23. Mr. J. Hill
asked the President of the Board of Trade in view of the decision of Scottish Oils Limited to close the shale mines in the Lothians and the fact that the building of the new town at Livingston is intended to attract more overspill workers from Glasgow than the total manpower to be employed in the British Motor Corporation factory at Bathgate what steps he is taking to provide new industries as a source of alternative employment for those workers at present employed in the shale oil industry.
§ Mr. N. Macpherson
Having in mind the expected rate of recruitment for the 6,000 to 7,000 jobs now in prospect in the Bathgate area on the one hand and the expected rate of growth of Livingston on the other, there is good reason to hope that most of the men now working in the shale oil industry will succeed in finding employment with the firms developing in the area.
The Minister has been telling us over the last two years about industries going to the Lothians. So far we have not had any. Is the Minister 226 aware that the adjacent colliery, employing 460 men, which is now being closed, supplied the shale oil industry with coal and that the 460 men displaced from this pit have been told that there will be no work unless they go to England? Surely it is time to get something done. In that area we get overspill from Glasgow. We are importing people from Glasgow and exporting people to England. Is it not time that something was done about it?
§ Mr. Macpherson
One has to consider the actual employment in Bathgate amounting to 1,100 plus the unemployment likely to arise from the closure of the shale oil industry side by side with the 6,000 or 7,000 other jobs likely to arise in this area
§ Mr. T. Fraser
Will the right hon. Gentleman realise that over 1,000 men—I repeat, men—are to become unemployed in the next few weeks in the shale oil industry, and that in consequence of this closure another 460 men will lose their jobs in mining in the same area, so that 1,500 men will lose their jobs in the next few weeks as a result of Government decisions? Can the Parliamentary Secretary still say that alternative employment will be available in this area? It is no good his saying that jobs are in prospect. When will they be available?
§ Mr. Macpherson
The purpose of the Local Employment Act is to envisage high and persistent unemployment. I cannot say that there will be persistent unemployment in this area in view of the prospects.