§ 4.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)
We have been delayed not a little in reaching Scottish business this afternoon, and I will not waste time by saying more about the delay now. We have decided to discuss the future of industry and employment in Scotland. The President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary of State for Scotland will agree that we shall not be able to draw heavily upon the Report on Industry and Employment in Scotland, 1955, in our discussion today because there is nothing about the future in the Report.
May I make one preliminary point before proceeding with my argument? From time to time, one gets the impression that hon. Members in different parts of the House think that, when we are discussing Scottish affairs, we are discussing the affairs of some county in the North of England, some small area inhabited by a comparatively small number of people. In fact, we are discussing an area which is more than half the area 665 of England and Wales, and that gives it an importance which it is not always conceded in this House. Our share of the population, of course, is not quite the same, and unfortunately it is falling. In 1931 our population equalled 121 per cent. of that of England and Wales. By 1955, in the last census return, the figure had fallen to 11.5 per cent.
We wonder whether our share of the population will continue to fall. We ask why our share has been falling. We have a plain duty these days—indeed, we have had it a long time—to seek to secure that all our resources are fully employed in the interests of the whole country. It is clear that we cannot employ all the resources of Scotland if the population, small as it is, continues to decline or if our share of the total population of Great Britain continues to decline.
Why has our population declined? Surely it is because of the magnetic attraction of the centre for new industrial investment at the expense of the perimeter. We have had a growth of industrial development in the London area for a very long time, and much in the Midlands, and that has taken place at the expense of Scotland and Wales in particular. It went on for a great many years because it suited the investor and the industrialist. There was more profit if the industrialist developed in the centre of population, where he was nearer his markets, and that applied, because of the interdependence of a large number of servicing industries, particularly in the light engineering industries. All these factors contributed to making it more profitable for the investor and the industrialist to build up in the London area or the Midlands.
It will be within the recollection of a number of hon. Members that the wartime Coalition Government took the view that the concentration of industry in certain areas was very bad for the country. Great efforts were made during the war to bring about a dispersal of industry and population. The arguments were concerned with considerations such as strategy. It was appreciated that it was disadvantageous from a strategic point of view to have the great aggregations of industry in London and the Midlands that we then had, and successful efforts were made to achieve a certain amount of dispersal.
666 The Coalition Government also took the view that, from the point of view of the economic well-being of the country, and most certainly of its social well-being, the dispersal of the great aggregations of industry and population should proceed. It was in that mood and against that background that the war-time Coalition Government passed the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945.
I well remember the discussions that took place during the passage of that Measure. Here and now I would tell the President of the Board of Trade that because of the discussions that then took place, because of my very close interest in what was then discussed, and because of the reasons then given for the Act, I was alarmed and shocked by what I read in the conclusion of the second Report of the Select Committee on Estimates relating to Development Areas in 1955. I thought that the conclusion could be based only on ignorance or a misunderstanding of the purpose of the Distribution of Industry Act in the first place.
I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will bear in mind what I have said when he considers the recommendations made by the Committee, based on the conclusion which it reached in the first place. When reading the Report, the President might take the trouble to read the evidence given by the Scottish witnesses, in particular by his Regional Controller and the General Secretary of the Scottish Industrial Estates Limited. Their evidence was such that, if it had had any influence at all upon the Committee, the conclusions and recommendations would have been very different from what they were.
The post-war Labour Government gave effect to the provisions of the Distribution of Industry Act, and, arising out of the same policy relating to the desirability of dispersing aggregations of industry and population, they passed the New Towns Act, 1946. My hon. Friends and I still believe in planning. We still say that the additional new jobs being provided should be provided where they are most needed. We say that account must be taken now and all the time of the contribution that Scotland can make, and is anxious to make to the economic well-being of the country as a whole. Lanarkshire, the North-East Coast, and Fife and the Lothians, those developing coal areas.
667 must always be kept in mind by the Government when considering any expansion of industrial enterprise.
Let not any Minister say at the end of the debate that Opposition speakers said little about what they would do if they were in power. If we were the Government, we should be building factories where they are most needed and we should stop the building of factories where there is no need or room for them. That is what the Labour Government did, and that is what we should do if we were the Government now.
Let us look at the unemployment figures. Scotland's unemployment figure, as given by the Ministry of Labour Gazette for 2nd May, is 51,761. That is about as low a figure as we have ever had at this time of the year, but let us consider alongside that the unemployment figure for London and the South-East region, which is 37,369. The Midland region unemployment figure is 21,938. Notified unfilled vacancies in Scotland total 22,692, which is less than half the figure of unemployed. The London and south-eastern figure of unfilled vacancies is 104,015, nearly three times the unemployed figure, and the Midland figure, at 40,915, is nearly twice the figure of unemployed in that region. It is clear from those figures which region most needs new industrial building.
I would mention another important figure to the Secretary of State and the President of the Board of Trade. We find that 46 per cent. of the population of Great Britain are insured workers. If we look at the comparable figures for Scotland, we find that 42 per cent. of our population are insured workers. If Scotland had another 4 per cent. of her population included as insured workers, it would represent 200,000 more. We must, therefore, add that 200,000 to our unemployed when we are looking at the available labour supply in Scotland.
Everyone knows—the President of the Board of Trade knows it—that when a new factory is erected in an area where there has been a little unemployment, labour which has not previously been in employment at all is attracted into the factory. It is because of that fact that I say we must credit Scotland with having as high a proportion of its population able and willing to work as south of the 668 Border. If anyone should think that in Scotland we have a higher proportion of children and old people than elsewhere, I would hasten to say that I have made a calculation and find that in both countries about 66 per cent. of the population is between 15 and 65 years of age, so that there is no difference there.
There is another important set of figures to be borne in mind when seeking to decide where new industries should go. First, I want to make it clear that Scotland's share of Great Britain's production is going down steadily each year. There is no Government report which makes any comment upon that, but one extracts the figures from reports and is able to make that discovery. I want now to give some figures which I have culled from official publication, mainly the Digest of Statistics. If we take 1948 as 100, we find that the total for all industries in Great Britain in 1955 was 137, the index having risen by 37 points. In the case of Scotland the index has risen to 125, so that Scotland has a shortfall of 12 points.
We all know that Scotland has been falling behind in some of our basic industries, and there has been an assumption running through the speeches made by the President of the Board of Trade and other Ministers in these debates in recent years that we were making up for this in manufacturing industries. I take the figures of production in the manufacturing industries. Taking the Great Britain figure at 100 in 1948, by 1955 it had gone up to 142. In Scotland, taking 1948 at 100, it had gone up in 1955 to 129; so we fell even further back in this sphere of production from our manufacturing industries. It is, therefore, clear that we are not making good in the manufacturing industries what we are losing in our basic heavy industries in Scotland.
I turn now to where the new industrial building is in fact going on and where additional jobs are being created. Let me put on record at the outset that, according to official publications, at 31st March, 1955, there had been created the following amount of new factory building: in Scotland, from January, 1945, to March, 1955—a period of ten years—24,891,000 square feet; in London and south-east England, 23,069,000 square feet and in the Midlands, 26,849,000 square feet.
669 I say at once that it is clear that Scotland did fairly well in the ten years after the war in completions of new factories. Incidentally, any factory building which was merely a repair or a replacement of war damage up to 1948 is not included in these figures, wherever it has taken place. We did fairly well until 1948. When we look at the completions for the nine months to 31st December, 1955, we find that Scotland got an additional 2,458,000 square feet, London and south-east England an additional 5,218,000 square feet—a good deal more than twice what Scotland got in that period, although in the previous ten years Scotland got slightly more than London—and the Midlands, in the same period get 4,483,000 square feet.
These figures are very important. I complained in the debate last year about the amount of allocation of new industrial building to Scotland in relation to what was being allocated to the rest of the country and particularly to the London area. What has been the record since? Between 30th June, 1955, and 31st March this year—the latest figures available—approvals were granted as follows: —for Scotland 3,999,000 square feet, for London and the South-East, 13,908,000 square feet and for the Midland region, 7,522,000 square feet. London is now getting three and a half times the amount of factory building that Scotland is getting.
In London, which is getting this additional factory accommodation, there are 104,000 unfilled vacancies at the employment exchanges and the men cannot be found to fill them. When we look at the vacancies filled in the four weeks ended 2nd March, we find that the figures in Scotland are about 23,000, in London and the South-East about 60,000, and in the Midland region about 21,000. These vacancies filled in London were not filled by unemployed Londoners, they were filled by the workers sucked in from Scotland, Wales and elsewhere where employment is needed.
The Minister of Labour, in his speech on 3rd July, in discussing the problems of the motor industry in the Midlands said:There was a more substantial movement still into the London and Southern regions.It is clear that there is already taking place as part of the normal life of our country a 670 sizeable geographical movement of labour."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd July, 1956; Vol. 555, c. 1296.]That is our complaint. There is this size able geographical movement of labour, which is a very evil thing. It was seen to be so by the Coalition Government, recognised as such by the Labour Government, but it seems to be taken for granted as a normal thing by the Government that Scotland's unemployment problem will be solved by building factories in London and the Midlands. That is precisely what is taking place at the present time.
I am reliably informed that it is only lack of housing that is holding up the flow of workers to the South. The President of the Board of Trade is no innocent in this matter. All this factory building in the south is approved by him by the issue of industrial development certificates. Why have this apparent control? Is it control? When application is made to the President of the Board of Trade for certificates, does he take into account whether or not to grant industrial development certificates? Does he ever ask himself whether there is labour in the area to take the jobs to be created in the new factories? If he asks himself that elementary question, is he content to get an answer from the Minister of Labour that the workers are not there?
The right hon. Gentleman may take comfort from the fact that the workers are there in Scotland and will be attracted into London, the South-East and the Midlands because that is where the investor or the private industrialist wants to build his factory. No regard seems to be taken of the social and strategic requirements. In this atomic age, the President of the Board of Trade seems bent on providing near the River Thames the biggest target for a hydrogen bomb anywhere in the world. So one bomb in future will be sufficient to knock out the whole of this country. That seems to be what he is doing in his policy for the distribution of industry by issuing his industrial development certificates.
Will the President of the Board of Trade give the criteria by which he takes into account whether or not to issue an industrial development certificate? Has he anything to say different from what I said just now? If so, he will be contradicting the former Parliamentary 671 Secretary, who explained to my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) not long ago precisely what considerations were taken into account. They were those that I have mentioned, namely, the available supply of labour.
Even in agriculture we in Scotland are falling behind. We had recently the Report of the Hill Lands (North of Scotland) Commission. It was the most defeatist Report that I have ever read. This was a Committee of responsible persons who were asked to look into the possibilities of increasing beef production in the Highlands. After sitting for a very long time, they discovered that all the land in the Highlands is occupied by somebody. Anyone could have told them that before they started. It is all occupied. The Committee said in the Report that the occupiers of the land were sometimes misusing land and had been given advice by representative and responsible bodies, including the North of Scotland College of Agriculture, but in many cases they were unwilling and, in some cases unable, through lack of finance, to bring about the restocking of the hillsides which the Hill Land Commission and the College of Agriculture thought desirable. The Report of the Commission says that there is nothing that we can do about it. There is no power. The Secretary of State told me, in reply to a Parliamentary Question, that he accepts the conclusions of this Commission, and he praises Lord Balfour and his Commissioners for the useful job of work which they have done.
Is the Secretary of State really saying that we are to ignore the potentiality of the whole of the Highlands area, or does he really think that we should have increased beef production? He cannot argue in favour of both. It will be remembered that we recently had a Report about Mid-Wales—the Mid-Wales Investigation Report—which was much more imaginative and much more adventurous. The view was taken that something could be done to see that the natural resources of that area were properly utilised in the interests of the country as a whole. Surely the same can be said of Scotland—or must Highland depoulation continue?
I commend to the Secretary of State an article which appeared in the Scotsman on 13th July from which I should like to 672 quote much, but from which I will quote only:If the Hydro Board can take over a glen and fill it with water, and the Forestry Commission can take whole hillsides and clothe them with trees, why not a body to take a glen and stock it with cattle?I echo that suggestion—why not a body to take over a glen and stock it with cattle? If we are treating this matter seriously, and if glens, like the Great Glen stocked with cattle by Mr. Hobbs, can be stocked with cattle, why should they not be so stocked in the interests of the country? Are we to say that we cannot do that, because someone who owns the glen is unwilling or unable to stock it with cattle? I ask the Secretary of State to reconsider that.
On Tuesday I asked him whether,…in view of the Government's request for an increase in beef production, he will encourage local authorities to operate the provisions of the Agriculture (Improvement of Roads) Act, 1955, as a matter of urgency.During the passage of that Measure we were assured by the Government spokesman that the Government were anxious to pass that legislation, because it was needed to improve the roads to give access to livestock rearing areas in order to get a much needed increase in beef production. The Secretary of State replied:I regret that, in view of the need to limit capital expenditure, I cannot offer grants for this purpose at present. I am prepared, however, to consider any schemes submitted to me by local authorities with a view to the offer of grants as soon as circumstances permit."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th July, 1956; Vol. 557, c. 22.]That is another victim of the Chancellor's anti-inflation policy. Works urgently required to increase food production are stopped by Government action and Government decision while luxury building in London and the building of new petrol filling stations all over the country are merely discouraged by putting up the price of money. That is the sense of proportion which Ministers appear to have.
The Government's inflationary difficulties are not caused by over-consumption in the Highlands and crofting counties, where unemployment is 4.4 per cent. They are not caused by over-consumption in the livestock rearing areas and the fishing area in the north-east of Scotland, with which the Secretary of 673 State is familiar and where unemployment is 5.4 per cent., nor in Lanarkshire, where unemployment is 3.2 per cent., nor in West Lothian, where it is 3.2 per cent. Yet all are treated alike by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, except, perhaps, that Scotland has worse treatment, because Scotland is much more dependent than London and the rest of the country on public enterprise, and it is thereby more adversely affected by Government policy.
I ask the Secretary of State to bear in mind the delay in completing the mechanical engineering research laboratory at. East Kilbride. A few days ago the Mechnical Engineering Research Board said, in its Report for last year:This country will fall behind others in industrial progress unless there is a quicker rate of advance in the provision of adequate research facilities.The main causes for the present state of affairs are inadequate financial provision and cumulative delays which have occurred during the design and construction of buildings and equipment.Work began on the laboratory in November, 1949. The Report said:Now, six years later, it is not nearly complete, and the completion date is likely to be at least ten years later than the latest date suggested by the original committee.The establishment of this laboratory was a bold and imaginative step in research and technical education in Scotland, but it is to be delayed by ten years because of financial stringency. I need scarcely ask what would have been the decision if this project had been in London or Birmingham. Would it have been delayed for ten years? Of course the Secretary of State cannot get the money. He cannot get the money for building the town centre shops in East Kilbride. Perhaps he will ask Mr. Harold Samuel or Ravenseft Properties Ltd. for the money to build this much-needed mechanical engineering research laboratory in East Kilbride.
We have heard something about redundancies in the motor car industry in the Midlands. Great concern about the redundancies has been expressed on both sides of the House and will no doubt be expressed in the debate which I understand is tò take place next week. We have redundancies in Scotland. There has been a pay-off at the India Rubber Tyre works at Inchinnin, a pay-off for workers in the shale industry in the 674 Lothians, where many men are taking down the works in which they were previously employed—and they have been re-employed in an area where unemployment is already 3.2 per cent. There has been a pay-off in the cotton factory at Shotts and redundancies greater than usual in the light castings industry.
Now the Admiralty has decided to close all naval establishments in the Orkneys, where 200 workers will be affected. I do not think that they will find employment within the area. As the Government are always prepared to take work from the perimeter to the centre, I wonder whether Rosyth will be the next on the list. Where are the workers to be re-employed? Presumably redundant workers in Scotland are to be employed in the factories which are now being built in the south.
We had a transfer of the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance from Edinburgh to Newcastle—another sucking away of employment from Scotland. Hon. Members on both sides of the House and the Minister of Labour himself criticised the British Motor Corporation for failing to enter into consultations with the unions before the pay-off, but there was no consultation with the Civil Service unions before that pay-off in Edinburgh. Of course that was in Scotland, which makes it much easier.
We have a large number of industries in which there is under-employment at present. I do not propose to take up time by giving the list, but furniture and upholstery trades are suffering badly. The anticipated rent increases in a short time, in view of the forthcoming legislation, will do little to stimulate demand for furniture and upholstery among the working people of Scotland, so many of whom are under-employed, with wages decreasing in consequence.
We do not need planned unemployment in Scotland. What we need is planning for more employment. We need it in many parts, some of which I have mentioned—the Highlands, the North-East, Lanarkshire, Fife and the Lothians, with the developing coal areas. Six thousand miners are to be declared redundant in Lanarkshire. In a short time some will go to Fife, but they will go more easily if the non-mining members of their families can work in modern factories 675 of the kind which we have on the industrial sites in Lanarkshire—and we still need industry in Lanarkshire to take in the slack which is now being further increased. All that takes planning, and makes it absolutely necessary for the President of the Board of Trade to deny industrial development certificates to developers in London and the English Midlands.
I have painted a rather grim picture of the future of Scotland under the present Government. It is, however, the only picture that emerges from an examination of the facts as given in official publications. I ask the Secretary of State not to be blinded by the progress report of his White Paper, "Industry and Employment in Scotland, 1955". Let him—and surely he has a duty to do this—compare what is happening in Scotland with the progress made in England. The brains and the skill of our people are the greatest asset that we have. We must not deny our people the opportunity of using their brains and their skill anywhere in the world, but let us not turn them away by denying them opportunity in their own country.
§ 5.0 p. m.
§ The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)
I welcome this opportunity to intervene for a short time in a debate on trade and industry in Scotland. I share the view of the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) of the great contribution which Scotland can make to the prosperity of the United Kingdom. If I paint a rather rosier picture of Scotland's future—as, perhaps, speakers on the Government benches, whatever Government may be in office, tend to do—that must not be taken to mean that I do not share with him some of the anxieties which he has expressed, or that I pretend that there are not places and instances, some of which I may mention in the course of my remarks, which give anxiety to anyone studying this problem.
There are really two choices open to one in making a speech of this kind. One can make a speech about the United Kingdom economy, upon the basis that the prosperity of one is the prosperity of all, or a speech particularly attuned to Scotland's problems. I will choose the latter in a debate of this character. The 676 hon. Member spent a considerable part of his time comparing what was happening in one part of the country with what was happening in another. We cannot have a complete equality as to what is happening in production or building in every section of the United Kingdom; it will vary. On occasions, one will go faster than another.
