§ 3.54 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
My hon. Friends have chosen to utilise the two days normally devoted to the discussion of Scottish Estimates for the purpose of initiating a progress report debate on the state of the Scottish nation. We approach this task in the same spirit as we have done all the Estimates discussions in the Scottish Grand Committee this year, namely, that we are more concerned to find the right answer to our Scottish problems than to engage in a political tennis match rally of "whodunits" with the other side. The present Government will depart in due course, but we cannot say that of the problems.
We approach our examination conscious of the difficulties. The Royal Commission are taking evidence at Edinburgh, 1907 and it is not yet apparent that any evidence published so far has offered a dramatic or easy solution to the many questions which the well-being of Scotland raises. In my view, there is no single road to Scottish prosperity. Success will come only if we enlist many agencies and forces. There are immediate as well as ultimate problems.
My hon. Friends the Members for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), Leith (Mr. Hoy), Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes), Stirling and Falkirk Burghs (Mr. Malcolm MacPherson), Bothwell (Mr. Timmons), and Western Isles (Mr. M. MacMillan), who have been giving special study to questions of unemployment in Scotland, have met and discussed these with the Ministers concerned.
Some of the symptoms of unemployment may, we hope, be temporary, but some are the results of major Government policy, and there is a danger that, although the overall policy may change for the better the improvement in industry will not be so automatic as was the setback caused in the first case. For example, the decision to cut down imports, which was no doubt unavoidable at the time, has led to serious underemployment in the docks. This, in turn, damps down the optimism that leads to orders for shipbuilding, and if new orders do not come to the Clyde and shipbuilding slackens, distress spreads automatically over nearly half the population of Scotland.
Similarly, when the Government used an increase in the interest rates in order to reduce inflationary expansion, the indiscriminate nature of the instrument caused a slowing down of necessary as well as unnecessary enterprise. In the case of agriculture, it is our very desperate need for increased production which makes it necessary for us to bring in marginal land which is normally uneconomic, but there are also marginal factories which can just keep running and no more. In these cases a rise in interest rates may be just sufficient to cut the financial thread that keeps them afloat.
As an illustration of one such repercussion affecting one of the industries of central Scotland, the economies in housing, the cutting out of fireplaces in bedrooms, coincided with the cutting down of this type of export to many countries 1908 overseas. Changes in some methods of production also took place and, altogether, these have dealt a grievous blow to an industry which, till very recently, was one of the bottlenecks in housing. Yet among the products of this industry are the very fuel economy stoves which the Ministry of Fuel and Power are desperately anxious to get installed in houses and offices throughout the country. The Government could help themselves and the industry if they coordinated the policy of supplying these stoves to houses and, at the same time, giving work to this industry.
These, and many other problems, will be discussed in detail by my hon. Friends. I should like the House to consider the wider question of what steps are necessary to ensure that, in future, Scotland has economic prosperity and social well-being. According to how well we plant now, so will the fruits of that enterprise be reaped by future generations in Scotland.
I recognise that we are not entirely masters of our fate. We must recognise that the world today is an economic unit and is struggling towards a world government which will hope to maintain law and order and ensure us peace and an orderly conduct of human affairs. Scotland cannot, and I am sure does not want to, avoid its share of responsibility in this connection. Scotland is the last country to become insular. Its sons are all over the world, and I have heard rumours that some have even gone to England and settled there.
Our largest productive industry is iron and steel in its various forms and its markets are largely abroad. A great proportion of our raw materials come from overseas and, therefore, in whatever plans we make for developments we must be ever conscious that these will be largely at the mercy of changes in the outside world beyond our control. It would be a dangerous illusion to proceed on the assumption that Scotland could be self-sufficient and still enjoy a sufficient and reasonable standard of life. Our present industries are to some extent determined by our natural resources, our past developments and future economic possibilities.
The foundation of Scotland's prosperity is, and will remain, coal. We can leave out of account for the present any 1909 suggestion that coal will be replaced by atomic energy. As far as one can see, the capital costs involved in creating such plants will be very great, and coal therefore holds the field both in its use as a fuel and for the many by-products it provides. While we in Scotland have not yet ascertained the full reserves of coal that we have, the great new developments of the next 20 years are to be in the Lothians, Fifeshire, Clackmannan, Stirlingshire, and Ayrshire.
The theoretical plans provide for the simultaneous creation of supplementary industries to utilise the services of the miners' families. Those plans are becoming a little unstuck for two main reasons. The need for coal is so urgent that there must be concentration on providing homes and amenities for the miners, while in the Lothians there is now a shortage of land not subject to subsidence, where so much coal is to be extracted that it is difficult to find sites where factories could be built. The second difficulty is that there is no rush of industrialists wanting to start factories in these areas. In any case, there are 625 constituencies represented in the House and they are all spider constituencies, waiting to catch any available flies of this sort. I should therefore be glad to know whether the Secretary of State has found any answer to those problems.
Here, of course, we came up against the major issue of Government policy. Do the Government propose to leave this to chance and the Scottish Council of Industry or do they accept responsibility for playing their part in guiding Scotland to prosperity and taking the necessary steps to assist? Could the Secretary of State clear our minds on that point?
The letter which he addressed to the Scottish Council the other day commenting on the Cairncross Report made rather depressing reading. In effect, it said that while the Government would carry on the Development Area policy which we left to him, the thoughtful complementary suggestions of the Report were unnecessary. I hope he will correct that impression today, if it is wrong. I have tried to see this problem in its entirety and though my conclusions are not entirely those of the Cairncross Report, I have become seriously perturbed about the possible consequences 1910 of following automatically the idea of priming new industry mostly to the Development Areas. Some Development Areas, such as that in my constituency, have had no new industry at all, and even in the distribution of new industries among the other Development Areas, there is an element of chance which may have serious eventual effects.
For some years we have concentrated, of course, on helping the West of Scotland and Dundee, and it is still true that the unemployment figures in the Development Areas are higher than in Scotland generally, but what is the Government's eventual policy for this great area in the West of Scotland? Has planning been given up altogether? Are we eventually to have a built-up area from Airdrie to Greenock?
Everybody agrees that Glasgow is already too congested and will have to build either upwards or outwards. We cannot put many more new industries into Glasgow without risking a further increase in its population, which would only intensify its difficulties. Could not some of its smaller and older workshops be transferred with their workers outside the city to leave room for the population inside to have breathing space? Glasgow gets little in the way of rates from these industries, and if the population is to go to the outskirts it would be easier to take some of its own industries with it than to search for new industries which do not exist.
