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

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Photo of Dr Dickson Mabon Dr Dickson Mabon , Greenock 12:00 am, 11th December 1973

When I was in the Scottish Office I wrote the letters and signed them, but did not seal the envelopes or put in the enclosurses. It was no doubt a War Office civil servant who did that, while temporarily in the Scottish Office. The revelation does not embarrass me. On the contrary, it is of public concern. That is why I deliberately raised the subject again.

We are not debating refineries. We are debating the ore terminal. The oil terminal is both sustainable and viable in itself without the refineries. My hon. Friends know my position on the need for refineries. Of course I want to see further industrial development, but we are not debating that matter now. We are restricted to the subject of the iron ore terminal and the stockyard.

I should like the Minister to tell us more about what is happening. I hope he will also acknowledge that there is a good argument for reclaiming the Hunterston and Southannan sands. That whole peninsula is an example of reclamation. The land was not "naturally" there hundreds of years ago. It was reclaimed gradually by small farmers building out into the sea and using the shallow shelf whose edge will be the demarcation line of the proposed harbour. I understand that if that reclamation were to take place—and it is a perfectly reasonable proposal—it would provide more land and therefore save less trespassing on land further in from the peninsula That land could be reclaimed at a cost of between £15,000 and £20,000 an acre, and could be a good example of the kind of regional developments we might get from the Common Market regional development fund. We deserve some investment in Scotland from the European Community, and this would be a good example. As for being expensive, it would be no more so than other reclamation projects. It would be enormously useful to us to meet the valid criticisms made about amenity. I hope the Minister will touch on this subject, and say whether the Clyde Port Authority, which is seriously considering this reclamation project, is likely to get the British Government's sponsorship or whether the authority should approach the EEC direct.

Many of us have deep reservations about Maplin and the amount of money committed to that proposition for a South-East Coast port to be reclaimed from the sands of Foulness. Why is it that we cannot get a bit more money invested in Scotland, either from the Government or the EEC, so that we have this marvellous opportunity to create a first-class deep water port at Hunterston?