HC Deb 16 July 1969 vol 787 cc588-9
13. Mr. Maclennan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what action the Highlands and Islands Development Board is taking to follow up the report of the Working Party on the Development of Wick and Thurso; and if he will make a statement.

Dr. Dickson Mahon

The board is working closely with the Caithness county development officer to ensure that sites and facilities are available for such industrial projects as they can attract to the county, and the board has already been authorised to feu land at Ormlie, Thurso, on which to build an advance factory. The board has also lent its support to the purchase by Caithness County Council of 35 acres of land, with buildings, at Wick Airport. Management consultants are being commissioned by the board to help in its efforts to attract fresh industry.

Mr. Maclennan

While I welcome this increased sense of urgency over the need to develop that area, may I ask my hon. Friend whether he would accept that, although there is employment assured at the Atomic Energy Authority Establishment for five years, nothing would so greatly restore the confidence in the potential of the area as a statement from the Government that in principle they accept the long-term need to retain a research establishment there?

Dr. Mabon

I have no doubt that my hon. Friend will have been encouraged by the personal visit of the Prime Minister at the weekend and his subsequent remarks. My hon. Friend should remind his constituents that the working party which has been concerned with this for some time has begun to show positive achievements and is engaged in a number of major surveys concerned not only with industry but with fishing, agriculture and tourism.