Orders of the Day — Scottish Development Agency Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:15 pm on 21st October 1987.

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

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.