It seems to be felt generally that the solution to all our problems is to introduce light industry, but clearly there is not sufficient light industry to supply all the areas which are trying to attract it, and I sympathise with the President of the Board of Trade who has to meet 625 clamouring demands for these mythical new industries. It is, therefore, wholly unrealistic to stake our hopes on the Board of Trade being able to offer firms who want to start up to suit all our needs. Indeed, we have new factories in the Development Areas which are not being properly used at the moment, in Chapelhall, Newhouse and some other districts in the West of Scotland.
The most done by the Government of which I was a member was to refuse permission to firms wishing to start up in areas like London which were already overdeveloped, by that means encouraging firms to ask for advice from the 1911 Board of Trade as to where they should go. No Government since the war has taken upon itself the powers to direct either industry or the workers, and any Government is therefore left with this rather vague power of inducement.
The need for labour also compelled firms to go to Development Areas where the Government had built factories and where, in our case, in Scotland, the industrial estates were ready to welcome them. These pressures do not now exist to the same extent, but it would be interesting to hear from the President of the Board of Trade later in the debate what is now the Government's policy in these matters. Nothing could be more dangerous for Scotland than laissez faire, and I firmly believe that the Government should guide events not with an eye to ambulance assistance where trouble arises but with an eye to the future. There are certain industries which are located for us. We can do nothing about them. Shipbuilding is mainly on the Clyde, although if we were starting from scratch there are many authorities who think it would be much better settled on the Forth. Coal and agriculture are settled for us by natural conditions, which also largely determine where our textile factories have to be.
This has resulted in the distribution of Scottish population being quite lopsided. Out of an area of 30,000 square miles, we have our main industries and population crushed into a bare 1,000 square miles. This leaves great areas north and south of that industrial belt far too thinly populated. If this problem is left to the working of economic calculations by private firms, then this population will continue to gravitate to the great centres of population and the Scottish countryside will be further depopulated.
This cannot be a private matter. The State is distributing about £5 million to the counties of Scotland to redress the balance. It would be much healthier if we made this less and less necessary by providing these counties with more ratepayers to produce their own living. This problem is not confined to the Highlands. A penny rate in Selkirk produces only £84, while the Secretary of State's own constituency manages to produce only about £4 more—and although that 1912 is in the North of Scotland, it does not count as a Highland constituency.
The Development Area policy has brought great benefits to many areas, but designating a district as a Development Area does not guarantee that any industry will go there. In my own area, south of Falkirk, we have so far not succeeded in inducing one firm to come. My colleagues agreed to making a Development Area in a considerable part of the Highlands and several unrealistic hopes have been aroused there. One enterprise had actually bought the land on which to erect a factory which was to use up all the scrap timber that accumulates on the forestry estates. That, unfortunately, collapsed. In present conditions I must confess that I see even less likelihood of private enterprise coming from elsewhere to start up in the Highlands.
I made a proposition to the Labour Government before the last Election that this had really to be thought about in a very careful way. If private enterprise is not going to accept the inducements of the Development Area in the Highlands, it seems to me that the Government themselves must take a hand somewhere. I suggested they might use their powers over certain of the nationalised industries and nationalised organisations to see whether some of them would go to the Highlands.
If not, and if we are to maintain health in the Highlands, the Government themselves must take a hand in putting some activity into the Highlands which will give them industrial health as well as population. We have already done that through the Forestry Commission, which has played a considerable part, and through the Hydro-Electric Board. We should be wise, therefore, not to waste too much time and effort chasing that will o' the wisp of mythical firms who were supposed, for some years now, to be coming to the Highlands. None has appeared.
Unless local authorities take a hand there is not likely to be any great success in the light industry suggestion. I am glad, therefore, that the Secretary of State in his comments on the Cairncross Report has called attention to the powers of the local authorities to help themselves. I have great faith in this aspect of the matter. If private firms are to be induced 1913 to prefer one area to another, the local authorities, in collaboration with the Government, are in the best position to offer the necessary inducements. They can provide sites, they can even build and lease new factories for new enterprises; but what I believe may be even more important, they may be able to provide new factories for already existing industries within their own areas which ought to be expanded.
We must continually remind ourselves that there are not enough new industries to satisfy all the demands. This is where I think the Cairncross Report may have been a little over-optimistic, but nevertheless I believe its basic ideas are sound. We must help to develop industries throughout those county areas to give them the necessary mixed economy and a sufficiency of population to maintain essential services. It is in this direction, I am sure, that the Government could take more positive action which might be both successful and permanent.
We have benefited in Scotland from the introduction from England and from other countries—America, Italy and other countries—of certain enterprises. Their managers have expressed themselves as more than satisfied with the quality of the labour in Scotland and the skill and the adaptability of the workers they have employed. I know from experience that it is something of an effort to get people who live in the London area or the Midlands or Lancashire to uproot themselves and go to live in Scotland, but once they have become acclimatised, it is interesting to note, they settle down and become very happy in Scotland, and even become more Scottish than the Scots. Some of them are actually serving on some of the most impressively Scottish committees in Scotland, and fighting for Scotland when some of the Scots themselves are more apathetic.
Human problems are involved. Northward is not normally the direction of voluntary migrations. The tendency has been southward, and so far the Northern Star is not the one that has beckoned the Scots. They have been beckoned rather to the Southern Cross—and they do not know it is a cross until they arrive. On the whole it is better if the Scots people themselves can be induced to develop their own enterprises, and this would certainly be an easier policy in the sparsely 1914 populated areas. It will be better to enable those counties to keep more of their indigenous population than to export them and try to import reluctant strangers. It is in this direction that the Government could make a satisfactory contribution.
In modern times a considerable proportion of the orders for manufactured and engineering goods stem from Government-controlled sources. I do not think we realise how much of our enterprise and industry is based on the foundation of Government orders. The direction of these orders can determine the decay or the growth of a district just as effectively as the fertiliser subsidy can stimulate, or its want retard, the growth of agriculture. I have been in the Ministry of Supply, and I know how difficult it is to introduce new complications into the ordering procedure, because it is economical to deal with a few big firms, although it is a complete illusion to think that the big firms are the most important part of our economy in this country. I think that the Minister of Supply is mistaken in thinking that big firms like Armstrong Whitworth are the most important part of industry in this country. The main part of our industry lies in the multitude of small and highly specialised firms, not in the great and far-reaching octopus-like tentacles of the big firms.
