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Island Of Rockall Bill Lords

Volume 828: debated on Tuesday 21 December 1971

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Considered in Committee.

[Miss HARVIE ANDERSON in the Chair]

Clause 1

Incorporation Of Rockall Into The United Kingdom As Part Of The County Of Inverness

9.30 p.m.

I beg to move Amendment No. 3, in page 1, line 9, leave out from 'into' to `Scot-land' in line 10.

Amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 7 have been selected. I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if we took with Amendment No. 3, Amendment No. 4, in page 1, line 10, leave out known as 'and insert called', and Amendment No. 7, in the Title, line 3, leave out 'known as' and insert 'called'.

I understood that the ruling had been made clear that Amendments Nos. 4 and 7, if debated at all, would be taken with Amendment No. 3.

Amendments Nos. 4 and 7 are alternatives, although Amendment No. 7 could stand on its own. It is an alternative to the phrase to which I take strong exception and I would rather it were taken separately.

It would not be appropriate to alter the decision now, but the speech of the right hon. Gentleman can be directed separately to each Amendment.

That is not very satisfactory. To whomever it was made clear, it was not made clear to me.

I congratulate the Government on accepting my advice that this important constitutional matter should be taken on the Floor of the House rather than upstairs.

The Long Title reads:
"An Act to make provision for the incorporation of that part of Her Majesty's Dominions known as the Island of Rockall into that part of the United Kingdom known as Scotland, and for purposes connected therewith."
Not satisfied with having this offensive wording in the Long Title, the Government repeat it in Clause 1, line 9:
"shall be incorporated into that part of the United Kingdom known as Scotland".
If Amendment No. 3 were accepted this would read:
"shall be incorporated into Scotland".
I think that would be clear and would not be liable to be misunderstood. I cannot understand the Government's reason for insisting on leaving in the body of the legislation what has already been made obscure in the Title.

On Second Reading the Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs and Agriculture, Scottish Office, more or less repeated what was said in another place by his noble Friend the Minister of State when her attention was drawn to the phrase "known as Scotland". The answer then given was that this was the phrase used in the Act of Union and had been hallowed in that legislation. I feel there is something distasteful in the phrase "known as Scotland". There is almost the implication that that is not its real name and that, for reasons unstated, there has been resort to the name of Scotland when it should be called something else.

We are familiar with this kind of phrase in respect of certain individuals in public life. This may involve people who have created a reputation under a certain name in public, commercial or business life. I can think of ladies who have made a reputation under their maiden name and, even after marriage, have continued to be known by that name. That is understandable. But I just do not understand why a similar phrase should be applied to Scotland. We all know that certain people adopt other names when their legal names may be awkward or unattractive-sounding. We can think of pop stars who have changed their names. I do not think there is anybody who rejoices under the legal name of Engelbert Humperdinck; and the name Peggy Hookham is not particularly attractive for a ballet dancer and she prefers to be known as Margot Fonteyn. The same thing is true of Lulu, and no doubt of Cilia Black and many others.

We all know that certain people are set out in the Police Gazette as known as going under various aliases and often have a string of names, but there is certainly no justification for the phrase "known as" to be applied to Scotland—unless it is thought it is better known by such names as Caledonia, Scotia, Strathclyde, Pictland, Alba, or Dalrada. Surely nobody in these modern times would apply such names to Scotland.

The land has been known as Scotland for over a thousand years. The "known as Scotland" nonsense starts with the present administration. [Interruption.] I know that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate is bursting with a learned speech, but he must contain himself. I refrain from explaining what the present Government is "known as" in Scotland. I do not think I should be allowed to use language to allow me to describe how the Conservative Government is viewed in the eyes of the Scottish people. The Government obviously are out of touch both with reality and with history. The Under-Secretary of State who is in charge of Agriculture and Fisheries, and I dare say certain aspects of law in Scotland—

The hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. Peter Mills) had better come to our next fisheries debate, when he will be able to see whether hon. Members who represent Scottish fishing industries feel that that is true.

The Under-Secretary wallowed in Unionist patriotism. He wrapped himself in the Union Jack and was delighted to follow the example of his noble Friend the Minister of State in this respect. It was a fascinating exercise though perhaps rather embarrassing, but it had nothing to do with what we were discussing.

I want to know why the Government use the words "known as". What the hon. Gentleman has said is totally irrelevant and not very accurate. As is my custom, having made mention of the Act of Union, I referred to it. I discovered no mention of the words "known as Scotland".

