§ 32. Mr. Gourlay
asked the Minister of Labour how many persons were employed in the linoleum industry in Kirkcaldy in March, 1960, 1961, 1962, and 1963, respectively.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
Figures are available only for the combined areas of the Kirkcaldy and Leslie Employment Exchanges and for the mid-year. Four thousand four hundred were employed in 1960, 4,000 in 1961 and 3,800 in 1962. Figures for 1963 are not available.
§ Mr. Gourlay
Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that this rate of contraction is causing serious difficulty, particularly in the Kirkcaldy area? Is he also aware that between now and August this year a further 600 people will lose their jobs in the linoleum industry in Kirkcaldy as a result of the transfer of a productive unit from Kirkcaldy to Staines, in the South? What proposals does the hon. Gentleman's Department have for finding alternative employment for the 600 people who will become redundant, bearing in mind that our rate of unemployment at the moment is 8 per cent. and will go up to about 11 per cent.?
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I recognise, as the hon. Gentleman indicates, that it is unfortunate for an area with so high a level of unemployment that this work should cease. As the hon. Gentleman will be the first to appreciate, we have no power to prevent the firm from taking this decision. It must be a matter for its own commercial judgment, particularly since no question of an industrial development certificate is involved. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we shall do all we can to help any of the people affected who seek our assistance. I hope that the measures of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to expand the economy will help us to provide fresh opportunities.