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Dundee (Industrial Infrastructure)

Volume 930: debated on Wednesday 27 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has recently received from Dundee regarding the need to develop the city's industrial infrastructure.

I am in regular contact with the regional and district councils, and other local bodies, about issues of concern to Dundee, including its industrial infrastructure. The Government's decision to make Dundee a special development area demonstrates our understanding of its problems.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that organisations, including the Dundee District Council, have made joint representations to his Department about the need to spend money on building up the harbour and airstrip to prepare the way for further employment as and when the economy turns round, and that the oil revenue should be employed to that end? In view of the reports made to the hon. Gentleman from those in the Labour Party, will he now give the positive and affirmative answer that their request will be sympathetically received?

I thought for a moment that the hon. Gentleman was about to say that he approved of the Government's recent action in increasing Dundee's status to development area status. I think that the hon. Gentleman knows that the airstrip and the harbour are presently the subjects of discussion among the local authorities, the Scottish Office and the Department of Trade. As soon as I have announcements to make. I shall certainly make them.

May I assure my hon. Friend that all sections of those in Dundee welcome the Government's recent action in elevating Dundee to special development area status? That will do far more to help employment in the city than any debatable projects, such as the airstrip, which, as far as I and a great many local people can see, are unlikely to provide any jobs.

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's comments. I know that he has been active in seeking to persuade my right hon. Friend and myself of the importance of employment in Dundee.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that many of the matters of infrastructure that have been raised come within the jurisdiction of the district council and that the Scottish National Party in Dundee has apparently failed to present any candidates for the forthcoming election? Is this not an appalling example of political cowardice?

There is no doubt that it is in the minds of most of us that there has been some shyness on the part of the Scottish National Party in presenting candidates in Dundee and in other parts of the North-East. That is something that we have all noticed. Perhaps it is because the nationalists cannot agree on policy between Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen that they find themselves in this difficulty, apart from finding sufficient people to present them selves as candidates—or perhaps there are other difficulties of that sort.