North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th April 1965.

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Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan 12:00 am, 14th April 1965

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to cancel the debt owed to the Government by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board in order to expedite the development of the Highlands.

Photo of Dr Dickson Mabon Dr Dickson Mabon , Greenock

The Board has never made this proposal and my right hon. Friend has no evidence that servicing this loan is seriously restricting the Board's activities.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

Is the Minister aware that I am not suggesting the proposal? Will he consider that, due to the distance of Highland industries from the markets in the South, their prices tend to be inflated? Does he realise that if the Board were permitted to provide the industries with power at cost price, or at a preferential rate, it would help the industries to be more competitive with industry in other parts of the country with which the Highland industries have to compete?

Photo of Dr Dickson Mabon Dr Dickson Mabon , Greenock

No suggestion from my hon. Friend would ever go unconsidered by my right hon. Friend. I can assure him that the point is well taken. At the present time there is no evidence that the servicing of this loan is severely restricting the Board's activities. Any new hydroelectric scheme authorised would be capable of providing surplus funds other than what was required to meet its capital charges. I have no doubt that if it is possible for the forthcoming review to authorise further capital investment in rural distribution the Board will be able to carry this through without special help.