Orders of the Day — Scottish Development Agency Bill

– in the House of Commons at 10:58 pm on 21st October 1987.

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Order for Second Reading read.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale 1:15 pm, 21st October 1987

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

The purpose of the Bill, as effected by clause 1, is to increase the statutory financial limit for the Scottish Development Agency from the present level of £700 million to £1,200 million. The agency's financial limit was last raised by the Industry Act 1981, when it was expected that the new limit would remain in place until 1989. Because of a revision in the method of calculating what constitutes grant-in-aid, however, it is now estimated that the financial limit will be reached by the end of the present financial year. It is therefore necessary to raise the limit so that the agency's activities are uninterrupted.

Under section 13 of the Scottish Development Agency Act 1975 a number of items count towards the agency's financial limit. First, there are the agency's general external borrowings—mainly out of the National Loans Fund but covering other borrowing by subsidiary companies. Secondly, the limit includes agency guarantees and Treasury guarantees. Thirdly, there are overseas borrowings from, for example, the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Investment Bank. Finally, the largest item comprises payments from the Secretary of State, consisting of grant-in-aid less administrative expenses, plus public dividend capital issues.

As is customary when seeking parliamentary approval for increasing a financial limit, we propose to set a new limit which should suffice for around five years ahead. I therefore propose that the limit should be raised to £1,200 million.

Under the Scottish Development Agency Act 1975 the agency has the principal purposes of furthering the economic development of Scotland, improving its international competitiveness and improving its environment. These it accomplishes through a variety of functions, including the provision of finance, premises, business advice and counselling, sectoral advice, redevelopment of land and property and bringing derelict land back into use. A recent review of the agency carried out by the Scottish Office and the Treasury concluded that in its first 10 years it had made a substantial and positive impact on Scotland's economy and environment. Agency investments from 1981 to 1985 have created additional output of £275 million per annum and a total of about 10,000 jobs.

Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths , Edinburgh South

Is the Minister aware that in my constituency the Scottish Development Agency spends less per head of population than in any other constituency on the Scottish mainland? Will he tell me and my constituents what the Bill will do to foster redevelopment and regeneration in the constituency?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is aware that the agency spends resources on the basis of its perception of the areas that most require its assistance and on what sections would most repay investment, for example, and not on a constituency assessment of need. The agency must have the freedom to make these assessments itself. The Bill will enable it to have the resources with which to pursue such a programme over the next five years.

Photo of Dr Norman Godman Dr Norman Godman , Greenock and Port Glasgow

On the issue of the rehabilitation of derelict land, can I take it that the Inverclyde initiative budget will be increased as a result of the Bill's enactment? The Minister will be aware that we are facing massive unemployment problems in Inverclyde.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the problems of Inverclyde are very severe, and I am glad that the agency is bending so much effort towards finding a solution to them. The Bill will enable the agency, after the end of this year, to continue to receive grant-in-aid and other types of assistance in the form of public funds which will enable it to continue with that policy. I cannot give an assurance on the specific budget of the Inverclyde initiative; that is a matter for the agency itself. However, I am sure that the agency will consider any representation that the hon. Gentleman makes on the matter.

Various sector initiatives are judged to have played a substantial role in creating, for example, some 2,000 to 3,000 jobs in electronics and some 150 in health care. In its relatively short lifetime, Locate in Scotland, a partnership between the agency and my Department, has been instrumental in attracting over 300 projects involving investment of almost £2·4 billion, expected to create 30,000 new jobs and safeguard a further 16,000. In its environmental role, the agency has since 1979 cleared over 16,000 acres of derelict land, some of them in the Inverclyde initiative area.

Behind those bald statistics lie many achievements. The statistics cannot easily show the importance of major infrastructure projects involving the agency and bringing wide benefits to Scottish industry, such as the National hyperbaric centre in Aberdeen and the Scottish exhibition and conference centre in Glasgow. The agency's work in high technology matters such as electronics and health care has not only created jobs and wealth; it has also changed the perception of Scotland from a country of the declining heavy industries to one of the expanding high-tech industries of the future.

In area initiatives, in partnership with local authorities and the private sector, the agency has achieved much in developing opportunities for problem areas, using a continuously evolving approach, from the wide-ranging GEAR comprehensive renewal to encouraging a degree of self-help in the growing number of enterprise agencies assisted.

Photo of David Marshall David Marshall , Glasgow Shettleston

The Minister referred to the GEAR project. Does he not think it terribly sad that the Government pulled the plug on that project when it was only two-thirds completed? If they had given it three more years of life, they could have achieved something really long-lasting and worthwhile, a tribute to the work done by the SDA. Does the Minister not regret the Government's decision?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I think that the hon. Gentleman underrates the achievement that has taken place in the GEAR project. I pay tribute not only to the SDA but also to the regional and district councils that were involved in that partnership. It has run for 10 years. Some £500 million has been invested in the project, some £300 million of it from public funds. By any standards, that is a major investment. Any of us who go and see the area affected can only be impressed by the enormous strides forward that have been made. I hope that the hon. Gentleman draws comfort, as I do, from the fact that all the parties to the project have signed a document maintaining a continuity of commitment to help the GEAR area in the future. I hope very much to see it continue to develop in the encouraging way in which it has developed so far.

One of the agency's major achievements has been its ability to develop innovative mechanisms to tackle problems of enterprise development, business development training, rural areas, urban renewal and peripheral estates. Schemes such as enterprise funds for youth, local enterprise grants for urban projects and the programme for rural initiatives and developments are all examples of such innovation. The agency has also been successful in obtaining the involvement of different bodies in Scotland, ranging from universities to local authorities and private businesses, and bringing them into partnership in projects. The west of Scotland science park, the St. Enoch's development, Drug Development Scotland and the Turing institute all exemplify that approach.

While the recent review of the agency did not propose any major changes to its operations, the report put forward some 50 recommendations related to its detailed running. They ranged from ways of improving the quality of decision-making within the agency to improving the content and presentation of its annual report, and the provision of an integrated strategic and operational planning and budgeting cycle.

Photo of Mr Dick Douglas Mr Dick Douglas , Dunfermline West

Can the Minister find any justification for an annual report that contains, on a rough count, 18 photographs of the chairman? Is that an improvement in presentation, or an exercise in egomania by Sir Robin Duthie?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I am sure that Sir Robin Duthie will read the hon. Gentleman's comments in the report of this debate with considerable interest. The report is a valuable tool for the agency in presenting an image of its activities to those potential inward investors and others who can bring great benefit to Scotland. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the agency's image outside Scotland stands very high, and I do not begrudge it the capacity to present itself in an effective and efficient manner.

The aim of the recommendations in the Treasury review is to increase the agency's effectiveness as a motor of change in Scotland. Progress in the implementation of these recommendations is proceeding according to schedule, with action have been substantially completed in over half of them. With an eye to the future, the agency's corporate strategy for the next three years highlights the major thrusts proposed in the fields of technology, Scottish enterprise, internationalisation and urban renewal.

First, the agency recognises — and rightly — that Scottish industry, and not simply inward investors, is its client base. The agency is now increasingly applying to the development of indigenous companies the targeted approach that has brought it success in the attraction of inward investment. Particular emphasis will be placed on the engineering and food processing sectors.

Secondly, the greatest rewards to enterprise are to be found in serving international markets, while the greatest threats to indigenous industry come from international competition and from the international diffusion of technology. By encouraging product and process development, the agency will seek to assist Scottish industry to rise to this challenge. The provision of seed corn and development finance will be needed in these activities, as will a major expansion of the agency's technology transfer capability.

Thirdly, the agency has developed considerable expertise in encouraging property development to achieve environmental renewal and local economic regeneration. The approach, which has paid dividends in Glasgow's merchant city, can be replicated in other major Scottish urban centres. This expertise will increasingly be applied to urban renewal and regeneration in Scotland. We can expect to see this happening, for example, on the banks of the Clyde in Glasgow and in run-down housing areas.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin , Glasgow Springburn

I have been in correspondence with the Scottish Development Agency regarding the rehabilitation and conversion of Spiers wharf in the Port Dundas area, which contains a large number of Victorian warehouses. We have asked the SDA for assistance and it has given a commitment that help will be provided. Will the Minister try to move this project forward? Everybody is happy to see the merchant city development, but there are other parts of Glasgow.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I am sure that the agency will note the hon. Gentleman's concern about this point, and, as he has written to it, I am sure that it will take note of his anxieties.

Fourthly, special attention will be paid to enhancing the access to jobs of residents of areas undergoing urban renewal in order to improve their long-term income-earning prospects. That will be achieved through the provision of training associated with urban renewal projects.

Photo of Mr Tony Worthington Mr Tony Worthington , Clydebank and Milngavie

Could the Minister confirm that, if precedence is to be given to residents in urban renewal areas, contract compliance will be insisted on in those areas?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

That is not the same point as that which I was making. My point was about the special attention that will be paid to enhancing the residents' access to jobs by improving their training and their ability to perform those jobs and, therefore, to apply for them.

In undertaking these tasks the agency will continue to adopt a commercial approach. It will emphasise partnerships. Funding will be drawn from a range of other participants, and a realistic and disciplined approach is to be expected.

Since its creation in 1975 the agency's activities have been influenced by the policy and philosophy of the Government of the day, which is right. We set its budget, we are involved in the development of its overall strategy, we agree its priorities and we approve its major specific decisions. That is also why the SDA's role has developed and expanded so that it is now the powerful force that we want it to be in working with the grain of our capitalist economy.

Where its Labour begetters in 1975 wanted the agency to be an instrument of socialism—interventionist and acquisitive—we have transformed it into an engine of free enterprise, creative and catalytic. In recognition of that, and the increased effectiveness it has achieved in the use of its funds, we have been able to increase its budget in real terms since coming into office.

The agency has increased significantly the amount of money generated by its activities, but over the last few years the Government have still provided about £90 million a year in support of its operations.

Photo of Gordon Brown Gordon Brown Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Will the Minister confirm that the value of Government spending on the Scottish Development Agency in 1987, when unemployment is over 330,000, is less than it was in 1979 when unemployment was one third of the present figure?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

The budget of the agency has increased in real terms since the Government came into office. The hon. Gentleman may not like that fact, but that is the case.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I will not give way. The hon. Gentleman can develop the point in his speech.

Photo of Gordon Brown Gordon Brown Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Does the Minister agree with the letter that he wrote to me on 13 March? The second paragraph reads: While it is the case that direct Government funding of the SDA has fallen in recent years"?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

That referred to the net budget, which excludes the redeployment of sources generated internally in the agency. I am referring to the gross budget of the agency, which is the figure that the Government authorises it to spend; that is the relevant figure that is taken into account.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

The Bill confirms the Government's commitment to the continuing process of improving the Scottish economy by seting a framework for continued funding for the agency over the next five years. It will allow the agency to capitalise on its undoubted past successes and to undertake the longer-term planning that is essential to secure future success and to meet the new challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden 11:33 pm, 21st October 1987

I do not know what the agency has done in its annual report. The presentation may have improved in recent years; there is a similar need in the Scottish Office. The Minister's presentation was dreary. He read his speech with no sense of conviction, but given the quality of the script I am not entirely surprised.

Earlier we had some fairly entertaining similes. The Secretary of State for the Environment was worried about a plague of Scots filling his rather narrow horizons. We saw the hon. Member for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale (Mr. Lang) doing his Disraeli and shinning up the greasy pole with remarkable agility. Unfortunately, he could not rise to such high standards of eloquence, although we heard a lot about rising to challenges and scattering seed corn. I am afraid that I remained unconvinced.

It is perhaps a modest measure that we are discussing, but no one should be disappointed about that. It raises the borrowing requirement of the Scottish Development Agency. That in itself is unexceptionable. I am delighted that the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) has joined us. His support for this measure will have damaged further his already shaky reputation with his friends on the Back Benches. I welcome his no doubt genuine conversion to the importance of public investment in the Government's programme.

The debate is of some importance because it gives us a chance to consider the SDA, and not only in terms of a stylish report, interesting though it no doubt is in terms of colour printing and typographical art. Although I take the statistical point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas), it did not strike me that it was a fiction montage of Sir Robin Duthie. I was remarkably impressed by the collection of snapshots of Ministers in happy attitudes sprinkled about the pages. At one time I thought of presenting an annual prize for the official publication that managed to produce the largest selection of political mugshots. I abandoned the idea because I realised that the SDA would win every year. That would have removed any novelty and excitement.

The SDA's importance is out of proportion to its global expenditure and to the people that it employs. It has a budget of £140 million gross and employs fewer then 700 people. It has an honourable position and role and has a key place in deciding industrial strategy. It could have an even more effective role, given the right support in the fight against unemployment and in the fight to build upon the badly shaken foundations of the Scottish economy which has been so damaged in the last seven or eight years. I welcome the chance to examine the agency's workings and the framework within which it operates.

I accept that finance is not the end of the argument. Many other things must be taken into account. Resources and the budget are important. I do not believe that its record is that which is advertised by the Government.

I listened with fascination to the brief exchange between my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, East (Mr. Brown) and the Minister. I think that the Minister is being disingenuous. I am sure that he is acting in good faith, but he is misrepresenting the position.

I draw to the Minister's attention a parliamentary answer dated 18 February 1987. I asked a question of the Secretary of State for Scotland. I was given the gross expenditure of the SDA since 1979–80 at constant prices. At 1986–87 prices in 1979–80 the gross outturn of the agency was £134 million and in 1977–78 £131 million. For the last three years the expected outturn was £135 million, £133 million and £131 million. I do not suggest that that is a dramatic fall, but a fall it is. If the Minister says that we do not like the fact that it has gone up in real terms, I return the compliment by saying that he must recognise the facts which his Department supplies and which we are expected to take in good faith. In terms of gross expenditure there has been a fall in real terms; there is no doubt about that.

The Minister might wish to consider other possibilities. He might say that gross expenditure includes the substantial sum which is generated internally by the agency's activities. Perhaps we should examine the Scottish Office's contribution. It peaks at £116·6 million in 1982–3 and this year it will be £88·9 million. There has been a substantial decline in the Scottish Office contribution.

Those facts were supplied by the Minister's own Department in a parliamentary answer on 4 February 1987, at column 714. The gross budget has declined and the Scottish Office contribution has declined even further. If that is represented as a triumphant endorsement of the Government putting their full muscle behind the SDA, we are in the land of double talk and bordering on the absurd.—[Interruption.]—My hon. Friends are encouraging me to give way. Perhaps the Minister would like to defend his earlier statement—he has some explaining to do. I do not want to embarrass him for one moment, but I caution him against easy statements about the budget rising when the Minister's figures show the exact opposite.

Photo of Michael Fallon Michael Fallon , Darlington

I have considered the Bill and I am a little puzzled. The hon. Gentleman is alleging that the SDA has declined in real terms. Can the hon. Gentleman explain why, as a result of the Bill, the SDA's financial limit is to be raised by more than 70 per cent.?

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

I always thought that the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Fallon) was perverse and almost always wrong, but I thought that he was fairly astute and understood the language of legislation. He will realise that that figure represents the borrowing limit and is accommodating an accumulated borrowing requirement that has mounted over many years. It has nothing to do with the future projection of the SDA budget. I only wish it was true, as the hon. Member implies, that that increase from £700 million to £1,200 million in the borrowing requirement was directly related to some improvement in the financial health of the agency, but that is a non sequitur of remarkable proportions, as the Minister would quickly point out.

Photo of Mr Martin O'Neill Mr Martin O'Neill , Clackmannan

Given the modesty of the proposals, perhaps that is why there are no SNP Members in the Chamber.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

The migrations of SNP Members are beyond my ken and my understanding. [Interruption.] On cue, as they say, and I am delighted to welcome back two of them to our deliberations. When one thinks about it, that is quite a high percentage of them.

I believe that I have given a reasonably fair illustration of what has happened to the financing of the SDA, based as it is on Government statistics. There is one component part of the finance of the SDA that will be of particular interest to the hon. Member for Darlington—the part of the budget that is used for industrial investment. I make it clear that I do not necessarily think that the main thrust should be in public investment. I accept the principle that one can pump prime with public investment and that if one attracts a large aggregation of private capital around the public sector core that can give satisfaction to everyone who is interested in the Scottish economy.

