§ 3.8 p.m.
§ LORD CRAIGTON rose to call attention to the need for further progress in Scottish Development and Industry; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, this first debate on Scotland will, I hope, be followed before long by a second debate, about which I must first say a few words. The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has just taken over departmental responsibilities for agriculture, fish, forestry and the Highlands and Islands. These subjects, together with tourism, we desire to leave to a later debate. There are two reasons 825 for this. First, we want to give the noble Lord a little time to learn his way about his Department, and, secondly, the Government have announced the formation of a Highland Development Board. We shall ask them for more information on this than can be expected now.
For some time now the Scottish Development Department have been preparing a Report on the Highlands and Islands, and this should be available quite soon. I am fairly sure that a Highland Board will be recommended in that Report, in which case, had the Government of the Party to which I belong remained in office, we should probably have set one up. The Government will want to see, as Scotland will expect to see, this Board in the perspective of that Report. It is unthinkable that we should be asked to debate the proposal, much less a Bill, without that Report. For that reason, we must give the Government time to reflect and publish before we can discuss any solution to the problems of the Highlands and Islands.
The noble Lord is responsible also for the formulation and progressing of plans for regional development. He is, therefore, directly responsible for formulating—that is, (as I understand it) producing that Report. But I am not clear what "progressing" means. I hope that the noble Lord will tell us. Regional development affects town and country planning, housing, New Towns, roads, general transport questions, water supplies and sewerage, electricity, local government and the like. But these are all the direct responsibility of one of the other Joint Under-Secretaries, the one who has the Scottish Development Department under him. Can the noble Lord tell us whether he or Dr. Mabon is responsible to the Secretary of State for the S.D.D. functions? In other words, can he tell us what progressing means in practice?
My Lords, tourism is part of development, and we are discussing development to-day; but here again we want to give the Government time to reflect before we discuss tourism in any detail. Though tourism is important to Scotland as a whole, it is vital to Highland prosperity. But there are two fundamental problems that the Government must face. I raise them now. I do not ask the noble Lord for a reply to-day, but I give the noble 826 Lord notice that we shall ask for replies on both points on the next occasion. Tourism is an industry. Other industries have boards. First, therefore, I would ask: are the Government satisfied with the composition, the powers and the performance of the Scottish Tourist Board? Is their relationship with the Government the best that can be devised? Secondly, some other industries pay a levy which is used for the good of the industry as a whole. An all-Party Committee recommended a tourist levy on the Scottish hotel industry. Nearly every other nation in Europe has such a levy. Some sort of levy is essential if Scottish tourism is to prosper as it should. We failed last Session to enact the necessary arrangements. Will the Government try again? If they do, they can be assured of my support and the support of many of my noble friends.
We on this side have every reason to be proud of what we in the late Government did for Scotland. We have already laid the foundations for future prosperity: a prosperity not enjoyed for a century; a prosperity more lasting than that of the first Industrial Revolution. We have been working for prosperity since 1951. I will not review the many positive steps taken in the early years of our Government. We matched pessimism and contraction with optimism and expansion. Like the Red Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass, we had to run fast to stay where we were. Then came the White Paper on Central Scotland—another of our many steps forward: the most scientific and purposeful step taken so far. The conception of growth points and differential tax treatment appeared for the first time. It is easy to charge us with having started too late. That could be said about any inventor; that he should have produced his invention earlier. But it is only recently that the world has evolved the modern techniques we have used. Scotland's problem is not unique. Nearly every industrial nation has similar problems; the attraction of heavily industrialised areas and the contraction of heavy industry. The problem has been how best to reverse this trend.
The solution for Central Scotland is found in the White Paper. When I paid an official visit on behalf of Scotland to Bavaria, which has a very similar problem, I found that they had 827 adopted measures very similar to those which we and other nations subsequently adopted. Our proposals for Central Scotland are therefore based on world experience, and shaped by the Toothill Report and by the expert advice available to the Scottish Development Department. The full results of our recent plans cannot yet be seen. As yet, we are only laying the foundations; the roads and the bridges are being built. The countryside is being cleaned up to welcome the new industrial communities that will surely come.
