§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Mr. Harper.]
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ Mr. George Younger (Ayr)
We have this evening only a comparatively short time left in which to discuss what is a very large and far-reaching subjct, but no hon. Member on eigher side of the House will dispute the fact that the question of emigration, particulary out of Scotland, is a matter of very great concern and has been so for all my lifetime. Secondly, no one will dispute that a persistently high rate of net emigration from a country is a serious obstacle to economic growth.
It is now two and a half years since we had a change of Government, and it is just over one year since the publication of the so-called Scottish Plan, the White Paper on the Scottish Economy. It is, therefore, quite interesting to look back and see what sort of progress is being made in this vital subject of emigration.
During the last 10 years the net emigration from Scotland, both to countries abroad and to other parts of the United Kingdom, has varied between as little as 20,000 in the years 1958–59 to as much as 40,000 in the years 1963–64. If we take the average over that period, we find that for the five years ended in 1964 the average figure of net emigration each year was 33,400. If we take a longer period, which might be the more reasonable thing to do, we find that the average figure of net emigration over the 10-year period ended in 1964 was 29,800.
With the background of those figures, it is a sombre and worrying thought that in the two years since 1964–that is to say, up to June, 1966–the average rate of net emigration has been at the surprising total of 45,000. That is an average rate over the two years. It represents a figure, over the five-year average which I quoted, of no less than 34 per cent., and an increase over the 10-year average of the years 1954 to 1964 of 51 per cent. I do not think that anyone, however partisan, or whatever party he represents, can conceivably be 788 anything but deeply concerned about a trend of that nature.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
Will the hon. Gentleman make it clear whether the emigration to which he is referring is solely to England.
§ Mr. Younger
I am not sure what the hon. Gentleman is getting at. I made it clear that this was net emigration after taking into account inflow and outflow, and covering emigration to all parts of the world, to England, to Wales, or to anywhere else.
It is clear that during the last two years we have experienced a substantial and dramatic increase in the rate of emigration. This is shown not by an expression of opinion, but by the facts as published which are available for anyone to see. Both the last two years have shown record figures for net emigration, certainly as far back as I have been able to go, and that is at least 40 years. In 1964–65, it was 43,000, which at that time was a record. In 1965–66, it was no less than 47,000, which again was a record.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
To be fair in his statement of the case, will the hon. Gentleman state that that emigration from Scotland was due largely to the policy of successive Tory Governments in encouraging trade, industry and commerce in the south of this island, and more recently in encouraging the building of a tunnel to France?
§ Mr. Younger
I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman. I hope that he will forgive me if I do not follow the trend of his remarks. I think that it would be to the benefit of the House if I were to continue with my argument. which I think is important.
During each of the last 10 years up to 1964, and in all probability for the last 30 or 40 years, no matter whether the figure of net imigration was encouraging or discouraging, or high or low, we always had one great consolation to which we could point, no matter how depressing the figures. In every year up to 1964 the emigration rate was never sufficiently high to swamp the natural increase in population due to the rising birthrate. On no occasion, and in no year up to 1964, had this happened. In the year to June, 1965, however, for the first time in 789 40 years, we found the population of Scotland decreasing. It was by only a very small amount, 2,400 to be precise, and it would have been reasonable for many to say at that time that they hoped it was merely a transitional effect which would not be seen in the future; that it was too small to get particularly excited about.
In 1966, however, the trend became rapidly and substantially worse, and the net loss of population—this is not loss by emigration, but is the net loss after allowing for inflow and outflow—was no less than 13,800. This was equivalent to the disappearance of the entire population of a town such as Peterhead, or Bathgate, or Galashiels. I do not think that anybody who has any pretence of being fair-minded or clear about the relationship of facts to opinions would disagree that this is extremely disturbing, and it is a record about which the Government of the day ought to be extremely worried, and about which they ought to be ashamed.
What is the present trend? Do we think that it is likely to be more favourable? I do not need to give only my view of this. I can quote the statement made no longer ago than last Friday by the Chairman of the Scottish T.U.C. In commenting on the latest rise in the unemployment figures which had just been announced, he said thatthe Scottish unemployment figure of 4.1 per cent. did not include the increase in emigration from Scotland which had risen from 40,000 to 47,000 in the past year.It is my opinion that people are leaving Scotland at a greater rate now than during last year.I must, with a heavy heart, say that I agree with that, because in my researches I have spoken to a considerable number of people who have reason to be concerned with the problems of emigration and immigration, and not one of them disputes the statement that at the moment all the signs are that last year's depressingly high rate is likely to be higher still this year.
I have spoken to travel agents, and they have told me that during the past six months particularly they have been exceptionally busy making arrangements for whole families to emigrate to other parts of the country. I have spoken to people who work for the airlines, and 790 they, too, report exceptional business during the last three or four months. I have spoken to people in the shipping business, and they have the same story to tell. Perhaps most significant of all, I have spoken to a considerable number of people who are on the point of emigrating. It is not difficult to meet these people when one is near the point of exit, and I have done it.
I have been tremendously impressed by the opinion universally expressed by these people. All about them they hear people talking about emigrating, and meet people seriously thinking of doing so. I do not approve of their decision. I cannot say that I have any desire whatever to join them in emigrating, but the fact is there, and it must be faced. I suggest that everyone in this House ought to face it, and see what can be done about it.
I think that I can end my record of what has been happening over the past few years by saying that no matter what we have done, no matter what anyone has done, no matter what the present Government have done, one thing is clear, and it is that we have not been successful in stemming the net rate of emigration. In fact, it is rising rapidly.
We can go back one year to the publication of the White Paper on the Scottish Economy. It contains a fairly clear statement of the Government's aims for solving the problem of emigration. May I say, in passing, that nobody, least of all myself, would suggest that any Government could have solved this problem in one, two, or even five years. I accept that it is a longterm problem. I hope that that is clear. What I am saying is that we have to look at the fact that our present policies are not succeeding. If anything, they are making the trend worse, and it would be extremely foolish to put our heads in the sand and ignore this fact and pretend that it does not exist.
The following passage occurs on page 2 of the White Paper to which I have referred:Although the volume of net emigration from Scotland in recent years has been so high, there are no grounds for pessimism or defeatism about the possibility of reducing it.Those were welcome words. I remember reading them and feeling that we had a good prospect of progress in the right direction, but I wonder whether, when that sentence was approved, it was 791 already known that the figures for the last half of 1965 were showing the increase which they finally did?
Be that as it may, the White Paper gives the main reasons influencing people to emigrate from Scotland under three main headings. First, work and career prospects; secondly, levels of earnings, and, thirdly, environment. Before I look at each of these I want to make clear the various factors making up net emigration. It is made up of two conflicting trends.
One is the emigration of people from Scotland to go to any part of the world, and the other is the corresponding inflow of people to Scotland from any part of the world. The emigration part of that can be further divided into two sections, those emigrating to countries abroad and those emigrating to other parts of the United Kingdom. Although the experiences of people who go to these places may be different, it is generally agreed that the factors which make people emigrate are generally speaking, the same, whether they are going abroad or to another part of the United Kingdom.
The subject of immigration to Scotland is where one finds a most interesting area for considering the effects of these feelings which people are experiencing. The Scottish Council's Report on Immigration, published last year, is a most useful and thoughtful document. It introduces what is one of the most significant conclusions, and it is well worthy of note by all of us. It is that when one analyses the figures, the emigration from Scotland is no greater on the whole than the emigration from other parts of the United Kingdom. It is not substantially different. It certainly is not greater.
The interesting point is that what is very much less—in the case of Scotland significantly less—is the number of people entering Scotland from other parts of the United Kingdom. This conclusion interested me very much, and it merits much thought. The immigration to Scotland runs at about half the rate of immigration into other parts of England, such as the South-East, the North, or Wales.
I want to look at this more closely. If we take the factors affecting emigration under the three headings in the 792 White Paper in turn we can see some of the factors which must be having an effect. The first heading is, "Work and Career Prospects". It does not take a very lively imagination, or a very close study of contemporary affairs, to see that at the head of the factors affecting that category must be the question of rising unemployment, something which all of us deplore, wherever we sit in this House.
Unemployment has been rising now for at least the last ten months, and now stands at a level of 4.1 per cent. There was a rise even between January and February. This previously happened in 1963, at a time of an exceptionally hard winter. It is very depressing that this year it has happened again, at a time when we have had the mildest winter that anyone to whom I have spoken can ever remember. Even if we look at the rate of rise in unemployment in the last few months, we see that unfortunately the rate of rise in Scotland has been, for instance, between December and January 10.8 per cent., whereas in England it was exactly half, 5.4 per cent.
It would take a very optimistic person indeed to declare that this rising rate of unemployment, now 90,000 in Scotland, has had no effect at all upon the number of people who are apparently emigrating from Scotland. We should take this very seriously. One of the most serious consequences is that in encouraging, although we do not wish to do this, more people to emigrate by letting unemployment rise, we are inhibiting the future chances of growth in Scotland which will finally decrease the unemployment rate in Scotland.
§ Mr. John P. Mackintosh (Berwick and East Lothian)
The Scottish Council's Report explicitly says that unemployment is not in its view a cause of emigration and that the unemployed do not migrate. It gives up this particular correlation as a direct causal factor.
§ Mr. Younger
It does not go quite as far as that. That is what I thought the first time that I read it, but if the hon. Gentleman reads it again he will see that what it says is that unemployment is not necessarily a major factor. It goes on to say, in the following paragraph, that one cannot rule out the fact that unemployment has always been a factor of 793 some kind in emigration. It would be a very optimistic person who would state that this had no effect at all on the migration rate.
Secondly—and this comes out quite clearly in all the conversations that I have had with those about to emigrate—heavily increased taxation is something which impresses people. There have been heavy increases during the last two years. Anyone who has spoken to those in industry knows that one of the chief talking points when earnings go up through increased overtime or a better job is the disincentive of finding that larger deduction at the end of the week in P.A.Y.E.
This is a very real factor, discouraging people from working more or taking more responsibility, and more difficult jobs. Inevitably, this affects people's careers and work prospects in this country. Income Tax has risen during the last two years from 7s. 6d. to 8s. 3d. in the pound and this affects everyone, whether they are wage earning or salary earning or anything else.
Every emigrant to whom one speaks is leaving in the hope, which may not be fulfilled, that the place for which they are bound, if they are going abroad, will impose a lower rate of personal taxation. It is arguable whether they find this to be the case, but that is one of the reasons why they go. Increases in taxation are undoubtedly a powerful factor in encouraging people to give up their job here and to go abroad. For a country like Scotland, widely spread and scattered and depending very greatly on transport facilities, there is no doubt that the unattractive-ness of living at the end of a long haul when transport costs have risen so dramatically, by over 10 per cent. in some cases, in the last two years is a powerful disincentive to entering the country and taking up employment, particularly in the remoter areas. This would repay very serious consideration.
