Scottish Development Agency

Oral Answers to Questions — European Community – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st January 1976.

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Mr. Bruce Milian:

My right hon. Friend and I are available to meet the Chairman as occasion may require. Close and continuing contact is maintained with the Agency at all levels.

Photo of Mr Douglas Crawford Mr Douglas Crawford , Perth and East Perthshire

In view of Scotland's appalling unemployment record—and here I should say that none of us on the SNP Bench wants Scotland compared with Merseyside, but rather with Norway and Sweden—will the Minister of State ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who tells us how valuable he is in the Cabinet, to press his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to raise the budget for the Scottish Development Agency to £300 million a year? Will he also instruct the SDA to carry out feasibility studies into the establishment of a Scottish motor corporation, a Scottish steel corporation and a Scottish electronics advisory authority so that the talking can stop and the action start? Only in this way can we get going in Scotland a really vibrant economy.

Mr. Milian:

I have no intention of instructing the SDA as the hon. Gentleman suggested. No doubt the SDA will take the hon. Gentleman's suggestions for what they are worth. The SDA itself, through the person of its chief executive, has said only this week that it feels that it has a budget with which it could do a very good job for Scotland. If it finds that it wants more money, no doubt it will tell us.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the people on Merseyside are deeply concerned about the unemployment in Scotland as well as about the unemployment on Merseyside? We do not feel that the unemployed Scottish workers should be unemployed. Is it not disgraceful that the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Crawford) should make statements of that kind, and is it not that sort of statement that will lead to the very backlash which I hope will not come from the English people?

Mr. Milan:

I can only absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. I should add that in the recent crisis situation the workers at Linwood made it clear to the Government that they were looking not for a Linwood solution but for a solution for Chrysler United Kingdom Limited. If that sort of attitude would just occasionally impress itself upon the SNP, we should not hear offensive nonsense from SNP Members so often.

Photo of Mr David Steel Mr David Steel , Roxburgh Selkirk and Peebles

When the Minister next meets the Chairman of the SDA, will be discuss with him the possibility of the Development Commission continuing its work for a little longer than originally planned in the Scottish rural areas? The SDA will have many problems on its hands in the main development areas and the Development Commission is doing a good job which could, perhaps, be usefully continued for another couple of years.

Mr. Milian:

I have already dealt with that matter on previous occasions. We have arrangements to make sure that there is no hiatus in the work being done. These arrangements are satisfactory not only to the SDA but to the Development Commission itself. I have discussed this matter on more than one occasion with Donald Chapman, the Chairman of the Commission.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Glasgow Cathcart

Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to tell the House how much cash will be available to the Agency this year and next after allowance has been made for the functions which it has taken over from other agencies? Is he aware that we have made many attempts to discover that figure and that the Government have refused to tell us?

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

I must ask the hon. Gentleman to await the White Paper on public expenditure, which I think will be published next month. The important thing is that there is no lack of money that is holding back the Agency. I do not believe that that will ever be the position.