§ The following Question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Captain W. T. SHAW:
§ 23. To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has given authority, or proposes to give authority, to the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board to raise money to finance their first constructional scheme.
This Question was addressed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as it deals with the authorisation of loans and new issues. At the request of the Secretary of State for Scotland it was transferred to him and I have been told by the Treasury that the Clerks at the Table have been informed of this. Can you tell me, Mr. Speaker, if there is any protection which can be given to Private Members against the wiles of the Executive and the bureaucracy?
§ Mr. Speaker
This is an old complaint. A Question is put down and the Minister most responsible is always called upon to answer it. Private Members cannot say that certain Ministers shall answer their Questions. They ought to see that they put their Questions down to the right Ministers.
Am I to understand that the Secretary of State for Scotland is now responsible for financial issues in this country?
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. T. Johnston)
I will answer the Question first. Public notice was given on 30th June that the Board's first constructional scheme, covering projects at Loch Sloy, Loch Morar, and near Kyle of Lochalsh, has been approved by the Electricity Commissioners, and that any objections to the scheme may be submitted to the Secretary of State during a period of 40 days ending on 11th August. The scheme will then be considered together with any objections received, and if it is confirmed, with or without amendment, it must lie before Parliament for another period of 40 days before it can come into effect. No application for consent to the raising of the capital required for the scheme has meanwhile been submitted.
In reply to my hon. and gallant Friend's other question the responsibility under the Act of 1943 is mine.
Can the Secretary of State raise the money without the consent of the Treasury; and have the Ministry of Works and Buildings and the Ministry of Labour indicated that material and labour will be available for these schemes?
§ Mr. Johnston
To the first part of the supplementary, the answer is, "No, Sir." It must be done with the approval of the Treasury. As to the question whether materials have been made available, the answer is in the affirmative.
Is the Secretary of State aware that on 10th September he said that the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Works and Buildings said that no labour or material would be available for this work for the duration of the war; and has the right hon. Gentleman changed his opinion now?