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.
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?
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.
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?
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.