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Mr. Lang: I am happy to accept my hon. Friend's commendation of that fine Scottish product. It is one of many fine Scottish food products that are gaining an increasing market share outside Scotland. I am sure that my hon. Friend's remarks will have been heard by those responsible for handling the matter.

Mr. Salmond: When will the Secretary of State take action to protect Scotland's economic infrastructure? Is he aware that last week his colleague the Secretary of State for Transport compared the subsidy to Motorail and sleeper services in Scotland to the subsidy for passengers in the south-east of England? Will he inform the Secretary of State for Transport that £1.5 billion was spent on capital and investment grants in Network SouthEast and London Underground in this financial year compared with, at most, a few million pounds on the sleeper and Motorail services in Scotland? What hope is there for a consultation exercise when the rolling stock is stuck up a siding, the Secretary of State for Transport has already made up his mind and the Scottish Office team is in a state of paralysis, unable to defend Scottish interests?

Mr. Lang: I suppose it demonstrates the narrowness of the hon. Gentleman's horizons that he cannot understand that cash invested in rail infrastructure south of Scotland also benefits Scotland. The £300 million upgrading of the east coast main line benefited Scotland and the £600 million investment plan for the west coast line will benefit Scotland. The other resources that have been brought into Scotland benefit Scotland. It is a measure of the short-sightedness and narrow-mindedness of the Scottish National party that it does not understand the benefits for Scotland that accrue from the services such as Mossend and the channel tunnel. Those are economic infrastructure developments that have been made under this Government for Scotland's benefit.

Mr. McFall: The Secretary of State will be aware that Scottish Enterprise has trumpeted the strategy of high-quality, high-skilled jobs. When he next meets the chairman, will he discuss the scandal of low pay in Scotland, where one in 20 of the working population works for poverty pay? Does he think that it is fair that

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107,000 people in Scotland work for £2.50 an hour while the heads of privatised utilities like British Gas earn £250 per hour? Has not that unfairness, whereby the rich are getting richer on the backs of the poor, resulted in the rejection of the Government's economic policies? When will the Secretary of State start to do something in economic terms for the ordinary people of Scotland?

Mr. Lang: The people of Scotland will not recognise the picture painted by the hon. Gentleman. There are many high-paid and well-qualified jobs in Scotland in a far richer and more diverse economic infrastructure than ever existed under Labour. Perhaps that is why net disposable incomes in Scotland are among the highest in the United Kingdom.

Road Improvements

10. Sir David Steel: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much has been spent to date, including land acquisition costs, on (a) the A7 Falla Hill to Heriot improvement, (b) the A7 Bow Straight widen and regrade and (c) the A7 Whin improvement.     [13635]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The total expenditure, including land acquisition costs, on the A7 Falla Hill to Heriot improvement, the widening and regrading of the A7 Bow Straight and the A7 Whin improvement is £49,811, £5,405 and £35,523 respectively.

Sir David Steel: It would be helpful if the Minister could inform the House when the decision is likely to be taken about detrunking roads such as the A7. Does he accept that it would be intolerable if the cost of the improvements that he has outlined were to fall on the new Borders council without a guarantee that extra funds will be provided for that purpose?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: Decisions will be made shortly about the trunking or detrunking of various roads in Scotland. The three schemes that I have mentioned are old schemes which will provide overtaking opportunities. Each of the three jobs will cost £1.5 million, making a total of £4.5 million. Primarily for environmental reasons, we believe that it would be more beneficial at present to spend that sum on the A68. The sum, approaching £100,000, which has been spent so far is not necessarily lost or wasted as the new authority can take it forward if the road is detrunked.

Scottish Economy

11. Mr. Galloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he will next meet the Scottish TUC to discuss the problems of the Scottish economy; and if he will make a statement.     [13636]

Mr. Kynoch: My right hon. Friend meets representatives of the Scottish Trades Union Congress from time to time to discuss a range of matters concerning the Scottish economy.

Mr. Galloway: It is apparent from their answers so far that none of the three stooges opposite has any idea what is happening in the Scottish manufacturing sector. In washing their hands of the haemorrhage of high- skilled, high-tech and high-paid jobs from Rolls-Royce and the BBC, they fail to see that they are presiding over the creation of a skivvy economy, where workers warehouse

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and sell other people's manufactured goods and run after tourists trying to sell them hamburgers and ice creams. Why do Ministers persist in equating temporary, low-paid jobs like that with the kind of jobs that we used to have in Scotland which involved making things, building things and mining things? When will they clear out and give the Scottish economy a chance?