Looking at the Government's expenditure plans for 1987–88 and 1989–90, we see that in 1986–87 the amount invested by the SDA in industrial investment was given as £5·5 million, but the associated private sector investment was given as £83·8 million. Of course that is satisfactory and I would be the first to congratulate the agency on using a minimal investment to good purpose. However, I am also entitled to draw the attention of the House to how small the "seed corn store"—to use the new phrase that the Minister has coined tonight—is, at £5·5 million. We are entitled to question the modesty of that sum.

I draw the attention of the House to another parliamentary answer, again to my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, East. It appears in Hansard on 5 December 1986, at column 829. It showed that in 1978–79 the sum used by the SDA for industrial investment was £10·7 million, or 8·5 per cent. of its total investment. This year that sum is £9 million, or 7 per cent. I understand that that £9 million should be updated—that there may be some growth—and I am told that the figure may be as high as £9·7 million. However, it clearly emerges from the figures that industrial investment is another area in which, since 1978–79, there has been a decline in the funds available to or used by the SDA.

As against the Minister's proud claim that he tried to ram down our throats, that the Government had a good record and that the budget had increased, from the Government's own parliamentary answers we see that in real terms the gross budget has declined since the Government came to power, the Scottish Office contribution has declined faster and the amount spent on industrial investment has gone down in cash terms and as a proportion of the total budget.

I accept that figures can be confusing. One of the parliamentary answers to which I referrred, on 5 December 1986, gives the industrial investment figure as £8·1 million. However, those in the House who are familiar with the report of the review group which reported to the Secretary of State for Scotland in February 1987 will see on page 45 that the SDA total expenditure on industrial investment in 1985–86 is given as £5·7 million.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

If the hon. Gentleman looks at the annual report of the SDA, he will see on page 13, under industrial investment, that in 1985–86 the figure was £6·2 million and in 1986–87 it was £7·96 million. So far from falling, it is rising.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries

Bowled middle stump again!

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

A sporting metaphor from the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) is always something to savour. All that I can say to the hon. Gentleman is that he should stick to rugby and not stray on to the cricket field. He has got it all wrong as usual.

The position is clear and is as I have stated it. The figures have declined in that area as they have in the others to which I referrred. I proposed to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that on page 45 the 1985–86 industrial investment figure is given as £5·7 million while in one of his own parliamentary answers it is given as £8·1 million. That struck me as a curious discrepancy. I therefore took the trouble to telephone the SDA today for an explanation. Having got it, I thought that the House might be interested in it. It gives an interesting insight into the way in which the Scottish Office compiles its figures.

In 1985–86, the £5·7 million which appears in the report of the review group is the gross advances to new investment. The figure of £1·8 million that is added to it is the capital and interest payable to the Scottish Office, and £600,000 is the rural loan scheme. If one adds those three together, one gets the £8·1 million which, in parliamentary answers, the Minister is claiming is the industrial investment of the Scottish Office.

All that I can say, in all seriousness, is that I do not understand the logic, consistency or honesty of claiming that the payment of £1·8 million back to the Scottish Office is industrial investment by the SDA in Scotland and its economy. The figure in the review group report of £5·7 million is much more honest.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the Minister has given the impression not only that there is adequate funding in the SDA, but that there is a shortage of projects, whereas the reality is that there are more projects coming forward than the SDA can fund? In particular, the rural funding scheme, PRIDE — projects for rural industry and development enterprises—has run out of funding and no new scheme has come forward. I hope that in his concluding remarks the hon. Gentleman will press the Minister to explain what he will do about that.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

I do not know whether I shall find room in my concluding remarks, but, as an interim measure, let me say that I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman. I draw his attention to a parliamentary answer to me on 22 April 1987, at column 568. It gives a list of applications for investment in every year since 1979. It leaves aside the multifarious activities of the small business department, which last year had 20,000 contacts, which is a formidable range of service. Staying at the top end of the trade, we see that in 1979–80 there were 138 such applications. There were 236 in the past year, a new high and growing all the time. A few years ago, if one talked informally to the SDA, it would say that most of the projects that it thought worthy of support and that there was a pressing need to advance could be accommodated in the existing budget. To my knowledge, no one in the SDA would maintain that position now. The story is very different. People will now say, with total honesty, that there are often projects within the criteria of the SDA, that they feel could and should be helped but where budget restrictions make that impossible. The point made by the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) is a fair one and shows one of our problems.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

When the hon. Gentleman telephoned the SDA to ascertain some of the facts did the agency tell him that a lack of funds was a constraint upon its investment projects?

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

No, not on this occasion. That was for the simple reason that I spoke to an official who deals with finance to whom I put a number of specific clarificatory questions based upon the misleading figures that the Scottish Office has been providing. I received a prompt, courteous, full and adequate explanation, which certainly helped me. I did not try to involve that official in the sort of discussions to which the Minister is referring. Over time and at a number of levels within the agency that point of view has been put to me. I honestly relay that as my impression and I hope that it is not a view with which the Minister would seriously quarrel.

I recognise that I have been using a fair amount of figures of one sort or another but I conclude this section of my remarks by dealing with net expenditure by the Scottish Office, after having allowed for net loan repayments and receipts to the Scottish Office itself, on industrial investment through the SDA. It is interesting. The figures are to be found on page 45 of the report of the review group. In 1982–83 the Scottish Office contribution to industrial investment through the agency was £6·24 million. By 1985–86 that had dropped to £730,000. Gosh, that is generous. I have to tell the Minister in the interest of completeness—it may be good news to him—that in 1986–87 the agency tells me that the comparable figure will be £1·29 million. In other words, the net contribution from the Scottish Office to the total industrial investment project of the SDA is just marginally over £1 million. That is a less than impressive record at a time when Scotland is still in the clutch of unemployment and when there are scars to be seen in almost every one of our communities.

I recognise that the general picture is a depressing one. Almost every one of the indicators suggests a lack of Government commitment, a falling-off of financial contribution and an increasingly tight situation for the agency. However, I also recognise that much good work is done in a whole range of areas. The agency is an enormously important landlord in the industrial sphere in Scotland. It is the inheritor of the role of the Scottish Industrial Estates Corporation, which some older hon. Members will remember. About 24 per cent. of the agency's annual budget goes in that area. There is the land renewal programme and environmental improvement, which in 1986–87 will take almost a third of the budget, £46 million. I know that this area can be controversial. For example, I am aware of some of the anxieties about the slice of the budget being spent on the Glasgow garden festival. I regard that as an important and worthwhile project. In passing I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Millan), who has worked extremely hard to help and encourage that project.

I referred earlier to the small business division and its 20,000 visits. When I look at the range of activities I am remarkably impressed by the job done by the professionals in the agency. It would be appropriate if the House was to congratulate and send good wishes to Mr. Ian Robertson who has just taken over as chief executive and Professor Neil Hood who is now heading the Locate in Scotland bureau, about which I shall speak later.

My general point is that the agency could be even more effective if it was more effectively supported by Government. One problem is that we shall have to consider the agency's activities against the background of the Government's general attitude and policy on regional aid. I do not think that any hon. Member will disagree when I say that, clearly, it will be more difficult for the agency if the general background of regional development grant and the framework of assistance to industry is being undermined by other Government policies. The agency's work is fundamentally affected by Government policy on exactly that area of regional aid. There can be little hope of reviving the Scottish economy when building on foundations undermined by the bitter experience of recent years, if Ministers insist on dismantling the necessary incentives to invest. Despite the hard selling by the Scottish Office, the Government's contribution to the SDA has been miserable—the budget had a peak of £116 million and has fallen to £90 million today. It is a wholly inadequate commitment from a Government who are happy to parade the agency as a political trapping, but are not prepared to back it wholeheartedly with the cash that it needs.

I have already referred to the report on the agency. It was ordered by the Secretary of State, and it summarises his position neatly. I am sure that the Minister would not disagree with the summary, which states: The Government's economic policy is based on the presumption that the allocation of resources is best left to the, free market. I am glad to note that the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth), with enormous self-control, has managed to suppress a smile and a vigorous nod because as he is now on the Front Bench he has to try to restrain his natural zeal. The Government's position has led to the problems on which I have commented.

I wish to draw the attention of the House to a matter on which I hope the Minister will comment at the end of the debate, and it is the whole question of the alarming and repeated rumours that the Department of Trade and Industry is reviewing regional aid and that substantial further cuts are on the way. I do not believe that that is irresponsible speculation because the reports are apparently based on Scottish Office sources. It is essential that in this debate the House learns of what is happening and who is in charge. The reports provoked a quite remarkable response from the Scottish Office. Speaking on the BBC's "Good Morning Scotland" programme on 16 October, the Secretary of State could not have been more vehement. Challenged about a cut in regional aid, the right hon. Gentleman said: There might be concern if it was true but it is not true. I am able to repeat to you categorically what I believe Ian Lang has also said that there is no question of these resources available for regional aid in Scotland being reduced. In the context of considering the adequacy of the SDA budget and the future of industrial help in Scotland, it would be extremely helpful if the Minister would confirm that his right hon. Friend meant what he clearly said.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

Because the right hon. Gentleman is in Japan, and I understand that even he cannot shout that far. I seriously request a comment from the Minister on the matter. I put such emphasis on it because of the promise that there would be no cuts of importance, and because the last policy review carried out by the Department of Trade and Industry resulted in the loss of £100 million a year from the Scottish industrial budget. Indeed, the Government's public expenditure figures suggest that expenditure on regional development grant will fall from £167 million in 1986–87 to £67 million in the current year. The commentary on the public expenditure figures produced by the Scottish Office shows that the total budget for industrial support is scheduled to come down from £210 million in 1987–88 to £110 million in 1988–89.

Those planned cuts result from a policy which is a disgraceful capitulation by the Scottish Office to the Treasury. The House is entitled to know whether the clear promise by the Secretary of State that there will be no cuts means that the perverse determination to cut regional aid has now been abandoned. Will the Minister promise that spending will not fall below this year's figures? I can put no other interpretation on what the Secretary of State said, but it is important that it is confirmed in this debate.

The Secretary of State made another startling suggestion and remarkable claim in that interview. He announced that the Department of Trade and Industry has no responsibility for regional aid north of the border. He could not have put it more bluntly. I quote directly from the Secretary of State: It will not be a matter for the Department of Trade and Industry to decide. They may be responsible for regional aid in England and that is reasonable and proper, but I and my colleagues are responsible for regional aid in Scotland. This appears to be a major shift in power between the Department of Trade and Industry and the Scottish Office. Or has the Secretary of State misled the Scottish public?

As I understood the position—no doubt the Minister will confirm whether I am right—although the Scottish Office is responsible for the administration of the regional development grant, the mechanics of payment, the level of support, the criteria, the qualification for eligibility, the overall policy framework and the boundaries within which the support is paid remain the prerogative of the Department of Trade and Industry. Are we to take it from the Secretary of State's remarks that those central issues are now the sole responsibility of the Scottish Office? If plain English means anything, it means exactly that.

When I spoke on the telephone today to the noble Lord who heads the Private Office in the Department of Trade and Industry he seemed to be blissfully unaware of this important shift in Government policy, but perhaps the Department has simply not yet been informed. I shall check on the position with the Prime Minister. Pending that no doubt authoritative reply, we should have an explanation of what the Secretary of State meant from his senior colleague in charge of this area. If his claims cannot be substantiated, it is essential that we know that. Indeed, it is essential that we know whether the noble Lord or the Secretary of State is calling the shots. If there has been no change of policy, I object to senior Ministers going on radio and saying things which are no more than a dishonest smokescreen, attempting to bolster an inaccurate position.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

Would the Minister care to rise now and tell me what the Secretary of State meant?

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

I await the Minister's answer with great interest. I read carefully what the Secretary of State said, and I expect the Minister to explain exactly what is afoot.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that he heard a broadcast. Now he is saying that he read it. Will he clarify the matter?

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

Both. Broadcasts are not always ephemeral. It is sometimes possible to check the contents in case one misheard. I was so startled I did. I had not.

If there are cuts, they will have a serious effect upon the ability of the SDA to do its job. Perhaps the Minister will turn his attention to the genuine point made by the hon. Member for Darlington. There is a substantial increase in borrowing requirement from £700 million to £1,200 million. The Minister said, coyly, that this would allow uninterrupted activity on the part of the agency, but was careful to say that he would give no guarantees about the future shape or size of its budget. It is important to press him to know whether the increase in borrowing requirement will leave adequate room for a generous and necessary increase in the agency's funding, and to ask him whether we can look for some redress against the miserable approach that has characterised Government policy during the past few years. There is no doubt that there are projects that require help and areas that are in the grip of recession, and that the agency could have a more effective role if it was given the resources to carry on the job that it has done with some distinction in many places.

I strongly support—it is worth putting this on record — the efforts of the agency to take areas in which it believes there can be genuine industrial growth in Scotland, to try to encourage excellence there and to attract firms that move in. The most obvious example of that, as you, Mr. Deputy Speaker will know, is the electronics industry, which is at the centre of the debate.

I sometimes resent the myth-making that comes from Conservative Benches which suggests that we in some way resent the introducton of the electronics industry to Scotland and are grudging in our welcome when there is an announcement about it. I am delighted to see any signs of growth, movement and inward investment in Scotland, such as Compaq at Irvine, Ford in Dundee, or the big development in Livingston with Japanese capital by the Shin-Etsu Handotai company mentioned in the press today. I shall be delighted to see it come. However, we are entitled to protest against the way in which the arrival of an electronics company is sometimes used as an alibi for almost everything else that is happening on the Scottish industrial scene.

Again, I recommend that the Minister reads the answers that his Department provide to Parliament. One, given in reply to a Question on 5 December 1986 suggests that in the electronics section in 1979 there were 38,350 jobs in Scotland, and in 1985 there were 39,700, an increase in six years of just over a thousand. Of course, that is welcome; let no one take any of my remarks as begrudging the importance of that improvement; but even if one makes a generous projection and assumes that that total has risen to 44,000, when measured against an unemployment rate that, on a comparable basis of compilation, has more than doubled since 1979, it cannot he regarded as a panacea. We need much more effort by the Government actively and energetically to reinforce any favourable trend that exists.

Of course the agency has done well in Clydebank, in the Garnock valley, in Inverclyde and Dundee, and many other parts of Scotland. No one would deny that. However, I do not believe that it will be able to build and improve on that record unless there is a change of direction on the part of the Government.

I and my hon. Friends thought it interesting that the Minister boasted that the Government were turning the agency into an engine of free enterprise. That sounded like ideological claptrap, and the Minister should be ashamed of himself. Perhaps it was an apologetic attempt at a peroration, but it did nothing for me. Turning the agency into an engine of free enterprise is not the end product. Certainly, the agency should be about partnership and working with the private sector, but to talk about it as some sort of Thatcherian model, as the phrase suggested, is fundamentally misconceived.

I say to the Minister with some regret that there are still, perhaps, people in high places in the Scottish Office and on the Conservative Back Benches who entertain real doubts about the value of this type of agency. Plenty of Conservative hon. Members will regard with suspicion even this modest increase in its borrowing powers. They do not even all wear kilts, although some of them do. There will he those who see themselves as the sea-green incorruptibles of the Prime Minister's new revolution and who see any increase in public expenditure as some form of fiscal anathema. Those are not the people who should be voicing thoughts about the future development of the Scottish Development Agency. It is, perhaps, not surprising, however, because if one looks back over the record, while Conservative politicians have always been happy to use the agency as part of the propaganda battle, they have always dragged their feet when it came to spending money and giving real incentives and support to the fight.

Even now, we see some extraordinary developments in Conservative thinking. Many of us remember Mr. Michael Ancram, though it seems a long time since he was an hon. Member. He explained recently that everything had been wrong in the previous Government, of which he was a distinguished member, because they had not forcibly fed Thatcherian policies in Scotland with sufficient vim and vigour.I suspect that Mr. Ancram would tell me that part of the revolution would be a new hostility to the kind of partnership arrangements between the public and private sectors that are represented by the SDA.

In closing — I want to allow time for many of my hon. Friends—I tell a cautionary and instructive tale to those who worry about policies that would allow the agency to develop its full potential. I used to serve on the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs. Some hon. Members will remember that Committee and I say in parenthesis that I hope that the Scottish Office will use its influence with the authorities and the Leader of the House to ensure that the Committee is soon up and running.

