Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:14 pm on 23rd January 1992.

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Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden 7:14 pm, 23rd January 1992

I genuinely regret having given way to the hon. Gentleman. As he well knows, that will be the burden of the main part of my speech. He has an important role as a substitute Scot on this occasion. I hope that he will stay, listen and learn.

Suspicion of the Government's plans and of their attitude became a certainty when the Department of Trade and Industry finally blew their cover. Perhaps I do not recognise an unsuspected luminary, but I do not think that there is a representative of the DTI here. I remind the House that the DTI is supposed to be the lead Department in this business. That absence is therefore the height of discourtesy.[Interruption.] I know that the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) likes to run everything, but so far as I know, he is not yet running the Department of Trade and Industry. He may be omni competent in the Scottish Office but, so far as I know, he has not yet got beyond the Scottish Office.

When we saw the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, the right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), he was disastrously frank. I recall it because it made such an impression on me. He said that he was doing nothing to help, because the Scottish Office had not asked him to do anything. The harsh truth is that there has been no real attempt to derail British Steel's plans. The search has always been for a face-saving formula, never for a solution.