HC Deb 15 October 1946 vol 427 cc760-2
6. Mr. Willis

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the continued increase in unemployment in Scotland, any interim schemes of employment are under consideration by his Department.

Mr. Westwood

Schemes for which my Departments are responsible, such as housing water and drainage and hydro-electricity, are already providing a substantial amount of employment and will provide more as they get fully under way. In addition, the establishment of new industrial estates now being promoted by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, the creation of new towns, the recently announced scheme for the rehabilitation of land in the development area, and work in connection with forestry schemes will result in the progressive expansion of employment facilities on a substantial scale. Work on all these schemes is being pressed forward as rapidly as possible.

Mr. Willis

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of the schemes mentioned in the last part of his answer will not bear fruit until probably 1948, and the object of the Question is to ask what is being done to assist the unemployed during this interim period which may extend for two years or more?

Mr. Westwood

I am speeding up the decisions which are required in connection with the allocation of the grants for rural water supplies, and I have pressed the local authorities to give me their priority schemes by the 31st of this month with a view to starting from £15 million to £16 million worth of work in connection with housing and rural water schemes.

Mr. Thornton-Kemsley

Is the House to understand that the only land in Scotland which falls to be rehabilitated is that in the development area?

Mr. Westwood

No, Sir.

Mr. Scollan

Is it not the case that the bulk of this problem lies in the industrial areas, and that the outline scheme which my right hon. Friend has given will be of no help at all?

Mr. Snadden

Is it not a fact that in connection with hydro-electric schemes a very large proportion of the work is done by German prisoners of war, and would it not be better if Scottish workers were employed there?

Mr. Stokes

It is cheaper to employ slaves.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider civil aviation in Scotland as a means of helping to cure unemployment?

Mr. Westwood

That is not a matter which concerns my Department. As the hon. and gallant Member knows full well, it is the concern of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Mr. Hector Hughes

How many of these unemployed persons are people who have been demobilised and are in process of being absorbed into industry?

Mr. Westwood

I cannot say without notice.