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Mr. Speaker : Order. I repeat to the right hon. Gentleman that I am not taking his point of order in the middle of Question Time.

Social Problems

8. Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next plans to meet representatives of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to discuss strategies to tackle social problems.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : I have had useful meetings with the convention's social work committee to discuss our community care strategy and residential care. I see no reason why this should not continue for many years.

Mr. McMaster : Does the Minister recall that it was his Government which told young Scots to get on their bikes if they had no hopes and no homes? Does he realise that many thousands of young Scots took that advice and came to London, only to find cardboard homes and cardboard hopes? Will he support the campaign launched by Centrepoint today and even at this late stage, after 13 wasted years of Tory rule, take steps urgently to end the housing crisis in Scotland and to give our young people a future there?

Mr. Forsyth : It is this Government who have given young people a guarantee of a place in higher or further education or training. No other Government have done that. On housing, does the hon. Gentleman realise that the Government have spent £1 billion every year since 1989 on housing in Scotland? Is he unaware of the action which my hon. Friend took this very week when he distributed another £7.5 million to local authorities to deal with homelessness? The hon. Gentleman should recognise what the Government have done and he should also recognise that his party is promising nothing in this area.

Mr. Canavan : In view of Scottish local authority support for constitutional change, will the Minister tell us which of the Prime Minister's weekend statements he agrees with--the one on Saturday when he resolutely defended the status quo or the one on Monday morning when he was forced to admit that he would have to take stock of the situation after the general election? Bearing in mind that the majority of people in Scotland want a Scottish Parliament with legislative and economic powers, does the Minister support his Prime Minister in encouraging the people of Scotland to take the zero option by achieving a complete wipe-out of Scottish Tory Members at the next general election, including the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth)?

Mr. Forsyth : If the hon. Gentleman had been certain about the Labour party's prospects in Stirling, he would not have run away to Falkirk when he was the Member of Parliament for part of that area. The Prime Minister's message was clear. The hon. Gentleman has demonstrated

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today that those who wish to preserve the Union with the United Kingdom have only one party to vote for at the general election and that is the Conservative party.

Mr. Worthington : Will the Minister meet the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities urgently to discuss the problem of mounting youth unemployment in Scotland? To use just one example, in Strathclyde there is now a shortfall of 3,700 training places. A total of 3,000 fewer training places have been offered this year than last. How can the Minister claim that the guarantee is being met when there is such a shortfall? When he meets COSLA, will he discuss Scottish Enterprise's training budget? Figures that I have obtained from Scottish Enterprise make it clear that there has been a cut of 15 per cent. overall at a time of mounting youth and adult unemployment. Nearly 20 per cent. has been cut from the training budget. There is mounting long-term unemployment--

Mr. Maclennan : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker : Order. Nothing out of order has occurred.

Mr. Maclennan : The hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) is making a speech.

Mr. Speaker : That is up to me.

Mr. Worthington : In 1988-89 the Government cut the training budget because they said that there was falling unemployment. Why, when there is mounting unemployment, have they cut the training budget for Scottish Enterprise by 15 per cent?

Mr. Forsyth : The hon. Gentleman surely knows that we are spending 2.5 times as much on training as the last Labour Government. That is undeniable. The hon. Gentleman has come to the House and asked about unemployment when he is a member of a party that wishes to put a tax on jobs through its training levy, wishes to destroy employment by introducing a minimum wage and, worst of all, wishes to make Scotland the highest taxed part of the United Kingdom with its proposal for an assembly. Those policies would destroy jobs. The hon. Gentleman knows that and it is why he does not want to hear the facts.

Scotland in Europe

9. Mrs. Ray Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met representatives of the European Commission to discuss Scotland's role in Europe.

Mr. Lang : I met President Delors and Commissioners Millan and Brittan in Brussels in March 1991 and Commissioners MacSharry and Andriessen in Strasbourg in July 1991 to discuss issues of relevance to Scotland.

Mrs. Michie : Does the Secretary of State agree that one of the most important issues facing Scotland today is the future of the fishing industry? Will he give an undertaking to the House today that he will lead the United Kingdom delegation in the forthcoming talks on the common fisheries policy so that he can be actively involved in securing EC money for a decommissioning scheme? He must agree that fishing is a top priority. If he will not do that, it is yet another reason for us to have a Scottish Parliament to look after our own affairs.

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Mr. Lang : I take a great and close interest in fishing matters and the Scottish Office has been represented at no fewer than 17 Councils of fishing and agriculture Ministers over the past three years. I believe that our changed proposals for the tying-up arrangements have been widely welcomed by the fishing industry. If a Scottish Parliament were set up in Edinburgh and took control of fisheries matters, Scotland's voice at the centre, where it matters, would be substantially diminished because responsibility would continue to reside with the United Kingdom Parliament.

