HL Deb 09 May 1978 vol 391 cc791-891

3.3 p.m.

The LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord Elwyn-Jones)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The Lord DOUGLAS of BARLOCH in the Chair.]

Schedule 10 [Matters within legislative competence of Assembly, and within powers of Scottish Executive]:

[Amendment No. 173 not moved.]

Earl HAIG: moved Amendment No. 299: Page 48, line 9, after ("galleries") insert ("excluding purchase funds").

The noble Earl said: This Amendment is designed to limit the area of devolved matters affecting museums and galleries. It accepts the need to process funds required for the cost of day-to-day management through the Assembly. On the other hand, it does not give to the Assembly the responsibility for purchase grants in aid. Purchase grants in aid are needed both for the enhancement of national collections, and for the retention of important works of art in this country. They are drawn from pockets of money raised from works of art, through taxes such as capital gains tax, capital transfer tax and, as may happen in the future, the wealth tax.

The Treasury, which is responsible for levying these taxes, also has the responsibility of ensuring that works of art which have to be sold do not disappear from this country. The Treasury must see that the bodies who have to defend our national heritage have enough money with which to face the problem. Under the present Bill, the Treasury cannot claim with any confidence the existence of an adequate defence system capable of preventing the erosion of works of art. The trustees of the national galleries of Scotland are strongly in favour of the Amendment, as also are the trustees of the National Museum of Antiquities. I should like to quote the views of the hoard of trustees of the national galleries of Scotland, on which I served for 10 years under the chairmanship of the late Lord Crawford: Purchase grants are an essential element of the central taxation system which cannot be detached or put under separate control without upsetting the balance of the whole machine. Since taxation and the laws governing taxation would remain outside the jurisdiction of the Scottish Assembly, we believe that our purchase funds in aid should also be reserved and should not be allowed to go through the Scottish Consolidated Fund".

The annual purchase grants in aid to the national galleries of Scotland are relatively small in the context of what foreign galleries in competition with ourselves can afford. They have risen from £45,000 10 years ago to the present figure for this year £527,000, which no doubt is a small amount in terms of what we may have to pay for important works in the not too distant future. With this help the trustees have in recent years been able to acquire some important works, of which "The Adoration of the Shepherds "by Domenichino, "The Beaters " by John Crome, "La Luzerne "by Seurat, and " The Madonna and Child " by Verrochio are perhaps the greatest.

As I understand it, under the present system the trustees submit each year a request for grants to the Standing Commission which makes its recommendations about the amount to the Treasury. At this point the Minister for the Arts, the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson of Kings-bridge, is consulted before the allocation that is agreed is passed across the Border to St. Andrew's House. That is the crucial point when the Minister looks at the overall picture affecting works of art throughout Britain and can make sure that particular needs, at a particular time, are given special consideration.

Under the new system as drafted in the Bill, the money for purchase grants would be included in the Scottish Consolidated Fund, and it would be for the Assembly to decide what it allocates to galleries and museums. It would have the right to decide not only the total amount to he allocated out of the block grant, but the apportionment of the money as well. It would not have the vantage point of the Minister, and it would be bereft of the specialised advice of the Standing Commission which prevents any serious mistakes over apportionment. There would also be the dangerous possibility that the Assembly might, if it was short of funds, choose—since the arts do not always command votes—to make a cut in the purchase grant allocation.

Noble Lords may agree that the situation is far too grim to take risks. I believe that it is estimated that today we are losing at the rate of 12 important works of art each year, compared with one work a year 20 years ago. To meet this alarming situation the Minister for the Arts recently made a special United Kingdom annual grant of £1 million. British gallery directors, though welcoming this money, favoured the adoption of the military maxim: "concentrate your force". They wanted their grant to be kept in one piece so that it could be used on those occasions when real need arose.

Instead, as the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, put it, as an inevitable consequence of devolution policies this allocation was carved up among England, Scotland and Wales. The gallery directors in Scotland have in their wisdom decided to keep their part of the allocation intact, ready for use wherever the need arises. They would much rather not have had this money given to them in truncated form. They would rather that it had been harboured for use in a proper manner than to have seen it broken into pieces by devolution policies. That decision has turned money which made sense in terms of current values, into chickenfeed.

Our splendid galleries in Edinburgh have recently been enlarged to give greater space for our collections, and for the important section which is on loan from the trustees of the noble Duke, the Duke of Sutherland. One does not need a crystal ball to be able to say that sooner or later the Duke's trustees could face some tax problem which would necessitate a sale. I mention this without any knowledge whatever of the noble Duke's intentions. There is one picture alone in that collection, "The Three Ages of Man "by Titian, which must be valued in terms of millions rather than thousands. I do not know for what figure the gallery may have valued it under the indemnity scheme; but some years ago, when it was driven down to Merton for cleaning, it was given a police escort.

Under present policy the special heritage allocation is distributed in such a way that it can play only an insignificant part in saving works of this kind. The fate of ordinary grants in aid has not yet been determined. Let us put them clearly where they belong—on a United Kingdom basis—now, before it is too late and all that money has gone under the bridge. By accepting this Amendment the Government would ensure, while it was still possible, that grants are wisely spent. Noble Lords on all sides of this Committee are anxious to make this Bill as workable as possible and to create an Assembly which would be an efficient component in the machinery of the United Kingdom. The Assembly, if set up, should handle the administrative affairs of the galleries. Those of us in this Committee who want to do their best for Scotland and their best for the cultural heritage which we hold in trust for future generations must listen to the views of the Scottish museum authorities, who are experienced in these matters and knowledgeable about the arts, and who want to have the use of adequate purchase funds. There is a clear-cut principle at stake which I hope will be established today by your Lordships. I beg to move.

3.13 p.m.


I think we are all grateful to my noble friend Lord Haig for having put down this Amendment and for having enabled a debate to take place on what the Government's policy is in this respect, because I have been a student of this Bill but it is certainly not clear to me yet what is going to happen about purchases for the national galleries of Scotland. I make a short contribution here because one of the most satisfactory sides of being a Secretary of State for Scotland is the purchase of pictures for the national galleries, and I am very glad to see the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, attending the debate as Minister for the Arts.

I bought the Domenichino, which my noble friend has mentioned, which was a very important acquisition for the Scottish National Gallery and The Mound. It was something which I think the Government as a whole at the time did not want to leave the country. Therefore, I remember well the procedure. The procedure, as my noble friend has said, is that there is an allocation of a certain sum of money per year for acquisitions to the Scottish galleries—my noble friend Lord Haig, who has himself played a very significant part in the supervision and management of these galleries, knows this very well, but the rest of the Committee may not—but if there is a particular picture or work of art which clearly should be bought, if possible, for Scotland, then a special application has to be made by the Secretary of State for Scotland.

In the case of the Domenichino, which I remember because there was a picture of it in The Times beforehand and because it was coming from the Dulwich Galleries, which itself caused a controversy because the noble Lord, Lord Shawcross, was involved, I was one of the mystery purchasers who was eventually successful. In that case, of course, I had to go to the Treasury some days or weeks beforehand and get special permission to go much further than the annual allocation, which could not possibly have covered —what was left of it—the sort of price which the Domenichino was going to fetch. As a result of such an approach, the Treasury agrees a maximum figure up to which the Secretary of State for Scotland can bid.

The only part of this which was unsatisfactory from my point of view—and it happened in the case of other pictures also; I remember a Cuyp which we bought, too—was that there is a Parliamentary convention that when a purchase is made no announcement can be made as to who has bought it until a Written Answer has appeared in another place. So, although I had had the message at five o'clock that evening that we had been successful, I found myself—because I was than in another place—watching the nine o'clock news on television upstairs in another place, seeing the picture on the news and hearing the information that it was not known who had bought it. It was said to be a mystery buyer, but it was hoped that it was still going to stay at home. The reason was that it was not possible to announce until 2.30 the next day that it was going to go to the Scottish National Gallery.

I attempted to change that system later because I did not think it was a very good system from Scotland's point of view. Whether or not the move I started has since been successful, I do not know; but I hope that the illustration I have given indicates that at present the Secretary of State for Scotland goes to the Treasury, which if the people there are enlightened, as they were in that case, then allows additional funds for particular purchases of this kind. I think everybody who knows it will agree that that particular acquisition filled a gap in what is an otherwise comprehensive, though small, collection in Scotland. It filled a gap, and it was very necessary.

It is not clear from the Bill whether this system will continue, and I think my noble friend is quite right to be apprehensive if funds for this sort of purpose have to come out of the block grant or sonic other funds which are allocated to the Assembly. I think we need a very clear statement from the Government as to whether the procedure which now exists and which I have now described is to continue—and, personally, I would be in favour of that; I think that special grants and special arrangements by the Treasury are right—or whether the matter is to be handed over to the Assembly and devolved. If so, I really do not think that they will have enough money to make purchases of this kind, or, if they do, it will be at the expense of other services which they are supposed to supply. Perhaps I could just add, on the question of loans, that there are very important loans to the Scottish galleries, particularly the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, and of course everybody realises that in due course some of those pictures may have to be put up for sale. Again, the confidence that the money will be there and that United Kingdom finance will, in a special case, be available to purchase something which is important, is a matter on which I hope the Government will be able to satisfy us before we leave this part of the Bill.

3.19 p.m.


May a mere Cross-Bencher express the view that he hopes the Government will not stand committed to the letter of the Bill that we are considering? In this respect, I speak, as it were, against the interests of many years. For 21 years I had the great good luck to be a trustee of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, and on two occasions I was chairman of the trustees. If this Bill goes forward, any funds which the Treasury may have set apart in their mind as dedicated to the preservation in this country of great masterpieces will to that extent, perhaps, be more at the disposal of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square rather than the National Gallery of Scotland. But in this respect, surely, it is desirable for all those of us who love the arts and the diffusion of knowledge of the arts to take a United Kingdom point of view rather than a narrow English, Scottish or Welsh point of view.

I wonder how many of your Lordships not having close connection with Scotland realise what treasures already repose in that gallery halfway up the hill on Princes Street in Edinburgh. In my experience of the small galleries of the Western world, only the Frick Gallery in New York bears comparison at all with the contents of the National Gallery of Scotland, of which it can be said that, loans apart—and I am coming to loans in a moment—it contains little but international masterpieces. And it must surely be the desire of all those who have these precious things at heart that nothing that happens in this Bill shall impair the standing of the National Gallery of Scotland. Allusion was made by the noble Earl to the pictures which are on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland. Five of them, at least, I would say, are the envy of the rest of the world; five of them would have such a value in the international art markets that only Government support on a massive scale could preserve them from being swallowed up by Mr. Getty or his executors.

I do not wish to name the masterpieces, but I am quite certain that those of your Lordships who are acquainted with the contents of the National Gallery of Scotland will recognise the works that I have in mind. I simply cannot conceive that the funds which would be at the disposal of the Scottish Assembly could possibly be diverted on a scale sufficient to keep those pictures where they are at the moment if their owners decided to put them on the market. And if they were not kept there, I would say that it would be a disaster not only for Scotland but for the United Kingdom, Great Britain. So I hope that the Government Front Bench, whose temperate and persuasive defence of many things which I personally regard as indefensible commands my utmost admiration, will on this occasion, at any rate, take a more relaxed view of the Amendment under discussion.

The Earl of SELKIRK

I would only say how grateful I am to the noble Earl, Lord Haig, for raising this question. I have had my attention drawn to one or two things in the general aspect of museums and galleries, and it seems to me that the Government have not given very close attention to the extremely important issues raised, particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Robbins. We must realise that we are now dealing with an historic heritage and a cultural heritage which cannot be replaced; and no doubt those works will be admired in Scotland when this Bill has been forgotten and all our speeches have been consigned to the dustbin, where they no doubt properly belong. It is important to remember that there is no vote in art; and this is a Bill which has around it a framework of electoral advantage. I am being unkind in saying that, but let us face the fact that this is what it stands by.

The second thing is this. When the Assembly meets it will have a mass of things to do, and, unless we clarify the issues a little, it will be completely overwhelmed in knowing where to start. This proposal which the noble Earl has made is a very practical one and one which I believe is absolutely essential. I therefore hope that the Government will see this proposal as something which must be done at this stage; for if it is not done at this stage it cannot, I think, be done later.

3.25 p.m.


I should like to support this Amendment, and I am only sorry we did not discuss also the first Amendment, which my noble friend Lord Selkirk did not move. However, it belongs to the same category; that is to say, to ensure that the museums and galleries of Scotland, which are some of the best in the United Kingdom—and, indeed, as good as any anywhere—should be treated on the basis that they are United Kingdom treasures, as are any of the other great treasures of the National Gallery and our other great museums. It would be a great mistake if it was thought that these could be devolved to the Assembly. The Assembly would then have to undertake the very important and highly-skilled job of presiding over it, being interested in the gallery. I do not say that Members of the Assembly would be so, but we have in Scotland some absolutely first-class people who know a tremendous lot about pictures and about galleries and so on. I think it would reduce its importance if this was not treated as a United Kingdom subject.

Particularly I should like to support the noble Earl, Lord Haig, in this question of the purchase of great works of art which might come within the possibility of being added to the National Gallery of Scotland or one of the other galleries. I am sure they will not get the money unless it comes, as in the past, from a special allocation to the Secretary of State from the Treasury. That, I am sure, is the only way to get large sums of money, anyway. It would then have to be proved that it was a matter of United Kingdom interest as well as of Scotland's. It would be a great pity if we allowed these great heritages to be divided up, to be managed, as it were, only in the Assembly in Scotland and not be part of the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom's heritage. I hope that the Government will accept this Amendment.


I hope that the Government will not accept this Amendment. It appears to me that there is a strong whiff of metropolitan superiority in some of the speeches that have been made. The question of the Treasury shelling out willingly for works of art to be retained in Scotland is not one for which there are many precedents. It is much more likely, in my view, that a Scottish Assembly will not be composed of ignorant football supporters but will have a strong Scottish heritage of culture to defend. I would put the art gallery in Aberdeen, for example, against that of any town of similar size, and it has been fed and built up on the advice of good curators and supported by the cultured town council of Aberdeen. Can one show me a more enlightened curator and purchaser than Dr. Honeyman, the late curator in Glasgow, who was supported to the hilt by the council of that town, or Stanley Cursitor in Edinburgh, supported by the Secretary of State? There is no reason at all to think that the Assembly will be more backward in supporting the heritage of Scotland, or, indeed, the heritage of Scotland and the ownership and showing of works of art from all over the globe, than any United Kingdom Treasury.


I think there is a misunderstanding when one says, "supported by the Secretary of State ".I was speaking as a former Secretary of State. The point was that this was not money which would otherwise have been spent on education or health in Scotland. The Secretary of State was able to support purchases because he was able to make a case and get extra money from the Treasury.


I presume that the Treasury will not be more or less generous, and will not be more inclined to save money in Scotland, because something is asked for by the Assembly rather than by the Secretary of State. The Treasury is more likely to disgorge money if there is more direct political pressure behind the request.


As it is the Committee stage I think it does help. This is what we are trying to find out because we cannot see anything in the Bill which corresponds to the present practice.


I am very glad to hear it. I had a strong view, from speeches already made, that the noble Lords making them were certain that what they wanted was not to find out but to get the Government to take a different view and to look at this again and indeed accept the Amendment. Listening to the speeches, that is the view that I formed. I am ignorant about these matters, but nevertheless I will defend my fellow countrymen who are extremely cultured chaps and feel deeply about these things. I should like to ask the Government one thing. Supposing somebody has a beautiful picture and wants to give it instead of paying death duties. If that picture is in Scotland, will it stay in Scotland and not be suborned to London?


I am certain that the last point made by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, is right, but I have some doubts about some of the other things he said. I should like to speak about one particular example which I think is a warning to those of us in Scotland who are keen on art, even though, like myself, they may not be so knowledgeable as the noble Earl, Lord Haig, or the noble Lord, Lord Robbins. Many years ago when I was a boy Sir William Burrell left perhaps the best single collection of pictures in the country to Glasgow. He also left them a very large sum of money to build a museum in which the collection was to be housed. Although that must be 40 years ago this museum is still not yet in being. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, that there are a number of Scotsmen who are very interested in the arts, but it is surely a most deplorable state of affairs that this marvellous collection has been unshown to the public for 40 years. I am afraid it is a result of the fact that Glasgow has this very large sum of money and the interest on it which they have been able to spend on a whole range of desirable political things. I do not know; but what other reason could there be for doing nothing with this huge endowment for 40 years? I hope very much that, when the Government come to consider this, they will bear in mind the fact that, although more and more people are becoming interested in the arts, when it comes to the question: " Do you want more on your child allowances, or on housing, or should we spend a few million pounds on a great picture?" the answer, I am afraid, judged in votes per head of the population, will always be the former.

Viscount THURSO

Before the noble Lord sits down, can he tell us on what grounds he bases his assertion that the town council of Glasgow has misappropriated funds which were left to them for the purpose of housing the Burrell collection?


I very carefully did not say that. I said that I could only imagine that it was very convenient to have all these incomes collecting and doing nothing with them because they were able to spend them in other ways.


Before the noble Lord sits down, would he care to consider withdrawing the implication of what he said? He implied that the interest on these monies was spent on political objects by Glasgow Corporation. If he has not any basis for that would he withdraw it?


I certainly will withdraw it if that was the inference that noble Lords took. Those of us who have watched this operation for a very long time could not imagine what else held the Glasgow Corporation back from using the money instead of just sitting on it.

The Earl of ONSLOW

So far, the only speech against this Amendment has been made on the grounds of self-confessed ignorance. Perhaps it may be reasonable to take the view that it is essential that good pictures should be spread about the country and not concentrated solely in the metropolis. It appears that the gallery at Glasgow has achieved an extremely high standard. A very small point worries me. The price of a really good, major work of art of worldwide significance is now in excess of six figures. Titian's "Death of Acteon" cost something like £2,½ million. Now, £2½ million as part of the block grant given to the Scottish National Assembly will look infinitely larger than £2½ million as part of the general Exchequer of Great Britain.

I think we must congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Donaldson, on the way he has chiselled money out of the Treasury, and long may he continue to do so. It is vitally important for all of us, both in England and in Scotland, that his chiselling methods should succeed. I am now arguing from the point of view of the honesty, integrity and goodwill of the Scottish Assembly Members and of the Scottish Secretary of State. He will find it infinitely more difficult to extract that sort of money from the block grant because people will say, "No, there is bad housing in Glasgow; the fishing boats in Aberdeen need subsidising, something else needs funds". That is the difficulty that I foresee. It is not a metropolitan argument, it is a provincial argument. The Provinces should have as much of a cultural heritage as we do in the metropolis. That is vital for a civilised society. As a result of capital taxation and inflation there will be very many more of these pictures coming on to the market. There are enough problems in England with the whole of the Treasury behind it, and I foresee the problems of Scotland with its block grant being very much worse. Not being a chauvinist I would hope that the Scots will have the same access to culture as I am privileged to have.

Baroness STEDMAN

It might clear the air and perhaps shorten the debate if I intervened at this point. First let me say that the Government have consistently taken the view that the full responsibility for libraries, museums and galleries should rest with the devolved Administration as part of the devolution of the arts and other cultural activities. We have said many times during the course of the Committee stage of this debate that the Government's policy generally in deciding matters suitable for devolution has been to devolve as much as possible in the areas which are primarily of concern to the people living in Scotland. Care for the libraries, museums and art galleries is obviously an integral part of devolution in this area, and indeed of the devolution of education itself. It would be inconsistent with this general approach to exclude an important element of the funding of the national institutions, and the purchase of works of art and other objects is an integral part of the functions of the institutions and cannot logically be regarded as separate from the other activities.

