Column 257As the Committee has gone on, it has become obvious that the Government's Back Benchers have become more and more irritated by debates on what the Bill would mean for Scottish schools and that they have finally let their Minister know in no uncertain terms that they want out of the Committee and back to their own obsessions. If any hon. Member doubts the influence of Conservative Back Benchers over their Ministers, I refer them to the revolt that took place in Committee when Conservative Members defeated what the Minister intended to achieve. The Chairman had to suspend the Committee for five minutes to allow the Minister to try to quell his Back Bench rebellion so that he could try to restore some order to the Committee.
It is also true that the Minister now wants out of the Committee, so that he can go to the Tory party conference in Perth on 10 May and announce what he will call the great parliamentary success of getting the Bill through Committee. We have this guillotine motion for no other reason than that the hon. Member for Stirling wants to trot along to Perth to boast to the ladies with blue rinses and flowery hats about his great prowess in Parliament.
Mr. Allan Stewart : On a fairly simple point, surely the hon. Gentleman has read the terms of the guillotine motion? It is absolutely clear even at a cursory glance that the Committee will sit well after 10 May.
Mr. McAllion : I have read it, but the Minister has already given the game away. He will claim at Perth on 10 May that the most contentious part of the Bill has already completed its Committee stage because clauses 1 to 47 are now through. The Minister has already made that claim in Committee, and I have no doubt that he will make exactly the same claim when he speaks to the Tory ladies in Perth.
The House should not give in to the yowling of Conservative Members who are the equivalent of Parliamentary yobs. This House owes it to the people of Scotland to act responsibly on this motion. Although I have many disagreements with Mr. Paul Scott, who recently became the rector of Dundee university--he is a member of the Scottish National party--I agree with some of the analyses in his rectorial address about the nature of the Government and the kinds of measure that we are now dealing with. He said :
"They would like to confine our schools and universities, except for a privileged minority who can pay for something better, to the subjects which seem to have a direct commercial utility. They call this enterprise culture'. There is another, more traditional and more appropriate name ; it is barbarism."
Mr. Scott is absolutely right to describe what the Government are trying to do to Scottish education as "barbarism". He continued : "It is now impossible to talk about education without talking in political terms. Like everything else, education is under political attack and can only be defended by political means."
The Government, and the Minister in particular, are responsible for reducing Scottish education to that sorry state.
Those Conservative Members who still represent Scotland will have to pay the political price for the way in which they are legislating on education for Scotland. They will pay the same price in 1991 that their ex-hon. Friends paid in 1987 over the poll tax. While no one in Scotland
Column 258looks forward to the Bill's enactment, everyone in Scotland is looking forward to 1991, to a Tory-free Scotland and to a Labour Government delivering a Scottish Parliament that will decide for the Scots how Scottish education should be run.
Several Hon. Members rose --
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker) : At least 10 hon. Members seem to be trying to catch my eye, and as the debate must conclude at 10 minutes to 11 o'clock, unless hon. Members exercise some restraint, I am afraid that some will be disappointed. I call Mr. Bill Walker. 8.55 pm
Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North) : I rise with some sadness because one entered the Committee on the understanding that the Labour party had staffed it with some of its brighter, more intelligent and more articulate Members. I do not argue that they are brighter or that they are more articulate. They are certainly politicians who, given a fair wind, could go a long way because they have the qualities that should and could have produced the kind of debate in Committee that would have been testing and trying for the Government. However, like my hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) in the 10 years that I have been a Member of the House, I have never witnessed such a collection of talented individuals so badly managed, and so badly led. From one hour to the next they did not appear to have any tactic that made sense, other than initially to ensure that their business was in keeping with what the press would require.
Mr. McAllion rose --
Mr. Walker : I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman in a minute because I do not want to end my sad speech without first saying clearly that I believe that if the Labour party had had one old hand on the Committee he would have made sure that the Committee conducted itself in a way that made the maximum use of the time available.
Mr. McAllion : I am surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman say that he thought the performance of the Labour Opposition on the Committee was so poor because his right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has told me that this was the best Committee on which he has served because of the high standard of debate from both sides. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is out of step with his right hon. and learned Friend.
Mr. Walker : I do not withdraw anything that I have said. Anyone who wants to read the reports of the conduct of our Committee will discover that an astonishing new strategy--I am not sure what to call it--was adopted by the Opposition. It certainly was a novel approach. The Opposition tabled amendments in order to speak and vote against them. That is novel and I have never read of such an approach being adopted in the history of Parliament. I have never come across it in the 10 years in which I have served on Committees.