The hon. Member mentioned London. Metropolitan London has 20 per cent. of the insured population, and its building since the war is equivalent to 10 per cent. Scotland, with 10 per cent. of the insured population, has pretty well held that share of industrial building of all types, Government and private. Six hundred firms have moved out and established branches outside London since the war, not all to Scotland, alas, despite the efforts of the hon. Gentleman's Government and mine. About 350 were established in Southern England, 210 in the North of England, and 40 in Scotland.
Under the policies he referred to, pursued by his Government and mine, there has been some movement of industrial enterprise from the south to the north. I shall refer to the figures in a few moments, when I come to that part of my speech. It is two years since I spoke in a Scottish debate. Since then, there has been a marked improvement in Scotland's affairs. Whether that is to be attributed to my silence or to Scottish enterprise, I know not, but there is certainly a healthier and more prosperous picture to be described now than was the case then.
The hon. Member mentioned some figures, and I want to put a few before the House. Employment in Scotland has increased—and by "employment" I mean the number of men at work. That is not a bad test of the situation. The figure for May, 1955, was 23,000 higher than the figure a year earlier and 59,000 higher than in May, 1953—and the increase was reflected in almost all the main groups except clothing and some of the textile industries.
Unemployment was lower in 1955 than ever before. The monthly average of 51,000 compares with'53,000 in 1951, which was the lowest figure previously recorded. In 1954, which was a good year on most counts, 8,000 more were unemployed than the average for 1955.
677 If I may bring the record up to date, I can say that unemployment in June, 1956—at 46,500—was lower than it was in the same month either of 1955 or 1954.
The general outlook for the future, as shown by the industrial development certificates issued—one measure which is often taken—is certainly encouraging. In 1955 the Board of Trade approved 54 million square feet. This was more than in 1954; twice as much as in 1953, and half as much again as in the boom year of 1951. These are heartening figures for us to hear, upon whichever side of the House we sit, and they represent a striking level of prosperity. The hopes in Scotland, as in the United Kingdom, must be that we should enjoy the fruits of this investment in increased productivity, reflected in more stable prices and more constant levels of consumption.
I should like to leave the statistical analysis of this record, although I do not promise not to mention any more figures. I shall, however, try to mention rather fewer.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
I am looking at the White Paper on Industry and Employment in Scotland 1955, which says:Among the expansions at existing works, schemes by the whisky industry to extend or replace bonded stores were more numerous than usual.They do not provide against employment.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I shall mention the whisky industry before I sit down, because I want to pay a special tribute to the contribution which it has made to our export trade.
Leaving the statistical side of the matter, I want to mention some far-reaching changes which are taking place in the Scottish industrial structure. The basis of Scotland's prosperity is not just a few industries established under the Distribution of Industry Act; it lies in her basic industries of steel, coal, shipbuilding, engineering, agriculture and fishing. Unless we have prosperity in those industries, nothing else that any Government can do will make any very large contribution to the problem.
When I made a tour of Scottish industry in 1954 I remember that some misgiving was expressed about the future of the Scottish iron and steel industry, which is the key to much else of that which is produced in Scotland. Today, we can 678 note with satisfaction the good progress that has been made with the Colville scheme for expanding iron and steel output. Even since the White Paper was written developments costing £6 million have been announced by Bairds and Scottish Steel, which are expected to more than double the output of pig iron at the Gartsherrie Works at Coatbridge.
So much for industry; what about shipyards? The shipyards of Scotland employed even more people in 1955 than they did in 1954, and the order books were fuller at the end than at the beginning. Orders in these shipyards represent more than two years' work. It is true, as it always is in these matters, that the position is not evenly spread. The bigger shipyards are better off than the smaller ones. I might mention two important launchings which took place in 1955—the "Empress of Britain" by Her Majesty the Queen, and the "Corinthia" by Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret. Wherever we sit we can all feel proud that the Clyde can still present these great ships to the world.
§ Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)
I think the President would agree that one cannot judge the economic trend of a country merely by taking one year's figures and those for the following year. Can the right hon. Gentleman say if there has been any increase in the number of workers in the shipbuilding and ship-repairing industry in 1955, as compared with the number in 1948?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I cannot offhand, but I will certainly see that the figures are made available.
The point I was making was that there are more people employed in Scotland than last year, and the order books are fuller now than they were at the beginning of the year. I have to deal with quite a lot of figures in the Board of Trade, but what matters is not precise figures. It is the trend that matters, the direction in which we are going—whether we are going forward or backward. I say that in her shipyards, Scotland is going forward, and we are very glad that it is so.
I want to mention the modernisation and development of coal mining, because it presents a rather different picture from what was imagined some years ago. Progress continues to be made, and the 679 National Coal Board is pursuing its plans to replace the declining central coalfields, of which we all know, by new workings, especially in Eastern Scotland. When we think of new workings, we must also think of the declining coalfields and the problems which they bring.
This picture which I am painting, which is a very bright one, has this other feature to it where the coalfields are being worked out, but, nevertheless, the Board's plans are going forward and new workings are being developed. As the older pits become exhausted, it means that more difficult seams have to be worked and new mines have to be sunk, and the industry has to run very hard to stay where it is, in terms of output, as that situation develops.
I do not want to under-estimate the magnitude of the task. The National Coal Board's revised estimate of its labour force shows a modest increase over the next decade, and it is worth looking back, reflecting and comparing that estimate with the very substantial decline which was anticipated in "Plan for Coal" in 1950. The outlook in terms of labour for this basic industry of coal is something far different from that which was at one time anticipated.
If the older industries are holding their own, the new industries are developing. There has been the remarkable post-war development in Scotland consequent on the growth of the oil-based chemical industry at Grangemouth. Forth Chemicals, Limited, should complete an extension late this year to double the capacity of their styrene producing plant. There are large new schemes of expansion by British Hydrocarbon Chemicals, Ltd., now under way, and Union Carbide, a great American company, is building a plant to manufacture polyethylene.
Scotland already has a significant and growing share in atomic energy developments, and Scottish firms in many fields are contributing to the development of nuclear power. The whole of the steam-raising plant for the nuclear power station at Calderhall was manufactured in the west of Scotland. I am deliberately mentioning these new industries because this is the weight of the matter—where the big and powerful contribution of Scottish production to the economy not only of 680 Scotland but of the United Kingdom really rests.
I want to mention some of the other industries. The activity of almost all branches of the engineering industry remains at a high level. There has been further progress in the establishment of the electrical engineering industry, and there are important proposals for the production of contractors' plant. Distillers—and I now come to the position regarding whisky which the hon. Member forecast—are working to capacity and are enlarging their storage space for whisky to be matured. I quite agree that this may not have a great effect in terms of man-power, but it has a very substantial effect in terms of exports. I know that the hon. Gentleman is as anxious as I am to ensure—let me develop the case for whisky in a Scottish debate—that we all pay tribute to the contribution which that industry has made to our exports. In 1955. they were the highest ever recorded, both in quantity and in value. There remains a lively demand at home and abroad for Scottish tweeds, both Harris and Border and the traditional border knitwear industry has also made a great contribution to the export trade.
One particularly welcome sign is that the flow of new arrivals into Scotland has continued and increased. There are some schemes of new arrivals in Scotland which are of major importance; some 600,000 square feet of factory space are involved. The Caterpillar Tractor Company—and I know we all welcome that great American company to Scotland—will have 250,000 square feet, and the Goodyear Tyre company is another of the concerns involved. There is also a large expansion scheme by Burroughs, Ltd. for the manufacture of office machinery at the new town of Cumbernauld.
I want to emphasis the lesson of these investments, because they are an indication of the private funds which well-known companies are prepared to put into the Scottish Development Area. That is a good sign, and a traditional sign, because it is almost exactly one hundred years ago today that the first American company arrived in Scotland. That company made vulcanised rubber, and I think it arrived there because Scotland did not have the same patent laws as England and it offered them a certain marginal advantage. Since then, there 681 has been a constant stream of American firms finding a footing in Scotland, which has brought great prosperity both to themselves and the Scottish people.
Besides these major schemes, there are a number of smaller projects of special value to particular parts of Scotland. For example, one of the first factories on the new industrial estate at Inverness will engage in photogravure printing, there is the electric lamp factory at Buckie; the twist drills factory to be opened at Peterhead which is now under construction, and the new textile machinery parts which are to be made in Dundee, which will help a little to diversify the dependence of that city on jute.
Scotland has her problems in the industrial field, for example, problems of geography, but so have most other countries, even including the United States and Canada. There are very few countries in the world indeed which have not got some kind of problem of geography. The examples which I have given demonstrate that Scotland is overcoming her problems, but that a sustained effort is still needed to bring these developments to maturity and to add others. This is a picture of a vigorous, growing and expanding economy. Having said that, I must also add that of course not all the developments in the last eighteen months have been favourable. Some industries have not done so well. I have already mentioned textiles other than wool.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
The right hon. Gentleman is repeating himself in talking about wool. Surely, there is considerable underemployment in the woollen and worsted industries at the present time.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
It may be that in some firms and in some places there is under-employment, but the picture which I have given and can present of Scotland is one of great and growing prosperity. I am saying now and I am about to say very frankly to the House that if we look across the whole field, there are some places that are not doing so well. The hon. Member for Hamilton himself mentioned the difficulty of the shale oil industry, and we will certainly do our best to steer new industry into that area.
There is also the mining village of Shotts, where a cotton spinning and weaving firm has told us it wishes to leave the factory, and we are therefore seeking 682 another tenant. There is a similar situation at Jedburgh, where a firm making viscose rayon has left. The carpet industry in the West of Scotland and Midlothian has met with difficulties, not least due to the Australian import restrictions.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the firm which is leaving Jedburgh was the only instance of this great new industry which existed in Scotland, and that it is disappearing and leaving us without a single example?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
That is an example which I took deliberately, because I do not want to paint the picture in too glowing colours. I want to show where are the difficulties, and when we have a firm which is leaving one of these factories, I want to report that we are seeking another tenant.
Scotland has been affected by the credit squeeze and the general policy to moderate consumption. This has affected employment or brought short-time working in some industries. In fact, about 4 per cent. of Scotland's insured population is concerned with consumer durables which are perhaps the most affected. Of course, fewer still than 4 per cent. are directly affected. In Scotland and elsewhere some changes in the employment pattern must take place. But the general picture is still one of prosperity and in that I feel we can all take satisfaction.
I will now turn to the industrial development, referred to by the hon. Member for Hamilton, as measured by the Board of Trade in terms of factory space for manufacturing industry, and I begin by taking Scotland as a whole and not just the Development Area. I have been considering the Report of the Select Committee on Expenditure in the Development Areas which the hon. Gentleman mentioned—he did not pay a tribute to it but he mentioned it—
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
She was not misled by me.
683 The House will not expect me to anticipate the reply to the Select Committee, but it may help to put matters in perspecive if I review the post-war industrial development which has taken place in Scotland, with particular reference to factory building.
The Labour Government took advantage of the exceptional conditions immediately following the war and encouraged the introduction of much more new industry to the Scottish Development Area, mainly by factories built by the Board of Trade, and all this was of great benefit to Scotland. It is interesting to compare progress in the four years of the Labour Government, from 1948 to 1951, with the four years from 1952 to 1955. If I make such a comparison, I do so in no party spirit.
Between 1948 and 1951, if I may take the manufacturing industry, there was approved 13.1 million square ft. of factory space of all types of building. In the four years from 1952 to 1955 the figure went up from 13.1 to 15.1 million square ft. and the range of industries covered in both periods was about the same. The area of building started in the earlier period was 10.6 million square ft. and in the later period it was 12.2 million square ft.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
The area completed in the earlier period was 11.5 million square ft. and in the later period, 13 million square ft. The figures relate to all industrial building over 5,000 square ft. in Scotland as a whole.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
I think the right hon. Gentleman would agree that just to give the Scottish figures is not enough. Will he make the comparison, which I make, between what was approved in Scotland in the last four years of the Labour Government and was what approved in London and the South-East Region; and what his Government approved in Scotland and in London and the South-East Region in the four years which he mentioned?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
Yes, I will give an answer straight away. It is true to say that in the early period, between 1945 and 1947, a far larger proportion was 684 approved in Scotland. But under the Socialist Government, between 1948 and 1951, that proportion, which was 14 per cent. in the earlier years, fell to 7 per cent. and has been maintained at that level by the Conservatives.
I turn now to the Scottish Development Area. More than half the people live there. The amount of factory space completed was the same for the two periods. It was 8.7 million square feet. Approvals were 8.3 million in the earlier period—the hon. Gentleman was talking about approvals—and 9.6 million in the later period. Starts were 6.7 million in the earlier period and 8 million in the later period. As to the amount of Government building, during the eight years—I am now taking the whole of the eight years—the major part of the factory building in the Development Area was privately financed. I do not think that is generally recognised.
Of the 8.3 million approved in the earlier period, 2 million was financed under the Distribution of Industry Act. Of the 9.6 million approved in the last four years, 2.3 million was financed under the Distribution of Industry Act. It is true that there was also some building by other Government Departments, for example, the Ministry of Supply and so forth, which made a useful contribution. But, making all allowances for that, the privately financed building—it was mainly for the extension of local enterprise—was the greatest contribution. Of course, a large part of the Board of Trade building under both Governments was for the introduction of and assistance to new arrivals. The figures show clearly first, that both Governments have used the powers of the Distribution of Industry Act with vigour and effect—
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
Well, I could argue that our figures are better but I did not want to be pushed into saying that.
§ Mr. Fraser
Under the Labour Government the powers were used with vigour and effect, because we built factories in advance and obtained tenants; but the right hon. Gentleman will not build facories in advance, and the Report tells of large numbers of applicants for the few factories which fall vacant. When they are refused, these applicants do not ask for development certificates to 685 build in Scotland. They ask for certificates to build in London, and the right hon. Gentleman grants them.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I thought that I was bending over backwards to be fair. I say that the figures show incontrovertibly that the Conservatives had done a great deal better, but I tried to bring in the party opposite on the tail of our success, and I said that under both Governments we had pursued these matters with vigour and effect.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
Secondly, the figures show—and this is something from which both sides of the House may learn, as it is something from outside—that the main progress in the Development Area has come from the expansion of indigenous industries or the attraction of new firms simply on the merits of the situation in Scotland. In 1948 the industrial structure of Scotland was virtually the same as in 1939, with 16 per cent. of the labour force in the basic industries and 32 per cent. in other manufacturing industries. In 1955, 38 per cent. of a much larger total was employed in other manufacturing industries, and only 12 per cent. in the old basic industries. The change has been much more striking in certain areas. This is a tribute to the policy which in general has been adopted by both parties. It has been a bi partisan policy and most useful.
The situation today is that the Government have made it plain that approval of further Government-financed building will be allowed only in exceptional cases of urgency and importance. We have however agreed to build a 40,000 square feet factory for Pye Limited in North Lanarkshire on amortisation terms, which will bring additional employment to Scotland, and I think we can welcome the development there of the electronics industry by this well-known British company. I will make these points about the slowing-down of Government building as it affects Scotland. I make no apology for economising in public expenditure. No one stands to gain more than does the Board of Trade from general economy in Government spending and it is only right that it should make a contribution in the same way as any other Government Department.
686 Secondly, privately-financed building has always accounted for the bulk of the development in the Development Areas and it is continuing at a high level. The I.D.Cs. for 1956 included little or no Government-financed factory building, which was still above the average for recent years.
Scottish Industrial Estates has been, and continues to be, extremely active. I should like, in passing, to pay a tribute to Lord Bilsland for the contribution which he has made over the whole of Scotland in the work that he did with such energy and drive in getting factories from overseas to come here. He has kept all Presidents of the Board of Trade well upon their toes in these matters. I am sure that we all wish his successor. Sir Robert McLean, all good fortune in the great task which he takes over.
Employment at the 360 factories administered by Scottish Industrial Estates is at the record figure of 65,000. I have described recent industrial projects, but the full effect of some of them will not be apparent for some time ahead. Often there is a time lag between the issue of the I.D.C. and the beginning of construction, and between construction and full use and employment. The rate of industrial development is on a large scale and it is not unreasonable to hope that it will bring a rich harvest to Scotland in the years to come.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
Will the right hon. Gentleman please tell us now why he allows three and a half times the factory building in London that we get in Scotland, despite the unemployment figures and the other figures which I have given?
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I have already given the answer. Metropolitan London, which already represents 20 per cent. of the insured population of the British Isles, has had only 10 per cent. of the building, whereas Scotland, with 10 per cent. of the insured population, has had her full share.
§ Mr. Fraser
Are these factories which are going up now to be filled by workers from London or from Scotland and Wales?
§ Sir James Hutchison (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Scottish whisky industry has moved down to the Strangers' Dining Room in this House? In view of the complimentary remarks that he has made, it will no doubt be very glad to talk to him.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Hubbard (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
The fact that the Scottish whisky industry has moved down to the House of Commons has no bearing upon the important matter that we are discussing. I am fully aware that the Scottish whisky industry makes a great contribution to the economy and to the dollar position of the country.
We have been treated to a great many figures this afternoon by the President of the Board of Trade. Some of us have been unable to keep track of them. I am interested in what they were supposed to prove, because, as the right hon. Gentleman said, the trend is the thing that matters. One would gather from his speech that everything in Scotland is in a very happy position and that we have little need to worry because we are set fair for the future. The right hon. Gentleman may read a great deal, but he may be reading the wrong sort of stuff. There may be some new industries in Scotland, but we must have the right industries in the right place at the right time.
Even with all the figures he gave, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman can claim that we have reached that position. The White Paper shows a very different position. At the very beginning it mentions industries that have suffered from redundancy and under-employment as a result of the Government's restriction of spending in the home market and the restrictions on hire purchase. That is much nearer the picture as we see it in Scotland. It has been the Government's deliberate policy to cut home spending and, as a result, industries which were flourishing a few years ago are now restricted. There is evidence of unemployment and under-employment in them.
I shall focus my remarks on Fife. Not many years ago Kirkcaldy was called the "boom" town because its industries were flourishing and there was full employ- 688 ment. When the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) met a few years ago to consider the development of the new town of Glenrothes nearly all the industrialists protested because they claimed there was already a shortage of labour in Kirkcaldy. In spite of the figures given this afternoon, there is a good deal of unemployment and underemployment in Fife and on the perimeter of Glenrothes. I would call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to figures given by the Minister of Labour as recently as March showing that unemployment is rising in Scotland and that the new industries are not keeping pace with it but are falling off.
As a result of the Government's policy of reducing home spending the extraordinary position has arisen that the linoleum industry is beginning to pay men off. The White Paper tells us that exports of linoleum and other goods to Australia have fallen off, as well as exports of motor cars, which is causing some of the trouble in the Midlands. The picture is not a good one, especially in the areas which are not Development Areas and which are deemed to be prosperous.
