HC Deb 13 October 1976 vol 917 cc415-6
10. Mr. Monro

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next intends to meet the Scottish Economic Planning Council.

Mr. Millan

On 29th October.

Mr. Monro

Does the Secretary of State realise that the reputation of the Scottish Office is now reaching an all-time low? Will he explain to the House and the Economic Planning Council what estimate has been made of the loss of jobs that will arise from 15 per cent. interest rates and the 2 per cent. payroll tax?

Mr. Millan

Any loss of jobs arising from the increase in interest rates will be as nothing compared with the loss of jobs that would come if we followed the Opposition's policy of indiscriminate cuts in public expenditure.

Mr. David Steel

When the right hon. Gentleman meets the council, will he discuss with it the development of Tweed-bank in the Borders? Bearing in mind that this has been a central part of Government policy since 1966, why was the announcement made to the Press by the SSHA rather than by the right hon. Gentleman to the House, or at least to Members of Parliament for the region?

Mr. Millan

This is not on the agenda for 29th October. If the hon. Gentleman tables a Question about Tweedbank, I shall be glad to answer it.

Mr. Dempsey

Is my right hon. Friend aware that we are likely to lose more jobs because of the action of the district valuer in North Lanarkshire in trebling rents for industrial factories, which is bound to force many individuals to return south? Will my right hon. Friend take the initiative of advising this officer that he should pay as much attention to the unemployment market as the rent market and not worsen the situation in parts of Scotland where we have 10 per cent. of the insurable population unemployed?

Mr. Millan

I shall look into what my hon. Friend has said, but generally speaking rents for industrial premises in Scotland are very competitive. Under regional policy certain incentives are available, such as rent-free periods. I do not accept that the Scottish situation is uncompetitive. It is very competitive for industry, whether it is coming in or is already established.