There are people in business, small businesses particularly, who are finding the increasing taxation on close companies a powerful disincentive. This applies to those in business, or trying to set up business under the Government's present policy. This factor was mentioned to me no fewer than three times during last weekend. It would be quite ridiculous for me to cover this subject without mentioning the effect of the Selective Employ- 794 ment Tax. This tax has been debated at great length in this House and in the country and I must say that from all the words spoken about it it would seem to have very few friends indeed.
It is quite extraordinary, that in a country with a rising unemployment rate, and which has always had an unemployment problem the Government should impose over that country, including Scotland, what amounts to quite simply a tax on jobs, because this is what S.E.T. really is. If anyone doubts that, let him ask anyone in the tourist trade, in transport and road haulage or in the building industry. Let him ask any of those people whether it is not the case that the impact of the tax has certainly put up costs, and is a disincentive to employing people. It is a tax on jobs, and yet it operates in a country which is at the moment, perhaps more than it has been for years past, desperately anxious to get jobs for as many people as it can.
The second main heading which the White Paper gave for people tending to emigrate is the level of earnings. Earlier today we went into a particular case in some considerable detail concerning the level of earnings and various things associated with it. The fact, stated very moderately in the Scottish Council's Report, is that for many years the earnings level in Scotland has been running at about 6 per cent. below the level in the rest of the United Kingdom and as much as 9 per cent. below the level in the South-East.
Surely, this fact, if no other, suggests that a wage freeze applied universally and indiscriminately over the country, including the development areas, has—and I put this very mildly—serious disadvantages for the development areas, much more serious than for areas such as the South-East where employment is no problem.
Page 8 of the Scottish Council's Report is perfectly correct. It states:The basic point is that earnings in Scotland must rise faster than in the South-East and Midlands for the net loss of population to fall.That is a very clear statement. That is the opinion of people who have gone into the question of emigration, and it shows clearly the necessity for earnings to rise faster in Scotland than in the South-East and the Midlands in order to stem the net loss of population. We all know 795 the reasons for the "freeze". We all know the difficulties. But here is a clear statement of one way in which we could help the net loss of population in Scotland. I hope that the Government will consider it very seriously.
The third heading is "Environment". As mentioned in the White Paper, environment covers so many things that it is impossible to go over them all. But when talking to people about emigration the first question which comes up on almost every occasion is housing. The difficulty of finding suitable housing is very critical indeed, particularly for people coming into Scotland. This would always be a problem. It has been a problem for a long time. Even since 1960 only 25 per cent. of the houses built in Scotland have been built for private owners as against nearly 60 per cent. in England and Wales.
It is disturbing to find that this rate of private house building has faltered over a considerable part of the period under discussion for obvious and very good reasons. For instance, the Scottish Council's Report describes private completions in the first half of 1966 as a "meagre" 19 per cent. of the total. This is against an average figure for the previous five years of about 25 per cent. I do not suggest that this is the entire answer, but people coming into Scotland from other parts of the United Kingdom have to rely on there being a pool of private housing for them to move into. What about the housing figures for the past three years? They are an indictment of a policy which aims at stemming migration from Scotland. The figure of 37,171 in 1964 was down in the following year by about 2,000 —35,116. Even in 1966 it was down by over 1,000 houses compared with the figure in 1964.
High interest rates influence people wishing to come to Scotland. We have had the longest period of high interest rates ever. Is it not a logical conclusion to draw that people moving into the country are finding it more difficult to obtain and afford to buy houses? Building costs have risen by about 10 per cent. or more in the past two years. This makes it more difficult for people coming to Scotland.
The second question which people raise who wish to come to Scotland is schooling. Again, we require a different atti- 796 tude by the Government. There are plans in the next few months and years to divert funds from the urgently needed improvement of education in Scotland to putting together comprehensive schemes and abolishing well-known and highly trusted educational establishments in Scotland. This again is no way to attract people to the country. Anyone who scoffs and says that this is an irrelevance has only to speak to people who come from afar.
§ Mr. Younger
The question people ask is, "What are the educational facilities in the area to which we are likely to go?" One factor which can help to persuade people to move is a variety of schooling available for the needs of their children. I do not suggest that we should disregard all the trends in education. All that I am saying is that it is a great incentive to people if there is a variety of education facilities available for them to choose from.
§ Mr. Alex Eadie (Midlothian)
Surely the hon. Gentleman will agree that what concerns parents most is that there is no 11-plus examination or predetermination of children's schooling. Surely he will agree that a comprehensive system of education, or a form of comprehensive education, must be tempting to people, knowing that, according to ability, aptitude and character, their children will get the full advantage of educational opportunity.
§ Mr. Younger
I do no think that the hon. Gentleman and I are very far apart. I would entirely agree that a good school of any kind, comprehensive or not, attracts people to an area. All that I am saying is that if people do not have a variety of choice it is a disincentive. I do not think that many hon. Members would disagree with that.
Perhaps the remaining points on environment can be summed up under the heading of "higher costs". There is no doubt that in every field of activity the more remote and scattered areas such as Scotland suffer more from rising costs than the congested areas of the south of England or any other part of the country. 797 The fuel tax has a much greater impact in scattered areas than it has in congested areas. There are the extra costs on all forms of transport. Even such things as postal and telephone charges are a greater factor in the lives of people in places which are remote and scattered.
It is a real factor particularly when the effects on wives and families are considered. There are the higher costs of building in Scotland about which we have had plenty of discussion recently, and the higher costs of gas and coal which, although they have been high for a long time, have increased in the past two years. This is another disincentive.
I have mentioned the Selective Employment Tax, but it is interesting to note that the survey made during the last few weeks by the Scottish chambers of commerce show that 22 major wholesalers in Glasgow have made 6 per cent. of their employees — 1,250 people — redundant purely because of the effects of the tax.
Finally, I must come to my suggestions about what the Government could do to try to reverse this disastrous rise in emigration. There are a lot of things they could do, but there are three particular things which I very much hope can be done by the Government as a contribution to this end. The first is that at the earliest opportunity they should abolish the Selective Employment Tax, especially in Scotland. Perhaps no single thing could give a greater fillip to the needs of the regions and the difficulties of people working in conditions of rising unemployment in the regions than the feeling that they were getting a chance to be exempted from this tax, at least until they managed to catch up.
My second suggestion is that the Government should, as deliberate policy—this is a particular task which I hope that the Secretary of State can undertake—insist that when reflation comes it comes first to the development areas. I hope that it will be noted that I say "development areas", because there are other parts of the United Kingdom as well as Scotland which should come into this category. I hope that the Government will, therefore, tell us that it is their deliberate policy to see that when reflation comes, it comes first to these development areas.
798 Thirdly, I hope that when the Government are considering the next stage of the prices and incomes legislation they will use their powers to allow those areas which have been for a long time, and still are, seriously behind in the level of average earnings a chance to catch up. When the incomes policy passes into its next phase, here is a real opportunity, which may not recur for many years, to enable the regions which are behind to catch up and get on to a level with the rest of the country.
The reasons that make people emigrate are understandable, although I do not myself share them. I do not agree that there is genuine cause to be reluctant to move to Scotland. I consider that in many respects it has a great deal of attraction over other parts of the country. I hope that if only we can do these various things to make the economic circumstances more favourable, we can reverse this trend.
As I said when I began, this problem has been with us for a long time. What is new, however, is that there is now a clear indication that a worsening trend has set in. I have outlined some of the reasons why this may be so and I have backed them up with a lot of instances, examples and solid facts. It is because of the adverse effects in most respects of the Government on Scotland that the Secretary of State is now presiding over a country whose population is declining. If he does not recognise these facts and take action to put them right, he will stand condemned for many years to come by the people of Scotland.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Dr. J. Dickson Mabon)
I have heard my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State blamed for many things, but this last one from the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) is extremely peculiar. I will elaborate that. When the hon. Member reads his speech, he will be surprised how much in it was selective and did not do the kind of service to Scotland that we would like. I know that that was not the hon. Member's intention, but he will see that his speech was not the usual balanced speech which we get from him on these occasions.
I do not deny, and neither does my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, that emigration from Scotland is one of 799 the most serious problems besetting the Scottish economy. Emigration on a fluctuating scale has been recorded for the last century and a half, but it is literally only now that positive measures are being taken to reduce the outflow from Scotland. I will justify that statement. The estimated net loss to both home and overseas destinations in the year from mid-1965 to mid-1966–the recent figures—was 47,000, the highest since the war.
I was surprised that the hon. Member for Ayr spoke about the blame attaching to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the fact that there was a net loss in the total population of Scotland. What happened in the twelve months from mid-1965 to mid-1966, as examination of the figures proves, was that we had a fall in the natural increase. In fact, instead of an increase it was a decrease. It is the first time that we have had such a sharp decrease—13.1 per thousand—for about 20 years or more. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is responsible for many things, but he is not responsible for the fall in the birthrate. That, however, is what is suggested. While I may be willing to admit part responsibility in this situation, it is not a fair point, and it must not be exaggerated.
The trend from 1951 to the present time is worth examining. Looking at the averages, we see that the total net loss annually was almost 32,000–the hon. Member for Ayr gave an average of 33,000 for a shorter period–17,000 going to other countries of the United Kingdom, mainly England, and the remaining 15,000 going to countries overseas.
This series of figures, however, is made up of a number of fluctuations, from which two significant points emerge. The first is that each peak figure of total net loss—in 1952–53, 1956–57, 1960–61 and 1965–66–has been higher than the previous one. The second point is that although over the whole period migration to other United Kingdom countries has been heavier than migration overseas, the balance has recently altered. Over the last two years–1964, for part of which the previous Government were responsible, and 1965–66–United Kingdom migration has fallen from a peak of 800 24,000 to a lower figure of 22,000. Over the last six years, overseas migration has risen from the low level of 9,000 to a total of 25,000.
The recent increase in the overall net total has, therefore, been due to a continuing rise in the numbers of those who have been leaving Scotland for overseas destinations, a rise which, according to our figures, has gone on steadily since as far back as 1960. But it was not until the present Government took office that steps were taken to provide, especially in regions of Scotland where emigration was an even more serious and obvious problem than unemployment, the legislative instruments necessary to deal with the situation. I remind the House that the Industrial Development Act, 1966, came into force on 19th August last year, some 40 days after the figures which we are discussing were recorded.
The Government have not only provided a more effective range of financial inducements to industrial growth in development areas, but have made sure that these areas included for the first time regions such as the Borders and all of North-East Scotland, where for many years outward migration has caused especially acute local concern.
The need for really effective powers is all the more critical because emigration is a long-term problem. The reasons which make individuals uproot themselves, and in many cases their families, are very complex, but no one takes such a drastic step without fairly thorough consideration and without weighing the pros and cons. I do not know about the effect of close companies on emigration, but I would think that bigger factors than that have led to this volume of emigration.
Past history and experience play such a strong part in conditioning men's minds and attitudes that it is bound to take time before the significant and substantial changes which are taking place in Scottish industry, housing and environment can affect long-term migration trends.
