Orders of the Day — Scottish Development Agency Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:31 am on 21st October 1987.

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Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling , Edinburgh Central 2:31 am, 21st October 1987

With your advice in mind, Mr. Deputy Speaker, perhaps the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) will vote against the motion so that the point he raises can be developed. Had the debate continued, I would have made the point that no matter how welcome the decision by United Distillers to locate its headquarters in Scotland, the real control of United Distillers lies with Guinness and the real control of Guinness, as with so much of the British economy, lies in London,

It is precisely those points that I and my hon. Friends would have liked to develop had the hon. Member for Stirling not leapt to his feet, I suspect in some way to defend his colleague who would have had to answer some of the telling points put by my hon. Friends the Members for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and for Dunfermline, East (Mr. Brown). They are points that we and the people of Scotland want to discuss.

Before the intervention by the hon. Member for Tayside, North I said that we are apparently to be offered a debate next Thursday on the Scottish economy. The Opposition would welcome that but for the fact that we know full well that Conservatives representing constituencies in the south-east of England who know little and, I suspect, sometimes care even less about the Scottish economy will be wheeled in to vote on this motion. just as they will be wheeled in next Thursday to speak from scripts carefully prepared by Scottish Ministers in order to prevent a full discussion by those hon. Members who represent the majority of Scottish seats.

I have a great deal of sympathy with hon. Members who spoke about the amount of time being made available to discuss the Scottish economy and matters that greatly affect Scotland. We in the Labour party who represent Scottish constituencies are deeply concerned about all parts of the United Kingdom. However, we have a particular interest in what happens north of the border, and if we are not allowed a decent amount of time uninterrupted by closure motions, the Government will simply store up troubles that will have to be dealt with at some time in the future.

I very much regret that an attempt has been made by the hon. Member for Stirling to stifle a debate which was flowing very well. Issues subsist in Scotland today that will not go away. The Second Reading of the Bill does not address those issues and they will have to be discussed. I should have thought that Tory Members would have a great interest in discussing those points. If they will not discuss them, they may find that the next time that the electors have the chance to express their views on the matter, instead of 10 Members there will be no Conservative Members north of the border, and that would be a richly deserved fate.