HC Deb 04 March 1947 vol 434 cc224-5
21. Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

asked the Minister of Labour the number of registered male unemployed at the Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, exchange; what percentage this represents of the male insurable total in this area; if he will give an estimate of the figures for the Southern Islands of the Outer Hebrides; and what progress has been made with public works and other schemes as a short-term measure to met the problem.

Mr. Isaacs

At 22nd February there were 2,054 insured males registered as unemployed at the Stornoway employment exchange, this represents about 48 per cent. of the estimated total number of insured males in the area at July, 1946. I regret that information is not readily available as to the numbers unemployed in the Southern Islands of the Outer Hebrides.

As regards the last part of the Question, I understand that road works, involving an expenditure of approximately £105,000 in Lewis and Harris, have been approved, and that further road works to an estimated value of £344,000 are being examined. Offers of grants in respect of water supply schemes to a value of £250,000 in Harris and the Outer Isles and £250,000 in Lewis have been made to the local authorities concerned.

Mr. MacMillan

Is the Minister aware that there is no complaint about the Government's figures or the financial grants? My complaint is of the time lag between the approval and making of grants and the undertaking of the work, which is a very long time, during which many of these men are unemployed. Can my right hon. Friend speed up the position by consultation with Ministers of other Departments so that these men can get to work on those schemes?

Mr. Isaacs

It is not for me to answer about the starting of work. This matter is having constant attention by the Ministers concerned, and if my hon. Friend will put the question to the appropriate Minister I think that he will be able to explain why these delays have occurred.