HC Deb 06 November 1979 vol 973 cc222-4
Q3. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister when she intends to make an official visit to Scotland.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Hamilton

I am not surprised to hear that reply. Is the Prime Minister aware that, as a direct consequence of the policies that her Government have pursued since May, de-industrialisation and unemployment are accelerating at an alarming rate, and that as a consequence she is known in Scotland not so much as an iron lady but as a myopic, petty little tinpot dictator.

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman knows, no Government can keep yesterday's industries in existence, and no Government can keep industries in existence unless they are competitive with overseas industries. Everyone has the capacity to be a wage earner and a consumer. The tragedy of this country is that many people, as consumers, reject the products of their fellow wage earners because they are not sufficiently good value.

Mr. Ancram

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the warm welcome given by young couples in my constituency and the rest of Scotland to the Government's announcement yesterday to local authorities that there will be no reduction in the availability of local government mortgages, and that in some areas, such as Edinburgh and Glasgow, the capital allocation for these mortgages will be increased?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. It is still preferable to have an opportunity to purchase a house rather than to be only the tenant of a council house.

Mr. Harry Ewing

If the Prime Minister is so interested in creating tomorrow's industries in Scotland, but is not intending to visit Scotland, will she at least call into her office the Secretary of State for Scotland and give him a good dressing down for refusing to tell Scottish industry who are to be the new agents for the European Investment Bank? Is the Prime Minister aware that, despite three letters to the Secretary of State, Scottish industry has been told that no further applications for finance through the European Invesment Bank will be considered? But the Secretary of State continues to refuse to tell Scottish industry who the new agents are to be.

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman had two questions there. There have been cases of the British taxpayer pouring into Scotland investment money that has not been properly or fully used for many months.

Mr. William Hamilton


Hon. Members


The Prime Minister

Fortunately, one of the disputes is reported today as being over. It is not enough for the taxpayer to put up money for investment. The money has to be used by those responsible for using it.

The Department of Industry and the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Offices are agents for the European Investment Bank. The first stage of the loan scheme is to end in December this year. When the scheme was announced it was said that the agents would be reviewed and the agencies are now being reviewed.

Mr. David Steel

Knowing the Prime Minister's deep attachment to her mandate, may I ask whether she recalls the detailed commitment given by her colleagues in Scotland during the election campaign to the hill farming community? As that community believes that it has sympathetic ears among Ministers at the Scottish Office and the Ministry of Agriculture, will the right hon. Lady give those Ministers support in the battle with the Treasury to get a better deal for the hill farming community?

The Prime Minister

The compensatory amounts payable to hill farmers are being reviewed and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture expects to be able to make an announcement by the end of the month.

Mr. Harry Ewing

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton), who tabled the original question, but in view of the Prime Minister's totally unsatisfactory answer on the question of the European Investment Bank I give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment.