asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has accepted the offer of Messrs. Babtie, Shaw and Morton to undertake a feasibility study of the Solway Firth Barrage at a cost of £300,000; when the study will begin; and when it should be completed.
As a result of the moratorium on certain kinds of capital expenditure announced in July by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it is not possible to proceed immediately with the full-scale feasibility study into the Solway Firth Barrage. I am glad to announce however that, after consultation with Messrs. Babtie, Shaw and Morton, it has been possible to arrange for them to start a preliminary study right away at a cost of some £10,000 to £15,000 into the quantity and quality of water that would be made available by a barrage.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his failure to proceed with a full technical investigation will cause grave disappointment? Would he agree that a social and economic survey is of equal importance?
Yes, Sir. I think the hon. Gentleman should appreciate that what we are doing is making a start, and that will not prejudice the feasibility study that was originally the concern of the same consultants.