§ 3.46 p.m.
Mr. Hector McNeil (Greenock)
The Vote that we have before us for the Scottish Home Department covers a very wide field indeed. It is most tempting to enter into it. However, I hope that I shall not succumb completely to the temptation. I shall try to keep to some of the main topics, although I have no doubt that the debate will range widely.
I understand that the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland will reply to the debate. Even if we do not necessarily agree with the hon. Gentleman, we must at any rate congratulate him on his versatility. I believe that this is his third appearance on three different subjects within three days. That is certainly a distinctive Parliamentary performance.
I do not think that hon. Gentlemen on either side would disagree with the proposition that the industrial health of Scotland steadily improved during the 64 years in which we had the fortune to have a Labour Government in this 1530 country. That is not a matter of argument; it is a matter of arithmetic, and there is an abundance of arithmetic on the subject.
However, I wish to say, as would my hon. Friends, that the Labour Party would not attempt to claim all the credit for the changes which have been displayed in those 6½ years. Organisations like the Scottish Development Council, the Scottish Trades Union Congress, the Industrial Council and vigorous and patriotic Scotsmen, both in London and New York as well as in Scotland, have made substantial contributions. But without in any way detracting from the credit, I must affirm that the Government of which I had the honour to be a Member had a substantial credit in that transaction.
There is an abundance of figures. Perhaps the most obvious is that 228 of the 554 factories built for new enterprises between 1946 and 1950 were built by the Government or their agents and leased or sold to these new industries. Only 53 separate new factories were built by what we normally call private capital in that period in Scotland, and the size of these 53 factories was on the average smaller than the average for the 228 factories to which I have already alluded.
I do not make that primarily as a party point. I offer the figures to the Committee because they have some relevance to the argument which I hope to develop. It will be conceded, too, that in that time Scotland not only improved in the gross number of people who were thereby afforded employment but benefited by the substantial variation in the types of employment and production. None of us, of course, even when we were in office, would have found any reason to be complacent, and, indeed, resolutions passed by the Scottish Trades Union Congress last year drew attention to many gaps which still remained to be filled if we were to have a healthy and flexible industrial structure in Scotland.
I repeat—I hope for the last time—that Labour as a Government, with the help of these public-spirited people, made an improvement in Scotland to which the present Government, although I agree that their time has been short, have so far made no comparable contribution at all.
If the hon. Gentleman wishes to pursue the point, I shall be delighted to engage with him about some of the contractions in Scottish industry which the Government have deliberately forced upon Scotland during their period of office. The Scottish picture at the moment is not as reassuring as it was in that previous period. Of course, no one of us has any satisfaction in that except the Government, whose policy, in many of its implications, has been that there should be a contraction of production and trading in Scotland.
I do not want to suggest that the improved pattern of Scottish industry is necessarily and basically harmed by the Government's policy, but there is a degree of unemployment and there are patches of unemployment which the Government, presumably, have deliberately created and which some hon. Gentlemen opposite were good enough to tell us before the election they wanted to see created. There are some quotations available which could be used, and which I should be delighted to use again.
The general policy of the Government, of course, must have been designed in the expectation of a contraction of production. The raising of the Bank rate, the comparative restriction of credit facilities—these are deliberately designed measures, presumably, to curtail production of various kinds, which must, in turn, produce unemployment and reduce the amount of available purchasing power at any one time.
As has been admitted by representatives of many Scottish organisations which cannot be called part of the Labour Party, these measures are already having very appreciable effects upon Scottish trade, and I confess that my anticipations are that they will be even worse. When I pressed the Under-Secretary of State to give us some assurance upon an allied subject last week—the Bank rate—he, perhaps quite properly but nevertheless unmistakably, was distinctly evasive on the subject.
I shall not attempt to relate this—because it has already been done—to the shutting down of overseas markets, but the shutting down of the Australian 1532 market has already had a marked effect upon the production of consumer goods, notably some of our more recent productions in Scotland. The over-all unemployment figures, as I think will be conceded, are disturbing. I do not suggest that they are alarming, and they are certainly not alarming in the context of the figures which we have previously experienced in Scotland, but they are disturbing, not only in their dimensions, but in their tendencies.
A year ago at this time, we had an unemployment figure of 42.3 per thousand. Today, according to the newspapers, we have a figure of 68.5 per thousand. That means a comparative increase between these two comparable months of 25,000, or, to put it another way, the comparative increase between these two months is rather more than 50 per cent., of the original figure and that is certainly a disturbing proportion.
Moreover, the Committee will appreciate that even these figures probably do not disclose the exact gravity of the situation. We have to make a calculation upon the figures affecting short-time working before we can arrive at the literal degree of unemployment in the country. I should like to say to the Committee that my figures of short-time working in the three main industries affected are not necessarily accurate. Again, they are newspaper figures, although I have had some assistance from some of my hon. Friends who have been collecting them.
I am told that, in the textile industry in Scotland, there are no fewer than 10,000 people on short-time working; in cotton, no fewer than 7,000 on short-time, and possibly as many as 8,500; and, in jute, no fewer than 7,000, and possibly even 10,000. These are very considerable figures which mean that, in addition to this unemployment figure of 68.5 per thousand, we have to add something like another 25,000 workers on short-time.
I should like the Under-Secretary of State, when he replies, to try to tell us—none of us imagines that any miracles can be pulled out of the hat—what precisely the Government propose to do in relation to this developing situation, and, in particular, we should like to be satisfied that, in regard to the Government contracts which the Government have assured us are being hurried forward to meet such a situation as this, and 1533 which have already been placed in Lancashire and Yorkshire, Scotland is being similarly treated. If the hon. Gentleman can give us a proportionate figure, if not an absolute figure, we shall be in a better position to judge whether we are being proportionately and fairly treated in this matter.
I now turn to some of the more basic features of Scottish industry and, of course, in any such approach we inevitably turn to steel, which at present is our basic worry, as the Report itself shows. The Report sets out the essence of the problem very distinctly. On page 31, in paragraph 142, it says:The production of steel in Scotland was 13 per cent. less in 1951 than in 1950, compared with a decline of less than 4 per cent. in Great Britain as a whole.I understand that the hon. Gentleman who will reply had some remarks to offer to another Committee on the subject, but he will note that the annual production 1951 is down compared with the previous year. Moreover, he will note that it is down disproportionately to the general contraction in Great Britain. The contraction is 13 per cent. in Scotland, which is rather more than three times the average contraction for the whole of the country.
I am told that, apart from the absolute shortage of steel, Scotland is also comparatively short of steel when comparison is made with the available supplies for the rest of the country. In other words, Scotland is not getting its fair proportion. That must be an immediate Governmental responsibility. We are very glad indeed to see that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Supply, whose worries and occupations we all understand, has done the Committee the courtesy of being here. The task of seeing that there is a just distribution is apart altogether from the overall question of production. That is plainly a governmental responsibility.
I am told that this comparatively unfair distribution is primarily due to faults in relation to the system of priorities. I am told that the priorities do not command, as they were designed to do. I have some quotations on the subject. There has been a good deal of correspondence. I should like to quote remarks by Lord Bilsland which were reported in the "Glasgow Herald" in March. At a 1534 meeting of the Scottish Council, Lord Bilsland said:…that, on the evidence available from major engineering concerns in Scotland, they believed that the total number of licences issued in the United Kingdom exceeded the productive capacity of the steelmaking industry. The situation was aggravated by the fact that the output of the Scottish steelmakers had been reduced to a greater extent than that of the steelmakers in the South by the very large fall in scrap imports.I shall come to the second point in a minute.
I made inquiries of the Scottish Council last week and I was told that, on the evidence available to them, that situation has not yet been repaired. I hope that the Minister will be able to assure us that the allocations will be physically met with steel and also that the Scottish consumer will be given a reasonable allocation from the available supplies.
The absolute shortage is due to the fact that the Scottish steel industry has been more dependent upon scrap than has the industry in the South, and, in consequence, it has been short of the blast furnace potential to deal with the ore, if the ore were available, to maintain our figure at its previous level. I am told, too, that there is no likelihood of the scrap again becoming available in the proportions that we enjoyed before 1950. I should think that is a fairly reasonable assumption, since that great flow of scrap depended upon the Japanese and other markets which no longer make that surplus available.
If we are to meet this unbalance in the Scottish steel industry, it is plain that what is needed is an increase in our blast furnace capacity. I am not an expert in this subject but, again, there has been a good deal of correspondence about it and there has been a Committee on the subject. I am told that the experts agree that what is needed are four additional modern blast furnaces. I know it is planned that one of these should be installed by the Colville group, but that will still leave Scotland needing three modern blast furnaces in addition to the Colville one, two to be in operation and one as a standby, the weekly capacity being about 4,000 tons.
After the information which the Leader of the House gave us immediately after Question time, the outlook is a little better, because the Government's 1535 intention to proceed with the de-nationalisation of steel is not quite as plain as it was before, and I am sure the whole Committee will hope that the Government will add wisdom to discretion and abandon the proposition altogether. [Interruption.] Does the hon. Gentleman wish to say something?
§ Mr. C. N. Thornton-Kemsley (Angus, North and Mearns)
I merely dissented from the right hon. Gentleman's hope that the whole Committee agreed with him, for it certainly does not.
I am glad that the hon. Member is expressing a voice upon the subject. I believe the Committee will agree that this is a reasonable proposition. If the Government are determined, despite the fact that they have no mandate so to do, to restore the steel industry to private hands, I am certain the people of Scotland will expect an undertaking from the Government—the Committee will hope to get it from the hon. Gentleman who is to reply—that, before such a radical step is taken, an assurance will be exacted from the private industry in Scotland that this additional blast furnace capacity will be made available.
We have seen developing this year a situation affecting almost every sector of the Scottish economy. As long as there is a Governmental responsibility for the development as well as the operation of the steel industry, we can be reasonably assured that this minimum additional capacity will be made available. In Scotland we have not been quite as fortunate as they have been in Wales. We were hoping when we were in office that we should see a comparable development in Scotland and in the rest of Great Britain. However, if the Government are determined in this rash fashion to part with that control, I repeat that the Committee will expect, and the people of Scotland will eventually demand, an assurance that the additional capacity is safeguarded.
There are two allied problems. One is that of berthing and discharging facilities if we are to raise the capacity of the blast furnace sector of the industry in Scotland. At present the only large mineral depot on the River Clyde is that at Faslane Dock, which has a capacity to handle roughly 1 million tons of ore per annum If we get the additional blast furnace 1536 capacity, the berthing and discharging capacity will have eventually to rise to about 2,500,000 tons annually. I understand that there have been negotiations between the ironmasters, the Clyde Navigation Trust, and, of course, British Railways. These negotiations are well developed to provide additional modern discharging facilities.
If the Government are going to match their rashness about steel with a comparable rashness in relation to transport—and we now have a Bill before the House—the Committee are entitled to expect an undertaking from the Joint Under-Secretary of State, on behalf of the Government, that the fulfilment of the results of these negotiations will not be prejudiced by such intentions as the Government have towards our Docks and Inland Waterways Executive or towards the British Railways structure. If the Government are going to dismantle the Docks and Inland Waterways Executive and if they are going to dismantle the structure of the railways, I do not know how the hon. Gentleman would set about ensuring that these additional facilities now agreed upon would be proceeded with. But it is a reasonable and modest request that the Committee should be so assured.
On this point I should like to say finally that the Committee will not be divided upon the necessity to give such a scheme—for blast furnace capacity and additional berthage—a high priority both physically and from the Treasury point of view. If it were to be judged primarily or solely upon defence claims, it would have a very high priority, and if we add to that the economic claims of Scotland the Government should have no difficulty in persuading the Treasury, the Ministry of Supply and the Board of Trade that blast furnace capacity should be quickly created and should be matched by the necessary additions in discharging and handling capacities.
Naturally, as I have already stated, this comparative shortage of steel has affected all our heavy industry and has inevitably affected shipbuilding and marine engineering to some degree. The figures are given in paragraph 151 of the Report on Industry and Employment in Scotland, 1951. The Report states:Owing to the difficulty of obtaining adequate and balanced supplies of steel, particularly during the second half of 1951, the output 1537 of new merchant tonnage throughout the United Kingdom was somewhat less than had been hoped. Scottish yards completed 490,943 gross tons of new merchant ships,…That is a very impressive performance, but still only 36.5 per cent. of United Kingdom output, compared with 534,375 gross tons, or 39 per cent., of United Kingdom output in the previous year, 1950.
Unless the Minister of Supply is able to help us out immediately in steel, and unless this additional capacity is made available quite quickly, then, of course, however heavily the yards are booked—and we are all happy to know that the yards and marine shops are very heavily committed indeed—they will not match previous performance and will be in danger of losing orders.
There are two other matters upon which I should like to comment. Some developments in shipbuilding which affect the Clyde are by now pretty obvious. There is, for example, the development towards the bigger tanker. The tanker which has a capacity of 32,000 or 32,500 tons has a very broad beam indeed, the kind of beam which we on Clydeside used to think would emerge as the feature of an aircraft carrier, and that is already placing certain difficulties in the way of the river.
I am not able to say so emphatically, although I have reasonable industrial support, but there will develop probably quite quickly a limit in fitting-out and overhauling capacity on the River Clyde for this type of ship. Also, quite plainly, there will be a deficiency in dry-docking facilities for this type of vessel. There are none on the River Clyde and we have to go to the other coast; and then only by the courtesy of the Admiralty can that deficiency be overtaken.
This great development, in relation to the whole development of discharging facilities, of the building up of this great nexus of the oil industry and ancillary chemical industries at Grangemouth is of incomparable importance to our country. If we cannot match it with basin and dry-docking facilities, quite plainly it will not suffer immediately, but it must be a matter of some worry. Certainly if we have the misfortune to be involved in war, both of these features would be a very great worry indeed.
In my division we are used to the Admiralty's ability to improvise, and they 1538 depend very greatly on the ability of Clydeside people to improvise against such emergency. Nobody will quarrel with the Admiralty in the role of fighters, and no one under-estimates the Government's difficulty in finding capital at this date. But at least I hope that we shall have a survey made and that, without security risks, information will be published eventually upon basin and dry-dock capacity in relation to these bigger ships on the river. I do not think I have any right to expect the Joint Under-Secretary to give me an undertaking off-hand on such a subject, but I hope he will be able to promise us that he will look kindly upon the need for such examination.
There are two other long-term considerations to which I should like to refer and which, in principle, I should like to develop to some length if I were not already aware that I am boring the Committee. The two other long-term considerations which worry me, as they must worry hon. Members in all parts of the Committee, are these: What are the prospects of additional industry for Scotland and what industries should we seek; and secondly, how well are we geared or machined to ensure that we make the best use of such possibilities?
Despite our successes in the war years and later, in which many people shared, there are some gaps quite plainly discernible in our new structure in Scotland. For example, one about which many people have been worried and are talking, about which I remember my right hon. Friend displayed concern, is the lack of industrial development in East Fife and the Lothians. That must take place if we are to have the necessary head of mining manpower available in these two districts.
These are the two great developments in our country, and if they do not come off a tremendous slice will drop off from Scottish production. They must come off, but we cannot expect the miner to go there, and certainly not to stay there, unless there are other industries available for the other members of his family. I am not going to accuse the Government of exclusive responsibility for that failure. I should prefer to say that it is one of the things on which I felt I failed when I occupied the right hon. Gentleman's office. It is a problem which all Scotland will have to face, and to which we must 1539 find quick answers if we are to escape something like disaster.
The questions about the new types of industry are wide and yet obvious. What we want to know is: Are we securing the type of industry most appropriate for Scotland, the type of industry most likely to succeed in Scotland, and the type of industry most likely to enable Scotland to make the maximum contribution, not only to Scottish development, but to British resources and British wealth?
For a time our country was so badly handled in the years between the wars that we were prepared to grab at any kind of industry. Our people were so glad to get work of any kind that scarcely any other consideration came into our minds. But now we are getting round to looking at the results of our grabbing, much of it happily being very satisfactory, and we are beginning to have a little time in which we can look ahead to our subsequent development.
Our worries and our ideas are not now the concern of any one party or class. We are all talking about them. I hope that many hon. Members have had the fortune to read what I thought was a most excellent lecture by Professor Cairncross of Glasgow University and Professor Meier of Chicago University upon new industries and economic development in Scotland. I shall not attempt to summarise it for the Committee, although I am very tempted to do so. They look at the failure of Scotland to hold on to the old industries, such as the airways and automobile industries, and they come to conclusions about why we failed to hold on to them.
They are quite certain that it was that failure to hold on which was more responsible for our comparative failure in economic development than any absence of resources. They go on to look at the new available industries, such as chemicals, plastics, synthetic fabrics, industrial microbiology, and so on, giving a list of those which they think have an application to Scotland. Then they look at the chances of holding these, and there are just two quotations which I should like to give, after which I shall not bother the Committee further. They come to two conclusions and say:Both in terms of design, staff and of production capacity, precision engineering is inadequate in Scotland to meet the needs of the 1540 engineering industry as a whole and this deficiency acts as a brake on electronic and similar types of development …To take full advantage of technical progress, a firm must contribute to it; without itself engaging in research, it can hardly keep abreast of changes in technique, much less outstrip its competitors. For this reason, the possibilities that have been reviewed above can be realised only by firms that set out to make the fullest use of scientific knowledge, and have a staff competent not only to use, but to add to, that knowledge.That is pretty sharp medicine for us in Scotland, but I am certain that it is an appropriate draught.
The saddest and most expensive of our exports has been the continuous exporting of our fine technicians, of our scientific and research workers. Why we have not held them is a long story, but we have not done so. The corollary is that if we are to develop an appropriate pattern of new industry in Scotland—and the responsibility rests not only with the Government or industry, but with all of us—we must ensure that there are sufficient openings for technical education; we must ensure that there is a closer development between these technical education institutions and industry; and we must ensure that there are teams or staffs built up for research and design in these new industries.
There is the allied question—and I promise the Committee that after this shall proceed no further—of whether, as Professor Cairncross and Professor Meier say, we have the administrative staff to develop what they call an industrial strategy about what industries we want and what assistance we should give to develop what has already taken place internally. I confess that when I was in the right hon. Gentleman's shoes this was a problem that worried me a great deal, and I never felt I had managed to get to grips with the subject. I felt that if I had had five years in that office I might have done. I expect the right hon. Gentleman is already sharing comparable regrets because, through no fault of his own, he will not be there all that time either; this Government will have gone long before that.
It is a very hefty problem. We have available a great diversity of organisation. We have the Scottish Council, to whom I have repeatedly paid tribute publicly, and to whom I want now again to pay tribute, for their part in this development. Then there is the Board of Trade regional office, about which I 1541 am not so enthusiastic. I am not here criticising the personnel; I am merely saying that it is very difficult to ascertain the precise functions of that regional office, and much more difficult to understand what are their powers, if indeed they have any.
There is also the Council of Industry, which does a splendid job in patching up and sorting out various messes as they occur industrially. There is the Scots T.U.C., which I do not think is fully employed in relation to this task. There are also the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, and I sometimes doubt whether they are fully employed on that same task.
There is, of course, the grossly overworked wing of the Home Department of the Scottish Office, which has to try to achieve co-ordination and sometimes has to jump in at the deep end, not very certain as to what its powers are but, I am glad to say, very determined in its anxiety to put things right.
I should not wish to overload what I suspect is the sometimes overloaded Scottish Office with additional work, and I should certainly be very chary of doing anything to destroy the tradition and technique which the Scottish Development Council have built up in this task of securing new industry for Scotland. I am fairly certain, however, that we are getting near to the point where more responsibility and more direction will have to be merged in some central organisation. I do not think that anyone but the Government can do the job.
I do not know whether it should be done in the Scottish Office. I do not know whether the answer is not to provide some other organisation, having a very close connection with the Government and in this respect with the Scottish Office. I think we shall have to find an answer of that kind if we are going to develop an industrial pattern in relation to the seizing of appropriate new industries and extending those new industries which are already established.
There is in our country at the present time a great vitality and a great opportunity for us to re-establish ourselves if we have responsible direction and if we have an efficient and tidy instrument for the purpose. I hope that that vitality will not be dissipated in nostalgic squabbles. 1542 We once had a reputation for being exceedingly good at metaphysics and theology. I shall not be so rash as to suggest that all our problems will solve themselves in material terms alone, but I believe that this vitality, energy and determination should be canalised to meet Scottish industrial problems. I believe they can be and I believe that the Government cannot escape the obligation to give leadership and to provide such facilities.
I repeat that I was not able to do it in the short time I was in office, and in this one regard I shall not be over-critical of the Government if they do not produce an answer in six or 12 months. I shall not be so benevolent about other things to which I and my right hon. and hon. Friends intend to refer.
May I plead with the Joint Under-Secretary of State to say a little more than is said in his Report about my dearly beloved peat, reference to which appears I think, on page 52.
Peat. The hon. Member may be sure that I shall never claim his herring for myself, although the hon. Member knows little about kippers and less about their cooking. But that is by the way. In his Report the right hon. Gentleman gives a good account of this development, but I am impatient and I scarcely apologise for my impatience. This is a great opportunity, but perhaps many of us have exaggerated hopes on the subject.
Research is a funny business and takes its own pace if the scientists and engineers are left to look after it. If the right hon. Gentleman and his many hon. Friends between them would do a little kicking on this subject, the Committee would be indebted. If the Joint Under-Secretary of State would tell us a little more about the matter at this stage, I should be very grateful.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Henderson Stewart)
I should like to congratulate the right hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) upon the broad and pleasing manner in which he has introduced this subject. No one could complain that at any point he chose to make unnecessary party capital 1543 out of the situation. We do not object to his taking such credit as he thinks is his due for the good things that happened from the end of the war until he was, happily, removed from office a short time ago. The right hon. Gentleman is entitled to all his share of the credit, especially when he is so generous—and I was delighted to hear it—about the work that was done and the assistance that was given to him by the Scottish Council and the many other bodies, which are examples of the voluntary co-operative enterprise that we have in Scotland today.
I shall try to deal with the points which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned in their order. But perhaps I should begin by reminding the Committee that this is the sixth White Paper we have had on industry and employment in Scotland, and the first since the present Government took office. Previous White Papers were debated on the Floor of the House in 1948 and in the Scottish Grand Committee in 1949 and 1950. These White Papers are a well-established method of examining the general situation in our country.