The hon. Member talked about what he called the terrible years from 1964 to 1966 when we built, respectively, over 37,000, over 35,000 and over 36,000 houses. When were the last couple of years—never mind three years, because 801 they do not exist—when we built over 35,000 houses in Scotland? It was a decade before. It was only in 1953 and 1954 that we got over the 35,000 figure. I regard these three years as being relatively good. They may not be enough, I quite agree, and the hon. Member for Ayr may enjoy having arguments about what is marginally less or marginally more, but these are three good years of Scottish house building compared with the miserable decade during which the party opposite presided over our fortunes when we never built anything like these figures. Right hon. and hon. Members opposite must be held to this.
The hon. Member for Ayr referred to the Scottish Council report on private housing for the first few months of 1966. If he takes the figures for 1966 in terms of private enterprise, it will be seen that they are the best which we have had, though they are still not good enough. The ratio is wrong. It should not be one in five, but one and one. However, we cannot get near that unless we press on with large public investment programmes and give the kind of incentives which hon. Gentlemen opposite did not give. We have brought in the home ownership scheme with the option mortgage. That is extremely relevant to a country with low wage rates, because mortgages are not normally given to people on low wage rates and those who do not have substantial incomes.
I will not take up all the points which the hon. Gentleman mentioned at such great length because there were many of them and I do not want to take more time than I can help from back bench Members. Some of them I will leave to my right hon. Friend when he comes to wind up.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, nothing was done effectively to provide the means of stemming the flow of people from the country. It is only recently that we have taken such steps. I do not know how one could assess the effect of the loss of manpower, skills and even children who would now be reaching working age if we had not done what the Government have done since coming to office. Some of the hon. Gentleman's remarks about unemployment, which I will come to, show one side of the picture which he has been painting.
802 The Government have been considering as a first priority ways to ensure that the basic essentials of jobs, housing and other facilities are provided in Scotland as quickly as possible. They have also thought it essential to provide for expansion of the facilities for training and retraining. Let us examine what has been achieved since October, 1964, bearing in mind that, in the migration pattern, two and a half years is a very short time.
The first essential is to ensure that the jobs are available in quantity and variety. Both in area and in terms of estimated employment, the total of industrial development certificates issued during 1965 and 1966 represented a rate of approvals higher than in any other comparable period during the 1960s. It is fair to say that in the period 1960 to 1963 we had a good and increasing rate, though still not enough. However, the rates in 1965 and 1966 knocked those figures into a cocked hat. In addition, the number of jobs provided in the last two years reached almost 48,000. The number of jobs provided in the previous four years was barely 54,000. In other words, we have done as much in two years as was done in the preceding three and a half years. That, I suggest, is not a diagnosis of decadence or stagnation. On the contrary, Scotland is a country which is at last trying to move ahead and provide itself with the sinews of redevelopment and recreation.
To turn away from jobs to advance factories, I can remember fighting forlornly in this House as a back bencher for four or five years even to get the principle established. We finally got three miserable advance factories in 1959. There was a great conversion on the other side between 1959 and 1964. The total number of factories authorised between 1951 and 1964 was 24, or less than two a year. In two and a half years, we have designated 34. What could be more clear? None of us now argues the principle of the usefulness of advance factories, and there is great competition to get more. But, looking back on the days when we were denied them by hon. Gentlemen opposite, I can remember the present Viscount Muirshiel rebutting us constantly right up to the 1959 election.
In the White Paper which has been referred to, we have tried to put emphasis 803 on areas of high net emigration. It is particularly important that more new jobs should become available in those areas which are the main sources of the outward movement of population. It is estimated that, during the four years 1961 to 1965, over 60 per cent. of the net outflow was attributable to the Glasgow planning sub-region, comprising broadly Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Dunbarton and all except Southern Ayrshire. It is therefore very relevant that more than half the total area of new industrial space authorised in 1965 and 1966 was in that sub-region. Furthermore, of the additional jobs which it is estimated will be provided in these new factories or extensions, no less than 66 per cent. will be for men. In Greater Glasgow itself the proportion will be as high as 76 per cent. That is highly significant in the migration context.
When we came to office, there were 529 places in Government training centres. Today, there are 900 places and, last year, we trained 1,150 people. It may be said that they did not then get jobs in Scotland, but it must be pointed out that 87 per cent. of those who completed training courses obtained employment in Scotland using their new skills. But we are not content with that. We want to push forward with the building of the new Edinburgh centre this year, and we hope to complete another in North Lanarkshire next year. By that time, the output of the nine centres will be between 2,000 and 2,500 trainees per year. Of course, that is not enough, but it is much better than hon. Gentlemen opposite did.
In private industry we have been remarkably successful in pushing forward with training schemes. To date, the Government have given grants totalling nearly £1 million to 188 companies towards the training of some 1,400 workers.
Turning to technological change, at the end of the Second World War there was only one electronics factory in Scotland. Today, there are 50 such units. The important thing is to see the advantages which these important complexes are bringing, because it is not only the number of jobs but the quality and variety of them which are important. In addition, when one considers the benefits 804 in relation to the output of Scotland's universities, colleges of advanced technology and other centres of higher education, the point becomes even more clear.
I will not give a lot of examples, but only last week Elliott Bros. of Cowdenbeath announced a further extension to its factory, in addition to the extension already being built and to its decision to acquire yet another factory on the nearby Fife County Council estate at Hillend. Together with its factory and research laboratories at Glenrothes, the firm almost forms an electronic complex in itself. The continued expansion of this and other notable electronics firms in east and central Scotland will support the growth of population which is planned in these areas and make an effective contribution towards our overall aims.
The Government recognise the importance of developing an administrative machine capable of supporting and stimulating growth in this vital sector. The Ministry of Technology is particularly active in giving its practical support in a number of ways.
Let us consider the "firsts" which Scotland has to her credit. We have the first laboratory workshops of the Ministry of Technology's "Approaching Automation" campaign which will be of special benefit to the smaller firms. They were opened recently by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. The first operational team in the Ministry's Production Engineering Advisory Service will soon be at work there. The first institute of the sort recommended by the Fielden Committee in its report on engineering design will be established at East Kilbride and devoted to the design of machine tools and their associated control systems. One can go on giving examples from the industrial scene of the kinds of developments occurring in Scotland.
We accept that the present time is hardly a happy one in relation to the whole economy, and there is quite legitimate apprehension lest the advances which we have secured and which are in prospect for the Scottish economy should be lost by the reduction in the rate of growth of the national economy which has taken place since July. It would be illusory to think that any part of the nation's economy could be entirely 805 independent of these changes. The measures which we took were necessary. That cannot be questioned. In the immediate short term, there may continue to be some difficulties, and the Government cannot view with equanimity a Scottish unemployment rate of 4.1 per cent.
§ Mr. J. Bruce-Gardyne (South Angus)
The hon. Gentleman has referred to the rate of growth, but is he not aware that the rate of growth since the party opposite came to power is one-third that which was persisting in the equivalent period before then?
§ Dr. Mabon
I will certainly look at the point again to see if the hon. Gentleman is accurate, but I doubt if he is.
If one looks at the unemployment figure, it is difficult to believe that hon. Members opposite have forgotten that between January and February, 1967, the number of totally unemployed decreased by 856, where normally we would expect a seasonal increase of 200. If one looks at the unemployment figures for February, 1963, they were 136,000. In February, 1964, they were 96,000. Even that was higher than we have today, at a time which was supposed to be a boom year in the Scottish economy, if we listen to hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Government believe that industry, through investment in this present difficult period, and in other ways, can equip Scotland to take advantage of the opportunities to expand when the time comes. Only by consistent progress with our plans for the long-term future of Scotland can we conquer the chronic problem of emigration.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)
I would remind hon. Members that this debate is a very short one and that the shorter hon. Members are able to keep their speeches the more hon. Members will be able to participate.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Russell Johnston (Inverness)
It strikes me that the Conservative Party really is an incredible institution. It drifts along year after year allowing the situation which we are debating tonight to develop and then, when it goes into opposition, it becomes imbued with a synthetic indignation and goes around condemning conditions which it tholed and which it very often defended when 806 they were worse then than they are now. It is incredible. To see the Conservative Party describing itself as a pressure group for Scotland is worthy of the Palladium.
The problem of emigration has certainly been with us for a long time. Equally, the rate of emigration has been steadily rising. In the Scottish Grand Committee the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) mentioned how longwinded Front Benchers were. Times change. The whole question has been covered pretty fully tonight. One cannot attribute emigration to one facet of the situation. Various things contribute. Housing has been mentioned. Lord Clydesmuir recently laid particular emphasis on that.
The Minister pointed to the fact that, although he has not met what he promised, he has done a better job than the Conservatives. That was largely the Minister's synthesis which he ran through rather rapidly. He rattled out at machine gun pace the fact that we had been producing more and more things and that the things we were producing were larger things than the Conservatives produced. But there is a tendency in our society to produce more things. The fact that there are more factories here and there has to be reasonably expected, in any event, in a society which advances in the normal way.
It was not wholly relevant to the fact that the emigration rate now stands higher than ever before. It would have been reasonable for the Minister to say that this was the peak and he hoped it would go down. We would have liked to have the same sort of confidence from the Minister on emigration as we had on housing. Though we remember he did not meet his target on housing.
The hon. Member for Ayr produced three answers to the problem. First, he said that we should abolish S.E.T. I should be delighted to see it abolished. The Secretary of State, who is always quick with his tongue, snapped me up when I asked him a question the other day on the comparative numbers of manufacturing jobs and service jobs in the Highlands. We know that 800 service jobs have been produced as compared with 300 manufacturing jobs. That is against the general purpose of S.E.T., which was designed to cut down 807 the number of service jobs. It is not very logical. But even if we abolished S.E.T. we should not make any progress; we should merely be back to square one, where we were under the Conservative Administration, when the emigration rate was rising.
I agree that reflation confined to development areas is a sound principle. The Liberal Party has been preaching regional variation of taxation for a long time. It is all very well for hon. Members to smile, but it is true. As the Minister pointed out, the Conservatives were not even convinced about the desirability of building advance factories until relatively recently. They refused to accept depopulation as a criterion for regional variation in the Local Employment Act, 1961. Now they are always talking about it. They become converted very quickly.
The basic trouble is that there is a lack of any centre of decision in Scotland. The case for a Scottish Parliament to deal with Scottish affairs is clear and incontrovertible. Until we can create in Scotland a focus and and impetus and initiative we shall not be able to generate the energy to tackle the problem properly.
§ Mr. Donald Dewar (Aberdeen, South)
Will the hon. Gentleman comment upon the performance of Northern Ireland, which has had a far larger measure of depopulation?
§ Mr. Johnston
The hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Dewer) has not become any more relevant since his university debating days. He will know that the case of Northern Ireland is not directly analogous. Northern Ireland is in an artificial situation, created because of religious reasons. It has no sound justification as an economy. I do not want to pursue that point because it is not wholly relevant.
There is no doubt that emigration and depopulation, especially among the better trained and better educated of Scots often springs from a sense of frustration and the knowledge that major decisions are made outside Scotland. Inevitably, there is a drift towards the South and to the centres of financial, industrial and political power. Furthermore, there is no magnet in Scotland to pull people back up.
