HC Deb 16 April 1991 vol 189 c381

Postponed proceeding on Question, That the Bill be now read the Third time, resumed.

8.30 pm
Dr. Lewis Moonie (Kirkcaldy)

We return from the glorious heights of Government incompetence over private Bills to the more mundane level of Government incompetence over the privatisation of the British Technology Group. I am delighted that the Minister is still with us.

I do not intend to prolong the debate. I have lost the enthusiasm for my speech that I had 13 hours ago. Suffice it to say that we remain implacably opposed to the privatisation of the British Technology Group, for the reasons that we outlined at great length on Second Reading and in Committee. We think that privatisation will damage an essential part of the support structure for technology transfer in this country. Therefore, I give the Minister notice that we shall oppose the Bill on Third Reading.

8.31 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry and Consumer Affairs (Mr. Edward Leigh)

It is my pleasure to wind up the Third Reading debate that began over 13 hours ago, with some interruptions since then. Neither in our debates on Third Reading, nor in our debates on Report, nor in our long debates in Standing Committee did the Opposition succeed in sustaining their case. The fact is that the British Technology Group is a commercially viable operation, with no loans or debts outstanding to the Government. Its niche is to exploit inventions that potentially are commercially viable. We believe that its rightful and proper place is in the private sector.

I am sorry that, after a good night's sleep, the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Dr. Moonie) has not decided to change his mind. Perhaps he has realised at the last moment that we intend to bury the old National Enterprise Board. It is abolished by the Bill. Thereby we shall prevent any putative Labour Government from implementing any plan to resurrect that disastrous creation of the Wilson and Callaghan years.

We should now proceed to a vote on the Third Reading of this excellent Bill, which will give a bright, new commercial future to the British Technology Group.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.