It is a sort of annual stocktaking which all of us enjoy and which it is our duty to undertake. Many of the specific subjects mentioned in the Report, as the right hon. Gentleman realises, have already been discussed by the Scottish Grand Committee within recent weeks. We have had the questions of the Highlands, hydro-electricity, fisheries, agriculture, education and housing discussed already. I do not think that the Committee would expect me to go over those subjects again, although of course we are always ready to answer any questions which are raised about them.
This is a chance to review the whole field. The White Paper is a factual document. It would never do for it to be anything else but a factual document, and I hope it will remain one. It is not the place for putting over party views and policies. It does not attempt to forecast. The right hon. Gentleman finished by searching into the future, and I agree with him about the desirability of doing so, but that is not to be found in the White Paper. It does, however, describe events that are happening.
1544 Scottish Members are concerned primarily with the welfare of Scotland, just as Scottish public opinion is concerned to see that Scotland receives fair treatment within the limits of available resources, and looks to Scottish Ministers to see that Scottish interests are safeguarded. I think it will be agreed in this Committee—although not always outside—and by all responsible persons that the economic destinies of Scotland simply cannot be divorced from those of the United Kingdom as a whole, and that the economic development of Scotland must be seen against the broader background of the common task confronting us and our friends south of the Border of making ourselves solvent and able to defend our British way of life. What matters most is that the contribution which Scotland makes is that which fits in with that of the other partners in this United Kingdom, so that we all gain thereby.
I was very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for doing me the courtesy of advising me of some of the points which he intended to raise. I hope I shall be able to respond by giving some of the information for which he asked.
There was an improvement in the industrial life of Scotland after the war. New industries were introduced and a variation of industries was brought about. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman would not claim that that was just something that happened after the war. The truth is that that improvement and the variation of the types of industry began long before the war. The Scottish Development Council was set up in the early 1930's for that precise purpose. I was in at the very beginning of it. I have an almost parental feeling about it, and I am glad that that body has grown up to be such a considerable institution, after doing so much in Scotland in association with different Governments.
When the right hon. Gentleman suggests that, in the short time that we have been responsible for Scotland, we have deliberately created unemployment and destroyed the heaven upon earth that he and his hon. friends created, we must part company, temporarily only, I hope, with the right hon. Gentleman. To blame us, as he seemed to do, for the closing of the Australian market was the last straw.
I did not blame the Government, but it was a straw which does show which way the wind blows.
§ Mr. Stewart
Even there, the right hon. Gentleman, like some of his hon. Friends, is quite clearly of the belief that it is the raising of the Bank rate that is causing all the trouble.
§ Mr. Stewart
Well, a large part of the trouble. In the last Scottish housing debate it was made a major point by the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that my right hon. Friend had run away from the point and had refused to explain it properly. Let me try to explain it. I shall do so with some diffidence, as I do not regard myself as a great expert in these matters. I have fortified myself with the views of the experts of the Treasury.
The raising of the Bank rate is only one of a complex of measures taken by the Government to restore—not to destroy—our economic position and in particular to contribute towards a solution of the problem of the balance of payments. These steps are aimed at relieving pressure upon our internal resources, thus making it easier to transfer reserves from satisfying domestic demands to satisfying the need of exports. Increased restrictions on foreign borrowing have been imposed, with an immediate impact upon our balance of payments.
The Committee may like to know what has been the result so far as we are aware, of the raising of the Bank rate at home and abroad. If we can all feel reasonably satisfied that it has done good, it will be some relief, but the full effect had not yet been seen, and will not be seen for some time to come.
It is quite clear that abroad the results have been immediate and most striking. In particular, the raising of the Bank rate to 4 per cent. in March resulted in an immediate improvement of foreign confidence in sterling. We have all benefited, and Scottish trade has benefited from it. There are very few families in the country who do not benefit by the strengthening of the position of sterling abroad.
The internal effects are necessarily slower to show themselves, but it is already clear that the new monetary policy has had a great effect upon borrowers and lenders. The combined effect 1546 has been to produce the first reductions in commercial bank advances for many years. There is evidence that the increase of activity in various branches of trade and industry is helping to increase productivity and to transfer resources to places where they are most needed.
In the time of the last Government, was it not a constantly repeated assertion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that our resources were being swallowed up in the wrong places and that something had to be done to remove those resources to spheres where they would best serve the nation? The purpose of raising the Bank rate was to make that change possible. I assure hon. Members that that was one of the purposes, and it has had an effect. Though we cannot claim that this policy has proved a complete success internally, it has proved an immediate and powerful asset to us abroad and I am quite convinced that in due course its beneficial effects will become apparent.
The right hon. Gentleman started to talk about industrial development. We are in a situation where we require to conserve our industrial resources. We cannot go on building this and that. We have to choose. Despite this situation, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, more than 2½ million square feet of factory space were completed in 1951. I am returning him the compliment by saying that at the end of the year the total amount of factory space under construction was 1½ million square feet more than a year earlier.
The right hon. Gentleman asked what we were doing. In the first quarter of this year the figures have increased still further. The Bank rate does not seem to have interfered with them. At the end of March, 1952, the amount under construction was more than 7½ million square feet. That is a substantial piece of work that is going on in Scotland now.
§ Mr. Stewart
One important new firm have come to Scotland in that time—Glaxo—and acquired premises at Montrose. Another company, Metropolitan Vickers, already having a factory at Motherwell, are taking another Government factory at Germiston in Glasgow 1547 in order to make heavy electrical equipment. There is still another large project in which there has been much interest—International Business Machines at Greenock—with which the right hon. Gentleman is no doubt familiar. The project has been finally approved, and will be proceeded with as soon as steel is available.
The hon. Gentleman has said that I know something about this project. I had a little to do with bringing it into being.
§ Mr. Stewart
I was merely being polite to the right hon. Gentleman in Parliamentary language. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman will understand.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
Will the hon. Gentleman tell us something about the factory that did not materialise at Kilbride and which is not going to be built?
§ Mr. Stewart
I expect the hon. Gentleman knows as much about it as I do. It was hoped that an American firm would establish a factory there, but, for reasons which appealed to them from their own point of view, they decided to move somewhere else and to abandon the proposition. I have heard the suggestion that the Government were to blame for that. I know a little about the matter and I can assure hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the Committee that there is no substance in that suggestion.
If I might express a personal view, it is that we need not break our hearts about it. I say that advisedly, because there are great agricultural machinery firms in Scotland, created by Scotsmen and run by Scotsmen. I know a little about this industry, too, because I was in it until the other day, and I know that it is able to cope with all the advances that the industry may be called upon to make. I do not break my heart over this and I do not think any of us should.
I am sure the hon. Gentleman does not want to give the Committee or any part of Scotland any impression otherwise than that he is greatly distressed at the loss of valuable prospects to the workers of Scotland through the inability or unwillingness of 1548 the Government to facilitate that firm's arrival.
§ Mr. Stewart
The right hon. Gentleman must not say that the Government were responsibile. It was the decision of the firm itself.
§ Mr. Stewart
I do not know why the firm reached that conclusion, but it was their responsibility.
May I turn to employment? During 1951 the first signs were already discernible of the difficulties which led to an increase in unemployment towards the end of the year and during the early months of 1952. The trouble started last year. As the right hon. Gentleman told us, steel production fell by 13 per cent. compared with 1950. Clothing output declined last year. These factors, together with the normal seasonal rise in unemployment, were largely responsible for the figure of 75,000 unemployed in February this year. This compares with 70,000 in January, 1951, and 72,000 in March, 1950.
§ Mr. Stewart
I think that is a fair comment. I am not trying to make any point, but simply trying to tell the Committee how the figures have moved. Between February and May of this year the numbers fell to 66,000. There has been an increase in the number of women unemployed, and that has led to the figure rising to 68,500 on 16th June, which is the latest figure.
There has been criticism of those figures on the ground that they do not reflect the number of people on short time. It is a difficult matter. In fact, the June figure includes 13,200 persons who were temporarily stopped on the Monday on which the count was taken and, in addition, it is estimated that there were about 9,600 persons in June who were on short time but who were working 1549 on the Monday. This increase in unemployment must be seen in its proper perspective against the whole background of Scottish industry. The figure of 68,500, which is the most recent figure, represents 3.2 per cent. of the total insured population.
§ Mr. Stewart
I will give way when I have finished the sentence. This figure of 3.2 per cent. compares with 2.1 per cent. for Great Britain and is lower than—and this is an interesting figure—the figure of 4.9 per cent. for the northwestern region of England.
§ Mr. Stewart
I will read this again. If I am wrong, the right hon. Member for Greenock will correct me. I said that, in fact, the June figure includes 13,200 persons who were temporarily stopped on the Monday on which the count was made. In addition, I said, it is estimated that there were about 9,600 persons in June who were on short time but who were working on the Monday. This increase in unemployment must be seen against its proper background, as I have said. The figure which I gave for the North-West of England is an interesting comparison.
The rise in unemployment has taken place largely in the textile industries, as the right hon. Gentleman said, and includes an increase in the jute industry. There is reason to hope that some improvement in that industry may be looked for, but I do not disguise the fact that the jute position gives one some anxiety. I think the Committee knows pretty well what the trouble is. There are various troubles, but the chief of them is that the price of jute has been falling—and the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) is an expert on this—in India and Pakistan.
The Government have been lowering the prices, which I am sure is in everybody's interest, and the total price, therefore, has been declining rapidly. There may 1550 be another fall in a day or two's time. Those who buy in stock have naturally been holding back. The industries dealing with carpets and linoleum and those other great buyers have been holding back week after week and are still holding back. I confess to the Committee that until we reach what is recognised in the trade as a rock bottom price, we cannot be too happy, but from all the evidence which we have, it appears—and I put it no higher—that there is some prospect of improvement.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
Would the hon. Gentleman agree that it is very important that the jute industry should feel assured that, as and when the price of raw jute falls, as he has just described, the Jute Control, from the Government end here, lower the price to the industry without there being an interval, because last winter there was such an interval? I do not say that it was the major cause of the difficulties, but I think it was an important cause, and I hope the hon. Gentleman can assure us that that difficulty will be avoided.
§ Mr. Stewart
I take the right hon. Gentleman's point and I think we are fully alive to it. Indeed, I think he will see in the action taken in the very near future that we have met the point. Although those difficulties exist—and I do not seek to disguise them from the Committee—the picture is not all black by any means. Over most of the field of Scottish industry, employment has been very well maintained. In engineering there is still a large unsatisfied demand for skilled labour, and if this could be met by up-grading, by dilution, by training and so on, the industry would be able to take on greatly increased numbers of semi-skilled workers.
Recruiting for the large Rolls-Royce factory has not yet begun extensively, and it is not expected to do so for several months to come. The recruitment of unskilled workers for training in coal mining, I am glad to say, has continued at a high level, and on 28th June there were over 85,000 persons on the colliery books, an increase of 3,020 since 1st January. I am very happy personally to be able to give the Committee those figures.
The Government are watching the unemployment situation very closely, and on Monday the Minister of State had a 1551 meeting in Edinburgh with the Scottish Council and the Scottish Controllers of the Great Britain Departments, when the whole position was very closely examined. I am coming to the right hon. Gentleman's ultimate point. As hon. Members will have seen the White Paper describes the steep rise in wool prices in the early part of 1951 and the subsequent fall of those wool prices which, in their turn, led to a recession in demand for clothing—this is last year—with an adverse effect both on the spinning and weaving sections of the industry.
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will recollect that in the spinning and weaving sections of the industry there was in his time, last year, the beginning of something of the order of a slump. As hon. Gentlemen will have noticed, several factories were on short time last year—it is mentioned in the Report—and some had actually to close last year. Now in Scotland the present recession—I am talking now about textiles—though it is hard to bear in certain areas—and I am not uninterested, because linen factories in East Fife, though not yet unemployed, are a little anxious—has, I understand, been less severe than elsewhere. Unemployment in all Scottish textile industries on 16th June amounted to 10,724 persons, or rather less than 0.6 per cent. of the total Scottist insured population.
Scotland has, nevertheless, received substantial contracts—
§ Mr. Stewart
I will repeat what I said. Unemployment in all the textile industries amounted on 16th June to 10,724 persons.
§ Mr. Stewart
Yes, I think it is other than jute. We can have that checked up, and I will let the hon. Member know.
1552 Scotland has received substantial contracts under the schemes for accelerating Government orders for the defence programme which the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 7th April, and more will be forthcoming. For example, it has been decided that of orders for £750,000 worth of light linen canvas half shall be allocated to Scotland and half to Northern Ireland; which is not a bad proportion. Other orders remain to be placed for hosiery goods and making-up items, and Scottish firms will certainly have a share of those.
§ Mr. Thomas Hubbard (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that already the Government have placed contracts with Northern Ireland that cannot be undertaken, while at the same time there are many textile factories in Scotland bursting for such orders? Will he look into that point?
§ Mr. Stewart
Yes. As the hon. Gentleman will expect to hear, I am aware of that. Due representations are being made. I think that the hon. Member and others of us from the Fife region will be relieved a little in the near future. I hope so.
Now we come to steel, to which the right hon. Gentleman, naturally, paid a good deal of attention; and he asked me what we had to announce about it, and what assurances we could give about it, and so on. Well, I will tell him. During the last few months there have been great anxieties in Scotland, as he knows, on the subject of steel for Scottish industry.
We have to understand that the Scottish steelmakers rely to a large extent on scrap, much of which is imported, and the supplies of which have declined very considerably. The result of that has been that the output of the Scottish steel works has also declined, and Scottish consumers have experienced difficulties in obtaining their full requirements. My right hon. Friend was very soon made aware of the position by representations by the Scottish Council and a multitude of other bodies, and he at once took up the matter with the Minister of Supply. I am talking about the time when we took over—right at the start.
As a result, Scottish steel factories are now receiving over half the scrap imported into the United Kingdom—half the total scrap; that is to say, double the proportion which they received last year; and in the first six months of this 1553 year they received approximately the same tonnage as they received during the whole of last year. I think the Committee will agree that that is a substantial improvement. Scottish steel mills are also being given a substantial share of finished ingot steel received from America, and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Gentlemen will be especially interested in that. Following up this increased flow of raw materials Scottish proved steel production rose in June by 1,000 tons a week over the May rate, and it is anticipated that a further similar increase will be achieved in July. That, I feel, will be encouraging, welcome news for the Scottish people.
These, however—the right hon. Gentleman was quite right—are temporary expedients. The long-term solution of the problem is, of course, to reduce the dependence of Scottish steel works on imported scrap. That is a point the right hon. Gentleman made. We agree with him. With this in view schemes have been set on foot to expand pig iron production in Scotland. The blast furnace plants of the Clyde steel works have been improved and extended, and a third large furnace was put into operation in 1947, and an early start is to be made on the installation of a fourth blast furnace the equipment for which has now been ordered—has been within the last few weeks—at a cost of £2,500,000.
To accompany this development a new battery of coke ovens is expected to be begun in December at a cost of about £2 million. This new blast furnace of which I have spoken will be the biggest in the United Kingdom, and will have an output of 350,000 tons of pig iron a year—which is quite as it ought to be, considering the long and distinguished record of the Scottish steel makers. Work has already started at the Clyde steel works, and approval has been given to proposals for the modernisation of the blast furnace ancilary plant at Gartsherrie to enable production there to be expanded.
Now I come to the right hon. Gentleman's point that if we increase all that work we shall need ore, we shall need more shipping, we shall need more transport. Right. These schemes, while increasing Scottish pig iron production, will necessitate the handling of greatly increased quantities of imported iron ore. 1554 As the right hon. Gentleman anticipated, discussions are proceeding between the Scottish steel interests and the appropriate public transport authorities in regard to the provision of additional docking facilities to accommodate the new large ore carrying vessels that will be in service in a year or two.
The right hon. Gentleman said that if we were going to be rash enough to denationalise steel we ought to get some assurance from the private steel enterprises that they will provide the necessary output. I think we have got it. I think that is testimony to the progress being made. Not that we can be complacent or think that this is enough. I am only intimating to the Committee that Scotland is not laggard in this matter, and that we are doing very well. The right hon. Gentleman also said that if we were rash enough to denationalise transport we should have to make sure that proper services would be available. I can tell him that steps are now being taken to cover that very point.
Yes. I am not sure that I am being very fair to the hon. Gentleman, and I apologise if I am not, but I know, as he knows, that these conversations on both sides have gone on very well with the publicly owned undertakings, and my worry and the worry, I am sure, of the Committee is, can he be certain that before the Government part with their assets, for whatever reasons may seem attractive to the Government, they will be given undertakings that all these processes will not be disturbed?
§ Mr. Stewart
I understand that point. We have, of course, thought about it. I think I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that we feel satisfied that that assurance can be given. I am not standing here to make that undertaking, because I am not in a position to do so, but I can say that we do not forsee any dangers or difficulties, and that we can proceed with this change of transport policy without any danger to the steel prospects of Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman may not agree with me; but I am telling him what we think.
There is one other point—on shipbuilding. The steel shortage is affecting shipbuilding too. The Committee will have seen the figures in the latest report. In the early part of this year—to the end of May—the total amount of merchant 1555 shipping on order rose by over 100,000 gross tons. The work now in hand and on order should keep most Scottish shipyards fully employed for three or four years. There has been a welcome increase in the number of passenger, passenger-cargo and dry cargo vessels being ordered.
I can assure the Committee that the shipyards of Scotland are getting a very substantial share of re-armament orders. I am glad that some of the little yards in our fishing areas are sharing in that work, although personally I do not think there are as many orders for East Fife as I would like. I understand the right hon. Gentleman's point about the need for a dry dock and the need also for larger accommodation to take these new tankers. However, 32,000 tons is an exceptionally large tanker.
I do not agree. I know that the representative of the Admiralty is here, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that 32,000 tons is no longer an unusual size for a tanker.
§ Mr. Stewart
What the right hon. Gentleman said was that some part of the Clyde—perhaps it is Greenock—cannot accommodate a 32,000 ton tanker. I am not aware that nowhere on the Clyde can a tanker of such a size be accommodated, but if the right hon. Gentleman has a case to put with respect to a certain part of the Clyde, then that is a special issue, and I do not think he would like me to deal with it now.
The right hon. Gentleman made some representations about dry docks. It may be suggested that dry docks on the Clyde are inadequate. It is true that compared with the Clyde's large shipbuilding capacity the dry dock facilities are less than might be expected, but this is the result of the growth of the industry over many years. The right hon. Gentleman's suggestion will, I am sure, be before the Clyde Trust now, and no doubt they will be examining it very carefully.
The right hon. Gentleman finished on a note of inquiry and of imagination. He was searching for the answer to Scotland's long-term future. I was fascinated by the picture he drew, because I share his curiosity and excitement about these matters: He asked: What is our future, what new industries should we seek to 1556 get, what sort of technical staff should we establish, what is our strategy? It is true that coal-mining areas such as East Fife—I speak of territory that I know—have this problem, that while miners may pour into these districts there are not the industries to employ their sons and daughters, and sometimes those miners go back to the areas from which they came. I know that problem. It may be that we can do something about it. I should certainly like to be able to do something about it.
The Cairncross Report—not the one from which the right hon. Gentleman read but the one which was referred to in the papers yesterday—dealt with this matter of development of factories in other parts of Scotland. We have seen those recommendations and we have sent them to the other Government Departments and bodies interested. We have not yet formed conclusions. Many matters are involved. As hon. Members will no doubt have gathered, there are many implications involved and I am not yet in a position to say what we feel about those recommendations.
But I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to agree with me in this: in our search for new industries we must be careful that we do not neglect our traditional Scottish heavy industries. [An HON. MEMBER: "You cannot."] It is all very well saying "You cannot," but there are people in Scotland who are so keen on these new light industries that they would readily move supplies of scarce materials to new industries sometimes at the sacrifice of the old. I hope we shall not lose our sense of balance. Nevertheless, the right hon. Gentleman has raised matters of very great interest.
The part that higher technology can play is of immense importance to us. It will, no doubt, be of great interest to hon. Members to know what is happening now at the Ferranti works. The first stage of the scheme mentioned in the White Paper has been reached whereby the firm will act as a parent contractor to a number of small firms for research and development work on electronics.
The Committee will have noticed the very important statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer about higher technological education in the House the other day. I can assure the Committee that we are deeply conscious 1557 of the new age into which we are moving and of the almost indefinable part which technology is going to play. I respond readily to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman that this is something in which we might act together.
I have this last word to say in response to the right hon. Gentleman. There is and has been throughout the post-war years great confidence and bouyancy in Scotland—far more than I see in other parts of the country; it is due, I am sure—and I do not deny credit to Government agencies and officials—to this unique voluntary co-operative effort on the part of Scotsmen and women of all grades and classes—industrialists, bankers, trade unionists, and university professors all working together. It has served Scotland well, and I am sure that if we can continue with that spirit and ensure that it exists right down throughout the factories and so on, so that all of us, in whatever walk of life we may be, give of our best, there is no doubt about the future of our country.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ Mr. James H. Hoy (Leith)
I am not going so far as to say that the present situation was indeed alarming. It is almost so, however. The present figures of unemployment do cause us some perturbation in Scotland, and I do not think the Government should be under any misapprehension about that.
We used to be accused of using the inter-war years for the purposes of party propaganda, and indeed we would be quite dishonest if we did not say that as a party and as a people we detested those awful inter-war years when we had such paradoxes as a section of society known as the bright young things spending hundreds of thousands of pounds in frivolous amusement while thousands of our people in Scotland, as elsewhere, were suffering from malnutrition and in many cases semi-starvation.
I do not want to suggest for a moment that we are returning to those days, but we must face the possibility, and in case it should be said that it is only we in the Labour Party who say so, I would remind the Government Front Bench of an excerpt from the Report of the Committee on the Church and Nation to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland this year. It said: 1558The prolonged unemployment of the years of the great economic depression has left an indelible impression, and it is a welcome fact that intelligent men are resolved that as far as in them lies neither they nor their fellows shall be subject to such humiliation again.I think that is a job we have to tackle. I do not want to make any comment on what the Joint Under-Secretary had to say, but I think that he was a little too optimistic when he said that, although unemployment figures had tended to rise, over-all, the position was much better. That simply is not true.
