Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th February 1979.

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Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind , Edinburgh Pentlands 12:00 am, 7th February 1979

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects next to meet the Scottish Trades Union Congress and the spokesmen for the Confederation of British Industry in Scotland.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Bruce Milan):

I have accepted an invitation to address the STUC's annual conference on 27 April. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State met representatives of the CBI (Scottish Office) as recently as 26 January.

Photo of Malcolm Rifkind Malcolm Rifkind , Edinburgh Pentlands

Will the right hon. Gentleman discuss with the STUC some of the more distressing consequences of the present industrial action? Is he aware that Edinburgh presbytery has felt it necessary to advise mourners to stay away from the graveside when burials of relatives are delayed because of industrial action by gravediggers? Does he agree that there is something rotten in our state of industrial affairs when such advice has to be given?

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

I am not aware of that advice. I doubt whether it is necessary, but I shall examine the facts.

Photo of Mr Douglas Crawford Mr Douglas Crawford , Perth and East Perthshire

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the CBI in Scotland and the STUC to stop pussyfooting about jobs and investment in Scotland? Will he tell them that the best way to increase jobs and investment in Scotland and to retain existing jobs at Albion Motors in Glasgow is by the direct channelling of Scottish oil revenues into the Scottish economy and not into the Westminster coffers?

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

Scotland is already benefiting considerably from oil development in Scotland. The latest figures, which will be published shortly in the Scottish Economic Bulletin, indicate that the estimate of between 55,000 and 65,000 jobs arising directly or indirectly from Scottish oil exploration and development in the North Sea has been maintained.

Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Renfrewshire West

Is it not humbug for Tory Members to complain about the present situation when we know their real attitude towards trade unionists and low-paid earners who are involved? Is it not time that both we and they realised that if we say that a group of workers should not go out on strike society must in return ensure that they enjoy conditions that mean that they do not need to go on strike? Despite the humbug of Opposition Members, a start should be made to provide such conditions for low-paid workers in Scotland and elsewhere.

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

There is a problem about public sector pay in relation to what happens in the private sector. Therefore, the Government suggested comparability studies in which comparisons would be made directly between what is happening in the private and public sectors. They suggested that comparability studies were a way forward.

Photo of Mr George Younger Mr George Younger , Ayr

Does the Minister think it would be a good idea to discuss with the CBI and the STUC as soon as possible this morning's serious news that British Leyland is withdrawing plans for a further 2,000 jobs at the Albion works in Glasgow? Does he agree that that is regrettable, as labour relations there have always been good? It does not seem fair that Albion should suffer because of bad labour relations elsewhere.

Photo of Mr Bruce Millan Mr Bruce Millan , Glasgow Craigton

I do not accept the press reports about the loss of 2,000 jobs at Albion. I met the general manager of BL Scotland last Friday. He assured me that the jobs at Albion are safeguarded and will be safeguarded for a considerable time to come.