HL Deb 20 July 1978 vol 395 cc550-69

74 Clause 67, page 33, line 16, leave out subsection (4).

75 Schedule 10, page 49, leave out lines 15 and 16.

76 Schedule 10, page 58, leave out lines 36 to 44 and insert— ("The Forestry Act 1967 Included.") (c. 10), section 15.

77 Schedule 10, page 59, line 16, at end insert ("and the matters dealt with in section 58 are not included")

78 Schedule 13, page 75, leave out line 35.

79 Schedule 16, page 84, leave out lines 11 to 17.

The Commons disagreed to the above Amendments for the following Reason:

80 Because the subject of forestry is one which it is appropriate to devolve.


My Lords, we now come to the subject of forestry. I beg to move that this House doth not insist on their Amendments Nos. 74 to 79, to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 80, but propose the following Amendments in lieu thereof: Page 33, line 16, leave out ("with the necessary modifications") and insert ("not") Page 49, leave out lines 15 and 16. Page 58, leave out lines 36 to 44 and insert— ("The Forestry Act 1967 (c. 10) section 15 included") Page 59, line 16, at end insert ("and the matters dealt with in section 58 are not included") Page 75, leave out line 35. Page 84, leave out lines 11 to 17. The alternative which we now propose has the same effect, if it is accepted, as our previous Amendments. It is a rephrasing. There was a short debate in the Commons on the Amendment which has been returned to us but most of that debate was occupied by the Government spokesman who spoke for about 25 minutes and left about 10 minutes for the remainder of the debate before the guillotine fell. In the subsequent Division, the majority was only six. We have had a debate in this House before and I will not go over these matters again; but I will remind your Lordships that agriculture is not devolved under this Bill. The farmers' representatives in Scotland, the Scottish National Farmers' Union, won their case before the Bill appeared. Agriculture and forestry should operate closely together and, certainly, since the war, many if us have been advocating their more close working together and have been glad to see this happen and to see virtual integration in many parts of Scotland and also South of the Border.

The very reasons which the Government have given for not devolving agriculture apply also to forestry. For example, there is a system of Government support and it is operating against the background of the EEC systems. To separate the country's forestry into three parts—because, if you take the proposals for Wales as well, that is the effect—seems to be a backward step. It is agreed that virtually everyone in the forestry industry in Scotland is opposed to devolving and, during the course of his speech in another place, the Secretary of State for Scotland admitted that. I would add that the Scottish National Farmers' Union are opposed to the devolving of forestry.

The headquarters of the Forestry Commission moved to Edinburgh during the time that I was Secretary of State for Scotland. I was much involved in that move together with the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, who was then chairman of the Forestry Commission. One of the reasons for that was that 80 per cent. of the woodlands in Britain are north of a line running between Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, 80 per cent. of forestry activities are in the northern part of England and in Scotland. To try now to make a separation between England and Scotland forestry where the Border runs, we think, is retrograde. This Amendment was moved by my noble friend Lord Dulverton in our previous debate. Your Lordships supported it and I spoke in support of it. I hope that we shall give another place an opportunity to consider this matter again, to give them more time than even under the guillotine which they have been allotted—I understand that it is three hours—for our Amendments than they had last time to consider this; and to take another decision on whether forestry should be devolved or not.

Moved, That this House doth not insist on their Amendments Nos. 74 to 79 to which the Commons have disagreed for the Reason numbered 80 but propose the said Amendments in lieu thereof.—(Lord Campbell of Croy.)


My Lords, if I may put again with some extra ammunition the arguments that have been put many times, I think the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, put the main argument when he said that 80 per cent. of the forestry in Great Britain was north of a line which included part of England; and that this was the reason for moving the Forestry Commission headquarters to Edinburgh. I think it is entirely wrong that the Government should not have devolved at least the executive control of agriculture to the Assembly. All the experience of Northern Ireland has shown that local control, knowledgeable control, was extremely effective in Northern Ireland.

Nevertheless, I think that there is even less of an argument for returning forestry to the control of Parliament in Scotland. I think that one of the great hopes for the Highlands and the upland areas of Scotland is for proper integration of forestry with agriculture there. To suggest that the Assembly would have less concern or less interest than the Parliament of Great Britain is, I think, nonsensical. The Assembly will have control of the budget of some £3,000 million and their concern would be to allocate that in the best possible way for the development of Scotland and for the saving and advancement of vast, desolate areas of Scotland.