The right hon. Gentleman must be aware that within the last two years 30 per cent. of the operatives in the furnishing trades have become either unemployed or under-employed. Have these figures escaped his notice? This position arises mainly as a result of the credit squeeze and the restriction of hire purchase, and the figures are much more realistic for the people of Scotland than the long strings of figures rolled out by the President of the Board of Trade.
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned coal, which, like steel and shipbuilding, is one of the basic trades in Scotland. In my constituency, which is a great coal development area, we have seen the development of Rothes Colliery which has cost more than £10 million. It ran up against difficulties of flooding, and the National Coal Board has had to grapple with difficulties which private enterprise could not have touched. Very little credit has been given to the National Coal Board for dealing with this position in a way that will enable us to produce coal next year in this area. This will be of tremendous importance for the country and for the future of employment in Scotland, yet this area has not one new industry in it.
689 I asked the Secretary of State for Scotland a few weeks ago to tell us whether the Government intended to put new industries into this area, realising the importance of attracting miners from the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser). I understand that by 1965 there will be only one colliery in Lanarkshire producing coal and that about 6,000 miners will be redundant. What is the use of having coal miners without pits in Lanarkshire and coal mines in Fife without coal miners? That is the type of planning that we expect from this Government. We should have an assurance that the coal workings and the men will be in the same place at the same time.
I agree that it is a very difficult and hard decision to ask miners to come from redundant areas, to uproot themselves and families and go to the coal developing areas, with the great disturbance that causes in their lives. That is not something which anyone can do with a good heart, but it is absolutely essential that something should be done to give a measure of encouragement to these workers.
We find in this coal developing area a new town which was scheduled and started building under the 1946 Act. It was intended to provide sleeping accommodation and all the amenities and employment for people who resided in that area. Now we have a coal mine going into production and not a single new industry has been started in the area. One of the reasons given is that the surrounding area of Kirkcaldy and elsewhere was so prosperous that it needed all the labour of people who went to Glenrothes to live and found work in Kirkcaldy.
In my constituency at Seafield there is the development of what might be the greatest coal mine in the country. Boring is taking place on a man made island in the Firth of Forth. Everyone realises that that is a tremendously costly experiment carried out to get coal, which is so much required for the basic industries—coal which today is being imported to Scotland in far too large amounts.
A great deal of development is going on and bores are being made further out in the Firth of Forth. Probably this will be the biggest coal cellar in the whole of Scotland. Yet we have coal in one 690 place and miners in another. In one part of the country there is a development which will restrict miners and give them no encouragement to go to the new area in Fife. Is that the sort of planning which will lead to healthy industry in Scotland in the future? Can we have any hope that the Government will change their plans in this regard? There is the same situation in the Lothians. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian (Mr. Pryde) will have something to say about that. At present the picture in Fife is becoming almost as gloomy as in Lanarkshire and other areas where pits have been closed.
There is a big problem presented in the importation of coal. A great deal could be done about conservation. It is interesting to find that the Fuel Efficiency Committee has been offering a great deal of advice on the proper use of coal. It is also interesting to read in the White Paper that sixty-eight surveys were completed in 1955. They were surveys into the use of coal in sixty-eight industries in Scotland in which the aggregate consumption of fuel was 323,000 tons. If the recommendations had been put into effect, there would have been a saving of 46,000 tons a year. At the end of the debate, can we be told if any of those recommendations were in fact put into effect? Were any steps taken to implement the recommendations which would have saved 46,000 tons of coal a year? That saving would apply to the sixty-eight industries in which surveys were taken and it means that 14 per cent. of the coal burned in those industries has been completely wasted, at the same time as we are importing coal to Scotland.
The Fuel Efficiency Committee has given further information and offered advice to other consumers of coal, to the extent of 367,000 tons, whereby there would be considerable savings. We should know what attention has been paid to that advice. Has anything been done as a result of those surveys? Have the huge sums which have been loaned for development been used to good effect? I am satisfied that in that way we could save importing coal to Scotland and could help in the problems of development of industry in Scotland.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton had something to say about 691 Government establishments. Again, keeping in mind the picture in Fife, I should be obliged if the right hon. Gentleman could give some information about the future of Rosyth. Is it to be put on a care and maintenance basis? What is to happen about Donibristle air station? Is that to be put on a care and maintenance basis or to continue operating? It is tremendously important to know about that. If there is to be a cutting back of employment in Fife, of which there is evidence at present, how can we expect to attract men from other areas?
If redundant miners in other parts of Scotland are aware that there is likely to be unemployment in Fife as a result of closing Rosyth dockyard and a recession in the linoleum, furniture and textile industries, they will not be prepared to transfer to Fife. No matter what is spent on sinking coal mines and their development, we cannot produce coal from them without miners to do the work. It is not every type of labour which is suitable for producing coal. The percentage of men working at the coal face is small. A large number would have to be brought in from other parts of the country.
I should have been very much happier today if we had had some much more realistic information. I hope that before the debate ends we shall get some. I agree that it is important we should get a share of the new factories. There is a complete reversal of the policy declared by the Government, that the development of industry should not be focussed around towns which already are too big and already have populations which are too great. The whole purpose of the Distribution of Industry Act was to encourage industry to go where there were large pockets of unemployment, and to put an end to the one-industry towns. Glenrothes has been made into a one-industry town because no new industry has been started there.
I hope we shall have an answer to some of these questions and a more realistic point of view put forward instead of a series of figures which are already available for anyone to read. The effect and the results of those figures and trends which may be dependent on them really matter. What matters is that in Scotland today there is a higher percentage of unemployment than there has been for many 692 years, in spite of the figures given by the President of the Board of Trade. The trend is for those numbers to become greater still. The trend, in spite of the development of new collieries to replace redundant seams, is not likely to help the production of coal. The National Coal Board has been authorised to spend £40 million over the present period. It is expected that another £87 million will be spent over the next five years in order that we may increase the production of coal in Scotland by about 8 million tons. That would be a great contribution, but unless we have better planning in the development of coal and the use of the miners, this money will be wasted.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Sir James Hutchison (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
It is not surprising and, to me, not unwelcome that this debate should have concentrated so much on the problem of the distribution of industry, and I should like later to turn to that problem, for I agree with much which has been said on the subject by hon. Members opposite.
Before I do that, as is perhaps not unnatural in an industrial debate, I should like to say a few words on the importance of research. We hear and read on all sides of the importance of scientists and technologists. This importance has been recognised in increasing tempo by the Government in the augmented grants which they are giving to universities for technical education and to technical colleges, as well as in the local facilities which they are now setting up.
I want to examine another link in the chain of research, and that is the link which leads the pure or applied research into the hands of business itself. If that link is weak or missing, we are not making the maximum use of what research has discovered for us; and I am very doubtful whether that link is not weak or missing at present.
The big concerns are all right and I am not worried about them; they have their own research departments and are able to keep abreast of what has been discovered. There are also trade organisations dealing with research, and those who are members of such organisations get certain facilities, but are we certain that all members of an industry, particularly the less important, are members of the trade associations? I am worried about the small concerns—for example, 693 the manager or managing director who has 20 or 100 employees, who is up to his neck in work, anxiety and problems and who has nobody to send to a research centre to find out what is being made available.
We must remember that the majority of British industry still consists of the small concerns. Such a man remains largely ignorant of what progress has been made in new ingredients, new processes and new pieces of machinery, from which, if only he knew what they could do for him, he would greatly benefit. He has not the staff to send to obtain advice and often does not know where to go for it.
The new activity of industrial consultants largely sprang up to fill this gap, but these consultants are concerned mostly with big firms and are very costly to employ. I am not alone in my anxiety in this matter, because, five years ago, the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) made a study of the problem and applied for a small grant, only a few thousand pounds, to carry out a review. At first, the application was refused, but later it was allowed largely, paradoxically enough, with the help of the American Aid programme.
That inquiry is now complete. It shows beyond any doubt that the need is great. It shows a great need for a number of peripatetic engineers who will go round industry, particularly the smaller firms, and point out to them where they are out of date and how easy it would be for them to improve their concerns.
The Scottish Council planned to organise such an organisation and asked for £6,000 to set it on its feet. The Council was prepared to pay half if the D.S.I.R. would pay the other half. So far, the D.S.I.R. has refused. This request for money is made only until the organisation becomes self-supporting, because the Council is satisfied, and I am satisfied, that the benefits which this organisation could bring to industry would soon become so well recognised that concerns would be prepared to pay a fee for the advice which they would get from these engineers.
Is it reasonable to expect research to sell itself? Salesmanship is one of the great problems of modern commerce, recognised many years ahead of us by the Americans, who go in for high- 694 pressure salesmanship, which they have reduced to a fine art. We have travellers for industry and commerce; we have insurance agents selling insurance. Is it unreasonable to expect that we should have somebody trying to sell research?
I believe that the task of research is to search out the problems in the country and then try to help to put them right. I therefore hope that my right hon. Friend will reconsider the situation and bring pressure to bear upon the D.S.I.R., or whatever Government Department is responsible, so that that very small sum of money will be made available to set up an organisation which I am sure in the process of time will pay for itself over and over again.
May I pass to one of the products of research, atomic energy? In this, Scotland has not been left behind, and I congratulate the Government on what they have done. We have probably the most advanced breeder reactor station in the world set up at Dounreay, thanks largely to the pertinacity and foresight of my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson). In addition, there are the reactors at Chapel Cross, in Dumfriesshire, and yesterday we heard of a new station with, initially, two reactors to be set up in Ayrshire, probably near Girvan. This is a great start.
It has become a cliché to say that nuclear energy will be the power of the future, but the more one repeats it the more people will realise its great importance. I believe that in the end hydroelectric power will be the cheapest, and I am not one of those who suggests that Mr. Tom Johnston has water on the brain. I think that his hydro-electric schemes are good schemes for Scotland and that the energy produced will, in the long run, be the cheapest power we can get.
Hydro-electricity will have a great advantage in an inflationary period in that the capital will have been spent in fairly early days. The maintenance costs are relatively low. As costs of maintenance and production rise, a business which has invested its capital—and it has been a very big expenditure—and has comparatively small maintenance costs to face in the future will eventually draw great advantages and will end up by being the cheapest producer of electric power.
The curious situation is that these hydro-electric schemes are running short 695 of water. During the last few years a curious change has taken place in the climate. There has been less snowfall and what has fallen has been melting quicker than it used to melt. Snow, melting gradually, supplies the water which very largely fills the reservoirs of these hydroelectric schemes, and now we have the paradoxical situation in which those running hydro-electric schemes sometimes have to consider whether they will be forced to follow the procedure on the Continent and buy pumping stations to pump water into their reservoirs. I wonder whether we are to come to the paradoxical situation of hydro-electric schemes having to buy nuclear stations in order to pump the water into their reservoirs to enable them to produce the requisite amount of electricity?
There is a curious theory, and there has been a very interesting book written about it by a scientist in America called Mrs. Carson, that the ice cap is receding. If she is right, it is fascinating to speculate what is to happen to the Scottish climate. Will it continue to get warmer? Are all our calculations on the supply of water, snow, and so on, to be vitiated? It is fascinating to think what would happen, in that case, to our tourist industry and to our agriculture and to our method of life if the climate changed.
§ Sir J. Hutchison
It would mean an immense change in a hundred directions.
I want to say just a word about the cost of nuclear power, to show how wise the Government are being—and, indeed, the country over all; I am not making any particular claim for Scotland—in getting into this nuclear power industry as soon as possible. I believe that the second cheapest electric power will be nuclear power. It may even beat hydro-electricity in the long run, because, at present, dependent on the amount of credit that is assumed from the sale of plutonium—which is rather a matter for speculation at present—nuclear power can be produced at from 43d. to 65d. per unit.
The coal, or thermal method of producing electricity costs, for the same load factor, about 52d. per unit. We are, 696 therefore, already within striking distance of having nuclear power as cheaply as thermal power. Undoubtedly, to my mind—and in the minds of those who are much better able to guess what the future holds in this matter—the nuclear method will certainly be able to reduce its present costs.
Is it, then, surprising that the world is excited by the fantastic possibilities now opening up before us, and that at a meeting in Paris, when we were discussing this sort of thing the other day, most of the discussion turned on nuclear power? Is it surprising that I urge my right hon. Friend to keep these thoughts in the forefront of his consideration?
I should like to know whether any Scottish Minister is particularly concerned with these nuclear power problems. To whom are we to put Questions on the development of nuclear power stations in Scotland? Is it the Minister of State? Or is it one of my hon. Friends on the Front Bench. They are already overloaded with work, I know, but they must recognise that this is not a side-issue for Scotland, but will ultimately be one of the bedrocks upon which our industry is founded. I urge on my right hon. Friend to offer to one of his Joint Under-Secretaries of State the responsibility and duty of keeping abreast of affairs in a very complicated field.
Perhaps I may be permitted to say a word about peat—an old and happy, or, perhaps, not so happy hunting ground of mine in the past. It is seven years since I originally got an Answer from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) that this subject was to be gone into. Something is now coming out of the mills of government, which grind very slowly, and I am glad to see that peat has now, to a certain extent been milled.
The station at Altnabreac is apparently making some progress, but may we know what the soil is like which has been uncovered there? I ask, because that is one of the great potentialities. Not only may we have our closed or open gas turbines generating electricity—which, on its own, would not be a paying proposition—but if, after removing the peat, the soil underneath can be turned into fertile agricultural soil we get the best of both worlds. I should, therefore, like my right hon. Friend to tell me what sort of soil 697 has been uncovered at Altnabraec. Has the dewatering plant proved successful? I gather from the White Paper that it has. And where and when will the closed cycle gas turbine plant be erected?
Finally, I should like to turn to the problem that has, so far, been exercising so many minds in this debate—the location of industry. The new town plan is a good one, but I think that it has been admitted on all sides that if we are to set up a new town we must plan to have industry there, and not make the new town just an area for dwellings. That is one of the problems with which my right hon. Friend is concerned at Cumbernauld. They have succeeded there in attracting the Burroughs Adding Machine Company. That is a splendid triumph, but one swallow does not make a summer, and that one factory will not provide work for all those whom it is planned to settle at Cumbernauld.
Last year, I pressed my right hon. Friend to take a new look at the powers which he possessed and at the general policy for the distribution of industry. I thought then that the time had passed when one should automatically assume that, whatever be the circumstances in the normal part of Scotland, our endeavours must be to attract all new industry to the Development Areas. I think that that time has gone. That is shown by the unemployment figures; there is little difference between those figures in the Development Areas and in the rest of Scotland. I urged my right hon. Friend to take powers so that, whenever circumstances arose, and there was a special need of the kind of which the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Hubbard) has spoken in the case of Glenrothes, he should be able to deal with it.
I am not sure that he has those powers now, but I understand that a review is taking place. In all this I find myself in very exalted company. At that time I was in the company of the Scottish Council, but we are now joined by a Select Committee of this House, which seems to recommend very much the same procedure as we have been advocating. I hope that my right hon. Friend and the Government will take powers to allow them to attract industry to the areas where it will bring the greatest good to the country.
698 Under the previous plan they did a lot of things. One of the most popular and most important was the construction of factories all ready for a concern to move into on a rental basis. That, more than anything else, was one of the things that attracted industry, and if the Government cast away that weapon they will have great difficulty in attracting industry to Scotland. Scotland has certain disadvantages in that respect, but it has certain advantages, too, and one of the things that played a great part in attracting industry was the possibility of an industrial concern being able to walk into a ready-made factory and pay a rent, and so not have to find the capital.
Only the other day a firm which wanted to extend in Scotland was offered the following attractions by Northern Ireland. It was offered a factory, suitable for its purposes, at 9d. per square foot. It was offered a grant of 33⅓ per cent.—in money—for the plant which it proposed to put in; and it was offered those facilities for ten years free of all rates. What an offer! How can my right hon. Friend expect to attract industry to Scotland if that is the sort of bait which is being dangled in front of industry in order to get it to go to Northern Ireland?
My right hon. Friend will be forced to do something, unless he is prepared to let Northern Ireland fill up over a year or two, and then Scotland, England and the rest can come in for what is left over. I was going to say that I hope my right hon. Friend will take some such steps; I am sure that some such steps will have to be taken, and any review which is now going on can only result in the sort of thing which I have been advocating being adopted for the whole of the country.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
The last few words of the hon. Member for Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison) were, particularly if he gave thought to what he was going to say, amazing. All of us are aware that this was a very fine discriminatory investment action on the part of Lord Chandos, a gentleman who has always stood for the principle of non-discrimination. I am one of the many who believe that this talk of investment being indiscriminate, of the Bank Rate being indiscriminate, is sheer 699 nonsense. There has always been discrimination by institutions and, indeed, by Governments in their treatment of individuals. This is a case of discrimination.
This is our problem now, as it was the problem of Wales and of Scotland, before the war. I am astonished to find that I am now attempting to make a speech which is very much like a speech I made over thirty years ago. It is telling exactly the same story. The President of the Board of Trade gave us statistics—we have had many statistics this afternoon—showing that employment in Scotland is higher and more factories have been built.
These statistics are, no doubt, very fine, and they give an effective reflection of many things. It may be said that the position in Scotland in 1956 is better than it was in 1954, but it is a poor show in the middle of the twentieth century that, after all our education and technological development, there is not some improvement in resources in any part of the United Kingdom.
What we have to consider in the United Kingdom as a whole is this: are the industries of Scotland, or, indeed, is any part of the United Kingdom, getting a fair share of the investment which is vital in any community in order to achieve a balanced and happy social life? We have heard very little about investment in Scotland. The hon. Member for Scotstoun mentioned research and the application of research. The application of the results of pure research is investment. It is no use anyone telling me that there are manufacturers, big or small, in England, Scotland or Wales, who are unaware of engineering and technical research; I just do not believe it.
While talking to a gentleman a few weeks ago, we had before us two machine tools, one priced at £2,000 and the other at £22,000. The one was a well-known machine tool, which operated before the war; today, as I said, it cost £2,000, but before the war it was worth between £800 and £1,000. I know it well. That company has sold six of those machines to British manufacturers. That machine is a pre-war, 1936 model, with a bit of chromium plate on it and with the index- 700 ing a bit more distinct, a manually operated machine. Three of the £22,000 model have been exported, and not one has been sold on the home market.
That may sound all right, because we want exports, but any Government which follows a policy of dear money in matters of investment—this so-called nondiscrimination policy—frustrates the British engineering industry from establishing the latest means of production on which technical advance has developed and puts that industry at a disadvantage in competition with foreign companies which seem to be able to get the credit to acquire the most up-to-date machinery.
