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29 November 2001

S1M-2487 Local Government Elections (Proportional Representation)

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 29 November 2001

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:30]

... ... ...

Local Government Elections
(Proportional Representation)

The Presiding Officer (Sir David Steel): The first item of business is an SNP debate on motion S1M-2487, in the name of Tricia Marwick, on proportional representation in local government elections, and one amendment to that motion.

09:31

... ... ...

The Deputy Presiding Officer: The last speaker in the open debate is Stewart Stevenson.

10:59

Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): Last, but I hope not least, Presiding Officer.

The Lib Dems have set themselves an ambitious target, which is to deliver PR in a longer time scale than the 100 years it took the Labour party to deliver a Scottish Parliament. How goes that project so far?

Ian Jenkins (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale) (LD): Will the member give way?

Stewart Stevenson: A wee bit later.

Any project has three parts: a beginning, a middle and an end. The end is the most important. Perhaps we have seen the beginning. The Liberals say that they support PR. Mike Rumbles even says that it is a principle. Well, fancy that. They are probably in the middle—or perhaps it is a muddle—because they will not seize the initiative and build a coalition that will deliver at the end of this project.

The philosopher Joubert said:

"It is better to debate an issue without deciding it than to decide an issue without debating it."

We know which part of that the Liberals adhere to. Their aim is clearly to debate, to debate, to debate. Perhaps Mike Rumbles gave the game away when he preferred to use the word wait, which he did three times.

We may have seen a Liberal idea whose time has come and, surprisingly enough, it is PR. John McAllion referred to Asquith, and I shall refer to Lloyd George, who succeeded Asquith in power. Lloyd George started to sell peerages in the 1920s. I have a confession to make: my father's cousin bought a peerage from Lloyd George. [MEMBERS: "Shame."] Absolutely disgraceful.

Dennis Canavan (Falkirk West): What did he pay for it?

Stewart Stevenson: He paid £25,000. That was PR in the Liberal party: patronage rewarded, an idea adopted wholesale by new Labour. Let us hope that we have success in the modern PR that is being adopted by new Labour.

The PR of patronage rewarded is corruption in politics. It is time to remember why we are all here. I think that we are all democrats. It is not for riches, nor for glory, nor for personal self-aggrandisement that we should be here, but to represent a population who believe in a democracy that can deliver for them and that they can influence. That population has a fading confidence in us, to judge by the turnout at elections. We can rebuild confidence only by giving people the opportunity to elect into power the people that they vote for.

Let us remember what the word democracy means. It derives from the Greek word demos, which means the people. If we do not look to the people, trust the people and empower the people, we will lose the people.

11:02

S1M-2436 Audiology Services

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 29 November 2001

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:30]

... ... ...

Audiology Services

The Presiding Officer (Sir David Steel): The members' business debate is on motion S1M-2436, in the name of Mike Rumbles, on digital hearing aids and a review of audiology services.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament notes that the Scottish Executive is conducting an audiology services review; recognises that many hard of hearing and profoundly deaf people are still provided with out-dated analogue hearing aids; is aware that new digital hearing aids can improve the quality of life for those who need them; realises that digital hearing aids are not widely available on the NHS in Scotland and are expensive to purchase privately; understands that the cost can be dramatically reduced by a system of bulk-buying; further notes that such a scheme has been introduced into 20 NHS hospitals in England, and considers that the Scottish Executive should make a commitment to provide digital hearing aids on the NHS in Scotland.

17:18

... ... ...

17:39

Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): I congratulate Mike Rumbles on securing the debate and I congratulate Robert Brown on reminding us that the debate is not really about digital hearing aids, but about people and how the lack of appropriate available and affordable technology affects their lives. We should remember that nearly 750,000 people in Scotland are hard of hearing and that perhaps 500,000 might benefit from the technology that is the subject of the debate.

In my business career, blind people and deaf people worked for me. They were highly skilled graduates who worked in computer technology. The blind people coped very well, but the deaf people—who had the burden of not having a visible disability—found it much harder to deal with the world in which they had to operate. Therefore, deaf people and people who are hard of hearing require our support and encouragement.

