Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 25th May 2004.

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Photo of Alistair Darling Alistair Darling The Secretary of State for Scotland, The Secretary of State for Transport 11:30 am, 25th May 2004

My hon. Friend is quite right. There are many parts of Scotland now where unemployment has fallen so much that there are concerns about getting the right number of skilled people to go and work. Yesterday I was in Dumfries and Galloway, and the Conservative spokesman for Scotland, Mr. Duncan, might like to know that unemployment has fallen by 50 per cent. in his constituency since the general election—although he was saying the other day that the Government have not made a difference. My hon. Friend Jim Sheridan is quite right, and there are good examples in his constituency of private sector companies working in close collaboration with higher education institutions. We want to encourage that, because it is absolutely essential.