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Cumbernauld Development Corporation

Volume 264: debated on Wednesday 18 October 1995

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress has been made to date on the winding up of Cumbernauld development corporation; and if he will make a statement. [36029]

Cumbernauld development corporation's report for the year ended 31 March 1995, which is available in the Library of the House, contains details of the good progress made.

The Minister will be aware of the considerable achievements in the Scottish new towns with regard to inward investment to Scotland. What mechanisms will he put in place to maintain the momentum of that inward investment after the new towns are wound up? Will he give an assurance that he will not simply rely on the magical or mythical equalities of market forces?

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, I have spent some time over recent months going around visiting the new town development corporations and have discussed the future of inward investment into each of them. I was relieved when I visited Cumbernauld development corporation and met the board on 24 April to hear the report from the chairman. He said that he was optimistic about the prospects of continued success in attracting inward investment, particularly with the partnership through Dumbarton Locations.

The hon. Gentleman will be pleased to hear what I can now say. I have an announcement that runs on from the significant inward investment successes that were announced during the summer recess, and which are expected to create more than 2,600 new jobs in Scotland. I am pleased to be able to tell the House and the hon. Gentleman that Bi-link, a Chicago-based metal stamper and product assembler, has this afternoon announced that it is setting up a European manufacturing plant in Cumbernauld—a project that is expected to bring a further 100 new jobs to Cumbernauld and to Scotland.

As the Minister has travelled to all the new towns during the recess, he may have been given information about the transfer of housing stock in East Kilbride, where more than 97 per cent. of the tenants voted for transfer to the local authority. The overwhelming majority of the population in Cumbernauld did the same, as did the population in Glenrothes. Why, then, does he allow the development corporations' super-quango, the housing association in Irvine, to continue to spend money when it is quite clear that the people in Irvine development corporation houses want to transfer over to the district council? Why does he continue to allow public money to be squandered in the way that it is? Why does he not just lift the telephone and tell the corporation to transfer the housing over to the district council now?

It is interesting to hear that the hon. Gentleman is now against housing associations. What else will he be against? We believe in giving people choice and in trying to ensure that they get the best possible opportunities for housing in their area.