HC Deb 12 February 1963 vol 671 cc1110-1
Q1. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister if he is yet in a position to make a statement on his plans to give assistance to the Scottish economy.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

The steps already taken by the Government were described by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour in the debate on unemployment and economic policy which took place on 4th February. As he then said, other measures will be announced as decisions are reached.

Mr. Hamilton

Did not the right hon. Gentleman himself state recently that he would make a set of proposals based on the sensible suggestion made by the Scottish T.U.C.? Does not he yet realise the seriousness of the situation that has been produced by the Government? Cannot he now announce the acceptance, in principle, of the idea of a coal-fired generating station and the removal of the threat of tolls on the Forth Road Bridge?

The Prime Minister

A number of proposals are being made, and announcements have been made from time to time. That will continue to be so. The announcement about the Tay Bridge was made the other day. Additional sums of money are being spent on roads, electricity distribution, hospitals, schools and other services. As for the electric power station, the first part of which is to be in commission in 1969, I am hoping that it will soon be possible—when the report of the consultants has been received—to make a definite announcement.

Mr. T. Fraser

Is the Prime Minister aware that the argument is not that we should construct a coal-fired station to be commissioned by 1969 in order to satisfy Scottish needs, but, rather, that a stimulus to the Scottish economy would be provided if the Government were now to decide to go ahead with the construction of such a station to supply the electricity needs of the South—in other words, to ensure that Scotland exports electricity rather than people?

The Prime Minister

Various considerations have to be borne in mind. One of the main purposes, apart from the general need to expand electricity supply—and I take the hon. Member's point about adding to the grid, as well as dealing with the immediate local needs —was to be able to exploit a coalfield which was particularly suitable for this and, perhaps, for no other purpose.