HC Deb 23 February 1977 vol 926 cc1388-9
4. Mr. MacCormick

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

Mr. Harry Ewing

My right hon. Friend has, at present, no plans to do so.

Mr. MacCormick

Does the Minister agree that, in view of the disreputable massacre inflicted last night on the Government's excellent Scotland and Wales Bill by Scottish Conservative and Scottish Liberal Members—I agree that he might find this difficult to answer—it would be equally disreputable to get rid of the local hospital in Glencoe? Will he accept that one of the worst aspects of the reorganisation of local health organisations in Scotland is the increase in centralisation, against which we must fight?

Mr. Ewing

After that supplementary question, I can imagine that there might be a desire in Glencoe to get rid of several local features, possibly at the next election. The hon. Gentleman received a copy of the consultative document published by the area health board, which is due to meet next on 18th March. If there is any proposal to close the local hospital at Glencoe, that will come to my right hon. Friend and will have to be approved by him. The hon. Gentleman should not get excited prematurely.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Is the Minister aware that the Glencoe hospital covers a big chunk of my constituency? Can he at least assure us that when the matter comes before his right hon. Friend, the representations against the closure will be fully and carefully considered?

Mr. Ewing

Yes, I can certainly give that assurance.

Mr. Buchan

Will the Minister bear in mind that the massacre at Glencoe was a massacre of Scots by Scots? Is it true that it is called the "Glen of Weeping", after the hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. MacCormick)?

Mr. Ewing

One lesson that I have learned in politics is never to become involved in domestic disputes.

Mr. Younger

If the Minister will not go to Glencoe, will he go further and visit the Western Isles, where people are facing fares increases on the ferries which are greater than the increases allowed under the Government's policy? Are they covered by the Price Code, and, if so, what will the Minister do about the matter?

Mr. Ewing

That is a totally different question. If the hon. Member is so interested in the subject, I should have thought that he would take the trouble to put down a Question.

Mr. Skinner

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the massacre last night came about as a result of the actions of a few of my hon. Friends taking a principled stand on the matter, allied with a successful attempt by the Tory Party, acting in unison, whiplashed into the Lobby by the Leader of the Opposition, not on the basis of devolution but almost entirely in a desire to inflict an electoral embarrassment on the Labour Government?

Mr. Ewing

I can think of no better way to put that than the way in which my hon. Friend has just put it.