HC Deb 27 November 1963 vol 685 cc266-8
22. Mr. Willis

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state the cost to public funds of his recent official tour of the United States of America.

Mr. Noble

The estimated cost is approximately £2,250.

Mr. Willis

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, whilst we welcome American industrialists to Scotland to set up new industries there, nevertheless quite a number of people feel that he rather demeans his high office when he goes to America, kilt in bag, in order to ask industrialists to do his job for him?

Mr. Noble

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman's remarks reflect more than a tiny and rather foolish percentage of the people in Scotland. I see nothing demeaning in the Secretary of State, or, indeed, any other person with an interest, going abroad in order to attract industry to a particular part of the world. I think my visit was welcomed by the great majority of Scottish people.

Sir J. Duncan

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the opinions of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) do not reflect the general view of the people of Scotland, who congratulate my right hon. Friend on his imaginative enterprise?

Mr. Lawson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of us do agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East? Is he not aware that it is one thing for a person interested in business to go abroad but quite another for the Secretary of State for Scotland himself to go in this way, for it suggests that we in Scotland can do nothing for ourselves? Will the right hon. Gentleman see that Scotland really gets down to a job of work under his tutelage and not go running all over the world?

Mr. Noble

The hon. Gentleman forgets—not that he has not often been told—that over 80 per cent, of new industry in Scotland during the last ten to fifteen years has been created by industry already there.

Mr. T. Fraser

That is nonsense.

Mr. Noble

I do not think anyone in Scotland feels that it is a waste of time to try to get industry from America or elsewhere to help us.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. We have dealt with only about twenty-one Questions and it is now twelve minutes past three. Mr. Millan. Question No. 23.

23. Mr. Millan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on his recent tour of the United States of America.

Mr. Noble

The main object of my tour was to meet leading industrialists, and others who might be concerned and influential in investment decisions, so that I might have the opportunity of telling them about the advantages of investment in Scotland. I am glad to say that virtually all the executives I met, of companies who had in mind to establish or expand operations in Europe in the near future, indicated to me that they would consider most seriously what Scotland had to offer.

Mr. Millan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we are very glad to welcome industry from any part of the world? But is not the job of attracting trade and industry in the United States itself the kind of job that should be done by officials from his Department or other Departments of the Government? Is he aware that many of us feel that it is beneath the dignity of his office, and a humiliation to Scotland, that Scotland's Cabinet Minister should be trailing round the United States pleading with industrialists to come to Scotland as though we were some kind of under-developed area in Asia or Africa?

Mr. Noble

If the hon. Gentleman had had the good fortune to be with me, or had read some of the newspapers, he would have realised that this was not at all the kind of approach I made to these gentlemen.

Mr. Hoy

What assurance has the right hon. Gentleman that these American companies will do anything about the matter? Does not he remember that at his request, I arranged for an executive of an American firm to meet him personally in Edinburgh and that, although the executive assured us that the firm was prepared to spend £500,000 on development in Scotland, the right hon. Gentleman has done absolutely nothing about it?

Mr. Noble

The hon. Gentleman knows very well that that case was not something within my responsibility and that I did not have the decision in my power. There is a considerable difference in meeting industrialists, which I do at the request of any hon. Member, if they have something that I can help them with.