HL Deb 31 January 1980 vol 404 cc1021-3

4.6 p.m

The MINISTER of STATE, SCOTTISH OFFICE (The Earl of Mansfield)

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(The Earl of Mansfield.)


My Lords, we dealt with this Bill rather perfunctorily on Committee, rather late at night on Tuesday—

The Earl of MANSFIED

It was on Report, my Lords.


Well, my Lords, we dealt with it or did not deal with it, as the case may be. There is only one point I wish to raise. I welcome the Bill, of course, and I am glad that the Government show their confidence in the Highlands and Islands Development Board, and that they are prepared to give to that board now the authority of a harbour authority and the exercise of all the functions of a harbour authority. I believe that in this particular case the board bought a piece of land for development and discovered that they had bought a rather derelict and dangerous jetty which had formerly belonged to the private company Barra Atlantic; and it has now got to the stage where it would perhaps be rather better to put up a notice warning people of the dangers of using it. So now we have to give them the full statutory authority to become a harbour authority and to erect a new jetty.

The one thing that I really want to ask the noble Earl—and I am sorry if I have not given him notice of this—concerns page 3 of the Bill, where there is a certain assessment of the cost, which I think is about £268,000. Bearing in mind that the plans were drawn up, I think, on 7th November, 1978, it may well be that that sum of money is a considerable underestimate of what the work would now cost, and it has not yet started. Has the noble Earl any information about the actual cost? But, much more important, does it follow that the Secretary of State will give approval for the immediate expenditure of this money, bearing in mind the urgency of providing this pier at Ardveenish?


My Lords, I am sure that the inhabitants of Barra will welcome as indeed I do, the support of the noble Lord to this measure, and indeed the support of the Government for the Highlands and Islands Development Board, which I have vouchsafed in public on a great number of occasions. As the noble Lord has said—or at any rate implied—this is a private Bill which is not directly sponsored by the Government: therefore I shall be perfectly frank with the noble Lord. Without prior notice I am not briefed to answer technical questions on matters such as estimates, and all I can do, as I think I did on a previous occasion, is to say that I will write to the noble Lord about this matter.


But surely the noble Earl knows, because I understand that something has already gone before the Scottish Office to the effect that the Secretary of State will approve or disapprove of the spending of this money and also the timing. It is important that we should have some information about that.


My Lords, the noble Lord will get his information as soon as it can come with a 10p stanp.

On Question, Bill read 3a and passed.