§ 8. Mr. Willis
asked the Minister of Aviation what proportion of the estimated expenditure under the Air Estimates 1963–64 Vote 7A will be spent in Scotland.
§ 10. Mr. Millan
asked the Minister of Aviation what proportion of estimated expenditure under the 1963–64 Air Vote 7G will be spent in Scotland.
§ 12. Mr. Steele
asked the Minister of Aviation what proportion of the estimated expenditure in the 1963–64 Air Vote 7F will be spent in Scotland.
§ 14. Mr. Hannan
asked the Minister of Aviation what proportion of estimated expenditure under the Air Estimates 1963–64 Vote 7C will be spent in Scotland.
§ 15. Mr. Lawson
asked the Minister of Aviation what proportion of estimated expenditure under the Air Estimates 1963–64. Vote 7B, will be spent in Scotland.
§ Mr. Cronin
On a point of order. These Questions refer to entirely different matters, varying from airframes to laundry services. Surely it is an abuse of the concession we give to Ministers not to take all these Questions separately, and it shows an obvious indifference to the problems of Scotland.
§ Mr. Amery
The greater part of the expenditure under Vote 7 of the Air Estimates passes from the Air Ministry to the Ministry of Aviation in reimbursement of the cost of contracts placed by my Department. I am therefore replying with the agreement of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air. The form in which the records of the Departments are kept does not in general show how much of any store was bought in Scotland. The estimates, moreover, relate to future expenditure and I am not in a position to say in advance where particular contracts will be placed.
§ Mr. Willis
Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether any conscious effort is made by his Department to ensure that these vast Government purchases are used to stimulate employment in areas where unemployment is very high? If they are not, what is the right hon. Gentleman going to do about it?
§ Mr. Millan
Is it not rather significant that the Minister is not able to give this information? Does it not demonstrate that not enough attention is paid to this aspect of ordering equipment and materials? Would the right hon. Gentleman please look at this again? Will he see whether more orders cannot be placed in Scotland and in other development districts?
§ Mr. Lawson
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, if his Department cannot give this information, most other spending Departments which have been asked for the information have been able to do so? Will he look at this point? Will the right hon. Gentleman also look at the fact that undoubtedly industry tends to group itself round Government spending Departments and that the fact that these Departments are located in the South has led to a concentration of industry? Will the right hon. Gentleman see whether something can be done about this and not allow things to continue as at present?
§ Mr. Amery
We have to balance many factors, including the overall interest of the taxpayer and the different problems of the localities. I am sorry that I cannot give hon. Members the detailed information which they seek. On the other hand, I am sure that they would not wish to duplicate expenditure or effort in Departments to obtain information which may be important at one moment but not later on.
§ Mr. Emery
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there are other areas than Scotland which have an interest in Vote C? Will he bear in mind that though hon. Members may not put down Questions about their own areas they are just as interested that these Votes should not be spent only in Scotland?
§ Mr. Bence
I do not want to be unfair to the right hon. Gentleman, but did I hear him say that through the Estimates he could not tell us where these orders were placed? Are we to understand from the right hon. Gentleman that the House of Commons votes over £1,900 million a year and nobody can tell us where we spend the money?
§ Mr. Amery
I do not think that the hon. Member has understood what I said. I said that the Estimates relate to orders which will be placed in the future and it is not always either possible or judicious to say in advance of contractual negotiations being completed with what firms they will be placed.
§ Mr. Lawson
If I put down a Question, will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to find out in what proportion expenditure in the past has been placed in Scotland? Will he undertake to give an Answer?
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Is not the Minister's refusal of this information in conflict with declared Government policy? Are we not proposing to spend a vast amount of money in what is, after all, a 9 nationalised industry? Have the Government no responsibility for the apportioning of expenditure according to the economic needs of the country, and are not the people entitled to know?
Why is it not possible to investigate this? Surely the Department knows where orders were placed. All things being equal, especially in Scotland where there is an engineering background, it would be a good thing to ensure that where there is a development area of that type it receives favourable consideration instead of being put up against an area where there is full employment.
§ Mr. Willis
In view of the very unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.