HC Deb 23 January 1951 vol 483 cc16-7
31. Sir David Robertson

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the large number of registered unemployed people in Caithness and Sutherland; that the percentage of 9.6 is almost four times the average for Scotland; and what steps he proposes to take to remedy the situation.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Aneurin Bevan)

I am concerned at the high rate of unemployment in Caithness and Sutherland. As the hon. Member is aware, I am in close touch with my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Scotland and the President of the Board of Trade about the position. Every effort is being made, with the assistance of the hon. Member, to improve the employment prospects of the area.

Sir D. Robertson

Will the Minister bear in mind that men are rotting in idleness, some of them year after year, while essential work on houses, roads and water supplies is being held up by capital cuts designed to conserve labour?

Mr. Bevan

Yes. I intend to make a special inquiry into the matter. We are all anxious that men should not be unemployed unnecessarily in any part of the country.

Mr. Baldwin

Is the Minister aware that there are many thousands of acres in these two counties which need bringing back into production? Could he not use these men who are unemployed to bring those acres back into production?

Mr. Bevan

We are hoping to repair the neglect of past decades.