Digital hearing aids have been available on the NHS for many years; many people would benefit from them, but only two health boards in Scotland prescribe them. As Mike Rumbles said, one of those health boards is Highland Health Board, which has a budget of £100,000 for audiology. I understand that that board prescribes such aids only for children and that it has yet to extend its support to the adult population, but provision for children is good practice. Fife Health Board is piloting a scheme and focusing on audiologists.

Disparity of provision puts many people at a severe disadvantage. A constituent of mine attended a clinic in Elgin—part of Grampian Health Board's area. She could not obtain a digital hearing aid, although her condition was assessed as being such that she would benefit from one. Other people at the same clinic, who were from Inverness, were in a different position, even though they had a similar condition. That represents postcode prescribing at its worst and we should do something about it. The pilot schemes that have been established south of the border show that such aids can improve people's hearing and quality of life.

I am lucky; my hearing is tested every two years as part of the renewal of my pilot's licence, and I can see the deterioration in my hearing every two years. Fortunately, I am not yet hard of hearing, although my wife suggests that I am hard of heeding from time to time. We hope that the Executive—which is clearly not hard of hearing—will not be hard of heeding.

17:42

21 November 2001

S1M-2459 Sexual Offences (Procedure and Evidence) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

Scottish Parliament

Wednesday 21 November 2001

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 14:30]

... ... ...

Sexual Offences (Procedure and Evidence) (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

The Presiding Officer (Sir David Steel): The main business today is a stage 1 debate on motion S1M-2459, in the name of Jim Wallace, on the general principles of the Sexual Offences (Procedure and Evidence) (Scotland) Bill.

14:34

... ... ...

15:48

Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): I start by thanking the convener of the Justice 2 Committee for her welcome when I joined the committee. I was not just joining her committee; I was joining a committee for the first time. She has been a model and I have followed her example on every possible occasion—

Members: Sook.

Christine Grahame (South of Scotland) (SNP): Sit down now.

Stewart Stevenson:—so all my faults are Pauline McNeill's as well.

I want to talk about the climate of fear among potential complainers—those who have been victims of rape. Bill Aitken gently suggested that the perception in society is not really part of the problem that should be solved by legislation. However, he later acknowledged that there is a perception that the legal system lets down complainers. That point is entirely valid.

We heard in evidence that there appeared to be ambiguities about whether judges or prosecutors should protect the way in which vulnerable witnesses are dealt with. Those ambiguities remain unresolved, but they give adequate justification for changing not only the law but the implementation of the law.

We heard evidence of improper cross-examination. In one example, a forensic witness was asked to hold up the garment that the complainer had been wearing so that forensic evidence could be seen in the court. The nature of the garment was thus shown to the jury and the cross-examiner sought to imply that the wearer was not a reliable witness.

Roseanna Cunningham laid out some of the difficulties for the legal profession of court-appointed solicitors. No injustice is inflicted on an accused who is denied the right to represent himself. Bill Aitken put it aptly: an accused who is his own solicitor has a fool for a solicitor. Familiarity with court procedure and language means that a professional can represent the accused better than anyone else can. The fact that John Anderson had success in court in representing himself does not exclude the fact that he may well have been better off with a professional solicitor.

Much has been made of the situation in which an accused refuses to co-operate with a solicitor. However, we should acknowledge that a failure of that kind is the accused's choice. If he is disadvantaged, it is because he has chosen to be disadvantaged. If he is disadvantaged by being incompatible with the solicitor who has been allocated to his case, again, that is his choice—he has chosen not to select a solicitor with whom he would be compatible. We are not removing the right of the accused to be defended; we are allowing him to make choices about his defence. One of those choices is that he can allow the court to appoint his solicitor.

Would an amicus curiae be an alternative, as George Lyon thinks? If that person is simply present to intervene when a complainer is examined in court, will that not change the way in which juries view the evidence of that complainer? Will it not give credence to the idea that the complainer has a justified complaint?

George Lyon: May I clarify what I said? I did not state that an amicus curiae was an alternative. I suggested that, before introducing any more measures, the minister might look into how the idea might work.

Stewart Stevenson: I thank George Lyon for that clarification, which I am prepared to accept. I was merely making the point that he would leave the option open, whereas I would close it now.

