Ravenscraig

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:14 pm on 23rd January 1992.

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Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden 7:14 pm, 23rd January 1992

Of course I take the Secretary of State's word for that. It was not scrambled quickly into the frame when the announcement of the closure was known. However, I understand from a press release from Sir Leon Brittan's office, which reached me today, that a formal application under article 93.3 of the treaty was launched only today. That does not suggest that there has been a great deal of forethought or planning.

I am conscious of the difficulties that may arise. I understand the problem over the Mossend freight village and terminal. There are always difficulties over the boundaries of enterprise zones. However, I think that, on balance, that is an important part of the package, and something on which we expect the Secretary of State to deliver. The package that the Government have put together lacks coherence and shape. It is a case of anything and everything being thrown together. Significant sums would have been available in any event. I refer to Lanarkshire development agency's and East Kilbride development corporation's contributions.

I hope that the Secretary of State will be prepared to listen to the local community and that he will create some sort of forum in which the ideas of the local community can be taken into account and considered in a wider way than has been possible up to now. It is important that emphasis be placed on infrastructure improvements, and especially on the M74 and M8 link.

Lanarkshire does not want a series of reports on infrastructure questions—a buck-passing exercise to a regional council that does not have the finance. We must capitalise and have a targeted strategy to encourage development around the freight terminal and the new electrified line linking Motherwell to Glasgow and Edinburgh. I hope that that will be tackled with more energy than hitherto.

There must be a real drive to improve training and to encourage innovation. The Government should consider the possibility of establishing a central institution of Lanarkshire to give a new impetus to the excellent work that is carried out by the existing colleges there. My hon. Friend the Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) will have a word or two to say about training towards the end of the debate. The experience and expertise of East Kilbride development corporation's industrial team should be kept together.

The Labour party has argued for a Scottish innovation centre. There are many examples of similar successful ventures in Europe, some of which have an almost international reputation, such as the Steinhers Foundation in Baden-Württemberg. Such a venture would give a boost to the local economy and allow companies to plug into a Europewide network of technology transfer so that even the smallest firms would have access to the best of the world's technologies and to the expertise that would allow them to put that technology to work. It would offer positive support on production methods and marketing. It should be based in Lanarkshire, complementing the work already carried out at the National Engineering Laboratory in East Kilbride.

I finish—