The Act of Union for ever united our countries into
"one Kingdom by the name of Great Britain."
Article IX spoke of
"that part of the United Kingdom now called England"
"that part of the United Kingdom now called Scotland".
There is no mention of "known as".

Then I referred to the Act of Union (Amendment) Act, 1707. Section 2 says
"within that part of Great Britain called Scotland."
In Section 4, just to put the matter in perspective, one finds
"into that part of the Kingdom called Scotland."
In 6 Anne cap. 53, establishing a Court of Exchequer, we find a slight variation:
"in the north part of Great Britain called Scotland."
In 1708 the Parochial Libraries Act refers to
"libraries in that part of Great Britain called England."
The phrase "known as" does not appear. It goes on:
"Whereas … in the South part of Great Britain called England and Wales".
Time and time again after the Act of Union the phrase adopted is "called Scotland". There is no use of the phrase "known as". There is something much more respectable in quoting the proper name and prefacing it by the word "called".

Then I went to the Circuit Courts (Scotland) Act, 1709. There again one finds
"that part of Great Britain called Scotland".
It is not until one has ploughed through many more Acts, those of 1765, 1771, 1789 and 1799, dealing respectively with banknotes, highways, property and colliers, in all of which the phrase is
"that part of Great Britain called Scotland",
and we come to the Act of Union with Ireland, that we get
"that part of the United Kingdom called Ireland".
Thereafter we shift from "Great Britain" to "the United Kingdom".

The Habeas Corpus Act, 1804, refers to
"those parts of the United Kingdom called England and Ireland."
The Jury Trials (Scotland) Act, 1815, refers to
"that part of the United Kingdom called Scotland."
One finds none of this "known as" that is supposedly hallowed in this legislation.

By 1815 there must have been new draftsmen in the Departments of State. They ceased to use the term "called" and were content with "in Scotland", "in Ireland" and "in England". However, there was a slight reversion to type in 1882 in the Turnpikes Act, where one finds
"that part of the United Kingdom called England".
I do not know whether there was an uproar about that, but for another 10 years we find "in Scotland", "in England" and "in Ireland".

The last reference that I have been able to find is the Game Act, 1832, referring to
"that part of the United Kingdom called Scotland".
Clearly, there is no justificatifion for the phrase "known as" in history. If the Government wanted to stick to what had been used in the past, they would have used the word "called". This is why I gave the alternative Amendment No. 4. They can have it as being
"… incorporated into that part of the United Kingdom called Scotland".
I know that the hon. Gentleman thinks this is nothing at all. It was raised in another place and it has been raised by me because I find it rather distasteful to be told that I am a native of:
"that part of the United Kingdom known as Scotland".
I am sure that this was not done by a Scots draftsman. The Government probably dug up someone who has been waiting in the Treasury or maybe the Foreign Office, some relic of colonial days, who was dying to use the phrase.

9.45 p.m.

I know the difficulties, because we have annexed many places over the years since 1707, but we have never annexed anything to Scotland or, I doubt, to England or anywhere else in the United Kingdom. [Interruption.] I am sure that the Minister and the Lord Advocate are discussing this matter and deciding to accept Amendment No. 4. I would think all the more of them if they did. They have their island; I am leaving them with that, although we can deal with that point on Amendment No. 7 dealing with the Title. It is a mistake and not one I propose to put right in the Title because the mistake was made in 1955 when this little bit of rock that juts out of the sea was taken over. It is already over-populated although no one lives on it, and no one could live on it unless the hon. Gentleman has some idea of planting sugar beet on it, or some equally strange notion.

The rubric speaks of "Incorporation of Rockall". This is a little Bill, but it is important historically and we should try to get it right. I commend Amendment No. 3, which would mean incorporation into Scotland, and incorporation into that part of the United Kingdom called Scotland, which has all the backing of tradition and legislative history.

I support what my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) has said about the inappropriateness of using the term "known as Scotland". I also support him in his contention on the Government's claim that this phrase was hallowed by the Treaty of Union. I take my right hon. Friend gently to task for talking about the Act of Union because, as he knows, there are two Acts which set up the union between Scotland and England and I hope that English historians and schoolteachers will take note of that and get it right in the history books.