The Scottish Administration, with general responsibility for the arts in Scotland, will wish to draw up its own priorities in the field. It is invidious to suggest that in doing so it will be any less conscious of the importance of purchase grants and indeed of cultural and artistic matters generally than the Government in London. Moreover, once embarked on this trail, there would doubtless be many other subjects adduced as being too important to he left to the Scottish Administration. Devolution implies that the Assembly and the Executive will operate no less responsibly than the directly elected representatives at Westminster. It would be manifestly wrong to decide policy on matters to be devolved on the basis of a list of items chosen arbitrarily because some special circumstances were claimed. The Scottish Administration must be free to develop its own coherent policies across broad subject areas otherwise good administration and government would otherwise become impossible.

What will happen in practice is that the sums of money to be made available as purchase grants, including the national heritage resources, will continue to be assessed initially on a United Kingdom basis and, as at present, an allocation will be made to England, Wales and Scotland. The Scottish element will be paid into the block fund and will be administered by the Scottish Administration according to its own priorities.

While the proposition that a close correlation exists between the level and the effect of capital taxation and the flow of works of art coming into circulation is a reasonable one, it does not necessarily follow that taxation policy and the policy on purchase grants need to be considered together at the same administrative level. There is certainly a link between the two, but it will be for those responsible for regulating the finances of the Scottish national institutions—the Scottish Executive—to take whatever steps seem to them to be appropriate to deal with any new situation arising from a change in taxation policy.

As regards the special purchase grant, the same arguments apply to those as to the normal grants-in-aid to the institutions. It will be for the new Administration to establish a policy for special grants which could be more or less restrictive than the policy at present operated on the United Kingdom basis. The question of making the necessary finance available will continue to be one of assessing priorities between conflicting demands on resources. That will be a task which will face the Scottish Executive in just the same way as at present it faces the Government.

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell, made the point about special purchase grants. Extraordinary action by the Treasury will continue to be available, as now, and allocations can still be made to the galleries, and so on, of Scotland. I hope that this assurance clears up the point. The noble Lord, Lord Robbins, referred to the export of works of art. That is part reserved to the Review Body for Export and is unaffected by devolution. The Review Committee on the Export of Works of Art will continue to operate on a United Kingdom basis. It is an administrative committee which advises the Government through the Department of Trade, in consultation with the Department of Education. The powers used by the Government in this field rest on exchange control regulations and hence are not devolved.

The Government consider the Amendment should not be accepted and that the responsibility for the purchase grant for Scottish museums and galleries should be transferred, together with the responsibility for all other matters affecting these other institutions, to the Scottish Administration. Any action by the Government under the National Land Fund would be unaffected by devolution. This fund is part of the reserved matter of national finance and taxation, and purchases made with money from that fund could be allocated, as now, to institutions in Scotland.

Viscount THURSO

The noble Baroness has just made a most helpful intervention. I think it was Somerset Maugham who said: If you want to write about beef you don't necessarily have to eat the whole cow, but you should at least sample a steak. I think this is the attitude which the arts in Scotland will have to take. In Scotland you cannot possibly collect everything in depth for Scotland, but what should be being done on behalf of the Scottish people, and for their enjoyment and education, is the keeping of a broad collection of works of art: a high-quality and selective collection. For this purpose, the Sccttish Assembly should have funds. For other purposes, for example for the collections in depth and for specialist collections, that is the job of the United Kingdom because we are not considering separatism in this Bill: we are considering devolution and we are considering the arts in the context of a devolved Government and a devolved society.

In this context, within the devolved area of the United Kingdom, you want a wide, high-quality and broadly based collection—if possible a particularly Scottish collection. For this purpose, I think that having Scottish funds operated by Scottish curators and overseen by Scottish committees is probably better than leaving it to a United Kingdom committee and a United Kingdom handout.


The noble Baroness has made an important statement, which we were seeking, and she has really dealt with two points. In considering the block grant, she has said that there will be an allocation of the kind which the Secretary of State for Scotland knows that he has every year for the normal purchases for acquisitions to museums and galleries. I think that quite a lot of what the noble Baroness said in her reply applied to Amendment No. 173, which was not moved by my noble friend: I do not complain about that, because it did set out the background to the situation. She then dealt with the second point, which I had raised and which was the important one, about what happens when there is a need for a special purchase grant because it is a major work of art which is concerned and the money required is far beyond the national allocation. On the other hand, virtually everyone who is interested agrees that it is a picture or a work of art that should be bought for a national gallery in Scotland.

The noble Baroness made a most important statement which I hope will go some way towards satisfying my noble friend Lord Haig; that is, that in such cases—for example, the Domenichino, the Cuyp and several others, which were purchased by me for the galleries when I was Secretary of State—there will be the same arrangements for additional money. Therefore, the Assembly and the Executive will not have to "raid" the money which they set aside for education, roads, housing and other admirable subjects, in order to raise the large sum of about half a million pounds for a picture.

The only point I now ask is: should this not be written into the Bill?—because it is not clear that this special purchase arrangement will continue. Perhaps the noble Baroness is not able to reply now, but I put the question because I know that the noble Baroness has answered my point and I do not doubt in any way her good faith and the good faith of the Department in producing this answer. This Amendment has been on the Marshalled List for several weeks and I would ask whether it should not be put into the Bill somewhere so that everybody knows where they stand.

The Earl of PERTH

I find this is a somewhat confusing situation because, as I read the Amendment, it applies not only to museums and art galleries but also to libraries. If I am right in that, I feel I must make clear the position of the National Library of Scotland. Here I must declare an interest, as a trustee of that Library, and I ought to tell your Lordships what is the position of their Board. They went into this question very carefully as to whether or no they should ask to be in or out of the control of the Assembly. They consulted their Librarian and the Keepers and came to the conclusion that the right course for them was to come under the Assembly. That meant, in its turn, that the purchase grants for the library would come in the ordinary way we all understand and would be equally similar for museums and galleries. We felt that the Assembly, particularly in the case of the Library, would always recognise the importance of education and of books, and that perhaps whatever we got out of the block grant, in the light of the long tradition in Scotland, might be a little more rather than a little less.

Having said that, we looked at certain other problems which in a sense are the same kind of problems which generally arise in relation to museums and galleries. With us, university libraries are not under the Assembly. The Library has functions which are part of United Kingdom functions. It collaborates with all other libraries in the United Kingdom, particularly with the British Library. It is a deposit library, which means that it has the copyright deposit privileges. I would ask the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, whether there is any question of those privileges continuing under devolution, and whether we shall still be a copyright library. I am sure that the answer must be, Yes.

Again, we come up against a matter which is particularly relevant to this problem of purchase grants. I gave the Government notice of this question, and I think that the noble Baroness has given the answer. I assume that when there are manuscripts, archives or books which are pre-eminent and have a special Scottish interest, and which are to be accepted by the Government in lieu of death duties, they will continue to be able to come to us in the National Library, although they are outwith the regular purchase grant. When the noble Baroness said that the Land Fund would apply overall, that probably gave me the answer, but I should be grateful if she could confirm that.

This is a difficult subject, and it is very satisfactory to learn that extraordinary grants will still be available under any condition. Without that, I feel quite clear that the Amendment moved by the noble Earl, Lord Haig, would have to be pressed. But what has been said may make a difference. Hearing that the National Land Fund will be available is a very important matter, too. So that I think we have considerable comfort. I have asked two specific questions. Perhaps the noble Baroness is not able to answer me today, and I shall be perfectly happy if she gives me answers in writing, on behalf of the National Library.

3.53 p.m.


What interested me about the noble Baroness's excellent reply was that she was rather saying that the present system is working well, and she was congratulating everyone concerned. I was therefore wondering: Why alter it? The noble Baroness's speech was very good. It underlined the point that, from all our experience, we have now reached a state where there is a lot of satisfaction. Why include in this Schedule words which may put at risk something that is working well? I thought that a most significant contribution, in terms of the possibilities of risk—inadvertent risk, and certainly not deliberate—came from the noble Lord, Lord Robbins. I do not think that we can have fragmentation and still have the quality which we are likely to get now.

I talk purely as a United Kingdom speaker—Scotland is very well represented and is perfectly capable of putting its point of view—and I concede that, as regards the management and care of the galleries in Scotland, they ought to be looked after by people who are 100 per cent. Scottish in their outlook. But as regards the funds, we may well be weakening the United Kingdom's chance of retaining treasures. There is just a possibility of that. Let us see how it works, because the noble Baroness rather suggested that logic is on her side. I do not think that logic is in fact on her side, if "logic" means that you face up to the things that past experience has shown will automatically flow.


Is the noble Lord suggesting that the Scots call the tune and the English pay the piper?


I think that the Scots often call the tune and the English pay the piper. Certainly the per capita argument provides evidence that that sometimes happens. But I do not resent it. The Scots are a very important and significant part of the United Kingdom. It will not be the United Kingdom, if they are not in it. That is why I want to keep them there. But I do not want to keep them there at too high expense to the rest of the United Kingdom. That is the whole burden of my argument, and I do not think enough United Kingdom Members of your Lordships' House have expressed the fears which, deep down, I believe they feel.

This is a good example. We all know that we have to approach Exchequers for money. If, in order to satisfy the new Scottish Assembly, and to carry out the spirit of the Bill, the Scots must have a bigger grant than they at present get from the Secretary of State—and it would have to be bigger than the grant they have had in the past, otherwise they would feel they had been cheated by this Bill—there will be so much less left to be administered by the United Kingdom as a whole. I maintain that we are running into a period where the amount of money that is available to retain treasures will be very important indeed.

If one were to write into this Bill that when treasures have been purchased they must be displayed in Scotland, as the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, said, because they have a special Scottish significance, or you give them power to get more than they are getting now into the various Scottish galleries, I would concede that. But in practical terms, and in terms of the logic about which the noble Baroness spoke, I see the risk that was expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Robbins: we may well be weakening the possibility of the United Kingdom as a whole being able to play its part in retaining treasures, because of the shortage of money, particularly during times of great stringency. If that happens, it will be to the detriment of the United Kingdom and, I argue—in order to make the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, happy—it will be to the detriment of Scotland, too.

In my interventions on these matters, which seem on the face of them to be purely Scottish, I presume to put a point of view only where I genuinely feel that something will be to the disadvantage of the United Kingdom, as well as to Scotland as a separate entity. Although a very reassuring reply has been given by the noble Baroness, the words as they now stand carry with them the risk of an alteration in a system which she admitted is already working very well and is fair in relation to Scotland vis-à-vis the United Kingdom.


May I add a footnote to what has been said since I spoke earlier? I welcome, more than I can say, the pronouncement of the noble Baroness that the procedure of a reviewing committee on the export of works of art, of which I was the first chairman, will still hold, and that it will still be possible for Scottish galleries to make application for extraordinary grants. I wonder very much whether all noble Lords in this Chamber realise the orders of magnitude which are involved. The five works of art, one of which is a set, which I mentioned would certainly run into far more millions than the noble Lord. Lord Donaldson, in his beneficence, has hitherto had occasion to give away in this respect. I predict that if those works of art were, by some unlikely accident, to come on the market at the moment, Lord Donaldson would have preoccupations compared to which all the preoccupations which have been on his plate since he assumed office would be just a trifling headache. I shall not go into figures, but if I were to mention them—some intimation was given by the noble Earl, Lord Onslow—they would terrify most of your Lordships.


I shall not intervene for more than two minutes. This is a matter in which I take the very greatest interest, and, as an English member of the United Kingdom, I apologise for speaking. The question which I want to ask the noble Baroness to consider is this. Will she reconsider altogether the wording of Group 3? From listening to the speeches made by noble Lords all over the House, I am quite satisfied that neither the wording of Group 3, nor any of the Amendments suggested today, will give the perfect answer to the question which we wish to resolve.

The Earl of ONSLOW

Arising out of her reply, may the noble Baroness answer one question? As I understood it, she said that the Scottish block grant would buy ordinary things, while the special grant would buy special things. I have a nasty, suspicious mind. I suspect—and I notice that the Treasury Front Bench are nodding in agreement—that what could happen is that the Assembly would tend to duck the issue and say, "If we can persuade the Treasury in London to pay for it, we can keep our own bit for something else that might come up" The separation which is going to come about is my first point. Secondly, if a special grant is allocated as part of the block grant for the purchase of works of art, may I ask why it has to go in such a roundabout way as opposed to directly to Scottish galleries?

Baroness STEDMAN

To deal first with the last point which has been made by the noble Earl opposite, I do not think that the Treasury are quite so naive as he suggests. I do not think that there is any chance of pulling wool over the Treasury's eyes and trying to get them to buy something which ought to be bought out of the block grant allocated to the Scottish Assembly. The machinery for a special purchase fund will still be there. If all five of the works of art mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, were to come on to the market at once, not all of the money required would necessarily be available at that time, but in each case we should expect there to be an ad hoc decision by the Government. I understand from my noble friend the Minister for the Arts that this is the way in which it operates now.

I spent 25 years trying to convince the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, that he was wrong about a great number of matters. I did not succeed then and I do not think that I have succeeded now. All I can do is to repeat what I said earlier: a sum of money will be made available for purchase grants, including national heritage resources. That will continue to be assessed, as it is now, on a United Kingdom basis and an allocation will be made to England, Scotland and Wales. The Scottish element of that money will be paid into the block fund and will be administered by the Scottish Administration according to their priorities. In addition, if any special, extraordinary circumstances should arise in which extra money needs quickly to be made available to save a very valuable work of art, then the Scottish Administration can come to the Treasury to make their case, and money will be made available, as it is made available now, for special cases when those are made out.

Turning to the question of the acceptance of pi operty in lieu of tax and the National Land Fund and the procedures associated with it—these also include the question of allocation—changes might be made to the procedure following the report of the Environment Sub-Committee of the Expenditure Committee which has been looking at this matter. At this stage, obviously I cannot anticipate whether any changes will be made and, if so, what they will be. However, I can confirm that our proposals for devolution, as they now stand, and the procedures after devolution for the acceptance of preeminent objects in lieu of tax will continue on a United Kingdom basis. At present, the allocation of pre-eminent objects to individual institutions is made on the advice of bodies like the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries, the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts and the Advisory Committee on Printed Books who, in relation to objects now accepted from Scottish estates, advise the Secretary of State for Scotland. These arrangements are non-statutory, and the way in which they would be conducted after devolution would be a matter for discussion between the Government and the Scottish Administration.

In reply to the question of the noble Earl, Lord Perth, relating to printed books and manuscripts, may I say that the National Library for Scotland will continue to be eligible, along with all the other national, university and local authority libraries, to have books and manuscripts allocated to it. I hope that this has somewhat cleared the air. We have got into some deep water on a variety of subjects. When it is published I shall be happy to read Hansard to find out whether there is any point which I have not answered or have not answered in sufficient detail. If that is so, I shall write to the noble Lords concerned. However, I hope that I have established that a purchase fund will be available through the Scottish Assembly, through their block grant, and that there will also be access to extraordinary money for extraordinary purchases.


I agree with the noble Baroness that, on the whole, this debate has been very helpful and that it should now be nearing its close. However, one point which the noble Baroness has not answered relates to the Bill. I wonder whether she can tell me whether anything needs to be written into the Bill to carry out the important statement which she made about special grants?

Baroness STEDMAN

I apologise to the noble Lord for leaving out that point. Because the National Land Fund and the other matters of taxation and special grants are reserved, they could not be written into the Bill. Many subjects are reserved in silence, as it were.

The Earl of SELKIRK

Is the noble Baroness saying that the Scottish Secretary will have direct personal access to the Treasury?

Baroness STEDMAN

Yes, through the Secretary of State for Scotland.


I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her answer. It underlines the fact that because so many of the reserved subjects are reserved by silence this Bill is exceedingly difficult to follow. That is why it is so important for us to raise these points in your Lordships' Committee in order to get the required affirmations and statements, otherwise people in Scotland will simply not know where they are.


We have had a very interesting debate on this Amendment and I am very grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Stedman, for her helpful reply, particularly about additional special grants, regarding which the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, made a plea. I am most grateful for the assurance that we have been given on that point.

Turning to the question of the money that is to be allocated to a special fund for purchase grants each year, I am less happy. I have already explained to noble Lords the way in which, as I see it, these things work. That makes sense to me. I must confess that the prospect of the annual purchase grants being handed over to the Assembly worries me. There is a sense of uncertainty about it. The noble Baroness has explained that the Government wish to keep intact the annual purchase grants, along with the cost of administering the galleries. As I have said, I am not asking for the cost of the administration of galleries to be reserved. I wish the galleries to be devolved.

I do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, that we in Scotland are allowing ourselves to become a cultural limb of London. That is not the case. My noble friend Lord Perth raised the question of libraries. However, I do not think that this question forms part of the Amendment. There is a chance this afternoon to sound out the opinion of noble Lords. In my view, there is a clear-cut principle at stake. I am proposing in the Amendment that purchase funds should be taken out of the Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

4.10 p.m.


had given Notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 374: Page 48, line 14, at beginning insert ("Subject to Clause (Review of Local Government) of this Act"). The noble Lord said: This Amendment was discussed with an earlier Amendment and therefore I do not intend to move it.


In fact I said "Content" and that I wished to press Amendment No. 299.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Lord Douglas of Barloch)

I am afraid it is too late to revert to that Amendment.

4.11 p.m.

Lord MORRIS moved Amendment No. 256: Page 48, line 32, leave out ("Provision of").

The noble Lord said: This is in the nature of a probing Amendment and, depending upon the Minister's reply, I should be happy to withdraw the Amendment should the Minister explain to the satisfaction of this Committee why the wording of the paragraph was changed in respect of public passenger transport from the equivalent paragraph in the former Scotland and Wales Bill, which began " public passenger transport". May I ask the Minister whether there is any significance, legal or otherwise, in the insertion of the words "provision of"?

I should he most grateful for the Minister's guidance on this point. It is not clear to me whether the words "provision of " have any significance in terms of policy; whether such a change in the wording could be interpreted as granting increased powers to the Scottish Assembly Executive over that given by the former Scotland and Wales Bill; whether the Scottish Assembly and Executive would have power to provide public transport services of the specified types by expropriation or otherwise of operations not already provided by the Scottish Transport group. It would be most helpful if the Minister could guide the Committee on this point. I beg to move.


My name appears second on this Amendment but in fact I tabled it independently of my noble friends because I also was interested in why the words provision of" appeared in this Bill when they had not appeared in the earlier Scotland and Wales Bill. I recognise that this part of Schedule 10 is qualified by paragraph 8 of Part II at the bottom of page 50, because that subtracts railways, air, road freight transport—except that for which the Secretary of State for Scotland is now responsible; for example the Scottish Transport Group—and indeed more or less does what one would expect in exempting almost all transport which does not come under the Secretary of State for Scotland at the present time. But what one wonders, when the words " provision of " appear, is whether there is some idea of a new transport enterprise for which the new Assembly and its Executive might be responsible or might be expected to start.

The Scottish Office are at present responsible, with the Secretary of State, for the Scottish Transport Group which, for example, includes MacBraynes who run vessels to the islands and along the coast. But the Scottish Office do not themselves operate those vessels; they do not provide the transport, and therefore the words "provision of" seem strange. I think it is reasonable to suggest that the new Scottish Executive should in future, as a devolved matter, take over some transport functions from the Secretary of State and the Scottish Office, but that does not include the provision of transport and the operation of vessels or vehicles.


