Orders of the Day — Scottish Development Agency Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:27 am on 21st October 1987.

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Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Paisley South 1:27 am, 21st October 1987

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on this eminently debatable motion. The motion is a disgrace. We have waited for some months for the House to reconvene so that we could discuss the affairs of Scotland, having demonstrated only five months ago that the people of Scotland wish us so to behave. At 11 o'clock tonight we were confronted by a motion in connection with the most important economic agency for the development of the industry and the environment of Scotland. We went along willingly with the decision to have a late-night debate instead of, as should be the case, a debate starting at 3.30 in the afternoon.

It was no wish of ours to have a debate on this important subject at this time of night, but we were prepared to do it on the basis that every hon. Member would have an opportunity to say how the economy of his constituency and its environmental well-being was faring and how the Scottish Development Agency under the tutelage and guidance of the Government was conducting the business for which it was set up. On the first day back our Front Bench, our Whips and, indeed, our Back Benchers showed a willingness to co-operate in the business of the House by saying that rather than delay' discussion of this important matter, we were prepared to have a debate late at night.

Some extraordinary things have been said and should be corrected. One of the extraordinary problems that we face is that the Minister of State and his junior Minister who flanks him do not believe in the involvement of public agencies in the economy. The more they tried to stress the success of the Scottish Development Agency under their guidance, the more foolish they made their own economic position. We understood the hesitancy of the Minister in the face of that. However, he had been left with the task and had to do it, because his lord and master had seen fit, on this day of all days, and on this subject of all subjects, to go to Japan. Because of that, we recognise the difficulties of the Minister.

Nevertheless, no hon. Member speaking after the Minister took advantage of the embarrassing situation that he and his colleague find themselves in. On the contrary, they dealt with the merits of the situation as it affected the people of Scotland instead of making cheap, shuttlecock political points. We are now tempted to play those cheap, political points, but we shall avoid the temptation because the issue is too serious. We must be concerned about the minority parties. That is to say, the SNP——