HC Deb 13 February 1963 vol 671 cc1298-9
27. Mr. J. Hill

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on his discussions with the South of Scotland Electricity Board following the report of their consultants on the need for a new coal-fired electricity generating station.

Mr. Noble

I am informed that the consultants' report has not yet been received, but that it is expected next month.

Mr. Hill

Is the Secretary of State aware that in answer to a Question in November last year one of his Parliamentary Secretaries informed me that the Electricity Board would be making a statement in January? All shades of opinion in Scotland are in favour of this coal-fired electricity generating station, including the Merchants' Association, which says in a document circulated to all hon. Members that a speeedy decision is necessary and would be a shot in the arm for the Scottish economy. In view of all these circumstances, will the Secretary of State try to impress on the Prime Minister that this is a chance for him to fulfil part of his promise to Scotland that it would not be forgotten when jobs were being handed out? This scheme would involve 10,000 miners, which means approximately 60.000 people in Scotland. We need a speedy decision. Could not he do something to get such a decision now?

Mr. Noble

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the S.T.U.C. made this point to the Prime Minister, who promised to consider it. The time scale of this is that the output from the station will be required in 1969–70. I am doing my very best to consider this problem, but I cannot do it with any reasonable sense until the consultants' report is available.

Mr. T. Fraser

Is not the Secretary of State yet aware, after all that has been said on this subject, that the whole case for this station is not to supply the needs of Scotland after Cockenzie but to use Scottish coal and employ Scottish miners to generate electricity which might be exported to the South, where it is very badly needed? Is he not in touch with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Power to see whether this can be done, or is Scotland having to pay a very heavy price for the separation which took place by the 1954 Act?

Mr. Noble

I do not think that there is any difference between myself and my right hon. Friend on this problem. It is a question of getting the consultants' report as quickly as we can and making a decision as quickly as we can. Both these things I wish to do.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

I think we must get on.

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