HC Deb 31 March 1993 vol 222 cc349-50
14. Mr. Nicholas Winterton

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what information he has concerning the change in the level of manufacturing output in Scotland over the last five years.

Mr. Stewart

Manufacturing output in Scotland increased by more than 13.5 per cent. in the five years between 1986 and 1991.

Mr. Winterton

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that encouraging response. Is he aware that many people wishing to invest in manufacturing look to Scotland because of the area's fine history in manufacturing over the centuries and because of the work ethic and skills of the Scottish people? What steps are the Scottish Office taking to identify areas that are rich and ripe for import substitution—that is, to substitute goods that we import with goods that we can produce in Scotland?

Mr. Stewart

I thank my hon. Friend for his remarks, especially as his knowledge of manufacturing industry is widely appreciated across the Floor of the House and outside. I refer him to the strategy document published by Scottish Enterprise, which refers to Scotland's outstanding record on exports, which reached their highest ever level in 1991, and points to areas with potential for import substitution. I can best answer my hon. Friend by saying that Scotland should develop as a niche economy, indentifying the best opportunities for a small economy operating competitively in European and world markets.

Mr. Davidson

What is the Minister prepared to do to help maintain manufacturing in the west of Scotland? In particular, are the Government prepared to undertake any activity to help maintain Rolls-Royce employment levels in the area? What is the Scottish Office prepared to do to try to provide Kvaerner, Govan with the order for the new helicopter carrier about to be ordered by the Ministry of Defence?

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Gentleman and I have discussed that latter point, which is bound to be a competitive decision by the Ministry of Defence. In answering his earlier question about Rolls-Royce, I emphasise what the company has said—that it wishes to be, and is determined to be, competitive in a highly competitive world market and that it believes that both its plants, at Hillington and East Kilbride, have a continuing role in that endeavour. Of course, redundancies are always regrettable, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman will join me in supporting the general strategy of Rolls-Royce in ensuring that it remains competitive in world markets.