Mr. Wray : Can the Secretary of State for Scotland explain to the House what would happen if Scotland were to renegotiate the terms? Would not it find itself in the same position as Greenland, which had to get permission from the Danish Parliament to clear the road? It would have to be accepted by the European Parliament. Bureaucrats in Brussels are getting ready to jackboot smaller countries by asking them to enter into a troika agreement to takeover the presidency.

Mr. Lang : Constitutional change of the kind envisaged by the Scottish National party or by the Labour party or the Liberal Democrats would undermine Scotland's access to the Commission and the European Community and our ability to represent our case there. The best prospect that Scotland has in Europe and within the United Kingdom is to remain within the United Kingdom Parliament.

Mr. Gill : Having heard the answer that my right hon. Friend gave--

Hon. Members : "Who is this?"

Mr. Speaker : Order. In a United Kingdom Parliament, the hon. Gentleman has a right to put a question.

Mr. Gill : Is there any area in which an independent Scotland would have more influence in the European Community than under the present arrangements?

Mr. Lang : I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I cannot think of any.

Mallaig Road

10. Sir Russell Johnston : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress there has been on the Fort William to Mallaig road.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton) : Since 1985, two major schemes worth more than £8million have been completed on the A830. The additional funding for roads announced by the Secretary of State means that we plan to start the Morar bypass scheme in the coming financial year, 1992-93.

Sir Russell Johnston : Does the Minister agree that the exciting proposals for the development of Mallaig harbour, which are with the Scottish Office, make it urgent that the remaining sections of the road are completed as soon as possible?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : I believe that this will be very good news indeed for the people of Morar. The hon. Member will be aware that Morar is famous for the northern lights, presented in the Scottish film "Local

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Hero". This will mean that although there may be no oil under Morar or Morar beach, Morar and its inhabitants will soon have a new road.

Lanarkshire Economy

11. Dr. Reid : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received regarding the Lanarkshire economy ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Allan Stewart : My right hon. Friend has received representations from a number of sources concerning the Lanarkshire economy. A large number of projects, backed by substantial additional resources, are now being undertaken through the Lanarkshire development agency to ensure the successful regeneration of Lanarkshire.

Dr. Reid : After more than 150 months of this Government and more than 100 Scottish Question Times, do the Secretary of State and his colleagues accept that this is their last opportunity to redeem themselves for the betrayal of the Scottish steel industry? Is the Minister aware that Labour has made it plain that we shall give not only technical but financial assistance to any commercially viable project for developing new technology at Ravenscraig? On this last occasion before Ministers demit office, will they give a pledge that the Government will match our pledge of financial and technical assistance for the Lanarkshire steel industry to develop thin-slab technology? If the Minister cannot give that pledge, the day after the next election they will not be taking stock but will be a laughing stock in Scotland.

Mr. Stewart : I must remind the hon. Gentleman of the provisions of the treaty of Paris, which his party accepts, does it not? On the hon. Gentleman's second question about financial resources, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has decided that overall resources available to the Scottish Enterprise network for next year, subject to the approval of the House, will be increased by £9.6 million over the total that he announced last autumn. We have received reasoned representations from the district councils in Lanarkshire concerning the provision of new factories and how they can assist Lanarkshire's economic regeneration. My right hon. Friend intends to increase the resources available to those district councils by about £8 million. The hon. Gentleman will recognise that these figures show a real commitment to Lanarkshire. I do not in any way underestimate his commitment to his constituents, but when we debated these matters the Opposition Front Bench did not promise an extra penny for Lanarkshire if there were to be a Labour Government.

Mr. Dewar : One of the key agencies in the fight to strengthen the Lanarkshire economy is the Lanarkshire development agency. Will the Minister guarantee that local enterprise companies will get at least as much money next year in real terms as they are getting in the current year? Does he accept that today's announcement about the Scottish Enterprise budget for 1992-93 will be seen as election window dressing? Will he confirm that the Scottish Office is finding only an additional £1 million from its own resources and that its contribution to Scottish Enterprise will fall next year by almost £15 million?

Mr. Stewart : The hon. Gentleman shows his customary predilection for turning good news into misery at every possible opportunity. I repeat the figures : my right hon.

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Friend has announced that the resources available to the Scottish Enterprise network are being increased to £462.6 million, an increase of £9.6 million on the total announced last autumn. It is interesting that the hon. Gentleman gave no commitment that the resources would be increased if there were a Labour Government. Indeed, he has not denied that the resources might even be reduced if there were a Labour Government.

Constitutional Reform

12. Mr. Watson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to make changes to the current structure of government in Scotland.

Mr. Lang : The Government are consulting at present on possible changes to the structure of local government in Scotland.

