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Dean Of Guild, Aberdeen

Volume 465: debated on Tuesday 24 May 1949

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5.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if in view of the fact that the office of Dean of Guild fills ex-officio a seat in Aberdeen Town Council without being elected to it, he will abolish the ex-officio right of the Dean of Guild to sit as a member of the town council there.

As my right hon. Friend indicated in reply to Questions on 17th May, he is looking into the whole question of the Dean of Guild and cannot at present make any statement.

The Secretary of State stated last Tuesday that he was looking into the whole affair with regard to Glasgow. Will his investigations include other towns and cities in Scotland, particularly Aberdeen, which are affected by this?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Dean of Guild of Aberdeen represents very important interests in that city and that he and his predecessors holding this high office have given the utmost satisfaction and have received the greatest admiration from the citizens of Aberdeen? Is it not the case that the hon. and learned Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hector Hughes) who is a Welshman, seems to be quite incapable of appreciating the historical past of that city?

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in Order for the hon. Member to make a mis-statement about my nationality?

I cannot say that it is out of Order. I do not like personal taunts myself, but it is not out of Order.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the only Royal Commission which has inquired into this matter recommended in 1834 that this anomalous office "should now be abolished"? Does he not agree that recent happenings in Glasgow have strengthened that recommendation?

Can my hon. Friend give an indication when the Secretary of State is likely to report to the House on this matter?

To come back to the original Question, may we assume that the Aberdeen Dean of Guild is a Conservative?

I am not prepared to make any assumption but, as I have already indicated, my right hon. Friend promised a week ago to look into the whole question, which is one of very considerable complexity and I am sorry that I cannot say when he will be able to make a statement.