HC Deb 18 July 1984 vol 64 cc308-9
13. Mr. Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the Scottish economy.

Mr. Younger

I expect overall activity to rise faster this year than last year. An outstanding feature of recent performance has been the expansion of the electronics industry, where output rose by more than one fifth last year. Investment currently under way in the industry suggests that further advances in electronics output are in prospect.

Mr. Wilson

While I am hardly surprised that the Secretary of State keeps to his philosophy about hope springing eternal in relation to the Scottish economy, will he take into account the fact that production has fallen and that there is a weak labour market in Scotland, in that vacancies have fallen disproportionately compared with the United Kingdom as a whole? Set against that background, will he do two things: first, persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer to change his economic policies; and, secondly, tell the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to make no attack on regional policy in Scotland, because that policy is badly needed for the introduction of jobs?

Mr. Younger

The hon. Gentleman's assessment of the Scottish economy is fatally flawed, because he is ignoring the fact that during the most difficult recession that anyone can remember the Scottish economy has performed better than the rest of the United Kingdom. What is more, he may have noticed that during the last quarter of last year employment in Scotland rose. That is a sign that things are improving in Scotland, and we should welcome that.

Mr. Malone

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is estimated that some £4.5 billion will be invested in the oil industry between now and 1990 and that a substantial amount of that will accrue to Scottish companies and provide a great opportunity for increased jobs in Scotland?

Mr. Younger

My hon. Friend is right. The new developments that we are seeing all the time in the oil industry picked up substantially as a result of the measures introduced by my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary when he was Chancellor a year ago. We are insisting that a larger content is given to local British industry. I am glad to say that that figure is now generally speaking; well above 70 per cent.