§ 9. Mr. Wallace
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the total revenue value of equity realised by the Highlands and Islands Development Board in the financial year 1984–85.
§ Mr. Wallace
Will the Secretary of State accept that the provision in the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Act, which my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) piloted through the House in 1968 to allow the Highlands and Islands Development Board to keep revenue from equity realised, was designed to enhance the financial viability of the board to support projects in the highlands and islands? Will the Secretary of State give a guarantee that this will continue beyond the present financial year, particularly at a time when there is a great squeeze on the board's finances? Will he continue the guarantee given by his predecessor, that any viable scheme presented to the Highlands and Islands Development Board will not fail because of the board having inadequate funding?
§ Mr. Rifkind
The expected receipts of the board are always taken into account when grant-in-aid is being determined. I can give an absolute assurance to the hon. Gentleman that none of the commitments that the board has entered into this year will not be met because of any financial constraint. The board will be able to meet all the commitments it has entered into. Since this Government came into office, resources available to the Highlands and Islands Development Board have been increased from £17 million in 1979 to £30 million in the current year.
§ Mr. Rifkind
The hon. Gentleman puts forward a proposition that no one else has put forward and then tries to criticise it. The Highlands and Islands Development Board has had the advantage of the receipts it has received over the last few years.