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Mrs. Michie : I am interested to hear that. There are ferries to Gourock, Wemyss Bay, and Rothesay. What about Coll, Tiree, Colonsay Stornoway and other ports?

I understand what the hon. Gentleman is saying, but he does Oban a gross disservice when he talks about the lack of facilities there and most especially when he talks about the lack of facilities for mentally handicapped children and adults in the area. It is quite wrong that he should say such things without any knowledge of the excellent facilities available in the Oban area.

Much has been made of the great computer that works so efficiently in Gourock. I am sure that it does work reasonably efficiently.

Mr. Graham : Will the hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Michie : No, because I want to develop my argument about the computer in Gourock. Some hon. Members should speak to constituents outwith Gourock and ask them how many times the computer has double-booked them, how many times they have received their first-choice sailings and how many times what is said on the computer in Gourock is the same as is said on a

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computer in another part of Caledonian MacBrayne. They are often saying completely different things, so we must find out just how wonderful this computer is.

I say to the Minister again that we must have not just an assurance, but words written into the Bill that will ensure that the people of the islands and the mainland ports are given majority representation so that they can reflect the needs of the islanders especially.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : I shall first answer the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) who raised an important point about orders with Scottish shipyards. I am glad to confirm that the last two ships built for CalMac--the Isle of Mull and one to be launched next week--were both built in Scottish yards. CalMac places orders where it obtains the best value for money and, obviously, it is extremely happy to place orders in Scottish yards. That has been a policy in the past, and will, no doubt, continue to be its policy. The hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) asked about the profitability of the Gourock-Dunoon route. That route is not profitable as it is operated at present. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State spelt out the anomaly of an unsubsidised private sector crossing competing with a subsidised private sector crossing on similar routes and he chose his words carefully on Second Reading when he said that the board would look at the possibilities in this connection.

Dr. Godman : In relation to the Ullapool and Stornoway service, has the Minister any idea when an order is likely to be placed for a replacement vessel for the Suilven?

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. We are having a wide debate, but we must have some regard for the terms of the amendment.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : I shall write to the hon. Gentleman on that point.

On relief vessels, it was suggested that if the three ships that operate the Gourock-Dunoon and Wemyss bay-Rothesay services were transferred to the private sector, CalMac would not be able to provide relief vessels in cases of breakdown. I can assure the House that that is not the case. The three ships concerned cannot operate outside the Clyde, and relief arrangements for the Western Isles will be unaffected. The island service can, at present, draw on the Jupiter or the main CalMac relief vessel in case of breakdown. The capacity of the Jupiter, however, is significantly less than that of the Isle of Arran and of the main relief vessel the Glen Sannox, which will still be available.

I understand the passions that the siting of the headquarters has raised and I listened with care to the remarks of the hon. Members for Argyll and Bute (Mrs. Michie) and for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mr. Graham). I respect the representations made on behalf of their constituents. The reason why my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State will be asking that the new board should consider the best location for its headquarters is that he believes that it is right that the headquarters should be nearer the centre of the area that they serve. My right hon. and learned Friend said that he thought Oban would be likely to prove the most suitable place. Obviously, the new board will look at the issue

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carefully and will take into account the interest of employees. It is worth considering carefully whether moving the headquarters would improve the service to the islands.

Mr. Graham : The logic of the Minister's remarks does not meet the eye. Does he mean that everything will be moved into Glasgow because it is the centre of population in Scotland? I cannot understand his logic because in that case, all kinds of businesses should settle in Glasgow. Surely the Minister is not saying that that is how businesses should operate. The managing director has said that there is nothing the matter with the CalMac operation in Gourock, so to move to Oban makes commercial nonsense. Surely the Minister must listen to the man in the driving seat.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : If the headquarters move to Oban, they will be nearer to the centre of operations for the lifeline services to the islands concerned. The points that the hon. Gentleman makes on behalf of his constituents and the workshops and the other evidence that he puts forward will, of course, be taken into account. But it is important to bear in mind the commercial aspects of CalMac's operations and the fact that the jobs in question will be relocated, not lost to Scotland.

The hon. Member for Argyll and Bute asked me about members on the CalMac board from Rothesay and Dunoon. The Clyde shipping services advisory committee has two members from Rothesay and a member from Dunoon. That shows how the shipping services advisory committees are the best way in which interests can be involved. When my right hon. and learned Friend announced that a new board would be appointed for CalMac, he said that it would contain people with commercial expertise, including some with first- hand knowledge of the island and their needs. We discussed the composition of the board in greater detail in Committee and I gave an undertaking that we would look for persons with first-hand knowledge of the islands among those who are resident in the islands. We should not see the new board of CalMac as divided into those who have commercial or shipping experience and those who know about the islands. I hope that the persons appointed will combine as many qualifications as possible. We do not want the board to be divided into two camps. Our aim is to have a board that has both the necessary expertise and is responsive to the needs of the travellers who use the service.

