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Volume 930: debated on Wednesday 27 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next intends to visit Roxburgh.


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next intends to visit Roxburgh.

Will the Secretary of State forgive my incursion into Scottish geography? Will he explain that his decision not to go to Roxburgh must be an integral part of the Lib-Lab compact and, presumably, that he has promised not to go? But should he not seize this opportunity to enhance his political career on both sides of the border by doing what the Leader of the House failed to do yesterday, which is to explain what parts of the Socialist programme have been given up in order to keep the pact going?

That is rather a separate question. If I ever visit Roxburgh, I may take up one or two of these matters with the sitting Member.

As the Liberals are keeping the present Government in office, and as the Labour Party has not a hope of winning Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles, would not the Secretary of State be wise either to suggest to his colleagues in Scotland that they withdraw the Labour candidate from Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles at the next General Election or, now that the vote of confidence has finished, come clean with the British people and explain that the Lib-Lab alliance was a cheap trick to deprive the British electorate of the chance of choosing a new Government?

We have no intention of withdrawing Labour candidates from any constituency in Scotland.

Does the Secretary of State accept that a visit to Roxburgh, Selkirk or Peebles would be a great deal more profitable for him than a visit to Harrow, East or to Christchurch or Lymington and that if he came there he would be warmly welcomed, especially if he were able to outline to us what specific measures the Government will take to compensate for the loss of the regional employment premium?

On my visits to Roxburgh in the past I have always found them enjoyable occasions, even when I have not met the right hon. Gentleman.

Is not Roxburgh in a constituency where the chairman of the local Scottish National Party is that millionaire absentee landlord, the hon. Colin Tennant, who, when he is not flirting with the SNP, seems to spend much of his time flirting around his Caribbean island with Princess Margaret?

If the right hon Gentleman comes to the Borders, presumably he will have to come by road. If he does, will he look carefully at the condition of the A7 between Hawick and the M6 at Carlisle and realise that it is quite inadequate for the traffic that it carries? Will he see that more improvements are carried out than are on the programme at present?

I have travelled that road on occasions in the past, but I shall look into what the hon. Gentleman said.