HC Deb 16 July 1969 vol 787 cc584-6
7. Mr. Younger

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received concerning the effects of current financial measures on the Scottish economy; and what reply he has sent.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. William Ross)

I have received 11 representations since November, 1968. In the majority of cases the reply emphasised that the financial measures operated since then are necessary to strengthen sterling and to bring the economy into better balance.

Mr. Younger

Does not the Secretary of State recall that answers given to me recently have shown that S.E.T. is a net burden on Scotland of £58 million and that even taking into account R.E.P. the net burden next year will be £18 million? Does this not suggest that those of his hon. Friends who are saying that this is a financial benefit to Scotland have been talking through their hats?

Mr. Ross

I do not think so. The hon. Gentleman over-simplifies the issue. He cannot ignore the overall effect upon the country.

Mr. Grimond

In view of the serious effect of S.E.T. and the increase in S.E.T. on the north of Scotland, can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that evidence relevant to the situation there will be given to the committee which is said to be examining the whole matter?

Mr. Ross

I think that it is a committee of one man. There is nothing to prevent any information being given or forwarded that would be relevant to consideration of this matter.

Mr. Lawson

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that in this year and until 1970 the net burden on Scotland will be £8 million, and that immense benefit is coming to Scottish industry, as distinct from some hotels and shops? Will he see that this policy is continued and extended?

Mr. Ross

My right hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the advantages corning to Scotland's manufacturing industry in respect of R.E.P. Bearing in mind that people who are employed in manufacturing want to maintain and extend their work, other people who are complaining should appreciate that if their customers had no money their businesses would be very much worse off.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

Is it the Government's intention to extinguish small businesses in Scotland? That is what their measures imply?

Mr. Ross

Unlike what happened under the previous Government, it is not out intention to do so.