HC Deb 24 April 1963 vol 676 cc209-11
24. Mr. Hannan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he now expects to reach a decision on the Report of the Mackenzie Committee; and if he will expedite this decision to avoid further disruption of new hydro-electricity development in Scotland.

33. Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he will make a statement on the Mackenzie Report, with particular reference to island supplies.

Mr. Noble

I have nothing to add at present to the replies given to the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) on 13th March and the hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) on 10th April.

Mr. Hannan

Is it not high time that the Secretary of State had something to add to the replies then given? Is he not aware that since he has responsibility for stopping the schemes, he also has responsibility for holding up development by both boards because of the uncertainty, or does this mean that he is abdicating his authority to the Aims of Industry organisation?

Mr. Noble

Certainly not. I appreciate the need for urgency, and I am doing my best to get the right answer as quickly as I can.

Mr. John MacLeod

Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that it is not his intention, or the Treasury's intention, to strangle the authority of the Hydro-Electric Board by not permitting these schemes to go forward, for that is what will happen if he does not allow this important development? Surely he can convince the Treasury that this is a very stupid short-term view which is sacrificing the long-term advantages of these schemes?

Mr. Noble

The important long-term view must be to get electricity at the right price for Scotland as a whole. I cannot accept the implications of what my hon. Friend says about the Treasury's view and my own.

Mr. Ross

What is holding this up other than the shilly-shallying of the Secretary of State? Is he aware that there are now about sixteen schemes held up awaiting his authority and the next step rests with him to initiate a public inquiry, if that is necessary? Does he realise that he is making the position of the Hydro-Electric Board quite intolerable and that what the position of supply will be in a few years goodness knows? Does he want the board to go ahead, as was suggested even by the Mackenzie Committee Report in relation to these schemes? Will he take action now?

Mr. Noble

I am perfectly prepared to take action as soon as the correct information and full information is available, but not before.