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Scottish Development Agency

Volume 928: debated on Wednesday 23 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many new jobs have been created by the Scottish Development Agency since its inception.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 10th November. The proposals subsequently announced by the agency in the factory and industrial investment fields will of course contribute further to the creation of new jobs.

Is that not a complacent reply from the Minister, in view of yesterday's unemployment figures? Is he satisfied with the progress made by the Scottish Development Agency? If not, what plans has he to improve performance?

Everybody is concerned about the unemployment figures. However, I must point out that in just over a year the SDA has announced three substantial advance factory programmes. There has been a great shot in the arm to engineering as a result of the agency's investment in Cummins Engineering, to the tune of £8 ½ million. The agency has joined with local authorities and others in important environmental schemes. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be the first to acknowledge the fact that the agency has helped small firms engaged in oil activities in his constituency.

Is the Minister aware that we are grateful for the work undertaken by the SDA, but that additional resources would make it a much more effective instrument for the redevelopment of the Scottish economy? Does he recall Mr. Lewis Robertson's statement that at a snap of his fingers an extra £100 million in resources could be obtained? Have those fingers yet snapped?

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would also wish to acknowledge his indebtedness to the SDA in respect of developments at Stonefield. That is one of the measures adopted by the Government, in addition to the announcement made by my right hon. Friend about coal burn, which will create additional help for miners.

Is the Minister aware that 80 per cent. more people are now unemployed than in the period three years ago when the Labour Government came to office? Is that not a condemnation of Government policy? When will those policies be reversed, so that we may see an upturn in confidence in commerce and industry?

There has been a recent announcement by Scottish companies that a figure of £2,500 million has been invested in Scotland. That figure embraces investments by BP, Cummins and other companies. The hon. Gentleman will wish to acknowledge his indebtedness to the agency for the advance factory programme in his constituency, in Newton Stewart, Stranraer and Kirkcudbright, and in respect of other developments.