HC Deb 31 July 1974 vol 878 cc769-70
1. Mr. MacCormick

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will pay an official visit to the Isle of Mull.

2. Mr. Donald Stewart

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will pay an official visit to the island of Scalpay.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. William Ross)

I have no plans at present for such visits but, as I told my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley (Mr. Robertson) on 20th March, I am always willing to consider or undertake visits where circumstances so warrant.

Mr. MacCormick

Does the Secretary of State for Scotland appreciate that if he is going to pay a visit to Mull and he wants to go direct to Tobermory, he had better go very quickly, because David MacBrayne Ltd. has announced plans to withdraw its call at the town of Tobermory, the chief town of the Island of Mull? Does he agree that that is a bad thing? Does he further agree that if the service were subsidised it could be continued in conjunction with the steamer service call at Tiree?

Mr. Ross

If that is the question the hon. Member wants answered, I should be grateful if he would put it on the Order Paper.

Mr. Stewart

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if he visits Scalpay he will see a very progressive community, which has built up a fine fishing fleet and even has a shipping company with three coasters? At the same time, he will see a community that has the problem of an appalling freight cost doubled through having to take goods, to Harris from the mainland in the first place and then across to the Island of Scalpay. Will he make a quick decision on the views put to him by the delegation that saw his hon. Friend the Minister of State? May I thank the Minister for the time and attention he gave to the delegation?

Mr. Ross

I am aware of the prosperity of Scalpay. One must recollect that there was a time when it looked as though the island was going right down. It is thanks to the Labour Government and the Highlands and Islands Development Board that it has progressed as it has.

There are already Questions on the Order Paper about freight charges, which my hon. Friend will be answering. I suggest that if the hon. Member has a question about freight charges it would be far better to put it directly rather than in this indirect way.

Mr. Barry Henderson

I wonder whether the Secretary of State, on the way to the islands, would consider visiting local authorities in the west of Scotland to discuss the welcome announcement made yesterday about the dispersal of Civil Service jobs? In the course of doing that, will he ensure that not only Glasgow Council but other local authorities in the area with particular facilities to offer, such as education, housing and environmental facilities in Dumbartonshire are consulted? Will he draw to the attention of the Civil Service the unique environmental qualities of the islands, which we hope he will be visiting, which make for a very happy life in those parts?

Mr. Ross

Once again I welcome the remarks my hon. Friend has made about yesterday' announcement, but that is another matter.

Back to
Forward to