "Did you not have instructions to turn to starboard after the Forth Bridge?". "Yes", came the reply, "but I have only just passed the first". Seriously, however, I believe that some of the authorities are concerned that the name "Forth" might be misconstrued in the same manner. Indeed I should remind your Lordships that it was so spelt in your Official Report on the debate. In view of what has occurred I think I can only recommend your Lordships to revert to the name originally proposed.


My Lords, I support my noble friend Lord Polwarth and I very much hope that his Amendment will be acceptable to your Lordships. For many years I have been a member of Clackmannan County Council and I am fully aware that every opportunity was given to us and to our neighbours to select a name for the region. The Scottish Office went out of their way to consult the constituent members and bodies. Almost unanimously the elected members of the existing local authorities voted for the name "Central Region". I of course appreciate the views of my noble friends Lady Elliot of Harwood and Lord Balerno, but they do not live within the bounds of the proposed region and may not have realised the strong feeling, expressed at the Committee stage, for the word "Central", which is the description favoured by the vast majority of those who are directly concerned.


My Lords, my noble friend Lord Polwarth gave me some prior information as to the results of his consultations with the local authorities, and I am perfectly satisfied that the local authorities and the local people wish themselves to be called "Central". But I must say that although one wants to allow the local people to determine their own name, the rest of Scotland has a right to object to any part of it being called "central" when indeed it is lopsided to a degree. Every drop of rain that falls on the proposed Central Region and every bit of sewage that it produces drains into the Forth, and none of it goes to the West. It is not "central" Scotland. But in view of the redoubtable and gallant Lord Lieutenant of Clackmannan and the silent and equally redoubtable Lord Lieutenant of Stirlingshire being so strongly in favour, who am I to oppose this Amendment?

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

3.12 p.m.

LORD HUGHES moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 151, line 1, at end insert— ("Greater Glasgow The county of the city of Glasgow. In the county of Dunbarton—the burghs of Bearsden, Clydebank, Milngavie; the district of Old Kilpatrick (except the electoral divisions of Bowling, Dunbarton). In the county of Lanark—the burgh of Rutherglen; in the Eighth district the electoral divisions of Bankhead, Cambuslang Central, Cambuslang North, Hallside, Rutherglen, and those parts of Cambuslang South and Carmunnock electoral divisions lying outwith the designated area of East Kilbride New Town; in the Ninth district, the electoral divisions of Baillieston, Garrowhill, Mount Vernon and Carmyle, Springboig. In the county of Renfrew—the First district. Lanarkshire In the county of Dunbarton—the burghs of Cumbernauld, Kirkintilloch; the district of Kirkintilloch and Cumbernauld. The county of Lanark (except the burgh of Rutherglen; in the Eighth district, the electoral divisions of Bankhead, Cambuslang Central, Cambuslang North, Hallside, Rutherglen, and those parts of Cambuslang South and Carmunnock electoral divisions lying outwith the designated area of East Kilbride New Town; in the Ninth district, the electoral divisions of Baillieston, Garrowhill, Mount Vernon and Carmyle, Springboig). In the County of Stirling—the burgh of Kilsyth; the Western No. 3 district; the electoral divisions of Kilsyth East, Kilsyth West. Argyll and Clyde The county of Argyll (except the district of Ardnamurchan; the electoral divisions of Ballachulish, Kinlochleven). The county of Bute (except the burgh of Millport; the districts of Arran, Cumbrae). In the county of Dunbarton—the burghs of Dumbarton, Cove and Kilcreggan, Helensburgh; the districts of Helensburgh, Vale of Leven; the electoral divisions of Bowling, Dunbarton. The county of Renfrew (except the First district). Ayrshire and The county of Ayr. Arran In the county of Bute—the burgh of Millport; the districts of Arran, Cumbrae.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I will not read out Amendment No. 2 as it is rather long, but I would mention that on this Amendment there hang a number of others: Amendments Nos. 4 (now No. 2A), 8, 10, 11, 22, 23, 51 and 52. The purpose of this series of Amendments is to divide the Strathclyde Region into four regions which the majority of those I have consulted would describe as regions of more suitable size. Your Lordships will recollect that at the last stage of the Bill I did not have any Amendment on Strathclyde but said that I remained unhappy about it and would take the opportunity during the Recess to try to ascertain viewpoints on this matter. If I might go back to the beginnings, when I had responsibility at the Scottish Office and had the duty of speaking to the Report of the Wheatley Commission on behalf of the then Government, I said that the Scottish Office accepted the Report of the Wheatley Commission and would in due course be issuing comments on it. But I said then that it was the instruction of the then Secretary of State, my right honourable friend, Mr. Ross, that when a White Paper came out it was to be regarded in the original sense of a White Paper—that is, a document for consultation—and that only after we had ascertained the points of view of people concerned would the Government put their proposals into final Bill form.

Your Lordships will also recollect that when the present Government brought out their White Paper they did not follow that (as it seemed to me) admirable point of view. They stated that in certain matters—for instance, the boundaries of regions and districts, and of powers—the conclusions of the Government were final and were not to be subject to adjustment other than on minor details. It is not surprising, therefore, that many people accepted that the Strathclyde battle had been fought and lost right at the very beginning. I want to say that while it was my responsibility to persuade people of the advantages that accrued from having a region such as Strathclyde—and it would be idle for anyone to suggest that there are no advantages attaching to a region of this kind —I must confess quite frankly that, in the time that has elapsed, far from persuading other people of the advantages of the Strathclyde Region the other people have persuaded me of its disadvantages.

The population of Scotland is approximately 5½ million. As the Bill stands, half of that population is to be placed in this Strathclyde Region. At the last stage of the Bill we departed to a certain extent from the then Strathclyde Region by taking certain parts out of the Glasgow district, but that was really only a comparatively small part of the job. The Government themselves have recognised, just as the previous Government did, that there are tremendous disadvantages in the Strathclyde proposals, and I would say that almost certainly they did exactly the same as we did, which was to search around for alternatives to Strathclyde. I have said before—and I think it is probably true of present Ministers—that we spent more time trying to find an alternative to Strathclyde than we spent on everything else put together. Now we do not do that because we think the Strathclyde proposal is a good one: we spend that time on it because we think there are very considerable disadvantages to it. What I did during the Recess was to arrange a meeting in Glasgow, which took place on September 10. To that meeting were invited the councils of the six counties in Strathclyde, the city of Glasgow, all the large burghs and representatives of the small burghs and the district councils. Not all the small burghs nor all the district councils were invited, because to have brought all of them in would have resulted in an unduly large meeting. In fairness to Glasgow, I must point out that they decided to come to the meeting only as observers; and they made their view perfectly clear at the meeting that Glasgow remained firmly in support of the Wheatley proposals for a Strathclyde Region and that the decision of the Glasgow Corporation was a unanimous one. Although there is an overwhelming Labour majority in Glasgow, the view that was expressed was not just the view of the Labour Glasgow Corporation: it was a unanimous decision. But exactly the same thing applies outside Glasgow.

When a vote was taken 40 authorities represented at that meeting expressed themselves in favour of my Amendment to break Strathclyde into four regions, 9 authorities expressed themselves as in favour of the present Strathclyde Region and 7 authorities said neither one thing nor the other. But if I were to leave the matter there it would give a completely misleading picture, because one could not possibly say that the vote of one authority, Glasgow, with 601,000 inhabitants, could be cancelled out by the vote of one small burgh, even if it is a burgh with a name such as Biggar, with 1,378 inhabitants. So the only fair way to make a comparison is to take the electorates for which these authorities might be regarded as speaking. Having said that, believe for one moment that even an authority which is unanimous can claim that it is speaking for everybody within its boundaries. Not all the 600,000 people in Glasgow are in favour of Strathclyde; and although other councils are unanimously against it, not all the people living in their burghs are against Strathclyde. But, in the absence of being able to take a vote of the individuals concerned, the best thing is to take the views of their councils as being reasonably representative of their areas.

The position that we get is that, taking the electorate as a whole, authorities with an electorate of 948,000 are for Strathclyde as it stands, and authorities with an electorate of 728,000 are in favour of the break-up of Strathclyde. On the face of it, Strathclyde is home and dry, but 601,000 of those 948,000 are in Glasgow and all the opposition to Strathclyde has come from outside Glasgow. The figures then show 728,000 for the four Regions and 347,000 for the single Region. So quite clearly, on any basis upon which we look at it, those outside the Glasgow district do not want to see a single Strathclyde Region.

In another place, this matter was dealt with on the basis of setting up a third tier, a metropolitan tier, which would look after what has loosely been described as the "strategic functions". The defect of that is that nowhere in the Bill are "strategic functions" defined, and it is exceedingly difficult to define in any Act of Parliament what strategic functions are. But there are many people who know fairly clearly the sort of matters which would fall under the hearing of "strategic functions"; for instance, major planning decisions could be strategic functions. If I wanted to get Strathclyde broken up into something which was more acceptable, and more in keeping with the organisation of local government in the rest of Scotland, I had to find some way by which certain matters, such as the planning of the Valley of the Clyde as one unit, could be considered on a wide basis, and my Amendment to Clause 56 takes care of that. That Amendment will give to the Secretary of State powers to require the four Regions, which are called for in this Amendment No. 2, to combine or consult together for such purposes as he may determine. That is a simplification, and I admit right away that there are aspects other than the one I shall cover. But, broadly speaking, the same kind of argument flows from them.

I ask your Lordships to take planning. Planning decisions in the Strathclyde Region, as it stands in the Bill, could cover the change of use of a shop in a single street in a small burgh, which had no interest whatsoever outside the street in which it was located. At the other end of the scale, there would be a major project such as Hunterston, and it is the knowledge that there have been a number of projects such as Hunterston, when major planning decisions affected more than one county council and when it was so difficult to get agreement between the counties, which led very largely to the acceptance of the argument that major planning should be capable of being followed out on this very wide basis. I accept that, but the method which I have suggested is a much simpler way of ensuring that this is done.

Do not let us pretend for one moment that the acceptance of a Strathclyde Region would mean that all planning decisions of a major nature would be settled in Strathclyde. They would not. Items such as another Hunterston would not be left to a Strathclyde planning authority. I doubt very much, without in any way seeking to diminish the power of the building in which I once was a Minister, whether "Hunter stons" would even be decided in St. Andrew's House. So long as we are a United Kingdom, matters like that will be decided at 10 Downing Street. Do not let us pretend that Strathclyde will be a substitute for Cabinet decisions on matters of that kind, because it will not. In fact, the Bill continues the provisions—which must inevitably be there—for the Secretary of State to call in for his own decision items which he considers must be regarded as of national importance.

The proposal which I have put forward could be implemented by the Secretary of State in a variety of ways. It has been suggested that I am putting a very wide power into the hands of the Secretary of State, but in this matter I am accepting that the Secretary of State is stating a fact when he says that it is the desire of the Government to put as much of the decision-making into the hands of the new local authorities. I would certainly be prepared to trust the Secretary of State, whether present or future, acting on these principles to require combination or consultation on items only where it was necessary. This is not necessarily the way in which it could work, but the planning authorities of the four Regions might exchange their agendas, and, if anyone in one Region thought that there was an item on the agenda of another which showed a need for greater consideration than by one Region alone, he could require it to be considered by a joint committee. I visualise a joint planning body of that kind having the right to take decisions, without having to refer back to its constituents for approval, because, otherwise, we should be back to the present position with an inability to get agreement.

If one looks at the other side of the picture, the Government, by the very nature of the way the Bill is drafted, have accepted that Strathclyde is a hopeless proposition when it comes to the administration of certain of the personal services; for instance, education and social work. The Government, in order to help in overcoming that difficulty, have included in the Bill the provision that, for a period at any rate, the Strathclyde Region, should prepare a scheme for the administration of education and social work. That is understandable, because there are few people who believe that it is possible to run a single education authority in Scotland with responsibility for half the population. It would be infinitely greater than anything else in the country.

If I may make what I think is not an unfair comparison with the situation on this side of the Border, in statistics of the new county councils in England and Wales, issued by county treasurers, we have information relating to the metropolitan counties, one of which is Greater Manchester, which is in many ways similar to Greater Glasgow or to Strathclyde. The population of Greater Manchester is 2,700,000 and it has the one council. But it has not been decided to have one education authority for Greater Manchester. There are ten district councils in Greater Manchester, each of which is an education authority, and each of which has responsibility for the administration of the personal social services. So that although the Government have attempted to have one authority for each of these purposes in Scotland, they have said that in England and Wales they need ten authorities to do the job.

I am not proposing to have ten authorities in Scotland. My Amendment suggests four Regions, and Greater Glasgow will still be by far the biggest of the Regions in Scotland, with a population of nearly 1,200,000. The next biggest will be that based on Edinburgh, the Lothian Region, with a population of 760,000. Lanarkshire, with 573,000, will be third; Argyll and Clyde, with 455,000, will be fourth; and the remaining one of my four Regions, Ayrshire and Arran, will be seventh in size in Scotland and will be around the middle. From the point of view of size, every one of them is either larger than or comparable to the rest of regional government in Scotland. This has not been a political exercise in any way, as a reference to the names attaching to my Amendment will show clearly. In Glasgow, as I have said, Labour and Conservative agree with the Strathclyde Region. Out of Glasgow it works the same way. In Ayrshire, the parties are united in wanting to go out; in Argyll, they are united in waffling to go out. In Renfrewshire, there are strong divisions of opinion; the county wants to go out and some of the large burghs want to remain in. In Lanark, taking the population, it is almost equally divided: certain burghs want to go out and four burghs want to remain in. If I were seeking to divide on purely political lines I should be in a very difficult position, because I should have a choice of Labour Parties on either side. If I were seeking to support it as a Conservative I should be in the same position: that is to say that those who attached their names to my Amendment, if they were seeking to support it as Conservatives, would be in the same position. It would depend on which Conservative composition down on which side of the argument.

This is a reform of local government. It is a reform which I think is worth while and I will do nothing to prevent this Bill from becoming law in this Parliamentary Session; but it is a reform which ought to remain a reform of local government and, as I have said before, I do not think that the way to deal with it is for people to look for the ideal solutions and then seek to impose them on others, whether they want them or not. I have always said that a second best which is acceptable to more people is better than a perfection which nobody likes. If you sit down to look at this as a matter of the ideal way that local government ought to be worked out, Strathclyde is the obvious answer; but, on the same basis (to take an argument I have used elsewhere) if all we men wanted to be regarded as properly dressed we should come down to London and buy our suits in Savile Row. But those who cannot afford to do this go elsewhere. I suggested that some of your Lordships undoubtedly were customers of (and I think we are allowed to advertise provided that we declare an interest; I have no interest and I am not being paid for it) and go to Burton's. I was also told that some of us go to the Co-op. But while those who do not go to Savile Row may be willing to admit that Savile Row is perfection, we do not regard ourselves as necessarily being badly dressed or ill equipped to do our job because we have not gone there. That is largely the argument over Scotland.

I have confined my discussion to the West. If I had wanted to bring in the rest of Scotland I am certain that almost everywhere outside the Strathclyde region individuals would have said that they do not want Strathclyde; that it is a lopsided division of local government in Scotland; that it is always going to be able to exercise influence on government which will nullify other points of view, even though they may be different; and that they are in complete agreement with their point of view so far as they are concerned.

I think that what I undertook to do I have done; I think that what I undertook to do I have been justified in doing. In the result I have spent a busier time in the Recess than I have ever spent during the time when Parliament is sitting. Honestly, once this Bill has become an Act and is on the Statute Book I shall be able to look back on the last four weeks and say: "Never again will I undertake anything of this nature." In the other place people who occupy the sort of position I have are described as "Shadow Minister of so and so" and "Shadow Secretaries of State."No one has ever described me as the "Shadow Minister of State "—which, having regard to my bulk, is reasonable—but during the last four weeks I have definitely felt that I have been functioning as a "Shadow Scottish Office". I have not regretted it. I have ascertained, by and large, what people want. I was interested to hear—and I gave Lord Polwarth warning that I would use this point—that when I was arguing on going back from the Centre to the Forth (with or without the "u")I was giving effect to the views of the local authorities. This is what I want done in this case. It is no answer to say that if we have Glasgow in, that is what the majority want. I do not for a moment subscribe to the view that Glasgow is seeking to dominate the rest of the region and that Glasgow in the Strathclyde region would seek to impose its view on the rest, whether they want it or not. I do not think it has the numerical support to enable it to do it and I do not believe that it would to do it. These people are opposing it because it is not local government as they understand it.

In some of the local newspapers circulating in my part of the world the decision to locate a public convenience or a lamp post in a particular street can attract more columns than the dispute about a Lord Provost occupies the attention of the national Press. That is because these things are important from their point of view. These things do not necessarily matter from the regional point of view; but your Lordships will recall that when these other burghs, the peripherals, were taken out at Committee stage, the noble Lord, Lord Potlwarth, said they were having big reductions in the numbers of their councillors, but so, too, was Glasgow. When he finally produced the figures we found that Glasgow was falling to something like 60 per cent. of its present strength whereas some of the peripherals were falling to 6 per cent. We cannot be surprised, therefore, if they say that this is not local government as they understood it and that it is not local government as they would wish to see it continue.