We had from the benches opposite last night a demand for investment by the Colonial Development Corporation in all sorts of social and economic situations within which industry could develop. If there is one part of the United Kingdom which needs extensive social investment to attract industries which will then employ men of high technical knowledge, Scotland is that part.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) was telling me of a company which came to Lesmahagow, which said to the local authority, "If we bring our factory here, we shall want four-apartment and five-apartment houses, with garages, for our workpeople, because we shall bring with us people who will be earning £20 to £25 a week." We train technologists and technicians in Scotland, men with ambition, and they look for employment not only where they can get high remuneration, but where they can get high quality amenities.
This problem of investment is probably the most important problem facing not only Scotland, but the whole of the United Kingdom. Indeed, it faces the whole of Europe. Investment is becoming very costly indeed. The President of the Board of Trade said that he did not want to paint too rosy a picture of Scotland. The picture he painted, of course, is one of current production for consumption. That can present a rosy picture for the present, but we must never eliminate from that picture the fact that that current production and economic activity is now being consumed and that there is a vital need for a large part of that current economic effort to go back into industry for reinvestment and extension.
701 The story in Scotland, as I have known it and have learned from reading and discussion, is that the greater part of reinvestment there has come from companies which are world-based, not Scottish-based or even English-based; it has come from world-based companies such as General Electric, Burroughs and International Harvesters, companies with huge financial and physical resources outside Scotland. Scotland is the home of insurance and banking, yet no one there seems to be prepared to finance Scottish enterprise.
I am not like some industrialists I know, who loathe the sight of an American company because its standards are so good. I want to see these industries coming in, but I do want to see natural investment within Scottish industry itself going on. It must go on. If it does not, the results will be very serious. There are those who believe that automation will have no effect on the shipping industry, for example. I do not believe that. One of the biggest factors in the cost of a ship is the time factor; time is one of the most important elements, the time on the berth. One cannot measure the capacity of engineering plant by the amount of cubic feet it occupies, or by the storage capacity of its building. Its capacity is measured by its technical efficiency and by the cubic capacity which it builds.
One of the most important factors in the cost of a product is the time it takes to turn the raw material into the finished product. The reduction of this time factor requires investment, very heavy investment. The new eleven-stage unit for producing an engine block costs £250,000. The old machine requiring 13 hands to operate it cost £49,000. That is the measure of the difference in capital cost.
To get new investment in these areas, we cannot leave it to private enterprise. I am not condemning private enterprise for this; do not misunderstand me; it is a very costly business today to invest on the scale required in these chemical, clothing and engineering processes. I very much doubt whether we could expect the average enthusiastic small or young businessman or engineer to risk all his resources in such a hazardous enterprise as putting down plant on a modern scale to compete with modern 702 established industrial plants. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Pollok (Mr. George) probably knows something about it, because he has "had a go". I understand. I wish him the best of success, but I think he will agree that it is a very expensive business.
Not enough has been said about investment. Every good farmer on a sizable farm knows by his knowledge of the land that a proportion of his crop every year must be put back into the soil to maintain and even to increase its fertility. He sees that, annually, that element from his production is put back into the earth to ensure that when he dies and his son takes over, the soil will be at least as good as, if not better than, when he took it over himself.
What has been happening in British industry for forty years? Banking and insurance do not put money into Scottish industry. Those who control finance in Scotland do not attempt to enter Scottish industry. One can see the figures of the outflow from Scotland into unit trusts in London. The Scottish investor puts his money not into Scottish industry, but into insurance and banking.
The initiative of the investor, about which we hear so much, has gone. I admit that it is not so easy to get in on the industrial wagon or on the industrial production train as it was thirty or forty years ago—I have been in engineering too long not to know it. What happened between the wars, and still happens now, is that the equity shareholders of modern industry, like most people engaged in industry, do not act like the good farmer.
If times are good and profits are high, they want every bit of the profits that they can get. They want to reap the lot and they do not want to plough back. That is happening today, and the symptoms of it can be seen everywhere. An article some time ago in The Times, which mentioned this very fact, said that as a generation we were too prone to take out of our current effort the maximum that we could draw and not to think of leaving something back for the next generation.
I remember a remark made many years ago by a great orator. It might have been the late Mr. Lloyd George or possibly the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). I was very young and was greatly impressed by it. He said that we are not the owners 703 of the earth on which we spend the normal span of three score years and ten, but are only the tenants of it. We are here just for a little while and we have to pass it on to a generation which follows. Therefore, we should be careful what we do with it, and we should see that in extracting the wealth and using the earth's resources we do not create a barren waste and leave nothing to the generations that follow. We should develop and expand it, as a parent seeks expansion for the sake of his children.
Before the war, the shipping industry refused to expand and develop, so the Government of the day provided a subsidy to help it to do so. They gave the subsidies first to those who agreed to undertake scrappings and then to those who did not. Those are the people who believe in the philosophy of non-discrimination. Why should we not have some discrimination today?
The workings of modern industry and commerce demand that children can do arithmetic and can read and write. I have no doubt that had they been left to their own resources, millions of parents would never have sent their children to school, and industry would never have had the great human capital to manipulate the industrial machine. Therefore, we had discrimination and we compelled this capital for the future to be educated to operate the machines. If it was right to introduce compulsion in that direction, surely the time must come when action must be taken to ensure that industry and the economy is adequately supported in investment for future production and for an expansion in technology. If not, we shall be left behind in the race.
All over the world, Governments are taking action. They are being discriminatory in helping all kinds of industries to develop their technological powers, and we must do it here. We are doing a little in the way of research, but we are not doing enough. Equity shareholders of large industrial concerns, must curb their demands upon companies, and so also should certain directors in their expenses. I believe that a good deal of extra investment could be undertaken by not calling for some of the expenses that are called for today. Too much money is flowing out of industry and not enough is going back into it.
704 I always have a strong theme concerning the shipbuilding industry. I remember one of Cobbett's essays, in which he said that people were prone to sow seeds of plants from which they could pluck fruit, and were not sufficiently conscious of the fact that they should plant trees, although it might be a century before their descendants obtained the fruit. It is our duty to think of these things. Parents think of them for their children. Why should we not think of this as a national as well as a parental concept?
In shipbuilding, the position today is very good. The capacity is there and there are plenty of orders on the books, but with the extension of prefabrication, the possibilities of automation—an ugly word and difficult of definition—and the spread of all these techniques, the industry must be prepared to use initiative. This may mean the curbing of shareholders' demands.
I have no objection if directors tell equity shareholders that they cannot get any money for the next ten years because it is necessary to provide prefabrication shops and extend the area around the berths. Unless this is done, the shipbuilding industry will be out of date as against the yards in America, now lying idle, which have been expended, developed and technologically equipped and in comparison also with yards in France, Hamburg and Japan. Our shipyards are busy and the berths are full, but the capital investment which is vital if the industry is to hold its own in ten or fifteen years' time is not being provided.
The same is true of the steel industry. Hon. Members may know that it costs £60 to £100 million and requires four or five years work to put down a strip mill. Light industry—even Burroughs or the International Tractor Company—may be dependent upon increased capacity for strip sheet production. The decision to put down a strip mill has to be taken, and somebody must take it. If the decision is not made and a strip mill is not put down in Scotland, when the slightest recession lessens the demand for strip metal many of the light industries of Scotland, which are extensions of other light industries, will close down in favour of the light industries nearer the actual centres of production.
705 I hope that the Secretary of State will really look at these problems, and especially that of the present flat Bank Rate for the whole country. Whatever the purpose for which money is required, the same fiscal policy applies to the City of London and to the overdeveloped as well as to the underdeveloped areas, and it simply does not work out. No bank manager operates in that way. In his dealings with commerce, he uses discrimination when dealing with one institution or customer as against another.
This attitude of the Government, this refusal to be live partners in the development of our economy and the distribution of economic activities for the sake of a balanced economy beneficial to the community, and also, perhaps, for reasons of strategy—though I have not much faith in them these days—and ultimately to achieve the real ends of all economic activity, the happiness and well-being of the people, must be changed. Unless the Government, any Government of this country at any time, take an active part in creating investment to maintain the development and the momentum of the development of the economy, all our high ideals will come to nought.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. J. C. George (Glasgow, Pollok)
This is the first debate on Scottish industry in which I have had the honour to participate. I have been interested in watching the efforts of hon. Members opposite to paint black a picture which they know perfectly well is white. A curious illustration of that was given by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser). He so illustrated the Scotland I know that I did not recognise it, so grim was the scene he painted.
The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Hubbard) likewise took a gloomy view, and the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) said that the present state of affairs was a poor show and talked about a recession. I do not recognise Scotland from the picture as they painted it. Most of us are fairly happy about the position. It has not been brought about by any one Government, but by the wise policy of starting the Development Areas many years ago. That policy has borne fruit, and the position in Scotland is not one for great anxiety. We can never be com- 706 placent, and can never rest, but need we paint black what is, in fact, a bright picture?
I thought that the debate would take a course different from that which it has taken. We have heard the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East mention automation. I thought that perhaps the Government and the Opposition leader would deal with that subject, especially as this debate is about the future of Scottish industry. I have been thinking of the future of Scottish industry in the light of the majestic changes which have taken place, and it seems to me that we in this House may not for many years longer be able to talk intelligently about Scottish industry unless we first of all become students again.
§ Mr. Woodburn
The hon. Member is just leaving a very interesting argument. He was making adverse criticisms about the manner in which problems have been placed before the House. Do I gather from him that he suggests that the problems my hon. Friends have placed before the House do not exist and will not exist in the future for Scottish industry? Are not those problems real problems? Did not my hon. Friends present them with the facts? If they did, why does the hon. Member dismiss them so airily and say that they do not exist at all?
§ Mr. George
I by no means dismiss them airily, but I thought my right hon. Friend dealt with them forcibly. I was merely mentioning that not enough mention had been made of automation.
"Automation" is a word which frightens many of our people. There is a whole dictionary of new words being compiled in this country, words which very few of the old and very few of the young comprehend. How many of us know exactly all the meaning of such terms as "fissile" and "non-fissile" materials, chain reactors, isotope, cyclotrons, and so on? All these mysterious new words are coming into daily use, and we have to understand them if we are to speak with reasonable knowledge and some authority upon the future of Scottish industry.
In the past changes in Scotland were relatively slow and did not occur violently. Today, everything moves very much faster and we, Members of this House and people outside, are in danger of not 707 being able to understand the complex changes which are taking place in industry, and of becoming mere repeaters of reports and of what we read in the Press. That is a great danger, and it arises because we have difficulty in understanding the new terms, the new word "automation", and because of that the new word "automation" has struck fear into the hearts of the people of our country.
The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East mentioned automation, which causes some alarm, and before the trouble which we see occurring in the Midlands today comes our way in Scotland we must try to get our people to understand what this new word means, clearly to understand all that is meant by the process, and also its limitations. If we do we can remove some of the terrors which have been aroused by extravagant newspaper treatment of the subject.
What is automation? We have for years, calmly and without worry, watched mechanisation proceed to do thousands of heavy tasks, lifting them off the shoulders of men, and doing them by mechanical contrivances. In the process of mechanisation, people had to transfer to other jobs, but it all took place so quietly that it passed almost unnoticed. Nevertheless, by this means great benefits were conferred upon our people, their labours lightened, their standard of living raised steadily. Lately, the word "automation" has arrived and has become mixed up in people's minds with George Orwell's terrifying picture of what the world may be like some years ahead, and, consequently, fear has undoubtedly been instilled into the hearts of many of our people.
The word "automation" has been defined by that very able scientist Mr. Fred Woollard, in the Financial Times supplement on automation last week, and he defined it as follows:Automation is the system and method of making processes automatic by the use of self-controlling, self-acting means for performing operations in industrial and commercial undertakings.
§ Mr. George
The essential difference between the mechanisation which we accepted quite happily and the automation which we seem to fear is expressed 708 in the words "self-controlling, self-acting."
The present troubles we read of in the motor car industry seem to confirm all the fears, but, in reality, if those troubles are examined closely, we shall see they have little to do with automation.
Let me try to get this new friend of men—not foe of man—into proper perspective. Automation is comparatively new in this country, but it has been going on longer in the United States of America, and its effects have been studied closely by a United States Congressional committee. That committee listed the scope of industries likely to be affected and came to the conclusion that, in the end, only 8 per cent. of those employed in industry in the United States could possibly be affected by automation. That is an authoritative report on this new arrival in our midst, and it does not paint a picture of nation-wide chaos and upset.
§ Mr. Bence
This is a very important matter. I have seen this report talking about 8 per cent., but let the hon. Member continue his reference. That figure of 8 per cent. is of people in American industries who will be affected directly, but there is a larger percentage of people who will be a little less affected. The effects reach outwards.
§ Mr. George
Yes, but there are beneficial effects of automation, and that figure of 8 per cent. referred to people who would be directly affected and might have to take other work with less rewards.
The authorities in the United Kingdom who have been keenly studying the matter estimate that not more than 10 per cent. of our people will be so affected. If this be so, then the problem of automation will not be a problem of unemployment, but a problem of re-employment. We must remember that automation has been brought about by the new electronic controls and other devices, and they have to be designed, manufactured and supervised, so that, if automation does mean a change of employment for a percentage of the population, it is quite certain that the effect of automation will be to lower the costs of production.
In my view, the majority of the benefits which flow from automation would be passed to the consumer. We should then be able to counteract competition 709 from countries with low production costs, such as Japan, and, with the ever-increasing need in our own country as a result of a rising standard of living, more and more goods would be produced and more work would be available for everybody. Automation in full swing will not bring about a time when men are running about Scotland looking for jobs. I believe that with automation we shall be looking for men to man industry and produce the goods.
§ Mr. Rankin
Would the hon. Member not agree that if these things which he has been visualising are to be achieved it would demand a form of control in industry which his Government do not accept?
§ Mr. George
No, I do not accept that at all. I have every confidence in industry, as governed and controlled today, to handle automation, keeping in mind, as it has always done, that industry is intended for the public benefit.
§ Mr. George
No matter how we in Scotland would like to wrap ourselves in nationalistic tartan we cannot contract out of world conditions. Other countries will adopt automation and inevitably we must follow suit.
§ Mr. George
In today's debate the hon. Member very rightly and strongly urged upon us the importance of technical education. A few weeks ago I spoke in the House on technical education and urged the Government to ensure that a new and imaginative era in technical education in Scotland should be achieved with all speed. I will not repeat what I said then except to urge the building of new schools and the reconstruction of the old colleges.
I should like to underline to the Secretary of State for Scotland my plea that he should give second thoughts to the proposal I made in that debate that the central institutions in Scotland, including the Royal Technical College, should have independent powers to grant degrees so that the status of their graduates might be raised. I laid great stress on that and pointed out how social status means a great deal in the life of a man and his family. Whilst it is recognised that an associateship of a technical college equals 710 a university honours degree, no one would say that in social status it carries anything like the weight of a B.Sc. with Honours.
§ Mr. Rankin
The hon. Member may have created a slight misconception by what he has just said. The Royal Technical College, in Glasgow, is part of Glasgow University from the point of view of a degree. Students at the College take the B.Sc. degree at Glasgow University.
§ Mr. George
I have pointed out before that for a thousand years the universities have had the monopoly in awarding degrees. I ask now that these central institutions, distinct from universities and unconnected with universities, should have their own right to award degrees. This would encourage people in this new age of technical education. I hope that my right hon. Friend will give the matter some thought.
It is not enough for us to provide the schools and the teachers in this new technical age. We must go further. The Government should try to point out with clarity to the employers, the trade unions and the parents the part which they can and must play if that great mass of people in Scotland who are conscious that their fathers and grandfathers were hewers of wood are not to believe that they also must look forward to a future in which they will be hewers of wood. The employers, the trade unions and the parents should point out to the children that there is a bright future for them if they enter into this new era in which technical education and science can so alter their lives and the life of the country.
There is today a regrettable reluctance on the part of employers and perhaps even in the part of apprentices to take advantage of the day-release scheme. It does not give us much hope for the future, but we must not be disheartened. Only 9 per cent. of apprentices in Scotland take advantage of these day-release classes. We must have a campaign in Scotland, reaching right to the board rooms, to point out where the advantage to industrialists lies in offering the opportunity to these young men to better themselves educationally in the course of their employment.
§ Mr. James McInnes (Glasgow, Central)
Perhaps it would be for the Secretary of State for Scotland to take 711 action to the extent at least of having a conference with industrialists to encourage them to grant these facilities.
§ Mr. George
That would be a splendid idea and could not fail to produce some results.
I should have liked to have compared the position of technical education in Russia with the position in the United Kingdom. I had the opportunity of saying something about it in the debate to which I have already referred. We may not think of Russia as becoming our competitor on whom we must keep an eye, in case she goes too far ahead. I believe that on a broad front Russia has discarded arms as a mean of fighting for domination in the world. I believe that she is putting in their place a vast increase in the production of technicians, technologists and scientists and is out to conquer the world through science. We must watch her. If we study the remarkable growth of technical education in Russia, and the remarkable results which have been achieved and compare those with the meagre results in this country, we shall have cause to pause and think.
§ Mr. George
Someone today said that some people have water on the brain, but somebody seems to have the Bank Rate on his brain.
Starting with almost nothing in 1936, Russia produced in 1954, 680,000 trained engineers and 53,000 graduates, of whom 20 per cent. to 30 per cent. were women, while in this country we have produced only between 2,000 and 3,000. The difference is staggering. We must spare no effort to bring about the new era of technical education and to make it effective in the shortest possible time.
I should like to say a few words about the change in the situation relating to Development Area factories. This is of exceptional importance and we in Scotland are seriously concerned about it. The first phase of revolution is past, that is, the phase when we built factories which required large labour forces. We have only a minor unemployment problem in the Development Areas. We do not look for the day when we have no unemployment, because on that day the 712 country would be stagnant. There must be a moving force looking for jobs.
We have built large factories to cater for industries requiring more than 1,000 employees. Now we must pass to another phase and I submit that there must be reconsideration of the prohibition on the building of factories. Factories should continue to be built, even if it involves charging a low rent, in special circumstances. I view the next stage as being one not of building large factories for 1,000 or more employees, but of building throughout the counties and the small county towns of Scotland factories employing between 50 and 100 workers.
It might be said that concerns of such a size would not attract industries from overseas. I go to the United States every year and I have been talking to industrialists over there. I am also assured that the Scottish Council has been doing the same. There are many willing to come over and engage in industrial concerns employing between 50 and 100 workers, for instance, in the new electronic field where the product has a high conversion value, where raw materials costing £I can be converted into goods worth £100.
That is the kind of industry we want to encourage in Scotland in the years ahead. Those factories might be sited in areas where industrialists would not normally go. Therefore, we want to retain in Scotland the right, if we need it, to assist by way of cheap rents, or by other forms of subsidy, in places where industrialists would not of their own volition set up such factories. In this way, we could make a real attack on that intractable 2½ per cent. of unemployment, so I hope that thought will be given to this suggestion.