Mr. Kynoch: I expected the hon. Gentleman to come out with that sort of rubbish. Unfortunately, he does not spend enough time in Scotland to see the success stories. Scottish business is enjoying record exports, record output and significant inward investment. If he were only to visit the Dunfermline area and see some of the new jobs that have been created-- [Interruption.]

Madam Speaker: Order. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galloway) has asked his question and he must listen to the answer.

Mr. Kynoch: The hon. Member does not realise that business in Scotland must adapt to what the market requires. There is no point in trying to push old companies and old manufacturing practices in a new marketplace. Scotland currently has a significant share--35 per cent.--of Europe's personal computer manufacturing sector. That is an on-going industry. Industry in Scotland has changed and the sooner the hon. Gentleman wakes up to that and starts living in the future rather than the past the better.

Mr. Stewart: Does my hon. Friend agree that the Scottish Trades Union Congress is a great deal more realistic than Opposition Members, judging from the nonsense that we have heard from them this afternoon? Does he agree that manufacturing productivity is a key figure? Each person employed in the Scottish manufacturing sector now produces more than £30,000-worth of manufactured goods. Is that figure not a great deal better than those in not only the rest of the United Kingdom but in countries such as Japan?

Mr. Kynoch: Yes, my hon. Friend is absolutely right. Business can succeed only by achieving the best possible levels of productivity in order to compete in world markets. That is what Scottish business is doing. Scottish business is looking up while Opposition Members are looking backwards and down.

Mr. Connarty: When the Secretary of State meets representatives of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, will he explain to them what he will do to correct the wrong that interference by the Scottish Office has done to the celebrations for VE day in Scotland? The Department of Employment has confirmed a bank holiday on 8 May in addition to the traditional 1 May spring bank holiday. Yet correspondence between the former Scottish Office Minister responsible for industry and the CBI has led to the totally nonsensical situation whereby some Government agencies, such as Scottish Enterprise, the Benefits Agency, banks and schools will be on holiday on 8 May because the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has declared that extra holiday, but the Post Office in Scotland is threatened with industrial action because it is stealing the traditional May holiday.

The Secretary of State has a letter dated 5 March from his own trade unions asking him to give the Scottish Office an additional holiday for VE day. When are we

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going to celebrate VE day rather than denigrate it by making workers pay on 1 May for the extra holiday they should have had on 8 May?

Mr. Kynoch: The hon. Gentleman has not pointed out that VE day is a bank holiday in Scotland. He wants extra holidays and that is totally against the line of trying to achieve extra productivity. Every holiday has to be paid for, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not denigrate VE day by making it into a party political issue.

Mr. Gallie: Is my hon. Friend aware of the importance to my constituents in Ayrshire and other Ayrshire Members of the M77 link with the M8? Does he deplore the activities of those who would stop construction work on that road and does he welcome the excellent letter from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, which sets out in detail the benefits of that particular route? Will he encourage my right hon. Friend to pass a copy to the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) as his support would be welcome also?

Mr. Kynoch: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. My right hon. Friend made it perfectly clear that he backs Strathclyde regional council in ensuring that the road is completed on time.

Mr. Chisholm: Did the Minister see the report in one of this morning's newspapers that in the last nine months of last year 7,600 full- time jobs were lost in Scotland? That was not balanced by the creation of 9,900 part-time jobs. It may seem to be a reduction in unemployment, but although part-time jobs are welcome to some people, they are mostly low- paid and insecure. Is it any surprise that thousands of Scots without jobs or on low pay know only about the feel-bad factor and not about the feel- good factor?

Mr. Kynoch: The hon. Gentleman should be aware that the definition of part time includes working as many as 30 hours a week. He should also be aware that the majority of people working part time do so from choice. The statistics show that only 14 per cent. of those reported in the autumn 1994 labour force survey as working part time wanted full-time jobs.

Highlands and Islands

12. Mr. Macdonald: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the economic prospects of the highlands and islands in the coming financial year.     [13637]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The prospects for continuing growth towards long-term economic prosperity in the highlands and islands look very encouraging. This is due in no small measure to the continuing success of the Government's economic policies.