Column 259If the hon. Gentleman made any attempt to understand what goes on in this place he would know that aids are issued on the Committee corridor for those who have difficulty hearing because of background noise, or whatever. I made use of that equipment and tonight the hon. Gentleman has again shown how he constantly jumps in without researching to discover the evidence.
Mr. Leigh : I hope that the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) will withdraw his unnecessary remark. Before my hon. Friend develops his speech, will he deal with a constitutional point which was raised at length by the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) who refused to give way? If he had given way I would have reminded him not only of his tactics in Committee and when he voted on entirely English legislation, but of when the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) moved the famous five guillotine motions in one day. He got them through the House only because of the preponderance of Scottish Members. The constitutional argument advanced by the hon. Member for Dundee, East is entirely false.
I believe that some members of the Opposition support the unitary Parliament. Certainly my remarks do not reflect in any way on the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar). His stance on the Union and the unitary Parliament shows that he should not be criticised. Some of his hon. Friends, however, appear to support the unitary Parliament when it suits them and on other occasions to make an issue about whether something has a mandate.
Mr. William McKelvey (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) rose--
Mr. Foulkes rose--
The argument advanced by the hon. Member for Dundee, East is amusing. His argument is a bit like the conduct of the Committee--it was so unprofessional as to be amusing. At great length, the hon. Member for Dundee, East spoke about mandates and drew attention to the fact that English Members were serving on the Committee. However, every time there was a Division in Committee Room 9--dealing with English legislation--he disappeared. He was properly carrying out his duties and I do not argue with that. On many occasions I have had to serve on two Committees--on too many occasions--but the hon. Member for Dundee, East cannot deny that he voted on purely English matters when he had not heard the debate. That was in order and was proper, but I do not believe that it was consistent to come back to our Committee Room to argue that it was somehow wrong for Conservative Members to vote on Scottish legislation, especially as he had voted on English legislation.
Mr. McAllion rose--
Mr. Walker : I shall give way in a moment. The hon. Gentleman is too impetuous, probably because he is so vulnerable about this. It is also important to remember that, in the past, the Labour party has made substantial changes that affect Scotland, England and Wales, on a majority of one. It did not have anything remotely like a majority in England.
Mr. McAllion : Perhaps I can explain the way in which I square the fact that I voted on English legislation with my claim that the House should recognise the desire of the Scottish people for an assembly. I do not control the nature of the United Kingdom Parliament. The Government control that and they can introduce legislation to reform it. As long as I am a member of the unitary Parliament I shall vote on all the legislation that comes through Parliament. The overwhelming majority of the Scottish people have said that they want their own Scottish Parliament. If the Government were democratic they would give them that Parliament and it would decide its own education policies. The Government have refused to listen to the Scottish people, and I continue to draw attention to that fact.
Mr. Walker : I am sure that the hon. Gentleman has been in this place long enough to know that if he talks to the usual channels, to his Whips, and tells them that, on a matter of principle, he does not want to serve on a particular Bill where he may be required to vote in Divisions having not heard the argument, I am sure that they would ensure--
Mr. Walker : The hon. Gentleman was not present in the Committee considering the English legislation. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. I am prepared to support people who argue on matters of principle. I have always believed that one should give credit where credit is due. That is why I wanted to make it clear that the hon. Member for Garscadden is consistent. He may have difficulties with some of his hon. Friends, but I believe one day he wants to sit on the Treasury Bench. That is not an ambition of which one should be critical. It is a fine ambition. The hon. Gentleman wants to sit on the Treasury Bench in a unitary Parliament, as do many other Labour Front Bench spokesmen from Scotland. They cannot argue against us using Members from other constituencies, as we do properly, to serve on our Committees.
Mr. McKelvey : The hon. Gentleman is not consistent. I thought that I heard him say earlier that he was elected as an individual, that he had made it clear that he wanted schools in Tayside, North to have the opportunity to opt out, and that that gave him grounds to argue legitimately for his point of view. I have sympathy with that point of view. If the people of Tayside, North, want to do a UDI on opting out, it is an argument that he can defend. At the same time a majority of Labour Members were returned in Scotland and it was not in the Conservative manifesto at any time that Scottish schools could opt out ; indeed, when the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) asked the Tory office that very question, he was assured that opting out would not be an option for Scotland. The hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) cannot have it all ways.
Mr. Walker : The hon. Gentleman has picked on the wrong Member. He should know from my record here that the Front Bench and the Whips know that they cannot dragoon the hon. Member for Tayside, North to act in a way that he believes wrong. My record in the House bears that out. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to have that kind of debate, he should pick on someone else.
