HC Deb 14 March 1973 vol 852 cc1279-80
17. Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has completed his considerations about setting up a new body with advisory powers for overall planning as recommended by the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

I am examining the many recommendations of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs on land resource use, and the Government will in due course give their considered views on them.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is need for speed on this matter? Is he satisfied that enough overall planning is being done in advance? Is he also satisfied that the expertise in Scottish planning overall is tough and quick enough to meet the pressures of development, particularly that produced by the demands of the North Sea oil industry?

Mr. Campbell

I agree that the Government's reply should be brought forward as soon as possible. We are considering this important report very fully. The matters raised by my hon. Friend are important but I should stress that the present planning machinery relating to North Sea oil has not, so far as I know, been responsible for any delays to important projects.

Mr. Lawson

The right hon. Gentleman has had the report for five months. Does he agree that the recommendations particularly relating to land use are urgently in need of application? Will he speed up his efforts to ensure that before we do irreparable damage to many parts of Scotland we at least give the Select Committee's recommendations a fair trial?

Mr. Campbell

These matters will be dealt with when the Government's reply is presented. The hon. Gentleman will know, because he played an important part in the Select Committee's deliberations, that this complicated subject, which is related to planning Acts and other matters, is not one to which a quick answer can be given.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his own incompetence has got him into difficulty with planning for both the Tay and the Forth estuaries? How does he propose to deal with planning in those two areas?

Mr. Campbell

I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman has said. I am not talking about the personal side. I believe that this matter was capable of two solutions and, in a democratic way, one solution has been chosen.