CAN I contribute to this trip down memory lane about how Scotland was robbed of its oil bonanza (and is currently being robbed of its renewables bonanza)? It’s true that throughout the 1980s Thatcher systematically laid waste to Scotland’s industrial base. However the rot actually set in before Thatcher.

There was a debate in the Commons on 21st March 1978 (which can be checked in Hansard series five, vol 946, cc1325-40) about how the oil wealth should be spent. The following exchange reveals not just Labour’s hypocrisy in ditching its manifesto pledge to create an oil fund, but the general contemptuous attitude of the UK Government towards Scotland.

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Margaret Bain MP (SNP): “In a Scottish context, does the Prime Minister accept that the 60,000 jobs to which he referred in his statement have now shrunk to 56,000 because of their temporary nature? In view of this, and against a background of 191,000 unemployed in Scotland plus a 30% shrinkage in our manufacturing base, does he accept that there will be bitter disappointment in Scotland that no special oil fund is to be set up as promised in the Labour Party’s manifesto?

“Many people will feel that, while he himself may have been piped into the Labour Party conference at Dunoon, Scotland’s oil resources are being piped very quickly from Scotland? There will be no control under which we can monitor the way in which the Scottish Exchequer spends the oil revenues in Scotland.”

Prime Minister James Callaghan: “I recognise that that is the standard formula of the Scottish National Party. I hope that the honourable Lady will read the White Paper objectively and apply her mind to whether it would be possible to set up an oil fund that would be meaningful. It would be wrong to deceive the Scottish electors into believing that it would be possible to do this. I hope that the honourable lady will not allow her party to do so.

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“I agree that Scotland is one of the areas – like my own area of South Wales –which is particularly affected by the shrinkage of the traditional industries. Scotland has made a great start by getting into electronics and is doing well in a number of new industries. Indeed, it is hoped that these revenues will regenerate industry there.”

Robert Hughes MP (Lab): “Does my right honourable friend accept that there will be a great welcome in Scotland, as well as in the whole of the country, for the emphasis which he has put on the need to use North Sea oil revenues for investment in future prospects and future industry? Is that not in stark contrast to the attitude of both honourable ladies who have asked questions – the Leader of the Opposition [Thatcher – who had suggested that the oil bonanza be used for tax cuts] and the honourable member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs Bain) – whose only concern seemed to be to get their snouts in the trough quickly and early?”

In 1978 few people got to know about what went on in the House of Commons; only the highlights as selected by the Unionist media. Now there are alternative sources of information, if people are interested enough to do their research.

We must save our renewables from the UK Government and their corporate friends.

Mary McCabe

WHAT contrived nonsense to call the Northern Ireland agreement the Windsor Framework, which presumably is intended to reflect a connection with Windsor and royalty rather than explicitly mention Ireland. As a result the significance of the arrangement with no mention of Ireland will be lost to anyone with scant following of current news.

Tom Gray