Power to grant a lease in respect of land at Kew Gardens

Part of Kew Gardens (Leases) (No. 3) Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 3:45 pm on 24th July 2019.

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Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitution), Shadow SNP Leader of the House of Commons, Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee 3:45 pm, 24th July 2019

Absolutely, Sir Lindsay, because this Bill gets to the heart of English horticulture and all the associated democratic quandaries that need to be properly resolved and considered in this fantastic English Parliament.

This Bill rightly seeks to introduce powers to grant a lease over land at Kew for a term of up to 150 years. We can almost feel all the great Members of all the ancient English Parliaments saying, “Yes, we need to make sure that this is properly considered. We wholeheartedly agree that there should be not be a restriction in section 5 of the Crown Lands Act 1702 in relation to a lease of land at Kew.” We can almost hear the Stuarts, the Plantagenets and the Roundheads. If they knew that section 5 of the 1702 Act currently prevents the sale of Crown land such as Kew and limits the length of leases over it to a term of 31 years, which is clearly insufficient, they would be turning in their decorative, medieval graves—they would be demanding 150 years for Kew Gardens, and by God this English Parliament is going to secure that for them today!

I want to make it abundantly clear before I go any further that I think that Kew Gardens is a wonderful institution. Of course it deserves to be treated properly, and the Bill sets out how to do that perfectly. We squatters are not members of this august body; we are not Members of the English Parliament. We get to participate in it and make speeches, but our vote is subject to the double majority