Orders of the Day — Employment, North Lanarkshire and N.E. England

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st August 1961.

Alert me about debates like this

6.2 a.m.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

I apologise to the staff of the House for keeping them for a still further period at this time of the morning. I aim sure that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade will not expect me to apologise to him for keeping him to reply to the debate. He knows very well that the matter I intend to raise is of very great human significance. This will be the last opportunity for three months of raising a matter that vitally affects many of my constituents and, indeed, thousands of people throughout the whole of North Lanarkshire, which covers a much wider area than my own constituency.

On Monday, 24th July, we had a debate on trade and industry in Scotland. That was a most significant date. The debate was opened for the Government by the President of the Board of Trade. When the Secretary of State for Scotland replied, he quoted these few lines: What was he doing, the great God Pan,Down in the reeds by the river?Spreading ruin and scattering ban.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th July, 1961; Vol. 644, c. 148.] The right hon. Gentleman thought he was being very clever in that quotation. He accused my hon. Friends, particularly my hon. Friends the Members for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) and Motherwell (Mr. Lawson), who spoke for us from the Front Bench, of scattering gloom in Scotland—needlessly scattering gloom, according to the Secretary of State. My hon. Friends were trying to give a realistic appraisal of the position of trade, industry and employment in Scotland.

I said that 24th July was a significant date. It was on Tuesday, 25th July, just a day after that debate, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced his economy measures—the 7 per cent. Bank Rate and the other Acts to meet the crisis. That night the Chancellor cast not merely gloom, but a murky darkness over many areas of Scotland. I am grateful to the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland for coming along to this debate. Both he and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade know the strong reaction of the Scottish Trades Union Council to what it has been told will be the result of these measures on employment and industry in Scotland.

Speaking in the debate on 24th July, the Secretary of State for Scotland said of the future prospects: Of course, the subject is full of hazards and one cannot be certain about what will happen."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th July, 1961; Vol. 644, c. 150.] The biggest hazard facing Scotland today is what will happen as a result of the Chancellor's economy measures. I have no doubt that when the right hon. Gentleman was trying to give us a fairly bright picture of Scotland's future he knew of the proposals which the Chancellor was to announce the following day.

We want to know what effects these proposals will have on Scotland's employment prospects. The S.T.U.C. wants to know that. It is something which all those who have scheduled areas under the Local Employment Act want to know. I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary will agree that if we are to adjourn for nearly three months this is the only opportunity for getting an authoritative statement on this matter. Is the hon. Gentleman as optimistic about our prospects as his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade was on 24th July?

The Secretary of State for Scotland referred to the development of the B.M.C. factory at Bathgate as a breeder industry, in other words, an industry from which ancillary industries would flow. We all hope that that will prove to be the case. The right hon. Gentleman said: Apart from supplying what at present has to be brought in, the existence of such industries in Scotland ought to have attractive capacity to the type of industry which uses their products. This is the kind of breeder industry which we want to get in."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th July, 1961; Vol. 644, c. 151.] What is the Board of Trade doing to attract such industries as we were told would develop from this breeder industry of the B.M.C. in Bathgate and Rootes, in Linwood? I am particularly interested in the industries which will follow the B.M.C.

I am to put a pointed question to the Under-Secretary. Do the officers in the head office in Glasgow just sit back waiting for inquiries to come in? If so, I suggest that it is high time the Minister injected a sense of urgency into those officers and an appreciation of the need to do everything possible to get these ancillary industries. We cannot blame the officers and I shall not do so, because they are not here to answer for themselves. But the responsibility to give directions is that of the Minister. I want to know what has been done.

I have repeatedly asked questions on this matter. I am fortunate in the fact that part of my constituency is not far from the B.M.C. factory and I hope that some of my constituents will find work there. At Harthill, only five miles from the site, there is the arterial road A.8 and a railway line quite near to an excellent industrial site. I should like to know one thing that the President of the Board of Trade has done to try to get ancillary industries into the area which is so admirably placed from the point of view of the breeder industry of B.M.C. On the other main Glasgow—Edinburgh road, Caldercruix & Plains have admirable sites for ancillary industries from B.M.C. and I should like a specific answer on this subject. I am tired of the vague generalisations which have come from the Government Front Bench. They seem to me to hide the fact that the Government are doing much less than they ought to be doing to bring work to this area.

