My contribution to this debate will be much shorter than the one I made in the debate on 2 December because of the need to hear what colleagues and friends from Scotland on both sides of the House and other hon. Members have to say in this short debate. There is a major difference between the previous debate when we were seeking approval for our nominations and this debate when we are merely asking for advice and instruction. It is not often that Committees come to the House with that objective in mind.
I shall briefly recount the reasons why the Committee felt the need to produce its special report. As the House will know, the Committee of Selection has the duty of bringing before the House motions for the nomination of the 14 departmental Select Committees. On 2 December, I moved motions relating to 13 of those Committees and they were approved by the House. The Committee of Selection has not yet invited the House to consider a similar motion in respect of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Patience is a virtue that will be rewarded shortly.
On 9 December the Committee agreed a short special report stating that we found ourselves unable to nominate a Scottish Affairs Select Committee which, in our opinion, would have the support of the House and, therefore, proposed to take no further action on the matter unless instructed by the House to do so. With the permission of the House, I shall explain briefly the background to that report and why the Committee is now seeking this debate.
In a series of meetings last autumn we considered, along with the many other items on our agenda, how best to set up the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs. We accepted that there should be a Government majority on the Committee in accordance with the conventions of the House and with the fact that we are members of a unitary Parliament representing the whole of the United Kingdom. To achieve that, it was necessary to reduce the size of the Committee from 13 to nine and I understand that, through the usual channels, that was agreed. On 12 November the Committee's motion, with the names of the Conservative and minority party Members, was tabled. The Labour names were not ready at that stage but were added on 19 November. We thought that the resulting motion was a compromise with which both sides of the House could live.
However, the Committee received a letter from one of the hon. Members named in the motion — my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker)—saying that he was not willing to serve on the Committee. As Standing Order No. 104 requires the Committee of Selection to ascertain whether an hon. Member will give his attendance, we felt that we had no option but to amend our motion further to remove the hon. Gentleman's name.
This left on the Order Paper a motion nominating only eight hon. Members to the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs. The options seemed to be having a Committee of eight that did not reflect the Government's majority in the House, which we recognised would not be in accordance with the conventions and practices of the House, or a Committee that included at least one hon. Member representing an English constituency. We understood at that time—there may have been developments since—that the second option would not be acceptable to the principal Opposition party.
The Committee of Selection never discussed this issue on the basis that it was not its role to make a ruling. As I made clear in a previous debate that embraced other Select Committees, it is for each party to decide which hon. Members it will nominate.
By early December 1987 we had reached an impasse. The Committee of Selection felt that any proposal that it might put forward would prove unacceptable to one side of the House or the other. It was against that background that it made its special report. The report is not an attempt to block or prevent the setting up of a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs. It is merely an acknowledgement of real difficulties. The report is intended to leave all options open with a view to seeking further guidance from the House. The Committee of Selection will be delighted to be given guidance that will lead to the setting up of a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs with a composition that will be broadly acceptable to the House.
I am sure that the House will be grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Sir M. Fox) for his outline of the Committee of Selection's consideration of this matter and for the way in which the Committee tried to reach an agreed solution in what were clearly difficult and changing circumstances.
As is so often the case in matters relating to the House, the problem is not entirely new. Select Committees on Scottish Affairs have presented special problems on occasions in the past. A series of Sessional Scottish Select Committees lapsed without exciting much comment in the early 1970s, following some years of activity. No further Committee was appointed for several years until 1979, despite the momentous Scottish issues before the House and the nation during that time. In 1979 the establishment of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs followed some time after that of the other departmental Select Committees. I hope that in this case, too, we shall similarly succeed in completing our Committee structure.
The deliberations of the Committee of Selection are, of course, private. However, from what my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley has said, and from the various motions which have appeared in his name on the Order Paper, my understanding of the Committee's position is as follows. On 18 November 1987, the Committee of Selection tabled a motion to set up a Select Committee which it believed would be generally acceptable and which it knew was in accordance with the traditions of the House. Instead of the maximum 13 members, only nine were nominated. That enabled the Committee to reflect the Government's majority in the House while comprising only Members representing Scottish constituencies. The Committee of Selection was then told by my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) that he was not prepared to serve on the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs, and he was accordingly removed from the list of nominees. That left a motion to set up a Committee of only eight members, and a dilemma.
We have heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley the problem facing the Committee of Selection. It was required to take account of the refusal of my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North to serve, but a Select Committee of the eight other Members nominated would not have been in accordance with the conventions of the House because it would not reflect the Government's majority. Yet the Government's majority on the Committee could be achieved only by nominating a Committee which was not exclusively made up of Members representing Scottish constituencies, which the Committee of Selection believed would be unacceptable to the Opposition. It seems to have had good reason for that belief. The Opposition parties were represented on the Committee, and so were able to suggest or support a non-Scottish element as a way forward if that had been acceptable to them. There is also the fact that the Labour party did not nominate its members of the Committee until the week after it had seen the original motion nominating as the Conservative Members my five hon. Friends who sit on the Back. Benches representing Scottish constituencies. The Committee of Selection therefore adjourned its consideration of the matter and reported to the House.
I accept, of course, that if my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North had felt able to serve on the Select Committee we might already have set it up. But he is within his rights to refuse, and indeed Standing Order No. 104 clearly implies that some Members will not wish to serve in this capacity. No doubt my hon. Friend may well seek to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, later in this debate.
I am sure it would be generally accepted that the responsibility for determining whether a Select Committee he appointed should not be left to one Member's personal decision whether he will serve. Nor need it be. In this unitary Parliament it is a principle that Members from all parts of the United Kingdom have an equal right to be heard. Likewise, all Members are equally eligible to be considered for membership of any Select Committee. If a party finds that it has more volunteers for a Select Committee than places available to it, some further form of selection is necessary. It is not surprising that in the past all members of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs have been Members for Scottish constituencies. But on this occasion the refusal of my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North to serve means that those of my hon. Friends who sit for constituencies outside Scotland and who are interested in serving on the Scottish Affairs Committee, as they are perfectly entitled to do, find their chances of being put forward greatly increased. I can see nothing wrong with that.
I do not know whether this is the right moment to raise this matter, but I am nervous about how long my right hon. Friend will continue. At the outset, my right hon. Friend said that there was no Scottish Affairs Select Committee between 1974 and 1979. Have I understood my right hon. Friend correctly?
That is absolutely right. I am trying to be as non-partisan as I can, but between 1974 and 1979 no Select Committee on Scottish Affairs was set up.
So far as the Opposition are concerned, whatever their earlier views, in their amendment to the motion I see welcome signs that they may be prepared to accept the principle that all hon. Members should be equally eligible to be considered for Select Committee nomination. If that is indeed the case, I look forward to hearing their more detailed proposals for constructive guidance to the Committee of Selection, and I hope that we may soon see the Select Committee established. I share their regret that it has not yet been possible to appoint it.
I am not as well versed in the etiquette of the House as the right hon. Gentleman and I genuinely hope that I am not transgressing in any way. I believe that he might agree that, whatever the Committee of Selection's interpretation, events have certainly moved on in terms of the exchange of views through the usual channels. I put it as broadly as that. It is clear that if the Government felt that they could man the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs by topping up with the introduction of perhaps one hon. Member who did not represent a Scottish constituency, the Opposition view was that that should be put to the House. There was a certain implication in that offer.
I understand the hon. Gentleman, and there is a difference between us. Our view is that in a unitary Parliament Members from either side of the House are entitled to serve on any Committee. I am not prepared to accept the proposition that that is what the hon. Gentleman has called "topping up". However, I am perfectly happy to listen to the debate.
I believe that the Opposition's amendment and their analysis of the failure to set up the Committee does not take proper account of the more complex questions of principle involved, particularly now that we have heard the account of my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley. Nor do I believe it to be a proper way forward simply to refer the question back to the Committee of Selection without clarifying the way in which we wish it to proceed in its consideration.
