asked the Secretary of State for Scotland, what was the nature of the official meeting held on Thursday, 19th May, 1966 between representatives of local authorities and the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the honourable Member for Greenock; who were there; and what subject or subjects were discussed.
This meeting, attended by representatives of Glasgow Corporation and Renfrew County Council under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, discussed the possibility of joint action by these two local authorities and the Scottish Special Housing Association to secure the provision of houses at Erskine, if I decide to approve the amendment of the county council's development plan which is at present before me. No agreements affecting the development of this county were reached at the meeting.
As my right hon. Friend has to adjudicate in this matter, which is at present the subject of a public inquiry, was it not inappropriate that such a meeting should have been held at this time, and commitments undertaken or given? Is my right hon. Friend aware that at the public inquiry a statement to that effect has been made by one of the representatives attending the meeting?
First of all, I cannot cornavent on any statements which were made at the public inquiry. The matter eventually comes to me. What the public inquiry does is to go into the question of objections and elicit facts, which will come before me. But that does not mean that Government policy is not pursued, and, indeed, this meeting about Glasgow's problem is one of a series of meetings concerning other local authorities. This is not inconsistent with my task of arbitrating on the question of objections to the development plan.
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there exists in the area the kind of disquiet expressed by my hon. Friend at the very idea that such a meeting should take place, discussing matters covered by the hearing, with agreements apparently reached before the hearing itself? Is my right hon. Friend aware that I am glad of his assurance that no such agreement was reached, but will he bear in mind the possibility of solving Glasgow's problem in a more imaginative way than by satellite towns over-close to Glasgow?