The Ministry of Labour in their returns of 16th June, 1952—less than a month ago—show in the 24 principal industries an increase of unemployment in each one, except mining and the agricultural, forestry and fishing sections. Some of the increases do not amount to very much, but every one shows an increase, so there is that tendency from which we cannot escape, and that is the problem that confronts the country as a whole.
I do not want to be drawn into the argument which the Joint Under-Secretary also produced about dearer money and about the Housing Bill we discussed a day or two ago, because I think I might be out of order. I content myself by saying to the Joint Under-Secretary that, if the Bank rate had not gone up, and if we had not had to face up to dearer money, there would have been no necessity for the Government to introduce that Bill. We, on this side of the Committee, prefer the use of physical controls to financial controls, which bring great harm to large sections of the community, and which, as a consequence, will result in rising unemployment figures in this country. I do not think that we ought to under-estimate just what that action of the Chancellor of the Exchequer means.
§ Sir William Darling (Edinburgh, South)
If the hon. Gentleman will refer to the Report, he will learn that the restriction on bank credit was not initiated by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. It refers to both Chancellors of the Exchequer, and the bank credit was restricted not only in Scotland but elsewhere.
§ Mr. Hoy
I say in reply to the hon. Member that those are two different cases. Certainly, no Socialist Chancellor of the 1559 Exchequer asked that there should be an increase in the Bank rate and dearer money all round. It is true that some discrimination was asked for—I hope that the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South will show some discrimination this afternoon by doing me the courtesy of sitting and listening for a change.
This rapid growth in the unemployment figures gives us the second highest rate in the United Kingdom, and I think the Joint Under-Secretary rather underestimated the amount of concealed unemployment. The figures I had from the Ministry of Labour—I am glad to see the Minister here—and I do not doubt them for one moment, show that at June, 1952, in addition to the unemployed there were over 13,000 people recorded on the Monday on which the count was taken as being on short-time employment.
If we want to make the comparison of the total unemployment figure this year with that of last year complete, the Scottish Office must not overlook this fact, which is of fundamental importance, that the figure for unemployment last year in Scotland was 1,765 and the figure this year for the same section of unemployed is 13,166. That is a measure of the concealed unemployment, and no one can deny that these two sections put together mean that there is very much less purchasing power in Scotland at this moment than there was 12 months ago. That is bound to cause a worsening in the economic situation.
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling)—and I will not tempt him to rise, because I know that he does not require much temptation—knows that when there is a fall in the purchasing power of the people, the first places where it is reflected is in the retail shops of Edinburgh and elsewhere. Even that must mean a worsening of the situation. This is a problem which is causing us some concern.
Something has been said this afternoon about the Government's policy of dealing with new industries. I want to ask the Government one or two pointed questions about this problem. Do the Government really believe that the saturation point has been reached in regard to the new industrial estates? Do they now believe that we have built sufficient new factories 1560 in these areas? If there is a doubt in the minds of certain people about that in Scotland, there is every reason for it. While I would not dare intrude into constituencies represented by my hon. Friends, I would point out that two cases were raised with regard to East Kilbride by my hon. Friend the Member for Bothwell (Mr. Timmons) in the House yesterday, which rather strengthened the suspicion that the Government are not doing all that they might do to have these new factories built, and, what is equally important, to put to the best use the factories that are already there.
If there are other reasons, the Joint Under-Secretary of State should have let us know. If it means that some firm does not want to come, or a reasonable settlement cannot be reached, let the Government be bold enough to say so. I hope that the Secretary of State for Scotland, when he answers that question, will also be clear and implicit in his reply to the second question: as to why these firms were not encouraged; and I have no doubt that my hon. Friend the Member for Bothwell, if he catches the eye of the Chair, will have something to say on this matter. That suspicion is strengthened by the figures issued by the Ministry of Works.
The Joint Under-Secretary of State this afternoon repeated the figure contained in the Command White Paper. He said that at December, 1951, we had 7 million square feet of factory space under construction, compared with 5½ million square feet in the previous year. If that is true, why is it that—according to the Ministry of Works—while there were 8,800 people in Scotland engaged in the building of new factories, in 1950, the figure has fallen to 5,800 today? That really wants a bit of explaining.
The Scottish Office cannot come here and say, "We are in the process of building 1½ million square feet more than was being built a year ago, and we are at the same time employing 3,000 people fewer than were employed in 1950." If the Joint Under-Secretary thinks that that is not a very good comparison, let me say that the average monthly employment on new factories in Scotland in December, 1951, was 7,300, while at the latest date available, it dropped to 5,800, so that compared with December last year the figure has fallen by 1,500.
1561 Surely, if it means that we are going to have more factories, and if, according to the Command Paper, 57,000 more people could find employment in Scotland, then there should not be a diminution in the number of people employed, but an increase. That is something which the Secretary of State must answer this evening. It is true that there has been a change in the balance of employment because while housing in Scotland occupied 29,900 people in 1950, in 1951, despite the fact that less houses were produced, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) argued, greater preparation was going on and the figure rose to 31,600, and according to the figure at the latest available date it was 34,900.
§ Mr. Hoy
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South cannot argue that way. Really he has no argument about housing because, as far as he is concerned, he would pay no subsidies at all and the folk in Scotland would have to go without houses. It would be much better for him to keep out of the discussion. We remember his contribution on housing when he suggested that we should build shelters for the people of Scotland. They will not forget that one. However, I do not want to be diverted from my main argument by interruptions of that kind, even though I know that the hon. Gentleman has sat for five minutes without making an intervention, which in itself is a record which I think we ought to note.
The major change is in the building of hospitals or schools, and surely we are entitled to ask the Secretary of State if this is a deliberate change in policy. If it is, then let him say so. I think we must have some regard to the total number of people registered as building and contracting workers because when we take the figure of 150,000 into account that shows that there must be considerable numbers of building trade workers employed on other work.
I would point out to the Secretary of State that the position regarding the supply of more workers for the building of houses and new factories cannot be improved by the decision of the Ministry of Works, and approved by the Secretary of State for Scotland—or so I was informed by the Ministry of Works—to increase the amount of work that can be 1562 done in Scotland without a licence. It is no use the Joint Under-Secretary of State coming here and saying that there is no labour to do the job when his right hon. Friend is giving power to people to do a greater amount of private work without having to apply for a licence. That question has got to be solved, and if at the end of the year it turns out that the position has worsened I can assure the Secretary of State that we shall place the responsibility for that fairly and squarely on his shoulders.
It is not my intention to deal with the steel industry—there are many of my hon. Friends who are much more competent to do that—but one of the things I must point out is that the figures show how much England and Scotland rely on their trade in metal and engineering products. One has only to remind oneself of the fact that iron and steel manufactures, machinery and vehicles, and so on, accounted for, and do so even today, more than 50 per cent. of our export trade.
Lloyds Bank Review points out that the outstanding expansion is in vehicles, a group which covers shipping and aeroplanes, whose share of exports has gone up to 20 per cent. today compared with 9½ per cent. in 1938. How extremely important it is, in view of the decline in the export of engineering products and consumer goods, that we should nurture this part of our industry.
I think the Joint Under-Secretary of State was right to say that we should look after our heavy industries, but while I agree with that and agree that it is important that they should not get out of balance, we must take care not to repeat the mistake of the inter-war years by making our country totally reliant on those things which had the result that when the depression set in Scotland became one of the blackest areas of the country. Let us get new industry if it is at all possible.
Shipping is extremely important to Scotland and was responsible for £45 million of trade last year. I am sure my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenock will not mind if I say to him that in addition to the West of Scotland some shipbuilding goes on in the East of Scotland.
I am very sorry. There is a distinctive kind of shipbuilding on the 1563 East Coast to which I should have made reference. It is not massive like ours, but it is very distinctive and important shipbuilding.
§ Mr. Hoy
It is extremely important, and while I would not even at this stage try to introduce a constituency point, I would point out that I have a very large shipbuilding industry within my constituency. I do not really know why I have not introduced a constituency point this evening. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite smiles. I do not know why he should, except that he has just come into the Chamber. I suppose if one has just come in and hears the first point one is entitled to smile.
§ Mr. Hoy
No, I am not going to give way on this point. I should have thought that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would have been able to distinguish between himself and his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Angus (Captain Duncan), because he is a master of English and should know that if I had meant him I should have said the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and not the hon. and gallant Gentleman.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
All wanted to say was that I would not blame the hon. Gentleman for introducing a constituency point. We ought to introduce such points, and, if I am called, I certainly intend to do so.
§ Mr. Hoy
I had hoped this afternoon to take a much larger view. I am sorry that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is so parochial. I cannot understand the hon. Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) saying, "Hear, hear." She had the opportunity to do it this morning in Committee, but I could not even see her there.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I might say that I had the opportunity to catch the Chairman's eye in Committee on Tuesday, and 1564 I particularly sent a message saying that I could not be present this morning as I was on another Committee.
§ Mr. Hoy
I do not wish to say anything except that I was present on both occasions and did not attempt to catch the Chairman's eye. I do not know what has gone wrong with the Government. They are becoming very thin skinned specimens, and I hope that the Secretary of State, who I know is of much better calibre, will stand up to it.
One of the things on which we depend is the supply of steel. It is essential that we should get it at regular delivery dates. The same applies to components for the ships themselves. One of the things that increase the cost of the finished product is the waste of time while waiting for supplies to come forward. This particular shipyard in my own constituency has been asked to build a much larger type of ship than it has ever built before.
One of the difficulties has been its supply of steel because the allocation is assessed on past consumption. If it is to undertake this job, which is for export to one of our Colonies, then it is essential that these factors should be taken into consideration when the allocations are made. It is necessary, as I say, to make sure that the materials and components on which they are dependent from sub-contractors are delivered in time. That is the main responsibility of the Ministry of Supply and the Board of Trade, and I hope that these Departments will pay special attention to the problem which concerns Scotland.
My final point is on the subject of coal. In addition to the build-up of heavy and light industries in Scotland, we used to export considerable quantities of coal from ports in Scotland. In my own constituency over 2 million tons were concerned in the export trade in the years that have gone. Today it is about one-eighth of that. One can well understand how a dock or harbour board, which has expended a considerable amount of money in bringing its plant up to date and making its harbour an efficient unit, does not like to carry this burden for years.
If there is going to be an increase in the export of coal, we in Scotland should be given our share of it, and we can best cope with it if we hurry forward these developments in the Lothians and in 1565 Fife, which would help more quickly than anything I know to give back to Methil, the Fife ports and my own constituency that export trade which they had before the war. It would help to open up once more trade with the Baltic countries.
All these things can be done and can make their contribution to Scotland's economy. I hope I have said sufficient this afternoon not only of a critical but of a constructive nature to show that there are great possibilities in the future. When the Government come to reply to this debate I hope they will at least deal with those points which I have made, and which I belive will make some contribution to the future prosperity of our country.
§ 5.43 p.m.
§ Mr. R. Brooman-White (Rutherglen)
I hope the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy) will forgive me if I do not follow him closely in his argument, as I have waited a considerable time for an occasion to refer to one or two matters which I think are most essential for the industrial development and the maintenance of employment in Scotland and do not want to delay the Committee unduly long. I know that what I say will be received with that tolerance which is one of the most humane traditions of the House towards a maiden speech.
I do not want to go into the general economic argument which has been raised. The Joint Under-Secretary stressed the extent to which our economic difficulty in Scotland depends on the general economic position of the balance of payments, production, and all the rest of it. But, of course, there are certain aspects in which those general problems weigh particularly heavily on us in Scotland. Also we have certain problems of our own, and on these problems a great deal of information has been made available and is being made available both by the Government and the Scottish Council.
We have the recently-published Cairncross Report, and we are going to have a report about the sources of power available and their effect on industrial location, and in time no doubt we will have the Cato Report throwing light on this and other problems. We also have the annual reports on Industry and Employment in Scotland. I mention all these only because this weight of material 1566 is in itself a very clear illustration of the extent to which there are specifically Scottish industrial problems over and above those common to the United Kingdom as a whole.
I must confess it is surprising to a new Member, in looking back on previous editions of this annual review of Industry and Employment in Scotland in the archives of the House, to find that that for 1948 is filed in a volume under the general title "Colonies, Housing and Miscellaneous." Which is it? It is not housing. Miscellaneous seems a rather slighting way to refer to 40 per cent. of the shipbuilding of the Kingdom, most of the mining machines and the other things we produce. If it is Colonies, one would do best to remain silent and leave comment to our Nationalist friends. It is even more disturbing when one gets to 1949, because in that case the annual report is filed under "Colonies, Crime and Miscellaneous." But the binding is very handsome and the information very valuable—so perhaps it is ungracious to poke fun at the titles.
These are very wide problems, and I think one could divide them, like the geography of Gaul, into three main parts. There is the maintenance development of our heavy industries. There is the development and expansion of our light industries, which the hon. Member for Leith has rightly described as our second line of defence against slumps, unfavourable turns of world trade and other adversities. Thirdly, there is the problem of the extension of our industries to the Highlands and Islands and the developing mining areas. If I may, I should like as briefly as I can to say a word about each of these.
Of course, as has already been expressed during the debate, the main problem of our heavy industry, and much of our light industry, in present circumstances, is the problem of the supply of steel. I am sure everybody in this Committee will welcome the statement which has already been made. It shows to all of us that the Ministers in the Scottish Department are well aware of this problem, as are the officials and Ministers concerned in the Ministry of Supply, and also that their Sassenach colleagues have been paying due attention to the representations that have been 1567 made. It must be an extremely difficult problem to divide an essential commodity in short supply between various areas and claimants, but I hope that the people in other parts of the country will appreciate that though we in Scotland are only asking for our fair share, under present circumstances a fair share for Scotland means a very large share of the imported materials, scrap and ingots.
This need is going to continue for a considerable period. Reference has been made to the development programme; it will be a couple of years before the Scottish steel industry can develop sufficiently to get away from the traditional practices of the past and develop the ovens and capacity that will free us from the dangerous reliance on a high proportion of imported scrap. I am sure that the Government will give every facility in the supply of equipment necessary for this development to go ahead as rapidly as possible.
Meanwhile we shall have for a time to maintain a rather Oliver Twist attitude. It is not a question of greed, of asking for too much porridge or too much steel scrap, but for sufficient. We are only asking for what is necessary for Scottish health. It is most urgent, not only for the producers, but also for the consumers, who are inevitably tied very closely to local production.
We all know that our steel-consuming industries, engineering and others, must go out and win new markets. They can do so. They can break into dollar markets now if they have the supplies, but competition is increasing. If they can make contracts and establish contacts now, these may provide the foundation for continuing business in the future. But if they only get the steel at a later time the opportunities may by then largely be gone. Foreign competitors may have stepped in and taken the trade.
I am sure the Ministers concerned will watch carefully not only the question of the supply of raw materials for our industries using steel, but also where necessary the question of supplementing this with finished steel as an interim measure to help as much as they can in meeting our Scottish steel consuming needs.
I hope I shall not be too controversial in a maiden speech, or stray too 1568 widely, in saying one more thing about the future development of the steel industry. I say that only because it seems to me of such deep importance for the people who have sent me here to Westminster and for the whole of Scotland.
The right hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) cannot expect hon. Members on this side of the Committee to follow all his views on the future proposals to denationalise the steel industry. But I think that every hon. Member will agree on one thing, that we cannot have our steel industry thrown into chaos every time there is a General Election. We are not going to help the development programme, the production drive or the security of employment of the people in the industry by roaring at each other across the Floor of the House like stags across a glen in the autumn.
I do not myself believe that either Karl Marx or Adam Smith is going to be a great help in working out the long-term answer to the problem of this great modern industry in a modern world, which is essentially a problem of reconciling the need for a certain amount of Government supervision in the national interest, with the essential degree of decentralisation and flexibility which is necessary for efficiency and, indeed, for survival in the competitive markets of the world.
If we agree that that is more or less the objective, surely we can reach some lasting understanding about it which will give the industry the security and stability which is essential for its future. Such agreement may not be entirely welcome from a political party propaganda viewpoint; but if we fail to reach agreement we must realise that the price of our failure may be paid for by a loss of welfare and security of employment for millions of people.
With regard to our light industries, the hon. Member for Leith asked whether the Government thought we were reaching "saturation point." and the Joint Under-Secretary referred to the great efforts made in the past to bring new light industry into Scotland. It will probably be generally agreed that we need more industries, but in present circumstances, particularly in the old industrial areas and the trading estates, we need to be to some extent selective. We must not unduly increase the demand for scarce raw materials or, indeed, for skilled 1569 labour, both of which are in short supply for our old industries.
But we do want to do all we can to attract those industries which have an essential part to play in the future. It is very encouraging to see that proposals are already under way which will increase the percentage of employment in the electronics industry from 2 per cent. to 9 per cent. That is a very healthy development. There is, moreover, a great difference between being selective about bringing in new industries, and being very careful about not losing the established light industries which we already have. There may be a certain danger there.
Some of these firms make component parts, and in that case the demand for their finished product fluctuates evenly over the industry as a whole. But certain of these Scottish factories make finished products, and certain of them may be the marginal units of production, the least economic units, of firms with their main works elsewhere. In that case it may be on them that eyes will first be turned if there is any question of cutting down. I am sure we all hope that if industrialists do turn their eyes that way they will, if they possibly can, turn them quickly away again, realising that unemployment in Scotland—although small, and although there is some difference of opinion about the figures—is at least twice what it is in the country as a whole.
I hope also that the Government will do what they can by the placing of contracts and other means to guard against difficulties of this kind. I may be over-apprehensive. Perhaps the Secretary of State can give some assurance on that point. It is not just a question of mitigating temporary unemployment, but of ensuring that nothing is done seriously to upset the balance which we have been carefully building up for many years between light and heavy industry in Scotland.
Then there is the question of the distribution of industry to the Highlands and Islands, the North-East coast and the new mining areas. I have always been very attracted by the idea that the first people who ought to step in to meet the needs of the Highlands of Scotland are those in the Lowlands of Scotland—and vice versa when it comes to the question of "red meat" and things of that sort.
1570 In industry it is not only right, it is also easiest. It is a far cry for firms in the South or firms from overseas to take the road to the Isles though we hope more of them will. But it is not so far from the Clyde Valley or from the Forth, and it is most interesting to see, in the Cairn-cross Report, the extent to which recent development has been due to the expansion of Scottish firms and the creation of new Scottish firms. Between 1946–51 there have been 84 new Scottish firms and only 10 non-Scottish ones in the Highland and North-East area.
Therefore, I think that the main development will rest with the spreading of our own resources and by our own initiative. The Joint Under-Secretary has told us that it is too early to make any statement on the findings of the Cairncross Report; but when the time comes it will be most interesting to hear the Government's views on those recommendations, particularly the recommendations which point towards the widening of the powers of the Government and local authorities to establish factories and lay on facilities for firms not only in closely defined development areas but wherever they are needed in the development of the country as a whole.
At this time, whether we like it or not—I am not arguing the merits or demerits—risk-bearing capital is scarce, and it will be much easier to ensure this development if industrialists are called on to provide only the working capital and the machinery, so that they can move in and find the factories and facilities laid on, as in the industrial estates. There may be greater scope for flexibility in that direction. I have here a letter from one firm which has tried it. The letter says:It is virtually impossible for any limited company earning profits in the Lowlands to lose by starting a satellite industry in the Highlands.That is provided it is given a certain amount of Government assistance. I hope that is not over-optimistic. I think there is great scope in that direction, and we all know that in these Highland areas quite a small concern may produce a very big effect.
There are a number of other things I should like to have spoken about, such as the question of technical training— 1571 which has been mentioned both here and in Scottish Grand Committee—on which the future of our established industries, and the development of cur new technical industries depend. Then there is the question of industrial democracy. Just as this country gave the lead in building up trade unionism and political practice I think we can lead in developing new patterns of association and industrial co-operation for the benefit of everybody.
But I do not wish to delay the Committee further. Perhaps I shall be fortunate enough to catch your eye, Sir, on another occasion. May I conclude by saying that the motto of the Royal burgh of Rutherglen, in the constituency which I have the honour to represent—is well known to Scottish Members. It is a famous tongue twister, and I do not propose to add to the terrors and hazards of a maiden speech by repeating it now. But its main theme is the wish that our lums may reek, that our chimneys may smoke, the wheels of industry turn, and our people find the benefit of employment and prosperity. I am sure that is the wish of all of us for all of Scotland, however much we may differ in our opinions on the precise methods by which those things may be most rapidly, effectively and securely achieved.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Steele (Dunbartonshire, West)
It falls to me to congratulate the hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. Brooman-White). He has come through a trying experience with flying colours. He spoke quietly, effectively and with a certain amount of wit which we all enjoyed. I am sure that, when he has concluded the research which he is obviously making in the Library, we shall all be interested in what he has to say. I am happy and proud to follow the hon. Member because he is one of my constituents.
I do not wish to comment on what the hon. Member said, although many of us on this side of the Committee agree with a great deal of it. I shall revert to the earlier speeches of my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) and the Joint Under-Secretary of State who followed him, particularly in regard to the industrial estates in whose development we took an intense interest. They were welcomed in Scotland because we 1572 all felt that they were bringing us that diversity of employment so essential for our welfare.
At the same time we had certain latent fears when that development took place. We saw that certain firms were going to those estates which were extensions of firms in the South. We wanted in Scotland not such extensions but new firms which would take root there and progress, and upon which we should be able to rely. We feared that, if there were any recession in trade, the firms coming to Scotland from the South would be the first to suffer and that once again Scotland would have to depend on the other industries. It may be only by accident that when we have a Conservative Government in power this recession should take place, but it is time that we took stock of what has been happening in those industrial estates, and the Scottish Office should take it upon themselves to get such information and pass it on to hon. Members.
There are two groups of industries with new factories in those estates. First, there is the group to which I have already referred, where the parent company is in the South. We ought to know at this stage, after development has taken place, what is happening. Are the early fears we had about them justified? Is full production taking place in those factories? Can we know whether there is serious unemployment or under-employment in those Scottish factories while the parent company in England is still working full-time? How many workers have been paid off? What has been the reaction of the present recession in trade on those factories? I do not ask these questions in any sense of niggling criticism but because we have always taken a live interest in what has been happening in those estates. We require a detailed analysis.
