HC Deb 03 February 1971 vol 810 cc1663-6
25. Sir J. Gilmour

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will now

knows that I have written to him about specific cases and—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must make his comment in the form of a question.

Mr. MacLennan

Will the hon. Gentleman now withdraw that misleading statement?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

There is no evidence that actions of the kind which the hon. Gentleman so wildly alleges are holding up drainage schemes in Scotland on any scale.

Following is the information:

make a statement on the estimated costs at 1971 prices of modernising and equipping the British Sugar Corporation factory at Cupar.

45. Mr. MacArthur

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about the financial considerations which influenced the decision to close the British Sugar Corporation factory at Cupar.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The original decision to close the factory was taken by the last Administration. The main financial considerations were the losses incurred by the Corporation through operating at Cupar and the need to invest in re-equipment without prospect of an economic return.

At 1971 prices the estimated cost of modernisation would be about £2 million.

Sir J. Gilmour

As the British Sugar Corporation has continually refused to disclose on what the £2 million would be spent, and as everyone engaged in the sugar-refining trade knows the answer—for there is nothing secret about it and nothing to hide—and as the Chairman of the British Sugar Corporation is appointed by the British Government, for the information of the people who work in the factory and those whose work will suffer by the closing of the factory, will my hon. Friend insist that these figures are now published?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

I understand my hon. Friend's concern, but as I have already explained to the National Farmers' Union of Scotland, it is not customary to make available detailed commercial costings which are obtained in confidence.

Mr. Lawson

Since the hon. Gentleman when in opposition repeatedly expressed hostility about the decision of the previous Government in this matter, will he now apologise for his misleading remarks?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Because of the very serious agricultural implications of this closure, which I do not believe hon. Gentlemen fully appreciated, we believe that it was necessary to reassess the position. That is what we undertook to do in opposition, during the election, and that is what we did.

Mr. Buchan

Is not the hon. Gentleman thoroughly ashamed of himself and his hon. Friends for the callous way in which they raised the expectations of Scottish farmers? Is it not a fact that the farmers in his area are absolutely right when they accuse him of grossly misleading the farmers of Scotland?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

There is absolutely no question of misleading. Our position in this is absolutely straight. All I can say to Members of this House and to members of the farming community in Scotland is that we have looked at this far more thoroughly than hon. Gentlemen opposite did.

Sir J. Gilmour

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.