Only an effective Scottish administration can overcome the problem. We produce 808 a high proportion of graduates. We are not a poor country. It is basically a question of ill-directed and ill-informed remote control which squanders Scottish resources.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
The hon. Member makes a lot of the question of decision-making. Is it his party's policy that Treasury and Board of Trade decisions should be made in Scotland?
§ Mr. Johnston
I do not wish to go into that matter. If the hon. Member happened to be present when I was introducing a Bill on the subject—
§ Mr. Johnston
—he would have got the exact answer. It is merely that I do not wish to spend a lot of time on it. I should be delighted to do so. The short answer is that we want differential financial control in Scotland. I am prepared to enlarge on the subject, if the hon. Member wants me to, but I know that other hon. Members want to speak.
Hon. Members on both sides of the House must face the fact that Scotland has been lagging behind on all sorts of issues. N.A.L.G.O. was referred to today. It seems to have been accepted that the Scottish pay claims will be settled later than English ones. One remembers the business of the Forestry Headquarters. The Conservatives may cry "Ha, ha!", but they decided it should be in Basingstoke, and the Labour Government confirmed it.
Earl of Dalkeith (Edinburgh, North)
§ Mr. Johnston
I shall be delighted to give way if the noble Lord wishes to interrupt me. He can refer to a Written Question which I put down and which the Secretary of State answered, to the effect that the decision was made by the previous Administration. Similarly, with colour television, Scotland will lag behind. How can a tiny country like Norway successfully tackle their far greater problem of sparse population while Scotland fails? Ireland tackles the problem of the tourist industry far better than Scotland does. It is not that we lack the ability, technical or administrative; we lack the power of decision, which alone gives such abilities full release. 809 The Minister may smile, but I remember a little bird telling me that on one occasion—when he was perhaps wiser—he signed the national covenant which was in favour of a form of the devolution that Liberals advocate. One wonders why he did not follow it through. Certainly, it seems that the Minister of State has given this due consideration in his day.
We have had Labour Governments and Tory Governments and exactly the same sort of wasting disease has persisted under both. Fundamentally, this is because neither is prepared to allow Scotland a greater say in the decisions which determine her future. They have their reasons and these reasons deserve thought. The Liberals have thought about them and rejected them. Unless we have devolution all plans to help Scotland are sops and palliatives. They are designed to keep the Scots quiet and are aimed at the symptoms not the cause of the disease.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Alex Eadie (Midlothian)
I do not intend to follow the theme of the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston), but there seems to be general agreement that emigration is a serious problem in Scotland and probably worse than the so-called "brain drain". This needs to be emphasised. I take issue with the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) on education. He does Scotland a great disservice when he brings in the issue of comprehensive education, which has a long tradition in Scotland.
On his point about people coming into Scotland, as it relates to skilled staff—if they know that, in a certain area, that Jeanie or Johnnie will get an educational chance without the worry of the 11-plus, and will not face the prospect of some areas in England, where if one is a little unlucky one year one does not go to grammar school, those staff will be attracted. I can say from experience that this works.
Therefore, I could not understand the hon. Gentleman's reference to dealing with comprehensive education as if it had some attachment to legislation—
§ Mr. Eadie
If it is, we shall be glad to debate it in Pollok.
We are probably agreed that more people are emigrating overseas than to England. I wonder, however, whether there is some relevance in the present high-powered advertising. I know that any weekend in most sections of the Press one can see attractive advertisements to induce people overseas. I am not saying that there are no other problems, but this has some impact. The debate has demonstrated that our outflow of population is the same as in some other areas in England but the important factor seems to be our failure to attract people in corresponding numbers. These are the figures which do not match; the hon. Member for Ayre put this point fairly.
We should realise what this means. The figures are relevant. For example, a net loss of 1,000 migrants a year costs about 30 births a year for each of the next 10 years and about 20 in each of the following five years. This can be best illustrated in the Borders, from which, in 1951–61, emigration was twice that of the Highlands. I have often had letters from constituents protesting about this emigration and people sometimes assume that the rate is higher than in the Highlands. I am not saying that we should be satisfied about the position in the Highlands, but the inflow to the Borders is mainly retired and old people and the outflow consists of younger people. This is disastrous for an area.
As to the causes of the problem, I am not sure that the reasons given by the hon. Member for Ayr were very penetrating. I was reminded the other day that we should not liken the problem of emigration to the experiment carried out in Loch Sween, where artificial fertiliser was used in fish farming. The loch proved to be rather colder than the Atlantic and the fish migrated. Scotland's problem goes a little deeper than the climate.
Housing is probably one of the reasons, but if hon. Gentlemen want to underline it, they are to some extent indicting their own policy when they were in Government. I do not want to enter into an argument about who built the greater number of houses, but the kind of housing conditions which have prevailed in Scotland are a contributory factor to emigration. 811 Job opportunities are another, as are the numbers of unemployed in the regions and the rate of industrial change. My hon. Friend tried to demonstrate the change which is taking place in Scotland and he is entitled to say that we are beginning to capture the electronics industry. But something more dramatic than this is needed. He could take some credit for another relevant factor, in view of the questions of the hon. Member for Inverness about whether the Government are giving Scotland a fair share.
It is interesting to note how much the Government are spending in Scotland, particularly when one remembers that Scotland has 10 per cent. of the country's population. On roads, they are spending 10.5 per cent. of total expenditure; airports, 21.2 per cent.; agriculture and fisheries, 31.5 per cent.; housing, 16.5 per cent.; education, 10.62 per cent.; health, 10.3 per cent.; police and law, 9.12 per cent.; children's services, 10.82 per cent.; and on the promotion of employment, 32.62 per cent. I quote these figures because they are relevant when we speak of the need for Government aid in Scotland.
I do not want my hon. Friends to get the impression from my remarks that the Government have solved the problem or that we in Scotland are over the hill of our troubles. I could give many figures showing that more needs to be done, but certainly the figures I have given signpost the way in which the Government are thinking on this issue.
I have read in the newspapers that Argyll miners who have been made redundant have been told that they can find jobs in Ayr and south of the Border. Neither the Government nor Government agencies should pursue a policy which induces miners to go south. After all, there are pits in Scotland. I hope that the Minister will comment on the issue of selective coal prices, since this practice is causing miners to join the drift south. Some time ago I put a Question to the Minister of Power and was told that the Government would be prepared to look at any new proposition about prices which the National Coal Board might put forward. if we are to stem the drift south, this matter must be considered most carefully.
812 When considering the drift south we cannot ignore the issue of the Common Market. What will our entry into Europe mean to Scotland? Do the Government have any long-term plans or ideas about the effects of our entry? A lot is said about the proposed Channel Tunnel, our joining the E.E.C. and other trends, but I fear that they will act as a pipeline through which more Scottish people will seek employment south of the Border. The Government's long-term plans on this matter must be stated if we in Scotland are to have a clear idea about the future.
There are many issues I would like to discuss, but I am aware that many other hon. Members hope to contribute to the debate. The economic and political policies of the Government must cater for the future and we should be told what is in store for Scotland in the years ahead. I hope that, in this and future debates, hon. Members on both sides will continue to stress the problems created by the drift to the South, and I trust that the Minister will answer some of the questions I have asked.
§ 8.33 p.m.
Earl of Dalkeith (Edinburgh, North)
It is always a pleasure to listen to speeches made by the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) because he always indulges in the maximum of constructive suggesting and the minimum of party political point-scoring. I hope that I shall follow his good example.
The earlier debate today concerned one of the most topical of the many hot potatoes which the Government are grasping. That debate will obviously make the headlines. Nevertheless, from the point of view of the future well being of Scotland, this is far and away one of the, if not the, most important debates we could be having. I welcome it for that reason and, like the hon. Member for Midlothian, I have some constructive suggestions to make.
First, however, I should mention that the speech of the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston) may lengthen my remarks by about a quarter of a minute. He produced a fruity, Scottish Nationalist speech to which I listened with interest. I agreed with a few of the points he made, being a Scottish Nationalist at heart, though not in my head. His criticisms were aimed not so much at 813 the Act of Union, but at the failure of the Government to honour that Act in many respects from Scotland's point of view.
I believe that the hon. Gentleman was slightly confused on the question of the headquarters of the Forestry Commission. My understanding, after making a very careful examination at the time, is that there was a time when it was decided that there should be two separate Forestry Commissions with headquarters, in England and in Scotland. It was at that time that the decision to move the headquarters to Basingstoke was taken. Later, after the present Government came to office, it was decided to have one headquarters.
I propose to take what might be considered to be a slightly unorthodox line on the question of emigration. My main concern is more about the quality of the emigrants than with their quantity. Are they the type of people whom Scotland can afford to lose? I am convinced that, if we are to produce the right policies to ensure that Scotland is developed soundly over the years to come, we must collect a great deal more statistical information about those who are leaving Scotland —information in terms of age, sex, skills, training qualifications, and their reasons for leaving. Then we must carry out an analysis as between those who go to England and those who leave the United Kingdom.
The fact that the numbers are rising alarmingly at present makes this task much more urgent. The average number who abandoned Scotland over the last two years—that is up to June, 1966; two years of Labour misrule—rose by 30 per cent. over the average for the preceding four years. Therefore, this question needs to be treated as a matter of considerable urgency.
The fact-finding machinery which was outlined by the Minister of Technology in the debate on 13th February does not wholly answer Scotland's problem, because this machinery is designed simply to gather statistical information from emigrants who go to overseas countries. This does not concern Scotland's particular problem of those who go from Scotland to other parts of the United Kingdom. These people amount to one-half of the total.
814 We can all probably hazard a fairly good guess as to why many people go to countries like Australia. A reasonably conservative friend of mine who lives in Australia said to me just before the 1964 General Election, "I hope to goodness that the Socialists win, because we are desperately in need of more people to come to Australia. It is clear that, under a life of Socialism with high taxation and the rest, the exodus will start". That has turned out to be so.
If we discovered by chance those who are leaving Scotland comprise mainly elderly people, perhaps people going off to retire in places like Brighton, or the drones and loafers who think that they can get more money for less work in England, we might have less cause for anxiety. On the other hand, if they comprise skilled technicians, craftsmen, scientists, men of initiative and enterprise, we have great cause for concern and we must greatly deplore their departure and seek ways of encouraging them to stay.
Various reasons have been given to explain why people are leaving. There are some indications, but I suggest that they are not anything like sufficient for us to make any calculations of what policies should be introduced to persuade them to stay. Some of the suggestions are that jobs and job opportunities play a prominent part. Housing also plays a prominent part. In this context I believe that the method of boosting development by concentrating our efforts on the self-regenerating growth point areas is a matter of great relevance. I hope that the Government will seriously consider this concept of planning, which was introduced by the Conservatives but which the present Government now seem to have scrapped.
There is a good deal of truth in what has been said so far about the great exodus concealing the gravity of the present unemployment figures. My hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger), in his excellent opening speech, pointed out that at this time of the year the unemployment figures have risen, which is unusual, although the weather has been very good. In this context, I regret to say that I was misreported a week or so ago in HANSARD as having congratulated the Government not, as I said, for having produced good 815 weather or a good climate but for producing a good climate of opinion, which was very far from what I meant.
