Devolution (Scotland and Wales)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th January 1976.

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[FOURTH DAY]

3.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Edmund Dell Mr Edmund Dell , Birkenhead

I beg to move, That this House takes note of the White Paper on Our Changing Democracy, Devolution to Scotland and Wales (Command Paper No. 6348).

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

As I indicated last Thursday, I have selected the amendment in the name of the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition and her right hon. and lion. Friends, and thereafter—if that first amendment is defeated —I have selected for a Division the amendment in the names of the hon. Members for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) and for Carmarthen (Mr. Evans) and their hon. Friends.

Photo of Mr Edmund Dell Mr Edmund Dell , Birkenhead

The very foundation of the Devolution White Paper is a determination to preserve the unity of the United Kingdom. The arguments for this are primarily political, but the economic aspects also are important in the context of this debate.

I shall, therefore, argue three propositions. The first is that the economic unity of the United Kingdom has been, and will continue to be, of benefit to the peoples of Scotland and Wales. The second is that the pattern of economic powers proposed in the White Paper is that most in the interests of the peoples of the United Kingdom. The third is that the proposed structure of devolution, particularly the decision to rule out federalism, makes the block grant system the most appropriate for financing the Assemblies.

There is a conventional nationalist picture of Scotland and Wales being exploited by England, the victims of England's perennial balance of payments problems. But for this English problem, it is argued, Scotland could long ago have remedied its poverty and unemployment and the dereliction and decay, particularly of Western Scotland. The truth is probably very different.

Whereas it has not been possible to derive accurate measurements of the balance of payments position of the Scottish and Welsh economies, it is possible to have a shot at balance of trade figures, with the necessary reservations. Work recently done in Scotland at the University of Dundee has suggested that throughout the period from 1961 to 1971 Scotland has had a large balance of trade deficit in goods and services of the order of 10 per cent. of gross domestic product. At this moment it may well be much larger. Similar calculations suggest that Wales, too, has probably run a balance of trade deficit of a comparable order of magnitude in relation to gross domestic product.

At no time during that period did the United Kingdom as a whole have a balance of trade deficit in any way comparable. The largest deficit was that in 1964 when it reached 2·6 per cent. Thus the normal Scottish and Welsh balance of trade deficits relative to GDP seem to have been something like three times the worst level recorded for the United Kingdom as a whole.

I have read of protestations in Scotland that North Sea oil should not be poured down the drain of England's balance of payments deficit. It has to be said, I fear, that the first tranche of oil produced within a separated Scotland would flow down the drain of Scotland's perennial and substantial balance of trade deficit.

England has not been a drag on Scotland and Wales. For a long period of years there has been a substantial transfer of resources, both financial and industrial, from England to Scotland and Wales and, of course, within England, to the English regions. Successive United Kingdom Governments have conducted regional policies. In other words, they have allocated resources in relation to an assessment of need and not in relation to the national or geographical origin of the revenues or resources expended in this way. This expression of economic unity has been in the interests of all of us.

Another expression of economic unity has been that public expenditure in Scotland and Wales has been maintained at or above the national average. In 1974–75 identifiable public expenditure, excluding nationalised industries, amounted to £636 a head in Scotland and £578 in Wales, compared with £545 in England. Over the years there can be no question but that a separate Scotland or Wales, if they had wished to maintain this level of public expenditure, would have had to impose taxation far heavier than that which they have in fact experienced.

But, I might be asked, has not everything now changed? Could not Scotland escape from all its problems aided by the riches of the North Sea? Certainly, North Sea oil will change the Scottish position. It should substantially improve the position of Scotland relative to the rest of the United Kingdom. Indeed, it is one of the factors already helping to strengthen the relative position of Scotland in the United Kingdom economy. But North Sea oil does not make separation a sensible economic policy for Scotland. The White Paper put the matter very fairly, saying that it was possible that, on a narrow economic calculation, Scotland might be better off materially for a time by keeping the benefits of oil exclusively to itself but that such a calculation would be at best highly precarious, resting on limited reserves of a single commodity whose value varies with the world market.

On the basis of current tax policy and the current price of oil, and an average production of 125 million to 150 million tons per annum, we would expect that in the early 1980s the United Kingdom Government would be deriving a total income from North Sea oil, at 1975 prices, of the order of £3 billion to £3·5 billion a year. This figure seems very large, but it is also finite. It will help to do a great deal which needs to be done socially and economically in this country, but by a very large margin it will not do everything.

Photo of Mr Gordon Wilson Mr Gordon Wilson , Dundee East

Would the right hon. Gentleman care to explain the dichotomy in his argument between his suggestion, on the one hand, that oil which is a finite resource would be of only temporary benefit to the Scottish economy whereas, on the other hand, the whole policy of the British Government seems to hang on the argument that the oil—temporary, as he says it will be—will be of benefit to the British economy?

Photo of Mr Edmund Dell Mr Edmund Dell , Birkenhead

I see no dichotomy. The oil will be of benefit to the Scottish economy, and it will be of benefit to the British economy, but we can rely on it as only a temporary benefit because it is an exhaustible resource.

The figure I have mentioned is, of course, a United Kingdom figure, not a Scottish figure. One does not need to be a mathematician to understand that, if one divides North Sea oil revenue by the Scottish population of 5¼ million, one arrives at a much higher result per head than if one divides it by the United Kingdom population of 56 million. In fact, one would get an ever higher result per head if one divided it by the Shetland population. But we have never before attributed the revenues from particular resources to particular parts of the United Kingdom.

In any case, there are many reasons why estimates of future oil revenue should be treated with some care. First, the figure of £3 billion to £3·5 billion in the early 1980s is based essentially on the expected return from the earlier and more profitable and larger fields now producing or under development. The smaller and more marginal fields of the future may well show a lower rate of profit and hence a lower rate of tax revenue.

Next, this is an exhaustible resource the higher the depletion rate, the shorter the life; the lower the depletion rate, the less the revenue. Profitability will depend upon the price. In other words, it depends on the continued success of the OPEC cartel in rationing supplies to the demands of the world. I do not intend to speculate today about the future price of oil. But the fact that must be recognised is that there are substantial uncertainties about the price, and any reduction in price produces a more than proportionate fall in revenue. It is not for nothing that we have been advocating a minimum selling price for oil.

In an important way the United Kingdom as a whole would be more robust to sharp changes in the price of oil than would a separated Scotland. If during the 1980s we are taking from the North Sea roughly the quantity of oil necessary to make the United Kingdom self-sufficient, movements of the oil price over quite a wide range would not be very disturbing to the United Kingdom as a whole. If prices rise, the cost of oil to the individual British consumer will be higher, but the producers will be in a position to pay us, as British citizens.

more taxes. If the price falls our tax receipts will be lower, but as consumers of oil products we shall get the benefits of lower buying prices. But in the unlikely event that the Scots were somehow to have appropriated the whole of North Sea oil, a fall in price would benefit England and penalise Scotland. The advantage of us all operating together is that gains on swings can offset losses on roundabouts, and the wilder Scottish nationalists ignore this truth at their peril.

There is another fact which anyone contemplating Scottish separatism on the basis of North Sea oil revenues should consider. I believe that the policy of the Scottish National Party is to reduce the planned oil production by limiting it to 50 million tons a year. On any reckoning, such a figure would greatly reduce the flow of revenue. It would also have a very serious effect on job opportunities in Scotland. Moreover, the reduction of the depletion rate would make some currently profitable fields unprofitable.

The Scottish National Party manages to suggest that out of oil revenue there would be higher public expenditure on housing, on pensions, on deprivation in Glasgow and, of course, on any Scottish industry that happens to be in difficulties. It says that it will provide more money for all these things, reduce taxation, replace the benefits that Scotland derives from the union but still impose a savage cut in the depletion rate. I suspect that one of the benefits of oil revenue, in the eyes of the SNP at least, is that it allows the laws of arithmetic to be suspended in its own favour.

If a separated Scotland were fortunate both in its allocation of North Sea oil, which would have to be the subject of protracted negotiations, and in the continued high profitability of North Sea oil, which will be subject to uncertain pressures on costs and prices, and if in addition Scotland permitted a sufficiently high rate of depletion, for a time and after an initial period of extreme dislocation there might be some economic advantages. If things did not go well for Scotland in these respects, people might well soon question whether the game had been worth the candle.

There are certainly grave risks for Scotland in separation, and against any temporary economic advantage would have to be set enormous political costs arising out of the disruption of the United Kingdom. Even the economic advantages achieved could well be at the expense, at any rate for some years, of a totally unbalanced economy with oil revenues not preventing very high unemployment in the industrial sector, because not merely would there be industrial dislocation but a separated Scotland would have serious problems arising from the need to redeploy labour from run-down industries, uneconomic pits and excess capacity in the steel industry, all of which would be more difficult to solve outside the United Kingdom economy. This is the reality of the gamble that is presented to the Scottish people as a policy for their future.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

This is an interesting topic. At my right hon. Friend's convenience, may we have some kind of legal ruling from the Treasury on the question of how much oil in the North Sea would go to Scotland anyway if there were separation? Is it not a fact that under international law it would not be a line east of Berwick which would be taken but the line of the boundary, and that a line from Gretna to Berwick would run north-easterly and would be very inconvenient from the point of view of Scottish nationalists?

Photo of Mr Edmund Dell Mr Edmund Dell , Birkenhead

There may be something in what my hon. Friend says. However, as a Treasury Minister I can give opinions on economic matters but not legal rulings.

The gamble which is being offered to the Scottish people is totally unnecessary if we apply ourselves to our prime need, which is to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of our national industry. It is worth remembering those economies which have been most consistently successful since the war, economies such as West Germany and Japan, which have not depended on exploiting natural resources. Indeed, Japan is poorer in natural resources than are we and West Germany's endowment has been fairly similar. These countries have achieved economic success by developing and modernising their industrial structures. That is the real way forward for this country, reaping this harvest from the North Sea as a fortunate bonus which can ease our path forward, provided only that we do not throw away its benefits in national strife and economic dislocation.

Photo of Mr Douglas Crawford Mr Douglas Crawford , Perth and East Perthshire

The right hon. Gentleman is talking about the well-run economies of West Germany and Japan. Would he not agree that the economies of Norway and Sweden are also well run? Norwegian unemployment is 1·6 per cent. and Scotland's is 6 per cent. We do not consider unemployment of 6 per cent. to be a benefit of the Union.

Photo of Mr Edmund Dell Mr Edmund Dell , Birkenhead

The hon. Member always likes to compare the position of a separate Scotland with that of Norway and Sweden. There are other countries with small populations with which a comparison would be much more favourable to Scotland. There is no reason to imagine that that comparison is relevant.

I come to my second theme. Many of the critics of the devolution White Paper who support the continued unity of the United Kingdom have suggested that the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies should have extensive powers in industry and employment and, at least according to some, of taxation. That is the burden of some of the amendments. It is true that control of the main instruments of economic policy will, under our proposals, remain with the Government answerable to this House. In all countries, central Government is increasingly held responsible for the health of the economy. This is true even in federations. If it were practical to devolve the main instruments of economic policy, the effect would be to leave the central Government in a position of responsibility without adequate powers to discharge that responsibility.

There is one important element in our regional policy which, I think even critics will agree, must be operated on a Great Britain basis if it is to be effective. This is industrial development certificate policy. The whole of Scotland and Wales are assisted areas whereas a substantial part of England is non-assisted. Through the machinery of the industrial development certificate control, permission to develop the non-assisted parts of England may be refused in order to encourage the investors concerned to go to Scotland, Wales or the assisted areas of England.

If the Scottish and Welsh administrations became responsible for industrial development certificate policy in their territories, there would be great risk that those responsible for England would be less willing to refuse permission to develop in the English unassisted areas, many of which have their own problems, to benefit territories under separate control. If IDC policy were devolved their responsibilities would after all be simply for England and not, as now, for the whole of Great Britain.

Closely related to the issue of IDC policy is that of financial incentives to industry to invest in the assisted areas If this form of regional assistance is not under some control by the central Government, there is a risk of outbidding by Scotland against Wales and by Wales against Scotland, and by Scotland against the North-East of England and by Wales against Merseyside. This must be absurd. How could the United Kingdom Government permit the English regions to be outbid, irrespective of relative needs? Is it sensible to create a situation in which private investors, particularly multinational companies, could play off one part of the United Kingdom against another, thereby diverting funds which should be used for regional development to their profit? It must be for the central Government to ensure that regional incentives are not so bid up that subsidy becomes a way of life.

Photo of Mr Wyn Roberts Mr Wyn Roberts , Conway

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the Government's proposal that the Welsh Assembly should have power to put a surcharge on the rates could be a disincentive to industry to go to Wales?

Photo of Mr Edmund Dell Mr Edmund Dell , Birkenhead

That is a matter which the Welsh Assembly would have to consider, but I shall be discussing those matters later.

Of course, it can be argued that there can be central Government controls over the level of incentives provided. Why cannot discretion be allowed within criteria laid down by the central Government? The trouble is that such discretion would be rapidly seen to be a sham. The intention of the White Paper is to devolve functions of central government where genuine differences of policy—if they exist—can be implemented without additional cost to other parts of the United Kingdom. But where, as with regional incentives, effective control would remain with Westminster, the devolving of powers to the Assemblies, and thus separating them from the Secretaries of State, would be very likely to render policy less effective and the influence of Scotland and Wales at the decision-making centre a great deal weaker.

As it is, these powers are already administratively devolved and most of them will be in the hands of the Secretaries of State, who will remain members of the Cabinet, ensuring that the special needs of Scotland and Wales are always taken into account.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

On this part of his argument, is not the right hon. Gentleman ignoring the European dimension? Is it not likely that in future the designation of regional development areas will be decided on a European rather than a British basis?

Photo of Mr Edmund Dell Mr Edmund Dell , Birkenhead

I do not think that I am ignoring the European dimension. At the moment, the assisted areas are decided by the United Kingdom Government. It is within that context that I am discussing this matter.

There is another argument for considering further devolution of economic powers to Scotland and Wales. During the course of this debate expression has been given to a strong feeling that the people of Scotland and Wales want a greater direct influence over their own economic destiny. I take that very seriously.

In reply I would make these points. First, I do not believe that anyone should underestimate the powers of the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies in economic matters. These powers carry with them control over large sums of public money. The control of this expenditure on devolved matters, once the block grant has been decided by Parliament, will rest entirely with the Scottish and Welsh Administrations. There will be no Treasury control of expenditure projects or over priorities between devolved programmes. The Assemblies will, therefore, have very considerable powers over the development of the Scottish and Welsh economies. They will be able to make an important contribution to industrial infrastructure and regeneration in their countries by creating the right environment for industry and providing facilities that it needs.

My second point is that the successes of regional policy thus far should not be ignored, despite the grave problems remaining. This is certainly not a matter for complacency. The Government have shown recognition of that fact by establishing the Scottish and Welsh Development Agencies. The difficulty is that the successes of regional policy, which is a redistributive policy, have been so overlaid by the consequences of the world depression that they are not at the moment recognised. Nevertheless, there have been dramatic changes in the relative position of Scotland and Wales since the early 'sixties, despite the economic difficulties that the country as a whole has faced. This is certainly a reason for not disintegrating the Great Britain basis and thereby weakening it.

The successes of Government policy in reducing regional differences in income in the United Kingdom have been achieved by the power of the United Kingdom Government to redistribute resources within the United Kingdom. This power of the United Kingdom Government to redistribute resources could be imperilled only at a cost to the assisted areas, and a cost to Scotland too, because Scotland also will need new industry.

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock , Bedwellty

Can my right hon. Friend give a real figure—not to the nearest penny or the nearest million pounds—of the kind of sums that we are talking about to be handled by the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies after the money earmarked for local authority and other expenditure has gone from central Government to local government? Are we talking about £10 million, £20 million or £100 million?

Photo of Mr Edmund Dell Mr Edmund Dell , Birkenhead

The figures are given in the White Paper. Out of the £2,000 million for the Scottish Assembly and £850 million for the Welsh Assembly, large sums should be left over to be handled by those Assemblies.

I now come to the third theme. There are many who are critical of the Government's decision to finance the Assemblies essentially through block grants, though the debate has not been notable for the number of specific alternatives proposed. A levy on North Sea oil has been the front runner, and I shall deal with that, but I can say at once that Wales would get no help that way. I accept at once that a block grant is not an ideal solution. I understand the criticisms that are made of this proposal. Nevertheless, given the proposed structure of devolution and the principle on which it is based, we came to the view that the block grant was the best solution. The drawbacks of other solutions were greater.

Before coming to that conclusion we considered various possibilities for devolved taxation. None of them was attractive, and we could not ignore the administrative problems, problems as much for the taxpayer as for the tax collector. However, I do not wish to rest my case on administrative difficulties. If the arguments for devolving tax powers were sufficiently compelling, and if the additional bureaucracy were acceptable, the administrative difficulties would have to be overcome. I shall, therefore, attempt to deal with the various arguments of those who object to the block grant and who advocate devolution of significant tax powers.

First, it is said that there will be greater responsibility in the expenditure of public money by Assemblies which themselves have the responsibility for raising it. This is an argument with which I have considerable sympathy. However, we come up against a stubborn fact. If we are to have, within the United Kingdom, in respect of the devolved subjects, the possibility of the maintenance of comparable standards, there must be some system of transferring resources between regions. Needs, not the origin of revenue, are to determine expenditure. Wales, at any rate, would still need to have a block grant to top up her local revenue. Once the need for a block grant in order to maintain comparable standards is accepted, however, this particular argument in favour of devolved taxation powers become a great deal less compelling, especially when set against the other problems to which the devolution of taxation powers gives rise.

Moreover, once one concedes the need for a block grant at all—even if only as a major part, rather than all, of the revenue available to the Assemblies— the possibility of conflict between Westminster and the Assemblies immediately arises. This fact is illustrated again and again in federal States where the component States raise a substantial part of their own revenue but have nevertheless become dependent on the federal Government for grants. After all, even if the Assemblies had greater tax powers they would not wish to raise additional taxation because of what they took to be a failure of the United Kingdom Government to finance them adequately through the block grant.

Independent tax powers therefore do not avoid conflict. They do not even necessarily reduce conflict. The only way of avoiding or mitigating conflict will be a general conviction through the United Kingdom that the Union should be preserved and that, therefore—as has been normal within our political system—disagreements will not be fought out to the death.

I therefore come to those who believe that the Scottish Assembly should have some prior claim to North Sea oil revenues. The Government propose, on the contrary, that North Sea revenue should remain part of United Kingdom revenues and be distributed in accordance with need. There are, after all, other parts of the United Kingdom, as well as Scotland, which face problems.

In any case, it would lead to some very curious situations if taxation powers over offshore oil and gas resources were devolved. First, we would have to divide up the United Kingdom Continental Shelf among the component parts of the country. I would anticipate considerable argument amongst the potential beneficiaries of the riches of the Continental Shelf.

Any such proposition would make far more difficult what is obviously already the difficult problem of the Shetlands' relationship with the Scottish Assembly. A second effect would be that the price of North Sea gas, at any rate as sold in Scotland, would have to be raised nearer to an oil-related price. Also, in respect of what other resources, natural or otherwise, should the right of prior claim be exercised once the principle is established in respect of North Sea oil? If one accepts the principle of distribution in accordance with need, one cannot also justify prior claims to particular bits of tax revenue simply because it seems locally advantageous.

Photo of Mr Toby Jessel Mr Toby Jessel , Twickenham

The usual claim of members of the Scottish National Party is to describe as Scottish oil the oil found in fields north of a latitude line stretching directly east from the border at Berwick. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the latitude line has no significance whatsoever except that it is parallel to the equator? What distinguishes England from Scotland is the border. If the line of the border from the Solway Firth near Carlisle is projected in a straight line through the border at the coast at Berwick, it goes at an angle of 54 degrees, north of east, and hits the Norwegian coast near Bergen opposite the Shetland Islands. Most of the oilfields are to the south of that line.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Order. There has already been one intervention to that effect. I must point out that nearly 50 right hon. and hon. Members wish to speak in this debate.

Photo of Mr Edmund Dell Mr Edmund Dell , Birkenhead

I note what the hon. Gentleman says. All I say is that in the Financial Times the other day I saw a letter from the Chairman of the English National Party saying that the Forties field was in the English sector.

Scotland will, of course, benefit from North Sea oil revenues. Indeed, since Scotland at present receives substantially more public expenditure than the national average, it would not be unreasonable to expect that Scotland will benefit more than most. Those Scots who suggested, I understand, in a recent opinion poll that Scotland should benefit in proportion to her population seem to be asking for rather less than they are likely to get.

The real problem is one of principle, a principle which this House must decide. In a federation, the theory is that expenditure should depend essentially on the resources of the individual States, although, as a matter of fact, in most federations these are increasingly topped up by the federal Government because normally the tax revenues of the individual States are not sufficient to cover the needs of their people. We are a unitary State. It is the intention that we should remain so, subject to a large measure of devolution, which yet leaves the central Government responsible for distribution in accordance with need. The question of principle is whether we continue as, in the past, to deploy public expenditure in accordance with some assessment of need or whether we now abandon or substantially modify that principle and relate expenditure more closely to the source of revenue.

If we do that, however, let us recognise that the regions which gain will do so at the expense of others. Every extra penny which goes to the better-off regions reduces what can go to the worse off. Scotland, with its North Sea oil, might benefit. The North-West of England would lose. So would Wales. As the hon. Member for Conway (Mr. Roberts) implied, and as my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) said more bluntly, if we are to have a geographical division of North Sea oil revenue, Wales will not get a penny.

Certainly one of the objects of devolution is to permit diversity. Diversity will be possible by changing priorities within the block grant. There is also the local taxation surcharge to finance diversity. We all know, as the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) said, that the rates are an unpopular tax. But is hydrocarbon taxation, which was suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Dr. Bray), so popular? Public expenditure needs to be justified to a critical public. We should not imagine that there are poular taxes waiting to be levied which will free us from that responsibility.

The Government's conclusion is that we should adhere to the present principle that need, not source, determines the allocation of expenditures. It is because of this essential principle that we concluded in favour of the block grant.

I end with a plea for the unity of this nation. The greatest benefit we can create for ourselves is that to be achieved by our own united efforts really to regenerate our industry and to find once more the sense of purpose for which we once had credit in the world. What I hope we are debating today is not separation but the road to a more perfect union

4.1 p.m.

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

I beg to move, at the end of the Question to add: ', affirms the need for an Assembly in Scotland, but rejects the Government's particular proposals for Scotland and Wales which will lead to confusion and conflict, and which will threaten the unity of the United Kingdom'. That amendment stands in the name of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, other right hon. and hon. Friends and myself.

I think that the House would join me in expressing great regret at the absence of the Paymaster-General for so much of this historic debate. If he had been present for more of the time he would have heard many fine debating speeches and the eloquent destruction of the White Paper's policy not only by members of the Conservative Party but also by members of the Labour Party. However, now that we have had the advantage of his interesting speech I take some comfort from the fact that the facts, figures and arguments which he has put forward, far from supporting the case for the White Paper, go a long way towards reinforcing the views of those hon. Members who are against it.

The case which the right hon. Gentleman has made for the economic unity of the United Kingdom is, indeed, most powerful. I do not quarrel with the facts which he put forward in support of his case. As he is a Socialist I think he might well have been interested to remind the House that the National Coal Board would frequently have made a profit since nationalisation but for the losses incurred by its Scottish Division. That is a factor of Scottish life which may be regrettable, is nobody's fault, but of which we should take note. I shall deal with other aspects of the right lion. Gentleman's speech with which, however, the Conservatives disagree in the course of what I hope will not be a long speech.

During the debate there have been frequent references to the Kilbrandon Report. As I was the only Member of this House who signed that Report and as this is my maiden speech on devolution, I hope that I, too, may make some comments upon it. After making extensive inquiries in all parts of the United Kingdom, we found that there was a widespread feeling that Government was remote and insufficiently sensitive to people's views and feelings. That complaint varied geographically, However, it was additional to the more general and now increasingly serious complaint about the ever-growing power of the State.

The Commission's task was to find out what demand, if any, there was for change, whether by devolution, more decentralisation by the offices of the Secretary of State, or in other ways, having regard, as we were required to do by our terms of reference, to the national feelings of the people in Scotland and Wales. We found in both countries a desire for greater recognition in Whitehall and here in Parliament of the national identities and the local problems of Scotland and Wales. For example, Scottish lawyers complained that when we passed United Kingdom legislation we did not ensure that it dovetailed with Scottish law. However, I am glad to say that if certain recommendations of the Committee on the Preparation of Legislation are accepted by the Government and the House, that defect will be put right.

It is one thing to consider what needs to be done but, as we mentioned in paragraph 295 of the Kilbrandon Report, few of those who complained of the present system had thought out fully the consequences of a more regional system of Government. This intellectual gap—if one may call it that—was described more crisply in a remark made, of course, in another context, by Henry James, when he said, Until you try, you don't know what you can't do. The Royal Commission did try and it did consider what might be done. It set out the options in great detail. It unanimously rejected separatism and federalism and then considered decentralisation and devolution.

It found that, broadly speaking, there were six forms that they could take. The first possibility was executive devolution to an Assembly. The second was legislative devolution to an Assembly. I should explain that in the nomenclature which the Commission used, "legislative" included "executive", so that when it spoke of "legislative devolution" it meant "legislative and executive devolution".

The third possibility were regional councils without any executive or legislative functions, but with a consultative and advisory rôle.

Fourthly, there was the Douglas-Home proposal of a Scottish Assembly with the same functions as regional councils—deliberative, consultative and advisory—plus the opportunity to play some part in the early stages of the passage of legislation in our Parliament.

Fifthly, there was the possibility of further decentralisation of the Departments of central Government. The Commission found that people were extraordinarily ignorant of the degree of decentralisation that had already taken place by both the Scottish and Welsh Offices. It found that there was little scope for further decentralisation by the Scottish Office which was pretty firmly established in Edinburgh, but that there was some scope for further decentralisation by the Welsh Office.

Lastly, we pointed out that another way of dealing with the problem, if there were one, was by having a system of regional committees in this House.

Photo of Mr George Reid Mr George Reid , Stirlingshire East and Clackmannan

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman concede that there is now a seventh option? Why does he place so much credence on the Kilbrandon Report when Lord Kilbrandon himself, in the light of changed economic, social and political circumstances in Scotland, has changed his mind? Is he not aware that Lord Kilbrandon now gives it as his view that a new constitutional relationship will develop between Edinburgh and Brussels with Westminster fading away?

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

There were many more than the six broad options which I have stated. I am trying to give the House in a relatively short speech what I regard as the essentials. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not tempt me further, or I shall incur the displeasure of Mr. Speaker. I shall have something to say about the relationship with Brussels in relation to the White Paper. On the general analysis of the problems and the description of the alternative ways of dealing with them, I was in broad agreement with my colleagues, but I could not agree that that analysis justified legislative or executive devolution.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

The right hon. and learned Gentleman signed the Report.

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

When the Lord President, from his sedentary position, points out that I signed the Report, he overlooks the fact that I opted, as I shall point out later, for the Douglas-Home proposals which excluded legislative and executive devolution.

It seemed to me that the powerful arguments with which we demolished the case for federalism applied with just as much force against executive devolution and with even more force against legislative devolution. Legislative devolution seemed to me then and seems to me now, especially after reading the White Paper, to be "federalism writ almost as large". But the Douglas-Home plan appealed to me because it introduced no new tier of government and no fragmentation of the soveignty of Parliament on which the unity of the United Kingdom is based. Therefore, it was different in kind, not merely different in degree, from both executive and legislative devolution.

As I said, I therefore opted for those proposals. But I must stress that those proposals are not before the House in this debate. The only matters before us are the Government's White Paper, their motion to take note of it, and the amendments to that motion.

As has been made clear by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, we are strongly opposed to the Whtie Paper because its devolution proposals for Scotland and Wales would lead to confusion and conflict and threaten the unity of the United Kingdom.

I want to deal in particular with the effect of those proposals upon local authorities in Scotland and Wales because it would be most damaging. They will be placed partly under the supervision of the proposed Executives in Scotland and Wales, but not entirely.

Photo of Mr Gwynfor Evans Mr Gwynfor Evans , Carmarthen

Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman develops that point, will he address himself to what seems to me to be the more basic point: does one infer from his remarks that he regards Wales as that kind of historic community which we call a nation? If so, does he think that Wales should ever be free to act as a nation, to live as a nation, to make her own decisions and choices and to take her own initiatives as a nation?

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

Perhaps I may answer that question by saying that I am the son of a Scotsman who followed Dr. Johnson's advice and came to England. I have spent many happy times in Wales I was always touched by the generous welcome which members of the Welsh Bar gave to members of the English Bar when we went there. The great strength of the United Kingdom and what has enabled us together to rise to the greatness which undoubtedly we achieved in the world and may one day regain lies in having retained our separate national identities while pooling our resources, talents and sentiments for the public good of the United Kingdom.

I should now like to bring the House back to the more mundane but down to earth and practical question of how the White Paper will affect local authorities in Scotland and Wales.

Before coming to detailed references to the White Paper, I should say that reliance upon the block grant which the Postmaster-General explained—[HoN. MEMBER: "Paymaster-General."] Yes, the Paymaster-General. The Postmaster-General was started by Oliver Cromwell, but the Paymaster-General was started, I think, by Queen Elizabeth I, so he has the edge on it.

If ever there were damning with inadequate argument, it was when the Paymaster-General described the block grant as being not ideal but, given devolution, the best solution. I should have thought there were so many arguments against the block grant that that in itself was an argument against devolution.

As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition pointed out last Tuesday, the Scottish local authorities are protesting strongly against what they regard as an interference with their present discretion and opportunities as a result of the block grant proposals.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

If the right hon. and learned Gentleman consults his right hon. Friend, he will discover that she was talking about the Welsh local authorities.

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

I think that I must apologise to you, Mr. Speaker, because I am being tempted away from the straight and narrow path. All I will do is to refer the Secretary of State for Scotland to columns 230 and 231 of Hansard of 13th January where he will see exactly what my right hon. Friend said about the seminar in Glasgow—now the week before last—and the protests which were made.

