HC Deb 22 December 1971 vol 828 cc1485-7
2. Mr. David Steel

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what further proposals he will now make to reduce unemployment in Scotland.

22. Mr. Millan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what further measures he proposes to take to stimulate employment in Scotland.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

Within the field for which the Scottish Office is responsible my Department has been in constant touch with local authorities about job-creating public works since my announcement of a special works scheme on 13th July. Projects amounting to over £60 million in Scotland have so far been approved and proposals under this scheme are still being considered.

Mr. Steel

Will the Secretary of State look at fields outside the responsibility of the Scottish Office and use his influence as Secretary of State on, for example, public corporations such as the B.B.C. regarding its programme of construction of transmitters, some of which is falling behind because the corporation says that it is short of investment money? Surely this is the sort of area which is within the right hon. Gentleman's wider responsibility for creating and improving employment and welfare in Scotland.

Mr. Campbell

The hon. Gentleman and I are together in thinking that the Secretary of State's job includes bringing influence to bear on his colleagues in all the fields which help Scotland. If the hon. Gentleman has individual projects or subjects in mind, lying within the responsibility of other departmental Ministers, I hope that he will put down Questions to them.

Mr. Millan

Is the Secretary of State aware that, apart from short-term measures to deal with the present appalling unemployment figures, many feel that there are long-term opportunities for Scotland in, for example, exploitation of North Sea oil and the deep water facilities of the Clyde but that what is lacking in this matter is a real sense of urgency on the part of the Government and, most particularly, the necessary decision-making by the Government, especially on the exploitation of Hunterston? When will we have decisions from the Government instead of the endless paper studies which are all that we have had so far?

Mr. Campbell

I agree in principle with what the hon. Gentleman has said. On North Sea oil, a decision involving about £170 million was announced by a company last week. I have been much involved in the whole question of how North Sea oil can best be brought to shore and help Scotland. On the question of Hunterston, I cannot add to what my hon. Friend the Minister for Industry said in the debate last week.

Mr. Edward Taylor

Has my right hon. Friend heard the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry at Question Time very recently making it clear that they have not closed their minds to the possibility of lower income tax and corporation tax rates for Scotland when regional employment premium is phased out? Would not this be a remarkable boost for Scotland? Is my right hon. Friend discussing this with his Cabinet colleagues?

Mr. Campbell

Many ideas are discussed with Cabinet colleagues, as I am sure my hon. Friend knows. He will no doubt be as glad as I am that such ideas are still open.

Dr. Dickson Mabon

Is the Secretary of State aware that we had hoped for a statement on the incentives given to industries within the special development areas but that so far we have seen no response from the Ministers concerned? Does the Secretary of State realise that there are a number of industries—of which I have given him six examples and there is one in my constituency of which I shall give him notice this morning—in which we cannot expand the labour force because of the lack of additional incentives? Is not this a practical proposition which could be adopted as soon as possible?

Mr. Campbell

The hon. Gentleman knows that this is a matter that both hon. Members and Ministers have discussed. This is not a very easy matter; it is complicated and is still being considered.

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