Site icon Random Scottish History

Scottish Opinion Over-ruled, p.40.

[Scotland’s Scrap Contents]

   A writer on the question of “Scottish Home Rule” about the beginning of the present century states his case as follows: 

   It being impossible to deny the injustice of England having 465 [533] votes to Scotland’s 72 [59] in all measures relating to Scotland alone, a pleasing fiction has been diligently spread abroad as to the magnanimity of the English members. It is stated that it is the habit of English members to pay such deference to Scotch opinion in matters relating to their country that they always vote with the majority of Scotch members. We have diligently observed the ways of the House of Commons for over thirty years, and have failed to discover the magnanimity boasted of. It is true the Scotch members get leave at rare intervals to debate over a Scotch bill by themselves, but when the division bell rings the English members troop in from the smoke-room and vote as their party whip directs, with complete indifference to the arguments or wishes of the Scotch members. This has not been done once, but scores of times in recent years. For example, there were twelve cases of it on the Local Government Bill for Scotland. 

   “Again we have the same thing repeated on the Scotch Private Bill Legislation, the second reading of which was debated on the 22nd January, 1891. Fifteen members from Scotland voted for the Bill, twenty-six against it, yet the measure was carried by a majority of over sixty-four, thus swamping Scotch opinion by English votes.” 

   The same story is continually being repeated. Speaking on a Rating Bill in the House of Commons in April, 1921, Mr. Wm. Graham, M.P. described as a Parliamentary outrage the clause at the end applying the Bill to Scotland. 

   Another illustration of the common method of “Legislation (for Scotland) by appendix” occurred in the same session in the case of the Licensing Act. This was an English measure but was extended to Scotland by a complicated application clause, despite the fact that Scottish liquor licensing is regulated by separate legislation and controlled in a different spirit from that of England. Scottish opinion was flouted, the application clause being carried by 118 to 30, the minority being largely Scottish. 

   A more recent example of the over-ruling of Scottish opinion on a Scottish question is that of the Local Government Scotland Act of 1929, many of the chief provisions of which met with almost universal condemnation in Scotland. The second reading of the measure was carried by English votes. 

Exit mobile version