The results of twelve or more years' progress cannot be uniform. I must give the noble Lord's Party some credit here. Dundee and East Kilhride, the motor car factories, the strip mill are well established. Glenrothes and Cumbernauld are growing steadily. A start has been made in Central Scotland, in Fife and Dumbarton. The Livingstone complex is just getting under way, and Irvine New Town is still in the planning stage. Plans for the rest of Scotland have still to come.
My Lords, I have spoken of the plan for the Highlands and Islands. Soon I hope that the plans for the North-East, the South-East and the South-West will he completed. Can the noble Lord tell us when to expect them? We were very gratified to see that the noble Lord and his Government are proposing to put nine advance factories in the central area. One would have wondered, perhaps, why they all went to the central area, but I have no doubt that the noble Lord is waiting until plans for the other areas are produced, so we can hope for some advance factories for the most South-Easterly points. I believe that the Government will follow where we have led. Am I right in this? I hope that, with practical experience of these development plans, they will find ways to improve on what we have done. If so, they will have our full support. They have not started too well. The tax increases and the other measures taken strike perhaps most savagely at Scotland with her already delicately balanced economy; and especially because of her longer travel distances the petrol tax is a serious blow.
There is another massive area of planned development that must be looked 828 at soon with improvement in mind. I refer to overspill from Glasgow, and especially industrial overspill. The Housing and Town Development (Scotland) Act, 1957, was the legislative instrument for overspill. Glasgow was to be rebuilt; some 200,000 people and 1,000 firms were to leave Glasgow; Glasgow skills and industries were to bring added prosperity to other areas of Scotland. The Glasgow people are beginning to move out to new and better homes. The Glasgow jobs are not moving with them. If this is allowed to continue, Glasgow and the Clyde Valley may be faced with two dangers. First, Glasgow rebuilt will not have a properly balanced industrial structure; she will not he cushioned as she should be against the inevitable rise and fall of certain industries as a result of new materials, new techniques and new demands.
What is needed is the right proportion of the various sections of industry to give full employment to the inhabitants of Glasgow. To achieve this, some firms in sections of industry now too dominant in Glasgow must move out and make way for other sections of industry perhaps now not represented at all. This calls for careful planning and a reexamination of the incentives given to those who ought to go and to those who ought to come in. As well as that. the whole question of the movement of administrative and office staff concerns us now much more than it did in 1957 when the Act was passed.
The second danger facing Glasgow is that the employment available in Glasgow rebuilt, the smaller Glasgow, may far exceed her then smaller working population. Areas that should have become thriving industrial communities in the Clyde Valley may have become dormitory areas for Glasgow. Competition for workers may arise between Glasgow and the Clyde Valley communities. This may lead to the attraction of workers from other parts of Scotland. We could find that we have created in Glasgow and the Clyde Valley our own industrial magnet with all its attendant evils, as we have already learned from Birmingham and London. The 1957 Act was prepared after the most careful research. But that was seven years ago and we had only theories to guide us. Nov: we have practical experience. The time is ripe for another review of the 1957 Act. We must 829 be sure that what we set out to achieve is what we now want to achieve. We must be sure that we have the right arrangements and powers to do all that must be done. If dormitory areas are inevitable, they, and the travel arrangements for them, must be planned well in advance.
The long-term development of Scotland is impracticable without some reorganisation of the whole structure of local government. I should like to say a word on the White Paper on this subject. I am sure we were right not to have an outside inquiry or a Royal Commission to report on this question. In a small country like Scotland all the necessary background information is available in the Government's own Departments. The White Paper itself did not lay down a single thing that the Government proposed to do. I t stated the problems and suggested possible solutions. It produced b something for the local authorities to discuss with the Government. These discussions are now taking place. They will pinpoint areas of agreement and areas of disagreement. Inevitably there will be conflicting views on some points as between one local authority and another. But already it is clear that there is a wide measure of agreement on many other points.
I hope that the Government and the local authorities will continue, as we should have done, to work diligently for the greatest possible measure of agreement. Only when no more can be done will it be for Parliament, guided by the Ministers, to decide on the questions still unresolved. This is a major change that must be accepted by the Scottish people as essential. The final pattern will be accepted as essential only if it is a result of patient negotiation and investigation. I hope that the noble Lord will be able to tell us that discussions will continue and that the Government do not intend to be dictatorial or precipitate in finding the final solution.
