§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Commander Galbraith (Glasgow, Pollok)
I have no doubt that the White Paper, "Industry and Employment in Scotland" will form the basis of our discussion this afternoon. That Paper opens with these words:1948 was a year of general economic progress.I take it from the contents of the White Paper that that applies to Scotland as well as to other parts of the United Kingdom. I am quite sure that every Scottish Member is glad to have confirmed the part which Scotland played in expanding production and in the higher exports of the year in question. After all, that is a matter which not only touches our pockets, but also touches our pride.
The impression which is left on my mind after having studied this document and its appendices is that, in spite of disappointment here and there, Scottish industry in 1948 did a very good job of work indeed, and that the rhythm of production mounted steadily throughout the period reviewed. Indeed, it would have been strange if that had not been the case because the numbers employed were, I think, beyond contradiction, far beyond 2351 those on any previous date. The increase, for example, between 1st July, 1947, and 1st July, 1948, was no fewer than 21,000. Then the troubles which had been experienced in turning over from war to peace production had been overcome, and the world was crying out for both capital and consumer goods of all kinds.
Unfortunately, since the end of the period which is reviewed in this White Paper, conditions have changed to a very material extent. Production in other countries now meets us in all the markets of the world and we have to face the very keenest competition in regard to quality, price and firm delivery dates. That competition is made all the keener by the policy of curtailing imports which has been adopted by a number of countries and also by a natural lessening of demand in other places. In view of the change which has come about as the result of what, I think, the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to as a change of economic climate, the White Paper is to a considerable extent already out of date. I feel, however, that we may obtain from it some help which will enable us to decide whether the steps which have been taken during these recent and what we must now regard as boom years are suitable to support our economy in the new conditions with which we are now faced, and what further steps may be needed to maintain full employment if we are faced with a curtailment of our markets or if a restriction of our imports is forced upon us.
After listening to the recent utterances of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and particularly to the statement which he made yesterday, none of us can be under any doubt at all as to the grave possibilities which lie ahead, and it is to meet these, I suggest to the Committee, that we must now prepare. What are these possibilities and how will they affect industry in Scotland? Unfortunately, we have no raw materials of our own with the exception of coal, and if then we are forced by a shortage of dollars or otherwise to curtail our imports still further, it may be that we shall be unable to obtain those raw materials which are essential to certain of our industries. That means, of course, that there will inevitably be a closing down of production, and that inevitably will lead to unemployment.
2352 That is one possibility. Another is that we may be unable to sell our full production, either as a result of competition or a result of further limitations in demand. If that occurs, production will again have to be curtailed, and again it may mean unemployment. That was what happened, of course, in the 1930's, and we are still vulnerable because we are dependent, particularly in the West of Scotland, on the heavy industries, which rely to a considerable extent on foreign orders.
May I take as an example the case of shipbuilding? According to the report, during 1948 we completed in Scotland 41 per cent. of the entire tonnage completed in the United Kingdom, and that, I submit, gives some idea of the extent to which we are dependent on that industry—to an extent quite out of proportion to our population. We are also told that 27 per cent. of these completions in Scotland were on foreign account, and that, I submit, shows that the prosperity of the shipbuilding industry in Scotland depends to a large extent on foreign orders. That is brought even more clearly to our minds when we read that on 1st January, 1949, out of 21 tankers which were then built in Scotland, no fewer than 11 were built on foreign account.
It seems to me that the shipbuilding industry is at this particular time very dependent on foreign orders because the reconversion programme has very nearly been completed, and also because the cost of new tonnage now so greatly exceeds the pre-war cost as to put the placing of orders quite beyond many of our small tramp owner companies unless they are able to raise fresh capital. So it appears that if there is to be a recession of world trade, inevitably Scotland will be hit. Of course, what interests us most is how the new industries which have been brought into the country will affect that situation.
A list of these new developments, as given in Chapter 3, is very impressive indeed, but I am a little sceptical as to the figures, and I seek some further enlightenment on this point. The report estimates that these new industrial developments which have been approved since 1937 offer the prospect of 146,000 jobs. I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman would tell us how many of these 2353 are actually new jobs. I can remember hearing that if a survey were taken of the industrial estate at Hillington, it would show that the majority of premises there were actually occupied by firms who had merely moved from old premises in the centre of the City of Glasgow out to this new estate and, in consequence, little additional employment was being provided. I hope, therefore, that we are not being misled either by the figures or by the impressive titles of some of these companies which are mentioned in the report.
I think that it is very good and very commendable that, for instance, people should move down and establish a factory at Dunoon, whether that factory happens to employ half a dozen people or many more. When one reads the title Kirn Precision Industries Limited, at Dunoon, it calls to one's mind a large concern, and it would be interesting to know just how many were employed there. Before we can really compute what has been achieved, we must know the number of new jobs that have been provided, as distinct from those which are merely transferred from old to new premises. In dealing with this same point, it is, of course, to be noted that all our new industrial estates are situated without existing towns and cities, which from some points of view may be a good thing and from other points of view not such a good thing. Building on some of these sites must be fairly expensive, and any additional expense must add to the cost of the goods produced.
These sites have probably been acquired more cheaply than sites could have been acquired in the middle of a built-up area; but as we have to add the cost of drainage, water supply, gas, electricity and roads, and also transport, it may well be that at the end of the day there is not so much difference between the present cost and the cost which would have been incurred had the undertaking been started in one of our built-up areas. Further, in many cases we are using good agricultural land which under present circumstances we are not very well able to afford. I agree at once that when these estates were first started there was really no option in the matter, but I must ask whether the time has not now come when we should rebuild in some of our towns. If we do not do that in the near future 2354 these towns and cities of ours will become mere hollow shells, and the services that have been provided there at very great expense will be, to a certain extent, wasted because they will not be used fully to their capacity.
Considering the matter overall, I think that what we have done is probably nothing like sufficient to meet the kind of situation that developed between 1929 and 1931, which in view of the grave statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday might well be repeated. We must realise that we have never entirely got rid of the hard core of unemployment in Scotland, particularly in the Clyde area. It is still with us, and at the present moment the figure is 12 per cent. higher than it was a year ago. In that connection the present Government have a very particular and grave responsibility. In the document which they published in 1945, "Let Us Face the Future" the following words appear under the heading "Jobs for all":We say, 'Full employment in any case'.Then, having stated the things that the party behind the present Government would do, under four different comprehensive headings, the document says:By these and other means full employment can be achieved.I am glad that I have no such declaration on my conscience at the present moment. It is my earnest hope that this Government may have some as yet undisclosed means of meeting whatever situation might arise in view of the Chancellor's statement yesterday. Better still, I should prefer that the Government were never put to the test. But we have got to be prepared, and we hope that so far as Scotland is concerned the Secretary of State has many schemes ready to buttress employment, should the need arise.
I now wish to make certain suggestions which I think might be helpful to production in our country. It is stated in the report that fashion changes in the United States of America have become unfavourable to Scottish tweeds. That led me to inquire how it was that Scottish tweeds had ever become fashionable in the United States. The best information I can obtain shows that that is due to the fact that American women who in past times visited Scotland, admired the tweeds worn by our Scottish women, 2355 which became them so well. It was obvious to the Americans that tweeds were smart; it was the thing to wear in Scotland; and they made up their their minds to introduce the fashion into the United States. Let me here observe that every change of fashion must, to a certain extent, be connected with snobbery. I think that is undeniable. Those Americans who have visited our country since the war have noted a very great change. Tweeds are not worn so much as they used to be. They are not worn because they are very difficult to obtain, so that the fashion here having changed, America has again followed, and tweeds are no longer fashionable in America. In consequence our export trade suffers.
Of one thing we can be quite certain in this connection. Unless we have a home market, then economically and otherwise we cannot expect to have a healthy export trade. Some of my hon. Friends pointed that out recently in connection with our leading dollar export—whisky. I must point out that whisky is unlikely to remain our leading dollar export if our Canadian and American friends find, on visiting this country, that barley water has become the national beverage of Scotland. These gentlemen from overseas drink whisky because Scotsmen drink whisky, and they know Scotsmen are very good judges of what is good for themselves; they also know that Scotsmen are very good judges of value, and accordingly they follow the Scottish lead in the matter of drinking whisky. The threat to the supremacy of Scottish whisky as our leading export comes not from this side of the House but from two of the Secretary of State's right hon. Friends—the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade.
The only raw material we have is coal, and the prosperity of Scotland has been built up in the past on an abundant and cheap supply of coal. It is, after all, the foundation on which our great shipbuilding industry, our great engineering industry and our great iron and steel industry have been built up. Today the price of coal is about three times as high as it was in 1938, and it is only natural that that increase should be reflected in the prices of iron, electricity, gas, ships, heavy machinery and a host of manufactured 2356 goods. Coal is also in short supply. In 1948 we produced in Scotland eight million tons less than in the middle 'thirties; and there is also a great reduction in the quality of the coal. I think I could give very good reasons to explain why the coal industry is doing badly today compared with previous times, but this is not the occasion upon which to have an examination into that industry, and all I shall say is that, in view of the numbers employed, and in view of the amount of cutting and conveying machinery which has been installed in the pits in recent years, production is far too low, and until that situation is rectified Scotland will not gain the prosperity which should be hers.
There is another source of power—hydro-electricity. How that will work out we cannot tell at the moment, but we must realise that very much is at stake here. The rehabilitation of the Highlands depends on the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board making a profit out of the sale of electricity. The success of many new projects which we hope will be set up in the development area on the Cromarty Firth depend on cheap electricity. In view of the enormous increase in cost over the estimated cost of the schemes, which are now in course of construction, shall we be able to earn a profit, and shall we be able to have cheap electricity?
These questions are a source of worry to everyone who takes an interest in our country, and I must add, with regret, that that worry is in no way dissipated by the annual report of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. That is a most extraordinary document. I would remind the Secretary of State, in case he has forgotten—no doubt he has not—that the form of this report is his responsibility; it is a responsibility laid on him by Section 23 of the 1943 Act. This report has no description whatsoever of the problems that have been met during the year, or of the extent to which they have been overcome. There is nothing in the report to show how the timing of the programme is going. Surely there must have been some schedule laid down before they set out on these great constructional schemes.
There is nothing whatsoever in the report as to the total number of employees, nor is there any division of that 2357 number into those who are employed on construction, on transport, on looking after the camps, or in the canteens. There are no statistics given which enable one to judge as to the turnover of labour, a matter which has caused very considerable anxiety, because it is believed to be quite phenomenal. It says nothing as to the work of the Consultative Council. I wonder whether that council has ever met. It is also completely and absolutely silent on how the costs of construction are working out in relation to the estimates, or what the final cost may be.
But what it lacks in matter it makes up in art. I wonder how many Members have seen this precious document. This is the document and this is the cover; there is plenty of gold. It is produced on the most beautiful art paper and is magnificently printed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I would say that too if they were only making the money to pay for it. This publication would be a disgrace if it were produced by any industrial concern. What have these pictures got to do with the industry? They are far more like an advertisement for some engineering or great constructional firm. What benefit is to come from this expenditure of money? It may have some merit as an advertisement for some purposes altogether unknown to any of us.
Before I departed on to that line I was endeavouring to suggest that there is much that might help to increase our prosperity in Scotland. I have pointed to the need for a home market and to the need for cheap and abundant electricity and coal. I want now to turn to an altogether different matter, and that is to town and country planning. Everyone in this House approves of planning our countryside and our cities to see that areas are set apart for industry, for housing and for recreation. We all approve of the green belt, and we believe that land should be made available at reasonable prices when it is required in the public interest. But there are things happening today in Scotland under the heading of planning which are almost beyond belief, and unless some change is brought about there is little chance of us having any real development at all.
I wish to give the Committee certain examples of the things I have in mind. 2358 It may be that Members read in the Glasgow papers of the case a short time ago where some quarry owners wished to find garage accommodation on the outskirts of Glasgow for their lorries to save the necessity of going into the centre of Glasgow every day. They acquired an army hut of considerable dimensions. The estimate of the cost of alterations was £25, and the development charge for turning the hut into a garage was in excess of £900.
§ Mr. McAllister (Rutherglen)
Will the hon. and gallant Member tell us the cost of the land? Surely it is not very relevant to give the cost of the hut?
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Woodburn)
Does that cover the erection of the hut?
§ Commander Galbraith
The hut was already erected. I have another case from a member of my own profession, a chartered accountant, who recently purchased from a doctor one of those big, old houses standing near Charing Cross which was quite unsuited to modern conditions. It had, as usual in a doctor's house, a consulting room and secretarial premises. The development charge in that case was £2,000.
I have to thank my hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir B. Neven-Spence) for sending me these two further cases, which I think the Committee will find of considerable interest. One concerns one-eighth of an acre of barren land in the Orkneys, land which in other times would have been transferred at a nominal feu duty of, say, a penny an acre. The man wanted to build a cottage, and the development charge was £100, or £800 an acre. Another case concerns a school which desires to provide additional playing-field accommodation for its pupils. That is surely a worthwhile project. Adjacent to its existing playing-field is the remains of an old bing which has been lying there for a considerable number of years. They have negotiated for the purchase of that piece of land, and I am given to believe that the price asked was £300. The Committee will realise that to convert a piece of land of that nature into a 2359 playing-field would cost a considerable amount of money. They applied to know the development charge, and after great trouble they obtained it. It was in the region of £1,000.
I will give one last example from the Orkneys, as contained in a letter from the county clerk of the Orkneys. He says:Unfortunately, in the copies of the letters which I have received from the Central Land Board the amount of the development charge is blank and I have to depend on information from the actual individuals, where they divulge it, as to the amount. Recently, when a wooden hut was shifted from Skai Brae and erected as a dwelling house on Old Thankernness Road, near Kirkwall, a development charge of £50 was demanded.The old window tax is beaten hollow. We are now having a tax on people being housed under humble circumstances, and the sooner the right hon. Gentleman looks into it the better. I can remember, when I was a member of a housing committee, that we used to complain bitterly if we had to pay £200 a acre for land for housing, but under these new conditions we shall be very fortunate to obtain land for five times that price, unless land for local authority purposes is to be excluded from this charge. Today, housing authorities are beginning to sigh for the good old times of the robber landlord. After all, they are mere little lambs compared with the voracious wolves with whom they are now compelled to deal.
I do not think there can be any great doubt but that when conditions of trade become more stringent the tourist industry will increase even further in importance. In the report we are considering, it says that given reasonable opportunities the tourist industry can make a great contribution to the country's prosperity. In this connection, Scottish Members must now see that we made a great mistake when we did not demand a separate catering wages board for Scotland. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the very great harm the Catering Wages Board has done to the industry has been undone, or, in other words, whether the revision referred to in paragraph 207 of the White Paper is sufficient; or is this industry which holds out such promises for our prosperity in Scotland still to be stifled by people who have such an intimate knowledge of Scotland, particularly of the Highlands. as to 2360 leave no doubt in their minds that every highland village possesses a Dorchester, a Savoy, with a Gleneagles Hotel at the other end of the street? I hope the right hon. Gentleman will look into the matter and see, in fact, that the tourist trade is given that reasonable opportunity, of which this report speaks.
Tourism leads me to mention one other matter in this connection. Many of those who go to Scotland go because of the sport that can be obtained there. They have heard of the great bags of grouse which are taken on our moors, and they have heard of the fishing provided in our lochs and rivers. It would be wise to see that these attractions, particularly in our rivers, are not destroyed. We cannot tell what the effect of the big hydroelectric schemes will be on the fishing in the Garry, Tummel and Tay. We know what the effect has been of diverting the waters of Loch Doon in connection with the Galloway hydro-electric scheme. It has ruined the fishing in that river, and to a considerable extent the picturesque nature of the river also by reason of the fact that the flow of water has been so very greatly reduced.
In view of the importance of the Galloway scheme that might be justified, but are we really right in risking the destruction of any more of these beautiful Ayrshire rivers, like the River Ayr to provide power for one factory? Could not electricity be provided by the South-West Electricity Board, and if not why not? Would the right hon. Gentleman consider that also, because we look upon him as the guardian of the Scottish countryside.
I have not touched at all upon the question of housing, because I understand that we are going to deal with it in great detail on another occasion. All I will say about it now is that it is perfectly evident from the White Paper that the lack of adequate housing accommodation is one of the greatest obstacles to the expansion and the development of new industries in Scotland. I have merely touched on the outer fringes of a few of the many aspects of Scottish industry. I hope my hon. Friends, who follow me, will develop these and other matters in much greater detail than I have been able to do.
Though conditions have changed historically this White Paper may yet be of 2361 considerable interest. It at least places on record the great achievement of Scottish industry, for the most part still under private management, in a year when it was hampered by several shortages and when it was frustrated in a large degree by controls, directions, regulations, orders and counter orders. Yet it went ahead with true Scottish perseverance, pressing on and in many cases breaking all previous production records. That great record should, even in the more stern conditions which now confront us, give us hope that Scottish industry, given a reasonable opportunity, is capable of bringing us through the worst economic storm, and ultimately of providing that higher standard which every Scotsman wishes for his fellow countrymen.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Woodburn)
When the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) commenced his speech this afternoon, I felt he had become a victim of that German disease known as schadenfreude—getting enjoyment out of misery; but as his speech developed, and as he finally finished, he struck a note of optimism. At the beginning of his speech he was unduly pessimistic. It may be that all those things may come upon us, but certainly at the moment they are not upon us. This great wave of unemployment has not arrived in Scotland, and so far as my information goes there is no likelihood of it in the immediate future.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I do not suggest that we can control events in every part of the world. The hon. and gallant Gentleman referred to the statement by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the difficulties of imports, and how that would affect Scotland. I am not aware that any of our industrial imports are involved in what the Chancellor said yesterday, because our particular raw materials do not come from the dollar area at all. Therefore, so far as I can see, nothing that the Chancellor said will cause any interference.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman devoted some of his attention to the 2362 Hydro-Electric Board, and he complained about the artistic nature of their accounts. If he looks at the publication he will probably find that it was printed by private enterprise, and it may be private enterprise which persuaded the Board to go in for art instead of the usual type of Government report. I have known a great many firms in my day, and all the best firms present their case in the most attractive form possible. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is entitled to complain if the details are not there, but companies do not disclose in their annual report the innumerable petty details to which he called attention. I agree that some of them are of importance, but they are not necessarily part of the annual balance sheet or report.
§ Commander Galbraith
If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the publication he will see that it is far more than a balance sheet, but it does not give any information of any use to anyone.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Perhaps I could give the hon. and gallant Gentleman the information that so far as the timetable is concerned, we are extremely hopeful. At the moment there is the distinct prospect, in spite of the difficulties of the time, of starting two of the main electric schemes before the end of the year. That will be up to any anticipation of the programme that was made. Of course, a fixed programme cannot be laid down because events supervened. Those connected with the engineering industry know that the person who gives a delivery promise, expecting it to be implemented to the last degree, is indeed an optimist. I spent 25 years of my life in some parts of the engineering industry, and a good deal of it apologising for late deliveries. Every firm takes on more contracts than it can produce.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Every optimist does. It is better to hitch one's wagon to a star and try too much, than to do too little. I hope the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) will support us in this.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman raised a great many questions about development charges. In my view it would drag this Debate into a side channel if we discussed 2363 that difficult question here today, but I am willing to discuss it at an appropriate time with the hon. and gallant Gentleman. In regard to the Catering Wages Board he mentioned the Gleneagles Hotel. I would remind him that the Gleneagles Hotel is in the Highlands.
§ Mr. Woodburn
We have one or two. There are a few of these big hotels up there. The point is that Mr. Tom Johnston held a meeting in Glasgow of the hotel owners and the hotel workers, but he was unable to get any agreement from them. He was enthusiastic about something being done, but found that the hotel people could not agree amongst themselves. That is one of the difficulties. If people would make up their minds what they want, it would be much easier to get ahead. However, a great deal of improvement has been made in the concessions and I understand that they have relieved some of the difficulties.
Today we are discussing the second part of what might be called our progress report. However much we may approach this question from a party point of view, every Scotsman, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman said, must feel proud of the accomplishments of our people since the war. However formidable the difficulties facing us, in my view we are facing them with a courage and resolution that is greatly in contrast to what happened prior to the war. It is right that we should take stock of our position today and examine it critically with a view to the future.
Under the impetus of enterprising Scots, the introduction of new industries actually started before the war. Credit must be given to the gallant little band—they were a little band—who had that pioneering spirit and did so much in a time of great depression. It has continued to be part of Government policy to direct industry northwards, and that has been given considerable impetus through the agency of the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) and the larger co-ordinating body, the Scottish Economic Conference, which meets under my chairmanship.
In considering these developments in Scotland we must keep in mind that nearly all the industries of our country 2364 are under the management of private enterprise, and that so far there has been no question of directing firms to any special area. Indeed, we have no power to do so. There has been power to deter firms from going to heavily built-up areas. The Government have encouraged firms to go to Development Areas. Under those conditions, I am glad to say that a large number of firms have been extremely co-operative and that many have found it to their advantage to accept the Government's offer of factories in Development Areas where labour and material facilities were available.
At first—and this is a point which the hon. and gallant Gentleman stressed—we were apprehensive about accepting extensions of industries whose main organisation was in the South. We foresaw the danger that, in a recession, they might contract homewards, and that Scotland would then take the blow not only in its own cause but also would be the buffer for those expanded industries. I have paid a good many visits to these industries and I am glad to say that discussions with their chiefs have disclosed that so far, without exception, these firms have expressed themselves openly as regretting that they did not bring a bigger part of their industries to Scotland. The White Paper presents us with some of the details of this story. We are steadily improving the presentation of the Paper with a view to clarifying the part that Scotland plays in the economic life of the United Kingdom and of the world.
This document represents a great amount of work on the part of both the Scottish Office and the Great Britain Departments. The statistics given in the appendix this year take account of suggestions received from the Glasgow Junior Chamber of Commerce. We have endeavoured, as far as possible, to present all the facts about Scotland's economic position which are at present ascertainable. It has so far proved inpracticable to give as detailed an account of matters as we would have liked, but we will continue to make the statistics full and comprehensive. When the results of the censuses of production and distribution are available, the range of our information will be greatly extended.
Industrial Scotland stretches in a belt about 50 miles long and about 20 miles wide from the east to the west of Scotland. 2365 In this area, there are about 3 million out of our 5 million population. Since the war, this part of Scotland has produced a remarkably high proportion of Britain's coal, steel, locomotives, ships and castings. Between the wars, light industries flourished in England while some parts of Scotland suffered from their absence. I am glad to say that our position in this matter has greatly improved. For instance, in 1933, there were 400,000 people unemployed, or nearly one out of three insured workers. Last year, there was only one out of 30.
I think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman when talking of unemployment in Scotland, was on the pessimistic side. Most of the people registered as unemployed in Scotland today are either in transition from one job to another or they are people who are held by matters of family in the places where they reside and are not able to go to where the jobs are. Even now, there are more jobs in Scotland than there are people ready to take them. It is only because of that disturbing difficulty of location that there is not full employment. A great many of the people concerned in the hon. and gallant Gentleman's own town are really tragedies left over from the pre-war period, men suffering disability and not able to work in the normal way.