Let me give an example. If we protect only the complainer, the defendant could cross-examine a young daughter—perhaps of 16—of that complainer. That would be a surrogate for interviewing and impressing power on the complainer.

The existence of an amicus curiae changes the nature of the trial. It gives support to the complaint. We do not know in what way a jury is influenced, because no research has considered that. However, we can, I think, conclude that the jury's view of the evidence would be changed by the amicus curiae. We should not pursue the idea.

15:53

15 November 2001

S1M-2260 Rural Economy

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 15 November 2001

[THE DEPUTY PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:30]

... ... ...

Rural Economy

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Mr George Reid): The final item of business today is a member's business debate on motion S1M-2260, in the name of Annabel Goldie, on the rural economy. The debate will conclude without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament notes the economic challenges confronting the rural and more remote parts of Scotland and recognises the specific implications of the Aggregates Tax for the quarrying industry in those areas.

16:35

... ... ...

17:00

Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): I congratulate Annabel Goldie on securing this debate.

As Elaine Murray declined to explain how the environment will benefit from the tax, allow me to do so. The answer is simple: quarries will close in rural areas of Scotland, which will remove the inconvenience of having people work in them. If we clear people off the land, we will not damage the environment in those areas. That is not a helpful way of protecting the environment.

I turn to a matter that affects my constituency, Banff and Buchan. The Peterhead Bay Authority has a project, which is in the late stages of planning, to construct a breakwater for the harbour. We are talking about 1 million tonnes of new aggregates. We cannot reuse the aggregates that are already in circulation, as we require a particular specification for the breakwater, which will dissipate the energy of the waves in a particular way. A solid wall will simply reflect the energy into the harbour and do more damage than good. As a result of the tax, my constituents will pay £1.6 million plus VAT of additional tax. The national insurance reduction is 0.1 per cent of the employers' national insurance contributions, so in my constituency we will receive in return—thank you very much—£50,000 to £60,000 per annum.

The effect of the tax is to transfer £1.6 million from the Banff and Buchan constituency. The constituency is not overburdened with advantages. Peterhead and Fraserburgh are, respectively, the largest and second largest towns in Scotland that have no railway station—we have no railways. With the closure of quarries, we will have even more traffic on our inadequate roads as aggregates are brought to the breakwater project. That is if the project goes ahead at all, because the £1.6 million in tax has to be paid upfront and may destroy the whole rate of return.

If the project does not go ahead in Peterhead bay, we will lose a further £25 million project that the local authority is likely to sponsor in the area. The economic effect of the tax in one constituency is dramatic and totally adverse. I am confident that that situation will be repeated throughout Scotland. Money is being transferred from a rural area simply to pay for bankers to create new jobs in Edinburgh and other cities.

What of the sustainability fund? The House of Commons library tells me that it will be £35 million—less than 10 per cent of what is raised. There will not even be the opportunity to transfer back into rural areas a reasonable amount of the money that is raised by the new tax.

To put it simply, we have to follow the Northern Ireland model. Politicians should stand up for Scotland and look for a derogation that will not damage the economy. Let us encourage the Executive to talk to its colleagues in Westminster and to get the same for Scotland.

17:04

14 November 2001

S1M-2438 Mental Health Law

Scottish Parliament

Wednesday 14 November 2001

(Afternoon)

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 14:30]

... ... ...

Mental Health Law

The Presiding Officer (Sir David Steel): The next item of business is a debate on motion S1M-2438, in the name of Susan Deacon, on renewing mental health law, together with an amendment to that motion.

14:37

... ... ...

16:16

Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): Presiding Officer, thank you for chopping off the last page of my speech.

I join the prevailing consensus in the chamber and welcome the Millan report and the Executive's response to it. I cannot bring the kind of experience that Margaret Jamieson brought as a psychiatric nurse when she made her speech, but I have a bit of family history. My mother chaired the local mental health committee in Cupar in Fife for between 15 and 18 years. My father was a general practitioner and a physician in the local psychiatric hospital. According to my father's express wishes, the very house in which I was brought up was sold to the health board in Fife and is now a psychiatric day unit. My best pal's father was the medical superintendent at the local psychiatric hospital, and by some strange coincidence, when I met my future wife at university, her father was a psychiatric nurse at Craig Dunain, as was her sister.

