Committee (2nd Day)

Part of Scotland Bill – in the House of Lords at 1:15 pm on 2nd February 2012.

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Photo of Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Conservative 1:15 pm, 2nd February 2012

I am most grateful to the noble Lord. I think that he and I need to be careful because we will soon be appearing in the nat blogs as an example of an unholy alliance. I have suggested to my noble friend that we should form a roadshow and go around Scotland extolling the virtues of the union. The only other explanation I could think of for why the Scottish Government are now pressing for some control over Antarctica is that perhaps they think it might be a good idea to pass regulations keeping me there on ice for the winter in order to avoid open debate. I am most grateful to the noble Lord, and I thank him for the cheque he sent towards the fund for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

I support this clause because it is entirely sensible. I suspect that it was an oversight because there is a very serious job to be done. While I was in Antarctica I met some scientists who were drilling holes in order to measure movement in the ice-cap, but one of the problems they faced was that they kept on hitting gas and oil. There are considerable mineral resources in Antarctica and I hope that they will stay there for a long time so that Antarctica is preserved. I hope that the British Government will take very seriously their responsibilities in this regard.

My noble friend the Duke of Montrose also mentioned the Scott expedition and the centenary of Scott's arrival at the South Pole-only to discover that Amundsen had beaten him there. We all celebrate the courage that Scott and his party showed in their disastrous attempt to get back to safety from the South Pole.

So I welcome the clause. Of all the clauses in the Bill, it is the one that I can endorse with most enthusiasm. I am most grateful to my noble friend for ensuring that the interests of Antarctica are in good hands.