HC Deb 18 May 1971 vol 817 cc1073-4
Q3. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Prime Minister if he will make an early official visit to Coatbridge and Airdrie.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Dempsey

Is the Prime Minister aware that, if he had accepted that genuine invitation, he would have been given a first-hand account of the serious unemployment situation in Coatbridge and Airdrie? Does he realise that more than 6 per cent. of the insurable population are out of work, involving 2,500 men, some of whom have been unemployed for nearly a year, 220 boys under the age of 18, some of whom have reached 18 and have never worked, and the remainder girls? Would he consider taking remedial measures, such as steering work into Coatbridge and Aidrie now and providing a crash building programme of new factories? In addition, would he make Local Employment Act grants much more attractive so that more people will be given a right to work in my constituency?

The Prime Minister

I am well aware of the particular difficulties of the hon. Gentleman's constituency. Unfortunately, unemployment in North Lancashire is not a new phenomenon. What the Government have done is to make the hon. Gentleman's constituency part of the West Central Scotland—[Interruption.] If hon. Members opposite do not want any action taken, they had better say so. The situation in North Lancashire is being dealt with by making it a special development area, which the previous Administration never did, despite the problems which existed locally.

Mr. Cant

On a point of order. Is not the Prime Minister's navigation a little at fault?

Mr. James Hamilton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a great fear in Lanarkshire that the present Government will surpass the record figure of unemployment in Lanarkshire in the postwar years, which reached 19,500 in 1962? Is he further aware that there is a protest en route to two of his Ministers, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the Secretary of State for Scotland, who have refused to meet the Development Council in Lanarkshire about the unemployment position? Will the Prime Minister now direct his Ministers to meet this very responsible body in order to tell its representatives the Government's plans?

The Prime Minister

If an organisation asks to meet Ministers, its request will be given proper consideration.

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