Scotland (Trade and Industry)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th July 1961.

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Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell 12:00 am, 24th July 1961

If we had such a Government then the answer from God would have been "Yes". But at this point I put it that the business men have been running the country for years and have been making a damned bad job of it. This we have repeated and will repeat on many occasions.

The noble Lord the Member for Edinburgh, North (The Earl of Dalkeith) spoke of the calm and peaceful nature of the debate. I wonder if we can think of what that means. After ten years of Conservative Government we have a debate which, if the noble Lord likes, is calm and peaceful because we on this side of the Committee and Members opposite who have spoken have underlined the kind of argument that we have put forward over the years. We were making the same arguments five or six years ago. We were then described as painting not only a black picture but one which was out of touch with reality. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power will remember the occasions when he made the point that we were describing a scene which did not exist.

That point, however, has emerged in this debate from Members opposite very much as we have made it over the years, although perhaps they did not put it in such strong language. But we feel a little more strongly about it, because our roots are far more deeply buried in Scotland than is the case with so many Members opposite. After ten years we are having to have such a debate as this and tomorrow we will have a statement dealing with the difficulties which face the country and the proposals which will be made to deal with them.

Not so long ago, there was a similar position, though not so bad, arising after the boom which reached its peak in 1957, and again we had measures to deal with the situation. Those measures affected Scotland more severely and adversely than any other part of the United Kingdom. A large part of the argument advanced today by Members opposite—including the President of the Board of Trade—showed that there was an improvement in 1960 as compared with 1959, but that improvement arose precisely because the position was made so bad in 1958 and 1959. The situation from which we were recovering in 1960 was generated by the earlier measures taken by right hon. Gentlemen opposite.

I cannot resist quoting what Lord Polwarth said in another place on the 17th July. Lord Polwarth is an ardent supporter of the Government, but he said: Look at what happened in the previous crisis of 1957. There was already an upsurge of new industrial development at the time, particularly in Scotland"—