HC Deb 19 June 1974 vol 875 cc451-2
1. Mr. Barry Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will issue a White Paper on the Scottish economy.

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

I have nothing to add to my reply to the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) on 10th April.—[Vol. 872, c. 418–19.]

Mr. Henderson

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that since he was last in office there has been a major industrial revolution in Scotland? The national statistics of unemployment and employment conceal the serious problems which exist in the non-oil sector, particularly in the west of Scotland. This imbalance in the Scottish economy, the slowing up of new industry inquiries, the slump in the market and fears of the excesses of the Secretary of State for Industry are causing extreme anxiety in Scotland.

Mr. Ross

I am aware of the problems in Scotland. Having been in this House during the three and a half years of Conservative Government I could not fail to be aware of them. Not once in those years did the Conservatives produce a White Paper on the subject.

Mr. Sillars

A very important element in the Scottish economy is the question of land ownership and the cost of land. Will my right hon. Friend reconsider the decision of the Scottish Office, made during the life of this Parliament, not to proceed with a land register giving ownership of land in Scotland? If we do not have the register, how can we take the land into public ownership?

Mr. Ross

Information on this matter is already available. It is much more important to get action by way of legislation than to have a register.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on 28th February in Scotland unemployment was falling, job vacancies were at the highest level ever and migration was at the lowest point since the war'? Can the right hon. Gentleman explain the relevance of the Secretary of State for Industry's plans, which are causing half the firms in the country to cut back their investment programmes? Can this be in the interests of Scotland?

Mr. Ross

Stagnation in investment began a long time before that date. Employment could not but be falling at the time the hon. Gentleman referred to, in view of the high level it reached because of the industrial dispute and the three-day working to which the country was driven by Tory policies.

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