HC Deb 20 March 1974 vol 870 cc1021-2
21. Mr. Reid

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to reverse the recent cut-backs in public spending in Scotland.

Mr. William Ross

The future level of public expenditure is one of many questions which the Government are urgently considering.

Mr. Reid

In view of that statement, is the right hon. Gentleman not aware of the widespread resentment in Scotland that exemption from economic cut-backs should be permitted to allow the breakneck extraction of Scottish oil, but that similar speed is not shown in action for the social and economic welfare of the Scottish people in education, transport improvements and environmental assistance?

Mr. Ross

There was not an actual exemption, but only a consideration of priorities. This matter inevitably affects the economic and social welfare of Scotland's future. No one would deny that.

Mr. Harry Ewing

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of those cutbacks on public expenditure are particularly severe in Central Scotland, where many of the older hospitals were due to be brought up to date and their operating theatres modernised, and that this is an urgent problem to which we are desperately hoping he will give his early attention?

Mr. Ross

I appreciate the difficulties here, but we must deal with the situation as we have found it. It certainly did not improve from the time that the circular was issued until we took over. We must face that.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that in any consideration of future cuts in Government expenditure he will continue the policy of the previous Government; that is, where development is vital for the support of North Sea oil in terms of houses, roads, communications and ports, he will follow the previous Government's policy'?

Mr. Ross

Yes, of course we shall, but I hope that we will not do it at the expense of the rest of Scotland.

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