Sir John Macleod: But is the Secretary of State satisfied that this inquiry honours the 1943 Act? Surely he could have had experts to inquire into the economics of this, without a prolonged public inquiry? How long is this inquiry going to take? It is very unsatisfactory that there should be delay and that people should not realise what the outcome is to be for, perhaps, some very long time.
Sir John Macleod: Will my right hon. Friend look at this again? He knows of the closures announced north of Inverness. Last August, the Secretary of State for Scotland announced that there was to be a Highland Transport Board. Surely these closures north of Inverness should go before that Board, as there are many other factors beside hardship to be looked at.
Sir John Macleod: I shall not follow the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence), though I agree with him that we must modernise if we are to compete in the modern world. I heartily agree also that ours is only a small island, and it is in that context that I shall make my remarks. I represent an area which is not remote at all today, and this fact also must be borne in mind. I have always...
Sir John Macleod: That is all very well, but 300 jobs in the Highlands is a tremendous number. It is not enough, I agree, but 20 jobs in Dingwall are very welcome. The trouble is that in many Highland towns there is not a great unemployment problem because the people have drifted away. The drift of population is the problem. These figures, which may appear low, are very useful, but they do not go far enough. I...
Sir John Macleod: What machinery is there for appeals for farmers judged to be ineligible? Is my hon. Friend aware of the very widespread feeling in the Scottish Highlands against the Winter Keep Scheme taking the place of the M.A.P.? Farmers are very worried indeed. Will my hon. Friend look into this?
Sir John Macleod: Can my right hon. Friend say how many hydro-electric projects are awaiting ratification by the Scottish Office?
Sir John Macleod: While agreeing with my right hon. Friend in what he has announced, may I ask him to make sure that there is the closest co-operation between the farming community in the upland areas and the Forestry Commission? The winter-keep scheme is being criticised just now, and I hope that the farmers who are going out of business in those areas will not be doing so just to the advantage of planting...
Sir John Macleod: Is my right hon. Friend aware that Highland people are very proud and do not like to get public assistance in this way, as they have to do today? Surely he could meet my hon. Friend's point on this?
Sir John Macleod: How does this compare with other Highland counties? It is essential that we have a more balanced economy in the Highland region. We want more light industry throughout the region.
Sir John Macleod: I do not think that the hon. Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. W. Baxter) was by any means lost for words, but I agree that the unemployment of which he spoke is soul-destroying. I want to deal with the continual drift of population from the north of Scotland. I agree with the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) that we want a broad base for our education and for the...
Sir John Macleod: —I agree—and it has built up a surplus in reserve. It is a board which should be left to get on with the good job which it has been doing and it is against all public opinion to say that the board should be amalgamated with the board in the South. Certainly very doubtful economic advan- tage would accrue if the boards were amalgamated. The Leader of the Liberal Party has come out...
Sir John Macleod: No, I did not vote for it. I deliberately abstained.
Sir John Macleod: I have not voted absolutely against the Beeching Report.
Sir John Macleod: Can my hon. Friend say what sum of money is paid by the Post Office to the railway in this region of Scotland?
Sir John Macleod: Does not the Answer to this and the previous Question on the Kyle of Lochalsh show that there was no consultation at all between his Ministry and the Ministry of Transport, and will he say, if there was consultation, what consultation there was?
Sir John Macleod: Is my right hon. Friend aware that for tourist purposes sites should be cleared in places like Cromarty? Could those be recognised as eligible under the Act?
Sir John Macleod: Will my right hon. Friend confirm what is said by the Hydro-Electric Board, that these schemes which have been published have been proved more economical than the most modern thermal scheme? If that is so, should not we be getting on with this work? As I understand it, the Board is using there the yardstick proposed by the Mackenzie Report.
Sir John Macleod: The hon. Gentleman has not mentioned the transport services in the Highlands and Islands. The Cameron Report was a co-ordinating one.
Sir John Macleod: Does the hon. Member appreciate that it will be 100 miles distant in the Highlands?
Sir John Macleod: I am very pleased to follow the hon. Members for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Watkins) and for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), because many of the problems to which they referred exist in my part of the world. It is important to keep alive the culture in the rural areas and not to have people rooted out of their own communities and forced to go South, as has happened so often in the history of the...