I know that influential people have taken an extreme conservative view of change. It is innate to the Conservative character that they dislike change; but the fact is that not to devolve forestry would be to make a mockery of the whole concept of a Scottish Assembly. Scotland has more upland ground, more barren ground, more ground in need of development and in need of co-operation between agriculture and forestry than any other area of Britain. I am certain that the Assembly would take a very much more serious view of this and would be prepared to allocate resources for the development of forestry. Much has been made of the fact—some of it wrongly—that the Forestry Commission said that on the whole they would prefer to serve one master. I asked the Minister a specific question: Did the Forestry Commission say that it was impossible to work or difficult to work? The Minister answered: They have said it was entirely possible. Such information as I have been able to gather is that they could serve two masters or three masters, because already forestry is split into conservations and Scotland is a perfectly natural unit. The Forestry Commission could administer it with great ease and if, as I suspect, they got extra resources from the Assembly, they would allocate it from their consolidated Vote and they would be very happy indeed.

I think that this is all part of the general attitude of the Opposition to this Bill. They want to strip as many powers from the Assembly as possible: and I think that this is entirely wrong. If the Assembly is going to work, it must have control of some of the major factors which affect Scottish life. In the future, forestry will be one of these and this is why I oppose this Amendment which is the same as the previous one except that it is differently worded. I hope that the House will oppose it.


My Lords, I should like to support my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy. I speak as someone who lives in the middle of the biggest forest in Europe. This is the Forestry Commission forest in the Borders. How can one talk about devolving it when it is intimately associated with the agricultural industry, when we are working closely together—and I speak as a farmer—with the Forestry Commission when you cannot tell where the Border is in the forestry area. The forest starts on the English side at Otterburn and at Keilder in Northumberland and it stretches over to the Scottish side into Dumfrieshire into Selkirkshire into the far West. It is impossible to tell where the boundary is. I could tell you, my Lords, because I ride along it and I know where it is; but very few people do. You cannot possibly tell where it is.

The noble Lord, Lord Mackie, says that the reason that we are against devolving is because we think that the Assembly could not manage it. It is nothing of the kind. We do not want forestry devolved because it is intimately associated with agriculture where in the Borders we work closely with the Forestry Commission. There are other forestry interests, private forestry interests, and they all work closely together. The idea that forestry would be improved, that it would be better for Scotland, better for forestry, better for everybody to have it split, is, if your Lordships do not mind my saying so, absolute rubbish. The fact remains that forestry is one of the great industries which serves both England and Scotland.

It is not only trees; it is all the other things that go with it. It is the sawmills, the manufacturing industries, the pulp mills, and so on. All are intimately associated, they work marvellously together. They never have strikes. They never have anybody wanting to do anything different. It is without exception the most successful enterprise which is part the Government, part the Forestry Commission. After all, we all pay for the Forestry Commission. It is not that it happens to be a Government show; we have all an interest in it. They all work closely together.

In the Borders it would be absolutely crazy to divide it. As my noble friend Lord Campbell said, he was the person who brought the Commission to Edinburgh, with that splendid new headquarters. The whole thing is managed in Edinburgh. What will one do—


My Lords—


No, Lord Mackie, I am not going to give in to you. My Lords, the fact remains that I know something about this; I live with it and by it. In fact I had the chairman of the Forestry Commission to stay. I was taken all over the Border Forestry Commission by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, and I have no doubt that the present Forestry Commission Chairman, who is Lord Mackie's brother, will also be a visitor to stay with me in order that I may take him round the forest.

I am talking about something that I know about. Without exception, this is one of the silliest propositions that this Bill has yet put forward. I hope very much that your Lordships will send it back to the House of Commons because I believe that people there will have the common sense to realise that this is one of their big mistakes and they can remedy it before it is too late.


My Lords, I support my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy in seeking that forestry should not be devolved. I have a completely different view to that taken by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie. There are many reasons for this such as the need for better land use through integration of agriculture and forestry. This is something which, when I was at the Scottish Office some 19 years ago, we greatly encouraged. It has been going on ever since. If we devolve forestry now it will put the clock back—


My Lords, will the noble Lord give way? Since the noble Baroness would not let me intervene, will he tell us which of the European countries has a smaller area devoted to forestry of its national territory than this country, seeing we have been so successful up to now?

A noble Lord

That has nothing to do with it.


