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Scotland

Volume 892: debated on Wednesday 14 May 1975

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Fishing Industry

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the present situation of the Scottish fishing industry.

The industry will benefit from the temporary subsidy arrangements and from the measures of protection against low-priced foreign imports which Norway has voluntarily adopted and which the EEC has now applied more widely. When I met representatives of the industry on 12th May I reaffirmed that the Government would pursue policies to safeguard them in relation to the overfishing of stocks, and would continue to strive for a modification of the common fisheries policy of the EEC to take account of the United Kingdom's special interest.

Although I am grateful to the Minister for all he has done and is doing, may I ask him to accept that there continues to be the gravest concern in the industry about the renegotiation of the EEC fisheries policies, falling prices, quotas and the break-up of the Law of the Sea Conference? Can he guarantee now that if other countries take unilateral action to extend limits we shall take immediate action? Will he accept that at next week's North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission meeting it will be the last straw for the industry if we fail to take a hard line and preserve fair quotas for the British fleet?

The hon. Gentleman has asked approximately six supplementary questions. I assure him that I appreciate the concern of the industry as expressed to me on Monday, and I can give him an assurance on his point about unilateral action by any other country. We have stated publicly that we shall be ready to take action if any other nation unilaterally extends its limits. That has been Third endorsed by the EEC. We shall be taking a hard line at the conference next week.

May I assure the Minister that we are grateful for the meetings on the fishing industry that have been held with him and with the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food? Can he give us any indication when we may hear something definite about quotas? Secondly, has he got any further with establishing regular meetings with an authoritative body which can speak for the fishing industry?

To some extent the timing depends on the outcome of the conference next week, which is probably the most important conference—even more important than the Law of the Sea Conference, which is a longer-term matter. It would be wrong to anticipate what might come out of the conference next week. On the right hon. Gentleman's point about regular meetings with the industry, as he knows—I do not say this by way of complaint—one of the difficulties is that the fishing industry is not as well organised as it might be, particularly among the inshore fishermen. We shall give fishermen every encouragement to improve their organisation, and we are always willing to set up a more regular formal type of working party or to have regular meetings, because we recognise that there are many problems facing the industry.

Will the Minister recognise that many of the troubles of the fishing industry are due to its own indecisiveness? Will he ensure that at the NEAFC conference next week he gives his officials a definite lead to give subsidies to boats under 40 ft. long and to those engaged in shell fishing? May I ask him not to wait for somebody else to take unilateral action? It is high time that he gave the industry a lead.

It is high time the Scottish National Party had a better spokesman on fishing matters. I am not sure whether it could produce anyone better, but the hon. Member for Banff (Mr. Watt) is totally misleading the House and, indeed, the fishermen. We have already reached agreement on the basis of a voluntary scheme for subsidies for boats under 40 ft. long. The fishermen were most appreciative on Monday of the fact that, because of the difference in arrangements, we are including over 100 additional vessels in this subsidy scheme. I do not know where the hon. Gentleman gets his information from, but as usual it is wrong. We shall be taking a hard line at the conference next week. No one—certainly not the hon. Member for Banff—needs to impress on me the serious situation facing the fishing industry in Scotland, and in particular the herring industry. I am very mindful of all the responsibilities that I have for looking after the interests of the fishermen.

Fish Stocks (Conservation)

2.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress has been made at the Law of the Sea Conference to conserve fish stocks and protect these stocks from being overfished in the waters round the Scottish coast.

The Law of the Sea Conference has not been concerned with conservation measures as such. International measures to conserve our stocks are considered in the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission which is meeting later this month.

As the Law of the Sea Conference has adjourned, and no ratifications of any changes could take place in less than about two years, does the hon. Gentleman agree that there is an urgent need for the EEC countries to negotiate with Denmark to reduce the amount of industrial fishing? I understand that the Danes catch about 1·3 million tons of fish, of which more than 1 million tons is for industrial, not human, consumption. The matter should be negotiated straight away. It cannot be deferred.

I accept what the hon. Gentleman has said. It is disappointing, as I think I hinted after my visit to Geneva the last time I answered Questions, that the conference did not come to firm conclusions, not only on fishing but on economic zones and all the other matters. I appreciate the concern about industrial fishing, but it is always difficult to tell a friendly Power that it is pursuing policies which are not in the best interests of everyone. It is partly because of industrialised fishing by Denmark and other countries that we are in our present serious situation. We shall be raising the matter next week.

