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 Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip 3:45 pm, 24th July 2019

We can, Sir Lindsay. However, I would note—I do not know whether it was deliberate—that Mr Jack was the Whip who actually moved the motion to bring the English Parliament into being. I do not know whether that was deliberate on the part of the Government. I know the Serjeant at Arms will be kept busy because the Legislative Grand Committee (England) will have to meet later, after consideration. Incidentally, with autocorrects, typing “LGC (E)” automatically brings up the euro sign. I do not know whether that is some kind of ill omen for the new Prime Minister today.

I should say that it is just as well both the spokespeople, the Minister in particular, do represent seats in England. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs covers the whole United Kingdom on some aspects, and if the Minister had been a Member for a seat in Scotland or Wales, he would not actually be in a position to move that the two clauses should stand part of the Bill.

I fully support both the clauses. It is very important that Kew Gardens has the opportunity to raise additional funds through the granting of leases. We have been in communication with the management at Kew Gardens, and I hope to take up their very generous offer of a visit to the gardens in the not too distant future, because we recognise how important it is. We are not attempting to politicise Kew Gardens, and we are certainly not attempting to disrupt the ultimate passage of the Bill. However, it important that we try to subject it, as any piece of legislation that comes through, to the scrutiny that it deserves, and this is one of the opportunities in which to do so. This also highlights, as my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and North Perthshire tried to do, the inadequacies of the procedures.

I have fond memories of visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh as a youngster. I remember my gran, who would have turned 96 tomorrow, taking me and looking at the goldfish, so I look forward to finding out whether Kew Gardens nurtures goldfish within its boundaries.

The University of Glasgow, based in my constituency, has live connections with Kew Gardens. In January 2016, a three-year collaboration began between Kew, the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian and the centre for textile conservation and technical art history at the University of Glasgow to examine the science and culture of Pacific bark-cloth. The project, which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, is investigating the traditional types of cloth worn on the islands of the Pacific—