HC Deb 29 July 1947 vol 441 cc229-30
13. Commander Agnew

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why the Government Purchasing Mission to the U.S.A. in March this year purchased 240 rock drifter drills for use in the Scottish hydro-electric schemes, when a substantial number of these machines could have been made in England.

Mr. Westwood

The North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, in pursuance of the Government decision that every effort must be made to increase the electricity generating capacity of the country, requested the Mission to acquire certain equipment, including the rock drifter drills which were urgently required during 1947. On the information then available the Board considered this the only prudent course to take in order to ensure timeous delivery. After discussion with the Advisory Committee on Contractors' Plant, it has been arranged that no further purchases for the hydro-electric schemes will be made outside the United Kingdom until the Committee has considered whether the plant can be provided in this country by the date required.

Commander Agnew

As I understand that the Secretary of State for Scotland has taken the responsibility for this Question, although the Question was originally addressed by me to the Minister of Supply, may I ask him why it was that he, as planner of this enterprise, failed to co ordinate the activities of his Department with those of the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Supply, so that the two firms in Cornwall that have made this sort of implement for many years were not even consulted as to their ability to deliver this order before the order was placed, with the result that a totally unnecessary expenditure of 170,000 dollars was incurred?

Mr. Speaker

That is a very long supplementary question.

Mr. Westwood

I am credited with many things so far as Scotland is concerned, but this is the first time I have been credited with being the planner of the hydro-electric scheme. I certainly do not accept that, but I accept responsibility for doing what was best in the circumstances, and I have now assured the House, on the facts at my disposal, that there will be no orders abroad until we have discovered whether we can obtain supplies from our own resources.

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