§ The Minister for Education and Industry, Scottish Office (Mr. Brian Wilson)
Since 1 May, ABB Wylex, Award plc, BBR Systems, BT, Canon, ClinTrials Research, FLEXcon, Midland Bank, North American Bolt and Screw Co., Tesco and Yaskawa Electric have announced plans to invest in Scotland. Together, those plans involve the creation of more than 2,200 new jobs.
§ Mr. Roy
I thank my hon. Friend for his encouraging answer. Does he agree that that blows away the myth created by the Scottish Conservatives—who were, in turn, blown away by the electorate on 1 May—that Scotland would not be able to attract inward investment under a new Labour Government committed to a Scottish Parliament with tax-varying powers, to the social chapter and to a national minimum wage? Will he also join me in congratulating North Lanarkshire council on the effort that it put into obtaining a £10 million investment from the Bank of Scotland for my constituency of Motherwell and Wishaw, which was announced in the past few days?
§ Mr. Wilson
I strongly agree with my hon. Friend. The only people who believed the Tory propaganda before the election were the unfortunate ones spouting it. They got their answer in no uncertain terms. I have spoken to representatives of several of the companies that I mentioned. They were well aware of the Labour party's proposals on constitutional change, the social chapter, the minimum wage and the rest of it. Those proposals did not influence their decisions. The Tories were simply putting about scare stories, as has been quickly exposed. The decisions were based on the quality of the work force available and the educational basis, as well as the good environment that we can offer in Scotland. I hope to have many more such announcements to make.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
How many of the new jobs have come to south-east Scotland? Is the Minister aware of the concern expressed locally about employment prospects in the textile industries, particularly in towns such as Hawick, in my constituency, which is suffering from a combination of overseas competition, new technology and the current strength of the pound? Is he prepared to bring together a team of experts and come to Hawick to examine what the Government can do to underpin employment prospects in the hosiery industry in towns such as Hawick, together with the possibilities for a diversification package for the future?
§ Mr. Wilson
I am well aware that the hon. Gentleman has been involved in those matters over a 100 long period. I should be delighted to come to Hawick with officials and experts to discuss his precise concerns, and I shall make arrangements to do so.
§ Mr. Home Robertson
Is my hon. Friend aware that investors from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are keen to gain access to competitively priced Scottish electricity? He will recall that Michael Forsyth blocked proposals for an interconnector between the Scottish and Irish electricity systems. Does he expect to make an announcement shortly?
§ Sir Peter Tapsell
As my mother's family, the Hannays of Sorbie, have lived in Galloway since the ninth century, may I venture to ask the first question on Scottish affairs in my parliamentary career on behalf not only of myself but of the considerable number of my Scottish constituents who have relations living in Scotland? If, as a result of this exercise, Scottish taxation is to be higher than British taxation, will the Japanese and American firms which have been pouring investment into Scotland still wish to do so?
§ Mr. Wilson
I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his antecedents.
The proof of the pudding is in what we have produced in the past month. It is quite clear that investment decisions were made in the full knowledge of the changes that were proposed. Companies in the United States, Taiwan, Korea and Japan probably paid some attention to the opinion polls and expected a Labour Government to be elected. They made investment decisions on that basis and will continue to do so. They will welcome the decentralisation that will enable us to attract projects to Scotland with even more encouragement and enthusiasm.