It is important that we should aim with much greater clarity of mind to produce a balanced population rather than a large population simply for the sake of having a large population. I mean balanced in the sense of age groups, with the right proportion of people at work, those too young to work, the old and the retired and so on, making sure also that we have a sufficient breeding stock to ensure continuity. Only in this way can we achieve a real improvement in the quality of the life of our population.
I deplore the generalisations about depopulation which we hear so often. Many people talk of it with bated breath as though Moses had read on a tablet from Mount Sinai, "Thou shalt not depopulate". Depopulation is not invariably bad in itself, provided that the reasons for it are good and provided that one is left with a continuing balanced population with the right number of breeding folk within it to ensure continuity. The idea of large numbers for the sake of large numbers is, in my view, a mistake, particularly in this age of automation when a machine can enable one man to do a job previously done by four or five.
One of the major faults of the present Government lies in their failure to tackle the problems which will invariably spring from carelessly encouraging the overpopulation of our islands. We are already one of the most densely populated countries of the world. I believe that, apart from such places as Singapore, Hong Kong, Malta, Belgium and Holland, we are the most densely populated country.
Earl of Dalkeith
One has to take the whole situation in view if one is to produce the right answers. I regard the distribution of population as very important. Here we are, living in these small islands which, by and large, are very densely populated compared with almost anywhere else in the world. Somerset House now goes so far as to predict that there will be another 20 816 million inhabitants of these islands by the turn of the century, in only 33 years. This will mean an average increase in the United Kingdom population of about 606,000 a year, which is equal to the populations of Edinburgh and Dundee put together.
This adds to my concern that we should aim to ensure an improvement in the quality of life of our people, and for this further reason I strongly urge the Government to consider setting up a permanent commission to examine our population growth and movement, with particular reference to Scotland, and its general distribution. This should be done throughout the United Kingdom. The commission would make to the Government an annual report of its findings, after weighing up all the considerations such as the effect of increased population on road congestion, shortage of houses, shortage of building sites and all the other problems which will inevitably arise. No one is yet giving this matter thought.
If we had a permanent standing commission to examine those points and report to the Government, I believe that the Government could introduce policies which made sense to ensure that there is a proper spread and distribution of the population to parts of the country where they would be most beneficial, and Scotland would gain.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Dewar (Aberdeen, South)
One thing on which all speakers have agreed is that we have a very real problem. In opening for the Opposition, the hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) fairly said that it was no new disaster and I therefore failed to understand why he should have expressed himself in such tones of pain in his comprehensive historical survey. I was surprised at his almost exaggerated horror, as though the facts dawned upon him for the first time when he sat on the Opposition benches. He made great play with the fact that we now have the highest emigration rate for a long time, and possibly ever, but should also have said that the rate of increase in the emigration figures had sharply decreased.
The hon. Gentleman took the 10-year averages and pointed out that they had made a comparatively steady climb. He did not say that although there had been 817 a steady climb in those years it is now flattening out and the great break-through the real escalation in the emigration figures came in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It may be cold comfort now to claim and the figures may need evaluation, that the increase has slowed down considerably and we are far removed from the situation as it was in 1959 and 1960, when we were not in Government and the emigration figures jumped 40 per cent. in one year alone.
I worry about the problem considerably, and I must worry about it coming from an area like Aberdeen. Paradoxically, its importance has been stressed by the fact that we have a remarkably low level of unemployment in the area at the moment. It is 2.4 per cent., which is the second lowest February figure in recorded history. That is an interesting comment on some of the more sensational, scaremongering prophecies made by hon. Members opposite when the Selective Employment Tax was introduced. We have too a remarkable shortage of jobs for women, which is perhaps a little strange in an area where we have 111.2 women for every 100 men according to the White Paper on the Scottish Economy.
This comparatively happy employment situation draws attention to the other great scourge of the North-East—emigration. Between 1951 and 1961 the population of the City of Aberdeen increased by 1.4 per cent., which only highlights the fact that the population of the surrounding agricultural hinterland decreased by 5.4 per cent. We have the classic example of a centre becoming a posting stage on the road south, a district which is now a hunting ground for firms in the south from places like Corby, which send up extremely prosperous and successful raiding expeditions to cream off people from the area. It is very sad and unfortunate that it is not the unemployed, but those who can easily get employment who are wanted by firms in the south.
The problem is one about which we are very sensitive, and I think about it a great deal. The hon. Member for Ayr did not stress as he should have done that there has been a change in the composition of the figures. He referred several times to the White Paper on the Scottish Economy. Paragraph 7 states that some two-thirds of those leaving 818 Scotland will go to other parts of the United Kingdom. On the opposite page indeed there is a neat and pleasing diagram which illustrates the point with curving arrows.
The ratio has since been reversed and the numbers of those leaving for abroad have gone up from the 1961 figure of just under 9,000 to the most recent figure in 1966 of about 25,000. It may be cold comfort again, but the same kind of pattern is seen in Britain as a whole, and there is evidence to suggest that the internal drain within the United Kingdom has to some extent been staunched and stopped.
Emigration is not something upon which people decide lightly. It is not the result of a sudden decision. This is not the result of a brief moment of discontent. Nor is it the result of an ill-considered impulse— "We have had enough and are getting out!" It is the result of a long, cumulative process through years of erosion and loss of confidence.
I would not go so far as to say that it was caused by utterly negative government or by complete negligence. But it has been caused by cursory and certainly perfunctory government. We are now paying for all those years not just of the Conservative Administration from 1951–1964 but even far further back, to before the war and the continuing tradition of Scottish emigration and the view that a lad of parts had to leave Scotland to find his fortune. I am sure that the hon. Member for Ayr will accept that it becomes quite artificial to start slanging specific policies in the last two years in an attempt to relate them to these present emigration figures.
There is growing evidence to show that this process of attrition has been going on not only in the emigration figures, but also in all sorts of other economic criteria and signposts for Scotland. For example, one should look at the employment growth rate between 1953 and 1963, during the period of Conservative government. In manufacturing and construction we were well behind England's growth rate. In insurance, banking and finance, the growth figures were plus 2.1 per cent. for Scotland and plus 3.1 per cent. for England. 819 The growth rate in professional and scientific services was plus 2.5 per cent. for Scotland and plus 3.3 per cent. for England. One must remember that, in addition, Scotland was starting from a particularly low base point, so that one would have thought that it would be easier for the Government to produce spectacularly better figures for Scotland.
Both the Scottish Council—quoted almost as Holy Writ tonight—and the politicians agree that diversification in jobs is necessary if we are to retain our people and also to attract others into Scotland. In this respect jobs like insurance, banking, finance and professional and scientific services are particularly important. These have all put up a disappointing performance over many years, which must have its effect on the present emigration totals, and the hon. Member for Ayr should have thought about that before quickly and superficially condemning the present Government for the situation.
§ Mr. Bruce-Gardyne
The hon. Gentleman has mentioned the need for diversification in banking insurance, scientific and other services. But these are precisely the kind of jobs most affected by the Government's Selective Employment Tax.
§ Mr. Dewar
It has not escaped my attention that the Selective Employment Tax is unpopular in Scotland. But taxation generally is not popular. No taxation is popular anywhere. I challenge anyone to show that Income Tax is popular, but that does not mean that it is unnecessary. That is the case with the Selective Employment Tax.
At this point may I deal with the hon. Member for Ayr's suggestion that people were emigrating because of the high taxation rate. At the same time, he and his colleagues in the Opposition are always pleading for more subsidies and help and for more injection of public capital into Scotland. This must all come from the public purse. One cannot reduce taxation while, at the same time, increasing provision for development programmes of the type that we all want.
But, to return to my main theme, this is all part of a very much wider problem which afflicts not only Scotland, but the northern part of England as well. The 820 Analysis of Civilian Population Changes, 1961–64, issued by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, shows that, during these years, the southern part of England—the Midlands, the South-East, London and the South-West—gained 3.8 per cent. in population while Scotland and the north of England lost 3.7 per cent. The sad fact is that the drift of population is not confined to Scotland. It also affects the whole northern part of the United Kingdom and has been doing so for a very long time.
Of course, answers are easy to find and glibly stated. One is diversification of industry. Another is the removal of the earnings differentials, which we all wish to see. But, as right hon. and hon. Gentlemen will admit, it is extremely hard, just as it was in the days of the Conservative Government, to find practical ways in which these things can be done.
Of course, we need better communications. There is nothing more aggravating to me than that English colleagues should appear to think that I have a five-day hike over polar icepacks to get to Aberdeen whereas I reach my constituency in two hours by air and, indeed, in that respect I am better off than many hon. Members who represent rural constituencies far nearer London. Of course we must worry that, on occasions, the transport users' consultative committees have been over-ruled and wonder whether the decisions have been rightly taken in specific cases. But, ultimately, these are drops in the bucket. Ultimately, we cannot say that any one individual thing like that, or any one particular project which we would like to see adopted by the Government, would affect this recurring and terrible problem.
The whole trouble for Scotland and the hard fact which we have to face is that we are in a geographically difficult situation and there is enormous resistance to moving into the area. I refer again to Ministry of Housing and Local Government figures. It is very significant, and ultimately it is terribly discouraging, to see from these figures that the area of Britain which had the biggest net increase in population in the years 1961–64 was the south-west of England, which gained 2.1 per cent. 821 Admittedly, some of that gain will be represented by retired people going to live in places like Torquay and the Cornish Riviera, looking for sun and recreation. But the area is regarded as being near and accessible and, therefore, gains and we in Scotland must pay a great deal of attention to communications if we are to have any hope of helping to get Scotland back on her feet and to reverse this increase in emigration which is worrying us.
I accept much of what has been said about housing, but I do not agree with the hon. Member for Ayr that it has so much to do with high interest rates, because high interest rates are common to Scotland and England. It might be more productive to consider the abolute cost of housing in Scotland. The Minister of State has an impressive record and did tremendously well in his previous office in trying to goad and persuade the Scottish private sector of housing to screw up its ultimate building targets, but there may well be a case for the Government considering a situation in which comparatively low site costs and comparatively low wage costs still result in consistently higher prices for new houses in Scotland than in England. That can have nothing but a deleterious effect and be a disincentive to the kind of executives whom we want to move into the area with new industries.
We have been told how miserable the Government's record has been, but I believe that it has been good. Certainly there has not been immense originality in the sense of departing from what our predecessors did, but I do not think that hon. Members opposite can bandy figures with us as to what proportion of the national purse has been spent in Scotland. I do not have time, and I do not want to go back over that kind of A.B.C. of Scottish politics.
I do not want to go back to that kind of shadow boxing, into an almost ritual verbal dance in which someone makes inevitable responses to a predictable thrust, say, about housing figures. Anyone who is fair-minded will agree that the present Government have intensified the regional development policy and shown energy and initiative over the whole field and the whole range and have spent more money wisely and successfully.