Let us take the other group, those factories set up by firms which are taking root in Scotland. In this group I include factories which have come from abroad. I should like to see a detailed analysis giving the forecast of the firms as to the employment they would provide and, set against that, the peak employment figure achieved and also the number of people engaged at present; and again, what short-time is being worked and to what extent these firms are being affected by shortage of labour, by shortage of material, and by shortage of orders.
1573 I know one firm on an industrial estate in my own constituency. The Joint Under-Secretary of State claimed credit today for the fact that the increase in factory space is still continuing, but that factory, while at present extending its premises, is experiencing a reduction in orders and the firm is actually putting off workers week by week. The Joint Under-Secretary of State said that the Bank rate had no effect. Has the Scottish Office any information on whether any of those firms have had to turn down orders because the banks are not prepared to give them the necessary credits?
On the other hand, I know a firm in the same industrial estate which is worried about steel. This firm—Burroughs, the manufacturers of adding machines—is turning out a product of great marketable value. It is interesting to know that 75 per cent. of its production is being exported, mainly to the dollar market. It is extending its premises. I hope that, when the allocation of steel is being made, a firm of this kind which is able to make such a valuable export asset out of steel will have special consideration.
At the present time, if there should be any reduction in its production due to a shortage of steel or anything else, which would make it necessary for it to pay off its workers, it would be difficult to get them back because of the great demand for such skilled workers for other employment on Clydeside. We do not want any loss of skilled engineers because of temporary difficulties. I urge the Scottish Office to obtain information of this kind and to make it available, so that those concerned may be properly briefed in any conversations or consultation with their colleagues and can put the case for Scotland. In any event, the issue of a report on these lines would be extremely useful.
In considering the value of the industrial estates, the old-established firms should not be overlooked. In the Vale of Leven, I am now, for the very first time, getting questions about unemployment. The fears of the workers are understandable, because in the inter-war years 75 per cent. of the insured population of the area was unemployed. We are very pleased that the Minister of Labour has been present throughout the debate, but I assure him that the effects 1574 of the inter-war unemployment in the Vale of Leven are still to be seen. It is understandable, therefore, that with the recession the people are worried.
One of the industries in the Vale of Leven is the dyeing and processing of cotton, linen, canvas and other materials. The firm of whom I speak have spent a great deal of money in modernising their plant and in introducing new methods of production. I was very interested to learn from the speech of the Joint Under-Secretary of State that a new contract for canvasses is to be given to Scotland, who are to share it with Northern Ireland.
I do not see any representative of the Ministry of Supply with us, but I am sure that what I am about to say will be conveyed to them. I have already written to the Ministry about it, but I should require the assistance also of the Scottish Office in the matter. There is a great deal of storage space in the Vale of Leven, and much of the Scottish material, particularly canvasses and ducks, is being transported in the loom stage from Scotland to England, and when contracts have been placed, it goes back again to Scotland for processing.
There is a shortage of storage space for materials of that kind, and the firm in my constituency have asked that the Ministry of Supply should revert to the old practice whereby the processing firms store the material. The firms in question have gone even further, and are prepared to store the material for the Ministry and to make no charge for that proportion which they process. This is a good offer, but the Ministry of Supply seem to think that it is all too complicated. There is no reason why the canvasses should not come from the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) across to Alexandria and thereby save all the transport to England when much of the material is to be processed in Scotland in any case. I hope that this suggestion will be given full consideration.
I had hoped to say a great deal about the tourist industry, but I had a good innings on that subject during the debate in the Scottish Grand Committee last year. I must, however, refer to an aspect which was mentioned by my right hon. Friend. He said that we welcomed the 1575 oil industry to Scotland, and he spoke of what was happening in the Gareloch. We welcome this industry also, but there are a number of problems which I hope the Scottish Office and the Ministry of Transport will take into account.
The problem of oil on the shores is very grave indeed. It is very discouraging to anyone going round that delightful part of the country, from Helensburgh to Rhu and round the three Lochs, to see the oil. I do not say that it comes from the firms handling the oil in the Gareloch. It may be coming from the tail of the bank—we do not know; but it is a matter which we hope will be looked into.
I conclude by referring to a matter which ought to be mentioned. It relates to an industry which previous Secretaries of State and others have said would at one time be the largest employer of labour in Scotland—that is, forestry. The White Paper which was issued during the war set out a five years' planting programme. Those five years have now expired.
I see from the returns that, as far as State Planting is concerned, 75 per cent. of the acreage has been achieved. In private planting, 84 per cent. has been attained. What interests me is that during the last three years the labour force in forestry has been almost stable, with little or no alteration. One of the reasons given for this lack of progress is the shortage of labour.
I have not been conscious of any publicity by either the Forestry Commission or the Scottish Department to attract young men to the industry. I understand that there are no difficulties regarding executives and officers. At the universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh a grant has been given and special facilities have been made available, and young men with the necessary degrees are coming forward to take up the executive posts. But what is necessary is foresters and skilled forestry workers.
It is a very great pity that last year the Ministry of Labour had to close down the school for forestry workers, but I hope that something more will now be done. Quite irrespective of any possible recession or any fear of unemployment, the matter is so important that we ought to do something about getting the 1576 necessary workers trained for these jobs. The schools for forestry workers had to be closed, but there are two schools for foresters. Foresters are different; they are the sergeant majors, the N.C.O.s, the people who really matter in this industry.
I should like to know what is happening to these two schools. Are sufficient numbers of people coming forward? Are the schools fully occupied, and, even if they are, I wonder whether two schools are really sufficient? In these schools foresters are trained not only for the forestry commission but to go to private estates and to the Colonies. I think it is right and proper that they should do so, but at the same time we should recognise that there is a great scarcity of these skilled men and we ought to do something about the matter. I do not expect to get full answers to these questions this afternoon—
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. James Stuart)
To which school did the hon. Member refer as having been closed?
§ Mr. Steele
There are two different groups—first the two schools in Scotland which are for foresters, and then there is another school. These schools are run by the Forestry Commission, and the other school is under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour and is for forest workers. That school has had to be closed down.
I do not expect that I shall get replies to many of these matters this afternoon, but I want to draw the attention of the Scottish Office to them and I hope they will be considered. I can give warning that I shall follow them up in future debates.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir (Aberdeen, South)
I agree very much with the plea made by the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) that it would be useful for Scottish Members if we could get more specific information about our industrial estates.
In Aberdeen, on the north-east coast, we are not so much interested in the industrial estate as known by the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West but I am extremely interested as to what defence contracts are to be placed in the north-east. Aberdeen has been fortunate 1577 in not depending on one major industry but having a good diversification of industry. Nevertheless, we are under the impression—suffering as we do from a certain amount of under-employment—that defence contracts are not being placed specifically and sufficiently enough in the north-east. I should be grateful if the Secretary of State, in reply, could give some indication whether anything is definitely in progress.
I wish to refer particularly to the section in the Report before us which deals with the fishing industry. I hope that the Committee will bear with me in doing so, because I was unfortunate in not catching the eye of the Chairman of the Scottish Grand Committee when we discussed the subject. I make no apology, because Aberdeen is the largest and most important fishing port in Scotland, the third largest in the whole country and, apart from ship building, fishing affects us more intimately than any other industry.
I want particularly to deal with paragraphs 105 and 106. First, I must refer to the whole chapter on fisheries. I think it most unfortunate that, so far as I have read it, there is no mention whatever regarding one of our major problems—that of over-fishing. The only mention I could see is in connection with the decision of the International Court of Justice at The Hague regarding the Anglo-Norwegian fisheries case.
I believe that all of us in this Committee would be glad to hear from the Secretary of State what is the latest position regarding the Icelandic Government's extension of her territorial waters. This affects the United Kingdom most intimately. Iceland was one of the latest Governments to ratify the International Convention on Over-Fishing. It should be pointed out that ratification of this Convention does not mean that one nation can take action such as this, which will definitely harm all the others concerned, and do so on the plea that it is protecting immature fish. Over-fishing is one of our basic problems, because we shall never get trawler owners to consider re-building our fishing fleet unless they have some confidence in the industry as a whole.
Specifically regarding the Aberdeen industry, I am disturbed that, apparently, so little has been done to carry out some 1578 of the proposals of the McColl Report published in 1951. This Committee was set up by the Scottish Council for Development of Industry at the request of the late Secretary of State—
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
The former Secretary of State; I am glad to say he is still very much in evidence. This Report was a courageous and challenging one and a controversial one. It recommended an entire reorganisation of the fishing industry as it affects Aberdeen. We know quite well that in Aberdeen we have what are described as peculiar difficulties. Not the least is the fact that we have far too many firms engaged in the industry, particularly on the producers' side. The McColl Committee recommended that Aberdeen should continue to catch quality fish from the near and middle waters and not concentrate all out on the far fishing grounds, unless, of course, ships could be built with adequate freezing facilities.
The re-building of the Aberdeen trawler fleet is vital and the McColl Committee recommended that there should be loans and a 25 per cent. grant from the Government for the purpose, subject to the acceptance by the industry of the reorganisation proposals in order to ensure efficiency. Without this re-organisation it seems to me that the contraction of our fishing industry as it affects Aberdeen is bound to continue. It will continue to be so because, once again, we get to the crux of the matter—that our people do not have confidence in the future of fishing as a whole.
In paragraph 17 of the McColl report, we are reminded of the conditions that obtained before the war. It says:The contraction of the industry at Aberdeen and failure to modernise the fleet indicates, of course, that fishing in the near and middle waters was not profitable in the years before the war and reflects the fears of those engaged in the industry that it may not be any better in the future.The McColl Report, I understand, has been discussed by all sections of the trade in Aberdeen with the Secretary of State. As this Report was published in 1951, surely by now we should have got beyond the stages of discussion. I should like to hear from the Secretary of State exactly 1579 what is the position. What is the difficulty? Is it in Aberdeen, or is it with the Government, or with the White Fish Authority?
We want to know what is happening to the White Fish Authority. We have their first Report. There are some distinguished members on this Committee and we quite understand that in 18 months they have had many difficult and complicated tasks. Nevertheless, in the Sea Fish Industry Act, 1951, Parliament charged the Authority with the duty ofre-organising, developing and regulating the white fish industry.It was welcomed in this House because, for years past, the varied sections of the fishing industry have too often pulled in different directions.
This debate gives a chance to appeal to all those sections of the industry concerned really to try to co-operate on matters which are absolutely vital to their future and to that of the country as a whole. Hon. Members may say that the White Fish Authority is still a young body. I would not advise any compulsory scheme because I think that the fishing industry is essentially a private enterprise industry, not a State industry, although one might say that it would be better if it were a regulated private enterprise industry. I should like to ask why the White Fish Authority has not made more progress, and I think it is up to the Secretary of State to ginger them up.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
Although I know that the former Secretary of State for Scotland would like to catch me out on this, I have said that I want regulation of private enterprise in the fishing industry because I consider that, in a situation where far too many firms are engaged in the industry, we have to have some kind of regulation. I should like to see that brought about by the co-operation of the industry itself, instead of the industry being regulated by Parliament. That is why I think this Committee should take note of the recommendations of the McColl Committee, and also of the White Fish Authority scheme, in order to see whether we can get all the sections of the industry together.
§ Mr. Hoy
If the noble Lady does not want any Government interference, and she wants this to continue in Aberdeen, does her argument apply to that part of the McColl Report which states that the Government ought to give the industry the money to go on with it, or does she not want money from the Government?
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
Oh, yes. I am always wanting money for Aberdeen. But the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy) will remember that the section in the Report dealing with those particular grants and loans stated that these loans from the Government are not to be given to the Aberdeen fishing industry unless they first agreed among themselves that they would re-organise their own industry. I am asking that the industry should voluntarily re-organise in order to secure greater efficiency, and so that they will be eligible for these grants and loans.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
Naturally, we are all very anxious to follow and to help the noble Lady in this campaign for the control of the white fish industry; but there is one problem to which she has not directed her attention, and that is the question of the transport of fish. She may be proposing to say something about the flat rate. I take it she is aware that there has been a considerable amount of negotiation going on with the Road Haulage Executive in order further to facilitate the transport of fish. I hope that in due course she will weigh that very carefully in her mind when she is supporting the abolition of the Road Haulage Executive, which is likely to help so much in the distribution of fish.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I listened with great interest to that short speech. I was coming directly to the question of transport, which is, of course, of major importance to the fishing industry.
I shall not now give my speech on the Transport Bill, but I should like to refer to the Report of the White Fish Authority, which has just been published. It means a great deal to us all in Scotland because of the recommendation that there should be a scheme for the equalisation of the cost of the transport of fish. This is something which some hon. Members have advocated with persistence ever since they entered the House.
1581 The Report recognises that there will be a great deal of tough opposition from the other ports which are not in the scheme. They will oppose it because they realise that they will have to pay some of the transport costs of those ports less favourably situated geographically. They will have to do so because Parliament did not give to the White Fish Authority funds in order to create an equalisation of transport scheme. Therefore, the money must be obtained, either from loans, which will have to be repaid, or from the equalisation scheme itself.
I can quite foresee that we shall have a great battle in Parliament on this issue. I can only hope that Scottish Members on both sides of the Committee will band together to fight this issue, because it is by no means certain that we shall get it. We shall have some very powerful opposition, particularly from English Members in the South, and those of us who live in the North will have to clan together and do our best.
I ask the Secretary of State to tell us when this scheme will be presented to Parliament, and whether we have to wait until after the Summer Recess. As the Report of the White Fish Authority has been published, and as they have said they have come to a decision regarding this scheme, why cannot we have it presented to Parliament and debated before we adjourn for the Summer Recess, and, if necessary, sit well into August in order to do so? I feel that we have, by this means, to create as much confidence as we can for the fishing industry. I maintain that the transport equalisation scheme will help to re-organise and develop the fishing industry as a whole; that it will be a most important contribution to the reduction of costs, and a powerful factor in creating confidence in the future.
I will sum up the questions which I addressed to the Secretary of State and which I trust he will be able to answer. First, what is the position about the placing of defence contracts in the northeast of Scotland? Second, what is the latest development regarding Iceland and her extension of territorial waters? Third, what action is being taken on the McColl Report concerning the Aberdeen fishing industry? Lastly, what is happening to the White Fish Authority as a whole, and 1582 when are we to have the transport scheme presented to Parliament? I ask these specific questions because I feel that we must have a sense of urgency if, in this very competitive time, we are to keep industry thriving north of the Border.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Mr. John Timmons (Bothwell)
I do not propose to attempt to follow the noble Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir), because this debate has certainly drifted into a discussion of the peculiarities of the constituencies of all hon. Members. I propose to try to confine myself, not only to my own constituency, but, so far as possible, to deal with Lanarkshire as an industrial unit. After all, it is an industrial unit adjacent and closely related to the industrial problems of Glasgow.
On Tuesday of this week, I put a Question to the Minister of Labour, and in reply he gave me the unemployment figures for Lanarkshire and Glasgow, which totalled 27,000. Everyone in this Committee will agree that these figures are out of all proportion to the figures for the whole of the country, with the exception of Northern Ireland.
The question then arises whether the people of Lanarkshire and that part of Glasgow are going to sit down quietly and accept unemployment once again as a permanent feature in their life. I say quite advisedly that they are not, and I know the tone and temper of the people. When we remember that these very same people have had some semblance of security during the past seven years and that they have experienced full employment, we may readily agree that they are not going quietly to accept this continued unemployment.
We should recall also that in Lanarkshire, and more especially in that industrial part of Lanarkshire which embraces a great part of my constituency, we never had less than 54 per cent. of the insured population signing the unemployment register. It lasted for years. I saw the finest specimens of humanity deteriorating morally and physically because of those dreadful years. They have apprehensions now. They cannot afford to allow things to drift in the manner in which they are drifting, and so they have every reason to be apprehensive.
1583 The united trades councils in Lanarkshire—there are a number of them—contemplated convening a conference concerning the state of unemployment in Lanarkshire—not only the registered unemployment, but the huge amount of under-employment which makes conditions even more serious than would appear from the register. But they cancelled the conference, because the Scottish Trades Union Congress decided to convene area conferences of the areas most affected by unemployment.
That policy of unemployment has certainly been aggravated by the financial policy of the Government. I believe that Lanarkshire has the biggest development area and the greatest number of factories in the United Kingdom. I make it my practice to keep in close touch with these matters. I have had to deal with many of the problems which arise from day to day and week to week. Both present and past Ministers will know of my activities. I want to say a few words of warning to the Government. The time is not very far distant when the Government will be judged on their policy of unemployment as against the sensible policy of full employment in Lanark during the past six years. That date, in my opinion, is not very far off.
I have heard many hon. Members talking about new factories and new industrial estates and the number of industrial estates which are on the building programme and still in process of construction. I hope that the areas connected with the new industrial estates will not have the bitter experience that we have had in Lanarkshire. I say this advisedly. We have more factory space than we have employment for the people. We have firms which employ only a handful of people. In some large factories only 12 to 18 people are employed. There are vast factories in which no more than 20 or .30 girls have been found employment. That will not solve our unemployment problem in Lanarkshire.
There are three firms that came to Lanarkshire which have provided good employment. I refer to Smiths, the clock makers at Carfin, to Metro-Vickers, in Motherwell, and Vactric in Newhouse. When we take into account the fact that in the Newhouse, the Chapelhall and the Carfin estates there are 1,180,000 square 1584 feet of factory space and slightly over 3,000 people employed, we can appreciate the point more fully. Those are figures which I got a few months ago. The position has worsened since then. I doubt whether today there are 3.000 people employed in that area.
The Board of Trade, in the regional office at Glasgow, are responsible for that state of affairs. Someone asked what are the functions of the regional office in Glasgow. I do not know, but I know that in Lanarkshire the people simply refer to many of these firms as "spiv" firms. They are here today and gone tomorrow. They never provide any certainty of employment. I would say to the President of the Board of Trade, if he were here, that he has power under the 1950 Act to requisition factories which are not providing substantial employment. I have not yet heard, since that Act was passed, of any steps taken by the Board of Trade to requisition any of these factories and to put in firms which would provide substantial employment.
I have had occasion to speak to Ministers, to the Board of Trade and to various other Departments about what is happening in this area. It appears to me that no effective measures have been taken to try to stimulate employment. One of my hon. Friends asked Questions about some of these firms and whether they could estimate the number of people who might be employed. I can advise my hon. Friend that that is done, but that the promises are never implemented.
I have in mind a firm on the Chapel-hall estate which promised to provide employment for 600 men in their factory; but that factory has never employed more than 100 men at the best of times. Normally it has employed below 80. They have been on the job for about four years, and no effort has been made to try to deal with the problem.
There has been mention of John Deer. That is a good and practical firm which was prepared to provide employment for 4,000 in Lanarkshire, at East Kilbride, if encouragement had been given to it. I have no reason to doubt my source of information. Last week I was told that John Deer's got no encouragement: John Deer's was more or less pushed out, rather than invited to develop in East Kilbride.
1585 I could have solved that problem myself by a process of decanting in the big industrial estate at Newhouse. We have vast areas of factory space which have never been fully occupied. Factories have been built since 1946 and 1947. I have in mind one factory in which I do not suppose more than 700 people are employed. It has never been used to capacity. It is capable of employing between 3,000 and 4,000 people. A process of decanting the 700 people to a smaller factory could have accommodated John Deer in the big factory, and at least we should have had the prospect of work for 3,000 or 4,000 people. But the firm of John Deer has gone to Paris.
Another American firm made an attempt, not only recently but also about two years ago, to get accommodation in Lanarkshire. They wanted to take over 18 acres of ground and to carry out extensions which would have provided employment for 10,000 people. Again, they were impeded and they also have transferred to France. That is what is happening, and yet there is growing unemployment throughout the whole area.
Another question which I raised privately with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply was about Bellshill. A factory there during the war years employed about 4,000 people. It was known as Colville's, Ltd. but it was worked by them on behalf of the Ministry. A vast area of factory space was occupied in the production of steel. An alloy steel was produced and all the necessary mechanical equipment was installed. There was a special heat treatment block.
When the war ended, this work ended also. No one has been employed there for the past five or six years except a handful of men who have done structural work. I raised this matter with the Parliamentary Secretary in a talk which I had with him in his room a few weeks ago. After he had made investigations, I learned from him by letter that the interests of the Department were sold out to Colville's, Ltd. some years ago. But surely this firm will come under the Steel Corporation. Here is the problem with which we are confronted every day, and there is no wonder that many of these people feel very sore about it. I appeal to the Secretary of State and the Minister of Labour to do something about it, and to persuade their colleagues 1586 at the Ministry of Supply to check up on the heat treatment block and find out how many people might be employed there.
I put a Question the other day to the Minister of Supply, who gave me a written answer which was very interesting. I wanted to know what was the total allocation of defence programme work to Lanarkshire, and I am afraid he could not tell me very much. He said that the contracts for defence work placed by the Ministry of Supply are not allocated to any particular region, apart from the development areas, including Lanarkshire. He regretted that the form in which the records are kept does not show the total amount of work given to main and sub-contractors in any particular area. Here is a factory which produced steel plates and machines ready for assembly, where 4,000 people were employed during the war.
There is one other point which I raised the other day in a supplementary question. It is not new; it is a matter which has been going on since May, 1951, and there are three Ministries involved. It is a case of passing the buck from one to the other. I refer to the firm of Alexander Dunn and Son, Ltd., which requires a certain amount of steel for the manufacture of fireplaces for housing. This firm is doing more than 55 per cent. of the total housing done by local authorities in Scotland, and it is concerned with private housing as well.
This is a very important matter. The firm has to purchase from the iron firms light castings for the manufacture of fireplaces, and they find that they cannot get an adequate supply of these light castings. Consequently, their housing programme has fallen back, although at the moment they have contracts for 25,000 houses, and other contracts are still coming in. Progress cannot be made, and houses are left uncompleted, because they cannot get an adequate supply of these light castings.
Moreover, the firm is prepared, if they can get the steel, to produce the castings themselves at about half the price which they have to pay for them, and, in consequence, have made an application for a licence to build a foundry, which is designed to work together with their other factory as a completely integrated plant and ensure a continuity of supply of light castings.
