Sir John Orr Urges Great Co-operative Forward Movement
From Our Scottish Correspondent Sir John Orr, director of the Rowett Institute, Aberdeen, recently stated at a meeting in Edinburgh that he believes that Scotland is now ripe for a great co-operative forward movement " which would put her where she should be, and once was— in the very forefront of Western European nations."
He outlined a five-year plan for the adequate feeding and housing of the people of Scotland. While admitting that rearmament was necessary, since he regarded " the British Empire as the greatest bulwark of liberty and freedom in modern civilisation," he maintained that it was even more urgent to raise the standard of living of the poorest inhabitants of this country to make it worth while for them to defend democracy.
16 per Cent. Unemployment Sir John reminded his audience that poverty is now much greater in Scotland than in England. In 1936 unemployment was 16 per cent. as compared with 9 per cent. in England. He did not think the situation was any better today.
The proportion of houses unfit for habitation was six times as great in Scotland as in England.
He compared conditions at home with those in Scandinavian countries, Holland and Belgium, and was bold enough to say that even the poorest 25 per cent. of the German people was better housed than a similar proportion in Scotland.
He pleaded for greater encouragement to agriculture in Scotland, which would be a far better country to live in if it were possible for more people to make a living from the land, much as the people of Denmark do.
" Dragged at Tail of English Chariot" Sir William Goodchild, C.M.G., secretary of the recently formed Scottish Development Financial Trust, made use of some strong words the other day when at an after-luncheon speech in Glasgow, where his hosts were the members of the Glasgow Junior Chamber of Commerce. Maybe, just because he is an Englishman, Sir William is able to form a more shrewd judgment of the present condition of Scotland's economic state than a native of the country.
Anyhow, he had " no hesitation in saying that Scotland is neglected at present under an administration which, however well-meaning, does not seem able to do snore than drag Scotland at the tail of the English chariot."
Such words as these, coming from a hard-headed English business man who, so far as is known, has no connection with the Scottish National Party, are a sufficient indication of the way the wind is blowing this side of the border. Sir William went on to explain that this neglect was due to the fact that all Government departments in Whitehall " regarded Scotland merely as a division of Great Britain.
" Scotland was a nation with national requirements," and he submitted that it was intolerable that Scotland should be put on the same level as the north-eastern and north-western divisions of England.
He deplored the increasing centralisation of industry around London, not only from art economic point of view, but also from a strategic one in case of aerial invasion during war-time. He pointed out that there had been no development of light industries in Scotland in any way comparable to that which has taken place in Greater London and the English Midlands.
Scottish Development and Travel
At a conference of Local Authorities and other Scottish interests held in Glasgow last month, a resolution was adopted for the continuance and expansion of the Scottish Development Council and Scottish Travel Association, whose sphere of usefulness has been greatly limited in recent years owing to lack of sufficient income—at least £6,500 a year being required by the former body. Hitherto the Travel Association has not done all that it could, but this has not been for lack of will, but lack of finance. Visible proofs of what the Development Council has achieved are the Empire Exhibition at Glasgow, the Scottish Industrial Estate at North Hillington, the Building Centre in Glasgow, and the Scottish Information Bureau in London.
Refugees -and the Highlands
Although nothing official has been stated, there is reason to believe that the rumour that a number of persons have been negotiating for the purchase of a Hebridean island as a refuge for Sudeten Germans may be true. If so, one can only be amazed. What possible good such a scheme could do for an already distressed area where the natives find it more and more difficult to earn a living, is difficult to see.
To quote the words of the Scottish correspondent in The Observer: " Cynicism doesn't come easily to the Highlander, but he is beginning to wonder if the Government would perhaps do for the alien refugee what it has refused to do for him : he has noted, for example, how spontaneously the Government allotted £10,000,000 for the rehabilitation of the distressed areas of Czechoslovakia."