I appreciate that increases of staff would be needed to add the duties of distributing orders geographically, of inspection and accounting, but I remember that when Sir Andrew Duncan was Minister of Supply during the war I discovered that, because certain great organisations in England were actually using the Excess Profits Tax as a weapon to reduce their prices below the economic prices, they were gradually attracting to themselves all the orders, and many of the textile industries were simply being wiped out, and I asked Sir Andrew Duncan to inquire into it. In the interval he became President of the Board of Trade, but he went back to the Ministry of Supply and he discovered that that was actually the case, and he gave instructions that, in addition to the distribution of orders according to price, there was to be distribution according to the geographical capacity of the country to fulfil the orders. Something of that kind, I think, ought to be effected now.
1915 In addition to these difficulties, there is a solid block of resistance to the Minister of Supply from industrialists—and their wives, as a matter of fact—to any suggestion that industry should move very far from London. I sympathise with the right hon. Gentleman in his difficulties. So far that has frustrated what was, and what supposedly is still, the Government's policy to ensure the strategic dispersal of industry. It needed a collection of "doodle bugs" and V2s to persuade industries to move very far from London: and now they have all come back. I am quite sure that the Minister of Supply, despite all his power of persuasion, has not been any more successful than we were in this matter, but in the event of war we shall have too many eggs in the London basket. There has been no substantial dispersal.
We tried to persuade firms to develop in Scotland. We tried to persuade a scientific instruments firm to go, and offered them orders if they did so, but they were so satisfied with sitting, so to speak, on the Ministry's doorstep and having orders fed to them that they would not move themselves to undertake this development even for the sake of their own industry. We tried to put a camera industry in Scotland, to induce them and other firms to go to dispersal areas in Scotland, but we were unsuccessful in the attempt. It was partly due to the lack of enterprise on the part of some of my own countrymen.
Sir Stafford Cripps tried to persuade certain people in Scotland to start an aircraft industry during the war. If that industry had been established, it would have been there still, because no Government would ever have dared to close down the aircraft industry in Scotland once it had been established there. They could not have kept 12 or 14 establishments going in England and closed one down in Scotland. That industry would have been left.
However, the chance was missed, and I feel that it is never likely to recur owing to the difficulty of finding a suitable location with sufficient resources of labour and the capital necessary for such an enterprise. I think the time for that has gone. Our topography, the contours of our land, are not suitable for finding 1916 flat airstrips, and where there is such flat land there is not a population to employ in such an industry.
What I ask the Government to consider in dealing with Scottish needs is whether it would not be possible speedily to influence and direct orders to existing engineering, textile and other establishments in the at present under-manned counties and allow them gradually to develop into bigger units. There are efficient small engineering and textile organisations in many of the small towns throughout Scotland. If they got the orders they could deal with them just as efficiently as places in the well-trained centres, but they require the encouragement of the Government to start. The Government may say that they might at first have to give them some encouragement and assistance, but would it not be better to give assistance in that form than to go on increasing the equalisation grant to keep these counties alive and the necessary services in existence?
If Government Departments could have a co-ordinated policy in this regard, it might be an economy for the Ministry of Labour and for the Secretary of State for Scotland in his equalisation grant to allow the Ministry of Supply and the Board of Trade to spend a little more money in that direction. I am all for it. I suggest that mechanically-minded lads are being driven from the East of Scotland and the North of Scotland down to Glasgow and Edinburgh, to clutter up the population there, when they might become engineers on their own doorstep in Hawick and Selkirk and provide a varied industry in the counties themselves. That, I think, would be helpful to the whole countryside and to the country as a whole.
The Ministry of Supply and the Government generally ought to know how effective this policy proved during the war. It was effective. It was my duty in the Ministry of Supply to visit many engineering works throughout the country and some highly efficient work was done by firms which had developed in this way from motor engineers, agricultural engineers, and all sorts of light engineers in various areas. Some of these firms I was asked to visit as a commendation for the splendid work they did. All that departed after the war, and all that industry has gone to the big towns. There 1917 were such firms in Brechin, Fraserburgh and Kirkcaldy, for example, and some of the finest engineering done in Scotland was done in Brechin. Most of that engineering work has now gone with the wind.
§ Sir Robert Boothby (Aberdeenshire, East)
I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman means by "gone with the wind." We have one of the finest light engineering firms in the world in Fraserburgh.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I am glad to hear that it is still there and that the wind remains with the hon. Gentleman. The Government have just decided to give an extra £1¾ million in the equalisation grant. I would hesitate to endorse the idea of the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) that this should be swallowed up in the housing subsidy or even for the purposes I am advocating. But the Government might consider, when they are thinking of the next steps to help these areas, whether it would not be worth while for the Ministry of Supply and the Board of Trade to be given a special duty of giving development orders to firms in outlying areas. This would achieve the Government's purpose of gradually dispersing industry and population and reversing the continuing trend for everyone to make for the big towns.
Whatever the Government may say with their lips about freeing enterprise and all the rest of it, they know that they cannot go back to laissez faire. No Government can do so. I challenge this Government to say that it is going to leave everyone swimming in the sea of competition. United Kingdom Ministers have their varied responsibilities and their duties to Britain as a whole. Therefore, the main burden of planning Scotland's future must rest firmly on the Secretary of State for Scotland. I appreciate that he has not hesitated to carry on any good work which was initiated by his predecessors, but general abandonment of controls and the slackening of the regulation of trade are bringing new difficulties of a peace-time character.
There is much fear of a slump in Scotland. The trends of population are still in the wrong direction. In London and this area it is still increasing; in Scotland and areas in the North of England it is still decreasing. We would be wise to 1918 have an overall policy. In a world of cut-throat economic competition Scotland will still be handicapped by distance and transport problems. We give subsidies to stimulate the cultivation of marginal land. I see no difference in principle, if we are to spend money, in subsidising and stimulating marginal factories, especially if they are going to make for social well-being.
Overall policy must be guided not only by economic advantage, but must be determined to some extent by the social needs of the people. Scots people want to earn their living; they also believe in trade, not aid. Much has already been done in this direction by the Forestry Commission and the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, and both the Southern and Western Electricity Boards have done a great deal to stimulate and help agriculture. The principle of industrial stimulation has been established and has been accepted by the Government. My hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) the other day initiated a debate on agriculture in the Scottish Grand Committee. It remains an essential part of our economy, and cannot be ignored. While it may not form the main subject of our debate today, it certainly is an essential and integral part of any comprehensive policy.
