HC Deb 26 May 1965 vol 713 cc582-4
6. Mr. Russell Johnston

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will now make a statement on the policy of the Government towards the extension of hydro-electric development in Scotland.

22. Mr. Alasdair Mackenzie

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now make a recommendation on the Fada Fionn hydro-electric scheme; and if he will publish the Report.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

My right hon. Friend shares the anxiety of the hon. Gentlemen to have this matter settled, but he is not yet able to make a statement.

Mr. Johnston

Is the Minister aware that that is a very unsatisfactory Answer? Does not his right hon. Friend remember the many times he fiercely criticised the former Administration for delaying tactics of this nature? Will he now tell me whether the basic problem is really technical, or is it by any chance financial?

Dr. Mabon

If the hon. Gentleman considers the history of this matter he will see that during the short time we have been in office a great deal of work has had to be done to remedy the errors of the past. I hope that his will become apparent when a statement is made at a later date. To answer the hon. Gentleman's specific point, it is both.

Mr. Mackenzie

As the inquiry into the Fada Fionn scheme was completed in March, 1964, is it not time that a decision was now taken? Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the fact that in the area a scheme will be coming to an end fairly soon, which will result in a great deal of labour becoming redundant? In view of the special considerations involved in this matter, will the hon. Gen-man apply urgency to the taking of a decision about this scheme?

Dr. Mabon

I assure the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend is very anxious about this matter and has been most concerned about it since he became Secretary of State. When we have considered the results of the inquiry to which the hon. Gentleman referred, I think that it will be seen that the report is lengthy and involved and that the question is not easy to resolve. I assure the hon. Gentleman that urgency is very much in our minds on this issue.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Would not the financial problem, about which the Minister complained, be worse if we did not have the money, and is my hon. Friend aware that yesterday the Liberal Party voted to reduce the money available by £20 million?

Dr. Mabon

It is perfectly true that sometimes our allies are not very reliable.