Before sitting down I must say something about the noble Lord who has taken my place as representative in your Lordships' House for the Scottish Office. The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has earned affection and esteem here as he earned it when, for six years, he was Lord Provost of Dundee. No Party bias 830 tinges our gratitude to him for the valuable work he has done in Dundee and as Chairman of Glenrothes New Town. We wish him well in the work he now has to do among us. We on this side know that he has to cover a very wide field, and if he gives us fair answers—and I am sure he will—we shall not try to catch him out. I say these nice, and true, things to the noble Lord because not one word of what must now be said is aimed, directly or indirectly, at him personally.
When Labour was in office from 1945 to 1951 there was considerable unrest in Scotland. Too many decisions were being made in Whitehall, decisions which seemed sometimes to have been made in complete ignorance of the special conditions in Scotland. The unrest justified the appointment of a Royal Commission. On their recommendations large areas of Whitehall administration were moved to St. Andrew's House, and more Scottish Ministers were appointed. Never since the Act of Union has Scotland been so well and understandingly served by Scottish Ministers and Scottish officials working in Scotland. Now, it would seem that Labour would like to grab back Whitehall control. Their Party Manifesto proposed an Ombudsman, but there was no mention of a separate Ombudsman for Scotland: the Scots must presumably go cap in hand to Whitehall to be judged. This view may be an error—I hope it is. Perhaps they just forgot about Scotland.
But, my Lords, there is no error in the unfortunate position in which the noble Lord finds himself. He is not a Minister of State: he is just one of three Joint Under-Secretaries. He has personal responsibility for the Department of Agriculture for Scotland, and for regional development planning, but not for execution. This is a grave and deliberate affront to the Scottish people. The Scottish Minister in your Lordships' House is the only one who can be available in Scotland, when Parliament is sitting, midweek. The whole conception of a Minister of State in the Lords was that the Secretary of State should have a fully informed second-in-command who could be based in Scotland and could speak for him with authority.
When I was in office all the relevant papers from all Departments went through my office. It was a full-time job 831 to keep fully informed. The senior officials had a Minister readily available with whom they could consult on any subject. I could not properly have done my job for Scotland if I had had to cover also the day-to-day administration of one of the four Departments; and the noble Lord has the Department of Agriculture. How can the other three Departments consult the noble Lord? He is neither their Under-Secretary nor senior to their Under-Secretary. Are their submissions to their own Under-Secretary and the Minister of State or Secretary of State to go also to the noble Lord in charge of the Department of Agriculture? If they do, and if he has the time, he can only read them. If he were to make criticisms I do not think they would carry the same weight as criticisms made by the Minister of State. If the noble Lord does not receive submissions from other Departments, how can he be as fully informed as he should be, as the only Minister readily available in Scotland?
Much of my time was spent in meeting deputations and conducting negotiations. The local authorities, together and singly, came to discuss their affairs: grants, roads, water, housing, proposed legislation—an infinite variety of subjects. I talked with the representatives of groups, such as the teachers, the policemen, the nurses and the doctors, and many others. The people of Scotland who would have liked to see their Secretary of State appreciated that he had to be in Cabinet and in the House of Commons. They were nearly always prepared to discuss their affairs with me, as his deputy, and were able to make firm appointments to suit their own convenience. Now such appointments, except on matters concerning the Department of Agriculture, must be made with a junior Under-Secretary, who has no departmental responsibility and is not the Secretary of State's deputy. Now Scottish people and organisations have the choice of being fobbed off on to that particular Under-Secretary or seeing their own Under-Secretary or the Minister of State or the Secretary of State by queuing up at St. Andrew's House on a Friday—and not every Friday at that. Their only alternative will be to do what they used to do thirteen or more years ago, that is, to travel to London.
832 I know that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, will do his best, but he has been put in an impossible position; and so, too, have many important people who may feel as I do. I take this change as a grave and deliberate debasement of the importance of the successful development of Scotland. Successful development will call for the best possible relations and understanding between the Government and all concerned. How is this to be possible when, for the first time in thirteen years, both the two Ministers with the necessary stature and authority have to spend most of their time in Whitehall? My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.28 p.m.