Our future depends perhaps more than anything on the quality of our people, and it would be wrong not to emphasise the importance of Scotland maintaining and improving its standards in education and scientific achievement. The Advisory Council on Scientific Policy indicates in its report that there are far too few scientists, and the Joint Under-Secretary of State, who is to wind up this debate, tells us that Scotland is producing only one graduate for every 2,500 of our population, whereas in America they are producing one graduate of this kind for every 1,600, and Scotland, even with that deficiency, is exporting graduates to England, where the proportions are even worse.
So this country has obviously to consider very carefully its educational policy, and I respectfully suggest to the Joint Under-Secretary that it is false economy to cut down on education, because unless this country uses its brains and sells its brains, it cannot maintain a population of 1919 50 million. The Joint Under-Secretary also tells us—and this was the case when I was Secretary of State for Scotland—that Scottish firms are still using too little science to survive the keen winds of competition. Both these statements are a blow to our educational pride and, like other hard realities, we shall succeed only if we regard them as a stimulation to better efforts. Here the Government play a principal part in determining our educational standards, and I hope that they will look very carefully at any cheeseparing policy which is likely to prevent the Scottish people from developing their maximum capacity.
It will become clear as this debate proceeds that the many problems of Scotland cannot be treated in separate compartments but that they are all so inter-connected that they call for comprehensive and co-ordinated treatment. Neither can they be isolated from general Government policy. It will be helpful, therefore, if the Secretary of State can give the House a picture of the general pattern of his policy for Scotland, and we shall look forward to hearing in more detail from himself and his colleagues how this policy will work out in the different spheres.
There are a large number of bodies to offer him advice. It is a remarkable number of bodies. He himself has the Highland Panel and a Highland Industries Organisation, and we are told by the Press that he is going to make an important pronouncement about Highland policy when he follows me in this debate. We shall certainly look forward to hearing this, because it is advisable that we should have a Highland policy. The Highlands cannot live without a policy, and therefore all these things must be co-ordinated. We anticipate that in the course of his speech the right hon. Gentleman will outline his new policy for the Highlands.
The Board of Trade, or maybe the Treasury, has the Scottish Board for Industry, and there have been reports on Aberdeen fishing and the Border industries; and now there is the Cairncross Report. There is also a Committee under Lord Bilsland which seems to embrace representatives from Government Departments. I would like also to 1920 hear from the Secretary of State how all these activities are co-ordinated. Are they brought together in any way by the Secretary of State?
When I was Secretary of State, I set up a Scottish Economic Council so that all these bodies could at least learn directly from Members of the Government what our policy was, but I do not know what my successor has put in its place today so that all the bodies running Scotland are brought together and given an idea of Government policy and can hear each other's policy. We are not likely to have a separate Government for Scotland—there are many arguments against this—but quite clearly that does not exclude the need for a co-ordination of our policy by the head of the Government in Scotland.
Since we have not such a body as the Scottish Economic Council, my hon. Friends and I thought that this debate would at least serve the purpose of allowing the Government to put their comprehensive policy before the Committee and before the country. The Scottish Trades Union Congress has asked for the resuscitation of the Economic Council. Could we have a White Paper giving a list of all the bodies in Scotland that advise the Secretary of State and could we be told what their various activities are and whether they are overlapping in any way?
I do not want to criticise anyone in particular, but I have heard reports to the effect that some of these bodies serve no useful purpose at all, that people are brought from their ordinary activities to sit at their meetings, which, in turn, do not seem to get anywhere. It does not do these bodies any good to develop such a reputation. Therefore, I hope that the President of the Board of Trade, the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Treasury will look at these committees to see whether they are now serving a serious purpose, and, if they are not, will give them some purpose, or else wind them up. In any case, we would like to know who carries out the conclusions reached by them. Do the conclusions come to the Government in any concrete form, and who is responsible for putting them into operation?
As far as I can see, the Ministry of Labour is the only organisation which is 1921 in intimate touch with local industry in Scotland. The Ministry is almost like an artery going into every part of Scotland It must have a collection of vital information, not only about the statistics of labour, but also about the possibilities of doing something to help the less known districts. I should like to know what machinery there is for enabling the Secretary of State and the Government to know the conclusions reached by the Ministry of Labour concerning what ought to be done for these industries.
When the late Ernest Bevin was in charge of the Ministry of Labour, he regarded it as his business to see that the Ministry not only collected statistics, but also inspired the Government. He had a considerable amount of power to push the Government along. I hope that the Secretary of State will emulate his good efforts and will kick in the pants anybody who seems to be getting in the way of the job being done. We will give him every support in that direction.
The Scottish people will do a lot for themselves, but they are anxious to know about the future, and they must know where they are going. I tried in my humble way to give a direction, but, as I say, circumstances have changed, and we have to face a new set of problems. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is now thinking about what he is going to say to the Scottish people. It is to him that they must look for guidance, because, however much other Ministers may be responsible for Scotland, I can assure them that when it comes to Scottish problems the Secretary of State will be held responsible. Therefore, I hope that they will co-operate under his leadership to carry out a co-ordinated policy.
I now propose to give way to the right hon. Gentleman so that he can give us a lead by outlining his comprehensive policy for Scotland. If he does that, I am sure that people of all parties and views will loyally support him, because, whatever his policy, our country looks up to him and gives him respect. I pay my tribute to those people of opposite political opinions to mine who, when I was the representative of the Government in Scotland, gave me loyal support and every help in carrying out activities for the benefit of Scotland. I can assure the Secretary of State that he will get that 1922 same response from the workers as well as the employers of Scotland, but they must know what they are expected to do. If he gives them a lead, then the Scots will, I hope, march forward to greater prosperity.
§ 4.38 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. James Stuart)
I wish to say at the outset how sincerely grateful I am to the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) for the helpful words he used at the end of his speech, and for the whole tone of what he had to say. As he said, some hon. Members opposite recently met my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Labour, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade and myself to discuss some points and to consider the lay-out of this debate. I understood from them at that meeting that it was their desire that this debate should proceed on constructive lines. I am sure that it is general wish of the Committee, and I certainly have no desire to do anything which would raise the temperature unduly.
I am also grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his opening words, and I shall endeavour in the course of my remarks to deal with some of the points which he raised. Later this evening, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour will be speaking, and early tomorrow, I am very glad to say, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will speak and my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland will wind up the debate tomorrow night. I hope that this lay-out is one which will meet the general wishes of the Committee, and I think that between us we shall be able to cover the majority of points raised during the course of these two days.