Does the Minister acknowledge that the fishermen have shown a very responsible attitude to conservation and quotas? We on this side of the House are encouraged by what the hon. Gentleman has said about the hard line he proposes to take at the conference next week. If bilateral discussions with other countries are necessary, will the hon. Gentleman reflect upon the point that if other countries take unilateral action—if Norway takes unilateral action, for example—as a member of the EEC we are in a relatively strong position to deal with them?

I appreciate what the hon. Gentleman has said. [An Hon. MEMBER: "Denmark is the problem."] As the hon. Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) knows, this is not a pro-EEC or anti-EEC argument, and he was not trying to suggest that it was. [Interruption.] I am not sure whether my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) is on my side. I cannot even hear what he is saying. We accept the policies and approach of the fishing industry as a whole towards conservation. I feel concern because the United Kingdom quota for herring, for example, is coming down from 109,000 tonnes to a maximum of 66,000 tonnes for everybody. Inevitably, serious problems face the industry. Although the industry has been responsible. I share its fears and worries about its future livelihood. That is one of the reasons why we attach great importance to the conference next week.

Order. May I make an appeal to Scottish Members. It is nearly a quarter to three, and we have dealt with only two Questions. Can we go rather quicker?

Edinburgh

3.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will pay an official visit to Edinburgh.

As my hon. Friend must be aware, scarcely a week goes by without my being in Edinburgh on official business. I shall next be there on Friday.

We are grateful to my right hon. Friend for his continued presence and interest in Edinburgh. Will he be willing on one of his visits to Edinburgh to meet some of the many residents who have written to me urging support for the reform of the Scottish divorce law, particularly the two residents who later came to see me to ask whether they should wait for this House to make up its mind or move to England to qualify for a divorce there? Will he explain to them why the English Home Office is willing to take over a Private Member's Bill to stop cruelty to hares but the Scottish Office has still not found time to reform laws that cause misery to humans?

My hon. Friend spoke to me this week about a visit to Edinburgh but he did not mention divorce. I am always willing to consider the desirability or otherwise of meeting organisations. I cannot meet all those who would like me to meet them. As a Member of Parliament, I have received no letters on the subject. As Secretary of State, I have received 24 letters from individuals and four from organisations. I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern and frustration over his Private Member's Bill being obstructed, and I hope that this week the hon. Gentleman who is doing that obstruction will have a change of heart.

Rate Arrears

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the latest estimate which he has of the total of rate arrears in Scotland.

Information is not collected on a national basis; figures for each authority are published in its annual abstract of accounts. I understand that the amount of arrears tends to be small in relation to total rates levied.

In view of the leniency shown by the Secretary of State and other Ministers towards councillors who did not implement the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1972, will the hon. Gentleman consider leniency also towards ratepayers who in certain areas of Scotland may face massive increases in rates, to such an extent that they may find it impossible to pay them?

I do not think that anybody will face massive increases in rates because of anything that has happened, or is likely to happen, under the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1975.

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that there are certain areas where people will face a massive increase in rates whether or not they were involved in what happened under the Housing (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Act? In particular, in the Banff and Buchan area of the Grampians region, certain burghs face rate increases of more than 100 per cent. What steps has the hon. Gentleman taken to have discussions with those authorities to see whether the blow can be softened, to give people an opportunity to meet a reasonable increase but not the savage increases with which they are now faced?

We have already introduced transitional arrangements. I believe that another Question about this is to be answered a little later, a Question affecting the regional rate burden, which is much the biggest part of the total rate burden. I think it will be found, when these arrangements are taken into account, that some of the forecast increases will not happen. Incidentally, if increases result from redistribution within a region there will be corresponding reductions elsewhere.

Will the Minister take the simple step of adding up the figures from the various authorities so that the House may have an idea of the total rate arrears position in Scotland? Would not that be prudent? The transitional order that the hon. Gentleman has presented appears to offer no Government action to help the transition but simply transfers the burden from one area to another, so that if there is a reduction in one area the cost will be added to another within the same region.