I have no doubt that the Secretary of State would describe the steel strip mill on the other side of my constituency as a breeder industry. That is what we hoped that it would be. The cold rolling mill at Gartcosh comes into production in October this year. The building of that wonderful plant has been right up to schedule and I give credit to everyone who has taken part in that project. I give credit to the Government for providing a great part of the money to Colvilles to make it possible, but I want to say something further. In Scotland, many people are perturbed that this cold strip mill will be producing our first strip steel in October with not a single new industry to take the products. We shall have the spectacle of steel strip being produced in Scotland and possibly having to be exported over the Border to other industries. If that is the case, it will not prove to be the breeder industry which all of us, including the Secretary of State, hoped.

The Parliamentary Secretary is aware that on numerous occasions I have drawn attention to this area with its great possibilities. The Deputy Controller of the Board of Trade came to Gartcosh to examine a possible site there, and I have been told that because of the mineral situation it would be of no use for industry. I know that Colvilles had to have a huge part of the coalfield sterilised for the cold strip mill. But not many miles away is Muirhead and Chryston, an area growing in population, not very far from Glasgow and with an excellent ground for an industrial estate, which could provide the factories to use the steel strip which is to come from Gartcosh. Gartcosh-Muirhead-Chryston is a single council area, and in the last few years Lanarkshire has built it up considerably by bringing population from other council areas. I should like to know one specific action—just one—which the Board of Trade has taken to attract industry to this area to use the strip steel.

In the debate on 24th July, the Secretary of State spoke of West Lothian and the decline on the shale oil industry there. He said: There is the prospect…that we may be on the verge of solving the problem in a very important area of Scotland which was facing the risk of becoming derelict."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th July 1961; Vol. 644, c. 153.] The Secretary of State knows that it was not his action which made it possible to solve the problem; it was the fortuitous circumstance of the choice of the site by B.M.C. I am grateful that B.M.C. chose that site.

I return to the question of an area becoming derelict. I have the preliminary Report of the Sixteenth Census of Scotland, 1961. I looked at the figures for West Lothian, and the comparison between the population figures for 1951 and 1961. There are two small areas in West Lothian which show a decline in population and the total of this decline during those ten years was 489. In every other area in West Lothian there was an increase. I looked at the figures for Lanarkshire and I found that five out of the nine district council areas show a decrease in those ten years—a decrease amounting to 4,829, not 489. There is an overall increase in Lanarkshire of a little over 11,000, but, when one remembers that East Kilbride has taken over 20,000 from Glasgow during the past ten years, a very sorry picture for the rest of Lanarkshire is left. What is the Minister's reaction to that decline?

In some areas, the dereliction is an accomplished fact, not something in prospect. Good luck to West Lothian. I hope that people prosper there as I should like every area of Scotland to prosper, but the fears the Secretary of State feels about a dereliction which might come about should be greatly exceeded by his concern for dereliction which has come about.

There is one area out of the five which has lost population particularly badly. In the area of the seventh district council alone there has been a decrease of population of 1,930 during the past ten years. The ratio of 1961 to 1951 in that area is 94–8. The figures of dereliction which I have given prove to the hilt the need for additional industry. The seventh district council area is by far the worst hit in Lanarkshire, and the whole county presents a gloomy picture in population statistics.

The Parliamentary Secretary knows that much of the loss of population is due to the closure of mines. Shotts, Newmains, Cleland and Salsburgh have all been badly hit by the closure of mines. There are not as many men employed in the shale oil industry in the whole of West Lothian as were em- ployed in mining in the one town of Shotts in 1949. On the eve of the holidays the ninth and last pit has closed.

