§ 12. Mr. Gordon Wilson
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress is being made in the establishment of the Scottish Development Agency and whether he will make a statement on its proposed scope and powers.
§ Mr. William Ross
I have nothing to add to my replies to the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. Johnston) on 10th December.
§ Mr. Wilson
Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that considerable concern has been expressed in Scotland about reported interdepartmental disagreements between the Scottish Office and the Departments of Trade and Industry in respect of the functions of the Scottish Development Agency? Is it possible for the right hon. Gentleman to assure the House that he has achieved victory if there have been disputes, and that the agency or his own office will take over the functions that have so far been exercised by the Department of Trade and Industry within Scotland, as well as the economic planning facilities that his Department presently enjoys?
§ Mr. Reid
Is the Secretary of State not aware of the growing concern in Scotland, which he has done little to allay, that the Scottish Development Agency will become little more than a powerless offshoot of the NEB? Is not the best way to allay such doubts to state clearly that the assembly will have full powers over trade, industry and development, and direct financing of North Sea oil?
§ Mr. Sproat
Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to see that whatever the document may say he will ensure that the SDA takes as one of its main functions the direction of finance to the north-east of Scotland to get the infrastructure under 502 way—it is at present behind schedule— and to relieve the excessive burden on ratepayers which has been brought about because local authorities cannot cope with the financing?
§ Mr. Ross
At the moment it is not money which is required in the north-east of Scotland but a proper organisation of resources. It is no good the hon. Member's telling me about housing being needed in the north-east of Scotland today. It should have been provided three years ago, when his right hon. Friends were in office. The regeneration of Scottish industries is an immense task and that does not apply particularly to any one part of Scotland.
§ Mr. Sillars
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the latest Press rumour that I read about the inter-departmental row is that he has won the battle? If that proves correct, is he aware that all of us on this side will be delighted, and some hon. Members opposite will be disappointed?
§ Mr. Buchanan-Smith
Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that what is needed in Scotland is cash to modernise old industry and create new jobs? Is this agency to become simply a vehicle, through the NEB, for an extension of public ownership which neither will create new jobs nor is wanted in Scotland?