asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport how many Scottish persons and organisations have been invited to give evidence to the departmental group appointed to consider the proposal for a Forth-Clyde ship canal?
The Departmental Group to which my hon. Friend refers was appointed by my Noble Friend to review the recommendations made by the Mid-Scotland Ship Canal Committee in 1930. The Group is not taking formal evidence, but it is open to any Scottish persons on organisations to submit their views to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has a representative in the Group.
As this is the first intimation that evidence will be accepted from outside, what steps will the Ministry take to encourage these representations, and is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the conducting of this inquiry as a secret matter is resented and that the findings of it at least must be made public?
My hon. Friend said when he first announced the appointment of this Group that he thought the Report would probably have to be confidential on the ground that it might deal with security matters, among others, and for other similar reasons which, under war conditions, made it difficult to take formal evidence, but if any Scottish persons or organisations desire to submit their views, it can be done in the way I have suggested.
Is it not a fact that the Minister has already taken a decision and that that is the reason for secrecy?
No, Sir, it is not a fact.
Will the Minister's Noble Friend be told that this must not remain a secret thing and that publication must be made of the findings?
I will certainly transmit my hon. Friend's views to my Noble Friend.
As there is already in the possession of the Government a very large mass of information about the Mid-Scotland canal, will not the hon. Gentleman therefore look at the evidence taken on previous occasions to find out how much of it is up to date?
Yes, Sir, this is being done. The purpose of this Group, as I said just now, is to review the conclusions come to in 1930.
Cannot we have advertisements inserted in Scottish newspapers calling attention to the fact that these representations can be made to the Secretary of State, as it is not generally known in Scotland?
I hope that Scottish newspapers may perhaps print some of the Questions and answers to-day.