We seem to have rather "hogged it" on this side of the Committee, but I have observed no noble Lord opposite who wants to take part. I agree with my noble friends that we should like the explanation of the words "provision of ", but before the Minister replies I should like to say one or two things in addition. Surely the provision of transport is the job of the transport operator and not of the Scottish Executive. Such niceties apart, however, the implication would seem to be that further State control is intended. Most of Scotland's bus services are already provided by the nationalised Scottish Transport Group, and most of the remainder are in public ownership under the Greater Glasgow Passenger Transport Executive and the three regional councils, namely, Lothian, Tayside and Grampian. Are they, along with the services of independent operators, to be involved in what could be seen as back-door nationalisation?

I am afraid I am "laying it on with a trowel" rather more than my noble friend has done, but these two words create doubt and confusion while they do not seem to add anything to the Bill. It may be that the noble Lord opposite will tell us that it is to devolve responsibility for co-ordination of transport or policy for transport, but that is not clear. What is clear is that the present wording is ambiguous and that the provision of transport is not a suitable power for the Scottish Executive. There might be ways in which the Assembly could legislate for the provision of transport; but this is the first of a number of Amendments tabled in my name and that of my noble friends which relate to the devolution of transport matters, and it is appropriate to mention an argument which has been frequently referred to in this Committee. If there had been a Division on the last Amendment I am not quite sure which way I should have voted, but I might have been trotting along with the Government.

One point about transport is that there is transport from Scotland to England; it is not something which is only in Scotland. Certainly this is the unanimous view of the passenger road transport industry in Great Britain. In recent years in European Committees we have started to experience problems caused by different traditions and laws controlling transport operation. Surely Britain will not fall into the same trap by the fragmentation of control within the British Isles. Reverting to the subject of the present Amendment, I hope the Minister will agree that the words "provision of " add nothing but will in fact create confusion, and that he will agree that they are better left out.


Perhaps when my noble friend replies he will explain what the words "provision of " will really do. If we omit those words the sentence still reads: Public transport and freight transport to be a devolved purpose". The Assembly can do just as it likes, whether it wants to nationalise them or not.

4.18 p.m.


First, in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, I should like to say that Schedule 10 defines the matters which fall within the legislative competence of the Assembly. We are not concerned with having the Scottish Executive running buses but we are concerned with defining what it is that the Scottish Assembly may legislate about. That is a point which the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, acknowledged when he made his contribution.

With regard to the words "provision of ", perhaps I should put them properly in their context because this is a rather complicated part of the Bill dealing with transport. The significance of the words derives not directly from their inclusion in this particular group but from the derogation from it in Part II of Schedule 10. The provisions here are rather complicated and that complication is necessary because of the number and variety of activities which are comprised in the term "transport ", and because it is important to be precise in distinguishing between those areas which are to be devolved and those which will continue to fall within the United Kingdom's domain and to be provided on a United Kingdom basis.

There is then the matter of aerodromes, but leaving that aside for the moment, Group 10 in Part I of the Schedule confers a wide competence in relation to the provision of, and the payment of, subsidies for transport services. As the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, acknowledged, this is the clue to the words; these broad provisions are qualified by the very detailed exclusions appearing in paragraph 8 of Part II, which the noble Lord will find on page 50, at line 43. This has been found to be the only way of precisely defining the existing ministerial powers which are to be transferred to the Scottish administration and the boundaries of a somewhat larger area of legislative competence which is to be available to the Assembly. This larger area is needed to enable the Assembly, for example, to legislate to allow the Scottish Administration to pay subsidies in respect of particular unremunerative rail services as local authorities can do at present.

The Government's starting off point in relation to this group is that transport services in any locality are of great importance to the people living there and of limited concern to people living elsewhere. One would have thought that was elementary enough. Transport services in Scotland are, accordingly, a matter well suited to devolution, subject to certain important qualifications. Let me spell them out: first, devolution should be confined to services within Scotland; secondly, it should not extend to controlling the operators of services forming part of an integrated network—and I hope that meets the point the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, made—throughout Great Britain and further afield, for example British Rail or British Airways. Thirdly, devolution should not in general extend to freight services—which are essentially part of the infrastructure of industry—except in so far as they are operated by the Scottish Transport Group (for which all responsibility will be devolved) or perhaps except in so far as they meet a special Scottish need, for example, services in the Highlands and Islands. I heard someone mention MacBraynes.

This policy is achieved by Group 10 in Part I of Schedule 10, read with the important derogations in paragraph 8 of Part II, to which I have just made reference. Taken together the effect is that the Assembly will have legislative competence, and a Scottish Secretary executive powers, in relation to the provision of certain transport services only. Let me spell them out: first, passenger transport by boat, bus and rail, other than by British Rail—and the rail one has in mind is the Glasgow Underground Railway which is run at the present time by the Greater Glasgow Passenger Transport Executive; and, secondly, road freight so far as operated by the Scottish Transport Group.

Let me come back to the point which has been raised by several noble Lords, the significance of the words "provision of". These words are important; they make it clear that we are concerned with transport as a service, or rather an aggregation of services, and not as an industry. There will be no devolution as to, for example, construction requirements for vehicles. If you simply devolved "transport" you might find that that was included in the matters devolved, so there is no devolution in relation to that; there is no devolution in relation to safety requirements or working conditions, which relate to transport as an industry rather than the provision of transport services. That is why these words have been chosen, and the Government consider it important as a matter of policy that such matters, which have important implications for employment, for trade and industry, should continue to be dealt with for Great Britain as a whole.

The second item in Group 10—"Payment of subsidies to operators of such services within Scotland"—is, as read with paragraph 8, Part II, wider in its impact than the first item relating to the provision of services. This is because the Government consider it reasonable that the Scottish administration should be able to contribute financially towards the maintenance of certain transport services even though it is not appropriate that they should have responsibility for arranging for their provision. The British Rail case is perhaps the best one in point. Powers are to be devolved in that instance to pay subsidies for British Rail passenger services and for air freight services to the Highlands and Islands. So there is devolution in relation to the payment of subsidies, but not devolution in relation to the provision of those services. So the Assembly and the Executive will be able to support certain rail and air services for social reasons, but will have no power to organise or reorganise such services which have implications for Great Britain as a whole.

The Amendment is not intended to be technically sound and I will not criticise it on a technical basis, but I hope that noble Lords who have studied paragraph 8 of Part II of Schedule 10, as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, has obviously done, will appreciate now what is the reason for this wording.

4.25 p.m.


Following on the noble and learned Lord's enunciation of the philosophy of devolution, it seems to me that our attitude to this Amendment, and to most similar Amendments to Schedule 10, must be coloured by what the Government intend to do about Amendment No. 210, which stands in the names of the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, and other Lords. Amendment No. 210 is the one which is designed to mitigate, if not wholly to solve, the West Lothian dilemma. If it is the intention of the Government to accept Amendment No. 210, thereby permitting the English the same degree of self-government as they propose to give to the Scots, then I would think it right that we should allow the maximum degree of devolution as is consistent with the maintenance of the unity and good government of the United Kingdom. If, on the other hand, they intend to resist Amendment No. 210, thereby treating the English as second-class citizens incapable of making up their own minds about their own internal affairs, unlike the Scots, for reasons of cynical political calculation, then I would submit that we ought to minimise the number of matters devolved. I wonder whether the noble Lord could indicate the Government's intention as regards Amendment No. 210, so that we can decide what to do about this series of Amendments?


If I take 30 seconds to reply it will be 30 seconds wasted. It is perfectly obvious to all and sundry that the Government intend not to accept No. 210. It is a waste of time to ask.


May I ask the noble and learned Lord one question about this? I understand a good deal more since he was kind enough to disentangle these two Amendments, the one on page 48 in Group 10 and the one on page 50, which is in paragraph 8 of Part II, which is matters not devolved. In order to help people to understand this better would it not be possible for the people doing the drafting to look at it again? Really, without the explanation of the noble and learned Lord it is very difficult to understand. It might be thought that the Amendment on page 50 to paragraph 8 in Part II included a lot of things which appear in Group 10 on page 48.

I quite understand, after the explanation of the noble and learned Lord, where the division takes place, but reading it it is not at all clear. I should have thought it might be possible to make the provision in relation to Group 10 considerably longer or vice versa, to make it quite clear on page 50 where the division really lies. Unless you go from one to the other you cannot possibly see it. It is one of those matters which make the Bill so difficult for the ordinary person to understand. Unless they have the opportunity and privilege of listening to the noble and learned Lord, who explains it so brilliantly, they cannot understand it. I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord could ask the draftsmen to make it a little clearer.

4.29 p.m.


I am in this difficulty, that this Schedule, as I hope noble Lords are beginning to appreciate, is extremely carefully constructed. It is not an easy matter to reconstruct it. If, for example, one were to take Group 10, "Provision of public transport services", reading it short, and try to write into that all the derogations from it, one would find that one had derogated from that group only, whereas the principle of Schedule 10 is that anything which appears in Part II derogates from any group in Part I. One does get peculiar boundaries. One looks at Group 11 and finds "Provision, improvement and maintenance of streets, roads and bridges". It is conceivable, though on my feet I cannot think of an instance, that some derogation contained in paragraph 8 of Part II would affect something which might fall in one of the subjects listed in Group 11.

Each of the groups contains subjects, but does not set forth, within the groups themselves or the subjects, any derogations at all. The derogation is then contained in Part II. Sometimes I am afraid that there is a re-devolution in Part II, as we shall see. There is an exception which, in effect, puts the matter back into a group. That effect is also to be found from time to time in Part III. I hope that we shall look at a number of these. In fact we are bound to do so on the way through. The situation will gradually become clearer.

As I sought to say the other day, the ultimate consumers in relation to transport services will be the people responsible for running them, for seeking subsidies and paying subsidies. One would have thought that they would come, in the fullness of time, to a nodding acquaintance with the provisions in the Act as it will then be, and it will not be so difficult to work. It is important that the Committee should understand that ultimately the Bill should work. I believe that we can satisfy both of those conditions.


I have great sympathy with my noble friend Lady Elliot. It is difficult to follow the way that this Bill is constructed. I would only say this. The noble and learned Lord has been an architect of the drafting of the Bill from its early stages, or so he indicated. He has helped us by explaining how it is constructed and how the Government have set about Schedule 10. I do not seek to defend the way in which they have done it. However, I think I now understand the way in which they did it. The noble and learned Lord was good enough to say that I was correct in the interpretation that I made of this Schedule. Of course, it is depressing.

On an earlier occasion the noble and learned Lord said that the Bill was complicated but that it was not quite so complicated as Finance Bills. I find that depressing. We hoped that we were not going to get ourselves into that league of complications. I understand the way that the Government have constructed the Bill—though I am not necessarily suggesting that it was the best way of doing it. It has defects, as we discovered in the last Amendment. Important points are not in the Bill because they are made effective only by not being mentioned. That leads to confusion and trouble. Therefore I sympathise with my noble friend.


I interrupt the noble Lord to say that consideration was given to many different ways of doing this. It must not be supposed that I am 100 per cent. behind every decision taken in relation to every drafting point. That would be an absurd claim. But if we start, for example, to list reserved matters as well as devolved matters, we shall create, first, a Bill of such complication that I should not care to have to defend it here. Secondly, we shall create possibilities of difficulty and dispute which are many times greater than those that we believe may exist here. The complication is an essential feature of endeavouring to devolve, whether on a federal basis or on this basis, in a complex society. I am afraid that any method adopted has its own complications.


The noble and learned Lord is disarmingly frank. He is always good enough to give us his own views. When I said that he was the architect of the Bill, I was not meaning to make him responsible—solely, himself—for it.

I was going to say what he has already said for me. It would have been even worse if the Government had tried to spell out every reserve function in yet another Schedule. It would have added another 100 pages to the Bill. It would still be doubtful whether it would be exhaustive. I do not know whether there are other, better ways. This is the point about this Amendment, as far as I am concerned. I added my name to it, although I did not move it. It is up to my noble friend to decide what to do. These words were not in the Scotland and Wales Bill. Therefore we wondered why they had come in and whether they had any special significance. The noble and learned Lord has given us information in reply to that. I hope my noble friend feels that this is a probing Amendment and that he can withdraw it.


Before the Amendment is withdrawn may I add my congratulations to the noble and learned Lord, and say this: He is putting his point of view as a lawyer as to the way we have got through the intricate complexities. It may well be that this would satisfy a lawyer. I bow down to the noble and learned Lord's experience in that field. It would be a presumption for me to question it. As a politician I have had more experience, I think, than the noble and learned Lord, on the politics, as the politician, who is not learned, has to face it.

I give him this warning. This is what he just explained to us. He said "As lawyers we have given a lot of thought to the matter. The only way we could achieve what we wanted to achieve was by one paragraph appearing to give something and, in another paragraph, taking away that part which we do not think ought to have been given in the first place; and in another part not saying anything about it, because, if by silence it is not referred to, it means that the matter must be interpreted as it was before."

That may be all right for the lawyer. But it will not be satisfactory from the point of view of the elected Assembly, if it has been persuaded to accept this Bill as a good one and has attached more importance to the paragraph in which it is given something than the one that takes it away, or to the other paragraph which has said nothing but which means it cannot have it.

We have made much play about the fact that this is an elected Assembly. However, for the most part, it is not the learned man who will sit there. It will be the elected chap who wants to do his best for his constituents and for Scotland. The noble and learned Lord has been excellent in giving what I should have said was the learned interpretation of what this is supposed to mean; but I warn him that this is full of confusion. It is full of conflicts. It is full of matters that will cause much trouble to the United Kingdom Parliament and will bring a great deal of bitterness, as a result of disillusionment, to the elected Assembly. I make that warning. I do not think that we should walk away from the matter just because the lawyers say, "Yes, we understand the legal alternative. We have got that clear." If the matter is truly clear the reaction that will count at the end of the day will be that of the elected Members of the Assembly.


Would the noble Lord clarify one point? Although the noble Lord may not understand every word of this Bill, is he saying that he was able to understand clearly all the other Bills, including those of the other place?


No. One of the problems about our Parliamentary system is that we have allowed it to become much too intricate. We have allowed the people who pass laws to become much more learned and specialist. It is a pity that we are not what we should have been—a talking shop, where ordinary people who are not learned, and who are not experts, should give their views as to how they think a matter may be affected. This is dangerous. We may get away with this with other measures that the noble Lord has in mind. However, this has nationalistic loyalties behind it.

As long as everybody is in the same boat, as we are with Westminster measures, the misunderstandings are not important. Here we shall have a situation—let us not burk this—where people who are Scottish in their outlook will have the view that someone who is not Scottish is against them. People in the United Kingdom may think that Scotland is getting away with things that they are not having. That is a nationalistic ingredient in this piece of legislation about which I am warning the noble and learned Lord. I have no doubt that these warnings will not be heeded. The Bill might become an Act. But it will hit somebody in the back of the neck very hard, in my view, a few years from now.


I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for his guidance on this point. In the light of his observations, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.39 p.m.

Lord CAMPBELL of CROY moved Amendment No. 174: Page 48, line 34, leave out ("Aerodromes").

The noble Lord said: My noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter cannot be here as he is in Australia. It is impossible, with a Committee stage running week after week, to know exactly when Amendments will arise. Therefore my noble friend asked me to move this Amendment and to associate him with it.

I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill, is indisposed and is not able to be with us today. If that is right, I hope that, through the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, he may be passed a message for his quick recovery to health. I can also commiserate with the noble and learned Lord who has an added burden, because it looks as though he will have to deal with almost every Amendment. Therefore, we recognise that he has an unexpectedly heavy task today in the unfortunate absence of the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill.

The noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, with his experience as a chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority for five years until last year, is in a very good position to give an opinion on whether aerodromes should be devolved. I can say that he feels strongly that airports should not be devolved. I am of the same opinion and that is why we have both tabled Amendment No. 174, which I beg to move, and which removes "Aerodromes" from that part of the Schedule.

In the United Kingdom we have an integrated system of airports, and rightly so. In Scotland there is Prestwick which is Britain's No. 2 international airport. It is much used by long haul transatlantic flights and, in fact, it is the airport for all the transatlantic flights starting from Scotland. Glasgow and Edinburgh are important airports for business and other travelling within the United Kingdom, and they also have flights to Europe. The distance between London and Glasgow or Edinburgh is 400 miles and it is the right distance for a flight. It takes only a little over an hour. I should point out that Aberdeen has been the fastest growing airport in the United Kingdom over the past three years. That is confirmed by the recent White Paper issued by the Government only two months ago on Airports' Policy. I refer your Lordships to page 38.

Until now there has been a system whereby the Airports' Authority has been the concern of a Scottish Committee. That committee has been chaired by the deputy chairman of the Airports' Authority. It so happens that he has been a Scot, which has been very satisfactory. He does not necessarily need to be a Scot, but the fact that he has been has meant that the system has worked extremely well, and so far as I know, it still does.

If one devolves airports it raises unnecessary complications. One such complication is that the Civil Aviation Bill which is passing through Parliament this Session alters parts of the 1971 Civil Aviation Act which Schedule 10 could devolve. For example, Schedule 10 would appear to make the Assembly and its Executive responsible for international obligations of the United Kingdom arising from the Civil Aviation Bill. If noble Lords opposite are puzzled by that, then we hope to obtain an explanation, but that is certainly what seems to be the position to those concerned with airports in Scotland.

We must be told by the Government the effect of paragraph 9, line 8 on page 51 of the Bill, where there is reference to "regulatory powers". Does it mean that all the functions of the Civil Aviation Authority relating to airports are reserved. The term "regulatory powers" does not indicate to me whether all the functions are to be reserved. If it means that they are all to be reserved, then there will be some relief to those who are concerned and who fear that there will be discouragement from the use of Scottish airports because of the complications and the bureaucracy that will arise. It is important to know how much is covered by that qualification in Part II of the Schedule.

One body which is very concerned is the Association of British Chambers of Commerce. It has been informed by the Secretary of State for Trade, the right honourable gentleman, Mr. Dell, that appeals against licensing decisions for Scottish internal services could be applicable and be heard by the Scottish Executive in relation to Clause 64. That could create difficulties, apprehensions and confusion. It is not easy to administer flights in that situation. For example, what is the situation of international flights with stopping places in Scotland? What is the situation of international flights with two stopping places in Scotland? Does that qualify as an internal flight? I have only to raise these queries to indicate the kind of difficulties and bureaucracy that could arise if there were to be differences between north and south of the Border.

I submit that any bureacracy, or indeed anything that makes landing at Scottish airports less convenient or less attractive, would be bad for Scotland, especially for industry, commerce and tourism. It would also be bad for the United Kingdom. There is still more capacity in Scotland for flights at the three main Scottish airports compared with airports in the London area. That again is stated at the top of page 39 of the Government's White Paper of February. We all know the problem of London's airports, and we know of the prospect, although it has now been postponed, of further decisions having to be taken before the end of the century about the airports of London—whether there should be another one or whether the existing ones should be expanded. To take action which would discourage the use of airports north of the Border by operators who would otherwise land there, would, I suggest, be a course of folly, in the context of the United Kingdom as a whole. Therefore, from both the Scottish point of view and the United Kingdom point of view the network of airports in the United Kingdom should remain integrated, and we believe should be a reserved subject.

I have mentioned the Association of British Chambers of Commerce. That Association speaks for the whole country; it does not speak simply for Scotland. It recognises the difficulties that could arise both north and south of the Border. Therefore, I ask the Government to look at the matter. I cannot think that the administration of airports is something with which a Scottish Assembly and its Executive would particularly wish to be associated, and anything which would disturb or upset flights into or out of Scotland, or any pattern of flights within the United Kingdom which would distort them, is to be deplored. Therefore, I beg to move.