I asked the President of the Board of Trade last week why a firm which was looking for an industrial site in Lanarkshire was not taken to that area. I was told that it wanted to be near a big centre of population. and that was the reason. I tell the Parliamentary Secretary frankly that I do not accept that. To take one place, Newmains, without any break in habitation one passes from Newmains to Wishaw. The same is true as one passes from Wishaw to Motherwell and from Motherwell to Hamilton. In that area, with Newmains at the eastern end of it, there is a big population, with highly skilled craftsmen among it, the very type of people that some of these new industries need.

Will the hon. Gentleman make quite clear in his Glasgow office that this is not an isolated, marooned area stuck out like a tiny island? It is an area with a big population all round it. I hope that when industrialists are being shown over, they will be taken to that area, with Newmains in the centre, Shotts on one side and Cleland and Salsburgh on the other side.

The Government decided to put their advance factory in Shotts. Will there be any delay in the building of this factory because of the Chancellor's economy proposals? When I was home at the week-end, many of my people were asking that question. I want to be able to give them an answer. Instead of any delay, I urge the Government to speed the building of this factory.

Because of previous experience, I should like to know what active steps the Government will take to find a tenant for the factory when it is built. We in the Shotts area want to be sure that there is not the delay in finding a tenant for the Shotts advance factory that there has been with the Coatbridge one. The advance factory built in Wales got a tenant without trouble, as did the one in England. Why was there great delay in finding a tenant for Coatbridge? People in the whole of Lanarkshire are perturbed and annoyed when they read that five firms wished to have the tenancy of the Coatbridge factory. The Parliamentary Secretary must tell us this morning why, in those circumstances, with five firms wanting the factory, there was shocking delay in deciding on a tenant. I stress this, because we do not want the same experience when the Shotts factory is built.

My final point concerns the advance factories that are being made out of the Admiralty buildings at Carfin, a number of which, I understand, are still vacant. Carfin is not far from Cleland. It would provide work for many people in Cleland. As only one industrialist could get the advance factory in Coat-bridge, I want to know why the Board of Trade did not ensure that the other four industrialists who wanted it went to Carfin. If Coatbridge suited them, I cannot see anything against their wanting to go to Carfin. Did the Board of Trade see the five industrialists? Can the President of the Board of Trade tell me why some of these factories in Carfin are still vacant?

I have put a great many questions to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. I am grateful that both he and one of the Under-Secretaries of State for Scotland have been present to listen to the case, and I hope that he will be able to give satisfactory answers to my questions.

6.14 a.m.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

I join my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) in apologising to the staff of the House for keeping them to this extent. I had not intended to participate in the debate this morning. I stayed on to serve my apprenticeship, as it were, and to understand the democratic procedures of the House.

When I saw the presence of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade I was, naturally, more interested in his attendance than in that of some of the other Ministries which have been represented throughout the night. Like my hon. Friend, I also represent a constituency in an area which is equally apprehensive about the intention of the Board of Trade.

In a question to the President of the Board of Trade only some three weeks ago, we were informed that about 600 new jobs were scheduled for the Blyth constituency during the next six months; but we received that news in my constituency with some apprehension be- cause, over the years, we have had promises and intentions from the Board of Trade pointed out to us, and then, later, received only disappointment. Unlike most other constituencies in Britain, that disappointment has been increased by the fact that the Chancellor, in announcing that the country had run into an economic crisis, appeared to single out these self-same areas for special treatment; but not the kind of special treatment we had hoped we should receive. At a time when the pit closures are making inroads into employment prospects, we find that the lack of alternative industry is causing many of our people to drift southwards.

Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade tell us precisely what is to happen to the 600 jobs which we have been promised? As we pointed out a few weeks ago, while we welcomed that promise, the Government is really only tinkering with the problem. We can look back six or eight months when there was a by-election in my constituency, and the President of the Board of Trade showed some interest in the area. Following the by-election we understood that the matter would be examined. It is true that both the President and the Parliamentary Secretary visited the south-east of Northumberland. Some of the visits were considerably shorter than others and, while the Parliamentary Secretary has assured me that he was very well received, the people of the area are very doubtful about the value of the visit, squeezed into the half-hour before lunch time. I do not want to be unfair, but I think that thirty minutes to an hour and a half would have covered the extent of this visit.