1587 The firm has offered a price reduction at the rate of £3 per fireplace to the local authorities, and one would have thought that the various Government Departments, and particularly the Scottish Office, would have given the firm every encouragement possible. They did not get it. The Departments have played with them for about a year, and the Under-Secretary of State, who deals with housing at the Scottish Office, and who came along with representatives and officials from the Ministry of Supply and the Ministry of Works to meet us, after hearing our case, admitted to me personally that our case was unassailable, but still, a fortnight later, we got a letter to say that he could not recommend the granting of a licence to build this foundry.
We had a further meeting of hon. Members from both sides of the House at the Ministry of Supply, where we discussed the matter at some length with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply, but again, the matter was passed on to the Ministry of Works, from them back to the Ministry of Supply, and then to the Scottish Office. They sent it back to the Ministry of Supply, who again sent it to the Ministry of Works. Later, we were told that no licence could be granted.
This is a state of affairs at which we have to look most seriously. Alexander Dunn and Son, Ltd., are experts in the production of these fireplaces, which have received the recommendation of the Ministry of Fuel and Power as the most efficient fireplaces in the country. The saving of fuel which they produce is enormous, and the firm are now building for a new type of fireplace which will be still more efficient than the one they are already making, but they have difficulty in obtaining the necessary materials. We have now arrived at the situation in which this firm are employing only between 30 and 40 men, instead of taking on the additional 80 whom they intended to take on.
That is the situation with regard to this particular firm, and I appeal to the Secretary of State for Scotland and to the other Ministers concerned, particularly the Minister of Labour, because we have a vast number of people unemployed in this area; they are clamouring for employment, and here 1588 is a firm prepared in a very short space of time to provide that additional employment, as well as to make a further substantial contribution to housing in supplying fireplaces, and at a reduced price, to the local authorities.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
Since the hon. Gentleman had that letter from my hon. Friend, does he know that Messrs. Dunn's suppliers have offered to give them all the castings necessary for their full programme?
§ Mr. Timmons
No. The firm have not had all the supplies they need offered to them. I may tell the hon. Gentleman that these very firms to whom Messrs. Dunn were recommended, and who were to supply them with all they required, are not supplying their requirements; they are supplying much less. Since the hon. Gentleman has raised the question, I would say that the impression I got at the first meeting I had with the Ministry of Supply representatives, when hon. Members from both sides were present, was that the Ministry of Supply were more concerned about protecting the vested interests of the Iron-founders' Federation than meeting the needs of Alexander Dunn and Son, Ltd.
There is one other point on which I wish to touch before concluding. I want to refer to the situation in the Lanarkshire coalfields and the possibilities of new developments in that area. I am not one who has ever agreed with the policy of the National Coal Board in regard to the Lanarkshire coalfield, because I have past experience, before the Coal Board was set up, and, as a member of the Lanarkshire County Council, I remember that at one time Sir Charles Reid had a powerful job with the Ministry of Fuel and Power, when he closed down pits ad lib in the Lanarkshire coalfields. When we approached him with regard to the closing of these pits and pointed out that there were still 650 million tons of coal in Lanarkshire, he told us not to worry too much about that coal as our grandchildren could take it out. He pursued that policy in order to ensure a sufficient supply of manpower to meet the needs of the Fighting Services.
I prepared a memorandum and submitted it to the Minister of Fuel and Power a year ago. I do not know what has happened to it. Things went on, and then we had a General Election and a 1589 change of Government. I do not know what the present Minister thinks about it, but in it I suggested that the Minister should appoint two independent mining engineers as advisers in the matter of the development of the Lanarkshire coalfield, instead of taking away families from that county and sending them to Fife and Ayrshire, from which places they are coming back almost as fast as they are going. There is housing accommodation for them in those areas, but there are no schools, no shopping centres, and no churches or amenities.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
I do not think the hon. Gentleman should say that about the County of Fife. It is not true.
§ Mr. Timmons
I say it quite advisedly. I have had shoals of letters from families who have left my constituency asking me to try to get them some semblance of a house in order that they may come back to Lanarkshire. The menfolk of these families are prepared to work on housing schemes or in factories if they can get back. They say that there are no school facilities, no churches, and that in many of the places there are no shopping centres. After all, that situation is not peculiar to Fife; it obtains in other parts of the country as well. These people complain that there is no community life in these places.
Certain borings have taken place and are taking place at the moment in Lanarkshire. I remember when the Cumnock coalfield had to be abandoned. It was supposed to be worked out, according to the opinion of many of the experts; but some people in Cumnock did not accept that view, and went ahead with further borings. The result is that today there is a complete new coalfield there. Had they acted on the advice of the experts, Cumnock would be a derelict area today.
As I say, certain boring operations have been going on in Lanarkshire and they have discovered the richest seam of coking coal in the country. I notice that some reference is made to it in this Report. I wonder how far they have gone ahead with it. Paragraph 144 of the Report says:The National Coal Board are at present investigating the possibility of developing certain reserves of coking coal which have been proved near Glasgow.There is more than coking coal there; there are also other seams.
1590 I think that if the Secretary of State would make some representations to his colleague the Minister of Fuel and Power with regard to new developments in that area, it would be a very useful thing for Lanarkshire. There are thousands of miners in Lanarkshire today between the ages of 35 and 40, experienced and skilled men, who could be producing coal if the necessary facilities were provided in that county. I am not talking about the 3,000 volunteers to the industry who still have to be trained and whom it will take years to become experienced miners.
We are taking families away from Lanarkshire and putting them in Fife and Midlothian, but what is there for the miners' families in those areas? Nothing. The girls of the families have to be re-exported to the mining areas from whence they came in order to obtain work. Nothing has been done in the way of development in Fife and Midlothian to try to provide accommodation and work for such families.
I ask the Secretary of State to consult with his colleagues the President of the Board of Trade and the Ministers of Labour, Supply, Works, and Fuel and Power to see whether something cannot be done, by co-ordinating their efforts, to reduce unemployment in the Lanarkshire area, because there is still ample factory space, opportunity, and the necessary labour available to produce in Lanarkshire. I look upon the Secretary of State as the custodian of the well-being of Scotland and of the people of Scotland, and I honestly believe that the right hon. Gentleman is just as interested in their well-being as are any of the rest of us.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
I am sure we all have great sympathy with the hon. Member for Bothwell (Mr. Timmons), who has put the case for the re-development of the county to which he and I both belong, and has raised particularly the difficulty of developing along the lines of certain rather transient enterprises which have appeared in the new factories. The very valuable review made by Professor Cairncross makes special reference to that point. He says that our prosperitywill not be assured by a mere importation of enterprise from England. Enterprise without development is sterile; and far too high a proportion of the new industry that has come to Scotland, however many jobs have come 1591 with it, is sterile in the sense that it engenders no autonomous development. It would be unwise to rely on a continuing overflow into Scotland from English industry. In the long run, if new industries are to flourish and expand in Scotland they should not be merely the industries that cannot find labour or are denied a location in England.They tend to wither away when trouble comes.
We also feel great sympathy with the case put forward by the hon. Member for Bothwell concerning the firm in his own constituency which desired to extend and develop, but which was unable to get a licence for that purpose. I have a case of exactly the same nature in my constituency. There is the firm of Kennedy and Macleod who were only too anxious to extend their factory and to develop further their rope-making industry both for home and export purposes. They had the bricks and the steel on the spot. Everything was there, but the firm could not get a licence to put the bricks together, to place the steel into the bricks and to install the machines, which were in their yard, in the new factory in order to carry on and extend the work in which this firm had been engaged on for many years past.
These things are apparently inseparable from the tight set of controls with which we are enmeshed at the present time. But they are very galling, and lead, as the hon. Gentleman said, to the suspicion—I think unfounded—that the Departments in question are more anxious to maintain the position of firms already in business than to extend facilities to others wishing to compete with them. It is very unfortunate, and I would draw the attention of the other Departments, whose representatives we are very glad to see here, to that aspect of the case.
The re-development of our existing areas is just as important as the development of new areas. The re-development of existing areas, such as Glasgow, has the advantage that it deals with the problem, which the hon. Member for Bothwell has just mentioned, of provision of amenities, such as shopping centres and entertainment areas. Although he mentioned that he received shoals of letters complaining that there were no churches—and that may well be—he did not mention that he had letters complaining that there were no cinemas; but I am 1592 sure that the absence of cinemas is also one of the things resented in the new areas.
It is difficult to create a town; it grows slowly. When we are counting the cost of developing housing areas, we should weigh against the apparent cheapness of new housing areas the possibly greater expense of higher buildings with flats and lifts in the congested areas, the older areas, which would be a godsend to many of the people whom I represent. It is more expensive to build flats in congested areas than to build villas on pieces of bare ground. But that is not the end of the expenditure. When one has built a little house on bare ground, one has still to produce all the other social services not yet brought into existence.
In Anderston there is plenty of vacant ground perfectly suitable for building upon, near the work in which people wish to engage, at the docks. It faces the great open roll of the river. There is plenty of fresh air, which is not such a common commodity in Glasgow. I applied for houses to be built there; but I was told that the area was zoned for industry. My constituents, Kennedy MacLeod and Co., applied to carry out the building of an extension to the factory, which I have mentioned, to implement the policy of bringing industry there. Then they were refused, because it was not possible to give them a licence to erect the building, though they already had all the necessary materials lying on the ground. One is reminded of the great epigram on the old Board of Education that "a pension is a sum of money of indeterminate amount the payment of which is precluded by the appropriate regulation."
The difficulty of appropriate capital development, in Scotland in particular, is very great. We are in a period of acute shortage of materials and of money, both necessary to carry out the developments which we desire. So we must scrutinise very carefully the lines along which new development is to take place. Greenock has spoken, Fife, Leith, and Aberdeen have spoken, and indeed Rutherglen, in the very excellent maiden speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen (Mr. Brooman-White) has spoken. It was a speech which we were all glad to hear. Although he, in a maiden speech, did not venture upon the famous tongue-twister which is the motto of Rutherglen, I, 1593 greatly daring, will embark upon it and say:May Ru'glen's wee roond red lums reek briskly.
§ Mr. Hubbard
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman will be asked to go up to the Official Reporters' room very shortly.
Lieut.-Colonel Elliot: We are not supposed to be aware of the existence of anybody other than those who are on the Floor of the Chamber.
Nearly all of those speeches have emphasised that we must not neglect the old existing industries of our country. That is very necessary just now. We are in a period when great capital development in the world is taking place. In it we can play a part. The world is hungry for many of the goods which we in Britain, and we in Scotland particularly, are specially able to produce. They are the products of high quality, precision, heavy industry.
We shall not be saved only by plastic-backed hairbrushes, typewriters, or cold cream, but by big and little ships, heavy electrical machinery, steel pipes, heavy pumps, and all the engineering gear for whichwe in Scotland are famous. Although I have every respect for the industry represented by the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy), the description "Clyde-built," after all, is used throughout the world when one wants to refer to a heavy precision job carried out with the highest efficiency.
The hon. Member for Bothwell spoke of the need to make sure that we had exhausted the mineral resources of any part of the country before abandoning it. I was as interested as he was to read the references to and to hear discussions about proving the new seam of coking coal. It is one of the most essential and important things we could possibly have in view of the shortages of iron and steel.
Neither must we neglect the importance of agriculture. It is now one of the great consuming industries. We have now a tractor for every three and a half agricultural labourers in Britain, and there is a higher proportion in Scotland. Agriculture is one of the most highly mechanised industries in the country. Every agricultural labourer is now served by a large amount of machinery. The tractor of 1594 10 or 15 horse-power roughly represents about three horse-power for each worker. That is a very considerable figure and there are many bigger industries which are not mechanised to such an extent. It means that each agricultural labourer controls a force equal to 50 men or more.
Nor should we forget the sea, which was mentioned in an eloquent speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir). The countries round the North Sea take out of the sea in herring alone each year a weight of pure food equal to the whole of the pre-war meat exports from South America. That great amount of food is put on shore by what looks like the small business of herring drifters going out and coming in with their nets. White fishing, again, is a very important industry. These are industries which we have developed in the past. They are native to our shores. We must not neglect them in the future.
Tonight, however, I speak particularly for Glasgow, and particularly for my own constituency, and I say that shipbuilding, and the heavy industries of that great power-house of Scotland, ought to be fostered in every possible way. We have many documents on the subject. The reviews of industry which have been referred to in this debate have been supplemented recently by several others. There are the review by the Cairncross Committee, the review of the Three Banks, and an interesting review made by Colin Clark, the economist, writing from Australia, last March. He stressed the enormous amount of capital goods which would be necessary if the development of the undeveloped lands was to take place. If it is to take place at all something comparable to the great development of continental America in the 19th century is overdue.
I believe that the great works and factories of Scotland, which played such a part in the development of the railways and in the industrialisation of America, have a part like that to play in the new fields which lie before them; in the development of India, Pakistan, South-East Asia, and Africa. The Volta River Dam alone in West Africa, for example, is a project of enormous size. If we can link up our heavy industry with those great needs for capital development which are showing themselves throughout the 1595 world, I believe a field of enormous importance is available to our people in Scotland. I believe that it is a field which is not open to the same extent even to the great Republic of the United States of America, because, whilst we send out goods we are able to take goods in return, and the United States is more and more a self-sufficient unit. The plans for its development, although colossal, are plans for the development of a self-sufficient unit.
One of the most interesting recent reviews was that of the Materials Policy Commission of the President of the United States. I commend it to hon. Members. Giant economies are coming into existence—the giant economy of the United States and the giant economy of the Soviet Union. It is necessary for us to think out an industrial strategy to enable us to stand on equal terms with their enormous undertakings. I believe that with an integrated policy, especially with the countries of the sterling area, and the countries in the Empire and Commonwealth, we shall find the foundations for an economy which can look these two giant economies in the face.
It will be a difficult task. The United States are planning before 1975—within the next 23 years, a period shorter than the period for which we were legislating yesterday—to have 193 million people, and to double their output of energy. Today the United States produces half the energy in the world. In 23 years they propose to have as much as all the energy in the world today. Yet they reckon that within their owl boundaries they can increase by 200 per cent. the output of foodstuffs merely by the application of fertilisers and the use of modern machinery in the areas within their boundaries. We have nothing like that to look forward to. I do not believe that we shall get it merely by a policy of plastics and typewriters.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Is not the logic of this theory of international trade that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman should look to China and Russia and consider the possibilities of the development of East-West trade?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I was thinking more of a policy of trade within the sterling area and particularly within the Empire and Commonwealth, for these 1596 are people whom we know and with whom we have done trade, and we literally speak the same language. I think the Soviet Union will itself be a very formidable producer of heavy capital goods, and we should not seek to force our capital goods upon those who do not want them, for there are plenty of places where people do want them. I would rather build the Volta Dam than try to force my capital goods upon people who might not be very anxious to get them and might not be anxious to pay for them when they got them.
§ Mr. Hughes
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that one of the leading industrialists in Glasgow, the managing director of the North British Locomotive Company, takes an entirely different view, that he was at the Moscow Economic and Trade Conference and tried to do trade with them?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I am not anxious to prolong the debate. We have had one or two longish speeches and there are many hon. Members who wish to speak. I only wish to say this. Let us, at any rate, look after our own household first, and when we have done all we can do with that, let us see what we can do further afield; but let us, at any rate, make sure that we have produced adequate facilities and supplies for the people for whom we in this Committee have a certain responsibility.
Take steel pipes, for instance. The whole of our new towns at home might be held up for want of supplies of steel pipes. In Africa there are women walking eight and 10 miles to carry on their heads jars of water for cooking because of the lack of steel pipes which we could send from Glasgow to Africa. I saw the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. M. MacMillan) bounce upon his seat when water pipes were mentioned, and I would add that there are many places in Britain, too, where that development could be carried out. I only say that we should put the necessary things first. Let us be sure that we are conserving the scanty supplies which are available to us now, and using them in the right direction.
We all felt a pang of uneasiness when the hon. Member for Bothwell referred to thousands of square feet of factory space standing empty. We have to be sure 1597 that all the resources of which we have control are directed along lines where they will give the maximum possible return. I am sure that a general strategy for our industrial development is urgently necessary—[An HON. MEMBER: "Planning."] The hon. Member refers to planning. Again the President's Materials Policy Commission has some very useful sentiments on that matter which I commend to him.
None of us, and certainly none of the Tories, is against planning. We fought a revolution against the Whigs who denied that there should be any central control at all in this country. We lost for a time but we came back again, as we have done now.
Let me commend these words to the Committee:We believe in private enterprise as the most efficacious way of performing industrial tasks in the United States. We believe in a minimum of interference with its patterns, but this does not mean we believe this minimum must be set at zero. Private enterprise itself has often asked for help or restraints from government; we have thus long experienced a mixture of private and public influences on our economy. The Commission sees no reason either to blink this fact or to decry it, believing that the co-existence of great private and public strength is not only desirable but essential to our preservation.That is a slogan to which we on this side of the Committee can fully subscribe, and to which also I hope hon. Members opposite subscribe. The new writers of Socialist essays have given up the idea of finding Socialism. It is like the pea under the thimble; first you see it, then you do not. Which is it under? It is only a way of looking at things. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) cannot have read the most recent essays on the subject.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
There is no surer way of neglecting the other essays in a book than to write one of them oneself. I would only say, in conclusion, that on some combination of public and private enterprise the future of this country depends. I think we all subscribe to that, and I would hope that we should be able to work out in conjunction with each other the problems with which we are faced along that line. For time is short and our resources are scanty; we are in a hazardous position, and if we make a 1598 mistake now we may never get another chance.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Hubbard (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
I do not wish to follow the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvin-grove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot), except to say that this debate on industry and employment in Scotland has assumed far greater importance than such a debate has ever done before. This question of employment is of vital interest to the people of Scotland. I find it very difficult indeed to understand the statements made by the Government on increasing productivity and the demand that people should work harder to produce more, while at the same time we find that the figures of unemployment are rising steadily.
It would be very interesting indeed to know how those unfortunate people who, with fear in their hearts, go to the employment exchange to sign on either as fully unemployed or partially employed are to accept the invitation so readily issued to them to work harder and produce more. How are they going to respond to that invitation? Are they going to walk twice to the exchange and thus double their productivity? Nor can I understand the attempts that have been made to conceal the figures of unemployment.
I am glad to see the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour is with us tonight. I have been making a little investigation of my own, bearing in mind the statement he made a few weeks ago about unemployment figures in Scotland. I am finding that notwithstanding the fact that the Government made an appeal for people to continue in employment after the age of 65, many of them are today being paid off. The Minister of National Insurance, when introducing the new scales of benefit, emphasised the fact that the figure should be one which would induce people of retirement age to continue in employment so that we could maintain the figure of productivity.
Far from it being possible for old people to go back into industry when they are already on retirement pension, we are finding today, and it is almost inevitable when unemployment becomes the order of the day, that these old people are being suspended from employment. 1599 They do not go to register at the employment exchange, they go to the Ministry of National Insurance. It would be very interesting to have some figures of new applications for retirement pensions.
It is a matter that ought to worry every one of us and a matter of great importance as to how there can Le any future for Scotland or for the rest of the country if we are to be talking in terms of unemployment or under-employment or employment merely for employment's sake. Is it not true that the whole future of this country and that of the Government is dependent upon keeping up our productivity?
Have we forgotten that today the whole of the goods we have to import, including raw materials, have to be paid for by exports? That is the case with the great bulk of what we consume, an amount that, with an ever-growing population, becomes larger and larger. How can we indeed think in terms of full employment if we let up on our production figures even for a short period?
Production figures are bound to fall as unemployment figures grow, and the moment that there is an interruption in the chain of employment and productivity there is an interruption in exports. It follows that if there is an interruption in exports there is bound to be an interruption in imports, which means a shortage of raw materials and a shortage of food.
Surely that is the most important aspect of the present position in Scotland, and all over this country for that matter. Surely it is a time when the heads of all Departments ought to get together, and when there ought to be a great deal more co-operation between Department and Department.
I have studied very carefully many of the reports of delegations which went to other countries with the aim of trying to find better, more speedy and economical ways of production. At the same time as these efforts have been in progress we have seen a gross lack of understanding of our own industries.
I do not intend for one moment to be in conflict with my hon. Friend the Member for Bothwell (Mr. Timmons), who spoke about shifting mining population from Lanarkshire to Fife; it is 1600 obvious that coal is of tremendous importance. Only this week great pleasure was expressed by the Minister of Fuel and Power at the growing figures of coal production and the growing figures of coal exports, which mean so much to us in terms of the goods we need.
It is obvious that the coal that has to be won cannot be taken to the places where people live, and that the right place to mine coal is where coal can be most economically worked. So people have to be transferred to the coalfields, but it is perfectly true, as the hon. Member for Bothwell has said, that it ought not just to be a matter of stating "We can bring so many miners from Lanarkshire, or elsewhere into Fife, or the Lothians." If we attract the miner, we then have to hold him, and that means doing more than provide a house and employment for him. The whole of that miner's family must be taken into account, whether they be young or getting on in years. They too have to be provided with employment, and it must be suitable employment, not merely employment which provides them with a job. There is not nearly so much co-operation in that respect as there ought to be.
If miners or anyone else are brought into a new district they have to be provided with schools, churches, entertainments, transport and amenities. A number of new towns are developing where it is recognised that it is not enough merely to erect houses for people to live in. The new mine which is being sunk at Rothes, Fife, will be a miserable failure unless employment is provided for the different members of the miner's family. A house is a tremendous attraction, but unless we can hold the miners to their jobs we shall not make a success of getting them to settle where their work is needed.
I turn to the question of the ageing population in coalmining. I have spoken about this before and little regard has been paid to it. The most dangerous fact about the coalmines of Scotland today is that the coalface workers, the producers, are the ageing population in coalmining. That is a dangerous situation.
Coal is one of our key industries. Nineteen out of every 20 industries are dependent on it for power, light, heating and production. The fact cannot be 1601 over-emphasised that in another 10 years' time, unless something drastic is done to deal with that problem of the ageing population who are the coal producers, we shall be in a very desperate plight.
"Green" labour can be recruited for the coal mines, can be trained, and given "pit sense," as we say in some parts of Scotland. The mines can be flooded with labour, whether British or foreign, but no matter how many men are pumped into the coal mines we cannot increase coal production unless coalface workers can be kept up to the required numbers. I repeat that this part of the mining population is becoming elderly, and in that hard, laborious, uncongenial work a man ages more quickly than he would otherwise do.
