Road Equivalent Tariff (Mull and Islay)
4. Des McNulty (Clydebank and Milngavie) (Lab): To ask the Scottish Executive on what basis it was decided that services to and from Mull and Islay should not be included in the pilot of the road equivalent tariff scheme that was recently announced by the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change. (S3O-2540)
The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson): Mr Swinney announced details of the road equivalent tariff study during his visit to Stornoway on 13 August 2007. That announcement made it clear that we would carry out a study into RET in the context of ferry fares in Scotland and that the study would include a pilot exercise on one or more of the Western Isles to mainland routes.
I am pleased to say that we are able to include all the Western Isles to mainland routes in the pilot exercise as well as the Oban to Coll and Tiree service. Focusing on those routes initially will allow us to reach a view on the potential costs and benefits of the scheme and to take informed decisions on its potential impacts across other routes. Consideration will be given to the roll-out of RET across the Clyde and Hebrides and northern isles networks once the impact of RET has been evaluated.
Des McNulty: Some of the minister's responses are beginning to resemble the justification that was provided by comical Ali during the Iraq invasion. Such things will be picked up—[Interruption.]
The Presiding Officer: Order.
Des McNulty: People in Arran and Cumbrae will be extremely annoyed that significant reductions in ferry fares will be available to others, but not to them. People in Mull and Islay will be annoyed that significant reductions will be available to others, but not to them. People in Orkney and Shetland will also—
The Presiding Officer: They would probably like a question as well, Mr McNulty.
Des McNulty: Had the Government followed Labour's approach of implementing a 40 per cent reduction in ferry fares—
The Presiding Officer: Can we have a question, please.