We are thinking of the areas of highest unemployment and what they are looking for is not only additional jobs, but a diversification of jobs; and that means a diversification of industry. For too long we have been dependant on single industries and in the Midlands and the South, the Government, when it still claimed that we were an affluent society, told us that there were more jobs than people requiring them; but that was not so in the areas I have mentioned. This is a question of assisting the country as a whole, and not merely the area I have mentioned, or even Northumberland as a whole.

One of the reasons we have run into this type of crisis is not that we are facing an economic crisis as a nation, but that we are facing an economic crisis created by the type of policies which this Government have been carrying on for the last ten years. West Germany has been cited as an example to many of us in the industrial areas of this country. The unemployment rate in that country at the moment is running at about ½ per cent., I believe. Had the President of the Board of Trade and had his Department been able to divert and attract industries to the south-east of Northumberland and into areas of high unemployment the country might have reached a similar position, and we could have produced similar figures of employment, and that would have given us in production the difference between what now is an economic crisis and a certain amount of fluency in the industrial position.

While I would indict not the Government but the policies which have created the crisis, the real villian of the piece, in my view, and in the view of the people I represent, is the President of the Board of Trade, because he has examined the problem; and I credit him with understanding the nature of the problem, and also on having the "know-how" to tackle and solve it. Where he is to be indicted by the people of areas like mine is in his failure to stand up to the Cabinet and to stand up to the Treasury to see that the location of industry became a major plank in the economic planning of the Government. It may be that till we get rid of the present Government we are not going to solve our problem, but, whether we like it or not, they still have a considerable time to run, and our people cannot afford to wait.

On this occasion which has been given to back benchers to voice the grievances of their constituents I would impress upon the President of the Board of Trade the necessity to tackle this problem not only in the interests of the people I represent, but in the interests of the country as a whole.

6.23 a.m.

Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire

The hon. Lady the Member for Lanark- shire, North (Miss Herbison) was good enough to give me notice that she was going to raise some of the points she has mentioned, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth (Mr. Milne) has also come in to reinforce some of the points she made and make some fresh ones of his own.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

May I apologise for not giving prior notice? As I said, I was serving my apprenticeship in the democratic procedure of the House, and it was only by waiting to see what would happen that I found that I could intervene. I intended no disrespect to the President of the Board of Trade or the Parliamentary Secretary in not giving notice. I intervened only for the reason I have explained.

Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire

I was not in any way complaining that I had not been given notice. I was only saying that the hon. Lady had given me notice and that the hon. Gentleman had come into the debate. Of course, there are advantages in giving notice which will not have escaped the hon. Gentleman's notice in the course of his education, as he puts it, tonight.

I would deal right away with one point he raised. It simply is not true that the present crisis has anything to do with the failure, which he alleges, of the Local Employment Act policy.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with that. Nor has it anything to do with my right hon. Friend's failure to stand up to the Treasury. Indeed, one Committee of the House of Commons has complained about, or certainly drawn attention to, the fact that the amounts of money that have been made available for the distribution of industry policy are so very great and so very open. There is no question of any friction in this matter between my right hon. Friend and the Treasury. As one would expect, we have had the fullest support of the Treasury in pursuing this policy.

There is a main factor in getting firms to go to development districts. This is the I.D.C. control, and I would say to the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North that this is not a mere generalisation. It is the foundation of the whole policy. It is not a question, either, of regional controllers sitting waiting for firms to go to them. The system is based on two elements. First, there is fresh industry coming along that has never been here before, possibly from abroad or possibly a new firm coming into business. To do anything at all it must apply for an industrial development certificate. In the same way firms which want to expand must apply for a certificate. These are the two sources from which we can steer industry into development districts. We cannot conjure them up from the void or go to some body and persuade them to go. It is the concrete plans, the ideas that industrialists have for themselves for a development, that lead to steering firms to devlopment districts.

