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Volume 704: debated on Wednesday 22 October 2008

My Lords, it has not escaped my attention that there is a strong desire from all sides of the House for a debate on the present economic difficulties. It may be helpful to know that I agree that there is a need for such a debate and that I am, in consultation with other representatives of the usual channels, looking to find time for it before Prorogation.

With the leave of the House, my noble friend Lord Mandelson will today make a Statement entitled “Measures to Help Small Businesses” at a convenient point after 4.15 pm. This is the Secretary of State’s first opportunity to make the Statement to the House. This opportunity happens to be later than I am sure we would all agree is desirable. As noble Lords will be aware, the House of Commons sits at 11.30 am on Wednesdays and because of this it has not been possible to deliver this Statement simultaneously with the Statement delivered earlier today in the House of Commons. Simultaneous delivery of the Statement would of course have been the preferred option. We will endeavour to achieve this with future Statements made by my noble friend Lord Mandelson.