The question has been answered, my Lords. This country is a very small one already; if it is carved up more for forestry the position is going to be even worse. Already the question has been raised about the added expense of moving part of the Forestry Commission headquarters back to England. This would be absolutely crazy when expenditure is running higher and higher every day when one thinks of devolution—


The noble Lord has his facts wrong, my Lords. There is no question of moving part of it back to England. The Forestry Commission is to act as agent for both the Assembly and the English. There is no question of splitting the administration at all.


That means some civil servants at least, my Lords, would be moved back from Edinburgh, whatever happens. There are many more reasons. The matter of real significance is when one thinks for a moment what is the danger which devolved forestry could produce. That great danger is one of a possible conflict between the Assembly and Westminster. What an outcry there would be if forestry in Scotland got less assistance than Forestry South of the Border. What would happen if there was a conflict which devolved forestry could well bring about?

The great danger is that conflict could lead to constitutional confusion. This, the greatest danger of all, could lead to the break up of the United Kingdom. If one thing is clear it is that virtually no one except a small minority which includes the Scottish Nationalists wants the break up of the United Kingdom. The unity of the United Kingdom should be uppermost in our minds at all times when discussing this Bill.

If this Amendment is not agreed to, the setting up of an Assembly controlling forestry will be adding yet another area of possible conflict which, added to over-government and constitutional confusion, may well lead to the break up of the United Kingdom. Before it is too late we should ask ourselves: Who will gain from the resulting chaos? It will not be the Scots; it will not be the English. It will he the Communists. They are the only people who are always looking and hoping for chaos in this country so that they can take over and impose their way of life on us. There is no better breeding ground for Communism than chaos. if we are to value the continuity of the United Kingdom, we must not only support this Amendment, but there must also be a massive "No" to an Assembly for Scotland.


My Lords, I have heard some nonsense arguments in this House but really this evening the noble Baroness, with great respect, let her emotions run riot, and the noble Lord indulged in a diatribe about Communism. I think the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, needs some support in this issue.

Timber is going to be one of the great scarce resources in the future. Scotland has a huge area capable of development. It has not been developed to-date. The history of afforestation in this country is not a magnificent tale of success; it is a tale of underdevelopment. To take away this enormously large potential resource from the control of the Assembly is absolutely ridiculous. I have heard so many arguments on this Bill about the necessity of taking this, that or the next thing away from the Scottish Assembly. The arguments used tonight could be applied to almost any of the other powers given to the Assembly by this Bill. As I say, I am really shocked by the arguments being used.


My Lords, would the noble Lord not agree that it would be disastrous for the United Kingdom if there were to be two totally different policies for forestry North and South of the Border, which would be perfectly possible if there were an Assembly and a Government of different political complexions?


It means different policies being followed by these two parts of the United Kingdom in many respects, and if the argument is used that merely the possibility of two different policies emerging should decide that the thing should not be devolved, you can apply that argument to everything in the Bill.


My Lords, you have borne with me on previous occasions on this subject, but I feel I must just rise to support my noble friend on the Front Bench in this Amendment. Some of your Lordships will know that I am involved in this subject and am at present chairman of the representative body of the growers. In Scotland, in England and in Wales, I would remind your Lordships that the whole industry—the growers, consumers and the professional bodies involved, together with the trade unions most concerned in forestry—feel that the devolution of forestry will be seriously damaging to their industry.

For reasons besides those advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie—which I found were most convincingly put across, but for the wrong reasons—Ministers have said that they wish to devolve forestry because it is so closely bound up with amenity, recreation and other entirely peripheral considerations. That is curious reasoning. Forestry is, first and foremost, about timber production, even though there may be important side-benefits, just as farming, with which we are charged, as foresters, to get integrated, is about food production. Forestry carried toward on a broad strategy and a united policy for Britain could be contributing goods worth £500 million per annum to the economy in the next century. I am not alone in fearing that it will do no such thing in the hands of two, or even three, different legislatures.

I beg to remind your Lordships of what the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, wrote to me the other day. He gave me full permission to quote from this, as indeed I did only recently in the case of the Wales Bill. Unfortunately, the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, is again absent from our assembly, with all the authority he can so rightly command in your Lordships' House: he is out of reach in a remote part of the Highlands. He said to me, writing shortly after we discussed this in connection with the Scotland Bill, and I have his leave to quote from what he said: I was extremely sorry I missed the debate … I was isolated on an island in Scotland at that time … and wish to put on record that I support it 100 per cent. During my period of office as chairman of the Forestry Commission I had the headquarters removed to Edinburgh and it would now be"— and here I quote verbatim— a piece of nonsense to devolve forestry. It would add to the bureaucracy and it would make it increasingly difficult for the industry to deal with so many Government bodies if the Assemblies of Wales and Scotland were added. I shall he pleased if you will make this view known to as many MP's as possible. That in fact has been done.

