§ 22. Dr. Dickson Mabon
asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the impending closure of the SimonsLobnitz shipyard in Renfrew; and what steps Her Majesty's Government are taking to offer alternative employment for the workers concerned.
§ Dr. Mabon
Is it Government policy not to interfere or intercede in any way in the rationalisation which is going on in the shipbuilding industry? Is it the right hon. Gentleman's intention to try to institute some additional retraining facilities for men such as these since, in this particular area covered by the Hillington Training Centre, the provision for retraining is wholly inadequate for the situation which is developing?
§ Mr. Manuel
But will the Minister recognise that the facilities at Hillington fall far below what is necessary for the area? Does he know that older workers attending the centre are being told, in effect, when they apply to be trained in certain skills that it is no use their taking the work up and they are too old at their present age, and that what is really happening is that they are passing the time and leaving with no hope whatever of getting employment?
§ Mr. Hare
I repeat that we are increasing the training facilities in the Hillington area. I shall be dealing with the subject of retraining later in the debate we are to have today. I should tell the House that, even in this limited advance which I have made, I have not received the co-operation from the trade unions for which I had hoped. I trust that I shall have more assistance as we push forward in this direction, in which hon. Members on both sides are interested.
§ Mr. Hoy
Does the Minister realise that, although we are grateful for any employment which can be found for people who are displaced, the closure of these industries means further contraction of employment in Scotland, and that this represents a substantial loss particularly at this time? Will he direct his attention to that side of the question and, perhaps, not so much to placing people in employment?
§ Mr. Hare
I agree with what the hon. Gentleman says. Our problem is that the new jobs which have gone to Scotland have not been sufficiently numerous to counteract the steady decline in the older contracting industries. There is no short-cut and no other answer but to get more industry and more diversification into Scotland.