§ 4.12 p.m.
§ Consideration of Commons Reasons for disagreeing to certain of the Lords Amendments and Commons Amendments to words restored to the Bill resumed.
§ LORD SHINWELL
My Lords, the noble Earl invariably addresses your Lordships' House with great knowledge and understanding and one is reluctant to contend with him, but I am bound to say he is difficult to follow. I do not know 770 whether he has ever lived in Glasgow, as I have over a long period of time, and I am well aware of the situation in Rutherglen. I find it difficult to reconcile his objection to the inclusion of Rutherglen in the Strathclyde area when it has now been decided.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, I am not objecting to its being in the Strathclyde area. What I am saying is that Rutherglen should be a district in the Strathclyde area in the same way as Clydebank. That is all I am asking for. And with the very limited powers of a district.
§ LORD SHINWELL
What the noble Earl is asking is that Rutherglen should be separated from Glasgow in this connection, and I am bound to say I find it difficult to reconcile his suggestion with the decision that has already been reached this afternoon, despite some difference of opinion between your Lordships' House and another place, that places like Milngavie, Bearsden, Duntocher or Old Kilpatrick should be included in the Strathclyde area. In those particular instances they are several miles more remote from Glasgow than is Rutherglen. Old Kilpatrick I think is about 10 miles from the centre of Glasgow, whereas Rutherglen is just on the doorstep. A tram ride between Rutherglen and the centre of Glasgow costs hardly anything. I am well aware that Rutherglen fancies itself. It is a Royal burgh and has a charter. The mere fact that it has a charter which goes back some 300 years is no reason why it should not accept some modernisation. This is all that is required. The Rutherglen people feel that they can administer their own affairs; in fact they have administered their own affairs very successfully over the years, but largely because of their association with the city and the Corporation of Glasgow. For example. I do not know whether the noble Earl is aware that much of the housing and industrial development in Rutherglen is attributable to the general development associated with Glasgow itself.
I do not want to occupy the time of the House in this matter, but I think we ought to agree with what the Government has suggested in your Lordships' House. Rutherglen will just have to provide some of its very able people associated with local government in bygone years in the 771 administration of the more extended area, and I think on the whole that would be satisfactory, if not to the local councillors of Rutherglen then to the people of Rutherglen.
§ LORD POLWARTH
My Lords, I think we must all admire the spirited case which the noble Earl made in support of maintaining independence for Rutherglen and Cambuslang, and particularly for the oldest of Scottish burghs, "Ruglen", as it is so called and pronounced, as the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, knows well. I think however, with great respect, that the noble Earl, trained as he was in perhaps the finest school of advocacy there is, the Scottish Bar, treated us to a rather special piece of pleading on behalf of this one territory. I find it difficult to better the words of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, who has just spoken with what even the noble Earl must admit is even longer experience of Glasgow than his own. Of course there are many things one can say on the geographical front, if one takes particular aspects. One can take the centre of the district as the noble Earl took it; one can take the picture as the map shows it. I think a look at the map will convince anyone that we are taking a great bite out of the centre of the proposed Glasgow district if we are to remove these burghs.
On transport, I do not disagree with the noble Earl. Of course transport is a matter for the region, but that was not the point of argument; it was that the extent and number and closeness of the transport services between this area and the centre of Glasgow clearly indicated the close community of interest and intermingled pattern of life between the inhabitants of the two. The greatest part of the noble Earl's case was on the depth of feeling, on the tradition that Rutherglen is an ancient burgh, our most ancient one; that it has managed its affairs well, which none of us contests; that it is flourishing—and that none of us contests either. But, equally, that argument could be applied to a great many other burghs throughout Scotland, many of them having accepted readily that they must lose their identity as local government entities in order to go in alongside other authorities to form a sensible and viable district.
772 I suggest to your Lordships that the noble Earl's arguments are not arguments for the one case before us. They are arguments for a totally different pattern of principles regarding the form of local government in Scotland, and to put that forward at this stage is tantamount to saying that we should be following different principles from those which we agreed when we gave a Second Reading to this Bill. Therefore, my Lords, while having the greatest respect for the sincerity of the appeal made to your Lordships by the noble Earl, I must ask your Lordships, particularly having regard to the views expressed in another place, both in the Scottish Standing Committee at an earlier stage and earlier this week, not to accept this Amendment.
§ 4.20 p.m.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply. May I say to the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, whose absence we all profoundly regret, that it is not a question of separating Rutherglen from Glasgow; it is a question of joining Rutherglen to Glasgow, where it has never been before and for advantages which have never yet been expounded. It is not a question of modernisation because modernisation is going ahead just as much in Rutherglen as in Glasgow.
I must challenge the noble Lord to say whether in the whole of Scotland there is one burgh of 60,000 people which is not a district? Is there one Royal Burgh which is not? I say this off the cuff, and I have not the answer; but I should be extremely surprised' if I were to find one. There has never been any question that this was a perfectly viable burgh. I will wait for the answer to this question, but I am not going to press this Amendment to-day as I have not received any support; and I shall be content, if it is the wish of the House, to allow it to be negatived. Perhaps the noble Lord would like to tell me if there is one burgh which he thinks is remotely comparable, in rateable value, population, or in designated area, to Rutherglen. I give him the opportunity to answer if he wishes to take it.
§ LORD POLWARTH
My Lords, I think that we could enter into a long 773 battle of statistics. The burgh of Rutherglen (the noble Earl mentioned the Royal Burgh of Rutherglen) has a population not of 60,000 but 25,000, which is roughly the same as Renfrew. When we are dealing in the context of the Glasgow district, with its vast concentration of population, I would submit that the figure of population for a part of what is a really contiguous area is not relevant to the argument.
THE EARL OF SELKIRK
My Lords, the simple answer to the question is that I am right and he is not. Renfrew is part of the district of Paisley, which is exactly what I want Rutherglen to be. There is no comparable proposition anywhere in Scotland that has not been given district status. The Scottish Office have made a grave mistake, and they have been very unfair to Rutherglen, but I will not press the Amendment to a Division.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.