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

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

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

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

Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough): Does the hon. Gentleman think it right that, in addition to Scotsmen and Welshmen, European citizens who are not United Kingdom citizens should be able to vote in a referendum that will affect the whole of the United Kingdom?

Dr. Godman: I begin by apologising to the hon. and learned Gentleman. I called him a new boy yesterday, and that was utterly unwarranted. He has in fact been here before, and he and I were in Bosnia together last year.

Of course people resident in Scotland should have the right to vote in the referendum. They have chosen to live in Scotland. They are people of Scotland.

Over the past 18 years, Scotland has been governed appallingly--in an insensitive, intolerant way. I have said to Conservative Members of Parliament that, had Mrs. Thatcher when Prime Minister offered some concessions to the desire for a degree of autonomy, the Conservatives might not be in the parlous state that they are now in. I said that over the years to Scottish and English Conservative Members of Parliament, who chose to ignore that advice. I do not speak from hindsight.

I also believe that had a Tory Government been returned at the election we would now be witnessing the beginnings of the dismemberment of the United Kingdom, because many people who voted Labour would seriously be thinking of an independent Scotland as a future for themselves, their children and grandchildren. The biggest threat to Scotland came from the Conservative party, which was so decisively defeated on 1 May.

I offer three examples of that unsupportable form of government. First, the poll tax, which was introduced into Scotland in such a heavy-handed and insensitive manner. One of the finest speeches made during the passage of the legislation that introduced the poll tax was made in the other place by the late Willie Ross. It was a superb analysis and critique of that disgraceful measure.

The second example is the reorganisation of local government. The majority of Scots did not want the abolition of the regional and district councils. I must tell Conservative Members that many people in my constituency are suffering because of the disappearance of Strathclyde regional council and its remarkable management of social work and education services in my constituency. I should declare an interest, as my wife is a member of that council. It achieved quite remarkable improvements for the lives of many people, but the Conservative Government decided to be rid of it. Mrs. Thatcher always wanted to see the end of Strathclyde regional council. The way in which the Conservative Government managed local government in Scotland is to their eternal shame.

The third example of the rotten way in which the Conservative Government sought to govern Scotland was their attempt to privatise the supply of water in Scotland.

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For those of my hon. Friends who are cautious about referendums, let me remind them of the quite remarkable referendum conducted by Strathclyde regional council on that very issue. It was an astonishing return. A million people posted off their answers to that referendum and 94 per cent. said that water in Scotland should remain under local authority control. I say to my hon. Friends, not least my old hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East, that without that astonishing referendum result, we would now have water companies in Scotland. Instead, we have a Government who are talking about bringing the management of water supplies under local authority control again.

Those are three examples of the rotten way in which the Conservative party governed Scotland. It is because of such insensitive, unsupportable government that many people want to see a Scottish Parliament.

A number of Scottish Conservative candidates will doubtless put themselves forward in the election. As I said yesterday to the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack), I fully expect to see his son as one of the candidates. He was a fine candidate in this election. He did not stand a cat in hell's chance of defeating my hon. Friend and neighbour the Member for West Renfrewshire (Mr. Graham). Given my hon. Friend's shape, it was as well that it was not a physical clash.

But a Conservative candidate of the stature of Charlie Cormack could well be a member of the Scottish Parliament. With proportional representation, he and other Conservatives will have a good chance of securing some seats. As someone who has campaigned all his adult life for electoral reform, that is one of the features of our legislation that really thrills me. We in Scotland are to adopt a system similar to that in Germany, so the minority parties will have reasonable representation in that Parliament.

I would love to be the Minister with responsibility for fisheries in that Parliament, but that is for others to decide. Presumably, that job will be given to someone who does not know the difference between a cod and a haddock, but it is right and proper that there are Conservatives and others in that Parliament. We must not forget that 500,000 people in Scotland voted Conservative, and they do not have a single representative in the House. But if a similar proportion vote Conservative in the election to the Scottish Parliament, there will be a substantial number, albeit a minority, of Tory Members.

Therefore, I belatedly welcome the referendum. I know that we will have overwhelming support in my constituency and I look forward to the day when we have a Scottish Parliament. I am not too happy with the Royal high school. I should like to see an international architectural competition for the design of a new Parliament, but I can live with the Royal high school for five or six years at least.

5.12 pm

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones (Ynys Mon): I congratulate the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Sir R. Smith). I am always slightly nervous of hon. Members who address the House without a note. It is a remarkable achievement and I am sure that he will make many similar contributions to the House. There was a tinge of controversy in his contribution in that he made the case for a referendum in Wales but not in Scotland, but I think that we can leave it at that.

