Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:14 pm on 23rd January 1992.

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Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries 8:14 pm, 23rd January 1992

I am glad to have that information. It worries me to an extent because of the future of the site, which I shall discuss in a moment.

I am also glad that the Secretary of State has been able to report success in attracting new industry to the area and that unemployment is now some 9,000 lower than it was four years ago. However, once we have that enterprise zone, it will need funding, leadership, speed and everyone working together—cross-party, local authorities, planning authorities—at top speed to bring to fruition the advantages of having an enterprise zone.

Geographically, the area is well placed, with motorways, the new Mossend rail depot, the main line, the airport not too far away and, most importantly, the skilled work force. With spirit and determination, there can be great advantages ahead, so that that work force, which must be extremely despondent at British Steel's announcement, can look confidently to the future.

We must also consider quality of life and the environment. That will be partly the responsibility of British Steel. The hon. Member for Motherwell, South expressed his view on that. I am interested that he feels that the Ravenscraig site should not be changed into an environmentally attractive area but should remain a possible steelworks for some time to come. It will be a big operation to bring in all the agencies and authorities if we are to convert a major steel works, with all its contamination and toxic waste problems, into a new environment. We shall need a major new environmental assessment.

It was reported in The Scotsman that the Lanarkshire development agency has called for and received such an assessment and therefore has a basis upon which to work. However, the site could generate both revenue and capital rather than become the liability that some people anticipate. Throughout the process, speed is the watchword. We have no time to waste if the plant is really to close in about six months' time. We must consider the repercussions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which comes into force next year, so that British Steel does not take a hasty decision to avoid responsibilities.

I am glad that it is the Secretary of State's responsibility to co-ordinate all those agencies and the enterprise zone to push people forward with spirit and determination to achieve the new industries and bring new jobs to the area that has been afflicted by British Steel's decision. It can be done if we all approach it constructively. Let us get on with it now.