Previous Section Home Page

Column 1022

resources between consumption and investment, interest rate policy, fiscal policy, oil policy, and depletion of oil policy.

Rumour has it that the hon. Member for Garscadden recently went abroad for the first time in 10 years and discovered the Bavarian solution, which is a bureau of information lobby, once again inside Brussels. In reality, the Labour party envisages a subservient role for Scotland within the United Kingdom. That becomes most evident in its defence policy. It is no wonder that the hon. Member for Garscadden did not want to refer to the part of our motion dealing with the question of Trident.

Scotland on Sunday on 12 March stated :

"Labour's defence review, due to be published in May, has run into trouble with the party in Scotland, which pledged unswerving support yesterday for unilateral disarmament.

With Shadow defence spokesman Mr. Martin O'Neill listening, a succession of delegates demanded retention of unilateralism in the crucial review document which is expected to move the party into a flexible position on nucleardefence

In a clear warning to the leadership not to change course, the Inverness conference voted overwhelmingly to maintain the present defence policy. The unequivocal position backed by the Scottish Executive leaves leader Mr. Neil Kinnock and Mr. O'Neill in no doubt that a softening on unilateralism will be resisted in Scotland." That was the decision of the Labour party's Scottish conference in March, but we still await the resistance in Scotland. When it comes to a division of policy within the Unionist context set by the Labour party, there is no question who is the boss--he who lies south of the border.

We were told by the Labour party that it would entrench a Scottish Assembly and that once it was established there would be no possibility of this Parliament overturning it. We have seen the spectacle of Labour Members of Parliament going to the Scottish Constitutional Convention and signing documents stating that they supported Scottish sovereignty. That is very strange because on 19 June, when dealing with an SLD motion on civil liberties and a Bill of Rights, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Darling) attacked the idea of a Bill of Rights and said that the Opposition would not support the motion for two reasons :

"First, the main problem with a Bill of Rights in this country is due to the nature of the British constitution, which is unwritten In England"--

he does not pretend that it is the United Kingdom--

"there is no such system. Instead, this country's fundamental constitutional doctrine is the supremacy of Parliament."--[ Official Report, 19 June 1989 ; vol. 155, c. 90.]

The deputy leader of the Labour party attacked Charter 88 in an article in The Guardian in December 1988. He said :

"The attractions of a written constitution are obvious enough. Entrenched clauses"--

which I thought was Labour party policy on anassembly--

"--which can only be changed by complicated and protracted constitutional amendment--limit the power of government. It is impossible to incorporate those attractions into our system. British democracy is--for better or for worse--based on the absolute sovereignty of parliament."

In other words, what Parliament gives, Parliament can take away. Of course, the Labour party sings a different song north of the border, and says that the Scottish people are sovereign. Down here, when speaking to the bosses in London, it parrots the English constitutional view.

Mr. Darling : Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Column 1023

Mr. Sillars : No, I will not give way. [ Hon. Members :-- "Give way."] Oh, all right then.

Mr. Darling : The hon. Gentleman has criticised an observation of mine about the British constitution and the doctrine of the supremacy of Parliament. I do not understand why he should criticise a statement of fact, whether or not he agrees with it. I note that in "Dod's Companion" he lists that he once studied law. He did not say that he had actually completed the course. I advise him to do so, because he will find that that is exactly what the British constitution states, whether or not he likes it. He cannot criticise people who simply set out the facts.

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will now answer the question that his hon. Friend the Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) would not answer : what will the nationalists do if they find that the terms for remaining in- -or for entering--Europe are unacceptable? Is he advocating independence for Scotland alone with Greenland?

Mr. Sillars : The hon. Gentleman wishes to divert attention from the fact that the Labour party signed a declaration of sovereignty at the Scottish Constitutional Convention. I have read the policy review. It is reasonable for the Labour party to say that it will alter the British constitution, but it is not reasonable for it to say to the Scots, "We will alter it for you," but then come to Westminster and say that it cannot be altered and repeat time and again that the sovereignty of this Parliament is a constitutional fact of life. They cannot endlessly repeat that the sovereignty of this Parliament is a constitutional fact of life. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central cannot get out of that.

Mr. Harry Ewing rose --

Mr. Sillars : I am sorry, but I am not prepared to allow the hon. Gentleman to intervene. The hon. Gentleman was always a good trade union leader, but he never had to negotiate with me.