In moving this Amendment and in hoping that it will receive the support of your Lordships I ask your Lordships to accept that this is something which does mean local government, with the emphasis not merely on "government" but on "local". It has attracted wide support throughout. I will close by showing the most extraordinary extremes of support, if I may use, without irreverence, the way in which it was put to me. My Amendment has received the support, on the one hand, of the Presbytery of Ayr and, on the other hand, of the National Union of Mineworkers, under the signature of its President Mr. Michael McGahey. To summarise, I have done something most unusual, in that I have received the support of the followers of God and of the followers of Karl Marx. I have in the past more than once had the support of the former but I must admit that this is the first time that the latter accomplishment has been attained by me. It shows that if such different types of organisations with views on so many things completely at variance can come together on the question of local government, there is indeed very strong feeling in Scotland on this point. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, my name stands second on this Amendment and I should like briefly to follow the noble Lord, Lord Hughes. I can support almost every word that he said and confirm his claim that while we were enjoying or relaxing during the Recess lie was "sweating blood" on this Amendment. With many noble Lords and others I attended a meeting in Paisley Road—an uncongenial place—in the middle of September. I confirm that the discussion turned out as he said. He made it clear to all who heard him that it was not a Party matter. At one moment the ugly Party head stuck out and Lord Hughes reverted to his wartime habits and struck off that head with a smart cut. He also made clear that there was no one solution which would appeal to everybody at every point, and there are some people who will not he wholly happy with the solution which he has put forward, even with the enormous support which it has received. Many of your Lordships, like myself, will have been overwhelmed by a heavy post bag asking us to support this case or that case. The historic Burgh of Rutherglen wants to remain as at present, a little place like Carmunnock wants to remain independent. Possibly these cases may be looked at sympathetically hut, as the noble Lord made clear, the solution we are looking for is one which will be for the greatest good of the greatest number. I support him 100 per cent. in what he has thrashed out during these last two months because I think it will provide the greatest good for the greatest number.

I share the charitable view of the noble Lord that the motives of Glasgow Corporation in this matter are not unkind. I admit that when living in the country one sometimes feels that the carnivorous instincts of these big conurbations may tempt them to gobble us up. Sometimes even when 70 miles or so from Glasgow one feels like a potential babe in the woods who has a not very kindly uncle. But I am certain that is not the motive which is inspiring Glasgow, and we believe that the motives that have inspired everyone who has been articulate in this matter are not entirely selfish. I think that in any new reconstruction of our social pattern we must be careful to preserve the balance between rural and industrial and not sacrifice the rural for the industrial on all occasions. I support 100 per cent. what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has said, not only to-day but also in two previous debates and in all his public utterances, that the big decisions, such as Hunterston and so on, will never he regional ones, and not even St. Andrew's House ones, but national ones. That is one example of the manner in which the noble Lord has cleared away with his sickle a lot of the undergrowth of myth which has grown up round our discussions on this matter.

I will not detain your Lordships further except to express my conviction that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, really has had his finger on the pulse of Westdrn Scotland, and Scotland as a whole, in all his researches and speeches on this matter, and that the support he has received, though not 100 per cent., is very wide indeed. It is hard to guess, but I think his estimate was just about right. Certainly it represents the vast majority of those who will be affected by this new and historic change. Coming to the basic matter, Strathclyde is far too big and various in its interests, stretching as it does from oban to Girvan and hither and yon. I can only repeat my profound conviction that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, with all the work he has done, has put the matter into a nutshell and expressed what I believe to be the view of the vast majority of those people affected.

3.44 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for the trouble and skill with which he has examined the problem. We are all in the noble Lord's debt. I am bound to say that the people of Scotland are, for the first time, beginning to have an inkling—I will not say more than that—of what this matter is all about. Up to now, they have, as so often is the case, remained completely ignorant of, or indifferent to, what is happening. I think it would be wrong not to let the other place see this Amendment and pass judgment on it. This is what we are really considering to-day. The problem, I think, takes two forms, the first being not only its size but the fact that half the population of the country is involved. The sheer weight of this authority would put the rest of the country into the shade. Secondly, it is impossible to say that there is a sense of community of interest but rather a common interest in the whole of the area. If you consider as the noble Lord, Lord Ballantrae, said, oban, Girvan, Biggar and Campbeltown, they have nothing in common.

When I first read the Wheatley Report I was rather astonished and wondered what would happen. We have never in this country created anything of the size and variety which constitutes Strathclyde. Manchester may have the size but it has not the variety, and there are completely different situations existing in one part as compared with another. Where I think the Wheatley Report has gone wrong is in subordinating the purposes of local government to the means of getting it; that is to say, it has put strategic planning first and education and social services second. I think the object of local government is to provide education and social welfare, and these have been subordinated to what is called strategic planning, which is no more than to prefer the means to the end. We are sacrificing the end for the means. I think this the wrong concept and the centre of the mistake which Wheatley has made. Look for a moment at the question of social welfare. I will take one or two cases from the County of Lanark with some 700,000 people. No one could say it is adequate to deal with the problems there. There are some 300 schools and 130,000 children or more, which would be enough to deal with. In Strathclyde there would be well over half a million children and well over a thousand schools and 250 training centres which Strathclyde would have. That is an enormous area, and it would be quite wrong to think that the same personal attention would there be given. That fact is realised in that the Act says that there must be decentralisation. In other words, Strathclyde by itself cannot possibly deal with the matter and it must be dealt with in another way.

When we come to social work it is a curious fact that in 1968, when the Act was passed, it was deliberately said that counties were too big for some social work so it was passed on to large burghs. Now it is moved from this area altogether and put into an enormous central belt. It seems to me that this is sacrificing the real purposes of education and social welfare for something rather nebulous which was so admirably described by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, and which will rest with St. Andrew's House. I do not believe that any major planning will be decided without their consent, and that the arrangement put in the later Amendment is adequate for the purpose.

To my mind, the meeting about which the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, spoke brought out clearly that there was a very large measure of objection to this centralised scheme. The interesting point is that the support which Strathclyde got was for the wrong reasons, at least so far as the Government are concerned. They knew that Strathclyde would not work, and that therefore they would be obliged to decentralise to the districts in order to get the work done at all. That was what was in the minds of the large burghs, but that is not what the Government want because had they wished to decentralise to what was the district they would have done so already. So that I feel that even the objections to Strathclyde are not helpful to the Government.

During the Second Reading debate the noble Lord, Lord Balerno, said that we cannot have two Popes in Scotland. In Strathclyde we are getting very near it. If I may quote a somewhat similar example, in Manitoba in Canada there is a large area called Winnipeg which consists of nine separate boroughs with nine mayors and it is said that if there were one mayor for Winnipeg the premier of Manitoba would be a very insignificant person. The same applies here. The chairman of Strathclyde would make the Secretary of State a very much reduced personality, and that, I think, would be against the interests of Scotland. That is the point which we are trying to put clearly to the noble Lord.

If this Amendment is carried, Rutherglen in which I am interested, and which could form itself into a district with Cambuslang, would form part of a separate district. About this I will say just a few words. It is a very distinct area with boundaries which are perfectly clear: the Clyde, the Calder, the designated area of East Kilbride and the Castlemilk estate which is well laid out. Not only is it much stronger in size and rateable value than any of the other peripheral areas marked out, but it has also a record of civic progress of which it can be proud. Its record of industry, with about six industrial estates and some of the largest industries in Scotland, enables it to employ a very high percentage of its own population—some 45 per cent. or so, which means that in no way is it a dormitory city.

I think it is important that this significant Amendment should be seen by the other place. I think it would be quite wrong to prevent them from considering it again. I very much hope that the Government will consider it, although I have not much hope in that quarter. I hope the House will realise that this is something which will mark the shape of Scotland for many years, and that it should be carefully considered by the other place before it becomes an Act of Parliament.


My Lords, after the remarkable speech which we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, touching on every aspect of this matter, I feel it would be almost an impertinence for me, believing as I do that he is correct the whole way through, to say much about it or to take up much of your Lordships' time. So I would confine myself merely to expressing my thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for the tremendous amount of skill and energy that he has put into this matter, getting together all these local authorities and pursuing every aspect of this matter in the most minute way. I think we all owe the noble Lord a great deal, and I am sure that that is the feeling of all my noble friends on this side of the House.


My Lords, I should like to follow the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, and say that I wish there was room on the Marshalled List to put a Liberal name to Lord Hughes' Amendment, as it is indeed an all-Party matter. I hope that this will be taken into consideration.

3.52 p.m.


My Lords, some reference has been made earlier in this debate to the fact that this whole matter has been discussed in a non-Party spirit and in a non-Party context. Perhaps my intervention at this stage will emphasise that point. I should like the House to reject the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes. If I may say so, while the noble Lord, Lord Ballantrae, has indicated that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, is very much in touch with public sentiment in the West Region, I can at least claim to live in the West Region and to have some experience in local government on the Glasgow local authority. I think it is easy to encourage opposition to this particular proposition, because it rests on two fears. The first is the fear of the bigger organisation. Anyone who has been associated with local government in Scotland will appreciate that in dealings between local authorities there has always been the threat of Glasgow, as the big brother, dominating local authority thinking and attitudes. This is one basic fear that is built into the attitudes on this matter.

The other fear is the fear of change. There are a lot of people who do not wish to face the implications of the substantial change that is represented in the Bill. Yet we must face it, because the whole justification for the Wheatley Report was a recognition of the fact that the existing pattern of local government had become quite irrelevant to our present economic and social environment; of the fact that communications had changed; of the fact that population had moved; and of the fact that the decisions now made in local government had much more wide-spread implications than when we operated local government half century ago. So the Government asked the Wheatley Commission to look at this problem, and to look also at the problem of declining local interest in local government, because the public felt that some of the forms of local government had become irrelevant.

I think it is important to regard what we have before this House not as a Bill produced by the Government and promoted by the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, in this House, but as the Report of the Wheatley Commission. The House should think twice in responding to the appeal of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes. I, too, pay tribute to the noble Lord's enthusiasm, interest and concern in this matter, but I think we should realise that what we are rejecting is the Report of a Commission set up by the last Government, presided over by a distinguished judge and drawing on the experience of distinguished people in local and national government; receiving advice and guidance, formal and informal, from leading civil servants; and going to other countries of a similar population structure—the Scandinavian countries—and examining their form of government. With all the experience of that Commission and all the objectivity of a judge, the Wheatley Commission's proposals emerged, and they include the Strathclyde Region. So it is important that we weigh this in the balance.

The second point is this. The proposal made by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes—and, as I say, I pay tribute to the noble Lord in that during the period of Recess he has been trying to sift views so that intelligent decisions can be arrived at—is that this large Strathclyde Region should be divided into four separate areas, and that these four district councils should come together and consider strategic planning decisions. I must say—and this is based on my experience of Scottish industrial development—that if there is one thing that is impeding Scottish industrial development at the moment it is the frustration and the limitations of the planning procedures, and the delays that are involved in planning. It is vital to the future industrial welfare of Scotland that there should be some rationalisation of the planning processes.

If you bring four separate local districts together to discuss major strategic planning, inevitably each one of these four develops its own loyalty to its own particular area, and you have not strategic planning thinking, but planning consideration in so far as it affects "my area", or this or that area. This is frequently inimical to good planning. You see, my Lords, the condition of Scotland is changing. The old pattern of Scottish industrial development, the ten-mile wide belt in central Scotland from Glasgow to Edinburgh, is changing with the new industrial, commercial and economic developments in the country, and we may have new areas of industrial development stretching perhaps from Hunterston to Inverness. This may be the new axis of Scottish industrial development. In looking at these substantial changes in the economy of Scotland, we require a bigger authority to plan and make sensible strategic decisions.

The noble Lord, Lord Ballantrae, said that we have to legislate for the greatest good of the greatest number, and I would suggest that developments of this kind should be encouraged in the interests of the greatest good for the greatest number. In all our thinking on this matter, there is a great deal of opposition to Glasgow. Glasgow is not perhaps the brightest gem in the Kingdom, environmentally. Perhaps, as the Economist made clear in a recent survey, what is wrong with Glasgow is that there is not an adequate social mix and it tends to be a one-class city. I think good social planning demands that there be a balance in the regions and that one area should not be isolated from its environs, giving a variety of interests. This proposal does not make for good social planning and therefore, for that reason, too, I should reject this isolation of Glasgow. I would therefore recommend that we think twice to-day before casting a vote against the Bill which is now before us.

4.2 p.m.


My Lords, I have hesitated to speak on this Amendment because I am not a resident of the Strathclyde area, but I happen to have a little property in Argyll where I spend a good deal of time. I find that in almost every part of the country the people I have met have been unanimously against this perpetuation, so far as I can see, of the Strathclyde, area outlined in the Bill, and they are very anxious to have some different arrangement which will give them more independence of the urban area of Glasgow.

Your Lordships will remember that at the very beginning we had a great deal of difficulty in thinking what to do about Argyll when the Wheatley Report was published, before the Bill was drafted. According to Wheatley, it was put in the Highland Area. Most of your Lordships felt, and said, that purely on the ground of distance such an arrangement would not work. The distance from one end of the Highland Area to the other was too great. The alternatives were either to have Argyll as a separate region or combine it with some small part of the mainland. I think the proposal in the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, is one which is acceptable both to Argyll and to those parts of the mainland with which it is proposed that Argyll should be joined. I used to sit for one of the Renfrewshire Divisions in another place. I spend a little time there—I was there last week. There is one large burgh, Port Glasgow, which is decidedly against the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes but the great majority of the smaller burghs and country districts are very strongly in favour of it.

As for Ayrshire, of which my noble friend Lord Ballantrae has spoken. I have often compared in my own mind the case of Ayrshire with that of Fife. Ayrshire has much the same population, or per haps a little more. The people of both counties have expressed dissatisfaction at losing their local sovereignty, so to speak. As your Lordships may know, for reasons which it would be quite out of place to repeat now, I was myself against having a separate region in Fife. I thought it would be better to accept the Wheatley plan for putting the Northern part of Fife into the Tayside region, but when in another place in the Scottish Standing Committee an Amendment was carried by a majority of. I think, two on a very small vote, the Government meekly—and I would almost say pusillanimously—gave in and accepted the new arrangement. As I feel the case for Ayrshire having an independent region is so much stronger than that of Fife, it seems to me rather unfair that the independence of Fife should be so easily accepted by the Government while they are not going to give equal consideration to what I think is the stronger case of Ayrshire to have a separate regional authority.

Looking at the matter as a whole, it seems to me that the present plan as proposed in the Bill for the Strathclyde Region is a very fine exercise in bureaucratic planning; but I do not think that sufficient regard has been paid to the feelings of the human beings who live in this area. Therefore I do not think it will work, because you must have the support of the majority of human beings in an area of government if it is to work well. I believe the vast majority of people, apart from the city of Glasgow itself, in this proposed Strathclyde area, will be resentful and disinclined to co-operate in the new region. I believe that this Amendment, which has been carefully drafted after consultation with a large number of local authorities by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, and a number of others, would remove the apprehensions felt so strongly by so many people about the imbalance of this great Strathclyde Area, without destroying the purposes of the Bill. It seems to me that the proposals inserted in it for strategic planning will not cause any more delay in getting the planning approved: in fact it is very often the Scottish Office rather than the planning authority which is the cause of delay. I believe that this is a compromise which should be given a trial.


My Lords, there are many excellent qualities in the Scottish character, but if there is one thing from which Scotland suffers, and has suffered for a long time, it is an excessive "parish pump" philosophy. My only qualification for intervening in this debate is that just on 60 years ago I was a member of the Glasgow Corporation. There is perhaps another qualification I should mention—that I came to Glasgow first from Durham in 1892. There is also a distinct further qualification, if I may dare to mention it. It is this. There is not a single township, or almost a single hamlet, concerned in this area covered by the proposed new burgh of Strathclyde in which I have not spoken. I know every one of them on the Ayrshire coast from Girvan and back again to places like Irvine, Ardrossan, Ayr, and all the rest. Then I should mention that in the perimeter of Glasgow, where the real opposition to the Strathclyde Area comes from, 'there are Bearsden, Duntocher, and Bowling, largely, if not exclusively, occupied by those who 'have made their wealth in Glasgow and decided they would rather live outside.

I listened with intense interest to the admirable speech of my noble friend Lord Hughes who mentioned two matters in the course of his remarks. He referred to the subject of local government and sought to define it. The only detail in that definition was some reference to a public convenience. That is not going far enough; I should require further details in that definition. But what is local government? Does it consist merely, in the case of Scotland, of electing a Lord Provost? Lord Provosts in Scotland, in order to ingratiate themselves with the electors, often come to them and say, in order to show how delightful and how neutral they are, that they are ready to be either partial or impartial. A whole coterie of people regard themselves as very important because they happen to be local councillors. It is not good enough.

