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 4:28 pm on 24th July 2019.

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Photo of Steve Pound Steve Pound Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland) 4:28 pm, 24th July 2019

It is a sad commentary on—or almost a tragic indication of or a metaphor for—our times that a Bill like this which every sane, sensible person would support wholeheartedly seems to have run into the mire of parliamentary procedure. Pete Wishart normally exhibits a warmth and amity so typical of his Caledonian cousins, and he normally extends this warm cloak of friendship over all of us and wishes nothing more than to accelerate the proceedings of the House, but on this occasion there was a smidgen of sarcasm about his words; it pains me grievously to say that. He implied that somehow this was not a matter of great moment beyond west London—although west London is obviously a place of great significance.

Kew Gardens is a global treasure store. It is a world bank and a world centre of excellence, yet the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire—one of the very few Members of this House to have exposed himself to the nation on “Top of the Pops” when he was playing with Runrig—somehow implied that this was not an issue that stretched beyond west London. I immediately thought of F. E. Smith during the Established Church (Wales) Bill, when he suggested that the eyes of the entire world would be on us. Hon. Members may remember Chesterton’s comment at the time:

“Are they clinging to their crosses, F. E. Smith,

Where the Breton boat-fleet tosses,

Are they, Smith?

Do they, fasting, trembling, bleeding,

Wait the news from this our city?

Groaning ‘That’s the Second Reading!’

Hissing ‘There is still Committee!’”

This is an important Bill, and I have to say that the Minister has exhibited many of the great skills of the horticulturalists. He has been patient and allowed the Bill to grow before us. He has battened off invasive species using only organic principles—