Mr. Macdonald: Given that land is the basic economic resource of the highlands, is it not profoundly wrong that large estates continue to be sold on the open market to the highest bidder without any consultation or agreement with the local communities who live and work on the land? That is especially wrong, particularly when the local communities have expressed a preference to take on the ownership and management of the land. Given the uncertainty over the sale of the Isle of Eigg, will the Scottish Office explore with local communities ways in

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which the goal of community ownership can be realised, perhaps with the help of the National Trust or other similar organisations?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: I understand the concern of local residents on the Isle of Eigg, but interference in land sale would paralyse the land market and deny large areas of Scotland the benefits that many far -sighted landowners bring to the land they own. We believe that the way forward is through partnership, as recently evidenced by the Cairngorms Partnership, involving owners, local authorities, conservation bodies and community councils. I piloted the Natural Heritage (Scotland) Act 1991 through the House to protect the Scottish countryside and wildlife, but excessive regulation would be as inadvisable as the EC directive to bring back wolves to the wilds of Scotland.

Mr. Charles Kennedy: Does the Minister acknowledge that the economic prospects of the area are hardly likely to be improved by the cancellation decision that the highland region is facing in respect of the jobs and enterprise training units, or JET units, as a direct result of the capital squeeze by the Scottish Office? Following the discussions that have taken place between the three Members of Parliament representing the highland seats, the trade unions involved, the regional convener of Highland regional council and the chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, will the Minister back the call that at the next meeting next month, when the matter is to be especially considered by the regional council, there should be a one-year moratorium on a decision? In tandem, is he prepared to meet a delegation from the area to discuss the problem in detail to see whether a way through the funding impasse can be found in the next 12 months? Will he agree to do that and does he support that approach?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: I will certainly see a delegation led by the hon. Gentleman. This year's Highlands and Islands Enterprise budget has increased to £77.4 million. The hon. Gentleman might not think that relevant, but it helps a lot with training, and we want the best possible training in the highlands and islands. The hon. Gentleman appears to agree.

Mr. Wilson: Does the Minister accept that Labour wants increased rail investment in every part of Britain because we acknowledge that that will mean better communications for Scotland and manufacturing jobs in Scotland? That is just common sense. As to the specific issue of sleepers and Motorail, does the Minister accept that all hon. Members realise that consultation after services have been withdrawn is a fraud? Is not he aware that anyone who knows anything about the subject realises that figures adduced to prove a ludicrously high subsidy for sleepers and Motorail are also a fraud? Will the Minister use Scottish Office powers to provide whatever subsidy is necessary only for the short period that would allow full and proper consultation? It is within the power of the Scottish Office to ensure real and honest consultation, but it is also within its power to condemn services without a trial. Which will the Minister do?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: I cannot agree to divert funds from education, health or social work for the purpose that the hon. Gentleman mentioned. As to the figures, the subsidy for highland sleeper and Motorail

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services in 1993-94 was £2.6 million excluding infrastructure, or £6.6 million including infrastructure--a subsidy met by the taxpayer of £180 and £450 respectively. The regulator made it clear that any final decision on minimum service level is for the franchising director after his consultation on ScotRail's public service requirement later this year. Before the hon. Gentleman dismisses that consultation, I emphasise that the franchising director has undertaken to examine timetabling flexibility in daytime connections. That will be important for day services to Fort William, which will tie up with other services, including the new sleeper service between Glasgow and Paris early next year.

Hospital Construction Costs

13. Mr. McAvoy: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his estimate of the capital costs of building an NHS maternity hospital capable of coping with 3,000 births per annum.     [13638]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: There are no current plans for a new maternity hospital of a 3,000 births per annum capacity in Scotland that would provide the basis of a meaningful costing.

Mr. McAvoy: The Minister will be aware that Glasgow health board is trying to close the most modern maternity facility in its area, at Rutherglen. That is despite the example set in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West (Ms Squire), where a similar closure led to the loss of lives. Bearing in mind the capital costs of replacing throughout Scotland stand-alone hospitals not located on the same site as acute services, will the Minister tell Glasgow health board to leave Rutherglen maternity hospital alone?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: We have no proposal before us, so we cannot make an exact estimate of the costs of another hospital providing maternity services--but we envisage that they will be in the range of £7 million to £12 million. The board will make its final recommendations once it has considered the outcome of the consultation that ends on 30 April. The board recognises the importance of organising maternity care with close access to the full range of support acute facilities. Any suggestion of closure would have to be put before the Secretary of State. In making a final decision, Ministers would have to be satisfied that a better service was being put in place.

