HC Deb 31 July 1946 vol 426 cc941-2
46. Mr. Hoy

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the increasing concern in Scotland at the growing gap between the labour absorption capacity of new industries and unemployment; and whether he is satisfied with the machinery for the location of industry and that, in particular, the Ministry of Supply and the Board of Trade at all times consult the Secretary of State for Scotland as well as the Minister of Town and Country Planning with a view to encouraging industry to avail itself of the favourable conditions of labour supply for development in Scotland.

Mr. Arthur Greenwood

I agree that the present volume of unemployment in Scotland is a matter for concern but the allocation of Government factories for civilian production and the large scale building programme which is under way, and which can be expanded as may be necessary, should go far to absorb the number of unemployed. For details of this programme I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade to the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) on 14th May. The answer to the second part of the Question is in the affirmative. The Scottish Office takes full part in the machinery both in London and in Scotland for dealing with distribution of industry matters, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is directly responsible for town and country planning in Scotland.

Mr. Hoy

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal if he will consider advising the Department concerned to take larger areas of Scotland into the Distribution of Industry Act, especially in the East of Scotland and in the Highlands and Islands?

Mr. Greenwood

That really raises a question of legislation. I am afraid we shall have to amend the Schedule to the Distribution of Industry Act to do that.

Mr. McGovern

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is aware that not only is unemployment increasing but that a more disturbing fact is that even in the case of ex-Servicemen given special places as trainees, the Government are beginning to wash their hands of the business, not being able to find employment for them?

Mr. Greenwood

The House must appreciate that this is a transitional period and part of the change from war to peace. There are sure to be local disturbance and increased unemployment. I hope the hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that we should stop the training schemes, but that he is hoping what I am hoping—that we shall be able to absorb the trainees into industry.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Is not the situation envisaged in the Question largely due to action by the Government such as their civil aviation policy, whereby the aircraft industry will be lost to Scotland?