As the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, we recently had a debate on agriculture in Standing Committee, and for that reason I had not intended to deal with it in this debate. Indeed, I do not think that the Vote is on the Order Paper but I would point out, if I may do so without being out of order, that it does not mean that agriculture has been forgotten. The importance to our life in Scotland of stepping up agricultural production is, of course, as great as ever.
I noted what the right hon. Gentleman said on the subject of technical education. 1923 I am in general agreement with him on that matter, but if there are any further points on that subject on which he wants clarification, I hope he will allow my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State to deal with them later.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
There seems to be some doubt whether certain matters may be raised, Major Anstruther-Gray, but, so far as I understand, this debate covers the well-being of Scotland, and if that is the case, then surely almost any topic affecting the well-being of Scotland must be in order.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Major Anstruther-Gray)
The position is not quite as the hon. Member has said. This debate covers the well-being of Scotland only in so far as the Votes on the Order Paper are concerned.
§ Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)
The Votes on the Order Paper include the salary of the Secretary of State, and I submit that, in the circumstances, anything appertaining to the administration of Scotland which comes within the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State would be in order.
§ Sir R. Boothby
May I point out that if some of us who sit for the North of Scotland are not to discuss the question of agriculture and fisheries we shall be disappointed. Surely fishing, agriculture and Scotland cannot be separated. I do not see how we can discuss the well-being of Scotland if we do not talk about agriculture.
§ The Temporary Chairman
Although fisheries are included and, as has been said, the salary of the Secretary of State is included, agriculture is not specifically included.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
I am sorry if I seem to be intervening unnecessarily, but I assume some responsibility for this selection of Votes. My original selection of Votes constituted a long list, including many which are now not included. Many of those which were taken out of my original list were taken out on the advice of the House authorities, because we were assured that any matter which could properly be discussed in relation to the economic well-being of Scotland would 1924 be in order within the Votes which are now on the Order Paper. That is why the list which was originally drawn up has been severely curtailed.
§ Lieut. Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr)
As we know, the debate will be continued tomorrow. Will there, tomorrow be a Vote that is not on the Order Paper today, covering the well-being of Scotland, or when will we who want to speak on other subjects, if we are lucky enough, have an opportunity of stating our views?
§ The Temporary Chairman
I know of no reason why a further Vote should not be added to the list which is now under discussion.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
To avoid any misunderstanding, Major Anstruther-Gray, am I to assume that the debate will permit discussion on the subject which links all trade and commerce in Scotland together, namely, transport?
§ The Temporary Chairman
Transport is specifically mentioned on the Order Paper. If the Committee will carry on, I do not think hon. Members will find that the Chair is unduly severe.
§ Mr. J. Stuart
If the Committee will look on the Order Paper they will see a whole list of Votes. I have no desire to curtail debate at all. I think hon. Members will find that they can cover a fairly wide field, which may well take up a considerable time. I think that as my own salary is down for discussion, it obviously covers a good many subjects.
When this Government took office at the end of 1951 the country as a whole was facing a serious economic crisis, and drastic action had to be taken—not action of a popular character, of course—but the result was that in 1952 we experienced a very difficult year because severe import restrictions had to be imposed and resulted in a falling off in vital exports due to the action taken by certain other countries in the sterling area.
On the whole, we have been progressing since then. The gold and dollar reserves of the sterling area are approximately one-third higher than at the beginning of last summer, and our industrial production has recovered from the setback which it experienced in 1952. 1925 Inflation has been held in check, and we can now contemplate some increase in the output of goods and services without being frustrated and held back by shortages of steel and other vital materials such as was the case.
With regard to production in Scotland, people were naturally perturbed by the fall in the first three-quarters of 1952. This is set out in the Digest of Scottish Statistics. However, the figures for the full year have now been calculated, and I am glad to say that good progress was made in the last quarter. The fall had been checked by the end of the year, and the figure for the last quarter of 1952 was equal to that for the last quarter of 1951. For the whole of the year 1952 the figure was 11 per cent. higher than for 1948.
Unemployment, to which reference has rightly been made, has, of course, been a source of concern to all Governments since and, indeed, before the war. I am glad to say that there has been an improvement in the latest published figures. Whereas in January, 1953, the figures of unemployed were 81,541, at 15th June they had fallen to 56,556. I admit that this is partly a seasonal decline, but the decrease is far greater than the normal, and to that extent the figure is satisfactory and, indeed, better. In fact, it is an indication of the general improvement in our trading position. I admit, also, that Scotland has greater leeway to make up than has her southern neighbour. The present figure of 2.7 per cent. compares with 3.2 per cent. in June, 1952, and is back to the same percentage figure as for June, 1950.
As to the measures which can be taken to help deal with this employment problem in Scotland, this subject covers a wide field, and the reason I have referred to it in opening is that, in the first place, we must have sound economic conditions in this country. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will, no doubt, refer to other measures tomorrow, but I should like briefly to refer to the three main areas of serious unemployment. These are the Development Areas, the North-Eastern Zone, including Buckie and Peterhead, and the Highland area.
The Development Areas, as hon. Members know, include much of the old-established industry in Scotland. They also include much new industry which is 1926 now taking root in Scotland—for example, mechanical engineering developments—and much of this new development is due to the special attention which has been devoted by successive Governments under the Distribution of Industry Acts. The achievements of that policy have resulted in suggestions made from various quarters that this policy should be applied to other parts of the country. But I suggest that dilution of the policy would defeat its own ends.
This brings me to the Government's decision about the Cairncross Report. This was fully debated in the House on 25th February, when the President of the Board of Trade spoke on this subject, and I will not repeat what he then said. I also wrote recently to the Chairman of the Scottish Council, Lord Bilsland; the right hon. Gentleman referred to that letter in the course of his speech.
I am sure that all will agree in desiring to help and nourish new industrial development, but where the Government part company from the Report is in its implication that this should be at the expense of the Development Areas. This may not have been the intention of those who wrote the Report but I am afraid that, provided that the amount of Government help is limited that would be the result.
It is precisely the same as if one has a pot of jam and is then given more slices of bread to smear it over—the more slices the more thinly spread does the jam become. The heaviest burden of unemployment is still concentrated in the Development Areas. Therefore, we feel that it is in those areas that we must still concentrate the main energies.
I should like to refer to one other point in connection with the Report which described this work as being in the nature of salvage operations. I suggest to the Committee that in many instances the distribution of industry policy has brought new life and hope to those areas, so that it is not quite fair, in my opinion, to refer to the work which has been done merely as "salvage."
