'Any rise in unemployment is disappointing, however small. It is a significant achievement that unemployment in Scotland has remained below 200,000 for a year - the best record for more than 15 years. Vacancy levels are also rising which is encouraging.
'The latest business survey from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, released last week, reveals a number of encouraging indicators on the Scottish economy. The marked improvement in the retailing sector continues and tourism demand is very strong. Business confidence has returned in manufacturing and orders and sales are still increasing, particularly from overseas, together with positive investment intentions. Increased employment is anticipated across these sectors over the next few months.
'Inward investment continues to provide a stimulus for growth in the Scottish economy. Less than a fortnight ago, Lite-On Technology Corporation announced its decision to establish its first European facility at Mossend in Lanarkshire involving planned investment of over £40m and the expected creation of more than 1,000 jobs. This is good news and follows another excellent year for inward investment to Scotland in 1995-96, a year which is expected to result in the creation or safeguarding of over 12,500 jobs.