Dealing with the alternative employment in the Development Areas the hon. Gentleman referred to the industrial estates. Here again, he was on the pessimistic side. Industry is not static. It is always changing. It is true that in these industrial estates some firms may have moved from the inside of Glasgow to the industrial estates. I am sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman knows a great many firms which have moved into this country from outside and not from Glasgow to Hillingdon. Some of those industries are there.
§ Commander Galbraith
I would agree at once that that is the case. I want to get at the extent of the new jobs provided. That could be ascertained clearly.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Accommodation has been provided equal to the estimated number of new jobs. The figure, as the hon. Gentleman has mentioned, is approximately 140,000. When the space is provided, it depends upon what kind of firm comes in whether the employment 2366 is relatively greater or smaller. Some firms have a greater labour content in their jobs than others. These firms coming into the space provided should provide about 140,000 jobs. It may be that some people are seeking to be employed in old, broken-down factories in the City of Glasgow, but even that is important, if they later move into the healthy well-lit factory to do their jobs.
Taking the case of Dundee, entirely new industries have been introduced into that city and have provided entirely new employment. They have given Dundee a new lease of life. New factories have been established, and existing factories are being modernised. Employment is also being steadily provided in Lanarkshire and Glasgow. It is true that the employment being provided in Lanarkshire is replacing some of the employment that used to be provided in the mines, but it is one of the purposes of placing these industrial estates there that the population of Lanarkshire will not be left an island of misery and unemployment.
§ Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Central)
Where does the right hon. Gentleman get his figure of 140,000 for the Development Areas? The industrial development appendix of the White Paper shows an estimated figure of peak employment in 1947–48 of 115,000. How does he reconcile that figure with the statement he made about 140,000?
§ Mr. Woodburn
I can understand the difficulty of the hon. and gallant Member in not being able to reconcile a so-called statement I made. I am not sure that I made any such statement. Nobody suggests that the 140,000 is a precise figure. Factory space has been taken to accommodate that number. It is a point of detail which is not worth raising at this point in the Debate. I have mentioned Lanarkshire and Glasgow. There are also great developments in Grangemouth which are likely to absorb all the available labour in the district for a great many years.
I take every opportunity of visiting these factories. In the early days of the industrial estates there were Jeremiahs who said that the Scots were not good at light work or at the minute operations required in the light industries, and were good only at heavy work. They said that our womenfolk were not sufficiently 2367 practised to make good mechanics. The managers of these new works tell a very different story. The skill of our men is highly praised. The Scotswomen who have gone into these factories have won the admiration of their employers by the nimble and conscientious quality of their work. I was in one big works last week, and there was another factory owner up there from England, trying to find some place in Scotland to which he could bring a factory so as to take advantage of the quality and energy of our people. The men and women in these factories are bringing about greater changes in the Scottish economy than is realised either by themselves or the rest of Scotland. I heard of one employer who is bringing his complete factory from south of the border into Scotland.
The developments in the Grangemouth area and the Falkirk district are particularly striking and will make this one of the busiest, most important and most prosperous districts in the United Kingdom. Expansions by Scottish Oils Limited, British Petroleum Chemicals, I.C.I. and the British Aluminium Company are to take place in that district during the next few years at a total cost of about £10 million. They are all of very great importance to the national economy and, in particular, to the development of our export trade and the saving of imports. I understand that an hon. Member was under the impression that this work would not start until some years later. However, already there are over 1,000 men engaged on construction work connected with the projects, and the number will build up eventually to 3,000. Indeed, some employers in the district have complained to me about their fear that they may lose their men from the existing industries.
This is a heartening development but I am sure we all feel that it is not right for us to depend so much upon our friends in the south or overseas to bring industry into Scotland. We must encourage new and original enterprise in Scotland as well. In this connection I want to say that the Industrial Estates Company have a very wise policy. They build small factories, slightly larger factories, and factories increasing in size until we get first-class big factories. Quite a number of people who have an idea 2368 to develop are prepared to take on a small factory, and if their business expands, they go to a bigger factory and the original one then becomes available for someone else. In this regard Scottish Industrial Estates, Ltd., are providing very great encouragement to Scottish enterprise.
However, more Scottish firms ought to be realising that their future and the future of Scotland depends to a large extent on industrial research. There are signs that this fact is being increasingly realised in Scotland. It is estimated that we have roughly doubled the number of scientists engaged in industrial processes during the last eight years, but we are still not employing enough graduates of Scottish universities and technical colleges, so many of whom have to leave Scotland to go to jobs elsewhere. To be prosperous, Scotland needs many more of them at home.
The spread of scientific information will be of great benefit even to small industries. We shall never make proper use of our raw materials in our own country without this knowledge being applied. The Government are making their own contribution to the drive. Directed by the Lord President of the Council, a great mechanical and engineering research laboratory, with smaller stations on fuel, building and road research, is being established in the new town of East Kilbride, and this has been followed up by the appointment of experts from the Government departments concerned with research contracts to committees of the Scottish Council (Development and Industry). This council is engaged in exploring ways and means of bringing knowledge of new research techniques to the attention of Scottish firms. Work is already coming to Scotland as a result of these efforts.
I am sorry to say however that this progressive attitude is not true of the whole of our industry. I am astonished to learn how little quite well known firms have progressed in their approach to the workers. They seem to think that the only way to stimulate their apprentices and workers is the hard way of a generation ago. I am satisfied that firms who use the way of co-operation and encouragement and help their young workers to develop their powers to the full are likely to make a greater relative 2369 contribution to Scotland's industrial progress. In a great many industries there appears to be a hesitant and sometimes antagonistic attitude, for example, to day release for technical education. I have seen such a contrast in the different approach of some of the very live firms of the country that I am a little alarmed at the dangerous self-satisfaction of those who believe that they can survive with methods and attitudes which date back 50 years or more.
However, we are making some progress. In 1939 only some 700 workers were released on one day a week; in 1946 the number was 3,000; and in 1949 it is approaching 9,000. However, compared with the total of 180,000 young Scottish workers, one out of 20 indicates not so much the success achieved as the measure of our failure. In England over 250,000 youngsters are benefiting from day release, and at a big factory in England I have seen a school established in the grounds of the factory for the apprentices. Later that school was merged into the education system. Very little of that is done in Scotland, although I am glad to see that some firms in the Clyde and printing firms in Edinburgh and probably Glasgow have been alive to this for some time. It is true that we have not all the technical colleges we should like, but their absence is a small matter compared with the lack of demand and interest on the part of the employers. Fortunately a better example is being shown by most of the new industries which have come to Scotland.
If I may turn for a moment to the position of the heavy industries, it became clear during the war that Lanarkshire was going to decline as a coal-producing area. As the basis of Scotland's wealth is coal a survey of all Scottish coal resources was made during the war. This provided us with a basis of a national coal plan. Fortunately, in the areas of Clackmannan, Fife and the Lothians there are possibilities of great coal development. In this case town and country planning powers enable the Department of Health and the local authorities to ensure that development does not proceed in an haphazard way, to the ultimate loss of industry; they permit us to plan the industry and bring in employees in the numbers required and to develop towns and alternative industries and so plan the development 2370 and the transition in the best possible way for all concerned.
Plans have been made for the development of a balanced population in these counties where mining developments are to take place, for the building of new towns and village, and for the sinking of up-to-date pits to establish a first-class coal industry among healthy and dignified surroundings. These must include the provision of the ancillary occupations suitable for women in order that, as communities, these areas will be properly balanced. The haphazard emigrations of miners in the old days often resulted in congestion and misery. In most cases today miners are moving from old and often bad housing conditions into houses in a well-planned environment.
The iron and steel industry of Scotland has always been famous for its products and its general efficiency as well, and it will, of course, be one of the important units of the industry of this country. Consideration has been given to its future in Scotland, and the pros and cons are being explored of the advantages of having an entirely new iron and steel production unit on the Lower Clyde somewhere west of Renfrew or through having new developments in Lanarkshire on the basis of the existing plant.
Shipbuilding is still thriving and orders are in hand for some years, but here undoubtedly the industry must look ahead and be ready to deal with any possible recession. The Government will watch the situation with great care. I appreciate the point of the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok that the reconversion programme is practically finished and that a great deal of the future must depend on new shipbuilding. There is bound to come the time, of course, when the fleets will be restored, and if trade does not go on developing there may even be a recession in the number of ships wanted.
Difficulties are bound to arise in the circumstances in which we live. It is quite impracticable for Scotland to contract out of the world economy, and our success, as is the case with Britain as a whole, depends upon our being able to get Britain on to its economic feet. We are very conscious of the dangers ahead. At least we can take encouragement from the fact that Scotland's efforts since the war have surpassed anything that has ever been attempted before in the history of Scotland.
2371 In the international field Scotland has one great industry which has a unique opportunity of making a valuable contribution to our future prosperity. Scots have gone to every country in the world. It is calculated that there are over 20 million Scots abroad. Large numbers of them and their friends in England, America and other countries desire to visit the land of their "ain folk." By their visits they not only bring friendship but also provide us with a vital opportunity of paying for many of our imports.
The Scottish Tourist Board have already done good work in this connection, and the Government will continue to give them as much support as is possible. The Edinburgh Festival would seem to have become an established institution, while the arrangements for the Festival of Britain in Scotland are going ahead. In due course also we hope to have some proposal to lay before Parliament in connection with national parks for Scotland. The cumulative result of all these efforts should be to make Scotland a Mecca for tourists from many parts of the world, but it is essential that the tourist trade should lay itself out to provide the accommodation and service which will make people want to come back.
Our tourist trade and our tourist catering are in many ways good, but there are complaints that people have to take what we give them and not what they want. The catering trade has to realise that it has a duty to make its places attractive. The Government have enabled the hotels in the Highlands to re-equip themselves, and many have been completely refurnished and redecorated and are attractive places, but the attraction lies not only in the buildings and the furniture, it lies also in the welcome that people get and the care with which they are tended.
§ Mr. Woodburn
There has been no difficulty. The Minister of Fuel and Power has made an arrangement by which people can reach any hotel in Scotland, and I have had few complaints in that direction.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
Would the right hon. Gentleman allow me to interrupt on that point? The Minister of Fuel and Power gives the same proportion of petrol for England as for the enormous distances to be covered by people who want to stay in the further parts of Scotland.
§ Mr. Woodburn
He will find that the distances from the railways to the hotels in Scotland have been taken account of in the allocation of petrol. I myself took part in the negotiations that brought this about some 18 months ago. I have had discussions with the Scottish Tourist Board and in recent times there has been practically nothing said about this. I quite agree that there has been no allocation of petrol to bring people from Cornwall to John o' Groats, but the hon. and gallant Gentleman would agree that it would be a rather extravagant tourist trade which required that we sacrifice dollars in order to get somebody up to John o' Groats.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
I apologise for interrupting the right hon. Gentleman again, but I do so in order to get this right. The right hon. Friend of the right hon. Gentleman has been dealing with the hotel car, not with the car of the visitor, who gets the same proportion of petrol in whatever part of Great Britain he happens to be.
§ Mr. Woodburn
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman did not hear the speech of the Chancellor yesterday, he may be able to be present next week, when he will hear some important reasons why, with the best will in the world, it will be impossible to hand petrol out to everybody to get to the hotels in the Highlands.
In conclusion, if I may turn to the facts in the White Paper, I think there can be little exception taken to the statement that 1948 was a good year for Scotland, indeed, one of the best in our history. We had full employment, a record in house construction, and the flame of our national activities was burning brightly. Industrial planning is, however, more precarious than the long-term 2373 plan for the countryside. Our industry is so much involved in foreign markets and inter-country trading that we can be less sure in looking ahead. We cannot control the economic fortunes of our overseas customers; we cannot ensure that they will so arrange their affairs as to be able to buy the goods which we must sell to earn our living.
However, one thing is certain, that the buyers' market which has obtained since the war is ending. Just as we may have to go without some imports, so other countries may have to do without what we would like to send them. We may have to make both effort and sacrifice to stimulate trade by quality, price and delivery. If, then, we are to keep vital trade going, our efforts must be directed to producing goods which the world wants at the prices at which other people are able or ready to pay. We cannot live without imports. This country must trade or die.
Of one thing we can be sure, that future prosperity to a large extent depends on present foresight. Our industry is better balanced than formerly to meet possible difficulties for our industries in Scotland are now more varied. Nevertheless, the mainstay of our wealth in Scotland is still the heavy industries. The newer industries which developed before the war, during and since the war, have mainly been those which are based on research, initiative and enterprise. These are the things which the Government wish to encourage in Scotland. The industrial estates offer new opportunities and the State itself has a 50 per cent. financial interest in the success of all industry. The State also recognises that, from a national point of view, whether industry is private or public, taken as a whole the strength and wealth of our country depends upon its success. The State is willing to help to the utmost of its power, and today any suggestions which are made, from whatever part of the Committee will be welcomed and acted upon if they are within our means and likely to prove practicable in outcome.
Scotland is, relatively speaking, one of the small countries in the world. Within its borders it has probably a greater variety of industry, agriculture and interest than any other country. It is handicapped to some extent by distance from the more populous markets, but in 2374 the past it has overcome this largely by the skill and energy of its people. Since the war Scotland has a new-found will to succeed and nothing, in my view, can prevent her while that will prevails.
Now of course it is easy to be apprehensive and pessimistic but what we must be in all these things is realistic. At the moment the facts are that while we have difficulty with the Western countries, the countries to the East of us are tending to revive and recover, and it may be that while we are not able to do all the trade with the West that we want to do, much of our trade with other countries will revive and will compensate for that to some extent. We are doing our best in that direction, as hon. Members know. Sometimes a market like South Africa closes, while another market, like the Argentine, opens up, and I beseech hon. Members not to be too pessimistic. There is no immediate cause for it. We have our difficulties, it is for us to buckle to and overcome them.
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. Isaacs)
Will you permit me, Major Milner, to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again." I do so formally in order to make a short statement.
§ The Chairman
I should inform the Committee that on a Motion of this description any statement should strictly be confined to the subject-matter of the Motion, but in view of the importance attached to the matter by the right hon. Gentleman, and as I am assured that the public interest is involved, if no hon. Member objects, I am agreeable to the statement being made.
§ [For statement by the MINISTER OF LABOUR see column 2344.]
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) and the Secretary of State have covered a wide field this afternoon, and I think they have dealt with practically every matter affecting the prosperity, or lack of it, in Scotland. However, I suggest that in view of the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday, the right hon. Gentleman is unduly optimistic or, rather, unduly complacent. 2375 Indeed, he made two remarks which I did not understand. At the beginning of his speech, in answer to an interjection, he said that there was nothing in the speech of the Chancellor yesterday which would hinder the trade of Scotland in the future; yet at the end of his speech he indicated that one of the reasons why the hotel industry would be hampered in the future was the lack of petrol which we could not now get from dollar areas in view of the statement of the Chancellor yesterday.
§ Sir T. Moore
In view of the obvious misunderstanding of my remarks by the right hon. Gentleman—I do not say it was a deliberate misunderstanding—I shall confine my few remarks to a very narrow issue——
§ Sir T. Moore
I am obliged. I assure the Committee that I shall stick to this one narrow issue, and that is the question of petrol for our tourist and hotel industry. As the right hon. Gentleman will remember, about a fortnight ago we had a Debate on tourism in Britain generally and the way in which to attract visitors to Britain. We got little satisfaction, as most hon. Members will agree; in fact, the only satisfaction, if it can be called satisfaction, that we got was confirmation of our suspicions that there was little knowledge of each other's functions between the respective Ministers concerned, and even less co-operation. We were shuttlecocked from the President of the Board of Trade to the Minister of Fuel and Power, and from the Minister of Fuel and Power to the Minister of Labour, and finally we ended up with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as we always do.
I hope that when the Joint Under-Secretary of State replies we shall get more information on this topic than the right hon. Gentleman gave us. I hope that we shall not be fobbed off with 2376 these continued excuses of dollar imports, because I am going to explain, I hope to the satisfaction of the Committee and certainly to my own satisfaction, how the necessary petrol for Scottish needs can be found without incurring dollar expenditure at all. In any case, supposing some of our petrol supplies have to be obtained from dollar areas, we get, as the right hon. Gentleman has explained, American and Canadian tourists bringing with them large and substantial quantities of the hard currency that we need, and surely it is wise occasionally to set even a skinny sprat to catch a well nourished mackerel. What we really want the Secretary of State to do is to go to the Cabinet and say, "You or Parliament have charged me with the responsibility for the well-being and prosperity of Scotland. I insist on my advice being taken." We all know that the right hon. Gentleman has an alternative, although we should all bitterly regret such an alternative.
At the same time, I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's difficulties, because in the end he is faced with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Chancellor reminds me of certain doctors who ask their anxious patients what their habits are. When the patients confess to a modest enjoyment of an occasional smoke or a drink, the doctors on a question of principle say, "You cannot have it." The only difference between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and those doctors is that the Chancellor says, "You cannot have petrol either." If the right hon. Gentleman is not firm—I am just giving him this bit of friendly advice—and if he does not stand up for the rights and interests of Scotland—or indeed, perhaps, whether he does or not—Nemesis in the form of the Unionist Party will extort its penalty at the forthcoming General Election.
For the sake of hon. Members who have not studied this question so meticulously as I have, let us get the present position clear. When the basic petrol ration was abolished in August, 1947, the hotels in the whole of Scotland, particularly in the furthest areas, immediately felt a sharp recession in business. That was partly checked when the basic ration was introduced in June, 1948, and then when the introduction of the standard ration took place in December last year, undoubtedly considerable assistance was 2377 given to the hotel industry. Furthermore, the hotels benefited from the doubling of the value of the coupons in June, July and August; but incidentally I should like the right hon. Gentleman to remember that he would confer a tremendous benefit on the industry if he retained that double value for September and October. September especially is a very popular month for holidays. We are encouraged to stagger our holidays, but the Government refuse to give us the facility to stagger them because they refuse to give us the petrol.
§ Miss Herbison (Lanark, North)
Is the hon. and gallant Member asking for petrol so that we may get extra dollars from the Americans, or is he asking for petrol for British tourists?
§ Sir T. Moore
If the hon. Lady will await my further remarks she will understand exactly why I am asking for petrol for the home traveller as well as for the foreign traveller. No hotel can remain open solely for the foreign tourists. A hotel's business is principally based on the home traveller. That is why I am asking for petrol for home purposes as well as for foreign visitors.
What did the right hon. Gentleman achieve by that increase in petrol? He increased the mileage from 540 to 810 for the six-months period ending 31st December. That is all. As everyone knows, that is totally inadequate for the purposes that we have in view. We know the arguments of the Government. I have heard them before. They will say that red petrol has saved us 370,000 tons a year, but that the cost of the standard ration is 360,000 tons, and therefore there is nothing left. Then they will say that there are no more sources from which petrol can be obtained, and finally they will say that because of the dollar situation it is impossible to make any further increase to the petrol ration in the home market.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
The hon. and gallant Member said that the present arrangement is totally inadequate for the purpose in view, but he has not explained the purpose which he has in view. Is that purpose to enable people to undertake long distance tours from Land's End to John o'Groats, or to enable people to have tours within Scotland itself?
§ Sir T. Moore
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman have a little patience and allow me to make my own speech in my own way instead of trying to forestall all my remarks? Perhaps he will allow me to make my remarks as they occur to me.
§ Sir T. Moore
When I was describing the excuses that the Government would make I was about to suggest that this is a very shortsighted policy and almost a policy of defeatism. As the right hon. Gentleman said in the course of his speech, Scotland today exports the best ships and the finest whisky in the world, and, of course, all the machine tools for which she is so famous.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes rose——
§ Sir T. Moore
I cannot give way again. One thing that Scotland cannot export is her lovely scenery and the kindly welcome that all Scots give to visitors. That means that Scotland must sell her scenery and her welcome on the spot. They cannot be exported. How are we to do that? The hotel industry, as I was about to tell the hon. and learned Gentleman if he had curbed his impatience, is the buttress of the tourist industry. The home traveller is the buttress of the hotel industry, because no hotel can afford to remain open for the foreign tourist traffic alone. Finally, petrol is the buttress of all traffics. Therefore, our whole hotel industry, despite the optimistic remarks of the right hon. Gentleman, is bound to disappear, or at any rate to suffer very gravely, unless the necessary petrol is provided for the home and domestic traveller.
Let me give an illustration to prove my point, especially as it concerns the remoter parts of Scotland, which, as we all admit, are generally the most beautiful. In 1939 the number of cars passing over the Kyle Skee ferry was 4,000, but in 1948 it was only 300. Those figures are very significant. As far as I can gather, similar and comparable reductions are, unhappily, occurring all over Scotland. Let us make a comparison with the policy adopted in other countries. A visitor to France is immediately allowed 44 gallons of petrol for a month, which is the equivalent of 2379 about 12,000 miles of travel. In all other European countries—it is the free countries of which I am speaking—petrol is unrationed altogether. Therefore, we are giving a stimulant—which, obviously, is unfair to our home hotel trade—to our citizens to go abroad for their holidays and to take their currency with them.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman repeat the number of gallons and the mileage which he has just quoted?
§ Sir T. Moore
I said that a visitor to France gets 44 gallons for one month, which is the equivalent to 1,200 miles of travel.
§ Sir T. Moore
I apologise. I intended, of course, to say 1,200.
What is to be done, and what are the Government trying to do, to secure petrol from sources other than dollar areas? To my mind, few restrictions offend the public more than petrol rationing. The main reason is that this restriction seems to be reserved for the public only. They see Government servants and local authority officials using petrol, apparently, as they like, yet private individuals, even when going on public duties, are denied the necessary quantity and are hampered at every turn. All my information points to the fact that the sterling area today produces enough petrol for all British, including Scottish, needs. Therefore, why not import it? The immediate answer, of course, will be——
§ Mr. Willis
On a point of Order. Is the Secretary of State really responsible for the policy of the Government in the importation of petrol, about which we are now hearing so much?
§ Sir T. Moore
Of course he is, through the Scottish Tourist Board. I do not even trouble you to reply to that silly interjection, Mr. Mathers.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Mathers)
The Tourist Board comes within the scope of the report which is before the Committee for discussion.
§ Mr. Willis
Surely, what the hon. and gallant Member is now discussing is the 2380 question of the importation of petrol and what the Government ought to do to get more. My submission is that that is not the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Scotland.
§ Major Guy Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)
Is it not a fact that the report on Industry and Employment in Scotland, which we are discussing and which was referred to repeatedly by the Secretary of State, contains most specific references to the progress and prosperity or otherwise of the tourist industry, which must, by any common-sense standard, be vitally affected by the question of petrol?
§ The Temporary Chairman
I have not ruled the hon. and gallant Member out of Order. I did not think there was any necessity for doing so.
§ Sir T. Moore
I shall not detain the Committee very long, but there is one further question I want to ask the Joint Under-Secretary, because the Secretary of State shares the responsibility with the Cabinet for all this lack of imagination and anticipation regarding our needs in Scotland. Although it is hardly believable, we are today selling millions of pounds worth of petrol abroad, yet we are paying £38 million worth of E.C.A. dollars to buy it back again. What fantastic kind of economics is that? I ask the Government, including the right hon. Gentleman, to get the petrol which we need in Scotland from our own British resources. The tankers are available; they cost money, of course, but the Government know as well as I do that we could have got them from America for practically a knock-down price after the war.