Further, I should like to suggest to the Committee that the policy which the Government are pursuing is sufficiently flexible to help with developments elsewhere. For example, take the great development at Grangemouth, which is not in a 1927 Development Area. In Fife, there is building the new town of Glenrothes. Buckie and Peterhead, to which the President of the Board of Trade referred on 25th February, has been selected for special treatment, and discussions are now going on, and have been going on lengthily with the Scottish Council in connection with that.
In the Highlands, special measures are being taken, but I will, if I may, refer to the general Highland question in a few minutes. All I wish to say about this development policy is that new projects brought forward for other areas will be encouraged in every way in which we can give encouragement, but I do not believe that to schedule new areas as Development Areas is necessarily the right policy, for the reasons which I have given; and we must concentrate our energies, which are necessarily to some extent limited, on the areas which we believe to be most in need of that attention.
I referred at the beginning of my speech to the importance of agriculture, which no one will deny. Three other traditional basic industries in Scotland are steel, coalmining and shipbuilding. I shall also refer later to fishing, which is another. The higher rate of crude steel production which was visible in the second half of 1952 has been maintained. Production in the first quarter of 1953 was 23 per cent. above that in the same quarter of 1952. From the Scottish point of view this is distinctly encouraging, as the increase for the whole of the United Kingdom for the same period was 14 per cent. whereas in Scotland it was 23 per cent. Production in April and May this year is the highest since 1950.
This increase in steel production has been brought about by the improvement in the supply of materials, particularly scrap, and the higher rate of production should, I believe, be maintained throughout the year. Further developments are now under consideration affecting the steel industry in Scotland. Among these, it is generally recognised that a vital factor is the expansion of pig-iron production. Supplies of steel to consumers both in Scotland and in the United Kingdom are now considerably better. It is significant that stocks held by consumers in Scotland rose by 17 per cent. in the second half of 1952.
1928 The coal industry, as hon. Members who have intimate knowledge of this industry will be aware, is now in the midst of a period of great change, and I think it is a tribute to those concerned with this transition that there has been comparatively little disturbance. Most—82 per cent.—of the miners in effective employment who became redundant owing to the closure of collieries since 1948 have been placed elsewhere. The labour employed has risen slightly, and the output of saleable coal in Scotland has risen by about 0.5 per cent. for the first five months of 1953 as compared with the same period of 1952. That does not mean that output is anything like as high as the Government would wish but it is rather remarkable what has been achieved during this period of transition. The new pits are going ahead——
§ Mr. Stuart
The reference was to 82 per cent. of those who had been displaced due to the closing of pits.
The first five months of 1953 saw a quarter of a million tons of new merchant shipping completed. This represents 45 per cent. of the United Kingdom total and the highest monthly rate of completion since the war. I believe that there has been some anxiety about certain cancellations of orders totalling 53,000 tons. While this is, of course, a serious matter it is, nevertheless, not too bad in comparison with the total orders because the industry has new work to start on which will cover the next three years.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
Can the Secretary of State say why there have been cancellations, and whether anything can be done to remedy the situation?
§ Mr. Stuart
It is partly due, possibly, like the dock labour problem, to the restriction of imports. I hope that as conditions improve that will disappear.
§ Mr. Stuart
No, I think the steel supplies are all right, but I will ask one of my hon. Friends whether he can say something on that.
Turning to electrical developments in 1952, there was an increase of approximately 9 per cent. in the power produced 1929 in Scotland as a whole, and in the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board area 11 per cent. more was produced than in the previous year. The whole of this increase in the North of Scotland area was due to water-power installations, and in Scotland as a whole there was no increase in the consumption of solid fuel in order to achieve the increased production of electricity. I am glad to say that development is progressing steadily and that many more consumers have been linked up during the past year.
I turn to the fishing industry, which is another of Scotland's basic industries; and its prosperity is, therefore, of great importance to the well-being of a large area of the country. In 1952, the landings of herrings and white fish were higher than in 1951, the value of the total catch being £11,728,000, or 5 per cent. higher than in 1951. The herring catch last year was the best since 1948, when more boats were at work. I regret that so far this year landings have been disappointing, herring landings being down by about 7 per cent. and in value by about 17 per cent. As a result of the poor quality of the herring, curers have been unable to obtain enough suitable herring to cure, though the new Russian contract has provided an outlet for sales. We can only hope that there will be an improvement in the catch later.
The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) brought this matter to my attention. It is most unfortunate that at Lerwick the fishermen have been suffering so acutely from the fall of landings, although the only really good quality herring landed have been at Lerwick. The situation has, naturally, caused great anxiety, and I was very sorry, when the appeals went out for financial help to help the fishermen and curers, that neither the Herring Board nor the Government could help them. I am very glad to be able to co-operate with the Board in carrying out an echo survey of the Shetland grounds, and I believe that the Department's own vessel is now on its way to the grounds to help locate the shoals.
The numerous activities and plans of the Herring Industry Board are described in their latest annual report. Their aims, briefly, are to extend the home and export market by improvement in the quality of kippers and by producing more attractive 1930 types; and, secondly, to provide further facilities for the reduction of herring to oil and meal. The Government and the Board are co-operating in these endeavours and the new Russian deal is, I think, evidence of our efforts to help in every way that we can.
The latest report of the White Fish Authority was published on 9th July. I confess that the Authority is confronted with a difficult task, because they have to deal with an industry which is divided into many sections and facing very many difficulties. In the first place, I think that the Authority were wise to try to get the voluntary agreement of the industry to measures of betterment. There has been much opposition, and a good deal of it from some of those who have been criticising that more has not been done, but, I am afraid that the progress made has not been either fast or spectacular. Again, the Authority have gained much valuable information which will form the basis for the formulation of schemes to improve the organisation of the industry, although, in the present form, I feel that all this may not necessarily be highly popular.
The 1952 white fish catch was slightly heavier than the 1951 catch, but its value has fallen. I also regret that the catch for the first five months of 1953 has been lower in quantity and value. The seine net fishermen have done better in 1952 and the catch is up by 12 per cent. and the value by 7 per cent., but the trawlers and the rest of the fleet did not have satisfactory fishings. They have suffered from greatly increased costs, and the result was that in April last, as the Committee will be aware, the Government made a substantial increase in the white fish subsidy for boats over 70 ft. in length. Another trouble is the ageing trawler fleet. Many of the boats are very old, and, as the Committee knows, a scheme of grants to assist the building of new boats was authorised.
