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Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : We shall examine Labour's future actions with the greatest care. We noted what was said this afternoon, and it was not consistent with the line taken at Labour's national conferences or with its proposals for a number of new quangos. The hon. Member for Fife, Central asked a significant question about local government being extended to quangos. I confirm to him that the White Paper published last July by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who has responsibility for public service and science, proposed a code of practice for access to Government information. It will be implemented in April not only for Government Departments but for quangos within the jurisdiction of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration. That is undoubtedly a step forward. The principles of the code will be adopted by other non-departmental public bodies. There will be a similar code of practice for access to information about the national health service.
Mr. McLeish : Will the Minister confirm this evening in the House that he will set up a register of directors' interests which will be tough and will have an open regulatory regime to ensure that the wilful neglect of public funds that is taking place at present is stamped out?
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : I can confirm that Scottish Enterprise is considering that matter. It is right that appropriate rules and procedures should be drawn up in that connection, as they are for the House of Commons.
Mrs. Ewing : I do not want to interfere in the dispute between what is probably the largest quango in Scotland, namely, the official Opposition and the Minister. Will the Minister confirm that, in a debate in the House in which the constitutional issue has been discussed, the Scottish
Column 66National party, which is the driving force and the powerhouse on the constitutional issue, has been denied the opportunity to participate? As a member of the legal profession in Scotland, does he agree that there is a need to ensure that there is accountability between the various organisations in Scotland and that we have been denied the accountability of putting on record our viewpoint?
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : A considerable amount of parliamentary time was taken up last week as a result of the parliamentary disruption engaged in by the Scottish National party. Hon. Members cannot have it both ways. They cannot engage in disruption and take up a great deal of parliamentary time and then complain that they are not given enough time. The fact remains--
Mr. Salmond : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister seems to suggest that there is some connection between the SNP not being called in the debate today and events last week. Through the prerogative of the Chair, can you confirm that?
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : We have to consider the motion against the back drop of history. The Act of Union represented a partnership of willing partners and we believe that it is the world's best example--
Mrs. Ewing : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In the light of your clear ruling on the subject, will you ask the Minister to withdraw his clear allegation made on the Floor of the House that we were denied an opportunity to speak in today's debate because of events last week?
Mr. Deputy Speaker : I should make it clear that Madam Speaker has total responsibility. We who share the responsibility with her are the ones who decide who may or may not be called in any debate. The previous behaviour of hon. Members has no relationship with whether they are called on a subsequent day. I hope that that is clear. If anyone else suggests anything to the contrary, he is wrong. I hope that that is clear.
With the greatest respect, I do not think that the Minister made any allegation. He may have felt that there had been some such response, but I have made the ruling clear. The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) may yet catch my eye. He knows what time the debate ends. I do not know how long the Minister's speech will be.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : To return to the matter of quangos, far from believing that all quangos should be dismantled, we believe that they have a legitimate purpose in the diffusion of power. I give one
Column 67example. The chairman and non-executive directors of such bodies are accountable in several ways not only to the law of the land but, through the citizens charter, to the people whom they serve. They are accountable to their sponsoring Secretary of State for their stewardship, and through him to Parliament. There is a parallel chain of accountability for the use of resources. It starts with the chief executive of the body and ends with the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons. That is consistent with the best traditions of democracy and parliamentary tradition.
If citizens know what they are entitled to expect from public services, as they will be under the citizens charter, and are given proper avenues of complaint if they do not receive it, they are well placed to call that body to account immediately. My hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) made the point well in that connection.
I confirm that we are determined that women in particular should be considered for more public appointments.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : They will be appointed on merit. Our approach is sensible and can be delivered. The proportion of women who hold appointments made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is already 40 per cent. That is one of the highest of any Government Department. However, we are not complacent and we want to improve on the figure. We are always keen to learn about women and men of ability and experience who would like to make a further contribution to life in Scotland.
The issue of local government reform was raised. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Robertson) was right to say that the purpose of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Bill was not to dismantle democracy. Its purpose is to avoid excessive duplication. For example, there are now two sets of councillors, two sets of headquarters and two sets of officials. It makes sense to co-ordinate housing, social work, education, sport and similar functions. I shall bear in mind the point made by the hon, Member for Falkirk, West.
Mr. Canavan rose--
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : I am answering the hon. Gentleman. The point that he raised is covered by clause 32 of the Bill. We shall reach it some time. We shall debate it thoroughly and I shall bear in mind the point that he made.
Mr. Canavan rose--
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : I shall not give way. There will be plenty of opportunity to debate the matter at length in Committee. I am sure that it will be discussed further when the Bill returns to the House if satisfaction is not obtained at that time.