§ LORD GREENHILL
My Lords, at short notice I have been asked to take part in this debate, and I did not appreciate that I should be the first to speak after the noble Lord, Lord Craigton. But having listened to him very carefully indeed, I, as one who has admired the energy with which he has pursued his job, would have expected, following what he has done on behalf of Scotland, that he would not now indicate that his successor in office has not the power to do what he himself could have done. I would remind the noble Lord that there have been Reports before the one we are discussing to-day. There was some years ago a Report of a Committee, of which I was a member, under Professor Cairn-cross. We made certain recommendations to the effect that any town or area in which there was an unusual measure of unemployment should be given rights similar to those enjoyed by Hillington, which was given powers and monies under a certain Act, in order to make it possible for the unemployed, in whatever part of Scotland they lived, to enjoy the advantages of factories which were built for them, industries brought in and so on. Nothing was done for them, although we had the Report.
The Toothill Report was an excellent analysis of conditions of trade in Scotland. No one would say that anything of a serious nature had been overlooked. Has the noble Lord seen these recommendations implemented? I am not for one moment suggesting that he has been inactive. What I say is that he has by the very nature of his office, been unable to do all he would have liked 833 to do. We talk a bout the construction of houses. He knows perfectly well that he did his best, and to some extent succeeded, in getting grants given to persons owning properties which should have been destroyed long ago, in order to make habitable these tumbledown properties, an inheritance of a mid-Victorian era, when conditions were such that some houses I have seen were unfit even to keep pigs in. These were houses that were to be readapted and made into suitable accommodation for those who could not get ordinary houses. Am I to blame the noble Lord for that? We have been in office about a month. What does he expect us to say?
The Report that we are considering, or are supposed to be considering, to-day about Central Scotland is not our Report; it is the Report of the Party opposite. Tell us what you have done to implement what is contained in this Report. The answer is that, with the best will in the world, you just could not do it. Can we not be a little more sincere in our approach to one another at this time, taking for granted that we are all anxious to do what we can for the good of Scotland, for the good of Scottish employment, for the good of the people who are growing up there and do not want to leave Scotland unless conditions compel them to? Are we not all in the same boat? Then why make this kind of atmosphere between our two sides at this stage? The least you can do is to say, "Let us give the Government an opportunity of seeing what they can do before we begin to criticise what they have done." Is that an unfair attitude?
The noble Lord referred to Glasgow. He knows perfectly well that for some twenty years or more I enjoyed membership of Glasgow Corporation. I was the representative of the ward, which he knows well, called Townhead. So well did I think of it, so well did I get on with the electors of Townhead, that I thought it a compliment to adopt Town-head as my territorial designation. When I first went into Townhead I saw there a collection of buildings, a collection of houses, and a little industry which no one could feel at all proud of. Properties abutted into the street and they could not be shifted because the owners refused to part with or to sell them. The nobly Lord knows as well 834 as I do that to-day Townhead is no longer a dump of slums as it was in those days.
§ LORD CRAIGTON
My Lords, if the noble Lord will forgive me for interrupting, if he will read to-morrow what I have said he will see that I have not made one suspicion of criticism against the performance of anything that the noble Lord or his Party have done. We are anxious to be helpful. My one point of criticism about which I feel so strongly is the position of the Minister of State, who in my view should be in this House.
§ LORD GREENHILL
Well, my Lords, I am bound to admit that I should certainly like to see no great change in that particular office. I am not within the inner confidences of the present rulers of this country, but I cannot imagine that this is a permanent situation deliberately adopted in order to belittle the position of the man who in your Lordships' House speaks for Scotland. I do not believe that is the position. It is just a temporary situation. After all, we have been out of office for thirteen years. We have seen what you have done. We have not copied you because we thought all that you did was so good, and we must be given a little time just to let the dust settle down and to enable us to carry out our job as we think it ought to be done.