With regard to Highland questions, to which I should like to refer at this stage, the Government are following the accepted policy set out in the published programme of Highland development. My noble Friend the Minister of State, Scottish Office, recently spoke of the four roads to Highland prosperity, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and industry. We shall continue to advance along those lines and do what we can to help what are really the Highland basic industries upon 1931 which our prosperity must depend. The present day output of Highland agriculture is valued at little less than £16 million a year, and I hope that that will be increased. But I cannot at this stage say anything about the plans for assisting the improvement of crofting agriculture. That must await the report of the Taylor Commission.
The Forestry Commission are planting at a rate of 14,000 acres a year and that rate will increase. In the wake of the Commission we see these new forestry villages taking shape, and since 1950 the Government have approved £600,000 worth of work to help the fishing harbours in the Highlands. This is a major step towards re-equipping and helping the fishing industry, and, in addition, there are, of course, measures to help with the provision of modern and efficient boats and gear.
Here, I want to say something on the subject of peat. We only reached agreement on this matter yesterday and I would be grateful, in view of the importance of the matter, if the Committee will bear with me if I make what I hope will not be too long a considered statement on the subject. As hon. Members know, a committee under the chairmanship of Sir Edward Appleton has for some time been investigating the possibility of developing Scottish peat deposits. Their report is in an advanced stage of preparation and, meanwhile, the committee, with the support of Sir William Stanier's Gas Turbine Committee, have specifically recommended that the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, with assistance from the Development Fund, should set up an experimental peat-burning power station at Altnabreac, Caithness. I am very glad to say that this recommendation has been accepted by the Development Commissioners and the Treasury, and the project will be put in hand at once.
The plant will consist partly of a 2,000 kilowatt closed cycle gas turbine of the type developed by Messrs. John Brown and Co., of Clydebank. The North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board and Messrs. John Brown and Co. have been working at the closed cycle gas turbine since 1947 and an oil-burning turbine of this type, the first in Great Britain, is 1932 expected to be in operation at Carolina Port, Dundee, in three or four months' time. A pilot gas turbine burning dried peat has also run for 1,000 hours at Clydebank with promising results, and the new peat plant will be a development of this.
In addition, the scheme will include a 750 kilowatt open cycle turbine which has been manufactured by Messrs. Ruston and Hornsby of Lincoln to the order of the Ministry of Fuel and Power out of a grant from the Development Fund and which will be installed as soon as it has completed the necessary tests and is in full working order. It is estimated that the whole pilot scheme will take three to four years to construct.
The whole of the previous experimental costs have been borne from the Development Fund. The capital and development costs of the present scheme, estimated at approximately £500,000, will be met mainly from the Development Fund with contributions from the Hydro-Electric Board and the British Electricity Authority, and the running costs will be borne by the Hydro-Electric Board.
If this scheme is successful it would be the intention of the Hydro-Electric Board to proceed to larger schemes on a number of suitable areas in the Highlands. This would make an immense difference to the economic outlook for the Highlands in that not only will the peat schemes themselves provide a most welcome addition to our fuel and power supplies and employment in areas where it is badly needed; but if excavation supports the evidence of preliminary borings we can look forward to the reclamation of large areas of land for agriculture and forestry after the peat has been cleared, providing a permanent livelihood for a larger population.
It is estimated by the peat committee that approximately 600 million tons of peat solids are available in Scotland in areas where depth, accessibility and other features make them suitable for utilisation. Of these, Caithness and Sutherland contain approximately 130 million tons. Should the experiment in Caithness succeed, the Hydro Board estimate that further plants in Caithness and Sutherland alone, might provide employment, part-seasonal and part-regular for 400 to 500 men.
1933 I am sure that the Committee would agree that Sir Edward Appleton's Committee, the Hydro Board and the Ministry of Fuel deserve to be congratulated on this project, and I should like to express my thanks to the Development Commissioners and the Chancellor for the support they have given to it. I heard yesterday on this matter from the Chairman of the Hydro-Electric Board, Mr. Johnston, to whom I also would express my sincere gratitude for his help and the co-operative attitude which he has displayed in this as in other fields.
The basic services in the Highlands are not being neglected, 1,500 houses were built last year and the rate this year shows an increase. The number should be nearer 2,000. The amount of money available for water supplies has also been increased. The need for the improvement of Highland roads has always been recognised. The Prime Minister declared his intention togive all the aid the Government can give … to develop, particularly by better communications, the distinctive life of the Highlands and Islands.The Highlands cannot be considered entirely apart from the rest of the country and the vital need for restoring economic and financial stability has made it impossible for the Government so far to start major schemes of reconstruction.
This is not to say that nothing has been done. Several construction schemes have been kept in progress, and next month, for example, will see the opening of the bridge to Bernera, in Lewis. In all, in 1952–53 about £1½ million have been spent on Highlands roads, towards which the Exchequer has contributed about £1¼ million. My right hon. Friends the Minister of Transport, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, have been considering whether it is possible now to increase that. As was announced last week in another place by the Secretary of State for the Co-ordination of Transport, Fuel and Power, an additional £1 million is to be spent this year on essential road maintenance and improvement work throughout the United Kingdom. Scotland, the Highlands, will also get part of that—[HON. MEMBERS: "How much?"] I cannot say at the moment.
In addition, my right hon. Friend and I have been much impressed by a 1934 reasoned recommendation by the Advisory Panel on the Highlands and Islands which sets out the general case for road improvement work necessary to develop the Highlands and to give their natural industries—here, I would stress again forestry, agriculture and fisheries, in particular—a better chance. The Committee will agree I am sure that this was the right approach to the problem. To put all the Highland roads in perfect order would require a very much larger sum than we can afford at present. The panel estimated that the highway authorities in the Highlands could usefully spend an extra £1 million a year for the next 15 years at least, if they had the funds. Much, however, can be done with less money if it is spent wisely, and the Government have decided to undertake additional work on Highland roads during the next three years, amounting to about £1 million in all.
It is intended that half of this should be started this year and the remainder in the following two years. The Argyll and Sutherland County Councils have already been asked to take tenders for the St. Catherines-Strachur and Borgie-Naver Bridge roads. Urgent consideration is being given to the difficult task of deciding which other roads should be selected, but two criteria will be kept in mind; that the work should primarily aid the development of the basic Highland industries, and that the roads selected should be capable of being started as quickly as possible.
I have kept the Committee for some time——
§ Mr. Stuart
Thank you. It was, of course, a wide field to cover.