Although it has not been selected, I hope it will be in order to turn briefly to the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh) and his colleagues in the Scottish National party. I recognise their particular interest in this, and I am grateful to the hon. Member for Angus, East for his courtesy in writing to my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary setting out his party's position on the membership of the Committee. I shall listen with great care to what he says tonight. But I have to say that I do not believe that the suggestion that the Committee of Selection should base its decisions on the general election result rather than the composition of the House is one that provides a generally acceptable way forward for further discussions.
The proposition that those elected by the Scottish people who wish to serve on the Committee should be excluded because others who were elected by similar Scottish votes do not wish to serve is ludicrous. In place of the Scottish Members who are willing to serve on the Committee we are to have English Members, who do not have one Scottish vote to back them up, being dragged in to serve on the Committee. That is ludicrous and it goes against basic democratic rights.
On democratic rights, we are all elected as Members of the United Kingdom Parliament. By the conventions of the House and by any democratic arrangement the party with the largest number of seats in the House is entitled to a majority on the Committee. Therefore, it is not possible to meet the demands of the SNP and recognise the fundamental principle of the way that all Select Committees work. The Select Committee on Scottish Affairs is not a second-class Committee; it is as important a Select Committee as any other and should be formed in the same way.
This debate is an opportunity, which the Committee of Selection could not have when it made its special report, to hear the views of the House. I will listen to the debate for confirmation that both sides of the House endorse the principle of equal eligibility in a unitary Parliament which I mentioned earlier. Provided that this principle is accepted, I hope that we may find a common basis for continuing discussion about how we should proceed. The House can then return to this matter at an appropriate moment and give the Committee of Selection the clear guidance that it will require.
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the question and to add instead thereof:
'regrets the failure to establish a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs in view of the significant role it has to play in scrutinising the activities of the Scottish Office; recognises that the difficulties of the Committee of Selection are the direct result of the reluctance of Conservative honourable Members from Scotland to serve, and calls on them to reconsider their decision; notes the willingness of honourable Members from the other parts of the House to join the Committee and to seek a constructive solution to present difficulties; and, in the light of the above, instructs the Committee of Selection to nominate a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs.'
The present position is unsatisfactory and cannot be allowed to persist. It would be wrong for the Leader of the House to attempt to lay the blame for the failure of the House to establish a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs at the door of either the Committee of Selection or the Opposition. The fault lies with the Government, and the Leader of the House made that crystal clear this evening when he said that, on the basic principle that this is a unitary Parliament, the Government can appoint whom they like to represent them on the Committee. Why has he not got on with it and done that? If he had done that before Christmas we could have had the Committee in operation at the same time as the others.
I hope that neither the Leader of the House nor any of his hon. Friends will start pleading anything that happened before the departmental Select Committees were established as a precedent for not having a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs. The fact is that departmental Committees were established by the House because it was believed by the House as a whole—this unitary Parliament — that there should be Select Committees monitoring every major Department of State, and the Scottish Office is a major Department of State.
The reason why the Committee was not established was that the Government could not, at that time, find enough Tories whom they regarded as suitable to serve on it. As we all know, that problem stems from the commendable good sense of the people of Scotland, who reduced the number of Tory Members of Parliament in Scotland to an unrepresentative rump of 10. We are now in the curious position that almost twice as many Tory hon. Members who were born in Scotland represent seats in England and Wales as dared to stay in Scotland and leave their political fate to be decided by their compatriots. The records show that the place of birth of 32 Tory MPs is unknown—whatever that means—but of those whose place of birth is recorded, no fewer than 17 hon. Members representing seats in England and Wales were born in Scotland. So it is understandable that ambitious Tories born there should leave their native land, because it clearly almost doubles their chances of being elected to the House.
With five Scottish Tories in the Government, and only five Back Benchers left to serve on the Select Committee, the Government's business managers were left with a number of choices, which they could have exercised at any time they liked. The Opposition, with 100 votes fewer than the Government, could do nothing to stop them. They could have allowed the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs to reflect the views of the people of Scotland and not have a Tory majority. At least that would have made it easier for them, following the Committee's establishment, to dismiss its recommendations and conclusions as irrelevant and prejudiced against the Government. We understand that the Government's business managers considered that, but the Prime Minister could not stand the idea.
Conservative hon. Members, with childhoods spent in public school, form the party of discipline, and one would have thought that they might—as another alternative—have persuaded all five Tory Back Benchers to agree to serve on the Committee. I should have thought that all five of them — including the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) — had an obligation to their constituents and to the people of Scotland properly to discharge their duties in the House. It would appear that the hon. Member for Tayside, North is going to grace us with a speech tonight, but he is not prepared to do the hard slogging on the Select Committee.
I have neither the hon. Gentleman's vaulting ambition nor his towering intellect, and I would not seek to do so. I say that he has an obligation to his constituents and to the people of Scotland to divest himself of his other interests and start representing theirs on the Select Committee.
The Government's other alternative—they have the power to do this—would have been to recruit some of those English Tory Members from Scotland—known in footballing terms as the Anglos — to serve on the Committee. After all, some of them have been keen to participate in Scottish Question Time. Some Conservative Members are willing to clown about in the Chamber, but not to do the heavy work in Committee. In addition—
I wonder whether the principles on which the hon. Gentleman has constructed his admirable speech embrace the fact that his hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) has tabled an early-day motion, signed by a large number of his Scottish hon. Friends, commenting on community care in Kent?
They have obviously accepted the principle enunciated by the Leader of the House that this is a unitary Parliament, and they are exercising the rights that ensue from that.
The other alternative was for the Government to follow the example of Glasgow Rangers and import for the Committee a few English Ministers who were actually born in England. However, that would probably have been entirely unacceptable to them.
In deference to my hon. Friend, I can assure him that in researching where Tory Ministers were born I did not inquire into their religious beliefs. We all know what they are: they all worship Mammon.
The Government have the power to follow the principle enunciated by the Leader of the House, but they have not done any of the things that I have suggested. They have not established the Select Committee and are treating the people of Scotland with contempt by preventing proper scrutiny of the activities of the Scottish Office. That is why the Secretary of State for Scotland is so pleased that the Committee has not been established.
The Opposition recognise the importance of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs and think that, ideally, its membership should reflect the views of the people of Scotland, which were so overwhelmingly expressed at the general election. We also recognise force majeure in the shape of a Tory majority of 100. We do not expect ideal arrangements of any sort to be brought into operation. Therefore, all along we have sought to get the Committee established as soon as possible, and preferably with a wholly Scottish membership, but not necessarily if the Tory Whips cannot get all the Scottish Tory Members to do their duty.
What the Government are doing, or failing to do, is an insult to the people of Scotland, but it is also important for individual hon. Members, for the House and for people in the rest of the United Kingdom. If the Government get away with not establishing one departmental Select Committee, it will not be long before they try to get rid of another one because it is also inconvenient. Therefore, there is a basic principle at stake. Anybody who is interested in the scrutiny of the Executive will agree that this Committee must be established.
The Select Committee on Scottish Affairs has much work to do. The regional policy announcements made yesterday will clearly have an impact on Scotland and will need to be looked at. Yesterday the Secretary of State for Scotland, in response to a question by me, supplied me with a list. This is the list, and it weighs no less than 31 lb. It is a list of all those public appointments in Scotland for which he is responsible. I know that my right hon. and hon. Friends are keen to start scrutinising this list, if only to find out how many Tories have been appointed to these positions. They especially want to see how many ex-Tory Members of Parliament are getting on to the public payroll in Scotland, having denounced public expenditure until some of it was put in their pockets.
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman's parents hail from Northern Ireland or Scotland, but he ought to know that while it is possible for individual hon. Members to do work, Select Committees have a special role to play.
I am sure that the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs would be interested in all these public appointments in Scotland. However, there are far more important matters than public appointments to be considered and that need the urgent attention of the Select Committee.
