Scotland

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd January 1974.

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Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West 12:00 am, 22nd January 1974

Q5. Mr. William Hamilton asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Scotland in the early part of 1974.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

I have no immediate plans for an official visit.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Will the Prime Minister say whether he will be visiting Scotland before or after the General Election? When he comes will he explain to the local authorities why the vigorous new housing programme promised in "A Better Tomorrow" has resulted in a cut in the total number of new houses built from more than 41,000, on average, between 1967 and 1971 to a likely fewer than 30,000 in 1973—and that at a time when the housing situation in Scotland is probably the most serious and deplorable in Western Europe?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

I cannot accept the last part of the hon. Member's supplementary question. I have always emphasised the need for the development of private housing in Scotland. However controversial it may be, part of the aim of both Governments of having a satisfactory rents situation in Scotland is that there should be greater encouragement not only for municipal housing but for private housing.

Photo of Mr Norman Tebbit Mr Norman Tebbit , Epping

If my right hon. Friend goes to Scotland will he visit the North-East Coast and ask the companies which are bringing in much needed and scarce investment and technical resources to exploit our oil resources what their attitude would be if they were threatened with nationalisation? Would they be given to bringing in more resources or would they go off and work somewhere else?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

If they thought there was a serious threat to them they would undoubtedly wish to withdraw the rigs which are there at the moment and use them for exploration elsewhere. It is one of the facts of the world's energy problems and, in particular, oil problems, that there is a great shortage of rigs which are suitable for exploration. It is not possible to have as many as we would like in other areas round our shores. In brief, I do not believe that any proposal for the nationalisation of North Sea oil would solve the problems, first, of exploration on a sufficient scale and, secondly, of a sufficiently rapid production of oil once it has been discovered.

Photo of Mr Dick Douglas Mr Dick Douglas , Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire

When he visits Scotland will the Prime Minister address his mind to two things? First, how do the Government propose to acquire land for production platform sites? Secondly, when will the Government clear up the matter of the next round of licences and say whether or not they will agree with public participation, if not nationalisation?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

Both these matters are important and urgent and are receiving immediate attention now.