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North Of Scotland Hydro Electric Board

Volume 982: debated on Wednesday 2 April 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when next he intends to meet the chairman of the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board.

My right hon. Friend and I have no immediate plans for a further meeting with the chairman of the board.

Has my hon. Friend had a meeting with the board in order to discuss the proposed surcharge on consumers using electricity on those islands where electricity is generated by diesel? Will he consider asking for a consultation with the chairman of the board in order to tell him that the board's decision is unfair to the small islands which are being hit in that way? Will he ask the chairman to revert to his previous policy of uniform charging for all consumers in the Highlands and Islands?

We have not had a meeting with the chairman of the board on that subject. However, representations have been made from the electricity con- sultative council for the North of Scotland District among others. My right hon. Friend is considering the representations before deciding whether action should be taken.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the surcharge on diesel generation was rightly regarded as iniquitous and was abolished in 1965? Is he aware that the policy contradicts the social remit written into the board's constitution? May we have an assurance that the Scottish Office will fight the board's suggestion?

My right hon. Friend is considering the representations. We are aware of the strength of feeling and we shall try to reach an early conclusion on the issue.

Will the Minister be more categorical? Will he respond to his hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. MacKay) and say directly that he believes that the hydroboard has made a wrong decision and that the Government will take action to reverse it.

It would not be helpful to any statutory action that my right hon. Friend might decide to take if I were to reply in the terms suggested.