One has to realise that particularly in the Scottish coalfields some coalface workers are on some occasions working in seams which are two feet high or a little more, and it can be seen how difficult it becomes for these ageing miners to continue doing that type of work. The present-day system of coal mining means that the ordinary individual worker does not see the coalface. It is hidden. The system of mining has completely changed in the last 15 or 20 years.
Whereas previously a man working at the coalface had some younger person working with him to learn the art of coal-mining and how to win coal from the coalface, because they worked at the place where the coal was won, that has ceased since the increasing mechanisation in the coalmines. There is now sometimes a coalface which is 100 or 200 yards long, which has a conveyor belt from top to bottom, and the young miner never sees the coalface.
One way of overcoming this problem is to see to it that better facilities are made available for the young men in the coalmines to gain that experience which is so necessary so that we can maintain the increased tempo of our coal production. I repeat what I have said in the House previously—we shall never get a continued supply of efficient joiners unless skilled joiners have apprentices working with them and learning the art and skill of the journeyman. And the same applies with a plumber, a bricklayer or anyone else. It amazes me that there is not more pressure coming from the Government to 1602 give the apprentice coal miner the same facilities as are given to apprentices in other industries. The coalmining industry is probably the greatest of all industries.
It is a matter of regret for me to see falling employment in the textile industry in my own area. I do not want to feel that we are in competition with Ireland, England or anybody else in regard to linen. We are all part of a great nation, presented with the same problem, but I do deplore the fact that recently a very large Government contract was sent to the North of Ireland where they had neither the machinery nor the labour to deal with it. At the same time, there are places in my own constituency which are actually gasping and begging for orders. That is not the way to deal with our problems.
I am satisfied that hon. Members on both sides of the Committee are just as conscious as I am of the need for keeping up our productivity and our exports. The time has come when we should have a re-examination of the whole problem. We should not continue to look at this problem as we did before, and even after the last war—in terms of distressed areas. We must have a new outlook.
During the difficult days in the past the miners saw man-made mountains of coal growing up round the pitheads. It meant that mechanisation was increasing the production of coal; but what did it mean to the miner? It meant that he would become unemployed. We have seen the introduction of new machinery and new methods of manufacturing goods, and the consequent speeding-up of production. It used to mean that people became unemployed, and possibly the most dangerous aspect of the present situation, when the volume of unemployment is growing again, is that we might see that same fear in the minds of our people—the fear that, in their response to the need for increased productivity, the faster they produce the more unemployment there will be. It is worth while spending some time planning and explaining so that that may be avoided. That fear must not be allowed to get into the minds of the workers again because, if it does, all our efforts will be in vain.
I represent the division of Kirkcaldy, which produced Adam Smith, the great economist who, although he did not belong to my party, had some wonderful 1603 things to say in his book "The Wealth of Nations," when he proved conclusively that the real wealth of our country was the capacity to produce. That is absolutely true, but I think that our capacity to produce ought to be coupled with something of equal importance—the guarantee of continued employment and the standards of life. We cannot have those things conflicting with each other.
We gain nothing by trying to exaggerate the increase of unemployment. The figures given by the Parliamentary Secretary are unreal, because they do not take into account those workers on part-time employment and the fact that so many old people are being paid off at the moment. If there is a future for Scotland at all, the problem can only be solved if we get down to some fresh thinking, and the sooner we do that the quicker we shall get results.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Major W. J. Anstruther-Gray (Berwick and East Lothian)
I am sure that the whole Committee will be very much in sympathy with the tone of the speech which has just been made by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Hubbard). I felt that he was very right in what he said about facilities being made available for the training of apprentice miners, because the increasing age level in the pits is certainly a danger to production. I also agreed with him in disagreeing with his hon. Friend the Member for Bothwell (Mr. Timmons), who complained that Lanark shire miners were being invited to go to the East of Scotland because that was where they were most needed.
I know that the hon. Member for Bothwell told tales of families from Lanarkshire who had unhappily not been made contented where they had gone, whether it was to the County of Fife or to East Lothian; but if I may speak for some Lanarkshire miners who are at present settled in East Lothian, I can say that they and their families have in many cases found themselves made very welcome and have found happiness. Looking at the hon. Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) I can speak with some feeling, because, I, too, know what it is to lose my job in North Lanark and to 1604 go to East Lothian and to find, after a somewhat lengthy period of approval, a resting place and a welcome.
§ Major Anstruther-Gray
Neither is life permanent for anybody. That brings me to the more serious part of our discussion.
What encouraged me most in the debate was the good tidings of the Under-Secretary of State in regard to steel production. Right glad I was to hear that Scotland is to receive a large proportion of the total scrap imports. How necessary that is, because there can be nothing that has threatened our national production and employment more over the last few years, in the most essential of heavy industries, than the shortage of steel. I want to emphasise the fact that I am speaking of the last few years.
In this connection, it is no good trying to score a cheap and unfair political point. I should like to quote from the "Clydesdale Review" of 1951—which is a period in which nobody can say that Her Majesty's present Government had responsibility. The review says:During the period under review, some of the smaller Scottish yards discharged workers owing to the shortage of steel.Then I come a little more up to date, but still in a period when the present Government were not responsible. I should like to quote from the "The Times Review of Industry" published this month:The disturbing shortage of steel and certain other materials is causing acute anxiety in Scottish heavy industries such as shipbuilding and engineering. For more than a year the shipbuilding industry has been suffering from restricted steel supplies and at a time when order books have never been heavier only two-thirds of its capacity is being utilised. Contracts secured in face of keen competition on guaranteed delivery dates are endangered by the meagreness of the allocation and irregularity of deliveries of the right type of steel at the time it is wanted.In view of that, I do not think that any English Member could object to Scotland being given a fair share of scrap for steel. Certainly nobody could be anything but encouraged to hear the news given to us by the Joint Under-Secretary in relation to future blast furnaces, iron-ore importing vessels and docking facilities, because all these things will be required if we are to hold our own in the future.
1605 I should like to go back to touch on a subject which affects my constituency very much, and that is the question of coal. We cannot feel complacent about the question of coal in Scotland. Despite the increased mechanisation, the level of output of coal in Scotland has remained virtually static over the past four years. This compares unfavourably with the improvement in other divisions of the National Coal Board in the United Kingdom.
Certainly we have heard a very encouraging statement by the Minister of Fuel and Power on exports for the country as a whole, but I suggest that we should look at the position of coal exports from Scotland. I think the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy) made some reference to it earlier in the debate.
I want to refer to a letter written in "The Scotsman" on 19th of last month by a man who said that before 1939 he was for over 20 years with a large coal exporting company in Leith and, as he pointed out, the tonnage of shipments from Leith had fallen in 1951 to one-tenth of the figure it was in 1938—and this applies not only to Leith but to all the exporting ports of Scotland where the same sorry tale can be observed. In 1938 Glasgow exported 1,700,000 tons, and last year only 400,000 tons.
§ Mr. Hubbard
I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not forgetting the fact that in those days, with which he is making the comparison, very little coal was being used in this country. The small size of our exports today is the measure of the amount of coal we have been using in this country. We have not the coal to export; surely that is the important thing. In those days, we were not using it in this country.
§ Major Anstruther-Gray
I wish I could accept that, but I am afraid that the low level of production is responsible in considerable part for the fact that the exports of coal are not so high as they were in days gone by.
§ Major Anstruther-Gray
Scottish production over the last four years has shown scarcely any improvement, and in that respect we have lagged behind other coal-producing areas in the United Kingdom. 1606 I must stick to my point. Going to Fyfe, in Methnil the exports of coal are now only 700,000 tons, whereas in 1938 they were 2½ million. I do not want to quote too many figures, but I think the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs will agree that in general it is disappointing that we in Scotland cannot export at a greater rate. He put forward proposals as to how young miners could have better training as apprentices and could be brought to do the work of elderly men, and he and I are united in wanting the Scottish coal trade to produce more and also to see greater exports from this country.
Perhaps I may now turn to the Cairn-cross Report, about which we all read in yesterday's Press, although I think very few hon. Members succeeded in getting a copy. That was a pity. I went to the office of the Development Council in Mayfair yesterday and asked for a copy, and I was told that none had come. Apparently there was one copy in the whole of London available; perhaps the Secretary of State had another copy, but certainly it seemed a great pity that copies were not available so that we could have read the Report in time for today.
This Report deals in particular with the location of industry and changes in the population. The Joint Under-Secretary of State very wisely said—and I expect the Secretary of State will do likewise—that he would not state any conclusions yet as a result of the Report, because there is a good deal in it which needs examination, but I was interested to see that in the 1951 Census preliminary report it is shown that the largest increase in population in Scotland over the last 20 years was in the small burghs. To me, that is a very encouraging fact, because I do not like too large a congregation of population in the big centres. I think it is much better that people should be dispersed more evenly over the country.
The Report went on to say that very few of the 144 burghs had lost in population. Indeed, of that 144 with a population of over 2,000 only 21 had decreased between 1931 and 1951, though I am sorry to note, in passing, that two of them were in my own constituency—Haddington and Eyemouth. But, turning over the page, I am encouraged to think that it does not matter so much, for between 1947 and 1950 both the counties 1607 of East Lothian and Berwickshire showed an increase in population.
Perhaps I may go from there to the very important point—from the point of view of any one who represents a considerable rural area: how can we hope to attract new industries and to keep what population we have in their present work? This Report leaves us in no doubt. Paragraph 88 says:Among the most important services which the industrialist looks for is passenger transport; indeed, more than one of the organisations we have consulted have told us that lack of a good transport system is one of the main obstacles to industrial expansion in a country area.There is not a single hon. Member representing a rural area who could not have told the writers of this Report that that was only too true. The Report goes on to say:It has been suggested that this encourages a drift of population away from the countryside.Of course it encourages a drift of population away from the countryside; nothing is more important than to have a reasonable transport service.
I agree that it is not the only thing needed. Housing, which we debated the other day, is one of the most important things, and another is the provision of reasonable cinema facilities; and I commend that to the attention of the Government. As for attracting development itself, without dealing with the personal side, I suggest to my right hon. Friend that if he were to take a glance at development charges under the Town and Country Planning Act he would be getting pretty near to the root of the problem.
Perhaps I may turn to some of the findings of the Cairncross Report, which I commend to hon. Members now that it can be obtained, for it is well worth reading. It says:First of all there is evidence of a general change favourable to towns and districts lying outside the main industrial areas of Scotland.That is all to the good. Secondly, they say, "We have been impressed by the amount of industrial development already in progress in country towns and districts and by the number of country towns that are expanding in population.That, again, will be generally welcomed by people in Scotland.
1608 Thirdly, I come to a point on which I want to close; for they say that,The fishing towns and villages are the main exception to these favourable developments. Some mining towns are also in process of contraction. Of the two, the fishing towns present the more serious problem.It is stated later that all the fishing towns, indeed all the seaports on the East of Scotland, with the exception of Aberdeen, are contracting. That, I may say, is a sorry state of affairs for the representative of Dunbar and Cockenzie and Burn-mouth and Eyemouth. That is sorry news, because they are very worthy people who live by the sea—a people on whom we count in time of war. If the population falls away, how are we to replace them when the time comes, if they are needed.
However, this is not the opportunity to discuss fishing at all, so I must leave that out of my argument, but I do think that it is up to the Scottish Office to make every effort it can to keep the piers and the harbours of these villages in good repair. After all, it is not only fishing vessels that use a port such as Eyemouth. It is by no means impossible that the Admiralty may find it valuable in defence to have such a port in which to seek refuge, if need be.
It is by no means impossible, either, that more sea trade should be developed. For instance, why should the raw materials for the Chirnside Paper Mills have to go all the way by road from Leith instead of by sea to Eyemouth, and thence by road to Chirnside? The latter way by sea would be more economic. I do ask my right hon. Friend to look with kindly eye on any appeal that may come from Eyemouth for assistance with its harbour, in order that the town may be helped to keep its personality and to keep its population—helped to keep its population from shrinking and, instead, to expand it. That is what we want—expansion of the population in places like Eyemouth, and more of the right people on whom we can depend through thick and thin.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
I hope to be very brief because I have only a few points to make; after all, I am an engineer, and engineers are used not to weaving patterns and generally come straight to the point. I had my 1609 training as an engineer in South Wales, which, between the wars, was a country with circumstances very similar to those of Scotland, in that we had considerable unemployment. Those of us who were engineers had to move from South Wales to areas where there were lighter industries. I went to Birmingham, and there I met many Scots who had come from Scotland to the Midlands of England.
When I was adopted as prospective representative for a Scottish division I gave up my job as a toolmaker in Birmingham and went to live in Scotland, and there I found a number of toolmakers who had come back to Scotland to work as toolmakers. They were highly skilled men who had been trained in heavy engineering; they were young and adaptable, and very good toolmakers—and I reckon to be a judge of a good toolmaker.
They were first-class men but, unfortunately, 99 out of every 100 of them looked upon their jobs in Scotland as being transient. They were looking to the time, not wishfully, when they would go back to the Midlands—to Coventry—or to London and the South as toolmakers. They remembered what their fathers had experienced in the past, and felt that their firms, being subsidiaries of major companies in the South, or of major companies in the United States of America, would be closed down should a recession come. So they were not taking root as skilled artisans in their home country.
Many young men asked me for the addresses of engineering firms for whom I had worked in the Midlands, because they were afraid—I apologise for having to say this, but I am trying to tell the Committee exactly what was of immediate moment to those people—that a Tory Government would come back and that if a Tory Government came back there would be further unemployment and the depression of the pre-war years. That was invariably what was said. They thought the thing to do was to go South as toolmakers and engineers.
I was rather surprised that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kolvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot)—I am sorry that he has left his place—talk about concentrating on our traditional industries. Well, of course, I agree it is vital that Clydeside should maintain 1610 its standards of shipbuilding and its long experience of the production of ships—not only of quality, but economically produced.
Unfortunately, however, the development of the technique of production in the shipbuilding industry depends today more than ever on the regular flow of the essential raw materials for the construction of ships. If there is any irregularity in the supply of materials, if the machine tools are held up for hours, if machine hours are lost, if men are idle and the machines not producing maximum output, costs of production are raised, besides the delay of completion of the work.
I know that on Clydeside there are engineers, members of my own union, the Amalgamated Engineering Union, who are working day work now whereas 12 months ago they were working piecework, and this is because of the irregularity and insufficiency of the supply of steel. This not only delays delivery dates of heavy capital goods—ships, locomotives, heavy machine tools—but is increasing costs, because in modern engineering a smooth flow in the processes of production is the first essential.
We, when we were apprentices, used to go to night-school to learn theory and mathematics which we could not learn at the elementary school. When I was a boy we worked long hours—10½ hours a day. That was not so very many years ago. Today engineering work is so fast and so tiring that I challenge any boy who is serving an apprenticeship in the engineering trade adequately to provide himself with the technical knowledge necessary in mathematics, metallurgy, draughtsmanship at night school.
I am surprised to find in this Report that attendance at schools outside working hours still remains the principal way in which the apprentice who desires higher qualifications and technical theory and knowledge can obtain them in Scotland. I have worked for some big plants, and our boys had their technical education during working hours. [An HON. MEMBER: "Where?"] In the Midlands. I can name the firm—Messrs. Fisher and Ludlow in Birmingham. The Austin Motor Co. sent all their apprentices to the Birmingham Central Technical College, and paid their wages, and gave them an annual bonus based upon 1611 the marks they got at the college they were attending.
That should be done in every field of the engineering trade when boys serve their apprenticeship. The practical training should be carried out at the bench, and at technical college where they learn theory and higher mathematics which they must have before they become skilled engineers. That should be done at the expense of the industry in which they are going to render life service. I hope that in Scotland the right hon. Gentleman will use all the influence and power he has to see that apprentices in the engineering industry are enabled to go to school during working hours and be paid while they are there so that they may acquire the higher technical knowledge that it is necessary for them to have if they are to give of their best in the engineering industry.
One or two firms do this, and I think it is becoming generally recognised that, if we are to get the best technical development, and if we are to keep abreast in industrial techniques and developments with the rest of the world, let alone hold a leading place, we must do this at least.
I now wish to mention the allocation id houses for key workers. Now, this is a very serious problem. A toolmaker used to be called a journeyman, because he went into a small factory in London, Coventry, or any where in the Midlands, producing buttons, safety pins, or anything else. He would knock at the door, as it were, in the morning, and say, "Do you want any tools?"; they would reply, "Yes, we have an order for a million safety pins. You have got a tool we want," and he would do the job. In my union there are men who move all over the country as tool-maker journeymen in all sorts of trades.
I have had to deal with the case of a skilled man who moved to Scotland from London because his house in London was allocated to a key worker. This tool-maker accepted the house as a key worker, had a row with his firm—nothing unusual for a tool-maker, because they are very intelligent people—but because the house he was living in was allocated, not to him, but to the firm for a key worker it had become a tied house for the firm by which he was employed. If, say, a dozen houses are 1612 allocated to a firm on the assumption that the firm allocate them to key workers, the workers occupying those houses become the occupants of tied houses; they are allocated those houses on the basis of a contractual agreement with the firm as key workers. Now make no mistake about it. Skilled workers will not stand for that.
In the Report it says that houses are allocated to key workers. What is the key worker? The firm or the man? If a man works for a firm and has a house because he is a skilled worker in a branch of engineering, no matter what firm he works for, so long as he pursues his occupation of, say, a skilled toolmaker, for which he was allocated that house, he should continue to occupy the house. Who is to judge who is the key worker? The firm? The young fellow I have in mind was named Mr. Frank Murray. He went to another firm in the same area, who said that he was not a key worker. This poor fellow is now living in the poor house, and his wife and family are living somewhere else.
§ Mr. James McInnes (Glasgow, Central)
I am very interested in this. If the firm are not the judge of who is the key worker, who is the judge? Is it the man himself?
§ Mr. McInnes
As I understand it, the local Ministry of Labour and the local authority are all consulted in the allocation of these houses.
§ Mr. Bence
I have no doubt that the Ministry of Labour have been consulted, but the fact is that the firm have sacked this man; he has gone to work for another firm, and the house is allocated to the firm and not to the man, although he is performing a highly skilled job for the other firm. But that firm says he is not a key worker. That is the point. To whom are these houses allocated, the firm or the skilled worker? If this sort of thing goes on there will be the greatest difficulty in getting journeymen toolmakers in my union to move to where they are needed to do these highly skilled specialised jobs, and we shall not 1613 have the mobility of skilled labour so vital to our economy if that sort of thing goes on.
The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Commander Galbraith)
Would the hon. Gentleman tell us when this incident to which he refers happened? It is a matter of very great interest.
§ Mr. Bence
It was in March. I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman is aware of the case. I have had a lot of correspondence on this issue with the Secretary of State for Scotland. I admit that there are various snags, but the point is that the Report says these houses are allocated to key workers; it does not say that they are allocated to key workers on the understanding that they work for a firm to whom the houses have been allocated. If they are allotted to key workers, it must be irrespective of the firm by whom they are employed, provided they are performing what is termed highly skilled jobs, or key jobs. That is the only thing with which I am concerned in this respect.
The Joint Under-Secretary referred to the effect of the Bank rate. Many of the industrial units in Scotland—and I have been in several of the smaller ones—are not complete production units in themselves. In one firm I was shown round by the chief engineer they were in the process of becoming an engineering production unit. Some are importing all their tools, some from America and some from London and Coventry. Elsewhere they were making tools and exporting them from Scotland, while other parts of the unit were being developed and built up so that they could keep their tools and tool-up their own production. They were, in fact, complete units. That applies to many factories.
I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) will agree that over the past two years many small, growing firms have not themselves been complete production units from the raw material to the finished product. Now, no factory or engineering unit will get rooted and evolve around itself an indigenous population unless it is a complete production unit, and any action taken by Her Majesty's Government to frustrate the evolution of these part units, as I call them, into a complete unit will prevent 1614 the development of an indigenous population around a complete engineering production unit.
The increase of the Bank Rate must obviously frustrate the capital development of these units, and the limited credit available is bound to react on those small factory units in the industrial estates of Scotland. I dare say the same will happen in Wales. There will be the necessity of spending more money on that expansion and the higher bank charges will force the parent company to intensify its development at the centre rather than outside it.
I ask the Joint Under-Secretary of State to try to ensure that the present Government will not depend entirely upon the Bank rate as an instrument for the regulation of credit in the development of the engineering industry or any other industry. Many of the hon. Gentleman's friends on the benches behind him have stated today and on other occasions when economic questions have been debated that the increase of the Bank rate creates a selected process whereby capital flows into those channels which are best for the country as a whole. That is not true. If this instrument is to be relied upon, as many hon. Members opposite want it to be, and the financial policy of the present Government is moving in that direction, because they want to reduce physical controls and bring back monetary controls, it will not lead to the direction of capital into those resources and industries which are most necessary to the community.
The flow of money is likely to be the other way. It will flow where the greatest profit is to be made. I hope therefore that the physical factor in the allocation of licences and premises will completely override any selective operation that may arise from the operation of the Bank rate. I should like to see the Public Works Loans Board operating at a very low rate of interest—far below the commercial rate of interest—and advancing money for the building on industrial estates of factories belonging to the Ministry of Supply, instead of it being allowed to flow off to major and subsidiary companies in the South or in the Midlands, or to the United States. I should like to see these factories built up by the Ministry of Supply at low interest rates so that the workers of Scotland can feel assured that they will 1615 not be thrown off by a recession of trade in Britain and the closing down of firms like Burroughs and Watts and other firms in Lanarkshire and other parts of Scotland.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. W. S. Duthie (Banff)
I should like the Committee to devote its attention for a little to the north-east of Scotland, where we have in evidence some of the symptoms which have been associated with the Highlands decline. The population figures in some of these more important towns are going down. There is a drift away of our skilled workers, and the hard core of unemployment in the Banffshire coastal belt is very much greater than the average figure for the rest of the country.
This is a matter which has been exercising our attention in the north-east of Scotland for a very long time. I have had frequent correspondence with St. Andrew's House on this matter. In March, 1951, I received a letter from the right hon Gentleman the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil), who was then Secretary of State for Scotland, which contained a very reassuring message to the effect that the Government were most cordially inclined to the development of industry along the Moray Firth coast. British Railways immediately followed this up by closing the passenger service on the Macduff—Inveramsay line.