Mr. Watson : If the Secretary of State believes what he has recently been saying about the constitutional issue in Scotland, he is gravely mistaken. He is only human and we all make mistakes from time to time, but the key is whether we learn from them. The Secretary of State has consistently refused to learn from his often-repeated mistake of assuming that he knows what is best for the people of Scotland and that they do not. Let me spell out what they have been saying to him in opinion polls for some time--the status quo is not an option. The Prime Minister appears to have grasped that fact, as have some of his parliamentary candidates, so when will the Secretary of State grasp it and enter the real world of Scottish politics?

Mr. Lang : If the hon. Gentleman believes that Scotland's future is not to remain within the United Kingdom Parliament, he had better stand up and say so and then join a party which represents that view.

Teacher Training

13. Mr. Steen : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any plans to bring the teacher training programme in Scotland into line with that applying in England.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : The teacher training reforms in England will bring practice near to that followed at present in Scotland. As part of a review, a pilot which will provide even more school-based training for secondary teachers will be carried out by Moray House college of education.

Mr. Steen : Does the Secretary of State agree that the importance of teacher training is such that more time should be spent with children and chalk rather than ideological and philosophical lectures? Does he agree that he should tell the Secretary of State for Education and Science that it would be best to follow the two-year probationary procedure in England because it is well known in Scotland to produce excellent teachers? Does he also agree that the experiments being carried out in Moray House and its excellent record are second to none?

Mr. Forsyth : I agree with much of what my hon. Friend says. I make it clear to the House that in Scotland it has been the practice for teacher training to be much more classroom based and I should like to see further progress in that respect. I agree that people south of the border can learn from what has been achieved there.

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Farming and Crofting

14. Mr. Maclennan : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to meet the chairman of the National Farmers Union of Scotland to discuss the future of farming and crofting.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : My right hon. Friend expects to meet the president of the National Farmers Union on 5 March at its annual conference. My noble Friend the Minister responsible for agriculture in Scotland and I will also be present.

Mr. Maclennan : Is the Minister aware that farm incomes in Scotland in the past five years have fallen by 47 per cent. and in the past year by 38.5 per cent? As he approaches the negotiations for reform of the common agricultural policy, what steps will Scottish Ministers take to reverse that trend?

Mr. Forsyth : The hon. Gentleman is right to point out the serious decline that has taken place in farm incomes and right to underline the importance of the negotiations on CAP reform. It is vital that the discriminatory proposals emanating from Commissioner MacSharry should be resisted. They would be a disaster for Scottish farming and the Government will fight them every inch of the way.

Housing Investment

15. Mr. Strang : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to stimulate housing investment in Edinburgh.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Edinburgh district council's provisional housing capital allocations for 1992-93 total over £53 million. In addition, I understand that Scottish Homes plans to spend over £24 million in Edinburgh in 1992-93.

Mr. Strang : Is the Minister aware that these changes are trivial compared with the hundreds of millions of pounds of Government support for housing which Edinburgh and other Scottish cities have lost as a result of changes in policy introduced by the Conservative party over the past 12 years? Edinburgh faces a desperate housing crisis. When will the Government face up to that? Surely, as a Member representing Edinburgh, the Minister appreciates that hundreds of families are suffering as a result of the desperate shortage of homes to let there.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The last Labour Government enormously reduced capital allocations for housing. In the accounts sent in by Edinburgh district council--a Labour-controlled body--the £45 million that it would cost to complete the backlog was missed out. We are now sorting that out ; we have made an allocation of £12.9 million and we will fully consider Edinburgh's claims when we make the final allocations in early March.

Points of Order

3.31 pm

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, of which I have given the relevant Member notice. Has the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) asked leave to make a personal statement about the

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misstatements that he made at column 163 during last week's health questions regarding cataract operations in Bath? Those statements have been corrected today in The Times. They were wholly misleading, and it is quite wrong that Hansard should contain mistakes of that nature.

Mr. Speaker : I have not had any request of that sort

Several Hon. Members rose--

Mr. Speaker : Order. Nor am I responsible for answers given at Question Time.

Several Hon. Members rose--

Mr. Speaker : I will take Sir David Steel.

Sir David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I hope that you will take it as a kindly gesture on the eve of your retirement if I offer you a map of Scotland. I happen to be one of only two Members representing the Borders region, yet you called a Member from outside that area earlier. I do not object to that, but, given that I was referred to in the Minister's answer, I do think I might have been called.

Mr. Speaker : I know that, but I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will understand that I had to have regard to the fact that his hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) had Question 14. At Scottish questions I try to get at least to Question 15, which we just achieved today. If I called every hon. Member with a constituency interest, on Question 4, for instance, I would have had to call about half a dozen from the Lothian region. It is just not possible.

