HC Deb 11 December 1974 vol 883 cc489-90
4. Mr. Sillars

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next plans to meet industrial interests in Scotland.

25. Mr. Alexander Fletcher

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he plans to meet representatives of the CBI in Scotland.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. William Ross)

I have no firm plans for specific meetings at present but I, and my noble and hon. Friends, keep in close and continuing touch with industrial opinion both on an individual basis and through bodies such as the Scottish Trades Union Congress, the Scottish Council of the CBI and the Scottish Council (Development and Industry).

Mr. Sillars

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the intense interest in the Scottish TUC and elsewhere in Scotland over the fate of the Scottish Development Agency in Cabinet discussions? Is he further aware that most sensible people in Scotland regard it as imperative that the agency should be equipped with the finance to carry out a powerful regeneration job on the Scottish economy? Will he give an assurance that he will do all he can to give the agency Section 7 powers under the Industry Act?

Mr. Ross

There are one or two questions on the Order Paper on this topic. I agree with my hon. Friend that the Scottish Development Agency must be equipped with adequate powers and finance to do the job that we have set for it, but I shall be arranging consultations with the bodies I have mentioned at a later stage.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

When the Secretary of State next meets Scottish industrialists and the Scottish Council and the CBI, will he explain what the conciliation and arbitration service is doing to reduce the number of industrial disputes in Scotland?

Mr. Ross

If the hon. Gentleman is interested in the conciliation and arbitration service he would be far better advised to table a Question directly to the Minister concerned.

Mr. Crawford

When the Secretary of State meets the Scottish TUC, the CBI and the Scottish Council, will he discuss the possibility of establishing venture capital, as a combination of both Government and private industrial money, which could be used to invest in entrepreneurs in Scotland, whatever their nationality, so that the flow of decision-makers out of Scotland can be reversed?

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman should examine his question in the light of the policies of his own party.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Is the Secretary of State aware that there is considerable concern in Scottish industry about the future of electricity supplies, bearing in mind the fact that coal stocks are low and that a madly inflationary wage claim has been submitted by the NUM? What are his plans to maintain electricity supplies in the event of a miners' strike?

Mr. Ross

I assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no danger to electricity supplies. I am surprised that he should try to spread his "Cathcart gloom" around the place.