The right hon. Gentleman asked about separate Committees and how their reports and suggestions are co-ordinated. I remember that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes) raised the question the other day. If we take the Cairncross Report, or the McColl Report on the fishing industries in Aberdeen, for example, these go through the Scottish Council. I am very ready to look into this matter to see whether the reports are properly co-ordinated. They do reach St. Andrew's House, where we 1935 do our best to deal with these matters, but I have noted the point raised and I would like time to consider——
§ Mr. James McInnes (Glasgow, Central)
We are not so much concerned with the co-ordination of reports as about the co-ordination of the various committees, of which there are approximately 14. Our desire is to have them co-ordinated into one unit which will be really active and have some executive authority.
§ Mr. Stuart
I remember that the point was made the other day by the hon. Gentleman. He held the view that there are too many committees, and that may be the case, but I should like to look into the matter if I may have a little time to do so.
The right hon. Gentleman said there were not enough new industries to come to all these places. The President of the Board of Trade will be speaking tomorrow and all I would say now is that I do not think we want to have too rigid a rule. What we should aim at is a flexible method of dealing with these questions. We cannot force industry to go to a particular place. We must try to influence them and attract them to the places most likely to suit them, and where their help is most needed. I think the President will agree with that. I hope that I have said enough to show that within our limited resources during 1953 we have made progress. It is our intention to maintain this progress and to go forward as and when conditions permit.
Apart from certain black spots to which I have referred, the employment situation in Scotland generally is definitely better and more or less satisfactory. I am not saying that that refers to the black spots in the Highlands or the Development Areas. The great thing is to have more production and to step it up so that we are able, as a nation, to help ourselves. The Government will do all they can to help, but in the end the result depends not merely on the efforts of the Government but on the efforts of all of us, the whole working population of Scotland. I trust that, together, we shall succeed in making our country as a whole self-supporting, relying on no one. In this, Scotland has a great part to play.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)
We have listened with deep interest to the speech of the Secretary of State, particularly to that part dealing with new development in Scotland. It would be ungracious of me and of hon. Members on this side of the Committee if we did not say at once that we welcome this as something which will help, in particular, the black spots in the Highlands of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke. We should remember that the institution, the planning of these things, was done some years ago. As far back as 1947, I think the right hon. Gentleman indicated, a committee was set up, and it should be remembered that, in the main, public money and public enterprise has had to assist.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will believe that my next point is made in no churlish spirit. It is a welcome development to have an early statement from the Minister, so that we can argue about it during our discussions rather than wait until the end of the debate before more information is provided. The right hon. Gentleman was simply putting forward a collection of brief points and was not intending this in a politically argumentative sense, but our gold and dollar reserves are still not as high as they were in 1950. The country would be foolish to go on believing that everything was all right.
We have an unemployment figure which is up by 14,000 compared with June, 1951. That is the real measure of the efforts which we must make to overcome our problem. So far as steel is concerned, I say no more than that the object lesson is there for all to see. We on this side sincerely hope that no action of the Government in recent months has imperilled the progress that has evidently been made in this industry in the past year.
I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) that in Glasgow and in the industrial areas there has been a little apprehension and unsteadiness as to what the future holds. The increase in the Bank rate and other actions have made industrialists and businessmen hesitate a little. We have to try to induce them to hold steady, because there still linger memories of the 1930's, when private 1937 enterprise was not willing to take risks. As a result, the things that we did between the wars to induce new industries to come to Scotland were tackled in two ways.
First, we tried to get firms with the right techniques and experience. Secondly, we encouraged our own native industrialists by providing all the help that we could to develop the new industries, so as to provide an alternative to our heavy and more stable factories and industries. Therefore, we on this side welcome the new developments, of which the Secretary of State has spoken and to which my right hon. Friend referred, in electronic engineering, aero engines, plastics, radar, television and the expansion of the light engineering and capital goods industries. These require skilled precision and experience. These are things that Scotland has, and I am glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that it will be the Government's intention still further to encourage such developments.
The mere putting up of factories will not cure unemployment. Factories are put up to make goods and, equally important, to sell them at a price which people will pay. These things are obvious, but sometimes need reiteration. My right hon. and hon. Friends and I, together, I believe, with some of the Members opposite, believe, however, that ultimately not only our problems, but the problems of other countries, will be solved only by greater international co-operation and collaboration in raw materials and the like. That is the way out. But if we are to compete, let us compete successfully in that way.
I want to pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire. All too often do we forget about him and others who were Members of previous Governments and their collaboration with the Scottish Council for Development and Industry in the suggestions that they made four years ago to bring industries to Scotland. They made joint representations to the Ministry of Supply, who, I am glad to see, are represented on the Government Front Bench. It was by those actions that the industries have come up to Scotland. The hope for exports for the whole country lies in the making of goods for which world demand is likely to arise. There is no point in making goods which will accumulate in factories, which only means that ultimately, unemployment will come our way.
1938 The right hon. Gentleman and his Departments today have a definite duty in ensuring that if Scotland is to take full advantage of these developments, which we all welcome, the resources for research and technical education must be made available. The Joint Under-Secretary of State, in the control of education in Scotland, has a big responsibility, because some of the recent developments have not been of a helpful character.
We must think in terms of changed processes of manufacture in order to economise in the use of those raw materials which have to be paid for in dollars. We must cut down the content of those raw materials to achieve stability in our gold and dollar reserves, and by the use of alternatives we can secure a greater share of overseas markets. The engineering and chemical industries in Scotland have a great opportunity and prospects for development. If agriculture is to be developed so that we produce more from the land, there will be a greater demand for chemical fertilisers. In this direction also there is room for further development.
There has been a closer search for minerals since 1946. My right hon. Friend, when in office, appointed the Westwood Committee, which, in 1949, reported on minerals in Scotland. What consideration, if any, has been given to that Report? We can agree that it would be an advantage if from our own resources we could develop raw materials which, while not meeting our own needs, would, nevertheless, make a contribution towards the sum total of the raw materials which the world needs. Have the conclusions of the Report been accepted?
That Committee envisaged a minerals development commission which was, first, to examine the geological evidence and, secondly, to consider the possibilities of applying that knowledge to the question whether the deposits were large enough to stand economic development. The President of the Board of Trade, whom we are pleased to see here today, was a member of the Committee. I hasten to add that I hope the Secretary of State will not be influenced too much by his conclusions because they were contrary to the general findings of the Committee.
The Scottish Council for Industry also asked——