Mr. Alexander Eadie (Midlothian) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As it now seems to be in order to complain, may I tell you that after 26 years in this House this was my last chance to have a say in Scottish Question Time. So I was surprised that you did not call me, given that I am one of the senior Members here and I made every endeavour to catch your eye. I wish you well in your retirement, but I am disappointed that I did not have the opportunity to be called on this occasion.

Mr. Speaker : I am sorry too. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would like to come and have a glass of Scottish wine with me some time. Several Hon. Members rose--[Laughter.]

Mr. Speaker : Order.

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Did you call Question 16 as the hon. Member for Lancaster (Dame E. Kellett-Bowman) shouted :

"On a point of order"?

I thought that I heard you call Question 16.

Mr. Speaker : Actually, I did not. I had hoped to be able to do so, but my eye was caught by 3 : 31 on the clock, so it was not possible.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West) : May I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that my point of order is not prompted by the very generous offer that you have just made? Many of us expected that it might have been made more widely, but never mind.

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I raise a matter with you as guardian of the interests of all hon. Members. Officials of the British and Indian Governments are negotiating an extradition treaty. I am advised that the conclusion of a treaty is an act of state, but that, if the international obligations of such a treaty are to be capable of being enforced in the courts of this country, there must be an amendment to an existing Act of Parliament or statutory instrument giving effect to the provisions of any treaty.

As an extradition treaty between this country and India would have profound political repercussions, may I ask you to make inquiries into the matter to assure the House that, if such a treaty is signed, all hon. Members will have a proper opportunity to consider and debate the matter before any treaty is signed and before Parliament is dissolved?

Mr. Speaker : I am not aware of what the hon. Gentleman is alleging. I will certainly look into the matter--although it is, of course, a matter for the Government and not for me.

Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I refer to a disturbing report in The Guardian this morning, which was headed : "Ford switch to Germany may cost 1,200 UK jobs"?

Mr. Speaker : Order. That is the point. The report says "may". It is a hypothetical question and not a matter of order for me now.

Mr. Clarke : With respect, the report says that Ford has confirmed that a study is taking place. My question--

Mr. Speaker : Order. The hon. Gentleman should raise the matter with the Government tomorrow at business questions, when he may well get an answer. Reports of discussions that may be about to take place are not a matter of order for me.

Mr. John McFall (Dumbarton) : May I draw to your attention, Mr. Speaker, the fact that I was not called at the last Scottish Question Time and that today, although I stood up for seven separate questions, I was yet again not called? This is a day for not being served. In the light of your offer to my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie), may I say that my constituency is the home of Scotch whisky-- [Hon. Members :-- "No."] Indeed. Speaker's Choice whisky is based in Dumbarton. In the light of your treatment of me today, any potential offer of whisky on my part will be withdrawn.

Mr. Speaker : I was about to say to the hon. Gentleman that he was welcome to come as well, but could he kindly bring a sample with him?

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) : I wonder whether you can satisfy my curiosity--

Hon. Members : No.

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Mr. Speaker : Let us get on with it. That is hypothetical too.

Mr. Winnick : You will know that there is invariably a Government statement on Opposition days. Sometimes you decide to limit the exchanges. Why is it that, whenever there is a Government motion down for debate, as there is today, there is never a statement? Is there any link?

Mr. Speaker : That is not a matter for me. A large number of hon. Members wish to participate in the debate. Of course, the Opposition will seek to amend the Government's motion, so we shall debate that.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Earlier, during Scottish Question Time, the Minister, the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth), falsely accused me of moving my parliamentary base from Stirling to Falkirk. I have never in my parliamentary history had the privilege of representing the people of Stirling. The hon. Gentleman who made that false accusation will soon be deprived of that privilege.

Mr. Speaker : On that note, we shall move on to the ballot for notices of motions.

BALLOT FOR NOTICES OF MOTIONS FOR FRIDAY 13 MARCH Members successful in the ballot were :

Sir Michael Neubert

Mr. Ray Powell

Mr. Andrew Rowe


Hare Coursing

Mr. Harry Cohen, supported by Mr. Tony Banks, Mr. Harry Barnes, Mrs. Rosie Barnes, Mr. Gerald Bermingham, Mr. Andrew Bowden, Mr. Peter Griffiths, Mr. Doug Hoyle, Mr. Simon Hughes, Mr. Steve Norris, Mr. Robin Squire and Mr. Andrew Welsh, presented a Bill to make hare coursing illegal : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Friday next and to be printed. [Bill 92.]


Motion made, and Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 97(1) (Matters relating exclusively to Scotland).

That the Matter of the constitutional implications for Scotland of a Scottish Parliament, being a Matter relating exclusively to Scotland, be referred to the Scottish Grand Committee for its consideration.-- [Mr. John M. Taylor.]

Question agreed to.

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