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Scarinish

Volume 940: debated on Wednesday 30 November 1977

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11.

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that on islands such as Tiree, and on most of the islands around the shores of Britain, the creation of jobs in the steel industry or in manufacturing industry is not only unlikely but unwelcome? The right hon. Gentleman will be aware of my interest in tourism. Does he agree that the creation of jobs in tourism is far more relevant to many of the islands around the shores of Britain? Will he ensure that his Department and all Government agencies do their best to give equal priority to the creation of jobs in service industries?

I agree that the prospect for major steelworks on Tiree is not very high. In fact, the Highlands and Islands Development Board, the Scottish Development Agency and the Scottish Tourist Board do a great deal of work to assist the islands. There is nothing on the statute book that prevents assistance to service industries. I know that the hon. Gentleman is concerned that in the first year or two years of its operations the SDA has elected to spend as much money as it has on the manufacturing side. However, help has been given to the islands. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has spent a great deal of public money on subsidising not only airports but air services, which help the islands considerably.

I urge my right hon. Friend seriously to reconsider his decision. If and when he goes to the island of Tiree, he should take with him the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) and leave him there.

If I went to Tiree, which is not the busiest place at this time of year, I think that I should be able to find somebody better to take than the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley).

The Minister has accepted that the SDA has so far concentrated on manufacturing industry. Does he agree that it should take into account the need to give more assistance to service industries? Some of the worst areas of unemployment in the West of Scotland are areas that will never have the benefit of manufacturing industry. Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that a switch is made in future?

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is aware that the SDA has been especially helpful to small companies. It has made considerable grants, as has the HIDB. That has been most valuable from the islanders' point of view.