HC Deb 09 November 1988 vol 140 cc303-4
16. Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next expects to have a meeting with the chairman of the Scottish Development Agency; and what matters will be discussed.

Mr. Rifkind

I meet the chairman, board and chief executive of the agency on a regular basis to discuss issues of mutual interest. The next such meeting is due to take place early next year.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

Will my right hon. and learned Friend accept the thanks and congratulations of the people of Scotland for the £92 million that he has won from the Treasury in addition to our budget? May I also congratulate him on increasing the budget of the Scottish Development Agency to in excess of £150 million, and making the Locate in Scotland bureau the most admired and efficient inward investment organisation in western Europe?

Mr. Rifkind

I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend. Locate in Scotland has indeed been particularly successful over the past two or three years in attracting major new investment, and I am happy to pay tribute to it.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Does the Secretary of State recall that Hall Russell shipyard was privatised by his Government and given its present ownership, and that he has a responsibility towards the work force? In an earlier reply his hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary said that the Scottish Development Agency was standing by to help if necessary, but is the Secretary of State aware that a meeting held yesterday was not very helpful in the circumstances? Will he agree to meet my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Doran) and me today to discuss the position as a matter of urgency?

Mr. Rifkind

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we have given continual and considerable support to Hall Russell over the last year. I think he knows that from his own experience. Of course, if either he or his hon. Friend wishes to put any particular points to me, or to my hon. Friend the Minister of State who deals with such matters, we shall be happy to hear them.

Mr. Bill Walker

When he meets the chairman and other members of the Scottish Development Agency, will my right hon. and learned Friend ask them to remind the Scottish business community continually that, because of our so-called "open-door" policy, inward investment in Scotland has been of great help, bringing many jobs and great prosperity? Will he point to the danger that any kind of ring fence—any attempt to make Scotland isolationist—would have the same effect that it had in Quebec of driving jobs and investment away?

Mr. Rifkind

My hon. Friend is right. It would not only deter investment in Scotland, but ultimately prevent Scottish companies from expanding elsewhere in the United Kingdom and overseas. The Scottish economy and that of the United Kingdom as a whole has always benefited from a willingness to employ sensible trading and investment policies of the kind to which my hon. Friend referred.