HC Deb 27 April 1971 vol 816 cc232-4
Q6. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister when he next intends to have an official meeting with representatives of the Scottish Trades Union Congress.

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Trade and Industry and for Scotland and I met a delegation from the Scottish T.U.C. on 22nd February. I also met representatives of the Scottish T.U.C. when I lunched with the Scottish Economic Council on 26th March. The Government are always willing to consider representations from the Scottish T.U.C., but there are at present no plans for further meetings.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, since those meetings took place, and since the Scottish T.U.C. apparently expressed satisfaction with them, unemployment in Scotland has continued to rise, notwithstanding the Government's promise to improve the infrastructure as a contribution to reducing unemployment? Is he aware that the Glasgow Tory Corporation completed not one house in January of this year and only 72 in February? What pressures are the Government bringing to bear on the Tory-controlled Glasgow Corporation to ensure that it improves its house-building record? What do the Government intend to do about the shocking unemployment figures in Scotland?

The Prime Minister

Since the first meeting with the S.T.U.C. we have made the additional arrangements for special development areas in Scotland. The answer to that part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question dealing with housing is that I myself announced in Glasgow that an additional 17,000 houses would be built.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

When my right hon. Friend next meets the leaders of the S.T.U.C., will he discuss with them the way in which many capital goods producers in Scotland are being obliged to declare men redundant because their industrial customers in England have had to cut back on their investment programmes owing to the disappearance of profits through industrial unrest?

The Prime Minister

The S.T.U.C. has already told me that it fully recognises this aspect of the problem.

Mr. James Hamilton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the S.T.U.C. has firmly declared itself against the Government's policy of restraint, which is causing heavy unemployment throughout the country? Is he further aware that the S.T.U.C. is on record as saying that the Government's policy will result in the highest post-war unemployment figure in Scotland, of 136,000 in 1963, being surpassed? What does the right hon. Gentleman intend to do about this, considering that if he continues with his present policy we shall be driven back to the hungry 'thirties?

The Prime Minister

It is difficult to prove intellectually that a policy of wage restraint will create unemployment. I have never heard any commentator or economist try to do it. If the S.T.U.C. has laid that down in the way the hon. Gentleman describes, I would like to read it before commenting on it.

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