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I would like to say how much I welcome this opportunity to raise with the Scottish Executive-and with the other members who I am pleased to see are staying with us-the concerns of the people of the south-west of Scotland. They are witnessing the battering of their local economy by unprecedented levels of job losses in manufacturing and farming.
I also welcome Mr McLeish's letter to me today in which he commits himself to coming to Dumfries at an early opportunity to meet with Dr Murray, Mr Fergusson, Mr Morgan and myself. The letter tacitly recognises that the economic problems of areas such as Dumfries and Galloway have perhaps not always had the attention that they deserve.
I believe that the seriousness of the situation in which we find ourselves merits direct Government action. I will argue for Executive involvement in a task force to develop and implement a jobs strategy; for the Executive to back the area's application for European structural funding under the new objective 2- [Interruption.]