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I congratulate the Secretary of State for Wales on his appointment and I wish him well in his duties. I also congratulate the Under-Secretary of State for Wales, the hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain), on assuming his new responsibilities. It was a refreshing change to hear them say on their appointments and subsequently that they want to move away from the kind of tribal politics that has dominated the House for 18 years and towards a progressive, inclusive and more co-operative style of politics.

I want to make my remarks in that spirit and to reciprocate. I hope that the Secretary of State and his colleagues will accept that listening to other points of view is one thing but, on occasion, I hope and expect that they will see the merit of arguments coming from different directions. Listening is one thing, but I am sure that occasionally they will see that not only is there merit in what other people say but that it might well be acted upon.

The Government have been elected on a decisive and clear mandate, part of which is to secure constitutional change not only in Wales and Scotland but in the other place. Not only is their majority decisive, but their mandate on constitutional change is decisive. The Leader of the Opposition is as responsible for that decisive mandate as anyone else, because he made it clear during the election campaign that the constitution was at the heart of the Conservative party's manifesto. He stood on a no change manifesto, a status quo manifesto, and he was so successful that his party was wiped out in Wales and Scotland.

There is no representative of the Conservative party from Wales or Scotland in the Chamber. We shall hear from the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague), but the people of Wales will recognise that his constituency today will be not the people of Wales, but the Benches behind him. We will understand the context of his remarks.

The mood for change in Wales and elsewhere is obvious. it is all around us. We have had 18 years of a Conservative Government who have centralised power on a scale that we have not seen before. The Government constantly told us about the nanny state; the interfering state. But we now have the Thatcher state. Baroness Thatcher was as responsible as anybody for the centralisation of power in this place. This is now a powerful and dominating personality.

Currently, many people feel alienated from the democratic institutions which serve them. That was illustrated at its worst during the general election when the proportion of young voters between the ages of 18 and 24 was lower than at any other time in recent history. There is a message there. If people feel that they do not have a voice; if they feel alienated; if they feel that they have no influence over events, there is a real danger that they will channel their resources and energies in a different way. We allow that to happen at our peril.

Modern, mature and forward-looking democracies have recognised the dangers of over-centralisation and have acted decisively to check it. Different modern states in Europe have chosen different routes to achieve that. No one model is appropriate everywhere, but we in Wales are now mature enough to take this important step forward.

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The Labour party believes that the setting up of the Assembly is the way forward. Others of us will argue that that body should be enhanced and its powers improved. Let me outline not only some of the reasons why we are ready to move forward but why the choice in the referendum should reflect the fact that there are different views in Wales about how we should move forward.

The first reason, often given in the Chamber and outside, is the growth of the quango state. The people of Wales find it distasteful and a negation of democracy that for 18 years a Government appointed their own to run Wales although they were decisively rejected time after time by the electorate. On no occasion did the Secretary of State, who appointed people to run our health service, our education funding councils and our training agencies, appoint people who were in tune with the aspirations of the people of Wales. He appointed people whom he knew would toe the Government line.

Secondly, we need to develop our relationship with Europe. Most people know that my party has a positive vision of that relationship. We respect the cultural and national diversity of Europe. The key to protecting cultural and national diversity within a system that is becoming more global by the minute is to ensure that decisions that affect people's lives are taken at the lowest possible level. There is a Welsh dimension and a national dimension, and we should grasp the opportunity to ensure accountable government at that Welsh level.

By strengthening our democracy at home, we strengthen our links with Europe. We need to strengthen those links at a time when regional policy is being considered in Europe and important decisions that affect our farmers are being made. An elected body in Wales should have strong links with important European institutions.

Any elected body should be robust enough to protect us from significant policy changes made in Westminster with which we profoundly disagree. The hon. Member for Greenock and Inverclyde (Dr. Godman) made an eloquent speech about what had been foisted on the people of Scotland during 18 years of Conservative rule. The problem that some of us have with the current plans for the Assembly is that if it does not have at least limited legislative powers, and if the framework for legislation remains in Westminster, it will not be robust enough to protect Wales from what happens here.

It is also important to show to the people of Wales that the Government's proposal is different from that offered in 1979. It is crucial that we understand the lessons of 1979. That was a fateful year for Wales. We have a rerun of 1979 at our peril. The Government must show that what they have on offer now is different from what was on offer in 1979.

Given that there is common ground between those of us in progressive politics who believe that the way forward is constitutional change, we should make it clear that the no vote in the referendum is for those people who want the status quo. The danger in allowing only one question in the referendum in Wales is that some of us who want the Assembly to have greater powers may be tempted to register our preference by voting no, and that would be

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disastrous. If that happened, the vote would be meaningless, because the no vote would hide the votes of those who want to go that little bit further.


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