asked the Secretary of State for Trade what estimate he has made of the extent of the problem of producing separate Scottish and English foreign trade statistics in terms of Civil Service manpower.
The separation is not practicable and I do not think that I could justify the cost of making the suggested manpower estimates.
Is there any evidence to show that if the statistics were available they would show a benefit either to the Scottish taxpayer or the Scottish economy?
It is difficult to answer that question. Indeed, I could do so only after I had undertaken the exercise, and, as I have said, I do not think I should be justified in that course of action.
Does not the Secretary of State's reluctance to publish the figures indicate his fear that they would show Scotland to be in a basically healthy balance of payments situation and that the only beneficiaries of the figures would be the Scottish National Party?
There might be a case for carrying out this exercise if only to alleviate the anxieties of the SNP. However, I have no reason to believe that it would show the kind of figures which the hon. Gentleman would undoubtedly like to see.