Column 261Another reason why we need the guillotine motion is the saga of clause 28 on which Labour Members kept talking. They would not have done that if they had been managed properly. Sadly for the Labour party, Strathclyde regional council made a decision that was contrary to the high-flown and long speeches that we had been listening to from Labour Members. It is all on the record. Hon. Members were criticising not just the Bill but the legislation that established the school boards. Then Strathclyde regional council came out with something that went further. The Labour Members could not give an answer, so to save face they kept talking for hours while they waited for the channels, whatever they are, to give them a briefing. At intervals of 15 to 20 minutes we asked them for their view. As we know, about 10 minutes before the Committee was due to rise, the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish) was able to make a statement. However, that was some hours after he had been asked the original question about the position of Strathclyde. That showed clearly the problems that Labour Members were facing.
If there is one reason why the motion should be accepted and proceedings on the Bill should be guillotined, it is the example that we had this afternoon of how the business of the House can be held up. Let me treat the House to an extract from a discussion that took place on Radio Scotland. It tells us a lot. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Dundee, East is not in the Chamber. This is what he said about the Bill that we are discussing :
"What I would argue is that when it comes back for its Report stage, which is an open-ended stage in Parliament, we make every effort to ensure that that debate goes on for as long as it takes and if that means going through the night and into the next day and disrupting the next day's business, then we do that".
Opposition Members have been condemned by the voice of the hon. Member for Dundee, East telling the whole of Scotland why we require a guillotine.
If the hon. Member for Garscadden had been able to discipline his troops properly, perhaps it would not have been Labour Members who kept the debate going all night. The example we have seen this afternoon shows clearly that the other Opposition parties are prepared to do that. That, more than anything, is why we need the motion to succeed this evening.
I shall bring my remarks to a conclusion because I understand that a number of hon. Members wish to speak. I could speak for much longer--
Mr. Foulkes rose --
Mr. Walker : I shall not give way because I have given way a number of times and many Opposition Members, quite properly, want to speak. I have given way to the hon. Gentleman a number of times. I also found interesting during the debate the many press releases that were put out by the Opposition. They will live to regret doing so in the years ahead. I found it interesting that the hon. Member for Garscadden, for whom I have much respect--
Mr. Walker rose--
Mr. Foulkes : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for the hon. Gentleman continually to praise my hon. Friend the Member for Garscadden? It will do my hon. Friend unending harm at home in his constituency.
Mr. Walker : I do not doubt the integrity of the hon. Member for Garscadden. I do not agree with his policies or what he is trying to achieve within the Labour party, Scotland and the United Kingdom. However, I do not deny his right to do that if he wishes and I do not want anyone to think that I doubt his integrity, because I do not. I find it sad and disappointing that the only case that the hon. Member for Garscadden can make against the Government is to say that the Tory Benches have been packed with an unpleasant collection of Right-wing, hard-line extremists. If that is a description of me, the hon. Gentleman will know that it will probably increase my majority in Tayside, North. It will not damage it, because my constituents do not like extreme language such as we have heard, not from the hon. Member for Garscadden, but certainly from the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sillars)--who has debased parliamentary activity and has described hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Garscadden, in a way that damages the standing of hon. Members and will not do his party any good.
I invite the hon. Member for Govan to come to Tayside, North every week and make speeches such as the one he has delivered about the hon. Member for Garscadden. He presents an extremist view. I have never done so, although I never deny my views. I never attack hon. Members in such a personal and hideous way. It is time that we got down to the serious business of debating the issues, instead of launching personal attacks against individuals.
Mrs. Ray Michie (Argyll and Bute) : I have found this an interesting debate. Although I read the Committee debates in the Official Report , it was helpful to hear, through the oral evidence tonight, exactly what went on in Committee.
I shall touch on two main points : the use of the guillotine, and the important clauses and amendments, the discussion of which will be either severely curtailed or prevented altogether. I understand that in a debate on a guillotine the Minister often prefaces his remarks with the words, "I move this motion to curtail debate on a Bill which fully honours our election commitment." The Minister has been unable to do that today because the Bill will bring about a fundamental change in the Scottish education system, of which there was no hint in the election manifesto and no word during the General Election. Quite the contrary : we were assured that Scotland would not choose the opting-out route.