I turn now to the structure proposed for the Executives as it affects the local authorities. It is a most confusing situation. In devolved matters the Executives would be a new tier of government between the local authorities and the central Government. They would be intermediary overlords. However, in non-devolved matters local authorities will continue to be supervised by Secretaries of State and other Ministers. Therefore, we shall have parallel chains of responsibility.

That would be confusing enough, but the situation gets worse. In devolved matters the Secretary of State in each case will dominate the new Executives by means of his wide reserve powers—in Scotland under paragraph 73—and he will thereby be enabled to override decisions, acts, omissions, policies and, regarding Scotland, legislation. He will also have default powers under paragraph 73 c, as well as reserve powers.

In addition to dominating the Executive in that way, he will, it seems, retain over the local authorities some of his existing default powers and his appellate powers in planning and some other matters. I think that we should have clarification of this, because it is not spelt out in the White Paper—if all these existing statutory powers are to go away, we should be told.

But even what I have described is not all, for in Scotland any way the Secretary of State is to retain his powers on planning, land use and compulsory purchase. Paragraph 132 of the White Paper begins by saying, The Scottish administration will be generally responsible for physical planning and the environment. We know that the Scottish local authorities already have responsibilities in that field. The regional councils have responsibility for strategic planning and the district councils for detailed planning.

Paragraph 133 then reads as follows in relation to Scotland: The administration's powers over land must however be qualified. Firstly, it is essential that the new community land legislation should apply uniformly; divergences could lead to damaging economic distortions. But in relation to Wales there is no such fear about the way in which the Welsh Executive may deal with the new Community Land legislation. I wonder why there is this difference. Is it because the Government fear that in Scotland they might not have the solid Labour majority that they hope for in the Welsh Executive and the Welsh Assembly? There must be a reason for the difference that has been made between Scotland and Wales in this matter, and we should be told what it is.

Photo of Mr Robin Maxwell-Hyslop Mr Robin Maxwell-Hyslop , Tiverton

Does not this strange difference echo what happened after the February election, when special provision was made for rate relief in Wales and not for the rest of the United Kingdom?

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

I am being tempted. I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me if I do not follow him. Paragraph 133 continues: The Scottish administration will however have substantial supervisory functions under the legislation. That is, over local authorities. Secondly, the devolution of planning powers will be subject to a continuing right—which should not need to be used often—for the Government to 'call in' any particular planning issue for their decision if the general United Kingdom interest is affected, for example, on non-devolved matters like defence. The Government will probably also need to keep the right to settle any disputes over compulsory purchase affecting such matters. What about planning appeals? We have not been told. We have reached the extraordinary position, as a result of these paragraphs, that in planning, which is perhaps the most difficult and delicate of all local government responsibilities, strategic planning will be done by both the new Executive and the regional councils and detailed planning will be done by district councils. In addition, the Secretary of State will have the right to call in any particular planning issue and presumably also still to decide planning appeals. That means that there will be four tiers of Government in planning matters—too many cooks to spoil the Scotch broth.

It will mean delirium for developers and purgatory for planners. Yet the Prime Minister, in opening the debate, blandly said that the Government pro- posals did not create a new tier of government. That fallacy was first expounded by Lord Crowther-Hunt in his minority Report, and it was repeated by the Secretary of State for Wales the other day. I have a great respect for him as a learned friend, although he is not technically a political one. He should have known better than to repeat that fallacy.

When my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was speaking last week, the Lord President intervened to suggest that the White Paper takes no discretion away from the local authorities. I do not suppose that he still holds that view, because it has been pointed out time and time again in the debate that it does take away discretion. That is clear, not only from paragraph 133 but also from what he has said about the devolved subjects in relation to both Scotland and Wales. It is clear from the paragraphs under the heading "The Devolved Subjects" that many things now done by local authorities will be done by, or be supervised by, the new Executive. Also —and here can also be an interference with the discretion of the local authorities in Scotland—the Scottish Assembly will be free to pass new laws taking discretion away from local authorities. Therefore, we say that the Government's proposals, confusing as they are, with this dual chain of responsibility and overlapping functions, will have a damaging effect on local authorities in Scotland and Wales. The proposals seem to me to be a constitutional nightmare.

I hope that the House will bear with me while I deal briefly with one other main topic—the effect of the White Paper in the context of our membership of the European Economic Community. I wish first to make the general point that, having joined the EEC, which is inspired by closer collaboration with our European partners within a larger economic union, it would now be a strange constitutional departure to embark on that degree of political and economic fragmentation which legislative and executive devolution would cause. However, the Government think that it can be done, and so we should consider how they propose to do it. It is set out in paragraphs 87 to 92. They are, of course, right to say first that they must be solely responsible for international relations, including those with the EEC.

Then the Government point out that both in the European Community and in other contexts international business would touch increasingly on devolved matters. Indeed, it would. But then comes the rub. How are the new Executives in Scotland and Wales to be prevented from infringing EEC laws? The Government's answer is in paragraph 91, which says that there must be close consultation, and that if that fails reserve powers will be used. But in paragraph 92 they go on to say: Ensuring that positive action is taken as needed to fulfil new European Community or other obligations is complex. Of course it is so, and it is quite clear from what follows in that paragraph that the Government do not expect matters to run smoothly.

Of course, there are bound to be conflicts, local pressures, vested interests, and some very awkward decisions will have to be made. It is obviously necessary that they should be made at the centre, otherwise we cannot be represented in the EEC as a united Kingdom. But surely the ways, which this House is building up with the support of all parties, of resolving these things within our own Parliament are far better than dispersing the responsibility and the decision-making and then having decisions unmade or revoked through various expedients at the instance of the Secretary of State calling upon Parliament to do it. That is a further argument against devolution. It could, I believe, weaken our position in the Community, where it is essential that the Government should be seen to be leading the whole of the United Kingdom.

To those who say that the Germans manage all right with their federal system, my answer is twofold. First, if the German Federal Republic had entered the Community not as a federal republic but with a unitary system, as we did, it would not now be going federal. It would not now be embarking upon executive and legislative devolution to the Länder. Secondly, although one hesitates to speak of the affairs of another country, I believe that membership of the Community is likely increasingly to limit the freedom of the Länder in the exercise of their powers.

In conclusion—

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

Surely, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman is the only parliamentarian who was a member of the Kilbrandon Commission, he will now give us the benefit of the Commission's views and inquiries into the system of electing Assemblies. Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give us the benefit of his view of the reasons why the Commission was unanimously in favour of a form of proportional representation in the election of the Assemblies?

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

I know that the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) can read and I hope that he will again read the Kilbrandon Report. That Report is not before us today, and nor are the Douglas-Home proposals. What is before us is the Government White Paper, and the hon. and learned Gentleman will have noted that there is no reference in it to proportional representation.

Our country is going through difficult times. It is not our system of parliamentary democracy which causes trouble and discontent among the people but economic circumstances and the ever-increasing cost of State activity and interference. I do not believe that we shall ever make our country or any part of it happy and great again by cutting ourselves off from each other on either side of Hadrian's Wall or Offa's Dyke. Our best hope is surely to try to appreciate and trust each other by striving together for the good of the United Kingdom.

4.35 p.m.

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

I find a certain incompatibility between the remarks of the right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) and the Conservative amendment. I do not want to follow in great depth what he said but to make my own approach and to say that, although at the moment the Chamber may think me to be rather like the man who has not heard of Howard's aspirin, I am myself a fundamental devolutionist.

I was a fundamental devolutionist long before the Scottish National Party—if its members will forgive my saying so—became in any way an active force in Scottish politics. I became a fundamental devolutionist in the mid-1950s when I was associated, as some of my colleagues will recall, with resolutions at Scottish Labour Party conferences aimed at trying to achieve a Labour Party policy at the time in favour of a Scottish elected Assembly.

My reasons were compelled by the logic of the Scottish situation. I think that it is in part a genuine difficulty in understanding the logic of the Scottish situation which leads to so many doubts among hon. Members representing English constituencies. It is a logic containing a number of factors.

First, there is the simple fact—these are rather obvious points—that Scotland has a separate and different legal system. It has had for very many years a rather different education system. For example, I would quote two arguments which were raging through England during the 1950s but which left Scotland almost wholly uninvolved. There was the great debate about comprehensive education, which was almost a non-debate in Scotland because we were so familiar with the system and the way in which it had naturally developed there. Secondly, there was the argument which raged about Church schools. That, too, left us alone. We had resolved these matters for ourselves and did not have the same problems as England at the time.

In housing, Scotland has a different rent structure and different traditions—a different degree and kind of housing problem. I remember that at the time Glasgow and the West of Scotland were described as the worst-housed area in Western Europe, and many people in the Labour Party in Western Scotland, including some of my hon. Friends who are by no means as enthusiastic for devolution as I am, were insistent that there should be a special Glasgow housing programme separate from the rest of the United Kingdom housing programme in order to resolve that tremendous direct need in Scotland.

All these were part of the logic of the Scottish situation. It seemed to me then, therefore, and still seems to me, that it is sensible and logical to allow Scottish democratic decision-making to determine Scottish priorities. I must begin from that simple conclusion. Of course, if one decides that Scottish priorities should be reflected by Scottish decision-making, a great many other things flow from that decision.

But two new dimensions have arisen in the last 10 years. The first is the rise in effective politics of the Scottish National Party. I do not regard that as a major factor. I would not be governed or influenced in my attitude to devolution, or what should happen in terms of an elected Scottish Assembly and the powers it should have, by what the SNP is saying. I believe that what is important to conclude is what is right and what is sensible. I hope that my judgment on that is not determined in any way by the political problems that are faced in Scotland as a result of the political force of the SNP.

The second new dimension in the past 10 years is a simple one and reflects what has been happening in the United Kingdom. It is difficult to define but every hon. Member is fully aware of it. We have seen the emergence of a new trend for more direct involvement in decision-making at all levels. In Scotland it was possible for this to be canalised in the feeling that there should be an elected Scottish Parliament. In the various regions of England such a canalisation of this new trend—a desire for more involvement in decision-making —has not been possible because the institutions were not there upon which this desire could be focused. In Scotland it could be expressed in the demand for an elected Assembly. This is a fact—not a value judgment—and it has to be taken into account.

I am convinced that one option which is no longer open to us is that of doing nothing. But it follows that whatever we do must be right. This leads me to the details of the White Paper. I say to those of my English Labour movement colleagues who are suddenly full of doubt about the whole proposition of devolution that we had the Kilbrandon Report, we had the 1964 White Paper, we had the Labour Party manifesto and the Scottish manifesto, and if some of them have only now chosen to wake up to the facts of life, that is their mistake and no one else's.

How do we get the decision right? In my days in Government we might have called this White Paper a White Paper with very broad green edges. It obviously has a large Green Paper element within it because my right hon. Friend the Lord President has written to 300 or 400 organisations asking for their comments on it. The Labour Party, as a Labour Party, still has to comment as also has the Scottish Trades Union Congress. In fact, all the major organisations of Britain still have to give their views on it. In that sense the White Paper of which we shall take note tonight has very green edges indeed.

During the debate my right hon. Friend the Lord President and others have offered to take considerable account of some of the points raised when they are reflected in further considerations and in eventual legislation. To this extent my hon. Friends the Members for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars)—I am sorry that he is not present —and Paisley (Mr. Robertson) have been distinctly over-hasty in their reaction. Apparently, they have regarded the White Paper as the Government's final word on the subject and have not taken account of the fact that it is open to debate, discuss on and change. They have made a great mistake in their over-hasty and somewhat emotional reaction to the situation.

Indeed, did I not think that the White Paper has distinctly green edges on a number of points I might be hesitating in my vote tonight, but because I am certain that full account can be taken of all the points that have been made I shall not hesitate to vote with the Government this evening.

However, I wish to criticise the White Paper in several respects. First, I should like to quote from a short article by my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) in The Political Quarterly last week. I find myself in considerable agreement with him on these matters. He said that: The Secretary of State's rôle of old colonial governor must go. I have a sneaking feeling that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland would agree that the contemplation of his rôle in these matters verges on the point of absurdity. This matter has to be discussed fully. Some hon. Members have suggested that it is a rôle which should be carried out by the Queen or the Queen's representative. This formal exercise—that is all it is—of the formal powers involved in devolution would be better carried out by the Queen or her representative, with the Secretary of State reserving himself some of the meaningful arguments that might arise. He need not also put a crown on his head and act as the sovereign in these matters—

Photo of Mr Eric Ogden Mr Eric Ogden , Liverpool, West Derby

If the present Secretary of State for Scotland even remotely resembles an old colonial governor some hon. Members who represent English constituencies might think that it was England he was governing, not Wales or Scotland.

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

I am afraid that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, for whom I have the highest regard, might be depressed by the problems that will face him if he has to exercise purely formal powers, which could easily be carried out in some other way. That point could easily be put on one side and another way found probably through the Crown.

Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Birmingham Handsworth

My right hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mrs. Hart) should make it clear that if the powers were to be exercised at all, they would have to be exercised by a credible authority and not by a formal ceremonial authority. However, it is possible that she envisages the Government behaving like the Governor-General of Australia, but would not this do violence to the convention of the constitution under which the Queen's representative does not intervene at all?

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

A formal power has to be exercised. The protection of the people of Scotland is guaranteed simply because Scotland would remain an essential unit of the United Kingdom. No Governor-General in Scotland would be allowed to get away with the behaviour of the Governor-General of Australia. Westminster would protect the Scots.

Secondly, there is in some respects a remarkable insensitivity about some of the words and nomenclatures that are used in the White Paper. I agree with the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pent-lands (Mr. Rifkind) who said last week that the use of the phrases "chief executive" and "assistants to the executive" would not be entirely propitious. I can appreciate the problems and battles that there must have been in Whitehall about exactly what words were to be used. However, there are other possibilities For example, a commonly used phrase in the Commonweath is that of "Chief Minister", not Prime Minister. All kinds of nations name their different ministers in different ways. I am sure that we could find a nomenclature which was less offensive than these rather derogatory terms "chief executive" and "assistants to the executive". However, that is a minor matter.

Thirdly, a more important matter—1 state only my points of objection; I am not analysing them or offering alternatives —is that powers in agriculture and transport must be more fully devolved. The present mix will not do.

Fourthly, the formula for the arrangement of financial transfers from the United Kingdom to the Scottish Assembly will not do either. I genuinely take objection to the phrase—again, I return to some of the insensitivities of the phrases and formulae that are used—"block grant". For one brief week of my life when I was originally appointed Paymaster-General—between my appointment and the announcement of the Kilbrandon Commission—I was responsible for this matter of devolution. Even with the most rapidly moving Minister, one week is not quite enough to produce entire new policies. However, because of my experience in the Scottish Office, I was very interested and I suggested to some people in Whitehall the concept of the block budget. I am not saying that I originated it but I tried to give it a little push.

There is a great difference between the idea of a block budget and a block grant. The word "grant" implies that Westminster in its benevolence is bestowing something upon Scotland which Scotland can then allocate as it chooses. The idea of a block budget is that Scotland has its rightful, justified entitlement to its share of tax revenue which it can then distribute in terms of its various programmes of public expenditure. There is a subtle but important psychological difference between the idea of the block grant, and that of the sharing of revenues, with Scotland, through its block budget, having the right to make decisions about the allocation of its own domestic expenditure. Therefore, I hope that that will be changed.

I hope, too, that in the field of economic relationships, which again is one of the major elements of debate and dispute, there will be some changes. I should not like those changes to be quite of the nature that the SNP proposes, nor, indeed, of the nature that my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire is proposing, because I do not think that either has got it right. What they have not got right is the fact that the viability of the Scottish economy, in an age of trans-national corporations, and of the intensification of capitalism the concentration of ownership in industry and in investment in industry, in an age where these are the two prime factors inhibiting economic development in Britain, is inseparable from the viability of the United Kingdom economy. If people do not understand that, they do not understand the nature of the economic forces that are holding back Britain at present.

Having said that—and I choose my words as carefully as I can—I think that, given the inseparability of the two economies of Scotland and the whole of the United Kingdom, the division of responsibility must be relevant to the economic realities. To what does that lead us? I recall a couple of weeks ago hearing Margo MacDonald, a former Member of this House, on a television programme. She said, There is to little indigenous investment in Scotland. That is why we need control over economic affairs in Scotland. Let us look at this matter, because I think that that represents the view of a considerable number of members of the SNP in their approach to the need for greater economic powers.

What are the sources of investment in Scotland? Are they the banks, the insurance companies, the financial institutions? Hardly, because almost every one of the insurance companies, banks and financial institutions of Scotland are irrevocably and inseparably linked with the private financial institutions that operate in the City of London. There is, of course, the possibility that the SNP might be well ahead of anyone else in Britain in bringing into public ownership all the financial institutions of Scotland. However, from the remarks made by members of the SNP, I hardly think so.

Then there is the source of investment from British-based transnational corporations. We can control the Britain trans-national corporations only on the basis of United Kingdom measures. Scottish measures cannot alone control the British transnational corporations.

Or from the foreign-based transnational corporations? But again, if they have a Scottish involvement, and to the extent that they do—generalising, for there are exceptions—it stems from a United Kingdom involvement, and not from a peculiary Scottish involvement. Chrysler is an example, as are Honeywell and Hoover—look where one will. Therefore, in order to deal with that element of possible investment that is related to foreign-based multinationals, that must again be done on a United Kingdom basis.

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

Of course. I am waiting for some answer from SNP hon. Members.

Photo of Mr Douglas Henderson Mr Douglas Henderson , Aberdeenshire East

Far be it from me to refuse such a pressing invitation as that, but does the right hon. Lady not agree that many overseas multinational companies find the United Kingdom market somewhat irrelevant to their requirements now? Some of the companies that she has mentioned are exporting far beyond the United Kingdom. What they are looking for in Scotland is stable conditions and good resources of labour, location and so on. Therefore, this United Kingdom argument is now becoming increasingly irrelevant, particularly now that entry into the EEC

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

I will answer this point very briefly.

Photo of Mr John Stokes Mr John Stokes , Halesowen and Stourbridge

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We are hearing a long speech. Some of us have been in the Chamber for many hours over the whole debate, but long interventions are still occurring. Will some of the English Members be able to get in to speak later?

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. I earnestly hope so— if we do not get too many points of order.

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

I shall keep the House for only another moment or two. I have almost finished what I want to say. The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Henderson) will forgive me for not following through on this matter. I hope to discuss it with him separately.

If we consider sources of investment for the Scottish economy—and this is essentially what the Scottish economic problem is about—it is no use pretending that some new macro-economic powers within Scotland will resolve the problem.

Then, however, one comes to the functions of the Scottish Development Agency and those of its functions which are relevant for exercise in Scotland. I con-not see the argument for limiting the powers of the SDA, as the White Paper proposes. It does not seem to me to be of tremendous importance if the exercise of SDA powers by the Scottish Assembly and the Scottish Executive were indeed to result in some different levels of grants and incentives. For one thing, there is increasing evidence that the level of grants and incentives is not the factor that determines the location of industry within the United Kingdom. If a separate exercise of these powers by the SDA were to show that a different way of disposing of grants and incentives was relevant, that would be a very interesting lesson to be learned, and no doubt Westminster would learn it. But there is no terrible danger to United Kingdom unity in the carrying out of that particular SDA function in the Scottish Assembly and Executive.

I do not think that either the Scottish Assembly or the SNP can be King Canute standing in the way of the tide of the advance of the powers of international capitalism. However—here I make a very correctly partisan and party point—what can stand in the way is a united Labour Party and a united Labour movement, and to that extent I strongly regret what one or two of my hon. Friends have done. I think that the best way to meet the economic anxieties of the Scottish people is to implement the economic programmes of the party. That is the advice that I give to the Government if they wish to meet the very real needs of the people of Scotland.

4.58 p.m.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup

You may now give yourself the satisfaction, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you have called an English Member from the most southeasterly tip of the United Kingdom, although it may not give everybody else in the House the same sort of satisfaction.

I am very glad to have this opportunity of addressing the House on what I regard as an all-important factor for the future of the United Kingdom. I took the liberty of reminding the House, when I spoke last Monday on the situation in Northern Ireland, that we were to have a live-day debate on the United Kingdom. This is the last day. It has been a debate on the future of the United Kingdom as a whole, as well as a debate on the possible machinery of government for the individual component parts of it.

It has taken place against a background of two major factors in this situation today. The first major factor is that I do not think that anyone today looking at the situation of the United Kingdom as a whole, which is our first purpose, can doubt for a moment that the Union is in danger. I believe that it is essential that this should be said clearly in the House of Commons and that it should be recognised throughout the country. We may not all agree on the exact nature of the dangers, but I for one have absolutely no doubt that the danger to the Union is there. The Union is in grave danger. I do not believe that anyone can challenge that.

There is the danger to the Union in Northern Ireland, where for six years successive Governments have been unable to get on top of terrorism. We must face that fact. We have failed to produce a constitution of any kind which has proved over any lengthy period to be acceptable to both communities in Northern Ireland. This has led to a growing demand for the Westminster Government to pull out the troops and to leave the Irish to sort it out for themselves and, if necessary, to fight it out for themselves. The longer we as a Parliament or as a Government fail to produce a solution to both terrorism and constitutional Government in Northern Ireland, the greater becomes the danger to the Union as a whole.

I believe that the Union is in danger in Scotland. I do not think that the fact can be concealed that there is a steady and continuing growth of nationalism in Scotland. To some extent this has reflected itself in the growth of the Scottish National Party.

I hope that we shall not confuse any antipathy which we may quite naturally feel in different parts of the House towards the SNP with a recognition of the growth in Scotland of a national feeling which is deeply rooted and very substantial indeed. It is backed by an intense emotional feeling which we can understand, knowing the history of Scotland and the love that the Scots have for it. It has been consolidated in the past three years by the discovery, exploitation and development of oil in the North Sea. Whatever fun we may have about the projection of the boundaries from Berwick, and so on, we would be treating ourselves with fun if we did not now recognise the enormous force which lies behind Scottish nationalism as a result of the exploration, and indeed the delivery, of oil from the North Sea.

The feeling in Scotland stems, and has stemmed over the past 50 years—this is important to a later part of my argument —from the most drastic economic change. We have seen the decline of the ship repairing industry and also of the shipbuilding industry until it is now a very small factor in Scotland's life. We have seen the decline of the coal-mining industry. In all the three cases the decline occurred to some extent because Scotland was the forerunner in the industries, and the United Kingdom owes an immense amount to Scotland for what it did for those industries during those years.

There has been the mechanisation of agriculture, which has steadily but ruthlessly reduced the number of people on the land. There has been—this is very important—the failure of the motor car industry successfully to establish itself in Scotland after it went there in 1959 and in any case there has been the failure of the component parts industries to move up to Scotland alongside Bathgate and Linwood.

There has been the movement of industrial headquarters to the south which has led to what the Scots themselves describe as the branch office mentality towards Scotland with all the consequences that have followed for employment during every time of recession in the United Kingdom as a whole. Another consequence has been that on the whole research departments have not gone to Scotland. It must also be admitted that for these reasons no Government have been able to persuade research departments to go to Scotland on the scale they would like.

Unemployment has always been at a higher percentage in Scotland than in the rest of the United Kingdom. For most of the past 50 years it has been twice as high, but we are all glad to say that it is probably not more than 50 per cent. higher now. Nevertheless, that is another crucial factor.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

Is it not a little rough when a former Prime Minister rather sweepingly says that Bathgate has been a failure? It was not the motor car industry, in any event, but the truck and tractor division of Leyland, and recently it has had considerable successes.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup

I was using the term "motor car industry" in its widest possible sense. The figures for productivity at Bathgate have always fallen far short of those at Coventry and elsewhere. I have studied these facts for myself. I have been to Bathgate. I want to point out the difficulties that Scotland has genuinely encountered.

It must also be recognised that the pricing policy of the nationalised industries in Scotland has been another constant bone of contention. I recognise the importance that the White Paper attaches to the treatment of the nationalised industries in devolution, but I believe that there must be some change in their general pricing policy. We ourselves referred to this in our manifesto.

Further, the additional transport costs which the Scots face in their industrial development have posed great problems for the Scots for a long time and lie at the bottom of so many problems in Scotland.

Another factor is the lack of understanding—or, if you like, of imagination —in Whitehall in the treatment of Scotland by Government Departments. I will not limit this comment to Scotland, because that policy exists towards some parts of the North of England and towards Wales. It does not stem from malice, from laziness or from incompetence. I believe that it arises from a genuine lack of understanding and imagination in relation to the problems of areas which in ordinary terms are not very far from Government Departments but which, from the point of view of the movement of those who are responsible, seem to be a very considerable way away.

I can well remember the struggle which Harold Macmillan had as Prime Minister, with the support of his Secretary of State for Scotland, to get the investment in Ravenscraig and to get for the Scottish steel industry the money which it ought to have had. I remember all the forces which were lined up against him—all the forces of the free market economy, of the steel industry itself as it was at that time, and of other parts of the country which wanted that project. In the end Harold Macmillan won, but only after a major struggle by himself as Prime Minister of the day assisted by the Secretary of State for Scotland against all the forces which were lined up against him.

Again speaking of the general situation and calling on my own experience, in 1964 I took the EFTA conference to Edinburgh. That was the first time there had been an international political conference in Edinburgh. I did so to try to establish Edinburgh as an international conference centre. How many international conferences have been held in Edinburgh since? The fact that there has been none does not arise from any malice. It is due to a lack of imagination It is very difficult to know how this can be countered without changes with which I shall deal later.

Despite everything which successive Governments have done to try to deal with these problems, and despite the money which has been injected, the Scots feel that we have not coped with the problems. It is this which has produced a very deep sense of injustice amongst a very large number of the Scottish people. We shall ignore it at our peril.

Photo of Mr Ian Gow Mr Ian Gow , Eastbourne

Before my right hon. Friend leaves this very important analysis of the reason for the upsurge in Scottish nationalism, may I ask him to comment on one further point? Does he not think that there is a similarity between the virtual tripling of the Scottish nationalist vote between 1970 and the second General Election of 1974 and the virtual tripling of the Liberal vote in England in the same period? Does he not think that the cause may have been a protest against too much government and not very successful government?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup

My hon. Friend is of course entitled to criticise the administration in which I was Prime Minister. I do not believe that what he suggests is the case. From my analysis of Scotland, as I have said, I believe that this process has been going on for nearly half a century. The Scots are dissatisfied, first because they do not believe that the efforts which have been made have been sufficient to cope with their problems and, secondly, because they believe that, given a chance, they could do much better themselves.

We must recognise—this applies to the Conservative Party in particular, it being a party which believes in individual freedom—that, if people believe that they can make a better job of something themselves, there is a very powerful argument for letting them try to make a better job of it themselves. This has always been one of the most powerful arguments for reconsidering the organisation in Scotland.

I do not believe that the complaint is about over-government. In many ways it is felt in Scotland that Governments have been unprepared to do the things which Scotland obviously wants in the way of assistance in looking after its own affairs. When we ally that feeling to the general characteristics of the Scots—we must remember that they have had their own legal system, their own Church and their own education system for a very long time—we begin to understand why they demand greater control over their own affairs and a better opportunity to do justice for themselves.

There is no doubt that the threat in Wales is not so great, but that is for somewhat contrary reasons. Since 1945 Wales has had greater economic diversity and has been more fortunate in its economic affairs. I realise that Wales has problems with the steel industry and I do not under-estimate them for one moment. Nor do I under-estimate the possible effects that they will have. There will be changes in the attitude of the Welsh people following changes in the steel industry. I have no doubt that there would be a change in their attitude if oil were to be discovered off the Welsh shores. However, at this moment I believe that we can deal with Wales as matters now rest.

The Welsh also want more control of their own affairs. We have seen that manifest itself in the steady process of handing over to them parts of Government Departments and certain responsibilities. I would have thought that that process had worked well, but I believe that once the Scots have their Assembly there will be pressure from the Welsh, which will grow very rapidly, for a Welsh Assembly.

In my view the Union is in danger, and particularly from the situations in Northern Ireland and Scotland. That danger is not caused by the Government putting forward proposals. I do not wish to be controversial but I believe the Government's proposals to be tardy. I do not wish to reflect upon the Prime Minister's motives for changing his party's policy and accepting that there should be a Scottish Assembly. That situation has not been brought about because the Government have produced a White Paper or because the Conservative Party brought forward its proposals many years ago.

We have to decide whether we are dealing with a passing whim or a settled conviction of the people, and particularly those of Scotland. That is the crucial issue. To a considerable extent it is bound to be a matter of judgment. We have all to make our own judgment based on our knowledge and experience. If it is a passing whim due to the present state of the economy and the discovery of oil, it can be argued that we should resist. If it is a passing whim it would be right to put forward arguments to persuade the Scottish and Welsh peoples that there should be no change. However, I cannot convince myself, having considered the history of the matter and my dealings with Scotland and Wales as a Minister and a Prime Minister for approximately 19 years, that this is a passing whim. I believe that there is a settled conviction on the part of the Scottish and Welsh peoples. It needs a substantial political change within the United Kingdom to do justice to their views and to enable the Scots to do justice to themselves.

If this House came to the conclusion that it was dealing with a settled conviction, it would be folly to do nothing. In considering the matter from the essential desirability of keeping the unity of the United Kingdom, to do nothing would lead to a break-up, thereby placing the Union in greater danger. If we were to do nothing, the danger would probably emerge in its most forceful form in the next Parliament. Our task is to find the right means of effectively rejecting separatism, and to do so by meeting the clear desire which I believe exists for change in the present arrangements.

Failing this Parliament doing that, I can foresee a situation at Westminster in which both major parties suffer great losses in Scotland, in which there is a large nationalist representation pledged to a separation. Such a situation would cause damage within Scotland, would damage the Union and would make effective government in this House in the next Parliament impossible. That is the real danger which we face if we take the view that we should do nothing. That is why the Union is in danger.

In looking back to the nineteenth century and the years of the twentieth century it seems that all the lessons of recent history have shown us that not to act efficiently and speedily produces the results which we do not want when difficult forces arise. That has happened in certain overseas situations. It was to be seen as the Commonwealth developed and almost throughout the nineteenth century in terms of the Irish situation.

