HC Deb 03 July 1968 vol 767 cc1478-9
12. Sir C. Osborne

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of the proportion of the raw materials consumed in Scotland by industrial processes, distribution and personal consumption which is produced in Scotland; and what is the estimated cost of the imported materials.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

I regret that no reliable estimates can be made.

Sir C. Osborne

I regret that, too. Could the Minister say, roughly, since Scotland possesses only some low-grade and dearly-got coal, how much the standard of living of the Scottish people would have to be reduced under complete independence if they had to pay for their own imports?

Dr. Mabon

I would not accept that premise entirely, although I quite see the point that the hon. Gentleman is trying to make. The reason why we are unable to give the information for which he asks is that we would have to calculate the value of cross-border movement because of our common market with England, Wales, Northern Ireland and perhaps even Southern Ireland. It would be a big imposition on the Government to have to undertake such a survey to prove the point.

Mr. Hugh D. Brown

While it is not clear whether the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) is for or against the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mrs. Ewing), surely it is time that the Government took steps to undertake a complete economic analysis to substantiate the claim which many of us make that economic separation would be disastrous?

Dr. Mabon

I agree, but I cannot give the hon. Gentleman the information that he is asking for. I would if I could, because I think that it would substantiate his point.