We have already increased the rate support grant from 68 per cent. to 75 per cent. of total local authority expenditure. That is a massive increase, well beyond anything the previous Government ever achieved. In the first part of his supplementary question the hon. Gentleman was talking about a redistribution within the regions. If any changes in rate burden arise there, they come from local government reorganisation, which was put through by the previous Government. It was always expected that there would be changes in rate burdens there. We have lessened them as far as we can.

On rate arrears, I have information about the four cities up to the end of 1973–74. The figure as a whole is less than 1 per cent. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton) may be interested to know that in Edinburgh total rate arrears were then proportionately three times as high as in Dundee, four times as high as in Glasgow and 10 times as high as in Aberdeen. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should direct his inquiries first to his own backyard.

Mental Hospital Nurses

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has had regarding the diminishing numbers of appropriately qualified registered nurses in Scottish hospitals providing for the mentally handicapped; and if he cm give an estimate of the position likely to obtain in the next few years.

None, Sir; but I am concerned about the position. My nursing advisers and the chief area nursing officers of health boards have set up a working party which is at present looking into the manpower aspects of mental and mental deficiency nursing and will be reporting shortly.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the matter is becoming serious? Fewer than 50 persons commenced training for this qualification in 1974 whereas there were 100 in 1972. Is he also aware that a number of factors—the Batchelor Report is one—discourage nurses in other specialities from going into hospitals for the mentally handicapped? To solve the problem, does he not agree that a six-month course for all registered nurses working in other sectors would be better than the present 18-month course?

I am aware that the position generally with regard to recruitment is not ideal. Until recently we managed to keep recruitment just above replacement level. As regards training, I require notice before I can give an absolute answer. Certainly I shall consider my hon. Friend's suggestions.

Galloway (Industry)

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to encourage the establishment of timber-based industries in Galloway.

As Galloway is in a development area, assistance to new industry setting up there is available under the Industry Acts. The Government will give sympathetic consideration to eligible projects, but I am not aware of any approaches by interested bodies.

Will the Under-Secretary bear in mind the need for the Government to provide encouragement as well as to wait for people to ask for encouragement? Will he bear in mind that we in Galloway are no longer content to see the area treated as a kind of colony which produces raw materials to be taken away and processed elsewhere when we need the employment locally? Secondly, will he impress upon his right hon. Friend the need for us to have a speedy and safe means of transport out of Galloway? Will he therefore ask his right hon. Friend to give consent to make the A75 road into a dual carriageway?

I have enough bother looking after forestry without answering questions about roads. The hon. Gentleman made the point about the timber being taken away from the area. It is precisely because of the present state of the plantations that there is not, perhaps, the demand locally for the processing or the industrial side. To cheer up the hon. Gentleman, I should like to draw his attention to the fact that it is estimated that in the next 25 years the forestry and industry related labour force in the area should increase from 1,200 to over 2,000. Since forestry is a long-term industry, that is an encouraging and optimistic picture in his area.

As the greatest social problem in Scotland is the provision of more housing, will my hon. Friend take another look at the provision of timber-frame houses as they are not only cheaper but more quickly built? In these days when we want to increase the provision of housing and at the same time curtail public expenditure, would not this meet the dual purpose?

That is another question. The timber grown in Scotland has not been accepted so far by the building industry. While we are anxious to give every encouragement, there are practical problems which have to be overcome before the building industry will use such timber for that purpose in Scotland.

Did the Minister obtain his figures on future employment before or after the Chancellor introduced the capital transfer tax on forestry? Whilst wanting to see timber-based industries in South-West Scotland, we first need continuing supplies of timber. How will that happen in view of the Chancellor's penal taxation?

I gave up-to-date figures. The estimates are up to date. The hon. Gentleman should not exaggerate the possible fears in the minds of some people about the capital transfer tax. Concessions have already been made which I think go at least some way to meeting the citicisms.

Housing Subsidies And Rents

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what effect the Government's proposed reduction of £80 million at current prices in housing subsidies for the financial year 1976–77 will have on the average standard council rent in Scotland.

The saving estimated for Scotland in the year 1976–77 is £10 million. Exchequer subsidies are not affected. The Housing Rents and Subsidies (Scotland) Act 1975 returns to local authorities the responsibility for deciding how housing expenditure after Exchequer subsidies should be met as between rentpayers and ratepayers. I expect local authorities to take a responsible view of the need to see that rent income bears a proper share of rising housing costs.