§ Sir T. Moore
I agree, Mr. Mathers. That is why I shall not go any further. My only other request is to repeat the plea I made earlier, that the coupon value of petrol should be doubled for September. That would greatly assist the whole of our tourist trade and every hotel in the country. It would give them a fillip which they are sadly lacking today; and possibly it would give them a comforting assurance for this season's prosperity, which for the moment, they feel, they cannot enjoy.
§ 5.27 p.m.
§ Miss Herbison (Lanark, North)
In listening to the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) I wondered whether he was giving the considered view of his party. If he was, the criticism which we have heard from the front and back benches opposite, and which we get continually in the Press, has been very badly founded. We are continually being told that the Ministers of the present Government have done little or nothing to bring home to the ordinary people of the country the serious nature of our economic position. I am certain that if some railwaymen or miners or some of the lowest paid workers had been sitting in the galleries today, they would have been wondering seriously whether we were in a difficult economic position or not.
§ Miss Herbison
The hon. and gallant Member replies, "We want dollars." We want dollars for many things—for raw materials and for food—and that was a reason why I intervened when the hon. and gallant Member was speaking. It seemed to me that his greatest plea was not for petrol for visitors from America or Canada—the dollar countries—but for petrol for British people.
The Government attitude on this matter is perfectly correct. At present, when we are saying to our people, "You must not, or we would rather you would not, ask for rises in your wages," we have as good a right to say to our people inside Britain, "The economic situation and the dollar position, not only in this country but in almost the whole of the world, are such that we cannot at present give you more petrol." It is not difficult to say that to British people, particularly when I do not find it difficult to tell my own constituents that for many people we cannot afford higher wages and must accept reorganisation in many industries. If hon. Members opposite showed in this House and outside what they really feel about this economic situation, we would not have heard the speech which the hon. and gallant Member has just made.
I felt that the Secretary of State for Scotland gave a very good review of the economic situation in Scotland. He showed clearly that since the war, hope 2382 has been brought to many of the old distressed areas, now Development Areas, in Scotland. That has happened in my own constituency. I wish to detract in no way from what this Labour Government have done for Scotland. In spite of the serious world position, for many thousands of people Scotland has greater hope than it ever had. I wish to raise two matters which are inter-related. The Secretary of State speaking about the new industries which have come to Scotland, referred to one part of Scotland where he said there was a fear among the older industries that they would lose workers who would go to the brighter factories and new industries. In spite of all that has been done for Lanarkshire in the last few years, we are very far from that position, and no owner of any industry in Lanarkshire is afraid he will lose workers from that industry to any other industry.
In spite of all that has been done with the new industrial estates and lighter industries brought to Lanarkshire, there is still in some Lanarkshire towns what I would term serious unemployment. In reading the Report on Industry and Employment in Scotland I was interested in paragraph 26, which deals with the new projects which have come to Scotland. In the Development Areas there have been 261 new projects and, in the rest of Scotland, 124, making a total of 385. Working out the percentage I find that some 32 per cent. of the new projects have been set up in the non-development areas. If each of these projects is providing work for the same number of people—which is something I want to find out because we still have serious unemployment in our Development Areas—there has been some lack of planning when we find that 32 per cent. of the new projects have gone to non-development areas. It may be that these are smaller projects and that that 32 per cent. does not give the real picture.
The second point affects my constituency and, indeed, the whole of Lanarkshire. In paragraph 122 there is a statement on the closure of collieries. In the closure of these collieries the Scottish Division of the National Coal Board could have done nothing other than they did. We find today when pits are closed by the National Coal Board, that there is a humane understanding and what I would term a humane treatment of the 2383 men who lose their work in those pits. It is completely different from what happened between the wars when, in many parts of Lanarkshire, pits were closed and men left on the scrap heap. There was no organisation or planning to find them work in other pits. That is not the case today; work is found for them in other Development Areas. Not only is there work for them, but in a matter of not more than eight weeks there is a good new home for the miner and his family and he does not have to try to find the means to take his furniture from the old place to the new place, but that is paid for him. While he is waiting for a house, he is given a lodging allowance.
The picture is so different from that which we knew in the mining areas previously. But we read in the paragraph that in the Shotts and Clyde Basin areas:The aim will be to avoid the complete removal of the mining population from any one district at any one time but the Clyde Valley Collieries and those in the Shotts area must all be closed within ten years at the most and this will necessitate a fairly rapid transfer of miners.I should be the last to say to the National Coal Board that they must keep going pits that are seriously uneconomic, but I say to the Secretary of State for Scotland and those who are responsible for the welfare of Scotland that they must not be content merely with making such a statement. From my experience of the closure of these two pits the mobile men, the men who are unmarried and the young men who are married, work has been found if they were willing to go to other areas. For what they term the immobile men, the National Coal Board have found work in the pits in the Shotts district and excellent work has been done by the Board.
If all the pits in this area are to close, what is to happen to these immobile men and their families? No work can be found in the mines for them. In Shotts itself we have been fortunate in getting for the first time a factory under the Distribution of Industry Scheme for our womenfolk and that has brought joy to many homes in Shotts. But what work is there to be for these immobile men and for their families? Is the planning department of the Scottish Office to find work in the industrial estates already going up in Lanarkshire for these people 2384 who, for one reason or another, cannot leave the district?
I am most seriously troubled about the men. I am sure it is not beyond the wit of people in St. Andrew's House, who have shown such vision and foresight in the last three or four years. I make the plea to them, "Do not put out a statement merely saying that this area is no longer to be a mining area and that these people are to have nothing to look forward to but unemployment if they cannot move from the area. Do consider the position very seriously and work out a plan which will again give hope to these people." In making that plea, I am not making any plea for the younger miner, married or unmarried, who can easily go to Fifeshire, the Lothians, or Ayrshire.
We are always told that we on this side of the Committee do not stress the economic side of the question to our people, but I am certain that we do. I am certain that we and our people realise that for a long time our industries will depend upon coal, and upon coal being efficiently and economically worked, while at the same time providing good conditions for those in the industry. If I accept that, I accept at the same time the fact that our men will in many instances have to move. Those are the two sides of the picture. If I am willing to accept the one side, I feel that I have the duty to urge upon the Secretary of State that he must carefully consider the other side of the picture and make a plan for Lanarkshire before it is too late.
§ 5.41 p.m.
§ Major Guy Lloyd (Renfrew, Eastern)
In common with Members on all sides of the Committee, I have listened with interest to the deeply sincere speech which the hon. Member for North Lanark (Miss Herbison) has delivered. All of us share her natural concern at the distresses of many of her constituents, especially in the mining industry. I hope that she and the Committee will forgive me if I do not pursue the grievances of the miners of Scotland, of which I am well aware, and their bitter disappointment and disillusionment with nationalisation. I prefer rather to concentrate on the widespread grievances of the people of Scotland as a whole.
I must refer to an interesting question which the hon. Lady posed at the very 2385 beginning of her speech, and which Members of the Committee will recollect. Although the question was admittedly in another context, she said, referring to the speech by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore), "Are we or are we not in a difficult economic position in Scotland?" She went on to plead with us on this side of the Committee, and said, "We want to know what you"—that is, the Unionists and Conservatives on this side of the Committee—"really think about the economic position in Scotland." That is fine. I am so glad to have been given such a lead. That is exactly what I propose to answer. In fact, the major contents of the remarks I propose to make to the Committee are concerned with that question.
There was little or nothing to which I took exception in the speech of the Secretary of State. I think he read his brief, which was well prepared, very much better than some of his more recent predecessors have done.
§ Mr. Woodburn
May I point out that I did not read a brief? I consulted my speech, which I had dictated, to save the time of the Committee. The hon. and gallant Member should realise that at this time, when Ministers try to conserve the time of the House, it is advisable that they should keep closely to their notes and not be led away by interjections.
§ Major Lloyd
I accept unhesitatingly the right hon. Gentleman's statement that the speech was not a brief but that he dictated every word of it himself and that it was his own. It was such a good speech, so well presented, without pause or hesitation, and the notes in front of him were so ample, that it appeared to me as though it was very largely being read. It makes my congratulations, which I had begun to deliver, even more emphatic, in so far as I had no exception to take to it.
There is little exception that one can take to the White Paper, but is it supposed to present a true picture of the state of industry and trade in Scotland today? Surely no one could with any sincerity pretend that it does so. The White Paper is already obsolete, it is completely out of date. It gives an account of a 2386 period, an ideal period in our economic and industrial history, rarely paralleled before in any generation, a period of an ideal sellers' market. No one who has any knowledge of the industrial and economic history of our country in the lifetime of anyone who is present here can remember our having had such an ideal sellers' market in this country. It was almost impossible not to be able to sell anything we could produce. No one cared what the price was, everyone was only too anxious to buy.
Therefore, all the statistical figures, all the complacent and satisfied phrases in the report, refer to a most fortunate period in our industrial history in Scotland, when we had this ideal sellers' market in which it was almost impossible to fail. But I could not help feeling from the right hon. Gentleman's remarks—I felt it more, I must admit, when reading the report—that those who wrote the report at all events would like to give the impression, perhaps quite sincerely felt, that the major credit for the very satisfactory situation outlined in the report—increases in production, increases of sales and of exports—was somehow or other due to the Government, that the credit should go to St. Andrew's House or the Secretary of State or the various Departments affected.
On reflection, on looking at the details, I cannot bring myself to admit for a moment that the Government can claim the slightest credit for any of the achievements in relation to increased exports or increased production or any of the achievements that really matter from the point of view of the trade and industry of Scotland. The credit should go, and we on this side of the Committee insist that it must go, to those industrialists, merchants and traders in Scotland who in spite of the handicaps of a Socialist Government, in spite of the permits, licences, restrictions and controls—all the fetters which have been put upon them in the last four years—have nevertheless managed to do so remarkably well. While I pay that tribute, I know that there is not a single industrialist in Scotland who would not be willing to admit that my remark is perfectly true; he could not really have failed to do what he has done because of the ideal sellers' market presented to us both at home and abroad.
2387 The Government should certainly not run away with the idea that any industrialist in Scotland gives credit to them. What have the Government done from the point of view of increasing production, of increasing exports? What have the Government produced which is exported? I note that there is dead silence, Why should the Government claim any advantage for anything which has been exported? What have the Government produced but lots of controls, regulations and forms which industrialists and business heads have spent hours puzzling over and large sums of money in employing staffs to deal with. All that the Government have produced are handicaps of every kind.
In spite of all those things, industry has done a most wonderful and marvellous job; but I contend that the White Paper is out of date and that any satisfaction or complacency about it is quite fantastic. If we are to face up to the facts contained in it which I do not for a moment dispute, credit must not be given to the Government or to the right hon. Gentleman whose salary we are considering today, although I have no poor opinion of him, and do not wish his salary to be reduced. In fact, I do not think that we intend to suggest at the end of this Debate that it should be reduced. I wish to say, lest the Secretary of State should be too happy as a result of having read his report, that even in 1948 Members of the Government of which he is a Member were saying, both in this House and outside, that were it not for assistance from the United States, Great Britain, which includes Scotland, would have been down and out, on the verge of bankruptcy, with unemployment approaching the 2½ million mark and grave shortages of food in many parts of the country. Even in 1938 those remarks were being made. Let us therefore not give the credit to the Government or to the Secretary of State for the great assistance we received in 1948 from the United States, without which assistance we should indeed be "in the soup."
We have today been mentioning the possibility that the Economic Survey published by the Government—another White Paper similar in appearance to this—is already out of date although it was published in 1949, and we may see 2388 how wrong were the Estimates, how grossly optimistic was the survey. This survey of 1948 is not only completely obsolete, but incidentally was proved to be greatly wrong in its predictions. I wish to emphasise, a fact, of which thousands of people in Scotland are fully aware, that all these figures which have been recorded in this White Paper have been brought about by the men of commerce; the merchant traders; the industrialists in Scotland, in spite of the Government; in spite of the controls and restrictions; in spite of nationalisation; in spite of the heavy increase in overhead charges on every industrialist, every merchant and trader and every man of commerce throughout Scotland.
There is not one man in Scotland who buys or sells or employs who has not had his overhead charges, his oncosts, gravely and seriously increased through direct Government action; by the policy of the Socialist Government and by the policy carried out by the right hon. Gentleman. That is an undeniable fact. No one can find one man in Scotland who trades, or buys, or sells or employs, who could make the statement that he has not had his costs substantially and seriously increased by the direct action of the Government in raising the oncosts and overhead charges of industry in Scotland and elsewhere.
That has not been stated here. Is there any word about the rising cost of living? Is there any word about the raising of oncosts; of the overhead charges on industry in Scotland? That is slurred over, but that was going on in 1948, even up till now. I intend to pursue this subject, which is obviously painful to hon. Members opposite—namely, that all these achievements have been carried out in spite of a Socialist Government, with their fetishes; with their additions to overhead charges and oncosts; with nationalisation; with their denial of any proper incentives; with their contempt for the profit motive; with their fantastic ideas of bulk purchase because of which most of the raw materials which our industrialists have been using have not only been in short supply, but have been unquestionably much more expensive than they would otherwise have been—above all, with their complete frustration of free enterprise because of their hatred of it.
2389 The right hon. Gentleman gave lip service, and I appreciated it, to the fact that free enterprise and the industrialists have done a good job. Why does he not take further action and censure many of the hon. Members on the Government back benches, who in their constituencies, in their speeches, and in their writings pour nothing but contempt on free enterprise and industrialism in Scotland? What has the Government done for Scotland? It is free enterprise and the industrialists who are responsible for the great achievements reported in this White Paper. Why does not the White Paper say anything about the many people in Scotland, who are browned off, fed up and thoroughly disillusioned? Is it suggested that the people of Scotland are happy and contented and have no concern for the future? If so, hon. Gentlemen opposite are indeed very out of date. They are still living in the days maybe of the White Paper and the sellers' market. There is grave concern in Scotland with regard to the situation. There is grave disillusionment; there is undoubtedly an increasing number of people who are deeply upset when they contemplate the future—and extremely sceptical when they contemplate the present.
Why does the White Paper make no mention of that kind of thing? [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh. Do they seriously suggest that the people of Scotland are not in the least worried about the future, or the present? Do they seriously suggest that all their constituents, or any of them, are thoroughly contented? Everybody knows there is an increasing feeling of discontent, dismay, disillusionment—I deliberately use those words. I challenge anybody to tell the truth about the people of Scotland, anyone who knows the feelings of their constituents, and to deny that dismay and disillusionment are widespread and complete throughout Scotland; more especially in the constituencies of hon. Members opposite.
§ Mr. Malcolm MacMillan (Western Isles)
The hon. and gallant Member has been painting a picture contrasting the fine days we had under the last Government—to say the best of it—compared with those which we are having under the wicked Socialist Government now. He refuses to attribute to the Government any of the improvements we may see 2390 reflected in the White Paper. Would he explain to us to whom would he attribute the following figures? On 15th May, 1939, we had in Scotland 221,000 people registered unemployed. In May, 1949, we had just over 61,000 including the temporary unemployed. Does he attribute that high pre-war figure of 1939 to the beneficent effect of the Tory Government, or to private enterprise in full blast?
§ Major Lloyd
Never for a moment in my wildest imaginings did I imagine that the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. M. MacMillan) had any real knowledge of economics. But if he had, he would understand that the question of buying and selling has nothing to do with the Government, or with politics. It is nothing more or less than pure economics. What do the Government buy and sell except through bulk purchase?
The real answer to the hon. Member is that we are not now living in a sellers' market which existed during 1948. This White Paper we are discussing covers the period of a sellers' market. The period to which the hon. Gentleman refers, and which is the basis of most of the Labour Party propaganda—going back for 10 or 15 years—was a period of a buyers' market, which is coming back, and will be most difficult. It has nothing whatever to do with politics at all. I prefer to talk about the future, and am not so much interested in the past. It is rather a pity that a document, which I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would prefer to be realistic, makes no reference to the complaints and bitter feelings of many people in Scotland and to their deep concern about the situation at the present time.
Why is there no reference whatever in the White Paper, or indeed in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, to the demand for self-government in Scotland? I am not discussing the question of self-government, but why do people want it? Because they are fed up, browned off. Would they want it if they were content? Is it suggested that the people of Scotland are perfectly content, and have no complaints? A White Paper purporting to give the state of the country should be more realistic. Why is it there is no reference to the complaint of many people in Scotland that they have had a raw deal? Have hon. Members opposite 2391 never heard the words "raw deal for Scotland"? If not, they cannot be in intimate touch with their constituents. The words "raw deal for Scotland" are on the lips of all. Why is that? It is because they are thoroughly disillusioned with the Socialist Government. That is why they mention the raw deal for Scotland about which everybody knows the average man in Scotland is firmly convinced.
I wish to pass to another matter. I wish to suggest how infinitely better off we would have been, if we had not had this Government; if the Secretary of State for Scotland, and those who believe in his fetishes and shibboleths and theories had not been in office. Consider how much better off we would have been and how much higher our sales would have been if we had had no bulk purchase and the profit motive had been encouraged, if nationalisation and all the heavy oncosts which have followed from it——
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Mathers)
The hon. and gallant Member pleased me when he said that he was about to address himself to another theme. I am sorry to say that I find him harping on the same string throughout his speech. I ask him not to be repetitive.
§ The Temporary Chairman
I shall put it more plainly. I must ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman to recognise that there is a rule against repetition.
§ Major Lloyd
I am sorry if I have repeated myself. I hope that it will be proved by HANSARD that I have not repeated myself too much, though I accept the fact, as you say that I have, Mr. Mathers. It is not always easy when one feels strongly about these matters not to emphasise them and perhaps one repeats the points too much.
I should like to proceed in the hope that I shall not repeat myself again, and to ask why this White Paper never mentions the increasing cost of living and the deep concern about that which is felt by the people of Scotland. Was not the cost of living increasing during 1948? Has it not increased more since then? Is there nobody in Scotland worried about the cost of living? Are hon. Members 2392 opposite not worried? If they are, let them take the opportunity now, let them show their moral courage and protest against it in this Debate. The increase in the cost of living is very largely due to the practice of Socialist theories and the ever-increasing costs of production.
What is the solution of the problem? The solution is one to which hon. Members opposite cannot, and never will, make any contribution at all. The solution is to be found in a steady courageous determination to bring down costs of production, to make it easier in a buyers' market for our industrialists, traders and men of commerce to sell the goods, as a result of which alone, they can employ the people. For years hon. Members opposite have suggested that somehow politics employ people—that people can be employed through a set of political theories. Never was there such nonsense. People can only be employed if our industrialists can sell goods. If they cannot do that, they cannot employ the people. There is no politics in it. It is a matter of plain economic common sense.
If our people find it difficult to sell goods in a buyers' market, about which we have been warned and about the whole nation is alarmed, what was there in the speech of the Secretary of State to suggest that he had one single thought in his head on the subject of bringing down the cost of production? If I were to ask him, "Do you think that the cost of production should come down?" I have no doubt that he would not hesitate to say, "Yes," but I think that he would find it difficult to suggest any practical methods by which they could be brought down under Socialism.
§ Mr. Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman state specifically how he would bring down costs?
§ Major Lloyd
I would stop bulk purchase immediately. That adds enormously to overhead charges. I would free industry from bureaucratic control. The very confidence which would be given to the nation by a change of Government would automatically do what the hon. Gentleman asks. I think I should be out of Order if I were to be sidetracked into giving a full answer to that question, 2393 because some of the details would lead me into channels which I am sure that you, Mr. Mathers, would forbid.
I repeat, at the risk of censure, that production is vital to the future in a buyers' market. The right hon. Gentleman said nothing about that. I do not think that there is one hon. Member opposite who would be able to suggest any practical measure by which the costs of production can be brought down. If the Government are bankrupt of ideas; if they have no suggestions for the reduction in the costs of production; if they never mention the cost of living or the concern of the people of Scotland, what a waste of time this Debate will have been. We shall have been discussing a White Paper which is already obsolete and which was made during a period when there was a sellers' market, when now we are deeply concerned about the future.
Why has not the fear of bankruptcy been mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman? Is there no fear of bankruptcy stalking throughout the land of Scotland? Is there nobody in Scotland who fears bankruptcy? I tell the right hon. Gentleman that fear and disillusionment are stalking the people of Scotland today—disillusionment at a Socialist Government and fear of the position to which a Socialist Government will bring us. The year 1931 is coming back to the minds of the people. That is a date never allowed to be mentioned by hon. Gentlemen opposite, yet I think that the years 1929–31 were years between the wars. They were the worst years in our economic history when, in 12 months, unemployment increased by 1,500,000.
Why are those years never allowed to be mentioned? Can hon. Gentlemen opposite be surprised that the people in Scotland are asking, "Is 1931 coming back? Are we going bankrupt again?" The £ is slipping, the workers are frightened about redundancy, and the cost of living is rising. This White Paper and the speech of the right hon. Gentleman are completely unrealistic; but in due course, within a year, the people of Scotland will give their verdict upon him, his policities, and his work.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Leonard (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
I was rather surprised at the heat engendered 2394 by the hon. and gallant Member for Eastern Renfew (Major Lloyd), especially in his reference to controls. Somehow or other my memory prompts me to the effect that his own party in 1943 brought into being a committee to elaborate the policy they would follow on controls after the war. At the end of last year I endeavoured to discover whether any report had yet been submitted, not only for my guidance but for the assistance of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. So far as I know, they have not yet reported. If I am right, it ill becomes the hon. and gallant Gentleman to comment, as he has done in this Committee, on the subject of controls.
§ Commander Galbraith
Is not the hon. Gentleman merely saying that his spy system is not very good or efficient?
§ Mr. Leonard
That committee was set up in 1943 and it is now 1949. The hon. and gallant Gentleman's party has not yet elaborated its policy on controls. Until it does, I suggest that he is not entitled to conduct himself as he has done today. There is also within my recollection a more recent reference to controls by the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton). I think that I can quote fairly accurately his words. He referred to complaints which had been made about controls, and said that those concerned had no complaints to make when they were making profits, but when profits were in danger they called for support from the Government. His comment on their complaints about controls was that they were sheer nonsense. If any hon. Gentleman desires it, I can supply a cutting from the Press.
I wish to raise two matters affecting Scottish interests and to ask the Secretary of State two questions. I am prompted to do so because, in the discussions I hear from time to time about Scottish industry in general, the opinion is often expressed that Scotland could be self-supporting. That may be a possibility, but, in my opinion, if it were applied it would not last very long, because the Scottish people are desirous of having as full a life as anyone can have, and that full life could not be maintained if such a policy were applied. That being so, we 2395 are forced to countenance exporting as one of the activities of the country. It is important that we should produce goods that will be accepted as desirable in those countries most suitable to respond in trade to the peculiarities in Scottish production. In the heavy industries and in coal, because of long experience, we have reasonable knowledge of the markets available to us, but what about the secondary industries?
