HC Deb 23 March 1981 vol 1 cc626-7
33. Mr. Canavan

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he is now able to make a statement about holding meetings of the Scottish Grand Committee in Scotland.

Mr. Pym

I hope that the House will shortly have an opportunity to debate the report on the inter-party talks on the handling of Scottish parliamentary business. The possibility of holding some Committee meetings in Edinburgh is one aspect of that report.

Mr. Canavan

Does the Leader of the House recall that the Scottish Grand Committee has technically been in a state of Adjournment since 9 December last year when the Committee failed to report because the Government were defeated by 40 votes to nil after a debate on their proposals to close the Scottish colleges of education? May we resume that debate in Scotland during the Easter Recess and, if there is time, go on to debate the problems of the 290,000 people in Scotland who have been thrown out of work because of the Government's disastrous policies?

Mr. Pym

It is urgent that we consider this aspect of the handling of Scottish business. I am sorry that we have not been able to arrange a debate in the past month—the hon. Gentleman asked me a question on the subject the last time that I answered oral questions. I hope that it will be possible to do so in the reasonably near future. These matters and the points that the hon. Gentleman has raised will be relevant in that debate.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

What reason can the Minister conceivably give for the delay of one and three quarter years since the abandonment of the Scotland Bill for the consideration by the House of this mouse of a report requesting that the Scottish Grand Committee should meet more frequently? Has not the whole strategem been a cynical one on the part of the Government to waste time?

Mr. Pym

I do not think so. The report was produced in August last, and if it had not been for a change of office between my right hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) and myself we might have had the debate by now. I hope that it will come in the reasonably near future.

Mr. Dewar

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that the official Opposition are glad to hear that there is to be an early debate, as there has been a quite unreasonably long delay in discussing the reports of the inter-party talks? He says that it is a matter of urgency. Will he give us a guarantee that we shall have the opportunity within the next couple of weeks?

Mr. Pym

I hope to do that. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland hopes and intends in the fairly near future—by which I mean in the course of this week—to have discussions with the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Milian).