My Lords, just one more thing: influence over the land use of Scotland is something over which any Scottish Assembly would wish to exercise its mind and powers. It is not impossible that they would wish to see an expansion of the forestry industry on many of the under-utilised hillsides of the North: but surely they would be content to leave the silviculture within the forestry fence and the complexities and vagaries of the timber industry as a responsibility of West minster, so that, among other things, Scottish forestry might grow and benefit along with that in other parts of the Kingdom, with strength and unity in a highly competitive world market. I support my noble friend on the Front Bench most wholeheartedly on behalf, certainly, of timber growers in the United Kingdom.

The Marquess of TWEEDDALE

My Lords, I should like to support my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy on the Front Bench, but I am afraid that I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mackie. He talked just now as if the entire Forestry Commission was staffed by Liberals. Apparently, they are, like the Liberals, perfectly prepared to serve two masters. But I myself do not believe that that would work.

The Earl of LONSDALE

My Lords, I want to intervene for a minute or two, and I must declare myself as a predecessor in office of the noble Lord, Lord Dulverton. But from a commercial point of view, industries that depend on homegrown timber for their livelihood—the sawmilling industry, the pulp manufacturers and the chipboard manufacturers—are all of one voice in feeling that the devolution of this very small forestry industry of ours would lead to confusion and trouble in their industries. I spent a large part of this afternoon with the Secretary of State for Scotland on the problems confronting one of these industries, the chipboard industry, which is in grave trouble at the moment. Those in that industry certainly feel very emphatically, as does the sector working party for the pulp and paperboard industry, that devolution of the homegrown forestry industry would be disastrous.

9.15 pm

My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, has explained, the effect of these Amendments is exactly the same as that of Amendments Nos. 74 to 79, and, not surprisingly, the Government's objections to them are the same as their objections to Amendments Nos. 74 to 79. The Government's proposal to devolve forestry matters has been debated fully, both in this House and in another place. It was debated at some length at Committee stage in another place, when the Government's view was endorsed by a majority of 40 votes. The Government's view was again endorsed after a full debate during the Commons consideration of Amendments Nos. 74 to 79. The Government's reasons for devolving responsibility for forestry matters have been explained and accepted in full in another place. And I need not remind the House that the original Amendment by the noble Lord, Lord Dulverton, was agreed to in this House by only the smallest possible margin. Therefore I do not propose to argue the Government's case again at length, but there are one or two points to which I should like to draw your Lordships' attention.

Actually and potentially, forestry is a matter of great importance in the rural areas of Scotland—a point emphasised by my noble friend Lord Brown. The Government take the view that if the Scottish Administration do not have the ability to determine what share of their resources should be devoted to State afforestation, and what forms of assistance should be made available to private woodland owners, the administration of devolved functions in relation to land use and development in rural areas will be seriously circumscribed. We have decided that, on balance, the right conclusion is to devolve responsibility for forestry and afforestation.

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, said that it is wrong to devolve forestry while reserving agriculture; that these are analogous areas of interest, and I quite understand that that is a point of view which is expressed with clarity. I just want to emphasise to your Lordships' House that the main reason for the different treatment proposed by the Government is not the different degrees of development of EEC policies, but that is a factor; although the two activities are closely linked, there are significant differences between them and in their places in the national economy.

In practice, variations in local support for forestry can be absorbed inside a single economy and domestic common market, to an extent that would not be practicable in the case of agriculture. Variations in support for agricultural production would be very quickly reflected in the recipients' general competitiveness and in prices, and in either the domestic common market or the wider European Community they would quickly lead to distortions of competition and to contention. In the case of forestry, however, the grower must wait an extremely long time for any significant return on his investment, and when the return comes it will be determined not by conditions at the time when planting took place, but primarily by price movements in world markets at the time.

