Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 27th March 2003.
To ask the Scottish Executive what the current position is on the future of the air service between Glasgow and Barra. (S1O-6703)
In a parliamentary answer to Alasdair Morrison on 20 March, I announced that Loganair had been awarded the contract for the Barra to Glasgow air service for 2003-04 and that we would tender a new contract from April 2004 to March 2006.
On behalf of the people of Barra, I ask the minister to confirm that the two-year extension to the review period is simply a stay of execution rather than a long-term commitment to the route. Will he take the opportunity of the additional two-year review to guarantee that the Scottish transport appraisal guidance will be met in full before any ultimate decision is taken? I asked him that yesterday and he refused to answer.
I would not want to talk down the Scottish transport appraisal guidance, as it is a very useful way of assessing transport and economic impacts. I expect that the appraisal criteria that STAG contains will be among the things that are considered in the next two or three years.
We want to take a wider look at the future of air services to Barra. For example, we want to consider social inclusion and access to health services. The local MSP, Alasdair Morrison, and the local council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, raised such issues with me—as did the community on Barra—when I visited the island in January. We want to examine those larger issues, so we will consider not only transport appraisal, but other relevant forms of appraisal.