Highland Development Authority

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th June 1964.

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Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland 12:00 am, 24th June 1964

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now take steps to set up a Highland Development Authority.

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

No, Sir. My right hon. Friend takes the view that the setting up of a Highland Development Authority is a matter for consideration in the light of the outcome of the Scottish Development Group's current review of the Highlands and Islands.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that his right hon. Friend is wrong, that this matter has been under consideration for years and years, and that the north of Scotland cries out now for some executive action by a body which is not merely advisory but which has a duty to act and some finance? Will the hon. Gentleman read the introduction by Crowther to the Buchanan Report which makes quite clear that development authorities are the solution to the imbalance which exists between different parts of the country?

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

It is true that a great deal of the activity in the Highlands does need co-ordination, but where coordination is required it can be achieved through the action of the Secretary of State and his Departments, with the advice of bodies like the Highlands Panel or the recently established Highland Transport Board.

Photo of Sir John Macleod Sir John Macleod , Ross and Cromarty

Has my hon. Friend been given any indication by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) and others of the powers that they would be prepared to take out of the hands of the local authorities and give to a body like the one suggested? That is a very important factor.

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

It is one of the considerable problems involved.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

The Government say that co-ordinating action should be achieved by the Secretary of State, but is it not the case, certainly in transport, that such action has not been forthcoming and that there is conflicting advice from various advisory bodies in relation to what is being done by the Minister of Transport and the Secretary of State? Is it not also true that the Government always manage to find a reason for saying "No" to taking the right action in the Highlands? Is it not time that we had a body with executive authority and suitably backed with adequate finance?

Photo of Mr James Stodart Mr James Stodart , Edinburgh West

The Highland Transport Board has a promising future and I expect great things of it.