§ 37. Mr. W. Hamilton
asked the Minister of Labour how many building trade workers are currently unemployed in Scotland; and what was the corresponding figure for last year.
§ Mr. Hamilton
How can the right hon. Gentleman explain the logic of an economic system in which Scotland has the worst housing position of the whole of Western Europe, with every local authority clamouring for more schools yet the Government refusing to let local authorities get on with the building, while at the same time we have thousands of building workers on the dole?
§ Mr. Hare
The answer is that we have to train more skilled building workers if the building industry in Scotland is to be able to cope with the very large programme of public investment—which, I hope, will be followed by private investment—in the whole sector of the Scottish economy. That is why I am producing 861 a plan very considerably to increase the number of skilled workers to be trained for the building industry.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Does the Minister of Labour realise that many of these unemployed building workers are living in slum houses or overcrowded houses? If so, does he not think that there is something wrong in such a system?
§ 40. Mr. J. Bennett
asked the Minister of Labour how many Scottish building trade workers have been assisted under the Resettlement Transfer Scheme over the past three years to find employment in England.
§ Mr. Bennett
Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that in this respect I am becoming, like Alice in Wonderland,"curiouser and curiouser"? The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Scottish Office has an ambitious programme of new schools, hospitals, industrial building, etc.; by what mental gymnastics does he intend to fulfil that programme while transferring workers to the South?
§ Mr. Whitelaw
The hon. Gentleman should first of all appreciate that there is a very considerable programme of construction building work in Scotland. Secondly, it is very dangerous to generalise about figures of construction workers unemployed without breaking the figures down into trades. If hon. Members did that, they would find that already in Scotland there is, or is likely to be, a shortage of bricklayers. If there is a shortage of bricklayers, it is very difficult to employ many of the other skilled trades. It is because of that that 862 my right hon. Friend is stepping up the training of skilled workers in order to cover all the trades concerned.
§ Mr. Steele
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he can go to any building site in London and find that half the bricklayers speak with a Scottish accent, and that if he would advise his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to get on with building we could employ those bricklayers in Scotland?
§ Mr. Whitelaw
I should not like to dispute with the hon. Gentleman who speaks with a Scottish accent and who does not. It still remains a fact that, if we are fully to employ all the skilled building workers there are in Scotland at present, we have to make sure that there is not a shortage in one of the particular trades concerned.