We are bebating the allocation of time for a Bill that should not be discussed here at all, either in Committee or on the Floor of the House. It is a matter for deliberation by Scots for Scots in Scotland ; it is the business of no one else. Tragically, however, as an article in The Scotsman yesterday pointed out,
"The Scots have their own education system but have no way of deciding what happens to it."
As for the purely mechanical question of procedure, of course I understand that all Governments use the
Column 263guillotine. It is, however, a crude and inept weapon, which I believe should be scapped as part of the general reforms in the House that many of us would like--including an end to the ridiculous all-night sittings.
It is my belief and that of my party that agreement should be reached at the beginning of a Bill on the allocation of time. How much better it would be if we dealt with such matters in a more structured and sensible manner, with proper timetabling that would ensure adequate scrutiny of all parts of a Bill. Instead, we are being asked halfway through to shorten consideration of a Bill that is highly contentious and is being pushed through against the wishes of the Scottish people and the majority of their elected representatives. So much for democracy.
As I recall, a guillotine motion was introduced for the poll tax Bill, and shortly thereafter the Tories lost 11 seats in Scotland. Perhaps this debate heralds the loss of the last 10.
How can a Bill with such potentially far-reaching implications for Scotland's education system be given the necessary scrutiny and elucidation when it is being handled by a Committee with English Conservative Members, and steamrollered by a Government with minimal sensitivity to Scotland's education needs? Some clauses have not yet been covered, and are now in danger of not being covered properly. I believe that the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) mentioned the clause dealing with college councils and the balance of their membership. If there is a guillotine, what guarantee is there that a proper discussion can be held about the composition of such councils? It is extremely important for representatives of college management, staff and students to be accorded proper status on them. They should surely be given more than the derisory influence provided by clause 48--
"not more than one fifth".
of the membership. We should also have a chance to discuss the merits of giving "not less than half" the number of representatives to employer organisations : while the needs and interests of local employers should be reflected, colleges must also have wider goals in order best to serve their students and the areas in which they are located.
Let me touch briefly on a matter that has caused deep affront to the Scottish people--the chairing of university courts as dealt with in schedule 10. Time must be given for us to discuss such a major change as the proposed abolition of the right of university rectors to chair meetings of the courts, which represents an attempt to undermine a long-standing constitutional tradition--dating, I believe, from 1889--and erodes the rights of students and staff in the governing of the universities. That is symptomatic of a wider assault on students' rights--the poll tax and grant cuts--and of a general indifference to Scotland's unique education system which has caused deep offence in Scotland.
Knowing the Government's ideology, I can understand that they are quite happy to push through legislation which was not contained in the Conservative party manifesto and to do so without the consent of the people for whom they are legislating. I am puzzled by the fact that Scottish Office Ministers are prepared to collude, as the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) has already said, in this. I believe that that demonstrates a misunderstanding of the values and beliefs of the Scottish people which I find quite staggering.
Column 264Why are Scottish Office Ministers behaving like this? What motivates a Scottish Office Minister? The most curious and intriguing of the Scottish Office Ministers is the Minister responsible for education. If one knew him other than as a Minister on the other side of the Dispatch Box, it might be easier to understand what makes him tick. What are his roots? Does he know Scotland and its people? Does he have a sense of history? Is Scotland important to him? It would be nice to hear from the Minister later. Perhaps he can answer my questions then. I do not know anything about him and would like to hear what he really believes.
I believe that a London Government--any London Government--are Scotland's gaolers. Until we can throw off their stranglehold and are allowed to look after our home and domestic affairs through our own Scottish Parliament, we will continue to be subjected to Bills like the Self-Governing Schools etc. (Scotland) Bill which are alien to our instincts and aspirations.
Mr. Michael Brown (Brigg and Cleethorpes) : This guillotine motion is very important for the Labour party. It is necessary to put Labour Members out of their misery. I was looking forward very much to serving on the very important Standing Committee on the Self-Governing Schools etc. (Scotland) Bill and I was grateful to the Committee of Selection when it nominated me to serve on that Committee.
I was looking forward to sharing a number of hours with the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish). I did not know him very well, but I had met him socially before. As I explained to the Standing Committee, the hon. Gentleman and his delightful wife and I shared a weekend together at the Gleneagles hotel last year. I was looking forward very much to listening to him in his political context as the shadow spokesman leading for the Opposition on this Bill. I was very sorry that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) was not a member of the Committee. I was delighted to see that the Government took the Bill so seriously that, in addition to the Minister responsible for education at the Scottish Office, the Secretary of State, the Minister of State and the full Scottish Office team turned out. The Opposition considered the Bill to be so important that they did not even include the main shadow spokesman for Scottish affairs on the Committee. Indeed, the only Opposition Members from Scotland on the Committee were Members who were elected to the House in 1987. They are delightful characters and they made interesting if very lengthy speeches. However, the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) publicly admitted to the House earlier that the Opposition had fielded a weak team-- they may have been generous and gentle--of new hon. Members who were at sixes and sevens.
