Orders of the Day — Scottish Development Agency Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:40 am on 21st October 1987.

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Photo of Mr Brian Wilson Mr Brian Wilson , Cunninghame North 2:40 am, 21st October 1987

If the motion had not been moved by the Under-Secretary of State, we could have taken up the remarks of the Minister of State about the GEAR project in the east end of Glasgow. The success of that project is clear and yet it is cut off in its prime. Why should this be? The Government should have the courage — unfortunately, it was not present in 1961, 1975 or 1981 —to follow through to their logical conclusion the words that have been uttered this evening.

If the debate had been allowed to continue, an important but peripheral issue — peripheral in some people's minds — could have been raised. I see the pictures in the annual report of the SDA, and women who appear in them are almost exclusively wives or waitresses. There has never been a woman member of the SDA or the Highlands and Islands Development Board. It is a non-party political issue that is surely worth considering, and it would certainly have been worthy of consideration this evening.

We have seized this opportunity to talk about the SDA and the Scottish economy. We are here in large numbers because of the depressing condition of the economy, which has caused the majority of the people of Scotland to vote against the Conservative party and not merely for the Labour party or other parties. They have rejected the economic philosophy for which the Conservative party stands so overwhelmingly. We are bitterly angry when for the convenience of a handful of individuals the Government choose to take away the limited amount of time that is available for us as Scottish Members. This will not go unnoticed in Scotland.

The word "filibuster" was used to defend the closure motion, but there has been no filibuster of any sort from the Opposition Benches. If filibusters are sought, let those who do so turn their attention to the Government Benches. For example, there was the lengthy speech of the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), which was admittedly an attack on Thatcherism. There were the confessions of a Dundee bus driver—the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) —with excursions to Scone airport and other diversions. I listened to the interventions—I shall restrain myself on this occasion— of the hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Fairbairn). The filibusters came from Conservative Members. We have heard half of the Scottish membership of the Conservative parliamentary party in the form of grunts or speeches. By the same token, there would still be a very long way to go before the political opinions of Scotland were fully represented in this debate. There is no filibuster; there is deep concern about the economic plight of Scotland, and in each and every individual constituency represented here tonight. By running away from the argument—by shutting their ears to the debate, and to the strength of feeling on the Opposition Benches —Conservative Members compound the felony, and increase the feeling of betrayal and rejection that exists in Scotland.