Let us now consider future policy. If we wish to maintain unity, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition very rightly and eloquently said last Tuesday and as by far the majority in the House wants, the House must put at the top of its priorities the problems of devolution and the methods of dealing with them satisfactorily. Of course, we must also deal with other great matters such as the economy and international affairs, but we must make up our minds that we shall give the highest priority to dealing with the problems of devolution. However unpalatable the problems may be, I am convinced that they will not disappear. They cannot be swept under the carpet.

I suggest that our top priority must be to maintain the unity of the United Kingdom. If we set such store by that unity as we have heard from both Front Benches and from the majority of Back Benchers, we should not be swayed, we should not allow our conduct to be governed by party points or by an irritation that we must deal with yet another difficult and complex problem in addition to the economy, defence and international affairs. We must concentrate on the problem of saving the Union because a break-up cannot be in the interests of any of us here, or of the component parts of the United Kingdom.

I turn to the second outcome of the debate as I have listened to it—and I have listened to a great deal. It seems that the House has shown that it is not yet in a position to come to a considered conclusion about the details of devolution. There is not that corpus of agreement which one likes to see when dealing with major constitutional matters. That is understandable, as this is an immensely complex matter. It is difficult to make judgments on each individual aspect.

However, every time one of us says, "I have only just realised that this is going on", suspicions in Scotland are confirmed. This is a debate which has been continuing in a strenuous form in Scotland and Wales for a decade. When the Scots and the Welsh read that some of us cannot go forward on these matters or that one of us has said, "I cannot give a judgment on this proposition as I have only just realised that this is being put to us", they say "They are out of touch. They do not know what is going on. They do not know the nature of our aspirations. They cannot consider these matters from our point of view."

This argument has been continuing for a decade. We Conservatives—I think I can mention this because we deserve some credit for it—as far back as 1966 started to try to produce conclusions and to put forward proposals. The demand came from the grass roots and not from the leadership. At the end of 1966 the policy group came forward with its proposals. We set up our own Committee prior to the establishment of the Royal Commission and we came forward with proposals. The accusation cannot be levelled at us that we were taking action because of the emergence of the SNP.

I have carefully checked the dates and I have re-read the speeches that were made at the time. The demand came from the grass roots, from the membership, and the policy committee was set up before the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mrs. Ewing) won Hamilton, thereby causing complications for the political parties. We took action before that happened. This is a matter that has been debated at every party conference in Scotland. The Royal Commission was set up seven years ago and its Report was published two and a half years ago. There is not much excuse for saying that we are being taken unawares, but we must face the fact that the House does not yet have a corpus of agreement on how we should move forward on a major constitutional issue of such a difficult character.

In Westminster we must find a way of considering the detailed proposals for devolution which will allow us to obtain a general body of opinion which is in agreement not only about the general proposition but about major aspects of it. We must ask whether there should be devolution. I believe that there must be. It is strange that we are all agreed that there should be devolution for Northern Ireland. The only difficulty is to discover the means to achieve it, and in that we have been unsuccessful. There is a great disparity of view about whether Scotland should have devolution and whether Wales should have anything further.

Perhaps I could deal with the means of devolution. I support the criterion which was mentioned from the Opposition Front Bench by my hon. Friend the Member for North Augus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith), and that is that there should be better government for Scotland and Wales as well as for the United Kingdom. Devolution would take a load off the House of Commons, a load which should be removed because we are not at the moment able to consider satisfactorily all the great problems we want to consider.

The Home proposals were a means of trying to meet the needs of Scotland at the time within what might be called the Westminster circuit. If it had been possible to implement them when they were proposed in 1969–70 they might have carried the day, and been acceptable, and solved a great many of the problems which have developed since. However, having thought deeply about these matters and looked again at the proposals, I believe that the time for them is past. I do not believe they are a form of devolution which will meet the situation in Scotland. I am sorry to say that because I would have liked to see a system which was still part of the Westminster circuit.

Such a system would have meant the creation of a considerable number of conventions but, after all, we in this House live to a considerable degree by convention, and we accept that. Establishing a new part of the legislature which dealt with Scotland would have meant new conventions. We could have done that, but, alas, the time for the Home proposals has gone.

We come to the question whether the Assembly should be directly or indirectly elected. Indirect election would have had the great advantage that it could have been set up quickly and we could have learned from the experience gained in moving on to a form of direct election. I have never excluded direct election under the Home proposals or any other, and nor has my party. I say one thing to my party. Our leader has pledged herself to direct elections—I believe quite rightly—and I support her in that. As a party we have never been addicted to indirect election from local authorities to other superior bodies, and I would not have thought that would appeal to us. If we are to have an Assembly we must face the fact that it will be a directly elected Assembly, and if that leaves us with too many tiers of government then let us arrange later for the removal of one. However, if the Assemblies are established in Scotland and Wales it should be for them to decide which tier of government should be eliminated. We can have our own form of local government in England, and we do not have to insist that the Scots or the Welsh should have the same. They do not have the same at the moment. If, on the advice of their Assemblies, they want to change because they are over-governed, well and good, let them change.

Photo of Mr Paul Bryan Mr Paul Bryan , Howden

Does my right hon. Friend believe that the Scottish Members should retain their present membership of 71 in this House?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup

I had intended to come to that point a little later, but I will deal with it now. I am trying to be realistic. I believe that the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish must have representation on a comparable basis. I know that there are grave political difficulties for any political leader telling the Scots that from the point of view of balance with England and Wales they must change. Perhaps I am in a position now in which I can say it. However, I believe that if the matter were put honestly and openly to the Scots, if they were told "You are to have devolution. Do you not consider it right that your numbers at Westminster should come into proportion?", they would accept that that was right and fair. I have been asked a question and I hope that I have given a straight answer.

Whatever the amount of devolution, it must be clearly defined. Only in that way can confusion be avoided. Many who do not want devolution will seize upon apparent contradictions to try to prevent it. I hope that we may rise above that. It is, however, incumbent upon the Government to make sure that the proposal for devolution is clear, and also that it carries responsibility. The problem about the Government's White Paper is that so often it seems to say—

Photo of Mr James Dempsey Mr James Dempsey , Coatbridge and Airdrie

Will the right lion. Gentleman clear up one point for me? He talks about comparable representation for Scotland. Will he give the House some idea of the formula he would use to determine that representation? What numbers does he suggest should represent Scotland under the proposals he is now submitting?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup

The Kilbrandon Report proposed figures for representation on a comparable basis. I do not want to go into the arithmetic of it, but obviously if the Government accepted Kilbrandon there would be a change in the representation and in the numbers.

The White Paper seems to say "You can run things your way as long as it is our way." That is just not devolution. It is that which is causing the conflict and irritation among those who are affected. There is the particular question of the Secretary of State's powers. My general judgment is that it would be better to devolve a little less and to abolish the Secretary of State's power of intervention than to retain the present proposals in which the Government are suggesting that so much should be devolved but that they will be present all the time. It is essential for the Government to devolve the power and then to let it go to the Assembly.

The present situation will not do. I can understand how it arose, and I can feel how it all came about. It did so in a way which was rather commendable. The reason was that so many involved with the White Paper were genuinely concerned to retain the unity of the United Kingdom. They felt that by handling the matter in this way, letting the tentacles spread out, they would reinforce that unity. I believe that they are endangering it. It was done for other reasons which I do not admire so much. These were Treasury insistence on maintaining control. As a former First Lord of the Treasury I do not wish to be hard on it, because it acted with the best of intentions. However it springs from almost a desire for uniformity for its own sake and for rigidity which affects Scotland, Wales, the North-East and the North-West far more than it affects the South or the Midlands.

Photo of Hon. Thomas Galbraith Hon. Thomas Galbraith , Glasgow Hillhead

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. He is kind to give way so frequently. How is it possible for this House to retain its sovereignty—and this is the point that was made by the Leader of the House—over the whole United Kingdom if these powers are to be completely devolved? Is not my right hon. Friend suggesting federation rather than devolution?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for allowing me to make this point clear. I believe that the powers which are to be devolved should be completely devolved, but that not everything should be devolved, because that would be federation. Parliament would maintain its sovereignty the whole time, and in this the Lord President was absolutely right. The difference is that instead of having a Secretary of State in a position constantly to intervene, it would be much better that the power should be completely devolved and that this House should have the power—which it already has—to change the situation by Act of Parliament if it so decides. If we want to change the situation—I will not attempt to specify any reasons—and Parliament has the right to pass an Act which changes that situation, that would be a better approach than to give the Secretary of State so many powers to intervene on different aspects.

Photo of Mr Nigel Lawson Mr Nigel Lawson , Blaby

Is my right hon. Friend aware that under the Canadian Federal Constitution the Federal Government have a power of disallowance which they can use on legislation passed by provincial Assemblies, and that this power has been used, I believe, on 16 occasions, since 1921?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup

I am not aware of the details, but I know that this power does exist in federal constitutions.

We have to deal with a political atmosphere of intense suspicion in Scotland which has grown up over the years. The suspicion is that the Secretary of State may say "I do not mean to, but I may want to call in your planning permission", and so on. That arrangement will not get support in Scotland.

I want to express my sympathy with the Lord President. He will need a great deal of sympathy from everyone in the coming two years. What he is trying to do in the White Paper is to establish conventions. He is saying "We shall have the powers, but we shall not normally use them or we shall use them only if we feel they should be used for the purpose of defence". Conventions which grow naturally are accepted but conventions which are set out in a White Paper lack conviction. I can see how the Lord President has got into that position.

Parliament remains supreme, and I believe it is right that it should be able subsequently to change an Act of Parliament passed by the Assembly. It is right that the Government should have a system for establishing whether the Assembly's work is intra vires or ultra vires, but my view is that that should be done as far away from the Government as possible. We should not rely on the Law Officers because they would be put in an impossible position. On a legal matter of the constitution the courts should decide whether it is intra vires or ultra vires.

The Government have gone wrong in maintaining a policy veto. I believe that to be unacceptable but, again, I see the reason for it. The Government feel that it will be much easier if they are able to exert influence and to say, "You cannot do it. You had better change your mind". That is unacceptable in a system of devolution. Of course, establish the right to judge infra vires or ultra vires, but people will not be encouraged to believe in the reality of devolution if a policy veto is kept.

It is said that we must avoid conflict. Of course we must as far as we can, but there will always be conflict in politics. There is at present a conflict whether the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is to appear before the Select Committee. There is conflict between this House and the Upper House. What matters is not that there may be conflicts but that there should be an accepted means of resolving conflicts. That is what we have to ensure in every step we take in devolution.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

Does not that bring Her Majesty's judges into a highly sensitive political situation? Does not it make Sir John Donaldson's position almost a model of political integrity?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's slavish following of the Prime Minister's objection to what he calls the legal approach. If there is a written constitution—which this will be —which is an Act of Parliament we are entitled to have it interpreted by the courts, as is done now.

I wish to comment briefly on other matters covered by the White Paper. It is right to maintain a unified Civil Service. I hope that those who are concerned with the Assemblies will accept that the Civil Service honourably tries to serve its master at the time. It may be necessary to introduce special financial arrangements, but it is right to retain a unified Civil Service.

The real nub of the argument about devolution is on the economy. Here I regret to say that I find the general approach too rigid and restrictive. If we are to have a block budget, as it is to be called, it is right that certain powers should be retained for the unified economic policy of the United Kingdom. The Secretaries of State for Scotland with whom I dealt always believed that they were worse off with a block budget. They believed that if they could only have a certain sum at the beginning of the year and a continuing argument with the Treasury during the rest of the year, in the end they would get far more than they had with the block budget. If the Scots want a block budget and want to run it their way, it is better that they should have it, and get satisfatcion from doing it. When they hold strong views they should be allowed to put them into practice.

The Paymaster-General's approach today was a little unimaginative. The pressure in Scotland comes because the Scots believe that for a long time they have suffered grave disadvantages. They are saying that at last they have one economic advantage—oil—and they reckon that that should be used as a pay-off against the disadvantages of the past. They think that they should get a special deal out of the advantage which has come to light. An imaginative approach on this front can do a great deal to commend to the Scots the present or a revised form of devolution.

There are unnecessary limitations on industrial development. Let us keep the arrangements for industrial development certificates, but if the Scots want to spend more in a particular area, for example by reducing the rent of a factory, why cannot they? What is more, some good ideas might come from Scotland and Wales for dealing with matters differently, ideas which could then be followed in the United Kingdom.

That brings me to the EEC. On regional development we are bound by European rules, and I see no reason why Scotland and Wales should not be able to go as far as the European rules permit.

Finally, I come to the question of revenue. It is not enough to say that there can be a surcharge on rates. Throughout the country rates are regarded as the worst method of raising revenue and income for local authorities or anyone else. I do not see why there should not be greater freedom for other means of raising revenue. It may be possible to put an additional tax on petrol if that is what is wished. There must be much more freedom for individuals. The Conservative Party believes in freedom. There is no point in paying lip service to it unless we turn it into a real power in part of the United Kingdom.

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

I cannot let the right hon. Gentleman get away with this. He has been glancing over his shoulder into the past. He said, rightly, that proper consideration has not been given to the Welsh and Scottish problems. Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that it would have been better to solve the economic problems of Great Britain before going into the Common Market—which caused so much annoyance in Wales and Scotland?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley Sidcup

I know that the hon. Gentleman does not wish to provoke me. That question has been settled, and I do not want to go back over that history.

After this debate the House will have to decide how to proceed. What haunts me is the spectre of a majority on each side of the House wanting to move forward to devolution, on many delicate matters not being clear on the best, most effective and safest way of moving forward, yet the House as a whole being unable to come to a decision or to carry the necessary legislation. That spectre haunts me because, as I analysed it at the beginning of my speech, if that happened we should be throwing away the prospect of holding together the United Kingdom. The responsibility rests on us in the House to find a way whereby those who believe that we must move forward on devolution are able to ensure that we do so.

It may be said that that is the Prime Minister's responsibility. Again, I wish to tread delicately, but no one who heard his speech last Tuesday could feel that dynamic enthusiasm one likes to feel, that resolute determination, that flexibility, that adjustment towards meeting other points of view.

The Government having put forward these proposals, I hope that we shall not see a repetition of what happened over House of Lords reform, when the present Foreign Secretary, who did not believe in it, was put in charge of it and then did not back it up. If we are to see that sort of situation develop over the future of the United Kingdom, then the future is bleak indeed, and the Union will remain in danger.

Therefore, I believe that we have to find a means in this House—we have done it before with various other legislative proposals—of working out, before we reach the legislative stage, a common corpus of agreement about the way to move forward. We ought to devote our attention to doing precisely that. It is what the country will expect of us. If we are to maintain the genuine belief of this House in the unity of the United Kingdom, a way must be found, otherwise the Union will not only be in danger it will be broken.

5.41 p.m.

Photo of Mr Arthur Blenkinsop Mr Arthur Blenkinsop , South Shields

We have listened with a great deal of interest to a vigorous speech from the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath). I do not think he will take it as being impolite if I say that I prefer the speeches that he has delivered from his present position in the Chamber. I do not, however, altogether accept his judgment. He appears to be suggesting that we should move to something that is too near to a federation altogether for my liking.

I do not think that we in this House should accept the view, however sincerely some of the Scots may hold it, that they have been disadvantaged by their association with us over the years. I contest that view vigorously. The speech of the Paymaster-General this afternoon blew that concept sky high.

I do not think that it helps anyone to move forward on the basis of pure illusion, and to do anything to encourage that illusion will help none of us in this House or outside. I hope very much, therefore, that when we examine the problem, and above all when we consider the need to look at it from the point of view of the United Kingdom as a whole—as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman wishes us to do—we shall not encourage the growth of illusions, however sincerely held they may be.

Throughout the debate there has been an understandable anxiety—the right hon. Gentleman himself properly expressed it —about the danger of the effect of concessions to nationalists. This could lead us down the road to separatism. I think that we all fear and are anxious about this, apart from a very small minority for whom separatism maybe the undeclared object.

We recognise, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that there is a real demand for a more effective voice for the people of Scotland and Wales—and, I believe, for the people in other parts of the United Kingdom, too.

I live in the North and was born on the English side of the border. The problems that affect us in the North of England are very much those that affect people on the other side of the border.

The right hon. Gentleman listed the industries upon which Scotland has had to rely in the past. These are the heavy industries, which are declining in some respects. They are precisely the industries upon which we rely in the North-East of England, and upon which many rely in the North-West as well. Scotland's problems in relation to shipbuilding, ship repair, coal and the other main heavy industries, are very much our problems in the North of England.

My plea to the House, therefore, is that above all we should take our decisions about the future in a United Kingdom context and not give even the impression of merely coming to decisions under the pressure of strong and very real emotions of a nationalist kind.

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

We cannot in this House, I suggest to my hon. Friend, on the one hand point out that it is necessary for us voluntarily to give powers to groups of powerful commissioners in Brussels and then on the other hand to try to argue that the Scots and the Welsh cannot have certain powers for themselves.

Photo of Mr Arthur Blenkinsop Mr Arthur Blenkinsop , South Shields

I was a strong supporter of our joining the European Economic Community, and I accept the consequences of it. I am simply saying that we must see how the issue of devolution affects us throughout the United Kingdom, including England.

We talk sometimes as though we did not have an existing regional tier in England. We have a regional tier, as has been made very clear in some of the reports presented to us. We have the regional tier that is constituted by the existing ad hoc statutory bodies, and we also have the regional tier represented by the regional representatives of the Ministries and Departments, which are very powerful today in making decisions affecting people in our constituencies. When we talk about regionalism, therefore, we are talking about something that exists already in England in a certain form. We are not talking about something altogether new.

This regionalism may well take different forms in England from the forms it takes in Scotland and in Wales, and I agree entirely with what the right hon. Gentleman said about the desirability of preserving the opportunities for diversity. Indeed, I would call for that within England. I think that we are unnecessarily rigid in our attempts to impose a particular structure over the whole of the United Kingdom. I am quite prepared to examine the necessity for variation within England itself and more widely within the United Kingdom.

Some hon. Members have spoken as though there is no kind of concern about this question in England. I admit that it is not necessarily of the same kind, but there is this demand, particularly in the North-East. I know that the demand is strong also in the North-West. There is a strong demand, above all, for the absorbtion of some of the existing statutory ad hoc bodies on a regional level, and a demand for the transference of some of the powers, now held by regional officers of ministries, to an elected authority. In that sense there is a demand for a regional elected authority—not for an additional regional tier, as some people refer to it, because there is a tier already —which will absorb the ad hoc organisations.

In some respects Scotland is more fortunate in that it has retained its water authority under its local authority control, following the form of reorganisation which took place there. That is not the case in England and Wales.

One of the difficulties about proposing changes that would enable an elected regional authority to come into being in England, in order to take over these responsibilities, is the practical impossibility of our being able to face yet another major local government reform after what we have gone through already. Conservative hon. Members must accept responsibility for that. It is to my mind a tragedy that we have been left in this situation. But that does not mean that we can do nothing even in England. There are ways in which at least we can prepare for the changes that I believe will be necessary in future.

I have for many years argued the need for some form of elected regional authority. There is much preparatory work which we could do in the meantime. Above all, we could make provision for joint action by some of our existing authorities at regional level in connection with the Community Land Act, for example, which plainly demands a regional approach. That is only one example. There are questions relating to employment as well as to land use which could be considered in this way. Industrial location might well be a matter of concern for an elected regional authority.

It would be wrong for us to go further, I believe, beyond the debate which we are now having and the vote to come at the end of it, and embark upon subsequent legislation in isolation, dealing exclusively with Scotland and Wales, without at least a clear definition of the programme ahead for England.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

Are we to understand that the hon. Gentleman favours a regional assembly for the North-East of England similar to those contemplated for Scotland and Wales?

Photo of Mr Arthur Blenkinsop Mr Arthur Blenkinsop , South Shields

No. The hon. Gentleman would have done well to listen more carefully to what his right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup said. I am in favour of some diversity, but I want to know what the picture is to be. That does not mean that I suggest that exactly the same proposals should be applied in England as in Scotland and Wales, but I believe that some of the same objectives should be striven for. We may well adopt somewhat different approaches. I have already indicated some of the matters which we could consider straightaway, without legislative action. There are others—for example, the position of the economic advisory councils—which plainly call for revision and review in any case for us in England.

Let us, therefore, conclude our debate and have our vote. For my part, I see no great difficulty in voting for a motion to take note of the White Paper, and I find it hard to understand some of my hon. Friends' problems in that regard. However, as regards legislation which might be consequent upon the motion, I should expect to know the position and attitude of my right hon. and hon. Friends in the Government to the English situation and the application of devolution and regionalism to England. I want to know their attitude in that respect before I am prepared to go forward with the actual legislation on the changes which will be needed in Scotland and Wales.

In my view, my right hon. and hon. Friends would be wise to take that into account, for one of the dangers in any proposal for the establishment of an Assembly or provisions for devolution, whether precisely in this form or in any of the other forms which have been put forward, is that there would be pressures developing to carry us further down the road to real separation, to independence, which I am sure the great majority of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides do not want.

There could be something of the consensus on this whole matter of which the right hon. Member for Sidcup spoke if we were to get clearer in our minds, for the benefit of all of us in England, the way forward towards greater responsibility for the bulk of our people in England as well as in Scotland and Wales. On those terms, I should welcome further developments through legislation brought before the House.

5.55 p.m.

Photo of Mr David Steel Mr David Steel , Roxburgh Selkirk and Peebles

I start with the proposition that the House has not over the years paid enough attention to constitutional questions. We have watched successive Government attract unto themselves more and more power, invading the daily lives of citizens more and more. They have done it increasingly ever since the end of the Second World War, usually for good reasons though sometimes for bad, and we have not improved the capacity of our parliamentary democracy to check the power of Governments.

Starting from that proposition, and addressing ourselves to first principles, we should, I believe, apply our minds seriously to how we can devolve power —for this is one of the ways to improve our democracy—from an overcentralised machine to one which recognises the diversity of the different parts of the United Kingdom.

In a sense, therefore, I agree with some of the observations of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop), who probably represents—I think that this appeared very fairly from what he said—a wide section of opinion among English Back Benchers. But I must tell him straight away that it would be most unwise for him or for any of his hon. Friends, or for hon. Members on this side, to take the attitude that, because the Government have not come forward with a comprehensive scheme for devolution for the whole United Kingdom, they are not prepared to go forward with proposals in respect of Scotland and Wales. That would be a politically dangerous attitude to adopt.

It is not the fault of Scottish politicians, of any party, that we are considering only one part of devolution. Nor is it, above all, the fault of my party, which has been the only party in the House, within all parts of the United Kingdom, consistently to advocate over a number of years a programme of legislative and executive devolution. In my experience, anyone wanting to gain support for an Early-Day Motion calling for devolution finds that his best time to tout it round among right hon. and hon. Members is at about 3 o'clock in the morning on the Report stage of a Scottish Bill. One will then find considerable enthusiasm for the idea among English Members.

The truth is that, if we were constructing from scratch a system of parliamentary government for the United Kingdom, none of us in any part of the House, I am sure, would advocate the system we now have, under which we legislate separately for Scotland but do so through the already overburdened machinery of this place.

I do not accept that there is no demand in England for devolution. The demand is patchy, but I believe that the hon. Member for South Shields is right—I was in the North-East over the weekend—when he suggests that the North-East is one of the areas where there is a demand. I think that Yorkshire is another, and so is Cornwall. One can identify parts of England where there is a clear demand for devolution from the centre, coupled with—I revert here to what I said at the beginning—a resentment at the shedding of power from the democratic process to various appointed and administrative bodies—the water authorities, the health boards, the electricity boards, the tourist organisations and so on—the country is littered with them. I am sure that there is a demand for a regional democracy which would give people more say over their own affairs.

However, as I say, it is not the fault of my party that we have had no such proposals before us during the past few days. In fact, the Liberal Party is in danger of being boringly consistent on the question of devolution. Just as on other questions such as the Common Market, withdrawal East of Suez and industrial partnership, in time bits of our policy percolate through, but it is not our fault that there is no comprehensive scheme before us, and I very much hope that the hon. Member for South Shields and others will take note of that, recognising that their own wishes in regard to devolution and regionalism ought not to frustrate the development of devolution for Scotland and Wales.

The second significant feature of this occasion is that there is virtually no enthusiasm on the matter in the official Opposition. In find this extremely alarming. It seems to me that the Conservatives have taken a step backwards off the political map of Scotland altogether in the course of the past few months. The right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), the former Prime Minister, was absolutely right when he said that the Douglas-Home proposals would no longer do. Frankly, I never thought that they would do at the time, but certainly they will no longer do as an acceptable basis for devolution. It is no use creating an Assembly in Scotland which is purely cosmetic and which has no real power. It is better to take the stance of the hon. Members for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) and West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) and stand firmly by Unionism. If we create an Assembly with no real power, no authority, which is constantly overruled by this House, we merely build in frustration from the beginning.

My third conclusion during the past few days is that the proposals in the White Paper for Wales have even fewer friends than those for Scotland. I hope that the Government will take note. Even hon. Members such as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) and my hon. Friend the Member for Cardigan (Mr. Howells), who believe in devolution to Wales, find these limited proposals difficult to support. There appears to be widespread opposition to the principle in both the Conservative and Labour camps. I hope that the Government will seriously consider having two separate Bills—for Wales and Scotland. There is a real danger of our getting into a parliamentary stramash if, in one global devolution Bill, we attempt to cover two different countries.

There is a further argument in favour of that. Scotland has always been governed differently from Wales or the English regions. Hon. Members have stressed two aspects of this—first, our differences in Church, law and education, and second, the fact that over the years we have had a separate Scottish Office, with a separate Civil Service Department and administration in Edinburgh, whereas Wales has had those things only fairly recently and over a much more limited area. Those are established facts and grounds for treating Scotland differently.

But there is a third and important argument. The right hon. Member for Sidcup is one of the few hon. Members who has referred to it. He talked about the future of the Union as such. A period of 270 years is still relatively short in human political experience. It is only 270 years since Scotland ceased to be a totally separate independent nation. The defect in the Act of Union of 1707 is that there was no mechanism for changing that settlement.

False parallels were drawn in the debate during the referendum on the decision of Britain to join the Common Market. Whatever our differences of view might have been, there was no dispute that this House could change its mind about membership at any time. That was not the case with Scotland. The only way to change the settlement of 1707 is by the popular will. That is why it is so important for the House to pay attention to public feeling in Scotland.

I do not want to quote a whole series of opinion polls, but there has been a whole series of polls and individual plebiscites, not just over the past few weeks, but over many years. They all come to broadly the same conclusion—that about 20 per cent. of the Scottish people want the status quo and see nothing fundamentally wrong with the present system, that about 20 per cent. would like to go totally independent, and that the remaining 60 per cent. believe that there should be some internal control over our own affairs, however broadly that is defined. It is that 60 per cent. who are feeling more and more strongly that the Government must get on with this subject and who have often been prepared to vote SNP so as to use that party as a political lever to get action from this place. That is understandable.

I regret that the Government have not been willing to accept the idea of a constitutional convention or pre-legislation committee so that those representing that 60 per cent. view—those who, in other words, favour meaningful devolution—could try to hammer out practical proposals. In an extraordinary phrase, the Lord President said last week that, because some people had criticised him for giving too many powers and others had criticised him for not giving enough, he must have got it about right. That is like a judge saying "I have hanged some innocent men and set free some guilty men, so I must have got it about right". There is no logic in that argument. The right hon. Gentleman has not got it right at all. He might have come closer if those in all parties who believe in devolution had been prepared to work out a proper scheme together.

Equally, although time is now running out, there might be some argument for a referendum in Scotland. With the two precedents of the border poll in Northern Ireland and the referendum on the EEC, we can no longer say that a referendum on a constitutional issue is a novelty. If there were a referendum without the progress towards devolution being delayed, the views expressed in the various polls and plebiscites would be reinforced.

The weakest part of the White Paper is that it does not start from the proposition that there should be a clear separation of powers between Edinburgh and London and between Cardiff and London.

That is its basic defect. In some paragraphs it gives powers and in later paragraphs it retains the right to remove or overrule them. It is possible to grant full powers over certain ranges of policy in a statute of this House without necessarily applying a full, purist, federal structure to the United Kingdom.

That is my reply to that section of the Prime Minister's speech in which he dwelt on federalism. It is possible to apply the principle of federalism in a lopsided manner towards the government of Scotland without creating a full federal structure in the United Kingdom. After all, our present system of government in the United Kingdom is not tidy. A few years ago, we had democratic devolution in Northern Ireland and administrative devolution only in Scotland, but none at all in Wales. No one can pretend that we have operated government of the United Kingdom on a totally uniform basis. We should not necessarily seek pure federalism in what we do now.

The White Paper is defective because it seeks throughout to protect the full sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament over every issue. The only way to tackle this is to say that power over certain issues will henceforth be transferred to Edinburgh and that in any dispute there will be a constitutional court.

Strangely enough, I have grown more cheerful rather than less during this debate. I reacted fairly violently on publication of the White Paper because I was genuinely disappointed with it. But in two respects the Government have given us some hope. One is that I think that the Lord President has accepted that the constitutional powers outlined for the Secretary of State for Scotland are not acceptable in Scotland and that he is prepared to consider this matter again. Secondly, he appeared to accept that the decision whether something was ultra vires in the powers of the Scottish Assembly was not best left to the Law Officers. It is too sensitive a political issue. If these two major points are being conceded now, this debate will have been of genuine use.

But there is another point which the right hon. Gentleman has not yet got around—the test of political acceptability. If one accepts my starting point of a clear separation of powers, there is no need for such a test, because some matters will have been devolved totally and Westminster will no longer have control over them. They will be left for the Assembly to get on with; if there is any dispute, it can only be a legal one—whether the Assembly had powers to do certain things.

The example in the White Paper is in many ways the worst that could have been chosen—the possibility that the Westminster Government might overrule the Assembly on something like council house rents. Anyone who knows the politics of Scotland knows that this is one of the explosive issues, that the structure of council and private housing is very different in Scotland from the structure in England. I should have thought that this was the sort of issue that should be left entirely to the Scottish Assembly, without any interference here.

