HC Deb 13 May 1952 vol 500 cc1100-1
28. Mr. M. MacMillan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what contribution from Scottish Department funds will be made towards the cost of the proposed survey of the Western Isles, North Ford causeway route, to be undertaken by the Royal Engineers; and when the survey is to be completed and the construction of the causeway undertaken.

Mr. Snadden

The Secretary of State for War has informed my right hon. Friend with regret that owing to the many other calls on the services of the Royal Engineers there is no prospect of the survey being made this summer. I cannot say, therefore, when the construction of the causeway will begin. No question of expenditure from the funds at my right hon. Friend's disposal arises at this stage.

Mr. MacMillan

While objecting to the Secretary of State's practice of breaking his predecessor's promise and, by proxy, his Joint Under-Secretary's, may I ask him whether he will consider the alternative of using the county council surveyor and his staff and local labour in view of the fact that this is a No. 1 priority scheme under the recommendations of the Highland Panel and that the county council of Inverness is perfectly willing to undertake part of the cost and the work? Will he consider that as a matter of urgency rather than leaving it as just another broken promise?

Mr. Snadden

I think the hon. Member knows that the Secretary of State has always been sympathetic towards this matter and so, in fact, has my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. The fact is that the troops are not available. As to the second part of the hon. Member's question, I will certainly put his views to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that the late Cameron of Lochiel met the various Ministers con- cerned with regard to the balancing of different forms of transport in the Highlands, and that the county council gave up their claim to all kinds of other improvements and fixed on North Ford as a first priority? Is he aware that this was a remnant of a great number of things that ought to be done and, in the capital improvements, was a small quota of the total requirements?

Is the hon. Member further aware that to the people of the Highlands the present attitude seems a desertion of promises solemnly made, and that if the Secretary of State for War cannot undertake the job that is not the end of resources and that there are surveyors in Scotland who can tackle it?

Mr. Snadden

We are fully aware of the importance of this question; but I understand that the reason why troops are not available is because of the training of Service men. I will put the suggestion to my right hon. Friend.