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Scotland (Development Of Industry)

Volume 654: debated on Tuesday 27 February 1962

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asked the Prime Minister if he will appoint to the Scottish Office a Minister whose sole responsibility will be the development of industry with a view to securing full employment for the people of Scotland.

No, Sir. In 1954 the Royal Commission on Scottish Affairs recommended against a division of the responsibilities at present exercised throughout Great Britain by the President of the Board of Trade. The hon. Member will have noticed that the recent Toothill Committee reached the same conclusion.

Does not the Prime Minister agree that to some extent, because of the Departmental responsibilities of Scottish Ministers for other basic services in that part of the country, employment is not receiving the attention it warrants? Is not this instanced by the fact that Scotland, with 10 per cent. of the general population of the United Kingdom, has 20 per cent. of the unemployment? Will not the Prime Minister agree that this project is worthy of some further consideration?

No, Sir. We are discussing now the organisation of Departments, and I feel that the Royal Commission and the recent Toothill Report having reached the conclusion not to try to divide the responsibilities of the Board of Trade, it would be very unwise if the Government were to take a different view.

Will my right hon. Friend please point out that there are now no fewer than seven able-bodied full-time Ministers in charge of 5 million people in Scotland, which is four more than are at present considered necessary to look after the whole of the rest of the Colonial Empire put together?