Looking to the longer term, I ask for an assurance that everything possible will be done to ensure that a case is taken to Brussels for implementation of a public service order that
I am grateful to George Lyon for reminding me of the concern that I know exists in the local community. We are keen to establish the opportunity for a public service order on this route. I understand that the Scotland Office and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions are actively considering that possibility. Great interest has been shown by the sponsors of this route and much energy is being invested in trying to resolve this issue.
If the minister is indeed aware of the deep concern and anger of the people of Campbeltown about the last private operator who pulled out without giving the service a chance, will she give us a commitment today that the publicly owned and run Caledonian MacBrayne will be considered for that route? Is she aware of the view of at least one of the private sector operators that might take over the route that the option of CalMac taking over would be the right one, as
"Caledonian MacBrayne are the best suited to run this route"?
Will she take that on board, along with the fears of the people of Campbeltown, and give us a commitment that CalMac will be considered?
It would be open to CalMac to consider the route if it wanted to. It is not a lifeline service, so it would not be covered by the sponsorship of the Scottish Executive. However, out of a range of options for route operators, CalMac is clearly one that could be considered.