HC Deb 31 October 1966 vol 735 cc13-5
20. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Minister of Labour what estimate he has made of the numbers of persons who will be unemployed in Scotland by the end of the year; and if he is satisfied that his Department has adequate staff to cope with the speedy and effective redeployment of this number.

Mr. Gunter

I am not prepared to make estimates of this sort. I am satisfied that sufficient staff will be available to enable my Department to deal with any additional work in Scotland.

Mr. Taylor

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we have more than three unemployed people for every vacant job in Scotland, and that there is no need for more heat to be taken out of the economy? Can he say whether the Government have a figure of employment at which a recovery plan will be introduced? If so, what is the figure, and what is the plan?

Mr. Gunter

I have no figure in mind.

Mr. William Hamilton

Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the figure of 136,000 which was reached in February, 1963, will not be reached under this Government?

Mr. Gunter

I could not guarantee anything, but I certainly hope not.

Earl of Dalkeith

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that if he adds even the present unemployment figures in Scotland to the record-breaking number of people who have emigrated from Scotland in these last two years the Government stand condemned in the eyes of all people in Scotland who think about it?

Mr. Gunter

I am not sure of the exact number who have emigrated, but, as an émigré myself, I can say that there are certain advantages in emigrating.

21. Mr. Edward M. Taylor

asked the Minister of Labour what special steps his Department is taking to assist in the redeployment of persons made redundant in Scotland.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

At the earliest moment teams of employment officers are going into the factories affected by major redundancies to give assistance and advice about jobs. A special drive has been made to bring in vacancies from all employers within reach of the areas affected.

Mr. Taylor

Does the hon. Lady appreciate that there is a danger of a sudden deterioration in the situation? The staff are already overworked in Scotland. What plans are there if such an emergency should arise?

Mrs. Williams

If a sudden emergency arises, the Minister's rather meagre staff from other areas move in and give them special training in the work that they have to do.

Mr. Dalyell

Is my hon. Friend aware that everybody involved in this situation, whatever else they may disagree about, praises the work done by the Ministry of Labour officials?

Mrs. Williams

I am glad to hear my hon. Friend's tribute. We, too, very much admire the work which is being done under pressure by Ministry of Labour staff.

Mr. Monro

Does not the rising figure of unemployment in Scotland make nonsense of the Secretary of State's statement that Scotland would be sheltered from the freeze?

Mrs. Williams

During the debate on Monday I pointed out that Scotland had to a considerable extent not suffered as much as some other regions on this occasion, nor as much as on previous occasions.