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside

If the hon. Member will confirm that he will come back as chairman of the Select Committee I might change my views about that Committee.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

Was ever an hon. Member tempted thus? However, I have to weigh carefully not only whether I would be good for the Select Committee, but whether the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) would be good for the Committee—which may be a more difficult matter. I know that he made his intervention seriously and I take it up. I have seen stories in the papers in which the hon. Gentleman and, I think, the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) have made it clear that they would never serve on the Committee. Labour Members were genuinely sorry to see those statements. If the hon. Member for Tayside, North is saying that in certain circumstances he might reconsider his position, that might encourage his hon. Friends to advance the setting up of the Select Committee, and that would be a good thing.

But I am being distracted,. I was about to say that back in 1980 the Select Committee carried out a lengthy inquiry into the attraction of investment into Scotland. It is a matter of peculiar interest, because I constantly hear from Scottish Ministers, including the Under-Secretary who opened the debate, much praise for Locate in Scotland. I endorse that praise; the agency has done well and has showed imagination and been successful, often in a highly competitive market.

However, I find it extraordinary — I am sure that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will at least understand my puzzlement even if it may not be professionally proper for you to share it—that Conservative Members should be so enthusiastic about Locate in Scotland when they were so hostile to its birth.

I was chairman of the Select Committee during its investment inquiry and a chairman's report emerged under my name. It gave heavy and proper emphasis to the opportunities for marketing Scotland and the importance of preserving the independent offices of the SDA, especially in north America. It became a matter of very great contention and the Conservative majority on that Committee threw out that Chairman's report and substituted its own. The report was finally adopted by a majority vote of the Committee and it argued that there should be no independent attempt to market Scotland abroad, that the independent offices of the Scottish Development Agency should be closed, and that every effort should be made to merge Scotland's interests in something called an "Invest in Britain" bureau.

Perhaps I could give a hint of the summary by reading from part of it to give hon. Members a taste of it. It says: Abroad, a separate Scottish effort alongside the FCO network would result in duplication of effort and would confuse potential investors. It went on bravely to argue that one might second Scots into appropriate consulates on a temporary basis to give a little bit of expertise to the British selling effort.

That report ran totally counter to the independent selling of Scotland abroad and totally counter to the whole spirit of Locate in Scotland. That was forced upon us by the Conservative majority led by the hon. Member for Eastwood who moved the amendment and in turn, although passingly, became Scotland's Minister for Industry. He was loyally supported, I am sure with total sincerity, by the present Minister for Industry, the hon. Member for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale (Mr. Lang). I do not know whether he is now in sackcloth and ashes and penitent, but I find his praise for Locate in Scotland and his pride in that institution just a little hypocritical, given the extent to which he fought against its founding. That is a cautionary tale because it illustrates the true colours flown by the Minister, despite the presentational exercise carried out by his Department. We are entitled to be sceptical about his bona fides.

I could be tempted to say a few words about the general economic climate in Scotland because it fully justifies anxiety. There is no doubt that many storm signals are still flying. I welcome any improvement in the unemployment figures and the Minister will rightly point to some decline in recent months. When he looks at our industrial base he will agree that there has been a great loss in manufacturing jobs. That was tellingly and effectively dealt with by the director-general of the CBI in a recent speech in Glasgow. When the Minister looks at the problems that we face in many sectors he will understand my concern. In expressing that concern I am echoing what is felt by many people throughout Scotland.

The important thing is to try to improve that situation. I hope that the Minister will think again about the way in which the Scottish Development Agency has been dealt with in recent years. I recognise that he has doubts about the tradition of intervention and about the role of public investment. But if he looks at the considered judgment contained in the report of his own review group set up by the Secretary of State when the SDA was under pressure from the Treasury—there may be some credit there for the Scottish Office—he will see that it contains a strong recommendation for the kind of work carried out by the agency. Paragraph 2.28 says: The Agency has had a substantial and positive impact on Scotland's economy and environment. On balance, we are satisfied that over the first ten years of its existence the Agency has borne out the expectations that considerable benefits would flow from such a body in Scotland. The hon. Member for Darlington, who has great expertise in this matter, will agree that there is great interest in the north of England in the development agency model. It is a cliché to say that imitation is the best form of flattery, but I do not regard it that way. It is good that the model that we have pioneered in Scotland should now get such sympathetic consideration in other parts of the country which also suffer from Britain's metropolitan obsession and where structural difficulties are very apparent and the unemployment so scarring.

There is an enormous amount of work to be done and that is why we decided to raise these issues in the debate and decided not artificially to foreshorten discussion. We have done it because we feel strongly that we cannot be satisfied by the Government's record and have every reason for pressing and pressing again and returning again and again to the themes and the crisis which is undoubtedly a major cause for worry in the everyday lives of Scots in every part of the country.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Falkirk West

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I understand that this debate is likely to go on for several hours. I wonder whether some medical assistance could be brought to bear for the hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Fairbairn), who appears to be indisposed or possibly anaesthetised as a result of the effects of one of Scotland's greatest exports.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

I think that we had better get on with the debate.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries 12:20 am, 21st October 1987

I was disappointed by the rather grudging speech from the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) when the Government are putting forward a great programme of increased borrowing powers for the Scottish Development Agency of £500 million. I would have thought that that would receive warm approval from both sides of the House and particularly from Opposition Members. It is nice to see so many Opposition Members coming back to try to redeem their soiled reputations after they were taken to the cleaners in the debate in July.

It is good to consider that the debate is taking place in the context of a continuing fall in the level of unemployment in Scotland. The SDA has played a part in that welcome news.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries

Why is it rubbish for the SDA to take some credit for the fall in the level of unemployment in Scotland? That is very welcome. After all, it was the whole objective of the SDA to achieve just that.

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , East Lothian

That is why we set it up.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries

I do not disagree that Cie hon. Gentleman's party set up the SDA in the 1970s. Some of the issues raised then were very relevant to the development of the SDA that has taken place since.

Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Paisley South

What proportion of the so-called drop in the level of unemployment is caused by part-time employment and how much by the fiddling of the figures over the past nine years?

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries

If the hon. Gentleman goes to the Library he can look it all up.

The important point is that the percentage of unemployment has dropped by one point in the past year. That means that there are 25,000 more jobs in Scotland than a year ago. That is certainly good news. That is a very much better position and represents many more new jobs than were created in one year at any time during the previous Labour Government.

In the travel-to-work area in my constituency, the unemployment level in Annan has dropped to 12.4 per cent., in Lockerbie it has dropped to 11.7 per cent. and in Dumfries to 9.6 per cent. All those figures are below the national average and are very welcome. With regard to Dumfries, if we exclude Orkney, Shetland and the Borders, the figure there is the lowest in Scotland. However, we are not complacent about this. Heavens, no. It is, however, a basis for a move forward to improve the economic position and to bring down unemployment still further.

How should we develop the trend? First and most important we should continue the sound economic policies that have brought the trend into being — containing inflation, keeping interest rates under control and good housekeeping, particularly among local authorities, and keeping down rate expenditure. Secondly, we must tune, and indeed fine tune, all the Government agencies involved — the Highlands and Islands Development Board, the Scottish Development Agency that we are discussing tonight, assist in every way in the private sector through the enterprise trusts — which have been very effective throughout Scotland — and through the local authority economic development committees.

There is no doubt at all that in the fine tuning that has taken place programmes such as Locate in Scotland and the selective assistance that has been given to industry have helped immeasurably overall. That is why we welcome the arrival of Ford into Scotland in a significant way and the substantial development at Butlins. We welcome also the Japanese companies that have expressed an interest in Scotland and have arrived in it over recent months. We pay tribute to the dept of the Scottish Office that deals with industrial affairs and to the SDA, which is able to provide factories throughout Scotland when they are required, sometimes at quite short notice. I am pleased by the way in which the agency reacted in respect of the large new factory at Annan for Pinneys, which has been one of the great successes of recent years.

There are difficulties, however, with regional policies and assisted area status in Scotland for those who receive financial assistance. It would be much better if we considered each application on its merits and not merely in terms of the proposed siting of the factory. There will obviously be a better return for Government money if the factory is established where it is most likely to be successful and where market forces suggest it should be. That is especially important for rural industries because much of rural Scotland is outwith the assisted area map. There are forestry and infrastructure problems in terms of European grants, which are not available except within assisted areas. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am allowed to say what I think. I know how this situation has arisen and I am telling the Minister that I do not agree with the considerations that lie behind it.

Photo of Mr Martin O'Neill Mr Martin O'Neill , Clackmannan

Will the hon. Gentleman explain to the House why on 25 June 1975 he voted against the creation of the Scottish Development Agency? Is he thankful now that on that occasion there were 75 more Labour Members than Conservative Members to support the then Labour Government and ensure the establishment of the agency and the successes that it has achieved?

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries

Objections were expressed in Committee to the establishment of the small industry section of the SDA. There is no doubt that without SICRAS, which we lost with the setting up of the SDA, small businesses in Scotland, especially in rural areas, have suffered considerably.

There is much to be said for individual applications for industrial assistance in Scotland to be treated on their merits and not on the basis of assisted area status. If that criterion were adopted, we should enjoy better value for money throughout Scotland for the resources that are allocated to regional policy.

By any standards the SDA has been an overall success. Its budget has been increased from £80 million in 1979 to £136 million in 1986. Some of the great projects—most of them in the constituencies of Labour Members—have been extremely valuable to Scotland. I have in mind the St. Enoch's complex and the garden festival, which will be a great success next year. I am glad that many local authorities are making a particular effort to ensure that the festival is the great tribute to Scotland that we expect it to be. There is also GEAR, Glasgow Action, the Clydebank scheme, the Leith project and the Coatbridge project. A great deal is going on in Scotland through the SDA, and all credit to it.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Shadow Minister (Disability)

The hon. Gentleman has referred to Coatbridge, a reference that is normally reserved for the Minister, who did not get round to making it this evening. Has the hon. Gentleman ignored the fact that the Coatbridge project has not yet produced the number of jobs that were lost at Gartcosh alone?

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries

The equation is pretty simple; anyone could have told the hon. Gentleman the answer to it.

The SDA report speaks in glowing terms of the Coatbridge project, and good luck to it. We do not want to criticise it for other reasons. All these projects show just how enthusiastic the Government have been to reduce unemployment, and to raise the standard of living and quality of life in Scotland. However, unemployment is equally unacceptable in the rural areas. Does the Minister think that the SDA is putting enough resources into rural Scotland, in comparison with what is going into urban and industrial areas?

We have looked at the report from the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs, and the hon. Member for Garscadden quoted at length from another subject discussed by the Committee. When we considered the Highlands and Islands Development Board, and went into great detail about what it had achieved, the Committee concluded that there was room for a rural development fund to assist rural Scotland elsewhere in the same way as the Highlands and Islands board does in the Highlands. Indeed, we advocated some £20 million to £25 million a year for rural Scotland. That, I think, was worthwhile, and it was strongly supported in the Select Committee, probably because there was a strong feeling that the rest of Scotland — outwith the Highlands and Islands Development Board area—was not receiving sufficient resources from the SDA for rural development.

I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will talk to the SDA, and that it will consider its priorities and emphasise them in terms of where it is placing its resources. I know that it will come up with a large number of schemes; if we look through the report, we can read about them. But there is still a great deal more that could be done to help in the countryside, particularly at a time when farming is going through a difficult period and looking to alternative land use. Here again, support will be needed for small industrial efforts in, perhaps, farmsteading and crafts. We need a flexible approach to planning, and, indeed, to rating. When something quite simple such as cheese-making or a craft workshop is set up, what was a farm building becomes a commrcial building and is rated, and half of the objective of the transfer to alternative land use is destroyed.

I feel that there has been a lack of support for small local industry, compared with what was available before the setting up of the SDA under the SICRAS scheme. We should do all that we can to enable the SDA and its rural offices, such as the one in Dumfries, to do all that they can to help small industries in the countryside. I am glad, too, that the SDA appreciates the importance of the environment, and of tourism and light industry, and is providing support. But I think that there is plenty more to do.

I should like to put two questions to my hon. Friend the Minister, which I hope that he will be able to answer later. First, is he yet in a position to announce a new DRAW scheme like the earlier one for rural workshops? I felt that it was most unfortunate that the scheme ended in June, with a number of applications before it, before a new scheme was ready to take them over. Some applicants have felt very let down. Will the Minister tell us whether the applicants who were in the original DRAW scheme will have priority in the new scheme when it is introduced?

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way, because, for once, I completely agree with him on the importance of the DRAW scheme. In my constituency a DRAW scheme applicant was told by the Scottish Development Agency that his project was eligible and that he would be given the money, but the scheme was brought to a sudden halt. He had planned his development on the basis of that scheme, but he was led up the garden path. He was extremely disappointed and inconvenienced when the scheme came to a sudden stop. The SDA then offered him a loan instead of a grant. It is vital that there should be a replacement scheme. For once, the hon. Gentleman has got it absolutely right.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I know of an exactly parallel case. I hope that the SDA will take on board the fact that it has failed to introduce a new scheme, and also my great concern that previous applicants must not be overlooked when the new scheme is introduced. They must be given priority and the money as soon as possible.

I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will be able to say that there is a new scheme in the pipeline for rural initiatives and that it will be announced shortly.

Photo of Mr John Maxton Mr John Maxton , Glasgow Cathcart

I am delighted to hear the hon. Gentleman say that he wants money to be put into schemes in his constituency. Does he mean that extra money should be given to the SDA to finance those schemes? I hope he is not suggesting that money should be taken from SDA schemes in other parts of Scotland where, as he admitted earlier in his speech, unemployment is considerably higher than in his area.

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. At half past 12 in the morning, when such important business is being discussed, there are twice as many people in the Strangers Gallery as there are Scottish Tory Members of Parliament sitting in the Chamber to discuss it.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries

I hope that a similar amount of money will be made available for the new scheme as was made available for the previous schemes. I feel sure that my hon. Friend the Minister will be able to reassure me on that point. It is also important that British Rail should realise the importance of the part it has to play in reducing unemployment by maintaining services in south-west Scotland and elsewhere for both industry and the public.

Photo of Mr Norman Hogg Mr Norman Hogg , Cumbernauld and Kilsyth

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it not apparent that the Government are determined to talk out their own Bill and that this is a filibuster? The hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) has nothing of substance to say, and it would be better if he sat down and allowed some of my hon. Friends to make a reasonable contribution to the debate.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I have every intention of hearing out the hon. Member for Dumfries.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries

The hon. Gentleman obviously did not hear what was said by the Opposition Front Bench spokesman. If he had, he might have raised his point of order then.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace , Orkney and Shetland

I know that the hon. Gentleman is concerned about the possible closure of railway stations in his constituency, but does he support the extremely harsh financial restrictions that his Government have placed on British Rail?

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries

I disagree with the priorities that British Rail give to the performance objectives that have been laid down for it by the Government. British Rail has tried to wriggle out of its responsibilities in the wrong way. I welcome the increase in the borrowing powers of the SDA and I welcome what the Minister has said tonight. I wish Sir Robin Duthie and Ian Robertson well in the coming year. I hope that they will be able to continue increasing development in Scotland and that they will put particular emphasis on the development of rural areas.

Photo of Charles Kennedy Charles Kennedy , Ross and Cromarty and Skye 12:40 am, 21st October 1987

Despite the low key introduction that the Minister gave to the debate—given what was to follow from the Benches behind him it may have been appropriate — it is important to place on the record the fact that the SDA, along with bodies such as the Highlands and Islands Development Board, is a successful example of the blending of public and private cash. Before we hear too much about how the Thatcherite revolution has changed the course of history. it must be recalled that a Labour Government introduced the SDA. The Conservative Government, despite their policies, have continued to support the blend of the public sector attracting private sector finance.

The Minister, particularly in his role at the Scottish Office, would be well advised to give slightly more unequivocal support to the SDA than the tone of his contribution suggested, not least for two reasons. First, the SDA has operated against a background of uncertainty that was caused by the Treasury review. We should congratulate the SDA on coming through that review with flying colours. Secondly, the Secretary of State for Scotland, to his credit, had to fight a political battle shortly after being appointed when the eyes of the Treasury were cast towards the profits from the enterprises in which the SDA and the HIDB had invested. The fact that the SDA, with backing from the Scottish Office, was successful in that instance should be welcomed.