Our powers are, first, to say to new firms, "We would like you to go to development districts" and, secondly, to say to firms which want to expand in areas where there are serious problems of finding adequate labour, "You cannot expand where you want to. Will you please look at the development districts?" We then invite them to go to development districts which we think will be most appropriate and I think that it is true that in every case they are invited to go both to the North East and to Scotland. That is how we tackle this problem. We have our obligations under the Local Employment Act and we have to have regard to existing and prospective unemployment in the area.

The fact is that unemployment in the constituency of the hon. Member for Blyth is not sufficient for us to say that it is a development district and, therefore, it cannot obtain the absolute priority which the constituency of the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North receives in the steering of industry into development districts. That is something of which the hon. Member should not be complaining.

It is true that of late two shipbuilding contracts have gone to the hon. Member's constituency and have kept the level of employment up in that area. As the hon. Member says, there are further jobs to be developed. I confess that I cannot carry in my head all the developments in the country and cannot tell him what these developments are, but the situation in his constituency, which my right hon. Friend and I have visited on many occasions, is kept under close review When the hon. Member implied that my right hon. Friend's interest was a little spasmodic and was aroused at election time that was most unfair. He knows perfectly well the circumstances in which this matter arose. There was a telephone call to my right hon. Friend asking whether he would consider placing the hon. Member's constituency on the development district list. My right hon. Friend said that he would give it consideration. What else could he say? That was what happened in that case. My right hon. Friend has certainly given it consideration. We have been giving it consideration on more than one occasion.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

I should like to correct any misunderstanding that there may be on this matter. When the hon. Gentleman refers to a telephone call, it could be inferred that it came from me. It did not. It came from the Tory candidate in my area.

Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire

I do not think it would have mattered whether it came from the hon. Gentleman or the Tory candidate. Each was entitled to telephone my right hon. Friend and question him. The call happened to have been from the Tory candidate. I am not complaining of that; I am merely stating the facts and pointing out that it is a gross misrepresentation to suggest either that my right hon. Friend has not taken an interest in the hon. Gentleman's constituency—a continuous interest—or that he went out of his way to give the impression, during the General Election, that he was taking an interest which he was not taking.

The hon. Lady raised three main points. The first was the effect of the economy measures announced last week. The hon. Gentleman also mentioned it. The second was the question of steps that have been taken to show industry certain places and to attract industry to those places. The third was the question of the advance factory in Shotts. I will deal first with the last point, because it is relatively easy to dispose of quickly.

I assure the hon. Lady that there is no intention of slowing up on the advance factory in Shotts. My right hon. Friend made it clear in his statement that we were to continue. He said that the Government will, of course, continue to use their powers vigorously to deal with these local situations and others at present unforeseeable that may emerge. As there is a local situation at Shotts, it would not be consistent with that statement, of course, to slow up in any way on the advance factory arrangements.

The hon. Lady was anxious for an assurance that there would not be the same delay as at Coatbridge. I cannot give that assurance, and will tell her why. There was no delay at Coatbridge at all. What happened was that a firm came along very soon after the Coatbridge factory had been completed—perhaps before—was interested in it and made application to B.O.T.A.C. Everybody knows that these procedures with B.O.T.A.C. are bound to take time. Unfortunately, the firm refused the offer and decided to go elsewhere.

There have been other firms interested in the factory. One of them applied to B.O.T.A.C. and its application was not accepted, but that case did not delay the finding of a tenant at all. Very soon after the first firm had refused the assistance offered, another firm came along and in its turn instituted its application to B.O.T.A.C. An offer has been made, and I understand that it is being accepted by the firm and that the firm itself will very shortly be making an announcement.