The hon. and gallant Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Major Anstruther-Gray) mentioned the Cairn-cross Report's reference to the fishing towns and villages:The fishing towns and villages are the main exception to these favourable developments. Some mining towns are also in process of contraction. Of the two the fishing towns present the more serious problem.I should like to examine some of the considerations appertaining to the fishing industry. In the Moray Firth coastal belt, of which Banffshire is the geographical centre, practically from Aberdeen to Inverness, the towns are almost entirely dependent on the fishing industry. We are seeing the draining away of men from the fishing industry all the time. The Hydro-Electric Scheme at Cannick is already largely staffed by fishermen. The reason for this recession from the fishing industry is the recent poor fishing seasons and the prohibitive cost of vessels and 1616 gear. We have a herring fleet, but in many cases it is obsolescent, if not obsolete.
I would point out to the Secretary of State for Scotland that the hold-up of any announcement of the Government's intentions concerning grants and loans is a further factor mitigating against the development of the fishing industry. The provisions under the Herring Industry Act expire in August, 1952, and the Inshore Fishing Industry Act provisions expire in December, 1952. The time at the disposal of the fishermen is not sufficient for them to obtain any vessels or even gear under these provisions. A Government statement on this matter is overdue, and I urge the Secretary of State for Scotland to make that statement without further delay. I have mentioned before the difficulty of getting crews. We have seaworthy vessels which are tied up in our ports but which are unable to go to sea because of lack of crews. All this tends to discourage the younger people from entering the fishing industry.
Another very serious factor, the importance of which I cannot too strongly stress, is the falling into disuse of certain fishing ports. Buckie is typical of many others. It has a first-class harbour and, what is more important, unrivalled shore facilities, not only as regards equipment, but from the point of view of expert personnel to handle the fish. From one month's end to another, scarcely a fish is being landed at the port.
There may be a number of reasons which contribute to this state of affairs. In certain ports, there has been the canard of poor prices being obtained locally. It is within the province of the White Fish Authority to lay that bogey for all time. Indeed, it is their duty to do so. That is part and parcel of their terms of reference. The Herring Industry Board and the White Fish Authority ought to, and can, ensure that all these ports are brought into operation, by the licensing of vessels to fish from them, and by the direction of landings, coupled with the provision and the building up of facilities for processing fish, for freezing, and for the production in ever-increasing measure of herring oil and fish meal.
These are vital considerations if our fishing industry as we know it in Scotland is to continue. It must be remembered that in the case of a fishing port, a 1617 busy harbour means a busy and prosperous town. Since the entire economic strength of the area comes from the fishing industry, let us have all these towns—for it is within our power to bring it about—prosperous and busy.
If our fishing industry becomes prosperous again along the Moray Firth coastal belt, other industries will follow. We want other industries to come, but we need to develop the one industry that Nature has placed in our hands—he fishing industry—and we want every possible assistance from the Government to bring that about.
In considering this, we must have protection for our territorial waters. This is a matter that has been referred to on many occasions from all sides of the House, but since The Hague Convention we know what has occurred with Iceland, and we do not know what will happen with other countries. It is our bounden duty to ensure that the waters upon which our inshore fishermen are entirely dependent are protected for them. I refer in particular to the Moray Firth, the Firth of Clyde and the Minch.
Despite all our wishes, hopes and efforts for the fishing and other industries in this North-East Coast of ours, all will fail unless something can be done about transport costs, which today are completely prohibitive. The announcements from time to time by the White Fish Authority of their plans for the equalisation of fish transport rates are, no doubt, very good. We anxiously await details, but so far they have been withheld from us.
But equalisation of rates for fish alone is not enough. If we are to succeed industrially, those factories that now operate in the North—and we have some very good ones for instance, at Keith, in Banffshire, where we have two of the best woollen manufacturers in the country, and the same applies to Huntly and to other places—should not be made to operate at a distinct disadvantage in comparison with the factories further south.
The transport of raw materials to the factories by rail, and the transport away of the finished articles, puts these factories at a disadvantage. It is vitally necessary that something must be done for this northern part of Scotland in connection with transport rates. It is en- 1618 cumbent upon the Government, with the nationalised transport industry, to ensure that this is brought about.
Government action is imperative, because without it the industries that we now have will be lost to us, with the possible exception of agriculture and distilling. Through the tremendous extra costs that we have to pay for fuel and for gear for the fishing industry, largely as a result of transport charges, our fishing industry will slowly but surely leave the North of Scotland and concentrate upon the bigger ports further south.
I plead with the Government to give this matter their urgent consideration, because, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian has said, we cannot afford to lose our fishing population on the coast. It is to them that we have to turn in our hour of need to man the vessels that will defeat the submarine menace of the future, as they have done in the past.
In connection with the hydro-electric development in the North, we see great indications of dams being built and power being generated. As a nation we have to take a leaf out of the book of Canada and the United States in this matter. Their industries have gone as near as possible to the source of supply as in the case of Niagara, Oregon, and the Tennessee Valley. We see industries going to the seat of power there, but in our glens in Scotland we have plenty of power and room for expansion. All we want is goodwill and forceful action in this regard.
I appeal to the Government to see that we have a fair share of Government contracts in the north so far as wool manufacture and other things are concerned. On the Moray Firth coast we build the finest class of wooden craft that sails the sea and our ships from Aberdeen will bear comparison even with those of the Clyde. Particularly in fishing craft there is nothing which can touch the north-east coast. I plead with my right hon. Friend that the maximum number of contracts for that type of craft should go to our northern yards. We should remember that this part of the world produces the finest seamen and it is this area in which the 51st Division has been cradled and brought up for two generations. All we say is, give us the conditions under 1619 which success is remotely possible and we will prove in peace equally successful as we are in war.
§ Mr. Manuel
On a point of information, Mr. Colegate. May I have guidance as to the method by which hon. Members are called in this Committee? I understand that you have a list and I understand that some representations have been made to you from those wanting to speak, but that that list is not even adhered to. Is there any way by which we may receive guidance from the Chair as to how I may put questions affecting my constituency?
§ The Temporary Chairman
No, I fear not. The calling of hon. Members in a debate is left entirely to the discretion of the Chair and no reasons are given.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
Further to that point of information, may I ask whether speakers are being selected on a territorial, geographical, or other basis? For your information, Mr. Colegate, I gave notice about a week ago that I desired to speak in this debate and my name was the first to be received. I have been here all day and have not had tea and dinner.
§ The Temporary Chairman
Order. I cannot allow a discussion of this kind. Hon. Members may rely on representations—of which the Chair gets many—being considered, but they must leave the calling of hon. Members to the discretion of the Chair.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. David J. Pryde (Midlothian and Peebles)
I wish to compliment the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland who initiated the debate. I think everyone will agree that he made the best of a bad job. He certainly presented the case with all the trappings of success, but any debate in this Chamber will require to be very effective indeed if it is to cure Scotland's ills.
At Question time today we had the President of the Board of Trade defending the importation of bricks. There requires to be no importation of bricks into Scotland. We in Midlothian can make all the bricks we require in Scotland for building construction in Scotland.
1620 Since 1945 I have never at any time hidden my views in regard to government in Scotland. I cast no reflection on anyone, but to the previous Prime Minister in the first majority Labour Government I clearly stated my position. I said then, and I say again, that government in Scotland will never be effective until the work of the Board of Trade, the work of the Ministry of Works and the work of the Ministry of Supply come under the aegis of the Secretary of State for Scotland.
In approaching the Prime Minister of the day, I find that he performs a picturesque political polka and refers me to the Catto Committee, which will be followed by a Royal Commission. I have been a student of political history all my days and I always find that whenever the Government of the day get into a jam, they resort to a Royal Commission. Scotland today is suffering from the ills of Government from Westminster. It is all nonsense to say that people in Scotland are not suffering from unemployment. In my own constituency I have carpet weavers who work only three days a fortnight and paper makers and textile workers who also are working short time.
The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland mentioned the Government giving out contracts in Scotland. I should like whoever is to reply for the Government to answer a question regarding the handing out of those contracts. One contract went to Aberdeen and I was told that was because there was a considerable amount of unemployment there; but on inquiry I found that the unemployment was among the fishermen engaged in the fishing industry. I was told that one contract went to Tillicoultry. Well, one would require a magnifying glass to see Tillicoultry compared with places like Hawick and Galashiels and Peebles, with regard to weaving.
In regard to my own constituency, I have on previous occasions pointed to the fact that there has been ample opportunity for the Government of the day, whether it be Labour or Conservative, to live up to its policy, because in Midlothian there are two parishes scheduled for development in the Caldars area of Midlothian which have never had any relief at all either in regard to defence contracts or any other section of industrial activity.
1621 There is a considerable percentage of unemployment there today and work-people have to travel journeys lasting from an hour to an hour-and-a-half in the bus to get to their work if they wish to find employment in other parts of Scotland. I want the Government to tell us whether it is possible for some defence contracts to be allocated to that area of Midlothian.
I have endeavoured to cement good relationships in the southern portion of my constituency between the workers and the employers on the banks of the Tweed. We in Midlothian and Peebles recognise that if the wheels of industry are not turning there will be little for either one side of industry or the other. I never interfere in wage disputes. I leave that to the trade unions and other appropriate organisations, and I think that is the spirit which will have to pervade the whole of this Committee if we are to overcome the present crisis.
The Committee listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Bothwell (Mr. Timmons), who made a searing and scorching speech which contained a great many true facts, although he may have exaggerated in some portions in regard to the transportation of miners from Lanarkshire to Midlothian, where we are building houses quicker than anywhere else in Scotland.
We have firms which make a special feature of quick building, like Messrs. Cruden of Musselburgh. We are building houses so quickly that we cannot provide the social amenities for the inhabitants, because there is a shortage of steel. We require schools and churches and other social amenities in the shape of halls. The Midlothian County Council is doing something which is not being done in any other part of Britain today. We are tackling the building of a great new town at Newtongrange with a target of 50,000 inhabitants, without the assistance of the New Towns Act, but solely from the main-spring of the county council, and I think that the Committee should give consideration to that county council—
§ Mr. Pryde
Yes, and credit. The Midlothian County Council believes in the old Scottish maxim of doing something for themselves.
1622 I think I have given the Secretary of State for Scotland sufficient grounds for considering one county council which is making an effort for itself. I ask him to tell the Committee whether we shall get any assistance in Midlothian in the building of the new town. We require roads, and so on, and we cannot do all the work ourselves. I want to make sure that when the contracts are handed out the firms in Midlothian and Peebles will get their share.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Commander C. E. M. Donaldson (Roxburgh and Selkirk)
I do not think that the Committee will mind if I do not follow the hon. Member for Midlothian and Peebles (Mr. Pryde) too closely, although I am in sympathy with him and he is my next-door neighbour in Scotland. We have many things in common in the Border country. Though I do not propose to follow his argument about the new town, I am fully in sympathy with what he said about employment.
In his constituency there are carpet weavers and others. In my constituency we are interested in the great wool textile trade, the Border tweed mills, hosiery and the manufacture of rayon in the North British Rayon Mills at Jedburgh. It is in the last particular that I wish to call the attention of my hon. and right hon. Friends to the fact that we are conscious of recessions in the textile industry in Scotland equal to those about which we have heard so much in other parts of the country in debates on other topics in the last few months.
I specially wish to draw the attention of my right hon. Friend to the fact that in Scotland there is a great rayon industry. The mill in Jedburgh supplies about 68 per cent. of the employment in that old Royal Burgh at the centre of the Border. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will remember the time and the reason why that mill was established there. We now have a situation in which, due to world conditions which were becoming apparent at least as early as this time last year, we have heavy unemployment.
This is a serious matter. This week we have seen on the Order Paper Questions to the Ministers responsible for various Government Departments, including the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, asking whether they are to place orders for rayon 1623 goods which may be used in those Services. That will in turn assist re-armament and also the rayon industry.
The labour is available. Some of us have sat here for five hours hoping to join in this discussion, and I do not wish to weary the Committee by producing statisics. It is no use to a man who is unemployed to study a list of statistics. He knows that he is out of work. Even though the number is small, whether it be 3.6 per cent. for Scotland as a whole, it is 100 per cent. unemployment for him. He is the fellow who is interested.
This firm was put in Jedburgh for the manufacture of rayon thread which is supplied to the retail manufacturers in other parts of Britain. We have had announcements of collaboration between the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Supply in connection with a stimulus for the industry, but it may be some time before the effect of these Government contracts is felt on unemployment in the mill which produces the actual thread.
This was a new industry in the Border. For generations, indeed for centuries, the basic industry has been connected in one way or another with the wool trade. As the hon. Member for Midlothian and Peebles knows, because there are similar conditions in his constituency, we have surrounding us hills and hill farms. The raw materials were there. It was from there that the art of spinning and carding came. We had also the introduction of tweed. There is no need for me to go into the history of tweed, but we in the Border country manufacture and export, in proportion to the size of the industry, one of the most valuable dollar earners sent from any part of Britain. In textile debates in the past, I have endeavoured to interject a suggestion which has never been fully stressed in this period of time. It is the fact that we have a particular interest in Scotland in the textile industry, and we also have associated with it the great upbuilding of the hosiery industry.
The hon. Member for Midlothian and Peebles mentioned one or two burghs in my constituency, including Hawick, where we have the centre of the Scottish hosiery industry. It is true to say that, in the course of last year—and our records prove this—the dollar-earning 1624 capacity of the export trade was greater per man in this industry than in any other industry in Britain. It is the proud boast of the Border people that they have the energy and the desire, the will, the knowledge and the craftsmanship and all those things which are necessary for the expansion of this industry, but it is the unfortunate fact that, in the history of the past 50 years, the population has remained static.
Our fear is that the population may start to go down. We do not wish to see a situation like that which we have had in the Highlands, and I do not believe that it will happen. Although I cannot speak for new scheduled development areas or for new towns, it is my personal belief that the steady, solid and basic grip of the Border people on their destiny, and their ability, will ensure that they remain there; but their numbers should be increased.
It is my belief that the introduction of a few light industries, carefully planned, into the Border area, would be effective in meeting the difficulty which has to be faced in the whole of the south-eastern area of Scotland. Whenever there is a recession—and let us not try to place blame for it, because it is a world condition, from which the whole woollen industry is suffering—all the people in all walks of life are affected by it, and we really need a little more diversification of light industry so that workers who may be temporarily unemployed may find some other work to do.
There is ample employment for women, but it is essential, in my view, in planning for future industrial development in south-eastern Scotland, that consideration should be given by employers, chambers of commerce, and by all those interested in the real and genuine needs of southeastern Scotland, to the future development of various light industries in the Border area, in association with housing and all those other things which are necessary to fit in with those industries.
In conclusion, there is one other topic I should like to mention, and it relates to the new organisation which has been set up at St. Andrew's House. There has been no mention in the whole of the discussion today about the industrial development of Scotland of the new Minister of State for Scotland and the functions which he fulfils in Scotland. 1625 The object of his appointment was that he should be present in Scotland at all times, so as to have his finger on the pulse of Scotland's needs.
All of us who have had occasion to go to St. Andrew's House have been glad to find the Minister's wide understanding, appreciation, knowledge and application to his duties, and I commend to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the Committee the idea that, if they have any specific difficulty in their constituencies, they can go in confidence to the new set-up in St. Andrew's House, which is really working effectively, and they will receive real understanding and the answers to the problems and the difficulties affecting the well-being of industry in Scotland and of all who live within its borders.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
I want very briefly to draw attention to some very serious faults in and omissions from the 1951 Annual Report on Industry and Employment in Scotland. The particular matter to which I wish to draw the attention of the Committee is the manner in which this Report deals with Canadian trade and export trade. In the circumstances, I shall have to do so very briefly, and possibly in a staccato way.
This Report differs from its predecessor, which was a complete, comprehensive and stimulating survey of the field with which it purported to deal. This Report is in strange, striking and prejudicial contrast to its predecessor. The 1950 Report devoted a whole chapter to 12 informative sections on American and Canadian participation in Scottish industry. The 1951 Report has no such chapter. It is silent on Canada and on the United States and with regard to any trade with the New World. Indeed, so far as this Report is concerned they might not exist.
My second point is that the 1950 Report devoted a whole chapter of nine informative sections to Scottish exports, whereas the 1951 Report has no such explanatory chapter.
Lest it might be felt that my observations are in some way an attack upon the civil servants who are responsible for the Report, let me say at once that this is not so. The civil servants, with that scrupulous clarity which is characteristic 1626 of them, have compiled under various heads the statistics and presented them. But it is always for the Minister to select which heads shall be included in the Report, and in this instance the Secretary of State has chosen to leave out certain very important heads.
The country is entitled to know why these things were left out; why Canada and the United States are neglected. I submit that this is contrary to the interests of Scotland. I am a strong believer in the solidarity of the British Commonwealth of Nations and of the business intercourse and brotherhood between them. I think that Canadian trade is and would be beneficial to Scotland. It is a growing plant which should be nurtured. I hope to have the pleasure of going to Canada this year and of studying it on the spot, when I shall certainly do what lies in my power to promote Scottish interests there.
The Government may think that our export trade with Canada is so trivial a matter that it does not need to be mentioned and that it is rightly omitted from the Report. I venture to differ, and I am sure the Committee will agree with me when I draw attention to one paragraph in the 1950 Report in order to show the contrast between the two years. As I have said, the present 1951 Report does not refer to this matter at all whereas the 1950 Report referred to it in this graphic and stimulating way:For 300 years Scotland has sent her sons and daughters to Canada and the United States. The products of her factories have helped to build up the industrial strength of both countries, and her companies have established enterprises there. In the last half-century, however, the industrial balance of the world has changed, and the wealth put by Scotland into North America in the past has begun flowing back. Indeed, before long there will be some thirty companies in Scotland either controlled by, or closely associated with, firms in the United States and Canada, and the direct employment they provide is approaching 40,000; indirectly they give employment to several thousands more.That stimulating Report then goes on to deal with the American and Canadian participation in Scottish industry under the following heads, "Pre-war Developments," "American Enterprises Since The War," "Reasons For American Investment in Britain," "Why American Firms Come to Scotland," "The Scottish Council's Contribution," "Future Prospects" and "Other Relations With 1627 North America." That Report actually gave a list of Canadian firms interested in Scotland and of Scottish firms interested in Canada, but yet the Report for this year does not say one word about that. I have lists of Canadian firms which have branches in Scotland and of Scottish firms which have branches in Canada. Why should those lists be confined to me? Why should they not be recognised in the Report?
I promised to speak for not longer than five minutes. I cannot hope to cover this whole subject in that short space of time, but I beg the Secretary of State to direct his attention to this matter and to explain to the Committee and to the country why Canada and Canadian trade are completely excluded from this Report in contrast with the graphic and helpful way in which it was included in the Report of the previous year.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
It is regrettable, if inevitable, that some of our colleagues on both sides of the Committee have failed to catch the Chairman's eye because, after all, this As probably the most important debate of Scottish affairs that we have in the whole Session. I think that no one can have any doubt at all about the quality or the profitability of the debate. It was Burns, in his address to the Scotch representatives of his day, who gave them a certain amount of advice when he said:Some o' ye nicely ken the lawsTo round the period, and pauseThen with rhetoric clause on clauseTae mak' haranguesThen echo through St. Stephen's wa'sAuld Scotland's wrangs.There is no doubt at all that if the Secretary of State was paying attention to the speeches which have been made—as indeed he was—he will be aware that all is not yet well in Scotland. I ought to pay tribute to the very good maiden speech of the hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. Brooman-White). Two of the points which he rightly dwelt upon are points to which I hope to return in the course of my remarks. I hope also to touch upon certain aspects of the speech of the Joint Under-Secretary. The hon. Gentleman has had a pretty hectic three days, and indeed a pretty hectic day 1628 today—as have all Scottish Members of Parliament.
This is the second debate we have had today. We started at 10.30 a.m. in the Scottish Grand Committee to debate education, and it was the Joint Under-Secretary who opened this debate who this morning wound up for the Government. I hope the hon. Gentleman will not take it too hardly if I say that he must have taken a little too much out of himself this morning, because in my opinion he failed to give an assurance to this Committee that the Government are as concerned about the position as they should be. He certainly gave us no real indication of the Government's policy for further development.
His attitude to certain aspects, particularly to the loss of John Deer, when he shrugged his shoulders and smiled to the effect that it did not matter very much, was something which frightened me. I hope to return to that point. We have monopolised the time of the Committee and have made pretty good use of it. We have brought the searchlight of Parliamentary opinion once again on to Scottish industry.
In recent debates we have dealt with education, social services, health charges, housing and housing subsidies. But there is one point that we must not lose sight of, and that is the fact that all these things are maintained by and are entirely dependent upon the wealth of our industries and employment. Indeed, the whole social fabric of Scotland depends in the ultimate on our success in developing efficiently the Scottish resources. We must make the most nationally profitable use of our resources of manpower and material. This is not merely desirable; it is absolutely vital.
In the present circumstances, when the heavy burden of defence is added to the task of sustaining the standard of life, the demand is for a high standard of life, and justifiably so, the responsibility upon the Government is all the greater, and they cannot ignore that responsibility or pass it on to some irresponsible group or section in the community. The development of employment and industry is the Government's business. That is the responsibility which the Labour Party accepted with eagerness, and by its deliberate policies it played a full part in steering into Scottish Development Areas 1629 new industries that gave new hope and new life to a once shattered economy.
I should like to refer to what the Joint Under-Secretary said. He said, "But do not let us forget that that was started before the war." It was, but let us look at what happened. From 1932 to 1936 in the whole of Britain 2,688 new factories were established, and in the same period in Scotland there were 102. In those years, when Governments were eventually forced by public opinion and economic circumstances to accept this responsibility, new jobs established were 248,000 in Britain, and in Scotland 8,000, and for every two factories that were opened in that period three closed down. It is not exactly a record to be proud of. But we provided work and a wide variety of new industries which went to those areas where the fear of unemployment was greatest.
I notice in recent reports that there is a tendency to say that the unemployment figures should not be the only criterion. But in the situation with which we were faced, and with the industrial history of the inter-war years, that could be the only criterion on which we could work. We had not time to sit and study long-term development. The figures relating to what was done are all in the appendix to the Report. However, for those who question the wisdom of the policy which we adopted, there are one or two figures which should be borne in mind.