However, to revert to Glasgow, I want to say this without over-emphasising what has already been done. The noble Lord will be well aware, for example, of an article written by a correspondent of The Times on the last day of August which was headed:Gorbals rebuilding is national problem. Tenants protest to the Queen and to the Prime Minister.The sub-headings, showing his impartiality, were such as: Behind Schedule; Expensive Project; A Miracle Forecast; Frightened Children; Only a Myth; The Rat Game, and so on. The writer ends with the words:The miracle in the Gorbals is still in its early labour pangs.The noble Lord is well aware of what is happening in the Gorbals. He is well aware that, in spite of the erection of houses in that area, there is still a large amount to be done. He knows that the 835 man in charge of local government in Glasgow is a man of outstanding ability. Mr. Taylor is well known not only for what he has done for Glasgow, but also for what he has done for Livingstone and for other places, and he would be the last to criticise the man in charge of that part of the rebuilding of Glasgow. We are not blind. When the noble Lord reminds us of the overspill and, at the same time, of encouraging others to come in in order to do the work that will be there, speaking for myself, I am sorry to see the extent of the overspill of the population of Glasgow, not because Glasgow does not need more space for the inhabitants who are there, but because those who constitute the overspill are normally the best type of citizens—the man with the most desire to do well for himself. Without wishing to be unkind to anybody, I would rather have kept that type in the city in order that he could give us the benefit of his energy and his views.
May I return for a moment to that part of the City of Glasgow which I represented, more or less to the satisfaction of the people? As I said, that part of Glasgow was "slummy" and industry was not well developed; but to-day, as the noble Lord will, I think, be the first to admit, it has become the educational centre not only of Glasgow but of Scotland as a whole. As he knows quite well, what was the Royal Technical College is now the second university within the city. Within recent years the local authority have built colleges for industry, colleges for printing, colleges for commerce, and so on, in order to provide for the growing part of the population of Glasgow means whereby they will be able to adapt themselves to the changing conditions of industry and of commerce which are taking place before our eyes.
Neither I nor any man in Glasgow would pretend that Glasgow is doing all that could be done, or that Glasgow is now so perfect. But the noble Lord knows perfectly well that there are a number of schemes under consideration just now. He knows that some people have had permission given for the redevelopment of areas in Glasgow; that schemes for rebuilding have been submitted to the Scottish Office and are now being considered; that there are circular roads being built in and 836 around Glasgow in order to facilitate the movement of traffic through Glasgow. He knows all these things; and yet, with great respect, I sensed that there was an underlying note of criticism in what he said. I am glad to hear there was not.
Let us remember that just now, when immediate reactions to recent national decisions have created an unsettled state, when (if I may put a rather crudely) the main part of the financial speculators of Europe and elsewhere are doing all they can to take advantage of the temporary financial upset in this country, is not the time to make us look as though we are behind-hand in doing for our own country what ought to be done in present-day circumstances. If there is anything unsatisfactory to be said about Scotland it is that, in relation to the rest of the country, our proportion of unemployed is greater than it should be. Apart from the central part of Scotland, which is the industrial part, we know that there is an unequal distribution of opportunity for the people of Scotland. We want to keep the population where it is. We want to attract even more people into those parts of Scotland which are not over-populated. But do not, on the first occasion we raise a matter affecting Scotland, give the impression that Scotland is in any way behindhand.
It is true that shipbuilding is not the industry it was. It is true, in the opinion of some of us, that the motor car industry is perhaps a little overdone at the moment. We do not know how long it will last as an industry employing thousands of people. All we know is that we must keep our eye on the development of industries which demand employment, which demand up-to-date scientific knowledge and technological ability, in order to maintain a substantially viable country. I should have expected the noble Lord to say "We are sorry to be unable to rule Scotland as we did till a month or so ago, but we wish the Government the best of luck in making the best of a job for your own country."
§ 3.42 p.m.
§ LORD POLWARTH
My Lords, I will, not follow the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, in all that he said about the representation of the Scottish Office in this House, except to say this. I think that by the present arrangements the Government may well be laying up for themselves administrative complications, and 837 placing on their Ministers strains and stresses which may well oblige them to have second thoughts about these arrangements. I hope that they will keep an open mind on the subject. However, what natters is that in the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, we have a man who has wide experience in Scottish life, of heal government and business, and of that queer hybrid between the two, a New Town and the problem of its development. I should like to congratulate him and wish him well in the knowledge that we shall always have a good hearing and a straight reply to the questions which we fling at him.
I would also pay a tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, and thank him, not only for initiating this debate but for all that he did for Scotland during his term of office, both in Scotland and in this place. In this place he dealt with the onslaughts, often from his own supporters, with courtesy and tact, even on those occasions when he was clearly speaking to a "sticky" brief. In Scotland lie made himself available to countless individuals and deputations. He made himself thoroughly familiar with the whole Scottish scene. What is perhaps less well known, though he dropped a hint of it to-day, was that he made a number of visits to countries overseas in the interests of Scottish trade and tourism. We are indeed glad to see him in charge of Scottish affairs on behalf of this side of the House, from which his contributions will doubtless be even less inhibited owing to his absence from office.