In passing, I would mention to my right hon. Friend that this prohibition does not appear to extend to all spheres of local government. For instance, I understand that in one town of England—I cannot mention its name, because I have this information in confidence—the council has just completed the building of a large new factory, complete with overhead cranes, and has let it at a much reduced rent to an incoming firm. That confirms the information given by my hon. Friend the Member for Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison) that inducements are still being given in England and Ireland to 713 bring new industries to particular places, so why should we be without this in Scotland?
§ Mr. George
Now I want to look at the most important part of Scotland's economy, namely, the future of our power and energy requirements. My hon. Friend the Member for Scotstoun mentioned the atomic field and made certain observations on atomic energy in the future. The prosperity of any country depends in direct ratio on the amount of electrical power it consumes. We have always been told that American prosperity is so much greater because the American worker has three times more power at his elbow than our workers enjoy.
What are the plans for the future, as set out in Command Paper 9737? We find there that the energy producing industries in Scotland, coal, gas and electricity, are scheduled to spend an enormous amount of money in the next ten years for a country of the size and population of Scotland. Without going into too much detail, I would point out to the House that, by 1965, £185 million will have been spent on coal, £46 million on gas, and another £400 million on electricity, that is on hydro-electricity and conventional electricity; that is, a total of £631 million will have been spent between 1949 and 1965 on the production of energy in Scotland.
That does not take any account of the new expenditure, which we read about yesterday, on an atomic power station somewhere in Ayrshire, with a second one to follow. It takes no account of the expenditure on Dounreay, or Chapel Cross. In fact, £700 million will be spent in the next ten years on conventional power, on hydro power and on power from atomic power stations. As I calculate, from this there will be an enormous increase in the electricity available in Scotland.
We have been told that in our country we should cater for doubling the demand for electrical power every ten years, but the schemes put forward by the South of Scotland Board and the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board seem to me to cater for a 90 per cent. increase in the production of power within about eight 714 years. If we add to that the output from the new atomic power stations—perhaps 800 megowatts—which will be in operation, the first by 1961 and the second by 1965, it will be found that we are catering for vastly more power than Scotland itself will ever require.
I want now to look at the whole question of energy requirements and energy plans in Scotland. With respect, I feel that sometimes Government Departments do not wake up to changes quickly enough. Sometimes they know of changes which are taking place, but go on as if nothing were happening. Changes are taking place rapidly in the field of energy—apart from coal, which I will not deal with today because I believe that, as we have appointed a new Coal Board and a new Minister of Fuel and Power and as they have a new coal plan, they must have a chance to prove themselves over the next year or two.
I turn to the energy controlling setup of Scotland today, which is a curious one. We have the South of Scotland Board, which is busy with vast new conventional power plans but is also toying with milled peat and more hydro. The North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board is planning far ahead with tunnels and dams and roads and housing, and is experimenting with peat winning and peat burning, with open and closed cycle gas turbines and with windmills. On top of that the Atomic Energy Authority is operating at Dounreay and Chapel Cross. Both of these places will yield power. Dounreay will probably yield 100 megowatts and Chapel Cross 200 megowatts.
So we have three authorities operating in Scotland today, and in my view the control is too scattered. Changes are taking place too rapidly, with such wide consequences that we cannot allow these organisations, especially the South of Scotland Board and the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, to follow their own road. I believe that we should now take steps to combine those two authorities, so that we can direct their concepts along the proper road.
It seems to me ridiculous that at one and the same time there should be experiments with uranium and atomic energy and with peat. The heat released from peat is probably 500 million times less than the heat we get from atomic 715 energy. I may be wrong, but I think that we must bring these institutions and schemes together, so that they can be operated with an overall picture of advances before them for the real benefit of the whole of Scotland.
The power requirements of our country are of great moment. We are not talking any longer about atomic energy in the future. The Report of the Atomic Energy Athority, issued yesterday, stated:A year ago, nuclear power appeared, for most countries, to be a possibility in the remote and indefinite future. Now it is a matter not of conjecture but of dates and comparative costs.We should not drive tunnels and build dams and coal-burning power stations long after the time-table, if properly drawn up, would have stated that they should stop. Atomic energy is coming, so no longer do we want to build majestic power stations and in ten years' time maybe have them silent and the dams empty.
My hon. Friend the Member for Scotstoun spoke of the dream that the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board would buy nuclear power to pump water. Of course it will. That is the way we shall get the best results. But pumped storage is the key to 24-hour working of nuclear stations. It means a merging of that Board with the South of Scotland Board. At the moment they are selling power to the South of Scotland Board and buying it back again. The South of Scotland Board is buying and selling power to and from the Hydro-Electric Board. Now they may be further mixed up with pumped storage schemes.
The time has come for a unified authority for the whole of Scotland. Indeed, I go further and say that the entire plan for our fuel and energy needs to be supervised, otherwise we may make grave mistakes and be condemned by future generations. Not only that, we are advancing in all three kinds of power. So far as I know, there is no correlation between our three sources of power and no certainty that they have a common goal. Some method of correlation should be devised quickly, even if it is done by the Scottish Office.
It is essential that the three industries should view the future with full knowledge and in an expert manner. For example, I believe that gas is on the way 716 out. Someone ought to decide now whether or not gas should go to the new towns. The gas and electricity people in the North of Scotland are fighting each other for business. The whole picture is confused and ought to be studied quickly to ensure that in the future we are not condemned for over-developing any of these industries upon which the future of our country and people so much depends.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
I agree with much of the speech of the hon. Member for Pollok (Mr. George). I hope that Ministers will pay attention to many of the points which he stressed, and particularly what he had to say about technical education.
I do not agree with him on one point. He seemed to advise my hon. Friends, and perhaps workers in general, not to contract out of world developments. Our real fear is that the present Scottish Ministers will make it impossible for Scotland to keep up with world developments. That is why my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) made the kind of speech he did. The hon. Member for Pollok said that my hon. Friend painted as black something which was really white, but my hon. Friend gave facts and figures to show that the picture which Scotland will present in future, if steps are not taken now, will be black.
§ Miss Herbison
What my hon. Friend had to say was based on the Report and other Government statistics, and that is why I said he gave facts and figures.
I want to take up another point with the hon. Member for Pollok. He made a plea which I made during the Committee stage of the Gas Act. He wants the Secretary of State to bring about coordination in the three fuel industries in Scotland. I hope the Secretary of State, or possibly the Minister of Fuel and Power, will do something about that. The hon. Member for Pollok may not have supported the nationalisation of the fuel industries, but had those industries not been nationalised, there would have been no possibility of the co-ordination about which he spoke. It is indeed good that the Labour Government did something about it, in spite of Tory opposition.
717 Despite the rather glowing picture of Scotland painted by the President of the Board of Trade, I want to deal, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton, with what I consider to be some of the grave problems facing our people. I propose to show that our present Ministers and Government are either unable or unwilling to face the problems. I accuse our Ministers, the Cabinet and the Government of either complacency or incompetence. I may be nearer the truth if I say there is a combination of both.
From what was said by the hon. Member for Pollok, and from part of what was said by the hon. Member for Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison), it is clear that there will be no future for Scotland until we have a Government which believes in planning, which knows that a decent future for Scottish people can be achieved only if we plan fully our economic resources. I refer not only to the planning of our present economic resources; we must plan to ensure their expansion in the future. Judging by the speech of the President of the Board of Trade today and speeches in previous debates, I see no hope of that being done by the present Government.
I find in the Report on Industry and Employment in Scotland something which I knew already, that great new developments are envisaged in the Scottish coal mining industry. It is about the only industry in which the Report envisages great new developments, and I would stress that it is a nationalised industry. Those developments in the coal industry represent a contribution to our country's future prosperity, but they give rise to human problems which have to be faced by thousands of miners and their families. There is not a sentence or even a word in the Report to indicate that the Secretary of State is in the least aware of the intense human problems which must accompany the development of the coal industry.
In reply to a Question, the Minister of Labour and National Service told me that on 1st January, 1947, when the mines were nationalised, 13,200 miners were employed in the central east area of the National Coal Board in Scotland. Today there are only 12,200; in that one area of Scotland 1,000 miners fewer are now employed in the mines. If we add 718 those who have left as the result of pit closures in other parts of Lanarkshire, the number is very greatly increased.
Does the Secretary of State know what has happened to those miners and their families? Does he know what will happen to the 6,000 who, according to the present Coal Board plans, will be leaving the Lanarkshire coal fields in a few years' time? Does he know how many of the men who have left found work in other coal fields? Can he tell me how many of those who found work in other coal fields returned to Lanarkshire? Does he know why they returned? Can he tell me how many of them could not be found work in collieries in the developing area and are today lying on the unemployment scrapheap?
These questions and the answers to them cleary indicate the human problems about which I have spoken. If the Secretary of State is really interested in the well-being of our people, he will know the answers to those questions, and if he knows the answers, he will realise that I could not couch in too strong language the indictment that can be made against him and the Government.
Until the advent of the Labour Government, mining areas in Scotland were, in the main, single industry areas. In spite of the difficulties which they faced after the war, the Labour Government brought thousands of new jobs to the Lanarkshire mining area. What is happening now? My hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. Hamilton) has raised this matter, which I am about to touch upon, time and time again in debates in the House. Those miners from Lanarkshire for whom, when the pits close, the Coal Board can find jobs are expected to go to Fifeshire, away from an area to which we have brought some diversification of industry to an area which, if nothing is done for it, will be a single industry area, which, all my life, I have deplored. It is because nothing has been done for Glenrothes and the other mining areas that some of our miners have had to go back, for the sake of their families, to Lanarkshire.
When I think of the further 6,000 miners who are expected to go there in the next few years, I dread to think what will happen to their sons and daughters. It is only by planning, as the Labour Government did, that we shall make 719 worth while this great development in the mining areas. I have said before in the House that there is more than one method of direction of labour, and I do not want to see happening to the mining families in Fifeshire what always happened to the mining families in Lanarkshire—the sons for the pit, whether they wanted to go there or not, and the daughters for domestic service That is the grave danger which is facing that area of Fifeshire, if something is not done for it. That is all I want to say about the developing area.
I want to refer now to my own area, a declining area. I have given the figure of the number of men who are no longer working in the Lanarkshire pits. What will happen in a few years' time to many of those pits? Are the Government trying to do anything about them? Not a thing. We get most ineffective answers from whichever Minister is questioned. They tell us, "We are doing our best; we are trying to interest people"; but the one thing which this Government can do they will not do.
I am glad that the hon. Member for Pollok and the hon. Member for Scotstoun stressed something which I have stressed for years in this House. We did get a factory, a brand new bright factory in one of the big mining villages in my constituency. Until a few weeks ago it was employing about 400 women. That brand new factory is lying idle today. Cotton was produced in it. I will not in this debate, because there is not time, adduce once again all the arguments that hon. Friends of mine from Lancashire have given for Government intervention in the cotton industry. Time and again there have been debates on the cotton industry. Time and again the President of the Board of Trade has been warned what would happen to that industry if the Government did not take action. My people in Lanarkshire are suffering today from the inaction of the Government in regard to the cotton industry.
That cotton factory employed women and girls from the surrounding villages. From an Answer to a Question today to the Minister of Labour and National Service, I found that there are 259 women on the register of the Shotts Employment Exchange who are unemployed. In answer to a Question last week which I put to the Minister of 720 Labour and National Service, I was told that there was little likelihood of those women finding work in the surrounding area. I am wondering whether the Government have a definite policy on this matter. I find, on page 6 of the Report, these words:The supply of women for domestic work of all kinds was not more plentiful than in recent years, …This is one of the few fields in Scotland in which we have a shortage of workers. Does the Government want these young women in that area to become domestic servants, as they always had to be in the past before we had a Labour Government which took action against it. It is not surprising that I should have these doubts because of the number of years that I have tried to get the present Government to do something in this matter.
I want to turn to the general figures of unemployed. In May, 1956, in Scotland there were 51,800 unemployed, 2.4 per cent. of the insured workers. The average for 1951 in Scotland was 2.2 per cent. I wonder how the President of the Board of Trade can still say how much this Government have done for Scotland in the light of these figures? I find that in Wales the figure is 18,000 unemployed, 1.9 per cent. of the insured population. In Wales it was 2.4 per cent. in 1951. So I would say to our Scottish Ministers—seven Scottish Ministers in all looking after the interest of our country—that our unemployment is a little greater in percentage than it was when Labour left office, whereas Wales, with no bevy of Ministers to safeguard its interests, has done better than Scotland.
When we look at the London South-East region we find that there are 37,400 unemployed, 7 per cent. of the insured population. These are important figures because we must compare them with the industrial building that is going on. Again I went through the monthly Digest of Statistics from which I got these figures. My hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton quoted them in other forms. In the nine months from June, 1955, to March, 1956, Scotland, with more than three and a half times the number of unemployed in proportion to its insured population compared with that of London, had 8 per cent. of the whole British and United Kingdom factory building which was approved. London had 23 per cent. of 721 the factory building approved in the same time.
London, in spite of what the President of the Board of Trade is trying to tell us—what a huge area London is, what a mass of people London has—had a smaller number of unemployed and a smaller percentage of unemployed than Scotland; yet London is getting three times the new factory space that Scotland is getting. If I were a Scottish Minister, I should hide my head in complete shame at that result. The President of the Board of Trade, as my hon. Friend said has to give industrial development certificates for this new building. The right hon. Gentleman has some control, but he has not exercised it.
Lanarkshire has 3.2 per cent. unemployed and parts of that area have been left with no help whatever. The right hon. Gentleman told us—I am sure that his hon. Friends heard him—that he made no apology for economising in expenditure at the Board of Trade. He made no apology for not doing something about the planning of Fifeshire and Lanarkshire. When petrol stations and luxury buildings are being built everywhere, and the right hon. Gentleman sees the income of the nation being used for that purpose, he does not apologise for being unable to find the wherewithal to provide factories. Nor is there any apology from the right hon. Gentleman when we are told by the hon. Member for Scotstoun about the great incentives given in Northern Ireland to attract industry. It seems to me that many people in Scotland will feel that the President of the Board of Trade owes them a very great apology.
Has the Secretary of State given any consideration to using Shotts, Hartill, Newmains and Cleland, which will soon become a distressed area, as one of the areas to take the overspill from Glasgow? I have heard about the important firm which is going to Cumbernauld. Of course, if we have a new town, it is almost certain to attract new industry. It is a long time since I asked the Secretary of State to treat this area as a new town. I should like him to tell me whether he has given any thought to that request over the years, and what are his conclusions.
I wish to ask, also, whether the right hon. Gentleman will have a discussion with the Coal Board to ensure that no 722 pit is closed where coal can reasonably be worked. I wish him to have discussions with the President of the Board of Trade on this question of factory building. But I am afraid that he will fail with the President, because the President takes pride in economising, whether that economy helps people or not. It would probably be better if the Secretary of State for Scotland went to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and indicated to him what has been said by hon. Members on both sides of the House. It seems to me that if we can get answers to some questions which we have posed there may be some hope. But I am afraid that the only hope for Scotland is for us to "swipe" this Government out at the polls, and to return a Labour Government.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas L. S. Nairn (Central Ayrshire)
I apologise to the House for not being in the Chamber to hear a good deal of the debate, but I felt it my duty to go and sample that product of Scottish industry which is on offer in the House today and which is earning us so many dollars.
I should like to find out from the Secretary of State for Scotland something about what is happening in Scotland regarding the building there of a steel rolling mill for the delivery of light steel strip. This matter has been discussed for a long time and the discussion seems to have gone round in a circle. The people who might build the mill say that there is not sufficient demand for steel strip in Scotland, and that a mill is not justified. On the other hand, until there is such a mill we shall not get the necessary industries in Scotland to justify the provision of one.
This matter has been brought to a head at present by the new price list recently issued by the Iron and Steel Board. In various Development Areas new businesses have been set up which are using cold rolled steel strip. At the time when they were set up there were various charges for delivery. In the area of central Scotland to which I wish to refer, the delivery charge was 5s. a ton up to recently. But in the latest price list, which became effective on 7th May, the price has gone up from 5s. to £3. In the North of Scotland it has gone up from 30s. to £5. When we realise that £3 a 723 ton is about the amount of the wage which has to be expended on a ton of this steel in order to process it, we realise what a big jump this increase represents.
I wrote to the Board of Trade, and I must thank the Minister of State for his speed in giving me a reply which I received before this debate. In the letter which I wrote it was suggested that there should be a uniform delivered price throughout the whole country. Steel strip is a raw material and unless we have a uniform delivered price, it is quite obvious that all the industries which are based on the major industry will be concentrated round the producing areas in South Wales or the Midlands. The reply I received from the Board of Trade said that the effect of uniform delivered prices would bethat, particularly in times of shortage, makers would tend to restrict their delivery areas and withhold supplies from consumers at a distance.I do not think that is really likely to happen. Many industries in this country have uniform delivered prices, and I have no information to make me conclude that if there was a uniform price, delivery would be made only to people near the mill.
We have to consider what will happen if there is not a uniform delivered price. Some of the producers of rolled steel strip have alternative factories in the south, and because of this enormous charge, they will move away from Scotland and possibly close the factories there. I do not know exactly what powers the Government have. I know that prices are fixed by the Iron and Steel Board. But if the Government can do anything to help, I think that they ought to take action. After all the Government encouraged these people to go to the Development Areas. Having gone there in good faith they suddenly find the delivered price jumping from 5s. to £3 a ton.
Another curious thing which I do not understand is this. The letter from the Board of Trade states:The main producing areas are South Wales, the Midlands and Sheffield, and the Iron and Steel Board assure me that the revised zonal extras together with the carriage element included in the basic prices do no more than reflect the average cost of carriage…724 It also states:It would also result in steel consumers in Scotland paying higher prices for iron and steel products such as plates and heavy sections made in Scotland.The increase in price applies only to one thing, cold rolled steel strip. The alternative is rerolled steel products, and the new price list which was issued on the same day, shows that the delivery charge for that remains at 5s. Culturally, Scotland, England and Wales are three different countries. But industrially they are one, and we must treat them as one if Scotland is to keep her full benefits.
The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser), who opened the debate, said that London was getting greater encouragement than Scotland. That is what happens when we treat them as two countries. If we are to prosper, Scotland, Wales and England must be treated as one. That is the surest way to make certain that Scotland gets her fair share and is treated in the same way as the rest of the country.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Mr. David J. Pryde (Midlothian)
I was very pleased inded that the representative of the Board of Trade was present when my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) so ably outlined the position of Scotland, because if the debate affects any Government Department that Department is the Board of Trade.
