HC Deb 01 July 1971 vol 820 cc567-9
16. Mr. Sillars

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what are the latest Scottish unemployment figures; and how they compare with the same period in 1970.

Mr. Bryan

The total numbers of people registered as unemployed in Scotland at June, 1971 and June, 1970 were 121,647 and 84,131, respectively. The figure for June, 1971 is provisional.

Mr. Sillars

Are these not absolutely disgraceful figures? How does the Miniter square them with the promise given by the Prime Minister to cut unemployment at a stroke? Is the Minister aware that on prices, unemployment and on all other aspects of Government policy the people in Scotland, as well as in other part of the United Kingdom, treat all Government statements and promises, including those on the Common Market, with contemptuous disbelief?

Mr. Bryan

I shall be very surprised if my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made a promise that he would cut unemployment—[HON. MEMBERS: "Yes he did."]—in Scotland at a stroke. The reason he would not have done so is that the trend was already there. In the year before the years I quoted unemployment rose by 12 per cent. Therefore, the trend was unlikely to be turned round at a stroke.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Is my hon. Friend aware that unemployment in many parts of Scotland, including my own area, has occurred in the capital goods industries because of the cut-back in investment resulting from the squeeze on profits applied by the fiscal policies of the Labour Government, and also as a result of the impact of the wage-cost inflation brought about by the previous Government? In these circumstances will he treat the outcries from the Opposition with the contempt they deserve?

Mr. Bryan

I will certainly do that. The situation now depends on the policies we are putting forward.

Mr. Ross

Could the Minister say when unemployment last rose in Scotland in the month of June?

Mr. Bryan

Not without notice, but I should like the right hon. Gentleman to notice the steps which we are taking—steps which he when Secretary of State for Scotland did not take. In fact, we have made a large part of the West of Scotland into a special development area and we are giving inducements of a kind which have never been given before. In due course these will have their effect.

20. Mr. Strang

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is his latest estimate of the number of males unemployed in Scotland; and what is the percentage increase in the number of males unemployed in Scotland since last June.

Mr. Bryan

At 14th June the provisional number of males registered as unemployed in Scotland was 100,023. This was a rate of 7.6 per cent. compared with 5.2 per cent. in June, 1970.

Mr. Strang

Had the hon. Gentleman been willing to answer my Question, he would have said that the number of male unemployed in Scotland has increased by 44 per cent. since last June. Surely he is aware that unemployment in Scotland is now a national disaster. Are the Government satisfied with the effects of their present economic policies?

Mr. Bryan

I think that I answered that Question a little earlier. As for the hon. Gentleman's own constituency, the Government have taken action which was not taken before. Edinburgh has been made an intermediate area. I hope that this will bring it benefit.

Mrs. Castle

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he has no more answered this Question than he has answered the Question when the Prime Minister will apologise to the country for his promise to reduce unemployment "at a stroke"?

Mr. Bryan

I suggest that the right hon. Lady puts that question to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

Captain W. Elliot

Will my hon. Friend contemplate taking a pneumatic drill to implant in the solid ivory opposite the plain fact that cost inflation is the greatest creator of unemployment?

Mr. Bryan

I doubt whether even that would be effective.