Although we tend to be depressed about the devolution experience in Northern Ireland because of particular issues there, we should not forget that that Assembly was effective in agriculture and industrial development—two areas that the White Paper seeks to deny to the Scottish Assembly. Furthermore, if we are to accept a transfer of real power from Westminster to Scotland, logically we must accept a reduction in over-representation by Scottish MPs in the House of Commons.

I would not accept, nor would any of my English colleagues, if I continued to represent Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles, that I should no longer be able to vote on a Scottish housing Bill because that was being dealt with in Edinburgh, but I should be able to vote on an English Bill that did not affect my constituency, and the 70 other Members over-representing the population of Scotland would continue to vote on it. That is clearly unacceptable, and the reluctance to reduce, as Kilbrandon suggested, the 71 Scottish Members stems from the fact that there is no real transfer of sovereignty from here to the Scottish Assembly, as I would wish.

Time is getting on and there are only two or three other matters to which I wish to refer. The first is financial power. It is essential that the Assembly has some mechanism of revenue raising which enables it to have a budget of its own. The benefit that the United Kingdom will derive from the oil asset will be principally on the balance of payments. There will continue to be benefits from licensing fees and corporation tax.

I am not suggesting that these things need to be devolved, but, when one comes to consider the royalties from oil, surely it is not beyond the wit of man to find a formula whereby some of the royalties can go direct to the Assembly and some to the United Kingdom Treasury. There is already a double royalty system: international companies are accustomed to this practice in Canada and the United States, and therefore it is psychologically desirable that this should be done for the Scottish Executive as well.

Secondly, I regret that there is nothing in the White Paper about the future of local government. I know that there have been petitions from the existing regions to the Secretary of State, which he has politely turned down, asking for undertakings that the existing structure will continue into the period of the Assembly. It would be better from the point of view of the political acceptability of these proposals if it were clear, as is inevitable, that the Scottish Assembly, no matter what its politics, is almost bound to reduce local government in Scotland to one tier to make sense and cost less underneath the powers of the Assembly.

I believe that, given real devolution, the people of Scotland will totally reject the policy of complete independence. Those who argue for total independence for Scotland ignore three basic facts. First, Scandinavian parallels are all awry. There is no such problem as Glasgow and its environs in Norway. There is no comparison at all to be found there.

Secondly, North Sea oil, on which so much of the SNP's policy is based, may last for only 25 years. What is to happen to us after that? Its price may go down. That is why the Government have had to work so hard in a European context to get a minimum price.

Thirdly, they ignore the real limitations to any theoretical Scottish sovereignty. I draw the attention of the House to the Republic of Ireland. It had to devalue when the United Kingdom did. It had to go decimal when we did. It is separated from us by a sea, but we are closely linked in commercial and transportation terms with England whether or not we are sovereign. There are real limitations to our total independence.

Part of the demand for devolution is a revulsion against size and a belief that one can do better in smaller and more manageable units. There is a genuine view within Scotland that, given internal control over our own affairs, we could do better. We may be wrong, but we should be given the right to prove whether we are right or wrong.

6.14 p.m.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Central Fife

I have given an undertaking to speak for not more than 10 minutes. I hope, therefore, that if I am provocative, hon. Members will not rise to the bait.

I want to take up the last point made by the hon. Member for Roxborough, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel), the question of separatism. The right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) said that there were no separatists anywhere in this House, and he was right. We were confirmed in that view by the Leader of the SNP on Tuesday last when he said: Let me make it clear that my party has never been separatist. But he went on to say: If it is necessary we shall have such posts". —[Official Report, 13th January 1976; Vol. 903, c. 258–60.] He was referring to Customs posts.

During the debate on the Consolidated Fund on 31st July last, I asked the hon. Gentleman whether there would be a separate Scottish Prime Minister, a separate Scottish Foreign Secretary, a separate army, a separate navy, a separate air force—in other words complete separation. The hon. Gentleman's reply to that was Certainly" —[Official Report, 31st July 1975; Vol. 896, c. 2248.] Let us be under no apprehension what the SNP is about, and we are making a great contribution towards that end in the White Paper.

I shall have no difficulty in taking note of the White Paper, but when the legislalation comes forward, we shall do more than take note of it. The right hon. Member for Sidcup got his legislation on the EEC by the use of the guillotine. No guillotine is possible on this legislation. There is not a mandate anywhere in the House for the kind of legislation that is proposed. It is true that at the last election the Labour Party advocated a directly elected Assembly with meaningful powers, but we did not get a clear mandate to carry that out, and the Government do not have control of this House. They do not have control of what the House does.

The SNP, having said what I quoted a few moments ago, now realises rather belatedly the dangerous implications of what it has been saying about separatism, and it is trying to wriggle out of it. An interesting article in The Times of 22nd December reported the SNP as having set up a group in Edinburgh University to define its terms. The report said: Professor Neil MacCormick, Professor of Public Law at Edinburgh University, is to head what looks like a committee on semantics. Its purpose, apparently, is to decide what members of the SNP mean by separatism, confederation, dominion status, customs, union and Commonwealth status.

Mrs. Margo MacDonald is reported as saying that she agreed that many ill-defined terms were being used. Until now it had not mattered. She went on to say: The words have been used to convey an attitude rather than define a positive position. From here on we are no longer just trying to bridge the credibility gap. It is time we spelt things out very clearly. In the next few months we shall spell these things out very clearly.

The sloganising has to stop now. People are bored with the sloganising. The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles talked about devolving and people wanting decision-making and wider powers on health grounds, and so on. I do not give a hoot how the fellow who is to cut me to pieces on an operating table is elected or selected, as long as he knows that he is cutting in the right places. I do not give a damn how the water gets into my tap as long as it is there.

A lot of nonsense is talked about people wanting to make democratic decisions on these matters, and I suspect that the same is true in this debate, I do not believe that people are interested in the nuts and bolts of the government machine. What they want is something that will deliver the goods that they want in material terms.

Mr. Ried:

rose

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Central Fife

Not to the hon. Gentleman; not to the former turncoat.

It has been said that the Assembly will not have teeth. If the allegation is that it is to be a toothless talking shop without power to raise revenue—we must agree, even the SNP must agree, that we are not separatist and want to remain in the United Kingdom—let us have United Kingdom taxation and, in addition, give the Assembly power to raise whatever additional taxes it likes. Let it go to the Scottish people and say that if they want hospitals, roads, schools and houses in addition to what the United Kingdom provides, the Scottish taxpayer will have to pay for them, that Westminster will ask no questions, that, moreover, the Scots could have their own tax collectors, that the Inland Revenue will be responsible for the United Kingdom and the Scottish taxpayers will pay for their own tax-collecting. In my view, that is real power in the hands of the Assembly.

On passports; in my view the Scottish people should be told that they can have a choice. They may have either a Scottish or a United Kingdom passport, but not both. This could be decided in the form of a referendum. If the Scots want the type of independence from the United Kingdom or from Westminster which is put forward by hon. Members who represent the Scottish National Party, the Scots will choose a Scottish passport. In other words, they will be voting with their passports. I suspect that many of them will prefer United Kingdom passports, but the choice will be theirs.

I turn to the power given to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. In my view, he has too many powers in this matter. The charge that he will become, for example, a colonial governor-general is valid. No Secretary of State is fit to have these powers. I am making a nonparty point. Clearly, certain powers are devolved to the Assembly and the Secretary of State will not intervene in those, but there is a confused passage in the White Paper which must be cleared up. Where there is an ultra vires case, it should be dealt with by some form of judicial procedure.

I believe that I have met my commitment about the length of my speech. In many ways I have found this debate depressing. At the end of the day, the political battle will be not devolution versus separation, but capitalism versus Socialism. The battle will be about how we share out the wealth of the United Kingdom. Whether we have Assemblies in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Liverpool, Cornwall, or wherever, the same question will be decided. The people in power in all those Assemblies will decide how to share out the wealth that they possess.

It is idle to pretend that even if a Scottish Assembly had full control of the oil revenues, those revenues would be shared out fairly. It would depend on the political composition of the Assembly. For the Scottish National Party to pretend that old-age pensioners will receive a quintuple pension simply because the revenues will be in the hands of the hon. Member for Banff (Mr. Watt) and the other idiots on that Bench is a nonsense.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. The hon. Gentleman made a mistake; he knows that he used an unparliamentary expression.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Central Fife

I understated the case. However, If I committed an offence, I immediately withdraw.

The battle is between political philosophies. It is not between people who speak a particular language, or who were born in a particular place. It is a battle of which we have tended to lose sight in this debate. I am sick and tired of hearing about the nuts and bolts. It is time that we got down to ideas and philosophies, and in that respect I think that the debate is an irrelevant bore.

6.24 p.m.

Photo of Mr Maurice Macmillan Mr Maurice Macmillan , Farnham

I shall be as brief as possible and therefore I hope that the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) will forgive me if I do not follow his argument and that other hon. Members will forgive me if I do not refer to previous speeches, even when it is obvious that I have drawn heavily on previous arguments and observations.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) gave a fascinating analysis of the reasons for the rise in Scottish nationalism over the past 50 years. I am bound to say that I am inclined much more to the view expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for East-bourne (Mr. Gow) in a brief interjection. However, of course I am biased. It is not 50 years but 130 years since my forebears were driven out of Scotland by poverty and the sort of consideration to which my right hon. Friend referred. We were happy to become well-established publishers in London. However, I am not aware that Messrs. Collins, an admirable firm, is any less fierce competitor of ours to this day because we are in London and it has its headquarters in Scotland. I do not think that my right hon. Friend's arguments were quite as sound as they usually are.

I shall refer to the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) who, from his name, is a fellow clansman. He asked the practical question "What is the best thing to do?" On the whole, I agree with his answer. He said that probably the right answer would be "nothing" in practical terms. However, I am inclined to accept that in political terms that is not possible. Moreover, I do not think that that means that we have to support the Government's proposals in the Lobby. Nor do I think that any hon. Member on either side of the House is necessarily committeed at this stage to supporting the concept of the overriding need for a Scottish Assembly without a definition as to what form that Assembly should take, or any idea of how it should be elected, or what its relations with the Westminster Parliament should be. I hope that we shall hear something about this from my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and the Border (Mr. Whitelaw), who is to wind up the debate on behalf of the Opposition.

Without further information it will be difficult for some hon. Members to support the Opposition amendment. They may be simply recognising, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield suggested, a fact of life. Like him, I have every sympathy with the desire to meet the national and regional aspirations of all parts of the United Kingdom, especially Wales and Scotland.

A point has been made about the Act of Union. Scotland is, perhaps, a little special. However, to vote tonight for an Assembly without knowing what it will do and to support the motion even to take note of the Government's pro- posal is to push these aspirations along the road to separatism because of the muddled, confused and irresponsible nature of the proposals set out in the White Paper.

We should think again. We should go into the matter again in detail and with care in the light of the various reports, the White Paper and the points made in the debate. We should perhaps take the advice of the hon. Member for Fife, Central. We should stop sloganising and start doing what people really want.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup said, this debate has been about two separate issues: first, how the United Kingdom should be governed and, secondly, what will be the future of the United Kingdom. Those issues have become blurred in people's minds and sometimes in the speeches of hon. Members. Such blurring is implicit in the title of the White Paper itself. Devolution to what? Devolution is a process, not an end.

Two meanings are concealed in the blurring of the issues. The first meaning is devolution to a form of delegation and decentralisation largely concerned with the machinery of government—trying to get more local control over locally-raised finance and better local democracy. That is an important matter, basically of administration, but with little effect on the sovereignty of Parliament as the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

The second meaning is devolution towards meeting national aspirations by recognising some parts of the United Kingdom as autonomous or semi-autonomous nations. This is a fundamental constitutional question of where sovereignty is to lie within the United Kingdom.

The White Paper dodges this issue in an unsuccessful attempt to evade the real dilemma by refusing to face the inherent contradictions of its own proposals. There is a danger that we may drift into separatism by appearing to be unconscious of and unsympathetic towards the apirations of every different Part of the United Kingdom. There is also a danger that we shall get there by mistake through following silly compromises that do not look clearly further down the road on which they have started.

If the Scottish and Welsh peoples want to be separate nations, our experience has taught us that we can avoid that situation only with great pain and difficulty. However, our duty today and in the future is to make quite sure that, if there is to be separation, it is because people want it, not because it has been reached by mistake through the pressure of a few.

Let us take the first meaning that I gave—devolution towards a form of decentralisation. There could be good, sensible proposals for regional government of one form or another which would —I agree with the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) —include England. Scotland might have one or two regions, Wales could be a region and Northern Ireland could be yet another. That would mean the United Kingdom Parliament at Westminster remaining sovereign. Incidentally, there would be no question but that we should deal with the Community in the same way as the Federal Republic of Germany does, rather than the Länder. That would require parity of treatment for the whole of the United Kingdom. That form of decentralisation, which is intended to remove the remoteness of Whitehall and to lessen the burden of bureaucracy, would require enormous changes if we were not to build further on the bureaucracy in the structure of local government. Those changes would be subject to the sovereignty and choice of this Parliament at Westminster.

It is something of an illusion to think that the bureaucracy would be less burdensome because government was situated nearer to the people. I think that many people want not more involvement in government, but less Government involvement with them. They want the Government to interfere less in the lives of individuals and to allow a greater freedom of choice than we get at the moment with only 38 per cent. of the total national income at the disposal of the individuals who have earned it. I think that we could form a series of coherent proposals with that sort of delegation.

On my second meaning to the process of devolution, we could formulate proposals that recognised the semiautonomous nations of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England linked in a federal union. In theory at least, it would be possible to maintain the unity of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in such a federation. It has been done in Australia, Canada and the United States, where sovereignty is vested in the states, but a federal union operates successfully.

That proposition would require major constitutional changes, with enormous implications for local government, for the way in which the federal United Kingdom Parliament would be constituted, and for its relations with other Parliaments and with the English Parliament. Would it be the same? Would there be variations? Would it be part of it? It would be a major problem of decision. It would require a Bill of Rights and certainly a written constitution with a supreme court. It would be a very big step to contemplate. But I fear that may be the road down which this Government are unwittingly pushing us without realising that they are doing so.

The most disastrous thing would be for the Government to go on refusing to look at the contradictions in their own proposals and to embark upon a bogus compromise leading to a form of devolution in which this Parliament, gradually and reluctantly, shed some of its powers to variously constituted bodies. For us to remain here allegedly sovereign, but seceding rights reluctantly, or having them forced out of us, and reaching the situation that we have seen in Ireland so unhappily over the years, would be disastrous. That would break up the United Kingdom by generating and encouraging the forces to which the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heifer) referred in a very cogent speech. My hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Biffen) also warned the House of the internal dangers that could arise from such a situation.

Finally, wherever we go from here and whatever may be the internal dangers of different compromises, different policies and, above all, a refusal to face the facts, our external dangers are likely to be even greater. The United Kingdom politically and economically and in its defence of these islands is already in a precarious position in the world today.

I hope that we can make the creation of new wealth for prosperity and the safety and security of the whole realm our first priority and conduct the debate about the relationships that have been developed between the different nations making up the United Kingdom in full recognition of the fact that our duty is to ensure that those nations and that United Kingdom remain free and independent. That means safeguarding our position both economically and militarily in the dangerous world in which we live today.

6.38 p.m.

Photo of Mr Giles Radice Mr Giles Radice , Chester-le-Street

I will not follow the right hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan) in his remarks, though during my own speech I should like to pick up some of the points that he made.

Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton), I think that this has been a good debate both to listen to—I have been here on every day —and to read. In my short experience as a Member of Parliament, my feeling is that the House is at its most effective when it is debating a controversial issue of major importance like this at the right time—before the decision is taken. We have had speeches of high quality from both sides of the House and from different viewpoints.

Indeed, one of the features of the debate has been the extent to which it has cut across party lines. I mention particularly the speeches by my hon. Friends the Members for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) and West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) on the one side of the argument, and of my hon. Friends the Members for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Mabon), Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) and South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) on the other side. I also noted the visionary speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. MacFarquhar), who said that everything would be all right when we had a European federation; the surprising semi-federalist intervention by the hon. Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan); and, not least, the speech by the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath).

It has been remarkable that the really constructive and patriotic speeches have come from the three major parties. They have not come from the SNP. It is astonishing how ambiguous the SNP contributions have been. Are they devolutionists or home-rulers? Are they for separation or for independence? Indeed, what is the precise meaning of these last two terms? Perhaps the only straight-forward and honest SNP speech came from the hon. Lady the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain), who advocated independence.

Photo of Mr George Thompson Mr George Thompson , Galloway

It might help the hon. Gentleman if I read to him what is printed on our membership card. It says: Self-Government for Scotland—that is, the restoration of Scottish National Sovereignty by the establishment of a democratic Scottish Parliament within the Commonwealth, freely elected by the Scottish people, whose authority will be limited only by such agreements as may be freely entered into by it with other nations or States or international organisations"—

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Order. This is an abuse. I intend, if there is time, to call a member of the SNP to speak in the debate. The hon. Gentleman is taking up his time.

Photo of Mr Giles Radice Mr Giles Radice , Chester-le-Street

That intervention left one or two questions unanswered. I speak as a United Kingdom subject with Italian, French, English, Irish and Scottish blood, of both sorts, Lowland and Highland Scots. I suppose I am the prototype of European federalism, but I also speak as an English Member of Parliament who is in favour of devolution for Scotland, too.

I think that the idea of separation or independence for Scotland is an economic nonsense, except perhaps in the distant future when we are part of a federated Europe, but that is in the twenty-first century and not this century.

In manpower, skills and resources there is no question but that Scotland has made an enormous contribution to the United Kingdom, but, as we have heard from the Paymaster-General, there is no doubt also that Scotland has benefited and is benefiting enormously, in terms of improved policies, regional policy and investment, from being a member of the United Kingdom.

I accept that, although independence may be economic nonsense, if the Scottish people want independence there is no way that the United Kingdom Parliament can prevent them from having that independence. I believe that the Scots do not want independence or separation. That, perhaps, is why SNP Members have been so ambiguous in this debate—because they do not have the support of the Scottish people for their policies. There is a strong driving force behind Scottish nationalism. Perhaps this feeling was not there in the 1960s, or maybe not to a great extent. Perhaps some of the things that have happened since then, both in terms of government and misgovernment, have contributed to this change in feeling. It is clear that the Scots now want a considerable and substantial devolution of power.

Therefore, the question we have to ask is whether the White Paper actually gives them that. My view is that it provides a useful framework for that devolution of power. I found the arguments we have heard from the Opposition Front Bench against the White Paper thin. They were exposed by the right hon. Member for Sidcup in his considerable speech. For the most part they were arguments or detail which cannot possibly justify a vote against the White Paper nor a vote against the Bill in principle.

There are two main ways in which I think the White Paper can be improved. There is a case for giving the Assembly more powers over industry; in particular I cannot see the justification for not giving the Assembly control over the Scottish Development Agency. Secondly, I agree that the White Paper raises some unnecessary conflicts.

We have heard a number of times in the debate about the position of the Secretary of State for Scotland. There is also a case, as many speakers have said, for some form of judicial review to decide on ultra vires disputes. This is not something peculiar which is just being introduced in this country. In the Irish Home Rule Bill of the nineteenth century there was provision for decisions on ultra vires questions by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It would not be extraordinary if we followed that precedent or if we went further, as I believe we should, by moving towards the Bill of Rights idea.

English Members have expressed their reservations and anxieties over the possible effects of the White Paper on England. I do not intend to speak about the situation in Wales, except to say that it does not appear that nationalism there has the same force as it has in Scotland—although, of course, the situation could change.

In my view, successful Scottish devolution would be to the benefit of England. As a Member of Parliament for a North-East constituency I have noticed that the Cabinet, whichever party is in power, seems to give way when it is dealing with a Scottish question, in a way in which it does not for other parts of the United Kingdom. It has occurred to me that this is because we do not have a devolution policy. In a sense, handouts to Scotland have been used as a substitute for a coherent and successful devolution policy.

I reserve my judgment on English regional government. I do not believe that there is a great demand for this at present, particularly since the local government reorganisation which has taken place so recently. On the other hand, there must be strong arguments for more democratic control over statutory bodies like those for water and health, and the devolution of industrial powers, and there is a case, for example, for a northern development authority on the lines of the Scottish authority.

But English Members should not allow their concern over what might happen in England to cloud their judgment over Scotland. That is very important. My conclusion is that we must support substantial devolution for Scotland so that we can fulfil the aspirations of the Scottish people and keep the United Kingdom intact. If we turn back now the results will be disastrous. Without a successful measure of devolution there will be Scottish independence within 10 years.

On 7th June 1886, when introducing the Irish Home Rule Bill, Mr. Gladstone warned Members: Think, I beseech you, think well, think wisely, think, not for the moment, but for the years that are to come, before you reject this Bill. I believe that his words are relevant to us today.

6.50 p.m.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

I shall deal with Mr. Gladstone and 1886 by and by. However, first I want to remark that this long debate has once again shown that if the House of Commons is given a fundamental question and a specific text upon which to debate it, it will not fail to arrive at the essential underlying principles. This debate has certainly been no exception.

I do not think that anyone who entered this debate at the beginning with the notion that there was somehow a continuous unbroken line running from administrative devolution at the one end to political separation at the other, any convenient resting point along which could be selected by Government or Parliament, can have ended his attendance under the same misapprehension. There is no such continuous line. There is a gulf fixed between administrative devolution on the one side and parliamentary self-government and independence on the other. It is with that gulf that this House, in timely fashion, has been brought face to face.

What is it that defines the position of that gulf? It is not just that an Assembly is directly elected. After all, local government bodies are directly elected; yet no one supposes that the fact that those bodies, from parish councils to regional authorities, are directly elected renders them a potential threat to the unity of the realm, or is one step in an irresistible movement towards separation and independence. It is the combination of direct election with legislative power that constitutes the crucial point. That is the alchemy that converts devolution on the one hand into autonomy on the other.

There is no doubt which of these two we are discussing in this debate. We are talking about elected Assemblies with legislative power, certainly in the case of Scotland and, by a kind of side wind, in the case of Wales.

Nor could it have been otherwise. If this were an exercise in administrative devolution, we should not be contemplating Assemblies for Wales and Scotland. No one looking for convenient units for devolved administration would hit upon the Principality of Wales and the former Kingdom of Scotland. All sorts of other combinations and regions might be discovered, but not those two.

We are talking about Assemblies for the Principality and for the former Kingdom of Scotland because these purport to be—are widely believed and claimed to be—nations, and because the proposition of Assemblies in which they would be represented by direct election is an acceptance of that claim, or at least corresponds in the minds of those who put it forward to some notion of a nationhood in Scotland and a nationhood in Wales.

Once we concede that point and say that it is right that Scotland should be represented by a directly elected Assembly, we can hardly say that that Assembly should not have legislative powers, or that it should only be able to administer, like a local authority, within exactly the same framework as the rest of the United Kingdom. The whole argument for establishing it is that it will be able to pursue different policies, implying different laws—and presumably also different taxation—from the rest of the realm.

This is a debate not about administrative devolution, but about the establishment of national, directly elected legislative bodies. Having contemplated that for nearly four days, this House has seen the implicit conflict and contradiction that lies in such a proposal within the unitary state of the United Kingdom, namely that it is not possible for the same electorate to be represented directly in two legislative Assemblies unless one of two things occurs: either the unitary State must become federal, with a pre-determined area within which the one set of elected representatives is sovereign and another area in which the representation of the whole realm is to be sovereign; or there must sooner or later as a consequence be separation and the recognition of separate sovereignties. It is not right that we should underestimate the difficulty, once we have conceded that Scotland as a nation should be represented by a directly elected representative Assembly, of setting any logical bounds to the area within which that Assembly should be conceded, under any constitution, the right to legislate.

We have to face the fact that the establishment of directly elected legislative Assemblies will confront us with the choice of separation, of conversion to a federal State with all its implications, or of an attempt to reverse the process and somehow subordinate the new Assemblies to the sovereignty of this House.

It is a common experience with such a fundamental proposition of political mechanics, if I may so call it, that, once it is perceived, the illustrations and proofs come tumbling out, in whichever direction one looks. For example, there are the proposals of Her Majesty's official Opposition. This afternoon the right hon. and learned Member for Hunting-donshire (Sir D. Renton) remarked with some relief that their proposals were not before the House. It is lucky for the Opposition that they were not. They would have been torn up and eaten long before the fourth day of this debate.

However, their interest for my purpose is that, having rushed into a declaration that there should be a directly-elected Assembly for Scotland which should have legislative powers, the Conservative Party was then horrified by the gulf which it saw opening up in consequence at its feet and hastened to seek to bring that legislative Assembly back within the ambit of the sovereignty of this House, until it had turned the Assembly into a sort of sub-committee of this Chamber. I do not wish, nor, I imagine, would Conservative Members wish, to refer further to that ill-starred proposition, except that it embodies a recognition of the far-reaching implications, the inherently divisive implications for the United Kingdom, of a directly elected legislative Assembly, especially for a national part of the United Kingdom.

I turn to the Government's proposals. It is not because they were looking for difficulties that the Government found themselves inserting those fateful paragraphs Nos. 56 to 60 in the White Paper. It was not because they suffered from a prurient desire to interfere with the Assembly and the Executive that they were setting up. It was not for these reasons that they included the expression "on general policy grounds." It was because they well understood that it was impossible, if Scotland and Wales were represented in this Chamber—in this legislature of the United Kingdom—for the legislatures of Scotland and of Wales to legislate upon principles different from those being espoused and enforced by this Chamber as a result of a decision of the United Kingdom electorate.

In those paragraphs, in the powers which the Government found themselves obliged to take but which they have somewhat tried to play down in the course of this debate, the powers of control by this House—they are not the Secretary of State's, that criticism was misplaced, they are powers of control by this House—in the fact that they found themselves obliged to delineate far-reaching, comprehensive powers of control by Parliament over the new legislatures lies the proof that the Government, from their own point of view found only these choices: federate, or dissolve, or suppress.

Those paragraphs make a fair parallel to Poynings Act. I have often called them privately the Poynings Act—the Poynings clauses—of the Government's White Paper; for the Poyning Act was the Act under which the Irish Parliament in the sixteenth century and afterwards was permitted the freedom to pass any laws that it pleased—provided that they were approved of by the Government of England. Likewise the present Government found that, in order to retain the unity of the realm and the sovereignty of Parliament, they were obliged to enact a Poynings Act for these new Assemblies.

As I have mentioned Ireland on my way to Mr. Gladstone, I might also mention that the United Ulster Unionist Coalition, as a member of which I sit in this House, addressed itself early after its formation in 1974 to the question how the Humpty Dumpty of the Parliament and Government of Northern Ireland, once thrown down from the wall and shattered in 1972, could be reconstructed without doing damage to that which is the overriding determination and will of the majority of people of Northern Ireland—namely, that Northern Ireland should remain an integral part of the United Kingdom. It was forced to conclude that this could be accomplished only in a federal framework. I quote from its manifesto: we do not believe that devolution itself would be appropriate. A British Federal System would serve the dual purpose of maintaining the Union and ensuring the democratic rights of the entire Ulster people. Finally, though there are many other illustrations of the central theme, I like the simplest best. In March—a little earlier than the date taken by the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Radice)—in March 1886, when Gladstone was propounding his proposals for Irish Home Rule to the Cabinet, Joseph Chamberlain leant across the Cabinet table and asked him one question "How is Ireland to be represented in the House of Commons?" That question was never satisfactorily answered, because there can be no satisfactory answer. No possible answer that can be given to that question within a unitary State—apart, that is, from federation—will stand examination.

Are Scotland and Wales, with increasing powers of self-legislation on more and more topics, to be fully represented in this House, to be the deciding factor in the legislation on those subjects for England, perhaps the deciding factor upon the colour of the very Administration sitting upon the Treasury Bench? Perish the thought.

The hon. Member for Roxborough, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) suggested that that was not what he wanted; so he was prepared to agree to a reduced representation. Of course, if one reduces the representation sufficiently, the de minions rule will come in sooner or later. That is what has happened with Northern Ireland. That is the reason why this House, disastrously, was able to wash its hands of a part of the United Kingdom for some 50 years. Suppose, however, that Scotland had only 30 seats—

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

Oh, 56. I thought that the hon. Gentleman was going to be more modest. He need not interrupt me.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

Kilbrandon or no Kilbrandon, the argument is so strong that I will lower it to 30.

Is it tolerable, first, that Scotland should be represented by only 30 members—however many anyone likes, the argument is still the same—when discussing external questions, by which the people of Scotland are equally affected with the rest of the realm? Secondly, is it tolerable, for instance in a House such as this one, where sometimes majorities are as narrow as those by which this country was taken into the European Economic Community, that there should be a phalanx of 30 Members who care for none of these things, because these subjects are decided by a different system inside their own areas, but who nevertheless decide the result?

I think that at one point the hon. Gentleman suggested that he would place upon himself a self-denying ordinance. But this is not so easy. Even if it were tolerable to this House—and I am sure that it would not be—that there were first-class and second-class Members—Members who turn up on some occasions and Members who turn up on some others—[Laughter.]. Well, if hon. Members are thinking of the legacy of exactly this mistake being made upon a smaller scale—so small a scale that it could be ignored—in Northern Ireland, if I may use the appropriate syntax, it is not laughing that they should be. However, I thought that at one moment the hon. Gentleman suggested some form of self-denying ordinance.

But even if we were prepared to accept that in principle, it is not so easy in practice. In a unitary country all questions run into one another. In a debate upon defence we have often discovered, and rightly, that we are in a debate upon education or a debate upon health, that we cannot debate what are called imperial subjects and devolved subjects separately—not at this time of day and not in this country.

So, having this White Paper before them, the House and the country—and this is to the good—have been brought before the alternatives that they would deliberately be posing by this development of policy. Those alternatives, I repeat—if this is to come about at all in any form that will not be treated as an insult—are federation, with a written constitution, entrenched, interpreted by a court and not by this House, and the break-up of the United Kingdom.