For my part, as a bored school student at the age of 17, I left school early to work in the local psychiatric hospital as a nurse in one of the last locked wards. We had in that ward schizophrenics; people suffering from manic depression, general paralysis of the insane from alcohol abuse, and tertiary syphilis with GPI; an accident victim who was unable to communicate with anyone; and Willie. I will protect his identity by describing him simply as Willie. I will come back to him in a minute.

My experience of that ward underpinned many of my attitudes to social issues subsequently. We had 32 beds. We were working 108 hours each fortnight, and we were paid £6 10/- a week, less stoppages. On one particular occasion, I remember working the double shifts that we worked on Saturday and Sunday—a full weekend—with just two nurses, one of whom was me with the barest of bare experience; the other had 18 months' experience. We were the medical ward in the psychiatric hospital, and that weekend we had three deaths. It was not an unusual occurrence.

The key point that struck me about being in a psychiatric hospital in the 1960s was the social isolation of the people in the ward. During the period of just under a year when I worked there, we had one single visit, from relatives of a patient who was seriously ill and expected to die. It is on that basis that I return to Willie. Willie was what in some ways we could only describe as our trusty. He went for our cigarettes. He helped us to clean the ward. He sometimes made our tea. He did not have a mental illness, nor a personality disorder. He certainly had a learning difficulty, and perhaps a learning disability.

The continued inclusion of learning disability in the proposed legislation causes me the most concern. I recognise the difficulty in taking that term out but, in her consideration of the proposed bill, I urge the minister to consider that issue. It is a social issue at least as much as a psychiatric issue.

Along with Robin Harper, I feel that the role of advocacy is of great importance, particularly in the area of learning disability. As Richard Simpson mentioned in his well-informed and thoughtful contribution, reciprocity is one of the jewels in the crown of the proposed legislation.

In conclusion, let us give the bill any name we like, but let us include the word "care" because that is what the bill is about.

16:20

8 November 2001

S1M-2409 Foot-and-mouth Disease (Public Inquiry)

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 8 November 2001

[THE DEPUTY PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:30]

Foot-and-mouth Disease
(Public Inquiry)

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Mr George Reid): Good morning. The first item of business is a Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party debate on motion S1M-2409, in the name of Alex Fergusson, on a public inquiry into foot-and-mouth disease, and two amendments to that motion.

09:30

... ... ...

10:09

Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): The SNP amendment calls, properly, for a focus on the regions that were most affected by the outbreak. However, as Rhoda Grant said, the financial impact spreads far beyond the areas where sheep and cattle had to be slaughtered as a result of infection or proximity to it.

I will make one or two points about Scotland north of the Forth-Clyde axis. In a sense, we were comparatively fortunate that the outbreak happened in spring when the flow of beasts and sheep was north to south. In the autumn, a move to the north would have been in full flood and the effects on the economy of the north could have been considerably worse.

We had some narrow squeaks. What turned out to be frostbitten feet on sheep at Fyvie had us on tenterhooks for several weeks. Travel by a farmer in the far north to infected farms in the south was punished, properly, by slaughter of his animals.

However, freedom from infection does not mean freedom from impact. Our marts were shut. Sheep that were over-wintering could not be moved or sold and the beasts could not move on to the parks that were occupied by those sheep. Winter feed became exhausted while the beasts remained isolated in the barns from the new grass, which was being eaten by the hoggets. The spring export market, which would usually take 70 per cent of the crop, was closed.

When movement became possible, the restrictions to lifts from a single location meant that the small number of over-wintering sheep on a typical farm represented a transport cost per head that was far in excess of the market value of those sheep. We moved from vets destroying stock on disease grounds to farmers destroying stock on economic grounds. All this was happening hundreds of miles from the nearest infection.

Ross Finnie: Will Stewart Stevenson be gracious enough to concede that, at all stages, the movement controls that were imposed and the extent to which they were unfolded was done consistently on veterinary advice in relation to the risk associated with foot-and-mouth disease?