The Bill is welcome because it recognises the continuing role of the SDA and it has allowed its borrowing to be increased. However, without wishing to be churlish, it must be recorded that the borrowing requirement of the SDA may be increased by this legislation but, as the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and others have said, the direct contribution from the Scottish Office to the SDA has decreased. Whatever the Minister may say in trying to justify the argument that he was putting forward earlier, I hope that he will agree with the objective analysis of the SDA accounts carried out by the House of Commons Library. They show that in 1985–86 the grant was about £91·5 million, but by 1986 it had gone down to £87 million. Therefore, in real terms the amount of funding that the Scottish Office is giving the SDA is declining. Against a background of Scottish industrial decline, that can only be severely damaging, particularly to those parts of the Scottish economy that have suffered most in recent times.

In addition to the uncertainty of recent times and the fact that the Government commitment to the SDA is on a downward path there is a further nagging anxiety which concerns the draft proposals now with the European Commission which are liable, in the spring of next year, to be submitted to the Council of Ministers. Given the restructuring of the Community budget and the enlargement of the Community as a trading market between now and 1992, the proposals will remove a substantial part of Scotland from eligibility for full regional support. That will be damaging to the SDA's activities and will mean that major infrastructure projects cannot go ahead.

Photo of Charles Kennedy Charles Kennedy , Ross and Cromarty and Skye

Of course I shall give way. I am tempted to say to the hon. and learned Gentleman, "Make my night."

Photo of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn Sir Nicholas Fairbairn , Perth and Kinross

One of the greatest mistakes that I made this evening was to wake up. The greatest mistake of all was to wake up when the hon. Member for Ross, Cromarty and Skye (Mr. Kennedy) was speaking. I have never heard such rubbish. Perhaps he can explain, to those on his right and on his left, their ludicrous policy in the garbage that he is talking.

Photo of Charles Kennedy Charles Kennedy , Ross and Cromarty and Skye

That must be one of the few contributions in the House which show that the hon. and learned Gentleman makes more sense when asleep than awake. I congratulate him. The House will forgive me if I continue.

The changes to the European regional development fund will be extremely damaging to Scotland and will have a damaging effect on the SDA. I hope that the Scottish Office and the Department of Trade and Industry will take the lead within the Council of Ministers to press the matter in strong terms. If they do not the loss will be great.

We also want assurances about the SDA budget since the Minister's arguments are not in line with the facts. I ask the Minister also to examine the index used to evaluate projects in terms of cost per job. Too often political directions come from the Scottish Office. Sometimes there is political unwillingness to approve a major project. That has happened recently in the constituency represented by my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir Russell Johnston). An apparent political unwillingness is sometimes translated into decisions which public agencies have to make when justifying turning down a project on the basis of cost per job. I should like the Minister to consider that matter.

In conclusion I follow on from the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), who spoke about the need for a rural development fund or a full rural development agency of the type that exists within the boundaries of the Highlands and Islands Development Board, but which, as yet, has not been extended to other parts of Scotland. On behalf of my hon. Friends and, I am sure, hon. Members representing rural constituencies in different parts of Scotland I would stress that we endorse the recommendation from the earlier report of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs. I hope that the Minister will be positive in his response to that.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Falkirk West

The hon. Gentleman may be surprised to know that I agree with a lot of what he has said He said that he spoke on behalf of his hon. Friends and I wonder whether he includes in that phrase the leader of the neo-militant tendency within the alliance?

Photo of Charles Kennedy Charles Kennedy , Ross and Cromarty and Skye

Yes, it extends both to the Devonport Druze and the Selkirk shi'ites. That comment is perfectly parliamentary as a reading of the middle east situation at the present time will show.

I should like to underscore the importance of the rural infrastructure — [Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) has just suggested the Caithness Contras.

I hope that the Minister will give attention to the importance of rural infrastructure when considering either the existing remit and budget of the SDA or some extended remit that is based upon that important sector.

A political point that is the cause of great concern to a great many people north of the border is the increasing drift towards the south-east in terms of the operational control of headquarters——

Photo of Charles Kennedy Charles Kennedy , Ross and Cromarty and Skye

I believe that there is another company that is close to the heart of the hon. and learned Gentleman—Guinness.

The Minister should consider mergers, takeovers and general company distribution within Britain. In those areas of the economy where there is a specific Scottish interest the SDA should have a more enhanced role than it pesently enjoys.

Although the Bill is welcome, we must not lose sight of the fact that it does not address itself to the more political considerations. In due course I hope that the Scottish Office will turn its attention to those considerations because it would find broad support from all sides of the House and, more important, across political opinion in Scotland.

Photo of Thomas McAvoy Thomas McAvoy , Glasgow Rutherglen 12:53 am, 21st October 1987

; I thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for this opportunity to make my maiden speech as the Member for Glasgow, Rutherglen.

I would like to spend some time considering my predecessor, the right hon. Gregor MacKenzie. Many people will remember that Gregor MacKenzie won a by-election in May 1964, ending 13 years of that constituency being represented by a Conservative. It is a sign of the respect with which he is held in the constituency that the former marginal constituency was left in such good stead. He entered Parliament in 1964 and quickly became parliamentary private secretary to James Callaghan and subsequently a Government and Opposition Front Bench spokesman on post and telecommunications matters, industry and the Scottish Office.

In the short time that I have been in the House I have picked up the feeling that Gregor was regarded as a good House of Commons man. In addition, he had the reputation in Rutherglen of being an extremely diligent constituency Member of Parliament. There is no doubt that the partnership of Gregor and Joan MacKenzie was successful in representing the constituency, and I know that he is regarded in the House and still in the constituency with great affection. He is now a Privy Councillor. Many people here and in the constituency would be highly delighted to see him return to Westminster in another place. As the successor to Gregor and a representative of the Labour and Co-operative movements, I have an ideal before me for which I should strive in the next few years, and, I hope, longer.

I should like to describe the constituency. As Gregor's maiden speech was in 1964, some people might need reminding of details of the constituency. Gregor represented Rutherglen from 1964 to 1983, and Glasgow, Rutherglen from 1983 to the recent general election, so most of the years were spent within the old constituency boundaries. The bulk of it comprised the Cambuslang and Halfway area. The communities are based on the mining, steel and iron industries. Unfortunately, with their decline, employment has declined in those areas, but in Cambuslang and Halfway we have communities that reflect traditional values and pride in those occupations.

In the town of Rutherglen, we have a tight-knit local community. At one stage many small employers contributed to the economy and kept the community tight-knit. The town was the oldest royal burgh in Scotland, dating back to the 12th century. In Cambuslang and Halfway and Rutherglen there was a valued tradition of service to local government and a good reputation held by the local councils, which unfortunately, to our regret, was ended by the Government of the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) in 1974, with the reorganisation of local government.

Since 1983 the boundaries have been extended by the addition of parts of Castlemilk and Toryglen housing schemes, part of the city of Glasgow. Although those communities are comparatively young, they have the advantage of having people who moved there who represent the best of the great city of Glasgow. It is such people and their fathers and mothers who made Glasgow great.

All the communities that I have mentioned have one thing in common, which causes great blight in many sections—the problem of unemployment. Many people before me have spoken and, I am sure, after me will speak more eloquently of the damage done to the social fabric by unemployment. Having been born, brought up and stayed all my life in the constituency, I have seen at first hand the damage done by unemployment in many areas, particularly the damage done to families and young people.

That brings me to the role of the Scottish Development Agency. It is appropriate that I should make my maiden speech on the SDA because when Gregor MacKenzie was a Minister at the Scottish Office he was directly concerned with it. I am comparatively lucky in having quite an extensive knowledge of the work done by the SDA because of Gregor's continual reporting back to the constituency. The SDA represents a public commitment to employment and the attraction of investment into Scotland. That public investment should be safeguarded and supported, not just tolerated in public life.

As has been mentioned, the review group reported favourably on the reputation of the SDA. Between 1980 and 1985, 5,000 to 7,000 jobs could be attributed directly to the work of the agency. The inward investment represented by Locate in Scotland is crucial because without it, the new technology and the continual flow of new jobs, one ends up with no employment.

It is against that background that I appeal, on behalf of the people I represent, for support for the principle and practice of the SDA. Without being too controversial, may I say that there is a feeling among many people that the support from the Government is ambivalent. In spite of the success of the SDA—we feel that what it tackles it tackles well—it is limited by a lack of resources. There must be additional resources so that the work done by the SDA can be expanded and improved in order to bring more employment to areas such as mine. I believe sincerely that market forces alone will not bring employment to my constituency, and I am sure that that applies to many other constituencies.

The Hoover factory is located in Cambuslang in my constituency and I have some knowledge of that factory because I worked there for 13 years before coming to Parliament. I have first hand knowledge, through the trade union movement within the factory, of the role played by the SDA in securing grants and investment for the Hoover company and securing the future of Hoover at Cambuslang. The investment and support from the SDA is highlighted by the recent purchase by the Hoover company of the land on which the factory is situated. The land was bought from the SDA and the agency was extremely co-operative in its negotiations with the company. The proof of the pudding is shown by the agency's support for the Hoover factory. The factory is now the major European manufacturer of upright vacuum cleaners. We are first in something and that is important to me. In addition, in January 1988 the factory will start exporting upright cleaners to the United States, and, again, that is a success for us. There will be future investment, again with the help and co-operation of the SDA, and early next year we hope to introduce a new range of cleaner motors. In all those issues the presence and support of the SDA was crucial.

We cannot ignore the role of the trade union organisation within the Hoover factory. After some difficulties there is no doubt that the relationship between the trade union movement and the management at Hoover has enabled the SDA to become involved to a greater extent in recent years. I can speak from first hand knowledge of the reputation of the trade union movement within the factory because my brother, Edward, is a convenor for the Amalgamated Engineering Union within the factory.

On the other side of the Clyde from Cambuslang is the Cambuslang investment park. It is situated within the constituency of Glasgow, Shettleston. The SDA has invested in the park. It has built many small factories and has actively encouraged small businesses to set up. I was privileged to be a Strathclyde regional councillor for five years prior to coming to the House. I was also fortunate enough to be chairman of the urban aid committee for the Glasgow division of Strathclyde council. In conjunction with the Scottish Office and other organisations, we planned the application and distribution of urban aid. There is nothing wrong with planning. I sometimes get the feeling that "planning" has become a dirty word. We will not get anywhere unless we plan. The Scottish Office co-operated with Strathclyde in planning the distribution of urban aid, although there were one or two comments about the amount of aid. Planning, through the SDA, must play a role in future investment in Scotland, particularly in my constituency. In my opinion, there is no alternative to planning. There is no alternative to maintaining and expanding the role of the SDA and ensuring that we maintain and increase employment within my constituency.

I know that in previous maiden speeches there has been anger about the breaking of the convention that maiden speeches should be non-controversial. I respect that convention and hope that there has been nothing controversial in my speech. However, I also respect other conventions, one being that when a Member of Parliament is elected it is to represent all his constituents in Parliament. Allied to that, when a Prime Minister and a Government are elected, they also represent all the people. That should be remembered on both sides of the House.

I have put forward the case for the people of my constituency as other hon. Members have done for all those in their constituencies. We need more employment, and the role of the SDA in providing it is crucial. I strongly support not only the future expanded role of the SDA but the provision of more resources. I therefore ask that a commitment be given to expanding the resources of the SDA.

Several Hon. Members:

rose——

Photo of Mr Ernie Ross Mr Ernie Ross , Dundee West

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I know that you will be able to help me. There appears to be a rumour circulating that, despite the fact that many hon. Members have deliberately stayed in the House to talk on this important issue, the Government intend moving the closure of the debate. I am sure that you are aware of the number of hon. Members on the Opposition Benches who are seeking to catch your eye. We advise the Government that it would not make much sense if they were to attempt, at this very early stage in this very important debate, to close the debate.

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside 1:06 am, 21st October 1987

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Rutherglen (Mr. McAvoy) certainly took the House with him in his comments about his predecessor, Gregor MacKenzie. There is no doubt that Gregor was respected and held in deep affection in all parts of the House. We found the hon. Gentleman's speech interesting. He spoke with conviction and displayed clearly his love of his constituency and his great love of that great city of Glasgow. He also displayed his genuine concern for the problems of the unemployed in his constituency and he left the House in no doubt of his knowledge of the Scottish Development Agency—in particular the assistance that it has given to Hoover. We look forward to his contributions in future debates and are sure that he will take the opportunity, as all of us do from time to time, to be provocative. I congratulate him on his maiden speech.

During the debate we have been discussing the activities of the SDA, and I wish to place on record my appreciation for the work done by its former chief executive, George Matheson. During his period of office, I always found him extremely courteous and helpful. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) said that not everyone on the Government Benches supported the SDA and intervention. He is quite right. I have no hesitation in saying that I have never believed that the only way to pump prime or to encourage internal or inward investment was through vehicles such as the SDA. The creation of conditions that encourage investment is much more important an area of Government activity than the setting up and operating of agencies such as the SDA. The control of inflation, the reduction in taxation and in local and national borrowing together with other measures such as privatisation linked to employee shareholdings——

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Falkirk West

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I realise that you are being bullied by the Tory establishment there, but will you bear in mind——

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that I am not being bullied by anyone in this House, but I will hear him out.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Falkirk West

Will you bear in mind the fact that the Labour party is the majority party in Scotland and will not be bullied by English Tories such as the man on your righthand side, the Government Chief Whip, who is trying, to influence you to bring about a premature end to this debate?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is seeking my advice on a matter.

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside

I welcome your protection from these interventions, Madam Deputy Speaker.

The control of inflation, the reduction in taxation and the reduction in local and national borrowing, linked to measures which change attitudes — measures such as privatisation, with the necessary ingredient of employee shareholding—do much more to stimulate investment and create jobs than agencies such as the SDA. Equally, I believe that, if we must have such an agency, it is nonsense to operate it within a regional aid policy which is determined by lines drawn on a map, instead of targeting the aid, such as it is, on individual industries, firms or sections of industry where there is real need.

I can give an example of why I believe that the Scottish Development Agency and regional aid are nonsense. Recently British Aerospace set up a flying training school at Prestwick. I welcome that. I do not welcome the fact that the school is heavily subsidised with public funds, so that it can offer much enhanced wages and pass on much increased costs to potential customers. That would not matter if it was the only flying training school in Scotland, but when another flying training school which has been in operation for 50 years has its business opportunities substantially diminished, and many of its employees enticed away by heavily subsidised wages, it is the economics of the madhouse. It is not useful either to Air Service Training, which is the 50-year-old school in my constituency, or to British Aerospace at Prestwick because it creates completely false economic circumstances at Prestwick and adverse economic circumstances in Perth. That cannot be sensible or logical in the long term. By pricing the training of overseas students out of the Scottish market, instead of having two flying training schools in Scotland we will end up with none because they cannot get customers.

The other danger is that the future of the 50-year-old school is put at risk because the opposition is enticing away its best employees and then pricing it out of the market, because to continue training the school must bring in new people, who must be offered the inflated salaries which are boosted by the grant-aided assistance.

The Government must also examine carefully the activities of the SDA in Dundee. I have no objection to the Dundee waterfront being improved, and I support anything that will improve that city, but it is incredible that the waterfront project will contain many retail units when Dundee already has relatively recent developments at Wellgate and Overgate, both of which will be put substantially at risk if the waterfront project goes ahead as presented.

Photo of John McAllion John McAllion , Dundee East

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman, who hails from Perth and is not associated with Dundee, except for the fact that he was a bus driver in the city, has not taken on board the views of the elected representatives at district and regional council level — including members of the Tory party — who supported the waterfront development. Despite the Wellgate and Overgate developments, they continue to support the waterfront development as a major strategic development for the city of Dundee. We would welcome if it the hon. Gentleman would keep his nose out of our affairs.

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside

The hon. Gentleman has his facts wrong. Let me correct them. I was born in Dundee; I grew up in Dundee; I was educated in Dundee; I worked for a substantial part of my career in Dundee; it is still my home town. My daughter will be married in Dundee. The hon. Gentleman has only been in the House for a short time and I suggest that he consults his hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross), with whom I have collaborated in matters affecting Dundee. I like to think that where the best interests of that city are concerned, none of us will practise political charades just because we want to use them as means to an end.

