Tariff Rebate Subsidy (Northern Isles)

Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 10:31 am on 12th March 1997.

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Photo of Mr Calum MacDonald Mr Calum MacDonald , Na h-Eileanan an Iar 10:31 am, 12th March 1997

I know that there are still hon. Members who served on the Select Committee who want to speak in the debate, so I shall restrict myself to one point, which concerns the recommendation in paragraph 55 that Caledonian MacBrayne be allowed to tender for the Northern Isles service.

In the Government's response on page 6, they say that one of the reasons why they rejected that recommendation was: CalMac's core business activities are the operation of ferry services in the Western Isles and the Government believe it would be detrimental to the efficiency of operations on the West Coast of Scotland to extend CalMac's responsibilities to the Northern Isles. That is not the view of the people in the Western Isles or of the communities that are served by the ferries. We believe that CalMac should be allowed to tender for the Northern Isles routes. We believe that that would consolidate and enhance the services and the provision of CalMac. I hope that the Minister will not use that rationalisation in his reply to the debate.