In Lanarkshire, East Renfrewshire and the whole of the Glasgow area 6 per cent. of the working population last year were employed in new development since 1945. The figure for Ayrshire is 5 per cent.; for Dumfries, a rural county area, 5.4 per cent.; for Stirling and Falkirk over 5 per cent. The figure which we should certainly bear in mind is that in Dundee 10 per cent. of the working population are employed in enterprises established since 1945. When one remembers that we still have 3.2 per cent. unemployment, what would the position have been if these steps had not been taken at the right time and in the right places? I think we should not under-rate the work which we did in Scotland, with the help and active co-operation, I admit, of interested groups and of private enterprise, Scottish and non-Scottish.
We have to remember the indirect effects of a prosperous agriculture. Aris- 1630 ing out of the prosperity of agriculture—as is pointed out in the Cairncross Report—we have had small individual enterprises developing naturally and it has made a tremendous difference to certain parts of rural Scotland. I know that certain parts seem to have missed the general benefits. There are the crofter counties; there is the South-West part of Scotland, the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. If the Government fasten their attention particularly on these areas and see how they can, with discriminating assistance, bring to them the benefits that have so far passed them over, they will be doing something really worth while.
The position today is that once again fear and uncertainty are creeping over Scotland. We still have in Scotland twice the proportion of unemployed that there is in the United Kingdom. I wish that were the full story. We have 68,000 unemployed in Scotland. But when we look into the actual facts, as compared with last year—and this is where we, on this side of the Committee, quarrel with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, who seemed to give an unduly reassuring reply on this question; he made fairly light of it—we have nearly 20,000 more unemployed this year than last year. And it must be remembered that this is the time of seasonable employment. If, within a few months, these figures rise again by another 20,000—though I hope it does not happen—
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Harold Watkinson)
I should like to draw the hon. Member's attention to the supplementary questions which I answered on that particular subject, when I made it quite plain that although we were delighted to see that the unemployment figures were going down at the moment, in the autumn of this year nobody could forecast what the position might be. I made that perfectly plain.
§ Mr. Ross
I think the proper comparison is a month of this year with the same month last year—not with last month, when seasonal conditions are so entirely different.
What we have at present is a familiar pattern of growing redundancy and unemployment. We Scottish Members will have the time of our lives in about another week—when the Glasgow Fair 1631 starts—trying to find places in the House for our constituents and friends; but many of them will be getting not just a fortnight's holiday—they will be getting three weeks, and one of those weeks will be without pay. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) did not manage to catch your eye, Mr. Hopkin Morris, but if he had he would have told you that that is what is happening at Templetons, the greatest carpet manufacturers in Scotland. We have had short-time work in Kilmarnock, in the carpet works in Ayr and in Paisley.
It is happening in the textile industry. If the textile industry of Scotland were concentrated in one area, as it is in England, there would be an outcry today. We have over 100,000 people in the textile industry and the unemployment figure is over 14,000, as compared with 2,000 in the same month last year. I claim that this is serious, but it does not end there. While a survey of what should be done and what industries should be helped can be made, in a re-armament period we cannot place reliance on over-all average percentages.
We have the figures for Development Areas, such as those given by my hon. Friend the Member for Bothwell (Mr. Timmons) for his area, which are far far beyond the average. In Blantyre the unemployment figure is over 10 per cent.; in Greenock and Port Glasgow nearly 8 per cent.; outside the industrial areas, in Lerwick it is over 12 per cent., and in Campbeltown 10.5 per cent. In Wick, Thurso and Banff, about which the hon. Member for Banff (Mr. Duthie) spoke so well, the figure is over 9 per cent., and for Stornoway 2.4 per cent. I do not think there is cause for panic, but there is cause for concern and action.
I should like to look now at heavy industry which, as has been rightly stressed, must bear a great burden in Scottish industry. No one has suggested that we should suddenly dispense with heavy industry and embark on the manufacture of typewriters and plastics. Heavy industry is our mainstay. In fact, the great success of our policy for these industries is part of the difficulty today. We have asked these industries to expand and to increase their productivity, and they have done so, but that in itself aggravates the shortage of supplies, which 1632 I am sure is worrying the Minister of Supply. I should like to say here on behalf of every Scottish Member, that while we are quick to draw attention to the absence of our own Ministers, we are grateful when we have the attendance at our debates of the Ministers of Supply and Labour, representatives of the Admiralty and others.
A difficulty for which the Government must accept responsibility is the proper apportioning of raw materials to hold the balance between defence and exports. This is a most difficult task in which there is a danger of distortion, not only between industries but within an industry. From the long-term point of view of Scotland's plans, that must be one of the foremost concerns of the Government. The shortage of raw materials in the steel industry has been referred to. It was also dealt with by the hon. Member for Rutherglen, and by my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, West. The repeated drawing attention to this one thing shows that it is one of the most urgent of our problems. There is a short-term solution, which I would urge upon the Government.
This debate has revealed the vital weakness of our dependence upon the scrap available. I wish the Minister would not give the idea that a benefit is being conferred on Scotland because we get more than half the scrap. The Scottish steel industry, unlike that of England or Wales, is predominently dependent upon scrap, without which we cannot make progress. I hope he will learn by listening today that we are a wee bit, perhaps peculiarly, sensitive about these things.
§ Mr. Ross
Well, I could make a quotation:Awake Duncan with thy knocking.And that is what we are hoping to do today.
If we can get the assurance from the Government that the new blast furnace which we have been urging for some time and which Scotland has been requiring is well on its way we certainly shall be grateful, but when we contemplate the changes that are going to take place in the steel industry we are just a little bit suspicious. Would it not be far better if this plant 1633 development were under the nationalised industry, which gives us in Parliament responsibility for seeing that it is carried through properly and quickly? Is it not better it should stay that way, rather than that we should risk handing it over—something so vital to Scotland's future—to people who are, in the ultimate, irresponsible to Parliament?
Then there is the question of textiles. I have touched on it slightly. Textiles, lace, boots and shoes—all these industries today are swelling the volume of unemployed to which I have referred. Because it is a scattered industry it is not something we can ignore, hoping that it will be absorbed within the re-armament programme. For the future of Scotland that is not good, and for the present of Britain it is not good, because we depend on these industries for our current export drive. Just now an hon. Member was speaking about the value of tweeds in the dollar market. All these industries are of value in our export drive. They are our traditional industries. We do not wish to see them go. Scotland would lose some of its industrial character if they did.
I am afraid that the Government are not without blame for what is happening in the slump at the present time. There is the question of the Australian import cuts, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil) referred. The suddenness and the savagery of the Australian cuts had the effect of a low knockout blow on an already weakened fighter. I know Mr. Menzies has been here, and has had discussions with the Cabinet about the repercussions of the cuts; that he has issued elaborate explanations, and that he has even made some modifications, but the art of statesmanship is not to hold post-mortems: it is to anticipate and obviate economic troubles of this nature.
After all, we must remember what we were promised in the Conservative Party's manifesto, which, speaking about the relations between the Commonwealth and Empire and our own country, said:We must all stand together and help each other with our strength both in defence and trade.Yet one of the first things that happened in Commonwealth matters when this new Government came into power was this savage, almost destructive, blow at the textile industry of Britain. In recently issued figures of the Australian balance of 1634 payments some hope is shown that there will be a resumption of this trade before very long, but meantime, I think, we must ask whether or not enough is being done with Government orders to the lace and affected industries that have been hit; to the hosiery industry, and to the clothing industries of Scotland.
Then there is the question of the financial policy of the Government. The Government cannot expect to get off lightly. The Scottish Office, especially, cannot. We have heard so often from hon. Members on the other side about the dependence of the textile industries on the home market. The Joint Under-Secretary, speaking at that Box defending health charges, spoke of reducing the consumption by the people of other things—that is, the consumption by Scottish families of the goods produced in Scottish factories, such as textiles, clothing, carpets and boots and shoes.
The Joint Under-Secretary of State cannot shrug off so easily the question of the Bank rate, as he attempted to do when he said the increased rate would benefit Scottish families. Consider the effect of the Australian cuts. Small and large enterprises were left with stocks on hand, some of which were awaiting shipment to Australia. There has been so much working capital tied up in stock that unemployment has been forced upon these enterprises.
These two facts—the reduction of consumer demand by budgetary policy and the restriction of credit, again by financial policy, have had serious effects upon employment in Scotland. We are concerned, too, about credit for the future development policy, and we had no indication from the Joint Under-Secretary today about what was to happen and whether he believed in the development policy. We are forced to the conclusion that hon. Members opposite do not.
It is no good telling us that 7½ million square feet of factory space were under construction at the end of the year. That was the work of the Labour Government. The present Government stopped all new factory building for three months. Has any new factory been started since the ban was lifted in March? We had figures given by my hon. Friend the Member for Leith (Mr. Hoy) that there are over 5,000 building workers and contractors unemployed at present.
1635 The credit policy of the Government, allied with the fact that in the Budget they cut the allowance to the Development Areas by £3 million, means that there is no stimulation either to enterprises to receive help or to people to help themselves in the way of starting up in Scotland. The John Deer case is indicative of the attitude of the Government. I think they are sliding along hoping that what unemployment there is will be absorbed by rearmament, and they neglect the fact that the long-term future of Scotland depends on action now.
To my mind, at this juncture Government action to control and stimulate, and if necessary initiate, development is more urgent than ever. The tragedy of Scotland's industrial past, its stagnation and its decay, was its failure to participate in the new industrial enterprises which started in the early part of this century and after the twenties. Government failure to take action at that time is something that we must remember and something that we must not repeat.
We have opportunities at the present time, but I feel that Scotland must make its bid now in those fields of new enterprises which can take root in Scotland—the enterprises of electronics, of plastics, of synthetic fibres. We had one firm which started a development in Ardeer, in Ayrshire, and which now has a thriving factory in the constituency of the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. N. Macpherson). That kind of thing must be done.
One of the heartening things about Scotland in the post-war years has been this change of outlook of the people. They threw off the old hostility and uncertainty, and even the industrialists in Scotland threw off a certain lethargy and conservatism, and expanded. The Government must ensure that continues. Scotland did not formerly build up its greatness by missing chances. There was a time when cotton was king in Scotland. Cotton was left to Lancashire only when Scotland lost interest in it and went in for the new development afforded by the exploitation of steel, iron and coal, and the developments coming from the inventiveness of her engineers. That was how Scottish greatness was built up.
We lost our chance between the wars. In these new industries and during this revolutionary period there may be 1636 another chance. We cannot fail twice and survive. I hope that the Secretary of State for Scotland will give us some cause for hope that even this Government is prepared to accept the responsibility of bringing back full employment to the people of Scotland.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. James Stuart)
I should like to congratulate the Committee as a whole upon the tone in which this debate has been conducted throughout. I think that it has been very informative, helpful and constructive, and it has, of course, covered a very wide field, as it was bound to do.
My particular difficulty in endeavouring to reply to the debate is that I am not—and no one here will be surprised to hear my confession—a superman, because, as the Committee know, the many topics covered by the various Departments of the Scottish Office provides a pretty wide field with which to deal. However, it is my duty to do my best.
The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), who wound-up the debate for the Opposition, referred, as did other hon. Members, to the importance of considering Scotland's industrial future. That is, of course, the really important and vital matter. I am glad to think that it is a matter on which, although we may be politically divided, we are at one in wishing to see the very best possible strategic planning, or thinking ahead, because no one wishes to see unemployment. It would certainly be a tragedy if that should occur again.
I would point out to the hon. Member for Kilmarnock that the maintenance of employment and the steady flow of materials to the production industries has been seriously disturbed by the rearmament programme. In saying this, I do not desire to cast the blame anywhere; I am merely stating that it was bound to be so. When he asked me whether there had been new factory building started lately, the short answer is that there is building going on, but the starting of new factories, which we would hope to see and which would have gone on in normal times, was necessarily interrupted by the allocation of steel and other materials to other essential projects largely connected with the re-armament programme.
1637 I should like to refer briefly at the outset to the Cairncross Report. It has been referred to considerably during the debate, quite rightly and naturally. I am convinced that it will be of great value and great help. It is being studied, but I do not think that the Committee would expect me to say anything at this stage about our conclusions as to the Report, because, as the Committee know, it has only very recently reached us and it has also to be considered by other Departments as well as the Scottish Office.
§ Major Anstruther-Gray
It is one of our criticisms that the Report has not reached us. The Council would have been well advised to have sent all Members of Parliament a copy. Not only did they fail to do that, but when I went to their offices in London yesterday, having read of it in the Press, I found that none of the copies had come down to their offices. I got hold of a copy at the Scottish Office, but in general the Council failed to circulate it as they should have done.
§ Sir W. Darling
The Scottish Development Council send copies of their Report to all those who subscribe. If there are Members of Parliament who do not subscribe, I suggest that they do so now. A guinea a year would make them members.
§ Mr. Stuart
After this free advertisement which my hon. Friend has been able to give, I will only say that I will bear my hon. and gallant Friend's point in mind. Of course, no doubt the printers and others concerned did not know until fairly recently that this debate was taking place today.
The right hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. McNeil), who opened the debate, asked about blast furnaces. It is a matter of such importance—and it has been referred to by other hon. Members—that I should like to get quite clear the position as it is today, in case there is any doubt about it. The first blast furnace was completed for Colville's in 1947, in pre-nationalisation days. The second furnace at Colville's is planned and should be ready in three or four years' time. Plans are now being made to build two new furnaces at Gartsherrie. They will supplant the present five furnaces and will increase capacity 1638 by three and a half times the present figure.
A great many points were raised during the debate and the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, as well as other hon. Members, referred to the position of the textile industry. My hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State referred to this matter today. I have a fuller statement which I should have been glad to make if time had permitted. We are doing our best to get additional orders as a result of the statement of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the effect that £20-£25 million worth of textile orders would be placed for the Services. As my hon. Friend said, we have certain orders already, and we hope to get at any rate a fair share of such orders as they come along.
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us a little more about the machinery which is being utilised in relation to these areas? Hon. Members have no doubt heard statements about independent firms tendering, but is there any machinery existing to ensure that a fixed proportion of the orders is available?
§ Mr. Stuart
I would not go so far as to say that there is any fixed proportion in connection with the recent order for £750,000, of which we are receiving half, while Northern Ireland receive half. That is not a definite proportion as to population, but the Government must also take into account the weight of unemployment in the various areas. As the Committee will be aware, in Lancashire and in Yorkshire a very large section of the population is engaged in those trades. In Scotland, while we have not the numbers and such a large weight of population engaged in that way, nevertheless we will endeavour to get a fair proportion, provided it is the type of work which can be undertaken.
I wish to say a word about the maiden speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen (Mr. Brooman-White). He was congratulated by the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) and I am sure that he, like myself, appreciated very greatly the remarks made by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock. He referred especially to steel, and I can assure him that we must very carefully watch future developments there. The 1639 right hon. Member for Greenock and other hon. Members paid considerable attention to this matter.
In regard to new industries, to which many hon. Members referred, including my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot), it is, of course, the case that Scotland could accommodate lighter types of engineering work which do not make too heavy demands on skilled labour. In particular, we would welcome the growth of electrical engineering, chemicals, and new developments of that nature.
But it is also true, as the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West and the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Hubbard) said, that for the main bulk of our population we must look to the Older basic industries which are vital to our prosperity and stability as an industrial nation. The diversification of new developments is of great value to our social life and well-being. Dundee, which has been referred to and which I visited recently and also knew in my youth, is a very remarkable example of the whole face of a city being changed by new developments.
I also recognise the possible danger which I hope will not occur to which the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West referred, where factories are offshoots of parent companies established elsewhere. In those industrial developments where the parents are in another country, I think they are working mainly in the European market and I do not see that danger developing—at least I trust that it will not. I also agree with the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs in his reference to the question of a shifting population, as when mining goes out to a new area, as is happening in Scotland today. It is of great importance that the location of new industries should be fully considered because, in addition to the miners, in those places the shifting population must have steady employment to which it can turn. I fully agree with that, and in that connection I think the Cairn-cross Report may be of value to us.
I wish to refer briefly to technological education. It is of the greatest importance to us to consider this very carefully. As the Committee may recollect, the 1640 Chancellor of the Exchequer answered a Question in the House on this subject on 11th June; and there was a very interesting debate in another place on 11th and 12th June to which I suggest hon. Members should pay attention. I have taken an interest in the subject before, and it is undoubtedly true to say that if we are not only to maintain, but step up productivity it can be done only under the improved conditions of industry today, with better wages and shorter hours than were formerly the case.
But in order even to maintain, let alone increase, productivity, it is essential that the methods or technique shall be improved and developed all the time—industrial technique as well as management. I do not see how productivity can be maintained unless constant improvements are made, and in this regard technological education is one of the most important things to which this country should have regard. I cannot devote more time to the subject now, and I do not pretend to be an expert; but it is a matter of great value and interest and importance to which careful attention should be given.
That brings me to one other problem which also deserves careful consideration. I do not think it has been referred to today. It is the change in the age of the various groups of the population which is increasingly liable to raise great problems in connection with industry and employment. To give one example, which interested me very much when I came upon it recently, the number of men over 65 and women over 60 in Scotland will not only have doubled, but doubled plus 100,000, between 1921 and 1969 if the present statistical curve is maintained. I shall not endeavour to suggest a solution now at the end of a full day's debate, but it is a point to which I direct the attention of the Committee.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Is not that bound to happen if we add 20 years to the life of the people? Twenty years has been added to the life of the population since I was born. Is not that bound to take a lot of people beyond the age of 65 who previously would have died?
§ Mr. Stuart
That is absolutely true. Those people are still with us and, in relation to the younger people entering industry, they present a very much 1641 greater problem, or burden—I use that word for lack of a better one—of maintaining people of pensionable age. One possible line of endeavour in this regard would be to improve the health of the nation, to keep these people out of hospital and to keep them well. I throw out the thought that the technological side in regard to greater productivity, on the one hand, and on the other hand—I am not now pronouncing policy—the question of the retiring age, are two matters about which we must think.
I should like briefly to consider the broad picture. I cannot follow my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvingrove in raising constituency questions. I might be in danger of being criticised if I did that. However, I should like to say, because two of my hon. Friends have referred to points about the north-east, that I should like to see more industrial development there to absorb the pocket of unemployment which exists in that area. It was the noble Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) and the hon. Member for Banff (Mr. Duthie) who referred to the north-east. I hope that it may be possible to have one or two good industrial factories there when we can proceed with such a development. Undoubtedly they would be of great assistance.
As to the fishing industry to which the noble Lady and the hon. Member for Banff referred, I cannot say more now than that the questions which they mentioned are well known to me. The McColl Report is being considered by the White Fish Authority and by the Scottish Council. I do not think that there is any disagreement between us on the question of over-fishing. It is merely a matter for international agreement. I can only say about the Icelandic position that we have protested, but what one can do at this moment beyond protest is, I am afraid, not quite clear. I cannot pronounce on any future action at this stage.
Agriculture has not been referred to at any length and I do not intend to discuss it fully. I only wish to refer to it in looking at the wide field of industry in Scotland. I am glad to say that in that industry employment does not present any difficulty. There is an avenue of employment for those who wish to 1642 enter it and there is an assured market for its produce. We wish not only to maintain production but to increase it. As we had a debate on this subject in the Standing Committee, I will not say more about it now.
Another basic industry is that of coal mining. Here again, we want full production. We want to increase our exports. I am pleased that there has been some increase in employment in Scotland recently. I hope that that trend will be maintained and that production will be increased.
Ship-building is also one of our basic industries. I am glad to think that at the end of 1951 there were 2,391,607 gross tons of shipping under construction or on order. I think that that means that the order books are full and that employment there should be well maintained, although I admit that the maintenance of full production depends on the availability of steel. I think that the Committee will agree that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply has been helpful in the matter of steel and that the statement made by my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State was satisfactory.
The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West referred to forestry. That is a subject which interests me considerably. Forestry and tourism are two of the main developments with which we should push ahead in our efforts to help the Highland areas. I want to see more planting carried out in the Highland areas, not cutting into but as a continuation of the policy in other areas. The difficulty, as no doubt the hon. Gentleman knows, is that it may cost more to plant in the outlying areas rather than in more convenient parts of the country.
Planting in other areas is in conflict with agricultural interests, and that we must avoid in the interests of maximum agricultural production. I can assure the hon. Member that, in that relation and in the Highland areas, particularly in conjunction with agricultural and crofting interests, it may be very helpful towards creating employment and maintaining the population in satisfactory and healthy occupations. I am afraid that I cannot, in the time available, go into the many questions affecting the Highlands and Islands, which are really matters which would require a separate debate.
§ Mr. John MacLeod (Ross and Cromarty)
Does not my right hon. Friend think that it is essential to have industries such as we have been talking about, and that our economy is not balanced evenly enough in the Highlands?
§ Mr. Stuart
I agree, of course, where the population will maintain the industry; that is to say, we have got to man the industry. In regard to light industries in the Highlands, I absolutely agree, and I think that, with our hydro-electrical developments, it should be easier, more economical and more practicable to establish such light industries.
On the subject of transport I am conscious of the difficulties and of the desire for more communications, but I have not the time on this occasion to deal with the matter. I have referred briefly to fisheries, and I have endeavoured to cover all the subjects raised. I should only like to say, in summing up, that I am afraid that I have not answered individually the questions asked me by several hon. Members, but I can, however, assure them that I have a note of them, and that I will see that they receive full and proper attention.
I want to mention that, during the course of the Joint Under-Secretary's speech, some reference was made to jute, and there was an interruption, to which my hon. Friend replied. Since then, I have received information from my noble Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster that it has been decided today that he can reduce the price of jute by about £40 per ton, and that this reduction will come into effect as soon as practicable.
I should like also to refer to the question which I was asked about the dyeing industry in the Vale of Leven. The Ministry of Supply are actively engaged in negotiating with the firm with a view to taking up much of their capacity for rot-proofing.
I am puzzled about this statement by the right hon. Gentleman's noble Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy. Where was it made, and why was it not made in the House?
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon; I thought he meant that the Chancellor had made the statement elsewhere.
§ Mr. Stuart
No. My noble Friend informed me that I could announce it. At any rate, I hope it will be beneficial to the industry, because we are all anxious to see that industrial development in Scotland is maintained.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again"—[Mr. Kaberry.]—put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.