HC Deb 13 March 1956 vol 550 cc204-5
22. Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland on what grounds, and with what financial effect, the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board's two small generating schemes in the islands of Lewis and Harris have been selected for indefinite postponement, in view of the possibilities of greater economies, with less public hardship, among the Board's other activities.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

These two schemes, on which work had not begun but on which the Board expected to spend £100,000 in 1956, have been postponed (along with others) to reduce capital expenditure. There will be no immediate effect on electricity supplies in Lewis and Harris, which will continue to be supplied by diesel plant; and the position will be reviewed at the end of this year.

Mr. MacMillan

Why was it necessary to cut out the two small schemes in this area when two new schemes are being started in Roxburgh and the other places just mentioned in the previous Question? The local diesel supply is much more expensive. Why has that contradiction in the activities of the Board been allowed? Secondly, is the Joint Under-Secretary aware that diesel supplies have to be brought for forty or sixty miles from Stornoway? Does he regard that as economical?

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Gentleman is quite right; a diesel supply is more expensive. It is the intention of the Board to supply hydro-electric power, but there had to be some postponement in order to meet the wishes of the Government to curtail capital expenditure. The Roxburgh scheme is quite different, and is a distribution measure.

Sir G. Lloyd

Is the Joint Under-Secretary aware that a few hon. Members and many people in Scotland would not disagree with the last sentence of the hon. Gentleman's Question, namely, that there is a very considerably greater scope for economy by the Board than it has at present exercised?

Mr. Nabarro

Hear, hear. Just what I have been saying for years.