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CLYDE PORT AUTHORITY (HUNTERSTON ORE TERMINAL) ORDER CONFIRMATION BILL (By Order)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th December 1973.

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Photo of Mrs Margo MacDonald Mrs Margo MacDonald , Glasgow Govan 12:00 am, 11th December 1973

I was advised on the composition of my maiden speech by several of my hon. Friends, all of whom told me that I should remind the House of my predecessor. I do not find this to be an even slightly onerous task. John Rankin was a very honourable man who had already given great service to the people of Glasgow in the then Tradeston constituency before he entered the House in 1945. I knew John Rankin before I came here, and I share many of his political beliefs, not least his belief in a Scottish Parliament.

As my predecessor was very much a part of Govan, I naturally referred to his maiden speech when I prepared mine. It is a sad irony and a condemnation of Governments past and present that I can find no better description of my constituency than that given by John Rankin. When he spoke of Govan in 1945 he referred to housing problems, slums and unemployment. Almost 30 years later the same shameful facts are still all too self-evident in Govan.

I represent a constituency—not just a constituency but a community—within the city of Glasgow which has almost had its heart torn out. I say "almost" because, although Govan is the most desolate Dart of Glasgow, the people have still not given up. For years they have watched their community being physically demolished, but the community spirit that is referred to so often nowadays has been present in Govan for hundreds of years and still remains.

The people there have seen fewer and fewer ships coming up the River Clyde and have watched shipyard after shipyard close until only two yards are left in my constituency. These yards are part of the life blood of Govan and Clyde-side. Nowadays the yards have fairly healthy order books, but if that situation is to continue they must be supplied with competitively priced steel. I disagree with the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean), who said that he did not believe that the future of the steel industry in Scotland was dependent on an iron-ore terminal at Hunterston. If we are to have a future for the Scottish steel industry and security for the people who are employed in that industry and related industries an iron-ore terminal is a necessity. The effect of the terminal on industry in my constituency is only one example of how vital it is for the future security of the steel industry in Scotland and the industrial regeneration of West Central Scotland.

I fully sympathise with the people of Ayrshire who fear that industrial development at Hunterston will irreversibly damage their environment. Indeed, they are to be complimented on the way in which they have highlighted the dangers of unsuitable development. But the social and physical environment of all the communities in West Central Scotland will be better served by industrial regeneration than by industrial decay. In any case, we now know much more about the reclamation of industrial sites than we did when this protracted argument about Hunterston started.

The whole project has been thoroughly discussed and researched. My only major reservation concerns the Orsi Company plan for a refinery to refine oil from Africa and the Middle East. If all the current plans for oil refineries in Scotland are carried out, we may not need that proposed refinery.

However, the whole Hunterston project does not hinge on that one refinery. It hinges on the ore terminal, and my hon. Friends who represent Scottish industrial constituencies know what a psychological boost the approval of the project will give to the West of Scotland. We have talked enough; can we not now just get on with it?