HC Deb 01 July 1952 vol 503 cc236-7
40. Mr. M. MacMillan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what action he is taking to assist Inverness County Council with its plans for a causeway between Benbecula and North Uist Islands; and what assistance he is able to offer from the funds of his Department.

Mr. J. Stuart

I regret that in view of current restrictions on capital investment my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport is not in a position to offer the Inverness County Council a grant for this project, and the question of a supplementary grant from the funds at my disposal does not therefore arise at the moment. As the hon. Member is aware, however, I hope that when service conditions permit the assistance of the Royal Engineers will be made available for this work.

Mr. MacMillan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Inverness County Council is most anxious to go on with this scheme, and most anxious to pay its own part of it; that his predecessor in the Labour Government did commit the Government to a survey during the past winter; that he himself gave every indication more recently, during the past few months, that he was most anxious to go on with this survey at the earliest moment; that more recently still he said he was referring the matter to the Inverness County Council to undertake the work themselves; and is not this a very serious breach of faith?

Mr. Stuart

I do not think I ever gave a promise that this could be done, but I did hope, as the hon. Gentleman knows, that the Royal Engineers would be able to assist in this work. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War very much regrets that, owing to Service requirements, he is not able to help at the present time, but he, as well as myself, is anxious to see progress made as soon as conditions permit.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the Secretary of State not aware that on the previous occasion when this was discussed it was because of capital investment restrictions that the final negotiation of claims from this part was surrendered on the condition that this causeway was erected; that it does not interfere with capital investment restrictions if the people in the industry who would otherwise be unemployed are utilised in doing this work; and is he further aware that if he could get the assistance of the Service Departments Inverness would be able to provide the labour from its own resources?

Mr. Stuart

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that if I can get the matter speeded up by any means I shall be very glad to do so.