HC Deb 23 June 1971 vol 819 cc1415-6
25. Mr. Sillars

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what official organisations in Scotland have written to him urging the adoption of a public works programme by the Government as a contribution to easing the unemployment situation.

Mr. Gordon Campbell

The Scottish Trades Union Congress, and the town councils of Maybole and of Stevenston.

Mr. Sillars

Knowing the concern about unemployment in Scotland, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he intends, in advance of the redundancies that we can expect at U.C.S., to launch a public works programme in the area likely to be most affected? If not, why not?

Mr. Campbell

The S.T.U.C. has already suggested that work should be done on school and hospital building. Yesterday, I announced an additional hospital programme to which the Government will be contributing £5 million, and I also announced a special two-year scheme for house improvement in development and intermediate areas. The possibilities of extra schemes are under consideration.

Mr. Ross

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the difficult situation that we face? Tomorrow we shall get the new figures. They ought to have fallen. However, if they are still over 100,000, we are in for a very black winter. Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that what is required is a massive programme with a date limit which will concentrate the provision of jobs over next winter and so give the right hon. Gentleman time to sort out further programmes? Will he look at the position again? He will recall that the last Administration launched such a programme in 1967 which cost us more than he refused to U.C.S. only the other day.

Mr. Campbell

I am aware of the contribution that public works programmes can make, but they cannot alone solve the difficult situation facing us. The Scottish Trades Union Congress was pressing us to establish a special development area for West Central Scotland. We did that in February. I should also add that we have recently given an extra £4½ million for primary school improvement during 1972–3. All these moves will help, but a lot more needs to be done.

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