As one who constantly uses air travel between Scotland and here, I wish to support the Amendment so ably moved by my noble friend, for the very cogent reasons which he gave. I honestly can think of nothing more silly and stupid in a little land like the United Kingdom than to have two authorities in charge of the airports of the two countries. That seems to me to be stupidity to the nth degree, and that is the furthest that one can go. How anyone can conceive such a thing is completely beyond my comprehension. I hope that the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, who also travels to Scotland, will be of a like opinion.


I should like to support the Amendment because, having for a short time operated a small air service between Glasgow, Oban and the Isle of Mull I think that the Amendment of my noble friend is essential. In these small British Isles when one can fly to Scotland in an hour it seems crazy to break up the inte- gration of the British Airports Authority controlling aerodromes. Like my noble friend Lord Strathclyde, I can imagine nothing more foolish. As my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy said, if we turn to page 51, Part II of Schedule 10, we see that paragraph 9, in referring to devolved subjects, says: Any regulatory powers of the Civil Aviation Authority relating to aerodromes …". That is therefore not a devolved subject. It goes on to mention the protection of aircraft and aerodromes against acts of violence. It says that it is not a devolved subject. Therefore, paragraph 9 of Part II appears to contradict Group 10 of Part I of Schedule 10. I cannot understand how that has been printed in the Bill. The Government seem to want to do one thing in Part II and another thing in Part I. Perhaps I have not understood the wording. However, I cannot understand why this integration should be broken up over such a small geographical area.

4.50 p.m.


First, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, for his message, which I shall pass on to my noble friend Lord Kirkhill. I have inherited one or two extra duties this afternoon as a result of his unfortunate illness and my sorrow is almost as great as his. In the circumstances, I hope that noble Lords will forgive me if occasionally I am irascible, but I have spent rather a long time trying to master things with which I did not expect to have to deal today.

The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, together with the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard, have just wondered why different authorities should run airports in this small country. As the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, made very plain in this Chamber last December, in a debate on Scottish airports, and as is known to other noble Lords, many different authorities run the airports at present. Some airports are run by the British Airports Authority—namely, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Prestwick in Scotland and, of course, Heathrow and Gatwick here. Then there are the eight airports in the Highlands and Islands which are run by the Civil Aviation Authority. I shall not mention them unless anyone wants a complete list, but they range from very small ones like Tiree and Islay right up to Sumburgh, which has a larger number of flights than Stansted. There are also the privately-owned aerodromes and also the aerodromes run by municipal authorities.

Therefore, at the moment a considerable variety of bodies are responsible for running these airports. Indeed, in December 1977 the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, made the plea that the eight Scottish airports under the aegis of the Civil Aviation Authority should not be transferred to the British Airports Authority. The noble Lord made out a very cogent case for that and, indeed, the Government—at least at the present time—have accepted that position. So one must not suppose that for the first time we are creating an authority which will run airports in Scotland, and thus for the first time split up some great monolithic structure. That simply is not the situation.

It may be that there is a danger of some misunderstanding about exactly what is being devolved here. Again, I acknowledge the complications of the Bill, and it may be that some noble Lords have not properly understood what is meant by "devolving aerodromes". First, let me take the point raised a moment ago by the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard. The whole purpose of Part II is to derogate from Part I; it is not a contradiction. The whole purpose of Part II is to show what is excluded from groups in Part I, which would otherwise be included in the groups because of the wording of Part I.

The group in the Bill with which we are concerned is Group 10 on page 48. We find there that we are devolving to the Assembly both legislative and executive competence for aerodromes, as part of the general Transport Group. An aerodrome is an important part of the country's physical infrastructure and its location may carry all kinds of implications for other forms of land use over a very wide area. For example, one has only to think of housing. Having taken part as counsel in the Edinburgh Airport Inquiry and in the Glasgow Airport Inquiry, I am very well aware of the fact that the position of an airport, the direction of its runway and matters of that kind, are of great importance to land use round about, whether for housing, agriculture, the positioning of a Royal Highland Show site, or whatever—these are matters of great importance.

So we start off from the viewpoint that aerodromes are well-suited to be a devolved matter in that they have connections which affect people locally. However, for the purposes of the Bill we need to be much more specific about what we mean by aerodromes. We do not mean aviation; I think that that should be made quite clear. Paragraph 9 of Part II of the Schedule makes it clear that regulatory powers of the Civil Aviation Authority relating to aerodromes are not included in the devolved matters. To answer the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, I would point out that the words "regulatory powers" are not intended to have a technical meaning and are not used as a term of art. They are intended to cover the powers of the CAA in respect of licensing of flights and services. The CAA is, itself, included, as we shall see shortly, in Schedule 13, and it might be the subject of an order under Clause 64; but any such order could relate only to the authority's role in relation to devolved matters—for example, as the owner and operator of certain airports in the Highlands and Islands.

It is important to acknowledge that the Highlands and Islands airports are there, that they are run by the Civil Aviation Authority and that the Scottish Assembly and the Scottish Executive are bound to have some legitimate interest in how they are run. The Bill makes very careful provision about these matters, and I shall deal with that in a moment. Therefore, if one looks at the entries to which I have referred in the Bill, and also at Part III, where a number of Statutes are referred to, one sees that the powers of the Assembly in relation to aerodromes are limited.

Let me specify the limitations. The Assembly will have powers for the establishment and maintenance of aerodromes, including those owned by local authorities; it will also have responsibility for their approach roads. It will have power to acquire land for use as aerodromes; it will have power to make by-laws and to place warning lights on high buildings in the vicinity of aerodromes; it will have responsibilities for public health matters arising from the landing or departure of aircraft, and it will have regulation-making powers for the purpose of dealing with the effect of noise and vibration connected with the landing and taking off of aircraft at aerodromes—that includes powers in connection with the measurement of noise levels at aerodromes. It also includes powers to provide grants towards the cost of insulating buildings nearby. However, control of pollution by aircraft is specifically excluded by paragraph 7 in Part II of Schedule 10.

That is an outline of the matters for which the Assembly will be responsible under the inclusion of aerodromes in this group and having regard to the derogations which appear in the second and third Parts of the Schedule. I should like to turn for a moment to the management of aerodromes. As I have indicated, several groups have responsibility for managing aerodromes in Scotland. There is the British Airports Authority, the Civil Aviation Authority, local authorities and private organisations or individuals. We are planning that the Assembly will assume ministerial powers in respect of local authority aerodromes and privately-owned aerodromes immediately the relevant provisions of the Scotland Bill come into force; but so far as the BAA and the CAA are concerned, that is rather a different matter.

As I have mentioned, the British Airports Authority owns and controls the airports at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Prestwick, and now Aberdeen, and the Civil Aviation Authority now controls the eight airports in the Highlands and Islands. Between them these two bodies are responsible for the kind of air transport which I think noble Lords had in mind when they made their speeches. In our view, to deny the Assembly any responsibilities in respect of these organisations themselves or the aerodromes they manage could create a large gap in its ability to create a coherent policy, not only towards aerodromes themselves but also towards transport in general.

However, the Government recognise that these bodies, being United Kingdom bodies, have invaluable experience in the running of airports and regard it as important that the Assembly should have the opportunity to benefit from that experience. Therefore, the devolution of powers in relation to these two bodies will be delayed until the Government, the Assembly and the authorities themselves have had an opportunity to discuss what arrangements could best achieve the result desired; that is to say, of giving effective responsibilities to the Assembly while retaining access to the expertise of these authorities in running aerodromes in Scotland.

It is useful to illustrate how the Bill achieves this. If you look at Schedule 13, your Lordships will see that, in Part II of that Schedule, which appears on page 76, the British Airports Authority is listed and so is the Civil Aviation Authority, and there is reference to the constituting enactment. That Schedule derives its validity from Clause 64 of this Bill. Your Lordships will see that the general purport of Clause 64 is that a Minister of the Crown may by order make certain provisions in relation to the bodies listed in the Schedule. The Minister may make certain provisions in relation to the BAA and the CAA. If one looks at Clause 64(2) one sees: The provisions that may be made by an order under this section in relation to any body are provisions— (a) enabling powers to be exercised or requiring duties to be performed by a Scottish Secretary instead of by a Minister of the Crown.". There are other consequential matters, including "apportioning any assets or liabilities". An order may be made under Clause 67 relating also to these matters.

If one looks at a Schedule which we passed a long time ago but which is a very important one, one sees that, on page 42, Schedule 2 paragraph 5, provides: A provision relating to any body listed in Part II of Schedule 13 to this Act is not within the legislative competence of the Assembly if it would take effect before an order under section 64 of this Act relating to that body has come into force.". So the result is that the Bill contains the machinery for transferring to the Scottish Executive certain powers which are now vested in a Minister of the Crown. That will be done, following discussion and agreement, by an order under this Bill, and until such an order is made the bodies themselves will remain outwith the legislative competence of the Assembly by virtue of paragraph 5 of Schedule 2.

Once an order under the terms of Clause 64 came into operation, but only then, the Assembly would have the competence to bring to an end the authorities' activities in Scotland in respect of aerodromes. Of course, that is a step that would hardly be taken lightly, and a matter that would not be dealt with at all until the Government here were satisfied that an order under Clause 64 ought to be made.

Before leaving the subject of the two Authorities mentioned—the CAA and the BAA—I should make it clear that the Assembly's legislative competence, if it acquires such competence following a Clause 64 order, is limited only to those authorities' aerodrome responsibilities. It does not extend to the licensing for airworthiness responsibilities, because matters of that kind do not fall within any of the groups in Part I of Schedule 10.

Apart from what I have already said, I should make it clear that there are some matters which might fall under the heading of aerodromes which, for policy reasons, the Government believe should remain the responsibility of Westminster and Whitehall. Paragraph 9 of Part II of Schedule 10 has been referred to. That excludes from the competence of the Assembly the regulatory powers of the CAA relating to aerodromes. It also excludes the protection of aircraft and aerodromes against acts of violence. The regulatory role of the CAA in respect of civil aviation is to remain subject to the responsibility of the Government.

Accordingly, only those powers relating to aerodromes could be caught by the wording of the groups in Part I, so only those have to be specifically excluded from the competence of the Assembly. The remainder are reserved by silence. We keep saying that things are reserved by silence, and we had an exchange a moment ago in which I think both the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, and I urged on the Committee that if one tried to specify the matters which are reserved one would run into difficulties, and not necessarily any fewer difficulties than we have encountered by approaching the matter in the way we have done.

I hope that that broadly explains what is intended here. I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, cannot be present, because I believe that, with his experience, he might have recognised in the light of the explanation that when one looks at the whole of the provisions in Parts I, II and III of Schedule 10, the devolution in relation to aerodromes covers matters which do not affect the internal air services and do not affect international air services but are related basically to what is properly devolved—land use, and the interests of people who live in the vicinity of, and use, airports in Scotland by reason of being resident in Scotland. I hope that this explanation has been of some value to the Committee, albeit rather too long. In the light of that explanation, it may be that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, will not want to press this Amendment.

5.6 p.m.


Before my noble and learned friend sits down, may I detain the Committee for one moment longer and take him just one step further in explaining this matter. If I may say so with great respect, he has explained this complicated part of the Bill with his customary clarity. In doing so, he has referred to a number of Acts which appear in Part III of the Schedule and which have a bearing on aviation in this country, in particular those Acts relating to both the British Airports Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority.

There is one other Act which, on the face of it, might not have a direct connection with aviation but which past experience would suggest to us has in fact such a connection, and that appears on page 62. Perhaps I may refer the Committee and my noble and learned friend to page 62, and in particular to the reference to the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972. The passage alongside the Title to the Act refers to various matters which are not included. The particular item I was concerned about was sub-paragraph (b)—the powers conferred as being matters not included. It reads: the powers conferred by sections 44,45 and 46(4), so far as they relate to the reference to a Planning Inquiry Commission". Then it goes on.

The position I have in mind is that there may well come a time when a new major international airport is needed to serve the United Kingdom as a whole, and there could well be, as indeed there was at the time of the Roskill Commission, competing claims from different parts of the United Kingdom to provide the site for such a major international airport. It might well be, for example, that north of the Border in Scotland there might be a desire for a major new international airport and perhaps there would be competing claims in other parts of the United Kingdom as well. The Roskill Commission was not set up under the Town and Country Planning Act 1968 because that came too late, but I think that my noble and learned friend would agree that the Roskill Commission was just such an organisation as is envisaged in the provisions for a Planning Inquiry Commission, and was just about as close to being a commission appointed under those Acts as one could conceivably get.

What I want to ask my noble and learned friend is whether I would be right in assuming that, if such a situation arose—that is to say, the need for a new major international airport with competing claims in different parts of the United Kingdom, including places both north and south of the Border—the fact that that provision in the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act is not included does mean that it would be perfectly possible for such a commission, without hindrance or impediment, to consider such diverse sites.


We will come eventually to planning, but it may assist my noble friend if I refer him to Clause 66, which deals with planning, and to Group 6 of Schedule 10. The position is that if it comes to a planning decision affecting a reserved matter—I use the term "reserved matter" not as a term of art; I really mean a non-devolved matter—then the effect of Clause 66 is to bring Schedule 14 into operation and, under that, it will be seen that the Secretary of State has certain powers to intervene. For example, my noble friend will see that paragraph 3(b) of that Schedule sets the standard, and that if it appears to the Secretary of State that any action so taken would or might affect, directly or indirectly, any matter concerning Scotland with respect to which a Scottish Secretary has no power to act, and that it is desirable in the public interest that he should intervene", then the Secretary of State may intervene in accordance with the provisions of that Schedule in relation to calling in to himself and settling planning decisions affecting matters non-devolved, which of course include civil aviation. Thus, this is not a question of just one provision but a number of provisions in the Bill at which we have not yet come to look but which certainly include those which my noble friend mentioned and the others to which I have referred.


I am obliged to my noble and learned friend for that explanation.

The Marquess of LINLITHGOW

I am rather worried about this. I do not know these regulations well, but it strikes me that much the most important thing for people who fly a lot and, indeed, for those who fly even a little —and I fly a great deal between Edinburgh and London—must be the safety factor, and many aspects affect the safety factor. If there is one absolute certainty, it is that where there are divisions of responsibility the safety factor drops.

Can the noble and learned Lord convince me from what he has said that the Bill as it stands will not increase the divisions of responsibility that may already exist, or alternatively that the situation will be made better? If he cannot persuade me that it will be made better, then in the interests of all people who fly to and from Scotland, I would say that the Bill is endangering or is dropping the safety level and therefore I should have no hesitation whatever in following my noble friend into the Division Lobby.


Did I understand the Minister to say that the British Airports Authority, which has great experience in running international airports, would continue to run the aerodromes of the main cities of Scotland—Edinburgh, Glasgow, Prestwick and Aberdeen—the four main airports in Scotland?


Yes, and the position is quite clear under the Bill. It is that until the Government at Westminster decide otherwise, the British Airports Authority will continue to run the airports which they now run and the CAA will continue to run the airports which they now run. A change takes place if, and only if, an order is made under Clause 64. That order falls to be made by a Minister of the Crown and a decision which now adheres to Westminster Ministers to pass certain of the responsibilities to the Scottish Executive would be taken in the light of the judgment of the Government at Westminster that that was a proper thing to do.

I can understand the concern of the noble Marquess for safety; I hope we are all equally concerned about safety in the air as indeed about safety in other modes of transport. But it is really inconceivable that, if the Scottish Executive were to come forward with some half-baked proposal which might impinge on safety, the Westminster Government would, through their Ministers, make an order under Clause 64. If they did—for I am sure the noble Marquess is about to ask what would happen if they did and what would happen if the situation were to change afterwards—

The Marquess of LINLITHGOW

I was thinking that I would hope not to be party to the incident which caused Westminster to take note of the necessity to intervene.


Again, I suggest that that is being slightly unrealistic; I am not suggesting that an incident would cause the Government to intervene. If, for example, the Scottish Executive wished to create a body known as the Scottish Airports Authority to run the airports now run by the BAA and the CAA—in other words to integrate the running of all the Scottish airports—then if it produced a scheme which satisfied the Westminster Government that it was an entirely satisfactory scheme (that the body was responsible, was experienced and had access to the necessary advice and resources) an order could be made. If there were any change in that situation afterwards, then such an order could be revoked, and one sees the possibility of revoking an order under Clause 75(2), which says: Any order made under any provision of this Act may be varied or revoked by a subsequent order made under that provision.". The other point I wanted to make was that if, following a Clause 64 order something about the running of one of these airports caused concern, that concern would surely be brought to light by the passengers, the consultative committees or the airlines using the airports, and the matter would be brought to the attention of all and sundry. It is difficult to believe that the Scottish Executive would have less concern for the safety of the airports in Scotland than would the Westminster Government.

The Marquess of LINLITHGOW

The basic point to remember here is that one is losing the vast experience of a particular body and relying possibly on the experience of a new lot who have not had the same sort of experience. That is something which is worrying me, but if I am wrong I will apologise.


I am sure the noble Marquess is wrong because there is no question of a change taking place until the Westminster Government are satisfied that an order under Clause 64 should be made. If the Scottish Executive were to come forward with a scheme to transfer an airport to some body which was not fit to run it or which did not appear to have the necessary experience, the Westminster Government would be bound to say "No", and if they said "No" and no Clause 64 order was made, the Scottish Assembly would have no competence to legislate in the matter; it would be ultra vires to legislate about that matter and it would have no executive powers in relation to it. Thus, the responsibility is that of the Government at Westminster and that is clear under the Bill.

The Earl of ONSLOW

Is this not another case of the Government allowing the possibility of interrupting, even stopping, something that is now working very well? So far as one can gather, the airports in Scotland work perfectly satisfactorily and safely to the benefit of the Scots, the Americans, the Fiji Islanders and all who fly into and out of them. Why interfere with that or even give the opportunity to interfere with it?


I fear that the noble Earl speaks from an ignorance of the history of airports in Scotland over the last few years, but happily I can make good that ignorance and, with the indulgence of the Committee, I will do so. There has been an argument going on for some considerable time about the advisability of transferring the Highlands and Islands airports to the British Airports Authority; there is much to be said on both sides, but the position there is not necessarily static. In the White Paper on airports published recently, the Government made it plain that a final decision on that should be taken post-devolution.

All the airports in Scotland have recently changed hands. Edinburgh Airport was until quite recently run by the Board of Trade. Attempts were made to pass it over to the local authority but they would not have the airport and finally the Board of Trade handed it over to the British Airports Authority. Glasgow Airport was run highly successfully by Glasgow Corporation, but eventually it was taken over by the BAA. Aberdeen Airport was run by Aberdeen Corporation, but it has recently come into the empire, if I may use that word, of the British Airports Authority. Sumburgh Airport may be a candidate for the BAA too because it is as big as Stansted in terms of passenger movements. The position is not static. We are not presiding over the Pyramids, I would remind the noble Earl, but over a developing situation.

The Marquess of LINLITHGOW

The noble and learned Lord has just quoted the case in question, and I know the history of the airports fairly well myself, but we will not go into that. I absolutely agree with him. However, the improvements that have been created by the British Airports Authority taking over Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh, in terms of the facilities and the safety of those three airports, might well justify bringing them all in. What I should have thought it cannot justify is to split that which has already created considerable improvement—to split it now between the British Airports Authority in London and a new airports authority in Scotland.


Is this not merely creating another area of differences between the Assembly and Westminster? It seems to me that it is doing that, and it is creating an area where there can be differences of opinion and rows between the two, which we want to avoid at all costs.