It has also been suggested that everyone involved in the forestry industry, including the Forestry Commissioners themselves, is opposed to its devolution. I agree that the Government's proposals have given rise to a great deal of debate among those associated with forestry, and many of the representations which the Government have received have expressed concern about the effects of devolution on their interests. These worries have been voiced both by those representing woodland owners and by those representing forestry workers. But in neither case have the views given been unanimous. For instance, the Scottish TUC is strongly in favour of the Government's proposals to devolve forestry, and so are some of those whose interest lies with woodland owners.

If I may make reference specifically to the position of the Forestry Commissioners, it is the case that when they were consulted on the Government's first White Paper they indicated that they would have preferred to see forestry matters reserved. And that should clearly he said. However, this was in January 1976, and in my view we have come a long way since then. The Commissioners also said at the time, and they have reiterated since, that on the assumption that forestry matters are to be devolved they welcome the Government's proposal to retain them as a unified body to carry out the policies of the respective administrations. They consider, as do the Government, that the Commission provides the most effective means of so doing. May I commend the last few remarks which I have made to the noble Lord, Lord Forbes, for his particular attention, because I consider that they represent an effective exposition of the Government's position on the point which he made.

I should stress that the Forestry Commission already operates on a regional basis, and that for its activities in Scotland it is separately responsible to the Secretary of State for Scotland rather than to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The Commission will not, therefore, have to adjust its structure greatly to accommodate the needs of devolution.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord would allow me to intervene. He has quite rightly stated that the Forestry Commission is separately responsible to the Secretary of State for Scotland, but does he realise the full implications of that? The Forestry Commission is responsible to the Secretary of State for Scotland in person and not to the Scottish Department.


My Lords, I was going to make the point that the Bill provides for consultation with the Commissioners before an order under Clause 64 is laid before Parliament for approval, so the position alters at that point. This is a change from the Scotland and Wales Bill, which itself laid down detailed arrangements without the same opportunity for consultation and flexibility, and the Commissioners have welcomed this change.

In the final analysis, in my view, the correct test is the one which the Government have applied: does forestry fit the criteria for deciding what should be devolved? On balance, the Government believe that it does. The other place has indicated on two occasions that they agree with that view, and I hope therefore that your Lordships' House will now accept it.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him to clarify, if he can, why distortion does not matter in the case of forestry in relation to competition while it does matter in the case of agriculture? If I understood him correctly, the noble Lord said that the reason is because it is a long while before the trees are marketed. There are long-term and short-term industries, of course, but I cannot believe that forestry growers are likely to go in for planting, in view of distortion, simply because the distortion will not affect them until they cut their trees.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down—perhaps he has done so already—may I ask him about the question of devolving agriculture but not forestry. The noble Lord will be aware that a recent consultative document advocates the planting of 4 million acres, most of which will be in Scotland. If the best part of 4 million acres in Scotland are to be planted, not when they are cut but when they are being planted there is bound to be a conflict of interest between forestry and agriculture. If the one industry is to be devolved but not the other surely it will be very difficult to resolve these problems. If both came under the same Minister those problems would be much easier to resolve. How would the noble Lord resolve this problem?


My Lords, I do not share the pessimism of a number of your Lordships. I consider that the new, devolved proposals will work in a spirit—I have said this umpteen times in your Lordships' House—of mutual goodwill and co-operation. I do not see the kind of difficulty arising about which the noble Lord, Lord Burton, has spoken. The noble Lord is entitled to his view. He sees it differently from the position which I have outlined. I do not think that I can add anything more to that which I have already said.


My Lords, I should like to start by agreeing with what the noble Lord, Lord Brown, has said. Forestry is a commerical business and it will be even more important for our economy in the future than it has been in the past. Very long-term investment is involved, but that is a reason for not upsetting the industry, for not doing what virtually everyone in the industry considers will cause it damage.


My Lords, is the noble Lord saying that he is in favour of maintaining centralisation? The centralisation of the CAP has been a pretty good worry to us; does he still want to maintain centralisation of the control of afforestation?


My Lords, I shall be coming in a minute to some other subjects when I deal with what the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, has said, so perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Brown, will wait until I come to that. I agree with what he said. I think we must regard it as an important industry which unfortunately, due to great fellings during the two wars and the long-term nature of the industry, has not been supplying us with sufficient home grown timber which would have helped us greatly with our balance of payments.