The Government should listen to this debate and assist the Committee of Selection. They should do their duty and pick their team, however mixed its origins or ability. One of the problems is that they know in their heart of hearts that, whatever team they pick, Labour's Scottish team will play them off the park.
There is nothing to be gained from labouring the point, but the political reality in Scotland following the last election is that the Government party is in a substantial minority. Scotland has 50 Labour Members, 10 Conservative Members, nine alliance Members and three Scottish National party Members.
It was those who fought the general election under the manifesto "Britain United". The composition of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee should reflect the number of Scottish seats held in the House by the various political parties.
In July last year, after the election, my hon. Friends and I tabled early-day motion 87, which proposed that the composition of the Select Committee should be five Labour Members, three Conservative Members, two alliance Members and one Scottish National party Member. If anything, that was a little generous to the Conservative party, given that it had only one more seat than the combined forces of the alliance.
Nevertheless, as the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) said, we recognise force majeure. If the Government do not wish to have an Opposition majority, they have the majority in the House to vote it down. It is perfectly clear that a Committee without a Government majority would not be accepted. One can understand why the Government do not want a Committee with an Opposition majority, because the Committee would have the power to summon Ministers every fortnight, or even more regularly, and lambast them with the policies currently afflicting Scotland.
There is something to be said for a Committee with an Opposition majority, although the Scottish public would find it tedious if Government Ministers were constantly hauled over the coals before the Committee. The public: would expect a Committee, particularly one with an Opposition majority, to be more responsible and to have a probing role into the affairs of the Scottish Office.
The Government have had difficulty in getting a Committee with a majority of their Members. The hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) has declined to serve and there is an indication that the hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Fairbairn) is unwilling to serve, as is the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart). I see that the Member for Eastwood is nodding assent. Undoubtedly those hon. Members have the right under the Standing Orders to decline to serve, but hon. Members should not claim only rights; they also have responsibilities. The Back-Bench Members of a Government who have so few Scottish Members, but who nevertheless claim to have a mandate to govern Scotland, have a duty to bear some responsibility and be prepared to take part in the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs, if that is the cost of setting up the Committee.
The Committee of Selection, on which I serve as the representative of the minority parties, when it was clear that the Government would not have a majority of Scottish Members, suggested that it was still possible to get a Committee of four Conservative Members, three Labour Members, one Liberal Member and one Scottish National party Member. I accept the point made by the hon. Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh) that it is unfair that the Scottish National party has Members who are anxious to serve but are denied the right to do so, when Conservative Members for Scottish seats have declined to serve.
The other possibility was that the Government could supplement its numbers from English Members. The hon. Member for Shipley (Sir M. Fox) said that no proposal was put before the Committee of Selection that included the name of any hon. Member for an English constituency.
I tried to follow the exchanges. Using a football analogy, the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras suggested that the Labour party would be prepared to accept an hon. Member for an English constituency—preferably an hon. Member with Scottish origins. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Then perhaps it is any hon. Member for an English seat. [HON. MEMBERS: "Any will do."] The Opposition do not intend to be racist about it. An hon. Member for a Welsh seat would be acceptable. I hope that the Leader of the House has noted that suggestion.
May I make it abundantly clear that we believe that by far the best solution would be if the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs could be constituted along traditional lines, with Scottish Members of Parliament serving on it. There are a number of ways in which that could be done. Given the Government's view of the matter, the only way in which the Committee is likely to be set up is if we are prepared to adopt a more flexible view. It would be better to have a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs than to have no Committee. We should expect a solid contribution from Scottish Members of Parliament on the Government side, but if the only way in which the Committee can be saved is by some form of dilution—we do not seek to dictate to the Government who should serve on the Committee; it would be neither proper nor constructive to do so — we should be prepared to pay that price.
The whole House is indebted to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) for setting out the position so clearly. No hon. Member can be in any doubt now about the position.
Among a number of other issues that we have considered during the course of a rather busy day, we have agonised over whether it would be better to have no Committee at all rather than a Committee that included hon . Members from south of the border. We have come, regretfully, to the same conclusion as the hon. Member for Garscadden: that it would be far better to have a Committee than to have no Committee at all.
A Committee that was bound to divide on partisan, party political lines would make no worthwhile contribution, but hon. Members from Scottish constituencies would be able to identify a large number of problems and issues that affect Scotland that need not necessarily divide the Committee along party political lines — for example, the state of Scottish prisons, what has happened since the setting up of the Scottish legal aid board a few months ago and the clash between environmental, farming and industrial interests. If the Committee were to work constructively, it could make an important contribution to the government of Scotland and also to the government of the United Kingdom as a whole.
My right hon. and hon. Friends agree with the official Opposition's view, and I hope that the Leader of the House will be able to respond constructively to what has been said from this side of the House.
On this day of all days, I find it rich that a Liberal spokesman should talk to Conservative Members about responsibility and working together. Really!
I welcome the opportunity to speak in the debate, because I am thereby given the means of placing on record the reasons why I am not prepared to serve as a member of the Scottish Affairs Committee. I have not taken that decision lightly, and it is not a decision that I have arrived at overnight. I should also explain that I have received only one letter on this matter while it has been under discussion. I hope that by detailing my reasons I shall demolish the bogus allegations that have been made about my position and motives.
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman made a factual comment about his mailbag. However, he should not give the impression to those hon. Members present who may not be so familiar with the Scottish scene that there is no concern in Scotland about the fate of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee. There clearly is concern and it is reflected in every quarter. Is there not evidence of that in the fact that the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Association expressed its disquiet and dismay at the attitude taken by the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker)?
Actually, that was the only letter that I received.
As I said earlier, I hope, by detailing my reasons, to demolish the bogus allegations that have been made about my position and motives. At the same time, I shall try to dispel the myths that have been spread by some sections of the Scottish media. I cite for example today's editorial in the Glasgow Herald. It states:
Some Scottish Conservative Back Benchers among that small residue who have not been pressed into ministerial service have shown hostility to the idea of serving on it"—
the Scottish Affairs Committee—
as lobby fodder"—
and that is the important phrase. What nonsense.
Every hon. Member knows that Select Committees are Back-Bench Committees. They are not Standing Committees and they do not create legislation. They do not have Ministers and Whips and, unlike Standing Committees, they do not contain Members who are Lobby fodder. Select Committees consist of Members from the Opposition or the Government; they are not Lobby fodder. Those Select Committees that have been seen to be effective are those in which Back-Bench Members have not been Lobby fodder. In those Committees, Members have submerged party loyalty in the interests of being good and effective House of Commons men and women and good Select Committee members.
I have had the good fortune to serve on two such Select Committees, one of which—the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration— was chaired by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Sir A. Buck). I served on that Select Committee in two Parliaments and I hope that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) is aware of that. That Select Committee is a splendid example of an effective House of Commons Select Committee. In it partisan loyalty is given second place to Committee loyalty and it has achieved much good work and has presented good reports to Parliament. The result is that the Committee is respected by those it interviews and, more importantly, the Government take the Committee's recommendations seriously. They have led to changes in the law and to changes and improvements in the management of Government Departments and Health Service administration. That is as effective a Select Committee as the House could wish to see.
Sadly, I have to advise the House that the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs fell far below the standards of the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration. The result was that Committee members were often unhappy with its conduct. On three occasions during the previous two Parliaments I was obliged to move what were effectively votes of no confidence in the Chair or in the conduct of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs.
I was deeply saddened by that, because I believed genuinely that it would be possible to have high investigative standards similar to those achieved in the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration. I was doubly saddened because I had volunteered to serve on the Select Committee. As a convinced supporter of a unitary Parliament, I wanted Scottish matters to be handled in a modern, sympathetic and realistic manner. But however hard we tried, and however energetically I and others worked on the inquiries, often reading complex evidence that had been presented to the Committee, I became convinced that the Committee was a misuse of scarce and valuable parliamentary time.