In this debate on the whole hon. Members, with the exception of some, like the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), have rather underestimated the reality of the possibility of separation. I believe that it is possible—no one can know—that there may be in some part or other of the United Kingdom that settled and preponderant desire not to be governed as a part of the United Kingdom which we ought not to resist and which in the end we could not resist.

However, what has been noteworthy is that from no quarter of the House—

Photo of Mr Douglas Henderson Mr Douglas Henderson , Aberdeenshire East

Mr. Henderson indicated dissent.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

—well, hardly any substantial quarter—has there appeared any serious readiness to consider anything but the unitary parliamentary sovereignty of the United Kingdom. Indeed, the general atmosphere in the House has been, from one side after another, from Front Benches and Back Benches, an exaltation of the principle of parliamentary sovereignty—so much so that those of us who have lived through the past two or three years were first incredulous and then delighted. We have lived through a time when a person who dared to breathe the word "sovereignty", let alone "parliamentary sovereignty", would be laughed at for his pains and told "All that is over".

It is very reassuring to find that the House of Commons still has its old sense of its jealous, exclusive, overall, omnicompetent jurisdiction and sovereignty in the United Kingdom. When listening to the Leader of the House—he is a Member who does not wear his heart or his convictions upon his sleeve—I felt that for once quite clearly he was speaking from the heart, and even with passion, when he asserted the total sovereignty—the 100 per cent. sovereignty—and competence of this House and announced his own allegiance to it.

Sovereignty, as these debates have shown, is a seamless garment. It cannot at any point be invaded without its character being altered. It is a seamless garment; but because it is seamless, that does not mean that it does not have an inside and an outside. Like the celebrated sleeping-bag in Captain Scott's Antarctic base, it has a skin-side and an inside. We have been contemplating during these four days the internal aspect of the sovereignty of Parliament. However, the same arguments, the same considerations, the same impossibility of concurrent powers between those directly elected to represent the same electorate, arise if we look outwards.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) is not, I think, present during a debate to which he made one of the indispensable contributions. In the course of his speech he said: No one can forecast with certainty how the EEC will evolve. If there is to be, for example, a federal United States of Europe there should be a Scottish State … All I have been trying to do is to stimulate the argument in the direction of where Scotland should fit in, inside the EEC.—[Official Report, 14th January 1976; Vol. 903, c. 453–4.] A House of Commons that consents to elected representatives of its own electorate representing this country as a whole in the courts of a power and an authority which itself has made its own superior and to which it has given legislative supremacy by the European Communities Act 1972 cannot say to Scotland and Wales or other parts of the United Kingdom "Have you not heard? We are sovereign. Every single thing which happens within this realm must come within our jurisdiction." They will answer already "But you gave that sovereignty away. The power to legislate, the power to tax, the power to influence our economy—you gave them away. You transferred them elsewhere, and by and by perhaps you are going to have the electorate represented at Brussels or wherever it may be by those directly elected upon the same authority as that by which you sit here." It is impossible to sustain that at one and the same time—

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

I am doing the hon. Lady's work for her, but all right—I give way.

Photo of Dr Winnie Ewing Dr Winnie Ewing , Moray and Nairn

As a direct illustration of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks, may I tell the House that in the European Parliament this week, despite the assurances given in this House about the re-negotiation of the EEC fisheries policy, I was categorically told by the Commissioner in charge that there was to be no renegotiation of the common fisheries policy. That is a very good illustration of the point the right hon. Gentleman is making.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

I think I am obliged, and perhaps the hon. Lady and other hon. Members will forgive me if I do not give way again. Here it is, and the hon. Lady has confirmed it: we cannot say to subordinate Assemblies "In the end all jurisdiction is ours" when jurisdiction has passed elsewhere from this House, and, what is more, borne upon the responsibility of directly elected representatives, as the jurisdiction of this House is borne.

There was a significant passage—a brief one—on Wednesday between the Lord President and myself when he was extolling the sovereignty—the undiminished and undiminishable sovereignty—of this House and I interrupted him. The right hon. Gentleman claimed that the United Kingdom Parliament cannot ever permanently divest itself of the sovereignty of the United Kingdom as a whole. I said "Except to Brussels." The right hon. Gentleman said: That could be undone by an Act of Parliament."—[Official Report, 14th January 1976; Vol. 903, c. 406.] In other words, it is only if the transfer of power from this House to another Assembly and authority in which the United Kingdom is only represented as one part among many is bogus, or temporary, or transitional, that we can maintain inwards or outwards the sovereignty that so many hon. Members on both sides have wished to maintain—the sovereignty of the House of Commons from which the sovereignty and unity of the United Kingdom is indistinguishable.

I quote once again from the speech of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire. He appealed to the fact that for 270 years now the peoples of the component parts of this Kingdom had been living, working and dying together"— [Official Report, 14th January 1976; Vol. 903, c. 452.] in the cause of the Union. In a debate such as this, however much we may rationalise, we all speak from prejudice. That is a harsh name to give it; but loyalty, patriotism, nationality—all these things are prejudice in the end, which cannot be rationalised, which cannot be argued to from first principles, and which we either feel or do not feel. I want in concluding to confess my own prejudices.

I do not believe that the loyalty of those many who over those 270 years, and particularly in this century, worked together and died together as part of the Union under the Crown, was to the Crown quite simply, even though they wore the Crown on their uniforms and many of them wore it on their hearts. They were not the mercenaries of a Habsburg empire bound together by personal union and dynastic marriages; they were not the servants of a Hohenzollern empire imposed by military force. It was the Crown of the United Kingdom in Parliament which was the centre of loyalty, as it is the essential unifying element of this realm, in the name of which and under the inspiration of which men and women these 270 years have worked and lived and died together.

For myself I cannot imagine how the history of the United Kingdom can be understood apart from this House and apart from its sovereignty. Nor do I see how it can have a future apart from this House and its sovereignty. So I say to devolution—if it means an improvement in the control and supervision and execution of administration, yes; if they can be improved, let us do it. To separation, I say—if it is the settled and determined and preponderant wish of the inhabitants in any part of the United Kingdom no longer to remain part of the United Kingdom, with regret, so be it. But that this House by its own actions, by its own self-deceptions, should set in train a course of constitutional action which must lead either to the conversion of this country into something totally different and unrecognisable or to the destruction of the unity of whatever this realm is to be, the unity brought to a focus in this House—I say "No" to that, whether that sovereignty be seen from inside or from outside.

That at any rate is the conviction in which I have lived. It is the conviction for the sake of which I tore and destroyed the links of my whole political life. It is a conviction from which I will not depart.

7.20 p.m.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Stirlingshire West

Seldom if ever has a White Paper come in for such a barrage of criticism within such a short time of its publication. Within a few hours—indeed, within a few minutes—of its publication certain elements in the Press—and especially in Scotland—did their utmost to butcher the White Paper completely. At least part of the reason for that action was that the Government mistakenly decided to release the White Paper prematurely to the Press before Members of Parliament had had the opportunity of reading it. In future I hope that all such documents will be released in the first instance to Members of Parliament so that they can take part in the initial formation of public opinion instead of leaving the job to the Press and other media.

Despite all the initial criticism which the White Paper has attracted I still believe it to represent in essence at least a basis for a powerful Scottish Assembly. I believe that it represents a massive transfer of power from this place to the proposed legislative Assembly which will be set up in Edinburgh. I think that those who say that it will be powerless are misunderstanding the proposals.

I ask those who are thinking of voting for the SNP amendment, whether they be nationalists or defectors from any other party, to consider its wording most carefully. The amendment reads, but regets that the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies are given no meaningful control over their respective economies. Now I admit that it is arguable whether the Assemblies have enough economic control and I for one would like to see more economic control. But the amendment does not say that they are not given enough control. It says "no control". With an annual budget of at least £2,000 million, plus whatever revenue the Assembly may have the power to raise, and with the power to decide priorities in important areas such as housing, health, education, land, local government and transport, the Assembly must have some economic importance.

Are those people who intend to vote for the nationalist amendment telling the Scottish people that to have a decent roof over one's head is of no economic importance? Are they saying that to have decent education opportunities for their children and for the future technologists who will build the Scottish economy and Scottish industry is of no economic importance? Is the power to decide what shall happen to Scotland's land of no economic importance to Scotland? Those who vote for the nationalist amendment will have a great deal of explaining to do to the ordinary working people of Scotland. They have a different concept of economic and economic well-being from the members of the SNP.

Although I generally welcome the principles of the White Paper, I have some brief comments to make on four specific matters. First, many speakers have referred to the alleged lack of autonomy. I have a great deal of sympathy with that proposition. It is not so long ago that I asked my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to consider conducting an inquiry into the affairs of a local authority in my area whose decisions were causing ratepayers grave concern. My right hon. Friend replied to the effect that because of the autonomous structure of local government he thought it would be inappropriate for him to intervene. If a local authority has that degree of autonomy, a legislative Assembly for a whole nation should have a great deal more autonomy or power to do its own thing.

As regards decisions whether a particular piece of legislation is ultra vires or intra vires, the best way in which to proceed would be to establish a judicial tribunal. I also believe that the political veto is completely contrary to democratic concepts. If we devolve power we should devolve it positively. We should say "This is your power for this Assembly. So much power is being retained in the United Kingdom Parliament, but this is your bit of power, get on with it and do your own thing." I would stick out for that even if the Assembly turned out to be of a different political complexion from my own philosophy.

Second. I do not think that the White Paper indicates enough about its effect on local government. Many people claim that it will lead to over-government. Some have said, perhaps naïvely, that it is merely another tier of local government. They have misunderstood that the Assembly as proposed for Scotland will be a legislative Assembly and will have the power to make laws. As far as I am aware there is no local authority in Scotland, or anywhere else, that has that power. In that sense it will be different from any limb of local government. It will have legislative power as well as administrative power.

I have heard SNP spokesmen—I do not know whether they have been expressing the official view of their party—saying that after the Assembly is set up the regions should be abolished and all regional functions transferred to the Assembly. I see the hon. Member for Banff (Mr. Watt) nodding his head in approval. I doubt whether that view demonstrates a deep understanding of local government. Are they suggesting that, for example, parents with a problem about their child's education or a family with a social problem involving a broken home, for example, should have to go through some bureaucratic red tape Edinburgh-based administration, covering the whole of Scotland, instead of seeing their local councillor? That would be taking government away from the people instead of bringing it closer to them. Surely the aim of devolution is to bring government and decision-making much closer to the people.

It is clear that after it is set up the Assembly will have the opportunity to decide the best system of local government for Scotland. For various reasons I agree in principle with eventually achieving a one-tier system of local government in Scotland, but that will be for the Assembly to decide.

Photo of Mr Iain MacCormick Mr Iain MacCormick , Argyll

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman agrees with that concept. In Strathclyde all the things are happening to which he has referred.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Stirlingshire West

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. Part of my constituency is in Strathclyde and part is in the Central Region. I can see the advantages of a reasonably sized authority such as the Central Region eventually becoming a one-tier authority. But, in comparison with the Central Region, the Strathclyde area is a monster, quite unsuitable for one-tier administration.

Third, it is a mistake to exclude the Scottish universities from the devolution proposals. For too long the universities have not responded sufficiently to the needs of the whole community. They have stood aloof from the schools and from other colleges of post-school education. We could achieve better co-ordination within Scottish education if in some way the universities were included in the devolution proposals. At the same time I would want safeguards for the international status and the international dimension of the universities and for academic freedom.

Fourth, in the Scottish Development Agency we have the worst of all possible worlds. The Agency will be split. Its factory construction and environmental functions will be given to the Assembly whereas its other industrial functions will remain with the Secretary of State. There would be a far greater degree of co-ordination between the functions of the Agency and there would be far more democracy if the Agency were answerable to an elected Assembly rather than simply to one man—namely, the Secretary of State.

It is obvious that political devolution must be accompanied by industrial devolution if the Scottish economy is to be regenerated. At the same time we must recognise the existence of an integrated United Kingdom economy. That demands an integrated United Kingdom industrial strategy. The recent Chrysler situation is a typical example. Another example is the National Coal Board. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Energy agreed with me last week that to split the National Coal Board into completely separate and disparate units would be against the interests of Scottish miners and the whole Scottish community.

Similarly it would be a big mistake to do as the SNP proposes and to split the British National Oil Corporation into four separate units. The fact that we have established the National Enterprise Board to decide on United Kingdom industrial strategy is a pointer to what can be done. The Scottish Development Agency will deal with industrial decisions mainly affecting Scotland, but industrial decisions with a wider dimension, especially in the public sector, can be taken by the NEB.

Although I speak very strongly for devolution I see a limit to what can be meaningfully devolved. If we passed that limit we would do so against the interests of the Scottish people, and that is why I totally reject separatism. It is interesting that the SNP is now becoming ashamed of the tag "separatist", even though its leader has not completely abandoned the possibility of customs barriers. Scotland is a nation, and it is perfectly legitimate for Scots to express that nationhood politically, but we should be aware of the limits to which it can go as a nation State.

There is an unacceptable face of nationalism. We in Scotland are very much aware of it. We have been living with it in many constituencies, perhaps under sufferance, for some time. It is important for our colleagues south of the border to learn what it is like through some of the slogans which abound in Scotland at present. I have here accurate quotations picked up from official SNP propaganda: Why back an English team?" "Vote for Scotland to help yourself. and, Rich Scots or poor British? or, Control from London and Brussels tends to convert Scotland into a labour camp with brawn but few brains. That comes from the SNP manifesto. Another example is: All matters relating to Scotland should be dealt with in Scotland by Scots. and, The balance of payments is an English problem. or Scotland will have to suffer from English economic decline". Another one is Scotland's oil—whose hands on the money? and, finally, England wants this oil without paying for it". I am sure that the vast majority of Scottish people would like to disown such chauvinistic, narrow-minded and isolationist language, the language of separatism. That is why at least 80 per cent. of the population of Scotland reject separatism. Indeed, according to the Glasgow Herald today the latest opinion poll shows that 85 per cent. of the Scottish people utterly reject separatism, and they would reject such emotional chauvinistic language, too, I am sure.

We have already seen in another part of these islands—and it is significant that the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell), who spoke before me, represents a constituency there—the situation in which when people go to the ballot box they are not thinking in the main about better houses for their families, better educational opportunities for their children or better jobs for the workers. Most of them seem to think of the constitutional factor—should they be united with a piece of land south of them or with a piece of land across the water? I would not want Scottish politics to be beggared like that. Unfortunately Scottish politics is veering towards being caught up in a constitutional crisis and that is why this problem must be solved.

It would be unfair and unwise to spend too much time and energy debating the machinery of government rather than the type of decisions which that machinery should be taking. I believe that those decisions should be related to the redistribution of wealth in favour of working people and their families through some form of Socialist economy.

However, it is clear that the status quo in Scotland is no longer tenable. Change must come, but I hope that the criterion by which we judge this White Paper will not be whether it will appease the nationalists, because there is a hard core of nationalist opinion which we shall never appease. The criterion should be whether it will lead to a better and more democratic style of government in Scotland, whether it will mean greater opportunity for the Scottish people to take decisions, but in harmony and partnership with their closest neighbours elsewhere in the United Kingdom. I think it will.

7.35 p.m.

Photo of Miss Betty Harvie Anderson Miss Betty Harvie Anderson , Renfrewshire East

I am entirely opposed to the conclusions on devolution reached by the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan), but I agree with a number of his comments. I am against the proposals in the White Paper, and against any similar proposals that have been canvassed. I believe they will all lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom.

We are not considering whether any particular party will gain or lose seats at the next General Election. This is a matter which must stand not for one Parliament but on its merit for the centuries to come. We are considering a major constitutional change for which there could be only two good reasons. The first is that it would strengthen the United Kingdom and Scotland. The second is that the people would want such a change.

If we could ask the people of Scotland—and why not ask the people of England, too?—whether they want separation, 80 per cent. of them would reply "No". If we asked whether they want more devolution, 80 per cent. would reply "Yes". In that reply lies the dilemma which is incapable of resolution, and which the White Paper certainly does nothing to resolve. A distinguished dissenter from the Douglas-Home Committee recommendations, Sir Charles Wilson, Principal of Glasgow University, said, I am against parliamentary devolution as likely to impair the efficient political unity of Great Britain". That point was ably made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) a few moments ago.

The depth of the problem is only now beginning to be understood. It is not surprising that it has taken this long, because it is only now that the proposals have come before this House which set out clearly the path which we may be almost inadvertently treading. Without this debate we would never have gone sufficiently far along that path to recognise where its end might be. There are ever-increasing doubts, and there is certainly no finality in the findings to date.

For example, a capable constituency chairman of my party voted in favour of the proposals I reject. At the first opportunity he had to consult his constituents, he was heavily defeated in the vote. That sort of thing will inevitably continue to happen as people gradually realise exactly what is being discussed.

The question therefore remains as to who wants devolution, and how do we find the answer to that question? There is no doubt about the SNP, from what it has done and said openly. Nor is there any doubt that its aim is separation. How easy that would be to gain, because the White Paper is a recipe for conflict. To retain the sovereignty of this Parliament, this Parliament must have the final say. To rise above that conflict, as was suggested earlier, is to believe that it is possible to resolve by convention that which I believe is irreconcilable in the proposals we have discussed.

Photo of Mr James Dempsey Mr James Dempsey , Coatbridge and Airdrie

Will the right hon. Lady clear up one point for me? She says she believes that 80 per cent. of the Scottish people want devolution and she opposes the proposals in the White Paper. Can she give us some guidance as to the powers she would devolve to an elected Scottish Assembly?

Photo of Miss Betty Harvie Anderson Miss Betty Harvie Anderson , Renfrewshire East

If the hon. Member will do me the courtesy of listening to my argument he will see that I have posed a clear dilemma to this House, one which has been posed many times during the debate. We want some resolution of the undoubted conflict which any proposals will offer. I do not think that such a conflict could be resolved, whether the Government deem that it should be resolved by feathered hat or learned wig. There will inevitably be a cry for more power for Edinburgh and an ever-increasing sense of grievance that "they"—the English—are our enemies. The hon. Member for West Stirlingshire gave some quotations which, regrettably, show that direction all too clearly.

Let us consider the realism of what we are talking about today. How would the electorate stand, faced, in the same constituency, by an Assembly candidate who, as in the White Paper, would have devolved powers, for example, in education or housing and who says to his electorate, "This, this and this is what I shall do", and a Westminster candidate who says "No, you will not, because I shall have the final say"?

Let us be realistic about what is set out in the White Paper. How would the pattern develop along similar conflicting lines about sovereignty in EEC terms? Only if the SNP were to gain the separation they desire would Scotland get the right of representation, because that would require the sovereignty of a separate nation. What would happen to defence, which has been rarely mentioned in the debate? We do not know the SNP's defence policy. The members of the SNP are divided amongst themselves on defence, as they are on so many other subjects. In the subsequent cry for more, and in the separation that would follow, how would NATO stand and what would happen to the Polaris base? A nationalist movement by its nature attracts extremes, as anyone who reads the Scottish newspapers will know.

How would the proposals before us bring the Government closer to the people? The proposals would form yet another tier of government and take government further from the people. There would be six layers of government for our proud but tiny people—the 5½ million Scottish citizens of the United Kingdom. Where would our citizenship stand? We recognise from past events that such arrangements as were made almost a century ago for citizenship for the people of Ireland might not stand for citizenship for the people of Scotland in future.

So we have an added tier of government and the expense of bureaucracy. Yes, I may have had a hand in designing the scheme for local government in Scotland. I thought it right then and I do now. I do not condone for one moment either the establishment, or the shockingly high salaries that have been attached to those in local government service, producing a bureaucracy under which all Scotland is smarting and which has contributed in no mean measure to the increase in support for the SNP. It is unrealistic to suggest that we can demolish that system of local government so recently set up. We could do so only after a considerable length of time and at further great expense.

I have a great respect for the overall feeling of the House, perhaps because I sat for so long where you sit, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I understand when this sovereign Parliament by a consensus of view believes strongly that it does not support a proposal that it instinctively fears, because it knows that whatever the good will and good intention behind it we are entering on the wrong road.

We have here today possibly the last chance to express our collective view that we are on a highly dangerous road, a road which will lead us in the wrong direction. If I may slightly misquote a fellow Scot who many years ago made a great contribution to an earlier debate, I would say that today the man who respects the rights of nations will be he who does not seek to break up this one.

7.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

An interesting feature of the debate is the way in which it has been conducted by all who have participated. There have been temptations for hon. Members to fall out severely—perhaps even savagely—but the general standard does credit to the House. That is one reason why I do not wish to see any break-up of the United Kingdom. One hears and reads much about assemblies throughout the world that have failed because they have been dominated by sects or nationalism— a domination that was not intended at the beginning, but that has taken over.

Another interesting feature of the debate is that so many speakers have declared an interest in their nationalities. My hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock), renowned for his Welsh fire, said that his name indicated Scottish ancestry. The right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) said that about 70 per cent. of his background was Celtic. My hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. MacFarquhar) said that his ancestry embraced all the nations of the British Isles. I suppose that I, too, should declare an interest, being a Welshman with an Irish name sitting for an English constituency.

In page 2 of the White Paper there is a reference to Part II that rightly emphasises the vital need for political and economic unity throughout Great Britain. That is a sagacious and fundamental statement—alas, the only sagacious statement in the White Paper. Thereafter, the proposals threaten that base of the vital need for political and economic unity.

The right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) made a forceful speech. I am sure that it is the first time in history that anyone has popped down the road to Damascus via Cardiff and Edinburgh. I have never before heard the right hon. Gentleman express such deep concern about the break-up of the United Kingdom. I remember the time when he said that the fundamental reason for his being in politics was to get Parliament subordinated to a bunch of pseudo-dictators in Brussels—and they will not always be pseudo. For him to splash tears over the carpet and to say that he wants to see the United Kingdom saved is bordering on a high level of hypocrisy. The right hon. Gentleman, who is now so concerned about issues affecting the Scottish and Welsh people, was not even prepared to allow an amendment to the European Communities Bill, which he rammed through the House under a guillotine. Now, suddenly, he is bleeding from the heart for the Welsh and the Scots.

Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook , Edinburgh Central

What about the English?

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook) had better put that question to the right hon. Gentleman. He was not concerned with them, either, at that time.

Some hon. Members on both sides of the House at the time of the great debate argued that we should be faced with the dilemma of how to tell the people of Wales and Scotland that we wanted them to remain within the United Kingdom so that Parliament remained almost supreme when little by little we should give it away to the bureaucrats in Brussels. It is this sort of absurd and distasteful argument that has lowered the status of politics in this country and tempted people to look elsewhere for a while in the hope that at least they might be able to find more honest politics.

I believe that the real problem afflicting our country is basically economic. To a degree, that is following a world pattern. There is unemployment in Western Germany and in France. There is unemployment and there are terrible economic difficulties in Italy. These countries are all members of the Common Market, all members of this superb institution into which we rushed before the British people were given a referendum to decide whether they wanted to come out. That referendum was designed simply to confuse the issue.

The people who said "You cannot have a referendum about going into the Common Market but you can have a referendum about coming out of it", are now trying to pull the same old gag again. No doubt when Wales or Scotland have been isolated, there may be some talk of a referendum.

The White Paper is telling us that we must abandon pulling together as a United Kingdom and all gallop off in various directions. That is both economic and political nonsense. If devolution takes place, there are bound to be serious arguments, vicious dichotomies, which in turn are bound to lead to separatism, and it may not stop there. Somebody suggested earlier that there might even be Scottish hospitals, with Scottish nurses, Scottish doctors, dealing only with Scottish patients and having nothing to do with any drug unless made in Scotland.

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

I can only assume that the hon. Member who made that proposal had consumed far too much of it.

Photo of Mr Michael Brotherton Mr Michael Brotherton , Louth Borough

A lot of the grain for Scotch whisky comes from Lincolnshire.

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Brotherton) is making my case for me. If he wants Scotch whisky, he has to have grain from his part of England.

I cannot see any guarantee that if Wales and Scotland go it alone and the United Kingdom is broken up, the result will be an economic miracle. I just do not believe it. One can envisage the absurd situation that perhaps Cardiff, Liverpool and Glasgow might each declare itself a sort of Hansa Stadt. That would be the only move left at the end of the incredibly stupid and dangerous propositions that we have been discussing.

I regret that—I suppose inevitably—we have drifted into discussing the nuts and bolts of the proposition instead of the philosophy and principle lying behind it. If we are to pull ourselves out of our difficulties, we need even more unity, not the breaking up of our existing unity. We need industrial efficiency, and with it industrial peace. This is far more important than a devious political devolution.

If we had more industrial devolution and more industrial democracy, we should be able to overcome many of the ills that afflict us. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, it has been shown time and time again that men are more bound by their industries, skills and professions—I thank God for it—than by their nationalities. The behaviour to each other of miners in Britain and throughout the world has been a credit to mankind. The same thing can be said in modern times of teachers, engineers and doctors. It is a good thing that men are more bound by their industries, skills and professions than by any form of nationalism.

The Scottish National Party may not be quite so keen now on separatism and an independent identity, because it would appear that these policies are no longer as popular as they were. I happen to believe, rightly or wrongly, that the SNP's remarkable political gains have been made much more by way of a protest vote against both major parties than by a desire to have a smack at the United Kingdom.

Too little has been said about the rôle of local government and its coldness, its remoteness and, I believe, its inefficiency. This has been the responsibility of successive Governments. At one time there were in London 28 cosy metropolitan boroughs. It took a bus five minutes to travel across Hammersmith, another couple of minutes to travel across Fulham, and the same time to travel across Chelsea. Then the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) came along with a wonderful idea—amalgamation. We all know why he did it. As long as those boroughs were organised separately and working efficiently, the Tory Party did not stand a dog's chance of controlling the majority of the London metropolitan boroughs. That was why this piece of political chicanery was produced.

It was said that it would achieve more efficiency. Let me give an example of what is irritating people about local government in London. At one time, Ealing was an independent borough, as were Southall and Acton. Then the right hon. Gentleman put forward his scheme for amalgamation. One of the great attractions was that the rates would be reduced because the staff would be halved. What are the facts? Each third portion of the London borough of Ealing now requires almost twice as many staff to administer it, and the sense of cosiness and the nearness of people to their local administration have been lost. Whitehall frustrates Ealing as much as it does Swansea, Coatbridge, or Cardiff. Those are the subjects that we ought to be examining. We ought to ask what is upsetting and annoying people.

I do not believe for one moment that people desire that England should be on its own, Scotland on its own, or Wales on its own. People are frustrated and annoyed by the remoteness of local government, the remoteness of the nationalised industries, and of so much else in our lives today.

The right hon. Member for Devon, North put forward what seemed an even more absurd argument—that nevertheless, in this context there is a peculiar logic in federalism, that of course it would break up the United Kingdom, but that that had always been the desire of the Liberal Party, which would break up anything to give it a better chance of hoodwinking people and of getting more representation anywhere. Nevertheless, if we are to do something bad and stupid, at least the Liberal creed of federalism has some element of fairness about it. Does anyone really believe that all the great issues, economic and constitutional, that affect or afflict us from time to time can be resolved by some supreme court?

I mentioned earlier that Germany had problems similar to ours, Italy problems worse than ours, and that France had them as bad as ours. They are all parts of the Common Market, and they are all federal countries. If they were not, what would be the response if someone suggested that it would be a good idea to have a system of federalism in order to solve all the problems? All the geniuses in our universities who study these things say that that is the answer. But they have had federalism for some 60 or 70 years, and we need only look at what it has thrown up for them. There is little for them to be proud of in that respect.

I say, therefore, that we must not be taken in too easily, that we ought not too readily to accept all these proposals as answers to our economic ills, and it is our economic ills that we should be discussing—the terrible problem of unemployment, the great problems confronting families who now, not just for a month, but for half a year ahead, see nothing but the dole to rely on. That is the sort of thing on which we should be concentrating our attention.

My hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Mabon), in his very good speech, quoted Aneurin Bevan and said that Bevan was in favour of this sort of devolution, that he wanted to democratise the public boards and authorities. But let us be faithful to Aneurin Bevan. He did not want them to be given the autonomous power that they now have. Right from the beginning, he wanted the public boards and corporations to have democratic institutions built into them, being responsible to Parliament, and he said that he believed in that approach because disease, poverty and unhappiness knew no national boundaries.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

Exactly. Hear, hear.

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

The House of Commons should be discussing the issues that matter. It is no good pretending that they are not there, that the problems of the coal industry are the responsibility of the National Coal Board, that the problems of the steel industry are the responsibility of the British Steel Corporation, and that the problems of the National Health Service are the responsibility of the various echelons of administration in that service. We shall not get away with that idea much longer. It would have been far better if the House of Commons had been discussing for the past three days and today how to bring the problems of these great industries and services to the Floor of the House itself, debating how to make them at least answerable to the House, giving far more encouragement to ordinary people in that way.

This is more than just a question of the name "Great Britain". The steel and coal that we produce, the genius of our people, and the abilities and skills of the mass of artisans in this country are the reality that makes what we know to be Great Britain. I, therefore, want to forge even stronger links based on United Kingdom industrial and economic links.

Photo of Mr James Dempsey Mr James Dempsey , Coatbridge and Airdrie

I am following closely my hon. Friend's argument about democratising our public services. He has advanced a strong case in support of such democratisation, but would he not acknowledge that to allow services or functions that are exclusively Scottish to be dealt with in Scotland would lead to an expansion of that form of democracy?

Photo of Mr William Molloy Mr William Molloy , Ealing North

I do not accept that for a moment. I ask my hon. Friend to consider the nature of the British people. Sometimes, foreigners may laugh about us, but our character lies in large part in the fact that someone may say "My father was a Scot, my grandmother was Irish and my mother was English". It is these things that made us great. I do not want a situation to develop in which, when barren of any other argument, someone could say of somebody else that he was only half Scots, half Welsh or half Irish. That is where danger lies.

