HC Deb 09 December 1987 vol 124 cc432-3
15. Mr. Irvine

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent figures he has available for average weekly earnings in Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Rifkind

The average gross weekly earnings of full-time employees on adult rates in Scotland in April 1987 were estimated at £187.90. Only those in the south-east and the north-west of England had higher gross earnings.

Mr. Irvine

Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that those highly satisfactory figures reflect the success of the Scottish economy in moving away from the excessive reliance on the declining industries of past years towards the industries and services of the future?

Mr. Rifkind

My hon. Friend is quite correct. It never ceases to amaze me how Opposition Members cannot decide whether to be upset or disbelieving when such information is provided for them.

Mr. Tom Clarke

Will the Secretary of State accept that the low wages that contribute to the average are reprehensible, whether they are paid in Ipswich or Inverness? Will he also accept that there is an individual Scottish life style—including the need to accept climatic conditions—which means that, for example, it costs 20 per cent. more to heat the average house in Glasgow than it does in Ipswich? When will the Secretary of State bat for Scotland?

Mr. Rifkind

Of course, with regard to low wages, everyone looks forward to the day when wages and salaries can continue to increase to improve the real standard of living of the population as a whole. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will be the first to appreciate that it would be counter-productive to the interests of the unemployed to insist on wage levels that meant that they could not be employed in the first place.