Skip to main content

Clause 1—(Increase In Membership Of Crofters Commission)

Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 5 July 1961

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

I beg to move, in page 1, line 5, after "1955" to insert:

"(which provides amongst other things that the Commission shall consist of not more than six members)".
This is no more than a drafting Amendment and is designed for clarification.

I appreciate that this is a drafting Amendment, but I should like to say a word about it to the Government. When it comes to increasing the size of the Crofters Commission, I hope that they will not only take the opportunity to do what was urged upon them during the Committee stage discussions and add a practising crofter to the Commission, but also that they will try to include people with experience of different matters. I should like to see as a member of the Commission an industrialist who could advise about bringing industry to the Highlands area. I should like to see as a member an expert on marketing and salesmanship, someone who knew what the markets require and who could help in that direction.

I believe that it would be valuable to have as a member a person with experience of solving the kind of problems which are met with in the Highlands and Islands but who had, perhaps, gained his experience in a different setting. For instance, we might get a man who has experience of transport problems in similarly rather sparsely populated areas elsewhere.

I do not want to go into this further now, but I should like to put those thoughts into the heads of the Government, and if they would like me to suggest any names of industrialists or salesmen, people who could sell ideas to the Commission, I should be happy to oblige. However, I put these thoughts forward very seriously. This gives the Government an opportunity to put on to the Commission some people with differing experiences, of varying types; some people who could really do a great deal by bringing their varied experience to bear on the problems with which the Commission has to deal and to help us with the great question of what things we are to grow next in the Highlands and how to get them sold.

I would add just one word in reply to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). Although the head of the Government in Scotland was not here to hear his words of wisdom I can assure the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend is determined to take into account not only the views of the hon. Gentleman but other views which were put forward when we were considering this matter in the Standing Committee.

I do not want to enumerate the types of persons we might have to broaden the experience of the Commission. The hon. Gentleman himself has mentioned people experienced in transport, and other hon. Members have mentioned people with experience of such things as marketing and publicity. I think that the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) has ideas about practical crofters —or is it practising crofters? I just forget at the moment. However, I can assure the House that my right hon. Friend has these points very much in mind.

On a point of order. I wonder, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if you could advise us whether you intend to call the next Amendment on the Paper in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) and my name, in page 1, line 7, at end insert:

"and as if after the words 'Secretary of State' where they first appear there were inserted the words 'two of whom shall be practising crofters'".
If not, we might discuss it now.

No. I can explain to the hon. Member that the next Amendment, in the name of the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) is not selected.

I would thank my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) for bringing out this information. I feel that we must take our opportunity now to elicit from the Government the composition of the Crofters Commission. It is not just a question of the additional three. Possibly there ought to be a whole reorganisation of the duties, and we ought to go into this matter very thoroughly. I had anticipated, like my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East, that we should be dealing with that aspect of the matter on the next Amendment, in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser), but now we learn that we are not to have that opportunity.

I very much appreciate the readiness of the Government, after our discussions upstairs, to agree that the membership of the Commission, six, was too small, end their ready agreement to increase it to nine members. That is what we are doing here.

On a point of order. That is not what we are doing here. We are not by this Amendment increasing the number of the Commission from six to nine.

Perhaps I should make clear that the fact that the next Amendment has not been selected would not justify hon. Members making speeches on that Amendment while we are discussing this one.

I appreciate that very much, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but I take it that long and, perhaps, wearying speeches can be made on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," and I was trying to avoid that.

Further to that point of order. You have, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, allowed certain limited references to the types of persons who can serve on the Commission. I take it that it would still be in order to make what has been called tonight an oblique reference to who may serve on the Commission.

Yes. The House is well aware that a certain amount of reasonable latitude is allowed.

Thank you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I cannot understand this attack from the Joint Under-Secretary. The point that I was trying to make was much more limited than the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East.

My hon. Friend made quite a long speech in an interruption which, I thought, dealt with the point. I prefer now to leave my remarks, which were going to be very complimentary because of the Government's acceptance of Clause 1, as amended, until we get to the Question "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

I add my voice to the effect that I hope that now the Government have so kindly accepted the proposals put forward in Committee to extend the size of the Commission, we shall have a type of Commission which would appear to be more adaptable to the needs. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) as to the type of people who may be put on the Commission. I would, however, point out that one of the constant criticisms of the Crofters Commission at present is that it has insufficient practical crofting experience. I hope that that will also be remedied when it comes to appointing additional members.

Amendment agreed to.