Orders of the Day — Scottish Development Agency Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:01 am on 21st October 1987.

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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.