When the Prime Minister next decides to visit the east coast of Scotland will he take a personal interest in the defence plans for Britain's vital and vulnerable North Sea oil/gas platforms, because those plans have been criticised by numerous independent defence experts? Will he try to achieve better co-ordination between the numerous Government Departments, the four separate police authorities and the commercial operators involved? Secondly—
The hon. Gentleman has raised an important point. As he will know, the Government's policy on measures for the peacetime protection of our offshore oil interests was announced in the House on 11th February 1975 by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence. During subsequent debates there have been further additions to the information already available to the House. New Royal Navy ships will begin to enter service and a number of other protection methods are being added. It is of course the fact that the Home Secretary—in Scotland the Secretary of State for Scotland—is responsible for dealing with onshore terrorism, but I think the hon. Gentleman will find that the offshore position has been fully explained by my right hon. Friend.
Will the Prime Minister bear in mind when he eventually makes a visit to the east coast of Scotland that, because of the Government's economic failure, expenditure on the social services, old folks homes, home helps and other services of that sort has been savagely cut back in the Tayside region? Will he further bear in mind that, because of the temperature differences in Scotland compared with the South-East of England, in Scotland it costs 14 per cent. more to heat houses to the temperature level of houses in the South-East? What will he do about dealing with that situation?
These questions are very much in the mind of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I do not accept at all what the hon. Gentleman has said about the cutback in the social services in the Tayside region, because since this Government came into office there has been a substantial increase. We have had to rein back further increases. However, in view of the proclivity of the Scottish National Party to vote with the Conservatives, who want to cut back the social services by several billion pounds, I think the hon. Gentleman might study his own record in this matter.
Dr. M. S. Miller:
When my right hon. Friend visits the east coast of Scotland will he also take his official car to the west coast of Scotland and visit the constituency and town of East Kilbride? I am sure that he will receive a very warm welcome in that town, which nurtured William and John Hunter, who contributed so much to medicine and—
Yes, Sir. My hon. Friend knows that I have done so very many times. It does not strictly arise from the Question, because even I know that East Kilbride is not on the east coast of Scotland, but it arises perhaps out of my Answer. I said that I had
arranged a series of meetings on industrial problems in Scotland in the spring",
and they will be principally in West Scotland.