HC Deb 24 January 1963 vol 670 cc275-6
Q3. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister whether he will consider taking steps to establish in Scotland a planning authority similar to the Tennessee Valley Authority in the United States, to plan the conservation and use of all the available resources of the country as a whole, in order the more effectively to combat the economic difficulties which have steadily worsened over the last several years.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I see little similarity between the resources and difficulties of Scotland and those of the Tennessee River Valley.

Mr. Hamilton

Does the Prime Minister recognise that the Tennessee Valley Authority covers an area approximately three times the size of Scotland, with a comparable population, yet produced in 1961 at least 26,000 new jobs? Does not he recognise that an imaginative overall planning authority would be much better, and would be much more likely to lead to a solution of the problem than are the fiddling little measures the Government have so fax taken?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I do not believe that the people of Scotland, whether on the governmental or local government side, or the other interests, would be prepared to hand over their whole responsibility to an authority of this kind.

Mr. Hoy

Would not the right hon. Gentleman give this suggestion more serious consideration? Is he not aware that unemployment in Scotland has for many years now been consistently higher than that in the rest of the country, and is it not possible that an overall planning authority of this kind could inject something new into the economy to rid Scotland of this scourge that has persisted so long?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman would really wish to hand over all those authorities that are now responsible to an authority of this kind. I think that what we hope to do, and must do, is to try to use all the existing methods and machinery to solve some of these longer term problems. It was for that reason, for instance, that the Government came to the decision to bring the new strip mill to Scotland, which was well received; to try to get some of 'the motor car industry, which is now beginning, and other measures of that kind. I think that is still batter done through the machinery to which we are accustomed, and through which the Scottish people are prepared to work.