I am concerned that public money is to be put into a project that should be examined much more carefully. If the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion) had done his homework he would have known that I was the managing director of a retail stores group, so I know something about retailing. I am absolutely certain that among the new retail units on the waterfront, there will be many empty shops as well as in both the Overgate and the Wellgate developments. There are not enough customers for the project to go ahead and for all the shops to be sustained.

Photo of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn Sir Nicholas Fairbairn , Perth and Kinross

Before we get too sentimental about Dundee, let us examine an example of unfairness there. The Stakis hotel on the waterfront can have five years without paying rates. Not 500 yards from it, the Angus hotel has to pay rates of half a million pounds a year. That is not a sensible system; it occurs thanks to Socialism.

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for his intervention. He and I take a keen interest in all developments on Tayside, and we are well aware that the advantages of not paying rates often create distortions for existing businesses. As with the air services training school at Scone, it is equally true that if a company is assisted in such a way that it does not have to meet its normal requirements to sustain services locally, firms that are already in business in its area are disadvantaged.

I turn now to the issue of industrial development. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) is an honest gentleman and I always listen carefully to what he has to say. Although I do not agree with much of it, I have never doubted his industry, integrity and conviction. I was therefore surprised that he did not mention the substantial inward investment that would take place under Health Care International. He seems selective in what he chooses to discuss, and I do not condemn him for that — all politicians tend to be selective. Surely, however, if it is right to have one type of inward investment that creates jobs and opportunities, we must also welcome others.

I also welcome the decision taken with regard to the quality of decision making in the Scottish Development Agency. One of the major criticisms that I have levelled at the agency down the years has been the difficulty of obtaining decisions from it, particularly for small firms and in rural areas, where getting a decision often took so long that the process was overtaken by events and the matter under discussion became irrelevant because other things had happened.

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will not be surprised if I tell him that I am not excited about allowing the SDA to have greater borrowing facilities.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the debate be now adjourned.—[Mr. Michael Forsyth.]

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden 1:21 am, 21st October 1987

I think that I am right in saying that this is a debatable motion.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

I am grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I do not wish to delay the House for long and it is not necessarily productive for us to have a lengthy exchange on the motion, but I should express my disquiet at the fact that the motion has been moved at this stage.

This is an important debate and we must know the Government's mind. It was obviously their intention that the debate should be continued to a finish tonight. We have a remarkable turn-out of Scottish Members in every part of the House and the Government have obviously decided to delay the debate until another day. Before we reach a decision on the matter we ought to be told when we shall return to the Bill.

Photo of Mr Michael Forsyth Mr Michael Forsyth , Stirling

I am happy to help the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar). I should have thought that next Thursday, when there is to be a debate on industrial policy, would be an appropriate time to reconvene.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Knowing your concern for the rights of minorities in the House, I am surprised that you accepted the motion without hearing from all parts of the House. Given the number of Scottish Members who wanted to make a contribution to the debate, I am also surprised that the Front Benches want to close the debate so early.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Shadow Minister (Disability) 1:22 am, 21st October 1987

The Under-Secretary's intervention was extraordinary. We have just come to the end of a recess which lasted for almost three months — [Interruption.]

Photo of Andrew Welsh Andrew Welsh , Angus East

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I thought that I heard the word "lie" used by a Labour Member. I hope that that was not the case, because I believe that that is not the sort of language that should be used in the House.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

That is certainly not the type of language that should be used in the House. I must confess that I did not hear the word.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Shadow Minister (Disability)

The people of Scotland will find it astonishing that—[Interruption.]

Photo of Andrew Welsh Andrew Welsh , Angus East

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The comment was made by the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross). I invite him to make it again publicly, instead of privately.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. It would be very helpful if hon. Members were not invited to use language that is not appropriate in the House.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Shadow Minister (Disability)

I am addressing myself to the Under-Secretary's motion. We have had a three-month break and we are here ready to go into the small hours to discuss the extremely important matter of Scotland's high unemployment and the role of the SDA, which has been steadily diminished by the Government — their approach was made clear in the weak ministerial speech on Second Reading. The Scottish people expect us to discuss the SDA and the budget proposed by the Government.

There is considerable urgency about the matter. For example, the Minister spoke about the European Coal and Steel Communities. How do we know that there will not be recommendations about Ravenscraig and that the SDA will be in a position to deal with those recommendations? We do not know, and we are entitled to give this matter the utmost thought.

I understand that the Secretary of State for Scotland has gone to Japan. There was a suggestion that he went there in a hurry when he discovered that the Government of Japan were looking for a Prime Minister. Equally. it has been suggested that they decided quickly to find a compromise before he arrived. The absence of the Secretary of State for Scotland and the quite outrageous way in which Government Ministers are trying to approach this problem is quite unacceptable to the people of Scotland and to the majority of Labour Members that they elected. I hope that the proposal by the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) will not be accepted.

Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Paisley South 1:27 am, 21st October 1987

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on this eminently debatable motion. The motion is a disgrace. We have waited for some months for the House to reconvene so that we could discuss the affairs of Scotland, having demonstrated only five months ago that the people of Scotland wish us so to behave. At 11 o'clock tonight we were confronted by a motion in connection with the most important economic agency for the development of the industry and the environment of Scotland. We went along willingly with the decision to have a late-night debate instead of, as should be the case, a debate starting at 3.30 in the afternoon.

It was no wish of ours to have a debate on this important subject at this time of night, but we were prepared to do it on the basis that every hon. Member would have an opportunity to say how the economy of his constituency and its environmental well-being was faring and how the Scottish Development Agency under the tutelage and guidance of the Government was conducting the business for which it was set up. On the first day back our Front Bench, our Whips and, indeed, our Back Benchers showed a willingness to co-operate in the business of the House by saying that rather than delay' discussion of this important matter, we were prepared to have a debate late at night.

Some extraordinary things have been said and should be corrected. One of the extraordinary problems that we face is that the Minister of State and his junior Minister who flanks him do not believe in the involvement of public agencies in the economy. The more they tried to stress the success of the Scottish Development Agency under their guidance, the more foolish they made their own economic position. We understood the hesitancy of the Minister in the face of that. However, he had been left with the task and had to do it, because his lord and master had seen fit, on this day of all days, and on this subject of all subjects, to go to Japan. Because of that, we recognise the difficulties of the Minister.

Nevertheless, no hon. Member speaking after the Minister took advantage of the embarrassing situation that he and his colleague find themselves in. On the contrary, they dealt with the merits of the situation as it affected the people of Scotland instead of making cheap, shuttlecock political points. We are now tempted to play those cheap, political points, but we shall avoid the temptation because the issue is too serious. We must be concerned about the minority parties. That is to say, the SNP——

Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Paisley South

I was coming to the Tory party. My hon. Friend should not take my best lines. There is also the Liberal party and both factions of the SDP. We have heard from only one faction of the SDP in this debate, but he uttered an immortal phrase — if I can find it — which encouraged us to hope that the other faction might enter. Not only have we had a double comparative from my hon. Friend the Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) who spoke about a "more wiser" Minister, but we were exalted, or rather the Minister was exalted, when the hon. Member for Ross, Cromarty and Skye (Mr. Kennedy) asked him to give "slightly more unequivocal support." I ask the House to consider this phrase and the problem facing the Minister who has to respond to such a request. How does the Minister respond to a request to give "slightly more unequivocal support"? We look forward to hearing that point developed by the other faction of the SDP, because that party must still be seen as a minority party and it has not had the opportunity to develop that point. We look forward even more to hearing the Minister reply to learn how he can give slightly more unequivocal support.

There was a curious intervention from the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth). It was curious because the Minister of State is present to conduct the business of the House and make such interventions. The Whip is present, keeping his hon. Friends in order and making technical interventions. But no, the theorist, the ideologue, the man whose very soul must have been burned by the words uttered in support of the SDA by the Minister of State which affected his St. Andrew's reactionary economic thinking, intervened. We know how much the Government have rejected Adam Smith, but for the hon. Member for Stirling to sit beside the Minister of State who was endorsing the role of the SDA must have finally caused his impatient intervention. The hon. Member for Stirling had endured it for a few hours, but he could not resist the opportunity to come in.

What did the hon. Member for Stirling say when he intervened? He said that we should stop the debate for which we had been waiting and in which the Opposition and other minority parties were willing to engage through the night. Even though it should have taken place during the day, we accepted the imposition of the timing of the debate. We recognise that we can only speak to time and eternity because no members of the press are listening to us. Nevertheless, we embarked on the debate and the hon. Member for Stirling said "Let's stop the discussion. Let's not explore the role of the SDA or whether we are getting the right figures or the wrong figures or whether the Bill should be passed." No, he said, "Let's postpone discussion and let's put it on when we are committed to a debate on Scottish industry during the day and some of the matters that we were willing to discuss during the night can be dealt with during the day when they may be reported, for example when we debate the nature of the Scottish economy next Thursday. We could then explore some of these issues." That is compounding evil with evil. First he prevents us from debating these matters tonight, then he replaces a debate during the day on the Scottish economy with this debate. We are facing a monstrous conspiracy from the Government Front Bench

Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Paisley South

Double jeopardy. Indeed, a double comparative between the two hon. Members on the Government Front Bench.

This is monstrous. I am an innocent in these affairs. I admit with humility that I know a little of the workings of the House. However, I have never understood them. We have an opportunity to explore them tonight. To what extent is it in your hands, Madam Deputy Speaker, to stand up and say, as I am saying, that you are willing to hear a discussion but that, upon hearing the words of truth from the Opposition Back Benches, you understand that this monstrous proposition should not be accepted?

We know that the Tories have the power to carry the vote. They are all in the woodwork, in the wainscotting, behind the busts and statues. They are skulking in the bars. They are ready to come out at the call of their lord and master. Although she is not here, her spirit is here. They will carry the vote. I cannot give any hope to my colleagues, comrades friends and minority groups. The Government will carry the vote. If they do, and if you, Madam Deputy Speaker cannot intervene to stop it, can you tell me whether you have the power to return the debate to the earlier topic of discussion?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

I have to inform the hon. Gentleman that I have no power to do that.

Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Paisley South

We learn things, even at 1.33 am.

I regret that, but I have utmost confidence in you Madam Deputy Speaker and I recall that you once said on a famous occasion "Just call me madam."

Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Paisley South

I am willing to give way as long as I do not lose the opportunity to speak again. Surely the hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Fairbairn) is not to make a speech now. I have been awake waiting to make a speech about the Scottish Development Agency. I am trying to point out the inadequacies of the figures while the hon. and learned Gentleman has been sleeping in his fond Elysium, dreaming of castles. That has been his contribution while the rest of us have been working.

We are in a difficult position, Madam Deputy Speaker. First, I have your assurance that you have no power to intervene to reject the monstrous suggestion that has been made from the Government Front Bench, Secondly, there is the smug contentment of the Minister of State and the Under-Secretary of State that they have an army of cohorts who are available to carry the day. They are trying to prevent a debate on the Scottish economy from being conducted during the day by replacing it with the Second Reading debate on which we were engaged. They had a mandate to hold the debate through the night and we were willing to accept that. I hope that the Government Chief Whip and the Prime Minister have been sent for to see the behaviour of his and her junior Ministers. We are faced with a monstrous proposition and I hope that it will be rejected with contempt.

There are Tory Members everywhere and I turn to them. There are some honest men among them—there are not many but statistically there must be some. After all, many of them are still in the Palace. They have not thrown themselves out of windows, despite the events at the stock exchange this week. The fact that they are here shows a devotion to duty beyond the call of profit. I understand that some of them must have been pretty sad this week.

We are facing yet another crisis of capitalism. I have lived through 17 final crises of capitalism and this week we have been witnessing yet another. It would not be relevant to debate what has been happening but I believe that it would be in order to discuss the nature of the present crisis. The Tory party, the governing elite of the country, has rejected its connections with industry, commerce, the land and agriculture. Instead, it has confined itself to creating a link with the City. It is concerned only with exchanging pieces of paper and not with the production of real wealth. It has been assuring the country that these pieces of paper would continue to expand but, lo and behold, they have decreased in magnitude.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

I am interested in the hon. Gentleman's speech, but he is straying a long way from the point. I have been enormously tolerant and I wish that he would return now to the motion that is before the House.

Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Paisley South

I did not realise that I was straying, Madam Deputy Speaker. I was merely trying to describe the nature of the crisis. The facts speak for themselves. We have massive unemployment and the failure of manufacturing industry in Scotland. When I became a Member of this place there were 14 engineering workshops in my town of Johnstone, and under this Government there is none. My hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mr. Graham) comes from Linwood, and under this Government a factory at which 4,500 workers were willing to work was closed down overnight. In the face of this we are asked to forgo a debate on the Scottish economy, a debate that would have taken place during the day, and instead to continue with the Second Reading debate in which we were engaged. I suggest that in their shame the Government should show a little humility, withdraw the motion and allow us to proceed with the Second Reading debate.

Photo of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn Sir Nicholas Fairbairn , Perth and Kinross 1:39 am, 21st October 1987

The speech of the hon. Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Buchan) has given me two regrets. One is that I did not sleep longer, and the other is that the recess was so short.

It is fairly important that Opposition Members wish to pretend that they have some claim to be interested in Scotland.

Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Paisley South

Scotland is not interested in the hon. and learned Gentleman.

Photo of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn Sir Nicholas Fairbairn , Perth and Kinross

If they wish to have a claim to be interested in Scotland, they should remember first that this debate was deliberately delayed by Opposition filibustering, and secondly that the speech to which we have just had the misfortune to listen had nothing whatever to do with an interest in Scotland or in investment in the Scottish Development Agency. Nor was any credit given to the fact that, under the present Government, the SDA has regenerated Glasgow. It was all political filibustering. I hope that the message goes out from the House tonight—of course, the press is closed—that the Conservative Government have vastly increased the funding of the SDA, the attraction of funds to the SDA and the effect of the SDA. All that the Opposition are about is delaying and preventing a debate. They are not interested in the economic benefits that Scotland has had.

Let the message go out: Scotland is the most prosperous part of the United Kingdom, thanks to this Government. Let it never be forgotten that that is so.

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North 1:41 am, 21st October 1987

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to speak. I realise that it is very good of you to do so at this time of night. I shall be considerably briefer than some of the earlier speakers, and considerably less articulate and astute in my observations than my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Buchan). I would not attempt to teach him anything, but perhaps I could correct one fact that I have picked up from his speech. The low incidence of defenestration during the recent City crisis may not be related directly to the incidence of integrity on the Conservative Benches; it may merely be a product of the increase in double glazing over the past 10 years.

I am not only less astute but more sympathetic to Conservative Members than my hon. Friend. There are Scottish Ministers who want at any cost to stop us debating the motion on the SDA. I am understanding, because their burdens are many and their numbers few. I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) that it is no good telling them that they have just had three months' holiday; some of their colleagues have just been assigned 10 years' holiday.

Let me make two brief serious points. First, there have been a number of Opposition speeches on the substantial motion we are discussing from the Opposition Front Bench, and one maiden speech from the Back Benches. But there have been no speakers from Lothian, Strathclyde, Fife or Lanarkshire, whose constituents are vitally dependent on the motion.

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

Is my hon. Friend aware that there has not been a speaker from Ayrshire either? I know that, as someone who hails from Ayrshire, he will understand the point.

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North

I was not aware of that. I am sorry; there may be other areas that have been missed out. But that is only a further illustration of the inadequacy of the debate.

Photo of Mr Martin O'Neill Mr Martin O'Neill , Clackmannan

My hon. Friend omitted to refer to the Central region. The Minister's intervention when he tried to wind up the debate cannot be called a speech. The problems that face the Central region that my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, East (Mrs. Ewing) and I wanted to draw to the attention of the House have not as yet been aired. We wanted also to draw the problems faced by Stirling to the attention of the House, but the Minister is reluctant to have those problems exposed at this stage.

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North

The electors of both Central region and Stirling will note with interest the fact that after three hours of debate it was their Member of Parliament who intervened in order to stop further discussion of the problems faced by Scotland and the SDA.

Another group of people in my constituency will note with great interest the Government's attitude tonight. Within 12 days of this debate the giant Caterpillar plant at Uddingston is due to close. This Government proclaimed that they were prepared to back that plant against the decision of a multinational company to close it. Although taxpayers' money had been ploughed into the plant, that multinational company was prepared to loot the pension fund, to abandon the work force and to snub the Government.

