HC Deb 10 February 1955 vol 536 cc2038-9
16. Mr. Grimond

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assistance he proposes to give to islands which do not receive shipping subsidies but in which the cost of such commodities as coal is greatly increased by transport costs.

Mr. H. Brooke

I assume that the hon. Member has certain Scottish islands in mind. The ones he represents already receive assistance in the form of remote area housing subsidy and special grants towards the provision of water and sewerage and towards the cost of improving and constructing roads and piers and croft houses. As recently as two days ago, my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland announced a new scheme of special assistance for land improvement to Scottish island producers.

Mr. Grimond

Is the Minister aware that I find him particularly evasive on this matter? A large subsidy is given to Northern Ireland, on the ground that it is across the sea, to reduce the cost of certain commodities, including coal. When asked why subsidies are not paid to other islands, the hon. Gentleman says that they are paid shipping subsidies. When I point out that he does not pay shipping subsidies to all islands, the hon. Gentleman then talks of other forms of assistance which are given to all parts of Great Britain. What comparable assistance to that given to Northern Ireland does the hon. Gentleman propose to give specifically to other islanders across the sea?

Mr. Brooke

We try to be fair to everybody, and I have pointed out that these islands are receiving a considerable degree of special assistance. I have looked into the cost of coal, which is one of the matters in which the hon. Member is interested, and I find that the cost of coal in Orkney is very little higher than in London.

Mr. G. R. Howard

Would my hon. Friend consider applying to the Isles of Scilly those other suggestions that he made regarding assistance?

Mr. Brooke

I will consider anything, but I should not like to undertake to consider it favourably.