Amendment No. 16 suggests that those on board should in some way be there to represent a single interest or qualification. Under the amendment, persons would have to be appointed in relation to a particular interest. That might make the task of appointment more difficult, especially with a small board. For those reasons I ask the House to reject the amendment. In doing so, I remind hon. Members of the other arrangments that exist to represent consumers' interests, such as the transport users consultative committee for Scotland which will continue to have a remit covering CalMac. The committee contains two island residents from Arran, and one from Lewis. The shipping services advisory committees will also continue. Each of the three advisory committees contains substantial representation from the islands and the travelling public.

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With those three committees, it is possible to have much more extensive island representation than on a small board.

The advisory committees will continue to be consulted by the board of CalMac as before and I hope that that demonstrates to the House the machinery that will continue to exist for responding to the views of the travelling public and those residents in the islands. In the light of that and my description of how we shall approach board appointments, I hope that I have reassured the House that the new board will be responsive to local needs. I therefore ask the House to reject amendment No. 16.

Mr. Wilson : I am sure that I speak on behalf of all Opposition Members when I say that we are not reassured. Indeed, we shall be reassured only when we see the names of the people who have been appointed to the new board and when we have had a little time to study their biographies.

8.30 pm

I object to the distinction that the Minister just drew when he suggested that the natives can travel steerage on the consultative committees while a different breed of person will be appointed to the bridge and be members of the small board. That happens at present in other organisations, especially in the Highlands and Islands development board. It is almost unique for anyone who comes from or lives or works within its area, to be appointed to that board. The other organisation is the Highlands and Islands development consultative council, which is where the local representatives are herded and, supposedly, consulted.

The amendment calls for local people to be represented at first-class rather than third-class level. We are concerned about the board and we shall be keeping a close eye on its membership. Although we cannot take this further tonight, I warn the Minister that if he refuses to take heed of what is said and if he appoints people only because they can be relied on to represent the Tory interest, this will be another little problem that will dog him for the rest of this Parliament.

My hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) suggested bringing back Mrs. McCurley. As has already been said, Mr. Corrie has already been brought back in a closely related role. One of my colleagues in Committee suggested that Mr. J. J. MacKay of blessed memory, whom the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Mrs. Michie) replaced, might fancy a nice little earner as chairman of the CalMac board, which would keep his connections with Argyll and Bute. I am sure that the work of organising the small band of Scottish Tories cannot be so onerous that he would not have the time to do that on the side. All those names have been bandied around, and I have mentioned one or two possibilities. They will be queuing up already because in such circles they know when jobs for the boys are being handed out, and there will be a few applicants for this one.

Dr. Godman : We can hardly blame those Tory discards for their interest. Mrs. McCurley, for example, has been given a part-time appointment with the Horserace Betting Levy Board. The new board may well be made up largely of Tory discards.

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Mr. Wilson : That is the risk that we are trying to spotlight. I am sure that Mrs. McCurley will be as much an expert on horse racing and levies as most of the possible contenders for this board are on ferries.

People in the areas served by the ferries can see through what is happening. I have no doubt that if the Government appoint political nominees, they will continue to pay the political price.

I shall deal briefly with the two central questions raised by the Minister- -the Gourock-Dunoon service and the location of the headquarters. I can assure the Minister that I know that the Gourock-Dunoon route is not profitable. Indeed, I did not say that it was profitable, but that it is less unprofitable than most other routes and that is a significant difference, especially in a company that is based on subsidy. If one takes out the less loss-making routes, one must increase the subsidy to those that make greater losses otherwise they will suffer a diminution of service. That is the straightforward economic argument against privatising the Clyde routes.

The Minister is also wrong in his rebuttal of my point about the movement of vessels among the various routes. It is true that the three ships that serve the Gourock-Dunoon and Wemyss bay routes cannot operate outside the Clyde, but if called upon ships that operate outside the Clyde can operate on the Gourock-Dunoon and Wemyss bay routes, as can ships that operate on the other Clyde routes. If one takes those two routes away from the CalMac network, that degree of flexibility will be lost.

