HC Deb 28 July 1982 vol 28 cc1042-3
3. 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 its inception the Scottish Development Agency has built 546 factory units providing over 4 million sq ft of factory space.

Mr. Knox

How many of those factory units are occupied, and is my hon. Friend satisfied that their provision is sufficient to meet demand?

Mr. Fletcher

I am satisfied that the provision is sufficient to meet demand in Scotland. Although the occupancy rates vary, at present fewer than 10 per cent. of the agency's factories are vacant.

Mr. Foulkes

Does the Minister accept that one of the SDA factories that is likely to become unoccupied is the Falmers factory at Patna? Following the meeting that I had with the Minister and the Prime Minister, is there any hope of keeping the factory occupied, preferably by Falmers but, failing that, by some alternative manufacturer?

Mr. Fletcher

I met the chairman of the company this morning. It is clear that the decision on the closure of Patna is firm. We undertook to do what we could to find a new tenant for the vacant factory.

Sir Hector Monro

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is the letting rather than the building of the factories that is important? Is the SDA following up every conceivable opportunity with the full determination that is required, particularly in relation to small business men?

Mr. Fletcher

I believe that to be the case. If my hon. Friend knows of any case to the contrary that he would like to draw to my attention I should be delighted to look into it.

Mr. Harry Ewing

In view of the Chancellor's statement yesterday about the proposed new enterprise zones for Scotland, has the Minister discussed its factory building programme with the SDA? If so, what was the outcome of those discussions against the background of the Chancellor's statement? Will the Government's decision on the allocation of those enterprise zones be based on the need for employment in the area rather than on the availability of factory space?

Mr. Fletcher

I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman on the last point. My right hon. Friend's main criterion in deciding where to locate the new enterprise zones will be the need to create jobs in an area, and the SDA will be involved in the consultations.

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