I put only one question to the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) when he was Prime Minister. I asked him if he would consider bringing the activities and responsibilities of the Board of Trade in Scotland under the Secretary of State for Scotland. He replied that he would first look at the Report of the Royal Commission and see what the precedents were. I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade would be very pleased to go to Edinburgh in that capacity, because I think he has some connection with Scotland. Apparently, the present system is still to dominate our future in Scotland.
While I do not disagree with the assertion that my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton painted a black picture of Scotland, it can be said with truth that he gave Scotland the position which we in the mining industry feel to be the right one. Government supporters and the 725 President of the Board of Trade, who struck the note, spoke as though it was all a case of—as we say in Scotland—Live auld horse and you'll get grass.It was a case of hope and of living in hope but the housewife in the West Calder area, in Polbeth, Addiewell or Limefield cannot feed her family on hope. She must have coin of the realm. The position as indicated by other hon. Members, is in the reverse order.
If we go down to Corby on a Saturday night we might think we were in a part of central Scotland, and if we went to the town of Dalkieth in the centre of my constituency on a Saturday night we might imagine that we were in Hamilton, in Lanarkshire. Let me show how the process works, in reverse. In my constituency we have lost, during the term of the present Government, a paper mill which used to house the famous Polton Mills championship band. The mill was part of Messrs. Wiggins, Teape, and made the finest writing paper in Scotland. It is no more, and the factories upon which we depended so much for our livelihood, although they are still standing, are working part-time. As economic units that they are doubtless living on their capital.
If that were all, it would not be so bad but a subsidiary of Imperial Chemical Industries closed down at Roslin, and the workpeople are scattered as far west as Ayrshire. On top of all that comes the closing of the shale oil industry in West Lothian and part of Midlothian. The workers are now being scattered to Midlothian and into England, if it can take them. The National Coal Board tells us that it cannot accept redundant labour from Scotland because it expects to get plenty of experienced miners who have been working in the motor industry.
In the district where my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton and I were brought up we were realists, because we knew that the only people who survived were the quick—all others are dead. We looked at the matter from the point of view of land, mines, railways, factories and workshops, and took our keynote from them.
Some Government supporters apparently live in a fool's paradise but I warn them that all is not well on the Scottish land. There is a murmur from our people on the land. If Government supporters care to peruse that document mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for 726 Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), the Digest of Scottish Statistics, they will realise that there is a recession on the land in Scotland. It is typical of our statistics.
There is much to be done on the land and in the mines. We still believe that coal will remain King Coal, irrespective of all that can be produced by way of reactors, etc., with the exception of hydroelectric power, which has accomplished something marvellous and has improved the country. Perhaps it would be good for the country if one system supplied the whole of Scotland with electricity. I commend the Hydro-Electric Board for its activities in the past, but I should like it to make progress with the electrification of the whole of Scotland.
I was glad to hear the President of the Board of Trade outline some of the difficulties of the National Coal Board, and the speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. George), who apparently knew something about the industry. There are hon. Members who take a delight in denigrating the National Coal Board. A year ago I heard a Manchester Member on the Government benches complaining, wailing and moaning about the huge amount of capital that has to be invested in the industry. He should have taken the trouble to peruse the document published by Sir Charles Reid. He would then have known that private ownership of the coal industry ruined it to such an extent that there is not a pit in the great County of Lanarkshire which can be sunk as an economic unit because the coal that is left is in the pattern of Hitler's Nazi flag. There is not a coal deposit that would pay for the sinking of a deep pit, and we shall have to depend upon deep shafts being sunk in Midlothian and Fife.
Make no mistake, although the mining charter of the Esk Valley goes back to 1210 there are still vast reserves of coal in Midlothian. The Valley of the Esk is a geological phenomenon. There are forty-one workable seams. The National Coal Board has its difficulties in this direction. There is a Mining Subsidence Committee, and I understand that a Bill will be coming forward which I shall view with considerable interest. Midlothian will be very much affected, in a very restricted area.
727 There are vast areas in Midlothian that could be used under the Distribution of Industry Act. The Calders area was scheduled in 1946, ten years ago, yet Westminster has very religiously neglected it, and nothing has been done. I should like to know what the President of the Board of Trade is going to do about that. He wanted to attune his ear to Scotland. I should tell him that two songs could be sung. Scotland could sing "God Save the Queen", but if something is not done—and done quickly—I warn this House that she may turn her attention to other words:To arms! to arms! ye brave!The patriot sword unsheathe,March on! march on! all hearts resolvedOn liberty or death!That is the position in Scotland.
Scotland went through the mill in 1921 and again in 1926; she is not going through it again. Some of our people in England are doing what we did in 1926. They unfortunately are faced with the position of 1926. A year ago I warned the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) that we were facing 1929 at that time. This country has gone three years backwards and is now facing 1926. It is with deep regret that I see our people treading the same paths. I do not want our people to strike, I want them to stay at work and to put the onus on the Government of the day. It is up to the Government to solve the industrial problems. That is what Governments are for—to keep the wheels of industry moving.
In Midlothian the Coal Board has some problems, as it has in most other areas. One large colliery producing 1,780 tons of coal every day has had its accounts "in the red" for a year. That is not so easily explained. When I investigated the matter I found that there is a stoop 200 yards from the bottom of the shaft with a great seam of 7 million tons of coal. If the colliery were given the liberty to extract that coal it could add another 1,000 tons a day to the output but because the seam is under an ancient monument the Board is compelled to try to pierce the famous, or infamous, Sheriff Hall fault, or dyke, which splits the coal field, in order to prove that ground.
There is a nice little problem for the people who denigrate the coal industry 728 and the National Coal Board. Is it to extract the 7 million tons near the bottom of the drift and ruin that ancient monument? The ancient monument is New-battle Abbey College, the ancestral home of the Kerrs of Lothian. Or is the Board to continue spending money which has got to be obtained from the other workers in the coal industry? That is the crux of the problem. Should the Board continue to prove Sheriff Hall and keep Newbattle Abbey College intact? It is not my problem but the problem of the Government, the Ministry of Fuel and Power, but it shows some of the difficulties with which the Coal Board is faced.
From the benches opposite I heard a Conservative Member boasting that he could do better himself. There are two Scots on the National Coal Board at Hobart House who could tie him up in figures and smother him in coal—Dr. William Reid and Sir Andrew Bryan—the Chairman, James Bowman, would only smile. I am certain my old friend James Barbour would read the hon. Member a homily on the nonsense talked in the British House of Commons about the Coal Board.
I liked the remarks of the hon. Member for Pollok, who said he was prepared to give the Coal Board a chance. We should remember that it is taking over a job of a Herculean nature, which has never been realised by the people of this country. It has to fill in the gap between the production of coal and the production of a new motive power. But it can be done. In my constituency three railways could be pouring coal into the Edinburgh area every day if the purse strings at Westminster were loosened. That is what is wrong; Scotland is not getting the money to reinvest and make herself an economic unit.
The hon. Member for Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison) said last year that miners at the coal face were producing more coal in 1939 than they were last year. That was a demonstration of what Tory Members do not know about the coal industry in Scotland. In 1950 the method of ascertaining the amount of coal produced at the coal face was altered. Under private ownership in 1939 only the men who actually worked at the coal face were taken as the divisor of the output produced, but in 1950 a new method of 729 ascertaining was put into operation by which the other men who work within 20 yards of the coal face are taken into account as the divisor. It would be well if the hon. Member would read the pamphlet published by Hobart House. It costs Is., but it would keep him au fait with the industry. It is grossly ridiculous to go down a pit without a light, and that pamphlet would give him a light. He would then understand that it is necessary to keep up-to-date in the coal mining industry.
The hon. Member mentioned that we have the assistance of a great amount of machinery, but I should tell him that coal is a wasting asset. If in 1945 a shaft had been sunk at King's Cross Station and was worked every day the coal face now would be at the other side of Lambeth Bridge and money would have to be spent to convey the coal from the coal face to the shaft at King's Cross. Some people do not understand that. One may go into an engineering shop and see a lathe at which one's grandfather worked, and go into a weaving shed and see the loom at which one's grandmother worked, but when one goes down a pit to look at the coal face one discovers that every day in the week it becomes 40½ ft. to 6 ft. further from the shaft. That will continue until the big new units come into operation, and the retreating coal face will become the technique in the industry.
So much for coal. We have accomplished much in transferring men from Lanarkshire to Fife and the Lothians. That has been done with the co-operation of the local authorities, and we should remember that co-operation. The recent squeeze at the Treasury has put a stop to that. Miners from Lanarkshire cannot build houses but still have to be dependent on the local authorities for their housing.
On the question of factories, the President of the Board of Trade mentioned Australia. I agree that Australia was one of our markets, but surely it is possible to get other markets? Is it not possible for us to open up in Africa and the Latin countries of South America or in India, or are we cut out there by American capital? Compare how much capital is at the disposal of the American 730 Government for reinvestment purposes. It has 63 million workers equipped with the finest machinery which science can put at their disposal. We have 23 million workers and old techniques. We cannot compete so well. America runs Canada financially, and the Latin countries of (South America, India, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. I had a nephew home from South Africa three weeks ago. He was looking for mining machinery because he is in the mining industry. He told me that there is every sign of American capital in that country. Recently a loan was floated and it was subscribed within an hour. Those things count. The factories in the Esk Valley are suffering from the neglect which is typical of our treatment in Westminster.
I will repeat what I have said before in the House. We shall not make Scotland an economic unit until we build the two bridges—over the Forth and over the Tay. Moreover, we need a road round Scotland. We have 500 miles more of coastline than England and Wales, and for defensive purposes alone we need that road round Scotland. We need it in order to make the glens live again. It is only when they have fast transport connecting them that they will live again.
It may be said that the roads will have to be blasted out of the mountainside, but there will be plenty of unemployed before long to do this work. It may be said that our people are not doing badly in shipbuilding at the moment, but we must always look to the future, and soon we shall be meeting the full blast of competition from both Germany and Japan. People will then wonder who won the war. The country which loses the war generally does best afterwards. France did so in 1873; she lost the Franco-Prussian war but she recovered more quickly than did the victor.
The picture which my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton has portrayed is true in every detail. I am not a painter. I am simply a materialist who sees the bird in the hand and knows that it is worth a whole flock of birds in the bush. I ask the Government to take heed of the little stanza which I quoted, because I remind them that people will not be kept down as they were kept down in years gone by.
§ 7.52 p.m.
Mr. H. R. Spencc (Aberdeenshire, West)
As a contrast to the almost universal attack which has been made upon the Scottish Office, the Board of Trade, and the officials who run our industrial affairs—
§ Mr. Spence
—I should like to say a word in praise of what has been done by the Government in the north-east of Scotland during the last three years. To listen to many of the comments which have been made, one would imagine that the Secretary of State was callous and did not care, that the President of the Board of Trade was similarly minded and that there was no interest shown in St. Andrew's House in how trade and industry were progressing in Scotland.
§ Mr. Fraser
Will the hon. Member bear in mind, as he is praising the Secretary of State, that in the north-east of Scotland the percentage unemployed is 5 4, which is the highest in any area of Great Britain?
§ Mr. Spence
I am dealing with my own constituency and I am also thinking of the work of the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Labour and the Scottish Office in helping us with some of our problems in the North-East in the last two or three years. I have found that all three Departments work very happily together and take the greatest personal interest in the schemes which we have tried and have made succeed in the Buckie area.
§ Mr. Spence
It is untrue that the Secretary of State is callous and indifferent to the unemployment position in Scotland.
I listened with particular interest to the speech of the President of the Board of Trade. He referred to the tremendous contribution which has been made by the whisky distilling trade to our dollar exports. There is no getting away from the fact that it has been a wonderful dollar earner for us. In his comments he referred to the fact that the distilling trade was building a number of new bonded warehouses. That is true, but it points to a significant state of affairs: the production of whisky each year for 732 the last seven years has exceeded the consumption very considerably.
The normal maturity age for putting whisky on the market is about seven years and we shall now begin to see more whisky becoming available for sale. I wonder whether the Government are keeping an eye on this, because they may have to use various means to open up additional markets abroad to dispose of the whisky. The distilling trade naturally want to stay on full production, for it is economic and efficient to do so, but at present we are not selling all we distil.
That is all right at the moment; it is going into the pipeline. When the pipeline is full, however, I hope that the Government will take whatever steps may be necessary, such as arranging a token import of certain dollar goods, to enable us to obtain larger sales abroad of this wonderful dollar earner which stood us in such good stead both during the war and after it.
I now turn from that aspect of our industrial affairs to the speech by the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence), who drew the attention of the House very forcibly to the need for providing reserves to acquire future plant and equipment in our factories. I entirely agree with that, but I do not agree with the implication behind his remarks that the money which should have gone to reserve has been taken out of the business by the shareholders. The greatest shareholder in all businesses today is the Chancellor of the Exchequer; he takes out of business more than any group of shareholders.
I hope that when we are considering the question of our industrial future two points will be borne in mind. One is the granting of an increasing initial allowance on new plant which has been purchased and the other is an increase in the rate of Income Tax deductions for obsolescence.
§ Mr. Pryde
Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that someone—I do not know who it is and I am not interested in that at the moment—is getting out of the product of industry more than ever before? Is it not true that the amount returned in wages and salaries to the wage-earners is also more heavily strained than ever before?
§ Mr. Spence
That is a hypothetical question and not one which I can answer off the cuff, but I would say that there is no doubt that enormous sums are taken out of every industry annually by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in taxation and that this tax burden is the biggest headache which industries have today when they are considering how they are to finance their future and still pay their taxes.
I was referring to the need for a larger initial allowance and a higher rate of allowance for obsolescence. I stress the need for this especially in cases where fast-running machinery is involved. The rate of obsolescence there must be greater and I believe that it would be a good thing and for the eventual benefit of industry if a revision were made in our tax law rather on the lines of that in Switzerland where a 10 per cent. writeoff is allowed every year.
My hon. Friend the Member for Pollok (Mr. George) made a very interesting speech, in which he dealt with the queston of setting up new factories in the more remote towns and areas of Scotland, not necessarily in the main industrial centres. He made a very good point indeed when he emphasised that the prime product in these factories must be one with a high conversion factor; it must be valuable in relation to its weight and able to stand the high tariff charges which are involved by industries in remote areas.
Another thing which must be borne in mind when considering a new development of this kind is that the type of product should be one which demands a high degree of manipulative skill. That would be the justification for setting up these factories in areas where there is a labour force prepared to undergo the lengthy and necessary training, and to make the products over the years. One has only to look at the towns in the North-East of Scotland to see how many businesses have been built up by making a specialised article. The scheme suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Pollok could go a long way to softening the hard core of unemployment in Scotland.
§ Mr. Spence
Of course it would need assistance, and that assistance should be forthcoming. I was very happy to hear 734 what my hon. Friend had to say about the interest that a number of industries are showing in coming to these parts.
The House will know of my personal interest in a variety of industrial concerns, and one thing has not been said, I think, that should be said. The quality of the products made by our workpeople is unequalled in the world. In Scotland we can offer a standard of production, of good and reliable work that is quite unsurpassed anywhere. For that reason we should not be shy about asking outside people to bring their industries to our country. They will find there the workpeople who will give them satisfaction.
There has been, and still is, a failure on the part of people generally to realise the immense contribution that industry—and in that term I include agriculture—makes to our standard of living. It is the ability of industry to produce, the ability of our work people to convert raw materials into finished products that gives us our standard of living. In the educational world, I think, there is not the appreciation there should be of the satisfying and interesting life there is in industry. I hope that there will be an improvement in that direction. We should all pay a tribute to the people who are our primary producers, and let the high place they enjoy in the esteem of the nation be known.
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
When I heard the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Spence) start his speech by saying that he proposed to speak in praise of what the Government have done in his area, I felt relieved, because I then knew that he would not deliver a very long speech. As a matter of fact, I do not know how, in that mission, he managed to carry on for even 11 minutes.
The hon. Member for Pollok (Mr. George)—and I am sorry that he is no longer with us—appeared to regret that my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) had not dealt with automation. The strange thing is that, so far as I have been able to discover, the Government's Report on Industry and Employment in Scotland for 1955 does not use that word at all. If the Government themselves do not see fit to use the word, or to refer to it in any way in the 735 Report, it is not remarkable that my hon. Friend did not refer to it.
Contrary to what the hon. Member for Pollok seemed to think, automation is not unique. We on this side know that the replacement of men's labour by tools or by machines is a process that has gone on almost from the beginning of history, and that all that is happening now is that the new methods are becoming more complex. The important point, which the hon. Gentleman did not seem to emphasise sufficiently, is that when introduced into industry, these techniques produce more goods, but those who have helped to produce those goods do not participate in the increased consumption which should follow.
That is what causes discontent, and the fear, which is much alive today, that the push-button method, which undoubtedly will come, will result in the displacement of workers in industry, unless the Government of the day are prepared to exercise the control and planning necessary to ensure that labour which is displaced from one job is absorbed in some other occupation.
That, of course, is of peculiar interest to those who represent Scottish divisions, because the level of unemployment in Scotland is far too high today. The Report tells us that on 12th December, 1955, 49,920 people in Scotland were out of work, a percentage of 23 which has persisted throughout this Government's period of office. It was, in fact, one of the lowest percentages in recent years, because at the beginning of January last year, the number of unemployed was 65,853, not far short of one-and-a-half times the figure of August of last year, which was the lowest point reached.
Such figures give us food for thought, when we compare this 23 per cent. with the 1 per cent. for the whole of Great Britain. In the Scottish Development Area it is 24 per cent. and in all the other Development Areas throughout the country, it is 19 per cent. It is on this very high level of employment in our country that we should be chiefly concentrating to see what can be done to reduce it.
At present, there is a demand that conscription should be abolished and the Armed Forces run down. The Report tells us that last year 18,150 men were posted from Scotland to Her Majesty's 736 Forces last year. If conscription were abolished, would those 18,000 young men who would be released simply be added to the number of unemployed? The Report says that the shortage of skilled workers still persisted throughout the past year. The Report of the Minister of Labour and National Service for 1955 says that there are provisions to satisfy the demand of skilled labour which is in short supply in industries of national importance, and that, during 1955, 6,400 men and women in the United Kingdom completed courses which qualified them to take their part in reducing this skilled labour shortage.
The position which then eventuates for Scotland is this. First, there is a shortage of skilled labour, and, with that shortage, there is now a force of 43,256 unemployed. In the Report we are told that, to deal with that problem, 213 schemes were certified for the Development Areas which ultimately may employ 10,000 people. The date at which all those 10,000 may be employed is not indicated. In the Ministry of Labour Report we are told that there are training schemes for 6,400 people to meet these demands. That is the United Kingdom estimate. What the figure for Scotland is, I do not know, but it may be about 1,000.