It will be within the recollection of all hon. Members that after the First World War secondary industries were started in Scotland, and we all remember what happened to them. In the immediate postwar years following the last war, we again began the creation of secondary industries in Scotland, and I am now rather perturbed with regard to the future of those industries. I should like to see some attention being paid to the exports which they may develop, and I should also like my right hon. Friend to bear in mind that some of the countries that might have been regarded as desirable from the export point of view some time ago, may not be so fruitful for us now, because they also are creating their own factories. It therefore appears to me that there will have to be a changing pattern of exports by the secondary industries.
I want specifically to ask whether we know the principal overseas markets to which Scottish-produced goods can be sent with advantage at the present time, and whether machinery exists in the Scottish Office for watching any modifications in the condition of those markets in order to give timely notice to the industrialists of Scotland so that they may modify or change their plans to meet the new circumstances. I would like also to refer to an endeavour which has been made previously in regard to Scottish statistics and other matters, and to ask whether we can obtain, separately from the general United Kingdom figures, the statistics showing the annual value of overseas exports from Scotland and the imports into Scotland. I think we are entitled to that information if it can be obtained.
There is another point which I can state very briefly. I notice that, on page 40 of the White Paper, there is a reference to banking, and I quote from the end of paragraph 198: 2396Recourse to bank accommodation for these purposes shows that the liquid resources held by most companies at the end of the war have proved to be much less adequate than they seemed in 1945, and, unless there is some recession in prices, it seems likely that the demand for bank accommodation will continue to expand.On that point, I should like to ask, in regard to the nationalised industries, and particularly those sections of Scottish industries which have been absorbed, whether the accounts which those industries previously held in Scottish banks are continuing to be held in Scotland, or whether they have been removed to England, because obviously if they have been removed to England, it will mean reduced amounts in the banks and reduced sums from which the banks can serve those industries. I should be glad if that point could be touched upon by my right hon. Friend.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Spence (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Central)
I should like to follow the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard) for a moment on the point he raised about the continuity of the secondary industries now being started in Scotland, which I think is a very important point. I disclose my personal interest as a manufacturer and exporter, and also as one interested in secondary industries in Scotland.
I would like to say to the Secretary of State that secondary industries now being developed in Scotland should have clearly in mind one or two considerations about the type of products which they produce. I think they should be characteristic, and even unique, from the point of view of quality and workmanship. They should have specialised designs, or whatever it may be. In Scotland we have to meet high charges for long-distance carriage of our raw materials, and we also have expensive costs in sending our goods away. If we are to succeed and flourish, situated as we are so far away from the main centres of production and distribution, surely it must be achieved by making articles that are unique in some particular and characteristic way, and I ask the Secretary of State to give his attention to encouraging industry in this direction, because it is most important. We not only want to develop new industries in 2397 Scotland, but we want also to manufacture that kind of production which was built up by the old stagers who made Scotland's name famous throughout the world.
It is scarcely necessary to emphasise the important part that Scotland's industry has played, not only in the recovery of Scotland itself, but in the economic recovery of Great Britain as a whole. We produce goods in Scotland which enjoy a world market and a world reputation, and particularly is this true of the dollar market. The Secretary of State invited what he called constructive suggestions, and, if I might depart a little from the pattern of the Debate so far, I should like to bring to his attention a number of points which I, as an industrialist—and I am sure that others engaged in industry would support me—hope the right hon. Gentleman will represent to the various Ministries concerned, because in dealing with these matters there are many points concerning the Ministry of Supply and the Board of Trade which might never have come to the attention of the right hon. Gentleman but for such a Debate as this.
First, there is the question of the supply of raw materials to manufacturers who are exporters. I consider that they should have an absolute priority, and especially should there be priority for those firms which can export their products to the dollar markets. That allocation does not exist today as of right, and in recent weeks one large section of the textile industry had cuts in the allocation of its raw materials from 10 to 60 per cent., with consequent very grave results to those concerned in the industry. I remember how they hurried from Scotland to London to try to get the matter put right. I also suggest that, as well as giving permits to those engaged in the export trade, in these times of dire necessity arrangements should be made for priority of delivery of raw materials, because the issue of a permit does not always mean that a raw material is available.
The next point on which I want to touch is a longer-term one which is not referred to in the White Paper, and it concerns the encouragement of new people coming into productive industry. We know that the employment figures have increased overall, but there is a 2398 grave danger that we are not giving the right encouragement and not stressing the importance of productive industry sufficiently to our young people.
There is a tendency to go into almost anything except productive industry. I believe that much could be done to encourage a wider appreciation of the importance of productive industry. I speak from my experience of offering employment and finding that wages are not the main consideration. Very often it is the type of work that makes people fail to go into productive industry and to go, instead, into the distributive trade or what I might call the "decorative" business which does not help to turn the wheels of industry. If we do not see that the recruitment to our productive industries, such as spinning, and so on, is sufficient, there will be a slow running down of our already short supplies.
My next point is that mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith)—tweed. I wish to refer to it in a more general way. Scottish goods sell abroad for two reasons; the first is their intrinsic value, and the second the association with their country of origin. By regulations, as I have no doubt the hon. Gentleman knows, the manufacturers of goods for export are almost entirely debarred from supplying those goods to the home market. That is due to the shortage of raw materials and labour. The allocations of export goods on the home market are, in some cases, as small as 2½ per cent. of the total production. The tendency is for the goods which used to be known as characteristic of the British or the Scots, through their absence from the home market, to lose their identity. It is a long-term project, but one which should not be lost sight of.
I pass now to another point, which I hope will be noted. We heard from the President of the Board of Trade today that goods manufactured in Europe are to be allowed into the British market with a view to cutting down costs and stimulating British manufacturers. I would say at once that in our Scottish industry we are not afraid of competition on a fair, free-for-all basis, but I press the Secretary of State for Scotland to ask his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade—if goods of certain types are allowed into this country—to consider 2399 the position of our manufacturers, who are compelled by the specifications within the statutory rules and orders that govern their business to make certain standard types of articles for the home market, to see that there is a relaxation or a widening of the specifications so that our manufacturers can produce goods comparable with those being supplied from Europe. Such competition is not objected to, but, while these specifications still apply to goods manufactured in this country for the home market, such competition would be unfair and would handicap the British manufacturers in providing a greater variety of goods, and even cheaper goods than those imported from abroad.
§ Mr. Spence
I should be pleased to expand it. In many industries, the home production of factories is confined to articles of a utility nature and the specifications lay down very rigidly what type of article may be supplied. Those regulations were, in the main, applied in 1941, and the specifications have remained unaltered ever since. They were applied under the stress of war, when the whole production of the country was geared to war, both as regards labour and raw materials. In many cases, they are now obsolete, but the main system of manufacture by specification remains. If we are to introduce cheaper articles from abroad, it is only fair that we should raise some of the restrictions on British manufacturers so that they can compete on equal terms.
§ Mr. Willis
Does the hon. Gentleman want Scottish industry to be able to enter into competition for shoddiness?
§ Mr. Spence
No, I would like to correct that impression; I will put it this way. Many of the specifications laid down in the regulations apply to weight, and the weights defined are too rigid and quite ridiculous. If the hon. Gentleman will watch the Order Paper for the next two or three weeks, he will see there a stream of Questions on this matter addressed by me to the President of the Board of Trade.
I wish now to pass to one other point, which is not related to the question of 2400 dollar exports. I wish to deal with the question of dollar saving. We have a great industry in Scotland known as oatmeal milling. That industry can save dollars in two ways. During the war, the production of oatmeal was stepped up very steeply by something like 25 or 30 per cent. above the pre-war figure. Some two years ago, the subsidy was removed from oatmeal, and the position today is that our production of that commodity is greatly in excess of public demand. The main reason for this is that, retail, oatmeal costs 6d. a lb., whereas flour, which we buy with dollars from abroad and then subsidise, is sold at 2⅔d. a lb. The housewife wishing to buy a cereal will therefore buy flour. In order to save dollars, it would be a good policy to subsidise oatmeal so as to bring down the price and reduce our cereal purchases from abroad.
There is another way in which we can use our oatmeal production. We can, in certain national feedingstuffs, introduce oatmeal instead of coarse grains which we buy with dollars—I refer particularly to chick feed, where no husks can be used, and certain kinds of pig feed—to the tune of, probably, some 50,000 tons a year. That may not be a very large amount, but when today we have to scrape the bottom of the bucket, it is worth considering. In these two ways, our oatmeal trade could be used to our national advantage.
§ Sir W. Darling
Did I get my hon. Friend's statement right, that the Government subsidise the housewife to the extent that she can buy wheat products, bought with dollars, at a third of the price at which Scottish oatmeal can be offered?
§ Mr. Spence
My hon. Friend is quite correct. The present retail price of oatmeal is 6d. a 1b. and flour is 2 2/3d. a 1b. I do not know the buying price of flour.
§ Mr. Spence
We are not discussing that; we are discussing the question of cereals. There is no doubt that owing to the high price of oatmeal, its consumption has fallen off, and that in many homes where they used to make oatcakes they now make scones.
I know the view of the Ministry of Food on this matter; they are inclined to 2401 take the line that there is over-production of oatmeal, and that some of the less efficient mills had better get out of the business. I do not believe that would be in the national interest. It is in the national interest that we should make use of our whole potential production of oatmeal—I do not suggest that we waste our oats, because all we grow are fed to livestock—but by milling oats we can save dollars by cutting down our purchases of flour and coarse grain. I hope that point is clear.
There is one question I should like to mention about price. We have to be very careful in our Scottish products, if we are to continue to enjoy the reputation that we have abroad for quality and workmanship, that whatever we take out of our product it must not come out of the standard of workmanship or of raw materials. There is a line by Ruskin which I read only yesterday:There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper.He finishes:There is no substitute for quality.I commend those words to the Secretary of State when he is talking about price and I hope the Joint Under-Secretary will have a word with his right hon. Friend on the various points I have made.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. McKinlay (Dumbartonshire)
I propose to detain the Committee for only ten minutes and I willingly concede the other five minutes of my time to the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd). He is cheap at the price, and one contrasts the speech of the hon. Member for Aberdeen and Kincardine, Central (Mr. Spence) with what we have come to expect from the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew. Heaven forgive me, I am the hon. and gallant Member's representative in Parliament. I do not bear him any ill will and I would extend a hearty invitation for him to come and speak for my Tory opponent in Helensburgh, half-a-mile from where he lives. He can speak every night in the week, and I am still satisfied that the next Parliament will see the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire in the person of myself. Did ever one listen to such a cock-eyed exposition of economics as that which fell from the lips of the hon. and gallant Member? 2402 Industrial output, prices must come down, we must cut costs—I congratulate the hon. and gallant Member, for he has studied the Tory Party policy.
§ Major Lloyd
May I ask the hon. Member whether he thinks costs should not come down and whether he believes they should go up?
§ Mr. McKinlay
That is rather naïve. I said the hon. and gallant Member has studied the Tory policy of silence. I not only believe that the price of commodities should come down, but I have sufficient experience of Tory practice to know how they would reduce the price of commodities. Heaven help Britain if it is left to the Tory Party to reduce prices. Hon. Members opposite may condemn Socialist theories and Socialist planning, if they will, but we have sufficient knowledge of Tory practices to spurn their suggestions and——
§ Major Lloyd rose——
§ Mr. McKinlay
I have already presented the hon. and gallant Member with five minutes of my time because I thought his contribution was such that, if it were adequately reported—which I very much doubt—it would give added strength to the Labour movement in the West of Scotland. The hon. and gallant Member said, get rid of controls. I was in Helensburgh only the other weekend and as a matter of fact I was announced in Rhu.
§ Mr. McKinlay
The funny thing is that tea is controlled, but when I tried to buy some sweets for my grandchildren there were no sweets in Helensburgh. The hon. and gallant Member says, take away those controls. There are other controls which I would impose which shall be nameless. I warn the hon. and gallant Member—watch your step. I have never listened to such a rabble-rousing speech in this country and I noticed the look of appreciation on the countenances of all the hon. Members who sit behind the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew. Take, for instance, the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling); I know what was running through his mind. This was something which should not be said in Edinburgh, at least——
§ Sir W. Darling
I really cannot allow the hon. Member to interpret what runs through my mind. He should not undertake that responsibility.
§ Mr. McKinlay
I must, however, part from the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew, because what struck me most at the beginning of this Debate was that the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith)—who is absent from his place—substituted for criticism of the Government's policy any amount of noise. He prefaced his remarks by talking about "mays," "mights" and "buts"; but "mays," "mights" and "buts" always enter into every form of human activity; there is always a "may" and always a "might" and always a "but." He attacked everything within range of that White Paper and wound up by suggesting that what we want to do in Scotland to solve the problem is to change the fashion.
There is, however, one point upon which I wish to join issue with him. In what, in my view, was rather an unfair criticism of the Hydro-Electric Board he wanted to know what is to be the cost of all this. He wanted to know how close it was coming to the estimate. I defy the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok to produce a single schedule of any building or specific engineering project since 1945 where the schedule was not littered with contingency clauses. Contingency clauses are good enough to safeguard the contractor, but they are no use for the Hydro-Electric Board. I thought the hon. and gallant Member was unfair, because I believe the Hydro-Electric Board have done a magnificent job of work and that their schemes, when completed, will bring about many of the things so much desired by the Tory Party and will reduce costs without cutting wages.
I want to say a few words about two industries. If I can obtain the information without any secrets being given, I want to know what is the future of the Blackburn factory in Dumbarton. I have already asked if this factory is ever to be restored to the purpose for which it was erected. Nobody will say "no" and nobody will say "yes," but of this much I am certain: it cannot go on producing prefabricated houses, for that is not a permanent industry. Whether some people like it or not, we shall get back 2404 to traditional forms of construction at the earliest possible moment, because, when all is said and done, the traditional form is the cheapest.
The other industry is one with which I used to have an intimate association, and I want some guarantee from the Front Bench that there will be continuity and that stress will be laid on continuity in the supply of materials to the shipbuilding industry. Shipbuilding costs, shipbuilding tonnage rates, are so finely balanced that an upset in the flow of materials adds tremendously to the cost of the ships, and, moreover, causes dislocation amongst people who are paid by results—namely, the "black squad." I appreciate the difficulties in the distribution of the limited supply of steel—limited because of the abnormal demands for it; but I think that this industry is so essential to the well being of the West of Scotland—and, indeed, to much more of Scotland, because the secondary industries are bound to lag if the primary ones falter—that I hope that whoever is to reply to the Debate will be able to give some answer to the questions I have raised.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Maclay (Montrose Burghs)
I am glad I have been called immediately after the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay), because the latter part of his speech links directly with one of the subjects I want to discuss—that of shipbuilding costs. I apologise for speaking again on a subject on which I speak rather often in this Chamber, but I think that if one has a special knowledge of a subject one should try to use it. I have no direct interest in shipbuilding, except that from time to time the firm with which I am connected likes to get the products of the shipbuilding yards—the right ships at the right price.
This Debate is a welcome relief as compared with that of last year in that one finds an increasing sense of realism in the speeches from the other side. Last year in a comparable Debate not even the Secretary of State himself, I think, emphasised enough the cyclical nature of some of our industries and the dependence on foreign markets of Scotland's prosperity. He did so today, and I welcome that, although I do not think his speech was quite realistic when it dealt with shipbuilding.
2405 Why he rebuked my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) for being gloomy at the beginning of his speech I cannot make out, because my hon. and gallant Friend was extremely sound, especially in his opening remarks; and the Secretary of State spoke the other way round—he started by talking a lot about the magnificent record of 1948, and then, to his credit, he spent a good deal of time towards the end of his speech rubbing home the real problems that we have to face in the future. I do not know on what grounds one should attempt to judge Secretaries of State. One way is to say that they are only good if they try to get a good crack of the whip for Scotland and make good deals on Scotland's behalf. That may be true, but I consider it much more important that the Secretary of State should import into the councils of the Government the best of Scotland's knowledge and understanding of world problems, because it is quite impossible to consider Scotland's economic future apart from Great Britain's economic future and the whole trend of world trade and commerce.
The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) challenged the hon. and gallant Member for Eastern Renfrew (Major Lloyd) to name one method of reducing costs. The hon. and gallant Member, in the interests of brevity, did not go into that in detail, and I am sorry he did not, because I am sure he would have done useful work if he had dealt with that subject. However, if I may pick up that point, I would mention one case where the Government can take action, and I think that, although it is a British problem, the Secretary of State must take a personal interest in it because of the great importance of shipbuilding to Scotland I raised this matter last year, and I was not fully answered, and nothing has happened during the year to give me a satisfactory answer. I am not the only person who has raised it either. The point I am on is the bad allocation of steel for the shipbuilding industry of the country as a whole.
I must repeat the basic figures of shipbuilding. The total capacity of the yards of this country at the end of the war was in the neighbourhood of an output of 3 million gross tons per annum. That was an absolute peak figure. The industry 2406 went into matters very carefully towards the end of the war, in 1944 and also in 1945, and formed the view that the optimum production post-war would be in the neighbourhood of 1,750,000 tons. Obviously, we could not go on using full capacity, but clearly there must be an optimum at which we get the most efficiency out of the available labour, material, and equipment that we have in the yards. In spite of that, and in spite of the strongest representations by the industry over these years, the Government have consistently held the industry down to a steel allocation for production of about one million tons a year.
That is really one of the very serious elements in the high cost of shipbuilding today—that the industry is working at below proper capacity, and I ask the Under-Secretary of State to bring to the notice of his right hon. Friend the necessity for rubbing that into the Cabinet and everybody who will listen to him. It is not too late to undo some of the damage, although a great deal has been done. There is no more important thing in getting the cost of our ships down than an increased allocation of steel so that we may have a proper use of the available facilities.
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
Will the hon. Member excuse me? I want to ask a question about costs. I wanted to ask it earlier, but because of the floodtide of his speech, I could not get it in. Would he not agree that one of the finest methods of getting at the problem of costs—as it would be also an important factor in production—would be to give the workers the right to examine everything in connection with the finance and administration of the industry? Would not another good thing be the suspension of profits?
§ Mr. Maclay
That is too tempting a side issue; I must not start on it. I do not agree particularly with the last part of the hon. Member's question. It is a matter about which one could argue very much. I am all in favour of the development of the best possible consultation between management and labour in every possible way, and I think there is still a long way to go in that respect; I think it has got to be done, but I am not going to attempt to give any detailed answer to that question.
2407 I must refer, while I am dealing with this subject, to another speech made by the Secretary of State some time ago and reported in the "Glasgow Herald" on 17th June. I think he himself has not fully appreciated the situation which may develop in shipbuilding. He is reported as saying that he gave an assurance that the immediate future of the shipbuilding industry was all right. He is reported as saying that a lot of money had accrued to shipowners in insurance payments as a result of the war, and was still lying idle, and that it would be supplemented from the Government "kitty" when orders were placed.
That was the statement of the Secretary of State. I can understand how he said that, but I think a wrong meaning could be taken from it. It implies that shipowners have got money lying idle as a result of insurance payments on ships lost in the war, and that in addition there is a mysterious Government "kitty." Let us get clear what the Government "kitty" is in insurance, because that is a very important element in the ability of shipowners to build ships. At the beginning of the war, ships were insured for what was called war risk value. Owners were not allowed to increase that risk value to begin with, regardless of what the cost of replacement after the war might be. Subsequently they were allowed an increase up to a given figure, and no more. The difference between the 1939 insured value and the increased value is the money lying in the "kitty." It is no magic sum the Government have laid aside to help.
The fact is that in almost every case the original insured sum plus the "kitty" money falls far short of the cost of a new ship. The costs of building have gone up, roughly speaking, from two and a half to three and a half times what they were before the war, according to the type of ship and the type of specification. Let there be no illusion about it. There is no great sum of money lying ready to go into ships at today's prices. The Secretary of State appeared to imply that there are two sums. There are not really two sums, but one sum, and that sum is far short of the replacement costs of ships today.
2408 One does not want to be under any illusion that, regardless of the freight market and the amount of goods there are to move about the world, we can be certain of a sustained level in the placing of orders. There are two factors only that can keep shipbuilding going on a steady, level scale. One is that, somehow or other, the policy of the Government working internationally can solve the economic problems lying in front of this country and the world, so that goods continue to move about the world, and the other is that, somehow or other, we get our costs down.
The question of the allocation of steel in the immediate future is a very important element in that respect. Do not let us be under any illusion that by holding back steel from the industry we can spread our orders over a long period of years, because that is the most dangerous illusion we could possibly have. A full order book may look all right, but if the ships are not laid down and the freight market cracks, it is surprising what happens to that order book. If there is any element of that in the thinking of the Government planners, then I urge the Secretary of State to use his influence with Scottish shipbuilders to get rid of that idea, and to enable us to get a flow of steel to enable ships to be produced, with proper delivery dates, which is an extremely important element in this matter. That is a very great job which the Secretary of State can do at once to the advantage of Scottish industry, if he can bring his full weight to bear on the responsible authorities.
There are one or two other points upon which I wish to touch briefly. I think that it would be churlish to deny that the Secretary of State has worked extremely hard on this question of the distribution of industry and of getting diversification of industry in the country. I suggest, however, that there is a great deal more to do. There are certain of our heavy industries which, in the nature of things, must go into recession, and we are not yet sufficiently diversified, even with the efforts that are being made. The most careful and constant thought has to be given to that subject.
The hon. Lady the Member for North Lanark (Miss Herbison) thought that too many of the new projects had been allowed to go outside the Development 2409 Areas. I have held the view for a long time, and have argued it in the House, that the Development Areas originally were thought out on far too restricted a scale, that it was wrong to concentrate the new industries into the old distressed areas, as I have to call them, and that there ought to have been a far greater effort made to allow light industries to go into the smaller country towns in order to draw the families back from the big towns and so ease the pressure on housing in those towns. The smaller towns are extremely well-suited for light industry. This has to be a balanced programme. Something had to be done for the distressed areas, but I think that too much emphasis was placed on that point of view.
While it was a good thing that a new Development Area was created in the North, it has come too late. The necessity should have been seen earlier and that Development Area created earlier. There was a period in 1945 and 1946, and even in 1947, when it would have been fairly easy to attract enterprising business men to take a chance in that part of the world, even if transport charges and other things were against them. It is a very different thing today, in 1949, when the sellers' market is drawing to an end. I hope that the Government, in thinking out that type of development and distribution of industry, will not place so much emphasis on merely diversifying the old distressed areas, but will try to get a movement of the population away from the concentrated areas into the country districts.
On the question of Scottish secondary industries, or whatever the proper term is, and exports, I was very much impressed, when I was in Canada for a short time during the Recess, by the fact that we are going to sell in those markets on the quality and the character of our goods and not in competition with mass production. There is a growing feeling—and there are hon. Members who know more of this than I do—that the policy of the Government, either deliberately or accidentally, is to allow the small man producing tweed in the Outer Isles to disappear, and there is a suspicion that there is a deliberate policy to concentrate more and more on the big mills with a view to their going in for mass production of that type of tweed. That would be disastrous. We can never compete in mass-produced textiles on the Canadian 2410 and American markets, but we always have a market, which will fluctuate from time to time as fashions change, for really high-quality tweed, and that will go if we lose the small man working on his own loom.
