HC Deb 18 June 1969 vol 785 cc469-70
29. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has yet received any request for Board of Trade assistance towards the establishment of a petro-chemical plant in the Highlands of Scotland.

Mr. Dell

As the hon. Member has already been advised, it is not our practice to reveal details of individual applications to, or inquiries from, the Board of Trade.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

As in this instance a taxpayers' subsidy of £72,000 to an American company for every job created is involved, and in view of the recent advice from several independent authorities that the Government are giving excessive encouragement to the development of capital-intensive, as opposed to labour-intensive, industries in development areas, is it not essential that the House should be informed of and have an opportunity to discuss any such grants or loans before they are made?

Mr. Dell

The hon. Gentleman is now talking about £72,000 a job whereas last time he referred to £176,000 a job, so any rate the figure is coming down. The sort of investment incentives given by Governments over a period have been capital-intensive in the way the hon. Gentleman says. I am not myself persuaded that that is a bad thing. At any rate, it is possible that the present system of incentives which we operate is less capital-intensive than that operated by right hon. Gentlemen opposite.

Mr. William Hamilton

Is my hon. Friend aware that there are powerful vested interests in the Highlands which do not want any industry there? Will he give an assurance that if the Department is satisfied that this is an economically feasible project, the Board of Trade will give all the assistance it possibly can?

Mr. Dell

We will consider this project in exactly the same way as any other project. I am glad to note my hon. Friend's welcome for what the Board of Trade is doing to assist employment in the Highlands.