HC Deb 22 February 1967 vol 741 cc1693-5
9. Mr. Maclennan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what increase there has been in the number of jobs in manufacturing industries in the seven crofting counties since the inception of the Highlands and Islands Development Board; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ross

It is not possible to say how many such jobs have been created, but the Board estimates that the financial assistance it has offered should lead to the creation of some 300 jobs in manufacturing industry. I am informed that assistance offered under Local Employment Acts in the same period is expected to result in a further 212 jobs.

Mr. Maclennan

Recognising that this is a modest but substantial achievement by the Board in its first year of work, will my right hon. Friend give every encouragement to the Board and to his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade not to centralise all in- dustrial assistance at one growth point but to spread it around areas throughout the Highlands presently suffering high unemployment?

Mr. Ross

Yes, Sir; this is part of the task of the Board, to cover the whole area, and I can tell my hon. Friend that, in advance of a fuller study, it is examining one or two possible industries which might be set up in the Wick-Thurso area. My hon. Friend began by speaking of a "modest" start. In relation to what has been done before, it is a very commendable start.

Mr. Russell Johnston

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that in a Written Answer to me he said that 800 jobs in service industries had been created by the Highlands and Islands Development Board? What is the logic of creating 800 service jobs and 300 manufacturing jobs and then slaying the manufacturing jobs with the S.E.T.?

Mr. Ross

We are not slaying manufacturing jobs with the S.E.T. The hon. Gentleman is confused about that. The actual jobs are there, and the important fact is that much of what is coming into the Treasury from the S.E.T. is pouring back into Scotland in the provision of jobs in manufacturing industry.

Mr. MacArthur

How much extra taxation has fallen on the Highland counties since the inception of the Highlands and Islands Development Board? Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the Selective Employment Tax alone is taking £2 million a year out of those counties, while the Board is putting back only one-eighth of that sum?

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman should balance that by saying how many more millions we are putting into the Highlands.

Mr. Rankin

Can my right hon. Friend say at this stage how many of the jobs to which he has referred are in the supply industries and how many are in the breeder industries?

Mr. Ross

The jobs to which I have referred are in manufacturing. I could not tell my hon. Friend how many relate to actual supply jobs. Many of the supply jobs would, by definition be non-manufacturing.

Mr. Noble

Does the right hon. Gentleman know that in Campbeltown in my constituency in the last fortnight we have had the closing down of a mine and of a knitting factory, and a few miles away the closing down of a boatyard? Will he do everything he can to help the Board in its plans to try to get extra work for that area?

Mr. Ross

Yes, Sir. The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the mine in the Campbeltown area is one which has caused considerable concern for a long time. It is a matter of exhaustion rather than anything else and this was something which was bound to happen. We now have an instrument by which, with the Board of Trade, we can look into the question. The right hon. Gentleman will know also that in that area there is an advance factory already allocated.