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Robroyston Hospital, Glasgow

Volume 978: debated on Wednesday 6 February 1980

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14.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will make a statement on the sale of land by his Department at Robroyston hospital in Glasgow.

Robroyston hospital and the land surrounding it was sold in1977, with entry in May 1978, after extensive advertisement. The price was £410,000, and the only offer was received from the purchaser. An internal inquiry has not disclosed any irregularity in the procedures followed by my Department. I propose, however, to arrange for the Department's actions in this case to be the subject of an independent review, which will also examine whether and how the Departmental procedures might be improved. I will inform the House about the arrangements for this review as soon as possible.

Will the Secretary of State accept that that independent review is most welcome? However, is it possible to extend the review's powers to examine local authorities that are involved? Is the Secretary of State aware that there is a great deal of disquiet throughout Scotland over the land deal?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his welcome of the inquiry, which will do best to start with the procedures of the Department. If it throws up any other information no doubt that could be investigated appropriately. If the local authorities require any investigations, it is for them to decide.

Order. I propose to allow one minute extra, and I shall add it on at 3.30 pm, in order to call one more hon. Member from either side on this question.

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that there was something grossly negligent about the way the Scottish Office handled the matter under the previous Labour Administration? Is it not almost incredible that the Scottish Office sold this land at a cheap rate without having consulted the regional council and without, apparently, consulting the Scottish Development Department about the likely prospect of re-zoning, which would, and did, massively increase the value of the land? Was not that a serious piece of maladministration by the Scottish Office?

I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern about the matter. I am bound to say that the inquiries that I have made so far do not indicate that there was anything amiss in the Departments' procedures. The inquiry that I have now suggested will surely make it clear whether there was anything amiss.

May I say to the Secretary of State, as I was the Minister responsible at the time, that I note that his internal inquiry has not brought out any irregularity? May I say also that I very much welcome the independent review?