Two Acts of Union were necessary to create the consent which joined the sovereign country of Scotland to the sovereign country of England. Perhaps my right hon. Friend was thinking of the Scottish Act of Union, which is in substantially the same terms as the English Act, except that Scotland is put first. The phrase "that part of the United Kingdom called Scotland" or "England" is used less than the straightforward construction for which my right hon. Friend has argued. In most cases the references are to "Scotland" or to "England" simpliciter.

Turning to those articles of the Treaty of Union which are still extant today, one finds that articles 6, 9, 18, 19, 21 and, I think, 22 contain these straightforward references. On many more occasions than not, the reference is direct and only on a few occasions is it to "that part of the United Kingdom" called Scotland or England.

The Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs and Agriculture, Scottish Office
(Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith)

I congratulate the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) on his obvious researches. His erudition has impressed the House as it does on so many things.

It is a matter of subjective judgment and I prefer to be generous to the right hon. Gentleman.

But that is the extent to which I can congratulate the right hon. Gentleman. He touched only briefly on Amendment No. 7. I believe that "the Island of Rockall" is the right description. I wish that the right hon. Gentleman's knowledge of geography were as good as his alleged knowledge of old Statutes. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur), with his great knowledge of Scottish geography and his taste for walking in these areas, will know of many similar places which are properly described as islands. The right hon. Gentleman is lowering the island's status to call it anything else and I am glad that it is called an island in the Bill.

Has the right hon. Gentleman never heard of the Faroe Islands and many other islands? We should give Rockall the status it deserves.

The right hon. Gentleman did not make great play with Amendment No. 3. This legislation will incorporate the Island of Rockall in the United Kingdom and make it subject in all respects to United Kingdom sovereignty. The Clause is worded in a way that gives this point the prominence it requires.

The main burden of the remarks I made when replying to the debate a week ago was that there was nothing novel about the use of the expression
"part of the United Kingdom".
There are precedents for it and I quoted some in that debate. The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock referred to the Act of Union. I, too, have done some research. Consider the Representative Peers Act, 1847, which was an interesting Measure. It was designed to correct certain abuses which had frequently prevailed at the election of representative peers for Scotland. This phrase occurred in that hallowed part of legal history.

Coming more up to date, in the Continental Shelf Act, 1964, there is a reference to
"parts of the United Kingdom".
That phrase appears several times in that Measure. It is, after all, a perfectly accurate description of Scotland's constitutional position to say that it is a constituent part of the United Kingdom. Being an entirely accurate and correct description, it is right that it should be in the Bill.

The right hon. Gentleman's main complaint is about the use of the phrase "known as Rockall." This causes him concern, and the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Ronald King Murray) feels equally strongly about it and supports the Amendment as a result.

The use of the phrase "known as" is absolutely correct. What is Scotland if it is not generally known as part of the United Kingdom? It is absurd to argue otherwise. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are simply playing with words. Why should "called" be more accurate than "known as"? The right hon. Gentleman called in aid the 1707 Act, which used the phrase "called", and the hon. and learned Member for Leith referred to the use of the phrase " part of the United Kingdom called Scotland" in one instance and "part of the United Kingdom called England" in another.

If it has been called England or Scotland for so many years, surely by this time it has come to be known as England or Scotland, simply through natural development. This is a reasonable, accurate and sensible legislative description as a result of developments over the years and I cannot see any reason for making the change proposed by the Amendment.

The hon. Gentleman must be aware that there are certain titles of honour in this country which it is reasonable to call in aid when discussing this subject. For example, Lord So-and-so will be described in law as "known as Lord So-and-so." The holder of an honorary title is not described in the same terms as the holder of a peerage. It is, therefore, legitimate for Scotland to be "called" rather than to be simply "known as" by repute.

Perhaps in the way that the hon. and learned Gentleman and the members of his profession add honour to the status of a title in that way—and it is a question of judgment whether they do—we can refer in this instance to what is "known as" rather than what is "called", though I do not believe that this is an important point.

I am concerned about the right hon. Gentleman's obsession with this play on words for no particular reason. It is not backed by strong arguments. I can only think that the right hon. Gentleman's worry is that in all his years as Secretary of State for Scotland he did not succeed, for all that he tried, to incorporate anything into Scotland—

It being Ten o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

Committee report Progress.

Business Of The House


That the Island of Rockall Bill [Lords] may be proceeded with at this day's Sitting, though opposed, until any hour.—[Mr. Jopling.]