HC Deb 01 December 1971 vol 827 cc418-20
7. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on his recent official Visit to Germany for the purpose of attracting German industry to Scotland.

Mr. Younger

It was I who visited the Federal Republic of Germany from 14th to 19th November, together with Lord Taylor of Gryfe, the Chairman, and other members of the Committee for European Investment in Scotland. The purpose of the visit was to launch the committee's campaign in West Germany and to bring to the attention of leading industrialists and bankers Scotland's potential as a modern industrial base.

Mr. Hamilton

Did the hon. Gentleman go in a kilt? Furthermore, can he say when we shall get German-owned industry in Scotland?

Mr. Younger

I did not consider that it would be entirely appropriate for me to go in a kilt, although I was asked many questions about kilts when I was there. As for results, those to whom we spoke were extremely interested in what we told them and, clearly, many had not thought of Scotland as a place for industrial investment. To this extent the visit was very helpful.

Mr. Edward Taylor

Would my hon. Friend appreciate that although we must congratulate him on his energy in seeking jobs for Scotland in this way, there is a little resentment on the part of some home-based firms in Scotland that special development area grants made available to incoming industry are not available to home firms which are seeking to expand? Will he give an assurance that he is discussing this matter with his Government colleagues to prevent this discrimination against those home firms?

Mr. Younger

I thank my hon. Friend for what he has said about my visit. We are particularly interested in a survey which is being conducted on this aspect by Mr. Robin McLellan of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. I should emphasise that home-based firms enjoy all the development area incentives.

Mr. Lawson

Was it drawn to the hon. Gentleman's attention when in Germany that German industrialists find incentives in other countries, notably in Ireland and even Southern Ireland, which are substantially better than those in Scotland? Does not this act as a barrier to their coming to Scotland and Does it not encourage them to go else where?

Mr. Younger

No; this was not raised at any one of our meetings by any of those whom we saw. What interested them was the ready availability of sites and the availability of highly-skilled labour in Scotland.