Unemployment

Oral Answers to Questions — European Community – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st January 1976.

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Photo of Mr Douglas Henderson Mr Douglas Henderson , Aberdeenshire East 12:00 am, 21st January 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what further plans he has to reduce unemployment in Scotland.

Mr. Milan:

The measures I described in my reply to the hon. Member on 10th December are substantial ones. Since then my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced further steps, including an extension of the temporary employment subsidy and the community industry scheme, and the relaxation of some hire-purchase controls, which will benefit Scotland. The hon. Member will now be aware that our decision on Chrysler has saved over 5,000 jobs in Scotland.—[Vol. 902, c. 450–1.]

Photo of Mr Douglas Henderson Mr Douglas Henderson , Aberdeenshire East

As one of the hon. Members who assisted the Government to save Chrysler, may I say how pleased we are to hear the concluding part of the Minister's answer. However, will the Minister explain to the 162,000 workers who are unemployed in Scotland when they can expect to see the unemployment rate brought down to the same level as in Norway, where unemployment stands at a figure of only 1 per cent.?

Mr. Milan:

I do not think that such comparisons are valid, but in answer to a supplementary question I cannot deal with the reasons. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has already said, and I confirm, that the unemployment figure in Scotland is far too high. It will of course come down when we get an upturn in the economy, which depends partly on the world trading situation and partly on getting inflation properly under control.

Photo of Mr Robert Hughes Mr Robert Hughes , Aberdeen North

I welcome the steps taken so far by the Government to deal with temporary unemployment and so forth. However, is the Minister aware that on the Labour Benches there is great concern about the level of unemployment? Will he and other members of the Government reflect that what is required to change the situation is a radical alteration of course towards major reflation as quickly as possible? If he is still considering public expenditure cuts in the years ahead, does he not agree that such cuts will do nothing to help employment?

Mr. Milian:

I agree with my hon. Friend's earlier remarks. We should like to reach a reflationary situation as soon as possible, but I repeat that this means getting some other difficult economic problems under control, one problem being that of inflation and another the balance of payments. When we are able to deal with those matters, nobody will be more pleased than I to see the reflation that will be the real answer to Scotland's problems.

Photo of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn Sir Nicholas Fairbairn , Kinross and West Perthshire

Having listened to the Secretary of State's plea in mitigation of the Scottish unemployment situation in reply to Question No. 4 and having impartially considered the matter, I should like to ask whether the Minister realises that the Scottish people will find the Government guilty, since any attempt to say when in office "I am not responsible, but somebody else is" will not wash.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the fire of nationalism is what the people of Scotland will jump into out of the frying pan of high taxation, low employment and bureaucracy, which are the inevitable consequences of this frightful Government?

Mr. Milian:

I have never considered the hon. and learned Member to be an economic expert, and he has just confirmed my view.