4 AUGUST 1939, Page 3

Hope for the Highlands The statement made by the Secretary

for Scotland in answer to questions in the House of Commons on Tuesday is welcome evidence that the plight of the Highlands and Islands is not being completely disregarded in official quarters. The plain fact is that the Highlands, for all their attraction for tourists and shooters of bird and beast, are a depressed area, and if the population of Scotland is very slightly increasing that is due not to the countryside but to the towns. Acting on the advice of a Committee which has been inquiring into the situation, Captain Colville proposes to take at once, at an expenditure of some i300,0o0 in the next five years, a number of steps which call for no new administrative machinery. There are to be grants— much needed—for roads and piers, for the draining of land and the supply of fertilisers, for bracken-cutting and fishery equipment, while a new agricultural college is to be estab- lished at Inverlochy Castle, near Fort William, which Lord Abinger has given for the purpose. These are all steps in the right direction, and they should do something to arrest, and even reverse, a depopulation process which is robbing Great Britain of some of its finest human stock. The pro- vision of roads for isolated crofts, or even for small hamlets, must be on a short view uneconomic, but a civilised community owes certain amenities to its members. Not a penny of the £6o,000 a year should be grudged.