HC Deb 19 February 1957 vol 565 cc207-8
45. Mr. Atkins

asked the Prime Minister whether, in order that the comprehensive plans for the development of the power resources of this country may in fact be comprehensive, he will introduce legislation with a view to transferring the responsibility for hydro-electric development in Scotland from the Secretary of State for Scotland to the Minister of Power.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

No, Sir. I think the arrangements made in April, 1955 were generally welcomed by Scottish opinion and are working well.

Mr. Atkins

Does my right hon. Friend not think that it would be better were the whole of this important group of activities under the control of one Minister instead of there being the present arrangement whereby a small part of it is under the control of another who, however excellent, has many other things to occupy his attention?

The Prime Minister

That is a matter for argument, but one problem which we have to solve is how to ensure the proper degree of co-ordination while taking full account of Scottish national opinion.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board's duties cover a great deal more than the production of electricity, and embrace responsibility for trying to stimulate the economic development of the whole of the Highlands?

The Prime Minister

That is why I think that this experiment, introduced by the Government, is working well and has given general satisfaction.

Mr. Elliot

Will my right hon. Friend think very long and seriously before discarding these arrangements, very carefully worked out and very satisfactory to all concerned at present?

The Prime Minister

Yes. I think this is one of the most successful operations of the Government in meeting Scottish national opinion without disturbing the principle of co-ordinated control.