822 What I want to know is whether hon. Members opposite have any major plans or major departures or new policies which they think could be adopted, and I am convinced that they have not. One hon. Member returned to the growth point scheme. The growth point scheme means only the arbitrary choice of areas and would certainly increase the imbalance in the Scottish economy which is almost as serious as the imbalance in the British economy, as the White Paper points out in paragraph 8.
I do not think that anything new has emerged. We must agree that the lines which the Government are following are the right lines and we must hope that we can overcome the tremendously difficult situation. For years, Scottish unemployment has been twice that of the rest of Britain. But the differential is being slowly chipped away and the trend reversed. The gap between Scottish unemployment and English unemployment is closing, so that in time we may get a similar diminution in emigration, if as I accept emigration and unemployment are correlated.
Tonight, we have heard a great deal about the Scottish Council's very useful and interesting report on emigration. The hon. Member for Ayr laid a great deal of stress on what the Scottish Council said, but I remind him that it is only two months ago that in its magazine "Scotland" the Council was writing about the Government's policy and the future of the Scottish economy and saying that its watchword and the spirit in which it looked forward to the future was one of "confidence and clarity" and specifically ascribing this to Government initiative and to Government help to the Scottish economy.
We have a job to do and that job is to sell Scotland and to try to break down the old psychological barriers which meant that people did not want to move into the north of England or into Scotland but were interested only in staying in the South. We cannot get on with that kind of job if we are to be hampered by pointless, sweeping and unhelpful criticisms by hon. Members opposite.
An official of the Scottish Council, speaking in my constituency on 25th February, was reported in the Aberdeen Press and Journal as asking:What message has been put across from this part of the world just now?823 I do not want a muzzled Opposition, but I want an Opposition which feels that they can offer helpful and constructive criticism and not make blanket condemnation because it happens to be convenient in terms of party politics. I do not want to be faced by hon. Members, who, even though they say that they do so with a heavy heart, manage to sound far too like latter-day Cassandras.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. W. H. K. Baker (Banff)
First, may I begin by congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) on a splendid speech on his first appearance on the Opposition Front Bench. Secondly, may I take up the point made by the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Russell Johnston), who talked about the Tory Party being a candidate for a good show at the Palladium.
I want to draw his attention to the article on the front page of The Times yesterday, referring to the mass rally of the Liberal Party at the Albert Hall, and describing it as… a combination of an apotheosis, the bantomweight championship of the world, and a revivalist meeting".That sums up the attitude of the Liberal Party pretty well.
Emigration from Scotland means two things: the loss of skilled workers and the loss to the service industries of professional people. This means that we get a reduction in the natural growth rate of the labour force and that the working population grows at a slower rate than the rest of the United Kingdom.
The paramount factor, as was mentioned by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Dewar), is the wage differential which exists pretty well throughout Scotland and most markedly in the outer fringes.
Emigration from Scotland has shown a resurge towards the outside world, as opposed to the United Kingdom generally, during the last two and a half years. That is borne out by my own experience in my constituency. It is also underlined by the fact that we have a constant brain drain, as it is called. In my own constituency, no less than three people have turned to university degrees and are now teaching in universities in 824 three different parts of the Commonwealth.
In my own constituency there was a loss in population from 1951 to 1965 of 4,537, despite a growing birth rate. That represents 9.5 per cent. of the total population in 1951.
The hon. Member for Aberdeen, South also mentioned that the larger decrease, 7.7 per cent., come from the landward area, and amounted to 3,546 people. I would suggest that there is no absolute solution to the problem of emigration. I am not at all sure that anyone in Scotland wants to find an absolute solution, because if we did we would obviously cut off those people who wanted to go abroad, or south, to better themselves, and no one wants to stop Scots from doing that. We have a fine record both in England and overseas. One has only to look at the Labour benches to see the number of Scots who represent English constituencies.
One of the things that needs to be looked at is the pattern of employment in the depopulating areas. If I may refer to my own constituency, 2,868 men and women are employed in the extractive industries, 2,615 in manufacturing industries, and no less than 7,077 or 56 per cent., of the working population are in service industries. In 1965, 59½ per cent. of those leaving the county for jobs elsewhere were in the service industries. Recently, I received a letter from one of my constituents who complained that he was unable to get the services of plumbers. This is one of the many trades in the service industries which is being denuded by better wage rates elsewhere.
As other hon. Members have said, the Selective Employment Tax is most certainly having an adverse effect, and here I suggest a partial remedy to the problem. The Secretary of State for Scotland said in reply to a Question which I asked before Christmas—and he has said this elsewhere—that he was continually watching the effects of the S.E.T. on the Scottish economy, and his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State this afternoon said, in effect, that that is what is happening. I suggest that if the Government must have this form of taxation it really should be selective, in that it helps those areas which most need industry and can do with more jobs being found and set up in them. 825 In an appendix to a very interesting article by Mr. Colin Clark in the Westminster Bank Review in July, 1966, he suggested something on the lines of a payroll tax. He suggested that the tax on the payroll of a firm in the London area should be about 21 per cent. varying to a premium payable in the Shetlands of 17 per cent., and 15 to 16 per cent. in the north and north-east of Scotland. I am not advocating a payroll tax, but it makes more sense in terms of depopulation and migration from Scotland than the present S.E.T.
§ Mr. Russell Johnston
I trust the hon. Gentleman is aware that he is quoting direct Liberal policy now?
§ Mr. Baker
I was quoting what I thought to be a sensible way of working the S.E.T. It would induce industrialists to set up in depopulating areas if they were given the incentive of a payroll tax.
The extra costs of these outlying areas were referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr. I have recently written to the Minister of State about a small industry in my constituency, book-binding and printing. The managing director of the firm informed me that he could get as much work as he could possibly cope with. Indeed, he said that he could take on 50 extra employees, but—and this is the great thing—the prohibitive cost of transport from Banffshire down to the central part of England where the distribution takes place prices him out. If we could provide some kind of incentive in the form of assistance, possibly a remote area subsidy or something of the nature to help the printing industry, it would be of great benefit.
My second suggestion is about I.D.C.s. These, too, have bean mentioned. I suggest that within the present development areas—and of course I am thinking particularly of my own area— there should be districts which are designated for certain distinct purposes. For instance, it seems ridiculous to me to allow a meat canning factory to be set up in a mining district. Why not designate the Moray Firth coastal area for such things as whisky distilling, the processing of agricultural products generally, forestry, wood processing, and fish processing?
Then, I.D.C.s should be allocated only to those firms willing to set up there. It 826 has been suggested during the debate that unemployment is not a major factor in migration. This is partially true and partially incorrect. Again, in my constituency, the rate of unemployment, male and female, in January, 1966, was 4.7 per cent. At present, for January, 1967, the figure is 5.4 per cent. That is well over twice the national average and well above the Scottish figure.
If there is any question whether unemployment is or is not a factor, I would suggest that the right hon. Gentleman visits Cork where he will see that there is there a great number of Scots, in particular, a great number of Banffshire folk, Mostly, they are there of necessity and they are semi-skilled. They are also of marriageable age, and the result is that we are gradually getting an ageing population in Scotland. What we must do, in the words of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen, South, is to sell Scotland. We must do this to induce industrialists to set up in our area. If we can do that, we can get to the root of the problem.
§ 9.11 p.m.
§ Mr. John P. Mackintosh (Berwick and East Lothian)
I followed very closely the argument of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) in introducing this Motion, and I think that he was right to dwell on the Report of the Scottish Council, because to my knowledge it is the only systematic study of this question of emigration from Scotland. I was a little disappointed and distressed, after what I thought was a good expository opening, to hear him trying to link the high migration figures with the post-July, 1966, increase in unemployment in Scotland.
As he knows, the figures upon which the Scottish Council was working finished in June, 1966, and it said nothing about what had happened in the past year. Indeed, the sub-title of its Report, quite contrary to the impression given, was that increasing prosperity has been accompanied by a greater loss of people, and it says that the task of its Report was to investigate the paradox of why, when regional policies have been working better in Scotland than elsewhere, there has been a corresponding increase in emigration. This is the core of the problem. These figures were increasing 827 when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) was in charge, through good and bad years alike.
This is why it is a mistake to drift into suggestions that if this tax or that tax were removed, if this factor were dealt with or that problem solved, the matter would be cleared. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Ayr dealt with the interesting fact that according to the Scottish Council Report half the emigrants go overseas. It did not investigate, no one has investigated, the motives of these people. The hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Dewar) was absolutely right when he said that this is a problem for a longer term decision, a major decision, something not to be lightly arrived at. I was very surprised when he suggested that it might be due to taxation and various other factors. The problem is the differential between Scotland's overseas emigration and that for the south-east of England, Wales and the north of England. If these taxes were changed they would be changed over the whole of the country and would not affect the Scottish differential one iota, not one fraction.
A second and much more serious aspect is the internal migration problem. The whole key here is that, whereas Scotland loses proportionately less than Wales or the north of England to the south-east of England, not enough of these people return. If we were to achieve the objectives of the White Paper, which would be to end net emigration, we would want 15,000 people returning to Scotland. We are failing to get this, and this is happening irrespective of Government and irrespective of good or bad years.
Hon. Gentlemen have gone into side issues such as schools and education. It was a little unfair of hon. Gentlemen to raise this, and I am glad that the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie) dealt with the question of schools. If anything this is an incentive to come to Scotland. Scottish education has a proud tradition —I will not go into its relevance now—but this reputation is if anything an incentive. All the encouragements are to go to overcrowded high cost housing areas and high cost transport areas such as those in the South-East. I do not think that these minor matters come into it.
828 The crucial question—and this has been studied in detail—is the basic facts of new industrial development in Scotland, housing, amenities, wage levels and —I am surprised that nobody mentioned this—the distribution of Government agencies and Government employment. These are key factors in the situation. It is these which right hon. and hon. Members opposite have not tackled, and I do not blame them. The present Government have tackled them along the lines which right hon. and hon. Members tried, only with greater success and greater intensity.
§ Mr. Mackintosh
Not at all. I am not forgetting that. What I am saying is that hon. Members opposite tried all the regional methods of inducing people to come to Scotland of which they were capable, including the Post Office Savings Bank.
In the last debate in the House on Scottish economic problems, the Leader of the Opposition, who was then the Minister responsible for regional development, said that no finer or more thorough programme for guiding people to Scotland could be discovered than that employed by his Government. The present Government have taken these policies a stage further. They have made the whole of Scotland a development area. They have introduced the Highland Development Board. They have produced a plan for the Borders. They have introduced 40 per cent. cash grants for plant and machinery. If hon. Members had not taken so long, I should have liked to have developed this theme in my area, the Borders.
The Conservatives made it clear that they could do nothing about depopulation and would do nothing about it. Their leader came to Berwick-upon-Tweed a month before the 1964 election and said that he would go on developing the growth points, but would do nothing for the intervening areas of the Borders and the Highlands. From this Government we have had the Borders plan. We got permission for the 40 per cent. grant for the area. We have two advance factories in my area. We have a unit studying 829 the question of development of the central Borders.
