HC Deb 09 November 1966 vol 735 cc1281-2
1. Sir C. Osborne

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland, in view of the increasing unemployment in Scotland, what particular steps he is taking to implement the Government's policy not to allow the return of heavy unemployment; when he anticipates his action will reverse the growing unemployment in Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. William Ross)

Measures taken to this end include preferential treatment in the deferment of public investment announced in July and the exclusion of Scotland from the control of office building. All forms of private building are unrestricted, except in the Edinburgh area. Government advance factory building is continuing, with seven further advance factories for Scotland announced last week. As regards credit, the Scottish banks have been asked to make allowance for different conditions in Scotland. The reversal of present trends will depend on our success in overcoming the national problems with which the Government's economic policy is designed to deal.

Sir C. Osborne

Without the Secretary of State hiding behind Tory kilts, will he tell the House why he is satisfied that unemployment in Scotland should be three times what it is in England? How much longer does he think that this Government-organised unemployment will last?

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman is about as mixed up with his kilts as he is with his facts. Scottish unemployment is not three times higher than that in England. Indeed, after the recent changes it was shown that it had risen proportionately less in Scotland than in England over the past month.

Mr. Buchan

Does my right hon. Friend not agree that there is a case for selective reflation in the regions, particularly in Scotland, and that the injection of Government investment, preferably the beginnings of Government-owned industry, would help to reverse this trend, which is serious in areas like Linwood?

Mr. Ross

The Government are not unaware of the need for reflation and of the need to take any of the steps which my hon. Friend mentioned when the time comes. He will appreciate that the step announced last week by the President of the Board of Trade in respect of advance factories in development areas, with particular reference to Scotland, is an indication of our thoughts in this direction.

Mr. G. Campbell

In what parts of the public investment in Scotland is Scotland specially exempted from the measures of 20th July other than in advance factory building?

Mr. Ross

The cut in central and local authority investment was £55 milion over the whole country, against which the cut in Scotland was only £3.5 million.

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