HC Deb 01 July 1952 vol 503 cc221-2
17. Mr. M. MacMillan

asked the Minister of Labour the number and percentage of registered unemployed at Stornoway at the latest date for which figures are available; to what extent Government contracts for textiles such as Army blankets are being placed in the area; and what other steps are being taken to deal with the problem without removing the local unemployed people from the islands.

The Minister of Labour and National Service (Sir Walter Monckton)

There were 897 males and 115 females unemployed in Stornoway on 15th June representing in all 19.7 per cent. of the insured population.

As regards the second part of the Question, I am informed that no contracts for Army blankets have been placed in Stornoway because there are no firms in Stornoway noted on the Ministry of Supply trades list. If there are any firms there who would like to be included in the list they should apply in the usual way to the Ministry of Supply.

On the third part of the Question I cannot add anything to what was said by the Parliamentary Secretary in the Adjournment debate on unemployment in the Western Isles on 13th May.

Mr. MacMillan

Would not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that the present figure is still pretty serious for an area with a population of that size? The figure goes up to 15,000, 16,000 and almost 17,000 in the Outer Islands at certain times over a period of months, and no solution of any kind has been attempted by the Ministry of Labour for many years past. Will the Minister consider following the example of his predecessor in the Labour Government by having a look for himself and trying to understand a problem which is very different from that which arises elsewhere?

Sir W. Monckton

I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for his invitation. I shall take an early opportunity, if I can, of accepting it. At the same time I would point out that the percentage figures has varied very little during the last three years, although I agree that they do vary from time to time. High though this figure is, it has been of this order for some considerable time. I am therefore all the more ready to have a look at the situation for myself.