I am reminded of the famous press release to which my hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) drew attention in Committee. That press release was issued by the Labour party to The Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald , stating that Labour Members would debate a certain clause at a certain time in Committee. At the bottom of that press release was the special code "6/7"--which makes it clear that the Opposition were at sixes and sevens. They were tabling amendments one day and
Column 265withdrawing them the next. When I tabled those selfsame amendments because I was convinced of their excellence, Labour Members voted against them.
A couple of weeks ago, the Opposition tabled a very interesting amendment. I went along and signed that amendment so that the Opposition could not withdraw it.
Mr. Brown : The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) should tell those of his hon. Friends who represented his interests on the Committee that they should grow up. They need to learn that when they table amendments, those amendments are not their property but the property of the Committee. If I am so inspired by those interesting amendments that I support them, Opposition Members must think that through. They table amendments to which they speak at great length and then withdraw them--and then do not like it because I want to vote for their amendments.
There were occasions on which my hon. Friend the Minister responsible for Scottish education matters was prepared to accept some amendments. However, the Opposition glibly concluded the debate by saying that those amendments were a mistake. Whenever we go into a Standing Committee in future, perhaps we may have a note against every single Opposition amendment saying, "This is a serious amendment," or, "We hope and pray that the Government do not accept this amendment," or, "We pray that the Minister will not accept the amendment."
Mr. Foulkes : I have sat through the debate as a Scottish Member to make some assessments. The hon. Gentleman comments on the capacities and abilities of certain of my right hon. and hon. Friends. However, I make the judgment that my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) speaks with more wisdom, intelligence and ability after only two years in the House than the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes--who is treating the debate in a facile and facetious manner, like a little schoolgirl instead of as an hon. Member of the House.
Mr. Brown : Is it facetious when my hon. Friends take Standing Committee debates seriously, consider all the Opposition amendments, and decide to support them and to persuade my hon. Friend the Minister to accept them? Is it facile when those of my hon. Friends serving on the Committee support amendments that have been tabled by the Opposition? Is it facile of me to put my name to Opposition amendments? If so, they must be very facile amendments.
The best thing that the House can do is to put the Opposition Members who sat on that Committee out of their misery. They, more than anybody else, need the guillotine. If anyone has brought the proceedings of that Standing Committee into disrepute in the eyes of the Scottish people it is those hon. Members.
Column 266English Members who were nominated to serve on the Committee were well aware of the possibility that their membership would be criticised. Scottish Opposition Members even went to the extent of issuing a press release before the Committee even sat for the first time, saying how disgraceful it was that English Members had been put on the Scottish Standing Committee considering the Bill. They expected us to sit there and get on with our constituency correspondence. They expected, they hoped, and when the Committee got going they prayed, that we would sit there silently. But we did not. We spoke in nearly every debate on nearly every group of amendments on nearly every clause stand part debate.
The other day we had an interesting clause stand part debate. The hon. Member for Dundee, East spoke at very great length on clause 29. He said how important it was that the clause be amended. He spoke for hours on how important it was not to pass clause 29 because it needed amendments. I then discovered that not a single amendment to clause 29 had been tabled by any Opposition Member. Only one amendment had been tabled and that was in the name of my hon. Friend the Minister.
You are getting the picture, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will have noticed that my hon. Friends were being pilloried by the hon. Member for Garscadden as being the most objectionable and thoroughly obscene Members of the House. You know me better than that, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You know that I and my hon. Friends take our duties seriously.
Sir Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross) : Before my hon. Friend gets too excited, will he do the House a service? The hon. Lady, the Member for Argyll and Bute (Mrs. Michie) said that the Minister knew nothing about the history of Scotland. Will my hon. Friend be good enough to ask her on my behalf if she can explain why Scotland Yard is so called?
Mr. Brown : I might be straining your patience, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I followed my hon. and learned Friend down that road. If he catches your eye I am sure that he will invite the hon. Lady to intervene on his speech.
