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Scotland

Part of Orders of the Day — Supply – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th July 1972.

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Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock 12:00 am, 27th July 1972

This chart I have relates to unemployment and that is a figure from which we cannot get away, like the figures given by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. William Hannan) in a good speech about the Glasgow position. We can take particular areas such as Glasgow and Lanarkshire where the position is much worse, where the figures for male unemployment are 10 per cent. and in some cases 11 per cent. or 12 per cent. We have also to consider the duration of unemployment and the number of men who have been made unemployed and who know that they will not get another job.

There are youngsters who have not had a job since they left school. I was on Clydebank the other night, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, and a man who once was employed in John Brown's was telling me that his son had just left school aged 16½. He went to the youth employment officer and asked him what was available. He was one of 600. There was one apprentice engineer place available, there was one apprentice hair-dressing vacancy, there was one job available as a tea-boy in a building unit and a similar vacancy in a shop. That was all.

Translate that into the life of a family and of a community and there is justification for our concern. It does not end with the unemployment figures. The Secretary of State did not give us any reason for hope with industrial development certificates, new projects coming forward and the number of jobs which would be produced by then. There was a good reason why he did not do so— because it is not very helpful. When he listed the causes of unemployment and the difficulties, he might have quoted his own Scottish Economic Bulletin published by the Scottish Office, issue No. 3 for this summer. While it does its best to be fairly factual it says: The current low level of investment is indicated by the statistics for industrial development certificates in Scotland. When the speculative factory building, the advance factory building, was taken out one discovered how disappointing—and it must have been disappointing for Ministers after all their effort—the position was.

The CB1 surveys have been quoted. I well recall what used to be said in the Scottish Office about them. I was advised that they had never been right. I wonder whether the same can be said about the advice given in the Scottish Office. I wish that something a little more substantial than the CBI surveys had been quoted. The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry must know the low level of investment in the private sector. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Gorbals (Mr. McElhone) called it a crisis in confidence—a very good phrase. What is the reason for that crisis? In October, 1970, the Government said "We shall cut public expenditure. We shall hammer the local authorities"—and the cheers of the hon. Member for South Angus (Mr. Bruce-Gardyne) were louder than anybody's. The hon. Gentleman is no longer PPS to the Secretary of State for Scotland for a very good reason—because he is concerned about the change in policies.

That change in policies followed after two disastrous years. Tonight we have seen newspapers for the first time for some days, and they did not make very good reading. Other policies were announced at the time, and the Industrial Relations Bill was one of them. I hope that the Government will not take two years to change their mind about that. They changed their mind about their industrial incentives policy after the disasters it caused. The latest shipping bulletin from the information office of the Shipbuilders and Repairers National Association states: …the intake of new orders during the second quarter of the year continued at a very low level. Basic reasons for this situation are the continuing low level of freight rates, coupled more recently with the uncertainties over currencies. In addition, however, it is known that some owners are refraining from placing contracts until there is a Government decision on whether financial incentives should be made available to ship owners placing orders for new tonnage. No joy is to be gained from the drop in new orders. This does not simply apply to the Clyde.

I was surprised that the Secretary of State had the temerity to mention Govan Shipbuilders. The comprehending of three yards within Govan Shipbuilders was not initially the desire of the Government. It was the fight of the workers which changed the situation at the John Brown yards. We remember the scathing remarks which were made about the cost—£34 million in respect of Govan Shipbuilders and, according to the figures I received at Clydebank the other night, a likely £12 million in respect of Marathon. The Minister has had his education in industrial matters. It was a crash course. I hope that he has learned his lesson. But the people who suffered most as a result of that education were the people of Scotland, with redundancies month after month. But what will they do about shipbuilding? When shall we get a decision from the Government on long-term help for the shipbuilding industry? These are the people in the industry themselves telling us. They are waiting. They do not want to wait much longer.

Another aspect of this crisis of confidence is that, having heard so much about the opportunities for expansion within the EEC, one would have thought that this dynamism that we were to import would have begun to show some indication in Scotland. It has not. Many people are beginning to be concerned that the initial effect will be very much worse than the Government have been prepared to admit—