There are literally thousands of Scotsmen and Welshmen in my constituency who are now grandparents, having brought up their children here and seen their children bring up the next generation, who were driven to this part of England by the helplessness created by the laissez-faire economics of the 1930s. No one will instil into them some sort of special desire that Scotland is only for them. One of them said to me only the other day "What have I got to do? I am a Scot, born and bred. Am I to be in conflict with my grandchild because my daughter had the audacity to marry a Welshman?" That is the sort of absurd argument we are running into, and it is the beginning of vicious, obscene nationalism. Let us drop it.

I believe that the White Paper was devised as a bone to be thrown to the nationalist parties. I do not blame them for snaffling at it, but my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and our Government ought never to have done it in the first place. There were far more important items to be dealt with, but what we have is this so-called cool White Paper, devised in panic and now masquerading as a panacea.

I am about to draw my remarks to a close—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Central will have his opportunity. I acknowledge that there have been distinct peoples in our island, with individual cultures and genuine traditions and also a large measure of genius and talent. But I believe that we are united in the spirit of an island race which has triumphed in so many tests. One can call to witness the suffragettes, who were not particularly English, Welsh or Scottish. There were the hunger marchers. There was the united endeavour which the peope of these islands made against the so-called great dictators. No one can dismiss these things lightly or easily.

I say, therefore, that we should not risk creating within our island frontiers with dangerous nationalist implications. The White Paper itself does not do that, but I fear that it could be the lever to open the ugly door that could do just that. I would far rather that the House of Commons, in all its political endeavours, tried to lead our peoples to the frontier for which mankind is aching. Let us show the way: English, Irish, Scots and Welsh—let us get back to trying to reach the greatest frontier of all, the frontier of understanding.

Photo of Mr Myer Galpern Mr Myer Galpern , Glasgow Shettleston

I remind hon. Members that the winding-up speeches are due to begin at 9 o'clock. In view of the substantial number still anxious to take part in the debate before 9 o'clock, I appeal to hon. Members to be as brief as they possibly can.

8.8 p.m.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Wigley Mr Dafydd Wigley , Caernarvon

I shall not follow the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) into the byways of the London boroughs. I wish to refer to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Evans) and the facts which he set out earlier in the debate, showing the national basis on which our constitutional claims are founded. The national dimension of Wales has not been seriously questioned in the debate, although several hon. Members have alluded to it, notably the hon. Members for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) and for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer), as well as the spokesman for the Opposition who opened the debate today.

What is at issue is the political framework which can best provide the Welsh nation, collectively and individually, with the greatest fulfilment both materially and culturally. That this involves some separate institutions is accepted by all parties in Wales. I have heard no one argue in this debate for abolishing the Welsh Office or the other national bodies which serve Wales. The hon. Member for Bedwellty drew a distinction between nationality and nationhood, and he spoke of the formal status of nationhood embodied in a Welsh Assembly as being separatist.

There is a danger of being loose in our use of words. The hon. Gentleman spoke of creating tangible economic and political borders. But some borders already exist. The Welsh Office already exists. The Welsh Development Agency and the Welsh Land Agency—even the Welsh rugby team—are manifestations of a border, and all these could be described in a sense as separatist by those who did not like their existence.

Equally, in the world today, there are limits to isolation. No country can be totally isolationist. Indeed, with our membership of the EEC, the degree of economic separatism which characterises the United Kingdom's relationship with the other eight member States is limited. Plainly, there are such restrictions, but that limit on economic separatism does not imply that there is no function for the Parliaments of the States within the EEC. Nor should the concept of a Welsh Parliament imply economic or cultural isolation. Indeed, it may be the avenue by which Wales can play a greater part in the economic and cultural world, just as our national soccer and rugby teams involve Wales in the international sporting world.

The Secretary of State was right to say that Wales was a nation within a State. The argument concerns the degree of freedom that our nation should have in its own affairs and the implications that that must have for its relations with the other nations of this island, of the EEC and of the world. My hon. Friend the Member for Merioneth (Mr. Thomas) outlined on Wednesday my party's misgivings about the Government's proposals.

We see no reason why the Assembly should not have full legislative powers over at least those matters that are under the Secretary of State's control. The excuse given by the Government, that the legislative powers for the Scottish Assembly are not being given to the Welsh because of distinct Scots law is pure eyewash. It is the contents and the objectives of legislation which is important, not the legal code in which it is framed.

There should also be far more responsibility with the Assembly for economic matters, specifically economic planning and the Welsh Development Agency, both of which, we were told in Labour's Welsh manifesto, would come under the Assembly. I am grateful to the Secretary of State for acknowledging that fact on Thursday I took his words to mean that the Assembly will have some powers for economic planning, in an executive, if not a legislative, sense. But I could find no commitment to that in the White Paper, so I take it that this is something which will be built into the Bill.

Some people outside the House have said that legislative power would add little ability to the Assembly in policy formulation. I beg to disagree, and will give three examples of the type of area in which Wales would benefit.

The first is the all-important question of industrial development. The Welsh Council made specific recommendations in 1972 in its report "Wales: Employment and the Economy" for changes which would assist job development in Wales. Most of the changes proposed required legislative action. They were not contained in the Industry Acts of 1972 and 1975. They were steps much needed in Wales to benefit the unemployed, but this House had neither the time nor the inclination to support them. The unemployed in Wales today are paying the price.

Similarly, the proposals of the Wales TUC to the Prime Minister last October would require legislative action which has not been taken. An Assembly in Cardiff would have to have legislative powers to be able to tackle these proposals seriously.

My second example is those who suffer from lung disease in quarrying—a problem of grave concern to my constituency. Legislative changes are needed to the National Insurance Act 1965. There is room for a package of new legislation to recognise the special characteristics of identification of slate dust by X-ray and the position of ex-quarrymen in an industry which has rapidly declined and whose former companies are now largely in liquidation, which means that employees cannot sue their former employers. A Welsh legislature could never have been so insensitive to that problem as is Westminster.

Third, the controversial Housing Finance Act was opposed by the overwhelming majority of local housing authorities in Wales, in areas as diverse as Bedwas and Machen and Penmaenmawr. In the Government's present proposals, the Assembly would have only executive powers and so would have to administer obnoxious laws of that type which would not even have been passed in our own legislature.

The Assembly should have legislative powers also because without the power to change legislation its executive freedom will be largely illusory. The Paymaster-General spoke of the great new freedom that we shall have in deciding how to allocate the £900 million in the block grant, but the current account expenditure will be largely determined by the responsibility placed on the Assembly by legislation passed here. It is only in relation to the capital expenditure that we shall have freedom to determine priorities.

Some Labour Members counter the argument for greater responsibility for Wales by saying that we could not afford it. They refer mainly to seven-year-old Treasury statistics. The Secretary of State has given credence today to the question mark surrounding that study. If we had had full self-government, our priorities would have been very different from those laid down by this House. We would not have accepted being saddled with the figure in those accounts of over £100 million of defence expenditure, which could not have been justified on economic grounds, or that all the priorities of the people of Wales would not have been entertained by a purely self-governing Welsh State. That money could have been spent on getting the economy straight, on industrial benefits like those for silicosis sufferers and on upgrading our housing. If the folly of Westminster means that the present crazy arms level should be maintained, that is London's prerogative, but Wales must not be expected to pay the bill and then be told that it cannot afford self-government.

The proposed rates surcharge is regarded as ludicrous in Wales, as a deliberate attempt by the Government to discourage the people from pressing for self-government.

The European dimension facilitates the concept of a self-governing Wales and reinforces the need for such a change. Now that we are in the EEC and likely to remain there, the argument for Wales to have a full voice in the institutions of the EEC cannot be answered. This argument is seen by more and more people in Wales as they see the EEC impinging on aspects of everyday life. It is ridiculous to say, if Luxembourg, with a population the size of Gwent, can have a seat in the councils of the EEC, that Wales cannot. Our people will not wear it and, as the years go by, our exclusion will be more and more difficult to justify. I agree with what hon. Members such as the hon. Member for Belper (Mr. Mac-Farquhar) have said about the European dimension.

Another important factor is the strength of the desire among the people of Wales for a national Assembly. Different opinion polls have shown different things at different times, but the main opposition to the establishment of an Assembly comes from the Conservatives and four of the 23 Welsh Members of Parliament. The other prong of the opposition is local councils, which have been led to believe that the proposals could take away powers from local government. I am surprised that district councils take this line. I should have thought that with an Assembly, their rôle could easily become that of unitary authorities and that they will have more of a future rather than less. Without an Assembly, there is a greater danger of the counties remaining as a unit, with a possible consequent threat to the district councils.

The main strength of the demand for a Welsh Assembly, apart from the political parties, comes from the Wales TUC and unions such as the Transport and General Workers and the NUM. Hon. Members received a telegram today from the General Secretary of the Wales TUC commending proposals for devolution.

I should have no objection to a referendum on this subject, provided that it did not entail undue delay and that all the generally canvassed alternatives were on the paper. They would include the various proposals of the political parties and should perhaps include the question whether Wales should have a direct voice in the EEC and parity with Scotland. If a referendum were to take place in Wales, no doubt one would be necessary in Scotland as well. I wonder whether the Government would then ask whether the people wanted their Assembly to have control of North Sea oil.

Another issue which has been pushed by some Members—it appears from the words of the Lord President that the Government may consider this matter—concerns separate Bills for Wales and Scotland. We would not necessarily object to that, but we should object strongly if it were seen as a delaying tactic, as it might be, in that, because of the time necessary for Committee stage on the Floor of the House, the Bills could not be taken in parallel. We would not accept that the Welsh Bill could not start until the Scottish Bill had finished.

Turning to election promises, I cannot comment on the meeting of 26 or 27 Welsh Labour Members of Parliament which apparently endorsed some proposals for Wales, nor is it for me to comment on the policy of the Welsh Council for Labour. No doubt members of that body will see what their influence counts for in the eyes of some Welsh Labour Members of Parliament, and assess their future accordingly. But I can consider Labour's Welsh manifesto, from which not one candidate dissented in his election address. It was called, "Wales will win with Labour", and I have a copy of it here. It is clear, categoric and specific. It says: Labour will establish a directly elected Welsh Assembly with responsibility for a wide range of functions, for instance housing, health, education, economic and environmental planning, and water, currently performed by central Government and undemocratic nominated bodies. It will have real powers in the field of economic and industrial development. It added that the Assembly would have powers of delegated legislation, and it clearly stated that the Assembly would not be given any of the existing functions currently carried out by local authorities in Wales. It said that the Welsh Development Agency would be the concern of the Assembly once established. The Labour Party's commitment to the electorate is quite clear, and the only argument can be about whether this White Paper gives the real powers in the field of economic and industrial development promised in the manifesto. It is ridiculous for the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) to claim, as he did last Tuesday, at col. 221, of the Official Report, that this manifesto bears no resemblance to the White Paper.

Photo of Mr Michael Brotherton Mr Michael Brotherton , Louth Borough

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The whole of the hon. Gentleman's speech is being read.

Photo of Mr Myer Galpern Mr Myer Galpern , Glasgow Shettleston

Let us get finished with it because there are many speakers to come.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Wigley Mr Dafydd Wigley , Caernarvon

My speech is being read so that I can get in all the points as shortly as possible. It will be concluded all the more quickly if there are no interruptions such as that.

Photo of Mr Anthony Fell Mr Anthony Fell , Yarmouth

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sorry about the time factor, but it is undesirable that an hon. Member should admit that he is reading his speech.

Photo of Mr Myer Galpern Mr Myer Galpern , Glasgow Shettleston

As far as I can judge, the hon. Member sometimes raises his head skywards.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Wigley Mr Dafydd Wigley , Caernarvon

We may criticise the Secretary of State's policy in the matter of devolution as not going far enough, but we do not doubt his integrity in the matter. That is more than we can say for some of the Welsh Labour Members who are now trying to wriggle out of their election pledges. If they get their way, all Wales will know how much credibility we can give in the future to Labour Party Election Manifestos.

I conclude with a plea for this House to recognise the right of the people of Wales to seek their own answers to their own problems, the right to make their own mistakes, and the responsibility that goes with it. I would ask that the potential motivation that can be harnessed from constructive patriotism should not be wasted in the case of Wales and Scotland. Such enthusiasm is in short supply in these islands, and, who knows, the example of Wales and Scotland may help England, too, to find for herself a new vision and a new rôle.

Several hon. Members:

rose

Photo of Mr Myer Galpern Mr Myer Galpern , Glasgow Shettleston

I renew my appeal for brevity. I call Mr. Cook.

8.22 p.m.

Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook , Edinburgh Central

I hope that the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) will forgive me if I do not follow him into Welsh affairs. We have all agreed that each of the four nations is separate and distinct, and I would not dream of involving myself in trying to sort out Welsh problems. It is difficult enough to understand what is happening in Scotland.

I would not try to pretend, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that if I had caught your eye three sitting days ago I would have been as assiduous as I have been in attending the debate. But I have heard as much of the debate as has any other hon. Member and I think that the considerable and widespread criticism of the Government has been most unfair. I say that with all the authority of an hon. Member not noted for defending his Front Bench out of force of habit.

By any measure the White Paper provides extensive functions and powers to the devolved Assembly in Scotland. The White Paper provides for three-fifths of the total identifiable public expenditure in Scotland to be devolved to the control of the Assembly in Scotland. One can say that 60 per cent. is too much or too little, but one cannot reject a figure as large as that as being an insult not worth discussing as some have.

In certain respects the White Paper is imaginative. I am particularly taken with the proposal for a committee structure within the Assembly, and it is a matter of regret that this sensible, far-reaching proposal, which could be applied with advantage in Westminster, has attracted no attention during the debate.

I recognise that the White Paper is a lengthy document. It is inevitable that in a document of such length hon. Members will find something with which to disagree. Lest I be thought abnormal, I begin with a criticism of my own.

I am particularly worried about the taxation position. The suggestions on taxation as set out in the White Paper put the Assembly in a position that can only be described as one of irresponsibility. The Assembly will have the power and the right to identify new services and propose new services to meet new needs. On the other hand, it will be under no obligation to raise the finance to meet those services.

What the Assembly is supposed to do is come to Westminster and ask Parliament here to vote additional funds to meet the new services. That will place Westminster in an invidious position, because it will either refuse the money and thereby attract the odium of having stopped the service, or grant the money and attract the odium of raising additional taxation.

It is essential that the Assembly be given some kind of real tax-raising power. Local authorities raise only 26 per cent. of their revenue in the form of rates, but the fact that they raise that amount gives them some freedom and imposes a financial discipline on their decisions.

There are problems involved in defining some kind of tax-raising power within the United Kingdom and within a united fiscal policy, but I do not believe that the Civil Service, the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise are so hidebound by tradition or so unimaginative that they are incapable of finding a solution to a problem that has been faced and resolved by every country that has some kind of subordinate legislature. That is the kind of problem that can be hammered out in detail over the coming months. Generally speaking, in broad principle the White Paper is in the right target area and has struck the right balance, and I shall have no difficulty in defending it in Scotland.

I want now to refer to those Members, particularly from England, who seem to be opposed to any form of devolution and who think that any step towards devolution is too much. I find the fears of those who think that if we take one faltering step down the staircase towards devolution we shall necessarily tumble to the bottom of the staircase and find ourselves in a state of separation grossly exaggerated. I sympathise with some of the reasoning behind it, but it is exaggerated.

Our problem is that the Assembly is not in being, and so long as it does not exist in a concrete form, it is easy for politicians and media writers to pretend that the Assembly is a kind of abstract embodiment of the Scottish people. Once the Assembly is there, the situation will be different.

I propose to refer to the submission last week by that august body, the 1320 Club, to the Secretary of State claiming that the veto powers were an insult to the Scottish people because they suggested that in the entire Scottish nation there was neither intelligence nor integrity. One does not want to quarrel with the 1320 Club, not least because of the thinly veiled threat of violence to those who disagree with its views, but not the entire Scottish nation will sit in the Assembly. The people who will sit there will be the 142 representatives of the Scottish people, and they will have intelligence and integrity.

They will be decent, honourable, sincere people, but they will also be fallible and be subject to the pressures of overwork and poor advice. They will no doubt make mistakes and take unpopular decisions. I am confident that when that happens, when the Assembly is taking specific decisions affecting the people in specific ways, we shall have a much more balanced attitude and a much more sensible and rational approach to how to distribute power between those at Westminster and those who represent the Scottish people within the Assembly.

I find interesting confirmation of that in the fact that although among the Scottish people as a whole there is undoubtedly a preponderant balance of opinion in favour of devolution, every time people grasp the reality of what devolution means for them, the balance of opinion tends to shift in favour of caution.

Thus, when doctors appreciate what devolution will mean in the National Health Service, they move against it. When university teachers appreciate what it will mean in universities, they move against it. When civil servants appreciate how it might affect them, they appear to come out against it. When local authorities are aware what might happen to them, they come out against it.

That is an interesting trend and confirmation that as devolution becomes a reality, so will much of the glamour fade from it. We must press it to reality. Having conjured up the abstraction of an Assembly, the worst thing we could do would be to back away from it in fear as if we suddenly realised that we were dealing with a powerful political force that we could not control. We can control it, but only if we make the Assembly a reality and give it a concrete existence.

Another line of attack from my colleagues in England has been that by creating an Assembly we shall increase the disparity between public expenditure in England and public expenditure in Scotland. This is a real fear and an unanswerable case. If we in Scotland did not believe that an Assembly would increase public expenditure in Scotland, we probably should not be pressing for it.

It is absolutely certain that if one creates an Assembly, it will identify new problems. Having done so, it will propose new services and it will require further public expenditure to run those services. In my view it is, therefore, very much in the interests of hon. Members that they concede some tax-raising power for the Assembly so that additional expenditure is found within Scotland. However if, no matter how the money is raised, they feel an obligation or a duty to their constituents to prevent the disparity in public expenditure from getting greater, they will inevitably find themselves being drawn towards opposing the creation of an Assembly.

But I ask hon. Members to take on board the following thought. I was one of those who two years ago, in early 1974, said that we could defend the status quo and that if we all came out in favour of the status quo and argued against devolution and separation, we could probably hold the line. I lost that argument.

We must now face reality. Every political party went before the Scottish electorate in October 1974 committed to some form of Assembly or Parliament in Edinburgh. The Scots had their expectations raised and they thought that they were to have an Assembly or a Parliament. If we now attempt to deny those expectations, I greatly fear that we shall give the biggest impetus we have yet seen to nationalism within Scotland. I doubt whether, if the House fails to deliver an Assembly, we shall be able to maintain the Union. I am absolutely certain that we shall be unable to maintain a united Labour Party in Great Britain. Therefore, I ask my colleagues in particular to take this consideration on board and to ponder it deeply before they make up their minds.

There have been speeches from the other side of the balance, from hon. Members who have sought to upset the scales and to bring the White Paper crashing down on their own side of the divide. I shall refer in particular to the speech by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars). I am sorry that he is unable to be present, but I should like to take this opportunity to thank him for the courtesy of sending me a note informing me that he is unable to be present now because he is sorting out some business in his own constituency. However, I assume that he will be attending later. I ask my hon. Friend, when he reads in Hansard what I have said, to accept that he cannot claim to speak for the entire Scottish nation. There are Scots who are no less Scottish in their descent, no less sensitive to the history and culture of Scotland and no less principled than he, who find it possible to reach a different view about the distribution of economic and industrial decision-making.

When I look at our State, I see a small, compact island in which industrial ownership and control are highly concentrated. I ask myself whether we serve our constituents' interests best by dividing the political check, the political control on our industrial economy. Many of my countrymen in Scotland have clearly perceived the case for industrial unity, have seen industries, management and ownership organised on a British scale, and have found it necessary to respond by organising their trade unions on a British scale. It is difficult to understand that they cannot see the same message when they consider the political dimension. If one can see the case for industrial unity, it is strange that one should be blind to the case for not dividing the political control.

I am not dogmatic. I am prepared to consider whether we might include some industrial power for the Assembly. I am prepared to consider whether we might hand over the economic and industrial functions of the Scottish Development Association.

I find it hard to understand why my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire has felt obliged to set up an entirely separate party on the basis of such issues and such a divide. So long as he is prepared to keep the dialogue open with us, so long shall we keep the dialogue open with him. However, it must be put on record that if he had moved one quarter as far to meet us over the past two years as I and some of those who shared my view two years ago have moved to meet him, we should not now be faced with this rift in the Labour Party and in the Labour movement in Scotland.

I conclude by taking up something said from the SNP Bench four days ago, Little has been said from that Bench with which I agree. I was particularly outraged by the contribution of the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Crawford), who seemed to suggest that the period from 1603 to 1707 represented a halcyon constitutional settlement to which we should seek to return. To anyone who has turned the tormented and troubled pages of Scottish history for that period it must have appeared a risible idea.

The hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart), in his speech at the beginning of the debate, said that at the end of the day the Scottish people would decide. That was a profound truth which has been reiterated by others. I agree with the hon. Gentleman. Indeed, I am prepared to go rather further than he was prepared to go! I am prepared to put it to the Scottish people. In February, I suggested that we should have a referendum on the matter. Everything which has happened since February has confirmed me in the view that a referendum is the only way out of the position that we have created for ourselves.

We did not have a referendum after the debate in February last year. The consequence has been that every by-election in Scotland has been treated as if it were a referendum. Electors in Bo'ness going to the polls on the basis of bad street lighting, subsidised mortgages for council officials, and so on, have been treated as having given a deliberate and conscious judgment on the White Paper three or four days after it was published. That is nonsense.

Since we have not had a referendum and a clear decision, in the resultant confusion everybody is entitled to claim to represent public opinion. My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire and the hon. Member for Western Isles are entitled in that situation to make extravagant claims about Scottish opinion, claims that I do not believe. My hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) and the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Evans) both managed to claim to represent united Welsh opinion. The only way out of the situation is to put the matter to the people.

I am quite clear that in Scotland people have already considered the matter and decided that they reject the status quo and are bent on having some kind of devolution. I am equally confident that when the next decision is taken and when they understand what that decision is, whether to make a stand in favour of the Union on the basis of these proposals or to go beyond them and inevitably get on the gentle but inexorable slide towards separation, they will opt to make a stand on these proposals.

8.38 p.m.

Photo of Mr George Reid Mr George Reid , Stirlingshire East and Clackmannan

It was proper for the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), with his great experience of Government, to warn the House tonight of the misapprehension and suspicion with which its handling of the devolution issue is viewed in Scotland.

The Scottish people have every reason to be suspicious. Ever since my hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mrs. Ewing) won Hamilton in 1967, the response of central Government, be it Conservative or Labour, to the needs of the people of Scotland has been cynical, enforced and dilatory. After Hamilton the right hon. Member for Sidcup himself put forward a proposal for an Assembly in his declaration of Perth. The Prime Minister similarly instituted a Royal Commission on the Constitution. Doubtless that Report would still be gathering dust on the shelves but for the presence of the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru in force in this House.

Another reason for deep suspicion is the Labour Government's handling of the devolution issue in October 1974. But for several hostages to fortune given at that time it is doubtful whether there would be a Labour Government. It is certainly unlikely that some hon. Members opposite would be present in this House tonight. The reason is that throughout the length and breadth of Scotland the cause of a Scottish Parliament with economic powers—note the word "Parliament"—was advanced by the Labour Party at meetings and in broadcasts. I need only quote from the news release issued to all Scottish papers on 5th September 1974. It is entitled, Bringing power back to the people. A statement of Labour Party policy. On page 9 the following words appear: Substantial executive powers in the trade and industry fields will be transferred— not "might be transferred "— from central government to enable the Assemblies to make decisions in the light of their own needs in the promotion of employment and industrial regeneration. It would also be appropriate for the proposed Development Agencies to become responsible to the Assemblies. It is small wonder, given that subsequent delay, and ministerial promises that the Assembly Bill would be in the House by November last year, that the Scottish people are suspicious.

If this debate has done anything, it has revealed the great chasm between what the ordinary English hon. Member believes devolution to be about and what the average Scot expects from it. In the 24 hours for which we have been considering the White Paper there has been precious little acknowledgment that the social, political and economic circumstances of Scotland have changed out of all recognition since the Kilbrandon Report was researched and published. Lord Kilbrandon himself freely admits that, yet the Treasury Bench still gives it the value of Holy Writ. What has been happening north of the border is a political reality, not just the rise of a political party until it is now the biggest party in Scotland—the SNP—but the whole rebirth and regeneration of the Scottish nation.

While the House has been concerned throughout the debate to ensure that the Scottish Assembly remains in a firm Westminster straitjacket from the start, that is not the issue in Scotland. The great debate north of the border, which has been going on for about 10 years, has centred on what real economic powers we are to get, on the consequences for Scotland of the United Kingdom's acceding to the Common Market, and whether the Assembly is to have the reality of power which will enable it to play a constructive and responsible rôle in British life.

I shall come to those key areas in a moment. First, I want to deal briefly with some of the arguments advanced by other parties, both from the Conservative and Labour ranks—though it is difficult to say, after hearing their divided counsels in the House, whether there is such a thing as a party view. With both those parties one pays one's money and takes one's choice.

The Prime Minister, in what he rightly described as the Imperial Parliament, seems to have taken on himself the rôle of maintaining the territorial inviolability of the heartland of the Empire. I wonder how far the Treasury Bench is prepared to go in defence of the Union. Dealing on Wednesday with the possible independence of Scotland, the Lord President said: it is very doubtful as a legal proposition. International law and world public opinion would prevent its"— that is, the sovertignty of Westminster— ever being taken away."—[Official Report, 14th January 1976; Vol. 903, c. 406.] To my ears that sounds like a statement of blunt imperialism. I trust that in winding up the debate the Secretary of State for Scotland will have both the good grace and the common sense to say that if there is a Scots majority for independence in a General Election the Government will accept it. Let the right hon. Gentleman tonight reaffirm for the Government their belief in the right to national self-determination, which is a fundamental principle of democracy, and confirm that if the Scots and Welsh people so choose they cannot be resisted, either in justice or in practice.

The right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition clearly does not understand Scotland at all. On her first visit north of the border she was obviously unaware that her party was committed, at least then, to a directly-elected Assembly. But she has now committed a constitutional gaffe of even greater proportions. When she described on Tuesday the Assembly as being a system linked into the United Kingdom Parliament, she said: The early legislative functions, Second Reading, Committee stage and Report stage and Third Reading will come here."—[Official Report, 13th January 1976; Vol. 903, c. 241.] That does not leave much for Scotland. That gaffe sums up the Conservative enthusiasm for devolution.

It was left to the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) to put a hurried gloss on his leader's plans the next day, when he explained how the Second Reading and Committee stages might be taken in Edinburgh. That is a constitutional nonsense, because a Bill could clearly be changed out of all recognition in its intermediate stages, particularly if the Assembly were of a different political complexion from this House. Who would steer Bills through the Committee, line by line and clause by clause? The Conservative answer of appointees, as in the House of Lords, is risible. Given that background, tonight's main motion is an empty shell.

Every Member of this House, by his election manifesto in October 1974, was committed to support a Scottish Assembly. Many of us had the suspicion that it was meant as something soothing to spout at the hustings and then forget. Given the number of Labour Members who have declared openly that they will vote for the Government tonight but are opposed to an Assembly, that commitment is clearly a nonsense. The "take note" motion is not advanced for a better Government of the people of Scotland but simply to preserve what little unity exists in the ranks of the Labour Party. The same goes for the Conservative amendment, which significantly has dropped any commitment to a directly-elected Assembly. It is a piece of sticking plaster pasted over their open divisions.

So we come to the real political issue before the House, the amendment standing in the names of hon. Members belonging to the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru. It regrets that the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies are to be … given no meaningful control over their respective economies. That is the very heart of the matter, as the White Paper itself admits.

I deal first with some of the comments made by the Paymaster-General about the Scottish economy. He painted an exceedingly black picture—indeed, a picture of a begging bowl society. However, he conveniently forgot our invisible exports and that we are self-sufficient in food, in that our agricultural imports and exports balance out. But even if what the right hon. Gentleman said was true, what an appalling indictment of London government of Scotland it is—1¼ million Scots gone since the war from their homeland, a record unequalled in Europe, 200,000 houses unfit for human habitation, one child in 10 in Scotland born to fail compared with one in 43 in the Home Counties. That is the legacy of London rule.

Yet the right hon. Gentleman said, curiously, that if Scotland got the oil wells—valued at £200,000 million—that could not conceivable help the Scottish economy. That is economic nonsense. If the North Sea oil and gas revenues can do so little for a small country like Scotland, why are they considered so vitally important to the United Kingdom economy as a whole? I thought that the whole fiscal scenario in the United Kingdom was, "We will all hang on together and somehow bumble through until the first revenues start flowing in the 1980s." Only a humorist would suggest that the economic management of a self-governing Scotland would necessarily be more ineffective than the economic management in the past. Only a person of poor spirit would come to the conclusion that Scotland could not do better in engendering her own indigenous growth.

Despite the much-vaunted £2,000 million, which will go to the Assembly, however, the Treasury remains omnipotent. The Keynesians in Whitehall and the centralisers in the Labour Party, be they of the Hampstead or Left-Wing variety, have united in total opposition to devolved economic management. They do not appreciate that the whole driving force for devolution for Scotland stems from dissatisfaction with Treasury policies. They forget that the whole array of fiscal and monetary weapons employed by the Treasury in the 1960s and 1970s hit Scotland with particular ferocity. It is precisely the realisation of the failure of aggregate demand management which has led to the demand in Scotland for more flexible tools of economic policy.

Put bluntly, will the devolution proposed in the White Paper bring indigenous growth in Scotland? The answer is "No". Will it do anything to end poverty in Scotland? No. Will it do anything to eradicate poor housing, gross overcrowding, lower family incomes, a higher infantile mortality rate and a higher sickness rate? No. The reason is that the £2,000 million is largely committed already. The vast majority of the Assembly's proposed powers over public expenditure affect social and environmental rather than the economic functions of Government.

With the possible exception of housing, it is difficult to envisage how a Scottish Administration could exercise significant influence over the allocation and uses of public funds in these areas, even if any such proposals were to pass the scrutiny of the Secretary of State on so called general policy grounds. At least 90 per cent. and probably nearer 95 per cent. of such expenditures are on-going, in the sense that they are determined by the United Kingdom Parliament's legislation on the structure and scope of public social expenditure.