The next point in the speech of my noble friend Lord Hughes was about the disadvantages of a centralised local authority like Strathclyde. But what were the disadvantages to which he referred? There is only one. If he wishes to correct me he can. There is only one disadvantage: it is too big. It does not necessarily follow that if something is too big it is a disadvantage. I might equally respond by saying that if it is too small it can be a disadvantage. So we have to restore the balance. What is sometimes too small and what is sometimes regarded as too big ought to be coalesced so that something is formed capable of exercising authority with effective consultation with all concerned over a large area. I agree with my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe, who spoke about the necessity above all things for extensive industrial development in the Lowlands of Scotland. If that is to be implemented in an effective fashion obviously it must be largely associated with effective and centralised local government. There has been a great deal of propaganda in this matter. I have been beseiged, as have no doubt other noble Lords, by masses of material. When I was paying a visit in Glasgow recently I was told all about what is happening in Bearsden and such places, and the arguments they are using against Glasgow. They dislike Glasgow; it has a Labour council. They did not dislike it as much when it had a Conservative council. But they simply dislike it and that is the only argument against it.

The whole purpose of local government is not merely to decide upon a public convenience, or whether a road should pass through a particular street in a particular village, or whether there should be a by-pass or something of that sort. If we are to consider local government in the context of effective planning covering an area, providing new roads and new buildings, dealing with pollution, creating a delightful environment, an area satisfactory to the vast number of people in it, then we must have centralisation. I agree that centralisation sometimes has its disadvantages if those responsible for administration use undue and unnecessary authority. If there is proper consultation, as I am sure there will he if we have the right kind of people associated with such a body as is proposed by the Government based on the Wheatley Report, I can detect no disadvantages in it.

Before I came into your Lordships' House to-day I was approached by somebody who reminded me that he had met me many years ago in a place—and if he is in the gallery I hope he will not mind my mentioning it—called Rutherglen. We used to call it "Ruglen". He appealed to me with emotion that I should do something to prevent Rutherglen being absorbed into Glasgow. I ventured to say that Rutherglen is just around the corner. When I lived in Glasgow Rutherglen was part of Glasgow. There were some queer people there, I agree, but it was Glasgow. It was not a hop, step and jump from the Clyde Foot-ball Club ground. People came into Glasgow in those days by tram, although most of them walked when I was there in the early days because there was no other effective means of transport. But we never thought of Rutherglen, and certainly not places like Bearsden, Old Kilpatrick and Bowling, as being outside Glasgow. It seems to me that although there may be some defects in the Glasgow character and in the character of the members of the Glasgow town council, if we can promote effective local government in a centralised fashion with effective consultation, taking into account all the needs of the area, it is far better to support a proposition of that kind.


My Lords, like my noble friend Lord Dundee I live a considerable distance from Glasgow. However, having been a Minister of State for Scotland, I support two other former Ministers of State, the noble Lords, Lord Hughes and Lord Strathclyde, in their Amendment. Unless there is agreement to this Amendment it is going to be a poor day for the rural areas of Scotland. Scotland is not made up just of cities, and towns but is dependent on cities, towns and the rural population. We have to strike the right balance and, in my opinion, this Amendment gives the right balance.


My Lords, I should like to support the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes. I listened with great interest to the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, whose knowledge of Glasgow is very great indeed. I have some knowledge of it too; I was for some 30 years married to the Member of Parliament who sat for the City of Glasgow, and all my ancestors have come from Glasgow. I know Glasgow extremely well, and I am very fond of it. But that does not make me think that it is a good idea that the County of Argyll, with islands like Tiree and Islay and those far away places, should be linked with a city whose interests are totally different from the interests of Argyll and that rural Highland area of Scotland.

Equally, I know Lanarkshire very well; and I also know Ayrshire. All those areas are perfectly capable of producing first-class members of local government who will not necessarily be in conflict one with another. But they are interested in and know about the areas in which they live. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, says you want to spread a great industrial belt. You may well want to do that. If it is in the interests of the local government of Lanarkshire and Ayrshire they will cooperate too, but they will co-operate far better if they are able to play a full part with their own local government representatives than if they are part of a gigantic region such as Strathclyde, which has very little in common with them—except that, according to the Wheatley Report, it would be a viable proposition.

I do not believe that local government must be looked at purely from the economic point of view. I have done my stint, like a great many others in this House, and am still a local county councillor. I think that the great interest and importance of local government, as opposed to central and national Government, is that one must take a great interest in the people whom one represents, and with whom one is much more intimately associated than are Members of Parliament, even in their own constituencies. I do not think one must govern entirely by the idea of an economic unit. What in fact is an "economic unit"? Almost everything that is done has to have some source of money supply which does not come directly from it. Our nationalised industries—for instance, our railways, and so on—are not independent. We are all dependent to an extent one on each other. And I do not myself think it is a good idea to tie up these four areas which the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has defined. In fact, it was not really his definition; they have really defined themselves.

I was present at the meeting which he called in Glasgow recently. I did not go there absolutely convinced that this proposal was going to be the right thing to do, but I came away convinced that it was going to be the right thing to do. I am more convinced than ever since I have studied the matter more carefully. I am quite sure that we shall not get the good will of the people and will not get the good local government we want or the interest of the people if we put two and a half million people in the West of Scotland into one area and give them small representation. The number of people who will represent that vast region will be very small. It could be more a kind of dictatorship than a free and democratic local government. I do not mean by that that it will not be a government which is free and democratic and elected, but the fact that so few people will be in charge of such a huge area is in itself wrong.

It would be much better to have the four regions, and to have the co-operation suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, in a future Amendment. One noble Lord was asking for a mixture. By this proposal we should get a very good mixture in the whole of the County of Lanarkshire, which is an enormous area, and in the whole of the County of Ayrshire, which also is a huge area, and in the County of Argyll—parts will be in Argyll—and in the Glasgow area around Glasgow, which we are proposing should be that Region. It would be most unwise to pursue the idea of this enormous area, which Lord Wheatley's Commission recommended. I do not think it will work. It will make for great unhappiness—and that does not make for good local government. Unhappiness is not one of the things that make for good local government.

Of course, we can be considered to be not sufficiently looking ahead. That is a charge which can be levelled at a great many of the things we do. But in this connection I think we should obtain far greater support for whatever great planning schemes are put forward, whatever central Government are putting forward, from these four areas than we should if they were all together. If the latter were done they would all dislike it intensely and would either be very difficult to govern in those circumstances, or would simply lose all interest. The idea of linking together all these islands with Glasgow, and Lanarkshire, almost entirely an industrial county apart from its agricultural interests, seems to me to be most unwise. I strongly support the proposals put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, and hope very much that your Lordships will back them so that we can send this Bill back to the House of Commons to reconsider the whole matter. It is quite vital for the future of Scotland.

4.25 p.m.


My Lords, may I say at this stage that, although I much admire the work and effort that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has put into this Amendment, I should like your Lordships to reject it. The reason why I say this Amendment should be rejected is that we are virtually going to turn Glasgow into a metropolitan district—or Greater Glasgow, as his Amendment stands at the bottom of page 2 of the Marshalled List of Amendments. I ask your Lordships to look at the rest of Scotland as well. Of the four cities in Scotland, we have Aberdeen as the centre of Grampian; Dundee as the centre of Tayside; Edinburgh as the centre of the Lothian Region; and it is only right that we should have Glasgow as the centre of Strathclyde Region. The other areas may be very much smaller. If your Lordships like it, we could regard Strathclyde as the size of a swan, with the others no bigger than a small teal duck in comparison. But to accept the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, would be to chop that swan into four different parts. I am not at all satisfied that it will achieve the results that are required.

May I read one paragraph of a letter I received from Sir James Faulkner, the town clerk of the Corporation of Glasgow, on September 28, in which he said: The creation of four districts within the proposed Greater Glasgow region suggested in Lord Hughes' Amendment would perpetuate the existing artificial geographical boundaries which separate the City from its residential hinterland which already tend to produce a grave imbalance, social, economic and educational in he City's population. Glasgow City must stand on its own as a district, but it does not require in that function as a district to have Rutherglen, Eastwoods and Kilpatricks districts joined together with it.

The Amendment concerning Rutherglen, at the top of page 3 on the Marshalled List, means that on the one hand it is to become part of the Greater Glasgow region. But I wonder whether your Lordships would also be good enough to look at Amendment No. 13, standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Selkirk, by which it would become a separate district outside Glasgow. I have had letters from the Master Court and members of the Incorporation of Rutherglen, on October 11, the Royal Burgh of Rutherglen, on October 1, and Rutherglen and Cambuslang Society, on October 5—all expressing the desire to be a separate district. But I am fairly certain that they would prefer to be part of Strathcylde rather than of Greater Glasgow. At the Committee stage, we made the new district of Kilpatricks, which concerns the burgh for Bearsden, Clydebank and Milngavie. I certainly got the impression from them that they were quite happy to be a new district within Strathclyde, but did not want to be part of Greater Glasgow. Eastwoods have a similar argument. Almost all the burghs round about—Kirkintilloch, Cumbernauld, Bishopriggs, Motherwell and most of Cadzow—prefer to be part of Strathclyde and not necessarily in their own Lanarkshire Region within the Strathclyde Region.

There is on the other hand—and I must be fair to both sides—quite a feeling that Ayrshire would like to be on its own. I cannot speak for Argyll and Clyde, but I do know that Jonstone would really prefer to be part of Strathclyde and not part of a separate Argyll and Clyde Region. East Kilbride would also prefer to be part of Strathclyde and not part of the region (as it would then be) of Lanarkshire.

There must be a centre. We must have the City of Glasgow as the centre of the Strathclyde Region. I am quite certain that this will work but before we pass on or possibly go to a Division on this subject I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to Amendment No. 14, standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Polwarth. I have had representations from all over that part of the world, saying how much they support that Amendment and how much they wish to stay part of the overall Strathclyde Region, but not supporting the Amendment standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, the noble Lord, Lord Ballantrae, my noble friend Lord Selkirk and the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde.

My noble friend Lord Selkirk has suggested that we should accept this Amendment and pass it back to the other place to consider. Our time is short. I should like this Bill, even if not perfect, to be on the Statute Book in a very short time. I do not think the other place would have an opportunity for the same sort of discussion on the subject as we are having to-day. I am glad that the question has been put to your Lordships' House. While I admire the work and skill that went into the drafting of this Amendment, I should also like to take up what the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, said, that Glasgow is perhaps not the brightest gem; but in my opinion if we split Strathclyde into four different parts what little brightness there is in that gem will disappear. I ask your Lordships to consider carefully the subsequent Amendments to Schedule 1 and to reject this Amendment.


My Lords, I also would add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes. One of the few concrete arguments that we have heard against this Amendment to-day was that put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, on planning, but I should like to remind him that planning decisions are not delayed at local level; they lie in St. Andrew's House. In February we held a public inquiry as to whether or not we should have a small pier on the island of Raasay and we still have no decision. So I do not think we can blame local authorities, whether they be large or small, for planning delays. That argument, though it be one of the few concrete ones, is not a valid one.

As to whether there should be one region or four, I feel that too much attention has been paid to the political line up. The main dissenter is the City of Glasgow with a Labour dominated council, and I hope that to-day we shall not have a Conservative Government supporting a strongly dominated Labour council against the more moderate or even Right Wing councils. For 24 years I have tried to help islands and remote West Coast areas and I have been sorely disturbed at how poor Argyll is going to suffer if it is dominated by Glasgow. I wonder how many of the existing Glasgow councillors have ever been to the Island of Mull, let alone to the smaller Argyllshire islands. Therefore I hope your Lordships will support the noble Lord, Lord Hughes. I anticipate my noble friend on the Front Bench will probably say that it is too late, but I would suggest that it is better late than never.


My Lords, as an Englishman I speak with some diffidence, but as some of your Lordships may know I am a Scot's relationship by marriage and, as is deemed wont of in-laws, I am going to have my say. In the part of Ayrshire which I know well this has been a contentious issue. Opinions are evenly divided. I do not think anyone would differ from that view in the part of the country which I know. My old friend the noble Lord, Lord Ballantrae, is a close neighbour of mine in Ayrshire. He and I have totally divergent views on this matter. He favours going to Strathclyde come what may but remaining in Ayrshire—Ayrshire to the end! I favour seeing that part of Ayrshire which I know best go into Galloway, as was the original proposal.

I think that the solution proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, is most statesmanlike; it has produced a bridge between those who feel one way and those who feel the other, and as he has said so much more admirably than I could, we shall never get a completely perfect solution. There are those who think that one solution is perfect and there are those who think that the other is perfect. His solution produces an answer which I am quite sure has the support of the majority of the people in that part of Ayrshire which I know—and let us face the fact that we are talking about people and not of economic factors and planning, and this and that. The solution suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has the support of the people in that part of Ayrshire which I know bemuse it unites them in a common solution to this problem. Therefore I very much hope that your Lordships will support this Amendment.


My Lords, if I may come in for a moment—



I am sorry, my Lords; I am apparently out of order.

4.40 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to speak briefly on two aspects. One concerns the way in which the decision of the Wheatley Commission has been completely ignored, as if they really had not considered the matter at all. The Wheatley Commission went carefully into all these facts and although their Report is by no means holy writ, not only did they take the evidence (which they had to do) but they went round and interviewed in every district and area in Scotland. Great weight should be attached to the fact that they came to the considered opinion that this Strathclyde Region was the only answer to an almost insoluble question. Great weight attaches to what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, said. One is nearly convinced that he was right, and also my noble friend Lord Selkirk.

There was one other point on which I was left dissatisfied, namely, the question of planning. The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, said that agendas are being passed between regions to vet some sort of consensus of agreement on planning. It seems to me that this is not only producing a third tier, which has been discussed at great length and decided against, but is not even producing an official top tier—a sort of unofficial arrangement. I really do not think that that can work. I realise all about the humanities. We are thinking about human beings but, on the whole, I am of the opinion that, in the end, the Strathclyde Region is the answer.


My Lords, there is one point I wish to make. All Governments make mistakes, and no Government will admit that they have made a mistake. It is fairly easy to create a giant, but very difficult to dismember it. There is an historical background where amalgamations of counties and regionalisation of duties have worked well where they have been brought about voluntarily, when they have been proved necessary. If this Amendment is passed—and I support it—it will not bring local government in Scotland to a halt; it will not make the system unworkable. Scotland is working now without any of these provisions at all. My counsel is that we should give it a chance and should not create this giant. When Wheatley reported, there was not a smell of oil in the North Sea. The oil-related industries which are having an enormous effect on the other side of Scotland are only just becoming apparent. So I counsel that the Government should be very careful here. We are at the halfway house. If in five years' time it has not worked, there is nothing to stop the Government bringing this Glasgow giant into effect, but do not do it now.

4.42 p.m.


My Lords, one of the glories of Scotland is its diversity. In the Highlands this diversity has been largely based on plans; in the Lowlands it is a geographical matter, but the result of the diversity in Scotland has been a notable contribution to the nation. Let us take some examples merely from the South-West. Robert Burns is a product of a small area of very natural genius around Ayr; James Watt came from a very characteristic little town de suis Greenock; Lord Kelvin came from Mill-port; Alexander Fleming came from a little country place in North Ayrshire called Darvel, unknown perhaps to most of your Lordships; the inventor of television, James Logie Baird, came from Helensburgh. All these people grew up in small communities of great character and individuality, peripheral communities to the rapidly growing Glasgow. They may have gone to Glasgow to make their living but they grew and developed outside it, and it is the growing and developing that matter.

This great region comprising the heart of Scotland will inevitably attempt to standardise and to centralise—bureaucrats cannot do otherwise. When that happens in education, the inevitable result is a loss in the individuality and ruggedness which has made the West of Scotland. I fully share the misgivings of the noble Lord. Lord Hughes, and the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, about one large education authority which is proposed under the Bill. Indeed, I personally think this to be the most serious single objection to this Bill. I believe intensely in the fundamental importance of diversity in education.

I want to put before your Lordships a rather interesting question. With the extent of individuality in Scotland, and the characteristics of the different localities, how does it come about that the time of your Lordships on this Bill has been taken up almost exclusively with the South-West? No one has talked about the North-East: very little has been heard about the Highlands, and the Central Region has been mentioned only by name. Nothing has been heard from Fife or the Lothians, there has been just the slightest cheep from Berwick and nothing of substance from Dumfries. Why should that have been?

The arguments which we are hearing to-day stem from a very widespread and indigenous resentment against the Wheatley proposals, outdated, as my noble friend Lord Stonehaven said, by other developments in Scotland. But these resentments have been slow in developing. Just because they are indigenous developments the people at the grass roots know the proposals are wrong. A lot has been said about planning. Surely this point is met if the House agrees to the Amendment to be moved later on. I cannot agree with my noble friend Lord Stratheden and Campbell, that this is putting in a third tier; it is not. It is putting in something very flexible. It allows the Secretary of State to put in something and to take it away if it does not work. Whereas if we commit ourselves to this large region now, we will have to have this giant whether we like it or not, and all that stems from it. I cannot see why the West of Scotland should be sacrificed on the altar of perfection in planning.

The noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe referred baiefly to the article in the Economist, a paper which has been taking a very curious and critical interest in Scottish affairs in recent times. The Economist remarked that Scotland is a divided land, divided into the prosperous East and the declining West. One will not invigorate the declining West by putting it all into one great region. Devolution of administration and devolution of education are far more likely to produce the results. The establishment of the great Region of Strathclyde will be a focus for discontent and grievance at a very high level. The Region will have half the population and, with that, half of the total population will become a nation within a nation. As my noble friend Lord Selkirk has indicated, it will be only a short time before the authority of the Secretary of State is challenged.


My Lords, I can be brief. As a resident of Argyll, I state my support for the Amendment. My experience is that those proposals have found small favour in my area, and raise fears of real problems of representation for large numbers of those whom the proposed Region would seek to govern.

4.50 p.m.


My Lords, whatever we may think of this Amendment and those that follow it, we must all admire warmly and genuinely the perseverance of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, and his self-denial of time off during the Recess in order to make his researches for what must be one last fling, in the nature of the timetable of this Bill, to find an alternative solution to the problem of Strathclyde. I congratulate him warmly on the success he had in bringing together such widely divergent bodies as a Presbytery and the National Union of Mineworkers.

This issue is so fundamental to the Bill, and so important, that at the risk of wearying your Lordships at the end of a very full discussion I feel I must go over the ground from the beginning and in some detail if we are to clarify our minds before we reach our decision. Of course we recognise and must have some sympathy with the concern prompting this set of Amendments. The main concern is that the Strathclyde region, embracing 2½ million people over 5,000 square miles of territory, will be too big; that it will be a monster uncontrollable in its relations with the outside world and unworkable internally. But I feel, with respect, that this is an exaggeration. It is no new problem. The problem of the area was present in the minds of the Wheatley Commission. They spent a large part of one chapter discussing it. It was fully considered by the previous Government, as the noble Lord told us. It was thoroughly aired in this Government's White Paper of 1971, and finally it was given an independent examination by consultants engaged by the West of Scotland counties themselves, who reported in August, 1971.

If the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, asks why did we not, as a Government. after the publication of the White Paper consult with the different authorities and interests concerned, I would simply say that we did consult in the period between the publication of Wheatley and the publication of our White Paper, which I submit was the right time for consultation. If we had felt it right to prolong consultation it should have been a Green Paper. We might have prolonged the reform of local Government in Scotland indefintely with this process. We felt that the time was ripe for action, and having made our consultations we published the White Paper and proceeded broadly on the basis of it, but not inflexibly so. None of these many examinations was perfunctory; none of them tried to make little of the difficulties. All of them came to the firm conclusion, in spite of the difficulties, that there was an unanswerable case for an executive authority for the whole of the West of Scotland such as the Government proposed.

My Lords, why did these four separate studies come to the same conclusion? The reason is that they looked dispassionately and broadly at the requirements of local government in the West of Scotland, not just the short-term problems and difficulties of transition, but at the long-term interests of Scotland, and they all had no hesitation in pronouncing a Strathclyde region both necessary and workable. I think it is worth looking back to an earlier diagnosis and remedy prescribed nearly twenty-five years ago in the Report on the Clyde Valley Regional Plan in 1949, in which it was stated: The Clyde Valley region, though never closely defined, has always been recognised as an area in which there is unquestionably a real community of interest. It is indeed frequently referred to as an economic unit. The present system of local government with its water-tight compartments of local government areas is altogether inadequate and unsuited to the problems that face the development of the area in its best sense. We are convinced that regional administration for the Clyde basin in respect of certain functions is not only desirable but nesessary and that a regional authority should be established. That was twenty-four years ago. I do not think that that finding has ever been seriously challenged. There is in the recent consultants' report to which I referred, commissioned by the authorities in the area, the statement: Density of population in the centre is such that it is impossible to create regional units of population suitable for the administration of some major local government func- tions without cutting across social, economic or geographic links. My Lords, there is an internal unity about Strathclyde whether we like it or not and whatever one may say about local communities of interest, which of course exist within the greater unity.

With great respect, it will not do to talk of the Scottish Office exercising this unifying influence on a variety of independent authorities. The Secretary of State's concern is with Scotland as a whole, and that is right. If Strathclyde does not have its own identity, then I do not believe that any amount of ad hoc co-ordination, joint committees or what have you, will achieve the planning and, just as important, more important, the carrying out of the large-scale projects and services which are so necessary if we are to deal with all the problems and opportunities of this key area of the West of Scotland. I thought the noble Lord, Lord Stratheden, with his personal experience of local government, touched very well upon this point. I thought the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, was a hit sanguine about the Scottish Office's influence in this field. We can tell a long story of attempts to achieve coordination by voluntary means, of opportunities missed, of policies enforced as a last resort by an unwilling central Government on resentful local authorities. I think it is asking a bit much of authorities elected to represent the interests of their own specific area to forget those interests, to sink them and think themselves instead into the point of view of a very much wider area. I think we must have an elected authority for that wider area. Consider some major problem of planning on which the Secretary of State has ordered these authorities to come together and on which there may well be strong disagreement. All past history of the West of Scotland is riddled with this kind of example. Suppose for one moment that Ayrshire, for example, held some very strong views on some subject, would it give way to the other bodies? I doubt it. One would be faced with situations of inaction, stalemate and nothing happening.

The question of planning was, of course, very much raised. The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, spoke of all decisions, even something affecting a house or a shop in a particular street. With great respect, I think that sort of planning is local planning which would be a matter for the district in any case. I do not think we need be concerned about the problem of the pier on Raasay which the noble Lord, Lord Burton, brought in. It is a very long way away, but I appreciate that it was a good opportunity to have a go at the Scottish Office. The noble Lord also mentioned the question of planning in relation to Hunterston, which is fair enough; Hunterston is, of course, a matter of national importance. I can think of a number of other fields where a Strathclyde region could do extremely valuable work which at the moment they cannot do without the Secretary of State's intervention, such as the problem of population distribution, allocation of land use, new settlements, whether New Towns or in other forms, the siting of power stations in relation to the needs of the West of Scotland, location of hypermarkets, selection of areas for country parks, very important planning functions which the Secretary of State will not necessarily have to interfere in and which Strathclyde could well carry out.

Of course there are problems in all this, but local government bristles with problems, and there is nothing in principle here which cannot be overcome. One of the main difficulties is that in a large authority, taking a particular function—say education, which is one that has greatly exercised your Lordships, along with social work—people imagine that the education committee must be responsible for every detail, everything that happens, and that the director of education must do everything himself. This is a great mistake. The director's job is to advise an education committee on issues of broad policy and not of detail. Detail must be done lower down and nearer to the people.

The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, mentioned the area of Greater Manchester, and that there would be within it ten separate authorities. I am not as familiar as perhaps I should be with the English system, but it is not necessary to have separate authorities to secure this degree of devolution. Take as an example industry or business; nobody would say that a great organisation like that mentioned by the noble Lord, where some of your Lordships clothe yourselves, with its vast chain of branches throughout the country, or even perhaps their bigger brother very well known to us, are not highly efficiently run nor in close touch with their customers throughout. It is a question of management structure and proper organisation. I believe that with guidance to the new regions and districts we can achieve proper management structures and combine the benefits of close local contact with the resources available to the larger organisation. A number of valuable suggestions have recently appeared in the Paterson Report on organisation for the benefit of local authorities.

There are some considerable problems if we accept these Amendments, however well intentioned they are. Perhaps I may mention one or two that occur to me. The strategic function of planning has been mentioned and we have dealt with that. Take another field, that of transport. Urban transport is of immense importance to this huge area of Strathclyde, and we have created a passenger transport authority for the Greater Glasgow area. I am sure that your Lordships would want to see an authority of this kind existing and retained, but at present its sphere would, if these Amendments were accepted, cut across the boundaries of all these different new proposed regions. I believe that there is enormous benefit in having a region for which a proper transport system can be devised fitting in with all the other things, road transport, parking policy, road programmes, and everything else. This would be one disadvantage of breaking up the Strathclyde region. The same could be said for water supply. I think that Ayrshire could stand on its own for geographical reasons, but the other three proposed regions would simply cut across the existing and future water supply arrangements.

There is the question of existing regional boundaries. Take the proposed Argyle and Clyde region; I do not know where its centre would be, but probably in Paisley. Think of the problems of travel. A councillor from Helensburgh going to meetings would have to travel by the centre of Glasgow now that there are no more steamers across the Clyde. The same problem would arise with the proposed Lanarkshire region stretching in a great are from the North round to the East and South side of Glasgow. As mentioned by my noble friend Lord Balfour, there is a real problem about this Greater Glasgow region which would be one of the four proposed. It would comprise Glasgow, Clydebank, Bearsden, Milngavie, Rutherg,len and Eastwood, with a population of 1.1 million of which Glasgow would make up nearly 900,000. If there is anywhere the danger of domination, surely it would be in that Greater Glasgow region that there should be fear of domination.

I do not want to weary your Lordships, and I have gone on for a rather long time, but may I just touch on this question of what people want. It is fair that we should try to meet public demand in this matter, but the noble Lord was the first to admit that even with the meeting which he convened, and the voting of the authorities present at it, it would be very difficult to say precisely how many people in the West of Scotland wanted it or were against it. It is rather like the block vote at the T.U.C.; nobody can say how many of those hundreds of thousands of voters were really for or against. The numbers game is perhaps a rather dangerous one, and I do not want to pursue it too far. I have had representations from two of the authorities present at the meeting, East Kilbride and Greenock, both dissociating themselves from the decision but also saying that in their view the support for dismembering Strathclyde at the meeting was not really as great as has been suggested. Of those authorities who have taken the trouble to write to the Scottish Office about the matter—and I may say that the population of those authorities add up to 2.4 million, which is practically the whole population of the Strathclyde Region— the population of those for Strathclyde was 1.500.000 and those against it fractionally under 900.000. I do not want to make too much of this; I am not sure that we should rely too much on numbers in this matter.

One should also bear in mind that there are other interests. I have to-day tion of those authorities adds up to 2.4 Glasgow Chamber of Commerce urging the maintenance of the Strathclyde Region. The interests of industry and commerce are extremely important in this field, and they have urged me that Strathclyde should not be broken up. The noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, mentioned the importance of industry and commerce in this field. We have to face it that there is no ideal solution. There is certainly none that everybody would like. I do not believe that we are right to go for what a noble Lord has called a "second best" which is liked by more people than for one ideal which nobody likes. I do not think that Strathclyde is ideal, but equally I do not accept that nobody likes it. I do not think that this is an exaggeration. We could do worse than heed the words of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, who certainly, so far as this House is concerned, must have had the longest contact and experience of the city of Glasgow and its needs. I was glad that his native accent became stronger with every word that he uttered.

None of us likes change. I think that this is the fundamental problem. We are frightened of change; we are frightened of larger units; we are afraid of what they are going to do to us. Naturally, existing organisations want to retain as much control in their hands, or in the hands of their own area, as they possibly can. This is a natural view and reaction, and one could naturally judge that many of these authorities who came to the noble Lord's meeting would support that view. With proper organisation and administration we can have the best of both worlds if we keep Strathclyde. We must have the greatest respect for the views of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, and for all the trouble that he has taken in this matter, and for the views of all the other noble Lords who have spoken. We have certainly had a wide range of them. Let us beware of letting emotion prevail over reason. We had a most thoughtful contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, who has lived and worked during the greater part of his life in or close to Glasgow and the region outside it, and he gave us some good advice here. On the matter of time, I would simply say that there is not long for the other place to consider the Bill if we amend it and send it back. That is no reason why we should not amend it if we so decide. But my considered advice to your Lordships, after this very full debate, would be that we should accept the position as it stands and not accept the Amendment moved so very sensibly if I may say so by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes.

5.10 p.m.


My Lords, may I take the opportunity of replying not at great length to what has been said by the opponents of my Amendment. It would be a waste of your Lordships' time to refer to the admirable speeches which many noble Lords have made in support of my Amendment. But the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, adhered very closely to the brief which obviously was not written in its entirety during the course of this debate, and I noticed that at no point was that more so than when he advised the House not to accept my Amendment after all the discussion. That was obviously a part that was written before the discussion ever took place which rather detracts from its value. If I may say so without any disrespect to the Minister, or even less to the denizens of the Box, it was a typical Civil Service brief, and if there is one thing that is clear beyond paradventure it is that outside the Scottish Education Department the Civil Service in St. Andrew's House are wholely in favour of Strathclyde. The Scottish Education Department are, so far as I know, not in favour of it yet; that was made clear right from the very beginning. But some of the things which have been attributed to me in the course of the speeches—and I will refer to them briefly —are not what I said. I, for instance, did not, as the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, attributed to me, say that Strathclyde was uncontrollable. He said that I had said this and that this was an exaggeration. It is not uncontrollable.


With great respect, I certainly did not intend to say that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, said it was uncontrollable. I said that much of the fear about it stemmed from this aspect.


That may in fact be just what the noble Lord said, but as it was taken in the context of my own remarks I thought he was attributing that to me. I do not think it is uncontrollable. Given the power and the propensity of the Scottish Office to stick its finger in where it thinks it is necessary, nothing in Scotland is uncontrollable, except the Scottish Office.

In relation to the White Paper the noble Lord said that the time was ripe for that, and that if they had so wanted there was ample time for discussion before the White Paper was issued—that that was the right time. The old conception of a White Paper was as something for discussion. It is only in recent years that the Government have regarded a White Paper as being something before the first print of a Bill and have brought in a Green Paper to serve the purpose that a White Paper used to serve. I pointed out that my right honourable friend wanted to get back to the position that a White Paper was something for discussion, and that that particular White Paper said that on the matters which are the subject of this Amendment there was to be no further discussion. Therefore it is not surprising that thereafter the local authorities did not come to the Secretary of State with their objections. In fact, the Minister came very nearly to saying, although in fact he did not say this, that by the time the White Paper was issued speed was the most important consideration. I would think that getting good government is more important than getting quick government.

The noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, said that Strathclyde was both necessary and workable. I would say that change is necessary. I would agree that Strathclyde is workable. My argument is that if we organise the four regions as I suggest we get something which is even more workable than Strathclyde. I am not against change, nor can anyone say that the Amendments which I have put forward are other than change. This Amendment makes very considerable change from the existing structure of Scotland. Someone said—I do not now remember who it was—that this was not my Amendment. In fact what I did after the meeting which decided so largely that they wanted to have some change, was to invite the local authorities to set up a Working Party. This Working Party consisted of representatives of the counties, the large burghs and the small burghs, and the boundaries which are drawn up for these regions are the boundaries which were drawn up by that Working Party. I have accepted these without changes.

The other matter which anyone who was present at the meeting will recollect is that beforehand I made it perfectly clear that I would not proceed with any Amendments unless it was abundantly clear that those outside Glasgow wanted change. If there was no clear majority for that I proposed to take no further action. One must lean over backwards to be fair to Glasgow because there is a certain amount of innuendo that the wickedness of Glasgow lies behind this matter. Glasgow is not being wicked in this at all. If they had been they would have come and cast their votes against the proposal. They made their point of view perfectly clear but recognised that at that stage this matter was principally one for those outside Glasgow and left the vote to them.

On the question of education the Minister has made the most of what is in the Bill, that a scheme is to be submitted to the Secretary of State for the Strathclyde Region for the administration of education. I would invite the Minister of State to read what the Secretary of State said in another place when the Amendment about a three-tier structure was before the House for consideration. The Secretary of State at that time emphasised the considerable importance which the Government attached to education and planning being regional functions. It is really not conveying to the House a proper picture of how education will be administered to suggest that only broad principles are to be considered at region, and that the local education committees will be doing all the real work. They will be doing the day-to-day "donkey work", but they will not be settling principles.

The Minister referred to other difficulties which would arise from my proposal. He referred to water supply, which I think is a good example. I might well have used it myself; perhaps it would have been fairer had I done so. I have consulted with the water authorities on this matter, and with the Lower Clyde authority in particular. I had meetings with them, and they informed me that two of the four regions can work together perfectly satisfactorily without in any way interfering with the functions presently carried out by the Lower Clyde Water Board which would enable them to carry on as if in fact there had been no change. I refer to Greater Glasgow and Argyll and Lower Clyde. Lanarkshire can work quite satisfactory on its own so far as water is concerned. I am told by them that there is to be a new reservoir in Renfrewshire, and when that is completed there will be no difficulty in leaving the two reservoirs in Ayrshire for the use of the Ayrshire and Arran Region. So there would then be three water authorities each of which would be capable of functioning as efficiently as the water boards are doing at present, and basing their work on what the water boards have done. So my Amendments do not in the slightest way interfere with the proper and efficient function of water supply.

The Glasgow Chamber of Commerce were very fair in sending their letter to me also; they did not just send it to those who might be expected to support them. They knew I was not going to support them. If the Minister would look at the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce letter it is principally against taking the peripheral barriers out, of Glasgow. The reference to the region is to the fact that right from the beginning they supported Wheatley, but apparently the decisions of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce are to be like the Medes and the Persians, once taken never to be altered, and after all they gave their evidence to Wheatley a long time ago. Was it the noble Viscount, Lord Stonehaven, who referred to the fact that when the Commission were examining the evidence there was not even a smell of oil in the North Sea?