My noble friend Lord Onslow may not be familiar with all the details of Scottish airports, and I do not think that any of us would expect him to be. None the less, he is absolutely right in pointing out that the arrangements in the Bill are unsatisfactory. The noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, has given us, as clearly as he can, an explanation of the Bill, and what it aims to do in this regard, and we are grateful to him for that. However, the more he has said the more I have felt that my Amendment is important, and that we should agree to it. I think I can say immodestly that he cannot accuse me of ignorance of the Scottish airports. Unfortunately, I have been only too closely involved with the planning decisions for Edinburgh and Aberdeen. I am glad to say that many of the objectors at that time, who waved flags bearing the slogan "Campbell must go" and all the rest of it, have admitted to me, two or three years afterwards, that the decision was absolutely right. This is the kind of thing which happens, and it means that I am somewhat familiar with this matter. I do not think that the noble and learned Lord can accuse me of ignorance so far as the Scottish airports are concerned.

The noble and learned Lord pointed out that the ownership of the principal airports in Scotland now is divided between the British Airports Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority, and he reminded us of how this had come to pass in recent years. However, the point is that it is now a satisfactory situation as a result of the developments over the past 15 years or so. The noble and learned Lord said that, if my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter had been here, he might have been influenced by the reply that he gave. I believe that I can say on my noble friend's behalf that he would not have been influenced, because he was chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority, and in the recent controversy about whether the eight Highlands and Islands airports should be handed over to the British Airports Authority he was not in favour of the proposal. The reason was that he thought that the present arrangements were satisfactory. The two authorities are working closely together, and everybody understands the situation.

The noble and learned Lord said that he would not enumerate the eight Highlands and Islands airports. He does not need to; I fly to and from one of them almost every week. I flew from Inverness Airport yesterday, as I normally do, and I am very familiar with the situation, which is working satisfactorily. To try to reorganise it now that it has all worked out to what is regarded as satisfactory—Yes, I will give way.


I do not think that we have been made entirely aware of the disquiet felt in the Highlands about the proposal to hand over the Highland airports to the British Airports Authority. This arose from a perfectly natural fear that the British Airports Authority would not have the same concern for the social factors affecting the Highland airports as did the Civil Aviation Authority. All that the Bill appears to us to do is to provide for a developing situation, with more than adequate safeguards. Nobody could say that people in the Highlands are satisfied with the present state of the proposal.


I should like to answer that point, because the noble Lord has actually suggested that I am not familiar with that situation; but I fly from one of those airports every week. I have been discussing the question with the airport manager almost every week. The noble Lord ought to know that that decision has been taken. It was decided that the eight airports should remain with the Civil Aviation Authority. That was decided about three months ago, and I was on that side of the argument, as was my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter—and both of us have put our names to this Amendment. Therefore, I suggest with all respect to the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, that he is completely off net on this one.


I should like to intervene before the noble Lord sits down, in order to remind him of what the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, said, which in my submission is some support for devolution, because of the importance of the aerodromes as part of the social structure. What he said in arguing the case for the airports remaining with the CAA and not going to the BAA, as reported at column 1825 of the Official Report of 8th December, 1977 was: They are there not for economic but for social purposes. Indeed they provide the only means of maintaining civilised standards of life for the people of these remote regions. They are a crucial part of the social infrastructure ‖". That is the argument for devolution.


I am afraid that I do not agree. I am sorry that my noble friend is in Australia and not here. He talked to me about this matter, and told me how strongly he feels on it. There is no contradiction with what we have just been told he has said. I was the Secretary of State for Scotland who provided extra money from the Westminster Government for social purposes in order that Logan Air and other flight services between Highland airports should be encouraged and increased. That was from the central Government, from the Secretary of State, not from a devolved Assembly. So there is absolutely no contradiction here. This is within my personal knowledge because I was Secretary of State at the time that additional funds were made available for social purposes. I think that my argument is strengthened by the fact that it was the Westminster Government, through the Secretary of State, and not a devolved Assembly, who recognised that the money was required to provide services for social, as well as economic, reasons.

The noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, also spoke about the relationship between the British Airports Authority and the new Scottish Administration. Under the Bill the three main airports in Scotland remain with the British Airports Authority. The whole point of our anxiety is that the devolution is only preparing the way for some arrangement to be made later, under an order. In what I think was his penultimate speech just now, the noble and learned Lord confirmed that under Clause 64 an order can be made. He did not say that an order would be made; it might be made if the Government at the time—the central Government at Westminster—decided that they thought the time had come, or that there was a reason for it. Then an order might be made under Clause 64. Therefore the devolution is not taking place under the Bill. This is only an enabling provision for an order to be made later.

I have not gone into all the complexities of the issues involved, but I can assure you that the amount of paper I have received from people who are experts in civil aviation, besides those representing chambers of commerce and other bodies, has made it quite clear to me that there are great complexities. I have seen a copy of a letter from the Secretary of State for Trade, Mr. Dell, who also acknowledged that the issues are highly complex. Yet this matter is to be the subject of an order which would be brought before your Lordships' House and another place. We all know the Parliamentary procedure in such cases. Members can only accept or reject such an order. It is not appropriate Parliamentary control. One does not have a chance to change the order. All the Government can do is withdraw the order if they agree that we have made objections to it. Then they will come back with another order. If that has faults, then they have to take it away and bring back yet another order.

The procedure suggested in the Bill is unsatisfactory because it is not proposed that the airports should be devolved now. It is suggested only that they should be included in the list in Schedule 10, so that at some time in the future, if a

Westminster Government think it appropriate, they can then negotiate with the British Airports Authority a very complicated order which they would then present to both Houses. I can only say that that is highly unsatisfactory, and my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter, having been chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority for five years, also thinks that it is highly unsatisfactory.

The other place did not have an opportunity of discussing Schedule 10 at all. The Commons have not discussed this subject, or other subjects, in Schedule 10. I believe that we must give them an opportunity for second thoughts on this point. Therefore, I hope that noble Lords in all parts of the Committee will support my Amendment.

5.30 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 174) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 118; Not-Contents, 91.

Abinger, L. Ferrers, E. Morris, L.
Allerton, L. Fortescue, E. Mottistone, L.
Alport, L. Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.]
Ampthill, L. Gainford, L.
Auckland, L. Garner, L. Newall, L.
Avon, E. Gisborough, L. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Balerno, L. Glenkinglas, L. Onslow, E.
Birdwood, L. Greenway, L. Pender, L.
Bledisloe, V. Haig, E. Perth, E.
Burton, L. Halsbury, E. Platt, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Hankey, L. Rankeillour, L.
Carrington, L. Hanworth, V. Rawlinson of Ewell, L.
Cathcart, E. Harmar-Nicholls, L. Reigate, L.
Cockfield, L. Harvington, L. Robbins, L.
Chelwood, L. Hatherton, L. Roberthall, L.
Clitheroe, L. Hawke, L. Rochdale, V.
Clwyd, L. Henley, L. Romney, E.
Cottesloe, L. Hereford, V. St. Aldwyn, E.
Craigavon, V. Hewlett, L. St. Davids, V.
Crathorne, L. Home of the Hirsel, L. Sandys, L.
Croft, L. Kilmarnock, L. Selkirk, E.
Cromartie, E. Kimberley, E. Sharples, B.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Kinloss, Ly. Skelmersdale, L.
de Clifford, L. Lauderdale, E. Somers, L.
Denham, [Teller.] Linlithgow, M. Stamp, L.
Derwent, L. Long, V. Strathclyde, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Loudoun, C. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Dulverton, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L. Strathspey, L.
Dundee, E. Lyell, L. Swansea, L.
Ebbisham, L. MacLeod of Fuinary, L. Swinton, E.
Ellenborough, L. Margadale, L. Tenby, V.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Marley, L. Terrington, L.
Elton, L. Masham of Ilton, B. Teviot, L.
Emmet of Amberley, B. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Teynham, L.
Exeter, M. Monson, L. Torphichen, L.
Faithfull, B. Montgomery of Alamein, V. Tranmire, L.
Trefgarne, L. Vivian, L. Wilson of Langside, L.
Trenchard, V. Ward of North Tyneside, B. Wise, L.
Tweeddale, M. Westbury, L. Wolverton, L.
Vickers, B.
Aberdeen and Temair, M. Gordon-Walker, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Airedale, L. Goronwy-Roberts, L. Rhodes, L.
Annan, L. Hale, L. Rochester, L.
Aylestone, L. Hamnett, L. Sainsbury, L.
Bacon, B. Hampton, L. Samuel, V.
Balogh, L. Harris of Greenwich, L. Sandhurst, L.
Banks, L. Henderson, L. Serota, B.
Birk, B. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Shepherd, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Jacques, L. Shinwell, L.
Brockway, L. Janner, L. Simon, V.
Byers, L. Kaldor, L. Snow, L.
Champion, L. Leatherland, L. Spens, L.
Chitnis, L. Lee of Newton, L. Stedman, B.
Collison, L. Listowel, E. Stewart of Alvechurch, B.
Cooper of Stockton Heath, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Stone, L.
Crook, L. Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Strabolgi, L.[Teller.]
Cudlipp, L. Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Swaythling, L.
Darling of Hillsborough, L. Lovell-Davis, L. Tanlaw, L.
David, B. McCarthy, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Davies of Leek, L. McCluskey, L. Thurso, V.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Mackie of Benshie, L. Wade, L.
Diamond, L. McNair, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Maelor, L. Wells-Pestell, L.[Teller.]
Douglas of Barloch, L. Melville, V. White, B.
Dowding, L. Noel-Baker, L. Wigoder, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor) Ogmore, L. Wilson of High Wray, L.
Foot, L. Oram, L. Wilson of Radcliffe, L.
Gaitskell, B. Pannell, L. Winterbottom, L.
Gardiner, L. Pargiter, L. Wootton of Abinger, B.
George-Brown, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal.) Young of Dartington, L.
Glenamara, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

5.40 p.m.

Lord BURTON moved Amendment No. 304:

Page 49, leave out lines 5 and 6 and insert— ("GROUP 13 (Crofting) Crofting.").

The noble Lord said: In rising to move Amendment No. 304, perhaps I may add my best wishes, also, to the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill, for his speedy recovery. From discussions which I have had with him, I gather that this Amendment would otherwise have been his "baby". I have found certain of your Lordships who are under the impression that this Amendment is to deal with crofting. I therefore hasten to say, with some relief to myself and no doubt to your Lordships, that the Amendment is in fact to deal with legislation concerning agriculture and not crofting. All that needs to be said about crofting is that no legislative body seems to want to have anything to do with it. It therefore seems appropriate quickly to devolve it to the Assembly.

There are advantages in this, however, as from previous discussions on the Bill it appears that the Assembly may be short of money, and in this quarter there is room for substantial savings in public expenditure. There are only 13,500 croft units, and the country is spending nearly a quarter of a million in administering the Crofters' Commission alone. This is before the payment of any grants. The Commission are doing a job which largely used to be done by landlords for nothing. The country is therefore now paying about £18 per year for a working unit for a largely unnecessary service. In passing, however, I should like to raise one query. It is noted that the constitution of the Land Court is not devolved, although I take it that the constitution of the Crofters' Commission is devolved, and not only their operation.

What the Amendment seeks to do is to remove from devolution the tenure and management of agricultural land. If I may quote from the Scottish National Farmers' Union paper, it says: We already have a very real element of devolution for our industry in that we have separate Ministers and separate Departments". Scottish farmers value this and the system seems to work well. In the broad commercial and economic spheres, Scottish farming must be an integral part of farming in the United Kingdom; and as we progress further into Europe there is likely to be greater uniformity. It is, therefore, considered to be one of the more reasonable parts of this Bill that most of agriculture has been excluded from devolution. With a land border with England, it would be impracticable if one country has an intervention support system and the other a variable premium system. Equally, it would be inappropriate to have radically different production and capital grant schemes between the two countries. At the present time, the bulk of the work of the Department of Agriculture is influenced by Directives and Regulations from Brussels; also, when agriculture is being discussed in Europe there is only one United Kingdom representative at the Council of Ministers. There is no Scottish Minister, specifically.

It is therefore right that agriculture should be reserved; but part of agriculture, according to this Bill, is to be devolved. What concerns us is that it is not clear from the Bill what is to be devolved and what is not to be devolved. If one first takes land tenure, many of us would like to know what the Government have in mind. Is it just the law relating to the landlord and tenant system or are other subjects to be devolved? Could the Assembly, for instance, alter the law and give an agricultural tenant the right to buy his holding in the same way as the power has been given to crofters?

If we take the words: management of agricultural ground", this could cover a multitude of sins; and could imply that the Assembly could dictate how a farmer was to manage his land or to what use a piece of agricultural land was to be put. It must be borne in mind that any land on which an animal grazes can be considered to be agricultural land; so that the proportion of Scotland which could be affected is very substantial. It is believed that what the Government seek in these words is that the Assembly should be responsible for the agricultural ground which at present (or sometimes in the future) may be under the control of the Secretary of State. Thus, we think it is the intention that the Assembly shall be responsible for land owned by the Forestry Commission, the Department of Agriculture, the Highlands and Islands Development Board and any other Government body which may own agricultural land. We should like to know whether or not this assumption is correct.

Perhaps we could ask, who is to manage agricultural land in the hands of local authorities? This ground is often much abused and neglected. In the Bill as it stands, the wording is so complicated that even eminent legal brains have not been able to give answers to these questions. Some of our problems were answered by the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, last Wednesday, in answer to my noble friend Lord Selkirk. At least we got an explanation of the Government's intentions from this answer; although I think that many of us were totally disillusioned and felt that the Bill did not set out fully what was and what was not to be the Assembly's remit.

Last Wednesday, I suggested that the various Acts which set out the powers intended to be conveyed to the Assembly should all be detailed in Part III of Schedule 10. If this is not to be the case, then the wording in italics at the top of Part III should be altered. If we take the first Act detailed in Part III which relate to agriculture, we find Sections 7 and 8 of the Land Drainage (Scotland) Act 1930 are not to be devolved. One wonders whether the remainder of the Act is to be included. Except as far as land drainage refers to the Secretary of State's own land, it is not clear how it falls under land tenure or land management, unless it is expected that the Assembly will have powers to interfere with the working or management of all agricultural ground. Sections 7 and 8 refer only to Crown land and land below high water mark, so that we can discount that.

The next Act is the Hill Farming Act 1946. This is much clearer. In the Bill it states that the Act as a whole is not to be included; and then there are details of certain specific exceptions. The items which it seems, are to be devolved are moorland and valuation of sheep stocks. Taking moorland, it would seem that the Assembly is to be given powers to interfere in the general management of agricultural land; and we should like to know if this is right. Presumably, it is not just confined to land at present held by the Secretary of State. One wonders whether the management of land is intended to be on a much wider scale than that under the control of the Government. The valuation of sheep stocks, I suppose, would be considered part of land tenure, but I think this is stretching it rather far. If one had one owner-occupier conveying his sheep stocks to an incoming owner-occupier, I cannot see how this is really a matter for land tenure. We have then the Acquisition of Land Act 1947. As this Act is not included, presumably it would be right to assume that the Assembly would have no powers of compulsory purchase.

If one then looks at the Agriculture (Scotland) Act 1948, Parts IV and V, these Parts are to be included, except for certain specific matters. What is to be apparently included or devolved is the purchase of land by the Secretary of State: but bear in mind that the previous Act did not give him any powers of compulsory purchase! The included items appear to be the Secretary of State's rights in this ground; and this would appear to be contradictory. However, presumably all the remainder of the Act is to be devolved as it refers mostly to the law of landlord and tenant. What, for instance, is to be the position of agricultural wages? There is no mention anywhere of that. Whether it is considered to be management, I do not know.

I shall not weary your Lordships by going through the full list of Bills and Acts, but suffice it to say that the wording of the Bill leaves the position shrouded in mist. I do not wish to pre-empt the Amendment on forestry which is to follow shortly, but it appears there is very strong feeling on this and sound reasons why forestry should be excluded from devolution to the Assembly. If this is to be the case—and already most of agriculture is included—surely, it would be sensible not to devolve the remaining small portion of agriculture which can only cause needless complications and difficulties for the future. I beg to move.

5.50 p.m.


This gives us the opportunity where this Bill is concerned to seek clarification from the Government about their attitude to agriculture and also confirmation of our own interpretation of the Bill. As I mentioned just now, owing to the guillotine, this Schedule was not debated in another place, and therefore it was not possible to elicit from the Government exactly what they proposed. My noble friend Lord Burton, in moving this Amendment, gave us this opportunity, because the Amendment queries the devolution of tenure and management of agricultural land. That is to go to the Assembly and its Executive while the principal involvement of the Government with agriculture is to be reserved. The price review, grants and subsidies—everything that really matters to the farmers—is to be a reserved subject.

By retaining the direct financial control, the Government at Westminster will of course also influence policy in agriculture. The Westminster Government will continue to deal with the National Farmers' Union, including the Scottish National Farmers' Union, on the most important issues of policy. Tenure and management are to be devolved, and my noble friend Lord Burton has asked questions as to how this will work in practice.

I shall only add that I should like clarification about management. Is this to be management only of the land belonging to public authorities including a Secretary of State for Scotland? Does it extend to land which is farmed or owned by local authorities and let to others to farm? I would remind the Committee that the largest landowner in Britain is the Secretary of State for Scotland. He beats every other Minister, that is, excluding the Forestry Commission; he beats every private landowner. That, I think, is still the position. While I was Secretary of State, I managed to sell quite a lot of land, but he still remains top of the league.

Farmers in Scotland are at present in touch with DAFS—the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland—a Department of the Scottish Office with whom they are used to dealing. My own experience—and I must declare an interest as owning farms and engaging in farming operations in Scotland—is that there is a flow of forms from the Department of Agriculture. At least farmers know that office and expect the forms, even if they may have some difficulty in filling them in. They are dealing with one office in Edinburgh.

Parts of the Statutes mentioned in Part III of Schedule 10 have clearly been inserted to spotlight sections of legislation which are to be excluded from devolution to the new Scottish Executive. This follows the explanation of Schedule 10 which the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, has given us several times. It is not his fault, he has enlightened those of your Lordships in the Committee who have not had the privilege of hearing his explanation earlier. I follow how the Government set about listing the devolved and reserved subjects in the Bill—reserved subjects by silence in many cases. What worries me is how the farming community in Scotland are to cope with the interpretation of this Bill, and with the interpretations given to other people about the Bill. They may go to their legal advisers or to the National Farmers' Union, but it will be very difficult to find out what subjects the new office of the new Executive, presumably in Edinburgh, is going to deal with, and what subjects will stay with the Secretary of State, except that we know that the principal subject of agriculture, the financial part of it, will remain with the Secretary of State and the Westminster Government.

Presumably the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Scotland (DAFS) will continue in existence in a reduced form and a new office will be established—and will be engaged in the early stages in finding its feet—to deal with matters concerning tenure and management which are to be devolved. Even though the sections of civil servants concerned may, to a large extent, stay with their subjects and either move to the new Executive or remain with the Scottish Office and the Secretary of State, the Government should recognise that the proposed changes are likely to cause extra work and considerable disturbance to the farming community. I must emphasise that I think the changes suggested will be the cause of great perplexity to many in Scotland who over the years have been used to dealing with the Department of Agriculture in Scotland and will now find it difficult to know where the borderline is to be drawn between the two offices

The Earl of ONSLOW

Could I start my remarks by admitting abysmal ignorance on this? Has there been a precedent in legislation for the use of the words, "land management"? If there has then presumably it is defined. However clear the explanations of the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, of what it means, I think everybody is asking for clarification—and quite reasonably so. In the long run, it is going to depend on how the courts interpret it. If land management is as woolly a word as I think it is and the courts are going to have great latitude, would it not be better either to delete it or possibly to put into the Bill at a later stage a definition of the meaning of "management"?


