HC Deb 19 June 1974 vol 875 cc455-6
4. Mr. Gray

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will pay an official visit to Ross and Cromarty.

Mr. William Ross

While I have no present plans for a visit, I look forward to one at the earliest suitable opportunity. Both my noble and hon. Friends, the Ministers of State, are planning visits within the next few weeks.

Mr. Gray

Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that when his noble and hon. Friends visit Ross and Cromarty they will include in their itinerary a visit to the aluminium smelter at Invergordon and a visit to Nigg Bay, where Brown and Root-Wimpey Limited is operating in such a successful way? Will he also use his powerful Scottish voice in the Cabinet to ensure that those who are employed there need have no fear that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry will be let loose with a scythe to cut the prosperity they are now enjoying by nationalising those industries?

Mr. Ross

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that he raises fears that need not exist.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the problems of Ross and Cromarty cannot be separated from those of the area stretching from Orkney and Shetland down round the coast to Morayshire? On the question of oil, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the major problem in the area now is the shortage of housing? When will he be in a position to say what plans the Government have for improving the housing stock, in view of the immense difficulties that local authorities are having? Perhaps he can add a comment on the amazing statement from a Scottish Office source which appeared to indicate that the Scottish Office projected a smaller number of houses than other people had projected were needed for the population?

Mr. Ross

I do not know anything about that unsubstantiated statement. I do not know who made it. In the area to which the Question refers, in the Easter Ross and Invergordon area, and the hon. Gentleman's area, we have under construction or are proceeding with plans for about 6,200 houses, and there are further to come. We are determined to meet the needs of the area and to deal with the urgent problems arising there.

Mr. Dalyell

Will my right hon. Friend use the same powerful voice to which the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Gray) referred to persuade certain incoming American companies to be just a little more sensible about the recognition of trade unions?

Mr. Ross

That point has already been made to them.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Will the right hon. Gentleman make the position quite clear? In answering my hon. Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Gray), was he pledging to the House and Scotland that in the Cabinet he will prevent the Secretary of State for Industry from bringing forward plans to nationalise Brown and Root and other oil-related industries? Will he stop his right hon. Friend, or not?

Mr. Ross

The plans of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry, which were debated fully before and during the General Election—and in respect of which we received a considerable vote of confidence in Scotland—will have my general support.