The hon. Member for Fife, Central made proposals for a multi-referendum. I recall when I was a new Member asking Michael Foot, the then Leader of the House, to consider a referendum. He replied that a referendum was not the way to proceed. He subsequently changed his mind
Column 68because a referendum appeared to be the only way to get the Scotland Bill on the statute book. A referendum with vague, general propositions tends to be of little value. It would be necessary to put before the electors a clear proposition for a particular policy, spelling out in detail what was involved. That is precisely what was done in 1979. When faced with a clear proposal, less than one third of the Scottish electorate voted in favour of change and the results were inconclusive.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : No. I have many points to answer. I want to answer the charges made about the White Paper "Taking Stock". In 1926, it was a Tory Government who created the office of Secretary of State for Scotland. In 1939, a Conservative Government brought the Scottish Office to St Andrew's House in Edinburgh. The White Paper "Taking Stock" focuses on several matters. Scotland already receives a considerable share of parliamentary time. Some 60 Scottish Bills have been enacted in the past 10 years. In addition, when Scots legislation is incorporated in United Kingdom Bills which apply to Britain or the United Kingdom, the greatest care is taken to ensure that, both in terms of policy and in the drafting of the legislation, an approach appropriate to Scotland is taken. There have been discussions through the usual channels about the matter. Agreement has been reached and my right hon. Friend will make a statement in due course.
Sir Nicholas Fairbairn : I hope that my hon. Friend has noticed that the verbose motion flows from a concept about the undemocratic power and influence of transnational and multinational companies in Scotland's economy. Two such companies have just come to Scotland and provided 2,000 jobs. We have obtained domination of the world by the same methods. What would have happened to Scotland if the narrow-minded idiocy being displayed had prevented us from investing in other countries, and prevented other countries from investing in ours?
conclusively--multinational companies have had a good record. Last year, 79,000 people were employed in overseas-owned manufacturing units in Scotland, representing almost 25 per cent. of manufacturing jobs. It has been reported that gross wages and salaries per employee were 20 per cent. higher.
Dr. Jeremy Bray (Motherwell, South) : Does the Minister agree that the real damage done to Scotland involves the loss of control of Scottish companies? Is he aware that the last steelworks in Scotland, the Craigneuk works at Motherwell, is closing today, with immediate redundances? Will the Government do anything to try to find a buyer for it as a going concern?
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : It does not belong to the Scottish Office to sell, but strenuous efforts are being made by the local enterprise company. It is important that its efforts are successful. Mossend steel works, which is not far from the hon. Gentleman's constituency, is due to open shortly, creating many hundreds of jobs.
Mr. Gallie : Does not my hon. Friend think it shameful that the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish) did not distance himself from the insulting motion on inward investment? Does he not agree that it is a condemnation of the Labour party's commitment to jobs in Scotland?
Mr. McLeish rose--
Mr. Norman Hogg : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish) was severely attacked in the intervention of the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Gallie), which was answered by the Minister. When my hon. Friend tried to intervene to clarify the position, he was arrogantly brushed aside by the Minister.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Several hon. Members raised the subject of "Taking Stock". Responsibility for the Scottish Arts Council will transfer to the Secretary of State, as will various other responsibilities, such as training, through the establishment of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. There have already been some impressive results. In Scotland, more than half the Scottish work force are qualified to at least Scottish vocational qualification level three, compared to 30 per cent. south of the border. Responsibility for the highlands and islands airports will be transferred to the Secretary of State, which makes sense. We are giving high priority to ensuring that Scotland is right at the heart of Europe. That is why we set up Scottish Trade International. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), was successful in persuading the Europeans that Scotland should host Europartenariat. Some 350 companies exhibited to similar companies from nearly 50 countries, and more than 5,000 meetings with Scottish companies were held over the two-day event. Scottish Trade International will be carrying out a follow-up exercise to ensure that the participants have all the advice and information that they need to pursue the deals that they made. That has been good for Scotland. On the issue of Scottish Office visibility, not only have we opened up access to more information, but we have established telephone inquiry links and 22 information points, and information leaflets will be made available.
I agree with my hon. Friends the Members for Kincardine and Deeside (Mr. Kynoch) and for Ayr (Mr. Gallie) about the success of the national health service trusts. The benefits of that policy are already becoming apparent, with more patients being treated, improved facilities and services specifically adapted to particular needs. The hon. Member for Dundee, East demanded a Scots parliament. The Conservative stand on that issue is
Column 70unrepentant, and is incorrigibly and unequivocally Unionist. At the last election, we stood full square on that platform. Much to the dismay of pollsters, pundits and bookies, we were the only party in Scotland to increase our share of the vote and our representation in the House. Only one Labour seat in Britain was taken by the Tories in the last general election : that of my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South. That was due to his vigorous and strong Unionist stand.