My noble friend Lord Dulverton pointed out that the reasons given by the Government on various occasions for devolving forestry have been trivial; they have been concerned with amenity and tourism and so on. Those are all matters which the forestry industry must take into account, but they are not important reasons for devolving forestry. We know why they have had to give these reasons—I made an illusion to it in my opening remarks. It is because the very reasons that they have given for not devolving agriculture apply to forestry, and after what they have said about agriculture it is difficult for them to put forward reasons, commercial and other, for devolving forestry. We believe that splitting up the industry would weaken it, and the ancillary industries believe so, too, as has been said by one of my noble friends. The paper and board industries hope that the forestry industry will not be devolved.

Now I come to what the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, said—the self-appointed defender of the Government on this subject and sometimes on others. It is not a question of us on this Bench and my noble friends behind me doubting whether members of a new Assembly would be able to manage forestry competently or whether they would manage it as well as it has been managed up to date. That is not the point. The question is whether we quite unnecessarily split up an industry and thereby damage it. We have the feeling that the Government have simply been looking round for subjects that they could devolve to the new Assembly. They chose this one but not agriculture because, as I pointed out, the Scottish farmers won their case before the Bill appeared. But forestry they decided to devolve.

The Government could have changed their minds, because, for example, we moved an Amendment in this House on doctors' and dentists' salaries and conditions of service: the Government opposed it and we had a Division, but it was not because we thought that the new Assembly might not be able to look after that matter efficiently. It was that over a period of years a system had been built up of a pay research unit in which there was full confidence on the part of the doctors and the dentists and the country as a whole, and it seemed to be vandalism to destroy that system, simply in order to give the Assembly something else to do. And the Government saw the light; they accepted our Amendment, even after a Division in this House. That is one of several Amendments which are not on the paper today because they were accepted by the Government in another place without a Division. In the same way the Government could do that with forestry. They could see again that it is not a question of doubt as to whether the new Assembly could do this or not; it is simply a question of whether it is worth causing damage to a very important industry just in order to give the Assembly another function.


My Lords, will the noble Lord give way, as he has referred to me? It is perfectly true that teeth are the same in Scotland and in England, but the conditions for growing trees are quite different. What he is really saying is that so essential is a centralised structure for the Forestry Commission that we cannot have different conditions of, say, grant in Scotland from that in England. The argument is that in Scotland forestry is so much more important than in England that surely the Assembly, in dealing with it, could make specially favourable conditions within Scotland while retaining the structure of the Forestry Commission which is managing the whole industry.


My Lords, all I can repeat is that virtually the whole of the forestry industry, not only in Scotland but also elsewhere in Britain, did not think that devolution of forestry as proposed in the Bill by the Government would improve the prospects for their industry. I was speaking of doctors' and dentists' salaries and conditions. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, was not speaking with levity on this, because it was an important matter not of teeth but of the medical profession. I am glad to say messages of thanks have been coming to me from doctors in Scotland ever since that decision was taken and announced by the Government in another place, because I moved the Amendment in this House which caused the Government to change their mind, even after a Division in this House, on devolving doctors' and dentists' salaries and conditions. I give that as an example because it was again a function which the Government had chosen for the Assembly and about which I am glad to say they have now changed their mind.

The noble Lord, Lord Mackie, also suggested that we were continually trying to prune what the new Assembly would do, but he seems to have forgotten that we supported Amendments for giving it tax-raising powers, a very important new function, which the Government have turned down. We also proposed that it should have powers in the field of industrial relations and that was also rejected by the Government. I proposed that it should have powers for taking censuses and dealing with population statistics. That was also opposed. These are all examples of things which we were suggesting were appropriate and should be given to this new Assembly. So I hope the noble Lord will not go on suggesting that we are simply trying to take functions away, when the most important one on tax raising, for example, has been rejected by the Government.

Finally, the noble Lord, Lord Mackie—I have to address him because he was the self-appointed defender of the Government on this subject—was suggesting that somehow the Scottish Assembly would be able to find more money for grants, presumably out of the Scottish Consolidated Fund, for forestry, but that would have to be at the expense of some other items. What other items? Is it to be education, housing, the arts, social services, roads—some of the many other subjects which the Assembly and the Executive are going to have to deal with. If forestry is to get more money, then something else will suffer under the block grant system. I hope the noble Lord will think of that also.


My Lords—

Several noble Lords

No !


Well, my Lords, if the noble Lord continues to attack me surely I have the right to reply. The Conservative Party have been continually attacking the Government machine for waste of public money. Surely a local Assembly might well be able to divert resources at present being wasted.


