Future Government of Scotland

Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 9:40 pm on 23rd November 1987.

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Photo of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton Lord James Douglas-Hamilton , Edinburgh West 9:40 pm, 23rd November 1987

I shall not give way. I have only about three minutes left.

There is no evidence to believe that higher income tax would lead to the economic regeneration of Scotland. It is perfectly true that, in the 1970s, the world recession, sparked off by the oil crisis, led to severe problems in certain obsolescent industries. That would have been the case whether there had been an assembly or not.

I shall mention some undeniable facts. In 1986–87 the identical public expenditure per head had a United Kingdom average of £2,057. Public expenditure per head was £1,967 for England and £2,518 for Scotland. That means that £551 more is spent on every person resident in Scotland every year than on each person resident in England.

The Government's policies, in the framework of the existing constitutional arrangements, are beginning to show results. For example, the latest figures of gross domestic product per head and personal disposable income per head show Scotland to rate third among the 11 United Kingdom planning regions, behind only the south-east and East Anglia. Also, average male weekly earnings in Scotland, at £224 in April of this year, are higher than in any part of the United Kingdom, outside the south-east. Unemployment is now firmly on a downward trend, with a fall of 34,000 in the seasonally adjusted figures. The growth of manufacturing productivity in Scotland in recent years has been consistently higher than in the United Kingdom as a whole.

I do not want to see the role of the Secretary of State or of hon. Members diminished. I do not want to see endless conflict between rival Parliaments, or job losses as a result of a further system of taxation. I ask my hon. Friends to oppose the motion for those reasons.