Although my right hon. Friend is a former schoolmaster, he does not seem to be able to do much about arithmetic.

The question is coming, Mr. Speaker. Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Chancellor announced in the Budget a cutback in subsidies of £80 million in the financial year 1976–77? Taking the figure of 5·7 million dwellings on a United Kingdom basis, is my right hon. Friend aware that that will mean an increase of £14 a year on the rent of the average council dwelling? Is he further aware that in view of the Chancellor's increase in the standard rate of income tax from 33 per cent. to 35 per cent., because of tax relief and mortgage interest the average person now buying his house will receive a further subsidy? This year a person buying an average house—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."]—will receive an increased income tax relief of £24. Is this—

My hon. Friend was also a school teacher. His subject was geography. He was wise to stick to that subject. My hon. Friend did not correctly quote the figure which was given by the Chancellor. That figure was £65 million. I quoted a figure in respect of Scotland of £10 million. That is the right figure, which I agree in respect of that matter.

We must face the facts of inflation and that for 15 months and more we froze the rents in Scotland. However, there comes a point at which with increased costs of building, mantenance, repairs and management, the bill must be footed. It is right to expect the local authorities to be reasonable in their adjudications as between rents and rates.

Does the Secretary of State agree that Scotland has a desperately serious housing problem? That being the case, does he argue that Scotland should be exempt from these cuts? Can he explain why in these discussions it appears that Scotland, with a £10 million cut, is carrying more than its British share?

If the hon. Gentleman will consider the relationship between the number of local authority houses and private houses in Scotland as against elsewhere he will realise that the Scots are not carrying more than the British share. Secondly, there is no cut in relation to housing. These expenditures have nothing to do with housing subsidies. The housing subsidies will be increased. We increased them by removing the £6, which had to be faced by the local authorities. If the hon. Gentleman is interested in housing, may I draw his attention to the fact that from 1971, until the time when the Conservative Government left office, there was the most disastrous decline in house building in Scotland. That should make him keep quiet about the matter.

Mental Handicap

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any plans to set up a National Development Group for the mentally handicapped.

The Scottish Health Service Planning Council and the Advisory Council in Social Work jointly are in process of setting up a programme group on mental disorder. I expect that this group will turn its early attention to mental handicap and therefore fulfil broadly the same rôle in Scotland as the National Development Group in England and Wares.

I welcome the Minister's reply and I am grateful to hear it. Has he read the reports produced by the Scottish Society for the Mentally Handicapped and by the Mental Welfare Commission indicating a great need for joint co-ordination throughout Scotland to ensure that the mentally handicapped are fully catered for in all aspects of their life?

Yes, I have received those reports. It is too early to comment in detail on some of them. However, in 1972 a circular was issued identifying targets for the provision of hostels by local authorities. Unfortunately local authorities have not responded as quickly as we hoped. Some have reached only approximately 20 per cent. of the target for residential provision for the handicapped in the community.

Will my hon. Friend finally use his influence on the Leader of the House or on whatever authority may have the power to institute a debate on the Melville Report, whether it be on the Floor of the House or in the Scottish Grand Committee? Is it not time that we discussed that report, which is rapidly gathering dust on the shelves in Westminster?

My hon. Friend is wrong, at the end of his remarks, to say that the report has been gathering dust. In fact, one part of the report has been carried into legislation, albeit by Private Members. Debates on the Floor of the House or elsewhere are not matters for me, but no doubt my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council will read my hon. Friend's remarks in Hansard.

Islay

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will pay an official visit to the Island of Islay.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 23rd April.—[Vol. 890, c. 304.]

Is the Minister of State aware that people in all the islands had high hopes of the results of the Government's recent survey but that those hopes have since been dashed by the great increases in fares and freight charges to the islands? Does he agree that he should eschew the pleasures of Edinburgh for one weekend and go to Islay and speak to the local people about the problems facing them?

I thought that the outcome of the recent review had been rather well received. In fact, I had a letter thanking me for it from the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Stewart).

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us why he is not prepared to help Western Ferries with the service they give to the island?

Opposition Members are always telling us to cut public expenditure. Therefore, to give subsidies to two operators for one island would be completely daft.

