Statement by the Rt.Hon. Margaret Thatcher MP, Leader of the Conservative Party
My attention has been drawn to a report in today’s Glasgow Herald which states that there has been a “secret deal” between the Conservative Party and the SNP, to the effect that the Conservative Party would accept a 34 per cent ‘Yes’ vote in the Referendum as binding and that a Conservative Government would undertake to hold elections for the Assembly within fifteen weeks of the Referendum.
These statements are not true. The Conservative Party’s position was made clear by Mr William Whitelaw in the debate in the House of Commons on 14th December (Hansard column 1034) in which he said:
I would like to make it clear to the Scottish Nationalists that after Parliament has decided to implement the Act, if there is a “Yes” vote in the Referendum, we believe that the first Assembly elections should not be long delayed. We believe that they should be held within six months of the day of the Referendum.
and by Mr Pym in a speech on the 23rd September in which he pointed out that the referendum is advisory and that the result has to be put to Parliament for its decision. He pledged that:
For our part we are prepared to abide by Parliament’s decision. If 40 per cent of the electorate vote in favour of the scheme then a Conservative Government would certainly recommend to Parliament that the Scottish Assembly should go ahead.
That remains the position of the Conservative Party.