Tuesday, February 21, 2012

House of Commons 1955

This was in the House of Commons in 1955. It speaks for itself.

Mr Arthur Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
Co-existence is the right word.
The sense of tidy-mindedness that exists among administrators has led to continual and, indeed, continuous attempts to get rid of what appear to be anomalies in the administration of Scotland and the administration of England, but the Scots have resisted these attempts through the generations. They fought their own nobles. Allied with the Church they defeated the nobles. They fought their own king, as they fought English kings, and they fought their own king when he was also King of England. They defied the Church and everyone else who made any attempt to impose rules upon them that they did not adopt of their own free will. The resistance that has gone on now for hundreds of years to what they regard as English encroachments has become a national habit, and if causes of defiance do not exist, I think. sometimes, that we even look for them.
It was the strength of this tradition that made people, when the Union of the Parliaments took place in 1707, regard it as a betrayal ofScotland, a sell-out, a surrender of Scotland's interests, and there is no doubt whatsoever that that spirit, that feeling that something went wrong then, has persisted ever since as an undercurrent in our national thought. On the other hand, if we look at this without emotion and intelligently, we have to realise that 1707 was the turning point in the prosperity and progress of Scotland.
Up to 1707, Scotland never had peace. The people of Scotland never had an opportunity to develop their agriculture or to do anything to give them that accumulation of prosperity which makes a nation rich. From 1707 onwards, Scotland went ahead by leaps and bounds. It never looked back until we came to the slump of the inter-war years. That prosperity came because we had mutual help and co-operation and—a very important part in consideration of this Report—we had a share in the English trade in which,. up to then, we had been rivals and not partners.
There were periods after 1707 in which everyone was almost agreed that Scotland should be called North Britain, and we still have relics of that in the names North British Railways, the North British Station Hotel, and a great many institutions of that kind which still exist in our midst. Indeed I can remember when letters were sent to many people, addressed "N.B." [HON. MEMBERS: "They still do."] Of course, we recognise that there are certain weaknesses in geographical teaching in the South of England, and these tend to come out even in the addressing of letters.
We have no objection to our English friends remaining English and being proud of their heritage and destiny. They can sing, "There must always be an England," but they must not object to our singing, "There must always be a Scotland." This cold war which has gone on for a couple of hundred years between English people and ourselves is due to the lack of appreciation of these national feelings, and I am of the opinion that this indifference to national feelings, that unfortunately exists in England, was largely the cause of our losing America, might have lost us India, and certainly helped us to lose Ireland. Carried to an exaggerated extent, it could result, in spite of our economic loss, in the loss of ScotlandThe Commission has emphasised this point: why has this discontent again become evident? Its Report states: It has, we think, been aggravated by needless English thoughtlessness and undue Scottish susceptibilities. We are touchy, and we are conscious that we are touchy. That is the sum and substance of it. Harmonious relationship, however, does not depend only upon efficient and acceptable administration. History shows that misunderstandings due to thoughtlessness, lack of tact and disregard of sentiment can be serious. Misunderstandings if not openly discussed, tend to grow with the years and to hinder unbiased judgment on practical issues. It is our duty, therefore, to consider, also, what may be termed the emotional dissatisfaction which was disclosed in much of our evidence.That sensitiveness is always there. Irritation is frequent, but the desire for separation between England and Scotland is very spasmodic.
Between the wars, it become very strongly expressed. There was an economic reason for that. At one time between the wars, Scotland had 30 per cent. of its insured population unemployed. Those who were unemployed saw their industries disappear, sometimes bodily with the whole population connected with them, down into the South of England. They saw industries growing up rapidly all over England, but none growing up in Scotland. They saw the prospect of Scotland becoming a desert, so to speak, relatively to the South of England, with its Great West Road, Birmingham and other places which were thriving and becoming more prosperous.
In the five years between 1932 and 1937, out of 644 new factories in Britain, creating new employment, Scotland had six. At that time, the Governments of the day did not believe that Governments should interfere with industry. It was a matter of allowing industry to go where it suited it best, and Scotland, under those conditions, felt that if they had a Government of their own they would be able to control that and deal with this industrial blight which was spreading over Scotland. Therefore, during that period, my party and Scotland generally were making demands for a Parliament for Scotland and Home Rule for the Scottish people. When the war came that situation was changed, because during the war and during the Coalition, the Government accepted responsibility for the distribution and allocation of industries.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton), and my right hon. Friend Mr. Tom Johnston, who was Secretary of State for Scotland at the time, looked into this question, and together, under the Coalition, were able to bring a great many industries toScotland, such as the aluminium works at Falkirk, and industries to Dundee and Lanarkshire. This was the beginning of an entire change in the trend of industry.
When the Labour Party came into power, they were able, not by direction of industry, but by what one might call the deflection of industry to deflect it away from London, Birmingham and other places into new areas which have now become prosperous areas. I need only mention Dundee, which has been changed from a town which was practically dying to a town throbbing with energy and prosperity.
Since the war, a large number of industries have been introduced into Scotland. New jobs have been created for 120,000 or 130,000 people. Areas have been given alternative employment and there has been a redistribution of mining and population. Generally speaking, one can say that, since the war, Scotland has had a period of economic prosperity unrivalled in its history.
Why, therefore, in these circumstances, did an agitation arise on the question of separation from England? The Report summarises this, and I am summarising a great deal of what the Re port has investigated. It says: Much of the dissatisfaction that exists in Scotland is due to the increased intervention by government in everyday life; economic difficulties; and lack of knowledge of the extent to which devolutionof Scottish affairs has already taken place. I am sorry to say that the party opposite must accept a considerable part of the responsibility for these misunderstandings, because they used Scottish national feelings as a weapon with which to attack nationalisation and falsely allowed many people to believe that everything was being run from London. When we read the evidence put forward by the Royal Commission the most astonishing thing is that in nearly every case when people put forward complaints about rule from London the Commission, with a few questions, was able to elicit the fact that those giving the evidence had never made any inquiry as to what the facts were.

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