The crunch came with the inquiry into Gartcosh. It soon became evident that members had not read the evidence submitted, or that they did not understand the evidence submitted, or that they had already decided what the Committee's report would say, regardless of the evidence that was presented. This culminated in my speaking to the first amendment to the Chairman's first draft report. Everyone knows that there is no time limit on speeches in Select Committees. The objective of my speech was to insert some flexibility into the draft report so that it would reflect more accurately the evidence that had been submitted to the Committee. I am pleased to tell the House that, after I had been speaking for a considerable time, a colleague of mine was able to negotiate changes to the report.
I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman is trying to tell us that the Select Committee would work much better if he was not a member of it, but is it not true that, in the Gartcosh inquiry, it was a question not of Conservative Members being at odds with Opposition Members, but of the hon. Gentleman being at odds with other members of the Conservative group?
Sadly, I must admit the truth of that. shall tell the hon. Gentleman and the House why. I hope that my record of opposing skullduggery, from wherever it comes, is known to the House. When a Committee is presented with evidence, and that evidence confuses—[HON. MEMBERS: "You."] I know exactly what it. contained: profit and loss accounts, cash accounts —
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Time is limited in this debate. I do not like intervening in any hon. Member's speech, but we have an obligation to give some instructions and guidance to the Committee of Selection, and I wonder whether the speech of the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) is helping us in that regard.
Every hon. Member must take responsibility for his own speech. I think that the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) was deflected by a question that was put to him. I hope that he will return to the main topic.
I had not intended to go into this in detail. If hon. Members wish to have the details of that inquiry, they should read the evidence that was reported to the House. All that I will say is that an attempt was made deliberately to mislead the Committee, and I would not be a party to it.
The result of all this was that the Committee could no longer command the respect of Ministers. Consequently, I felt—in this I am at one with Liberal Members— that it was time that I left the Committee, and I wrote to the Chairman of the Committee of Selection at the time. I arrived at my decision not as a result of the general election of 1987, but because I was unhappy with the conduct of the business of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee. Hon. Members who were members of that Committee, and who honestly believe in their hearts that we could and should have done a good job for Scotland, would be hard pressed to say that we were doing that. We were spending hours and hours indulging in what were often purely party-political battles.
I also find it offensive that snide remarks have been made—even, on occasion, from the Opposition Front Bench—suggesting that my attitude has something to do with the fact that I am not sitting on the Treasury Bench. Anyone who cares to study my history will find that I arrived in the House very seriously injured: it is surprising that I was able to stand at all. Moreover, anyone who cares to study the position that I have taken on Scottish matters will know that I have always intended to be independent and constructive. That is hardly the recipe for climbing the greasy pole of preferment, but I chose that course deliberately, as I have done this evening.
I also find it rich that the Scottish National party should be telling us how much it: cares about the Scottish Affairs Committee, when everyone knows that in the last two Parliaments Gordon Wilson and Donald Stewart refused to serve on it. Anyone who cares to investigate will find that some interesting comments were made by both gentlemen, none of which was in favour of the Committee. Indeed, they all opposed it.
In the light of what I have said, and the sad history of the Scottish Affairs Committee, I feel that the House would be well advised to take note of what the Committee of Selection has told it this evening. Hon. Members should remember that, if we are to make such Committees work, we cannot do so on the purely partisan lines that have been followed in the Scottish Affairs Committee in the last two or three Parliaments.
If anything is an advertisement for Scottish self-government, I think that these proceedings are such an advertisement. If nothing else, it would at least relieve English Members of this kind of conduct.
I note that the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) is opposed to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, not because he failed that Committee, but because it failed to reach his high standards. Bearing that in mind, my sympathies are entirely with those who served on the Committee with him. The hon. Gentleman is the most Unionist of Conservative Members, and he of all people should be taking part in what is a British institution of the House. It is disgraceful that he has held up our proceedings in such a fashion. He should be volunteering to serve.
This is very much the late-late show: it is rather knockabout stuff. I find it a disgraceful way to treat a very serious matter which concerns the government of Scotland. It is not so much a debate as some kind of punishment that we are all asked to undergo. As midnight approaches, I find it very difficult to explain to the Scottish people exactly how the House conducts its business and considers the government of our country at this late hour and in such a cursory fashion.
At the end of this so-called debate, reality will set in, because to the vote will be added the mass of English Tory Members who will make the final decision. It is a harsh system. When we come to a vote, the English majority will arrive and decide what happens, and the Scots will have to go along with it. People playing for Rangers nowadays must experience a rather similar feeling. But that is the principle of English Tory Members deciding what goes on in Scotland. That principle was enunciated very clearly by the Leader of the House. It should be unacceptable to Scots.
Will the hon. Gentleman tell me how it is different when Scottish Members are willing to vote on Sunday trading in England and Wales and impose on England and Wales conditions that do not apply in Scotland, and to vote on the abolition of the Greater London council, which could scarcely be described as a Scottish issue?
The hon. Member is asking the wrong person. I would not have taken part in those decisions. We do not expect to run England, and we would rather not have England run our affairs.
This is a coroner's hearing. I choose an English procedure, because that is how the House is run. It is a coroner's hearing without the corpse, which disappeared with the previous Parliament. Unless the Government get themselves organised, that will be followed by the funeral of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, and that would not be good enough.
This is not a debate, because we know its outcome. The Government will decide through the Whips. It is no use saying that the matter will be sent to the Committee of Selection, for the Government will decide, using their majority there. This is no way in which to treat Scottish business, especially on a take note motion—a technical device—which is designed to put the Select Committee into limbo, which is what the Government are about.
We are discussing fundamental Back-Bench rights. We are considering the right of hon. Members to scrutinise Ministers and bring them to account. There is frustration in my party, among all Opposition Members and some Conservative Back Benchers about how Back Benchers are treated by the Government, who steamroller over our rights. The Select Committees are the best thing that have happened recently as they have given Back Benchers back some rights.
The House is listening carefully to the hon. Gentleman. So that we can put the matter into historical perspective, he owes it to the House to explain why, if his party now takes this matter so seriously and gives it the true perspective that we have given it, his former colleagues — Mr. Wilson and Mr. Stewart — steadfastly refused to serve on the Select Committee.
My colleagues are willing to serve on the Committee because we believe it to be important. No more, no less. The Labour party's stance has changed. First, it did not want any English Members, then it would accept some English Members, and now it will accept any English Members.
We are here because Labour has played the Conservatives' game. The Government do not want a Select Committee. They have been quite happy to string the Opposition along. The Government are not a bunch of wilting lillies. This is the Government who have pursued "Spycatcher" anywhere, any time, in any court, in any continent. They sent secret policemen into the BBC's offices in Glasgow in connection with the Zircon affair. This Friday, they will put a three-line Whip on a Conservative Back Bencher's Bill. If they want something, the Government will take it.
The Government do not want the Select Committee because that suits their purpose. They do not like the idea of any Select Committee. What Government would?
The Conservatives are electorally embarrassed. They were almost wiped out in Scotland, and rightly so. I do not blame them for not wanting the Select Committee to look at what is going on in the Scottish Office. I am sure that they do not want Malcolm and the Vandelas to be seen much more in public, but I would like them to be scrutinised and criticised by Scottish Back Benchers.
The Scottish Select Committee is the most important, because Scots Back Benchers get a chance only once in five weeks to tackle the Secretary of State with oral questions, which have been tabled a fortnight before. He holds nine portfolios which in England have separate Ministers and separate days for oral questions. How can Scots Back Benchers scrutinise the Government properly if they do not have the Select Committee?
I ask the Government, as it is they who will eventually decide, to get on with this matter. Scotland needs the Committee. It needs a means of holding the Government accountable to the House. The Government should stop this nonsense and get the Committee going so that we can scrutinise what they are doing in our country.
My right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons has spelt out the position to the House fully and very fairly. It is my view that Select Committees can do an extremely valuable job, but they do it when hon. Members join in independent, non-partisan and reasoned examination of issues and policies pursued by the Executive. My position, as perfectly accurately stated to the House by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), is that setting up the Scottish Select Committee in this Parliament would, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, be a complete waste of time.
My name is on the Order Paper for a number of reasons, the main one being that, not having the expertise of my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker), I did not realise that I could be taken off by the simple expedient of writing to my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Sir M. Fox). In the absence of assurances to the contrary, I do not believe for a single moment that there would be any real prospect of the Labour Members of such a Committee behaving in a reasoned, constructive manner, in accordance with the traditions of the House.
In relation to my own constituency, I can only tell the House that if my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North has received one letter, that is one more than I have received. Everyone in the constituency of Eastwood to whom I have spoken has supported my position that good constituency Members should not waste their time.
The basic reason why the Select Committee has not yet been set up is not the objections of my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North, but the failure, at least until tonight, of the Labour party to accept the unitary principle. We were told by hon. Members again and again that it was unacceptable to have English Members on the Scottish Select Committee.
Mr. Speaker, I was referring to Hansard. It was stated by hon. Members that having English Members on the Committee was unacceptable. To take one example, the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes), a luminary of the Scottish Labour party, certainly said that in answer to a question
That principle of the unitary Parliament has not been accepted by Scottish Labour Members on a number of other occasions. Only this week the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) said that it would be intolerable if English Members were placed on a Committee to consider the Housing (Scotland) Bill. Yet at the same time a Scottish Labour Member had been placed on a Committee to consider a Bill affecting purely English and Welsh matters, the Licensing Bill, and I believe that the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Dr. Moonie) has made a valuable contribution to the debates on that measure. As you will recall, Mr. Speaker, Labour Members divided the House after the first Scottish Question Time of this Parliament because they believed that it was wrong for my hon. Friends from English seats to seek to catch your eye during Scottish questions.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) does not accept the unitary principle in relation to the official business of the House, because at the start of this Session he announced the Scottish Labour party view—doubtless to ringing cries about the "mandate of the Scottish people, comrades" — that the Labour Whips would not discuss business matters with my hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean) solely because his constituency happened to be on the wrong side of Gretna Green.
I believe that the attitude that has consistently been taken on the unitary principle by the Labour party in this Parliament is reprehensible and wrong. If it is changed as a result of the focusing of minds by this issue before the House tonight, it will be a positive gain. I hope that the House will support the motion moved by my right hon. Friend. If there is to be any progress, I hope that it will he on a reasoned basis. Certainly no assurances have been received as yet on that from the Labour party.
I listened to the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) when it was put to him on television that he should serve on the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs. That evening he did not put forward any of the reasons that he has just given the House in expressing reservations about a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs. His reason that night was rather pompous — that he was now a senior Back Bencher and no Patronage Secretary could tell him what to do. The purpose of my raising that at this stage is to point out the fact that the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker)—what a narrow escape the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs had — and the hon. Member for Eastwood shifted their position from saying that they would want a Scottish Affairs Select Committee provided there were English Tory Back Benchers on it to saying that they do not want a Scottish Affairs Select Committee in any circumstances. If the debate has done nothing else, it has brought out the true reason behind the hon. Member for Eastwood's obstruction to the Select Committee and the hon. Member for Tayside, North's not wanting to serve at all.
The Leader of the House was less than fair. He said that there had been no Select Committee on Scottish Affairs between 1974 and 1979. That is true, but to my certain knowledge when the Conservatives were in opposition between 1974 and 1979 there was no request from the Opposition for a Select Committee to be established on any subject.
The Leader of the House should know that in those days the nature and purpose of Select Committees were totally different from the nature and purpose of the Select Committee we are discussing tonight. The last Select Committee under the old arrangement was chaired by John Brewis, the predecessor but one of the Minister of State, Scottish Office. That Select Committee was set up to consider land use in Scotland. The Tory Opposition in Scotland between 1974 and 1979 did not raise one subject that they thought was worthy of examination by such a Select Committee.
The position now is different. As the whole House knows, we are talking about departmental Select Committees set up to examine Ministers and civil servants and the functions that they carry out. They are totally different. They were established by Norman St. John Stevas. The Leader of the House was less than forthcoming in that part of his speech.
The hon. Member for Eastwood wants an assurance from the Opposition that we accept that this is a unitary Parliament. I give an absolute assurance that I accept that this is a unitary Parliament. I will go further. I predict that if we get much more of the carry-on that we have had from the Tory party tonight, it will not be a unitary Parliament much longer. The one sure way to let the SNP, which is even less of a rump than the Tory party in Scotland, get its way in Scotland is to conduct these debates in the way in which the Leader of the House, the hon. Member for Tayside, North and the hon. Member for Eastwood have conducted the debate tonight.
It ill becomes the hon. Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh) to lecture anyone in any part of the House about English Members dictating to people. He is the provost of Angus district council, but not once has he had the courage or the guts to defy the Secretary of State for Scotland on rent increases—
I will give way to the hon. Gentleman when I have finished with him. The hon. Gentleman criticises the Labour party and Labour councils. When the Secretary of State told him to put rents up, he asked, "How much do you want us to put them up?" When he was told to spend within spending guidelines, his answer was, "That's all right, Malcolm; I'll do that as well." We do not want any rubbish from the hon. Member for Angus, East lecturing us about being dictated to by English Members.
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should listen to the lectures because he has chosen the wrong issue. Under my control Angus district council had the lowest rents increase in a decade and record spending on behalf of its council tenants. We have lower combined rents and rates than any Labour council, except one, and at one time that council was SNP controlled. If the hon. Gentleman gave his tenants the same good deal as Angus district council has given its tenants under SNP control, they would be much better off today.
That is part of the debate. I am not going to allow the Scottish Tories to dictate the position in Scotland, and I am certainly not going to allow three SNP Members to dictate to the Labour party in Scotland. It is time someone told them that they do not have much of a representation in Scotland. It is time someone told them about the record of their predecessors in the previous Parliament. We will not take lectures from the SNP.
Presumably the hon. Gentleman comes from part of the same clan as myself in view of our surnames. May I ask him directly whether it is his view that a party that contested the general election as a democratic party should be denied the right to have a seat on the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs?
I am not particularly interested as to whether the SNP is represented on the Select Committee. I am saying that I will not be dictated to by three hon. Members who just scraped in here by the skin of their teeth. When the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) was a Member of the House previously, she voted with the Tory party—[Interruption.] The SNP does not have a very good record. The hon. Lady mentioned the similarity in our names. I do not blame her for changing her name since she was here last.
There are far too many important issues that the Scottish Office wants to sweep under the carpet. It is far better to set up a Select Committee in order to consider and investigate those matters than to go down the narrow road advocated by the SNP and the hon. Members for Eastwood and for Tayside, North and not have a Committee at all. The Chairman of the Committee of Selection said that he was here to listen and would accept guidance. The Leader of the House is under an obligation, having heard the guidance, to come forward within the next week or 10 days with a motion on the Order Paper to set up the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs and let it get to work.
I will not get involved in the inter-party squabbles on the Opposition Benches. If the people of Scotland could see that rabble tonight operating in Edinburgh, they would say, "Heaven help us from ever having devolution."
One interesting point raised tonight was that the Chairman of the Committee of Selection has to ascertain one's wish to attend the Select Committee. I am sure that if some of us had known that years before, the situation might be very different.
The Opposition's amendment is factually incorrect when it asserts that Conservative Members are reluctant to serve on the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs. Two or more of us were not reluctant and would have been prepared to serve upon it had it been set up. That is still the position.
The Opposition have tried to present themselves as whiter than white in the handling of this issue through the usual channels since the general election. It should not be forgotten that early in November the Labour Opposition had submitted no names to the Committee of Selection. Perhaps that is a reflection of their internal problems. We were then introduced to an impasse. In these instances we live by rumour—that is often the way of the House—because no minutes are produced to reflect the discussions of various party committees. At this stage the Labour Opposition were anxious to dictate which Conservative Member should he selected to serve on the Select Committee. That was considered by the House to be intolerable and unacceptable. That was certainly the view of Conservative Members.
