Alginate Industry (Western Isles)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Enterprise, Lifelong Learning and Transport – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 22 March 2007.

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. Mr Alasdair Morrison (Western Isles) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive what assessment its Enterprise Department has made of the contribution of the alginate industry to the Western Isles economy and how it supports that industry. (S2O-12462)

Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour

The Scottish Executive has undertaken no assessment of the contribution of the alginate industry to the Western Isles economy. That would be for Highlands and Islands Enterprise, through HIE Innse Gall, to undertake, as would the provision of support.

I am encouraged that HIE has supported the industry and that its support has resulted in the establishment of a new processing facility in Stornoway, which is entering full production and is creating new employment opportunities for the good people of the Western Isles.

Photo of Alasdair Morrison Alasdair Morrison Labour

I thank the minister for his answer and his observation. Will he join me in congratulating two enterprising young men, Martin MacLeod and Malcolm MacRae, who have successfully resuscitated an age-old industry in the Western Isles, employing cutters, lorry drivers and factory operatives—a total of 28 workers? Does the minister agree that that is exactly the type of business that the Executive and its agencies should be supporting? Will he join me in wishing and hoping that, in the not-too-distant future, Mr MacLeod and Mr MacRae will be expanding their business in the Western Isles and adding value to the seaweed that they are so successfully drying at the moment?

Photo of Allan Wilson Allan Wilson Labour

The Executive values all such entrepreneurial activity and we pay tribute to all the young entrepreneurs out there who are building Scotland's economy. We pledge to continue to give them ever-increasing support.

It is interesting that sometimes our economic future can be rooted in our past, and I think that the alginate industry has a strong future. The last time that attempts were made to resurrect the industry, a stock market crash in the far east put paid to the resurrection. That was an example of how Scotland cannot hide from the effects of the global economy.

We wish the two individuals mentioned by Mr Morrison, and everyone else who is involved in resurrecting the aliginate industry, well for the future. We pledge to give them whatever support we can to ensure their future success.