HC Deb 14 July 1965 vol 716 cc474-5
9. Mr. Russell Johnston

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will now make a statement on the Government's policy on the further development of hydro-electric power in Scotland.

Mr. Ross

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him on the 26th May by my hon. Friend, the Joint Under-Secretary of State.

Mr. Johnston

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his continued failure to arrive at a decision in this matter is a grave disappointment to many people? It is now nine months since the Government took office and, as he well knows, there was a long delay prior to that. Can the right hon. Gentleman at least give me some specific indication of when this decision will be made? It is vital to the whole of Scotland, and many people on both sides of the House are concerned about this continued delay.

Mr. Ross

It would be easy to reach a decision quickly, but whether or not it would be the right decision is another matter. It is because it would have a considerable effect on the economy and life of the Highlands that we have to make sure that it is the right decision. I am sure that the hon. Member would not want me to do other than take time to ensure that the right decision is made.

Mr. George Y. Mackie

What information does the right hon. Gentleman expect to receive to help him to make up his mind? Why cannot the right decision be taken now?

Mr. Ross

Because the factors involved are important to the life of the areas concerned and to a wider area. Many factors affecting the decision have developed over the 4½ years which have elapsed since the schemes were stopped and the hon. Gentleman knows that we have to study the generation of electricity in all its forms.