HC Deb 11 March 1981 vol 1000 cc870-1
7. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many new factory units and how many square feet of factory space have been built by the Scottish Development Agency since its inception.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

Since it was set up in December 1975 the Scottish Development Agency has completed a total of 352 factory units providing over 3.5 million square feet of factory space.

Mr. Knox

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that those factory units are located in the right positions? In addition, given the economic situation, is he satisfied that the provision of those factory units is suffiently great?

Mr. Fletcher

Decisions about where the factories are located are largely a matter for the agency. However, the fact that 90 per cent. of the factory units are occupied suggests that the location of those factories is correct. The agency also has to decide how to spend its budget. Both in 1979–80 and in 1980–81 the agency spent more money than ever before.

Mr. Gordon Wilson

Can the Minister tell us how many of those company-let factories will still be let to manufacturing units after yesterday's Budget? Was his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State consulted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer prior to the formal unveiling of the Budget to the Cabinet? In view of the ruin and damage that the Budget will inflict on the Scottish economy, what action did his right hon. Friend take?

Mr. Fletcher

To the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, my answer is"More". To the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, my reply is that that is not a matter for me to answer at this Dispatch Box.

Mr. Henderson

Does my hon. Friend agree that the building of factories is the single most important task of the Scottish Development Agency? Will he confirm that the agency will not be prevented from continuing to build factories outside the special development areas? In particular, does my hon. Friend agree that the important minority recommendation of the Stodart committee in the matter of industrial developments should be implemented?

Mr. Fletcher

My right hon. Friend is still considering the work of the Stodart committee. As regards the first part of my hon. Friend's question and the location of factories, the agency must have regard to the priorities indicated by the Government and to the Government's regional and industrial policies. Although a programme is being maintained throughout Scotland, the GEAR—Glasgow Eastern Area renewal—Glengarnock, Clydebank, Dundee and Leith areas are being concentrated upon.

Mr. Douglas

Would the Minister care to say which proposals among those that emanated from the Chancellor yesterday are designed to fill the empty 10 per cent. of those factory units?

Mr. Fletcher

There are several such proposals. I refer first to the cut interest rates. Secondly, my right hon. and learned Friend is providing an enormous amount of additional aid to small businesses.