This evening the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) has become flexible in an effort to retrieve some credibility following the behaviour of the Labour party over the past two months. I heard no mention of flexibility during November or December. During that period the Labour Opposition were determined to have the Members who they chose to serve on the Select Committee and not the Members selected by the Committee of Selection. Now the Opposition are claiming that they wanted from the start to see the setting up of the Select Committee. They claim now always to have been flexible and always prepared to listen to reason, but that was not their position during November and December. It was during that period that they lost the right to see the establishment of the Committee. The requirements that they were dictating to the Committee of Selection were unacceptable to that Committee, and they would have been shown to be unacceptable to the House had a motion reflecting them been put before the House.
I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman because there is a shortage of time. The hon. Gentleman has intervened once already in another hon. Member's speech.
It is the duty of the House to support the Chairman of the Committee of Selection, my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Sir M. Fox), and his motion and to reject the Opposition's bogus amendment, which is factually incorrect and unacceptable.
I shall not bore the House by recounting my activities, or lack of them, during the period that I served as a member of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs. I merely say that if there is a right for any Select Committee to be established in this place, that right must embrace the setting up of a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs. We must bear in mind the extensive powers of the Secretary of State for Scotland and the activities of the Scottish Office in acting on his behalf. It would be a scandal if the representatives of the people of Scotland were denied the right to survey the Government's activities in Scotland. That would lead to increased frustration on the Opposition Benches, especially among my right hon. and hon. Friends who represent Scottish constituencies. The people of Scotland see it as their right that there should be established a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs to proceed with any investigations that it sees fit to initiate.
Previous Select Committees on Scottish Affairs, irrespective of whether Members enjoyed serving on them, undertook some valuable work. Many comments to that effect have been made by the spokesmen of both Front Benches.
The frustration of the people of Scotland is growing. Perhaps they are not writing to tell us that they want to see the establishment of a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs, but it cannot be denied that when the previous Committee went about its business in Scotland there was keen local interest in what was taking place. There was press coverage of the discussions that took place on many of the important issues that involved the lives of the people of Scotland.
I will conclude by quoting two sentences from an editorial in the Glasgow Herald. One refers to
Scotland, a partner of the United Kingdom and not simply a UK region.
Hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber must understand that. They must also appreciate that, at the moment, Scotland is a willing partner, but that may not always be the case. It may not necessarily be the SNP who will convey that message from the Scottish people. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] The Scottish people will determine whether they will remain a willing partner. The scandalous and outrageous way in which the people are treated by the Government may determine them to change their minds in the coming years. That will occur unless the Government recognise the needs and the rights of the Scottish people.
A further sentence from the Glasgow Herald editorial gives a marvellous analogy of the situation:
The rocky outcrop of Tantallon Castle, historical centre of English influence in Scotland, dominates the wild east Lothian coast; so too does Thatcherism dominate Scottish politics".
That castle now stands in ruins and Thatcherism, the large rock that juts out in Scottish politics, dominates a people who rejected it. Unless the rights of those people are recognised, frustration will grow into a tide that will overwhelm the desire, shared by all of us, for a united kingdom.
We have listened carefully to some lively debate, but we are discussing a serious issue. I know from contacts on the Government Benches that they also consider this a serious matter, and I give credit for that.
I have not enjoyed all the speeches. I listened carefully to the speech of the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart). In private he is the most amiable of men, but I must tell him that I find him less and less pleasant as a public figure. I served as Chairman of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee when it was reconstituted in 1979 and I find it curious—I use a neutral word—that the hon. Gentleman should object to partisan conduct in Select Committees. I remember his role and that of other Conservative Members during the Committee's investigation into the the SDA's attempts to attract industry to Scotland. That is just one example. I am sorry—I hope that the hon. Gentleman accepts that my sorrow is genuine — that he has joined the refuseniks on this issue. He does not do himself justice.
I accept the important point that the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) did not enjoy his days on the Committee. He was an embattled minority of one, cut off from his own side. I accept that that must have been an unpleasant experience, although one with which perhaps, on occasions, he has had to live. However, there is no case for saying that we should not have a Select Committee because in the past one or two hon. Members—rightly or wrongly — have not enjoyed their service on a Committee. If we proceeded on that basis, we would abolish a Select Committee on any subject if it had a bad run. The Select Committees would represent a diminishing part of the parliamentary scene.
The hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) has had long experience of the ways of the House. I do not believe that it was fair to say that we tried to dictate, at any point, who should be on the Committee. I am not aware of any such effort. I do not believe that the hon. Member for Shipley (Sir M. Fox) gave the impression that he felt that Labour Members had dictated to him. Indeed, he fairly said that the matter had not been discussed by the Committee of Selection because it felt that it was a matter for the business managers on both sides as to who should serve on the Scottish Affairs Select Committee. The claims by the hon. Member for Dumfries are the stuff of myths and represent specious special pleading that does not give credit to the debate.
The Select Committee on Scottish Affairs is important because it is part of the parliamentary process. It would be a better irony if the Scottish Office were the one major Department of State that was not subject to the scrutiny of a Select Committee. We and the majority of the Scottish people believe that the Government's policies for Scotland are insensitive and inappropriate. It is essential that the Ministers responsible should be called to account by a Select Committee.
Once more I must make it clear that our overriding concern is that the Select Committee should be established. I have explained that our preference would be for a Committee made up of Members representing Scottish seats. That could be achieved if Scottish Tory Members were prepared to serve or by increasing the number of Scottish Members from other parties. There will be no shortage of volunteers from the Scottish Labour group if that route is to be followed. Sadly—and I must accept this as a practical politician—it appears that the Government are insisting on a Conservative majority, but they cannot deliver the numbers required to achieve that from the Scottish Conservative ranks.
We could allow ourselves the luxury, which the SNP is taking, of saying that it must be a Select Committee and it must comprise only Scottish Members. But in the real world of the present that is impossible. In effect, it is to say that there will not be a Select Committee and we have rejected that.
No. I am anxious that the Leader of the House should have a chance to respond, so I have only a couple of minutes at most.
If the Scottish Conservative ranks will not deliver sufficient hon. Members, the future of the Select Committee is at risk as a direct result. Given the difficulties in the Conservative camp, Labour has taken a constructive approach. We argue that the Government have a duty to set up the Committee. If, in addition to the Scottish Tory Members who are prepared to serve, that involves nominating Members from other parts of the United Kingdom, the House should be given the opportunity to take that decision. We would consider any such solution an eloquent condemnation and comment on the Government's weakness in Scotland. But our preference is and must be for a Select Committee in being and working rather than for no Select Committee.
If the only way to set up the Select Committee is to include a minimum of hon. Members representing English constituencies, Labour will accept reluctantly that that price must be paid. We hope that the reluctant Scottish Tory Members will reconsider their position as, indeed, I remind the hon. Member for Tayside, North, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Association has urged him. If, however, there is no movement, the Government have a duty to respond to the clear wish of Scottish public and political opinion that a way forward be found.
The hon. Member for Shipley made it clear that he was seeking the advice of the House and the views of the parties within it. I hope that I have made the position of my right hon. and hon. Friends clear. Who should be nominated is a matter for the business managers. In view of what I have said, I do not believe that there is any virtue in semantics about our constitutional structure, behind which the Leader of the House appeared, at least momentarily, to shelter. He knows our view. I hope that he will now be prepared to act on it and find enough Tory Members who believe in the Select Committee system and in the need to have comprehensive coverage and scrutiny of Scottish affairs to ensure that we make progress shortly.
