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Bannockburn

Volume 887: debated on Thursday 6 March 1975

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Q4.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will pay an official visit to Bannockburn.

Will my right hon. Friend try to arrange a visit to Bannockburn, the centre of Scottish patriotism? Will he also accompany me on a visit to the Bannockburn Miners' Welfare Club and the 1314 Inn, where I can introduce him to some true Scottish patriots who prefer Socialism to separatism? In order to demonstrate conclusively that the people of Bannockburn reflect accurately the views of all Scottish people, will my right hon. Friend seriously consider holding a referendum on the whole question of devolution so as to prove, once and for all, that the people of Scotland want Socialist devolution rather than the silly separatist policies of the Scottish National Party?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his invitation. I am not sure that it is necessary for me to visit Bannockburn to that end. Certainly, in my discussions in Scotland last week with the STUC and others I found general agreement that the solution of Scotland's economic problems lies in the context of membership of the United Kingdom. I am not in favour of a referendum on this question. I believe that the majority of Scottish people firmly wish to eschew separatism. At a suitable moment I should like to take up my hon. Friend's invitation to go to the club in Bannockburn that he mentioned.

In view of the earlier meeting between the Scots and the English at Bannockburn, at which certain satisfactory conclusions were reached, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman accepts that both his view and the view of the Lord President of the Council is much more realistic than the views of some of his backwoodsmen from Scottish constituencies, especially one with a majority of 367?

If the size of majorities were a qualification for expressing views in this House there would be some rather odd silences, including some from the Scottish National Party.

I do not think that one needs to go to Bannockburn to discuss these matters. Those were the days when there was certain evidence of divisiveness, I am too gentlemanly to refer to the Battle of Pinkie, in 1547, and what happened. They all had different conclusions. Surely we are all now working together, and no one, apart from the small minority represented by the hon. Gentleman, supports separatism.

The Prime Minister referred again to the important discussions that he had with the Scottish TUC, to which the Leader of the House referred last Monday. Do not these discussions and the documents that came forward make it all the more important that the House should be informed about them in a White Paper long before we consider any question of legislation on the subject?

The discussions were important. I shall certainly consider how these matters can be made available to the House. These documents were, in fact, published. They were very forward-looking and to a high degree represented the views expressed on both sides of the House. It is not necessary to have a White Paper, because in the debate my right hon. Friend explained the position as the Government see it.