I should have liked to say had I been able to develop my theme that we need to go in the direction in which we are going and not lose impetus or be sidetracked. We want a continuation of the Government's policies, but with greater emphasise. We want Berwick-upon-Tweed as well as the Galashiels area declared a centre for development. We want a Tweed Valley Plan. We want to develop an expressway between Newcastle and Edinburgh. We want to bring Government activity and employment like the Post Office Savings Bank not only to Glasgow and Edinburgh but throughout Scotland —in Inverness and Perth and the regional capitals.
A mass of activity is possible along the lines which the Government have been trying. We must go further. There is no escaping the hard work and solid effort which hon. Members are putting in. We shall carry on with it, whether there are convenient or inconvenient by-elections.
§ 9.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)
I think that the whole House will be grateful to the Opposition for selecting for this debate a subject which is of particular concern to every right hon. and hon. Member and, indeed, to every citizen of our country. All the speeches during the debate have shown how conscious we are of the problem, the extraordinary range of subjects which any discussion of the problem involves, and how worried many of us are about the trend of emigration.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) opened the debate very ably with a skilful analysis of the nature of the problem based largely on the Scottish Council's Report, which I commend to the House. The hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Dewar) reminded us of the continuing nature of the emigration problem. That I accept. Emigration has been with us for years. It will continue to be with us for years. What I hope we shall see changed is the nature of emigration. We shall never restrain the young Scot from having the questing spirit which looks for new horizons. It is right that it should be so. We will go on losing some of our 830 best young people searching for new opportunity in the world. But we must strive, all of us, to reach a future in which the young Scot is not forced out of Scotland simply because of the lack of opportunity at home or by factors which none of us can yet precisely define. The Scottish Council has made a brave start and I hope that this will be the beginning of the systematic type of surveys and studies which this enormous problem requires for the future.
I am glad that the Secretary of State is to wind up this debate, because part of our case is a charge against the Government and it is made all the stronger by some declarations by the right hon. Gentleman in the past. In his election address in 1964, he cried:We must … stem the tide of emigration.How right he was. That was a fine call to the electors and, no doubt, they responded to it, remembering the right hon. Gentleman's constant criticisms and bitter accusations when he was in opposition.
So the hon. Member for Kilmarnock became the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland, determined to "stem the tide of emigration." Within a few months, he called public attention to his authority and power in Scotland. He was reported as saying in March. 1965:I decide things in Scotlandadding, for good measure,the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot tell me what to do.Thus the right hon. Gentleman, clothed in this splendid authority, set out to stem the tide. Emigration that year increased to 43,000. I accept at once, however— I want to be fair—that he could not have been expected to stem the tide as quickly as that—of course not, for reasons which I shall explain. He then decided to write a plan, and last year he produced his White Paper "The Scottish Economy 1965 to 1970, a Plan for Expansion." This was to halve the emigration loss by 1970.
The Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan), who was present until a few moments ago, emphasised this in his election address at the General Election 831 last March. One complete paragraph in his address read:Labour is determined to stop the drift to the South. For the first time we have a National Plan for Scotland.And so he demonstrated that the party opposite depended on a national plan at least to ease, if not completely solve, the emigration problem. That was last year. Emigration last year increased to 47,000. There is nothing to suggest that it will not increase sharply again this year. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr quoted the observation of the chairman of the Scottish T.U.C. on this score.
The central point of my charge against the right hon. Gentleman tonight is that in face of all the evidence to the contrary, he clings obstinately to the White Paper. He has rejected the frequent proposals from this side of the House that the White Paper is sorely in need of revision. It was written, its introduction stated, "within the framework of the National Plan", but the National Plan has collapsed and the Government accept that their targets are now nonsense. So the framework for the Scottish Plan has been taken away for repair.
I ask the Secretary of State seriously to look at his targets again, because there are now grave doubts about the basis on which the plan rests. As my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr showed earlier, emigration to the rest of the United Kingdom must be reduced to nothing by 1970 if the right hon. Gentleman's target is to be met. We will soon be halfway to 1970, but emigration to the rest of the United Kingdom has amounted to 44,000 people over the last two years. To say that this will be reduced to zero, which is what, in effect, the plan says, is to ignore the evidence before our eyes. There is no sign of a decline this year so far.
On what basis of planning, then, can the right hon. Gentleman persist in his claim that emigration to the rest of the United Kingdom will suddenly melt away to nothing by 1970? There has been no improvement in the factors which cause people to leave Scotland. In fact, there has been some worsening, as a result of the failure of the Government's policies, and several of my hon. Friends have covered this in their speeches.
832 Certainly the Minister of State can claim that more jobs have been created, and we welcome that. However, I believe that recently the number of men at work has fallen marginally. Indeed, the total population of Scotland has fallen, as my hon. Friend pointed out, and it has fallen for the first time in 40 years.
We welcome the new jobs coming to Scotland and the new jobs which are still to come. Unlike right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, we do not sneer at the pipeline, as they used to do, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be fair enough, when he comes to reply, to recognise that most of the 48,000 jobs which have emerged from the pipeline during the last two years were pumped into it by the Conservative Government. During our last 18 months in office, over 1,600 new inquiries were received by the Board of Trade from industrialists who wanted to expand in or into Scotland. That was an average of nearly 100 every month. Over half of those had been approved by October, 1964, and right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite should not point to the jobs which have been created as evidence of the Secretary of State's own success.
On page 9 of the Scottish Plan, we see in Table B that the number of new jobs which the right hon. Gentleman expects to be created in Scotland is an average of 22,000 for each of the six years to 1970. In fact, the figures for the last two years are rather better, and I welcome that. That figure compares with the annual average of 39,000 new jobs created in the four years 1961 to 1964. The Minister of State shakes his head, but he will see that on page 9 of the White Paper.
The increase of 39,000 new jobs created in each of those four years on an annual average basis more than overtook the sharp decline in the older industries during that period. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the table, he will see that that point is covered. In those four years, 27,000 jobs were lost in shipbuilding, marine engineering, mining and quarrying alone. However, while we can argue these points backwards and forwards, and we on this side win the arguments, it is the future course of emigration to which we must turn our attention, and it is that which concerns me most of all. 833 I was interested in the proposal by my noble Friend the Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith) for a balanced population, and I was impressed particularly by his argument about the need for the development of growth points and to invest in success.
What evidence is there for the claim in the National Plan that, in effect, emigration will be reduced so that domestic emigration disappears altogether? That is the effect of the forecast in the National Plan. The Minister of State spoke with confidence about the new investment grants, and we will see how they work. There are conflicting views about their total value. We shall have to see if they are better or worse than the old system in terms of value. However, it is only fair to point to some disturbing evidence. In industry, the Scottish Council has noticed a marked fall in the level of inquiries from companies in the South interested in location in Scotland. Fortunately, that has been balanced by a stepping up of interest from North America, but the domestic outlook in industry is not encouraging. Recent surveys have shown that the confidence of industry in the future has recently fallen sharply, and that is not a climate which fosters industrial expansion.
New jobs do not come only from manufacturing industries. Scotland depends heavily on the service industries. This was recognised in the White Paper, which constantly referred to the importance of service industries in Scotland—but within a few months of publishing this White Paper last year this message from the Secretary of State to the service industries was overtaken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who slapped his vicious Selective Employment Tax on the very service industries which the Secretary of State had pledged himself to encourage.
Who was "deciding things" in Scotland then? Certainly not the Secretary of State, as he boasted a year previously. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had "told him what to do". What he did do was to pretend, in the face of all the evidence, that the tax was a good tax. The Secretary of State, in May last year. was reported to have said that the Chancellor was very much looking after the interests of Scotland in the Selective Employment Tax. He went on to accuse the Highlands of "whining" because the 834 tax would bleed over £2 million a year out of the seven crofting counties alone. It is small wonder that people lose faith in the Government's care for Scotland and leave the country when the Minister who claims to decide things in Scotland talks that sort of rubbish to them.
The last quarterly report of the Scottish Development Department refers to the "success of the tax". Let the right hon. Gentleman try that on the people who have been squeezed out of their jobs by the tax. Let him tell that to the part-time workers, the married women and the weaker folk who are always the most dispensable and who have been squeezed out in all our constituencies.
The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) put forward the interesting proposition that taxation was irrelevant to emigration. I cannot agree. Taxation often bears more heavily on Scotland than on England. One has only to consider the impact of the fuel duty and to see what it costs, and the way in which Scotland carries the large differential charge on coal and the higher gas charges, and the way in which taxes, duties and selective charges bear heavily against Scotland, to realise this.
It is not only a question of creating new jobs in manufacturing and service industries. There are other spheres in which employment can be created. There is wide scope for the movement of Government offices to Scotland. The White Paper refers to the move of the Post Office Savings Bank to Glasgow. The hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian seemed to have forgotten about that until he was reminded of it by my right hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble). The White Paper took the credit for it, but my right hon. Friend made the decision.
What have this Government done to deploy Government offices into Scotland? I will tell the House. They have put the computer centre in Manchester. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will say something about the Mint, which we hope will go to Scotland. Perhaps he will say something about the establishment of a Scottish Forestry Commission, which we need and look for. There are other similar possibilities.
I recognise that this sort of development may not bring a lot of jobs directly to Scotland. The Post Office Savings 835 Bank brought 7,000 jobs, but that was a special case. Generally, the movement of Government offices to Scotland would not bring a vast number of extra jobs directly, but they would bring associated jobs, and, perhaps more important, create a climate of authority and success which would attract new employment and new people. My hon. Friend the Member for Ayr spoke also of the need to put our resources strongly behind education.
At a time when we are trying to put all our efforts behind the recruitment of teachers and the building of new schools to meet the great challenge which we all want to see met by 1970–71, it is depressing to see that, in Glasgow, over 2,200 primary school children are on half-time education. That is not attractive to people to stay in Scotland or to come to Scotland. I recognise the difficulty of solving that problem, but I am sorry that, in that circumstance, the right hon. Gentleman has shelved the Roberts Report, which put forward some proposals which could have helped.
Housing was mentioned by the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie), in a well-balanced and constructive speech, and by other hon. Gentlemen. The Secretary of State recognised the importance of housing in a speech at Dundee a few days ago and we all accept that it is an important element of this problem. The right hon. Gentleman will have seen that the Scottish Council called a day or two ago for a greater deployment of resources behind housing. We all want to build more houses and we have all had targets for more houses. The only difference between us is that we meet our housing targets and the right hon. Gentleman fails to meet them.
I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman some questions and to call his attention to a very important element which has emerged from the debate. It was touched on by the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian and by my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr. This is the extent to which there is a relationship between unemployment and emigration, and this ought to be studied. There appears to be evidence that, when unemployment rises sharply, a rise in emigration follows 18 months or so later. That was why, as I said fairly to him, much as the right hon. Gentleman wanted to stem the tide, 836 it was too much to expect in 1964–65, because of this time lag.
For example, there was a period of high unemployment in 1963, of which the right hon. Gentleman keeps reminding us. That period was reflected in the emigration figure of 1965. But the high unemployment figure of 1963 was followed by a marked drop in the unemployment figure and it should have been reflected statistically in a fall in the emigration figure last year. But it was not: instead, the figure went up sharply. This was a movement against the trend which could have been expected from the statistical pattern which I have described.