Therefore, the Assembly is to be little more than a clearing house for Westminster. Its general rôle as proposed will be as an intermediary between the United Kingdom Government, which will establish the basic aims and principles of public social expenditure, and the local authorities and other agencies, which will mainly bear the responsibility for the day-to-day implementation of these policies. In other words, what little freedom the Assembly will have will be to rob Peter to pay Paul—to reduce spending on hospitals, in order to spend more on schools, to cut back spending on roads in order to invest more on housing.

It could have been otherwise. The perpetrators of this abortion seem to forget that the West Germans get by and control demand management throughout the republic with only 51 per cent. of revenues going to central Government. They ignore the fact that relative economic success has been achieved in Canada and Australia, where State Governments are given strong industrial and economic powers. As the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) said last Wednesday: No threat is posed by taking what the economists call macro decisions—the allocation of resources by volume and spending heads—and then the application of policy at micro and sub-macro level in accordance with the needs and special circumstances of the different areas as determined by the people within those areas."—[Official Report, 14th January 1976; Vol. 903, c. 448.] The only freedom the Government suggest is a surcharge on the rates. It is so absurd a suggestion that it could have come only from the Lord President in his most black humorist mood.

There are alternatives. The Assembly needs a power of its own to levy taxes. It needs a system based on devolved taxes, under which it could both set rates and collect revenue. It needs access to the oil revenues. As the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Mabon) said: We should … impose an identifiable tax on oil extraction distribution which will go to the revenues of the Scottish Assembly. It would be open to the Assembly to debate whether or not there should be a rise or fall in the level, with its economic consequences for Scotland."—[Official Report, 13th January 1976: Vol. 903, c. 276.] In addition, the Assembly should be responsible for the Scottish Development Agency, which should be financially revamped, and for the industrial grants and loans now administered by the Secretary of State.

As a gradualist party, the Scottish National Party would accept such measures as being a meaningful step towards control over the Scottish economy. However, beyond that we shall press for full self-government and the point at which the process stops will be determined only by the people of Scotland.

I can recall Labour Members presenting Barr's Bill in 1927 which stated: The power of levying and collecting all taxes, including income tax in Scotland, shall be transferred to the Scots Parliament and the taxes so levied and collected shall be paid into a Scots Treasury. If the Labour Party is the party of Home Rule, as it claims, it is high time that it returned to its original commitments. It almost did so in the Press notice from Transport House to which I referred earlier and in the promises given to the Scottish people in September and October 1974.

Against that background it is small wonder that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire should say in Glasgow yesterday: If there was the political equivalent of the Trades Description Act, the Scottish people could sue the Labour Government in every court in the land. Small wonder that the hon. Member for Paisley (Mr. Robertson) describes the Labour Party manifesto as "a dirty word".

I can understand the suspicion with which Members from the English regions view the Government's proposals. The problems of urban decay and industrial decline in Scotland have the same origins as those on Tyneside and in the North of England. However, there is a difference in kind. A region is simply not a nation. There is no devolved administration, no separate law, Church or educational system on Tyneside. A nation has wider freedom of action than a region. Within Scotland there are regions with significantly different levels of employment, and one Scottish region is three times worse off than the worst English region.

I say to hon. Members from the English regions that by creating an alternative power centre within the United Kingdom, a Scottish Parliament, we shall reduce the pull of London and thus ensure a fairer distribution of power and resources throughout the whole island. A buoyant Scottish economy, since Scotland is almost certainly the largest single market for English goods and services, will bring considerable benefits for every English region. Developed economic management north of the border may well set the pattern for the English regions, too. A Scottish Parliament will be a willing respondent to proposals of benefit to both countries.

It has been a long time. We have gone through the European debate. We have seen sovereignty easily conceded from this House to the European Community. We have seen difficulties and obstacles placed in the way of a small amount of devolution coming to the Scottish people. Quite clearly, Scotland now has to think on an international scale. If Luxembourg, with half the population of Edinburgh, can be represented at the top table of the European Communities, so, too, should be the people of Scotland.

Our ultimate objective is the restoral of national sovereignty to the people of Scotland and the withdrawal of all Scots Members from this House. But we are a gradualist party. In an Assembly election situation we shall issue a manifesto to the Scots people. That manifesto is likely to ask for increased powers for the Assembly in relation to trade, industry and oil revenues. That we shall regard as a mandate to treat as a majority in the Assembly with this House for control in those areas. A General Election is another matter altogether. As one looks at the doubting faces on the Government side of the House, can one really believe that an Assembly Bill will be put through this House before the next General Election?

I finish with some words from a former Scots Secretary, the right hon. Tom Johnston, speaking in this House on 9th May 1924, on a similar occasion. He said, firstly, Our historical and cultural traditions are different, our racial characteristics are different. The Celt has long memories, the Englishman forgets quickly. He went on to quote what he called "the greatest Scotsman who ever lived, Robert Burns". Tom Johnston said: The story of Wallace poured a tide of Scottish prejudice into my veins which will boil along there till the floodgates of life shut in eternal rest."—[Official Report, 9th May 1924; Vol. 173, c. 799, 800.] We may well believe earnestly in internationalism but, as Tom Johnston said, one cannot have internationalism without nations. [Interruption.] In view of the mirth on the Government side of the House, let me conclude with a small anecdote for people from the English regions, from a man with impeccable working-class traditions. I assume that Labour Members would regard Jimmy Reid of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders as a serious man [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] He is highly regarded in Scotland. He recently went to a trade union conference overseas. Came the occasion for filling in the register, under the heading "Nationality", Jimmy Reid wrote the word "Scots." One of his English brethren beside him commented sharply, "Bleeding nationalist! Bleeding separatist!" Reid subsequently went back and found what that self-same English trade unionist, a member of the Labour Party from the provinces had entered under "Nationality." He had written "English".

9.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

My right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw) has very generously accorded me five minutes of his time in which I want to make two brief points. The hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid) laid claim to total self-determination for Scotland. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) said earlier that, if the majority of those in Ulster or Scotland wanted total independence—

Photo of Mr James Dempsey Mr James Dempsey , Coatbridge and Airdrie

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Did I hear aright that the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) has been given five minutes in which to make a speech? Are you aware that some of us have been here for three days? As this Bill deals with Scottish and Welsh devolution, not English devolution, may I take it that the Front Bench will give me, too, five minutes in which to make a speech?

Photo of Mr Julian Amery Mr Julian Amery , Brighton, Pavilion

The point I want to make is that even if the majority of those geographically situated in Scotland or in Ulster wish to separate, we in the House have to think very seriously about it, for reasons of security, of defence, of foreign policy and of our influence in Europe, but, much more than that, for human reasons, because in the population explosion of the past 250 years our people living in the whole of the British Isles have become tremendously mixed racially.

There is such a thing as a British nation. There are very few of us sitting on any of these Benches who do not have Welsh, Irish or Scottish blood intermixed with English blood, or who are not married to someone who has. This is surely something which has made a British nation.

It is that British nation which in the past 250 years has built up all over the world—in North America, in Australasia, in Southern Africa, and in countries of different races—a British civilisation of which we can all be proud and which has centred on this House. This House has sent again and again copies of the Mace and these Dispatch Boxes in evidence of our faith in British nationalism. So let us be clear that the great majority in the House are against separatism.

The only argument that exists amongst the majority of Members in the House, drawn from all parties in the Kingdom, is whether devolution would strengthen the unity of the Kingdom, or weaken it. The crux is whether there can be an elected Assembly—directly or even indirectly elected—with the unity of the Kingdom still preserved. It is true that for 50 years there was at Stormont an Assembly directly elected, but there were built-in reasons why the Executive responsible to it and that Assembly never tried to break with this country. In every other case of which we know—in the so-called colonies of European stock and in those of African or Asian stock—the moment there was an independent legislative assembly it insisted on controlling its Executive and rejecting the control of Whitehall and Westminster.

I was about to use the words "I am quite clear", but I do not want to go so far. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) made the mistake, if I may dare say so, of coming out flatly in favour of devolution. I do not want to come out completely against it. We do not have to make up our minds until after the Queen's Speech in November of this year.

But my advice to the House, for what it is worth, after experience of several devolved constitutions under the Colonial Office and the Commonwealth Relations Office, is that it is difficult to find a single foothold on which we can stand. It did not happen in Australia; nor did it happen in Canada. I do not believe it has happened in any other instance. They all went on to demand full executive control.

It may be that my right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and the Border, who is one of the most persuasive of Members, will be able to convince me that he has in mind an Assembly that will not slide into total independence. As at present advised, I do not believe that that is possible. That is why I propose to abstain tonight.

9.6 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I shall deal later with some of the points raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery). I gave my right hon. Friend some of my time as I felt that that was fair as he had waited to speak for a very long time.

I have listened to many speeches in the four days of this debate. The effect on me of those speeches has been one of increasing humility. We in this House face decisions of enormous long-term consequences for all our people throughout the United Kingdom, yet in the main we are very uncertain in our views and extremely divided. It is also clear that the broad mass of English Members have only now started to give their minds to the problem. It is as if English Members—and certainly our constituents—have awoken to the cold reality of a morning which many find extremely unwelcome. This is irritating to Scottish and Welsh Members, who have been living with the problem for many years.

It must be appreciated that the English Members and their constituents have just as much at stake in the future of the United Kingdom as have the Scottish and Welsh Members. Despite the different views and the general feeling of unease, one positive and broad consensus has emerged. Apart from the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists, we are all clear on one main objective—namely, to prevent the break-up of Great Britain and so the undermining of the United Kingdom. That means much to us, both emotionally and practically.

The Scottish and Welsh nationalists do not share that view. The hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid) has made it clear that they regard their attitude to this problem and to this debate as central. I shall take the hon. Gentleman up on that and spend some time dealing with the Scottish nationalists. I have lived in Scotland for long enough to see through one cunning tactic on their part. Whenever anyone, be he English or Anglo-Scot, tries to deal with their arguments properly, they cry "patronising".

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

That tends to give them support as they seek to represent themselves as a small band of people fighting for the true Scotland against the attitude of their colleagues in the House. I see through that little ploy, and I shall have nothing to do with it.

Photo of Mrs Margaret Bain Mrs Margaret Bain , Dunbartonshire East

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that recent polls in Scotland have shown that this small band happens to represent 36 per cent. of the people in Scotland, which is a great deal more than his own party represents?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I know all about polls. I read them constantly. I am always advised by the Prime Minister and I was advised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) when he was Prime Minister, and by many others, not to pay too much attention to any one poll, but I read them.

I wish to start with a statement of fact which will inevitably be complimentary to the SNP Members and their party. They are riding on the crest of an emotional wave and they have exploited their position skilfully and successfully. They have now reached the stage, however, when they must stand up and admit what they believe. I give the hon. Mem- ber for Clackmannan and East Stirling-shire credit for doing that.

The SNP Members have tried to hide their real objective of an independent Scotland separate from the rest of the United Kingdom, because they know that many of those who vote for them are unhappy about the way Scotland is governed today but emphatically do not want complete independence. Perhaps the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) has noticed in the opinion polls that the percentage of those who want complete independence is falling. Unless the nationalists are to be accused of deliberately deceiving their constituents and the Scottish people, they will have to argue their case on the basis of their true policy, and I assume and hope that from now on that is what they will do.

I have one comment which, while it may be based on emotion, nevertheless has a wider and international significance that touches on something said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion and my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan). I fought in a Scottish regiment during the last war. The majority of those in it—though by no means all—were Scotsmen. I do not believe it ever occurred to any of us for one moment that we were fighting only for Scotland. We were part of the British Army, and we were going to give of our best to preserve the freedom of Britain, our country.

The important lesson of this for the future is surely that unless everyone, in the Forces, the factories, the farms, or in the cities suffering from the bombing of his home, had been inspired by a complete national unity of purpose, I doubt whether we should now be enjoying the privilege of debating in this House. Nor should we have had that unity of purpose unless it had been based on the feeling of a single nation.

Let us not underestimate what the weakening of the United Kingdom would mean. It would be very serious for its standing and its bargaining power in international affairs, and there would certainly be that weakening if we were split into two or even three small nations. British influence for peace and good in the world is extremely important and it would be seriously undermined to the detriment of both this country and the world.

In considering the economic position of Scotland and our people I hope that the SNP Members will take note of the most penetrating article in the Sunday Express yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude). It is impossible to separate benefits from responsibilities. I hope, too, that the Scottish nationalists and the Scottish people will pay attention to the powerful remarks this afternoon of the Paymaster-General. An independent Scotland would have to plan for the days after the oil revenues were exhausted.

Even with the oil revenues, assuming they were purely under Scottish control, the Scottish economy would face many very serious problems. As the Paymaster-General pointed out, it should not be forgotten what has been done for Scotland's economic problems by successive United Kingdom Governments.

Although it is small comfort in our present unemployment situation, there is no argument but that between 1964 and 1973 Scotland's unemployment rate improved dramatically compared with that of the rest of the United Kingdom. This undoubtedly happened because, on the basis of need, Scotland's difficult employment problem was treated by successive Governments as a United Kingdom one. That is something of which we should all be pround. It is something which English Members know and which I hope Scottish and Welsh Members will accept. On its own, an independent Scotland would have to deal with the particularly difficult problem of unemployment on Clydeside, an area which in population totally dominates Scotland.

Nor could those who sought to govern an independent Scotland run away from the need to finance their own defence forces. I understand that the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mrs. Ewing) waxed eloquent about that during the October 1974 election. Nor could they run away from the problems of providing services, inevitably uneconomic in themselves, to many isolated communities in the highlands and islands.

In all, the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart), sheltering behind his Customs post at the edge of my constitu- ency in Gretna Green, would find the economic climate very inclement, and the people of Scotland would soon appreciate that while an independent Scotland might seem splendid at Hogmanay, it would cost them dear as the New Year with its harsh realities unfolded. But today, the Scottish nationalists prefer to ignore all these problems and, together with the Welsh nationalists, use every move towards devolution as an opportunity to press for more in pursuit of their declared objective—complete independence.

We in this House must recognise that determination. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion that once the House has decided on any devolution plans, we must all seek to rally behind them the large majority of Scottish people who do not want independence. It is for that reason that I am so anxious that we should gain as much common ground as we can in the House before proceeding any further. That task will be important—

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

Yes, I will. The hon. Gentleman has listened to me very well as I have dealt with his arguments.

Photo of Mr Douglas Crawford Mr Douglas Crawford , Perth and East Perthshire

Is the right hon. Gentleman seriously saying that if the majority of people in Scotland and Wales show through the ballot box that they wish to have self-government, the House can gainsay them?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

No, I am saying no such thing. I am saying that we believe that we cannot allow ourselves to be pushed along on a slippery slope by the tactics of the Scottish and Welsh nationalists. Once we have sensible plans that meet the needs and aspirations of the Scottish people—which I believe can be achieved—we shall be able to rally behind those plans a considerable body of opinion in Scotland—I believe a large majority—that does not want complete independence. That must be our tactic and the course that the House should set itself.

The preservation of the United Kingdom provides the only positive ground of agreement, but there is another area of considerable agreement of a negative kind—against any form of Welsh Assembly. My hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Edwards), in a powerful speech, made the case admirably. Nor can the Government ignore the strong and powerful speeches against a Welsh Assembly from their own Benches—from the hon. Members for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock), Pontypool (Mr. Abse) and Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson). Faced with that strong opposition, I was not convinced by the Secretary of State for Wales. In truth, I was not sure, despite his undoubted eloquence, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had altogether convinced himself.

Therefore, I hope that on second thoughts the Government will drop this idea of a non-legislative Welsh Assembly. If they do not, I trust that they will at least introduce a separate Welsh Bill, as I suggested to the Lord President of the Council. I am grateful to have the support of the Liberal Party in this, which came during the speech of the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel).

The feeling in Wales is clearly very different from that in Scotland. The problem is very different. Equally, the details of the proposals set out in the White Paper are very different. If the Lord President of the Council decides against this view, let him set out his reasons. I cannot see any arguments in favour of one Bill, except that of Government convenience and, hopefully, of Government time.

If I may say so to him, I had an experience of receiving similar advice. I took it and, frankly, I rather wish I had not. If it is to be thrown back at me that I once had such a Bill—and I have no doubt that those who take care of these things will soon be doing that—I shall get that argument out of the way quickly, because I think that I was wrong on that occasion.

I do not believe that the right hon. Gentleman would find that he would save the Government time in this way, although he might be advised that he would. I think that he would find that these hopes of Government convenience and of Government time being saved would become somewhat illusory. I think that his right hon. Friend the Government Chief Whip would find the same as the days of the Committee stage turned into weeks.

On the Government proposals for Scotland—or, indeed, any proposals for Scottish devolution—there is no such clear agreement. Unlike Wales, there is undoubtedly a strong body of opinion in Scotland pressing for change. As a Conservative, I believe that the State and the Government exist to serve the individual and that institutions should develop gradually to meet changing needs and the demands of the individuals they serve.

In this connection it needs to be stressed that there has been steadily increasing administrative devolution to Scotland since the first Secretary of State was appointed in 1885. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton), with his experience on the Kilbrandon Commission, made clear, that was the view the Commission took.

I remember that when I stood for a Scottish constituency in 1950 and 1951 there was pressure from the Scottish nationalists. Shortly after that, my right hon. and noble Friend Lord Home was appointed under that remarkably astute figure, the later Lord Stuart, then Secretary of State. Their appointments met the needs of their time, as was recognised—

Photo of Mr Russell Kerr Mr Russell Kerr , Hounslow Feltham and Heston

What happened to the right hon. Gentleman?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I was defeated by a remarkable Scottish figure, the late David Kirkwood, who, if I may say so, did a great deal more for the West of Scotland—and the rest of Scotland—than many Scottish nationalists are ever likely to do.

I have no doubt, however, that in Scotland the individual needs and demands of this time require further change. That is why I cannot accept the argument of those who would simply seek to preserve the status quo. I fear that the resentment in Scotland caused by a refusal to act at all would produce its own dangers in precipitating the break-up of Great Britain.

I was impressed by what my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) said about the unsatisfactory way in which Scottish legislation goes through this House. I also believe that, while much administration has been decentralised to Scotland, the House at present is not exercising—and certainly is not seen in Scotland to be exercising—a proper democratic check on the Executive's actions.

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I have already given way a lot and I shall give way no more. I want to allow the Secretary of State for Scotland plenty of time.

I want to see these needs met, and I should like to see us all in this House, now that the English Members have rightly involved themselves—here I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup—consider the best and most sensible way forward. I hope that this will be done with English Members in all parts of this House having an opportunity to visit Scotland and to assess Scottish opinion properly for themselves.

But this cannot be done now, before we react to the Government's present proposals, and I must now say a word about them. [Interruption.] If hon. Members will not keep quiet, I shall not be able to get on with my speech and allow the Secretary of State to reply, and I intend to do both.

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman once now, and he will have to keep quiet after that.

Photo of Mr Gordon Wilson Mr Gordon Wilson , Dundee East

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. Will he confirm that the official Opposition amendment pledging an Assembly relates to a directly elected Assembly and to no other kind?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has made the position perfectly clear, and I have nothing to add to what she said.

I intend now to react to the Government's specific proposals, and I say at once that I regard them as a muddled compromise that can lead only to confusion and conflict. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, there are no defined areas of clear responsibility, a view in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup concurred.

In that connection, I am glad that the Government are now saying that they will consider dropping the dangerous proposal of a political veto exercised by the Secretary of State, but, despite that, I believe that the proposals will lead to extra bureaucracy, with administrative argument, leading to delays and increasing costs, between the Secretary of State and his staff and the Executive and its staff. The Secretary of State will recruit more to his staff to produce arguments against the Executive, and the Executive will recruit more staff to produce arguments against the Secretary of State, and we shall thus have a considerable advance of bureaucracy.

Nor can we forget the totally absurd constitutional position that would arise for Scottish and Welsh Members of Parliament. A constitutional position that allowed Scottish and Welsh Members to vote on matters concerning England, although they themselves were not allowed to vote on Scottish and Welsh affairs which had been devolved to the Assemblies, could not conceivably endure.

Moreover, as the Kilbrandon Commission said, I do not believe that the Secretary of State as such would long survive in such a situation with an Assembly. I am sure that the time will come when the Chief Executive will become "Mr. Scotland", when more and more people will turn to the Chief Executive, if he exists, and the Secretary of State will lose his power, the day eventually coming when the Prime Minister of the day will tap him on the shoulder quietly and say "I have decided to cut down the numbers of the Cabinet and, in view of the new position in Scotland, you will have to be the person to go". I believe that that is what would happen, and therefore the voice of Scotland would be reduced both in the Cabinet and in the House.

In conclusion, therefore, I say to the Secretary of State—

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

No, I will not give way. I have to sit down in two minutes. I have given way a good deal, and I shall give way no more.

I say to the Secretary of State, therefore, that he carries a heavy responsibility. He has long experience as Secretary of State. He has to justify to the House many of the complicated details in the Government's proposals, which certainly do not satisfy me. Having heard much of the debate, my own feeling, therefore, is one of great unhappiness about the Government's proposals for Scotland, even though I believe that the needs of the Scottish people require change.

Moreover, I am utterly convinced that the Government's proposals are wrong and unnecessary in respect of Wales, and, what is more, for a wide variety of reasons many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides have expressed similar feelings. I do not believe that it makes sense for the Government to embark on a Bill giving effect to these proposals.

It is for this reason that I ask hon. Members to vote for our amendment. Its purpose is to make it clear to the Government that it is not in the best interests of all the people of the United Kingdom to pass a major and fundamental constitutional Bill on the basis of a White Paper commanding so little support and arousing so much genuine and deep anxiety in the House.

9.31 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

We have had probably one of the most important debates that it has been my privilege to hear. Throughout the past four days, I have tried to hear as many of the speeches as possible. The Government have asked the House to take note of the White Paper. Compared with the debate a year ago this has been much more relevant, much more tense in many ways. People have begun, some for the first time, to realise the importance of the change proposed.

There have been some memorable speeches in this debate. Without, I hope, being patronising, I think that the speech of the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) was a splendid analysis of the reasons for devolution and of the reasons why we cannot do nothing, why we cannot just put our heads in the sand and say, "Let us forget it." It will not go away.

As for the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, I think I should commend her for her temerity in quoting Burns. At least Hansard got it right. I do not think that it was the speech that she would like to have made. It was a difficult one, because she must have been conscious of the differences of attitude behind her—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about behind you?"] Scottish Labour Members are all for devolution, with one exception—my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell).

The right hon. Lady should have seen the faces behind her—Tam o' Hillhead, for instance. Seeing how the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) responded when she mentioned a legislative Assembly, I thought of Burns too: But Maggie stood right sair astonish'd,Till, by the heel and hand admonish'd,She ventur'd forward on the light;And, vow! Tam saw an unco sight! One of the striking things has been the sudden realisation by some people who should have known better that this debate on devolution and the greater participation of the people of Scotland and Wales in their government has been going on for a long time. But it is no good saying that it was not mentioned in manifestos or dealt with by national executive committees. The commitment in respect of Wales and Scotland is plain, and not just from this party—

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that it was not in any 1945 manifesto. I was a candidate in 1945 and it was not mentioned in my election address. Like the right hon. Member for Penrith and the Border (Mr. Whitelaw), in 1945 I was beaten.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

No. I have only a short time in which to reply to the debate. Almost all of the hon. Lady's hon. Friends spoke in the debate, and most of them interrupted other speakers as well.

The commitment to devolution has been there for a long time and I think that people would be entitled to be cynical if at this stage we denied that it was there and refused to do anything about it. The right hon. Member for Sidcup was right. It was in March 1970 that the Douglas-Home Committee reported, but what could be done then is very different from what is required now. The hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) provided a good justification for devolution. The pressure for it was there long before the Scottish National Party entered this House.

I have been a Member of this House for nearly 30 years and I have seen changes in the administration in Scotland. I have also seen changes in the Committees in which Scottish Members participate to create Scottish legislation and to deal with their watch-dog responsibilities. The right hon. Lady made a mistake when she said that the fault lay in centralisation. Since the end of the war, Government after Government have spent a lot of time decentralising Scottish administration.

It is not just a question of decentralisation. One has to note the increased workload in familiar fields such as housing, planning, both economic and industrial, social demands and meeting those demands through social work. All those workloads have grown. To those who complain that we are suffering from too much government I say that the letters I receive and the demands that are made by Members show that there is a desire to do even more for the handicapped, for battered wives, and so on.

There is not the slightest doubt that this House is overworked. People often look down on the Floor of the House and see but few Members present. What they do not know is that at the same time as the House is in Session Select Committees, other Committees of the House and Standing Committees are meeting morning and afternoon and taking up more and more of Members' time. All this has happened under the Governments of both parties and there is a demand for a change.

At the same time, there has been more decentralisation to the Scottish Office. We have had our share of it in the past year, with Section 7 powers going to the Secretary of State. Having just got the SDA, it seems that there are those who are anxious to take it away from me.

There has been an increase in the amount of work and the involvement of Members in administration, but there has been a reduction in the power of Parliament to control the Executive and the bureaucracy. Until 1957, every Scottish Member was entitled to sit on the Committee stage of Scottish Bills. I was a member of every Scottish Committee that dealt with Scottish legislation from 1946 to 1963, and I was there as of right until 1957. The Committees then consisted of 84 or 85 Members. The Conservatives cut down the number.

Probably the biggest Scottish Committee we have consists of 30 Members. Under the rules of procedure not one Scottish National Party Member can sit on that Committee. The same is true of the Liberal Party. We had the reorganisation of local government and under the rules, according to my understanding, Scottish Members could not take part. We had a sit-in. The Government could not give away a seat because their majority was one.

To my mind the Government's proposals are a logical process starting from the decentralisation of the administration in respect of Scotland to taking away this overload from the Secretary of State, from the Scottish Office and from Westminster and giving it to a directly-elected legislative Assembly in Edinburgh. I had hoped that during our examination of the White Paper we would consider the nature of devolution rather than whether there should be devolution. I hope that some of the points made by the right hon. Member for Penrith and the Border and by myself show that this matter cannot be ignored.

I object strongly to people thinking that somehow or other the Scots will get away with it and steal a march on the English.

My right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General made a good speech on this point. I can understand that point of view, but the situation is already different. Let the Scottish nationalists appreciate this point. They talk as though Westminster has trampled over all the feelings of the Scottish people. I have heard people say that our education, law courts, health service and local government are different. That has happened after 250 years of "domination". It shows that Westminster at least has been sensitive in respect of Scotland's traditions.

Moreover, most of the complaint—this is part of the problem when it comes down to the so-called meaningful devolution—is a failure to realise that we are devolving powers which we have always thought to be important. I have known Members of Parliament make their reputation on housing and education. Those matters are important. However, for people to play down what we are doing in respect of functions and powers implies that they have not even read the White Paper or, if they have, that they are misleading the Scottish people. When we consider what people are worried about—this applies to English Members as well as Scottish—it is clear that in the past year in certain areas there have been economic difficulties, which people have never faced before, and disappointment over the reorganisation of local government. There is the idea that somehow or other matters which have been dealt with in this House in a particular way will now be dealt with in Edinburgh and will be financed by a block grant which takes into account the needs of every single section. [Hon. Members: "A budget."] I do not care whether hon. Members call it a budget or a block grant.

The Kilbrandon Commission sat for well over three years. It came out with a similar suggestion but its suggestion was that it would be under an independent board. I do not think that this Parliament could leave the financing of Assemblies to an independent board. That is the reason why—we have stated this in the White Paper—it should be dealt with by Parliament. If hon. Gentlemen feel that somehow we are getting an advantage, they are not being fair. A Parliament which will be dominated by English Members is the Parliament that will debate this matter and decide it. [HON. MEMBERS: "British Members."] We are all British Members. I apologise. However, there have been criticisms about the continuing membership of 71 Scottish Members and the feeling that it would be wrong to allow them to continue to participate in what will be purely domestic matters for Members of Parliament representing English constituencies.

The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) showed demonstrably that if by devolution we mean the continuing sovereignty of this Parliament—that is basic to our system—that continuing sovereignty is such that we should have the full complement from Wales and from Scotland.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , South Down

And Northern Ireland.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

We can and no doubt will argue about Northern Ireland some other time. That principle has already been accepted by the presence of Northern Ireland Members year after year voting on matters relating to Scotland, Wales and England.

Concern has been expressed about the powers of the Secretary of State. I have no desire to be a Governor-General, but we have to find some way for the formality of installing a Government and doing matters which are relatively automatic such as calling on the leader of the majority party to form a Government. One suggestion was that it should be the Queen or the Queen's representative. One of my hon. Friends suggested that it should be the Lord High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland. I can imagine the row which would have been created if we had put that in the White Paper. If right hon. and hon. Members in any part of the House have a better suggestion to make, I am sure that the Government will be prepared to accept it.

Reference has been made to the Secretary of State's power of veto. The Secretary of State has no power of veto. This House has the power of veto. If there is trouble about general policy, it has to come back to this House.

The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) introduced a Private Member's Bill, I think with the support of Margo MacDonald and a few other people, on devolution to Scotland and to Wales. That measure proposed that every Bill passed by the Assembly could come back and be voted upon by this House. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman recognised that in a devolution process we had to retain and be able to express the sovereignty of this House through reserve powers. It may be that presentationally we have not done it all that well. The Government are prepared to look at that matter.

Let us not deceive ourselves. Under devolution, which means not giving away the sovereignty of this Parliament, but giving legislative or executive powers to an Assembly, the sovereign Parliament must have the right to intervene. We must face that as basic.

There has been talk about dangers and conflict. There is bound to be conflict. There is conflict today. There is conflict in practically every party today. That is democracy. There is no progress without it. The question is how we should channel that conflict.

The Leader of the Opposition very lightly skipped over her interpretation of the Douglas-Home proposals. I think that we got a fuller version from the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns. Once we examine these proposals, we see that in matters relating to legislation or anything else the Assembly would be absolutely powerless, and it would be irresponsible. Everything it dealt with would have to come back here, and perhaps be destroyed here or in the House of Lords. More power is given to the House of Lords than to the directly elected Scottish Assembly under these proposals.

