Amendment of the Law

Part of Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation – in the House of Commons at 8:08 pm on 10th March 1992.

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Photo of Dr Norman Godman Dr Norman Godman , Greenock and Port Glasgow 8:08 pm, 10th March 1992

Not always; we sometimes have very fine weather in the west of Scotland. The youngsters have come to accept that their education takes place in such disgraceful conditions. What help is given in the Budget by way of a new build programme or a programme of repairs for such decaying, deteriorating schools?

The crime figures in my constituency seem to be going through the roof. Only the other day, three men were gaoled for a total of 24 years for an armed robbery in Greenock. Much more violent crime is committed these days. I suspect that one of the reasons is the deadening influence of endemic unemployment in the area. However, another reason is that there are too few police officers on the streets of Greenock and Port Glasgow.

Chief Superintendent Laurence Macintyre, the divisional commander of X division of Strathclyde police, tells me that he is at least 10 officers short of the minimum requirement. The overtime requirement has been chopped by 4,000 hours, so there are fewer police officers on the streets. Therefore, street crime in particular and crime involving drugs is on the increase. What support are the Government giving in the Budget for dealing with the deeply worrying increase in the crime statistics?

I told the Minister that thousands of my constituents are on social security. That is inevitably the case with a 13 per cent. unemployment rate. Many are on income support because they have exhausted their unemployment benefit. There are many pensioners because it is an aging population—the young people have been driven away by unemployment. Much more needs to be done for such people, especially those on income support and the unemployed.

It is not so long ago that 300 to 400 male school leavers in my constituency were given apprenticeships in the local shipyards and in the marine engineering works. That figure is now down to between 12 and 16. That is a scandalous decrease.

I mentioned earlier that I had spoken to schoolchildren aged 16 or 17 who told me that to them the Government had betrayed them and their families in failing to provide employment and decent houses in the district. For many of them the only answer was nationalism and independence. They felt that an independent Scottish Government would provide the right sort of Budgets for them and their families. I naturally sought to dissuade them from that fantastic belief.

When I see homelessness, visit people who live in damp homes, and speak to unemployed people and people on social security incomes—a sizeable number in my constituency—I can well understand why there is growing alienation from the London Government. If anything, today's Budget will strengthen that alienation. I look forward to a Labour Government who, among other things, will create a Scottish Parliament in the capital city of my country.