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Indigenous Industries (Recovery)

Volume 32: debated on Wednesday 17 November 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to assist the indigenous industries in Scotland affected by the present recession.

In addition to our major contribution towards the marked reduction in the level of inflation, which helps all sectors, there is an extensive range of incentives available for industrial development covering investment, innovation and export. We have mounted an industrial development drive to make these incentives known throughout Scotland. The Scottish Development Agency also provides support to small firms with a range of financial, technical and marketing services.

I accept what my hon. Friend has stated in his reply, but is this not unsatisfactory for those areas that have lost their development area status, particularly the Grampian region and my constituency of Aberdeenshire, East, where there is intolerably high unemployment? Will my hon. Friend undertake extensive research into the situation at Fraserburgh and Peterhead with a view to reducing the unemployment that has been created in that area?

I fully appreciate my hon. Friend's feelings in these matters. The Scottish Development Agency is examining the particular problems of Fraserburgh. A wide range of grants and assistance are available to parts of Scotland that are not assisted areas. These include tax incentives, schemes to back innovation and export, and all the programmes that are available for small businesses and small business start-ups. Despite my hon. Friend's disappointment that his area has lost assisted area status, I am sure that he will help us to ensure that every company in his part of the world is fully aware of the assistance that is available.

In view of the difficulties experienced by indigenous industries, the Government's claim that one of their priorities is to deal with unemployment—which is belied by legislation on privatisation and union-bashing—and the reduction in the Treasury contribution to the Scottish Office, what is the Secretary of State doing to educate the Prime Minister about what is happening in Scotland?

I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman means, because there has been no reduction in the Treasury's contribution to the Scottish Office. A great deal is being done by the Government and the European Community to assist the area which the right hon. Gentleman represents.

Will the Minister concede that the closure of the Falmers factory and the redundancies at the Bata factory are due to imports of cheap footwear and clothes from Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong? Will the Scottish Office support the initiative by the Department of Trade to set up a body to try to limit such imports? Does the Minister agree that that is the best way to help Scotland's industry?

I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman supports the Secretary of State for Trade's initiatives.

Is my hon. Friend aware that I prefer the word "encouragement" to "assistance", and that I have a fellow feeling with my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. McQuarrie)? When will my hon. Friend the Minister encourage indigenous industries, especially small companies in the non-assisted and Tory-supporting areas in Scotland?

The support available to the small business sector in Scotland is at its highest level ever. Great efforts are being made to ensure that all business men, particularly those involved in small businesses, are aware of the fiscal support and advice available from Government Departments and the Scottish Development Agency.

What is the Scottish Office response to the Arthur D. Little and Scottish Office review of forest products?

The report is encouraging. We are involved in discussions with interested parties who may wish to take advantage of the report's recommendations and invest further in Scotland.