HL Deb 18 May 1981 vol 420 cc782-3

7.5 p.m.

Lord Lyell

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now considered on Report.

Moved that the Bill be now considered on Report—(Lord Lyell).

Lord Alport

My Lords, if no one else intends to contribute to the discussion of this particular piece of legislation, perhaps I might take up the time of your Lordships for a couple of minutes to say how much I welcome the development which is envisaged in the Bill now before the House. It happens that I know this part of the Outer Isles extremely well. This morning I was making preparations to go there for the tenth year in succession for my summer holidays. I know the inconvenience that has been caused to the inhabitants of both Berneray and North Uist by the fact that there has been no means whereby transport of vehicles could be carried out between the two islands.

It is a beautiful part of the British Isles, as your Lordships will know. It is a very remote part and contains its own characteristics. At the same time, in order to ensure that the prosperity of that part of the world is maintained and that there are reasonable conveniences for those who live in the islands, it is important that communications should be improved. As I understand it, the purpose of this Bill is to provide a car ferry between North Uist and Berneray, I am going to ask my noble friend whether it is only between Berneray and North Uist or whether, eventually, the car ferry will go beyond Berneray to Leverburgh Harris. That would mean that the communications would be ones right down the whole of the Outer Isles from Uist in the north to South Uist in the south. It would be a marvellous tour for anybody wishing to take it, without having to go through the cumbrous procedure of putting their cars on the Harris ferry.

It will be a great convenience not only to the inhabitants but to all those who visit this part of the world. Having known those who have run the ferry, what we call the Newtown Ferry, Mr. Maclean who is dead now and Mr. McCaskill who was running it until recently knowing what development this takes, and how long the service they have given to both North Uist and Berneray, I think it might be worth recording the services that they have rendered in the past and at the same time welcoming warmly what will be a great advantage to all those who live and work in those delightful islands.

Baroness David

My Lords, we should like to welcome this order very much.

Lord Lyell

My Lords, I am sure that the whole House will be grateful for the general and enthusiastic welcome given to this order this afternoon. If I may, I will thank my noble friend for his very kind welcome and his kind remarks about the individuals he mentioned and the services that they have rendered to this beautiful island and to the Outer Islands in past years. I am afraid that I am unable to tell him at this stage what will be the future plans as to the grand link of car ferries in the Outer Isles. I understand that this particular order is to authorise the construction of an access road, slipway, and a fendering system on each side of the Sound of Berneray which is very much needed, as my noble friend pointed out, and also to provide facilities for a new ferry between the islands of Berneray and North Uist. I shall certainly endeavour to find out what are the plans for the future of such a system, if there be such plans.

I could not undertake to go further than that, my Lords, because such plans may be beyond 10 years in the future. I do not know, but it might be even further than such a timescale. I shall endeavour to find out a reasonable answer and provide it for my noble friend and, if I may, I shall communicate it to him in writing. Subject to that, I commend that this Bill be considered on Report.

On Question, Bill considered on Report.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do adjourn during pleasure until 10 minutes past eight.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[House adjourned during pleasure from 7.11 until 8.10 p.m.]