HC Deb 08 May 1972 vol 836 cc893-5
19. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Indus try what evidence is now available showing the beneficial results in Scotland of the new regional policies.

Mr. Anthony Grant

The Department's Office for Scotland has received a number of inquiries concerning projects that may benefit under the new policies.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the Minister aware that that is an extremely vague answer, even from this Government? Does he not recognise that the recent unemployment figures, seasonally adjusted, are still showing an increase, and can he give up-to-date figures showing evidence of increased investment in Scotland?

Mr. Grant

So far from an increase, unemployment in Scotland fell slightly in April, although it did not fall enough. But I recognise entirely the problem in Scotland and it is precisely for this reason that the new policies were announced. It is far too early, in advance of having the Bill passed, to expect anything more than I have indicated, namely, that a number of inquiries have been made which will benefit from the new policies.

Mr. David Steel

Will the Minister explain what benefits are expected from the Government's decision for the second time to raise the level of control over IDC certificates in the non-development areas, particularly in areas like mine, where all the incoming industry has been of 10,000 sq. ft. or less?

Mr. Grant

The IDC limitations were lifted for relatively small projects because it was found that in the main those projects were not susceptible of being moved to development areas. The IDC policy still remains an essential part of the Government's regional policy, but it would not help the regions, particularly Scotland, to kill off the seed corn of small firms in other parts of the country.

Mr. Alan Williams

What improvement in the unemployment situation does the right hon. Gentleman expect for Scotland by next winter? Is he aware that the Minister dealing with the regions, speaking in South Wales at the weekend, made it clear that there would be little or no improvement in the unemployment situation in Wales by next winter? Will there be any improvement in Scotland?

Mr. Grant

I will not make any forecasts about unemployment, but it should be quite apparent that the measures which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announced in our new policy, which was the biggest-ever incentive to invest, Will assist British industry and thus, in due course, help in dealing with the problem of unemployment.

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