HC Deb 06 December 1967 vol 755 cc1432-4
27. Mr. Brewis

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the Highland Development Board's part in examining the suitability of the Invergordon area as a site for an aluminium smelting plant.

29. Mr. Monro

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the siting of an aluminium smelter in Scotland.

41. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps the Scottish Economic Planning Board is taking to facilitate the siting of an aluminium smelter in Scotland.

45. Mr. G. Campbell

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has received the report from the Highland Development Board on the suitability of the Cromarty Firth area as a site for a smelting plant.

Mr. Ross

The Government's announcement of 4th October made clear that the first step was for the aluminium companies, after discussion with the electricity generating boards, to put forward proposals based on sites of their own selection within development areas. Certain of these companies have shown interest in Scottish locations, and have been given all possible help in their inquiries by Government Departments, local authorities and, where appropriate, the Highlands and Islands Development Board.

The Board had made investigations into the possible development of power-intensive industries, including aluminium smelting, in the Moray Firth area and had had discussions on the subject with industrial concerns and other bodies. It formally submitted the results of its investigations to me last June.

Mr. Brewis

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he will have the wholehearted support of all hon. Members on this side of the House for his efforts to get the aluminium smelter in the Invergordon area or any other part of Scotland? Will he take this opportunity to say whether the reports that this project is being shelved for the time being are true or not?

Mr. Ross

Such reports have not reached me. I am sure that I have the support of all Scottish Members of this House and not only on one side in wishing success in these efforts.

Mr. Monro

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that all Scotland is looking to him to succeed in bringing the smelter to Scotland and that we wish him every success?

Mr. Ross

I thank the hon. Gentleman but, of course, it depends first of all on the aluminium smelter companies themselves.

Mr. Edward M. Taylor

Could not the price of electricity in Scotland be a difficulty? Has the C.E.G.B. given a firm estimate and have the Scottish boards been able to give a firm estimate? Could the right hon. Gentleman arrange for a Treasury or Government guarantee of their estimate?

Mr. Ross

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not jump too many steps. There have been negotiations between the companies and the C.E.G.B. and the Scottish boards. I know of no difficulty which has arisen especially in relation to the Scottish boards, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not start up that one.

Mr. G. Campbell

Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that all concerned are fully aware of the particular advantages of the Invergordon area as a site, including the deep harbour and suitable adjacent land?

Mr. Ross

It was one of the benefits of the work done earlier by the Highlands and Islands Board that it was in a position to present these advantages clearly. We and the local authorities have tried to make available all the information about the areas in which interest has been shown.

Mr. Noble

I entirely accept that this is partly and perhaps importantly a matter for the companies themselves. As I understand the position, two of the companies have expressed a real interest in and, indeed, a preference for Scottish sites. Will the right hon. Gentleman keep in touch with those companies and then make certain that the Government do not fail in any way, but help them in their preferred choice?

Mr. Ross

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that we have been in touch all through. More than two companies have shown an interest in Scotland. The Scottish Office has not lost sight of the importance of these developments to Scotland.

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