Today it has been suggested that these proposals were not under discussion. That is a good thing, because I do not think that they would commend themselves to anyone on the Government Benches. The hon. Gentleman suggested that we should try to secure consensus. That is part of the reason for the debate. I can understand the fears. There has to be further thought and discussion. English Members are concerned about devolution in England.

Photo of Mr John Mendelson Mr John Mendelson , Penistone

Now that my right hon. Friend has returned to the same point for the second time, will he point out that the fear is not that others will gain advantages? English Members of Parliament have always stood for solidarity, and for all parts of the United Kingdom helping each other. We do not want the Kingdom to break up into warring groups, looking at each other with suspicion and jealousy.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

That is an excellent point. Nor do I. That is one of the real dangers that people are now appreciating. We are making a change and the House of Commons is not the best place to make a change of this kind because of the fears, some of them unjustified, of what will come out of that change. But we cannot stand still.

There is also the realisation that there is a party in the House and in Scotland that is prepared to use the Assembly in order to wreck it. The Leader of the Scottish National Party said that he was not in favour of separation but that he was in favour of independence. I think it was the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Crawford) who said in an intervention "We do not want to break up the United Kingdom. We want only to dissolve the union." That is rather like a man saying that he did not want to break up his marriage, but only wanted a divorce.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

The hon. Gentleman has already chaired working parties which produced documents that we are now told do not exist, so what merit can I place on his intervention? I have copies of the document which does not exist. I can well understand why the hon. Gentleman's party did not publish it. The party is making policy declarations to the people of Scotland about oil, the strong pound, trade and everything else. It is producing slogans when it is obvious that it does not even know the facts, as the hon. Member is prepared to admit, and will not publish this document for the people of Scotland.

Photo of Mr Douglas Crawford Mr Douglas Crawford , Perth and East Perthshire

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is disgraceful that the White Paper contains no proposals for giving a Scottish Assembly powers over the Scottish Development Agency and over trade and industry in Scotland?

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

The speech of the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid) showed clearly that to the Scottish National Party meaningful devolution means separation. Hon. Members of the SNP are prepared to support the White Paper on that basis. If the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire reads the White Paper again, he will see that there is to be a sharing of responsibility for the Scottish Development Agency. If he suggests that the amount of money and the powers to be given to the Assembly are meaningless, he does not know the meaning of words. Of course one of the things that matter in all this is trade and industry.

We have never said that we would depart from the principle—it is something from which we cannot move—of the political and economic integrity of this country. I assure hon. Members that any careful examination, such as that given by my right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General today, shows that it would not be to Scotland's benefit to be independent and separate. Even the oil which the SNP talks about is not the solution or the panacea for all Scotland's problems.

The response of the people of Scotland to the propaganda of the SNP has been shown. We are committed to sharing the benefits of the oil over the country as a whole. The SNP does not speak for the people of Scotland when it puts up on hoardings the picture of an old lady with the caption, "It's her oil". And also Why do 5,000 old people in Scotland die each year of hypothermia? The true number is nine last year, and the year before it was four. Every single one of SNP's appeals to greed is based on figures which cannot be borne out by the facts. Yet that is the party which claims to speak for Scotland.

The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel) spoke of federalism. I have a feeling that the Liberal Party has propagated its appeals for federalism more in Wales and Scotland than in England. I am convinced

that there is no great appeal in federalism for the people of Wales and Scotland. One of the weaknesses of the hon. Gentleman's speech was that he introduced so many ways of federal solution. I do not think that the country wants a federal solution. It wants to retain the unity of the United Kingdom.

We want to retain the political integrity of this country, from which we have all benefited. Those who say that we have not benefited have not even begun to understand the facts of the history of the last 50 years. Ask the people of the Western Isles whether they want customs posts. Of course they do not. They do not want the things involved in an independent Scotland. I suggest that there is only one thing to do tonight and that is to take note of the White Paper. There will be continuing discussions. There will be exchange of ideas. But we cannot and will not vote for anything which leads us towards separation.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 244, Noes 315.

Division No. 22.]AYES[10 p.m.
Adley, RobertClarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Glyn, Dr Alan
Aitken, JonathanClegg, WalterGodber, Rt Hon Joseph
Alison, MichaelCockcroft, JohnGoodhart, Philip
Arnold, TomCooke, Robert (Bristol W)Goodhew, Victor
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)Cope, JohnGoodlad, Alastair
Awdry, DanielCordle, John H.Gorst, John
Baker, KennethCormack, PatrickGower, Sir Raymond (Barry)
Banks, RobertCorrie, JohnGrant, Anthony (Harrow C)
Bell, RonaldCostain, A. P.Gray, Hamish
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)Grieve, Percy
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)Critchley, JulianGriffiths, Eldon
Benyon, W.Crouch, DavidGrist, Ian
Berry, Hon AnthonyCrowder, F. P.Grylls, Michael
Biffen, JohnDavies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford)Hall, Sir John
Biggs- Davison, JohnDean, Paul (N Somerset)Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Blaker, PeterDodsworth, GeoffreyHampson, Dr Keith
Body, RichardDouglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesHannam, John
Boscawen, Hon RobertDrayson, BurnabyHarvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss
Bottomley, Peterdu Cann, Rt Hon EdwardHastings, Stephen
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)Durant, TonyHavers, Sir Michael
Bradford, Rev RobertEden, Rt Hon Sir JohnHawkins, Paul
Braine, Sir BernardEdwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)Hayhoe, Barney
Brittan, LeonElliott, Sir WilliamHeath, Rt Hon Edward
Brocklebank-Fowler, C.Emery, PeterHeseltine, Michael
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Eyre, ReginaldHiggins, Terence L.
Bryan, Sir PaulFairbairn, NicholasHolland, Philip
Buchanan-Smith, AlickFairgrieve, RussellHordern, Peter
Buck, AntonyFarr, JohnHowe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Budgen, NickFinsberg, GeoffreyHowell, David (Guildford)
Bulmer, EsmondFisher, Sir NigelHowell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Burden, F. A.Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N)Hunt, John
Butler, Adam (Bosworth)Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesHurd, Douglas
Carlisle, MarkFookes, Miss JanetHutchison, Michael Clark
Carson, JohnFowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Chalker, Mrs LyndaFox, MarcusIrving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Channon, PaulFry, PeterJames, David
Churchill, W. S.Gardiner, George (Reigate)Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd)
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham)Jewel, Toby
Clark, William (Croydon S)Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)
Jopling, MichaelMontgomery, FergusRoyle, Sir Anthony
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir KeithMoore, John (Croydon C)Sainsbury, Tim
Kaberry, Sir DonaldMore, Jasper (Ludlow)St. John-Stevas, Norman
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs ElaineMorgan, GeraintScott, Nicholas
Kimball, MarcusMorris, Michael (Northampton S)Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
King, Evelyn (South Dorset)Morrison, Charles (Devizes)Shelton, William (Streatham)
King, Tom (Bridgwater)Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)Shepherd, Colin
Kitson, Sir TimothyMudd, DavidSilvester, Fred
Knight, Mrs JillNeave, AlreySims, Roger
Knox, DavidNelson, AnthonySinclair, Sir George
Lamont, NormanNeubert, MichaelSpeed, Keith
Langford-Holt, Sir JohnNewton, TonySpence, John
Latham, Michael (Melton)Normanton, TomSpicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Lawrence, IvanNott, JohnSpicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Lawson, NigelOnslow, CranleyStanley, John
Lester, Jim (Beeston)Oppenheim, Mrs SallyStradling Thomas, J.
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Osborn, JohnTaylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Lloyd, IanPage, John (Harrow West)Tebbit, Norman
Loveridge, JohnPage, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)Temple-Morris, Peter
Luce, RichardPaisley, Rev IanThatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
McAdden, Sir StephenPattie, GeoffreyThomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
McCrindle, RobertPercival IanTownsend, Cyril D.
McCusker, H.Peyton, Rt Hon JohnTrotter, Neville
Macfarlane, NeilPink, R. BonnerTugendhat, Christopher
MacGregor, JohnPowell, Rt Hon J. Enochvan Straubenzee, W. R.
McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)Price, David (Eastleigh)Vaughan, Dr Gerard
McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)Prior, Rt Hon JamesViggers, Peter
Madel, DavidPym, Rt Hon FrancisWakeham, John
Marshall, Michael (Arundel)Raison, TimothyWalder, David (Clitheroe)
Marten, NeilRathbone, TimWalker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Mates, MichaelRawlinson, Rt Hon Sir PeterWall, Patrick
Mather, CarolRees, Peter (Dover & Deal)Walters, Dennis
Maude, AngusRees-Davies, W. R.Warren, Kenneth
Maudling, Rt Hon ReginaldRenton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)Weatherill, Bernard
Mawby, RayRenton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)Wells, John
Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinRidley, Hon NicholasWhitelaw, Rt Hon William
Mayhew, PatrickRidsdale, JulianWinterton, Nicholas
Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)Rifkind, MalcolmWood, Rt Hon Richard
Mills, PeterRippon, Rt Hon GeoffreyYoung, Sir G. (Eating, Acton)
Miscampbell, NormanRoberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)Roberts, Wyn (Conway)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Moate, RogerRoss, William (Londonderry)Mr. Spencer Le Marchant and
Molyneaux, JamesRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)Mr. Cecil Parkinson.
Monro, HectorRost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
NOES
Abse, LeoCartwright, JohnEllis, John (Brigg & Scun)
Allaun, FrankCastle, Rt Hon BarbaraEllis, Tom (Wrexham)
Anderson, DonaldClemitson, IvorEnglish, Michael
Archer, PeterCocks, Michael (Bristol S)Ennals, David
Armstrong, ErnestCohen, StanleyEvans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)
Ashley, JackColeman, DonaldEvans, Ioan (Aberdare)
Ashton, JoeColquhoun, Mrs MaureenEvans, John (Newton)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Concannon, J. D.Ewing, Harry (Stirling)
Atkinson, NormanConlan, BernardEwing, Mrs Winifred (Moray)
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Faulds, Andrew
Bain, Mrs MargaretCorbett, RobinFernyhough, Rt Hon E.
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Craigen, J. M. (Maryhill)Fitch, Alan (Wigan)
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)Crawford, DouglasFlannery, Martin
Bates, AlfCrawshaw, RichardFletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)
Bean, R. E.Cronin, JohnFletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Beith, A. J.Crosland, Rt Hon AnthonyFoot, Rt Hon Michael
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwoodCryer, BobFord, Ben
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)Cunningham, G. (Islington S)Forrester, John
Bishop, E. S.Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)
Blenkinsop, ArthurDalyell, TamFraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)
Boardman, H.Davidson, ArthurFreeson, Reginald
Booth, AlbertDavies, Bryan (Enfield N)Freud, Clement
Bottomley, Rt Hon ArthurDavies, Denzil (Llanelli)Garrett, John (Norwich S)
Boyden, James (Bish Auck)Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)Garret), W. E. (Wallsend)
Bradley, TomDeakins, EricGeorge, Bruce
Bray, Dr JeremyDean, Joseph (Leeds W)Gilbert, Dr John
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Delargy, HughGinsburg, David
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Dell, Rt Hon EdmundGolding, John
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)Dempsey, JamesGould, Bryan
Buchan, NormanDoig, PeterGourlay, Harry
Buchanan, RichardDormand, J. D.Graham, Ted
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)Douglas-Mann, BruceGrant, George (Morpeth)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Duffy, A. E. P.Grant, John (Islington C)
Campbell, IanDunn, James A.Grimond, Rt Hon J.
Canavan, DennisDunnett, JackGrocott, Bruce
Cant, R. B.Dunwoody, Mrs GwynethHamilton, James (Bothwell)
Carmichael, NeilEadie, AlexHamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Carter, RayEdge, GeoffHardy, Peter
Carter-Jones, LewisEdwards, Robert (Wolv SE)Harper, Joseph
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)Magee, BryanSilkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Hart, Rt Hon JudithMahon, SimonSillars, James
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyMallalieu, J. P. W.Silverman, Julius
Hayman, Mrs HelensMarks, KennethSkinner, Dennis
Healey, Rt Hon DenisMarquand, DavidSmall, William
Heffer, Eric S.Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Henderson, DouglasMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Hooley, FrankMason, Rt Hon RoySnape, Peter
Hooson, EmlynMaynard, Miss JoanSpearing, Nigel
Horam, JohnMeacher, MichaelSpriggs, Leslie
Howell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H)Mellish, Rt Hon RobertStallard, A. W.
Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)Mendelson, JohnSteel, David (Roxburgh)
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)Mikardo, IanStewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Huckfield, LesMillan, BruceStoddart, David
Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)Storehouse, Rt Hon John
Hughes, Mark (Durham)Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)Stott, Roger
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Molloy, WilliamStrang, Gavin
Hughes, Roy (Newport)Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Hunter, AdamMorris, Charles R. (Openshaw)Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Swain, Thomas
Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)Moyle, RolandTaylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)Mulley, Rt Hon FrederickThomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)Murray, Rt Hon Ronald KingThomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Janner, GrevilleNewens, StanleyThomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Jeger, Mrs LenaNoble, MikeThomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)Oakes, GordonThompson, George
John, BrynmorOgden, EricThorne, Stan (Preston South)
Johnson, James (Hull West)O'Halloran, MichaelThorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Johnson, Walter (Derby S)O'Malley, Rt Hon BrianTierney, Sydney
Johnston, Russell (Inverness)Orbach, MauriceTinn, James
Jones, Alec (Rhondda)Ovenden, JohnTomlinson, John
Jones, Barry (East Flint)Owen, Dr DavidTomney, Frank
Jones, Dan (Burnley)Padley, WalterTuck, Raphael
Judd, FrankPalmer, ArthurUrwin, T. W.
Kaufman, GeraldPark, GeorgeVarley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Kelley, RichardParker, JohnWainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Kerr, RussellParry, RobertWalden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Kilfedder, JamesPendry, TomWalker, Harold (Doncaster)
Kilroy-Silk, RobertPenhaligon, DavidWalker, Terry (Kingswood)
Lambie, DavidPerry, ErnestWard, Michael
Lamborn, HarryPhipps, Dr ColinWatkins, David
Lamond, JamesPrentice, Rt Hon RegWatkinson, John
Latham, Arthur (Paddington)Price, C. (Lewisham W)Watt, Hamish
Leadbitter, TedPrice, William (Rugby)Weetch, Ken
Lee, JohnRadice, GilesWellbeloved, James
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)Reid, GeorgeWelsh, Andrew
Lever, Rt Hon HaroldRichardson, Miss JoWhite, Frank R. (Bury)
Lewis, Arthur (Newham N)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)White, James (Pollok)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Robertson, John (Paisley)Whitehead, Phillip
Lipton, MarcusRoderick, CaerwynWhitlock, William
Litterick, TomRodgers, George (Chorley)Wigley, Dafydd
Loyden, EddieRodgers, William (Stockton)Williams, Alan (Swansea W)
Luard, EvanRooker, J. W.Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Lyon, Alexander (York)Roper, JohnWilliams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)Rose, Paul B.Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Mabon, Dr J. DicksonRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
McCartney, HughRoss, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
MacCormick, IainRowlands, TedWilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
McElhone, FrankSandelson, NevilleWise, Mrs Audrey
MacFarquhar, RoderickSedgemore, BrianWoodall, Alec
McGuire, Michael (Ince)Selby, HarryWoof, Robert
Mackenzie, GregorShaw, Arnold (Ilford South)Wrigglesworth, Ian
Mackintosh, John P.Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)Young, David (Bolton E)
Maclennan, RobertShore, Rt Hon Peter
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)Short, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
McNamara, KevinShort, Mrs Renee (Wolv NE)Mr. Thomas Cox and
Madden, MaxSilkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)Mr. Laurie Pavitt.

Question accordingly negatived.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

According to the Business Motion already approved by the House, I call upon the hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) formally to move his amendment.

Photo of Mr Donald Stewart Mr Donald Stewart , Na h-Eileanan an Iar

I beg formally to move, at the end of the Question to add:

"but regrets that the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies are given no meaningful control over their respective economies."

Question put. That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 27, Noes 304.

Division No. 23.]AYES[10.16 p.m.
Bain, Mrs MargaretLamble, DavidThompson, George
Beith, A. J.MacCormick, IainThorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Crawford, DouglasPenhaligon, Davidwatt, Hamish
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)Reid, GeorgeWelsh, Andrew
Ewing, Mrs Winifred (Moray)Robertson, John (Paisley)Wigley, Dafydd
Freud, ClementRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Grimond, Rt Hon J.Sillars, James
Hooson, EmlynSmith, Cyril (Rochdale)TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)Steel, David (Roxburgh)Mr. Douglas Henderson and
Johnston, Russell (Inverness)Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)Mr. D. K. Thomas.
Kilfedder, James
NOES
Abse, LeoCronin, JohnGrocott, Bruce
Allaun, FrankCrosland, Rt Hon AnthonyHamilton, James (Bothwell)
Anderson, DonaldCryer, BobHamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Archer, PeterCunningham, G. (Islington S)Hardy, Peter
Armstrong, ErnestCunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Ashley, JackDalyell, TarnHart, Rt Hon Judith
Ashton, JoeDavidson, ArthurHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)Hayman, Mrs Helens
Atkinson, NormanDavies, Denzil (Llanelll)Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)Heifer, Eric S.
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Deakins, EricHooley, Frank
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)Dean, Joseph (Leeds W)Horam, John
Bates, AlfDelargy, HughHowell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H)
Bean, R. E.Dell, Rt Hon EdmundHoyle, Doug (Nelson)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwoodDempsey, JamesHuckfield, Les
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)Doig, PeterHughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)
Bishop, E. S.Dormand, J. D.Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Blenkinsop, ArthurDouglas-Mann, BruceHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Boardman, H.Duffy, A. E. P.Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Booth, AlbertDunn, James A.Hunter, Adam
Bottomley, Rt Hon ArthurDunnett, JackHutchison, Michael Clark
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)Dunwoody, Mrs GwynethIrvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)
Boyden, James (Bish Auck)Eadie, AlexIrving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Bradford, Rev RobertEdge, GeoffIrving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)
Bradley, TomEdwards, Robert (Wolv SE)Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)
Bray, Dr JeremyEllis, John (Brigg & Scun)Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)
Brotherton, MichaelEllis, Tom (Wrexham)Janner, Greville
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)English, MichaelJeger, Mrs Lena
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Ennals, DavidJenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)Evans, Fred (Caerphilly)John, Brynmor
Buchan, NormanEvans, Ioan (Aberdare)Johnson, James (Hull West)
Buchanan, RichardEvans, John (Newton)Johnson, Walter (Derby S)
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)Ewing, Harry (Stirling)Jones, Alec (Rhondda)
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Faulds, AndrewJones, Barry (East Flint)
Campbell, IanFell, AnthonyJones, Dan (Burnley)
Canavan, DennisFernyhough, Rt Hon E.Judd, Frank
Cant, R. B.Fitch, Alan (Wigan)Kaufman, Gerald
Carmichael, NeilFlannery, MartinKelley, Richard
Carson, JohnFletcher, Ted (Darlington)Kerr, Russell
Carter, RayFoot, Rt Hon MichaelKershaw, Anthony
Carter-Jones, LewisFord, BenKilroy-Silk, Robert
Cartwright, JohnForrester, JohnKinnock, Neil
Castle, Rt Hon BarbaraFowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)Lamborn, Harry
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)Lamond, James
Clemitson, IvorFreeson, ReginaldLatham, Arthur (Paddington)
Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)Garrett, John (Norwich S)Leadbitter, Ted
Cohen, StanleyGarrett, W. E. (Wallsend)Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)
Coleman, DonaldGeorge, BruceLever, Rt Hon Harold
Colquhoun, Mrs MaureenGilbert, Dr JohnLewis, Arthur (Newham N)
Concannon, J. D.Ginsburg, DavidLewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Conlan, BernardGolding, JohnLipton, Marcus
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Gould, BryanLitterick, Tom
Corbett, RobinGourlay, HarryLoyden, Eddie
Cormack, PatrickGow, Ian (Eastbourne)Luard, Evan
Cox, Thomas (Tooling)Graham, TedLyon, Alexander (York)
Cralgen, J. M. (Maryhill)Grant, George (Morpeth)Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)
Crawshaw, RichardGrant, John (Islington C)Mabon, Dr J. Dickson
McCartney, HughPaisley, Rev IanStrang, Gavin
McCusker, H.Palmer, ArthurStrauss, Rt Hon G. R.
McElhone, FrankPark, GeorgeSummerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
MacFarquhar, RoderickParker, JohnSwain, Thomas
McGuire, Michael (Ince)Parry, RobertTaylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Mackenzie, GregorPavitt, LaurieTebbit, Norman
Mackintosh, John P.Pendry, TomThomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Maclennan, RobertPerry, ErnestThomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)Phipps, Dr ColinThomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
McNamara, KevinPowell, Rt Hon J. EnochTierney, Sydney
Madden, MaxPrentice, Rt Hon RegTinn, James
Magee, BryanPrice, C. (Lewisham W)Tomlinson, John
Marion, SimonPrice, William (Rugby)Tomney, Frank
Mallalieu J. P. WRadice, GilesTuck, Raphael
Marks, KennethRichardson, Miss JoUrwin, T. W.
Marquand, DavidRidley, Hon NicholasVarley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Marten, NeilRoderick, CaerwynWalker, Harold (Doncaster)
Mason, Rt Hon RoyRodgers, George (Chorley)Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Maynard, Miss JoanRodgers, William (Stockton)Ward, Michael
Meacher, MichaelRooker, J. W.Watkins, David
Mellish, Rt Hon RobertRoper, JohnWatkinson, John
Mendelson, JohnRose, Paul B.Weetch, Ken
Mikardo, IanRoss, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)Wellbeloved, James
Millan, BruceRoss, William (Londonderry)White, Frank R. (Bury)
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)Rowlands, TedWhite, James (Pollok)
Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)Sandelson, NevilleWhitehead, Phillip
Molloy, WilliamSedgemore, BrianWhitlock, William
Molyneaux, JamesSelby, HarryWilliams, Alan (Swansea W)
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hartford)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Shore, Rt Hon PeterWilliams, W. T. (Warrington)
Moyle, RolandShort, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Mulley, Rt Hon FrederickShort, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
Murray, Rt Hon Ronald KingSilkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)Winterton, Nicholas
Newens, StanleySilkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)Wise, Mrs Audrey
Noble, MikeSilverman, JuliusWoodall, Alec
Oakes, GordonSkinner, DennisWoof, Robert
Ogden, EricSmall, WilliamWrigglesworth, Ian
O'Halloran, MichaelSmith, John (N Lanarkshire)Young, David (Bolton E)
O'Malley, Rt Hon BrianSpearing, Nigel
Orbach, MauriceSpriggs, LeslieTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Ovenden, JohnStallard, A. W.Mr. Joseph Harper and
Owen, Dr DavidStoddart, DavidMr. Peter Snape
Padley, WalterStott, Roger

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 295, Noes 37.

Division No. 24.]AYES[10.28 p.m.
Allaun, FrankCanavan, DennisDoig, Peter
Archer, PeterCant, R. B.Dormand, J. D.
Armstrong, ErnestCarmichael, NeilDouglas-Mann, Bruce
Ashley, JackCarter, RayDuffy, A. E. P.
Ashton, JoeCarter-Jones, LewisDunn, James A.
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Cartwright, JohnDunnett, Jack
Atkinson, NormanCastle, Rt Hon BarbaraDunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Clemitson, IvorEadie, Alex
Bain, Mrs MargaretCocks, Michael (Bristol S)Edge, Geoff
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Cohen, StanleyEdwards, Robert (Wolv SE)
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)Coleman, DonaldEllis, John (Bragg & Scun)
Bates, AlfColquhoun, Mrs MaureenEllis, Tom (Wrexham)
Bean, R. E.Concannon, J. D.English, Michael
Beith, A. J.Conlan, BernardEnnals, David
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwoodCook, Robin F. (Edin C)Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)Corbett, RobinEvans, Ioan (Aberdare)
Bishop, E. S.Cox, Thomas (Tooting)Evans, John (Newton)
Blenkinsop, ArthurCraigen, J. M. (Maryhill)Ewing, Harry (Stirling)
Boardman, H.Crawford, DouglasEwing, Mrs Winifred (Moray)
Booth, AlbertCrawshaw, RichardFaulds, Andrew
Bottomley, Rt Hon ArthurCronin, JohnFernyhough, Rt Hon E.
Boyden, James (Bish Auck)Crosland, Rt Hon AnthonyFitch, Alan (Wigan)
Bradley, TomCryer, BobFlannery, Martin
Bray, Dr JeremyCunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh)Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)Davidson, ArthurFletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)Forrester, John
Buchan, HomanDavis, Clinton (Hackney C)Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)
Buchanan, RichardDeakins, EricFraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)Delargy, HughFreeson, Reginald
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Dell, Rt Hon EdmundFreud, Clement
Campbell, IanDempsey, JamesGarrett, John (Norwich S)
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)McElhone, FrankShore, Rt Hon Peter
George, BruceMacFarquhar, RoderickShort, Rt Hon E. (Newcastle C)
Gilbert, Dr JohnMcGuire, Michael (Ince)Short, Mrs Renee (Wolv NE)
Ginsburg, DavidMackenzie, GregorSilkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford)
Golding, JohnMackintosh, John P.Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Gould, BryanMaclennan, RobertSillars, James
Gourlay, HarryMcMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)Silverman, Julius
Graham, TedMcNamara, KevinSkinner, Dennis
Grant, George (Morpeth)Madden, MaxSmall, William
Grant, John (Islington C)Magee, BryanSmith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Grimond, Rt Hon J.Mahon, SimonSmith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Grocott, BruceMallalieu, J. P. W.Spearing, Nigel
Hamilton, James (Bothwell)Marks, KennethSpriggs, Leslie
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)Marquand, DavidStallard, A. W.
Hardy, PeterMarshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)
Hart, Rt Hon JudithMason, Rt Hon RoyStoddart, David
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyMaynard, Miss JoanStott, Roger
Hayman, Mrs HelenaMeacher, MichaelStrang, Gavin
Healey, Rt Hon DenisMellish, Rt Hon RobertStrauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Heffer, Eric S.Mikardo, IanSummerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Henderson, DouglasMillan, BruceTaylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Hooley, FrankMiller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Hooson, EmlynMiller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Horam, JohnMorris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Howell, Denis (B'ham, Sm H)Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Thompson, George
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)Moyle, RolandThorne, Stan (Preston South)
Huckfield, LesMulley, Rt Hon FrederickThorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)
Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)Murray, Rt Hon Ronald Kin[...]Tierney, Sydney
Hughes, Mark (Durham)Newens, StanleyTinn, James
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Noble, MikeTomlinson, John
Hughes, Roy (Newport)Oakes, GordonTuck, Raphael
Hunter, AdamOgden, EricUrwin, T. W.
Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill)O'Halloran, MichaelVarley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)O'Malley, Rt Hon BrianWainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)Orbach, MauriceWalden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)Ovenden, JohnWalker, Harold (Doncaster)
Janner, GrevilleOwen, Dr DavidWalker, Terry (Kingswood)
Jeger, Mrs LenaPadley, WalterWard, Michael
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)Park, GeorgeWatkins, David
John, BrynmorParker, JohnWatkinson, John
Johnson, James (Hull West)Parry, RobertWatt, Hamish
Johnson, Walter (Derby S)Pavitt, LaurieWeetch, Ken
Johnston, Russell (Inverness)Pendry, TomWellbeloved, James
Jones, Alec (Rhondda)Penhaligon, DavidWelsh, Andrew
Jones, Barry (East Flint)Perry, ErnestWhite, Frank R. (Bury)
Jones, Dan (Burnley)Prentice, Rt Hon RegWhite, James (Pollok)
Judd, FrankPrice, C. (Lewisham W)Whitehead, Phillip
Kaufman, GeraldPrice, William (Rugby)Whitlock, William
Kelley, RichardRadice, GilesWigley, Dafydd
Kerr, RussellReid, GeorgeWilliams, Alan (Swansea W)
Kilfedder, JamesRichardson, Miss JoWilliams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Kilroy-Silk, RobertRoberta, Albert (Normanton)Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Lambie, DavidRobertson, John (Paisley)Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Lamborn, HarryRoderick, CaerwynWilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Latham, Arthur (Paddington)Rodgers, George (Chorley)Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)Rodgers, William (Stockton)Wilson, Rt Hon H. (Huyton)
Lever, Rt Hon HaroldRooker, J. W.Wise, Mrs Audrey
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Roper, JohnWoodall, Alec
Lipton, MarcusRose, Paul B.Woof, Robert
Litterick, TomRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)Wrigglesworth, Ian
Loyden, EddieRoss, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)Young, David (Bolton E)
Luard, EvanRowlands, Ted
Lyon, Alexander (York)Sedgemore, BrianTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mabon, Dr J. DicksonSelby, HarryMr. Joseph Harper and
McCartney, HughShaw, Arnold (Ilford South)Mr. Peter Snape.
MacCormick, IainSheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)
NOES
Banks, RobertGalbraith, Hon T. G. D.McCusker, H.
Bradford, Rev RobertGow, Ian (Eastbourne)Marten, Nell
Brotherton, MichaelHannam, JohnMiller, Hal (Bromsgrove)
Carson, JohnHicks, RobertMoate, Roger
Churchill, W. S.Hutchison, Michael ClarkMolyneaux, James
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)Jones, Arthur (Daventry)Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)
Durant, TonyKershaw, AnthonyPaisley, Rev Ian
Eden, Rt Hon Sir JohnLamond, JamesPowell, Rt Hon J. Enoch
Emery, PeterLeadbitter, TedRees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Ross, William (Londonderry)Tapsell, PeterWinterton, Nicholas
Shepherd, ColinTaylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Stanbrook, IvorTebbit, NormanTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Stokes, JohnWiggin, JerrySir Anthony Meyer and
Storehouse, Rt Hon JohnMr. Iain Sproat.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved,That this House takes note of the White Paper on Our Changing Democracy, Devolution to Scotland and Wales (Command Paper No. 6348).