HC Deb 01 February 1989 vol 146 cc294-6
15. Mr. Kirkwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the Government's review of future development of trunk road routes south of Edinburgh.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

There has been a slight delay in preparation of the report of the "Routes South of Edinburgh" study which was due to have been submitted by the end of January.

Mr. Kirkwood

Why has there been that delay? It is vital to the whole Borders region that the Al, A68 and A7 are improved and developed. Will the Minister assure us that the report will be published before the summer and that there is no suggestion that detrunking will play any part in action implemented by the Government?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Some delays ensued from technical difficulties, but the more important fact is the increasingly evident need for interchange between the M74 studies and the "Routes South of Edinburgh" study.

The hon. Gentleman asked whether the report would be published. The document is technical and it is not usual to publish such documents, but we plan to publish a summary of the recommendations and then state what action we intend to take as a result. We shall do that as soon as possible. There was also the problem that the study area proved larger than the usual computer programme could handle, so that had to be rewritten to cope with the amount of data involved.

I note also the hon. Gentleman's comment about detrunking, but at this stage I cannot give him the commitment that he seeks.

Mr. Strang

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In the exchanges between my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) and the Minister on question No. 2, you will have noted that the decision of yourself and your staff to allow the poll tax to be called the poll tax on the Order Paper, and not to give way to the Government in calling it the community charge, was completely vindicated. I hope that when the broadcasting organisations in Scotland report today—when representatives from all walks of life in Scotland present a petition with a third of a million signatures against the poll tax —and say that the only concession that we achieved was for empty farm cottages, they will recognise that we are talking about a poll tax and not a community charge.

Mr. Speaker

That is hypothetical at the moment.

Mr. Bill Walker

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. When a statutory body such as a local authority is established by the House by statute and operates under the statute for collecting local taxation, is the local authority allowed to call that local taxation by a term other than that which this House has passed?

Mr. Speaker

The correct term is what is in the Act.

Mr. Home Robertson

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. As the Secretary of State for Scotland announced a major concession to farmers in empty farm cottages, have you had any indication from him that he intends to make any statement of any relief for the 11,000 farm workers in tied cottages who will be worse hit than those farmers?

Mr. Speaker

I have had no indication of that.