Orders of the Day — Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:59 pm on 22nd May 1997.

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Photo of Dr Norman Godman Dr Norman Godman Labour, Greenock and Inverclyde 4:59 pm, 22nd May 1997

To the Co-operative bank, as suggested by my Welsh friend.

Mr. Patullo should remember that many clients of the Bank of Scotland voted for constitutional change. I have no doubt that there will be unintended—as well as anticipated—consequences to constitutional reform, but that should not deter us from taking this remarkable reform forward.

On referendums, my position is one of reserve, like that of my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion). I believe that there are occasions when a referendum is appropriate. Let us look at the experience of the Irish Republic, where referendums are part of the constitution. I hope that the new Government there, when the Dail resumes on 7 June, will give serious thought to holding a referendum on certain articles in the constitution, but that is another matter.

Although I had initial doubts about the proposed referendum, I now fervently hope that the overwhelming majority of the people of Scotland will vote yes to both questions. I readily concede that it was not the first issue that was raised on the doorsteps of my new constituency. The issues raised were homelessness, crime on the streets, but there was an acknowledgment everywhere—I held six public meetings during the election campaign—that a Labour Government would usher in a Scottish Parliament. It was widely acknowledged that a Labour Government would honour that promise.