HC Deb 09 March 1966 vol 725 cc2086-7
16. Mr. Hendry

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has reached a decision on the proposed road joining Upper Deeside and Glen Feshie, in view of the statement by the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland on 19th March, 1965, that this road should be considered in the context of the Scottish Economic Planning Board's study of the Highlands.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the Answer which my right hon. Friend gave to his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) on 2nd March.

Mr. Hendry

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that a year is far too long a time to consider this road which is vital to the interests of the north of Scotland? The trouble is not lack of money. Will he therefore use the short time available to him to persuade his right hon. Friends in the Treasury to disgorge some money?

Dr. Mabon

I think that we have plenty of time. Following a discussion that we had earlier on this matter—and I was grateful to both counties that they were willing to agree to a 75 per cent. grant and not demand anything higher—this matter, along with 33 other proposals—and I should not like to go into the priority of them—has been referred to the Highlands and Islands Development Board, which, after all, only began late last year. After the Board has made its recommendations, they will go to the Scottish Economic Planning Council, of which my right hon. Friend is Chairman.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Can the hon. Gentleman give us no idea of how long this process is going to take? Secondly, will he bear in mind particularly the advantages to tourism and to the pulp mill in the West?

Dr. Mabon

Very much so, and in view of the last 17 months of dynamism which we have shown the country, we can expect a great deal more progress in the coming years under the Labour Government.