HC Deb 25 November 1991 vol 199 c623
30. Mr. Simon Hughes

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what proposals he has for the devolution of his powers from Whitehall to Lancaster.

Mr. Chris Patten

I have no such proposals.

Mr. Hughes

Does that mean that the Chancellor has the same objection to the concept of devolution as he apparently has to the concept of a referendum? Has the stunning success achieved by my hon. Friend the Member for Kincardine and Deeside (Mr. Stephen) in the recent by-election exerted no influence on the Cabinet, and has it failed to change the Government's attitude to devolution, whether in Scotland, Wales or the regions of England?

Mr. Patten

I note that—for the time being, at least —the Liberal party seems to have changed its position. Normally, it bases its arguments on its commitment to proportional representation. The hon. Gentleman, however, seems to be basing his arguments about Kincardine and Deeside, and the Liberals' position in the opinion polls, on plurality voting in single-Member constituencies. Liberal party policy changes from one part of the country to another.

Dame Elaine Kellett-Bowman

Will my right hon. Friend join me in expressing surprise at the temerity of the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) in asking a question about my constituency? Does he accept that my constituency has attracted increasing numbers of students and an increasing volume of industry? Any Department of State that had the good fortune to come to us would be very welcome.

Mr. Patten

My hon. Friend is, of course, right. Any constituency represented by a Member of Parliament as diligent as she would also be very fortunate.