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Lord Whitty: My Lords, I do not completely share that conclusion. The Government continue to see the generation of electricity by nuclear means in the existing power stations as a substantial contribution to meeting our energy needs. As the noble Lord will know, about 25 per cent of our electricity is currently generated by nuclear sources. The noble Lord will also know that the last government took a decision, which we have
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): My Lords, it is not, nor has it been, the intention of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to have an official residence, either in Edinburgh or elsewhere.
Viscount Bridgeman: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. I welcome the news that the Government have given up the grandiose idea that the Secretary of State should have an official residence in Edinburgh. Can the Government go further and indicate what other signs of empire-building--more officials and new logos and letterheads--will also be dropped?
Lord Sewel: My Lords, it is not a matter of dropping, because it was never taken up in the first place; there was never any intention that the Secretary of State for Scotland should have a new official residence in Scotland. However, it must remain the case--and this cannot be a surprise to the noble Viscount--that clearly the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Scottish Office will need office accommodation in Scotland. Again, it would be hardly surprising if the location turns out to be Edinburgh.
Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the Secretary of State for Scotland has an important role to play in representing the Scottish people at the Westminster Parliament; that it is necessary in that context that he has proper offices and staff in Scotland, so that the views of the Scottish people can be collected on matters reserved to this Parliament, and properly represented in this Parliament; and that that is not helped by the kind of foolish Question we have had this afternoon from the noble Viscount?
Lord Sewel: My Lords, I very much welcome my noble friend's comments. Indeed, I would go further and say that it is not just the Secretary of State for Scotland who has an important role to play, but all his Ministers.
Lord Sewel: Yes, my Lords, I take all those points. I am happy to say that on occasions, as a Minister in the Scottish Office, I personally have been able to use the lodgings of Bute House. I appreciate very much the facilities made available there through the generosity of others. I am sure that it is the view of all past Scottish Office Ministers that Bute House has made a major contribution to the smooth running and functioning of the office of Secretary of State.
Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, did the Government consult the Bute family or the successor group of all those Scottish industries which spent six years preparing the house for occupation by the Secretary of State?
Lord Sewel: My Lords, I am not aware of the detailed consultations that were entered into, but my memory is that Bute House is run under trust by trustees. I would assume that those trustees--if I am not accurate in this I shall write to the noble Lord--were consulted and informed.
Lord Steel of Aikwood: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that Bute House was and remains the only official residence in Scotland for anyone in the Executive or Parliament, contrary to all the press reports?
Lord Selkirk of Douglas: My Lords, is the noble Lord the Minister aware that his Answer will be of considerable interest to the Scottish Parliament and its Members, of whom I am one, who will have a direct interest in the response that he has given? Will he confirm that there will be no unnecessary extra expenditure, which could come out of the Scottish block grant, and that it would make good sense and good practice for the Secretary of State for Scotland and Scotland's First Minister, if they are working very closely together, to share the same premises and the same offices?
Lord Sewel: My Lords, I am not convinced that it would be good practice for the Secretary of State for Scotland and the First Minister to share the same offices. There is some advantage in having distinct and separate offices for those two significant office holders. One is, of course, a member of the Government of the United Kingdom and the other is a member of the Scottish Executive. But I give the assurance that there will be no
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I should like to be clear in my own mind. Is the Minister saying that all the press reports that the Secretary of State was house-hunting in the area of Melville Crescent are totally wrong? If that is the case, I welcome it. His small number of civil servants could be housed in one of the existing government offices in Scotland. Would it not also be possible, if the Secretary of State needs to entertain people, for him to share the excellent facilities of Bute House with the First Minister, or are the press reports of bad blood such that they will not be able to share the same residence?
I assure the House that there will be no unnecessary extra expenditure. It is the belief of the Secretary of State and of the Government that it is right and proper that the Secretary of State for Scotland should have separate offices in Scotland, most likely in Edinburgh. I think the press reports have got a little bit garbled along the way, because there is certainly no intention of having a separate official residence; but there will be working offices.
Lord Sewel: My Lords, I was very carefully using the words of the noble Lord, Lord Selkirk of Douglas, who asked me to confirm that there would be no extra expenditure; I am more than delighted to do that. Perhaps I may make it absolutely clear that any costs resulting from the provision of office accommodation in Scotland for the Secretary of State for Scotland will be a charge on the Scottish block grant. There will be no additional source to meet such expenditure.
Moved, That Standing Order 38 (Arrangement of the Order Paper) be dispensed with tomorrow to allow the Motion relating to financial assistance to opposition parties to be taken before the Committee stage of the Greater London Authority Bill.--(Baroness Jay of Paddington.)
Clauses 1 to 6, Schedule 1, Clauses 7 to 18, Schedule 2, Clause 19, Schedule 3, Clauses 20 and 21, Schedule 4, Clauses 22 to 32, Schedule 5, Clauses 33 to 47, Schedule 6, Clauses 48 to 55, Schedule 7, Clauses 56 to 66, Schedule 8, Clauses 67 to 70, Schedules 9 and 10, Clauses 71 to 77, Schedule 11, Clauses 78 to 80, Schedule 12, Clauses 81 to 83, Schedule 13, Clauses 84 to 86.--(Baroness Hollis of Heigham.)