It has been a noisy and good-humoured debate. I have listened carefully to the Opposition and important issues underlie these matters. Some of the comments of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) were more encouraging and flexible than earlier comments, but they were certainly inconsistent with what my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Sir M. Fox) said and what was said by Opposition Members in the Committee of Selection. They were even more inconsistent with the Opposition amendment on the Order Paper. Each position is different, none is consistent one with the other. Therefore, I believe that we are right to take note of the special report and to reject the amendment in the names of Opposition Members.
The speech from the Leader of the House is regrettable. He does nothing to enhance his reputation by his economy with the truth, which might earn him a peerage but certainly will not earn him the respect of Labour Members.
When my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) said specifically that there was no conflict between what he was saying and what the hon. Member for Shipley (Sir M. Fox) said, as far as I could see, the hon. Gentleman agreed with those sentiments. Yet the Leader of the House has contradicted the hon. Gentleman. There is a need for clarification. There can be no doubt on this issue. There is only one black and white issue: of 370 Members who sit on the other side, the Government cannot find five to serve on this Committee—
|Division No. 137]||[12.30 am|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Armstrong, Ms Hilary||Lewis, Terry|
|Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)||Litherland, Robert|
|Barron, Kevin||Livingstone, Ken|
|Battle, John||Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)|
|Beckett, Margaret||Lofthouse, Geoffrey|
|Beggs, Roy||McAllion, John|
|Beith, A. J.||McAvoy, Tom|
|Bermingham, Gerald||McCartney, Ian|
|Blair, Tony||Macdonald, Calum|
|Boyes, Roland||McFall, John|
|Bradley, Keith||McGrady, E. K.|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||McKay, Allen (Penistone)|
|Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)||McKelvey, William|
|Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)||McLeish, Henry|
|Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)||McNamara, Kevin|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||McTaggart, Bob|
|Buchan, Norman||McWilliam, John|
|Buckley, George||Mahon, Mrs Alice|
|Caborn, Richard||Mallon, Seamus|
|Callaghan, Jim||Marek, Dr John|
|Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)||Marshall, David (Shettleston)|
|Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)||Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Campbell-Savours, D. N.||Martin, Michael (Springburn)|
|Canavan, Dennis||Martlew, Eric|
|Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)||Maxton, John|
|Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)||Meale, Alan|
|Clay, Bob||Michael, Alun|
|Clelland, David||Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)|
|Clwyd, Mrs Ann||Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton N)||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Cook, Robin (Livingston)||Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)|
|Cousins, Jim||Molyneaux, Rt Hon James|
|Crowther, Stan||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Cryer, Bob||Morgan, Rhodri|
|Cummings, J.||Morley, Elliott|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||Mowlam, Marjorie|
|Dalyell, Tam||Mullin, Chris|
|Darling, Alastair||Murphy, Paul|
|Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)||Nellist, Dave|
|Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I)||O'Brien, William|
|Dewar, Donald||O'Neill, Martin|
|Dixon, Don||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Dobson, Frank||Patchett, Terry|
|Doran, Frank||Pendry, Tom|
|Douglas, Dick||Pike, Peter|
|Dunnachie, James||Powell, Ray (Ogmore)|
|Eastham, Ken||Prescott, John|
|Evans, John (St Helens N)||Primarolo, Ms Dawn|
|Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)||Quin, Ms Joyce|
|Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)||Reid, John|
|Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)||Robertson, George|
|Foster, Derek||Rogers, Allan|
|Fyfe, Mrs Maria||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Ross, William (Londonderry E)|
|Galloway, George||Rowlands, Ted|
|Garrett, John (Norwich South)||Ruddock, Ms Joan|
|Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)||Salmond, Alex|
|Godman, Dr Norman A.||Short, Clare|
|Gordon, Ms Mildred||Skinner, Dennis|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Grocott, Bruce||Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)|
|Haynes, Frank||Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)|
|Hinchliffe, David||Snape, Peter|
|Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Home Robertson, John||Steinberg, Gerald|
|Hood, James||Stott, Roger|
|Howarth, George (Knowsley N)||Strang, Gavin|
|Hoyle, Doug||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)|
|Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)||Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)|
|Illsley, Eric||Turner, Dennis|
|Ingram, Adam||Wall, Pat|
|Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)||Wallace, James|
|Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil||Wareing, Robert N.|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)|
|Lambie, David||Wilson, Brian|
|Lamond, James||Winnick, David|
|Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Worthington, Anthony||Tellers for the Ayes|
|Wray, James||Mr. Allen Adams and|
|Young, David (Bolton SE)||Mr. Nigel Griffiths.|
|Allason, Rupert||Jackson, Robert|
|Amess, David||Janman, Timothy|
|Amos, Alan||Jessel, Toby|
|Arbuthnot, James||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Jones, Robert B (Herts W)|
|Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)||King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)|
|Atkins, Robert||Kirkhope, Timothy|
|Atkinson, David||Knapman, Roger|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Knight, Greg (Derby North)|
|Baldry, Tony||Knowles, Michael|
|Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Knox, David|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Lang, Ian|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Latham, Michael|
|Blackburn, Dr John G.||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Bottomley, Peter||Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Lightbown, David|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Lilley, Peter|
|Bowis, John||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Lord, Michael|
|Brazier, Julian||Lyell, Sir Nicholas|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Macfarlane, Sir Neil|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)||MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)|
|Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick||McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Malins, Humfrey|
|Burns, Simon||Marland, Paul|
|Burt, Alistair||Marshall, John (Hendon S)|
|Butler, Chris||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)|
|Butterfill, John||Martin, David (Portsmouth S)|
|Carlisle, John, (Luton N)||Mates, Michael|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Maude, Hon Francis|
|Carrington, Matthew||Mawhinney, Dr Brian|
|Carttiss, Michael||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Cash, William||Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Cran, James||Miller, Hal|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Mills, Iain|
|Curry, David||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Davis, David (Boothferry)||Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)|
|Day, Stephen||Mitchell, David (Hants NW)|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Moate, Roger|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Monro, Sir Hector|
|Durant, Tony||Montgomery, Sir Fergus|
|Dykes, Hugh||Morrison, Sir Charles (Devizes)|
|Fallon, Michael||Morrison, Hon P (Chester)|
|Forman, Nigel||Moss, Malcolm|
|Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)||Moynihan, Hon C.|
|Fox, Sir Marcus||Neale, Gerrard|
|Gale, Roger||Nelson, Anthony|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Neubert, Michael|
|Gow, Ian||Newton, Rt Hon Tony|
|Greenway, John (Rydale)||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Gregory, Conal||Nicholson, David (Taunton)|
|Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)||Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)|
|Grist, Ian||Oppenheim, Phillip|
|Ground, Patrick||Page, Richard|
|Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)||Paice, James|
|Hannam, John||Patnick, Irvine|
|Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')||Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey|
|Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)||Pawsey, James|
|Harris, David||Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney||Porter, David (Waveney)|
|Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv'NE)||Portillo, Michael|
|Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.||Powell, William (Corby)|
|Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)||Raffan, Keith|
|Holt, Richard||Redwood, John|
|Hordern, Sir Peter||Renton, Tim|
|Howard, Michael||Rhodes James, Robert|
|Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)||Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon|
|Hunt, David (Wirral W)||Riddick, Graham|
|Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)||Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas|
|Irvine, Michael||Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm|
|Jack, Michael||Rowe, Andrew|
|Ryder, Richard||Tredmnick, David|
|Sackville, Hon Tom||Trippier, David|
|Sayeed, Jonathan||Trotter, Neville|
|Shaw, David (Dover)||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarf)||Viggers, Peter|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Waddington, Rt Hon David|
|Sims, Roger||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Soames, Hon Nicholas||Walker, Bill (T'side North)|
|Speed, Keith||Waller, Gary|
|Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)||Ward, John|
