I have regular contacts in the Scottish Economic Council and frequent contacts with other representatives of industry and trade unions, and I have had recent meetings with representatives of local authority associations. I do not therefore consider that it is necessary for me to call a special conference.
Could the right hon. Gentleman explain how a conference is called at, I understand, the instigation of his Department with the local authorities and, since we have had some strictures about behaviour from some of his hon. Friends on the Front Bench, why the date of that conference conflicts with the S.T.U.C. assembly organised at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh? Can this Government get nothing right? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have just discussed this with the S.T.U.C., which believes that the reason for this clash is an endeavour by the Government to try to manipulate the mass media?
I think the hon. Member means to refer to the conference of local authorities and others in the northeast of Scotland concerning North Sea oil. This is one which was asked for and which I arranged at the convenience of those concerned, and it happens that the local authorities, I understand, have no difficulty in sending representatives to this conference and to the other one which is taking place. It happens to be on a day when my hon. Friend who will be in the chair at the conference can be available, it being a Monday, not a parliamentary day—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh?"] It is in the morning, when Parliament is not sitting. That is what I meant. It is at a time when my hon. Friend can be available.