HC Deb 26 January 1977 vol 924 cc1481-3
12. Mr. Lambie

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from the Cunninghame District Council's industrial development committee on industrial development; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gregor MacKenzie

The chairman of the district council wrote to me in November about the development of the Hunterston peninsula. The ore terminal that is under construction there, at a cost of £70 million, is expected to be operational early next year. BSC has now received outline planning permission for two direct reduction units costing £55 million, and it is hoped that these, too, will be operational in 1978.

Mr. Lambie

Does the Minister realise that his answer shows an extreme degree of complacency in view of yesterday's published figures on unemployment, which show that there are now 4,660 people unemployed in the Irvine, Kilwinning and Saltcoats areas of the Cunninghame district? Is it not time that my hon. Friend and his right hon. Friend took some positive steps to encourage oil companies to develop oil refining capacity in the Cunninghame district, as requested by the industrial development committee?

Mr. MacKenzie

The first point that I want to make is that my right hon. Friend and I are in no way complacent, as my right hon. Friend indicated a few minutes ago. I hope that when my hon. Friend is thinking about the problems of unemployment he will bear in mind the positive suggestions that have been made and the actions that have been taken by the Government in regard to industry schemes, selective financial assistance and issues of this kind.

Secondly, oil development is a matter on which my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) gave his views in 1974, and so far the oil companies have not taken the opportunity of asking my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for a hearing on this matter.

Mr. Corrie

Will the Minister remember that Hunterston lies in the constituency of Bute and North Ayrshire and not in the constituency of Central Ayrshire? The people in that area have different views from those of the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie). Their real worry is that a petrochemical works could be put beside a nuclear power station.

Mr. MacKenzie

I am sure that no matter who makes the representations in the House, the point has been made to the Government. We accept it and we shall do everything that we can to ensure that the Hunterston peninsula is developed in the best way possible to ensure the maximum number of jobs for the people in that part of Ayrshire.

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