It is not often that I partially support the noble Lord, Lord Burton. In this case I support his criticism, but for entirely opposite reasons. I think that the Government have made a tremendous mistake in not devolving the whole of the Department of Agriculture—it could quite easily have been done—to the Assembly. In the past it has worked extremely well. The administrative set-up is very good and the Secretary of State and Under-Secretaries have taken a genuine interest and genuinely represented the interests of Scottish farming in the negotiations on all kinds of things.


I hope I did not give the impression that I wanted the whole of agriculture devolved.

5.57 p.m.


No, I said it for the opposite reason. I think it is a bad clause because it does not include it. I must say this because we are going to be discussing forestry later on. In fact there is no reason at all why the whole of the functions should not have gone to the Assembly. I know, of course, that at the present time we are represented in Brussels by one who is in the Council of Ministers. But in exactly the same way as the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary in charge of agriculture represented the case to the Minister of Agriculture, so could the Assembly Secretary in charge have represented the same case to the Minister of Agriculture, whether he is speaking in London or in Brussels.

I have said before—and I think it can be said again—that one of the most successful Departments in Northern Ireland was the agricultural Department. They understood the individual requirements of agriculture in the climate and with the size of holdings prevalent in Northern Ireland. They did many original things which did not conflict with policy in Great Britain, or with pricing, although there were differences in subsidy. For example, they foresaw very early on the need for making silage in Northern Ireland in their climate with the excellent grass they grew and they gave subsidies for the construction of silos long before it was done in Great Britain.

I could go on giving examples of other matters in which Scotland is different. It is not true to say that you cannot have different systems of payment. In some of our old farming schemes we had different systems of payment from those obtaining in England; for example the difference between headage and other pens. We have in Scotland a unique amount of hill ground and upland ground and a unique history of stock farming. I think there is no question that the Assembly could have been closer to the farming in Scotland, and to have liaised just as well with the price requirements—better in fact—than the United Kingdom Government, doing it for the whole of Great Britain.

With regard to crofting, the noble Lord, Lord Burton, seemed to think that was a baby that nobody wanted. That may well be true. Many Acts have been passed, and I think it would be true to say that the present crofting Act is not working well. It was intended to improve crofting, to make it a viable way of life and to improve the technical progress being made by the crofters, hut really what it is doing is propping up a declining way of life. Something needs to be done about it because it is a vital part of life in the Highlands, and I think the Assembly is fit to do that.

So I should like to hear from the Government their definition of land management, and also what they think about land tenure and what it means. I think it is a uniquely Scottish business. Long before we had the agriculture Act after the war, leases in Scotland by law could be handed on to the next-of-kin or to a nominee of the tenant of the lease. It was a system that worked extremely well and I would dearly have liked to see much more in this; but I await with interest the rather feeble explanations we shall no doubt get from the Government Front Bench.

6.2 p.m.

Baroness STEDMAN

Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, was more right than he anticipated when he referred to "feeble explanations"! While I appreciate the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Burton, concerning the indisposition of my noble friend Lord Kirkhill, no one reciprocates the good wishes more than I do, having to stand in for him on this particular subject.

Throughout the development of the policies incorporated in the Bill, the Government have given careful consideration to the composition of the package of functions to be devolved. It has been necessary for that package to be coherent in itself, so that the borderlines between devolved and non-devolved matters may be defined as simply as possible and cause the minimum of difficulty and risk of misunderstanding in their operation. It is also important that consistent provision is made on analogous matters.

So far as agricultural functions generally are concerned, the application of these tests to those functions is particularly difficult because, as we have heard today, they cover a wide spectrum of matters of very differing characters. They range from matters of major economic importance, such as farm price support and market management, which link directly with other central economic and industrial issues which are being reserved, to matters concerned primarily with land and natural resources, such as land tenure, drainage, flooding and things of that kind, which are much more closely linked with the environmental matters which are being devolved.

In relation to the economic aspects of agriculture, the overriding factor in the Government's view is the need to preserve the existing highly developed common market within the United Kingdom. Producers in different areas would seek protection if competitors elsewhere could obtain discriminatory forms of assistance. It is different to pay special regard within a co-ordinated United Kingdom policy to special needs of particular producers, such as hill farmers. That is the equivalent of regional policy. It happens now, and will continue to happen after devolution. As with regional policy, discrimination in favour of particular groups is acceptable only if undertaken by the central Government which is responsible to the people of the whole of the United Kingdom.

The important economic aspects of agriculture will continue to be the direct responsibility of the Secretary of State, who will act in full knowledge of Scottish circumstances, in close contact with Scottish representational bodies and in consultation with colleagues who have the interests of other parts of the United Kingdom closely in mind. He will be able to speak for Scottish farming interests at the highest national and international levels in a way which will not be open to the Scottish Administration. So the importance of agriculture to the working of the European Community is an added reason for reserving responsibility for the economic aspects of agriculture. But this does not make devolution impossible; it will take place in relation to other matters on which common European policies exist or may be expected to develop. The wide scope of the Common Agricultural Policy of the EEC makes reservation a much more efficient solution administratively, and reservation will ensure that the Government's decision on Community initiatives takes full account of the Scottish interests.

We have been questioned this afternoon on agricultural land tenure. The Government's policy on the reservation of the main economic aspects of agriculture does not mean that all other aspects must be similarly reserved. Certain of these clearly affect only people living in Scotland and do not have significant cross-Border implications. The Scottish law of land tenure, part of which governs relations between landlords and tenants, already differs from the law in England; and these differences extend to agricultural holdings of all kinds. The Government have decided that it is right and necessary for the Assembly to have competence to legislate about agricultural land tenure, which will complement the very wide competence conferred in relation to civil law matters generally by Group 25.

The Government have also decided that it is appropriate that the Scottish Administration should take over responsibility for management of the agricultural holdings at present vested in the Secretary of State, for the acquisition of land for settlement and for the disposal of land. This group also covers certain other land management questions such as were referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Burton—the regulation of muirburn and the control of injurious weeds. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, is quite right: a survey that was published in The Times on 17th January 1978 credited the Secretary of State for Scotland with a total of 794,000 hectares. Slightly more than half that total is in forest, but much of the rest consists of agricultural holdings, either acquired as such or acquired along with forestry land proposed for planting by the Forestry Commission and retained in agricultural use, temporarily or permanently, for land management reasons.

So far as land acquired with forestry land is concerned, the Bill proposes that this should in future be acquired by the Scottish Administration. It would be absurd that such land should then have to be handed over willy-nilly to the Secretary of State for management because the Scottish Administration had no power to manage it so long as it continued in agricultural use. And it would have to be returned to the Scottish Administration if and when it was planted. The management—

The Earl of ONSLOW

I am sorry to interrupt the noble Baroness, but is she saying that the Forestry Commission own a lot of agricultural land in Scotland?

Baroness STEDMAN


The Earl of ONSLOW

Not. I thought the noble Baroness said that some of it had been bought for use as forestry land and some of it was going to be permanently retained for agriculture. If that is the case—and I thought that is what she said—surely we shall get into a terrible muddle, because the Forestry Commission is not going to be devolved, so its management will not be devolved and other land management will be. Have I understood this correctly?

Baroness STEDMAN

No. What I said was that of the 794,000 hectares owned or managed by the Secretary of State for Scotland, some was under forestry but the rest of it was agricultural land. Some of it was used as forestry land.


Am I not right in assuming that some of the Forestry Commission land is agricultural land and is still under the control of the Forestry Commission? If I am right, then my noble friend's point is very valid.

Baroness STEDMAN

I think perhaps the forestry point might be better left until we come to the forestry Amendment, when we shall be dealing with it at much greater length. It is only mentioned in passing here that some of the land in the control of the Secretary of State at the moment is afforested and some of it is not.


But as to "some of it", is this not agricultural land which has been bought some of which has been planted? There is therefore a balance which is still in the hands of the Forestry Commission, which is agricultural land and therefore is very relevant to this Amendment and not to forestry. It is indeed never likely to be afforested, because some of it is common grazing.

Baroness STEDMAN

The Forestry Commission is separate from the afforestation of the land, which is at the moment vested in the Secretary of State for Scotland. I really think that the noble Lord would be better advised to leave the detailed debate on forestry until we come to that Amendment.

The Earl of ONSLOW

That will be the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey.

Baroness STEDMAN

It may be my noble and learned friend Lord McCluskey, but the noble Earl may have to put up with me again. The management of the smallholdings and other agricultural properties held by the Secretary of State engages a substantial staff within the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland. This is work of essentially local importance, which does not raise issues of agricultural policy in the economic sense. It cannot reasonably be maintained that responsibility for it requires to be reserved for reasons of economic unity, in the way that these apply to such questions as farm price support and market management. The factoring of these agricultural properties is a matter very well suited to devolution.

It may be that noble Lords are reading too wide a significance into the term "management", and see it as conveying an intention that the Scottish Administration should operate an advisory service relating to good husbandry. This is not so. General agricultural advisory services are matters which will continue to be provided by the Secretary of State, as part of the reserved economic aspects of agriculture.

As we have been told this afternoon, crofting tenure is a specifically Scottish form of land holding. It is entirely reasonable that responsibility for administering the legislation applying to crofters and analogous groups should be transferred to the Scottish Administration, and that the Assembly should have power to legislate further on these matters. The subject is closely linked with other aspects of social and economic development in the Highlands and Islands. And the scale of crofting activity is relatively so limited that the Government see no danger of policies pursued in relation to crofting prejudicing reserved policies for agriculture or sea fisheries generally in Scotland, let alone in Great Britain as a whole.

The noble Lord, Lord Burton, and indeed the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, professed some bewilderment at the various references in Schedule 10 to agriculture and Agriculture Acts, and. I do not suggest for a moment that their implications are clear for all to see. But I suggest that if your Lordships take them together they add up to a meaningful and logical whole. May I try to do my best to explain them in such a way? Schedule 10 proceeds by identifying broad groups of devolved matters. This is done in the groups in Part which also break down the broad matters into subject areas. What the groups do not do is to specify what is reserved.

Reservation is achieved by silence, as we have heard before today. That is the way in which the draftsman has structured the Bill and it is understandable that he should, as it is easier to identify what is devolved, because that is finite, than to seek to cover every area which is reserved. That, because Parliament is sovereign, is infinite. There are cases, though, where there are certain aspects of matters to be devolved which the Government wish to reserve, and these are identified in Part II of the Schedule. Any doubts left over from Parts I and II are then cleared up in Part III. It is no use complaining that it is too complicated. Legislation, as we know all too well, is invariably complicated, and in this Bill we are seeking to unscramble something like 200 years of legislation.

May I try to relate these broad concepts to agriculture. I shall not seek to argue the merits of devolution or the reservation of particular aspects—just to explain the effect of Schedule 10. The agricultural price support system is not to be devolved, but the tenure and management of agricultural land is to be devolved. Tenure and management of agricultural land is, therefore, identified in a group—Group 13 in Part I. But the agricultural land attacts certain grants and subsidies under the price support system, and these have to be excluded by an entry in Part II, in paragraph 11. It is just possible, in the light of what has been said here this afternoon, and thoughts that we ourselves have been having, that this entry may indeed be too wide. We are considering whether it needs to be revised and, if so, will bring in the necessary Amendment at Report stage. But apart from this, the price support system is reserved by silence.

Then we come to the entries in Part III. Here, we have the Hill Farming Act. This Act deals generally with matters in the reserved agricultural area, but Sections 23 to 31 deal with the devolved subjects of muirburn and sheep stock valuation. These subjects are not self-evidently within the scope of Group 13 in Part I and, to avoid doubt, they are specifically brought within the scope of this entry.

The bulk of the Agriculture (Scotland) Act 1948 deals clearly with reserved matters in the price support area, and its provisions are, in general, reserved by silence. But it is not self-evident that Parts IV and V relate to the devolved subject of tenure and management of agricultural land, and these Parts contain provisions empowering the Secretary of State to acquire and manage land, and to provide and equip agricultural holdings. They are therefore specifically included by a Part III entry. But there is a catch. They also cover the powers to acquire and manage land for research and experiment in agriculture and research, as an aspect of the agricultural price support system is reserved. This is also achieved by, as it were, the fine tuning in Part III.

The Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act is the principal Act relating to the tenure of agricultural land in Scotland and, except for Section 86, it would have been unnecessary to mention it at all in Part III. It would clearly have come within the scope of Group 13 in Part I. But Section 86 deals with Crown Land, which is reserved, and it is therefore necessary to limit its devolved applications to devolved land. The bulk of the Agriculture Act 1967, like the 1947 Act, is clearly within the reserved area and its provisions are therefore reserved by silence. But Part III of the Act, and only that part, needs special treatment. It deals with special powers to meet the needs of the hill and uplands area, by establishing rural development boards. These powers come within the scope of Group 6—land use and development—and Group 13 in Part I, but this might not be self-evident and they are therefore identified in Part III of the Schedule and shown as included. Again, there is a catch, because Sections 43 and 44 relate to subsidies for hill sheep and cattle and to winter keep grants, which are reserved and have to be excluded from the devolution of the rest of the part of the 1967 Act.

We were questioned on agricultural wages. These are reserved, in so far as paragraph 23 of Part II of Schedule 10 is concerned, so they do not come into it. The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, asked whether I could give him a definition of "land management", or whether we could include one at a later stage. I am advised that "land management" is not what is known as a term of art. It is a phrase of generic English, which has to be construed on a common sense basis dependent on the context concerned, and it would not be practicable to define every general matter or subject listed in Schedule 10.

I hope that this explanation has done two things. I hope, first, that it has demonstrated that in such a complex web of legislation, where provisions to be devolved are almost inextricably intertwined with those that are to be reserved, there is no easy method of arriving at the correct solution. I also hope that it shows that the method which we have used in Schedule 10 does, for all its complexities, achieve a proper result.

May I just enter a word of warning. It is no use picking out particular references in the Schedule, and suggesting that something might have been better dealt with in a different way. I am not suggesting that individual bits might not have been handled differently. But the Schedule, in all its parts, stands together as an integrated whole. It is not possible, and it could be dangerous, to pick a hole here and there to fill a gap somewhere else. The Schedule, taken together, is the sum of more than its parts and its interlocking mechanism must be retained if we are to have an effective machine as our end result. It is extremely complicated. I hope that your Lordships have understood it. I have read it through and talked about it many times. I believe that I now have the hang of it, but, as I say, it is not really my subject and I hope that I have managed to make it plain to noble Lords.


I am sure that we are all grateful to the noble Baroness, who must have picked up the brief at short notice in the unfortunate absence owing to illness of the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill. I congratulate the noble Baroness upon having given a difficult explanation, but may I say that I am not bewildered, as she suggested, by the sections of the statutes which are listed in Part III of the Schedule. Nevertheless, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving the reasons in each case, because naturally we have not looked up every section referred to in statutes of many years ago. My point was—and I make it again—that it is going to be very complicated and difficult for the ordinary farmer in Scotland and for those advising him. The noble Baroness twice said, "And there is a catch here" and then spoke about fine-tuning. My point is that I think that it is going to be difficult for farmers who are not also legislators to follow this.

I have only one other matter to raise, which I do not think that the noble Baroness dealt with, although she probably requires notice of it. It concerns management. Is management to be restricted to land which is publicly owned, or does management mean that the Assembly and its Executive will interfere in some way with management in the private sector?


If I may answer the noble Lord's question, management will not be restricted to land which is publicly owned. We are speaking about legislative competence. For all practical purposes, the provisions of the Bill relate to such land, but when we are speaking about legislative competence we are speaking of competence in relation to all agricultural land, whether or not it is publicly owned. However, in relation to other land, most of the matters relating to management fall within non-devolved areas.


I think that the noble Baroness said that this had been defined as simply as possible. We have now heard that apart from tenure, which appears to have been defined very broadly, and management, which also appears to have been defined very broadly, civil law matters connected with agriculture are to he added. We have been referred to Group 25 and to various other groups. I am deeply grateful to the noble Baroness, for I think she has gone a long way towards trying to explain what the Government are trying to do. The noble Baroness said that things are very intertwined and cannot easily be defined, and that it is a very complicated matter. I agree with all of those remarks. In fact, I feel that the noble Baroness has made the point which I have been trying to make; namely, that this small part of agriculture ought to be left out because it is so complicated. As my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy said, how can any farmer be expected to understand it? I have consulted lawyers and they could not understand it. I hope that the point has been made and that the Government will look at it again.

The noble Baroness also said that what the groups do not do is to specify what is reserved; reservation is achieved by silence. My problem all along in trying to fathom this is that there is too much silence. There is silence on reservation and there is silence on what is specifically to be devolved; and the specification of what is to be devolved is, to my mind, laid down with far too wide a brush. I understood that the agricultural grants and subsidies in Part II, paragraph 11, to which the noble Baroness referred, are to be reserved, but it appears that various grant matters which are specific to Scotland are to be devolved. Consequently, there appears to be need for some alteration with regard to this aspect.

Finally, if we devolve this small part of agriculture, it will mean that the various representational bodies, such as the National Farmers' Union and the Scottish Landowners' Federation, will have to deal with four separate bodies: Brussels, the United Kingdom Government, the Secretary of State and the Assembly. Apart from all the legal fees which will be involved, this is bound to add considerably to representational costs. On top of the additional costs which have already been incurred by joining the EEC—and they are quite substantial because extra staff have had to be taken on to go to Brussels—the Assembly will cost everybody a great deal of money which will be spent upon the totally unremunerative work of trying to make representations.

I feel that the Government must have another look at this question. As I have said, I thank the noble Baroness for what she has had to say. The point has now been made and I hope to come back to it again at Report stage. In the meantime, with the leave of the Committee, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.26 p.m.

Lord BURTON moved Amendment No. 375: Page 49, line 9, leave out from ("sea") to end of line 14.

The noble Lord said: I beg leave to move Amendment No. 375, which I am pleased to say is a good deal less complicated than the previous Amendment. I suspect that the wording of Group 14 of the Schedule was taken so as to fit in with the current Salmon Fisheries Acts, most of which limit the bounds of salmon fishery boards to three miles. However, since the last century, when these boundaries were fixed, technology has advanced. Three miles are now only a short distance for powerful boats, and already troubles have arisen over illegal fishing just beyond the three-mile limit.

However, illegal fishing apart, the Bill gives power to the Assembly for "protection, improvement and maintenance" of salmon fisheries. May I ask whether or not this gives power to the Assembly to indulge also in research? I think that these words definitely cover research. If the Assembly has been given the power of research, or even protection, surely it is vital that it should be empowered to operate beyond the three-mile limit. Owing to the international character of salmon, it would be far better if salmon fisheries were not devolved, but if these powers are to be devolved then I feel that the Assembly must be given power to cover the whole area over which salmon, which they are supposed to look after, will move. It will not work if the Assembly is given only a small part of the area. There are two other points upon which I should like to be given information. First, I should like confirmation that the five-mile box granted to the Tweed will not be interfered with by the Bill. Secondly, I should like to know what is the position with regard to the Border Esk. I beg to move.