Mr. McAllion rose --
It is right to consider the role of the Secretary of State. If the motion were implemented, he would be stripped of resources, without the power to legislate and without the backing of his Department. He would rapidly become a cypher and would be unlikely to retain his position in the Cabinet. If he were to lose his place in the Cabinet, it would be bad for Scotland in the United Kingdom Parliament, and Scotland's influence would be correspondingly reduced.
My hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North was right to consider the number of Scots in the Cabinet. There are four--the Secretaries of State for Scotland, for Transport and for Defence, and the Lord Chancellor. Could that number be maintained if a Scots parliament were established? I am far from certain that it could.
Before the last election, the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) said that once there was a Scottish parliament that handled health issues in Scotland, it would be impossible for him to be a Minister for health in England. There are also concerns about the number of Scottish Members in the House. There are now 72 Scottish Members. If calculated on the basis of the population, the number should be 57. Would it be reasonable to maintain the present numbers if a separate Scots parliament covering most aspects of Scottish public affairs were established? If we followed the example of Stormont, we would have only 40 Scottish Members. I would not want to see the number of Scots represented in the House reduced as that would be contrary to Scotland's interest, as would the elimination of the office of Secretary of State.
Implicit in the motion is the fact that the parliament would raise taxes. The Scots would then be the most heavily taxed people in the United Kingdom. It would be unreasonable to make the rest of Britain pay for an extra tier of Government in Scotland without comparable parliaments all over England. The difficulty of the policy of the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston) is that the rest of Britain does not want regional parliaments all over England, and certainly not throughout Wales. Tax-raising powers would constitute an extra burden on Scottish industry.
There was a report in The Scotsman on 19 August 1974 which stated :
"Mr. John Smith, MP for North Lanark, claimed that members of the party who were pressing for devolution to a Scottish Government without the loss of the office of the Secretary of State and a reduction in the number of MPs at Westminster were being dishonest." I do not wish to see the role of the Secretary of State eliminated, and I do not want the loss of employment that would go with the creation of another parliament. I do not want endless conflict between rival parliaments, which the motion would doubtless entail.
Column 71I quote the words of a distinguished parliamentarian, who said : "Feelings of pride in one's land and one's culture are both respectable and desirable, but they are perfectly compatible with membership of a somewhat wider political family : to sacrifice benefits accrued over 270 years in order to gratify confused and ephemeral political ambitions would be tragic and unforgivably foolish."
Those are not my words, but those of the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) in his book "Devolution : the end of Britain?" I endorse them today.
Let us remember our common heritage with the rest of the United Kingdom. Let us strengthen those links and not throw away the benefit of hundreds of years of unity. We have an inescapable duty to oppose the motion. The Union has brought with it great benefits to all parts of the United Kingdom. Sometimes it appears that the people of Scotland are not fully aware of those benefits. Identifiable public expenditure per head is 15 per cent. higher than in the United Kingdom as a whole. To look at it another way, Scotland represents some 8.9 per cent. of the population
It being Seven o'clock, proceedings on the motion lapsed, pursuant to Standing Order No. 13 (Arrangement of public business).
Motion made, and Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 102(9) (European Standing Committees).
That this House takes note of the unnumbered Explanatory Memoranda submitted by the Department of Employment on 7th October 1993 and 7th December 1993, relating to parental and family leave, and the unnumbered Explanatory Memoranda submitted by the Department of Employment on 7th October 1993 and 11th November 1993, relating to non-standard employment ; endorses the Government's view that measures taken in the field of social affairs should have full regard to the effects on job creation, to the principle of subsidiarity, and to the diversity of national traditions and practices ; shares the Government's view that the need for Community legislation on parental leave and leave for family reasons and associated social protection provisions has not been demonstrated ; supports the Government's view that it should not accept proposals which would increase the cost of employing part-time and temporary workers and reduce the number of jobs available ; and endorses the Government's view that terms and conditions of employment are best agreed directly by the parties concerned without outside interference.-- [Mr. Wood.]
The House divided : Ayes 189, Noes 99.
Division No. 108] [7.01 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North)
Blackburn, Dr John G.
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes)
Browning, Mrs. Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Deva, Nirj Joseph
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Durant, Sir Anthony
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Fenner, Dame Peggy
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Gardiner, Sir George
Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Hannam, Sir John
Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)
Hughes Robert G. (Harrow W)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)