I would like to ask whether there is any record of the number of one- or two-men businesses which have gone out of existence in the past year. Of course, that comes straight to the old vexed question of the Purhase Tax on tweed. If we get a drop in the demand from abroad for our tweed, we must keep our home market going, and it is the small man who is desperately hit by the very high Purchase Tax on tweed. I will not develop that subject because I know that it is not within the direct powers of the Secretary of State to remove the Purchase Tax on tweed, but again I urge that he should make the strongest representation to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tackle that problem. It is no use for him to say that it is an impossible administrative job to differentiate between one type of tweed and another. If there were the will to do that, the way could be found.
§ Major Lloyd
On a point of Order, Mr. Mathers. I should like to call attention to the fact that quite inadvertently the hon. Member referred to me as the hon. and gallant Member for West Renfrew. I freely forgive him for that, because I hope that before long he will hold that honourable position.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Hubbard (Kirkcaldy)
The White Paper which we are today discussing received a very good welcome in Scotland, and I am sure that the statement made today by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland in further supplementation of it, will also receive a warm welcome, although it will not remove all the problems. None of us really expected that it would do so. We would indeed have found ourselves in a very fortunate position if this White Paper had been presented many years ago. We would have been able to get many advantages from this plan had it been proposed during the time that the hon. and gallant Member for Eastern Renfrew (Major Lloyd) mentioned, or even in 1938. Had it been issued at that time and dealt with by the Secretary of State at that time, it would have been of great assistance to 2411 the country today in its economic difficulties.
Unfortunately, this planning for the industrial development of Scotland has had to take place since the advent of a Socialist Government. Had that been done before the Chancellor would today be in a much happier position. Had there been, prior to the advent of a Socialist Government, the same planning as there is now, had plans been made for the development of agriculture in Scotland and for attracting new workers and keeping old workers on the land in Scotland, we should have found that a great benefit. Had there been some planning in the coal industry we should have a much higher production of coal. Coal production is lagging today because immediately after the war we had to carry out developments which could have been carried out many years ago.
§ Commander Galbraith
Is the hon. Gentleman really serious in making that statement? There has been no development since the war that was not planned long before the National Coal Board came into being.
§ Mr. Hubbard
I suggest this, as one who has been engaged in the mining industry for many years. I have myself watched the steady decline in coal production due to the failure to introduce proper machinery and more modern methods into the industry. I knew why it was. It was because profits mattered, rather than saving the industry by modernising it. That applied not only to the mining industry but to a great many industries, not only in Scotland but all over the country. That has been so to my knowledge and within my experience. The same could be said about agriculture. Because of the work done by my right hon. Friend and those who assist him in developing agriculture in Scotland, we have seen increased agricultural production.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
The hon. Gentleman and I both come from Fife and I really am surprised that he, who knows the mining industry, should make that statement about Fife, of all places. The Fife Coal Company, for example, was far ahead of almost every company in the country in the introduction of modern methods in order to increase coal production.
§ Mr. Hubbard
I am in no way suggesting that Fife lagged behind. Indeed, Fife led so far as coal was concerned. Nevertheless, I must condemn the industry as a whole. If the hon. Gentleman has any doubt, I suggest that he should read the report and recommendations of the Reid Committee. That is not a question of argument but a statement of fact. Unfortunately, it has come rather late. We shall benefit in the future, but how can we continue to increase coal production as the coal face gets farther away from the main shaft without the introduction of machinery? That is one of the difficulties we are in today. It is a matter of regret that in many mining areas mines have become redundant. I suggest that is entirely the result of failure to keep pace with the machinery requirements.
We all regret that many miners and their families have to be uprooted; that is inevitable, because we cannot shift the coal strata from Fife to elsewhere; the only alternative is to take the miners and their families into Fife from other places. I hope that my right hon. Friend will maintain the closest liaison with the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Transport in transferring the population, so that we may get the best possible results. It is true that in the Fife area, with the possible exception of Cowdenbeath, there is at the moment no unemployment problem, but a long-term view will have to be taken, because it is no use waiting till the mining population in other areas has been attracted to Fife before thinking about alternative industries. The increase of population and the development of those industries must go on at the same time.
I hope my right hon. Friend will keep in close touch with the Minister of Transport, because in spite of the fact that Burntisland is right in the centre of a Development Area, the docks are being allowed to become redundant, and we are bound to need those docks in the years which lie ahead. Everything ought to be done to keep those docks working, not only for the sake of the existing machinery but in order to train the dock labourers who will be wanted eventually. A great deal will have to be done to increase transport facilities in that Development Area if we are to keep pace with the requirements of the country. I hope that the latest reply we have received from 2413 the Minister of Transport on that matter can be got round, because something will have to be done. I am glad to see that something is being done about restarting a ferry service from the other side of the water to Burntisland, and I hope that John Hall, who is responsible for its introduction, will get full support. It is of great importance that more transport facilities should be made available. I should have been happier had there been the same prospect for a Forth road bridge, and I hope that every assistance will be given in that regard.
I am also a little worried about the linoleum industry. Linoleum has a big dollar-earning capacity, and it is difficult to understand how we are to retain our foreign markets when, due to the increase, the cost of linseed oil in this country is higher than it is in Canada and America. Obviously, unless linseed oil is made available at a price that puts us on a competitive basis with other countries we shall not be able to retain our foreign market for linoleum. An industry of that description ought to be expanding, if we are to continue providing employment for other members of miners' families than the miners themselves. I hope there is close liaison on that between my right hon. Friend and the Departments concerned.
I shall now conclude, as we are working, not to a "go slow" policy but to a "do not take long" policy tonight. I must compliment my right hon. Friend on this White Paper and on his statement today. Scotland has a great contribution to make; she has remained for far too long lacking in industrial development, and it ill behoves hon. Members opposite—who had so little regard for Scotland when they were in power, or for those who sought employment in Scotland, for whom they did so little in the past—to be critical today when so much is being done for the development of Scotland.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Thornton-Kemsley (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Western)
One of the interesting things about the Debates we have among ourselves on Scottish affairs is that so many hon. Members who have personal knowledge of industries in their own constituencies contribute their advice on these matters. I have the pleasure of knowing the constituency of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Hubbard) fairly well. In the early days of the war 2414 my regiment was in Burntisland, and I join with him in the plea he has made that the Burntisland docks be kept active. During the war I saw a good deal of those docks, and I know how useful they can be to our Scottish economy. It would be quite wrong that they should not be kept in full activity. They build good ships there as I have seen, and the Kingdom of Fife is now assuming great importance in the production of what is, after all, our major Scottish industry—coal.
With regard to the other great industry in Kirkcaldy itself, linoleum, the trouble about linseed is surely that we have suffered from the hon. Gentleman's own Government's policy of Government-to-Government trading. State trading has resulted in a stupendous rise in the cost of linseed. That rise is attributable to no other cause. The hon. Gentleman rightly pointed to the lower cost of linseed in other countries which do not employ these methods of, as some people call it, bulk buying, but as I prefer to call it, State trading.
I do not desire to detain the Committee long as I know many other hon. Members want to speak, and I will touch on only one special aspect. Again, it is an aspect which affects my own constituency. It is the tourist industry, which was referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, and has also been referred to by others who have spoken. The White Paper on Scottish economic affairs for 1947, issued last year—not the White Paper we are now considering—referred to the vigorous leadership of the Scottish Tourist Board. I think it is largely due to that vigorous leadership that the Scottish tourist industry, as it is called, has assumed such a large proportion in our national economy, and that so important a place is given to it in the White Paper we are now debating, which has the whole of one chapter devoted to it. We should all be grateful to Mr. Tom Johnston, whom many of us knew so well in the House before the war, for his vigorous leadership of the Scottish Tourist Board.
I believe that the tourist industry is worth not less than £10 million to Scotland, taking the months of June to September alone. I remember seeing some figures in the annual report of the Clydesdale Bank for 1947, which showed that 2415 if our Scottish tourist industry could take in the months of May and October the value could be increased to something like £16 million. The Secretary of State ought to do everything in his power to encourage anything that will enable us to spread overheads over six months of the year. If that could be done, great advantage would accrue to the whole of the industry throughout Scotland.
In February, Mr. Tom Johnston made a suggestion, on behalf of the Scottish Tourist Board, that the cost of rail travel should be reduced for distances over 400 miles. He said that there were over 100 hotels in Scotland that would be prepared to reduce their charges drastically for the months of May and October if British Railways would meet them by reducing their charges during these two months. I think it is highly desirable that this should be done. The cost of getting to Scotland is fantastically high these days. It costs, for a first-class three-monthly return, over £8 from London to Edinburgh, over £9 from London to Perth or Dundee and £10 from London to Aberdeen. I give the first-class fares because I want to compare them with the cost of air travel, as I think it is unfair to make this comparison with the third-class fares. Those are the amounts being charged, and yet we see from today's papers that now it is to be possible to fly from London to Paris for £10 three-monthly return. Something ought to be done, because we are going to suffer severely as a result of this competition. I hope the Secretary of State will use his influence on behalf of the Scottish Tourist Board to see that rail fares to Scotland for long-distance travel are reduced, if at all possible.
Some of these matters are not the direct responsibility of the right hon. Gentleman, but they are matters where he could be most helpful to Scottish interests by intervening with the other Ministers concerned. Another matter where he could help greatly, although again it is not his direct responsibility, is on this vexed question of the catering wages regulations. I am not against the catering wages regulations or any other wage regulations. I think it right that minimum standards should be set, but I am against the conditions they impose on hotels in remote districts which are having 2416 a most difficult time. Let me give three examples of the kind of thing I mean.
First, the regulations are frightfully difficult to understand and are very rigid. I saw a booklet the other day, produced by one of the big hotel companies, which ran to something like 66 pages. It was an explanatory booklet to help their managers and manageresses understand what these regulations are about. The manager of a country hotel is expected to know a good deal about food, drink and country pursuits, which, together with looking after his hotel, take up pretty well the whole of his time. But in addition he has now to understand these complicated regulations, see that they are complied with and fill in the forms, which makes life extraordinarily complicated for him. The business of management is neglected and the service to his guests inevitably suffers.
My second example concerns tipping. The regulations ignore tipping altogether. I mention this because it is so unfair to people who do not get tips. Those who are in the public eye get tips, which means that they are being remunerated twice over, as their wages are fixed without regard to tipping, which we all know does exist. The real sufferers are those who are not in the public eye.
Thirdly, these regulations are not suitable to the domestic conditions of the small country hotels and boarding houses. Small hotels in country districts simply cannot work an eight-hour day. I am thinking of the small hotel that employs three or four servants. It is impossible for them to work an eight-hour day because their guests cannot be coerced and planned into living an eight-hour day; they want to go to the lochs to fish or to walk in the hills. Guests go out quite early in the morning and come back quite late, and they expect an early breakfast and some sort of snack when they get back late at night. They expect these services, and they are bringing the money to the countryside upon which we depend. It is all wrong to expect people living under these conditions to regard their day as finished when they have done eight hours.
There are many occasions when servants in these country inns and hotels are only on waiting time. To all intents and purposes they can follow their hobbies and own devices, although they 2417 have to be on call in case anyone comes in. That sort of duty is not to be compared with work in the factories, where it is right to impose some time limitation. This is where these regulations go so wrong. Let me give an example from my own constituency. In Braemar, which is about 60 miles from Aberdeen and 60 miles from Perth, a waiter is bored stiff if he has nothing to do during the day. It is a lovely place, and I personally could never be bored stiff there, but the staff would much rather work longer hours and have an extra day off to go to Aberdeen. It is difficult enough to get to Aberdeen because the railway does not run to Braemar.
This is the last point I want to make. In country districts extra staff cannot be got. The only thing that hoteliers can do, if these regulations are to be imposed without some alterations, is to reduce the service. They will not give early breakfasts or late snacks. They will not cater for people who come in late for lunch because they were away on the loch or up in the hills, nor will they give a packed lunch. That is going to drive away tourists.
May I, in conclusion, give two quotations which came to me recently and which bear directly on this point. The first one is from the managing director of one of the big hotel companies, who own a great many delightful country inns in England, Wales and Scotland. They are doing a first-class job of work, as hon. Members would know if I quoted the name of the company. The only reason I do not do so is that I have not asked for permission. This is what the managing director said:The fundamental mistake in wage regulation as applied to country inns and hotels is that it has been planned on a factory pattern and wages based on the 48-hour week. In large metropolitan and provincial establishments, where staff are kept at work throughout the hours of their duty, this may be reasonable, but in country inns there are long periods during the week when there is little or no business to be done, and the servants of the inn, although on the premises, are free to follow their own pursuits. In order to give the public anything like the service they require, and we fall far short of this, considerable overtime has to be paid. The addition of overtime to the basic rate of wage makes a prohibitive total cost. Consequently, we may be driven to giving up the attempt to provide food and lodging, and to letting our country inns revert to drink shops.2418 The other quotation is from my own constituency, where my correspondent owns two hotels in different parts of Deeside. He says:This Act is driving the hotel proprietor to cut down his service, or else run his business at a loss … I can foresee that the regulations are going to force all the smallish hotels to pay off their staff during the winter months, and, in fact, it would pay the proprietor to close down entirely.This is a very serious matter, and I hope that the Secretary of State will use his considerable influence with the Ministries concerned to see that these anomalies and injustices are removed.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Scollan (Renfrew, Western)
I welcome the opportunity of saying a word with regard to this report "Industry and Employment in Scotland" I want to assure the hon. Member for West Aberdeen (Mr. Thornton-Kemsley) that I will not follow the arguments that he has produced with regard to the catering trades and the application of the Catering Wages Act to Scottish hotels. I intend to take an entirely different line of approach to this matter. Unfortunately once a year we get an opportunity of discussing trade and commerce in Scotland.
§ Mr. Scollan
If my hon. Friend will listen he will soon know. The answer is perfectly simple. Unfortunately, we get one day to discuss matters of this importance, and even then the subject is cribbed, confined and reduced to certain limits, to which each speaker is asked to keep. During the course of his remarks, the Secretary of State said that the economy of Scotland could not be separated from world economy, and yet we are discussing it as divorced from world economy.
§ Mr. Scollan
If not from world economy, then from English economy, which is a most absurd position for us to be put in. I want to give full marks to the Secretary of State and his staff for all they have done with the material at their disposal. I do not think they could have done any more, but when I have said that, I also want to point out that the blame for not getting more done 2419 does not lie at their door, but at the door of the people who give Scotland the raw material with which to work.
In the 'thirties there were cycles of prosperity and then long cycles of depression with unemployment, until Scotland, and especially the West of Scotland, came to be known as one of the blackest spots in this island. Apart from South Wales, I do not think there was any place which was so bad. In my constituency the numbers of unemployed constituted a record for all time, particularly in Port Glasgow where the major industry was shipbuilding. When shipbuilding slumped, practically the whole town was on the dole. I do not want to see that situation returning, and therefore I have watched with very great interest the attempts to develop new industries in Scotland. During the war it was discovered—and it is a very strange thing that it took a catastrophe or a holocaust like the war to awaken statesmen to the needs of the nation—that a mistake had been made in concentrating industry in the South, which also led to concentration of population. Immediately, as a nation we adopted the policy of dispersal of industry.
§ Mr. Stewart
I am not talking nonsense. I was a member of the Scottish Development Council in the years before the war. It was non-party, and it was pressed on the Government that that principle should be adopted. Industrial estates were started before the war.
§ Mr. Scollan
That only proves my point that the hon. Gentleman was talking nonsense. The Government did not adopt the principle.
§ Mr. Scollan
No, I said the Government did not adopt it. The policy of the dispersal of industries was proposed quite a long time ago. I said previously that it required a holocaust like the war to awaken statesmen to the needs of the nation. It was only through the war that 2420 they recognised the need for the dispersal of the industries so that a stop could be put to this concentration. Let us see how this worked out. Naturally, anyone in Scotland, especially those in the areas which were the hardest hit in prewar days, would have said, "Now, at least, even if they have no great love of Scotland, from the commonsense point of view there will be a dispersal of industry to the benefit of those particular areas, and there will be a lack of development in the areas where there is over-concentration."
Is that the case? Here we have a document which tells us about the development that has taken place in Scotland. The Secretary of State today also told us about that development. He told us to look at the progress we have made, but when we look at that progress and compare it with other places we find that the Board of Trade and the Ministry of Works have been giving London and the South-Eastern area approved, completed new factories totalling 673. This is in an area where there was over-concentration of industry before the war. In Scotland, the figure was 990, so that the total gain for Scotland is very little. If Scotland had had 990 and London had had none, hon. Members would have said that there was a tremendous dispersal of industry. Let us take the Northern area. It had 732. The East and West Ridings of Yorkshire, which were never depressed areas, have 689. The North Midlands, which were never a depressed area, have 441. In the whole list, Scotland's new development, in comparison with the development of the other districts, is very slightly ahead of the balance that existed in 1938. It is no use anybody saying: "What remarkable progress we have had."
§ Mr. Ross
Would it not be a far better comparison to take the unemployment figures relating to the insurable employed in the areas to which the hon. Member has just referred, and to compare those figures with today, and then to take the same figures for Scotland and compare them with today? Should we not see then whether a greater advance had taken place?
§ Mr. Scollan
We are not discussing the effects of past policies but the possibility of a policy for Scotland today.
§ Mr. McAllister
Surely my hon. Friend the Member for Western Renfrew (Mr. Scollan) would agree that it is vital to know how many people are employed on the new industrial projects?
§ Mr. Scollan
Absolutely. There are many other things one would like to know. Education is good for everybody. The point is whether there is a policy for industrial Scotland to prevent her from going back to the position she occupied before the war. I hold that the relative position in Scotland today is no better in regard to those other areas of England, than it was in those days. The unemployment figures are higher in Scotland than anywhere else. We must take this position and find out exactly where we are going. I want to know whether the Government have a policy to prevent Scotland from being one of the worst places when the slump comes. I represent the place which had the highest unemployment in all Britain. I am asking the Scottish representatives in the Government whether there is to be a policy to prevent the people of that area from going back to the conditions of that period.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us about the dollar crisis. What was the panacea that he had to offer for the problem facing us? Was it not the same as was offered in the 1930's during the depression: reduce costs and increase production. Did not wages go down in the 1930's? Had not we a lock-out in 1926 for the miners? Were not the miners locked out for weeks on end, until prices were brought down? Did that bring prosperity? It brought misery, poverty and degradation. I am surprised to hear some of the arguments today. What are the Government going to do to see that we can meet France and other countries in fair competition? It does not seem to occur to anyone that we recently decided upon a European bloc and unity. Now we are deciding to go into competition with the very people with whom we were to be united. We are hoping that instead of unemployment being in Scotland, it will be in France. That is the cure. I say to the Secretary of State for Scotland that if Scotland were a free and independent country—I am not pleading Nationalism—it could stand on its own economy in the world blizzard that is likely to hit us.
§ Commander Galbraith
When the hon. Member makes that statement, is he taking into account the share of the National Debt that we should have to carry in those circumstances?
§ Mr. Scollan
No, for the simple reason that the hon. and gallant Member and his party would rather die than repudiate the £500 million that we have to pay every year in interest on the National Debt.
§ Mr. Maclay
I would recommend the hon. Member to study the speech made by the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Hollis) in the last financial Debate. He would learn that he is really talking awful nonsense.
§ Mr. Scollan
The hon. Member for Devizes has the right to make as many speeches as he likes, but there is no obligation on me to study them, for which I thank heaven. So far as the National Debt is concerned, we have to meet £500 million every year. The hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) says that Scotland ought to take a share of that payment. If we took one-fifth of it, there would be £100 million a year to pay. When the Scottish people, for the first time in their lives, understood that fact properly, I am afraid that they would be like myself—they would be apt to suspend the payment. I wonder how many hon. Members opposite realise that this country has already repudiated debts in our lifetime. There is no reason why we should not repudiate that one.
§ Mr. Scollan
No, external debts, but nevertheless debts. No doubt my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) is very sensitive about the idea that we owe somebody in this country, perhaps an insurance company like the Prudential, £150 million. If we owe America £150 million, we can with impunity say to the people of America: "We repudiate," but we dare not say that to the Prudential.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Sir B. Neven-Spence)
The hon. Member is getting very far away from the subject of the Debate.
§ Mr. Scollan
I am sorry, Sir Basil. I will not transgress again, but when one starts after a hare, one may get landed into all sorts of places.
In this connection, the people of Scotland want a guarantee. I know that it is difficult to give it to them, but I want to know what is going to be done in this matter. I was rather amused to hear what was said by the hon. Member for Montrose Burghs (Mr. Maclay), that he would like to see the people taken out of the big cities and towns and put into the small towns, and that that was where the light industries should have been sent. That is the policy which should have been adopted by this country for England and Scotland. The new industries should have been planted in the North and not in the South. Areas in the South are over-industrialised and development there could have been prohibited.
In 1946 and 1947 I was put to the trouble of dunning the Board of Trade to obtain permission for certain people in Scotland to extend their premises. At the same time the Minister of Works was extending premises wholesale in London, and we could not get it done. One of the troubles from which Scotland is suffering is that the statesmen who have looked after her welfare have never been able to see past Carlisle. We are still suffering from that, and until we get rid of that complex, Scotland will not be rid of the troubles which are facing her now and are likely to face her in the future.
§ 7.41 p.m.
§ Mr. John Henderson (Glasgow, Cathcart)
It was a very gracious act on the part of the Secretary of State for Scotland when he advised the Committee that he would largely confine himself to his notes in order to conserve time because so many hon. Members were anxious to participate. As I hope to follow his very good example I trust that the Committee will bear with me.
We have today discussed from many angles the White Paper dealing with trade and commerce during 1948. It was published in May, and we are thus discussing it two months after. More than one 2424 speaker has indicated that during these months a very drastic change has taken place in world trade and that the prosperity of Scotland is closely linked with world trade. Scotland is a small nation with a small population, but no nation has made a greater contribution to the world and its prosperity. Scottish youth has made a very remarkable contribution to the prosperity of the world.
As we look at world trade today we must all agree that since 1948 a great change has taken place. The sellers' market is evaporating. No longer is the buyer on the doorstep of the world's market. It is now the turn of the seller to seek new markets and new customers, and those markets and customers are not too easy to find. The threat of a trade recession in the United States and restrictions on imports to South Africa raise serious and fundamental problems for Scotland. The opening statement of the White Paper:1948 was a year of general economic progresscontains just a hint that the Government have the appearance, I was going to say, "of smug complacency," but as I had to withdraw that word yesterday, I will use the phrase "smug satisfaction" which I hope I shall not be asked to withdraw.
This is a sure sign that the Government are not alive to the tragic realities which face the nation in general and Scotland in particular, and are not facing up to the serious position of future Scottish industry. This is causing considerable uneasiness throughout Scottish industry. What I have just said was confirmed by the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday, a statement which completely upset much that is contained in the White Paper issued only a few months ago in respect of the balance of payments, and discussed with the Budget. That White Paper is now out of date, the White Paper on Industry and Employment in Scotland is out of date, the foundations upon which the Budget was built are out of date, and, in fact, the Labour Government is completely out of date.
§ Mr. Willis
Several times in this Debate it has been said that the White Paper is out of date, but it should be realised that it is a factual report dealing with 1948.