|Squire, Robin||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Stanbrook, Ivor||Warren, Kenneth|
|Stern, Michael||Watts, John|
|Stevens, Lewis||Wells, Bowen|
|Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)||Wheeler, John|
|Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)||Whitney, Ray|
|Stradling Thomas, Sir John||Widdecombe, Miss Ann|
|Sumberg, David||Wilkinson, John|
|Summerson, Hugo||Wilshire, David|
|Taylor, Ian (Esher)||Wolfson, Mark|
|Taylor, John M (Solihull)||Wood, Timothy|
|Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Thornton, Malcolm||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Thurnham, Peter||Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd and|
|Tracey, Richard||Mr. David Maclean.|
|Division No. 138]||[12.41 am|
|Allason, Rupert||Fallon, Michael|
|Amess, David||Forman, Nigel|
|Amos, Alan||Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)|
|Arbuthnot, James||Fox, Sir Marcus|
|Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)||Gale, Roger|
|Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)||Garel-Jones, Tristan|
|Atkins, Robert||Gow, Ian|
|Atkinson, David||Greenway, John (Rydale)|
|Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)||Gregory, Conal|
|Baldry, Tony||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)|
|Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Grist, Ian|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Ground, Patrick|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)|
|Blackburn, Dr John G.||Hannam, John|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')|
|Bottomley, Peter||Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Harris, David|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney|
|Bowis, John||Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.|
|Brazier, Julian||Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)|
|Brooke, Rt Hon Peter||Holt, Richard|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)||Hordern, Sir Peter|
|Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)||Howard, Michael|
|Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick||Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Hunt, David (Wirral W)|
|Burns, Simon||Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)|
|Burt, Alistair||Irvine, Michael|
|Butler, Chris||Jack, Michael|
|Butterfill, John||Jackson, Robert|
|Carlisle, John, (Luton N)||Janman, Timothy|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Jessel, Toby|
|Carrington, Matthew||Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)|
|Carttiss, Michael||Jones, Robert B (Herts W)|
|Cash, William||King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)|
|Coombs, Simon (Swindon)||Kirkhope, Timothy|
|Cran, James||Knapman, Roger|
|Currie, Mrs Edwina||Knight, Greg (Derby North)|
|Curry, David||Knowles, Michael|
|Davis, David (Boothferry)||Knox, David|
|Day, Stephen||Lang, Ian|
|Dorrell, Stephen||Latham, Michael|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Durant, Tony||Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)|
|Dykes, Hugh||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)||Rowe, Andrew|
|Lilley, Peter||Ryder, Richard|
|Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Sackville, Hon Tom|
|Lord, Michael||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Lyell, Sir Nicholas||Shaw, David (Dover)|
|Macfarlane, Sir Neil||Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarf)|
|MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)||Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)|
|McLoughlin, Patrick||Sims, Roger|
|McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)||Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)|
|Malins, Humfrey||Soames, Hon Nicholas|
|Marland, Paul||Speed, Keith|
|Marshall, John (Hendon S)||Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Squire, Robin|
|Martin, David (Portsmouth S)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Mates, Michael||Stern, Michael|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Stevens, Lewis|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)|
|Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Meyer, Sir Anthony||Stradling Thomas, Sir John|
|Miller, Hal||Sumberg, David|
|Mills, Iain||Summerson, Hugo|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Taylor, Ian (Esher)|
|Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)||Taylor, John M (Solihull)|
|Mitchell, David (Hants NW)||Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)|
|Moate, Roger||Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)|
|Monro, Sir Hector||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Montgomery, Sir Fergus||Thurnham, Peter|
|Morrison, Sir Charles (Devizes)||Tracey, Richard|
|Morrison, Hon P (Chester)||Tredinnick, David|
|Moss, Malcolm||Trippier, David|
|Moynihan, Hon C.||Trotter, Neville|
|Neale, Gerrard||Twinn, Dr Ian|
|Nelson, Anthony||Viggers, Peter|
|Neubert, Michael||Waddington, Rt Hon David|
|Newton, Rt Hon Tony||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Nicholls, Patrick||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Nicholson, David (Taunton)||Walker, Bill (T'side North)|
|Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)||Waller, Gary|
|Oppenheim, Phillip||Ward, John|
|Page, Richard||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Paice, James||Warren, Kenneth|
|Patnick, Irvine||Watts, John|
|Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Wells, Bowen|
|Pawsey, James||Wheeler, John|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Whitney, Ray|
|Porter, David (Waveney)||Widdecombe, Miss Ann|
|Portillo, Michael||Wilkinson, John|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Wilshire, David|
|Raffan, Keith||Wolfson, Mark|
|Redwood, John||Wood, Timothy|
|Renton, Tim||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Rhodes James, Robert|
|Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Riddick, Graham||Mr. David Lightbown and|
|Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas||Mr. David Maclean.|
|Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)|
|Armstrong, Ms Hilary||Campbell-Savours, D. N.|
|Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)||Canavan, Dennis|
|Barron, Kevin||Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)|
|Battle, John||Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)|
|Beckett, Margaret||Clay, Bob|
|Beggs, Roy||Clelland, David|
|Beith, A. J.||Clwyd, Mrs Ann|
|Bermingham, Gerald||Cook, Frank (Stockton N)|
|Blair, Tony||Cook, Robin (Livingston)|
|Boyes, Roland||Cousins, Jim|
|Bradley, Keith||Crowther, Stan|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Cryer, Bob|
|Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)||Cummings, J.|
|Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)||Cunliffe, Lawrence|
|Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)||Dalyell, Tarn|
|Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)||Darling, Alastair|
|Buchan, Norman||Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I)|
|Buckley, George||Dewar, Donald|
|Caborn, Richard||Dixon, Don|
|Callaghan, Jim||Dobson, Frank|
|Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)||Doran, Frank|
|Douglas, Dick||Michael, Alun|
|Dunnachie, James||Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley|
|Eastham, Ken||Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & But|
|Evans, John (St Helens N)||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)||Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby,|
|Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)||Molyneaux, Rt Hon James|
|Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)||Moonie, Dr Lewis|
|Foster, Derek||Morgan, Rhodri|
|Fyfe, Mrs Maria||Morley, Elliott|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Mowlam, Marjorie|
|Galloway, George||Mullin, Chris|
|Garrett, John (Norwich South)||Murphy, Paul|
|Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)||Nellist, Dave|
|Godman, Dr Norman A.||O'Brien, William|
|Gordon, Ms Mildred||O'Neill, Martin|
|Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Grocott, Bruce||Patchett, Terry|
|Haynes, Frank||Pendry, Tom|
|Hinchliffe, David||Pike, Peter|
|Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)||Powell, Ray (Ogmore)|
|Home Robertson, John||Prescott, John|
|Hood, James||Primarolo, Ms Dawn|
|Howarth, George (Knowsley N)||Quin, Ms Joyce|
|Hoyle, Doug||Reid, John|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)||Robertson, George|
|Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)||Rogers, Allan|
|Illsley, Eric||Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)|
|Ingram, Adam||Ross, William (Londonderry E|
|Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)||Rowlands, Ted|
|Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil||Ruddock, Ms Joan|
|Kirkwood, Archy||Salmond, Alex|
|Lambie, David||Short, Clare|
|Lamond, James||Skinner, Dennis|
|Leadbitter, Ted||Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Lewis, Terry||Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)|
|Litherland, Robert||Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)|
|Livingstone, Ken||Snape, Peter|
|Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)||Spearing, Nigel|
|Lofthouse, Geoffrey||Steinberg, Gerald|
|McAllion, John||Stott, Roger|
|McAvoy, Tom||Strang, Gavin|
|McCartney, Ian||Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Macdonald, Calum||Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)|
|McFall, John||Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)|
|McGrady, E. K.||Turner, Dennis|
|McKay, Allen (Penistone)||Wall, Pat|
|McKelvey, William||Wallace, James|
|McLeish, Henry||Wareing, Robert N.|
|McNamara, Kevin||Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)|
|McTaggart, Bob||Wilson, Brian|
|McWilliam, John||Winnick, David|
|Mahon, Mrs Alice||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Mallon, Seamus||Worthington, Anthony|
|Marek, Dr John||Wray, James|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Young, David (Bolton SE)|
|Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)|
|Martin, Michael (Springburn)||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Martlew, Eric||Mr. Allen Adams and|
|Maxton, John||Mr. Nigel Griffiths.|