HC Deb 08 December 1959 vol 615 cc202-5
11. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to attract the proposed major expansion by the Ford Motor Company to the Coatbridge and Airdrie district, in view of the fact that the latter is one of the most consistently highest rated unemployment areas in the country.

12. Mr. Gourlay

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is aware that there is a large number of skilled vehicle building craftsman in Scotland who are not at present employed at their craft; and what representations he has made on this point to the Ford Motor Company with a view to attracting them to set up a factory in Scotland.

28. Mr. Rankin

asked the Secretary of of State for Scotland if he has considered a resolution from Glasgow Corporation, a copy of which has been sent to him, on the possible establishment of a Ford motor car factory in Scotland; what further steps he now proposes to take in the matter; and if he will make a statement.

33. Miss Herbison

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from the Seventh District Council of Lanarkshire County Council urging him to use his influence to attempt to bring the motor car industry to their area; and what reply he has sent.

Mr. Maclay

I have received representations from a number of local authorities and other bodies, and I would refer to the assurances given in replies by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and my hon. Friend on 26th November and 1st December respectively. The availability of suitable labour in unemployment areas in Scotland and elsewhere is one of the points which is being emphasised in the discussions which my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is having with car manufacturers about their plans for expansion.

Mr. Dempsey

Will the Secretary of State convey to his right hon. Friend the fact that, in addition to the labour force being available, there are sites in the area from 100 to 200 acres adjacent to the main trunk roads east, west, north and south, in close proximity to the largest marshalling yard in Scotland? Will he do his utmost to bring the factory to this part of North Lanarkshire?

Mr. Maclay

In common with a great many other individuals and bodies in Scotland, I am conveying a great deal of information to the President of the Board of Trade about this subject.

Mr. Gourlay

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the past seven years 600 skilled vehicle building craftsmen have left the industry and that in the past quarter there has been a constant drift of skilled craftsmen from industry in Scotland to industry in the English Midlands? Will he do his utmost to persuade the President of the Board of Trade to stop the continuing drain of skilled manpower from Scotland?

Mr. Maclay

The availability of this type of labour has been very forcibly brought to the attention of all concerned.

Mr. Rankin

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, despite all that he is promising to do, proposing to do or threatening to do, the number of unemployed in Scotland is still steadily increasing? Will he look at the last part but one of my Question and take us a little more into his confidence and tell us exactly what he is proposing to do on behalf of Scotland as her Secretary of State? For example, is he prepared to offer some inducement to this firm to go to Scotland?

Mr. Maclay

The hon. Member will know what is contained in the Bill at present being debated in the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Really."] He will also know that there are occasions when open diplomacy is not the best way of achieving objectives.

Miss Herbison

The Minister said that his right hon. Friend was considering this matter for places like Scotland. Is the Secretary of State aware that in Scotland, particularly in the west of Scotland, we have not only a higher percentage of unemployed than in most areas of Britain, but also a higher number of unemployed? Will the right hon. Gentleman use all his force in making representations to his right hon. Friend to attract this industry to Scotland?

Mr. Maclay

I assure the hon. Lady that both as far as I and, I repeat, a great many other people and bodies in Scotland are concerned, no doubt is being left in anybody's mind about the importance of this matter to Scotland.

Sir J. Duncan

While I appreciate what my right hon. Friend is doing in connection with both the Ford Company and B.M.C. —

Mr. Rankin

What is he doing?

Sir J. Duncan

—may I ask whether he can issue a statement concerning the size and type of site which both these companies would require as soon as they can inform him, so that they may have a choice of sites which they could visit and eventually choose one. we hope, in Scotland?

Mr. Maclay

I assure my hon. Friend that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has extensive information available about all possible sites in Scotland for this type of development. I will, however, think further over what my hon. Friend has said.