§ Mr. Henderson
It makes forecasts, and the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday indicates that the forecasts are completely out of date. That statement leaves us very much in the dark, though not altogether in the dark for the orange light has changed to red. Some hon. Members opposite who have been proud of the colour red are now, in view of Communist activities, more inclined to the shade of pink. A standstill order prevails at the moment, but I can assure hon. Members opposite that after the General Election the standstill order will be cancelled and the green light will shine for progress and freedom once more, giving "the Clear" to national prosperity.
Coming back to the review of economic affairs in Scotland, there is rightly some approval of the number of new industries expected to play an important part in Scotland's industrial development. According to the White Paper, new industries seem to be the cure for any unemployment which might otherwise have arisen in Scotland, but what is the position? The aim was to provide the Scottish Development Area with 155,000 more jobs than in 1937 by a programme of Government-financed factory buildings. It was hoped that these factories, being occupied by new light industries, would lead to a necessary redressing of the balance between heavy and light industries in Scotland, and that they would act as a buffer against unemployment if, unfortunately, a depression again attacked the shipyards and steel works.
The target was to provide Scotland with 155,000 more jobs than in 1937. Up to date fewer than 50,000 have been created. During 1948 the number attained was only 8,000. This gives one a very uncomfortable feeling. What is worse is that the closure in 1948 of a considerable number of new factories opened by English firms who came to Scotland is passed over in discreet silence in the White Paper, there being no mention of it. In Hillington, just outside Glasgow, three firms. Hoffman Ball Bearing Company, Crittalls, and Saturn Oxygen Company, have closed down entirely. Renfrew Foundries have discharged 1,350 workers since the end of the war.
Rolls-Royce's payroll has fallen from 24,000 to 4,200—I know that is accountable to a change-over from war-time 2426 production to peace-time activities—and in at least seven other enterprises there has been large-scale paying off of workers. I think I am right in saying that a new factory put up either during or shortly after the war in Rutherglen for the manufacture of radio sets closed down a few months ago. These things have a disturbing effect. There is nothing whatever in this review in regard to the closing down of new factories, and it seems strange that this review claims "consolidation" of previous gains against the existing background.
Of the alternatives open to the Government in facing the economic crisis, the Chancellor chose the grim expedient of transferring to the shoulders of the citizens the onus of getting Britain out of her financial troubles. The policy of the right hon. and learned Gentleman does not get even a start unless people and industries will put up with increased restrictions and cuts, and this overlooks the fact that they are already under an oppressive burden of taxation to a greater extent than any free country in the world. The position of our country has been characterised as facing a financial crisis. That crisis has been averted during the past 18 months by the generous gift of Marshall Aid, and again another crisis seems to be breaking upon our island shores with renewed force. The dwindling resources of gold and dollars in the sterling areas has already been reduced below the safety margin. They are still sinking. I repeat that we are faced with a grave crisis. The dollar deficit is running at the rate of £300 million a year and, far from contracting, shows signs of swelling to even vaster proportions, since British exports to America during the first four months of this year were 14 per cent. lower than in the last quarter of 1948.
What solution is there in this White Paper for these problems? The only solution which the Government seem to be able to put forward is fresh cuts in imports. We may have less petrol, we may have less tobacco, perhaps fewer raw materials for the factories.
§ Mr. Henderson
This Government maintains a stubborn refusal to reconsider any of its policies which have been 2427 so disastrous to the financial and economic conditions of our nation. It defends high taxation. The Chancellor gambles the future of Britain on the effect of his pious platitudes about higher productivity and lower prices, all of which must have an adverse and crippling effect upon Scottish industry as a whole. It is not possible to reconcile high taxation with higher productivity, and it should now also be apparent that competitive export prices cannot be secured under the present system of unnecessarily irritating controls and restrictions.
The combined demands of taxation, in the form of rates, taxes and insurance stamps, now amount to 8s. in every £ of the national income—a rate far in excess of any other free country. In effect, out of every five hours spent at work, the average man spends two hours working for the Government. How can there be proper incentives to ingenuity and enterprise under this intolerable burden on Scottish industry? The fact is that in the last three years Scotland has been trying to keep up an appearance, like a black-coated worker trying to maintain his pre-war standard of living on a post-war income. Loans and gifts from American and other countries have helped us along. Now the time is coming when we must readjust our way of life to our changed circumstances, and I regret that in this White Paper there are given no proposals and no promises or assurances to Scotland that the Socialist Government are prepared to readjust their policy in order to meet the new conditions of today.
§ 7.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I understand that many of my colleagues desire to participate in this Debate so I shall be as brief as possible. The White Paper gives us all the information we can get regarding the economy of Scotland, but it is so wide that it can only be discussed in a small way. Every industry in the country, including agriculture, is involved. Some of the speeches from hon. Members opposite lack what we are entitled to expect, the answer to the present policy of the Government. It is no use decrying the policy of the Government unless there is some alternative. I admit that in attempting to get an easing of our economy in certain parts of the 2428 country, hon. Members opposite have made useful suggestions, but I would say this to the hon. Member for Cathcart (Mr. John Henderson) and, had he been here, to the hon. and gallant Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd), that they have failed entirely to give us any alternative. All we heard was, "Take off controls; the country will be ruined by State interference and the cost of nationalisation."
In my view we must recognise that in all our future approaches to the economy of the country, in all our future attempts at industrial development, we shall be compelled to realise the importance of the machinery of Government in its political sense. Anyone examining the industries of Scotland will find that the interference of the Government has been an aid to our industrial life. Take mining, for instance. Does anyone dispute the fact that if mining had been left in the hands of private owners, there would have been serious trouble in the industrial life of Scotland and that it would have injured almost every other industry as well? In the case of agricultural development and the development of the Highlands, without the interference of the Government there would have been no development at all.
Do not let anybody tell me that a Conservative Government would also have intervened, because that merely clinches my argument that political interference by the Government was absolutely necessary if we were to bring prosperity to the Highlands. So that if the Tories would have intervened, I accept it, because it is only an admission of our case, and I say that it is impossible today to examine the industries of Britain without recognising the importance of Government interference.
My only trouble is the attempt on the part of some people to complain about the interference of American capitalism. Does anybody doubt the fact that, whatever Government would have been in, there would have been need of American aid? Our complaint all along has been that America might have been more liberal in her aid, recognising the great economic sacrifices made by this country during the war. They were compelled to intervene. I do not complain about American financial intervention. I welcome it, because today in Scotland we 2429 have less unemployment than we had in the bad old days.
I know it is not nice to go back to the past, but how else can we examine the economy of a country unless we relate the economy of today with that of some other period? We cannot relate it to the future. We may visualise what the future might bring, but we cannot relate the present to the future in any absolute sense. I can remember when there were 80,000 unemployed in the City of Glasgow—more than in the whole of Scotland today. Therefore, I say that those who attempt to condemn the Government for their encouragement of, or interference or association with industry, are not examining the problem seriously.
I am not concerned in this discussion with the secondary industries which have come to Scotland in recent months. Without any desire to be critical, I want to ask the Government and the Scottish Office, bearing in mind the principle of an economic council for Scotland, to consider the possibility of breaking it up in some federal way, because I do not think that a sufficiently close examination has been made of certain industries. Many important points were raised by the hon. Members for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay) and Montrose Burghs (Mr. Maclay) concerning the shipbuilding industry. Engineering and shipbuilding are the basic industries in the West of Scotland. Therefore, we must examine them, both from the point of view of national economy and because of their importance to the area itself.
What are the facts? We have the heaviest unemployment in the country in the City of Glasgow. In fact, the Scottish unemployment figures show that for every five unemployed in England we have one unemployed in Scotland. That is too high a proportion in Scotland compared with England. I am not going to suggest an easy solution. It is a very difficult problem, but I do say, bearing in mind the proportion of unemployed in Scotland, and particularly in Glasgow, we should examine the country's economy and ascertain how the industries may assist.
My proposition, which I think is a practical approach to the problem, is that the Secretary of State and the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have another look at the shipbuilding industry in the 2430 country as a whole. It is estimated in the White Paper that the output from the shipbuilding yards could be considerably increased if we had a larger allocation of steel. I know the answer which would be given—namely, that if greater supplies of steel are allocated to the shipbuilding industry it will lead to an unbalance in some other part of the country.
However, I should like a more serious inquiry made into the shipbuilding industry because I am satisfied that it is impossible to keep on shipbuilding unless we can meet the demand. A period is reached when, unless we can meet the demand, we shall lose the orders. I say, therefore, that there is a case for giving more steel to the shipbuilding industry. First of all, it would reduce the unemployment in the City of Glasgow and in the West of Scotland, not only in the shipbuilding industry, but in all the other industries closely related to it. I suggest that on examination it may be found that even ships can be a useful commodity in present world trade. I do not know if it has been examined sufficiently; I believe the allocation of steel has been made very largely as a result of examining our internal economy without relating it to the international aspect.
I ask the Secretary of State to consider the advisability of one of his sub-committees making a closer examination of the industries in the West of Scotland. I always regard it as a very serious complaint that in the wealthiest part of the country we get all the extremes of poverty and as soon as dislocation starts in our economy it hits the people in the basic industries who produce the basic commodities of the country. I hope that will be very closely examined.
A suggestion has been made that the transport in Glasgow and the West of Scotland should be examined. Some people say that the transport arrangements must be revolutionised, and they even go to the length of suggesting taking more people off the railways and putting them on to the roads. I hope that the opposite will be the case and that we shall take people off the roads and make full use of our railways. In the West of Scotland millions of pounds have been wasted in a railway system for many years. A suggestion has been made to Glasgow Corporation that serious consideration should be given to the electrification of 2431 our railways particularly our underground system.
I understand that the Board of Trade, the Scottish Office and the Minister of Labour have all been discussing the possibility of appointing a commission to make a very serious examination of this problem. I should like to ask the Under-Secretary whether he can give us any information on the possibility of this commission being appointed at a reasonably early date to examine the electrification of the railway system in the West of Scotland, because I think it would be a great boon not only to industry at present in existence but, taking a long-term view, to that part of the country as a whole.
I have made my remarks as rapidly as I could, and I have no desire to say anything further, except that I believe this Debate can be very useful, and I hope that my contribution has been helpful to the general discussion, if only in a small way.
§ 8.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Alex. Anderson (Motherwell)
This Debate has been in some ways interesting to every Member of the Committee. To me, I think its two main points of interest are, first of all, that the Tory Party has come right up to date. It is a party which has its roots in the past, which thinks of the past and which dwells very largely in the past, and it is a party which does not like to be reminded of its past. But today the Tories have moved with tremendous rapidity. They are discussing today the year 1950 based on the Paper of 1948. Perhaps in 1950 they will be discussing the Paper of 1948. All of the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) was couched in the gloomy Cassandra-like vein of what is going to happen to Scotland and Scottish industry if a whole host of problematical factors should operate in the future.
Out of the Debate there has emerged a second point, and that is that in 1948 Scottish industry has done a thoroughly good job. It has shown exceptionally good production figures. It has employed more people than ever before. It has had fewer unemployed than at any time in the history of Scotland, and there is in the whole of industrial Scotland a feeling of resiliency and buoyancy, and a hope for the future, especially in the Highlands 2432 and the remoter areas, which has been entirely foreign to that country during my lifetime. Much criticism of the niggling kind has been made here today; there has been grudging admission of what has been performed, and an attempt to belittle any successes that has been won by this Government in the face of the most difficult circumstances in which ever a Government set out to improve so ill-balanced an industrial economy as this country's was.
I do not want to go into the wider field of economy of Scotland. I should like to illustrate as far as I can my own little constituency which is in itself a microcosm of the whole of the ill-balanced development area of the West of Scotland and of Lanarkshire. Prior to the war Motherwell was apt to be regarded as a grimy little industrial town, the product of the uncontrolled greed and exploitation of the capitalism of the 19th and early-20th centuries. It had a huge and terrifying housing problem and a large unemployment figure. It had a long period of unemployment and slump, and it had to export its young people, particularly its women, to work in other fields of human activity in order to make a living.
I do not want to paint too rosy a picture, but I can say with all sincerity and honesty that in my area the four years since the war have transformed the whole picture of that town. I could take any Member of this House to my constituency and show him that much has been accomplished. All this was achieved in the face of shrinking coal resources, because many of the coal measures in the area around Motherwell have become exhausted. But we have taken everything in our stride and we have still continued to reduce our unemployment figure.
I should like to suggest to the Secretary of State, although it is not entirely in his province, that the fact that the coal measures of Lanarkshire are diminishing ought to be an incentive to him to use them more wisely than they were used in the past, and that if the coal resources are gradually dwindling, greater care should be taken by means of distillation and new processes to make the utmost use of them. Our steel industry is booming and in the last year has contributed in very large measure to the prosperity of this country.
§ Mr. Anderson
If the hon. Member would allow me to finish my sentence, I was about to refer to private enterprise. The operatives in that great steel industry are looking forward with interest and anticipation to 1st May, 1950, when, under national control, they will have a chance to modernise their industry and to work under surroundings which are more worthy of their labour. Our steel industry is prosperous. We have attained in Motherwell a degree of diversification of industry which I did not hope to see attained in so short a time.
Questions have been asked from the other side about the number of new jobs which have been provided. We have injected into Motherwell several great firms which have provided at least 2,500 jobs within the boundaries of the borough. I mention particularly Smith's Clocks, Metropolitan Vickers, Costains and the Brush Electric Company. These firms are providing a type of occupation which we never previously enjoyed. We owe them a debt of gratitude for helping to lighten the lopsided economy under which we have laboured. Furthermore—this, probably, is why hon. Gentlemen opposite are unwilling to make the admission—they are bringing into the industrial life of Lanarkshire new and higher standards of production, better industrial relationships, more welfare attention, more and, generally speaking, better opportunities for promotion to the people engaged in those industries.
We were told it was a fault that these factories were not sited in the great cities, yet within twenty minutes' travelling time of my constituency there is at Newhouse one of the largest industrial estates in Britain; it is within twenty minutes' distance of the 200,000 people of Airdrie, Coatbridge, Hamilton, Motherwell, Wishaw, Belshill and Newmains. That area is the hub, and the occupied parts of the county are the periphery. It is built upon agricultural land, and hon. Gentlemen opposite quite rightly said it is a pity that agricultural land should be used for industrial estates. I cannot remember their making any similar protest when the fair surface of Lanarkshire was defaced by thousands of acres of bings from derelict coalfields, which 2434 we in our day have had to spend money to remove. It is better to have industrial estates on agricultural land than to have derelict pits and coal bings.
Nor are these new industrial estates adding to the cost of production. The hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) surely knew that the high cost of production does not matter. These industrial estates are rented to their occupants for five years at a rent which is based upon the 1938 cost of construction. For five years at least, therefore, the cost of acquisition will not affect the cost of production. Indeed, the costs of these factories are a stimulus, rather than a deterrent to production.
Furthermore, the working people are today far happier, more secure and, in spite of the high prices, better off than ever before. Last Tuesday I had the privilege of taking 60 children from working-class families of Motherwell over the House of Commons. They were on their way to Switzerland. In 1932, under Tory rule, they could not get even a day at the coast at Rothesay. Yet hon. Gentlemen opposite have the temerity to suggest that this Government has not done at least part of the task it set out to do. We in our part of the country are confident that we have got out of the old bad cycle of slump, depression and boom; that we are to have a properly planned economy and that it will be achieved under national control; and that we shall continue in power as the only Government by whom these things can be achieved.
It would be wrong to say that we have no worries. In our area of Lanarkshire we have a hard core of unemployment, which nothing we can do, it seems, is likely to lessen. The Joint Under-Secretary has given certain reasons for that. A number of industries have departed, but our main problem is the hard core of unemployment due to the casualties of heavy industry. Whilst my constituency is benefiting from the Remploy factories which were set up under another administration, these factories deal only with disabled persons in certain categories who require sheltered employment. In my constituency there are many people who, because of strains, loss of fingers or limbs and all the worries which come to steelworkers and 2435 miners, are not fit for normal employment. They are fit only for light duty, but there is no light duty employment for them in my district. Because of their age they are not sufficiently adaptable to enter industries with new light-fingered processes. This is a matter to which attention should be directed in an attempt to do something to absorb them in suitable employment.
My final remark may not be a popular one at a time when hon. Gentlemen opposite are concentrating their minds on lowering the costs of production. In my constituency many workers are paid wages which are too low. There are many unskilled workmen, with a wife and family, who take home only 90s. or 92s. a week, out of which their first charge is 21s. for a Scottish Special Housing Association house. Something must be done, either by increasing productivity in order to reduce costs or by increasing wages, to make it possible for these people to enjoy a reasonable standard of living.
We in Scotland have much of which to be proud. In the past four years we have made great achievements, and in the future we can achieve even more. We shall have to face difficulties, but if we are the people we boast ourselves to be—and we are very good at proving that we are—we shall consider these things not as criticisms but as a challenge to do better in the years to come.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith (Glasgow, Hillhead)
There is only one matter to which I want to refer and that is the future development of coal. After what the hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Alex. Anderson) said about Members on this side of the Committee talking of the future, I would be rather diffident in talking of the future development of coal, had it not been for the fact that the Secretary of State referred to the matter. I am very glad he did so, because it is clear that the development of the Fife and Lothian coalfields and the gradual closing down of the Lanarkshire coalfields will have the most important repercussions on the whole of Scottish economy.
With regard to the actual transfer of the miners from Lanarkshire to the East, it is stated on page 28 of the Report: 2436The aim will be to avoid the complete removal of the mining population from any one district at any one time.I am not certain whether that is the wisest way to go about this movement. If the movement is to be done piecemeal, it will mean that families will be split and that the community will be subjected to a series of changes instead of one change. I think it would be much better if the whole population who have to leave one particular village or area could be moved en bloc at one operation. I am only talking of one village at a time and not of a whole area. They would certainly find themselves in new surroundings, but they would be surrounded by families and people they knew, which would do much to soften the psychological difficulties of the move to which the Report makes reference. This way of moving whole families and the inhabitants of whole localities was, after all, the way the Pilgrim Fathers set about colonising America, and the success of their method of doing things is obvious to us all, particularly in this country.
But getting the miners and their families to their new homes is only a part of the problem. As the Secretary of State pointed out, it will be necessary to provide ancillary occupations for the daughters and wives of the miners. I agree with him about that, but what I am not certain about is whether we are going to be able to provide new light industries both in the Inverness Development Area and the new Fife and Lothian coalfields at the same time. Are we to be able to provide these industries and sell the products of them together? If it is not possible to do this together and these two areas come into competition with each other, I suggest, although it sounds almost like heresy to say so, that, in the interests of a balanced economy, the new light industries should go to the coalfields and not to the Highlands, and industrial development in the Highlands should centre mainly on the industries based on the natural resources of the Highlands, such as the aluminium industry.
That is only one side of the picture. There is the other and perhaps more serious and difficult side. What is to happen to Lanark? The right hon. Gentleman spoke about a possible shifting of the main heavy industries, and certainly as the coalfields move to the East and expand there the natural 2437 tendency will be for industry to follow to the East. I hope that, with the exception of the light industries, to which I have already referred, the right hon. Gentleman will resist any general movement of industry towards the East. I am not saying this because I have the honour to represent a constituency in Glasgow and therefore my sympathies are naturally with the West, but, in the first place, because I want to save the east from the scars which industrialisation has inflicted on the West. As Sir Frank Mears said in the "Regional Plan for Central and South-East Scotland":Careful planning will be necessary if some of our best agricultural land and finest scenery are to be protected from progressive deterioration towards 'Black Country' conditions.The trouble is that we are usually so anxious to get at new wealth that we tend to ignore the wilderness we create in the process of getting that new wealth. I am glad to see on page 16 of the Report that the right hon. Gentleman has done something to clear derelict land and remove unsightly bings. How much better it would have been if this work of rehabilitation had not been necessary—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear "]—and our earlier industrial development had been carried out with more regard for the amenities of the people who live there. I am glad to see I have the support of hon. Members opposite for what I am saying; but hon. Members opposite, and particularly the hon. Member for Motherwell, may think those rapacious days are over now that so much of our industry has been nationalised. I am afraid that is not so. As the schemes for the Bankside Power Station and opencast coal mining alone show, we are still as rapacious as we were, whether the industry is nationalised, or privately owned.
§ Mr. Galbraith
I do not deny that as time passes we gain wisdom. All I am saying is that even in this business of opencast coal mining, because the Minister was so anxious to get the coal, 2438 rivers were rendered poisonous for fish because proper methods of washing coal were not arranged beforehand. I therefore urge the right hon. Gentleman to spare the east from any industrial development more than is required to give work to miners' families. Scotland is not big enough, is not wealthy enough, either in beauty or in other respects, to be able to afford two black areas.
The second reason for asking the Secretary of State to resist any general movement to the East is that I do not believe we can afford to jettison the tremendous amount of capital which has been invested in the West, and I do not think it will be necessary either. At first sight the future separation of coal mining from industrial manufacture might appear to be a disadvantage, but I do not think it will be a real disadvantage if proper use is made of the Forth and Clyde canal. The report is a little reticent about the future development of our canals and only speaks of their use for pleasure cruises. I hope that when considering the problem of balancing the new east with the old west, the right hon. Gentleman will not forget the vital link which the Forth and Clyde canal, if properly developed, could make between the pit and the factory.
In Scotland today we are placed in much the same position as that in which London was placed after the Great Fire. We have an opportunity of replanning our destiny. I am a firm supporter of free enterprise but that does not mean that I believe in laisser faire. I therefore urge the Secretary of State to don the mantle of Sir Christopher Wren and make of Scotland's economy an edifice as balanced and graceful as the Restoration churches which adorn this city.
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ Mr. J. L. Williams (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
I shall not follow the hon. Member for Hillhead (Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith) into the field of economic development which he has outlined because I wish, for the few minutes in which I shall address the Committee, to revert to the question of employment, which was raised chiefly by my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael). I do so if only for the reason that in my view one aspect of employment cannot be dealt with even by economic development, not even by the expansion of employment in itself. I refer to a certain 2439 section of the population with which I wish to deal. It is gratifying to find among the many things in this report an increase in the number of people employed. It is still more gratifying to find an expansion of employment in essential industries such as coalmining, textiles, metal manufactures and engineering.
At the same time, I feel that the attention of the Committee should again be drawn to the fact that we have a very high proportion of men and women engaged in industries which may be described as non-productive although essential, in industries which do not contribute directly to the great production effort of the country. I will refer to Table 3, in which we have figures concerning transport. There are about 124,000 people employed in the three categories of railways, tramways and bus services and goods transport by road. There is a corresponding number in the rest of Great Britain, but, strange as it may appear, the proportion is higher in Scotland than in Great Britain as a whole. For example, in Great Britain there are 28 per 1,000 employed on the railways while the figure for 'Scotland is 31 per 1,000; in tramways and bus services 15 per 1,000 in Great Britain and 18 per 1,000 in Scotland; in goods transport by road 10 per 1,000 in Great Britain and 11 per 1,000 in Scotland. I suggest that there is something there to be examined.