I accept that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, speaks with authority on this matter of the location of industry. He has and is presently spending a great deal of time in trying to get industry into Scotland, and his views on these matters must be treated with respect, but I am going to pray him in aid of my proposal because he referred to the fact that the access now stretched from Hunterston to Inverness—in fact it could have gone a lot further up than Inverness. And I would say that if the smell of oil had been there when Wheatley was examining the question the arguments in favour of Strathclyde Region would have compelled the Commission to rope the Highlands and the Grampian Region in as necessary for the proper planning of industry, because this is what is going to work. Like the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, I have seen the graph showing the departure from the two lines across the central belt to the diagonal running up from Hunterston to North Sea oil; and, having mentioned that state ment by my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe, I should like now to deal with some of the other points which he made.

My noble friend referred to the fact that there is a declining interest in local government, as reflected in the number of people who show their interest by voting in the polls. My noble friend, like all the rest of us, must have noticed that in no place is the decline more obvious than in the largest centres of population. There are few places which can achieve a lower percentage poll than some of the wards in Glasgow. The same applies to the other cities; it is not something peculiar to Glasgow. My own native city of Dundee boasts high figures because we can raise 40 per cent., which is high in relation to what is accomplished in other such places. But it is not lack of interest which produces low figures in so many of the Glasgow wards and in the Aberdeen wards: it is because the result is a foregone conclusion. The wards are so overwhelmingly oriented in a particular political direction, that people know perfectly well that even if only 10 per cent. of the electors vote the man returned will be exactly the same person as if 90 per cent. of them vote. That is what produces the low figures; not lack of interest but the fact that they do not need to vote. After all, Scots are people who are interested in economy, and it applies in that way. Why make the effort when somebody else can do it for you, and can do it in the way that you want?

On the question of Glasgow, the report in the Economist (which, as I am sure my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe will admit, has not been received in Scotland with any great enthusiasm) stated that Glasgow is a one-class city. I am quite sure that there are a number of suburbs in Glasgow which would dissent from that point of view, but let us take it that it is largely correct. If we take that as being the basis, it is almost equally correct to say that Strathclyde is a one-class area. The addition of the various large burghs in the county of Lanark and in the county of Dunbarton will not turn Strathclyde into a two-class area. The fact is that the area as a whole is overwhelmingly in one political direction; and if that is what is described as one class, it will remain a one-class area whether it is in one or in four.

Now I come with some trepidation to my noble friend Lord Shinwell, whose connection with Glasgow goes back longer than I have lived. I have never lived in Glasgow at any time, so I can claim no personal experience at all, except that I have a daughter who has recently gone to live in Glasgow and my visits there are now much more frequent than they otherwise would have been. But my views on this matter have not been culled from any experiences of my own; what I am putting forward are the experiences and desires of the people who live there, inside and outside Glasgow. No one in this House or in another place is a more skilled debater than my noble friend, and he showed this very clearly in the way in which he selected items from my remarks. He said that the real objection to the proposals which I am putting forward comes from places like Bearsden, and so on. That is not the position at all. I gave the figures of those who were against the proposals, and they numbered some 740,000—or was it 720,000? It was over 700,000, anyway. The authorities named by my noble friend Lord Shinwell account for 39,000 of those 720,000. I would say that much more important is the fact that almost the whole of Dunbartonshire is against them, that almost the whole of Ayrshire is against them, and that at least half of Lanarkshire is against them—and they do not all live in Bearsden and Duntocher.

Then my noble friend said that the only disadvantage I had put forward was the fact that it was too big. My Lords, that is not by any means what I said. In fact, it was the least of the arguments which I put against it, because, as I indicated, I am still creating four districts which will include four of the biggest seven in Scotland; and Greater Glasgow, remaining at 1¼ million, will still be enormous in comparison with anything else. So I have no objection to bigness as such. But I do not want to recite the points which my noble friend glossed over. For instance, I made the argument about education very fully, and I have repeated it to-day. Then the noble Lord, Lord Balfour, quoted from the letter written by the town clerk of Glasgow. The town clerk sent me that letter, too—he also is very fair. The arguments to which the noble Lord referred have nothing at all to do with my Amendment to break up Strathclyde. The points to which he referred were the ones relating to the detachment of the periphery from the district of Glasgow, and had nothing at all to do with the proposal to break up the region.

My Lords, I remain of the opinion that this is a better alternative than Strathclyde. We have had a very good debate on it. I want to emphasise something which I think the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, said. I want to emphasise how much I am in agreement with him when he said that the real purpose of this Amendment is to give another place the opportunity to look at this matter. It is a solution quite different from anything which they have considered; and I say in advance that, whether the other place accept or reject this Amendment, I for one will take the decision that they arrive at on Monday as being final. In a matter of this kind, the view of the elected House must prevail. If they decide to throw out my Amendment, I will remain of the opinion that they are wrong; but I accept that they are the ones who have the right to be wrong, and we do not necessarily have the right to be right. On that basis, my Lords, I hope that it will go back. I know that there is not a great deal of time, but most of the other Amendments which are going back are Amendments which I am quite certain the Government are willing to have the House accept. I suspect, with my usually rather devious mind, that what the Government have in mind is to try to send this Bill back to the Commons in a form in which all the Amendments can be accepted there, therefore obviating the need for it to come back here some time after next Monday. But we do have until Wednesday; and if it gives the Minister any consolation I give him the assurance that if this Bill does come back with the rejection of Lords' Amendments there will be no difficulty from this side of the House so far as I am concerned. I hope that your Lordships will vote for this Amendment.

5.28 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

5.37 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 2A which is a consequential Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 151, leave out lines 2 to 12.—(Lord Hughes.)


had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 3: Page 151, line 9, at end insert ("except the burgh of Girvan, the District of Girvan.").

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 65; Not-Contents, 59.

Ailsa, M. Fulton, L. Rankeillour, L.
Airedale, L. Garnsworthy, L. Rothes, E.
Archibald, L. Gray, L. Rowallan, L.
Atholl, D. Grimston of Westbury, L. St. Just, L.
Balerno, L. Hailes, L. Sandys, L.
Balfour of Inchrye, L. Harvey of Prestbury, L. Selkirk, E.
Ballantrae, L. Hughes, L. [Teller.] Sempill, Ly.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Hylton-Foster, B. Somers, L.
Berkeley, B. Inchyra, L. Stonehaven, V.
Boothby, L. Kilmany, L. Strange, L.
Burton, L. Kilmarnock, L. Strathclyde, L.
Byers, L. Kinloss, Ly. Strathspey, L.
Clwyd, L. Lauderdale, E. Tanlaw, L.
Crathorne, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Teviot, L.
Cromartie, E. Loudoun, C. Thomas, L.
Daventry, V. Margadale, L. Thurso, V.
Dundee, E. [Teller.] Monck, V. Vivian, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Moyne, L. Wade, L.
Emmet of Amberley, B. Northchurch, B. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Erskine, of Rerrick, L. Ogmore, L. Wellington, D.
Ferrier, L. Perth, E. Wise, L.
Forbes, L. Platt, L.
Aberdare, L. Eccles, V. Popplewell, L.
Arwyn, L. Ferrers, E. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Auckland, L. Goschen, V. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Balfour, E. Gowrie, E. Sandford, L.
Barnby, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Segal, L.
Blyton, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Shepherd, L.
Brockway, L. Shinwell, L.
Brooke of Cumnor, L. Hall, V. Slater, L.
Brooke of Ystradfellte, B. Hanworth, V. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Cartington, L. Henderson, L.
Chorley, L. Hewlett, L. Stratheden and Campbell, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Hoy, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L.
CourtQwn, E. Limerick, E. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Craigavon, V. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Tenby, V.
Davies of Leek, L. Mancroft, L. Trefgarne, L.
de Clifford, L. Milverton, L. Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie, B.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Mowbray and Stourton, L. White, B.
Digby, L. Nugent of Guildford, L. Williamson, L.
Douglass of Cleveland, L. Phillips, B. Windlesham, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Drumalbyn, L. Polwarth, L. Younger of Leckie, V.
Ebbisham, L. Poole, L.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

The noble Marquess said: My Lords, as your Lordships may recollect, I moved a similar Amendment at the time the Bill was going through the Committee stage in your Lordships' House. I withdrew the Amendment at that time as I understood that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, was going to put down an Amendment on the lines we have just discussed. As that Amendment has now been discussed and has been accepted, and as the intention and desire of Girvan District was to get out of Strathclyde but not to get out of Ayrshire, I am not going to move this Amendment or the other Amendments down in my name.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No.6.

Amendment moved— Page 154, line 46, column 1, leave out ("Forth") and insert ("Central").—(Lord Polwarth.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 7.

Amendment moved— Page 155, line 3, column 1, leave out ("Forth") and insert ("Central").—(Lord Polwarth.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, Amendment No. 8 is also consequential, but I should be prepared to accept the Amendment to my Amendment in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk.

Amendment moved—

Page 155, line 43, at end insert—

("Greater Glasgow
City of Glasgow The county of the city of Glasgow.
In the county of Lanark—in the Ninth district, the electoral divisions of Baillieston, Garrowhill, Mount Vernon and Carmyle, Springboig.
Rutherglen In the county of Lanark—the burgh of Rutherglen; in the Eighth district, the electoral divisions of Bankhead, Cambuslang Central, Cambuslang North, Hallside, Rutherglen, and those parts of Cambuslang South and Carmunnock electoral divisions lying out-with the designated area of East Kilbride New Town.
Eastwood In the county of Renfrew—the First district.
Kilpatricks In the county of Dunbarton—the burghs of Bearsden, Clydebank, Milngavie; the district of Old Kilpatrick (except the electoral divisions of Bowling, Dunbarton).
Lanarkshire Strathkelvin In the county of Dunbarton— the burghs of Cumbernauld, Kirkintilloch; the district of Kirkintilloch and Cumbernauld.
In the county of Lanark—in the Ninth district, the electoral divisions of Chryston, Stepps; the burgh of Bishop-briggs.
In the county of Stirling—the burgh of Kilsyth; the Western No. 3 district; the
electoral division of Kilsyth West; the polling district of Kilsyth East (Banton).
Monklands In the county of Lanark—the burghs of Airdrie, Coat-bridge; the Ninth district (except the electoral divisions of Baillieston, Chryston, Garrowhill, Mount Vernon and Carmyle, Springboig, Stepps); in the Seventh district (except the electoral division of Shottskirk).
Motherwell In the county of Lanark—the burgh of Motherwell and Wishaw; the Sixth district (except the electoral divisions of Bothwell and Uddingston South, Uddingston North), the Seventh district (except the electoral division of Shottskirk).
Cadzow In the county of Lanark—the burgh of Hamilton; the Fourth district (except the electoral division of Avon-dale); in the Sixth district, the electoral divisions of Bothwell and Uddingston South, Uddingston North; in the Eighth district, the electoral divisions of Blantyre, Stonefield, and that part of High Blantyre electoral division lying out-with the designated area of East Kilbride New Town.
East Kilbride In the county of Lanark—the burgh of East Kilbride; in the Fourth district, the electoral division of Avondale in the Eighth district, those parts of High Blantyre, Cambusland South, and Carmunnock electoral divisions lying within the designated area of East Kilbride New Town.
Lanark In the county of Lanark— the burghs of Biggar, Lanark; the First district, the Second district (except that part of the
Argyll and Clyde.
Dumbarton In the county of Dunbarton— the burghs of Dumbarton, Cove and Kilcreggan, Helensburgh; the districts of Helensburgh, Vale of Leven; the electoral divisions of Bowling, Dunbarton.
Renfrew In the county of Renfrew— the burghs of Barrhead, Johnstone, Paisley, Renfrew; the Second, Third, Fourth districts.
Inverclyde In the county of Renfrew—the burghs of Gourock, Greenock, Port Glasgow; the Fifth district.
Argyll In the county of Argyll—the burghs of Campbeltown,
Dunoon, Inveraray, Lochgilphead, Oban, Tobermory; the districts of Cowal, Islay, Jura and Colonsay, Kintyre, Mid Argyll, Mull, North Lorn (except the electoral divisions of Ballachulish, Kinlochleven), South Lorn, Tiree and coll.
In the county of Bute— the burgs of Rothesay; the district of Bute.
Ayrshire and Arran.
Cuninghame In the county of Ayr the burghs of Ardrossan, Irvine, Kilwinning, Largs, Saltcoats, Stevenston; the districts of Irvine, Kilbirnie, West Kilbride; those parts of the designated area of Irvine New Town within the Ayr and Kilmarnock districts.
In the county of Bute—the burgh of Millport; the districts of Arran, Cumbrae.
Kilmarnock and Loudoun In the county of Ayr—the burghs of Darvel, Galston, Kilmarnock, Newmilns and Greenholm, Stewarton; the district of Kilmarnock (except that part of the designated area of Irvine New Town within this district).
Kyle and Carrick In the county of Ayr—the burghs of Ayr, Girvan, Maybole, Prestwick, Troon; the districts of Ayr (except that part of the designated area of Irvine New Town within this district), Girvan, Maybole; the parishes of Coylton, Dalrymple; that part of the parish of Ayr within the district of Dalmellington.
Cumnock and Doon Valley In the of Ayr—the burgh of Cumnock and Holmhead; the districts of Cumnock, Dalmellington (except the parishes of Coylton, Dalrymple; that part of the parish of Ayr within the district).")—(Lord Hughes.).

5.40 p.m.

THE EARL OF SELKIRK moved Amendment No. 9 as an Amendment to the Amendment:

Line 49, column 2, leave out ("Cadzow") and insert ("Hamilton").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, if the noble Lord has accepted the Amendment to the Amendment, I am very happy. I am not certain whether to address my remarks to him or to the Government. If the Government wish to dissent from it, perhaps I may be allowed to speak again.


My Lords, perhaps my noble friend will speak to his Amendment.


My Lords, this is not a question of sentiment; this is a question of the practical value of a name for an area which has been deeply concerned in what might be called regional policies and which has seen an enormous change in the last fifty years. It is changed from being a mining town almost entirely, to almost entirely not a mining town. What I am saying is that this is a practical requirement, and I do not think the Government will deny it is much the wisest practical course to take. Their embarrassment, for it is an embarrassment, is that they have said that they will take the view of the local authorities in the area. I want to ask this question: do they mean the local authorities in the area or do they mean popular opinion; for that is quite a different proposition? This is a peculiar district in the sense that it consists of 45 per cent. of a burgh and the rest consists of parts, in two cases only one-fifth of districts (and there are three districts here) and the Lanarkshire County Council. Which is the noble Lord interested in—the one or the other? If the noble Lord is interested in public opinion, that is, the popular vote, he does not know the answer any more than I. These are the bare facts of the situation that he must look at.

We had a short correspondence on this subject. The joint advisory committee, which is drawn from the local authorities and in no sense is representative of public opinion—it has no relation to it whatever—recommended the word "Cadzow". That does not represent popular opinion at all. I will give the formation of the advisory committee: six from Hamilton, six from the three districts and six from the county. For this reason I want the noble Lord to say that he will accept this Amendment to the Amendment because it is one which is valuable to the area. Two new factors have come into this matter since the last discussion. The first is that the Government are now including the great new town of Stone-house in the Hamilton or Cadzow area. What are the views of the developers of Stonehouse in regard to this matter? They are promoters; they built one of the finest new towns in the country, East Kilbride, and they know what they are talking about. This is what they said in regard to the name Cadzow: Unfortunately, however, from a marketing promotional point of view it does not have the ready identification of the name Hamilton. This is from an industrial development point of view: This is important in Scottish terms generally but very much more important in relaion to the promotional efforts in the South and overseas. People just would not know for some considerable time the location of Cadzow. It happens that they have a good reason for expressing that view. If you look at a geographical map of the world and at a gazeteer you will find more geographical places under the name of Hamilton than any other single name. The Encyclopædia Britannica shows some 50 of them. I can offer no explanation; but there it is. In Canada, in the U.S.A., in Australia and in New Zealand the name is extremely well known and promotionally very valuable.

Let me give another example. Any noble Lord who knows North Lanarkshire will know that quite a number of new roads have been built there. Although I know it well I should not guarantee to be able to find my way around the close concentration of roundabouts, slipways and by-passes unless they were signposted. In fact, signposts of Hamilton can be seen everywhere; but there is no signpost for Cadzow and you will never see one because you only get there, to the ancient castle there, by a dirty farm track road. At no time will you ever be able to find the name on a signpost in North Lanarkshire. For these reasons I think it is foolish to take an unknown name.

