Scottish TUC

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th May 1991.

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Photo of David Marshall David Marshall , Glasgow Shettleston 12:00 am, 15th May 1991

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any plans to meet the general council of the Scottish Trades Union Congress to discuss unemployment in Scotland.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I have indicated my willingness to meet the general council of the STUC at a suitable opportunity. Employment and unemployment could no doubt be discussed at such a meeting.

Photo of David Marshall David Marshall , Glasgow Shettleston

I appeal to the Secretary of State, before he meets the general council of the STUC, to read and consider the recent series of articles in the Glasgow Evening Times entitled The Age of the Dole", part of which refers to the adult male level of 48 per cent. unemployment in Parkhead, North in my constituency, the highest level of unemployment in Strathclyde. With unemployment rising rapidly, will the Secretary of State shake off his complacency, reverse his recent hard-hearted decision not to meet Glasgow Labour Members to discuss unemployment in the city and agree to meet us urgently?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends will be well aware that unemployment in Glasgow has fallen by more than 40 per cent. in the past four years, a dramatic indication of the Government's policies. As to the Glasgow Evening Times series of articles, I can only assume that it is looking forward to the future of a possible Labour Government when, as a result of the Labour party's minimum wage, jobs would be lost, as a result of Labour's payroll tax, jobs would be lost, as a result of the Labour party's Scottish assembly tax, jobs would be lost, and as a result of the Labour party's proposals on industrial relations, jobs would be lost, just as they were under the last Labour Government.

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North

The Secretary of State will be aware that one of the unemployment black spots that he might wish to discuss with the STUC is Lanarkshire. May I therefore, through him, offer cautious congratulations to the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), on the Lanarkshire working party which has conducted its business with a speed and efficiency that were singularly lacking in regard to the Secretary of State's study on steel? Will he confirm that among the major projects being studied by the working party is a new national sports and football stadium for Scotland? Can he indicate when the working party is likely to report?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the compliments that he has paid to the working party, which I set up and which I asked my hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), the Minister responsible for industry, to supervise, a job which he did so effectively. We look forward to receiving the report of the working party quite soon and we shall react to it as quickly as we can. In the meantime, it would not be sensible for me to guess what may be in the report.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that employment in Scotland is at a very high level, that unemployment has increased very little compared with the rest of the United Kingdom and that the Scottish Enterprise announcement of £430 million to help employment in Scotland, plus the Prime Minister's announcement last week of £15 million for Lanarkshire, will go a long way to help overcome any difficulties caused by the recession?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

My hon. Friend is right. At £2·27 million the Scottish civilian work force in employment is at a historically high level. Over the past three years. the Scottish civilian work force has grown faster than the work force in Great Britain as a whole. Indeed, in the three years to December 1990 the Scottish civilian work force grew by 132,000. That is equivalent to 850 per week—a dramatic expansion.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

Does the Secretary of State's silence following the request of my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Mr. Marshall) mean that he is still refusing to meet the Glasgow Labour Members to discuss employment? Will he consider that in February, in the Government's public expenditure plans, he predicted that the number of adults entering employment training would fall this year from 47,000 to 30,000? Does he recall that on page 30 of "Serving Scotland's Needs" he claimed that this reflected the fact that, as a result of falling unemployment and improved labour market conditions, demand for Employment Training places continues to decline"? As unemployment in Scotland has risen every month since then—a trend which is sadly and disastrously likely to continue—will he explain how he justifies the cuts?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

With regard to the hon. Gentleman's request that I should meet the Glasgow Members, I shall certainly be happy to meet them to discuss employment and unemployment. As to the numbers joining training schemes, the hon. Gentleman will know that the number of young school leavers joining training schemes is estimated to fall by 4 per cent. this year. The number of long-term unemployed, for whom employment training is particularly designed, has fallen by 18 per cent. in the year to January 1991, a fall twice as fast in Scotland as elsewhere in the United Kingdom. It is clearly sensible that such changes in the client group for the schemes should be reflected in their planning.

Photo of Mr Philip Oppenheim Mr Philip Oppenheim , Amber Valley

How can we take Labour's protests about unemployment seriously when just over two years ago its union friends sold out workers in Dundee to keep the boys in Dagenham happy?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

My hon. Friend is right. I hope that the people of Dundee and the people of Scotland will never forget the dramatic damage to Scotland's inward investment record as a result of the Labour party's activities and especially those of the trade union movement.

Several Hon. Members:

rose

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. We are making rather slow progress. I now propose to proceed more rapidly than we have been doing.