The Government proclaimed what they were prepared to do from the rooftops, but we have heard nothing from them during the last three months. The Government said that they would fully support the efforts of the local community to keep the Caterpillar plant open, and yet, while the Government publicly proclaimed that they would use every ounce of economic muscle that they had to change the company's mind, privately they ensured that the Caterpillar company would be able to tender for a large Ministry of Defence contract. If 1,200 people at that plant are about to face years on the dole, they will be asking why the Government were unable to spend more than three hours tonight discussing the role that the Scottish Development Agency might play in saving their jobs.

Photo of Margaret Ewing Margaret Ewing , Moray 1:47 am, 21st October 1987

I had anticipated that when we agreed to the motion that stands on the Order Paper the Second Reading debate would be completed. The fact is that 76 per cent. of the Scottish electorate voted for opposition parties, and those parties have been well represented in the House this evening. We are willing and able to stay here for as long as is necessary to complete the Second Reading of the Bill.

If the Government believe that this is important legislation and that it should come before the House during prime time, why was it tagged on to other major legislation that affects the whole of the United Kingdom? If Scottish legislation is important, it should have been allocated prime time. The Government would not then have chickened out at this late stage and refused to ensure that the Bill had a Second Reading.

It is strange that the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) should tell us in advance of the official statement about the business of the House and that we can anticipate a debate on industrial policy next week. We have no guarantee of that until we hear in the business statement that such a debate will take place. Even if a debate on the Scottish economy and industrial policy were to take place next Thursday, that debate would now be limited to the Scottish Development Agency. The SDA is a welcome part of Scotland's industrial scene, and all hon. Members pay tribute to the work that the agency is doing. However, to limit the debate to the SDA would mean that we were avoiding an examination of other aspects of the Scottish economy and Scottish industrial policy.

Perhaps the Government do not want to discuss these issues. But perhaps even more appalling was the fact that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar), in the initial debate that was taking place through the usual channels, appeared to acquiesce in the decision to report progress — [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The hon. Member for Garscadden, in discussions with myself and the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood), indicated that he was willing to accept the motion to report progress. Will you advise me and other hon. Members, Madam Deputy Speaker, whether it is a regular function that Second Reading debates can be postponed on report progress motions? I am not an expert on the various technicalities of the House, but it seems unusual that a second reading debate should be interrupted in this way.

Hon. Members:

Give way.

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

The hon. Lady knows that she is wrong.

Photo of Margaret Ewing Margaret Ewing , Moray

I am affording to the hon. Member for Garscadden——

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Is it not a convention of this House that when one hon. Member has made a direct allegation against another, who then seeks to intervene, that hon. Member gives way? If the hon. Lady had any honour she would honour that convention.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. It is the convention of this House that an hon. Member gives way in such circumstances, but it is entirely up to that hon. Member. If the hon. Lady does not intend to do that, it is for the Chair to protect her.

Photo of Margaret Ewing Margaret Ewing , Moray

No doubt the hon. Member for Garscadden will have ample opportunity to voice his opinion, but I am perfectly willing, unlike others, to give way.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

I wonder whether the Chair could give me some protection on this occasion? The hon. Lady made a specific allegation. I make no comment on the taste of reporting private conversations in that way, but I am entitled to protest when they are distorted, inaccurately, to the point where they bear no relation to the truth. I say, quite categorically, that I am not in agreement with the Government Whips to close this debate or to report progress. If the Government Whips are unwise enough to insist on that course I shall advise my hon. Friends to vote against it.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

The hon. Gentleman has now had an opportunity of stating his case.

Photo of Margaret Ewing Margaret Ewing , Moray

I shall continue with my earlier point. It was quite clear in earlier conversations what the situation was——

Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Paisley South

I hesitate to raise another point of order, but we have reached a point where I must. I heard part of this private conversation and the version given by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) is accurate. I ask the hon. Lady to withdraw the allegation.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

If the hon. Gentleman had been listening, I am sure that he would have heard me say that I am sure that the House is happy that the hon. Member for Garscadden has had an opportunity to clarify the position. He has clarified it and that will appear in the Official Report. It is up to the hon. Lady whether she withdraws; it is entirely her prerogative.

Photo of Margaret Ewing Margaret Ewing , Moray

The clear impression that was given to me was that that I have already stated. The hon. Member for Garscadden has made it clear how he interpreted matters, as in his right.

I should like to make it clear that not only have we lost a debate on the general economic situation in Scotland next week, we also leave an uncertainty hanging over the future of the SDA. Many of the projects that have been anticipated by people who are looking for funding from the SDA and many people whose jobs are currently supported may find that week a very difficult one to live through. Scottish interests have been neglected by the Government and that is intolerable.

Photo of John McFall John McFall , Dumbarton 1:55 am, 21st October 1987

My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) said that he was surprised that two questions had not been answered by the Secretary of State this evening — who was in charge of economics in Scotland and who was in charge of the SDA budget. Is the debate to be curtailed without answers to those questions when the Secretary of State gave an assurance that he would answer them?

The debate is essential to the Scottish economy because the SDA is the fulcrum of investment in Scotland. Many hon. Members need the SDA in their constituencies. My constituency has a population of over 80,000 and between 1985–86 and 1986–87 its budget was cut by 42 per cent. That is the kernal of tonight's argument. The lack of investment in areas with increasing unemployment and poverty means that the SDA has a role to play.

The SDA figures show cuts in the programme over the last five years. My hon. Friend the Member for Garscadden was correct when he mentioned those figures at the beginning of the debate.

Dumbarton needs the SDA to work with the private sector to tackle the industrial and economic development of the area. As the Secretary of State said, the SDA should be used as a tool of regional policy. He and his fellow Ministers should go ahead forthwith. The SDA should be credited for what has happened in my constituency, but it has acted with a distinct lack of resources.

We say that the SDA should be given the resources to do the job that it should be doing. Environmental projects are taking place in my constituency, but there are no major economic initiatives. That is missing.

According to the official figures Dumbarton has an employment rate of 21 per cent. Greenock 20·3 per cent. and Lanarkshire 19 per cent. Those figures show the crying need for economic initiative——

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will relate his remarks to the motion. We are discussing the motion to adjourn the debate, not the Second Reading. The hon. Gentleman must relate his remarks to the motion.

Photo of John McFall John McFall , Dumbarton

My points emphasise the fact that we should not close the debate. We have waited since 10 pm. Each of us has been patient, as my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Buchan) said, so that we could put the case for our constituencies. Are we to be told at this hour, despite our patience and initiative, that we cannot put the case for our constituents and the Scottish economy when it is so fundamental? We want to air our views.

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North

Yes. I asked very quietly.

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North

I just want to ask my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) if he would care to repeat the point that he made at the beginning of his speech concerning the two definite promises from the Minister. I ask my hon. Friend to do so because the Minister was not listening at the time and I do not know whether he is listening now. My hon. Friend should remind the Minister that he promised to answer two specific points before the close of this discussion tonight. If my hon. Friend does so I am sure that the integrity of the Minister will ensure that, before we get to the close of the debate, he will answer the questions put by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and which are of great importance regarding the SDA.

Photo of John McFall John McFall , Dumbarton

I remind the Minister that those two important questions should be answered. They hightlight the fact that the Minister has something to answer. Without extending your patience any further, Madam Deputy Speaker, this is a crucial debate and it must continue. There must be a political commitment allied to public investment to regenerate the communities. We are speaking here on behalf of our constituents and the Government should have the decency to answer the case.

Photo of Dr Norman Godman Dr Norman Godman , Greenock and Port Glasgow 2:01 am, 21st October 1987

I simply wish to make plain how much I deplore and regret this motion moved by the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth). I have been in the Chamber for some hours and I hoped to make a constituency speech. I had hoped to ask the Minister if he would give assistance to the identification of Inverclyde as prime location for inward investment and make it a priority area for Locate in Scotland. That opportunity has been denied to me by the motion.

The Minister will be aware that, in the past, Locate in Scotland has not, perhaps for understandable reasons, encouraged much inward investment into Inverlyde. However, Inverclyde has been transformed because of the fine work performed by the decent, honourable public officials of the Inverclyde initiative.

The Inverclyde initiative and its officials are working with an inadequate budget against darkening economic circumstances. The male unemployment rate in my constituency is almost 26 per cent. At this time there are rumours circulating in my constituency concerning a redundancy programme involving upwards of 1,000 men now employed in a local shipyard. One of the reasons why that yard is under threat is that the Government reneged on their promise to give it a Ministry of Defence order for three small vessels.

I deplore the motion because I was denied the chance to admire the good work conducted by SDA officials under Donald Draffen. In recent days he displayed delightful initiative as he rescued, for the price of £1, the derelict 'Maid of the Loch'. I hasten to add that she is not a prostitute of the lower Clyde, but a Clyde steamer featured, as many of my hon. Friends will recall, in "Para Handy". I offered 50p towards the cost of that purchase. Mr. Draffen is hoping to obtain money from the SDA for what I believe would be a dramatic and marvellous visitors' centre based on Custom House Quay in Greenock.

There is another reason why the motion causes me deep dismay. I had hoped to obtain some sort of assurance from the Minister about the possibility of Inverclyde being declared an enterprise zone. He may or may not have read the report on enterprise zones produced by the Cambridge economic consultants, which states, inter alia, that the two most successful enterprise zones are in Scotland — in Dundee and on Clydebank. One of the reasons why they are successful is that they are based on publicly-owned land. I suspect that the Minister is not much concerned about those problems, but it is absolutely essential that if Inverclyde is made an enterprise zone, the land should remain in public ownership as per the recommendation in that report.

What we have seen again tonight is the hatred of Ministers for critics of their policies, whether those critics are the honestly awkward critics in the Opposition or—God knows there are few of them—awkwardly honest critics in the Conservative party.

The motion is to be deplored, especially by people living in constituencies such as mine with massively high unemployment and the real threat that that level of unemployment will not come down in the near future, but will increase further. The SDA has an important role to play in Inverclyde. I regret that I have not had the chance to outline in detail the superb work carried out by the officials of the Inverclyde initiative.

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood , Roxburgh and Berwickshire 2:06 am, 21st October 1987

I do not believe that the impasse in which we find ourselves is unusual or unique. Such a situation could arise with monotonous and increasing regularity in the coming weeks and months.

I oppose the motion, but it is symptomatic. I am addressing my remarks to the rump of the Conservative Back Benchers, who are sitting in on the debate wondering with an air of puzzlement what is going on. I say to them directly that in my view what is happening now is symptomatic of the fact that we do not have proper time to debate important Scottish issues in the House of Commons as it is presently constituted here at Westminster. The problem that we are now having reflects that. It will not go away until we have a proper focus for important Scottish debates, whether in Edinburgh or anywhere else. I have my own views about the need for a Scottish Parliament, where never in a month of Sundays would any Government in Scotland attempt to adopt a device to curtail a debate about the financing limits of the SDA of the sort that is being used now.

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood , Roxburgh and Berwickshire

I do not want to take any interventions, because I want to make a brief speech.

I oppose the Government's motion because it sets a worrying precedent to start interrupting and adjourning Second Reading debates. Opposition parties have precious little weaponry available to them in their armoury in any case. We have become accustomed to the Government having increasing recourse to guillotines. I understand that there are occasions when Governments have to use guillotines, but guillotining Second Reading debates is altogether different. It is new to me. [Interruption.] My experience may not be as great as the 150 years that the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) seems to have been in the House, but I believe that guillotining Second Reading debates on such issues is a worrying precedent. I should like an assurance from whoever winds up the debate, if anybody does—none of the Ministers looks as if he is itching to do so—that there will be no more repetitions of motions to adjourn the debate on Second Reading being moved in this fashion because it would be a retrograde step.

Photo of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn Sir Nicholas Fairbairn , Perth and Kinross

I am sure that the House would be interested to discover on behalf of whom the hon Gentleman imagines he is speaking. The hon Gentleman talks about focusing issues. Can he tell us how, whichever party he belongs to and whatever name it will be given, he regards it as a focus?

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood , Roxburgh and Berwickshire

I am speaking on behalf of my constituents.

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood , Roxburgh and Berwickshire

Yes, including the hon Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson), who keeps meeting me in the Lobby and asking whether I am looking after his interests. I find that a difficult thing to do for a Labour Member who is a gentleman farmer. However, that is a different point.

The hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Fairbairn) is a sensible enough parliamentarian to realise—[Interruption.] That may be stretching a point. He may not agree, but he has to admit that there is a growing body of opinion in Scotland that feels the need to bring some of the issues back to Scotland in sensible time and with sensible procedures, not at 10 minutes past 2 in the morning. If we had a proper Scottish assembly we would be sensible enough to organise our affairs better than this and would not need to have debates at this ludicrous hour.

I was interested in what the Minister said when he introduced the motion. I agree that, prima facie, the SDA financing limits are primarily a technical matter. The debate we had was entirely sensible. I was hoping to contribute to it before it was curtailed. I pay tribute to the hon Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar). He made an entirely pertinent speech. Nobody could say that there was padding in anything that he said. I have heard debates that have been restricted to an hour and a half under the statutory instrument secondary legislation procedure which have had a wider significance in terms of the amount of money and number of people involved. Therefore, I concede the Government's case to a certain extent and agree that it could have been a technical debate. I am not very experienced in the House, but I warn hon. Members from all parties that if we reach a situation in which the usual channels cannot accommodate problems such as this and come up with sensible answers to meet everybody's needs we shall never get all we want. If we are to go into the breach every time and make a point of principle out of every debate that deals with Scottish matters we shall all spend many fascinating hours in the House throughout the night. In fact, we may end up doing a disservice to our constituents and the people of Scotland.

We minority parties have a difficulty in that we are not involved in the direct communication within the usual channels. I do not wish to apportion blame, but, if it is true, as the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) said, that as a result of what has happened tonight, we will lose a full-scale debate on Scottish industry and development next Thursday, that is a scandal. It is all very well for experienced parliamentarians such as the hon. Member for Garscadden to say that one can make one's points if one is clever enough and that one can get round the technical and narrow nature of the debate quite easily if one puts one's mind to it but that is not the point. The hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing), who was in the Chamber earlier, made a sensible contribution to the debate. She said that there are many aspects of Scottish industry such as the heavy industries and rural development that the occupant of the Chair would not allow within the remit of the debate or the rules of order.

I make a plea not only to the Government Front Bench but to the whole House to stand back from this confrontation this evening. Lay persons in the street do not understand the arcane nature of what we are about or the subtleties of the usual channels and so on. We must be careful that, in the party-political knockabout, we do not do a disservice to our constituents and to the people of Scotland.

Photo of Henry McLeish Henry McLeish , Central Fife 2:15 am, 21st October 1987

Like many of my hon. Friends, I regret that I am unable to talk about my constituency problems or the qualities that the SDA has brought to many activities in my area. I shall address myself to the closure motion, because that is important. As the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) said, it shows a complete contempt for the Scottish people—although that is nothing new from the Government. They do not have any sympathy for Scottish culture or way of life, and this motion is another example of the utter contempt in which they hold not only the electorate but the Scottish people. It also does a great disservice to this House. I was elected a few months ago to represent my constituency interests. I note that a few hon. Members have decided to leave the Chamber. When will this Mother of Parliaments tell the Government to stop laughing, start listening and treat seriously the key issues that are facing Scotland?

The Minister said earlier that he would answer specific points put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar). Despite the fact that the motion has been moved, we have a right to expect the Minister to honour commitments made on the Floor of the House. To help him do so, I remind him that the rate support grant in 1982–83—and we have been discussing a financial Bill with regard to the SDA — was £343 million. The estimated figure for Scotland for 1987–88 is £66 million. That is the enterprise culture about which the Minister spoke so eloquently. Basically, it means more despair, more hardship and longer unemployment queues. The Minister still fails to listen. He is preoccupied with the hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Fairbairn), who made such an eloquent contribution to the debate. In 1982–83, the SDA's gross budget was £147 million. Adjusted to 1986–87 prices, this year it is estimated to be £130 million. Scotland has 330,000 people who want some enterprise, but they are unlikely to get it from this Government.