I know how this happens. When I was in South-East Asia I found that all the countries from the Mediterranean to the China Sea disliked their neighbours. No doubt much the same thing happens in local government. No doubt there is a feeling of resentment that this is a Hamilton takeover. It is a small local sentiment. What matters is that this place should be known so that it can make the development for the further changes necessary. The noble Lord has a third Amendment down which says that at any time—not in 1980 but at any time—the name can be changed. I suggest that the name be changed now, and if when the Council meet and there can be a positive representation of what the public think they can make any new name they like. I should have no objection if this were expressing public opinion. I say that we do not know it now. I think that we, as a House, should make a sensible practical suggestion for development. I beg to move.


My Lords, I should like to support the noble Earl. I know the area of Lanarkshire well and work in parts of it. Hamilton is an exceedingly well-known part of Lanarkshire. Suddenly to be told that it is called Cadzow means nothing to anybody. I have had a number of letters, as has every noble Lord, strongly urging that we should not change the name of a very well-known town and area into some name that nobody has ever heard of—except perhaps the antiquarians who may know something about the ancient castle and the cart track leading to it. All local government at the moment is going to be fairly complicated in the sense that many changes are taking place. Let us try not to change the nomenclature when it is not necessary. On the Committee stage we changed the name of another county, Berwickshire, back again to Berwickshire instead of something else. Everybody was delighted. If we allow Cadzow to go forward a great number of people will be disgruntled. Why not stick to the old, fine name of Hamilton in an area so well known and respected?


My Lords, I had never heard of Cadzow until I read this Bill for the first time.


My Lords, I feel that it should scarcely need any more speeches in support of the Amendment so well moved by my noble friend Lord Selkirk, but I should like to emphasise the point he made about the repercussions in the Commonwealth. There is a Hamilton in Australia and a Hamilton in Canada. It is a name which means something to those people. The closer we can keep our connections with those individuals who have gone out to the Dominions, surely the better. If you go to Australia, someone asks, "Where do you come from?" If you say you come from Hamilton, it is picked up at once; it may be that his old grandfather came from there, too, and you have a basis for conversation and friendship. If you say you come from Cadzow your questioner will look blank. Like other noble Lords, I have never been in the habit of recognising Cadzow as an important place in Scotland. Everybody has heard of Hamilton. It is a good name known throughout the world. Let us keep it!


My Lords, I am prepared to accept this as an Amendment to my own Amendment, not because of any strong feeling. Hamilton is one of the areas which opposed my Amendment and I have no strong need to be friendly towards them, but I think they are putting forward a case, whether it is the view of the majority in the area we do not know. In the letter the Provost sent me he said: What is Cadzow or where is Cadzow? No one knows. When I was speaking with the noble Lord now sitting on the Cross-Benches (and perhaps he will allow me to quote a part of our conversation), we were speculating on how one pronounced the name. Neither of us had heard it before. We did not know. There is a rather peculiar tradition in Scotland that if the letter "z" appears in a name it is ignored—as in "Menzies", for instance. That is not applicable in Australia. We wondered whether the pronunciation of "Cadzow" was "Caddow", or whether, in the way in which we tend to corrupt the ends of words, that could become "Caddy" so that it would appear as if the new district was an appendage to a golf course.

I was impressed by a document which the Provost sent me. It contains an interesting advertisement by the Philips Electrical Company, who have a place there. The advertisement says: Hamilton is a famous name. The name of Hamilton has been borne by a poet, a soldier, a statesman. It is given to a town in Australia, a city in America, a river in Canada and it is the site of an ancient burgh. I have no doubt that their advertising experts would be able to think of something for Cadzow, but I can think of better reasons for changing a name than putting work into the hands of advertising agents.


My Lords, I should like to remind my noble friends on the Government Front Bench that there is a Hamilton racecourse. So far as I know, there is no Cadzow racecourse. For the convenience of the racing public, I think it would help if we went on calling it Hamilton rather than "Cadzow", "Caddow" or whatever it is.


My Lords, may I add to the general information of your Lordships' House, being one of the few people who has been to Cadzow, and say that "Cadzow" as a name is quite well-known to all those who study the ancient cattle of Britain. At a time when we are going into the Common Market, it is interesting to know that they are the descendants of the Aurochs of Europe. But I am afraid that that stimulating fact does not persuade me that the name should be used to describe the district, and I fully support my noble friend Lord Selkirk.


My Lords, I do not really wish to dance to the tune of Cadzow House.


My Lords, my noble friend has put us in a certain amount of difficulty in this matter, because when my noble friend Lord Polwarth replied to the previous debate he offered to consult the local authorities. And of course, in the main, if there are to be changes of name it will be the local authorities who will suggest them. We duly consulted the local authorities with the result, which I think my noble friend knows, that Hamilton, obviously, voted for Hamilton and, so far as I am aware, nobody else did. They voted for Cadzow. This has put us in a difficulty, because your Lordships have all to-day felt that the name "Hamilton" is a better name than "Cadzow" on many counts.

I must say that it is a question not of changing the name of the town, but of whether the town should give its name to the district. I do not think it is a question, either, of what appears on the signposts, because there will be many names of districts which will not appear on signposts. It is generally a question of what the people want and, as my noble friend has said, our only means of testing that was to consult the local authorities. Obviously, we could not hold a plebiscite in the district. The name, has unfortunately, received no support in this House at all and, that being so, I feel that the only right course for us on the Govvernment Front Bench is also to leave this decision to another place and to accept my noble friend's Amendment. That seems to me the only rational course to take in the circumstances.


My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend. I pointed out that facilities for changing the name will be made easier by a further Amendment with which we shall deal shortly, so that if people want a change there will be no difficulty. So far as pronunciation is concerned, I think it is accepted that the letter "Z", or the letter "Y" in Scots is changed into "Z" and should not he pronounced. But nowadays the modern usage is "Cadzow".

On Question, Amendment to the Amendment agreed to.

On Question, Amendment, as amended, agreed to.


My Lords, Amendments Nos. 10 and 11 are consequential. I beg to move Amendment No. 10.

Amendment moved— Page 155, leave out lines 44 to 53.—(Lord Hughes.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move Amendment No. 11.

Amendment moved— Page 156, leave out lines 1 to 52.—(Lord Hughes.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 14A, which is consequential.

Amendment moved— Page 157, leave out lines 1 to 48.—(Lord Hughes.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, Amendments Nos. 15 to 21 inclusive cannot be moved, because there is no longer a page 157 in the Bill.


My Lords, Amendment No. 23 is consequential. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 158, leave out lines 3 to 16.—(Lord Hughes.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I have some manuscript Amendments. The first one is Amendment No. 23A, page 158, col. 3, to leave out line 8.


had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 23A: Page 158, column 3, to leave out line 8.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I offered my apologies to my noble friend for not having been able to give earlier notice of my intention to put down this Amendment. When the Bill first appeared, the county of Ayr was divided into two parts. In another place that was altered to four districts. Of those four, two were in the southern part of the county and were named Kyle and Carrick and Cumnock and Doon Valley. In that latter district were included the parishes of Coylton and Dalrymple, an arrangement which apparently met with the general approval of the inhabitants of these parishes. When the House was in Committee, my noble friend the Minister carried an Amendment which removed Coylton and Dalrymple from Cumnock and Doon Valley and put these two parishes into Kyle and Carrick. Briefly, my noble friend's argument in favour of this change was that the community of interest was more with Ayr than with Cumnock, and this he claimed was borne out in the figures of population in the Dalmellington district. He said that 31 per cent. of those in that district, many of them from Coylton and Dalrymple, work in Ayr, while only 4 per cent. work in Cumnock. These figures are challenged. It is stated that they are presumably based on the number of passengers travelling by bus to and from Ayr. If that be so, I am advised that a great number of those travelling have little to do with either the parish of Coylton or the parish of Dalrymple, but are through passengers, and are not from the villages or from elsewhere in these parishes.


My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to interrupt. I should have got up earlier to say that this Amendment cannot now be moved, because these lines are also out of the Bill. We have taken out everything relating to Strathclyde, and this is an Amendment to Strathclyde. Sorry as I am to do this, it would not be a kindness to allow the noble Lord to carry on only to be told at the end of the story that he is out of order.


My Lords. I am glad to be relieved of a duty imposed on me only recently, and I thank the noble Lord for his intervention.


My Lords, may I point out that there is a misprint in Amendment No. 8 in regard to the district of Lanark, at about line 10 on page 4 of the Amendments.


My Lords, what is the misprint?


My Lords, it is the noble Lord's Amendment, not mine. There must be a misprint, because the bracket has no ending.


My Lords, the Amendment has already been passed. Presumably it will be passed in the form I submitted it, and I can assure the noble Duke that when I put it in it had two brackets.

6.3 p.m.

LORD HUGHES moved Amendment No. 27: Page 3, line 9, after ("Glasgow") insert (",the chairman of each other district council shall be known by such title as the district council, with the consent of the Secretary of State, may decide").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, your Lordships will be glad to hear that this is a totally different item, and I will not take up a lot of your Lordships' time. I have been in correspondence with the Secretary of State on this matter. As a former Lord Provost, may I confess that my interest is a completely selfish one. I have wished to protect the value of the title of "Lord Provost". The Government have done this to a certain extent. In the Bill they have laid down that the districts in which the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee are located shall have attached to their chairmen the title of "Lord Provost". The Government, in the correspondence with the Secretary of State—the wording of which I have no doubt is basic Civil Service language—advance rather peculiar arguments. The Bill decides the title of a chairman of a Region. They have no option: he is to be called a "convener". The chairman of a district council—they have no option—is to be called "Convener". As I have said, the four districts in which the cities are located have no option: the chairman is to be called Lord Provost. But in relation to the other, the effect of my Amendment is to prevent a proliferation of titles, and my Amendment merely says that, the chairman of each other district council shall be known by such title as the district council…may decide provided that the Secretary of State approves. My Lords, the number of possibilities which are likely to arise are fairly few. I think if we say Convener, Chairman, Provost and Lord Provost, that almost certainly is the list from which districts will choose their titles. I mentioned more exotic ones. I suggested the possibility of Commissar. In a letter from the Secretary of State, thinking of the territory from which he comes, he visualised the equally outlandish possibility of Thane—and that is going back a bit.

In the correspondence, I made it perfectly clear to the Secretary of State, and I wish to make it clear to the House, that my desire is to see that the title of "Lord Provost" is not devalued by its being available to anybody who likes to pick it up. I would rather see the title abolished altogether than have it proliferated. If my Amendment is accepted, there may be one or two places which suggest the title of "Lord Provost", to which the Secretary of State would have difficulty in saying, "No". Perth is one. As I do not want to give any encouragement to them, I will not mention the other, but I know that it would present peculiar difficulties for the Secretary of State, Notwithstanding that, I do not think it is a good reason for refusing the Amendment.

In a letter from the right honourable gentleman the Secretary of State, there was also a rather peculiar misconception of what would be involved. The letter said (I have it here, but I will paraphrase it) that this would perhaps result in the Secretary of State having to arbitrate between different points of view put forward by the local authority. That is not what will happen. It may be that there will be differing views inside a district council as to what the chairman should be called but, if there is, the view which will receive official support, and which will go to the Secretary of State for consent, will be the one which commands the greatest measure of votes in the local authority. It will not be for him to ferret around to find whether there was a minority and, if so, what kind of minority, or if there was more than one minority, what they wanted. He will take a decision on what is put before him. If it is considered sound policy to tell the regions and the cities what their chairman must be called, I can see no reason why on earth the Secretary of State should boggle at saying to the other districts: "Submit your chosen title to me for approval." I would expect that in the great majority of cases he will have no difficulty in agreeing to what they want; but I would hope that if he gets half a dozen Lord Provostships coming up, he will be a little selective in those to which he agrees. I beg to move.


My Lords, I do not think that this is a point of very great substance, particularly in relation to what we have been discussing. I think, with great respect, that in a way, this is neither one thing nor the other. We are depriving local authorities at this level of complete freedom, but equally we are not giving them a direction. I am bound to say that I wonder whether it might have been better to give them a direction as to their title. But I understand that there have been diverging views as to the title of chairmen of districts. I do not think it will greatly enhance the burden of the Secretary of State if he has to rule on these titles. After all, he can slap down an unreasonable one if he wishes. I do not think it is a matter of such great substance that I should resist it, and should at least let the other place have an opportunity of agreeing or not.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 4 [Term of office and retirement of councilors]:

6.10 p.m.

THE EARL OF CROMARTIE moved Amendment No. 28: Page 3, line 27, after ("1974") insert ("not sooner than one month after the ordinary election of councillors for a regional or islands council in 1974").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name. It is a very short matter but it possibly affects the far North and North-Western Highlands more than the more populated areas with which we have been dealing for the past few hours. My point is simply that if you have regional and district council elections on the same day and if you have, as we might very well have in our part of the world, one person standing both for a regional and district post, he might be elected to both. Then you would need to have a by-election, and that is very expensive, especially when you are dealing with an area as large as the Highland Region. I do not know whether it is desperately important. but I do know that the districts in the Highland Region are afraid of this, and if possible they would like at least a week's grace between a regional and a district election. I beg to move.


My Lords, I should like very strongly to support my noble friend in this matter. I mentioned this subject on Committee. Since then I think there have been further developments and there is likely to be great difficulty on the day. There are a great many councillors or prospective councillors who are going to stand both for a regional and a district council, in case they do not get elected to one or the other. This was said on Committee and the Government ignored it. It is going to mean not only that there will be a great many by-elections but also that the electorate will be considerably confused. There has already been confusion over one person seconding two councillors in one county council election, and this caused a lot of difficulties, as the Minister will know. This proposal will cause considerably more difficulty, and it seems to me there is absolutely no reason why a district council election should not be held, say, 4 or 6 weeks after the regional elections.


My Lords, I am told by people who actually have to deal with the holding of the elections that there is great difficulty in trying to run them on the same day. I am talking now about people who have to take over the actual running of elections and not about political Parties. I am told that there is much to be said for holding these elections on separate days. I hope, therefore, that the Government will consider this aspect.


My Lords, we had a debate on this subject at the earlier stage. I said then, and I repeat now, that there is some force in what my noble friends have said about it, but I do not believe that the difficulties are insuperable. One has to take into account in any case that at the conference of the political Parties and the local authority associations on local electoral law, held in June, 1972, the point about unsuccessful candidates for one local government election not being able to stand for another was raised. Nevertheless, a very substantial body of opinion was in favour of simultaneous elections. The reason is that if separate elections are held it is considered that there will be a poor turn-out of electors at the election which is held second. I should have thought that if second elections were held the election period would last for quite a considerable period. My noble friend talks about an interval of at least a week, but it would probably mean that the election period would extend for a period of 2 months and it would be difficult to maintain the interest of the electorate over such a long period.

My noble friend said that a great many potential candidates are now saying that they are going to stand for both the region and the district. It is to be expected that as time goes by prospective candidates will consider very carefully, in the light of their own experience, their aptitudes and circumstances, at what level of local government they can most effectively and most conveniently serve. I do not think one can assume that in general candidates who are successful in the regional elections would wish to stand for the district councils, so the advantage, from the point of view of my noble friends, in having two separate elections is not as great as they imagine. Furthermore, the Government hope that the new system of local government will attract able candidates who may not have served in local government before. This would mean that in relation to the number of seats there would be a pool of candidates much greater than has been the case in the past. It would be disappointing if this turned out not to be so. After all, one of the reasons for local government reform is that the system should be made more attractive to candidates. The number of places open, taking county and town councillors together, as I am sure my noble friends know, will be less than half the number of places which are at present open to them.

The question of whether candidates should be permitted to sit on one or more councils was considered at the conference on local electoral law which was held on June 13, 1972. This of course would have been one of the ways to ensure the elimination of any inconvenience such as my noble friends suggested might arise if two elections were held on the same day. But it was then agreed that while it was in general both undesirable and impracticable for a person to serve on more than one local authority, there should not be a statutory bar against it. It was felt that this should be left to the good sense of the candidates and the electorate.

I would say this to my noble friends: the main argument in favour of holding both sets of elections on one day in 1974 is that there will be very important elections for local government. They will be the first to be held under the new system and it is preferable to focus electoral effort and public attention on one single day than to hold an election on one day and then try to revive interest in another local government election later. This has been the nub of the problem, and this is what most of those consulted at the electoral law conference thought to be right. I am bound to tell my noble friends that the Government think that this is the overriding consideration and that any other inconveniences will have to be accepted, should they arise.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Schedule 3 [Amendment and Modification of Electoral Law]:

6.19 p.m.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 29:

Page 161, line 33, leave out paragraph 3(1) and insert—

("3.—(1) In section 11 (polling districts and polling places), in subsection (2)(b), the words "or, in Scotland, each electoral division" shall cease to have effect, and after subsection (2)(b) there shall be added the following paragraph— (bb) In Scotland, each electoral area established for the purpose of local government elections which is within the constituency, and that part within the constituency of any such area which is partly within the constituency and partly within another constituency, shall, in the absence of special circumstances, be a separate polling district or districts;"")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Amendment standing in the name of my noble friend on the Marshalled List. These Amendments are designed to make the statutory provisions on the defining of polling districts correspond more closely with practice. Under the existing statutory provisions (Sections 11 and 22 of the Representation of the People Act 1949) two authorities are responsible for defining polling districts: the returning officer for Parliamentary elections (in Scotland the sheriff) and the county or town council concerned for local elections. It is the general practice, except in special cases, for the county or town council concerned to adopt the Parliamentary polling districts for local elections.

