HC Deb 17 March 1971 vol 813 cc1410-2
34. Mr. Sillars

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the number of times either he or the Under-Secretary for Development has paid official visits to West Germany since 1st January for the purpose of attracting German industrial investment to Scotland.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

None. But my hon. Friend made a very useful visit to Germany in the autumn.

Mr. Sillars

One wonders just how useful that visit was. Is the Secretary of State aware that German industrialists are recruiting skilled workers in Scotland to go to work in Germany? What will he do to stop them from poaching our skilled labour?

Mr. Campbell

Well, I understand that a delegation of the German Industrial Federation which came to Scotland was most impressed by what it saw in Scotland. The German Government have asked German industrialists to expand abroad rather than at home, and that is why we are having a campaign to attract German industry to Scotland. It will start later this year.

Mr. Buchan

I do not know what impressed them, but it was perhaps the failure to continue with the original grants, and so forth. The position is that the bumptious flannelling of the visit to Germany has been replaced by a reverse process in which the Germans and others are coming over here to recruit the unemployed in Scotland which the Government have helped to create.

Mr. Campbell

As I said, the visit of my hon. Friend to Germany and the visit by German industrialists to Scotland have been highly successful, and the action that is following.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

Does my right hon. Friend think that his efforts will be made easier when we sign the Treaty of Rome, or will it make no difference?

Mr. Campbell

In the long run it may be easier if the barriers between our country and Western Europe are removed, but, whatever happens about the negotiations on the Treaty of Rome, I am concerned with the immediate future, and in that we have these close contacts with Germany, which is looking for other countries in which to expand.

Mr. David Steel

On his visit, did the Under-Secretary of State for Development look at the structure of the company codes in Western Germany to which all firms are required to conform, the existence of works councils in factories and the ability of employees to elect representatives to supervisory boards? Would it not be better to learn some of these lessons in industrial relations rather than pursue the Industrial Relations Bill?

Mr. Campbell

There may be lessons in industrial relations for both management and employees to learn from other countries, but that does not affect the question of German development in Scotland, which we are hoping to encourage.

Mr. Ross

We welcome everything the Government can do to further development in Scotland, but does not the right hon. Gentleman think it was rather unwise to send this delegation to Germany to proclaim all the incentives which were available and then, a month later, change all those incentives? I understand that no further information has been sent to the people in Germany telling them that the changes have been made.

Mr. Campbell

My hon. Friend, together with other Ministers, was invited to attend a conference on regional development being held in Bonn, and that was the reason for his visit. Because he was going to Germany, he took the opportunity of doing a lot more while he was there.

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