Will the Minister tonight reply to the points that have been raised, despite the closure motion put forward by the Government, despite the disreputable tactics that they have adopted and despite the fact that Scotland will read in the national press tomorrow that, once again, the Conservatives who were humiliated in the polls still continue to treat the Scottish electorate with contempt beyond belief? I hope that in a few minutes the Minister will turn his mind to what is happening in this Chamber and address himself to these points.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party 2:19 am, 21st October 1987

I am very mud) against the motion to close the debate, because I believe that several issues have not been fully explored. Whatever arguments I may have had with the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) this evening, I thought that he made an important point when he reminded the House of the report of the Scottish Select Committee in 1980 and the performance of the seven Conservative Members on that Committee. Of course, that was at a time when there were such things as Scottish Conservative Back-Bench Members. Five of them are no longer with us, but two of them are very much concerned with tonight's proceedings — or would be if the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) had remained in the Chamber. The other surviving Member is the Minister of State. Those Conservative Members voted to take the Scottish Development Agency outwith the realm of inward investment and to close the overseas SDA offices. The closure motion is entirely inappropriate, because we have not had a chance to hear the Minister's answers to those points.

There has been a debate about SDA finances in real terms. There should be no argument that, during the past few years, the total finances available to the Scottish Development Agency have declined in real terms. That has been against the background of savage cuts in total regional development aid and grants. In Scotland, regional development grants and other aid represent only 45 per cent. of the amount made available 10 years ago when the SDA was created. I should tell Labour Members that 40 per cent. of that cut came in the last two years of the Labour Government.

We have not explored the direction of SDA funding. An important aspect of the SDA is the fact that funding has been pushed away from risk equity investment. The SDA was formed to fill a gap in risk equity funding in Scotland, and initially 25 per cent. of its funding went towards that. Now only 2 per cent. goes to risk equity funding, such has been the dogmatism with which the Conservative party has pushed the SDA away from fulfilling one of the essential roles that it was given.

We have not considered the direction of inward investment. Conservative Members believe that economic development in Scotland can be created only by bringing companies into Scotland. They are keen on inward investment, but it cannot be a good argument that the centrepiece — indeed the only piece — of the economic strategy for Scotland should be bringing in mobile. footloose international investment. Of course, it is a good thing, but it should not be the only requirement of an economic policy.

Many hon. Members have mentioned rural schemes. including PRIDE and DRAW. A marine engineering company in my constituency is in a position similar to the company mentioned by the hon. Member for Carrick. Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes). It went into the DRAW scheme, but the rug was pulled suddently from underneath it. After spending money on a survey to see whether it was eligible, the company discovered that the DRAW scheme had been abandoned and it was left with no aid. It is ridiculous to have a policy which can give almost any amount of aid to international investors, if they are prepared to go to the right areas and to wait for the money, while there are no aid schemes to which many indigenous Scottish companies can turn.

I hope that when the Minister replies to the debate he will have the courage of his contradictions and explain the changes in his attitude to the SDA's role in international investment. The motion shows the embarrassment and uneasiness with which the Conservative party views the SDA. Although it welcomes SDA and Locate in Scotland successes in inward investment, it is uneasy because this is a public body, established by a Labour Government under pressure from the SNP—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, come on!"] I note some dissension among Labour Members, so I shall quote the same source from which the hon. Member for Garscadden read so eloquently. The Industry Department for Scotland and the Treasury conducted a review of the SDA in 1986. It went into the history of the SDA, and at page 17 the report states: The formation of the Agency was in part a response to the growing impact of North Sea oil on Scotland and the political debate on the use of oil revenues, with strong nationalist pressure for them to be spent within Scotland. Indeed the Government's anouncement of the setting up of the SDA came first in a White Paper on North Sea oil in July 1974. This is the very document that the hon. Member for Garscadden quoted earlier. It certainly supports the case and the argument that we got the Scottish Development Agency because of the strength of the Scottish National party and its ability to influence the Labour Government of that time.

Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Paisley South

If the hon. Gentleman's analogy were true, that would be correct by analogy. However, it happens not to be correct. We created the Highlands and Islands Development Board because it was right to do so and the SDA was a development of the same conviction. I was involved in the planning process, so I know that. The SNP was hardly heard of at that period and was not in our minds at all.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, but I think his theory of political decision-making in Scotland has been overtaken by biography and memoirs. I am particularly thinking of the latest volume from Lord Donoughue who was very much involved in the Labour Government of the time. If one reads his memoirs, they support the view that many of the concessions granted to Scotland in the period of the mid-1970s were made by the Labour Government in response to Nationalist pressure and the Nationalist threat to Labour seats.

Photo of John McAllion John McAllion , Dundee East

The hon. Gentleman mentioned—as did several members of the Scottish National party—the ability of his party to influence the 1974–79 Government. My predecessor as the hon. Member for Dundee, East, Mr. Wilson, made that point on a number of occasions. Equally, he made the point that the Labour Government between 1974 and 1979 were the worst Government Scotland has had in many a year. How does the SNP rationalise its ability to influence a Government who were the worst Government Scotland ever had?

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party

We could argue that however bad were the cuts of 40 per cent. on industrial funding in the last two years after the withdrawal of regional employment premium by the Labour Government in 1976—the cuts might have been even greater if the Labour Government had not been responding to Nationalist pressure. If the hon. Gentleman wants me to concede that, however bad the Government of the mid-1970s were, they did not approach the sort of policies that are now imposed on Scotland, I am perfectly prepared to accept that point.

Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths , Edinburgh South

We are intrigued by the hon. Gentleman's explanation and wonder whether he takes credit for having heralded the Conservative Government elected in 1979 by bringing down the then Labour Government.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party

I shall continue my theme of memoirs. If the hon. Gentleman consults the memoirs of the Prime Minister of the time, he makes it clear that on that occasion he was not frightened of the SNP's approach to the devolution legislation — he was frightened of the Labour Back Benches. If anyone wishes to dispute that, he should take it up with the former Labour leader.

Photo of Mr Brian Wilson Mr Brian Wilson , Cunninghame North

If the hon. Member wishes to deal in memoirs, will he refer to those of the great sage Mr. Sillars? He spelled out rather a different story: he pleaded with the 11 members of the SNP not to vote for the downfall of the Labour Government with the Tories, but in spite of that, although a couple of SNP members, Hamish Watt for one, wavered, at the end of the day all 11 voted with the Tories, an action for which they will never be forgiven by the people of Scotland.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. That may be very interesting, but it is a long way from the motion before us, which is whether the debate should be adjourned. Speeches must be addressed to that issue.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party

I am grateful for your intervention on my behalf, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Presumably when the former Prime Minister, James Callaghan, was talking in his memoirs of his fear of Labour anti-devolutionists the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) was one of the people he had in mind.

Before I was so elegantly interrupted by several hon. Members, I was saying that the Conservative party has a problem with the SDA, which is a public body that was set up with public funds and shows that the public sector has a key role in the economy. When we move to an independent Scotland, I shall suggest that one of the first policy initiatives of an independent Government — whether SNP or Labour—should be to ensure a major expansion in the SDA's funding to the level that will allow it to tackle the economic crisis facing Scotland.

Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling , Edinburgh Central 2:31 am, 21st October 1987

Until about an hour ago the House was discussing the economy of Scotland, and the Scottish Development Agency in particular. It is a matter of particular regret that a Minister has tried to stop that debate.

I think that I speak for all Opposition Members when I say that we should have been happy to go through the night, if necessary, to discuss the problems facing Scotland. Conservative Members obviously do not want to discuss the economic problems of Scotland; indeed, they do not even want to discuss the motion to close the debate. There is a simple answer for them: they can go home—just as they have been sent home in Scotland.

I said that I think that I speak for all Opposition Members, but I am not sure about the tartan threesome, because they seem to be content to trade gratuitous insults and attack the Labour party instead of attacking the Government. It is no wonder that the SNP is Scotland's fourth party and is even behind the alliance.

If the debate had been allowed to run its course, I, as the hon. Member representing the constituency in which the headquarters of the SDA is sited, would have developed the theme touched on by the hon. Member for Ross, Cromarty and Skye (Mr. Kennedy), who mentioned that the problems facing Scotland involved not only the firms that the SDA could or could not help, but the major structural problems in our country. He cited the failure of Guinness to move its headquarters to Scotland, despite the promises made to the Government and the Scottish people.

My constituency would have benefited from the jobs created by the establishment of the Guinness headquarters in Scotland, and the rest of Edinburgh and Scotland would have benefited because Guinness would have been a magnet to draw many other firms away from the cosy insularity of the south-east of England. Until the lopsided nature of the British economy is addressed by the Government and the work of the SDA and other Government action is directed to taking some of the heat from the economy in the south-east, the structural problems that afflict Edinburgh and Scotland generally will endure. That problem was not addressed in the debate, but if it had been allowed to continue Labour Members would have addressed the issue.

It is ironic that the closure motion was moved by the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth). The Minister of State made the valid point that public cash creates jobs, but the hon. Member for Stirling and many other Conservative Members do not agree with that philosophy. The hon. Member for Stirling sat and said nothing, but I think that there is one element of the SDA's recent conduct with which he does agree, and that is the disgraceful decision by the Scottish Development Agency to lend a large sum of public money for the building of a private hospital in Clydebank.

The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh is beginning to crumble because of lack of investment and has identifed £6·8 million worth of work that needs to be carried out to bring it up to modern standards. Despite that, it has been allocated only £400,000. The hospital is in my constituency, and had the debate been allowed to develop I would have made the point that if so much public money is available for a private hospital, surely it could be made available to build a valuable teaching hospital within the National Health Service.

The Minister said that when the Scottish Development Agency was set up he saw it as being an instrument of change and, more importantly, a creator of the image of Scotland. I would have liked to make the point that the image of Scotland is not one of profiting from providing medicine but one of providing medicine on the basis of need. That aspect of the conduct of the Scottish Development Agency ought to be debated, and I am sure that it would have been explored at great length if the debate had been allowed to run its course.

It is necessary for the House to discuss the Scottish economy and not just the role of the Scottish Development Agency. Many points could have been developed in the debate. We also need to discuss the structural problems that face Scotland. The hon. Member for Stirling said that we are to be offered a debate next week.

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside

The hon. Gentleman mentions the structural problems of Scotland. He also mentions the Guinness situation and will be aware of my interest in that problem. Does he agree that the Guinness decision to locate the Distillers whisky operations headquarters in Scotland will be helpful in the long term because if the Government should decide to order disinvestment after the full inquiry is completed, it will make it easier to do so.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. The debate is straying again. Hon. Members must restrict their remarks to the comparatively narrow issue of whether the debate should be continued or adjourned.

Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling , Edinburgh Central

With your advice in mind, Mr. Deputy Speaker, perhaps the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) will vote against the motion so that the point he raises can be developed. Had the debate continued, I would have made the point that no matter how welcome the decision by United Distillers to locate its headquarters in Scotland, the real control of United Distillers lies with Guinness and the real control of Guinness, as with so much of the British economy, lies in London,

It is precisely those points that I and my hon. Friends would have liked to develop had the hon. Member for Stirling not leapt to his feet, I suspect in some way to defend his colleague who would have had to answer some of the telling points put by my hon. Friends the Members for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and for Dunfermline, East (Mr. Brown). They are points that we and the people of Scotland want to discuss.

Before the intervention by the hon. Member for Tayside, North I said that we are apparently to be offered a debate next Thursday on the Scottish economy. The Opposition would welcome that but for the fact that we know full well that Conservatives representing constituencies in the south-east of England who know little and, I suspect, sometimes care even less about the Scottish economy will be wheeled in to vote on this motion. just as they will be wheeled in next Thursday to speak from scripts carefully prepared by Scottish Ministers in order to prevent a full discussion by those hon. Members who represent the majority of Scottish seats.

I have a great deal of sympathy with hon. Members who spoke about the amount of time being made available to discuss the Scottish economy and matters that greatly affect Scotland. We in the Labour party who represent Scottish constituencies are deeply concerned about all parts of the United Kingdom. However, we have a particular interest in what happens north of the border, and if we are not allowed a decent amount of time uninterrupted by closure motions, the Government will simply store up troubles that will have to be dealt with at some time in the future.

I very much regret that an attempt has been made by the hon. Member for Stirling to stifle a debate which was flowing very well. Issues subsist in Scotland today that will not go away. The Second Reading of the Bill does not address those issues and they will have to be discussed. I should have thought that Tory Members would have a great interest in discussing those points. If they will not discuss them, they may find that the next time that the electors have the chance to express their views on the matter, instead of 10 Members there will be no Conservative Members north of the border, and that would be a richly deserved fate.

Photo of Mr Brian Wilson Mr Brian Wilson , Cunninghame North 2:40 am, 21st October 1987

It is important that the little huddle of Tory Members sitting at that far end of the Chamber waiting and wondering when they can leave realise that what is happening this morning is a manifestation and true dessert of the way in which the Government have behaved since 11 June. Since then the Government have behaved as if nothing happened on that day. It is time that English Conservative Members realised that something happened on 11 June.

Photo of Mr Tristan Garel-Jones Mr Tristan Garel-Jones , Watford

The Labour party lost the election.

Photo of Mr Brian Wilson Mr Brian Wilson , Cunninghame North

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely correct. We lost the election. We live with and recognise that state of affairs and we cannot avoid it. However, in the same spirit, I suggest that it is incumbent upon Tory Members to make some concession to the other reality. If Scotland, which has a separate dimension to its political affairs and separate legislation in the House, if Scottish business, Scottish rights and Scottish interests are to be dealt with justly in this House, Tory Members must make some concession to that reality. I give notice to that little huddle of Tory Members at that far end of the Chamber, that if that does not happen, they had better start to bring their sleeping bags along and brush up on their bottle stocks because what has happened this morning will happen on a great many other mornings as well.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party

I agree that those Tory Members should make some concessions to Scotland's Labour majority. However, what will the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson) do if they do not, apart from threaten them with more late nights?

Photo of Mr Brian Wilson Mr Brian Wilson , Cunninghame North

Here I am trying to be conciliatory and that is the thanks I get.

The reason for the motion to close the debate is not simply that Tory Members want to go to bed. Rather, what the Tories stand for in Scottish matters has been cruelly exposed. I have never heard such a mea culpa from the Tories for a long time. They seem to have been wrong about everything in the past 25 years in Scottish affairs. Even from the Government Front Bench tonight. we heard glowing tributes to the Highlands and Islands Development Board, to the SDA and to Locate in Scotland. I remember the debates when the Highlands and Islands Development Board was being set up. I remember reading of Michael Noble who represented Argyll, the constituency in which I grew up. In his later incarnation he was Lord Glenkinglas. He condemned as Marxist the concept of the Highlands and Islands Development Board. He used that word to condemn the concept put forward by the Labour Government in 1964 which the present Government are now praising. He said that it was Marxism in action. When the SDA was set up, the Conservatives fought it tooth and nail, but now they tell us about the wonders of the SDA. We heard earlier that when the idea that Locate in Scotland was intended to promote a Scottish presence abroad was discussed, the very people who bask in its achievements now were those who sought to destroy it. Yet they do not learn the lesson that on occasions they are wrong and that there are ideas and concepts, such as partnership, public participation and response to need, that they could support instead of brushing aside with their usual arrogance. They should think about these matters instead of resorting to slander and categorising.

I travel to the small towns in my constituency and I see a tremendous level of need. In a town such as Kilbirnie or an area such as Glengarnock there is industrial devastation on a scale that would make the stones weep. In the town centre of Kilbirnie there is utter urban dereliction on a small scale. I am delighted by the hope that the Scottish Development Agency will be acting fairly soon to contribute to the resuscitation of Kilbirnie, but the example can be multiplied by 100 in my constituency alone. We can see the potential of the SDA and yet in real terms its funding is being cut. Where is the logic in that?

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

The hon. Gentleman is straying into general debate. He must restrict his remarks to whether the Second Reading debate should be adjourned.

Photo of Mr Brian Wilson Mr Brian Wilson , Cunninghame North

If the motion had not been moved by the Under-Secretary of State, we could have taken up the remarks of the Minister of State about the GEAR project in the east end of Glasgow. The success of that project is clear and yet it is cut off in its prime. Why should this be? The Government should have the courage — unfortunately, it was not present in 1961, 1975 or 1981 —to follow through to their logical conclusion the words that have been uttered this evening.