Stewart Stevenson: I am happy to accept that. I acknowledge that it was entirely proper that those restrictions were in place. I am not disagreeing with Ross Finnie; I am highlighting the fact that the impact in areas far from the disease was severe, just as it was in the areas that were directly affected. I thank the minister for that intervention.

Alex Fergusson referred to consequential compensation. Transport company vehicles, already suffering from exceptionally high fuel prices, lay idle in their yards. When relaxation came at last, the burden of disinfection was another problem for the hauliers; it was a double whammy for them.

Tourists, encouraged to do so, properly, by Government campaigns, stayed away from rural areas in droves. Some unscrupulous landowners in the Highlands even printed off official-looking signs from the Highlands Council website and used them to instruct people to keep off their land. Only the individual action of a council employee, in the past month, has seen many of those signs removed.

In my constituency, day visits to the area are a staple of our tourist industry. Already hard hit by the closure of toilets throughout Aberdeenshire, which nudged older visitors to other areas, tourist attractions such as the excellent lighthouse museum at Fraserburgh, which celebrates the work of the Stevenson family, have had to lay off staff.

The effects of the crisis will last for years. That is not to say that there are easy solutions—we do not pretend that there are—but that we must work together to win fairness and justice for those who are affected across a range of industries and throughout Scotland. Politicians, industry and the general public must work together to learn the lessons, minimise the chance of recurrence and improve our response to the disease. We can do that only by working in public.

Elaine Murray says that a public inquiry would take too long.

Dr Murray rose—

Stewart Stevenson: At least, Margaret Beckett says that it would take too long. If it takes too long, that is because there is a big problem and we must learn big lessons. We need a proper, rigorous interchange, in public, between investigators and those giving evidence. That is why we seek a public inquiry—convened in Scotland, for Scotland—to discover the facts in partnership, to develop solutions together and to rebuild public trust.

10:14

7 November 2001

S1M-2406 Chhokar Inquiries

Scottish Parliament

Wednesday 7 November 2001

(Afternoon)

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 14:30]

... ... ...

Chhokar Inquiries

The Presiding Officer (Sir David Steel): Our main item of business today is a debate on motion S1M-2406, in the name of Jim Wallace, on the report into the investigation, legal proceedings and family liaison arrangements in the case of the murder of Surjit Singh Chhokar, and two amendments to that motion.

14:35

... ... ...

16:14

Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): Today's debate has focused on resources—on their quantity and quality and how we deploy them. Value for money is the Government watchword these days. That means balancing efficiency against effectiveness.

In this sorry tale we have seen neither efficiency nor effectiveness. The Chhokar family's loss remains unrequited. It is not for nothing that members of the Sikh religion proudly carry the name Singh, meaning lion-hearted. This family has indeed had to have a lion heart.

Some good things are going on, but—alas—only for criminals. Kenny Gibson raised the issue of the number of cases that are marked for no proceedings. I have examined the numbers. I am sorry that Jack McConnell is not in the chamber to verify my figures, as he is the only Labour member who can count. I will pass them across if the minister wishes to see them.

Can members believe that, if current trends are maintained, in 15 years' time—although I suggest it is unlikely—100 per cent of cases that are referred to the Crown Office will be dealt with either by non-court disposals or by no proceedings? Is that good for justice or for families such as the Chhokars, who have been let down by justice? No. Given Labour's stewardship of the legal system in the past four years, however, that is the stark reality.

If my numbers are projected, by 2016, 72 per cent of cases will receive a non-court disposal and 28 per cent will be subject to no proceedings. Furthermore, by 2011, the district courts will receive no referrals at all. Those are the trends against which we are dealing with these problems.

We hear that there is more money; perhaps that is true. Let me strip back new Labour's clothes. By coincidence, on 17 July 1998, Jim Wallace asked Donald Dewar for information about Scottish Office expenditure. In 1993, the Crown Office received £50 million, an amount that descended gently on a real-terms basis to a projected £46 million in 2001-02.