It is now almost a year since we last debated the Scottish economy, and this is a good time to have a good look at the progress math, and at our future needs. For a start, it is fair to say that the economic position of Scotland in relation to the country as a whole is better than it has been for a long time past. During this year, while production in Britain as a whole has levelled off, it has continued to rise in Scotland: unemployment is well down compared with this time last year. The noble Lord, Lord Craigton, has mentioned some of our achievements in the field of new industrial development. For this a great deal of credit must go to Government assistance, whether in the form of de- 838 without which many of these factories would not have been able to start up in Scotland. I am glad to say that, in addition, there have been more inquiries than ever over the last few months about the possibilities of further new industrial operations in Scotland.
The year 1964 has also been an outstanding year for the development of the services on which industry is so dependent. The Central Scotland Plan is now beginning—and I stress the word "beginning" to take shape; and we have seen the coming to fruition of such enterprises as the Clyde Tunnels, the Forth Road Bridge, the new graving dock on the Clyde, the Prestwick Air Terminal building, and, at Hunterston, the most powerful nuclear power station in the world. That is not bad for one year.
In earlier debates on this subject I have always tried to ram home the need for a continuous policy of planning and of encouragement to industry. If we are going to break the back of the Scottish economic problem, or indeed of the problems in other similar areas of the country, policy must be continuous. I am glad to see from the gracious Speech, and from announcements made since, that the Government appear to take the same view and intend to pursue the same broad policy as the previous one, though doubtless with differences of emphasis and detail. I was particularly glad at the recent announcement that more advance factories are to be built in Scotland. A ready-made factory at the present time is just about the most powerful inducement to a new company that it is possible to have. My one regret is that they are all to be in the central industrial belt of Scotland. The next time we have any of these factories, I hope that we shall have them spread rather more widely.
I would remind the House that the economic development of Scotland is not just of concern to Scotland itself. Unless the unemployed resources of Scotland and other areas like it are fully developed and utilised, there can be no hope of developing Britain's resources to the full, or of achieving a growth rate of 4 per cent, and at the same time avoiding inflation from the pressure of costs in the overcrowded parts of the country. What is good for Scotland is good for the country as a whole.
839 It seems likely that this Government will become even more deeply involved in economic and regional planning than the last. We in the Scottish Council welcome this trend, which indeed the Toothill Committee recommended in their now famous Report. In addition to the Scottish Development Group—a very useful grouping of civil servants from different Ministries in Scotland—which is now to be reconstituted under a different name, we are about to have an advisory Scottish Planning Council. The same pattern is to be applied to all the other parts of Britain. This, I think, is a tribute to the relationship and pattern established in Scotland between Government and other organisations through the Scottish Council.
There has been some speculation, not unnaturally, that the new set-up would render the Scottish Council's rôle superfluous. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is the Government which has the power, and therefore the more instruments of help and advice that it has at its elbow the better, and particularly at the elbow of the Secretary of State in relation to his efforts for Scotland within the Cabinet. I was glad to have that view confirmed by the Secretary of State himself, in a very helpful and encouraging letter to me about the future rôle of the Council and his relations with it. We all look forward with interest to hearing more about the shape and rôle of the new planning organisation.
The fact is that there is an immense amount to be done. It cannot be done by the Government or private agencies alone, but only by partnership of Government, local authorities, industry and many others. Indeed, there is a great deal that I do not think an official body could do, or would try to do, in this field. For example, there is the whole range of services to industry and local authorities which only an independent body can give: help with new products, new markets, particular industries for particular places. There is the whole field of forward thinking and research which must be done if we are to meet the needs of changing markets and new technology in industry. This can be done only by a body with access to the best brains and experts as required, with an experienced 840 staff with an industrial background, and free to speak its mind both to authority and in public.