If the debate had been allowed to continue, an important but peripheral issue — peripheral in some people's minds — could have been raised. I see the pictures in the annual report of the SDA, and women who appear in them are almost exclusively wives or waitresses. There has never been a woman member of the SDA or the Highlands and Islands Development Board. It is a non-party political issue that is surely worth considering, and it would certainly have been worthy of consideration this evening.

We have seized this opportunity to talk about the SDA and the Scottish economy. We are here in large numbers because of the depressing condition of the economy, which has caused the majority of the people of Scotland to vote against the Conservative party and not merely for the Labour party or other parties. They have rejected the economic philosophy for which the Conservative party stands so overwhelmingly. We are bitterly angry when for the convenience of a handful of individuals the Government choose to take away the limited amount of time that is available for us as Scottish Members. This will not go unnoticed in Scotland.

The word "filibuster" was used to defend the closure motion, but there has been no filibuster of any sort from the Opposition Benches. If filibusters are sought, let those who do so turn their attention to the Government Benches. For example, there was the lengthy speech of the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), which was admittedly an attack on Thatcherism. There were the confessions of a Dundee bus driver—the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) —with excursions to Scone airport and other diversions. I listened to the interventions—I shall restrain myself on this occasion— of the hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Fairbairn). The filibusters came from Conservative Members. We have heard half of the Scottish membership of the Conservative parliamentary party in the form of grunts or speeches. By the same token, there would still be a very long way to go before the political opinions of Scotland were fully represented in this debate. There is no filibuster; there is deep concern about the economic plight of Scotland, and in each and every individual constituency represented here tonight. By running away from the argument—by shutting their ears to the debate, and to the strength of feeling on the Opposition Benches —Conservative Members compound the felony, and increase the feeling of betrayal and rejection that exists in Scotland.

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley 2:50 am, 21st October 1987

I think that I should make it clear— indeed, all Opposition Members want to make it clear— that we should much prefer to be speaking in the substantive debate rather to this procedural motion. However, we have heard some brilliant and eloquent speeches from Members such as my hon. Friend the Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Buchan), who made a model speech. It was perfectly in order throughout, eloquent and with some brilliant rhetoric. It was also totally grammatical — unlike those of other hon. Members, as my hon. Friend pointed out earlier when I strayed from my normal grammar.

Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Paisley South

I agree with every word that my hon. Friend has said, but I am not sure whether he agrees with it.

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

At 2.51 am, neither am I.

Earlier, when I saw the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth), leap to the Dispatch Box to move this procedural motion, I recalled the words of the former right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire, Mr. Francis Pym, when he warned of the tyranny of the large majority. That is the attitude that we are seeing tonight, and have seen on other occasions: the jackbooted attitude that they will force an issue through, that it does not matter if it has not been properly debated, of if great sections of the community in Scotland have not had the chance to he represented, or if people who have been active in the sphere of concern that the SDA represents have not had a chance to speak. That is why a strong feeling of spontaneous revulsion, annoyance, frustration and concern has been expressed by Opposition Members tonight. There will be more of it, tonight and on future occasions, if that kind of tyrannical approach is used again by the Government.

I want to stick to the motion. We wonder why it has been put forward; we look for the motive behind it. With the slight discipline that I acquired at university all those years ago. I try to detect and divine the motivation and the determinant for the action, and to argue against it.

We have heard a number of arguments tonight as to why the House should not support the motion. I should like to mention about half a dozen, but there will be plenty of time left for my hon. Friend the Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington). I must not forget Milngavie: I like to give a litte teaser to the Hansard reporters, and Milngavie is a good one.

The first reason is the right of minority parties. As the vast majority party in Scotland, with 50 out of 72 representatives, we have said that we respect that right. If we have a proper debate, the full time that ought to be allocated for Second Reading debate allows the minority parties to have their say. I did not like it when, earlier in the debate, the hon. Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) was so ungracious—I cannot say "ungallant", because it is a sexist word — in not conceding that she had made a mistake and had misrepresented my hon. Friend the Member for Garscadden. It is understandable that such a mistake should have been made, particularly after a busy and no doubt enjoyable day and evening.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party

If the hon. Gentleman had been listening more closely, he would have realised that my hon. Friend the Member for Moray (Mrs. Ewing) gave way to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) when he raised his point of order.

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

The hon. Lady was forced to give way, but even when Madam Deputy Speaker said that the normal courtesy was to withdraw the hon. Member for Moray still refused to do so.

The Scottish National party is bereft of ideas and initiatives. It is resorting to smears and slogans against the Labour party, which represents the majority of the people in Scotland. However, we shall not resort to smears and slogans.

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party

I do not know what the hon. Gentleman is complaining about. I have not once this evening uttered the words "the feeble fifty."

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

No, but there were enough memoirs to last us a lifetime.

Whatever slogans the minority parties may utter and however trivial they may be, we shall continue to accept that they have the right to participate in these debates and to argue, on a procedural motion, that time ought to be given to the minority parties to argue their case.

Furthermore, it is usual for the Second Reading of Bills to start at 3.30 in the afternoon and to continue until 10 o'clock. That means that six and a half hours are provided for such debates. However, well before half of that time had been reached tonight the hon. Member for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale (Mr. Lang), not realising the procedure, the protocol and the conventions of the House, tried to move the closure of the debate. However, it was pointed out to him that it was not right for him to do so.

I hope that the House will not agree to the illegitimate curtailment of the Second Reading of this Bill. It is not automatic for such motions to be agreed to. Hon. Members will have to decide which way to vote when we reach that point.

The hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) referred to the need for a Scottish assembly. The need for this motion would never have arisen if the Government had not repealed the Scotland Act 1978. It was not incumbent on the Government to repeal it. They did not have to repeal that Act. The assembly could have been set up and it could now be meeting in Edinburgh. We certainly would work more sensible hours and we would have more time to discuss matters such as the SDA. We could discuss the workings, plans and development of it and we would be able to argue on behalf of our constituencies, including Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley. That is one reason for the frustrations that we have experienced tonight.

The fourth issue that I should like to raise relates to areas not having their views expressed, and it is another reason for voting against the motion. I should explain this point to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, as you represent an English constituency. My hon Friend the Member for Western Isles (Mr. Macdonald) represents a distinct area of Scotland that experiences many different problems. He might want to talk about the integrated development programme that the EEC is no longer continuing or about other matters concerning the Western Isles. The hon Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) represents an area with its own particular problems, but we have not heard anything about that region. I do not think we heard in the substantive debate from any representative from the Borders. That is a huge regional area of Scotland, yet we did not hear from one of its representatives. Nor did we hear from any representative of the huge Grampian region. We heard from two hon Members from the rural Tayside area but from nobody from Dundee, which is a vital part of Scotland. As my hon Friend the Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) pointed out in an intervention, no one from the Central region participated in the substantive debate. Vast areas of Strathclyde, including Ayrshire and particularly Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, did not have an opportunity to have their views heard.

Ironically the region that was given a lot of time for its Members of Parliament to speak was Dumfries and Galloway. Neither Member made a very good fist of speaking. One was hampered by the fact that he is a Government Minister, and the other was hampered. If the Minister did not represent Galloway and Upper Nithsdale, he would have been able to point out that Sanquitar, which is part of his constituency, shares with Cumnock the highest level of unemployment in Scotland. If I had been able to speak on the substantive motion, I could have argued the case for Sanquitar, and I am sure that the Minister would have appreciated that.

My fifth point was made by one of my colleagues earlier and I should like to underline it. My hon Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) made one of the best Front Bench speeches that I have heard since the recess. If the Minister does not have an opportunity to reply to the debate, all of us will have an inkling of a feeling that perhaps he wants to dodge the questions that have been raised, particularly by my hon Friend the Member for Garscadden.

My sixth point concerns the hon. Member for Ross, Cromarty and Skye (Mr. Kennedy), who talked about the EC structural fund. I understand that soon the report will be considered by the Council of Ministers. Because 80 per cent. of the regional fund will be concentrated on Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy and Ireland, the remaining small proportion will have to be divided between the rest of the Community. That means that funds for the United Kingdom, particularly Scotland, will be cut and fewer areas will be eligible for regional aid. That is serious.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. The hon. Gentleman is straying wide of the motion.

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

I did not raise the issue. It was raised by the hon. Member for Ross, Cromarty and Skye. No other hon. Member has had the opportunity to pursue the point and the Minister will not be able to reply. That is important. The debate is being ended prematurely.

My seventh point is that the Minister wanted the debate to finish early because the Conservatives are tired after the recess. I have been fed up watching Scottish television seeing again and again the Minister responsible for education and social work—still the young, prematurely balding person — going on and on scratching around Scotland purporting to represent the people of Scotland when we know that he does not. Ministers might be tired because of their strutting around but my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing) wisely boycotted the opening of the hospital to which the Minister for Health was invited. Ministers are obviously tired and do not want to spend time in Parliament discussing such issues. If on day one Ministers feel a bit peely wally I emphasise what my colleagues have said—"You have seen nothing yet." Standing Committees are still to come. All it needs is one staunch Tory to go and the whole edifice will crumble. Then we have a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs — or have we? That Committee has a Labour majority, but will English Members be appointed? If the Government think that by truncating this debate they can save trouble in the future, they have another think coming. The only way that the Government can achieve a majority on the Select Committee is to have a Committee of three and press-gang two unwilling Tories to sit on it. That is the ridiculous position that they are in. Then they must consider the Scottish Grand Committee and Scottish Question Time. That will keep Ministers on their toes. Finally — [HON. MEMBERS: "Encore."] Hon. Members hesitated a little before that cry for more came along so this will be my final point. I thought that one reason why the hon. Member for Stirling proposed the motion was that he may be worried about the people here, the catering staff, the Hansard staff and the people working all the equipment. Then I thought again, this motion has been proposed by the Conservatives and they could not care less about the ordinary people who are working to support us. My one regret is that we are going on in these unsocial hours ——

Photo of John Home Robertson John Home Robertson , East Lothian

My hon. Friend is talking about the other people who work in this House, but will he spare a moment for the tired and huddled masses down below the Gangway? They should be contemplating the ineptitude of their Front Bench that means that they will have to sit and listen to a lot of the same arguments all over again when we get back to the substantive debate. What on earth are the Government achieving?

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

My hon. Friend has put his finger on it. The Government have clearly bungled and there is no doubt that they have made a mistake. The Chief Whip has not made a brilliant debut. The whole thing is crumbling about him, but as I have said, this is just the beginning.

Photo of Mr David Waddington Mr David Waddington , Ribble Valley

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 114, Noes 43.

Division No. 31][3.11 am
AYES
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelHughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Amess, DavidHunt, David (Wirral W)
Amos, AlanIrvine, Michael
Arbuthnot, JamesJack, Michael
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Janman, Timothy
Ashby, DavidJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Atkinson, DavidJones, Robert B (Herts W)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Baldry, TonyKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Kirkhope, Timothy
Boscawen, Hon RobertKnapman, Roger
Boswell, TimKnowles, Michael
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Lang, Ian
Bowis, JohnLatham, Michael
Brazier, JulianLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Bright, GrahamLilley, Peter
Brooke, Hon PeterLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)Lord, Michael
Burns, SimonMalins, Humfrey
Burt, AlistairMans, Keith
Butterfill, JohnMarland, Paul
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Carrington, MatthewMonro, Sir Hector
Carttiss, MichaelMorris, M (N'hampton S)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Moss, Malcolm
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Neubert, Michael
Cope, JohnPatnick, Irvine
Cran, JamesPortillo, Michael
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Ryder, Richard
Davis, David (Boothlerry)Shaw, David (Dover)
Day, StephenStanbrook, Ivor
Devlin, TimStern, Michael
Dorrell, StephenStevens, Lewis
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Dover, DenSummerson, Hugo
Durant, TonyTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Fairbairn, NicholasThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Fallon, MichaelThorne, Neil
Favell, TonyThurnham, Peter
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Tredinnick, David
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Trotter, Neville
Fox, Sir MarcusWaddington, Rt Hon David
French, DouglasWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Garel-Jones, TristanWaller, Gary
Gill, ChristopherWarren, Kenneth
Gow, IanWheeler, John
Greenway, John (Rydale)Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Gregory, ConalWilshire, David
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Wolfson, Mark
Ground, PatrickWood, Timothy
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)Young, Sir George (Acton)
Hanley, Jeremy
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Tellers for the Ayes:
Hayward, RobertMr. David Lightbown and
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)Mr. David Maclean.
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
NOES
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Buchan, NormanHome Robertson, John
Canavan, DennisHood, James
Clarke. Tom (Monklands W)Ingram, Adam
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Kennedy, Charles
Darling, AlastairKirkwood, Archy
Dewar, DonaldMcAllion, John
Doran, FrankMcAvoy, Tom
Douglas, DickMacdonald, Calum
Dunnachie, JamesMcFall, John
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)McKelvey, William
Foulkes, GeorgeMcLeish, Henry
Galbraith, SamuelMartin, Michael (Springburn)
Galloway, GeorgeMaxton, John
Godman, Dr Norman A.Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Graham, ThomasMoonie, Dr Lewis
Nellist, DaveWorthington, Anthony
O'Neill, MartinWray, James
Reid, John
Robertson, GeorgeTellers for the Noes:
Salmond, AlexMr. Ernie Ross and
Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)Mr. David Marshall.
Wilson, Brian

Question accordingly agreed to

Question put accordingly:—

The House divided: Ayes 112, Noes 42.

Division No. 32][3 23 am
AYES
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelHowarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Amess, DavidHughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Amos, AlanHunt, David (Wirral W)
Arbuthnot, JamesIrvine, Michael
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Jack, Michael
Ashby, DavidJanman, Timothy
Atkinson, DavidJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Baldry, TonyKellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Boscawen, Hon RobertKirkhope, Timothy
Boswell, TimKnapman, Roger
Bottomley, PeterKnowles, Michael
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Lang, Ian
Bowis, JohnLatham, Michael
Brazier, JulianLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Bright, GrahamLilley, Peter
Brooke, Hon PeterLloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)Lord, Michael
Burns, SimonMalins, Humfrey
Burt, AlistairMans, Keith
Butterfill, JohnMarland, Paul
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Carrington, MatthewMonro, Sir Hector
Carttiss, MichaelMorris, M (N'hampton S)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Moss, Malcolm
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Neubert, Michael
Cope, JohnPatnick, Irvine
Cran, JamesPortillo, Michael
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Ryder, Richard
Davis, David (Boothferry)Shaw, David (Dover)
Day, StephenStanbrook, Ivor
Devlin, TimStern, Michael
Dorrell, StephenStevens, Lewis
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Dover, DenSummerson, Hugo
Durant, TonyTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Fairbairn, NicholasThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Fallon, MichaelThorne, Neil
Favell, TonyThurnham, Peter
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)Tredinnick, David
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Trotter, Neville
Fox, Sir MarcusWaddington, Rt Hon David
French, DouglasWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Garel-Jones, TristanWaller, Gary
Gill, ChristopherWarren, Kenneth
Gow, IanWheeler, John
Greenway, John (Rydale)Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Gregory, ConalWilshire, David
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Wolfson, Mark
Ground, PatrickWood, Timothy
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)Young, Sir George (Acton)
Hanley, Jeremy
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Tellers for the Ayes:
Hayward, RobertMr. David Lightbown and
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)Mr. David Maclean.
NOES
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)Darling, Alastair
Buchan, NormanDewar, Donald
Canavan, DennisDoran, Frank
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)Douglas, Dick
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)McLeish, Henry
Foulkes, GeorgeMartin, Michael (Springburn)
Galbraith, SamuelMaxton, John
Galloway, GeorgeMillan, Rt Hon Bruce
Godman, Dr Norman A.Moonie, Dr Lewis
Graham, ThomasNellist, Dave
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)O'Neill, Martin
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Reid, John
Home Robertson, JohnRobertson, George
Hood, JamesSalmond, Alex
Ingram, AdamWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Kennedy, CharlesWilson, Brian
Kirkwood, ArchyWorthington, Anthony
McAllion, JohnWray, James
McAvoy, Tom
Macdonald, CalumTellers for the Noes:
McFall, JohnMr. Ernie Ross and Mr. David Marshall.
McKelvey, William

Question accordingly agreed to.

Debate to be resumed this day.