The biggest anomaly in this connection in Scotland as well as in the rest of Great Britain is in the field of the distributive trades, in which the numbers are much higher. During the inter-war years the problem of having large numbers engaged in distribution reached a point, when competition was very keen, that a man for a woman could go to a shop, purchase something to the value of a shilling and have it delivered a mile or two away. We thought that those days were past to some extent, but even today we find that in Great Britain well over two million people are employed in the distributive trades while in Scotland there are 245,000 so employed. The proportion is higher in Scotland. We thought some years ago that it was higher in England, but the position today is that 106 people out of every 1,000 are employed in the distributive trades in Great Britain while in Scotland the figures are 119 per 1,000. That 2440 is something which should be examined. I fully appreciate that the suggestions which I make, like the suggestions which have been made by other hon. Members, apply not so much to the Secretary of State for Scotland as to other Ministers.
Mention has been made by the hon. Member for Central Aberdeen (Mr. Spence) of youth in industry and the encouragement to be given to them. I think that hon. Members on both sides of the Committee will agree with that. Yet it would be interesting to mention here that, whatever dis-incentives there may be in Scotland, it is a fact, so far as I can gather from the Ministry of Labour publications, that Scotland has the youngest working population in Great Britain. Of people under 20, the proportion in Scotland is much higher than in the rest of Britain.
The 2.5 per cent. to 3 per cent. unemployed, mentioned already by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael), causes us a great deal of worry. But we compare it with gratitude with the 14 per cent. we had in 1938, and with still more gratitude with the 27.7 per cent. we had in 1932. Yet even today those of us who go among our people, especially in the most congested industrial districts, do not mention the phrase "full employment" except with some qualification, because there are these pockets of unemployment. One fact is, I suppose, that the area of demand is so often so far from the area of supply.
The question of housing accommodation again makes it very difficult to bring the 60,000 unemployed into contact with the vacant jobs. But in these days when people over 65 are urged to continue in industry and other people are urged to work overtime, which they very often do not want to do; when harvesting is being carried out not only by Poles and prisoners of war, but by other classes outside the general run of the British working class, we have 50,000 children—as mentioned in this White Paper—engaged in harvesting last year. We shall need a similar number this year. Although I have never shared the views expressed by some people against using children for harvesting—I have sometimes thought they were genuine but ill-founded fears—but when I find people who know something about education expressing the view that we are incurring a risk in the 2441 educational field in having children employed in this fashion, my mind turns to this number of 60,000 unemployed and I begin to ask, as others have asked, why it is we cannot use a greater number of them.
It has been pointed out many times that they are partially unfit and have been rendered so by the circumstances of the inter-war years. That is true to some extent. It is also true that many of them belong to heavy industries, and to those industries which make for people being rendered unfit for heavy work even in more normal times. As has been pointed out, and what is more serious, is that we have so many who have been unemployed for more than 12 months. We have one in every six in Scotland—one in every five in Glasgow—and if that is followed down to six months, three months and two months, the same factor will be found to be operating. In Britain it will be found that half the people unemployed have been unemployed up to two months, and the other half have been unemployed for more than two months. In Scotland there are 53 per cent. who have been unemployed more than two months. Against that, in London and the south-east of England there are about 35 per cent. who have been idle for a similar period.
We have to consider the problem of the disabled and the partially disabled. The severely disabled cannot account for a large proportion of them—there are about 1,000. Good work has been done by the training centres and other agencies. However, there is a hard core which will not be touched even by the expansion of employment or development in industry. The treatment must be intensified far more. This is not merely a question of offering more jobs. That will apply to the larger number but not to the hard core. I should like to emphasise again that more attention than ever should be paid to the training and rehabilitation of these people to make them fit for industry so that they can take their place as citizens once more.
§ 8.41 p.m.
§ Sir David Robertson (Streatham)
I ask the hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. J. Williams) to excuse me if in the few minutes available to me I do not follow him in his remarks. I am obliged 2442 to refer to two of the observations made by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael), who claimed great achievements for the Government in agriculture and in the Highlands, without disclosing what they were. No one is willing to be more generous than I am to the Government for the good they do. No one will be more critical than I am when I think that they are wrong. I have no doubt that they have done many good things for agriculture, but if the hon. Gentleman was trying to persuade the Committee that the prosperity of the agricultural industry is due to something which the Government have done, I must repeat what I have said before—that it is due to the hunger of our people, to the shortage of dollars and to our inability to import as we did in the days of laisser faire Liberalism.
I have no doubt that the Government have done good things in the Highlands, but I do not know what they are, I know, however, that the project which they have in mind for Cromarty has been brought about under an Act passed by a Government consisting overwhelmingly of Conservatives. The 1944 Distribution of Industry Act, which I recall with great pleasure, is the Act under which the Cromarty development is being carried out. I hope that my remarks will at least contradict two of the many misstatements which have been made and counter the heavy bricks thrown against the Tories. If I had been allowed more than seven minutes, I should have liked to deal with many other points which were quite false.
The odd feature in this Debate is that we have talked about the commodities we export. No reference, except a passing one by the Secretary of State, has been made to the greatest commodity we export—the people, our own race. The right hon. Gentleman said, however, that there are 20 million Scots living overseas and that he was hoping that some of them would come back for holidays. I trust that that wish will be realised. There are 20 million Scots overseas and five million at home. I suppose that a majority of them went willingly and voluntarily, maybe to a fuller and more remunerative life, though I am wholly convinced that many went because of economic compulsion. In the main, they went from the neglected, derelict Highland areas. The population of Britain 100 years ago, 2443 or probably 80 years ago, was half what it is today. The population of Caithness and Sutherland was double what it is today. Although the population of Great Britain has doubled, that of this northern part—and I think it is also true of all the Highland areas—has gone down greatly.
I object strongly to the application of the 1944 Act, in regard to the Highlands, in making one great "black country" of 36 parishes stretching from Inverness to Cromarty. It is fundamentally wrong. The Highlands are not suitable for that type of industrial development. It is all right for developing Edinburgh, Glasgow and the industrial areas, but it is not all right for the Highlands. To talk of making this area a focal point for the Highlands—was there ever any greater nonsense? The Highlands begin with the Mull of Kintyre and finish with the Shetlands, and yet people are now expected to migrate to the Cromarty Firth. If they want to migrate, they will do it as they always have done and go to Canada and New Zealand. This is not the way to deal with the matter.
The proper way is to make little development areas in the towns that already exist. What would it mean, say, to the town of Wick if we planted pleasant factories just outside the town to accommodate between 1,500 and 2,000 people? What a difference the wages of those 2,000 people would make to the economy of that district. I was in Helmsdale on Tuesday. How the economy of that place could be altered if a little knitwear or clothing factory were established there, or a factory to deal with the wool, of which there is such abundance in that part of the country. That is the way to deal with the matter, instead of having a great mass development which is totally foreign to the Highlands and which is based on aluminium, which I regard as a very speculative proposition.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me? I think I ought to correct a misapprehension in his speech. I do not know where he got this picture of a new mass development of houses in the Highlands. There is nothing in the White Paper about it, and I do not know why he conveys that impression.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I have conveyed it. What else could I convey? The right 2444 hon. Gentleman himself introduced the Order bringing together 36 parishes in the town of Inverness and Easter Ross. For what does he want these 36 parishes, unless for a gigantic development? He cannot escape this, because otherwise he would not want all these parishes, and he would not reinforce what he said by this statement in the Economic Survey for 1948 about making this area a focal point of the Highlands. No, it is he who is misleading the House, not myself. I would like to say quite definitely that, for the remaining time that I shall be in this House, I will continue to protest against it, because I am fully convinced that the little picture which I have given in regard to Wick and Helmsdale is the right method of industrial development in the Highlands. I would add that an hon. Member of this House contemplates operating a knitwear factory at Lochinver to employ up to 200 people. If that comes about, it will galvanise this community with hope and bring about a revolution in their way of life.
There is another point concerning the threatened closing of the Brora Mine. The right hon. Gentleman and the Chancellor of the Exchequer were in Edinburgh a week ago telling the people of all the things they were going to do for the Highlands to bring about their economic recovery, but they said nothing about closing the mine. They kept that up their sleeves. The Brora Mine was commenced nearly three centuries ago by a former Countess of Sutherland under private enterprise, and it has continued ever since under private enterprise until the National Coal Board took over the coal industry, since when the mine has been on two periods of grace and is now on a final period of three months.
It would be a shameful thing if we were to close down something which has been kept running under private enterprise for three centuries, but which, within the first few months of the National Coal Board taking over the industry, is scheduled for closing. I came down the road from Wick to Brora on Tuesday, and I passed a large truck carrying English or Fife coal which had gone up by rail through Brora to Wick some time previously. Here was precious petrol being wasted to bring back that coal past Brora, where it is produced. There is something 2445 radically wrong, and I demand that the Secretary of State for Scotland should, and must, use his position as Scotland's first Minister, to see that the National Coal Board do not avoid their responsibilities.
§ Mr. M. MacMillan rose——
§ Mr. MacMillan
They are not closing down the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher); they are only closing down a pit.
§ Mr. MacMillan
The hon. Member is making a charge against the National Coal Board. Will he tell me whether the Coal Board own that mine, or whether it is privately owned by hundreds of other people.
§ Mr. MacMillan
I suggest that it is owned by private enterprise, and that because of the failure of private enterprise to run it economically, the Coal Board are going to close it down. That is my understanding of it, but I am open to conviction.
§ Sir D. Robertson
The mine is owned by the State, by the people, and it is licensed to a private lessee who is running it. That is the position.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Thomas Fraser) rose——
§ Sir D. Robertson
The hon. Gentleman is going to wind up, and he can say what he has to say then. I have given the facts of that case, and I have a great deal more to say on the subject when I am permitted more time to do so. However, I hope I have said enough to cause the Secretary of State to dig in and prevent this gross injustice to the Highlands of Scotland.
My final word is in regard to a scene I saw on Tuesday morning at Wick where several tons of mackerel were thrown back into the sea. Our people are hungry and yet this magnificent food 2446 brought in by the herring drifters was wasted. I appealed to the fish merchants to take it, but they said it was impossible owing to the hot weather, and so on. I offered to stand some part of the loss involved, but that was no good. All that fish was lost for the lack of refrigeration. If I may have the Secretary of State's attention for a moment, I would point out that the Herring Industry Board, for which he, together with the Minister of Food, is responsible, issued a report in 1946 indicating that they were going to open quick-freezing plants at Wick and other ports. Up to date they have made no progress at all; they are bogged down because the Minister of Food will not give a winter price for herring which would enable the people concerned to bear the cost of quick-freezing and storing. That is why the mackerel were thrown back into the sea, and that is what is happening every day at the present time. It calls for attention, which I hope it will get.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison (Glasgow, Central)
May I say at the outset how honoured and complimented I am that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland should attend this Debate in order to listen to the exposé of a mere back bencher. He has evidently not been infected by the bombastic self-satisfaction of the Minister of Health, and I hope it will remain so, because it is most illogical of the Minister of Health, when he subscribes to a party which has based most of its teaching on equality, that he should ignore the speeches that come from this side. Of course, there is equality of the kind one has read about in that penetrating and amusing book, "Animal Farm," where it is said that all pigs are equal, but that some are more equal than others.
If I may try to draw together the threads of what has been an interesting and widespread Debate—as widespread it must be because Scottish interests are so widespread—it seems to me that there emerges a pattern of three lines of thought rather like the pattern in a tartan. These three recurring lines of thought seem to me to be: first, housing; secondly, Development Areas; and thirdly, planning. I am bound to say that I agree with my hon. Friends that one feels a certain canopy of unreality stretched over all the 2447 considerations which emerge from the 1948 review. The year has long passed—not long in period of time, but long in events which press in upon us and change with shocking rapidity.
The right hon. Gentleman charged my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) with schadenfreude—delight in misery; but he and his party seem determined to bolster themselves up in a grave situation by continually patting themselves on the back. He spoke of the dangerous self-satisfaction of industrialists. There is just as much dangerous self-satisfaction evident in most of the speeches we have heard from that side of the Committee today as ever industrialists had. These are not my words. I would not presume to try to impose my thoughts on the Committee in so grave a matter, had I not been reinforced by the President of the Board of Trade, the Chancellor of the Exchequer only yesterday, and the Minister of Fuel and Power, all of whom have been pronouncing on the economic dangers that hover upon the horizon. While we have paid tribute—just as I pay tribute now—to the many good things which have been done in 1948 they are, as was said by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for East Renfrew (Major Lloyd), almost entirely due to the initiative of private enterprise. Let us, at any rate, take stock of the future. Are we really so satisfied that the future is as bright as the speeches of hon. Members opposite might have led us to suppose?
Perhaps I may return to the first of these three themes—housing. I do not want to spend too much time on it because we shall discuss housing as a special subject in a day or so, but it plays such a dominant part in industrial considerations that I must spend a few minutes upon it. First, we have had a strictly correct percentage of houses according to the relative populations of England and Scotland, but that strictly correct percentage has included a very high ratio of temporary houses, in spite of Scotland's less suitable weather—higher than they have had in England. It takes no account either of Scotland's greater initial need. It also takes no account of the theme which has been mentioned by one hon. Member after another—the ultimate forthcoming migration of 100,000 of the 2448 population of Lanarkshire into West Fife.
It takes no account of the development of an industrial area near Inverness, which was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Sir D. Robertson). Sticking to a strict ratio, even if there were as many permanent houses as we are entitled to—and, incidentally, not as many as we ourselves built in 1938—even so, Scotland would be entitled, in my view to claim more. On page 6 the survey says:The shortage of houses is … one of the most potent limiting factors on the development of industry.The survey is right there, just as it is right in quite a number of places. It emphasises, too, how necessary it is that these houses should be located near the ideal scene of employment for the population who are to live in them.
The housing situation is the most acute individual problem that we have to face at the present time. It is, so to speak, the tourniquet which is stopping the proper flow of development of industry, and until it is loosened and more houses are provided, so industry will have the continuing difficulty of the housing problem to face. It is the factor which impedes the mobility of labour, and the mobility of labour is one of the problems which we shall have to face in the future.
That leads me to the second of the three dominant features—the question of the industrial estate system and the Development Areas. The Distribution of Industry Act provides that in a Development Area very considerable advantages can be accorded to those concerns that are attracted there. The right hon. Gentleman said earlier today that they had forced nobody to go. I agree that the Government have not power of direction into a particular place, but they have many other powers which amount to very nearly the same thing. To begin with, no industrialist can erect a factory or a works without permits for all the necessary materials, and so there is a negative control over industry through impeding it from going where it wants. At the same time, there is power in a Development Area, as one hon. Member said, to let these factories at what are really today uneconomic rents. 2449 There is power to provide finance, power to remit the payments of loan interest.
All these powers together can exercise a tremendous sway over industry as to where it can go and where it can settle. We should clear our minds as to whether the industrial estate system in the Development Area is rightly conceived. First, we have to accept this fact, that half the population of Scotland at present lives in Development Areas, and we have also to accept this fact, for all the optimism of hon. Member opposite, that it will eventually become essential for industry to be competitive. Whether industry plays a very great part in the future, or whether it will be competitive or whether it will not, depends upon its obtaining what it needs.
What does industry need? It first needs a sufficiency labour of a suitable kind. It will go naturally where rates tend to be low. It needs good transport facilities, and it needs access to raw materials and to power. Are we sure that in fact the Development Areas, or parts of the Development Areas, will offer these requirements? If we look at the review we find curious things happening. We know, as the right hon. Gentleman said earlier, they were intended to provide some 146,000 more jobs between 1937 and today, whereas we have attained only 50,000. Is it really thought we shall attract industry at a more rapid rate in the future into the Development Areas than we have been able to do in the recent past? I very much doubt it. We are a long way off our target for jobs provision in the Development Areas.
On page 10 of the review we see some other curious figures. I hope the Under-Secretary of State will deal with this when he replies. We find that of the industrial projects approved in 1948, 68 were in Development Areas and 58 were outside. That was in spite of the attractions of the Development Areas. That seems to me to be a very curious circumstance; that 58 concerns, in spite of the advantages and the blandishments, and, perhaps, even the threats to force them into Development Areas, have chosen, nevertheless, to situate themselves outside.
Then we find some other curious figures. We find from the review—I continue to quote from the review—that the 2450 ultimate peak figure of employment has in 1948 gone up by only 1,000. The hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but he will find that in the review. I am quoting actually out of the review, which says that the ultimate peak figure of employment has gone up in 1948 by only 1,000… because … a number of firms decided not to proceed with the construction of premises previously approved (mainly in the Development Areas) …What I think needs serious examination is the question, Why are so many staying out of the Development Areas? Why have so many resisted what looks on the surface to be a good offer? I think this needs serious examination because I believe that some of these Development Areas are no longer situated functionally in the right places. Let me give an illustration. My argument is reinforced by something that fell from the Chairman of the Scottish Regional Coal Board the other day. He said that industry would in the future have to settle itself near to the places where there was cheap coal—if there is ever again going to be such a thing as cheap coal—that is in Fife or Ayrshire. If we are going to have industry where coal development is taking place, it seems to me that there is a grave risk that much of the development area in Lanarkshire is going to find itself wrongly placed.
I wonder whether industrialists have not been more far-sighted than the right hon. Gentleman in refusing to settle in the Development Areas. We find this in an acute form in the Greenock-Port Glasgow area where, the review states, the position remains far from satisfactory and considerable difficulty is being encountered in trying to persuade firms to settle in that area. If it is uneconomic to settle there, it is no good trying to force them or to cajole them to settle in a place where they are not going to be able to keep their heads above water.
I should like to pass on to the question of the development area in Inverness. The hon. Member for Streatham opened the curtain a little way. I have no idea what the right hon. Gentleman intends to do there. I have no idea whether in consultation with his economic advisers he has gone closely into this matter. What is intended? Is it, as my hon. Friend suggested, to be a belt of industrial high-level and large 2451 concerns, or is it to be a series of pockets of small local industries? Is he satisfied that the labour is there, that the houses will be available, and what transport there will be if it is an industrial belt? One thing which industry needs is good transport facilities by road, rail or sea. If some of these things are lacking, it has to consider its cost very carefully. So I come to the question of electric power.
There are many people in Scotland at the present time who are anxious to know how these hydro-electric schemes are in fact turning out. I should be glad if we could have some indication about this matter. I can only repeat what the various schools of thought say. I believe that the Chairman of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board believes that the power would be cheaper than could be provided by thermal units. I hear, on the other hand, that industrialists are concerned about this matter. Can we have some figures, because it is of fundamental importance to Scotland to know whether schemes totalling something like £100 million are or are not going to produce power cheaply and economically.
There are some interesting figures given at the back of the survey. I have not these at the moment, but I think the Committee will find that the original schemes—the Loch Sloy and the Tummel-Garry schemes—are shown there as being estimated to cost some £30 to £40 capital cost per kilowatt installed whereas other, later ones, are working out at something like £125. How does that enormous disparity come about? If it was economic to provide electric power at a capital cost of £30 to £40 per kilowatt, it cannot be economic to supply it when the capital cost is £120 or £130 per kilowatt installed.
What we have to remember in this matter is that we must get our electric power cheaply to offset long and expensive transport in such areas as the Inverness area. May we know something about the future of the provision of cheap power in all parts of Scotland where it is going to De developed, and particularly in that part of the new development area to which industry is going to be directed? It is one of the main considerations, one of the prime costs in all manufacturing 2452 concerns. We have already been told that this area is to be a focal centre of industrial development. Very well then, if it is to be that, and if it is successful, it needs low costs and suitable manpower, and particularly low costs for raw materials and for power.
That brings me to this point. What exactly has been happening with the Economic Conference in the planning for this area? Why is all that goes on with the Economic Conference veiled in secrecy? If that is the body which is advising the Secretary of State on how to plan for Scotland, surely it is derogatory that such information as we are put in possession of, should leak out through the Press. There is nothing in the review, there is nothing in the way of a statement to this Committee from the Secretary of State, and I think it is treating Parliament with less consideration than it is entitled to, that all these plans should be developed—and clearly they are not well understood, because my conception of the industries in Inverness varies from that of my hon. Friend—and only come out piecemeal, and very often in a distorted way, in announcements in the Press.
That brings me to the question of planning. Once planning is embarked upon, one enters on a very complicated and varied series of problems. Planning to be successful must be co-ordinated. It is not the slightest use someone going off in a corner by himself and planning something. That will not get him anywhere. In passing, I would observe that one of the curious, and incidentally one of the dangerous, things now happening in Europe is that all the countries of Western Europe are planning to modernise their own economy each in precisely the same way as the other. All that does is to have the same modernisation in France, Britain, later on Germany, and so on, so that they will be able to compete with one another a little bit more acutely than they were able to do before. I do not reckon that to be planning.
To plan successfully, the various activities for which the planning has taken place must be co-ordinated so that they marry and fit in with one another. Are we quite sure that that is what is happening in Scotland at the present time? Let us just see what planning areas there are. First of all, we have at the lowest level 2453 planning for Scotland itself. Many of the interesting things which have been discussed today are purely Scottish planning. I refer to the interesting comments made in the review, on peat and seaweed. I call that first-class; it is local planning which does not need any link with a higher scale.
Then there are such things as hydroelectricity, about which the right hon. Gentleman has been questioned this evening. Then there are ships and shipbuilding—and the amount of steel that is to be released for shipbuilding as compared with the amount to be released for other industries has been referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Montrose Burghs (Mr. Maclay). Then there is Prestwick, in connection with which the planning has been about as bad as it possibly could be, and has resulted in the Secretary of State allowing the Ministry of Civil Aviation to strangle the only concern that could have given Scotland an aircraft industry. That is planning at its very worst.
That is the area of domestic planning, if I may so call it, planning for which the Secretary of State has and should have control within his own hand. But there are very few that lie so localised within his power, and so we pass on to planning in the national area. Now who does that? It is presided over by a gentleman called Sir Edwin Plowden. He has a committee, and when I asked whether there was any representative Scotsman on that committee I was told that there was not, because the individuals who sit on it do so as individuals and not as representatives.
That is quite wrong. Whether they sit as representatives or as individuals, Scotland is entitled to have representatives on the committee which is planning for the whole of Britain. What does it deal with? It deals with wide problems such as the steel allocations for the whole of the shipbuilding of the country. It deals with such questions as what is to be the attitude of this country in the agreement with Pakistan over the supply of raw jute, which is of essential importance to the City of Dundee. It can give opinions on what tariffs will affect various articles—possibly reductions of tariffs on whisky—such as are being negotiated at present at Annecy and were negotiated last year at Geneva.
2454 We have no voice in any of that. I do not think for a moment that there is any conscious discrimination against Scotland, but it takes a Scotsman to know in which industries Scotland is predominant. We have a major interest in shipbuilding, jute, whisky, linoleum, beef, mutton, locomotives, and so on.
§ Colonel Hutchison
And oats. I happen to know all that because I am a Scotsman, but I cannot expect anyone negotiating at Annecy or Paris to remember those things, and there might easily be handed over in the bargaining going on between countries, something that might cut off the whisky trade or the jute trade or the oat trade, and do Scotland grievous damage. So I think we should have Scottish representation starting in the Plowden Committee and then, consequently, representation on the international committees.