If these provisions could be operated concurrently, 16,000 people would be catered for. Of these 43,000 people, 27,000, admitting that some of them are unskilled, of course, could be trained, according to our purpose—evidently agreed to by the trade unions—so as to make up the deficiency in skilled labour. Yet the Government leave 27,000 out of this great mass of human beings entirely outside their provisions. It is clear to me that we are bound to condemn the Government on that score alone, inasmuch as their planning to deal with this problem is totally inadequate.
We are told further that there are 6,769 men in Scotland who have been out of work for more than a year. How many of those have been out for two or three years? We are informed that 3,371 of the men unemployed for this length of time were over 50 years of age. In view of the fact that labour is needed, and there are these 6,000 people out of work for a year at least—how much longer is not indicated—are we to take it that these men over 50 years of age are fit only for secondary labour? If that is the case, 737 then, again, it shows that the plans of the Government for light industry in Scotland are not meeting the needs of our time.
When we talk about planning at this particular time, because of its interest for one part of Scotland, the City of Glasgow, we should have a word tonight on what is happening at Cumbernauld. There is to be an attempt to move a large part of the population in the West of Scotland, in Glasgow and other parts, to a new town. Without industry, that new town is bound to fail of its purpose. What planning is going on? Has the development corporation had any meet-tings at all? Has the Minister any idea of the plans which are envisaged to provide industry for this new town as it comes into being? Without industry, it will not, in my view, succeed in its purpose at all.
May I now ask a few questions about Scottish exports? There has been a reference to whisky, and we know what the exports of Scottish whisky are. We know what the exports of Scottish coal are. Why is it that we are given no idea, so far as I have been able to follow the Report, what the shipbuilding exports from Scotland amount to. This is a very considerable United Kingdom export, one of our greatest. For 1945, £531/2 million worth of ships were exported, and for the first six months of this year, up till the end of June, the value relatively was even greater, at £46,599,000. What is Scotland's contribution to that? That is an important point, in view of the tendency within the shipbuilding industry for this creeping paralysis of unemployment to penetrate.
For the figures of work in hand, I turn to the current issue, for June, of Lloyd's Register Shipbuilding Returns. In Aberdeen, there is a fall in work in hand of 3,300 gross tons, compared with June a year ago. In Glasgow, there is a fall of 24,000 gross tons. In Greenock, there is a fall of 27,000 gross tons. In Dundee, there is an increment of 9,000 gross tons. In Leith, the figure is steady at the same level as last year, 57,900 tons.
I agree that one does not want to over-paint the picture. I am giving these figures, which indicate a trend, and they must be noted, because of the steel position, which is now down to the danger level. The Weekly Shipping Journal for 738 5th July had this to say about steel supplies in shipbuilding:The deliveries of plates and sections to the shipyards have been running well below the quantities called for by the large building programmes in hand.That indicates a situation which cannot, of course, be ignored. I emphasise again that I do not want to do with regard to shipbuilding what the hon. Member for Pollok seemed, in my view, wrongly to say we were doing, that is, blacken the picture. We do not want to create the feeling that deliveries cannot be met on the dates fixed. Deliveries are quite safe; but the steel position in Scotland, particularly the East of Scotland, is now almost at danger level.
I want to ask the Secretary of State whether it is possible to release more steel. I ask that because, at the end of 1954, there were 808,000 tons of steel unallocated. At the end of 1955, the amount of steel which had not been allocated was 1,433,000 tons. I suggest that we seem to have something in the "bank" as regards steel, and the fact that we now have more unallocated steel, about 600,000 tons more, than we had at the end of 1954 seems to indicate that, to help the shipbuilding industry in Scotland, it might be possible to release more steel from our accumulated reserves, without in any way damaging our future position.
I should like to say a word concerning aircraft. We congratulate British Euro pean Airways on what has been done in Scotland and we want to congratulate all those who work for B.E.A. and have contributed their quota to the excellent service now being provided between Scotland and other parts. We welcome that advance.
Again, however, I must look at the manufacturing side of the industry. From January to June this year, Britain exported completed aircraft to the value of £39,887,000. In the corresponding six months a year ago, our exports were £18,846,000. That is a remarkable increase, yet Scotland has not had a penny of it. None of this work has contributed towards reducing the unemployment problem in Scotland. I am dealing, of course, with completed aircraft and not with accessories, on which work is going on in Scotland. I have complimented B.E.A. on its general progress, but the 739 important thing is that Scotland is getting no part in the productive side other than as an accessory.
The Government have done practically nothing about that. When the Labour Government were in power, they used their influence to ease the industry away from the Home Counties, where it was—and still is—largely concentrated. The Labour Government got it as far as Preston, in the North of England. Since the Tories came to power, however, to the best of my knowledge they have brought no influence to bear on the industry to continue its expansion northwards.
Certainly, something has been done about the Pioneer and the twin Pioneer, but how much? I am not seeking to be biassed in what I say and I admit that something has been accomplished with the two Pioneers. How much Government money was put into that Scottish project? We know that almost £1,000 million of public money has been poured into major aircraft construction. That is contributed by the people of Scotland as well as the people of England, and yet Scotland have not shared, as they ought to have done, in the production side of the industry.
When the Secretary of State replies to the debate, perhaps he will tell us what the slight increase in the total labour force employed in aircraft manufacture amounts to in terms of personnel. Even in the Report, the Government do not place any great emphasis on what they have done by way of encouragement to help that industry to move into Scotland. They only claim that a slight increase has taken place in the total labour force.
I hope I can say that in this series of debates we are all concerned with the health, wealth and happiness of the people of Scotland. It is our duty, on this side, to consider where the Government fail in achieving those three aims and it is our business to point out their failings and to suggest as best we can how they might be remedied. I hope that we have not failed in our part. We hope that the Government in what they are doing, about which we have many doubts, will be more successful in the few years that remain to them than they appear to have been in the last four or five. All the time, we on this side will seek to hasten the day 740 when a Labour Government return to power and do the things that we are urging upon the Government tonight.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)
When I listened this afternoon to the address by the President of the Board of Trade, I was reminded of a sumptuous publication produced recently by the Scottish Council (Development and Industry). It is a very large publication, the size almost of a newspaper, beautifully coloured and describing in glowing terms just what, as the Council sees it, is happening in Scotland. The Council talks of the new industrial revolution, produces beautiful pictures—such as a picture of Dounreay—and gives the impression, on the basis of the selected examples, that all is well with Scotland.
We can make comparisons with almost any country, and by seizing on our examples we can certainly show that there have been considerable improvements over a number of years. That has been done in the publication. I am not condemning the Scottish Council (Development and Industry)—far from it. The purpose was to "sell" Scotland, and the publication of which I have been speaking is going abroad to present as attractive a picture as possible and to encourage investment in Scotland. Nevertheless, the picture which is painted in that publication is very different from the picture which emerges from a more comprehensive study of the facts.
It is my intention to try to reinforce some of the arguments of my hon. Friends to show the actual picture of Scotland. It would be easy to deal with Scotland on the basis simply of one year back. If I have a criticism of the White Paper on Industry and Employment in Scotland, it is that it deals with the present year and one year back. We can get nothing useful out of that kind of publication. Before we can understand what is happening, we must be able to look back over a period of years and to see the trends. That comparison of trends is the very thing that is denied us by the White Paper on Industry and Employment in Scotland. So far as it is valuable in giving that information, one may as well lay it aside. It is necessary to gather together a number of such documents and compare their findings.
741 It is true, too, if we consider Scotland in isolation, to be able to say of many things, "Look at the improvement in Scotland in 1955"—compared with Scotland at such and such a date. However, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) said, we should expect at this time improvements in any country. So there have been improvements in Scotland, but what is important, I submit, as has been said time after time by my hon. Friends, is that we should judge trends, to see how Scotland fares by comparison, for example, with the rest of the United Kingdom, particularly England and Wales, and that is what I propose to do.
Let me first take up one or two of the things that the President of the Board of Trade said. He told us that there had been an increase in employment in Scotland in 1955, compared with 1954. He said there had been an increase in employment in certain selected industries. Let us take the comparison further back. Let us take 1948 as our base year. I am taking my figures from official sources, from the Digest of Scottish Statistics. If we compare the total working population of Scotland in 1948 with the total working population of Scotland in 1955 we find there has been an increase certainly, but what has been the increase? I shall not burden the House with all the figures, which are there for hon. Members to examine if they want to. I will content myself with giving percentages. Thus the increase between 1948 and 1955 is 1.4 per cent.
That is an increase of about 34,000 people in the total working population of Scotland. In England and Wales there is a very different position. There has been an increase there during the same period of time of 1,390,000 people or 5 per cent.; so the comparison is 1.4 per cent. as against 5 per cent. My calculation is that if Scotland's total working population had increased at the same rate as that of Great Britain—I am leaving Northern Ireland aside—we ought to have had an additional 83,000 people in our working population.
Truly, as my hon. Friend said, Scotland's unemployment problem is being solved in England and Wales, particularly in the south, around London and the Midlands. We in Scotland are constantly losing our people, and the best of them.
742 The net loss each year is about 20,000. We have recent figures showing the number of workers who have moved over the Border.
I am concerned with Scotland and Scotland's share. I am speaking here for Scotland, as my hon. Friends have sought to speak for Scotland, and we on this side of the House would be failing in our duty, and Ministers would be failing in theirs, if we or they were to fail always to think in terms of how Scotland is faring in relation to other parts of the United Kingdom, if not, indeed, in relation to other countries.
The President of the Board of Trade made much of what had been done in industrial building, and suggested that Scotland has had a fair share of that. What we are concerned with is the trend, and if we take the years from 1952 to 1955 we find—what is very important—that the average percentage, over those four years, of approvals in Scotland, of the total amount of industrial building, was 6.7 per cent. That was substantially below what anyone must agree is a fair share for Scotland. When we consider the amount of industrial building started in the same period we find that the average percentage for Scotland was 7.2. The percentage of completions is higher, but completions tell us in part what was decided in an earlier year. Completions work out at 9.5 per cent.—higher, but well below what anyone would have to agree is a fair share for Scotland. Thus, judged in terms of what is being built for the future, Scotland is lagging behind.
That is what emerges from almost every aspect of Scottish industrial life. Scotland is lagging behind. Scotland is a declining country. Scotland is being emptied of its people and Scottish capital is being drained away. I agree that that is not being done spectacularly. Many good works are going on, but looking at the picture as a whole, that process of draining capital and emptying the country of its people is proceeding year by year, taking 1948 as the base year and the period from that year to 1955.
The President of the Board of Trade spoke of the importance of the basic industries. The speech of the hon. Member for Pollok (Mr. George) was highly appreciated on this side of the House. It was a delightful and excellent speech in many respects, except that he made 743 the point that he could not recognise the picture of Scotland that was being painted by Opposition speakers. I could not recognise the picture that the hon. Member was painting. It is easy to say, for example, that there are large sums which we hope will be expended on fuel and power over a number of years. That might or might not happen, and even that will not mean very much unless we relate it to what has happened elsewhere.
What has happened from 1948 to 1955? I need not dwell upon the subject of coal. The hon. Member for Pollok knows the position. We can only hope that it will be righted. In 1948 Scotland's share of coal output was about 10.8 per cent., and by 1955 it had fallen to 10.2 per cent. Let us take some of the fuels which are less well-known. The hon. Member for Pollok seemed to enthuse very much over electricity. There has been a very extensive building up of the output of the Scottish electricity industry. According to my estimate, the build-up from 1948 has been 52 per cent., a very creditable development indeed, but not nearly as good as that of the United Kingdom as a whole.
§ Mr. Lawson
In my estimate the figure is 52.3 per cent. for the period 1948–55, United Kingdom development has been 72.4 per cent. over the same period, which again brings out the fact that Scotland tends to lag behind. In 1948, according to my calculations, Scotland had a generating capacity of 9.9 per cent. of the United Kingdom total. By 1955 that had fallen to 8.7 per cent.
Where we agree that there has been development, it is the case that there has not been enough to maintain Scotland's relative position compared with her position in 1948. The same has applied to gas, of which the hon. Member for Pollok seemed to think less than he did of electricity. Scotland's share of 8.4 per cent. of the United Kingdom output in 1948 had fallen to 7.7 per cent. in 1955. There has been an increase in production over the years of little more than 9 per cent. compared with an increase of over 20 per cent. in the United Kingdom as a whole. In that, as in other matters, we have the same tendency on the part of Scotland to fall behind.
744 I am not in a position to give the same percentages for oil production, but a White Paper published in 1955 stated that there was a substantial reduction in the throughput in Scotland. We are told that the refineries in Scotland processed 2.35 million tons of crude oil during the year, or some 695,000 tons less than in 1954. Why? It was not because less oil was being consumed, because if we take the word of Mr. Murdoch, the Chairman of the Scottish Board for Industry, in 1955 Scotland used 21 per cent. more crude oil than in 1954. So Scotland is using substantially more crude oil but is refining substantially less. Why? Because refineries have been opened in Aden and Australia, and Scotland's share is drastically cut.
We must remember that the refining of oil is not done by a Scottish company. As the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East said, it is carried out by a world-based company. If, therefore, any sacrifices are to be made, it seems that Scotland will make them. All hon. Members will agree that there was a substantial cut in that period. So much for fuel.
These are the developments which we see over a period of eight years, showing a trend, but let us take the all-important steel industry, about which the President of the Board of Trade said so much and which is so vital for Scotland. Anyone who knows Scotland—not those people who think in terms of tartans and whisky—thinking what Scotland is famous for, thinks at once of steel and ships. How does Scotland fare in terms of steel production? One would have expected, since steel is so important for the life of Scotland, that she would have rapidly expanded her steel production, but that is not the case.
I hesitate to give the totals because I appreciate that people do not normally carry those figures in their minds, so I will give the percentages and say that the totals are to be found in either the White Paper or in the Economic Survey. In 1948 Scotland's share of the steel production in the United Kingdom was 15 per cent. I am not choosing the brightest year because in past years she had a larger percentage than that. By 1955 that percentage had fallen to 11.8. That was a substantial fall, as everyone must agree, in that so-important item in Scottish industrial life. According to my calculation, if Scotland had maintained her ratio 745 she would have had to produce around 633,000 more tons merely to maintain the 1948 ratio.
By what percentage did Scottish steel production increase? By approximately 100,000 tons over the period, or 4.5 per cent. But by how much did the United Kingdom total of steel production increase? It increased over the period by 4,892,000 tons—almost 5 million tons—or, according to my calculation, around 32.8 per cent. If we were to separate Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom, the increase in English and Welsh steel production would be substantially more than the 32.8 per cent. I have mentioned.
In this connection it will be found that Scotland's share has decreased severely, but that is not the worst of the matter. There is a plan for steel which has been produced by the Iron and Steel Board. I have a copy of it here. In that plan for steel are the estimated figures of output for 1958, for the United Kingdom and for Scotland as well as the various districts. The total estimated for the United Kingdom is 22.2 million tons for 1958. Scotland is given 25.5 million tons. That sounds a lot but again measure that as a percentage of the total, and what emerges? It emerges that Scotland, even on this plan for 1958, is still further down than in 1955, getting about 11.4 per cent.
My calculation is that, if we were even to maintain the 1948 ratio, we should require to be allocated at least another 780,000 tons of steel. This includes the Ravenscraig scheme, and the plan for the allocation of capital. Under this plan, Scotland, whose industry used to produce well over 15 per cent., has been allocated capital for 1953 to 1958 to the extent of 10.9 per cent. Wales has been given 29 per cent., and the North-East Coast 24 per cent. We agree that there have been developments in Scotland, but there are bigger, more rapid and more productive developments elsewhere. The result is that we are sliding behind. Scotland should be given a better deal.
We know how the shortage of steel has hindered Scottish industry. We hear about it on every hand. I have quotations which I will not bother to give the House because they are well known. I should however, like to take an instance from my constituency, where there is one of 746 the biggest and most progressive engineering works in the country. The chairman of the company recently went to America. I quote from the Hamilton Advertiser:Because of a shortage of steel supplies in this country, the Motherwell Bridge and Engineering Co., Ltd., is switching some of its work to the United States.…. Mr. Miller"—the chairman—said that the firm was only getting 70 per cent. of the steel it required.That is one example; there are many others. Although this industry is supposed to be making such great progress, the effect in Scotland is that we are slipping further and further behind.
The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Nairn) spoke of the need for a strip mill, for which many are pressing. There seems no doubt that, unless strip steel is available to us at the United Kingdom price level, Scotland will be severely handicapped in many respects. However, whether we have a strip mill or not, the Secretary of State for Scotland, if he is at all concerned with Scotland's welfare, must insist that Scotland is given a fair share in the steel industry and allowed to achieve at least the 15 per cent. ratio which she had in 1948. The right hon. Gentleman must do that if he is prepared to stand up for Scotland. Has he any influence with the Iron and Steel Board and its policy? The Government have, and presumably he has. Consequently, he has a duty to fulfil, if he is not to preside over a declining Scotland.
The President of the Board of Trade told us how important shipbuilding was to Scotland, and I intervened at that point partly to indicate that we agreed with him. What is the shipbuilding position? We are driven to the conclusion that, at best, Scottish shipbuilding is static. I do not deny that there have been improvements, but its output is static, for it produced little more completions in 1955 than in 1948. Actually, the tonnage output was substantially lower in 1955 than in 1919.
Figures published in Lloyds's List show that between 1948 and 1955, there was an increase of 11,071 gross registered tons, or 2.2 per cent. That was the extent of the increase over that period. I admit that if we look back over the years we find a certain rise and 747 fall, but in some years we were very substantially below the 1948 output.
Can we say the same thing about the manpower in the industry? The right hon. Gentleman appeared to give the impression that there had been a big stepping-up of the manpower employed in the industry. That is not so according to my information which is taken from official sources. If we examine the White Paper on Industry and Employment in Scotland we find that in 1948 the industry employed 46,000, excluding those employed in Government establishments. In 1955, it was only 40,800, which was quite a substantial drop. There was more total output, it is true, but there was a drop in manpower. At the best we can say that this industry is static.
The industry in the United Kingdom is perhaps not much better, but it is a little better. The output in the United Kingdom went up by about 9 per cent. over a period when completions in Scotland went up by 2.2 per cent. The share that Scotland enjoyed fell from little more than 40 per cent. to little more than 38 per cent. over that period. I apologise for giving percentages, but I think that that is the easiest way of making matters clear, and we surely want to get these matters clear.
