HC Deb 28 July 1938 vol 338 cc3347-8W
Sir S. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is in a position to announce the result of the Government's consideration of the report of the recent Departmental Committee on Scottish Administration?

Mr. Colville

Yes, Sir. The Committee, of which my right hon. Friend the Member for the Pollok Division was chairman, recommended that there should be four main Scottish Departments—the Departments of Agriculture, Education, and Health and the Scottish Home Department. Each Department would be in charge of a secretary directly responsible to the Secretary of State. In addition, the Secretary of State would have to assist him a permanent Under-Secretary of State who would be outside the Departmental organisation. The functions of the Departments would be vested in the Secretary of State, and the separate statutory existence of certain Departments, and of the Committee of the Privy Council on Scottish Education, would cease.

The proposed Home Department would discharge the functions presently exercised by the Scottish Office, the Fishery Board for Scotland, and the Prisons Department for Scotland. In dealing with fishery matters the Secretary of State would be assisted by a statutory advisory council representative of fishing interests. The Board of Control would be reconstituted with a full-time in place of a part-time chairman, and its work, as well as that of the Registrar-General, brought more closely into relation with the Department of Health. The day-to-day administration of these Departments would be conducted from Edinburgh, adequate arrangements being made for the performance of necessary work in London.

The Government are in general agreement with these recommendations. The legislation necessary to give effect to certain of them will be introduced early next Session in order to ensure its passage at as early a date as may be practicable so that the reorganisation of the Scottish Departments may be carried out before the completion of the new Government buildings in Edinburgh in August, 1939.