Scotland is a nation, not a province. The fundamental misconception in English minds is that they persist in thinking that ours is an area somewhere up in the north that sends rather effective football teams and whisky and Members of Parliament down to England from time to time, and that that is the only distinction we have. As a nation we are entitled to have our representation, particularly at a time when planning counts for so much.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I am sure the hon. and gallant Gentleman does not want to be under a misapprehension. I do not know where he got his idea that no Scotsmen were economists in this country.
§ Colonel Hutchison
I did not say that no Scotsmen were economists; they are first-class. There was Adam Smith, unfortunately not with us now; but we have those with us who can worthily inherit his mantle. I know that, almost by accident now and then, a Scotsman is appointed to one of these committees. I know that Sir John Duncanson had quite a lot to do with the iron and steel planning in Paris, but we have not a Scottish representative as of right, and I think we are entitled to have one.
§ Sir W. Darling
Does my hon. and gallant Friend make the assertion that there is now no representative of Scottish national planning on the Plowden Committee?
§ Colonel Hutchison
All I can say in reply to my hon. Friend is that there is no Scotsman sitting as the representative of Scottish interests. I have looked at the names and I cannot recognise any as having an intimate knowledge of Scotland or as being closely connected with it. There ought to be somebody there. What is the position otherwise? We are left to rely entirely upon the Secretary of State for Scotland, as in Civil Aviation, in which we have had so raw a deal.
What has the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland to do? I would ask the Committee to consider for a moment the Herculean task which has fallen on the shoulders of the right hon. Gentleman. First, along with his two Under-Secretaries, he has his own Departments to look after at St. Andrew's House, Edinburgh, and its counterpart here in London. He has to divide his time between Whitehall and Edinburgh and be available to delegations of those who wish to see him. He has to keep an eye on, and be present at, all the Measures which concern Scotland and Scottish Bills introduced into this House. He has at the same time to keep a supervisory eye upon the other legislation, already passed, affecting Britain as a whole in order to see that the position of Scotland is protected.
On top of all these immense responsibilities which the right hon. Gentleman has piled upon him, Scottish legal questions, legislation for Scotland, deputations, and the Scottish Grand Committee, he has to maintain a watchful eye on the legislation of this country. He is now having nationalised industry thrust upon his back because, as he must remember, he is ultimately the advocate to whom the Scottish boards—the Scottish Regional Coal Board and the Railway Executive, for example—should be able, and in theory are able, to go if they do not see eye to eye with the main board in London. However foreign all that may be to the right hon. Gentleman or to his nature, we must regard him as nagger-in-chief—that is his role. I do not believe that he is capable of nagging sufficiently, because he is given too big an area; he is, perhaps, of too genial a nature, but even if he were less genial, and even if he were aided by my hon. Friend the Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) ——
§ Colonel Hutchison
—I doubt whether, even together, their capabilities could extend over so wide an area.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply (Mr. Jack Jones)
The hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) should know.
§ Colonel Hutchison
Perhaps we may give him the chance one of these days.
All this is imposing upon the Secretary of State and his Joint Under-Secretaries something which they cannot carry out. I have admired the dexterity with which the right hon. Gentleman keeps so many balls in the air at the same time, but there are so many of them in the air that sometimes one falls without any of us noticing it. The fact is that by nationalising industry, by extending the sphere of Scottish activities and by introducing all this plannig, the right hon. Gentleman has an executive set-up which cannot face the responsibilities which it ought to be able to carry, and something stronger and bigger is needed.
§ 9.23 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Thomas Fraser)
We have had a very useful and most interesting Debate, because in the course of the afternoon there has not been any really serious challenge of the policy of the Government which has led to the progress recorded in the White Paper. I hope, in fact, that my right hon. Friend will not have been lulled into complacency by the speeches which have been made from the Opposition benches.
§ Mr. Fraser
No, I hope he is not.
One would hardly believe that we could debate a White Paper on Industry and Employment in Scotland and hear so little being said about industry and employment in Scotland as we have heard today. No one could imagine a Debate on a Paper of this kind at any time between 1921 and the beginning of the late war in which Members from all sides would not have been getting on their feet and discussing the drift of industry to the South, the closing of some industries and the high rate of unemployment in many other industries. Those are the things 2457 we would have discussed in days gone by. Today, of course, those things are no longer problems for discussion.
If the Opposition had had any very serious criticism to offer of the policy of the Government as applied to industry and economic development, we would have expected to hear something of it today. We would have expected the Opposition to point to one industry or another, or to one industry after another, in Scotland which had not done so well, or was shown in the White Paper not to have done as well as it might have done, because of some action or inaction on the part of the Government.
§ Sir W. Darling
Had such an argument been put forward, I am inclined to think it would have been out of Order. Those are matters for the Board of Trade and not for the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Fraser
I find it difficult to believe that the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) ——
§ Mr. Fraser
—did not try to be called only because he feared to be out of Order, because on earlier occasions when we have debated these White Papers, those things have been discussed, and they could have been discussed today.
§ Mr. Maclay
Is it not realised that, in the opinion of a great many of us, it would have required a Government a great deal cleverer than this to have stopped Scotland doing well in the last few years?
§ Mr. Fraser
I do not know whether that is supposed to be just a cheap criticism of the Government, or a very high compliment, because someone managed to stop Scottish industry doing well some years ago. Somehow or other, we find that Lanarkshire has been mentioned a lot today. I seem to remember industries closing down one after another in Lanarkshire and Stewart and Lloyds moving out of Moss End and going to Northamptonshire, and not dozens but thousands of men walking the roads on the way to Northamptonshire in the hope that they would get work when they arrived there.
§ Major Lloyd
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that that may have been due 2458 to the buyers' market and not to the wicked Tories?
§ Mr. Fraser
In any case the hon. and gallant Member for Eastern Renfrew (Major Lloyd) will agree that a Tory Government did not even try to stop that drift of industry and did not make any attempt whatever——
§ Commander Galbraith rose——
§ Mr. Fraser
—let me finish the sentence—did not make any attempt whatever to secure that employment should be given to those who were unemployed in Lanarkshire.
§ Commander Galbraith
I think the hon. Gentleman is entirely mistaken. I forgive him because he is too young to remember and ought to go and ask his father.
§ Commander Galbraith
Is there anything the hon. Gentleman could suggest today which would have kept him in employment in those years?
§ Mr. Fraser
If those who were employed and unemployed had been enabled to enjoy a slightly higher standard of living than they had, of course more of them would have been required to be employed to enjoy that standard of living. The only solution the party opposite had in those years for the poverty and hunger of the masses in Scotland was more hunger and more poverty.
§ Mr. Fraser
I am not so very sure that it was the biggest unemployment in history, but hon. Members opposite seem conveniently not to remember that from 1929 to 1931 the Labour Party did not have a majority in the House.
§ Colonel Hutchison
Does the hon. Gentleman then advance the theory that they were entitled to take office without taking responsibility?
§ Mr. Fraser
I did not say that we did not take responsibility; I merely said we did not have a majority in the House.
§ Major Lloyd rose——
§ Major Lloyd
On a point of Order. Surely a most provocative and inaccurate statement gives an opportunity for a question to be asked?
§ Mr. Fraser
I think that if the hon. and gallant Member for Central Glasgow (Colonel Hutchison) looks at the record again, he will find that the worst period of unemployment was not between 1929 and 1931, but was in 1932.
§ Mr. Fraser
They could not have gone up much more than they were in 1932 or there would not have been many of us working in Scotland. A further piece of evidence of the bankruptcy in argument of Members opposite was the way in which the hon. and gallant Member for Central Glasgow spent the first five minutes of his speech dealing with the Minister of Health and what he had done or said or had not done on some other occasion.
§ Colonel Hutchison
I was so glad to see the right hon. Gentleman that I had to pass him a compliment.
§ Mr. Fraser
The compliment has been gratefully received.
One or two matters of some interest have been raised by Members opposite, although they have not criticised the policy that is shown in the pages of this document to have been marked by steady, substantial and very creditable industrial progress in Scotland.
§ Mr. Fraser
By private enterprise under the wise and courageous direction and guidance of a very good Government. In the course of his remarks, the hon. and gallant Member for Central Glasgow said that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State should not boast too much of the new jobs that have been created in the industrial estates in the Development Areas in Scotland because, after all, we fell a long way short of reaching the 2460 target. Of course we fell a long way short of building all the factories which we wanted to build.
§ Mr. Fraser
We have not missed any targets. We did not set ourselves a target for 1948 or 1949. We set out to build factories to provide employment capacity for so many people. We did not say that we would complete the job by 1948 or 1949. The factories are still being built, the work is still proceeding. Of course, we have not reached the target, but nobody should expect us to have done so. We cannot possibly reach it because there are not in Scotland at the present time the unemployed who could take jobs in the new factories to make up the numbers given by the hon. and gallant Gentleman.
The targets are largely targets that are given to the Government—to the Board of Trade—by the industrialists, by the people who are to take over the factories. We often find, indeed we nearly always find, that these industrialists are unable to find employment for all the people they estimated would find employment in the factory which they wished to have. We do not criticise them for that, but since the targets are made up in that way let us not be too critical of the Board of Trade or the Minister of Labour or my right hon. Friend if a target here and there is not reached. I very much doubt whether the target will ever be reached.
In any event we have not only been building factories in the last three or four years in Scotland; we have also been building a lot of houses. We have in the last few years been creating a lot of records in Scotland. The building industry has never been as busy as in those years and we hope that it will go on being busy. We hope that more new factories will be built. We hope that when we have built the requisite number of new factories to provide employment for all those able and willing hands which would otherwise not be employed, new factories will be built to replace the very dilapidated and unsatisfactory factory buildings which there are.
We are not saying that these things will happen in a day or two or a year or two. They will not. We appreciate 2461 to the full the economic difficulties of this country. How often have we been talking about them? The Government ought not to be blamed by the Opposition for not facing up to the economic difficulties, for presenting too complacent a picture of what is happening in Scotland, for not appreciating the need to conserve our resources and to limit spending, while hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the Committee ask the Government—as they did several times today—to spend a few more dollars on more petrol so as to allow our people a little more freedom to run about in their motor cars and to encourage the tourist industry in the North of Scotland and elsewhere. That does not do.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman doubted the wisdom of our distribution of industry policy. He wondered whether it was right that the Government should give all those inducements to industrialists to go into certain parts of the country. A few minutes before he made those remarks, the hon. Member for Streatham had boasted that the Act was put on the Statute Book by a predominantly Tory Government.
§ Mr. Fraser
It was, of course, put on the Statute Book by the so-called Caretaker Government in 1945, and not 1944.
§ Mr. Fraser
No, I am sorry, it was 1945. It did not complete its passage through the House during the lifetime of the Coalition Government, and it was put on the Statute Book when the right hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) was President of the Board of Trade in the Caretaker Government. However—now we have got the facts straight—the hon. Gentleman seemed to think it was a good thing to have this legislation. The hon. and gallant Member for Central Glasgow (Colonel Hutchison) doubted the wisdom of having this kind of legislation, and I would only say——
§ Colonel Hutchison
No, I doubted whether it was wise to go on using those people in industrial concerns in areas that were not economic.
§ Mr. Fraser
That is the point; the Act is all right so long as it is not made use of to put industry into an area into which they would not otherwise go. The whole purpose of the Coalition Government was to bring forward the Bill; and I hope that the whole purpose of the Caretaker Government in putting it on the Statute Book was to enable the Government to provide facilities, to give inducements so that industry would go into the areas into which they would not otherwise have gone, because it was only in that way that we could hope to provide employment for the people from those old distressed areas.
If the State did not do that, the belief was that industries would not go there and it would have been impossible for people from those areas to find houses as well as jobs in other parts of the country. Of course, those people would have remained unemployed. The fact is that the work has been carried through. The fact that those people are working and producing goods for export, as well as for consumption at home, is every justification for the policy which has been carried through.
There were one or two other points made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman which I did not think were worthy of him. He played about with the Plowden Committee, and said there was no Scottish representative on the committee, and so on. I do not know whether he knows the identity of all the persons who sit on the Plowden Committee——
§ Colonel Hutchison
Would the hon. Gentleman tell me whether there is a Scotsman on the committee? I am seeking for knowledge.
§ Mr. Fraser
The hon. and gallant Member should have asked a question. Generally the way one seeks information is by asking a question, instead of making very categorical statements that Scottish interests are not represented. The fact is that Scottish interests are not specially departmentally represented. English interests are not specially represented. This is a body of experts and, of course, these are Scotsmen on the Committee.
§ Mr. Fraser
No, it is not a very easy way out. The hon. and gallant Gentleman wanted to give the impression in Scotland that in fact Scotland was being completely disregarded in all this planning business. I hope that he was not being deliberately dishonest: indeed, I am sure he was not.
§ Mr. Fraser
He gave the impression that one or two people were sitting in London and planning everything, that my right hon. Friend, the Scottish Council for Industry, and all those other bodies did not matter at all, but that this body sitting in London and composed of Londoners, or Englishmen, was fully responsible. Of course, that is not the case at all, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman had no right to make any such assumption.
§ Colonel Hutchison
I was very careful to say that I accused nobody of purposely disregarding Scottish interests. I said they just could not know about them if they were not Scotsmen.
§ Mr. Fraser
"If they were not Scotsmen." I hope that the hon. and gallant Gentleman used the word "if." If he did, that saves him; if he did not, it is a different matter.
§ Sir W. Darling
The hon. Gentleman is doing himself less than justice. He should not prevaricate. Who represents and understands Scottish interests on the Plowden Committee? Will he tell the Committee? Is it a Scotsman, an Englishman or a Welshman—who is he?
§ Sir W. Darling
On a point of Order. I have asked the Minister for the name of a public servant which is within his knowledge. He replies that he does not intend to satisfy my curiosity. It is not my curiosity, I submit as a point of Order, but it is a proper question.
§ Mr. Fraser
The Plowden Committee exists to assist the Government. The name of the Chairman of that Committee is very well known, but my right hon. Friend is not responsible for the Committee. I do not think that any other Minister would be willing to come here and tell the Committee and the country the identity of every person who serves on a committee. I do not think that the country need be terribly interested in the person, in any case.
§ Mr. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
A statement has been made that no one who understands Scottish interests is on this committee. The hon. Gentleman makes the assertion that there are Scotsmen on it. Surely, there is nothing wrong in any hon. Member asking for the names of the people who understand Scotsmen?
§ Mr. Fraser
There is no harm in refusing to give the name.
The hon. and gallant Member for Central Glagow discussed the price of hydro-generated electricity. He said he believed that it would be much more expensive than thermal electricity. I can only say that the Hydro-Electricity Board are satisfied——
§ Colonel Hutchison
The hon. Gentleman seems to try to put a gloss on my speech which it never had. I asked for information. I asked whether it was £30 to £40 per kilowatt installed.
§ Mr. Fraser
I hope that I have not been as guilty as the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggests in misinterpreting what he said. Whether I was or not, let me say in reply to his question that the Hydro-Electricity Board are satisfied by the development which is proceeding in the North of Scotland that electricity can be produced more cheaply than at a new steam station. They do not contend, so far as I know, that they can produce electricity cheaper than it is being produced at the moment in a steam station built many years ago when the costs of building were very much less than they are at the present time.
On the question of the Development Area in the Highlands, when the order 2465 was before the House, in the speech of my right hon. Friend on that occasion, and in the reply which I made to the Debate that evening, it was made abundantly clear that we did not contemplate a Hillington or a Newhouse in the Highlands, and that no new factories were to be built straight away. It was made clear that we were taking the opportunity that was given to us in the review which is provided for in the Distribution of Industry Act of scheduling an area in which we believed it to be desirable that the Government should arm themselves with the powers to provide the inducements, which they can provide under that Act, for industrialists to go into a particular area.
As and when the necessity arises to provide that inducement to an industrialist to go into the area, when we get the right kind of industry to go into different parts of that area, my right hon. Friend, because he has taken the trouble to schedule that area, will be able, along with the President of the Board of Trade, to assist the industrialists in their new enterprises. There is nothing more than that, and I repeat that we have no intention of creating a great new industrial estate which would in any way resemble Newhouse or any other industrial estate in Lanarkshire.
§ Sir D. Robertson
Will the hon. Gentleman explain what is the object of taking a huge area of 36 Highland parishes stretching from Inverness right up to the North, for some nebulous, unknown, unplanned and un-thought-out scheme that may happen if some industrialist in Southampton or London wants to build a factory? Why all these 36 parishes?
§ Mr. Willis
Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the hon. Member for Streatham (Sir D. Robertson) was not really interested in the matter at the time it was discussed, and has only recently become interested in it?
§ Mr. Fraser
I do not want to go over that again, because we made our position perfectly clear when the order went through the House. My right hon. Friend gave his reasons for taking this big area, and there is no point in my covering that ground again. Indeed, there was a White Paper dealing with it.
2466 The hon. Gentleman also discussed the Brora Mine, and said it was the property of the National Coal Board. When I wanted to correct him he said that I would have the opportunity to make my speech in due course. Coal was nationalised as far back as 1938, but the physical buildings of the mine belong to the present owner, Mr. Hunter, who operates the Brora Mine under licence from the National Coal Board, He has received the most generous terms in his licence given to any small mine operator anywhere in Scotland, but he produces coal which he finds it very difficult to sell, even in the area in which it is produced, where it can be sold at a price very much less than the price of Fife coal, which the hon. Gentleman said he saw in Caithness and Sutherland the other day. People up there apparently prefer to pay 5s. per cwt. for Fife coal instead of 3s. 6d. for coal from this mine.
Recently, as the hon. Gentleman knows, I had the privilege of presiding over a meeting at which the future of the Brora mine was discussed. The meeting was convened at the request of the county council, and at that meeting the Hydro-Electric Board, which seemed to me to be unfairly castigated by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith), tried to help them out of this difficulty by offering to take dross which they cannot use in the next three months in order to enable the mine to carry on for that period, and to give those concerned an opportunity of looking round for another market for the dross. We could not find any evidence at the meeting that the local authority concerned or anybody else in the area would be willing to take this dross, which is produced in fairly large quantities at the mine having regard to its size.
Lest there should be any belief among hon. Members that two or three hundred men are employed in this mine, I would tell them that at the present time there are, and have been for some time past, 17 men employed there. That is quite an important number in that area; 17 men is quite a big part of the working population there, and none of us wants to see the mine closed down. We shall do all we can to make it possible for this operator to carry on, or, if he cannot, for some other person to run it. It should also be known that Mr. Hunter used to 2467 require much of the coal he produced in the mine for his own brickworks and weaving sheds. He no longer operates the brickworks, and is switching over from coal to another form of fuel in his weaving sheds. He cannot find the people to buy his coal, and I do not know what steps the hon. Gentleman wants the Government to take to ensure that the mine will not be closed.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I am glad the hon. Gentleman is confirming the statement I made in my speech that the mine is owned by the National Coal Board. Mr. Hunter is a tweed merchant, and runs this mine as a sideline. Are we to assume that this part-time management, which has not resulted in a complete success, is to be the excuse for the great National Coal Board washing their hands of this mine? With all the resources at their disposal, are they not able to run the mine and sell the coal?
§ Mr. Fraser
The hon. Gentleman is saying that the Coal Board should run this mine however uneconomic it may be; no matter whether they can sell the coal or not, they should just keep the mine going in order to keep 17 men at work. I did not confirm what the hon. Gentleman said, that the National Coal Board owned the mine; I said they did not own it, but only the coal, as, otherwise, we should not have had to pass the 1946 Act because, in 1938, Parliament nationalised the coal resources of this country.
In the course of the Debate, one or two hon. Members mentioned the number of industrial projects going on in areas other than Development Areas in Scotland and asked whether our development policy was, in the circumstances, as successful as we thought. In the Debate we have had our attention called once or twice to the number of industrial projects begun since 1945 without any reference to the number of workers to be employed in them. Of course, in many parts of Scotland, applications are made for extensions to existing factories where the number of additional persons to be employed is very small. In most of those cases, it seems to us only right and proper that the extension should be allowed. But, of course, the proportion of jobs to be provided by the projects outside the 2468 Development Area is nothing like proportionate to the number in projects within the Development Area. It is important, particularly in the new coal and developing coal areas like Fife, Ayrshire and parts of the Highlands, that some of these projects should be allowed to go on. We must not concentrate the whole of that part of our building resources which are employed on industrial buildings on the Development Areas.
Perhaps I should make one comment upon a quotation from the White Paper which was made by my hon. Friend the Member for North Lanark (Miss Herbison). She quoted paragraph 122 and I thought that the part she quoted was perhaps phrased a little unfortunately because, reading it, one would get the impression that all the collieries in the Clyde Valley or the Shotts area would be closed in the next ten years. Referring back to paragraph 119, one discovers that at the present time a big new pit is being sunk in the Shotts area and that there are collieries not far from the village itself which will remain in production for many years to come. Within the Clyde Valley the National Coal Board themselves have schemes for further new colliery development. I think the language used in the paragraph of the report was probably a little unfortunate.
Another item mentioned in the same connection was the work for displaced miners who, for one reason or another, cannot transfer to the new coal developing areas, or for the unemployed male persons who may be suffering from some disability, as mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell (Mr. Alex Anderson). Of course, they do constitute a problem, but I do not think we should regard it as a problem which is beyond us. A bigger proportion of that kind of labour is employed in Lanark-shire today than has ever been the case before.
I have visited factories in the new industrial estates where the managements have told me that they have, with profit to themselves and certainly with profit to the locality, given employment to men, and particularly partially disabled men—employment which, before they came into the area, they believe could only be taken up by women. There is some shortage of female labour in the area and some of the people have taken 2469 on male labour to do the work which they expected would be done by women and they have found that they get very good results. I think we must expect a little more of that in the future and that, in fact, employment will be found in the new factories for the partially disabled men and for the men in these coal areas where the pits are being closed, who cannot, for one reason or another, transfer to the new areas.
The hon. Member for Montrose Burghs (Mr. Maclay) and one or two hon. Members dealt with the question of steel for shipyards. They wanted more steel to be allocated to shipbuilding. It is very easy to ask that more steel should be allocated for shipbuilding—very easy indeed; but I have not yet heard any of those who ask the Government to allocate more steel for that purpose suggest from which other service or industry the steel should be taken.
§ Sir W. Darling
Fifteen per cent. of the United Kingdom steel output comes from Scotland. Why cannot Scotland have all its own steel?
§ Mr. Fraser
The point is that hon. Members and people outside continue to urge the Government to allocate more steel to shipbuilding. I am not saying that more steel should not be allocated; I am not arguing the merits at the present time. I am merely saying that none of these persons seems at any time ever to have given the slightest indication of the service or industry that should be given less steel so that more can be given to shipbuilding. The sort of picture presented in this White Paper and the way it has been welcomed, suggests to us that the Government have been not unsuccessful in the allocation of steel among our basic industries and services.
I have been asked about the electrification of the railways, but there is not much I can say about that. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has been asked to have a look at the transport system in the whole of the West of Scotland. I do not know whether he has set up any committee or inquiry into the transport system. It is his responsibility. He probably will not deal with the West of Scotland in isolation. I do not know. However, I can see that my hon. Friend's views are made known to the Minister of Transport.
§ It being Ten o'Clock, the Chairman left the Chair to report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.