When we turn to the United Kingdom shipbuilding industry, what do we find, compared with Scottish shipbuilding? The United Kingdom shipbuilding industry again, at the very best, can only be described as static. It is not maintaining its position in the world. It is perhaps maintaining its output but it is maintaining only that level of output in a world which is rapidly increasing its output. In 1948 the United Kingdom share of ships completed was 48.8 per cent. and by 1955 it had fallen to little more than 26 per cent. of a much larger world total. The United Kingdom total remained very much the same—a little more, but only a little more.
The United Kingdom output of completed ships between 1948 and 1955 increased by 9 per cent. Over the same period, the output of foreign yards went up nearly three times or, according to my calculation, by 187 per cent. World output over that period was slightly more than doubled. Whereas in this greatly 748 expanding market for ships over eight years the market for ships has doubled we fare no better than a 9 per cent. increase and Scotland fares no better than a 2.2 per cent. increase.
Yet the President of the Board of Trade tells us that the basic industries are important and are doing very well in Scotland. That is rosy picture painting; it is avoiding the realities. I am not suggesting dishonesty, I am suggesting that there has been a failure to look back over a number of years—of taking the year that went before and not giving any serious consideration to this matter over a series of years.
I now turn to Scottish industrial production. These figures are taken from the Monthly Digest of Statistics and the Scottish Digest. I hope to give as representative a picture as I can. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) said, the index for the total output of all the industries is 25 per cent. up on 1948. Everything is included. Twenty-five per cent. up may appear very creditable in that short period, but in the United Kingdom it is 37 per cent. up. Again I say that if we separate Scotland from England and Wales we shall find that it is substantially more than 37 per cent. Over the United Kingdom as a whole it is 37 per cent., and for Scotland it is 25 per cent.
Regarding the total manufacturing industries, we have been told that we were going ahead rapidly. In the total manufacturing industries the figure is 29 per cent. up, compared with 42 per cent. up for the United Kingdom. Let us consider some of the industries in which Scotland is supposed to excel—engineering, shipbuilding and vehicle building. Those are industries for which Scotland is world famous. For engineering, and vehicles in that category, Scotland has increased output by 38 per cent. For the United Kingdom the figure is up by 50 per cent.
In engineering, shipbuilding and electrical goods the figure for Scotland goes up by 44 per cent. which is I agree substantial, but the United Kingdom figure goes up by 54 per cent. In respect of vehicles alone Scotland's increase is 56 per cent. but the United Kingdom figure is 72 per cent. up. Nothing could be clearer or more damning than those figures. If we take chemical and allied trades which includes oil refining—because there is no 749 other category in which it can be put—the position is that the figure for Scotland has been stepped up by 25 per cent. and that for the United Kingdom by 77 per cent. The works at Fawley are larger than those at Grangemouth. Work goes on in Scotland, but Scotland's share has declined. Scotland lags behind.
Textiles are a happier feature. In textiles we are up in comparison with the United Kingdom; the figures are 32 per cent. against 15 per cent. That is understandable when we consider the great progress made, for example, with jute. But in clothing we are down in comparison with the United Kingdom. The paper and printing industries are well known industries in Scotland and have been for years, but the figure there is 22 per cent. as against 69 per cent. for the United Kingdom. So we could go on. I agree that in building and contracting Scotland is slightly ahead of the United Kingdom, but in respect of gas, electricity and water, which are basic to the economy of the country the figures are down—40 per cent. compared with 53 per cent. I apologise for throwing these figures at hon. Members, but one cannot understand the position without having them in mind.
That is how industry in Scotland is faring. But it is not merely a question of industry of Scotland, it is also a question of the new generation growing up in Scotland. It is not merely how we have stood over the years, but what we are doing for the future. When we find men such as Baillie Herbert Brechin, an Edinburgh bailie who is very far from being a supporter of Labour policy, but is rather one of the moderate or Conservative baillies—a man very well-informed on educational matters and a Governor of Heriot-Watt College—describing Scotland as a backward nation in technology, it is a matter for concern.
We also find the baillie saying that Scotland has always prided herself on her educational traditions and industrial craftsmanship, and it is a thought that makes one apprehensive that not only does Scotland lag behind England, but in this field, compared with the Soviet Union, Scotland is an underdeveloped and backward nation. I am sure that the hon. Member for Pollok would agree, because that is substantially what he said himself.
750 I put it to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that if they are concerned with the educational affairs in Scotland, they should be concerned that in technical education certainly, and no doubt in the state of education generally, we lag behind. We remember the point made by the hon. Member for Pollok in this connection, regretting the failure of Scottish youth or of Scottish employers to utilise the educational services. Because Scotland lags behind England and Wales in this connection, we find Lord Strathclyde, the Minister of State, Scottish Office, asking the Scottish Council to establish an inquiry, and asking why Scottish employers are not achieving results which are being achieved in England and Wales. The Scottish Council, a voluntary body, has been asked to find that out for the Government. Surely that is a job for the Government, yet, as my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Central (Mr. McInnes) says, they are "passing the buck ". The very existence of the Scottish Council is, one might say, proof of that state of affairs, showing that it is necessary to have this voluntary body trying/to attract industry to Scotland.
What is wrong with the native Scot? This is a pregnant question, and I will deal with it as far as I can. The Scotsman newspaper likes to pontificate on the affairs of Scotland and likes to appear as the voice of Scotland. Yesterday it had a leading article which was quite critical of Scottish Socialist Members. I will not go into details, but it said that the Conservatives had certainly done much more to eliminate the worst evils of remote control than had the Scottish Socialist Members.
I put it to the House that it was not the gentlemen in Whitehall who emptied the glens, not the gentlemen in Whitehall who sterilised the hills or who, for years, have been bleeding Scotland of its native capital. It was not the gentlemen in Whitehall who have been driving Scots out in search of jobs elsewhere. It was Scotsmen. Scotsmen suffered from Scotsmen. It was Scotsmen who burned the roofs over the heads of fellow Scotsmen and turned the Highlands into deer forest and later into bracken wastes. It was not the gentlemen in Whitehall but Scotsmen—not that I would say that we should leave the gentlemen in Whitehall 751 out of it altogether. I long ago heard it said that a capitalist in a kilt was no better than a capitalist in trousers. We have suffered over the years from that.
Let me take as an example the vast sums of capital controlled in Scotland by the big insurance companies. I understand that there are thirteen Scottish insurance companies, all of them strong and well established, and some conducting business on a world-wide scale and commanding funds totalling over £500 million. I wonder how much of that money tends to do what my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East said should be done—re-fertilise the soil, put back into industry what has been taken out and ensure that the seed potato is not destroyed. How much of this £500 million is invested in Scottish industry. I ask the Secretary of State to make inquiries about that. I see no reason why we should not be told.
Scotland is well known for its investment trusts. I understand that there are about seventy Scottish investment trusts quoted on the Stock Exchange, and that they control investments of about £200 million. How much of that is in Scottish industry? How much of those funds initially were taken out of Scotland and invested in remote corners of the world? I am not a Scottish Nationalist. I am not wearing the kilt, but I agree, when I think of these gentlemen in Edinburgh, that Scotland has suffered very much under their guidance and control. I am not talking of St. Andrews House, but of the Writers to the Signet and other such people who control these matters. The same applies to Scottish bank funds of over £1,000 million.
This is the picture of Scotland. It is a picture which in many ways, measured against the past, can be described as prosperous; measured against other countries it is a picture of steady decline. The position is so serious that we, as representatives of Scotland—and I agree that hon. Members on both sides of the House should be concerned—must see that something definite comes out of this kind of debate not, as so often happens, that we do much talking and nothing is done. The points that I have raised should be considered.
752 I would ask the Secretary of State himself to demand an immediate resumption of industrial building in Scotland. He should use his best efforts. We admire the courage of the Secretary of State for Scotland. We might differ from him, but we think he has courage. We want to see him go to the Cabinet and fight for Scotland in this connection. I ask him to see that Scotland gets its share of steel. It is beyond dispute that Scotland's share of steel production is steadily contracting. The Secretary of State is the man with the power, and it is up to him to see that Scotland gets at least the 15 per cent. share that she had in 1948, and substantially more, but which she is not getting and which it is not intended she shall get, according to the plan.
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to cause an inquiry to be made into the uses of Scottish native capital. Let us look at the number of wills: in terms of property, Scotland has substantially more than its share. Let us have a number of these wills looked at over a period of years to find what proportion of the wealth of Scotland is owned abroad. Let us know how Scottish investment trusts and others are investing in Scottish industries. If we had some of this information we might be able to restore the balance and see that Scotland generally stands where it did.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. James Stuart)
The debate has covered a wide field and has dealt with many of our affairs and problems. Whether one has agreed with all their views or not hon. Members, have, very naturally and rightly, had at heart the future of Scotland, Scottish employment and the industrial development of Scotland.
I am sure that the House is—and, certainly, I am personally—most grateful to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade for his speech this afternoon. It gave us much valuable information. This is the last of our Scottish debates on Supply. We have, on the Floor of the House and in the Scottish Standing Committee, already covered a number of subjects, for instance, agriculture, forestry, housing, education, and roads, while the other evening there was a long debate on the fishing industry. All 753 these subjects are referred to in the White Paper which we have before us. It may suit the convenience of the House, and be the right thing for me to do, if I try to answer some of the questions that cover different ground from what was covered in those previous debates.
The hon. Member for Motherwell (Mr. Lawson) repeated more than once that Scotland was lagging behind. That was the theme of his speech. I must confess I found the picture which he painted rather a gloomy one. On the other hand, I heard my right hon. Friend's speech referred to as painted in bright colours. [An HON. MEMBER: "Whitewash."] There is certainly a difference of outlook in viewing these matters, as my right hon. Friend himself said, according to the side of the House on which we happen to sit. It is difficult to give a picture which will satisfy all. I will, therefore, content myself by saying that I hope the picture is not too bad and that I certainly have had to witness worse.
A number of points were raised by the hon. Member for Motherwell and he asked me several questions. He spoke of oil refining, a subject with which I would like to deal later. He referred to the necessity for improving and increasing steel production, as did, also, my hon. Friend the Member for Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison) and my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Nairn). I am fully alive to the importance of these matters. I am sure that my hon. Friends would sincerely welcome a steel strip mill in Scotland, but, in the first place, it is a matter for the steel industry and the Iron and Steel Board. I am sure that hon. Members who raised the matter are fully alive to its importance and are most anxious to see it established in Scotland. So far as advice, or even pressure, is possible I will certainly do my best to assist in that direction.
The hon. Member also asked about how much of insurance companies' and investment companies' funds are invested in Scotland. I know that he would not expect me to answer that offhand, but I should imagine that if we got the balance sheets of those companies we would find in them lists of how their funds are distributed.
The House will not expect me to go over all the matters of Development Area 754 policy, with which my right hon. Friend dealt at some length. I noted the views of the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser), who complained about the policy at present pursued by the Government and said that Scotland's share was not as much as it should be today. I also noted the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Pollok (Mr. George), who said—I hope I am interpreting him correctly—that in the Development Areas unemployment is no longer a problem today.
He advocated that new plans should be drawn up to build factories, perhaps smaller factories, dependent on the size of the burghs and areas in which they were needed. All I can say at this stage is that a Select Committee has been examining the estimates of the Development Areas, and has made a number of recommendations about the working of the industrial estate companies. I have noted the views expressed today, but, naturally, I cannot anticipate the considered reply that the Government will give to the Select Committee.
The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs (Mr. Hubbard) said that Kirkcaldy now has considerable unemployment. I have been into the question since the hon. Member spoke. The figures show that there is a shortage among men, only 06 per cent. unemployment in the Kirkcaldy and Leslie area, but there is some unemployment—26 per cent.—among women. Reference has been made to the Scottish Council, to which I and my hon. Friends are most grateful for all the work it does. It has been investigating the need for light industries to employ women in that area.
The Scottish Council (Development and Industry) which does such admirable work, was set up by the predecessor to the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn). The right hon. Gentleman's predecessor is, unfortunately, no longer with us. My hon. Friends now assure me that it was set up before the war. I was also asked about the position of Rosyth dockyard, which is well known to me, and the locality of Donisbristle. Hon. Members will find a Written Answer from the Admiralty on the subject at column 47 in yesterday's HANSARD.
The hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) asked 755 whether the Shotts and Hartill area could be considered for Glasgow overspill. The Clyde Valley Planning Committee has considered that area, but has not recommended it at the present stage for this purpose. We are now considering Cumbernauld and other places where extension can most conveniently be done, as this is a matter of urgency.
In the time available I should like to turn to one or two points which have not been dealt with to any extent in the debate, and no doubt in doing so I shall answer some of the other questions which have been put. I must refer to our position in the export markets, the importance of which cannot be overestimated. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Board of Trade, has taken a very strong personal interest in this drive, and I should like to express my gratitude to him and his officials who visited Scotland this summer to discuss problems with men on the spot.
The Government wish to help in every way that they can. They do assist, because exporters' risks can be covered by the Export Credits Guarantee Department. The Board of Trade has established commercial offices in various parts of the world and these can furnish our manufacturers and industrialists with the most up-to-date information about markets and about the economic conditions in the countries to which they are posted. Nevertheless, the best course is for a visit of the manufacturer himself to the customer abroad. Nor can the Government themselves provide a substitute for good advertising done by individual firms or trade organisations.
Ever since the war the Scottish Council has given us a most valuable lead in this connection. The new chairman, Lord Polwarth, to whom I extend my best wishes, has just returned from a visit to the United States and Canada with the secretary, where he has made useful contacts and obtained a lot of valuable information. The Council this year produced a very successful publication entitled "Industrial Scotland" for overseas distribution. This publication has had a very good reception.
In connection with the export drive, I should like to say a word about the Films of Scotland Committee, originally a pre- 756 war body, which was revived with Scottish Office assistance in 1954. Under the Chairmanship of Sir Alexander King, who is a most energetic gentleman, it has already produced a film on the Edinburgh Festival which has been distributed to many parts of the world. Other productions include one on forestry, and another on life in the Orkneys. It is now working on a film about hydro-electric power. Scottish industry is becoming increasingly interested in this work.
This film industry, naturally, has a most important bearing upon another side of this drive to which I wish to refer—the tourist industry, which is very important today. It is growing fast—it is comparatively new, really. The receipts from the tourist industry in Great Britain for 1955 are estimated at £110 million, which is more than five times the figure of ten years ago, and more than the whole of our motor car exports in terms of foreign currency.
A third of the tourists came to Scotland and, with the addition of the English and Welsh visitors, they really do form a very valuable help, especially to the rural areas. One might say that tourists are to the rural areas what the heavy industries are to Clydeside. As the Chairman of the Crofters Commission pointed out the other day, there is no freight charged—they pay for their own transport—which makes it the ideal industry for the rural areas.
I should like to express my appreciation of the propaganda put out by the British Travel and Holidays Association, and also of the work of the Scottish Tourist Board, which is in close contact with Scottish societies all over the world. The Board prepares attractive material for distribution by the Travel and Holidays Association and, wisely, concentrates on seeing that visitors to this country are properly received, and arrangements made for them to get advice as to accommodation, transport and so on.
It is estimated that 600,000 tourists visited the Highlands last year, which is the highest number ever recorded. It is, of course, an attractive part of the country, and while I realise only too well the difficulties in that area, to which hon. Members have referred, in connection with agriculture, roads, and so on, this is, at any rate, a new source of revenue which is bringing real benefit.
757 The provision of fuel and power is of vital importance. It is, indeed, the life blood of all industry both in England and Scotland. It is, therefore, of vital concern to us all. My right hon. Friend referred briefly to the National Coal Board's plans, and I should like to add just a few sentences. It is generally agreed, I think, that after the war the coal industry in Scotland was in need of a relatively higher degree of reconstruction than was needed in other parts of the country. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power said the other day, as far as we can see coal will be essential to us for many years to come.
The plans of the Scottish Division of the Coal Board are very far-reaching and, indeed, ambitious. They have been described in White Papers, but the object is to increase the production of deep-mined coal to 26½ million tons by 1965, which would be an increase of 22 per cent. Without such a development programme, output would have run down in that year to about 15 million tons. This necessitates, of course, new pits, and five out of 14 new collieries are being sunk in Scotland.
§ Mr. Fraser
I was about to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman would care to use his remaining five minutes to say a word in reply to the speeches made from these benches? Would he say something about the progress made in Scotland relative to the progress made in Great Britain as a whole?
§ Mr. Stuart
I have been answering some of the points put from the Opposition benches. I did say, at the outset, that as my right hon. Friend had covered at considerable length the policy of the Government on the question of Development Areas—
§ Mr. Stuart
I am now talking about some industries that are running down, very regrettably—shale, for example—and of things that are taking their place. Coal is by no means a new industry, but I was just referring to the fact that in view of the run-down in certain parts of 758 Scotland, new pits are to be sunk. Further, in relation to Highland difficulties I was calling attention to the fact that the tourist industry was bringing new revenue into that area, something which is quite a new development.
I had wished to refer, also, to our electricity development and the nuclear station which the South of Scotland Board announced that it would set up in Ayrshire, the aim being to produce 300 Megawatts by 1963. Then there is the big station at Kincardine, to produce 720 Megawatts, and the 60 Megawatt station at Barony, in Ayrshire, which, for the first time in Scotland, will convert into power something which was hitherto unusable, namely, washery slurry.
All these things go to show that we are endeavouring to save coal, to economise in the use of coal. Indeed, I might mention that since the beginning of this year eleven large industrial users of coal have changed over to oil burning plant and reduced coal consumption by 19,000 tons a year. One hon. Member asked whether the recommendations of the Fuel Research Committee were made use of. Of course they are being made use of, but it does take time; industry cannot suddenly re-equip and remodel itself with new plant. I merely mention those eleven concerns where there has been a saving.
My hon. Friend the Member for Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison) and other hon. Members referred to developments in the North of Scotland. I should just like to say that we are pushing ahead with peat development at Altnabreac, because that may be a valuable coal saver. The work of construction has been finished, and the closed cycle turbine will be producing by June, 1957. There have been some hitches in construction, but, this being an entirely new project, that could not perhaps be helped.
I am sure that the House will agree that the picture which my right hon. Friend painted this afternoon of the position in 1955, and in the current year, does not give ground at present for immediate or serious concern. I would put it no higher than that. New industries are developing; employment is good. The Government will, and must, encourage developments on new processes in order that they keep up with the modern world, because of all the changes we see around us. We are in a period of great 759 change, and, as a Government, we shall continue to do our best in this direction in the general national interest
Question, That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution, put and agreed to.
Mr. SPEAKER then proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House this day, to put forthwith the Questions, That this House doth agree with the Committee in the outstanding Resolutions reported in respect of Classes I to X of the Civil Estimates and of the Revenue Departments' Estimates, the Ministry of Defence Estimate, the Navy Estimates, the Army Estimates and the Air Estimates.