Ms Rachel Squire: Does the Minister agree that his Government's policies on maternity services are leading to the removal of good, locally based services from hospitals? Does he further agree that the centralisation of maternity services, as has already happened in Fife with the closure of Dunfermline's maternity hospital, can lead to increased risk to mothers and babies? That was tragically demonstrated in my constituency 10 days ago when an unborn baby died as he and his mother were being transported from Dunfermline to Kirkcaldy. Will the Minister listen to what the communities have to say and keep Rutherglen open and restore maternity services to Dunfermline?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: I must repeat to the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Ms Squire)--she raised many of these subjects in an earlier Adjournment debate--that the medical profession considered it

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extremely important to have close access to the full range of acute facilities. In making certain that the high standards are maintained, it is, of course, very necessary to ensure that mothers have access to all the necessary services. I should like to examine the circumstances of the very distressing case that the hon. Lady mentioned, and I shall bear her comments in mind.

National Parks

14. Mr. Galbraith: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met the chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage to discuss national parks.     [13639]

Mr. Lang: I have not met the chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage to discuss national parks. However, my ministerial colleagues and I have regular meetings with the chairman. On a number of occasions, we have discussed the management of the countryside.

Mr. Galbraith: Is it not time that Scotland had its own national parks, to look after the Cairngorms, Loch Lomond, Ben Nevis and Glencoe? Why does the Minister persist with the voluntary principle, which, as Scottish Natural Heritage's own corporate plan says, is too costly and unworkable? Is not it time, therefore, that the Minister started to protect the countryside rather than his friends the landowners?

Mr. Lang: I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman has so little faith in the local authorities in the area, or in their capacity to work together in the interests of their area. The fact is that the national park concept is not an unqualified success south of the border. Indeed, Scottish Natural Heritage supports the voluntary principle and the proposals that working parties have developed separately for the Cairngorms, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. Our response has been to accept the recommendation of the working party, and I believe that it can be made to work successfully.

Mr. Robathan: When my right hon. Friend next meets the chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage, will he raise the question of the spread of mink throughout Scotland from the national parks in England and Wales, and now, indeed, to the outer Hebrides? The impact that those animals are having on the ecology, the wildlife and the economy based on fishing, in Scotland as elsewhere, is extremely damaging.

Mr. Lang: I am sure that my hon. Friend may well be right about that. It is not a new phenomenon, however. Mink first escaped from captivity many decades ago, and I am confident that every effort is being made to contain them and the damage that they do.

Mr. Kirkwood: Does the Secretary of State acknowledge the importance to the local borders heritage of the special bridge built by Rennie straddling the Tweed at Kelso? Will he look urgently at the recent decision to refuse capital consent to build a replacement road bridge across the river to save and protect the bridge for the natural heritage of the borders in the coming years?

Mr. Lang: I know that that is a matter to which the council attaches considerable importance, and it comes

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under regular consideration. It has to compete with other priorities, but I will invite my hon. Friend with responsibilities for these matters to have another look at it.

Mr. Foulkes: Is the Secretary of State aware that some of the finest countryside in Scotland will be spoilt if Scottish Power is allowed to go ahead with its interconnector to Northern Ireland? Is he also aware that local people are deeply concerned that Scottish Power had unlimited resources to present its case, while the objectors were severely inhibited by a lack of resources and by the fact that Mr. James McCulloch, the senior reporter, seemed to be bending over backwards in favour of Scottish Power? I hope that the Secretary of State will take that into account when he considers the report from the reporter.

Mr. Lang: I am aware of the hon. Gentleman's concern, but, as he will know, the matter is currently before a public local inquiry, and it would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment.


16. Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many people are estimated annually to fish in Scottish waters (a) commercially and (b) for personal or other reasons; what quantity and value of fish is caught; and if he will make a statement.     [13641]

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Mr. Kynoch: About 9,400 commercial sea fishermen are employed in Scotland, of whom about 1,300 work part time. Fish landings at Scottish ports in 1993 amounted to some 519,000 tonnes, at around £278 million in value.

Mr. Greenway: Does my hon. Friend enjoy Scottish fish--particularly Scottish salmon--as much as I do, and as much as the rest of the world? What measures is he taking to increase the supply of Scottish salmon, bearing in mind its great value to the Scottish and, indeed, the British economy?

Mr. Kynoch: My hon. Friend properly addresses his question to one of those who know about the matter. In fact, the best Scottish salmon come from the River Dee.

There is much debate about how to preserve salmon stocks in Scottish rivers. Many people are worried about the effect of the north-east drift nets. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, has made representations to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to ensure that every effort is made to preserve and increase fish stocks in Scottish rivers.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 98(5) (Welsh Grand Committees),

That the matter of health care in Wales, being a Matter relating exclusively to Wales, be referred to the Welsh Grand Committee for its consideration.-- [Mr. Bates.]

Question agreed to.

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