Orders of the Day — Scottish Development Agency Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:15 am on 21st October 1987.

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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.