asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress has been made in improving communications between new town development corporations in Scotland and local residents.
As a result of the measures taken at my request to improve the presentation of their activities to the public, better communications have been established between the development corporations and local residents.
I recognise that some progress has been made towards making the new town development corporations more accountable, but does the Minister agree that it is appropriate for the Secretary of State now to advise the corporations to open their doors to the press and the public, as proposed by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities?
The development corporations are, largely, commercial organisations. It has been proved beyond doubt by both Labour and Conservative Governments that their development work is of great benefit. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will agree that no Government should take any steps to diminish industrial development, which is successfully carried out by the corporations.
If the Minister is not prepared to take the advice of my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Hogg) and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to instruct the new town development corporations to open their meetings to the public, will he, in the interim, instruct them to make the minutes of board meetings available to the press and the public so that the people in the new towns know why decisions are taken?
Matters which are not commercially confidential are revealed to the press by the chairmen of the corporations at the specific request of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the best news that he could give the House would be that the new town development corporations are to be wound up and their activities handed over to the people who represent the residents?
No, Sir. There is a programme for the eventual winding up of the new town development corporations. The hon. Gentlemen's remarks surprise me, because he represents a new town which has been tremendously successful in attracting industry and jobs to Scotland.