HC Deb 11 February 1976 vol 905 cc435-7
14. Mr. Thompson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the latest emigration figures from Scotland.

24. Mr. Welsh

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the latest figures for emigration from Scotland.

Mr. William Ross

Net emigration from Scotland in the year to June 1975 is estimated to have been about 19,000, comprising about 4,000 to the rest of the United Kingdom and about 15,000 to overseas.

Mr. Thompson

In view of that answer, will the Secretary of State tell us what arguments he would use to persuade an unemployed person in Scotland not to emigrate?

Mr. Ross

The arguments are my confidence and the confidence of most people in Scotland in the long-term future of their own country—as part of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Welsh

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an indication of the age pattern for emigration from Scotland? If the young leave and the old return, what effect will that have on Scotland's economic future?

Mr. Ross

I require notice of that supplementary question. It varies. When people go overseas, the father usually goes first and the rest of the family go later. There is a certatin rhythm about it. One of the most interesting aspects of the pattern at present is that the position is holding in relation to emigration south of the border, but there has been a spurt or boom in the past year—in relation to the United Kingdom, in the past two years—in emigration to overseas countries.

Mr. Sproat

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us why, under the 1964–70 Labour Government, emigration from the United Kingdom rose every year, under the Tory Government it fell every year, and now, under the Labour Government, according to figures produced last week, it is rising yet again?

Mr. Ross

I assure the hon. Gentleman that he has the figures wrong. When I took over in 1964 the figure was over 45,000 a year. By the time the Labour Government's period of office ended that figure was reduced to about 20,000.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Is the pattern not all too familiar—that Labour Governments have had to clear up the mess left by Tory Governments and, just as we have got on top of the problem, unfortunately we have lost office? This time we certainly shall not do that.

Mr. Ross

There is no doubt that it is not always the person who labours who reaps the harvest. What my hon. Friend says is quite true. I have been a Member of the House since 1946. We took over then when the country was bankrupt and put it on its feet. We did the same the last time we held office. We are doing the same thing again—cleaning up.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

In his rhythmical approach to the question of emigration, will not the right hon. Gentleman reflect that the reduction in emigration to south of the border is perhaps because of the failure of his Government in the United Kingdom?

Mr. Ross

I do not accept that at all.

Mr. Fairgrieve

In order to get the question in proper perspective, will the Minister comment on net immigration to Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom and other parts of the world?

Mr. Ross

There are indications that quite a number of people are coming back to Scotland. This is shown in the figures. One of the difficulties is that the figures have to be analysed in order to distinguish the age groups and find out who the people are. There is no doubt that quite a lot of people have been attracted back to Scotland by the developments in oil. I am glad to say that many of them are Scots.