There is a problem in delivering the Labour party's variant of Unionism, because it is fundamentally a Unionist party. It accepts the sovereignty of Parliament. It may tell the Scottish people, "We have conceived the idea of a Scottish Assembly, which we believe has great merit. We believe that it is essential for the Scottish people, but unless we can carry the vote south of the border we cannot guarantee to deliver it." That is the Labour party's position as a Unionist party. It made the same argument in respect of Trident, saying, "We do not want it, but if the Government say we must accept it, we must."

Mr. Ewing rose--

Mr. Sillars : No, I shall not give way, but I am reminded that the hon. Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing), who claims to be an old friend of mine, made the public statement that, come what may, there will be a Scottish Assembly after the next general election. When I wrote a nice letter asking what he meant by that, he replied that he would tell lots of people but would not tell me. On the basis of that old friendship, I shall not give way to the hon. Gentleman. Mr. Ewing rose--

Mr. Sillars : No. I am reaching the end of my speech.

Column 1024

Tonight, we have heard a defence of the Union from Conservative and Labour Members.

Mr. David Lambie (Cunninghame, South) : The hon. Gentleman did not serve in this House for 13 years.

Mr. Sillars : The hon. Member for Cunninghame, South (Mr. Lambie) has not spoken in this House for 13 years.

What is so good about that Union? Is it a paradise that we are supposed to be defending? A report entitled "The State of the Nation" claims that in Scotland homelessness has doubled, annual housebuilding has dropped from 9,000 new starts to 4,000, NHS beds have been cut by 3,000, while the waiting lists stand at 77,000, unemployment is up by 85 per cent., manufacturing jobs have been cut by one third, and 18,000 teenagers have lost income support because of social security changes.

The report also claims that the number of Scottish families that have had their gas cut off for being unable to pay their bills has risen by 20 per cent. Wages too have suffered. In 1979 Scottish workers were paid on average £7.30 a week less than those in the south-east of England. It has since risen to £39.50 a week. That is what the Labour party says in its document, "The State of the Nation". That is what the Labour party in Scotland has been defending.

The epitaph of the Labour party in Scotland came through very clearly in the debate. At the end of the day, when Labour is boiled down to its Unionist essence, it would rather have a Tory Government elected in England governing Scotland than an independent Scottish Labour Government in an independent Scotland. That is Labour's epitaph.

6.53 pm

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Mr. Ian Lang) : I must confess that I thought the debate would be somewhat pointless, based as it was on the fraudulent and meaningless slogan of independence in Europe-- which is almost as meaningless as talking about divorce within marriage. However, the debate turned out to be worth while because it succeeded in extracting one substantive fact from the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sillars)--that his view is that after Scotland's separation from the rest of the United Kingdom, and after that curious sleight of hand whereby Scotland will somehow find itself to have become a fully fledged member of the European Community, the power of taxation over the people of Scotland should be in the hands of a European Parliament. Regardless of the Council of Ministers and of the view of a Scottish Parliament, the hon. Member for Govan seeks to impose the power of taxation on Scotland not from Westminster but from Strasbourg, giving it a greater power over Scotland than Westminster would have. The power to tax is one of the most important there is and clearly the slogan "subservience in Europe" is more appropriate than "independence in Europe" on that basis.

I am happy to talk about Scotland in Europe because I welcome comparisons between it and other European countries. Since 1980, Scotland has enjoyed faster growth than any other country in Europe. The Fraser of Allander Institute forecasts that the Scottish economy will grow faster than that of the United Kingdom in the next year. Its manufacturing productivity has grown in the current decade faster not only than in Europe but in the United

Column 1025

States and Japan. Our exports grew again last year, to 50 per cent. of the total compared with 25 per cent. since we first joined the Community.

Scotland's manufacturing exports are higher per head not only than those of other countries in Europe but of Germany and Japan. Scotland enjoys lower unemployment than France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Spain and Ireland, and it is falling faster. Scotland is playing a full part in Europe and is well able to stand comparison.

Scotland is also benefiting enormously from Europe. Although there is a 35 per cent. work force restriction on assisted areas under the rules of the European Community, in Scotland 65 per cent. of the working population are accounted for in development areas. More than one quarter of all European aid to the United Kingdom comes to Scotland. Over the past decade it has received about £730 million from the European regional development fund, £250 million from the social fund, £1.5 billion in loans from the European investment bank and from the European Coal and Steel Community.

