We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder


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

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Patrick Wolrige-Gordon Mr Patrick Wolrige-Gordon , Aberdeenshire East 12:00 am, 11th December 1973

The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) made an important contribution to this debate, particularly when he dealt with the effect of this proposed measure on the steel industry as it now is, and to Members such as myself from the north-east of the country that is a matter of great concern. But, undeniably, it is a traumatic experience for people in a small area of the country to be in the spotlight of the whole national machine, being told that they are the foundation of the country's economic future, that they are a most important element whose development is absolutely essential for the future of Scotland. Such people are bound to feel that they have not been properly consulted, and that the interests of someone else are forcing them to come to a conclusion to which they have not been able to accustom themselves.

One hon. Member spoke about the juggernaut of the Government moving along on a theme of this kind, and, of course, to the people I am talking about, this House is part of that juggernaut of the Government moving in on their lives in a way which they had not expected. If this House does not pay very real heed to the feelings of those people, it will be doing itself a very great disservice.

The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) suggested that my hon. Friend the Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) was speaking for only a small minority, but he himself went on to speak for the interests of the whole Scottish people. He must accept that that minority is a very important element of this debate, and we have to consider its interests very carefully indeed.

I am not sure whether this is entirely a question of the beauty of an area being threatened by a development, because practical issues are also involved. There is a tendency in this House and in this country to decry nineteenth century industrial development as something that is very bad. In many ways that is absolutely true, but there was an enterprise, a spirit and a determination to succeed which we need very much. But I wonder whether what was really wrong with that development was that it was so higgledy-piggledy, because the Victorians did not have the planning techniques or the coordinated skills to make sure that that development fitted into the general framework of what was most suitable for the people involved, and because in many cases their interests were sacrificed.

Today we have those skills and those techniques, and we should be able effectively to plan and develop large-scale industries of the kind now proposed. However, I do not think there is a feeling among the general public that we can do that, so I hope that when he replies my hon. Friend will be able to tell us that we can provide the infrastructure—the roads, the houses, the schools and so on—and that we have plans to cater for the requirements of whatever population movements will be necessary to service this new development.

May I ask a question about the nuclear power station, because it has been suggested, particularly by the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Dickson Mabon), that this became a safety factor only when there were oil refineries and so on, which are not part of this Bill? I should have thought that a radiation leak was a safety matter even if there was only one individual within range of it, and, presumably, there will be many people working on a terminal of the kind proposed in this Bill. So I should like to know whether the safety factor has properly been taken into account. Finally, if the proposal is to present us with the entrance to and exit from Europe, hon. Members opposite will have to rethink very considerably their ideas on the subject.