Scottish Self-Government

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th November 1966.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Russell Johnston Mr Russell Johnston , Inverness 12:00 am, 30th November 1966

As I was saying, Sir, we are not seeking separation from the United Kingdom, but sensible and effective devolution within it.

Nor is there any contradiction or conflict between wishing to see this and wishing to see the United Kingdom join the European Economic Community. Indeed, I would aver that the larger the grouping the greater the need for devolution within it. Geography certainly conditions man's achievements, but it is far from being the vital determinant. Countries and communities can blossom or wither for reasons which are much more emotional than physical.

The Faroes and Iceland are far more remote than, say, Shetland or the Hebrides, and yet are able to maintain a vigorous existence. This cannot be unconnected with the spirit that their independence has fostered. Similarly, Norway, a tiny country of 3 million people, with proportionately far greater problems of sparse population than Scotland, maintains an extremely high standard of living. There are many other examples.

These, I would assert, are matters which the House should hear and should debate. Hugh MacDiarmid wrote of the small white rose of Scotland that smells sharp and sweet and breaks the heart. Let us, on this St. Andrew's Day, sow the seed of a happier future.