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Scottish Grand Committee

Volume 13: debated on Monday 23 November 1981

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35.

asked the Lord President of the Council what arrangements he has made for the Scottish Grand Committee to meet in Scotland.

The House approved a sessional order on 5 November whereby, on an experimental basis, the Scottish Grand Committee can be given leave to hold sittings in Edinburgh.

As there seems to be some delay in getting the old Royal high school ready, why does not the right hon. Gentleman arrange for the Scottish Grand Committee to meet in the former Scottish Parliament building in Parliament Square, Edinburgh, even if this means temporarily evicting the present occupants, that well-known closed shop, the Faculty of Advocates?

I am sure that hon. Members who represent Scottish constituencies each have a preferred place for this experiment. Discussions have taken place between my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and his opposite number and also through the usual channels. I think that a conclusion broadly acceptable to the House has been achieved.

Is the Leader of the House aware that the broadcasting companies in Scotland are interested in the possibility of televising meetings of the Scottish Grand Committee——

I do not know why my hon. Friend should object. Will the right hon. Gentleman seriously consider this as a possible trial run for further consideration by the House of the televising of the proceedings of the House as a whole?

Can the Leader of the House say whether it is proposed that the Scottish Grand Committee should meet at 10.30 am on Mondays? If so, does not this show extraordinary ignorance on the part of the Scottish Office of travel in Scotland? Either the Committee will be denied the invaluable advice of the right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) and myself, or we shall have to spend Sunday in Edinburgh—a prospect that does not fill everyone with enthusiasm.

I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman should be so reluctant to spend Sunday in Edinburgh. Arrangements have been made that are thought to be as acceptable as possible. It is possible that, due to difficulties of the kind that the right hon. Member mentions, the experiment will not continue. It is however, right for the House to try it for a year.

I think that I am right in saying that it will be ready early in the new year.