HC Deb 10 June 1971 vol 818 cc1228-9
Q2. Mr. Douglas

asked the Prime Minister if he will indicate which questions relating to the co-ordination of actions between the Department of Trade and Industry and the Scottish Office he is willing to answer.

The Prime Minister

If the hon. Gentleman provides me with evidence of a specific case of lack of co-ordination between these two Departments I will of course have it investigated.

Mr. Douglas

I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's assurance of investigations. Would he not agree that the present situation in the Scottish economy, where we have a high level of unemployment and a low level of investment, particularly in private industry, is an indication that the Government's policy in relation to the development areas and to Scotland in particular is not working? Is it not the case that the Department of Trade and Industry is much too big a conglomerate to pay attention to the specific fears of the regions?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that that is the case. Successive Government have examined the question whether development area policy should be under the Scottish Office or remain, for the country as a whole, either under the old Board of Trade or under the Department of Trade and Industry. The conclusion has always been the same as my own, when I re-examined the matter last October—that it is better that it should remain with the Department of Trade and Industry. But of course there is always the very closest consultation between the Scottish Office and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Mr. Grimond

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a very strong case for a large programme of public works in Scotland, to relieve unemployment, to increase investment and to strengthen the infrastructure with a view to the Common Market, and that this requires co-operation between the various Departments concerned? Is he giving this his personal attention?

The Prime Minister

I agree that any programmes of that kind require coordination, and the Scottish Office is in a position to co-ordinate them. As for the General position, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, my right hon. Friend has announced a special development area in Central Scotland. In Glasgow, I announced special addition housing programmes to help the construction industry as well as housing in Glasgow. At the same time, Scotland will benefit from the Budget measures taken by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.