HC Deb 03 December 1946 vol 431 cc184-5
12. Mr. Kirkwood

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that during the war 30,000 women left Scotland for war work in England, of whom it is estimated that 15,006 have settled in England; that there are now 20,000 women unemployed in Scotland; and what steps he is taking, as a matter of urgency, to prevent the Lowlands of Scotland being depopulated in the same way as the Highlands have already been.

Mr. Westwood

I am (informed that during the war approximately 16,000 women went from Scotland to undertake war work elsewhere. No estimate is available of the number of these who may have settled in England. Some 20,000 women —more than half of whom are married— were registered as unemployed in Scotland in October. With regard to the last part of the Question, the population of Scotland is estimated to have increased by 6 per cent, during the last 15 years, and there are more persons in employment in Scotland now than in pre-war years. The Government's plans for ensuring the provision of additional opportunities for work in Scotland have been announced by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

Mr. Kirkwood

Is the Secretary of State aware that the reason I put this Question down was because of the reply I received from the Minister of Labour last week, when I drew his attention to the state of unemployment in Scotland? He said: The point is that there is a shortage of labour in London and there is a surplus of labour in Scotland. There is, of course, a well known way of filling these London vacancies but there is some hesitation in introducing compulsory transfer."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th November, 1946; Vol. 430, c. 1390.] Is the Secretary of State for Scotland watching what is going on in the Cabinet to see that no such idea is perpetrated on Scotland as transferring the unemployed men now in the way the women were transferred during the war?

Mr. Westwood

I can assure my hon Friend that I very carefully watch an') fight for the interests of Scotland inside the Cabinet.

Major Guy Lloyd

Is the Secretary of State aware that the anxiety so rightly shown by the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) is also shared throughout the whole of Scotland, especially among the women, at the raw deal they are getting from the present Government?

Mr. Westwood

I deny that they are getting a raw deal from this Government They are getting a far better deal from it than' they ever got from previous Governments.