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Hydro-Electric Schemes (Inquiries)

Volume 409: debated on Tuesday 10 April 1945

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2.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has now considered the objections to the Tummel-Garry Hydro-Electric Scheme and whether he intends to grant an inquiry into this matter.

Yes, Sir. As already announced, in reply to a Question on 29th March in another place, I have appointed Mr. John Cameron, D.S.C., K.C., Sir Robert Bryce Walker, C.B.E., and Major G. H. M. Broun-Lindsay, D.S.O., to hold an inquiry into the constructional scheme in question.

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the very strong feeling in the county of Perth that this inquiry is being rushed, and that objectors feel that they are not being given sufficient time in which to declare their objections and instruct their counsel; and will he use his influence to have this inquiry postponed until such time as they have been able to prepare their case?

As a matter of fact, they have had ten weeks' time between the date of the publication of the scheme and the holding of the inquiry. Moreover, we were assured that it was for the convenience of counsel on both sides that the inquiry should be held at the date and time arranged.

Could my right hon. Friend state what use it is to set up an Amenities and Fisheries Committee if no attention is going to be paid to their recommendations?

Attention is going to be paid to their recommendations, and has been paid to them, but, on questions where there is a dispute, an inquiry has to be held to determine which side is to prevail.

Will the Secretary of State tell us what are the qualifications of these three nominees?

Another is a distinguished member of the Bar in Edinburgh, and the other is an ex-county clerk of Lanarkshire.

Arising out of the first part of my right hon. Friend's answer, is he not aware that the Perth County Council and other local authorities interested think that they have not had enough time, and, as we must meet the legitimate requests of local authorities, will he not consider extending the period?

It is for the tribunal itself to determine when it will hold its sittings, but I submit that ten weeks for the preparation of the case is not insufficient.

Will the Secretary of State agree that it is the landlords in the Highlands who are responsible—[Interruption].

As it is a question of very great importance to the whole of Scotland, would it not be better, as so much heat has been engendered over it already, not to add any more fuel to the flames?

No fuel has been added, [Interruption.] I submit that it is an unreasonable request to expect a longer time than ten weeks in which to prepare a case.

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in setting up inquiries to consider objections to constructional Schemes put forward by the Hydro-Electric Board, he will in future have more than one Commissioner inquiring into the matter and as far as possible adopt the procedure of inquiries held to consider Scottish Private Bill Legislation.

The composition of the tribunal to hold a public local inquiry into a constructional scheme must be determined in the light of the circumstances of the scheme. In the case of the second construction scheme now under consideration as has already been announced the tribunal will consist of three persons. The procedure to be followed at the inquiry is laid down in the Sixth Schedule to the Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Act, 1943.

Seeing that these schemes are confirmed by the Secretary of State's Department, and that advocates look to the Government for promotion, does he not think it would be better if the chairman was not an advocate, as lawyers may be more inclined to lick than to bite the hand they hope will feed them?

Does the right hon. Gentleman forget his "History of the Working Classes in Scotland"?