HC Deb 19 July 1978 vol 954 cc516-7
8. Mr. Teddy Taylor

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

23. Mr. Henderson

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

Mr. Millan

I have no plans to do so.

Mr. Taylor

Does the Secretary of State not think that he has an obligation to rethink the Government's economic policy and present new proposals to the Scottish people, as unemployment is almost 200,000 in the height of summer, despite the boost in Scotland of tourist jobs? Is it not now very clear that the Government were elected on a bogus prospectus and that their plans are not working? Can the right hon. Gentleman say in particular how many jobs were lost because of the sudden removal of the regional employment premium and how many further jobs are expected to be lost as a result of increasing national insurance contributions?

Mr. Millan

My right hon. Friend the Minister of State has already mentioned yesterday's unemployment figures, which showed a further reduction of seasonally adjusted unemployment in Scotland. The relative position of Scotland, compared with the United Kingdom as a whole, has improved over the past few months. I certainly hope that it will continue to improve, because we want to see the figures considerably reduced.

Mr. Henderson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that everyone is becoming a little fed up listening to him giving the same old story and playing the same old record, month after month, at Scottish Question Time, and that the silver lining never seems to appear? Are the Government not publishing a White Paper because they do not know what to put in it or because they dare not show in it what the situation is?

Mr. Millan

If I thought that it would be useful to publish a White Paper I would do so. I do not think that it would be appropriate at present.

Mr. Gourlay

If my right hon. Friend were to change his mind and publish a White Paper, would he be in a position to indicate what progress had been made with the Moss Morran project and the radio hazard affecting Moss Morran and Fife? The project will provide a considerable number of jobs in that area.

Mr. Millan

My hon. Friend knows the position. I have made a provisional decision, but I will be circulating other documents about the possible radio hazards. I hope to be able to do that quite soon.

Mr. Monro

Where unemployment is as it is in Dumfries and Galloway, of the order of 9 per cent. rising in Upper Nithsdale to 19 per cent., does not the right hon. Gentleman think that much more fundamental action is required by the Government? Does he agree that he must look at areas of taxation in relation to industry, employees and small businesses if he is to make any dramatic impact in the next few months?

Mr. Millan

I think that it was only at the last Scottish Question Time that I gave quite a number of examples of the way in which the burden of taxation on small firms had been reduced by this Government. It is also true that for larger firms corporation tax is a very small burden at present.