§ 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.
41. Mr. Edward M. Taylor
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps the Scottish Economic Planning Board is 1433 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. 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. 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?