HC Deb 29 July 1965 vol 717 cc865-6

Lords Amendment No. 1: In page 3 line 12, at end insert: ( ) In the exercise of their functions under this Act the Board shall have regard to the desirability of preserving the beauty of the scenery in the Highlands and Islands".

11.30 p.m.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Mr. George Willis)

I beg to move, That this House does agree with the Lords in the said Amendment.

This Amendment simply puts a duty on the Board to have regard to the desirability of preserving the beauty of the scenery in the Highlands and Islands. It was pointed out in another place that this is one of the most valuable assets that we have in the Highlands and Islands and that it ought to be preserved. It is desirable that we make this provision in the Bill.

Lest anyone has doubts as the propriety of doing it in the Bill, there is a precedent for it. A similar provision is incorporated in the Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Act, 1943.

Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)

Obviously, no one wants the beauty of the Highlands to be adversely affected. Oddly enough, this matter was not discussed in Committee, but it was discussed in another place. One point which did not come out in another place was that, while it is very desirable that natural beauty should not be spoiled, a similar provision in respect of the hydro-electric schemes of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board was used, on occasions, as a delaying measure rather than solely for the eminently desirable purpose originally envisaged under the Act.

I hope that the Minister will assure that the present proposed provision will not be a hindrance to the Board. He will recall that it was suggested in another place that it could have been covered by Clause 3 (1, a) dealing with social well being.

Mr. Willis

I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that, in fact, we do not expect this to prove any hindrance at all to the Board in the performance of its duties. The Amendment would merely lay down in the Bill that, in performing its duties, the Board must take this aspect of the matter into account. That is all. It would not, so far as I know, give rise to the same sort of hindrance as arose under the hydro-electricity Acts.

Question put and agreed to.