My Lords, I am sure that is a hope that is shared by every quarter of this House. If the Assembly is set up, if the Bill succeeds in the referendum, I am sure there is no Member of your Lordships' House who will not hope that it will exercise a great deal of care in the use of any money it receives. The noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill, replied again for the Government, and I am afraid the answer he gave was not different, as he indicated himself, from the one which we received before in the previous debate. The Government have, unfortunately, not changed their views, as they did on a number of other subjects on which we voted in your Lordships' House when they went to the Commons. I am very sorry that they have not done so. I do believe, as my noble friends do, that this is a matter which the Commons should be given an opportunity of considering and on which the Government should be given another opportunity of changing their mind. Does the noble and learned Lord wish to intervene?


Only to say this, my Lords. I do not feel it is right to leave it on the record that the noble Lord,

Lord Campbell of Croy, has properly represented what happened on doctors' and dentists' pay. If he cares to read the speech I made on the Committee stage, he will see that he has misunderstood his own Amendment, the effect of it, and the Bill.


My Lords, I will certainly read it again. I listened carefully at the time to what the noble and learned Lord said. I hoped that I was simply recording here that the Government, having caused a Division on this matter in your Lordships' House at a certain stage, nonetheless saw the light and accepted the Amendment when it went to another place. If, in the course of saying that, I have said anything unwittingly which might reflect upon what the noble and learned Lord said, then of course I shall get in touch with him afterwards. However, I certainly did not intend to do so and I still cannot think for the moment that I have done so. I think that this matter should be considered again by another place, and therefore I do not intend to withdraw the Motion.

9.36 p.m.

On Question, That this House doth not insist on their Amendments Nos. 74 to 79 to which the Commons have disagreed, but propose the said Amendments in lieu thereof?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 81; Not-Contents 62.

Amory, V. Dulverton, L. Hylton-Foster, B.
Auckland, L. Dundee, E. Kemsley, V.
Balerno, L. Elliot of Harwood, B. Killearn, L.
Belstead, L. Elton, L. Lauderdale, E.
Bolton, L. Faithfull, B. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Boothby, L. Ferrier, L. Linlithgow, M.
Burton, L. Forbes, L. Long, V.
Campbell of Croy, L. Fortescue, E. Lonsdale, E.
Carrington, L. Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Lothian, M.
Cathcart, E. Gainford, L. Lyell, L.
Clitheroe, L. Gisborough, L. Margadale, L.
Colville of Culross, V. Gowrie, E. Marley, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Gray, L. Masham of Ilton, B.
Craigavon, V. Gridley, L. Minto, E.
Crathorne, L. Harcourt, V. Monk Bretton, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. [Teller.] Harvey of Tasburgh, L. Monson, L.
de Clifford, L. Henley, L. Morris, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Hereford, V. Mottistone, L.
Digby, L. Hewlett, L. Newall, L.
Donegall, M. Hood, V. Northchurch, B.
Drumalbyn, L. Hunt of Fawley, L. O'Hagan, L.
Polwarth, L. Strathclyde, L. Vernon, L.
Rankeillour, L. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L. Vickers, B.
Rathcreedan, L. Sudeley, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B
Rochdale, V. Torphichen, L. West bury, L.
Sandys, L. Trenchard, V. Wilson of Langside, L.
Selkirk, E. Tweeddale, M. Young, B.
Ardwick, L. Hatch of Lusby, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Balogh, L. Howie of Troon, L. Perth, E.
Banks, L. Hughes, L. Phillips, B.
Birk, B. Janner, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Kilbrandon, L. Redcliffe-Maud, L.
Brockway, L. Kirkhill, L. Ritchie-Calder, L.
Brown, L. Leonard, L. Sainsbury, L.
Castle, L. Listowel, E. Segal, L.
Collison, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.[Teller.] Simon, V.
David, B. Snow, L.
Davies of Leek, L. Lockwood, B. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Donnet of Balgay, L. Lovell-Davis, L. Stone, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) McCluskey, L. Strabolgi, L.
Gaitskell, B. McGregor of Durris, L. Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Gardiner, L. Mackie of Benshie, L. Wall, L.
Gladwyn, L. Maelor, L. Wallace of Coslany, L. [Teller.]
Glenamara, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Greenwood of Rossendale, L. Morris of Kenwood, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Hale, L. Murray of Gravesend, L. Whaddon, L.
Hampton, L. Northfield, L. Winterbottom, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Oram, L. Wynne-Jones, L.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Motion agreed to accordingly.