The Bill as it stands will confer on the new authorities the powers of existing county and town councils under Section 22 of the 1949 Act to determine their own polling districts. Because of the new two tier system of local government, however, this means that in every district there will he three interests concerned with the polling districts, the sheriff for Parliamentary elections and the regional and district council for local elections. So far there have been only two interests involved, the sheriff and the county or town council concerned. There is therefore a greater possibility of conflict, and as the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, remarked when the point was discussed in Committee it would be what he called an appalling situation if there were one set of polling districts for regional elections and a different set for district elections. It is perhaps too much to expect that we could safely depend in the circumstances on agreement being reached between the interests concerned. The Government have thought it desirable, therefore, to bring forward these Amendments so as to give clearer guidance and to avoid the possibility of conflict.

The effect of the Amendments is to provide that the Parliamentary polling districts are to be adopted as the polling districts for local elections, unless there are special circumstances. The saving for special circumstances is made in order to allow some latitude in the case where a constituency boundary crosses a local authority electoral boundary. I beg to move.


My Lords, these Amendments will make for greater clarity in the minds of the electors as to where they are to vote. That is very important. Those with experience of local government will know that when there is a change there is always somebody who turns up at the wrong place, and they take it as a personal insult from the candidate that they have not been made aware of the situation. If the Amendments the Government are proposing are not made such a thing could often occur. I wish to support the Amendments.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 30 which goes with the previous Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 161, line 49, at end insert—("; but in the absence of special circumstances the said polling districts shall be those which were last designated for the purpose of parliamentary elections under section 11 of this Act."").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 31:

Page 162, line 35, at end insert—

("12. In section 113(3) (person to whom petition questioning local election is presented), for paragraph (b) there shall be substituted the following paragraph—

13. In section 117 (constitution of election court, etc.):—

  1. (a) in subsection (1), for the words after "tried" there shall be substituted the following words—
    1. "(a) by the sheriff principal of the sheriffdom within which the challenged election took place; or
    2. (b) where the election was in respect of a local authority whose area is situated within more than one sheriffdom, by the sheriffs principal of the sheriffdoms in which the area of the authority is situated; and where in such a case the sheriffs principal are unable to reach a unanimous decision, they shall state a case for the Court of Session and the Court may pronounce any deliverance which it would have been competent for the sheriffs to make.";
  2. (b) in subsection (2), for the words "by the court" there shall be substituted the words "(unless imposed or made by the Court of Session in consequence of a case stated under subsection (1) above)";
  3. (c) for subsection (3) there shall be substituted the following subsection—
  4. (d) in subsection (4), for the words "sheriffdom" there shall be substituted the words "said sheriffdom or sheriffdoms".")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment adjusts existing provisions in the Representation of the People Act 1949 on election petitions so as to cover the case where the area of the local authority concerned is comprised within more than one sheriffdom. All existing authorities are within a single sheriffdom but this will not always be so under the new structure of local government, particularly at the outset.

Under the Amendment, where an election petition is in respect of a local authority whose area is comprised in more than one sheriffdom, the petition will require to be submitted to all the sheriffs principal concerned and to be tried by them jointly. If they are unable to reach a unanimous verdict the petition must be referred to the Court of Session. This is the same procedure as is provided in Clause 233 in respect of other local authority matters which may have to go to the Sheriff Court.

The unsatisfactory nature of the existing provisions was drawn to attention by Lord Balfour at the Committee stage when he agreed to withdraw an Amendment on the point on an undertaking being given that the position would be looked at for Report stage. The Government hope that the noble Earl will be able to agree that the Amendment which has now been brought forward meets his point.

When my noble friend Lord Balfour moved Amendments to these two clauses in Committee I said that this point was being considered and that if necessary we would bring forward an Amendment at the Report stage. This rather complex Amendment fulfils that undertaking. I am grateful to my noble friend for having caused us to look at this matter again.


My Lords, I am most grateful. This makes the procedure absolutely clear. I am very glad to have my noble friend's drafting, which is probably rather better than mine.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

6.25 p.m.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 32: Page 162, line 40, leave out ("date") and insert ("word")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, with permission, I would like to sneak to Amendments Nos. 32, 34, 36 and 38. It may also be convenient for us to discuss Amendments Nos. 33, 35 and 39 at the same time. This is a simple drafting Amendment to change the word "date" referring to a year, to "word", which I believe is more appropriate. I beg to move.


My Lords, the reason why I put the alternative Amendments, which are to substitute for the word "date" the word "year", is because that is what ordinary people would understand. I have no doubt that the Amendment the Minister has moved to describe the figures 1947 as a word is something which has been done in legislation for a very long time. But, as I said to the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth. earlier to-day, it does not make a non-sense respectable because you say it more and more often. To anybody outside Parliament, 1947 is a set of figures and not a word. Undoubtedly the reference is to the calendar year to which these numbers attach; therefore, it is more reasonable to say "year" rather than "word". However, if it causes the Minister a great deal of heartburning to have this carried, I will not press it because since putting down these Amendments I have discovered that in other parts of the Bill sets of figures are described as words, although the Government, when they come to parts of the Bill where it is necessary to refer to a year which, being a period of 12 months extending through two calendar years, do not talk about the word 1972–73, but talk about the year 1972–73. Unless the Minister is going to give way on the matter, I will not move my Amendment. I think my Amendment is more sensible, but it may well be that the Minister's is hallowed by a bad tradition.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 34.

Amendment moved— Page 162, line 41, leave out ("date") and insert ("word").—(Lord Draimalbyn.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 36.

Amendment moved— Page 163, line 10, leave out ("date") and insert ("word").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 38.

Amendment moved— Page 163, line 11, leave out ("date") and insert ("word").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Initial Review of Local Government Areas and Electoral Arrangements]:


I beg to move Amendment No. 40 This is a drafting Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 167, line 13, leave out ("arrangements") and insert ("arrangements").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 23 [Change of name of region, islands area or district]:

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 41: Page 12, line 24, leave out ("before 16th May 1980").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, an identical Amendment to this one was moved in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, supported by my noble friends Lord Balerno and Lord Selkirk. We have considered this matter again and the Government now agree that the change of a local authority's name is a sufficiently important matter to justify retaining the requirement to obtain the Secretary of State's approval beyond the initial five year period provided for in the Bill as it is at present drafted. I hope that this will meet the wishes of the House. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 31 [Disqualifications for nomination, election and holding office as member of local authority]:

THE EARL OF SELKIRK moved Amendment No. 42: Page 16, line 34, leave out from ("convicted") to ("and") in line 36, and insert ("of a criminal offence").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, we had a short discussion on this matter at the Committee stage and I made a wrong statement. I gave the impression that this was already part of the law of Scotland—at least in part—and I was wrong. This was apparently an entirely new clause. I am indebted to my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn for pointing out that the clause is rather illogical. That is what I want to draw attention to now. I do not of course pretend that logic is all that important in politics; it is not. But if one runs right against the logic of a situation one wants to have some good reasons for doing so. That is all I am saying.

The law as it stands is this. If someone rifles a bank in London and is caught he may not stand for five years for election to local government in Scotland, but if one rifles a bank in Paris, New York, Melbourne or Delhi one is perfectly free to stand for local government in Scotland. That seems to me very illogical and there ought to be some good reason for it. It is not only illogical; it is slightly insulting to the criminal law of other countries. At a time when we are in Europe, and ought to show a certain respect for the legal systems of countries in Europe, it is a little absurd to say, "We don't think it matters if a man is sent to prison in Paris, whereas if he is sent to prison in London it does." The Government, I think, have two difficulties here. One is whether it would be found out whether a man has in fact been committed and in prison for a criminal offence. The answer, of course, is that when he stands as a candidate he puts himself forward as a qualified man, and if he does not do so there are various procedures which can be taken to the sheriff court to decide whether indeed he is a qualified man. Besides that, I imagine it would involve making a false statement. So I do not think that finding out will present much difficulty.

The second point is that some people may be sent to prison for political offences. I have sought to include the word "criminal" to make it clear that imprisonment for a political offence would not count or prevent a man from standing for local government in Scotland. This is a sensible way of dealing with the matter. It shows a less insular point of view than that at present represented in the Bill. If the noble Lord thinks that foreign legal systems are too uncertain, he should have a clear idea why he thinks so. My proposal is, I think, a much more sensible and logical way of dealing with the matter, but if the noble Lord has other reasons I will not press the Amendment unduly. My Lords, I beg to move.


My Lords, I think I must defend myself slightly from what my noble friend has said. It was not I who pointed out that the clause was illogical. What I pointed out when we discussed this matter on the last occasion was that it was illogical to impose the limitation so far as the Commonwealth alone was concerned. My noble friend has, quite properly and logically, now extended his proposal to cover the whole world. I am not sure that he is entirely right in drawing the distinction he has drawn between a criminal offence and a political offence. I doubt whether this would apply in all the countries outside this country which he would like to involve. But the main argument which I adduced against the earlier Amendment seems even more cogent against the present Amendment.

My noble friend took some exception to my saying that, so far as the Commonwealth was concerned, there might be a difference in sentencing policy between one country and another; offences might be classed as criminal elsewhere which might be regarded as merely technical in this country, or in the extreme case not regarded as offences at all here, and criminal offences, carrying only a very modest penalty here, might attract a sentence of three months or more in certain other countries. If this was true of the Commonwealth, I should have thought it was even more true of other countries if the provision were extended to the whole world. I quite accept the point my noble friend makes about the need to make a declaration in effect that a person is a fit and proper person to stand, and such a person will then be accepting the responsibility for his assertion that in effect he has not been convicted in the past five years of such an offence as we are speaking about here.

However, the main point in this case is this. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the argument as to whether the bar should be extended from Great Britain and Ireland to the whole of the world, the whole subject of disqualification is definitely within the remit, one might say squarely within the remit, of the inquiry into standards of conduct in local government under the noble Lord, Lord Redcliffe-Maud, which my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has recently announced. The provision in the Bill which the Amendment seeks to change was inserted so as to align the law North and South of the Border. For that reason, this is the least appropriate of all times to alter the Scottish law unilaterally on a matter which is really on general qualifications, extending in this case to the whole world. I am afraid I cannot accept my noble friend's Amendment.


My Lords, when my noble friend Lord Selkirk spoke earlier on another Amendment I found his arguments wholly convincing. This time I am not quite so sure that I think that as a practical matter what he is suggesting would be wise. Here I find myself entirely convinced by what my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn has just said about the difficulty of interpreting this matter fairly in the case of many foreign countries. The point he made about the difference between what we should consider criminal or political or technical would be extremely difficult to adjudicate upon fairly. For this reason, I would not find myself as a layman entirely convinced on this occasion by what my noble friend Lord Selkirk has said.


My Lords, I do not want to press this point. I am, however, reminded of people such as Savundra who can utterly deceive their business colleagues. It would be very much easier for a man to deceive electors who know less about him. There are two views in this connection. Either you say, "Trust the people", which is a perfectly sensible way; alternatively one can say that this clause is necessary. If it is necessary I think it should be logical; but I will not press the matter.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 7 [Meetings and Proceedings of Local Authorities]:


My Lords, Amendment No. 43 is a drafting Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 169, line 11, leave out ("a").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 45 [Attendance allowance and financial loss allowance]:

6.37 p.m.

THE EARL OF CROMARTIE moved Amendment No. 44: Page 23, line 25, at end insert ("other than a councillor for a region").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name and, with your Lordships' permission, I will take Amendment No. 46 with it. They are both about the same matter. It is a matter we discussed at considerable length on Second Reading and on the Committee stage and concerns payment of purely an attendance allowance for regional councillors. This is a difficult question but it is probably worth while for it to be considered by the Government. Apart from the fact that in the very big Highland region long distances are involved, our communications are not all that good and sometimes our climatic conditions are not good, either. People have to spend a great deal of time working in their own constituency, but will go a long way to the regional headquarters at Inverness. Two things may happen here. One is that we shall have people who do not attend what I call the headquarter meetings; others may say, "Well, it pays us much better to get a lot of attendance allowances and we will go to Inverness and perhaps create unnecessary meetings."

We have also had that hardy annual ("hardy annual" is hardly the right expression; it is a perennial) of the loss of financial earnings which some people find it difficult to calculate; and in fact it is extremely difficult to find out in what is largely an agricultural area what financial earnings are. That would be abolished by a system of payments to regional councillors. A few weeks ago I attended a meeting of the Association of County Councils in Edinburgh, and there was a majority vote for some form of payment for regional councillors, plus an attendance allowance of some sort which had been suggested by a Minister in another place. It seemed to me to be rather complicated. I am asking the Government to consider whether they are absolutely certain in their own minds that this pure allowance system is wise or desirable for regional councillors. I personally do not think it is and, difficult as it is to work out the figures, I think some form of payment should be made to a regional councillor if he is going to do his job properly, plus an attendance allowance. I may add that by that time I shall have stepped out of local government, having been involved in it since before the war. My Lords, I beg to move.


My I Lords, if it is for the convenience of the House, I wish to move Amendment No. 45 which relates to the same subject.


My Lords, if I am right I do not think the noble Lord can move his Amendment now, but it might he for the convenience of the House if he spoke to it so that I may deal with the two Amendments together


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his guidance. The difference between the Amendment moved by the noble Earl, Lord Cromartie, and my Amendment is that he confines the payment to regional councillors, whereas in the Amendment with which my name is associated I broaden the scope a little. This is a most important matter. We have spent a great deal of time, both to-day and on previous occasions, discussing the machinery of local government, but I suggest that the best machinery of local government as it is envisaged in the Bill is of little merit, unless it can attract the best people to administer that machinery. I think one of the weaknesses of local government is in the fact that it is very difficult for people who have a sense of community service to find the time and opportunity to give that service in local government, and I hope that the new local government structure will enable people without impediment to give that service. If it is to be an instrument of democratic government, it must enable a broad range of people to serve so that local government is widely representative. I was looking at some of the appendices to the Wheatley Report, and I found that in Scotland at the moment 19 per cent. of all male councillors and 24 per cent. of all women councillors are over 65 years of age. The mere fact of paying an attendance allowance, a loss of earnings allowance or something of that kind makes it extremely difficult for a wide range of people to serve the local government.

If we accept the proposal in the Bill that they be given an attendance allowance, this will have two weaknesses from the point of view of the average person who wishes to serve. First, he is uncertain as to the income he will get for his service, because the meetings might be on two days, three days or five days per week. No young man can plan his domestic budget on the basis of that uncertainty. The second weakness was mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Cromartie; that is, the fact that one should never build into a system an incentive to hold more meetings. Good government is not necessarily a multiplication of the number of meetings, as we all know. But if working people—and I gather the figure that is being spoken of is £12 per meeting, which may give your Lordships some cause to think about what is an appropriate attendance allowance—take time off to serve on a local authority, then, whether we like it or not, there may he an inbuilt incentive to hold meetings if £12 per meeting is the appropriate figure. They could readily earn £60 per week for service in local government in a large city or a large region. I do not think this is a good thing. It is bad enough for councillors to take up their time in this way. In order to make these meetings official they must have their officials present, and I imagine that in this new structure of local government there will be some very highly paid officials, and rightly so because this is now big business. So not only would councillors hold a large number of meetings, but they would demand the attendance of men on a salary of £15,000 a year to sit at these meetings in order to make them official and to justify the claim. So I believe that a most unfortunate principle is being incorporated in this Bill, and now is the time to put it right.

Some people have asked me what the salary should be: should it be the same for regional councillors and for district councillors in a district like Glasgow, which will presumably have a population of about a million. I think it is left to the Secretary of State for Scotland to determine. It is not unusual in business, when one gets a new type of job, to introduce job evaluation and to assess what that job is worth and how much time it takes. It is not beyond the wit of modern business and modern government to do this. So we need not be afraid of this. In a previous debate, some of us said that we like to feel that local government is a form of service and therefore there should not be a salary in this way. There is no need for anyone to feel that the motive for public service is being somewhat diluted by receiving a salary. He can refuse to take the salary. So this is another reason why we should not legislate for the minority and penalise the majority.

I do not want to make any political points on this matter, because it is strictly a non-political one. I am rather disappointed that our Liberal friends, with their great concern for involvement in local politics, are not present but I gather that the Conservative Party in Scotland supports the principle that I have just put forward. It is said that this would be different from England. This in itself is not a good argument for rejecting it, and accordingly I hope that your Lordships will approve the principle.


My Lords, I should like to support, as briefly as I possibly can, the arguments which have been put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe. I should just like to remark that both of us were councillors on the City of Glasgow council for a number of years and therefore we speak with a certain amount of experience behind us. I would agree that prospective candidates must know precisely how being councillors will affect them financially, and I am sure that it will be in the interests of councillors to keep meetings to the minimum in both time and number. It is desirable that the number of meetings should be kept to the minimum commensurate with efficiency, for two main reasons. The first reason is that only in these circumstances will men and women, who are busy and useful in ether spheres of activity, be attracted to serve as councillors. The second reason, as the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, emphasised, is that highly paid officials will be able to spend more of their time in their offices dealing with council business, instead of interminably attending meetings.