Rates

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will convene a meeting of representatives of the new regional and district authorities to discuss the rates which they will levy in 1975–76.

My right hon. Friend met the new Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on 25th April and further meetings with it on local government finance will be held every three or four months. These will give opportunities for discussing expenditure, grants and rates.

Does the Minister accept that there is serious concern on the part of both business and domestic ratepayers in Scotland about the likely rates level this year? Certain local authority treasurers have said that their problems at present are like a nightmare. Will he therefore give some guidance to the people of Scotland and to local authorities about the maximum percentage increase which he, as a Minister, would regard as reasonable this year?

I think that the hon. Gentleman's questions are like a nightmare, but it is a private nightmare which is not shared by people in Scotland in the eventuality. As I have pointed out on previous occasions, one of the most effective ways of keeping rates down—I have already said in answer to an earlier question that we have given the biggest rate support grant settlement ever in the current year—is by ensuring that local authority expenditure is strictly controlled. Local authorities would be helped in that regard if they did not have constant demands by Opposition Members to increase their expenditure.

Housing Authority Rents

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the average net annual rent paid by a housing authority tenant in Scotland; and how this compares with the corresponding figure for England.

On the latest information available, the average annual net rent payable by local authority tenants in Scotland is £110 and in England £155.

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that this will be the last occasion for Scottish Questions before the present Scottish housing authorities go out of existence at the weekend? Will he take this opportunity of thanking all the Labour councillors who, over the years, have managed to keep rents in Scotland at such a reasonable level? Will he urge the new district councils which are taking over to follow in the same traditions and to resist any demands by Tory and SNP councillors, some of whom want to impose the maximum increases? Will he also bear in mind and possibly reconsider the proposal to raise the rents of Scottish Special Housing Association houses by 50p per week, because many of the tenants feel a sense of injustice as they already have to pay much higher rents than council house tenants living in the same areas?

My hon. Friend raises some wide questions. I pay tribute to the many people in local government whose authorities, as we know them, are going out of existence from tomorrow.

It is a little misleading to leave the impression that any housing authority in future will be able to avoid reasonable rent increases, bearing in mind the increased costs of building and the number of houses still required to be built. However, to some extent I share my hon. Friend's concern about inequalities in rents between one authority and another. Within the context of reorganisation, perhaps a fresh look can be taken at equalising rents between different authorities.

Does the Minister realise that, as a result of Labour policies, Scotland now has the lowest rate of owner-occupation of any country this side of the Iron Curtain? Will the Government explain what they intend to do about it? In particular, will they now give encouragement to allow council house tenants who wish to do so to become the owners of the homes in which they live?

The most practical contribution to increase the percentage of owner-occupation—we are committed to that—is, as we have already done, to assist building societies, to give encouragement to the private sector to build more houses and to ensure that the finance is available particularly for young people who want to buy houses.

When the Secretary of State compares Scottish and English housing, will he also look at the Government's English housing initiatives? Over the past few months the Secretary of State has said "No" to a Scottish environmental board, "No" to a Scottish construction industry liaison group and "No" to Scottish participation in the Building Societies Association Liaison Group. Will he stop saying "No" and start saying "Yes" to decent Scottish housing?

Hon. Members say that the answer is "No". I am not sure what the answer should be, because I do not think that I properly understood the question, which was so involved. I can only repeat that there is nothing to stop the maximum number of houses being built in Scotland by either public authorities or private enterprise. We have taken steps in both directions to encourage both sections of the industry.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the main obstacle to building both private and public sector houses in Scotland is the rate of interest charged to both the public and the private sectors? As well as increases in material and labour costs, the greatest burden now and in future is the tax exacted by the moneylender. Is it not time that the Socialist Administration produced money for local authorities at a far cheaper interest rate than is being done at present?

Yes, but I am afraid that my hon. Friend will have to face the hard facts of life. We are still living in a moneylending society. It is possible to provide cheaper money for local authori- ties, but that is merely another form of subsidy in present circumstances. The solution seems to be to get the economy on the right lines and to get interest rates generally down.

Is not the real reason for the difference between rents in England and Scotland that far too great a proportion of the rents is paid by rates in Scotland? Should not that be readjusted?

