HC Deb 25 May 1966 vol 729 cc472-3
62. Mr. G. Campbell

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland to what extent it is Her Majesty's Government's policy to reduce the numbers employed in non-manufacturing industry in the Highlands and Islands.

Mr. Willis

This is certainly no part of the Government's policy for the Highlands and Islands. On the contrary it is their aim to increase production and employment generally in the area, and particularly by the development of manufacturing and other productive industries.

Mr. Campbell

In that case, will the Minister of State and his right hon. Friend point out to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that there is no point in applying the Selective Employment Tax to the Highlands? Will the hon. Gentleman urge his right hon. Friend the Chancellor to exempt that area?

Mr. Willis

We have to bear in mind what the tax is for, and the fact that if we are to encourage and promote the development of manufacturing industry with the arrangements at present operated by the Government, Scotland, and the Highlands, stand to gain.

Mr. Noble

But has not the Minister of State read any of the comments from the Highlands Development Board? In view of these, can he not talk to his right hon. Friend, who is sitting quite close to him, and have this matter carefully considered? There is nobody in the Highlands who believes that what the hon. Gentleman has said is even faintly true.

Mr. Willis

I am not sure to what comments the right hon. Gentleman refers when he speaks of comments frorn the Highlands Board. I, too, have seen the comments of the Board—the comments of the Board and not those of one of its members. The Board is seeking to see my right hon. Friend on this matter in order to talk it over.

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