HC Deb 14 May 1957 vol 570 cc196-7
17. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the proposed new public inquiry into the siting of an atomic power station at Hunterston on the Clyde coast.

Mr. N. Macpherson

There are applications outstanding for my right hon. Friend's consent under the Electricity Supply Acts to the erection by the South of Scotland Electricity Board of a generating station at Hunterston; for his consent under the Town and Country Planning Acts to the project; and for his confirmation of a compulsory purchase order for the site. My right hon. Friend is required by Statute to consider a report before reaching a decision on these applications. The late Sir Randall Philip, Q.C., was unable to make a report before his death and my right hon. Friend has therefore appointed Mr. Harald Leslie, Q.C., to hold an inquiry into the applications.

Mr. Thomson

Whilst we all regret the circumstances which have caused the new inquiry to h set up, is the Minister aware that the technological race for atomic power between the various nations of the world is so intense that any unnecessary delay may be very damaging to Britain? Can he say, therefore, why Sheriff Leslie should not simply consider the evidence and submissions already made and completed, and why, in fact, we should have any further delay in this matter?

Mr. Macpherson

My right hon. Friend recognises the great importance and the great public interest shown in this matter, but the fact remains that the procedure at the inquiry, is a matter for the person appointed to hold it, and its importance would be no reason for my right hon. Friend to interfere with the proper conduct of the inquiry.