My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) piloted the excellent Bill through the Standing Committee so well. I know my hon. Friend the Minister very well. I have had the pleasure of knowing him and his political philosophy for many years. Ten years ago today, his wife became my constituency secretary, and for four years I got to know her and my hon. Friend very well. He is a conviction politician who has been a moderate, meek and mild Minister throughout the Standing Committee. He has accepted amendments when he has been convinced of their arguments, so much so that sometimes he was in the extraordinary position of recommending an Opposition amendment, wanting us to vote for that amendment and then finding that the Opposition had withdrawn it.
We had many debates that went on for hours because the Opposition were frightened, having issued those ridiculous press releases well in advance and discovered that all the amendments to which they planned to speak were wholly out of order or did not mean what they had meant them to mean. They then had to speak and filibuster against themselves and against their own amendments. They had to filibuster through the night to make sure that
Column 267reporters from the Glasgow Herald and The Scotsman were not in the press gallery when those embarrassing debates were to occur. I know that Labour Members, more than any other hon. Members on the Standing Committee, need the guillotine. From the report I read in The Scotsman I understand that there was an opportunity for the Bill to pass to the Floor of the House on Third Reading and Report without the need for a guillotine. I read in The Scotsman that something like 60 hours had been offered to the Opposition. I do not know whether that is true, but if it is, it was plainly rejected because the Opposition do not want any more debate on the Bill. I certainly understand why.
The guillotine would be doing the Opposition spokesman for Scotland, the hon. Member for Garscadden, who seems to have left the Chamber, a great favour. If the Labour party needs any guidance from English Members looking from the outside at the future of the Labour party, if they ever have a Bill that affects only Scotland they should make sure that one or two Opposition Members on the Committee have been in the House for a little while. Conservative Members will not be treated with contempt. We will not be told that we cannot vote for an amendment or that we are being puerile or facile because we take seriously amendments tabled by the Opposition.
The hon. Member for Dundee, East was running in and out of the Committee all the time. The policeman would shout--this will be the epitaph of the Committee--outside our door, "Division in Room 9." Often the hon. Gentleman would be in the middle of his speech, and we would have to make points of order so that he could nip off and vote. The hon. Member for Garscadden laughs, but he should have been on the Committee and seen the shambles and nonsense being perpetrated by those representing his interests. They did him a grave disservice.
Mr. McAllion : Will the hon. Gentleman withdraw the allegation that he had to make a point of order to allow me to vote in Room 9? That never once happened, and if the hon. Member is an honourable Member he will withdraw that allegation.
Mr. Brown : I made a point of order drawing the attention of the Chairman of the Committee to the fact that there was a Division in Room 9 and that the hon. Gentleman was on his feet. I suggested to the Chairman that we might suspend the Committee. The hon. Gentleman seemed quite prepared to nip down the corridor and vote on solely English legislation without having heard a single word of the debate.
Mr. Bill Walker : Does my hon. Friend recollect that on one occasion the Committee had to wait a considerable time for the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) to return from Committee Room 9--so much so that I raised the matter with Mr. Speaker. I said that I had often served on Committees and wanted the same degree of tolerance.
Mr. Brown : I remember my hon. Friend making that point. The Bill must be guillotined so that we can have orderly debates in the future without Labour Members moving amendments, suddenly realising that they strengthen the Bill and filibustering so that the press cannot cover their
Column 268embarrassments. We should be doing the House, and certainly the Labour party, a great favour by passing the motion.
Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian) : The speech of the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) confirmed everything that we have always known about him and everything that we have always known about the motivation of the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth). The clear link and alliance between the hon. Member for Stirling and the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes confirms everything that my hon. Friends have said about what lies behind this legislation. The only pity is that, because of the antics of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sillars) earlier this afternoon, the Scottish press, about which we have heard much so far, did not hear the contribution that has just been made by one of the English intruders on the Scottish Committee.
Mr. Foulkes : My hon. Friend has been an hon. Member longer than me by a week or two. Will he say what the intervention of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sillars) achieved? It seemed to me to be a total damp squib.
Mr. Home Robertson : I do not know whether it was a damp squib, but the hon. Member for Govan was on an ego trip. It will ensure that he gets much press coverage, which might irritate the hon. Members for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) and for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh), who are seeing through the rest of the work of the day. His contribution means that the debate on the substance of this guillotine motion is being held late at night, so the press will not hear it and it will not be reported in Scotland. I dare say that that was part of his objective.
The Bill is yet another unwanted and unwarranted intrusion into the Scottish education system. Before an hon. Member points it out, I admit that, in common with the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes, I was educated in England. Having endured the English education system, or one aspect of it, I believe that it is doubly important to protect all that is best in the Scottish system.