§ Sir David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale)
On behalf of my constituents, I wish to present a petition, which has attracted more than 7,500 signatures of people in the Scottish Borders region. Never in my three decades in the House have I known such genuine anxiety about the quality of public services in our region, and that is reflected in the response to this petition.
The second part of the petition, which pleads for the capping limit to be raised, has already been agreed by the Secretary of State for Scotland since the petition was drawn up, and we are grateful for small mercies. However, the main burden of the petition remains, as the Scottish Borders council will meet later this week to carry out the unpalatable task of cutting what people regard as essential services. The petition reads:The petition of the residents of Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale constituency in the Scottish Borders declares that the financial settlement proposed for the Scottish Borders council for 1997–98 is inadequate to meet local needs and will lead to damaging reductions in the level of public services. The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Scotland to review the settlement proposed for Scottish Borders council for the aforementioned year, and also urges the Secretary of State to revise the maximum capping limits imposed on the council for 1997–98.I have pleasure in presenting the petition.
§ To lie upon the Table.9.53 pm
§ Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire)
I seek the leave of the House to lodge the Roxburgh and Berwickshire part of the regional petition that has been organised, explained and presented to the House by my right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel).
The first name in the Roxburgh and Berwickshire petition is that of 12-year-old Ross Oliver of Hillend drive in Hawick, who came to our meeting in Galashiels, and, in front of 600 people, explained that he hoped to be a professional swimmer when he was older, but could not do so if the local authority's proposed pool closures went ahead.
That petition and sentiment is also supported by Mr. Ronald Young, an athlete with learning difficulties who has won many medals, including a gold at the 1991 special Olympics. He too is worried about the closure of the Jedburgh pool, which will be proposed by Scottish Borders council at its meeting later this week. The petition reads:The petitioners of Roxburgh and Berwickshire concur with the plea that has been made by the Members from Roxburgh and Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale that the petitioners request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Scotland to review the settlement proposed for Scottish Borders Council for the aforementioned year and also urges the Secretary of State to revise the maximum capping limits imposed on the Council 1997/1998.I beg to submit the petition.
§ To lie upon the Table.