§ 11. Mr. Malcolm MacMillan
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what areas in the Outer Hebrides and what percentage of the population are now served by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric 1524 Board; what areas are not yet supplied; and when the Board's programme will be completed.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
I am informed that approximately 80 per cent. of the total population of the Islands of Lewis, Harris, South Uist, Benbecula and Eriskay are now supplied with electricity by the Board. The Board is not able to say when all potential consumers in these islands and in Barra and North Uist will be connected.
§ Mr. MacMillan
Will the Joint Under-Secretary approach the Chancellor and the Treasury and try to get them to reconsider this very mean economy, considering the fact that in the Island of Harris the poles and wires are already up in some villages and come past the doors of the houses, many of which are wired? There is no real economy in not providing this electricity in Barra, where much of the equipment is already on the spot and where there is some local unemployment. Will the hon. Gentleman ask the Chancellor to reconsider a very petty economy, which in fact is no economy at all?
§ Mr. Stewart
The need for national economy has had some effect, I admit, but the completion of the programme in these islands and the extension to Barra and North Uist must be governed by the financial position of the Board as well as the request of the Government to reduce capital expenditure.
§ Mr. John MacLeod
Can my hon. Friend say how much the difficulties of the Board in bringing electricity to these remote areas was caused by the exorbitant capital charges it demands, which are far too high? Surely that and not the credit squeeze is the cause?