Viscount THURSO

The noble Lord, Lord Burton, is rather hard to please. He has just been complaining about silence with regard to a previous group in this Schedule. Now, when he gets the opposite of silence, he wants to take out all the words. It is appropriate that salmon fisheries should constitute a devolved matter. In Scotland, we mean by "salmon fisheries" the fisheries in the rivers, along the coasts and in the estuaries. This has been a Scottish matter since 1828, when the first of the Acts dealing with salmon fisheries was passed. The matter has been pursued in Scotland by methods which are peculiar to Scotland, and there is a body of law which is particular to Scotland. Therefore, it is proper, right, feasible and convenient that salmon fisheries should continue to be a Scottish matter.

At the moment, the extent of the jurisdiction of the Scottish Acts is only so far as is stated here. The Scottish Acts do not have jurisdiction on the high seas, beyond the three-mile limit, or where otherwise fixed. If, therefore, one is to devolve salmon fisheries to the Assembly, then one should leave the area of jurisdiction of the Assembly where it is at the moment and not seek to extend it into international waters. In case the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, is wondering about this, I am not speaking to my later Amendment, because that seeks merely to found upon this group and to strengthen what is said on this group. In my view it does not compete with anything said in this group.


I wonder whether the noble Viscount will clarify that for me. Does he mean that he is not speaking now in relation to his later Amendment or that he will not speak later in relation to it?

Viscount THURSO

I am not speaking now in relation to my Amendment and I thought I had better say that in case the noble and learned Lord was worried that in some curious and devious way I was bringing in my Amendment at this juncture. I am speaking solely to Amendment No. 375. I think we should be grateful that we are not limiting by silence, as we might otherwise be doing and I think it would be unwise to take out this precise limitation of the seaward limit to which the jurisdiction will extend. I suggest that we should leave Group 14 as it stands and that we should leave the words in the Bill as it is drafted.


I should like to intervene briefly. As I understand the Amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Burton, it would not remove salmon fishing from the devolved subjects. It simply seeks to take out any restriction from the coast—to take out the three nautical miles. I should like to receive confirmation from the Government, for I had assumed, like the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, that this is simply continuing the present state of the law. In that respect I would agree. We genuinely seek information on this and what we should not want to do is to change the law, because what this Bill is doing is to allocate functions and powers between central Government and a new Assembly and its Executive. I think that any changes which are to be made should be done separately. My understanding is that the distance of three nautical miles carries through the present state of the law.

I should also like to ask two further questions. First, I presume that this is based on territorial waters, because at present the United Kingdom Government recognise three miles as the territorial sea; on the other hand, there is general agreement at the present Law of the Sea Conference that the territorial sea should be extended to 12 miles. When that happens, will this be changed if it is related directly to the extent of territorial waters? Or is it simply the Scottish conservation measure because the simple rule of conservation which all fishermen know in Scotland is the three-mile limit in which they are not to fish unless they have special exemptions? That has conveniently been the same as territorial waters and therefore it has been possible for it to be enforced.

My second question is this: why is the island of Rockall excluded? I recognise that this is probably just carrying through the present state of the law, but I could not help wondering why it was that this was specifically mentioned and no other island. If that is rather a fast ball for the noble and learned Lord, I do not expect an answer now.

The Earl of ONSLOW

I should be glad if the noble and learned Lord could also help me. I think it would be reasonable to assume that salmon and salmon fisheries mean an enormous amount to Scotland, both emotionally and also for sound economic reasons, and therefore their preservation is of great importance and it would seem to be quite legitimate to devolve them to the Assembly. There are also problems on the subject of Danish fishermen off Greenland fishing for salmon in the open seas. Hopefully that is retained by Westminster.

Can the noble and learned Lord also tell me about the licensing of Scottish driftnet fishermen? I believe in England the boat has to be given a specific licence, whereas in Scotland it is stopped by a renewable order: Is that devolved or not? Can the noble and learned Lord clarify that for me? Again, I speak from ignorance and I am sure that the noble and learned Lord will enlighten me.


If this were extended, I do not understand how the Assembly could be responsible for protecting salmon in any part of the sea, because so far as I am aware the Assembly will not have a navy. I should like to hear from the Minister on that.

The Earl of PERTH

There is one aspect on which I am not entirely clear. Supposing that at a later stage the three-mile limit is raised to 12 or that the estuarial limits are raised for one reason or another, does that automatically apply or would there have to be a special Act passed?


My noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy mentioned the island of Rockall: as salmon go right across the Atlantic it seems to me that it might appear opportune to consider extending these powers to Nova Scotia.


I must ask noble Lords to resist these impulses to increase the scope of devolution to take us across the other side of the Atlantic, or indeed to Rockall. As the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, will appreciate, Rockall is excluded, not simply because the Scottish Assembly will have no Navy but because there are no freshwater fisheries in the vicinity of Rockall and there is no district fisheries board limit to adopt. It may be a very good idea for other reasons to set up a fisheries limit board on Rockall. That would indeed enhance its status in international law and assist us in relation to the possible energy resources lying beneath the Rockall shelf; but that is another question with which we are not concerned at the moment.


Before we leave that, I was only asking, because there are other islands which are uninhabited, and of course it was not the freshwater fisheries so much as salmon, which can be caught very far out at sea.


I think perhaps I should look at that again. If I get an opportunity when we are dealing with the Amendment standing in the name of the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, when we come to estuarial limits I might illegitimately slip in an improved answer. As I think noble Lords have recognised, the Government's approach to the devolution of fisheries draws a sharp distinction between sea fisheries and salmon and freshwater fisheries. Sea fisheries have major international and EEC implications and in their nature can only sensibly be dealt with for the United Kingdom as a whole; they are accordingly entirely reserved. Salmon and freshwater fisheries are however far more local in character, and can sensibly be devolved without any significant impact for the rest of the United Kingdom. The difference is already recognised in existing legislation in the fact that sea fisheries legislation applies on a United Kingdom basis while there are separate Scottish Acts dealing with freshwater fisheries.

However, no freshwater fisheries policy can be effective unless it applies in coastal waters as well as inland waters—salmon and migratory trout are to be found in the sea as well as rivers. Group 14 of Part I of Schedule 10 to the Bill accordingly devolves all freshwater fishery matters up to a point three nautical miles from the low water mark—or where there is an estuarial limit fixed under the Salmon Fisheries (Scotland) Acts 1828–1868 extending beyond three miles, up to that estuarial limit. This is not an arbitrary territorial limit. It follows the existing limits of district boards which administer freshwater fishery matters in Scotland. I hope that answers the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell. The Assembly will under no circumstances be able to extend this limit themselves. In that respect, there is no change. In particular the entry for the 1828–1868 Acts in Part III of Schedule 10 to the Bill ensures that the fixing of estuarial limits is reserved.

If one looks at the effect of the Amendment, it would enable the Assembly to legislate in relation to salmon and freshwater fisheries up to the United Kingdom internationally agreed fisheries limits. Those are different from the territorial seas that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, was talking about, and might indeed be 50 miles. That is far beyond what has hitherto been regarded as the limit of jurisdiction concerning these fisheries. The Government's view, with which I think noble Lords would agree, is that this is both undesirable and unnecessary. The three-mile limit in this context has proved practical in its application to district fishery boards, and should enable the Scottish Assembly and Executive to pursue an effective fisheries policy without the international complications to which any extension of the limit would give rise.

The matter of the Tweed box, which Lord Burton asked me about, is extremely complicated to answer, and I do not want to take up a lot of time in answering it unnecessarily. What I would offer to do is to write to the noble Lord explaining the matter to him. I think he may rest assured that there would be no interference with the Tweed box. I could explain the reasons for that at length in a letter, which he could read at his leisure and come back to the matter if he would like to do so.

He asks about the position of the Border Esk, which I believe to be simple. I will read out the answer. At the present time the whole Tweed basin, including parts of the Tweed itself which are in England, and tributaries in England, is treated as if it were in Scotland for the purposes of fisheries law. That is nothing to do with this Bill; there are complications even before this Bill arrives. It is all, therefore, subject to the law of Scotland. Conversely, the rivers at the Western end of the land borders are all treated as if in England and subject to the fisheries laws of England, even if, as in the case of the Esk, they are physically in Scotland. So, with Alice, we start off Through the Looking Glass, and we are now going through a different situation.

After devolution these artificial boundaries will disappear. Parts of the rivers in Scotland will be treated as being in Scotland and will be subject to the fisheries jurisdiction of the Assembly. Parts of the rivers in England will be treated as being in England and subject to the fisheries jurisdiction of Westminster. In both cases the existing law will remain in force unless and until it is altered by the Legislature which is to be responsible for the area concerned. That, I think, deals with the position of the Border Esk. We will certainly have a debate later on in relation to estuarial limits, and I would hope to deal with the point raised by the noble Earl, Lord Perth, at that time.

The Earl of ONSLOW

Could the noble and learned Lord answer the question about which I gave him notice this morning, about drift netting?


At half past two the noble Earl gave me notice of this rather complicated question about drift netting. May I say in general, that if noble Lords want answers to questions of that kind they should not give me notice at half past two on the day when I am supposed to be answering it. I have other things to do even before I come to answer this. I should be delighted to give answers, but it would certainly help me, if I am to be asked a question of that complication, to be given notice a little earlier.

The Marquess of LINLITHGOW

I was with my noble friend this morning and he did in fact try very much earlier to give notice, but for a long time he was unable to make contact with the noble Lord.


I was not being critical. This morning has a technical meaning in the House of Lords; I understand it means any time before Prayers. But in this case it meant half-past two. So I cannot answer the question at the moment, but I will write to the noble Earl about it.


I think my noble friend was trying to give the Front Bench opposite as much notice as he could, and it just happens that this Amendment has been reached today. I know that he would have liked to give longer notice. I think we must recognise that the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, has been carrying a much bigger load today because of the illness of his colleague Lord Kirkhill. I think the main point is that my noble friend was trying to give the Government some time in which to consider an answer.


May I first of all make it plain that such implication as was contained in what I said that was critical of the noble Earl I totally and unreservedly withdraw. He gave me such notice as he could, and I have not yet had time to answer him; but I would certainly appreciate such longer notice as noble Lords can give me.

The Earl of ONSLOW

I apologise for not being able to do it much more quickly. I can see that it is complicated. Perhaps the noble and learned Lord might adopt the proceeding of answering it illicitly, when we come to Lord Thurso's Amendment; if not, a letter will be adequate.


I should like to thank the noble and learned Lord for his reply, which I think has been helpful. My noble friend Lord Campbell said that he thought I was endeavouring to change the law. In fact what I had in mind—which would not change the law, apart from the Bill itself—was that if the law were to be changed in the future, if the limit was extended to 50 miles, it would be possible for the Assembly to have powers further out; it would not have that power with a three-mile limit. There is also, I hope, a move afoot to change the law, to try to get greater integration between protection of freshwater fish in the sea and the rivers. After all, these overlap in the estuaries and it seems not a good thing to have duplication. What I was worried about—I think the noble and learned Lord has cleared this up now—was that if one did not have a wider area it would not be possible to change the law, if it is devolved, without great difficulty. I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

6.47 p.m.

Lord DULVERTON moved Amendment No. 175: Page 49, leave out lines 15 and 16.

The noble Lord said: The purpose of this Amendment is to remove forestry and afforestation from the groups of devolved matters set out in Schedule 10 to the Bill. I am very grateful to noble Lords who have put their names to this Amendment, because it is one which the whole forest industry is extremely anxious for the Government to accept. My noble friend the Duke of Atholl, who put his name down, is unavoidably prevented from being here today, which is most regrettable because he can speak with great experience and wisdom. My friend, the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, is also absent. This I regret very greatly indeed; I know, having spoken to him many times on this subject, that he has strong views and would have supported the Amendment. In trying to get in touch with him earlier today I could only elicit from the various offices between which he flits about that he is lost in some remote part of the Highlands of Scotland and can be contacted only through a local police station. Obviously, he has been caught out on timing and does not know that your Lordships are debating this subject today. I am sorry, too, that my noble friend the Duke of Buccleuch, who, I know, would have spoken with great experience and wisdom on this subject, has had to leave before we reached this point.

I have used the term "forest industry", and I should like to explain what I mean. I mean forest industry which embraces the growers of timber, the foresters, but also the consumers of their products, who include the large modern pulp mills, saw mills, chipboard mills and other users of home-grown timber, which have a voracious appetite for timber. In the new and growing industry—new, that is, for Britain—many millions have been invested by growers, manufacturers and indeed, of course, by Government. More needs to he invested to make a meaningful contribution to our national need for timber and timber products. Our need is now running well in excess of a value of £2,000 million per annum, and the home supply proportion of this is a mere 8 per cent.

If we go on expanding forestry at the rate which some feel is feasible and some feel is desirable, the proportion of homegrown timber could in years to come become 20 to 25 per cent. of our national needs. Twenty-five per cent. of the national bill at today's level of prices—which will certainly rise both through inflationary tendencies and through a predicted world scarcity of timber—would be worth £500 million per annum as a contribution to the national housekeeping bill.

I speak for the private sector of foresters, but I have friends among the consumers, with whom I have conferred. I hope to show, by giving these figures and opening remarks, that the proportion and scale on which forestry could grow could compare in scale with the transient profits from North Sea oil, or indeed the misfortunes of our great steel industry. I give these facts in such perspective as they may portray.

All the same, despite its importance, the scale and the colossal figures that we are talking about, our British forestry and timber industry is tiny in comparison with those of most other countries that are in the timber trade as producers. Not only is the complete British forestry industry very small, compared with those of say, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, let alone Russia and Canada—I could go on and on—but it is also a very young industry. Of course, there have been sawmills and so on for hundreds of years past. But these big modern mills, the large consumers that I am talking about, are of recent origin and are all struggling to make their niche in the world timber market. They are having difficulties. However, that is another story.

If forestry is devolved in Britain and in danger of being split by the application of different rules, governors and assistants into two or even three parts—we have the Welsh Bill coming along—this will go against the absolutely unanimous judgment of all the foresters I have ever met, and I meet a great many, in England, Scotland and Wales. As chairman for the time being of the Forestry Committee of Great Britain, I am in a good position to understand them. In their view, the fragmenting of this growing industry, particularly after the vicissitudes of the past few years, from which the world of forestry is only now beginning to recover, would be nothing short of disastrous.

What about the consumers? I think that the best thing I can do is to quote briefly from the published report of the Paper and Board Working Party of the National Economic Development Council. It was recently published. It says: The proposals for devolution contained in the Government's White Paper (Cmnd 6348), if realised, are likely to fragment the already small forestry industry to the detriment of its viability, and to increase costs". That is a plain and clear enough statement on behalf of the consumers. Of course, it coincides with that of the growers.

In another place it was said on behalf of the Government that forestry was to be devolved, because it had quite a close connection with land use, agricultural land management, the countryside, tourism and rural development. So it has, my Lords. But that completely misses the point. Like agriculture itself, which is not devolved, forestry is an industry, as I have been trying to spell out. I hope to indicate that it is an important industry and that it could be of growing importance. Like agriculture, it deals with a primary product of the land. These two primary products of the land go together, as private foresters, at any rate, have always been aware—and they have always tried to practise in a manner that integrates the two land uses.

Governments—not only this Government—have been loud-voiced in recent years in asserting that forestry and farming should and must go hand-in-hand. If we are to treat forestry and farming differently, that will not help towards the integration that we are all talking about and want to see. I may say that private-sector foresters are working enthusiastically within their own organisations, and in contact and discourse with the farming organisations, to try to see that this integration happens better in future.

I must say, although I do not wish in the least to be critical of the Forestry Commission, that the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is the landlord of the Forestry Commission and of the Department of Agriculture in Scotland, has not set a particularly fine example in the integration of those two land uses in that vast estate in Scotland that we heard about earlier from the noble Baroness. There is a lot of room for something better to happen there. But this is somewhat of a digression. I do not want to labour it, except perhaps further to digress, in case it positively helps the noble Baroness.

As to the Forestry Commission land, which we talked about, I offer this explanation simply from my own private experience and knowledge. It includes land that is already planted, or is to be planted, with trees, but it also includes quite a lot of land up the hill which is either too high or too unfavourable for tree planting, or down at the bottom of the hill which is too good for planting. The Forestry Commission owns quite a lot of land which is still under agriculture, or hill and pastoral farming. The Commission does not farm the land, but owns it.

I come back to what was said in another place, where this Amendment, which I now move in your Lordships' Committee, was mooted at a late hour. It was said, again, on behalf of the Government, that the principal interest of the private forestry sector is woodland taxation, and this was being retained by the United Kingdom Government. That terribly widely misses the mark. It is far too narrow. I do plead with your Lordships that that is far too narrow an interpretation of the interests of private foresters in Government control and activities in forestry. It misses the mark so widely that I must offer this little list of other considerations.

First, Britain needs an all-British national forest policy and strategy. Secondly, a common forestry policy within the EEC will come one day. That gives all the more reason for point No. 1; and all the more reason against splitting ourselves up into three parts in the United Kingdom.

For those reasons, there has been a marked coming together of foresters and consumers across the Border of England and Scotland. In fact, there is a move now afoot to strengthen the ties of the representative organisations of England, Scotland and Wales. We want to draw closer together. We do not want to be split apart: that is the opposite of what we want. Fourthly, there is a considerable trade in timber across the Borders. Moreover, at a time when, as I have mentioned before, there is a strong call for integration between forestry and agriculture, to treat the two sister industries—I use that phrase advisedly—differently will militate strongly against achieving the declared aim.

Those briefly are the reasons why I hope that other noble Lords will develop further why the Timber Growers' Organisation, the Scottish Woodland Owners' Association, the Forestry Committee of Great Britain, the two Royal forestry societies, the consumer industries and the Home Grown Timber Advisory Committee to the Forestry Commission all pray that forestry should not be split into fractions. as the Bill proposes. I beg to move.


I suggest that this may be a good moment to halt the Committee in order to have a break and to take other business.


Before the House resumes, I wonder whether the noble Lord would not think it more convenient to finish the debate on this Amendment. This is an important Amendment, and to slice the debate in two would be a great pity. Perhaps we could continue for a few more minutes.


There is the question of dinner. The Committee has been sitting since three o'clock this afternoon. Of course, I am in the hands of the Committee. I am informed that this is a very important Amendment and that it may take at least an hour to conclude. That is why I thought that it might be for the convenience of the Committee if the House resumed now an we continued with the Amendment after dinner. However, it is for the Committee to decide.


As I have sat through the whole of the debate since just before three o'clock, I am quite prepared to continue for another 20 minutes before dinner. However, I would ask my noble friends and other noble Lords to be brief, because it would be good if we could deal with this matter quickly and finish it within the next 20 minutes.


Yes, I am sure that that would be quite satisfactory.


I am grateful to the noble Lord for having considered our welfare.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Lord Nugent of Guildford)

We are discussing Amendment No. 175.

7.13 p.m.


My noble friend Lord Dulverton has set out the cogent arguments in favour of this Amendment to which my name is also attached. I shall emphasise very briefly only two points. I declare a small personal interest in forestry—an interest which I have declared previously. I must emphasise that it does not make sense not to devolve agriculture which we have just been discussing and yet to devolve forestry. For at least 20 years there have been efforts in Scotland to bring farming and forestry closer together and they have been successful. Now all that good work is likely to be wasted. I have not found any body representing forestry, either in Scotland or anywhere else in the United Kingdom, which is in favour of devolving forestry in view of agriculture not being devolved. I understand that the Home Grown Timber Advisory Committee, the statutory body with the duty to advise the Forestry Commission, has told the Government that it is against the proposal in the Bill.

