HC Deb 12 March 1969 vol 779 cc1368-9
33. Mr. James Davidson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in view of the economic uncertainty prevailing in the North-East of Scotland, due to the imminent run-down of the British Railways workshops in Inverurie, he will expedite publication of the Gaskin Report.

Mr. Ross

While I am arranging for the Gaskin Report to be published as soon as possible, I should point out that the Government have contingency plans in hand to deal with the situation if the British Railways Board decides to close its workshops at Inverurie.

Mr. Davidson

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply. I know the great difficulties facing the Government in this issue. May I ask for an assurance that the Government realise that the introduction of a new industry to Inverurie, particularly an engineering industry with growth potential, could stimulate the economy of the whole North-East region of Scotland? The Government have power under the Industrial Expansion Act, 1968, to provide precisely this stimulus.

Mr. Ross

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we appreciate how valuable a replacement would be in this area if it were necessary. The hon. Gentleman has discussed this with me, and brought delegations to see me. I am grateful for his co-operation in this matter. I think that he should wait to see what we do if and when an announcement is made about the future of the workshops.

Mr. Dewar

Will my right hon. Friend accept that there are many people who do not doubt the wish of the Government to help in this difficult situation, but still feel that the apparent inability of the Railways Board to come to a conclusion about its plans for the future of the workshops is inhibiting the Government and everyone else, is adding to the confusion which is jeopardising the situation, and is continuing the anxiety which tempts the skilled labour force to disperse?

Mr. Ross

This is regrettable, because there is no doubt that—if a decision were taken to close the workshops—the existence of skilled personnel would be an attraction for many people. I regret the premature rumours which may well have led to the dispersal of some of the personnel.