asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that almost all the men in the township of Eastriggs, Gretna, and a large number in Gretna township itself, are at present unemployed; and whether the Government is prepared to make better arrangements for the employment of these people until the factory may be sold or scrapped, look- ing to the fact that the Government brought them to Gretna to work for the State and is their direct employer?
I have been asked to answer this question. I am afraid I can add little to the answer that I gave the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy on the 16th February last, beyond stating that every effort on the lines already indicated will be made to spread evenly amongst the unemployed population of the Eastriggs and Gretna townships such employment as can be given from time to time in connection with the dismantling of buildings, machinery or railway track.
asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether in any sale of the Gretna property and factory, either in whole or piecemeal, the Government will make arrangements so that the distress and unemployment, which has so long persisted in the district owing to the closing of the factory, may be alleviated?
I regret that I cannot for obvious reasons undertake that the Disposal Board should introduce into any contract for the sale of the whole or a part of the Gretna property and factory conditions to restrict a purchaser in the selection of his labour. It would, however, seem unlikely that a purchaser would import ordinary labour if it were available on the spot. I may add that in such sales of machinery and stores as are being carried out at Gretna every endeavour is made to induce purchasers to employ local labour as far as possible in the work of removing their purchases; and in general the object which the hon. and gallant Member has in view will contantly be borne in mind.