In evidence to a meeting of the Justice 1 Committee and the Justice 2 Committee, the Lord Advocate said that he wants a service that is

"professional, independent, efficient, well resourced, well managed and has the confidence of the community."—[Official Report, Justice 1 Committee and Justice 2 Committee, 19 September 2001, c 104.]

In a thoughtful and well-informed speech, Gordon Jackson said that we should front-load the system. However, the numbers suggest that the service is not yet well resourced and that we do not have a grip on it.

In light of the events surrounding the Chhokar case, we can be sure that some important segments of our community have little confidence in our justice system. The irony of Jim Wallace's question to Donald Dewar was that it was asked in the context of the document "Serving Scotland's Needs". In the context of the Chhokar case, we have not served Scotland's needs well or the needs of the Sikh community and our other minority communities.

We have talked about the 110-day rule, which is a genuine metric target against which our justice system should be measured. We have heard about the pressures that exist in the justice system and that are created by that target. We should use it positively to ensure that the system gets resources. Today, the Executive should tell us that the 110-day rule is not under threat and that there are no plans to change it.

When our legal system is good, it is very good. When it is bad, it is very bad. In this case, it has been very bad.

16:18

1 November 2001

S1M-2142 Inverness Airport

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 1 November 2001

[THE DEPUTY PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:30]

... ... ...

Inverness Airport

The Presiding Officer (Sir David Steel): Members' business today is a debate on motion S1M-2142, in the name of Margaret Ewing, on Inverness airport and links with hub airports.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament recognises the huge significance of direct links between Inverness Airport and London hub airports to the economic and social well-being of the Highlands and Islands, particularly in relation to tourism, exports, the business economy and employment; expresses its grave concern at the possible loss of landing slots at Gatwick; seeks not only to have such links preserved but also to have similar slots at Heathrow restored, and believes that the Scottish Executive should pursue these matters vigorously with the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and the European Commission.

15:57

... ... ...

16:34

Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): ... ... ...

I am once again the meat in the sandwich of the Ewing family. I recall an occasion, immediately after a general election in the 1990s, when I was the pilot who was sent to collect Winnie and Margaret from Inverness airport to get them to a press conference in Edinburgh. I enjoyed the experience, but I regretted not being at the party; I had to be sober to fly the plane.

Inverness currently needs a PSO. I regret that. I look forward to the day when Inverness is so successful and vibrant that there will be no question but that the facilities required to operate services to it will automatically be made available commercially, but that is not the case today.

There have been a number of threats to air transport in Scotland over the years. They have not all been the responsibility of Governments—far from it. Some 0.1 per cent or less of the air transport capacity in the United Kingdom is controlled in Scotland. We are therefore entirely peripheral to decision making on that front. Inverness airport has an excellent piece of tarmac and it is located far enough away from the surrounding towns to be environmentally friendly. It has lots of good things going for it, but climate is not one of them.

One of the problems that Inverness suffers from is that it is one of the very few airfields of its capacity that does not have an instrument landing system, or ILS. It suffers an undue degree of diversions, mainly to RAF Kinloss. Channel Express, which operates a nightly freight service to Inverness, flies to RAF Kinloss—not to Inverness airport—to maintain reliability. Lest we think that an ILS is the prerogative of big airfields, the Civil Aviation Authority website shows that Exeter, Dundee, Norwich and Londonderry all have an ILS. Instead of building wonderful new terminal buildings, which are great for the passengers on a transient basis, we should invest the small amount of money that is required to improve the facilities for airlines. The tower was relocated so that the airport terminal building could be rebuilt. The facilities for approaching Inverness are comparable technically to those at Barra. That might surprise members.

The PSO is the subject of the debate today; it is important that we preserve it. I will illustrate what matters. The most extreme airfield into which I have flown—as a passenger in a 100-seat jet—is the airfield at Juliaca, in southern Peru, which is at an altitude of 11,500ft. It is a gravel strip. There is no terminal building; there are just taxis along the edge of the field. The core is providing the facilities to get the aircraft in.

I am very fond of Inverness airport. It was the second airport that I ever flew into. That was on 31 December 1969, when I was returning to celebrate the new year. Let us hope that the people in Inverness can once again celebrate—I will be happy to join them—when they get the PSO that is vital to the airport.

16:38

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