We need to seek out the right kind of industries for the future. We need to seek full value from the so-called new "breeder" industries, like electronics and motor vehicles. There is great scope for bringing more component makers to Scotland, and for Scottish industry itself to supply more of the components that its industries need. We are actively pursuing this business of cross-fertilisation, as it were, with exhibitions of components by the manufacturers and in other ways. The arrival of the motor industry, despite its problems—and it has had them—has done a great deal already for Scotland but if it is really to develop a full-scale, comprehensive industry, with component makers, I believe that we need at least one more large motor vehicle plant in Scotland. When the next round of expansion takes place in the motor industry, as I am sure it will, then everything possible must be done to steer one such development to Scotland.
On the export front, Scotland, I am glad to say, is already exporting more than her share per head of the British manufacturing population. Only two days ago I took part in the opening ceremony of a newly modernised factory of a company which employs 10,000 people and exports 80 per cent. of its production—surely an outstanding example to the rest of the country. But markets are always changing, and we are keeping in touch. This is very important. There are the opportunities of the Iron Curtain and underdeveloped countries. Apart from the aspect of research into export markets, we have just held a highly successful Scottish Industries Exhibition, which resulted in considerable orders, and in the course of the next year we are planning Scottish trade missions, both to Denmark and to Australia.
Our universities are playing their part, too, I am glad to say. I welcome the announcement to-day, that the University of Glasgow is to undertake an inquiry into the continued high rate of unemployment in the Greenock area—a phenomenon which continues in spite of Government-aided plants, the new graving dock and some of the most efficient shipyards in the whole country. So much for the private side.
841 On the Government side, as I said before, the great need is for continuity of effort—for the maintenance of the financial inducements to industry, and a continued policy on industrial development certificates. This last, I am glad they have said publicly, they will supply. I must confess to some anxiety about the effects on Scotland of some of the latest financial developments announced, quite apart from their general effect on the country as a whole. We have bitter memories of the effects on development plans of earlier slow-downs to the British economy, however necessary they may have been. Provided the recent measures really are temporary, not much harm may be done. The all important thing is the climate for investment in the country as a whole, and that must be uncertain, to say the least, for the time being, though this wider problem is outside the scope of this debate. The high bank rate will undoubtedly be a burden on local authorities in their plans. I hope the Government will seriously consider whether during this time those local authorities in development districts and growth areas can be given some special concession in interest rates for capital plans through the Public Works Lean Board.
The new import surcharge will have some unexpected an I undesirable effects, too, particularly on new capital projects. To take one example, there is the pulp and paper mill at Fort William—probably the biggest single industrial project ever brought to the Highlands. A great deal of the plant has been ordered in England and in Scotland, but there remains a substantial quantity which can be obtained only from overseas, much of it already ordered, some of it actually paid for. Either the company will have to accept the additional capital cost, and with it a built-in addition to their cost of production for the future, or they must delay the construction, with all the resulting disruption to plans and the cost of keeping equipment unused. I wonder whether the Government could arrange for a rebate of the surcharge on all capital equipment needed for projects in development districts, if it could be proved that that equipment is unobtainable within this country.
842 My Lords, there is a great deal more to be done, whether by the Government or those outside, and I am sure that we shall hear about many of these things from later speakers. To take only a few examples: we need still better communications, by road, by rail and, above all, by air. We must find the means of spreading far more widely throughout Britain the fruits of Government research and development contracts and the siting of both Government and private research organisations. There must be a new hard look at what has been called the problem of the South-East, but what is really the problem of the whole country. The Study recently produced by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government was clearly the work of civil servants whose interests and experience appeared to be limited to a range of 100 miles from Charing Cross, or perhaps I should say Whitehall. There is also the problem of the areas of depopulation—frankly, I think, a harder one than the problem of the areas of unemployment.
These and many more matters will doubtless be raised in the debate, and we must be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, for initiating it, and to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, for his readiness to take part and to respond to it so early in his new post. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, that these are not matters for Party political disagreement, or at least they should not be, because they are far too important; and I am sure that all of us in this House will try to keep them so. As for the Scottish Council, which is my particular interest in this field, we have never hesitated to criticise any Government or to praise them where due. I remember one meeting with Conservative Ministers not long ago which ended in such total discord that we were unable to agree on a joint communiqué to give to the Press. I can only say that ultimately our submission was accepted. Our attitude will be exactly the same to the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, and to his colleagues, though I hope that the occasions for disagreement will be few. I believe that, with co-operation and goodwill between us all, we can make Scotland as prosperous as any industrial economy in the world; and I believe that that day is within sight.