HC Deb 18 March 1970 vol 798 cc387-8
34. Mr. Lawson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish a White Paper outlining the progress that has been made in strengthening the Scottish economy since 1965.

Mr. Ross

Reports on the substantial progress achieved have been frequently made in debates in the House and in very many other ways. The results achieved in new growth and development speak for themselves—road construction on target with the White Paper objectives, new records set for house completion in each of the last three years, factory building and investment in new industrial plant at record levels and expenditure on fixed capital investment in the public sector up from £266 million in 1963–64 to £454 million in 1968–69.

Mr. Lawson

Will my right hon. Friend introduce a White Paper giving those facts, and bringing out the great change in the pattern of employment in Scotland, which has produced more highly paid jobs and greater promotion prospects? Will he also show in the White Paper the demographic changes in Scotland which have led to the misconception of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that 66,000 jobs have been lost, when there has been no such loss?

Mr. Ross

My hon. Friend's suggestion is worth consideration, but he should bear in mind that most of those facts have been proclaimed in Scotland and that objective observers are increasingly recognising the progress of the Scottish economy generally. Whereas hon. Gentlemen opposite are predicting gloom and doom, everyone else, far from taking that attitude, is optimistic about the progress being made and to be made in Scotland.

Mr. Clark Hutchison

If the economy in Scotland is so good, will the Secretary of State please explain to me why unemployment in Edinburgh has risen?

Mr. Ross

The position of Edinburgh has had constant attention and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, the office jobs that will be brought to Edinburgh will improve the situation.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

Since the period covered by the Secretary of State's 1965 White Paper ends this year, will not he reconsider his hon. Friend's proposal, because a White Paper which described what happened during the period would be very different from the White Paper with its forecasts and would explain the loss of 67,000 jobs since 1965?

Mr. Ross

If the hon. Gentleman would only open his eyes and see what is happening in Scotland with housing, schools, hospitals and roads, he would begin to realise just how irrelevant the Opposition are.

Mr. William Hamilton

Has my right hon. Friend considered the possible effects on the Scottish economy of the threatened policy of the Opposition to abolish investment grants and substantially to reduce, if not to abolish, subsidies on council houses?

Mr. Ross

I should face with trembling the disaster of the implementation of such policies, but this is a fairy tale, and I can assure my hon. Friend that there is no hope of the Opposition ever ruling Scotland.