Orders of the Day — Scottish Development Agency Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:55 am on 21st October 1987.

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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——