HC Deb 23 November 1943 vol 393 cc1422-3
23. Mr. Kirkwood

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that, following the change in the character of war production, there is a danger of factories being closed down in Scotland and the labour so released being directed to England; what steps he is taking to prevent this further depopulation of Scotland; and what plans he is making to ensure that Scotland is fairly treated in the transition of industry from a war to a peace basis?

Mr. Johnston

Questions relating to war production should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Production, or, if they relate to particular cases, to the Supply Minister concerned. With regard to Scottish industry generally, my hon. Friend will be aware of the statement which has just been issued by the Scottish Council on Industry, of which I am sending him a copy. I have conveyed the Council's representations and recommendations on this subject to the appropriate quarters. It will be seen from the statement that, since the establishment of the Council early in 1942, over 369 new projects or extensions, covering all kinds of production, with a total employment value estimated at more than 50,000 workers, have been authorised in Scotland, and that in the past 12 months the additional work authorised in Scotland represented nearly 20 per cent. of the total new employment provided in Great Britain. Moreover, the percentage of floor space in existing premises in Scotland now being allocated for production, as compared with the space allocated for storage, is now three times as great as in 1941. As regards the future, plans covering a wide range of post-war development are being actively prepared, including in particular a considerable housing programme, the utilisation of hydro-electric power and of Scottish coal resources, and the development of agriculture and the fishing industry.

Mr. Gallacher

In view of the very deep feeling that exists in Scotland in regard to the continued drainage of heavy industries from Scotland to England, would the right hon. Gentleman arrange for an early meeting of Scottish Members at St. Andrew's House to discuss the matter and work out measures for dealing with this serious problem?

Mr. Johnston

If the hon. Member will look at the lengthy answer I have given, he will see that there is now a Council of Industry going in detail into the matters to which he has referred.

Major Lloyd

Would the right hon. Gentleman draw the attention of his English colleagues to the fact that many of these decisions are made without sufficient notice being given so that there is consequently no time for alternative arrangements to be made? This is a very great handicap to the workers and managements concerned.

Mr. Johnston

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Sloan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in spite of his lengthy answer there has been a distinct upward curve of emigration of Scottish girls to England in recent months? Does he intend to take any action to stop this?

Mr. Johnston

I have indicated in that lengthy answer what we are doing. As regards the first part of the hon. Gentleman's Supplementary Question, the answer is in the affirmative.