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The Highlands And North Wales (Assistance)

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 11 May 1954

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asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in view of the increase in population of about 25 per cent, since 1946 in both the Isle of Man, and in Jersey, where the rates of taxes are considerably lower than the rest of the British Isles, and in view of the persistent depopulation of North Wales and the Highlands of Scotland during the same period, despite the many measures taken to help these areas, he will consider remission of Purchase Tax or any other form of central fiscal arrangement whereby the latter areas can attain the same degree of prosperity presently enjoyed by the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Why cannot the great power of the Treasury be used imaginatively to restore life and prosperity to remote areas and so to strengthen the entire economy of the United Kingdom?

It is impossible to treat the areas to which my hon. Friend refers in the same way as the population of the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands are treated to achieve a particular situation vis-à-vis their geography and constitution. I do not think that the situation is quite so bad in the areas to which my hon. Friend has referred as he makes out. We are always anxious to do our best to improve conditions there.