Orders of the Day — Scottish Development Agency Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:06 am on 21st October 1987.

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

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.