HC Deb 17 November 1965 vol 720 cc1116-8
2. Mr. Baker

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has for preventing depopulation of the north east of Scotland.

22. Sir W. Anstruther-Gray

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he will announce his plan for the Borders.

33 and 52. Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) when he now expects to publish the north-east of Scotland Development Plan;

(2) whether he will make a statement on his policy to reverse the trend of migration from the north-east of Scotland.

41. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he now expects to publish the Government's plan for the north-east of Scotland.

Mr. Willis

The Government's plans will be set out in a White Paper which my right hon. Friend hopes to publish at the turn of the year.

Mr. Baker

The National Plan foresees an average annual decrease of 20,000 in the working population of Scotland till 1971. Is not this an alarming tendency, and will it not bear most hardly on the periphery of the rapidly developing areas of central Scotland?

Mr. Willis

We are concerned about this bearing on the periphery, and part of the object of the plan is to do as much as possible to prevent that happening.

Sir W. Anstruther-Gray

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that the plan for the Borders should be delayed until the plan for the north-east of Scotland is ready, as so much research has already taken place into the Borders problem?

Mr. Willis

All these plans have to be fitted into one plan, otherwise they are apt to be contradictory and to fit into no pattern at all. It is precisely because of this that we are publishing a National Plan. The National Plan will take account of the needs of the various areas and of the reports which have been produced for these areas.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

Is the Minister aware that the North-East Development Plan has taken a very long time? Will he agree that plans are no substitute for action and that this problem of depopulation is serious and is still going on? Does he understand that there is urgent need to stem that tide and to start once again to revive employment in these distant areas such as the north-east of Scotland and other parts of Scotland in order to give our people a chance to work in the area where they were born?

Mr. Willis

I understand hon. Members' impatience. I only wish that they had shown the same impatience during the past 13 years.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Is the Minister aware that there has been almost intolerable procrastination by the Government in this matter? Is he aware that I was assured a year ago that this plan for the North-East would be published in the very near future? Can he guarantee that it will be published as soon as possible in the New Year? It has taken far too long already.

Mr. Willis