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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 Mr William Small Mr William Small , Glasgow Scotstoun 12:00 am, 11th December 1973

It seems to have become a regular practice for me to have to make my speech as if I were running a four-minute mile. I congratulate the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mrs. MacDonald) on her maiden speech, which showed her to be a first-class passenger. Hon. Members are now listening to the fellow in the guards van who, according to some people, knows very little.

For many years I sat as a district councillor within the Hunterston area. Lord Glasgow, the county convener, who resides in the area, is writing his memoirs. Whether it is legend or folklore I do not know, but he told me that Hunterston was granted to the Hunter family for raising falcons for the King's Falconry many years age. It has a complex heritage.

The hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) is properly representing the interests of his constituents, and I entirely accept his right to do that. Modern society is complex, and we should not forget Crichel Down.

I totally reject what was said by the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble), the former Secretary of State, another first-class passenger. He was a valid interlocutor on behalf of his constituents. The inquiry was concerned with oppression and civil rights. All those who were on the inquiry were fully aware of the arguments. The Reverend Dr. Gordon Weir and his colleagues and parishioners came up daily by train from Fairlie and West Kilbride to listen to them.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galbraith) used emotive language. He engaged in political graffiti. He used the word "vandalism". Does he understand what it means, and where it comes from? For the benefit of uninformed hon. Members, Vandals and Goths ran side by side as two tribal races in Europe. It was the Vandals who, in 425, desecrated all the beauties of Rome. That is why desecration today is referred to as vandalism. That is just to give hon. Members the benefit of a little learning.

My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) spoke of the choice between Ardrossan, Hunterston, Fairlie and other places. My hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) said that there were times when the mail boat could not land at Ardrossan. I do not decry Ardrossan as a harbour. I do not know the down time there, but in shipping there is a down time that has to be taken into account. My colleagues know that I have travelled the international highway so that I bring a degree of knowledge to the subject before us. In the modern world deep water has become the new working capital. I do not want to boast about it, but I take an interest in shipping, and recently in Japan I looked at an order book showing orders of 9 million tons at one yard. Japanese international companies throughout the world now have 47 per cent. of the world's business, and hope to get 75 per cent. by 1985. The Japanese and others are thinking of building vessels of 200,000 tons and upwards. That is the sort of vessel we must think of in modern times and that is why a deep water terminal is so important.

We have had advice and evidence on this subject—giving us alternatives—about the mechanics of the situation; we have been told, for example, how to pump slurry 45 miles up to Motherwell. But we must strike a meaningful balance between this sort of development and the tranquility and peace to be enjoyed by people on the peninsula, and in particular the people of Hunterston. The people in the area have the doubtful benefits of Hunterston A and Hunterston B; they already have nuclear technocracy on their doorstep. There is a crusade by some people for a third nuclear power station at Hunterston. There is no doubt that once this Bill goes through Parliament, Hunterston will be in the economic mainstream of activity in Scotland.

The noble Lord, Lord Stonehaven, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Commissioners who examined the situation, is a kind of identikit Ralph Nader in tracking down abuses. Many of these matters are set out in Clause 10 of the Bill. Here I hope to get into the debate a little Latin. All the merchants in the past had a favourable attitude to lex gentium—the law of nations and civil law. There is also lex mercantoria which, I explain to those who do not know, relates to mercantile law. The authorities intend to write into the Bill provisions to protect the individual, and Clause 10 seeks to protect the tranquility of the area. This means that before they go ahead, the promoters must call in design experts. They will also have to make an annual report. The development of the site and the protection of amenities go hand in hand. This has never happened in any society of which I have any knowledge.

I am 100 per cent. behind the Bill, and I shall support it tonight. Themis was the goddess of law and justice and her ministrations must come into our considerations when we agree to this Bill tonight.