We have given local authorities freedom. We do not just talk about it; we do something about it. We are confident that, by and large, local authorities will act responsibly. This is a matter for the judgment of local electors. We believe in democracy. If one authority over-subsidises rents from rates, it is a matter about which local electors can express their opinion.

Disabled Persons

14.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many Scottish local authorities have a list of disabled persons; and if he will name them.

Almost all the local authorities in Scotland have indicated that they have, or are in the process of preparing, a list. The authorities and their present methods of obtaining information were given in the reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Mr. Carter-Jones) on 18th March.—[Vol. 888, c. 405–7.]

Does my hon. Friend accept that to me that is a very disappointing reply? Is it not about time that the Government instructed local authorities to follow the example of, for instance, Motherwell and Wishaw Town Council, which is incurring considerable expense and time in advertising on television and in the local Press for a register to be compiled of every disabled person, whether mentally or physically handicapped? Will the administration, in which I have confidence, now instruct the new local councils from tomorrow that a register should and must be compiled as soon as possible?

We shall do everything possible to encourage local authorities who do not have such a list to prepare one. The new authorities begin their operations on 16th May. As well as discussing their development plans for social work services, we shall certainly be discussing with them the preparation of a list of disabled persons.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there is some concern that the personal quality of social work which has been established in places like Motherwell and Wishaw could be somewhat diluted and become anonymous in the vast regional administrations? Will he ensure that the personal quality of the service is not lost?

I think that provision was made for this in the Local Government (Scotland) Act. The Strathclyde Region, under that Act, has to produce a scheme for social work. I have seen such a scheme prepared. I am concerned to see that in these bigger authorities the personal attachment to the work is not lost, because we are dealing with a very personal social service.

Land Ownership

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from political parties about the question of land ownership and the registration of land holdings.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Labour Party at its conference at Aberdeen had a certain opinion on these matters? Does he recall the brilliant retort of the Secretary of State to the SNP slogan on oil that it is "Scotland's soil"? Can he ask our right hon. Friend how he can be so sure of his facts without a register of land holdings?

As my hon. Friend knows, I was present at the Labour Party Conference and I am very much aware of what it decided. We wait with interest to see what submission we receive from the Scottish Council of the Labour Party following that conference, and no doubt the Secretary of State will be able to explain the quotation he used during the debate.

Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that one aspect of land ownership which could be reformed quickly is crofting and crofting tenure?

That is an entirely different question, as the hon. Member will appreciate. He should put down a Question to that effect if he wants an answer to it.

Public Expenditure

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will detail the services affected by the 1976–77 public expenditure cuts.

I refer the hon. Member to my reply on 28th April to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor).—[Vol. 891, c. 47.]

Is the Secretary of State aware that some of us on this side accept the need for cuts in public expenditure but that we find it difficult to reconcile that with the claims being made by Labour Members about the £300 million which will be spent by the Scottish Development Agency? Does he accept that on his side the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing, or is this further evidence of the bogus statement by the Chancellor during the last election that inflation would be held at 8 per cent.?

The hon. Member should appreciate exactly what the Chancellor said and what he did in the Budget. He certainly sought to restrain the rise in public expenditure. This is not an absolute cut: it is restraining the projected rise. Secondly, I remember his saying that we had to make available the necessary money to produce industrial development because our future depended on it. Therefore, he made available further moneys in respect of training and retraining of men. No one took objection to that. The same applies to the growth of new industry and to expansion within Scotland. We have to provide more money for that end, and that we are doing, without apology.

Is the Secretary of State aware that we in the Scottish National Party do not accept the public expenditure cuts in Scotland? Is he happy with those cuts? Does he not agree that Scotland can sustain economic expansion and that we do not need inflation?

The hon. Member should appreciate exactly what the Budget makes available to Scotland. We make available moneys according to need. That is why Scotland has had more than its share in the past. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will adopt a much more balanced outlook towards the United Kingdom and a little less selfish one.

Where will the £10 million cut in housing fall? is the right hon. Gentleman seriously saying that he accepted a larger cut for Scotland simply because we had more council housing?

The hon. Member is getting as muddled as ever. We know how the Tories cut housing expenditure: they simply stopped building houses.

