HC Deb 11 November 1958 vol 595 cc179-80
26. Mr. Lawson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why it is that, whereas the natural rate of increase in the Scottish population is as great as that of England and Wales, the estimated rate of increase in numbers of Scottish boys and girls reaching the age of 15 years in 1971, as given in the Can Report, is less than half that of the comparable rate of increase for England and Wales.

Mr. Maclay

The estimates quoted in the Can Report relate to children born between 1941 and 1956. Comparing these two years the Scottish birth rate, though higher than the English, increased by a smaller proportion, and this is reflected in the figures quoted.

Mr. Lawson

Is the Secretary of State aware that, if he looks at these figures from 1956 onwards, he will see that there is a growing discrepancy regarding Scotland? Will not he agree that this means that allowance has been made for projected emigration, and that it is thought this emigration will continue in the same way as it has been going on? Do not all the indications show that the Government have given up this matter as hopeless?

Mr. Maclay

The hon. Member will appreciate that this is a highly complicated statistical operation in which we are both engaged, and a difficult matter to deal with by way of question and answer. I do not see that the question of prospective or actual emigration has anything to do with it—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—no, not on these figures. They are complicated, but I should be glad to discuss their implication with the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. T. Fraser

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that every child mentioned in this Report is already born, and inasmuch as there is a discrepancy between the two countries which widens all the time, surely the authors of this document have anticipated that the migration of population from Scotland to England will go on in the next sixteen years at the rate at which it has been going on in the last two or three years? Is not that the only possible reason for the difference in the figures as the years go by between now and 1971?

Mr. Maclay

The figures must reflect the original birth rate. This is a complex matter to deal with by way of question and answer.