§ 12. Mr. Salmond
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met representatives of the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) to discuss measures to promote economic growth in Scotland.
§ Mr. Salmond
I should like to ask a question on the Scottish salmon farming and fish farming industry which was not answered by the reply to the previous question. The Secretary of State must be aware that 6,000 jobs and 310 £200 million on the balance of payments are at stake in an industry which provides vital employment in many rural areas of Scotland.
Why do producers in that vital sector have to go to the Irish Government for help in Europe to protect their industry against Norwegian dumping? Is the Secretary of State aware that the action of the Commission today is totally inadequate and will not help? Effective action depends on the United Kingdom assisting the Irish Government to defend the industry. When will the right hon. Gentleman start acting as Secretary of State for Scotland rather than as Secretary of State against Scotland?
§ Mr. Lang
The hon. Gentleman is right to identify the industry as an important provider of jobs in rural areas, and I agree that about 6,000 people are employed in the industry. It is an important industry and, through meetings that I and my hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for agriculture in Scotland have had with the industry, I am aware of the anxiety.
I took the matter up with the European Commissioner when a minimum import price was introduced recently, and further consideration of those and other matters is now in hand.
§ Sir Nicholas Fairbairn
Will my right hon. Friend congratulate the members of the Scottish Council on their work? Will he also congratulate the members of Locate in Scotland on their work and, in particular, on the fact that they have just brought to Scotland a firm that will provide 1,000 jobs in the west of Scotland thanks to their aptitude and excellence?
§ Mr. Lang
My hon. and learned Friend is absolutely right to emphasise those two important components of the Scottish economy. Not only did Locate in Scotland have an exceptionally good year in attracting inward investment to Scotland in a fiercely competitive world environment, but the export side has also been extremely successful—a matter in which the Scottish Council is heavily involved. Our exports were up by 9.6 per cent. in value in 1992, and by 6 per cent. in volume, to their highest ever value of £9.7 billion.
§ Mr. Macdonald
On salmon farming, does the right hon. Gentleman accept that the actions so far taken by the Commission are completely inadequate to defend the industry against the uncompetitive practices of the Norwegians? Why is it possible to impose a 12 per cent. import levy on farmed trout but not on farmed salmon? Why is it possible for the Americans to impose a 26 per cent. levy against Norwegian salmon entering the United States? Will the Secretary of State undertake at least to push for this sort of measure to defend the Scottish salmon farming industry?
§ Mr. Lang
The introduction of a minimum import price has provided a base around which the market can stabilise, although I acknowledge that many salmon farmers regard that base as too low. As I have already said, we continue to be in touch on these matters, and consideration is being given to further action.