I have absolutely no difficulty with the position of the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute on the question of moving the headquarters. She was offered what appeared to be something on a plate for one part of her constituency. She is entitled to fight for that and to support it. However, I thought at the start that she was a little incautious to do so because other parts of her constituency will be less well served. As she recognised in Committee, the idea of moving the headquarters from Gourock to Oban is predicated on the assumption that the Gourock-Dunoon and Wemyss bay-Rothesay routes would be taken out of the CalMac network. As I do not intend that to happen, I do not think that the proposal about moving the headquarters gets past first base.

Although I cannot answer for my hon. Friend the Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald), who is not in the Chamber tonight, I do not think that the idea of moving to Stornoway is particularly sound, if only because there might be some difficulty about Sunday bookings. Those arguments lie ahead. The main thing now is to get the board right. Although we can take that no further tonight, we shall press our amendment to the vote because we believe that it is essential to put clearly on the record our belief that the board should be representative of the island interest, committed to the extension and development of Caledonian MacBrayne, and not a pathetic cipher, hand picked by the Tories to serve the Tory interest.

Question put, That the amendment be made :--

The House divided : Ayes 100, Noes 173.

Division No. 105] [8.36 pm


Adams, Allen (Paisley N)

Alton, David

Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)

Beckett, Margaret

Beith, A. J.

Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)

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Blunkett, David

Bradley, Keith

Bray, Dr Jeremy

Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)

Buchan, Norman

Buckley, George J.

Caborn, Richard

Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)

Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)

Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)

Clark, Dr David (S Shields)

Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)

Clay, Bob

Clelland, David

Cohen, Harry

Cook, Robin (Livingston)

Corbett, Robin

Cox, Tom

Cryer, Bob

Cummings, John

Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)

Dewar, Donald

Dixon, Don

Doran, Frank

Dunnachie, Jimmy

Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth

Eastham, Ken

Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)

Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)

Fisher, Mark

Flynn, Paul

Foster, Derek

Fyfe, Maria

Galbraith, Sam

Galloway, George

Godman, Dr Norman A.

Golding, Mrs Llin

Graham, Thomas

Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)

Haynes, Frank

Hood, Jimmy

Hughes, John (Coventry NE)

Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)

Hughes, Roy (Newport E)

Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)

Ingram, Adam

Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)

Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)

Kennedy, Charles

Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil

Lamond, James

Leadbitter, Ted

Lewis, Terry

Lofthouse, Geoffrey

Loyden, Eddie

McAllion, John

McAvoy, Thomas

McCartney, Ian

McFall, John

McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)

McKelvey, William

McTaggart, Bob

McWilliam, John

Madden, Max

Mahon, Mrs Alice

Marek, Dr John

Marshall, David (Shettleston)

Martlew, Eric

Maxton, John

Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)

Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)

Moonie, Dr Lewis

Morgan, Rhodri

Mullin, Chris

Murphy, Paul

Patchett, Terry

Pike, Peter L.

Powell, Ray (Ogmore)

Quin, Ms Joyce

Reid, Dr John

Short, Clare

Skinner, Dennis

Steinberg, Gerry

Strang, Gavin

Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)

Wall, Pat

Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)

Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)

Wigley, Dafydd

Wilson, Brian

Winnick, David

Wise, Mrs Audrey

Wray, Jimmy

Young, David (Bolton SE)

Tellers for the Ayes :

Mr. Nigel Griffiths and

Mr. Frank Cook.


Alexander, Richard

Alison, Rt Hon Michael

Amess, David

Amos, Alan

Arbuthnot, James

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)

Ashby, David

Atkins, Robert

Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)

Batiste, Spencer

Bellingham, Henry

Bendall, Vivian

Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)

Bottomley, Peter

Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)

Brandon-Bravo, Martin

Brazier, Julian

Bright, Graham

Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)

Browne, John (Winchester)

Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)

Buck, Sir Antony

Burns, Simon

Butcher, John

Butler, Chris

Butterfill, John

Carlisle, John, (Luton N)

Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)

Carttiss, Michael

Cash, William

Channon, Rt Hon Paul

Chope, Christopher

Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)

Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)

Cope, Rt Hon John

Currie, Mrs Edwina

Davis, David (Boothferry)

Day, Stephen

Dorrell, Stephen

Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James

Dover, Den

Dunn, Bob

Durant, Tony

Evennett, David

Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas

Fallon, Michael

Favell, Tony

Fenner, Dame Peggy

Fishburn, John Dudley

Fookes, Dame Janet

Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)

Forth, Eric

Franks, Cecil

Freeman, Roger

Gale, Roger

Gill, Christopher

Glyn, Dr Alan

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