§ 2. Mr. Hector Hughes
asked the Secretary of State for Air how many, and which, sites he considered for guided 370 missiles before he decided upon the Island of South Uist for that purpose; what were the characteristics of those other sites which were rejected for the purpose; and what determining factor caused him to select the Island of South Uist for that purpose.
I would refer the hon. and learned Member to the statement made by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State in the debate on the Vote on Account on 7th March.
§ Mr. Hughes
Has the Minister no progress to report? Does he not realise that, as a result of his selection of this site, the islanders are driven, in order to escape his clutches, to consider mass exodus to a Gaelic-speaking part of Canada, and does he not think that this is a disgraceful way in which to treat British subjects with whom he has no quarrel?
This project is an extremely important part of the arrangements which we are making for the defence of these islands, and I am quite sure that the people of South Uist are just as interested in that as anyone else. My hon. Friend made it clear in the debate the other day that, after an extensive search in all possible areas, we decided that this was the only place to which to go. I would remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that this scheme will bring many advantages to the islands as well as the disadvantages of which I am well aware.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Will not the advantages which are likely to be brought to the islands mean that this part of Western Scotland is far more likely to be bombed, in the same way as we bombed the German rocket ranges during the last war? Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that some of the advantages may be that if South Uist is bombed by rockets with nuclear warheads some of those bombs may drop on Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh? Does the right hon. Gentleman think that these are advantages for the Scottish population?
This is a range on which guided missiles are going to be tested for training purposes, and it is of such importance that I should have thought 371 that the people of the Western islands would have been proud to play their part in preparing for the country's defence.