More than £3 billion has been invested in infrastructure and in industrial regeneration. Under a succession of initiatives in recent years, special help has been given through the Glasgow programme to Tayside, West Lothian and the Western Isles, and through the agricultural development programme to the other islands. More recently, the £12 million RENAVAL programme has been established for the shipbuilding areas of the Clyde, and another £73 million is being provided for an integrated operation in the Highlands and Islands. That is the biggest operation of its kind ever in Scotland or in Europe.

Under the Strathclyde programme, £1 billion of European money, United Kingdom taxpayers' money and private sector money will be brought together in a carefully targeted and integrated programme to help the Strathclyde economy through training, infrastructure, technology, innovation, and its environment. All that has been achieved through the activities of the Scottish Office with the assistance of the United Kingdom's negotiating power in Brussels. Scottish National party Members are always keen to compare Scotland with other small countries in Europe, but if they look to Denmark, they will see that Scotland has received six times as much from the European regional development fund since it was founded than has Denmark. We are preparing for the next major European event, with the arrival of the single European market in 1992. Scotland will benefit from that also as it's companies prepare for Europe. In 1979, only one thing was binding the European Community together--our money and a lot of red tape.

The British Government have helped to develop the Single European Act, deregulate Europe and open up new opportunities for Scotland, as for the rest of the United Kingdom. Just as the single British Act of 1707 benefited Scotland, so too will the Single European Act. The SNP's single Scottish Act would change all that, and overnight Scotland would become a small, irrelevant country left out in the cold. When Scotland came to seek admission to the European Community, the resounding answer from the other member states would be "Nein", "Non", "Nunta", "Niemals", and "No di certo".

Column 1026

Interdependence is the key to the future of Scotland and of Europe--not independence, but the coming together of nations that our Conservative Government have persistently espoused and helped to develop. Scottish independence in Europe is a fraudulent conception. The Scottish National party is not internationalist but the party of little Scotlanders. Scottish nationalists are not free marketeers but Socialists. For years they fought tooth and nail against membership of the European Community, and now they are enjoying a death-bed conversion that carries no conviction. I urge the House to throw out the motion.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question :--

The House divided : Ayes 5, Noes 297.

Division No. 266] [6.59 pm


Jones, Ieuan (Ynys Mo n)

Salmond, Alex

Sillars, Jim

Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis

Wigley, Dafydd

rs Tellers for the Ayes :

Mr. Andrew Welsh and

Mrs. Margaret Ewing.


Abbott, Ms Diane

Adams, Allen (Paisley N)

Alton, David

Amess, David

Amos, Alan

Arbuthnot, James

Armstrong, Hilary

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)

Ashby, David

Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy

Atkins, Robert

Atkinson, David

Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)

Baldry, Tony

Batiste, Spencer

Battle, John

Beaumont-Dark, Anthony

Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)

Benyon, W.

Bermingham, Gerald

Bevan, David Gilroy

Blackburn, Dr John G.

Boscawen, Hon Robert

Bottomley, Peter

Bottomley, Mrs Virginia

Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)

Bowis, John

Boyes, Roland

Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard

Brazier, Julian

Bright, Graham

Brooke, Rt Hon Peter

Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)

Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)

Browne, John (Winchester)

Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)

Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)

Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick

Buck, Sir Antony

Budgen, Nicholas

Burns, Simon

Burt, Alistair

Butler, Chris

Butterfill, John

Callaghan, Jim

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carrington, Matthew

Cash, William

Channon, Rt Hon Paul

Chapman, Sydney

Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)

Clark, Dr David (S Shields)

Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)

Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)

Clwyd, Mrs Ann

Cohen, Harry

Colvin, Michael

Cook, Frank (Stockton N)

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)

Coombs, Simon (Swindon)

Cope, Rt Hon John

Cormack, Patrick

Cox, Tom

Cran, James

Currie, Mrs Edwina

Darling, Alistair

Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)

Davis, David (Boothferry)

Day, Stephen

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Doran, Frank

Dorrell, Stephen

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Dover, Den

Duffy, A. E. P.

Dunnachie, Jimmy

Durant, Tony

Dykes, Hugh

Eadie, Alexander

Eastham, Ken

Emery, Sir Peter

Evennett, David

Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)

Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas

Fallon, Michael

Fatchett, Derek

Favell, Tony

Fenner, Dame Peggy

Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)

Fishburn, John Dudley

Flannery, Martin

Fookes, Dame Janet

Forman, Nigel

Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)

Forth, Eric

Foster, Derek

Fowler, Rt Hon Norman

Franks, Cecil

French, Douglas

Fry, Peter

Fyfe, Maria

Next Section

  Home Page