§ [References are to Bill (182) as first printed for the Commons]
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of STATE, SCOTTISH OFFICE (Lord Kirkhill)
My Lords, I beg to move that the Commons Amendments be now considered.
§ Moved, That the Commons Amendments be now considered.—(Lord Kirkhill.)
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
My Lords, this is perhaps the appropriate stage of our proceedings for me to deal with a point which arose in August during the Recess. An incorrect Press report appeared, apparently based on a misunderstanding of some comments from the Scottish Office, that this Bill was being held up in your Lordships' House, but a letter was published from me at the end of August pointing out that this was not the case and I should like to establish the facts again. The Bill left your Lordships' House on 24th June and went to another place, where it was when the Recess started, and, indeed, far from holding up this Bill, it appeared in your Lordships' House as a No. 2 Bill and, in that way, we were able to save the Government time because they could not find time on the Floor of the House for the Second Reading of the No. 1 Bill. Today is the first day when we have had the opportunity of considering the Bill again after 24th June, so we could have done nothing in the meantime to accelerate the passage of the Bill.
I wanted to make it absolutely clear that that Press report was completely incorrect and must have been based on a misunderstanding. We in your Lordships' House have enabled the Government to make rather quicker progress than they would otherwise have made. Even though we may not like what is proposed in some parts of the Bill and have suggested changes and improvements, none 671 the less we have in no way held up the setting up of this new Scottish Development Agency. I might add that in no way could this have been the responsibility of the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhill, who had only just come into Office in August, and my object is not criticism but clarification.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.