The very reasons which have been given by the Government for not devolving agriculture would appear to apply to forestry. The Minister of State, Mr. Smith, in another place said on 1st February: It is very difficult to make different arrangements for financing support systems in agriculture in different parts of the United Kingdom. That is the view of the Farmers' Unions in different parts of the United Kingdom. There is also a very important aspect of the EEC involvement in agriculture which makes it necessary for it to be a United Kingdom responsibility". Both of those points apply precisely in forestry as well, and we simply substitute the Scottish Woodland Owners' Association for the Scottish National Farmers' Union; and the home timber organisation for the farmers' unions South of the Border. There can be no good reason for devolving forestry when agriculture is to be reserved. I fully support my noble friend.


I cannot support the Amendment and I take that view mainly because half a loaf is better than none. I should have liked to support it because the noble Lords who have tabled the Amendment know a great deal about forestry, grow a lot of trees and are highly respected for their efforts in the very much underdeveloped forestry which we have in this country. The figure of 8 per cent. is absolutely scandalous. If we take the possible 25 per cent., £500 million, the need for an evolving forestry industry in this country is obviously very great.

It is obvious that we are being rushed by the need to dine, but I should like to say that I think it would be a great pity if we did not devolve forestry. It is rather easier to devolve forestry than agriculture because it does not have a large EEC commitment. In fact, I do not think that that should stop the Government as regards agriculture, but that does not matter. In between there is a strong case for the Assembly being concerned. I know that many bodies are against devolution of forestry; that is because they are afraid of what sort of Assembly they will have, and they want to see how it will turn out. However, if we are to start the Assembly without any influence on one of the great assets of Scotland which could be and should be developed, we are starting it with nothing to do at all as regards the land.

In Scotland the integration of agriculture with forestry has gone quite a long way. It may be that the Secretary of State, as a landlord, has not been as helpful as he should have been; but then, neither have many of the private landlords who have planted up large sheep farms in the South-West, to the great criticism of the agricultural industry. However there is developing in Scotland a very strong realisation that co-operation is needed.

I have great hopes that the Government will be forced sooner or later to see the logic of devolving agriculture. However, as the landlords of large parts of Scotland, I think that they could greatly co-operate, even under the present legislation, with the development, as a joint effort, of forestry and agriculture. We need that badly. There are large areas of Scotland, such as Caithness—I know that the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, will agree with me—that could do with many more trees, and the Forestry Commission has shown very clearly that trees will grow in that barren landscape and could, in fact, greatly improve the climate.

The Assembly will not do any harm. Words like "disastrous" are surely too strong. The Assembly could be seized of the necessity for promoting agriculture to the greatest extent of its capacity, much more than could a United Kingdom Government dealing with England as well as Scotland. The Forestry Commission might not like serving two masters, but all of us serve two masters, if not three or four. In short, I do not feel that we can support the Amendment. Noble Lords who have proposed it have a good deal of logic on their side, but I would oppose it on the basis of the proposition that it can be worked and that the fault really lies in not devolving agriculture.

The Marquess of LINLITHGOW

I shall be brief. I know the old story of the man who went fishing with his little boy. His little boy was arguing with him and asking him what to do. He was making too much noise and the man looked at him and said "Look, my boy, no fish ever got caught with his mouth shut". So, I shall try to keep mine shut!

I should like to make a brief comment from the farming point of view. The matter has been covered so I shall not be long. It must be remembered that somewhere around the 800 to 1,400 foot level there is a clash between farming and forestry—there is bound to be. The situation has greatly improved over the years, largely due to the growing cooperation between the two sides. I should not like to see that lost. Perhaps I could illustrate this point with some figures. To take a family—sometimes two families —looking after 1,000 sheep, 6,000 acres of planting would do away with that family's livelihood.

Another point arises when we deal with the Highland sheep, in particular the Blackface sheep. Once they have been hefted to the hillside, they cannot be moved elsewhere. Therefore, there is a large drop in value when the flock is hefted on the farm because you cannot take the sheep away with you; you have to get rid of them bit by bit. Therefore, we must bear in mind, as I try to do, the very close co-operation that is needed on all these huge plans for planting in order to ensure that the smaller families with these marginal farms are not under-compensated, but are as happy as they can be knowing that their case has been heard.

I should like to raise one technical matter of which the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, has had notice. Perhaps he will be able to clear it up for me. The Forestry Act 1967 has been devolved in part, and that can be found on page 58 of the Bill. Section 40(1), Part Ill, of that Act gives the Minister power compulsorily to acquire land. As I understand it, the word "Minister" there means that the power would be transferred to the Scottish Minister. At the same time, under Schedule 10, to the Bill as it stands—it is the only reference to compulsory acquisition that I can find in the Bill—Part II, paragraph 6 simply states that compulsory acquisition, et cetera, is not a devolved subject.

It struck me when I was ploughing through this legislation that under the Forestry Act a Scottish Minister would be able to acquire land compulsorily, and under Schedule 10 of the Bill he could ask Westminster to provide the compensation for that acquisition, because he was debarred from doing so under Schedule 10. I may have completely misunderstood that. I addressed the note to the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill, who I believe passed it on two days ago to the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey.


In speaking against this Amendment I should like to support the remarks made by my noble friend Lord Mackie of Benshie and also the Government. First, briefly, I should declare an interest as a hill farm-forester. It is very unfortunate that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, who has had experience in both the public and private sectors, could not give us his views one way or the other about this Amendment. Obviously he supports it, but I am intrigued to know why. I have heard him state to noble Lords and to me personally various other views which do not entirely coincide with those that I have heard expressed tonight by the noble Lord, Lord Dulverton.

I shall not detain the Committee long, but I should like to refer to integration, which has neen mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Dulverton, and others. If I understood the argument correctly, it was that we cannot devolve forestry because it would spoil the programmes of integration, which should be encouraged. For the past 10 years I have been an integrated hill farmer and forester. I would point out to the Committee that the actual practice of this is very different indeed from the descriptions of integration given by a number of noble Lords and indeed by a number of learned newspaper reporters and others. It is really about two things, capital and management. In my view it has nothing whatever to do with devolution. If the noble Lord, Lord Dulverton, wants integration between hill farms and hill forestry at over 800 feet, it can be achieved only by long-term capital grants, and not by the system available to us today.

The Marquess of LINLITHGOW

It was I who made the point, not the noble Lord, Lord Dulverton.


I apologise. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Dulverton, mentioned integration as well, although he did not mention the actual agriculture spot height of 800 feet, as did the noble Marquess. This is another subject altogether and I do not want to divert thinking towards it. If we want integration between farming and forestry in Scotland, then I agree with my noble friend, Lord Mackie of Benshie that we must also devolve agriculture, or more precisely devolve the system of long-term capital grants that enable this to take place.

The thinking in the Treasury in Whitehall is not ready for this kind of integration because the tax structure and grant structure have been of the wrong kind. Therefore, I do not see how I can support this Amendment. However, I support the devolution of forestry, and hope—as does my noble friend—that it will lead to the devolution of agriculture and eventually to the integration and reform of the capital grants structure which, in turn, will lead to the integration of hill farming and forestry.

The Earl of PERTH

Having listened to what has been said, I find it very difficult to make up my mind on this matter. I realise the force of the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, about agriculture and forestry being closely connected. I was also impressed by the arguments advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Dulverton, and the weight of authority which he says is behind his Amendment. On the other hand, I do not think that the record of forestry over past years—when it has been largely directed from Westminster—is very good.

I should like to ask a question, to which I attach a great deal of importance. If the Assembly had control over forestry in Scotland, would it be open to it to give some special grant or assistance to encourage more planting or to encourage some form of industry in relation to forestry? If the answer to that is "Yes", I wonder whether we are being wise as regards this Amendment. It is perfectly true that in general terms fragmentation sounds bad. If we fragmented and had three authorities, I should have thought it would be relatively easy for them to collaborate in a common way; and that in practice what matters when you come down to forestry rather than all being under one authority is much more the cost of transport and matters of that sort which dictate where the trees are to go, where they are to be cut down and so on. However, I would be very much encouraged in this if there was the possibility of the Assembly giving specific help. If the Government can tell us what sort of help they could give, it will make a great difference.


I ought not to intervene, but I do so only to express the hope that your Lordships will not accept this Amendment. My view is that forestry should be devolved. As I understand the position, if forestry is devolved it will not in any way impede the activities of the Forestry Commission, for which I have the highest regard. On the contrary, I think it would improve those activities.


I must intervene on what the noble Lord has just said, because if forestry is devolved it will mean a substantial number of extra civil servants to carry out the extra accounting that is required in the Forestry Commission. I do not know whether that was taken into account when the figure of 750 extra civil servants for the Assembly was totted up, but undoubtedly there will be extra accounting which must mean extra staff.


I shall be very brief indeed, although I wish I had longer because this is an important debate and a good deal more ought to be said about it. In many ways, I share the view expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, but I come to a completely contra decision because of it. I think that it is sensible for agriculture to be devolved; it should be. We have very specific Scottish problems—many more in agriculture than we do in forestry. As agriculture is not being devolved, it is absolute rubbish to devolve forestry. Therefore I feel that this Amendment is right. In reply to the noble Lord opposite, may I say that I very much wish that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Gryfe, was here. I was discussing this point with him last week, and he was hoping to be here for this debate. He felt that it would be serious indeed for the Forestry Commission if they were divided. I am merely reporting what he told me, for whatever value that has.

7.21 p.m.


Let me briefly attempt to demonstrate that the Government's approach to this matter is both consistent with the principles of devolution and workable. Before I do so, let me make it plain that it is the Government's firm intention that the Forestry Commissioners should continue to be the instrument of forestry policy throughout Great Britain. It has been a deliberate policy in the Scotland Bill to preserve the important and indeed crucial role of the Forestry Commission in the development of British forestry.

The Bill accordingly restricts the legislative competence of the Scottish Assembly in such a way that they cannot abolish the Commission in Scotland, and this Bill provides specifically that the Commissioners will be appointed by the Queen. The Commissioners will serve throughout Great Britain as a common source of expert advice on forestry matters. The Commission will, as an organisation, continue to operate in a unified way throughout Great Britain with a common staff structure and common pay scales.

Let me turn to the Government's reasons for devolving forestry. It has been necessary throughout the consideration of this Bill that the content of devolution should be coherent in itself. It is also important that consistent provision be made on analogous matters. In the case of forestry, the Government have had regard particularly to the scope for devolution in the analogous fields of planning and land use, countryside, recreation, rural development (particularly in the Highlands) and tourism, and they also had regard to the links with agriculture.

Forestry is already a matter of great importance in the rural areas of Scotland. Its importance is unlikely to diminish. It seemed to the Government that if the Scottish Administration did 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 would be seriously cramped and restricted. They decided on balance that the right conclusion was to devolve responsibility for forestry and afforestation.

In the light of these considerations, let me explain how the provisions in the Bill will work. I have already explained that the Commission will continue to operate in an integrated way, and the present position in relation to forestry will be maintained in three further important respects. First, there will be no devolution relating to the fiscal treatment of forestry—a matter of great importance to woodland owners. Secondly, there will be no devolution in relation to plant health. That can be seen from paragraph 12 in Part II of Schedule 10. In such matters the Commission will be responsible to the Government in respect of the whole of Great Britain. Thirdly, the Commission's research facilities, as part of its central capability, will be maintained in a unified form. The Scottish Administration will be able to commission research as to forestry from the Commission or, if it prefers, from any other suitable agent.

Something was said by the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, about serving two masters, and it has been suggested elsewhere that if the Commission are directed, or otherwise obliged, to pursue policies in Scotland which differ from those applying in England or Wales, this would cause conflicts of loyalty. But the Government do not see this as a material problem. There is no reason why the Commission should not adopt different priorities in Scotland. Indeed, this possibility already exists under the present regime of tripartite responsibility by territorial Ministers, and in practice a larger and larger share of the Commission's planting activity has been taking place in Scotland in recent years.

Nor need there be any conflict at the harvesting and marketing stage. Great Britain will remain a single market for timber, with a pattern of demand straddling both the Scottish and Welsh Borders. So far ahead as can be foreseen, the predominance of timber imports in the British market will determine the prices which home-produced timber can command. There could, in practice, be no question of action taken by a Scottish Administration determining the market price of timber in Scotland.

Both the noble Lord, Lord Dulverton, and the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, have suggested that it is wrong to devolve forestry while reserving agriculture. The main reason for the different treatment in the Bill is not, as was argued in another place, different degrees of development of EEC policies. This is certainly a factor, but not a decisive one. 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.

Let me seek to illustrate that. Variations in support for agricultural production would be quickly reflected in the recipients' general competitiveness and in prices. 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, nor by later domestic factors, but primarily by price movements in world markets.

The Government do not take the view that the links between forestry and agriculture in administrative terms, as distinct from their close relationship in land-use terms, are such that it is necessary for both subjects to be dealt with by the same administration. There will still be close co-operation between those involved in the two activities, and it is the Scottish Administration who will in the future be responsible for agricultural land tenure and management, including the management of the agricultural estates and holdings at present vested in the Secretary of State. I should perhaps just mention, because the point was raised at an earlier stage, that land acquired for forestry is acquired by the Secretary of State and put at the disposal of the Commission. The noble Lord, Lord Burton, asked a question about that at an earlier stage, and I think the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, also.

I fear from what has been said that some noble Lords imagine that we are seeking to destroy forestry and the Forestry Commission. I can assure all noble Lords that the decision to devolve forestry, and the arrangements in the Bill for the continuance of the prime role of the Forestry Commission, have been made after the most careful assessment by the Government. We believe that we have got it right, and we believe that there is every reason to suppose that forestry in Scotland will prosper after devolution under the provisions as they stand.

The noble Earl, Lord Perth, specifically asked about grants to private woodland owners. I can inform him that grants to private woodland owners would fall within the devolved matter of forestry, and it would be open to the Scottish Administration to introduce a new scheme, or schemes, of assistance, doubtless after discussion with the various forestry organisations. The giving of assistance to industrial firms using forest products is an entirely different matter. That is a matter of trade; this is a matter which might attract the interest of the Scottish Development Agency which might, within the guidelines under Clause 38, provide loans for such activity. But the matter of industrial assistance, as with other types of manufacturing activity, would be for the Secretary of State under the Industry Act.

I hope I have dealt with those points. The noble Marquess, Lord Linlithgow, was kind enough to give me notice, as he said, of a particular point. I have today signed a letter to him giving him the answer to that matter, and I hope that he will be satisfied with the letter, which I think he should receive tomorrow. In brief, the effect of paragraph 6 of Part II is not what he imagined. What paragraph 6 cannot do is to affect in any way the liability of a Scottish Secretary, as an acquiring authority, to pay compensation for any land he may acquire in accordance with the requirements of such United Kingdom law relating to compensation as applies at the time of the acquisition. But I have explained that matter more fully in the letter which I signed today, and which I have no doubt the noble Marquess will receive tomorrow.

The Marquess of LINLITHGOW

Is it correct to say that the Scottish Secretary has the right of compulsory acquisition under the Forestry Act?


I can confirm that, in that respect, the noble Marquess is correct. I hope that, on consideration of the arguments, rather than on some preconceived notion which noble Lords may have brought to the debate, the Committee will feel that the Amendment need not be pressed.


I appreciate that the Committee wants to move on fast, for very good reasons, but so many points have been raised by noble Lords and by the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, that I feel the need to try to reply to some of them. I am anxious to try to convince noble Lords who have misgivings about the cause which I am pleading that we in the forestry trade, and the processes concerned with it, believe unanimously that it would be a mistake from the point of view of the whole industry to have it divided among three legislative Assemblies, each of which might make different rules; we could find ourselves in the most terrible muddle through no ill-will on the part of any of the three Executives concerned.

I will not delay the Committee by going through the whole of the brief I have with me; it is long and deals with many points which go to reinforce my argument. However, I must tell the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie, who assumed that the Assembly would manage forestry well and be sympathetic to it, that, while that may be so, the main danger is that we shall have three different

forestry policies in the United Kingdom within our very small forestry industry. The noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, stuck to the point of integration, but he did not touch on the industrial effects of this division between three different legislative bodies. And with respect to the noble Earl, Lord Perth, I do not think he fully appreciated the need I was hoping to spell out for one policy, one strategy, for Britain's forestry industry.

I am sorry that I have not induced the noble and learned Lord, Lord McCluskey, to my point of view. He said that one of the main reasons to devolve forestry was because it was tied up with tourism, land use, amenity and so on. So, to some extent, is hill farming. Nevertheless, all those things are absolutely secondary to the industry which is forestry. Certainly plant health and other matters are looked after by the Forestry Commission, but grants are not, and if we had a completely different system of grants for Scotland, England and Wales the system would not be easy to administer and would be frightfully divisive. We in this industry want to see one Great Britain industry for forestry. I feel that I must press the Amendment, despite Lord McCluskey's remarks.

7.35 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Amendment (No. 175) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 73; Not-Contents, 72.

Alexander of Tunis, E. Harmar-Nicholls, L. Rankeillour, L.
Allerton, L. Harvington, L. Rawlinson of Ewell, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Hatherton, L. Redesdale, L.
Auckland, L. Hereford, V. Reigate, L.
Balerno, L. Hewlett, L. Rochdale, V.
Burton, L. Killearn, L. Romney, E.
Campbell of Croy, L. Linlithgow, M. St. Davids, V.
Carrington, L. Long, V. Sandys, L.
Colwyn, L. Lyell, L. [Teller.] Selkirk, E.
Cottesloe, L. MacLeod of Fuinary, L. Sharples, B.
Cromartie, E. Margadale, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Marley, L. Somers, L.
de Clifford, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V. Strathclyde, L.
Denham, L. Mills, V. Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Drumalbyn, L. Monson, L. Strathspey, L.
Dulverton, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V. Swinfen, L.
Dundee, E. Morris, L. Trefgarne, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Mottistone, L. Trenchard, V.
Elton, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L. [Teller.] Tweeddale, M.
Emmet of Amberley, B. Vivian, L.
Faithfull, B. Napier and Ettrick, L. Ward of North Tyneside, B.
Ferrers, E. Newall, L. Westbury, L.
Fortescue, E. Onslow, E. Wilson of Langside, L.
Glenkinglas, L. Pender, L. Wolverton, L.
Haig, E. Platt, L.
Ampthill, L. Hamnett, L. Morris of Kenwood, L.
Aylestone, L. Hampton, L. Oram, L.
Bacon, B. Hanworth, V. Paget of Northampton, L.
Balogh, L. Henderson, L. Peart, L. (L. Privy Seal.)
Banks, L. Houghton of Sowerby, L. Perth, E.
Birk, B. Howie of Troon, L. Phillips, B.
Boston of Faversham, L. Hylton-Foster, B. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Champion, L. Jacques, L. Rochester, L.
Collison, L. Janner, L. Samuel, V.
Crook, L. Kagan, L. Simon, V.
David, B. Kilmarnock, L. Stedman, B.
Davies of Leek, L. Lee of Newton, L. Stone, L.
Davies of Penrhys, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. [Teller.] Strabolgi, L. [Teller.]
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Swaythling, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L. (L. Chancellor.) Lloyd of Kilgerran, L. Tanlaw, L.
Fisher of Camden, L. Loudoun, C. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Fletcher, L. Lovell-Davis, L. Thurso, V.
Foot, L. McCarthy, L. Wade, L.
Gaitskell, B. McCluskey, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Gardiner, L. McGregor of Durris, L. Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
George-Brown, L. Mackie of Benshie, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Gordon-Walker, L. McNair, L. White, B.
Goronwy-Roberts, L. Maelor, L. Wilson of Radcliffe, L.
Greenway, L. Milner of Leeds, L. Young of Dartington, L.
Hale, L.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

7.43 p.m.


I beg to move that the House do now resume.

House resumed.

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