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Volume 886: debated on Wednesday 12 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received with regard to the powers of the proposed Scottish Assembly.

I have received representations with regard to the transfer to the Scottish Assembly of many aspects of Government functions with appropriate powers. These representations have come from a wide range of interested parties in Scotland, mainly in response to the Government's consultative document published on 3rd June 1974.

I am grateful to the Minister. Taking into account the Government's new approach to the question of collective responsibility, will he distinguish between his own published views on these matters and the views of the Government of which he is a member? Will he confirm that the Government will not forfeit Scotland's right to a place in the Cabinet or her entitlement to benefit from the future location of industry or employment in parts of the United Kingdom as determined by United Kingdom Ministers?

I am really surprised at the implication of that supplementary question. In all fairness, I thought that the hon. Gentleman made a first-class concluding speech on the first day of the debate on devolution. The Government are committed without any reservation to the retention of the Secretary of State for Scotland in the Cabinet, and to 71 Members of Parliament.

Will my hon. Friend indicate when these representations will come to an end and when the Government will bring forward their firm proposals for the Scottish Assembly?

The question of representations will obviously be a continuing one. At this stage it is impossible to say when the Government will be in a position to bring forward firm proposals to the House. These matters were debated on Monday and Tuesday of last week, and my right hon. Friends the Leader of the House and the Secretary of State did give an answer in kind to the questions which are now being asked.

Can the hon. Gentleman say when the Scottish Assembly will be established?

I should first of all apologise to the hon. Member that Scottish Question Time is being held in the middle of his week's holiday. We hope to keep to the timetable which the Leader of the House mentioned in the concluding speech in the debate on the Queen's Speech. At the same time, I should say that it is the Government's firm intention to get the matter right. If this means taking a bit longer, we feel sure that the people of Scotland will accept this as right and proper in all the circumstances.

Coming back to the powers of the Scottish Assembly, has my hon. Friend taken note of the observation of the Kilbrandon Commission that the Stormont Government had substantial powers over trade and industry which they chose not to use because they found it impracticable to do so within an integrated economy?

Yes, the Government have taken note of the reference to the Stormont situation in the Kilbrandon Report. I should mention that there is a very interesting paragraph in Lord O'Neill's book on this matter. That is one of the points of which we have taken note.