The question was how we would achieve it. Public expenditure is not only national but also local. Local expenditure on certain housing matters has been causing the hon. Gentleman concern. So savings can be made there.

I have already told the hon. Gentleman, in respect of rents. May I remind him what his Government did? In January 1974 they stopped altogether any further expenditure on new schemes for improving local authority houses. That is one way of saving money. There are many other ways. We are examining them, but I am not deceiving people about how I expect local authorities to deal with the question of rents.

Public Buildings And Installations (Security)

17.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is satisfied with the security of public buildings and installations in Scotland.

Responsibility for the security of public buildings, as of private property, normally lies with the owner or occupier. The police are always ready to assist and in consultation with those concerned with premises subject to particular threats have prepared appropriate contingency plans. Suitable arrangements have been made for the security of those buildings for which I am responsible.

I appreciate that there are matters presently sub judice. In view of the regretted spread to Scotland of robbery and violence for the attainment of political objectives, which inevitably accompanies nationalism, will the hon. Gentleman make plans for the protection of life, limb and property in view of this infectious manifestation?

As I explained, we are satisfied that the contingency plans which have already been made for buildings which are subjected to particular potential threats are adequate to meet any threat that anyone may attempt to carry out. Therefore, while I recognise the concern on this point, we consider that the present plans are adequate for the situation we face.

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is very dangerous to exaggerate the supposed latent potential for political violence in Scottish society? Will he take this opportunity to tell everyone in Scotland that there is absolutely no need for anyone to turn to violent action for political ends, because there is an abundance of democratic avenues open to everyone, of every political view, in Scotland?

I am most anxious that nothing said in the House or elsewhere should inflame a potentially highly inflammable situation. My hon. Friend's message is admirable, that there is no need for anyone of any connection or persuasion to resort to violence to achieve political ends. There are adequate democratic means to achieve them.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree with what I think most citizens would accept, that crime is objectionable whether it is political or nonpolitical, and that the best way of beating crime of any sort is to ensure that we have a strong police force? Will he therefore accept that there is a need to increase the remuneration of the police so as to recruit more people to the forces of law and order?

As I said, I am most anxious not to say anything that would inflame any inflammable situation. That applies equally to police pay as to the subject of the original Question.

Does the Minister agree that the Government's measures for the protection of oil installations, whether onshore or offshore, are at the moment almost ludicrously inadequate, and that this applies most strongly to onshore installations because they are more vulnerable? Will he therefore consider setting up a committee to make use of the considerable expertise which already exists in Scotland to assess properly the threat to onshore installations and to advise how best they may be protected?

The protection of onshore installations is the responsibility of my Department, through the police. The protection of offshore installations is the responsibility of the Department of Trade. I am satisfied that, so far as my Department is concerned, the protection of onshore establishments is adequately covered, although obviously we keep the matter under continuous review.

European Community Membership

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his latest estimate of the effect on the Scottish economy of British withdrawal from the EEC.

The Government's view remains as I described it in my reply to the hon. Member on 7th April.—[Vol. 889, c. 349.]

Will the Minister indicate why the Secretary of State has not himself chosen to reply to my Question as he promised he would if I put one down? Will he also indicate how the Government reconcile the statement by the Secretary of State for Scotland that the European Community is a monstrous bureaucracy with the simple fact that the Scottish Office employs more civil servants than the European Commission?

The Scottish Office does a lot of things that the European Commission does not. It runs the police and prison services, for example, and so far as I know we do not yet have a Common Market prison service. Some of these comparisons are, therefore, perhaps a little misleading. My right hon. Friend said that if the hon. Gentleman put down a Question he would get an answer. He put down a Question and he has had an answer.

Glasgow

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next plans to visit Glasgow.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if he visits Glasgow he will find that the recent weekend speech by the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Henderson), which suggested that we should all join the Scottish National Party to bring prosperity to Scotland, is being treated with a great deal of amusement by my constituents? Does he agree that any party which is rejected by the STUC and by practically every trade union in Scotland, and a party which is following a dishonest line over the Common Market in that it wants Britain out and Scotland in, is not acceptable to the Scottish people? Does he further accept that any party which disagrees with public ownership of North Sea oil can do nothing for the prosperity of the Scottish people?

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that it would do him and his hon. Friend the world of good if they read my speeches which are made at weekends or at any other time?