asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty whether, in disposing of the establishment at Evanton, Ross-shire, he consulted the Minister of Labour about employment prospects in that area.
Before selling the Repair Yard at Evanton the Admiralty had consultations on the employment aspects with the Distribution of Industry Panel for Scotland, on which the Minis- try of Labour is represented. We also consulted the Board of Trade and the Scottish Office.
Does not the Minister agree that in disposing of the site to someone who was just marginally the highest tenderer he reduced the employment prospects in the area, as it has been reported to me, by about 30 or 35? Is not this worth looking at?
Before the Minister replies, is it not rather surprising—
Order. It may be later, but the Minister must have a chance to reply.
Two of the tenderers had expressed the intention to develop the site industrially, and the panel which looked into the matter knew of no reason to regard either as likely to give more or less employment than the other. I think that some of the facts given are perhaps incorrect. I have every reason to believe that the present purchaser will give as much employment locally as the other person might have done.
Is it not rather surprising that the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) has not the graciousness to inform the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty—myself—that he intended to put this Question on the Order Paper and that at no time has he ever asked me personally for my support, although my interest in industrial development in the Highlands is well known? Further, is the Minister aware that I have had a letter from the purchaser stating that one large hangar is to be used by an industrialist, a group of workshop buildings has been acquired for development, one of the large buildings is being moved to Evanton to expand an existing business
"and I have retained a further croup of buildings with floor space of about 18,000 sq. ft. for industry."
Order. We do not allow block quotations from documents during Questions.
I was pointing out that the hon. Member for Leeds, West must be pleased about this extra employment which is to be provided by this purchaser.
Order. If that was not a question, I should not allow block quotations in a point of order.
In view of that attack upon me, may I make it clear that at no time have I been interested in the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. John MacLeod). As the Civil Lord knows, my concern has been in the interests of a constituent of mine, a tenderer who considered that he was disadvantaged. He was largely disadvantaged because of the intervention of the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty on behalf of one of his friends.
Surely I am entitled to object most strongly to that and to ask the hon. Member to withdraw it, because what he said is not the case at all.
All implications are out of order at Question Time, and I require the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) to withdraw that part of the expression which he used.
I find myself in some difficulty, Mr. Speaker, in knowing what you wish me to withdraw, because I was subjected to an attack from the other side of the House.
Let me assist the hon. Member, and express the hope that we can get on with Questions. I do not quote his exact words, but he said something to the effect that some obstacle had been raised by the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty on behalf of one of his friends. It is that expression which I require him to withdraw.
With great respect, Mr. Speaker, if I substitute the word "constituent" for the word "friend", would that meet your wishes?
On a point of order. I strongly object even to that. There is no foundation for that.
I was considering whether that met the requirement. I think that it does.