More recently, there has been a pattern of rising unemployment in Scotland from last August, increasing recently at a more rapid rate than unemployment in the South. This increase from last August may have contributed to some extent to the present increase in emigration, if the reports which we have heard from the Scottish T.U.C. are correct. But the main effect will be felt next year. If this pattern is repeated, emigration will reach a new peak next year, two years before 1970, the year when, according to the White Paper, net emigration in domestic terms is to disappear.
All this, of course, has a long-term effect on total population. A net loss of 1,000 emigrants a year costs about 30 births in each year for the next 10 years and about 20 in each of the following five years, with a decreasing proportion thereafter. On last year's figure of 47,000, this will cost us 19,000 children in the future. We know about the brain drain and the brawn drain; now there is a "bairn drain".
This, of course, will increase as the emigration figures go up. All the figures show an alarming statistical breakthrough. Emigration is up, against the trend which we could have expected. The population is down for the first time in 40 years. I recognise that the birthrate was down—and, incidentally, the death rate was up. However, one cannot get away from the statistics. It is worth noting that the marriage rate was slightly up, so perhaps we can look forward to better things.
Another important fact is that the population trend for the future is depressed by the loss of births through 837 emigration. On top of that, unemployment has been increasing since last August, and that can be expected to have a growing impact on emigration in 1968. Thus, there are four points of concern which, taken together, create a disturbing pattern; emigration up—and up against the trend; the population down for the first time in 40 years; the population trend for the future depressed by the bairn drain; and unemployment now growing, as it has been since last August, which will inevitably have a serious effect on the emigration for next year. Statistics are cold things. Nevertheless, they reflect a deep human and social problem.
Against this background, which is incontestable, how can the Secretary of State cling to his plan? The Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Greenock (Dr. Mabon), did not say a word about the future beyond pointing to new jobs. The issue is wider than that. How can he, too, cling to the Scottish Plan when the whole basis of the emigration targets in it have been clearly shot to pieces by events? My hon. Friends and I ask the Secretary of State to reject his plan, forget his discredited targets, and produce a new plan based on reality.
§ 9.42 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. William Ross)
I had hoped that we were to have a really serious debate about emigration, with an analysis of exactly what was meant by the increase in the figures. I had hoped that hon. Members would consider what those figures implied for Scotland's future and how they had come about. I did not expect that we would have a discussion about emigration back only two years and that most of the remarks of hon. Gentlemen opposite would be related to what had happened in only the last year for which figures are available.
It is all very well for hon. Gentlemen opposite to talk about 1966, but the figures for that year are not available. They are discussing the figures for 1965 to 1966—and if the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) wants to place the responsibility for what has been happening on me, he must remember that the only figures available since the time when I became Secretary of State are those for the years June, 1964–when I was not Secretary of State; 838 so some of the responsibility must lie with hon. Gentleman opposite—to June, 1965, and June, 1965, to June, 1966.
This shows that when the hon. Member for Ayr blames me for the decrease in the number of births—even taking into account natural factors—he must appreciate that such an endeavour is not worthy of a town that is supposed to be famed for producing honest men. The hon. Gentleman will have to more honest politically if he wants to continue to represent me in the House.
I admit that I was the person, along with my hon. Friends when we were in opposition, who, year after year, drew attention to this trend of emigration. Although we did that, not an hon. or right hon. Member of the then Government even made a speech about it. For 13, 14, or 15 years they showed no concern for this problem.
§ Mr. Ross
The hon. Gentleman is quite right. The trouble was that I was in opposition. Indeed, from mid-1951 to mid-1964 the number of people who left Scotland totalled 400,000. Hon. Gentlemen opposite must live with that fact. If, as a result of that number of people leaving Scotland, we find today that the number of young people in Scotland is down and that the number of births is down, hon. Gentlemen opposite must relate that to what has happened over all these years. It was because we recognised that this was a drain that we. kept drawing attention to it.
Hon. Members started to do something about it, because they said this in paragraph 6 of the Central Scotland Plan, which was produced in November, 1963:Scotland's net loss of population through migration represents the balance between the numbers of persons moving from Scotland and into it.We all knew that. The last sentence of the paragraph is what matters:But the net loss of younger people cannot continue at its present level without serious damage to the prospects of long term economic recovery.At that time the published figure for 1961–2 was 29,500. By the time this 839 publication was read, we knew what the latest figure was; it was 34,000. In 1963–64, it was 40,600. In 1964–65, for part of which time the right hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Noble) bears responsibility, the figure rose to 43,000.
We have seen a stemming of the drift to the South. What has happened in the past three or four years has been the tremendous increase in those going overseas. This is a matter which must concern us, although those who have gone into these matters over 140 years tell us that this evens itself out—that there is a trend, and then there is a stop. People do not suddenly decide to go overseas and then go. It takes some time before people decide to emigrate. There is a considerable time lag.
The continued rise in these figures from 9,000 in 1960 to 21,000 in 1964–65 and to 25,000 last year should concern us a little more than political argy-bargy. There is a tremendous selective drive by the older Dominions on Scottish skills and crafts. This is not the emigration of those who have been driven to the shores by clearances and who have to go. This is not the emigration of people who are driven because of lack of jobs. This is the emigration of skills and crafts which are attracted to other areas.
We are faced with this attraction of skilled crafts. We must be able to use them ourselves. We will use them, and we are increasingly using them in Scotland. We must provide counter-attractions in Scotland. Many of these people return. However, I shall not rest content with letting this matter go and doing nothing about it. The right hon. Member for Argyll said that his plan was the first real attempt to get things right in Scotland. That was on 3rd December, 1963, after the right hon. Gentleman and his Government had been in power since 1951.
§ Mr. Ross
We can relate these questions to unemployment. When the right hon. Member for Argyll was Secretary of State from November, 1962, right through to March, 1964, the average monthly figure of unemployed was over 100,000.
There is a relationship between unemployment and emigration. This is what Lord Clydesmuir himself said:… as unemployment in Scotland starts either to rise or fall, it is followed some 18 months later by a corresponding rise or fall in emigration from Scotland. … Undoubtedly, a large part of the explanation of the high net loss of population from Scotland in the last two years is to be found in the general state of the Scottish economy as it was in 1962–64 when unemployment was high".and when the right hon. Gentleman was Secretary of State for Scotland.
§ Mr. Ross
I am sorry. I have to try to answer all these points.
At least twice I heard the hon. Members who spoke from the Dispatch Box opposite say that the population of Scotland had not dropped in 40 years until recent times. This is just not true. I can give the occasions in this century when it dropped, but, equally, I can tell the House that the last occasion came in the consecutive years 1952 and 1953. If hon. Members want the list of years, here it is: 1912, 1913, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1965, 1966. Those are the years in which net migration exceeded natural increase and the population declined. In 1929 the decline was 15,700; in 1924, it was 25,900.
§ Mr. Ross
The hon. Gentleman had his chance and made a mistake. Now he must accept the facts which I am giving.
The hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger) spoke about the Selective Employment Tax. We are watching this, but we cannot trace any sector —the Ministry of Labour says this—where there is any large single block of redundancies which can be directly attributed to the effects of the tax, and neither does it appear that any particular 841 sub-region in Scotland has suffered a disproportionately large amount of unemployment as a result of the tax.
The hon. Gentleman spoke about the development areas. It was not until we became the Government that facilities or incentives were provided to these areas for expansion. The Borders, for example, are only now coming to life with new employment opportunities. The noble Lord the Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith) suggested that there should be a commission. We are already at work. We have a group in the Borders —local authorities, private individuals and industrialists —responding to the opportunities to be secured from the advantages which we have given. It is the same in the North-East and the Highland areas.
The right hon. Member for Argyll will remember his statement about the Highlands when he became Secretary of State. The Highland problem, he said, would have to wait until we had solved the unemployment problem of Scotland. The unemployment problem got worse. He never solved it.
The reflation which has been spoken of has already started in Scotland. The hon. Gentleman does not know the difference between a freeze and a squeeze. He has already been corrected twice.
§ Mr. Ross
I shall not give way. The right hon. Gentleman was corrected on that misquotation by my hon. Friend in one debate. He repeated it today, and it is a waste of time trying to persuade him that he is ever wrong.
842 During the past two years we have had the greatest expansion of industry into Scotland that we have known since the war. The year 1965 was even better than the year in which we brought the motor car industry. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who brought it?"] The hon. Gentleman brought us some problems, too. The year 1966 was only a little less. In 1965–66 there were 19 million sq. ft. of new factory space as compared with 11 million in the last two years under the hon. Gentlemen opposite.
I am sorry to have to give them good news about the first two months of this year. In January and February the new factory space of new projects into Scotland for which I.D.C.s have been issued is 2.8 million sq. ft., the best that we have known for those two months. Those things are actually being done and are actually happening. Hon. Members opposite do not have to take my word. They can see what Lord Clydesmuir said in the report in the Stock Exchange Gazette of 24th February:The processes of developing and diversifying the Scottish industrial economy have made enormous strides. Industrial output in Scotland has grown faster than the national average over the last three years; … in 1965, capital expenditure by manufacturing industries in Scotland was £115 million, 25% up on the previous year; …Yet hon. Members opposite talk about our export performance not equalling that of anywhere else in the United Kingdom, and the moaners come here tonight using this debate on emigration even to talk about schools and teachers. I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman knows how long it takes to train a teacher, and what did his Government do about getting any change? The hon. Member for Ayr spoke scathingly of Scottish education, but it is something of which we should be proud. There is no controversy over 99 per cent. of the area of Scotland about the comprehensive education we provide, and all that the hon. Gentleman was able to fasten on is a little pocket of privilege in Edinburgh and Glasgow and create something out of that. It is time he was really proud of what we have done in Scotland rather than bleat about it as he did.
We heard a new one tonight about the Forestry Commission. It is news to me that the Conservative Government ever contemplated setting up two separate 843 headquarters for the Forestry Commission. It is well known that the decision to move part of the headquarters to Basingstoke and leave a substantial part in London was taken under the Conservative Administration. The hon. Gentleman talked about the Post Office. The party opposite took their decision in principle against the wishes of the people in the Post Office, and the hon. Gentleman well knows the task we had in ensuring that the Post Office Savings Bank did go to Glasgow because it was a right decision and getting the co-operation—
§ Mr. Ross
Of course, statistics on migration are inadequate. But changes were made in 1963. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we have already got an inter-Departmental committee working on the possibility of how we can get addi- 844 tional statistics without burdening people with tremendous questions when they leave this country.
Right hon. and hon. Members opposite have got more than they bargained for. They have been playing politics, but I welcome the fact that they have given us the opportunity to give the answers to many of these points. We discussed housing last week and we heard from the people who were prepared to see house-building run down from 39,000 in 1953 to 26,000 in 1962. The hon. Gentleman was never complaining then. I am surprised that even the Buccleuchs did not emigrate from Scotland.
§ It being Ten o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.