I do not really know what the words "attendance allowances" convey at present. If their pattern is to be as it used to be, as a method of payment with no restrictions on the number of committee meetings, then I can honestly see very little hope of improving the quality of those coming forward to serve as councillors. Then again, in the case of professional men and of junior executives in limited companies Who wish to give service in local government, it would be possible for the councillor to pay his council salary into his firm as a refund for the loss of time; thus he would be more likely to obtain the approval either of his board of directors or the other partners. I think this is a most important point because there is a great sphere from which we could recruit really first-class young men to serve. The noble Lord, Lord Taylor, has told us of the age of the people presently serving—19 per cent. of the males are over 65 years old and 24 per cent. of the women are over 65 years old.

I think it is fair to refer to what happens in the New Town corporations. There I understand members have always been paid a salary. In that connection my information is that it has been found in practice that this encourages a minimum number of meetings commensurate with efficiency. The salary for an ordinary member of a development corporation is about £1,000 a year, something different from the figure mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, as being in people's minds. There is no difficulty in finding men and women who are capable and willing to serve.

There is one other matter to which the noble Lord on the opposite Benches has alluded, that is, the Wheatley Commission recommendation. They recommended a substantial salary for all councillors which could be augmented by the council by up to 100 per cent. for chairmen. These are my views on this matter, and I hope the Government will give them and the views of other noble Lords who have spoken very careful consideration.

6.52 p.m.


My Lords, I was not quite sure when we came to Committee stage as to whether one should have allowances or salaries, but I think there is no doubt now that salaries are the answer. The people who suffer at present are those who are self-employed, who are not really in a position to charge expenses. All sorts of "fiddles" can be indulged in, such as that of the good lady who used to charge expenses for someone to come and milk her cow while she was at a meeting. There was also the councillor who travelled with his pal on the railway engine and charged expenses for the fare. Such activities should not be allowed. It would be better if we had a fixed salary to cover not only allowances but also expenses. One drawback to this is that the chairmen of committees—perhaps not of the Finance Committee, but certainly of the Education Committee and some of the other more busy committees—ought to receive a salary in addition to that which the ordinary councillor receives. But apart from that, I am convinced that salaries are the answer.


My Lords, having given this matter considerable thought, I am completely in favour of salaries. But I think that in order to keep the number of meetings to a minimum there should be a definite fine of, say, £10 to £15 per meeting for those who do not attend. Noble Lords may think this is funny, but if they think it over, the more meetings there are the higher the potential of fines a person might suffer. Further than that, it means that if one is paid by results, and if one is not at the meeting, one is not doing one's stuff, although drawing a salary. If one is paid a salary then one should be there. I think that the two things go together. I do not at this moment agree with different salaries for different people, but I think that the chairmen of committees, who have additional expenses, should get an additional amount of cash for the expenses incurred.

6.54 p.m.


My Lords, I support the Amendment put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor. I have been converted to this view by studying very carefully what has been said in other places. In our area I had thought allowances would be the right thing; but our area is different in that it is a small area and it would work there. I am quite sure that in the great councils and in some other areas an allowance would encourage people to hold as many meetings as possible. One would then get a good deal of unfortunate behaviour, and also probably rather bad government; therefore it would be much better to have a straightforward salary and that those who are chairmen of committees and who form the inner group of the Convenors Committee, should have more money than those who are simply members of the committee. As I know from experience, convenors do a lot of extra work. To date, none of us has ever been paid a farthing. I do not grudge that because everyone else is in the same position; but in future young people who have to give up an earning job to do this kind of work I think ought to be paid a salary.


My Lords, it your Lordships will permit a Sassenach to intervene—and I promise not to be more than a minute—if the question of salary arose, would people not be allowed to set necessary expenses against their salary so they would not need to pay income tax on the whole sum?


My Lords, I support the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor. I cannot support the idea of tines from salaries as it is not something that could be equitably imposed. I should like to support what has been said in regard to certain councillors from certain regions incurring very heavy expenses. This is particularly true of people in the Highland Region; they will have long distances to travel which may involve staying away from home and so on. I would hope in this Amendment it is understood that full reimbursement of necessary out-of-pocket expenses involved in staying away on council work would be made, and that there would be a salary for the time actively spent on the work of the regional councils. In those circumstances I certainly would support the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor.


My Lords, I am a little confused about whether we are bound to be looking at Amendment No. 44 and then Amendment No. 45, and whether Amendment No. 46 disappears altogether, or whether that is considered afterwards, because it seems to me to cover the same point, although I know the noble Earl, Lord Cromartie, has not yet moved it. If Amendment No. 46 is going to be considered later, I wonder whether that Amendment does not give us the best of all worlds. Amendment No. 45 rules out the possibility of an attendance allowance. If I read Amendment No. 46 correctly, it will be possible to do one thing or the other. If that were the case, would it not be more attractive than being dogmatic one way or the other?

6.58 p.m.


My Lords, I must confess that I enter into this discussion with a certain amount of difficulty, because right up to this point I have not been firmly convinced one way or the other. I have no doubt at all that as far as the region is concerned we shall not get the right kind of candidate if salaries are not paid. I can think of at least one young man I know who has done sterling work in local government in Scotland and I had expected that he would be a natural candidate for regional government. I said so to him a few weeks ago, and to my astonishment he said, "No, I am going to go for district". I said "Why? The really important functions are at region". He said "Yes, but I have a management job with my employers. I can do the district job and still give proper service to my employers, but I cannot expect to continue in my job if I have to be away three or four days a week on regional authority business. I should have to resign from my employment; and to do that for a seat where I might be in for three or four years and then find myself unseated is really not fair to my family. So I will continue, if I am elected, in district council work". I think it would be a tragedy for that particular man to devote himself to what in this particular area will undoubtedly be the less important part of the work, although undoubtedly there is a considerable measure of importance attaching to it.

I have misgivings about how salaries are going to be fixed. In the ordinary course of events, if you are to have ranges of salaries you have a Whitley Council; but who is going to sit on a Whitley Council for councillors? Somebody suggested having the English councillors sitting on the Scottish Whitley Council and the Scottish councillors on the English one, and the good old principle of "If you'll scratch my back I'll scratch yours" would work out. But, to be serious, I do not think there is any difficulty about fixing salaries for regions. My inclination before the debate was to go for Lord Cromartie's Amendment, to have allowances at district level and salaries at regional level, but I have come to the conclusion that Lord Taylor of Gryfe's Amendment is the better one because I think there will have to be some variation of salaries anyway. If my Amendment which has been carried into the Bill remains, we shall still have a region with 1¼ million and another region with less than 100,000, and obviously there will be a variation of salary to be paid. If we are to have differentials of salary at regional level then we must accept that there will be differentials at district level which will probably be no greater in range.

It may well be, for instance, that a district councillor in one of the bigger districts like Glasgow or Edinburgh will be worth a higher salary than a regional councillor in the Borders, to name one of the smaller regions. I do not know what the Government are going to do. The figure of £12 has been mentioned. I do not know whether the Minister is able to state the figure. I was surprised at the constant reference to £12, because the figures I have been told vary from £12 to £16 a day. If we are to have multiplicity at any of these levels, it is going to run into a figure which at the end of the day the Treasury is going to resent very much.

The final difficulty I have about this issue is whether or not the Commons will regard it as a financial matter and say it is is none of our business. But, after all, if we send it to them they can tell us that, and that would be the end of the matter. But whether or not the Minister is in a position to do anything about it to-day, I think that between now and Thursday he ought to consult with his right honourable friend the Secretary of State, because I believe the preponderance of feeling expressed here is for salaries all round. If the Minister wishes my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe to withdraw his Amendment to-day, on a promise to resider, it should be understood that there would definitely be a resubmission of the Amendment on Third Reading, because I think that the other place ought to have a chance to look at this matter. I should prefer it to be done to-night rather than to have to re-table. It is obvious that the Commons are going to have a fairly full meal of the Bill on Monday, and adding another course like this will not worry them unduly. In the other place the question of salary versus allowance cuts across Party lines; this is not Government against Opposition. If it were put in, one hopes that when it got to the other place it would be the subject of a free vote, and the result might be surprising.


My Lords, could the noble Lord answer one question when he replies? It is the point that was made by Lord Taylor of Gryfe. Can we not be different from England, or must we have the same system? Is it not worth trying us out like a guinea pig to see whether we might even find a system which would help England too at some future date? The noble Lord mentioned that he was interested in the Report made by Lord Redcliffe-Maud. That was, of course, ten years ago. It was written about England and Wales. It said there that 68 per cent. of the councillors were not paid and about the same number did not think that anybody should be paid. The position does not seem to be entirely the same in regard to Scotland, so far as I can see. I would also ask the noble Lord whether the wording of the Bill is really correct, if he wants to adopt the system which Lord Redcliffe-Maud suggested? He was really suggesting a flat allowance expense for all councillors, which is rather different from a salary; it is not quite the same thing but it is the same idea. I wondered whether the wording here, which is confined to an attendance allowance, is too narrow for the purposes the Government may have in mind.


My Lords, we have inevitably covered a lot of the same ground on these two Amendments as we did on the same subject at the previous stage. I would say straight away to the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, while it is fresh in my mind, that there is no question of slavishly following Redcliffe-Maud or anybody else. The proposal is for an attendance allowance which will need to take account of the fact of the person having to be present and, to some extent, the lesser expenditure he may be involved in as a result of his duties, and it will be taxable. I should like to make it absolutely clear to the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, who was under a misapprehension, that councillors incurring travelling expenses, like his colleagues from the far North, will of course be able to claim those quite apart from the normal allowance, and they will not be taxable. It will only be the minor expenses which cannot be categorized—the odd local telephone calls and that kind of thing—that are supposed to be covered by the attendance allowance in addition to the value, as it were, of the councillor's time. I think we could very simply get over Lord Stonehaven's question of fines for nonattendance, because the attendance allowance itself looks after this very point. The person who attends more diligently receives more than the person who does not.

I would point out one technical defect in the Amendment of Lord Taylor. As I understand it, it would not provide any form of payment to non-elected members, co-opted members of committees and so on. I am advised that under this Amendment there would be no arrangement to meet their services. I will try not to go over all this ground again. We are not suggesting that the system of attendance allowance is good and the system of salary is bad. We are merely contending that both systems have good points but that the attendance allowance in these circumstances is the better. I would again assure the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, and others who have raised it, that there is no question of slavishly following England in this matter. We are perfectly entitled to have a different system for Scotland if we so decide. Of course there are advantages on both sides. I think some of your Lordships are a little cynical about the tendency of local authority members to proliferate their meetings. It is one of the subjects which come up rather like other improper practices by local authority members that have had such an airing in the Press recently. I am not sure that there is very much evidence to substantiate a proliferation of meetings simply in order to be paid for them. I suggest that with the greater degree of publicity to be given to local authority meetings in future, including their committees, the attendance of the Press will have a salutary effect in bringing to the notice of the public any tendency to behave like this.

The question of differentiation of salaries raises some very real problems. If we had a salary, we should first have to differentiate between councillors for regions, for districts, and for islands, and I think we might well have to differentiate between regions. The demands on a regional councillor in Strathclyde may be very different from those on a regional councillor in the Borders, as I am sure my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood will be the first to admit. Is the Secretary of State to have the invidious task of deciding what is the going rate for regional councillors in Strathclyde, for those in the Borders, and so on? I do not say that it is impossible, but I submit that it is something that is very difficult to do in advance of experience in the working of the new system.

Here I would say that job evaluation is all right, once you know what the job is. At the moment, it is difficult to say what these jobs will be in terms of time and demands. I submit that initially it will be extremely difficult to fix fair salaries as between these different categories. The same applies to those in a special position, such as chairmen of committees and others. While any system will inevitably have its disadvantages and will not necessarily be fair, I submit that the attendance allowance will reward the more assiduous attender, the person whose duties are more demanding and which therefore require his presence more often, and, by and large, it should be the right solution, bearing in mind that we cannot possibly expect in local government that everybody should be rewarded precisely and exactly according to the time that he gives. There must be an element of public service in membership of local authorities.

The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, questioned me again about the probable rate of attendance allowance. I regret that I am not able to enlighten your Lordships as yet. I very much wish that I was able to do so. There are two obstacles, and they are the same as at the last stage. First, we have only just had the announcement of the counter-inflation measures under Phase 3, and it is a little soon for us to fix the figure before the dust has settled in many different respects. Secondly, we have promised to discuss the matter with the associations of local authorities. The written submissions of the local authorities on this matter have only just been received. We would wish to discuss these with the local authority associations, and that process of consultation is not complete. I appreciate the views that have been expressed. I have tried to explain from the Government's viewpoint why we feel that attendance allowances are certainly the better system in this initial stage. After all, there is no reason why, in the light of experience of the working of the system, it should not be possible to change the system at some date in the future. I submit that this is the right system with which we should start, and I therefore hope that those moving these Amendments will not persist in pressing them. If they do, I shall feel bound to ask your Lordships to reject them.


My Lords, there seems to be some difficulty about which Amendment one is opposing or suggesting at the moment. I take it that it is the first one. As the Minister has said that he is still conducting meetings with the Association of County Councils, then unless there are others who wish to take this Amendment to a Division I am prepared to withdraw it under the circumstance that it is not the end of the road. However, I do not think that the Government have taken the right road this time. On the other hand, if anybody wishes to carry this to a Division, I will vote with them. In view of that, I would withdraw my first Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.15 p.m.

LORD TAYLOR OF GRYFE moved Amendment No. 45: Page 23, line 26, leave out from beginning to end of line 4 on page 24, and insert ("shall be paid such salary as the Secretary of State may by order made by statutory instrument determine").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, so far as I understand it, the discussions with the local authorities will not concern the principle we are discussing now—they will concern the level at which expenses and attendance rates may be paid. What we are in fact discussing here is the principle of whether attendance allowances or salaries are desirable. Since the Amendment establishes that principle, I propose to move it.


My Lords, I am sorry that I had to go out when the Minister was talking and I do not know all that he said, but I did hear the end of his remarks where he came down again in favour of allowances. I heard the reference to the written views of the local authorities having been just received and that they are now being considered. Like my noble friend Lord Taylor of Gryfe, I feel obliged to point out that if the Bill remains as it is, it does not matter very much what the local authorities have said because the Government will have no power to pay salaries after the Bill has passed even if they want to do so. I should have thought that the very least that the Minister should have offered in these circumstances was to table an Amendment to enable the Government, in the light of how things develop, to have the option of paying either attendance allowances or salaries as appeared right in the circumstances at the end of the day. If they are not going to leave the door open for salaries in any circumstances, then I think that my noble friend Lord Taylor is undoubtedly right


My Lords, there being an equality of votes, in accordance with Standing Order No. 54, which provides that no proposal to amend a Bill in the form in which it is before the House shall be agreed to unless there is a majority in favour of such an Amendment, I declare the Amendment disagreed to.


My Lords, it is perhaps a suitable moment to adjourn this discussion. I therefore move that the Local Government (Scotland) Bill be further considered on Report later this day, and I suggest that that time should to go ahead with his Amendment to make salaries possible.


My Lords, with great respect to the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, I submit that before the passage of this Bill we must decide on a system, and I have indicated which system the Government favour. I do not think that I can do more than that.


My Lords, in view of that I feel that I must press my Amendment to a Division.

7.18 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 45) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 38, Not-Contents, 38.

Atholl, D. Gray, L. Rowallan, L.
Balerno, L. Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Selkirk, E. [Teller.]
Beswick, L. Hacking, L. Sempill, Ly.
Blyton, L. Hoy, L. Shackleton, L.
Boothby, L. Hughes, L. Shepherd, L.
Burton, L. Kinnoull, E. Stonehaven, V.
Cromartie, E. Lauderdale, E. Strathclyde, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Tanlaw, L.
Dundee, E. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Taylor of Gryfe, L. [Teller.]
Elliot of Harwood, B. Milner of Leeds, L. Thurso, V.
Ferrier, L. Milverton, L. Wade, L.
Forbes, L. Molson, L. Wise, L.
Garnsworthy, L. Phillips, B.
Aberdare, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. (L. Chancellor.) Polwarth, L.
Amory, V. Rankeillour, L.
Auckland, L. Hewlett, L. Redesdale, L.
Balfour, E. Kilmany, L. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Berkeley, B. Kilmarnock, L. St. Just, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Kinnaird, L. Sandford, L.
Courtown, E. Limerick, E. Sandys, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Margadale, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
de Clifford, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Napier and Ettrick, L. Thomas, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Northchurch, B. Tweedsmuir, L.
Emmet of Amberley, B. Nugent of Guildford, L. Vivian, L.
Ferrers, E. Oakshott, L. Windlesham, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Gowrie, E.

be 8.30 p.m., regardless of whether the other Bill has been concluded or not. I beg to move.

Moved accordingly, and on Question Motion agreed to.