Orders of the Day — Scottish Development Agency Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:47 am on 21st October 1987.

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Photo of Margaret Ewing Margaret Ewing , Moray 1:47 am, 21st October 1987

I had anticipated that when we agreed to the motion that stands on the Order Paper the Second Reading debate would be completed. The fact is that 76 per cent. of the Scottish electorate voted for opposition parties, and those parties have been well represented in the House this evening. We are willing and able to stay here for as long as is necessary to complete the Second Reading of the Bill.

If the Government believe that this is important legislation and that it should come before the House during prime time, why was it tagged on to other major legislation that affects the whole of the United Kingdom? If Scottish legislation is important, it should have been allocated prime time. The Government would not then have chickened out at this late stage and refused to ensure that the Bill had a Second Reading.

It is strange that the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) should tell us in advance of the official statement about the business of the House and that we can anticipate a debate on industrial policy next week. We have no guarantee of that until we hear in the business statement that such a debate will take place. Even if a debate on the Scottish economy and industrial policy were to take place next Thursday, that debate would now be limited to the Scottish Development Agency. The SDA is a welcome part of Scotland's industrial scene, and all hon. Members pay tribute to the work that the agency is doing. However, to limit the debate to the SDA would mean that we were avoiding an examination of other aspects of the Scottish economy and Scottish industrial policy.

Perhaps the Government do not want to discuss these issues. But perhaps even more appalling was the fact that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar), in the initial debate that was taking place through the usual channels, appeared to acquiesce in the decision to report progress — [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The hon. Member for Garscadden, in discussions with myself and the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood), indicated that he was willing to accept the motion to report progress. Will you advise me and other hon. Members, Madam Deputy Speaker, whether it is a regular function that Second Reading debates can be postponed on report progress motions? I am not an expert on the various technicalities of the House, but it seems unusual that a second reading debate should be interrupted in this way.