Scottish Development Authority

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th May 1972.

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Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Lanarkshire North 12:00 am, 24th May 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state his policy towards setting up a Scottish development authority.

Photo of Mr Robert Hughes Mr Robert Hughes , Aberdeen North

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to establish a Scottish Development Authority with adequate financial backing.

Photo of Mr Gordon Campbell Mr Gordon Campbell , Moray and Nairnshire

The essential advantages claimed for the proposed Scottish Development Authority can, we are satisfied, be more expeditiously and effectively secured by the Scottish Industrial Development Office and Board which are now being established.

Photo of Mr John Smith Mr John Smith , Lanarkshire North

Will the Secretary of State bear in mind that the last week has seen a major recantation of Government policy on regional development and assistance? Having gone some of the way to realising some of the errors they introduced into regional development policy by their ill-thought-out measures shortly after the General Election, should not the Government realise that they had better go the whole way and have a development authority under the control of the Secretary of State which can make sure that the industrial potential of Scotland can be realised by the injection of public money into manufacturing industry? Does not the right hon. Gentleman also accept that the Industrial Development Executive takes further away than ever before any influence that he or his colleagues will have on the future economic planning of Scotland?

Photo of Mr Gordon Campbell Mr Gordon Campbell , Moray and Nairnshire

I completely disagree with the last part of that question. The hon. Gentleman has also indicated a view different from that of most other people who recommend this kind of authority by saying that it should be under the control of the Secretary of State. Most of the recommendations for this sort of authority have urged that it should be independent and should have its own powers and money. This would require time and legislation, whereas we are not losing anything by acting now and setting up this new body.

Photo of Mr Robert Hughes Mr Robert Hughes , Aberdeen North

To some extent welcome the change of mind by the Government about regional development policy. However, is not the Secretary of State aware that when 135,000 people are unemployed at this time of the year, urgent and direct action is needed? A development authority with money would he able to carry out such action?

Photo of Mr Gordon Campbell Mr Gordon Campbell , Moray and Nairnshire

The point is that this office can go into action straight away, whereas the kind of authority that requires legislation will not be in action for at least two years. [An HON. MEMBER: "Rubbish".] We are not losing any time by getting this into action and the director has already been appointed. Furthermore, it will be carrying out tasks in Scotland, with grants and loans and help in other ways, which have previously been done from London, and in that way it is far closer to Scotland than these operations have been before.

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Shadow Spokesperson (Scotland)

How does the Secretary of State propose that the Highlands and Islands Development Board is to be able to offer an edge over the aid offered throughout the rest of Scotland which will be channelled through the new SIDO?

Photo of Mr Gordon Campbell Mr Gordon Campbell , Moray and Nairnshire

Because the Highlands and Islands Development Board has special powers which are additional to the other incentives operating in Scotland.