That can happen in any case of an advance factory. It may very well happen as it did in the case of the Holyhead factory, where a suitable firm came along and made an application for B.O.T.A.C. assistance which was acceptable to both the firm and the Committee, and it so happened that it came along shortly after the factory began to be built, and everything went extremely smoothly. I hope very much the same will happen at Shotts, but I am afraid that I cannot guarantee it.

I saw the paragraph in the Scotsman, to which the hon. Lady drew my attention, about five firms which wished to have the factory. There may even have been more. She asked whether they were invited to go to Carfin. Of the seven separate buildings there placed at the disposal of the Board of Trade, five have already been let, and two are being prepared as advance factories. Firms have shown interest in them. I do not think that one can expect more than that. That has gone extremely well, and my right hon. Friend, in the course of the debate, paid tribute to Members opposite who drew his attention to this, with the result that we were able to make seven of the old R.N.A.S. buildings available for industry.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

The Parliamentary Secretary has spoken about one firm applying to B.O.T.A.C. and being offered something and not accepting it, then of a second firm applying to B.O.T.A.C. and not being given anything, and of a third which has applied to B.O.T.A.C. and is, possibly, to take the factory. This shows that there is delay. Is B.O.T.A.C. getting through these applications as quickly as it might?

The hon. Gentleman also said that there may have been more than five firms. But he should know, in an area which desperately needs work, how many there were. Three are accounted for. What about the others? Have they slipped through his fingers?

Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire

It is not a question of firms slipping through our fingers. The hon. Lady must realise that there are other areas besides her own constituency. Firms look at several areas. No doubt they were interested in Coatbridge among other factories. That is not to say that Coatbridge was the only place that they were interested in.

I tried to make it clear that the second application did not hold up proceedings in any way. There was, as I have explained previously, a backlog for B.O.T.A.C. to take over when it first started to examine cases. That has been substantially overtaken. There are about 90 cases outstanding at present, and the time that elapses once a firm has supplied all the information that it has to supply—a great deal of the delay arises on the firms' side as well—is between two and three months.

The hon. Lady started off by talking about gloom. She said that my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had intensified gloom rather than dispersed it. Since his statement we have not heard of any firm which had proposals for development withdrawing those proposals, or deciding not to go on with them. I cannot say more than that we have not heard of a case. It might be that firms have looked at their development prospects again, but we have no reason to believe that that is the case.

Expansion and construction are going on all the time. It might help the hon. Lady if I tell her of what has been happening in North Lanarkshire. During the past two years expansions of firms employing over 100 persons have exceeded closures and reductions by over 3,000 in 1959–60 and by over 2,000 in 1960–61. The actual figures are 3,215 and 2,164. While there was a reduction of 633 on balance in 1958–59, the increase has been 4.746 in the last three years.

North Lanarkshire—the hon. Lady mentioned some other areas—is an area in which the insured population is increasing, taken as a whole. It rose by some 4·2 per cent., or 6,200 in 1960. Employment in manufacturing industry actually rose by 6·3 per cent., or 4,400, in North Lanarkshire. B.O.T.A.C. assistance in the hon. Lady's constituency up to 17th July—at any rate offers of B.O.T.A.C. assistance—amounted to some £660,000.

Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire

May I finish what I have to say on this point?

Two of the projects involving about one-third of this total of £660,000 did not go ahead, but the remainder are expected to provide about 1,800 jobs. This is part of the results of the procedure that we have been adopting and it shows that industry is coming to these areas. Naturally, we cannot expect to find enough industry to fill up all the places that the hon. Lady would like us to fill, or which we should like to see filled. The amount of industry on the move is not sufficient to do that.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

The hon. Gentleman quoted a considerable sum of money and he went on to say that one firm did not go ahead. He can hardly talk of that one firm which did not go ahead as a successful achievement by the Board of Trade.

Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire

It is up to the firms concerned. The Board of Trade makes the offer which is recommended by B.O.T.A.C. I was not saying that this was a success. I was indicating what the Board of Trade is doing. Obviously, if a firm does not accept the assistance we cannot claim any success in that case, but it shows what the Board of Trade has been doing and the offers which it has been making.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

I tried to make my questions specific. What I have been getting at is North Lanarkshire. My constituency is called Lanarkshire, North, but I would remind the hon. Gentleman that North Lanarkshire is seven-eighths of the biggest county in Scotland. What the hon. Gentleman is telling us is what is happening to an area with a population almost as big as that of Glasgow. This is a constituency matter which I have stayed here to discuss. I am not asking for factories in every village in my constituency. I tried to group them and to show that it was an area, not one village which had become derelict but groups of villages which ought to be helped.

Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire

I quite appreciate the hon. Lady's point, but we have to treat the development districts as a whole—and the groups of them as a whole. We cannot undertake to ensure that industrialists will choose even to visit all the places which the hon. Lady would like to see them fill. This is a matter of choice for the industrialists themselves. I hope that the hon. Lady will allow me to deal with the areas as a whole because that is the way in which we deal with these matters.

I am coming to the points which she has raised and I shall try to answer them specifically, but I want to give the background, first, of this whole area. The hon. Lady went outside her own area in making her speech and I want to deal with the area as a whole. The hon. Lady gave the impression that this was an area from which there was a drift away. I have said that in the area as a whole there are more registered employed and the amount of employment in manufacturing industries has been increased. I go further and say that the wholly unemployed as at mid-June has fallen from 4·9 per cent. in 1958 to 3·4 per cent. in 1961. It rose a little in 1959.

The hon. Lady asked about places. She dealt particularly with Shotts and Hart-hill. I sympathise with her anxiety that we should encourage and induce firms to go to these places in her constituency. Relatively, the advantages that she referred to of various places may not make quite the same appeal to industrialists with propositions as she envisages. Our Regional Controller will certainly show these areas to industrialists with suitable projects, especially those who are anxious to establish themselves near Bathgate in industries with particular connection with the B.M.C. It is true that the B.M.C. is a breeding industry.

The hon. Lady asked what the Board of Trade is doing to attract such industry, but it is the breeding industry itself which attracts industry. When the effect of the breeding comes to the Board of Trade, we can deal with it. We cannot ourselves breed the industry to fill up the various corners in her constituency.

Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire

No. The hon. Lady must allow me to deal with the points she raised.

Photo of Miss Peggy Herbison Miss Peggy Herbison , Lanarkshire North

I object to "corners". I have spoken about places with a huge population.

Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire

If the hon. Lady does not like the word "corners", I will substitute the word "places". I merely used a term. I have explained the I.D.C. procedure. I warn the hon. Lady now, as I have already done in correspondence, that there are difficulties at Harthill. The local authority boundary runs across the village and neither West Lothian nor Lanarkshire has designated land for industrial development there. Once the route of the by-pass is finally settled, they may be more ready to do so. In the meantime, when there are alternative places available it is difficult to take firms to a place where there is uncertainty about the future layout.

I certainly understand the hon. Lady's enthusiastic belief that there is no place like Shotts. We recognise the particular advantages which Shafts may have. Again, this is a matter for industry to decide. We shall certainly draw the attention of industrialists looking for sites to Shotts and the availability of steel from Colvilles. The likelihood of being able to supply both Linwood and Bathgate axe relevant considerations. The fact is that North Lanarkshire has been doing far from badly. The hon. Lady should give credit for this. In view of two new advance factories in the area, with the redevelopment of Carfin, with five extensions to existing factories going on in the area, with over 4,000 jobs in prospect, with a rising working population and a falling ratio of unemployment, not to mention the help which we have given to the hon. Lady personally, the hon. Lady should have given the Government a little more credit than she has.

We do our best to ensure that the needs of particular places are met, but there are a great many places in Scotland where there is a need to bring in new industries. The amount of new industry on the move at any given time is limited, and with the best will in the world we cannot undertake to bring industry to every place which needs it. All that we can do, and are doing, is to deal with the problem in Scotland, and I think that the figures show that we are doing it successfully.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.