§ 25. Mr. Russell Johnston
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the dependence of the Highlands area on service industries, he is yet in a position to announce proposals to offset the effects of the Selective Employment Tax on the work of the Highlands and Islands Development Board.
§ 47. Mr. Grimond
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps are being taken to offset the damaging effect of the Selective Employment Tax in the Highlands and Islands.
§ Mr. Johnston
Surely the Secretary of State will admit that it is quite contradictory on the one hand to offer a £500,000 grant in aid for 1966–67 and, on the other, to take out £2 million from the area. This will obviously militate against development, as a member of the Board has clearly and forcibly said.
§ Mr. Ross
The increase in taxation may take money out of the area, but that does not mean to say that we are wrong in emphasising the need to maintain expansion within the manufacturing industry. If there is any part of the country that needs such an expansion and will benefit from it, it is the Highlands. We must not always consider these matters in isolation.
§ Mr. Grimond
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he must be living in cloud-cuckoo-land? There is no question of people being squeezed out of the service industries in the Highlands and going into manufacturing industry, unless they go to Birmingham. We have the extraordinary situation in which we are encouraging manufacturing industry to absorb more people in the South. Will he look at this matter again and make representations to the Chancellor? This tax will do a great deal of damage to many parts of the Highlands, and in the Islands, coming on top of the seamen's strike, it will be disastrous.
§ Mr. Ross
I do not need to make a tour of the area to find out what the people there feel. I shall be having discussions with the Highlands and Islands Development Board very soon on 1446 this matter. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not misrepresent any statements that it may make, as he has done in the past.
§ Mr. Maclennan
Will my right hon. Friend consider what additional steps he can take to reduce the dependence of the Highland area on the service industries?