HC Deb 06 June 1972 vol 838 cc219-20
14. Mr. Strang

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the latest estimate of the number of jobs which have been lost in Scotland since 1st January, 1971.

Mr. Dudley Smith

The precise information is not available, but between December, 1970, and September, 1971, the latest date for which a provisional estimate is available, the number of employees in employment in Scotland decreased by 26,000.

Mr. Strang

The Minister must be aware that that figure represents a staggering state of injustice and demoralisation, when there are a large number of additional redundancies which have been recently announced in Scotland. Bearing in mind that many of these are in nationalised industries, does he not think that it would be sensible to impose a freeze on all redundancies in nationalised industries till the problem has been alleviated?

Mr. Smith

I am as much concerned as is the hon. Member about the high level of unemployment in Scotland, and we have always said that it is unacceptable, but I think that it is encouraging that there was a fall of some 16,000 in the May unemployed figure and that that is an indication that our measures are in fact working.

Mr. Sillars

Will the Minister confirm that the Government's economic policy for Scotland has as much chance as a snowball in hell of getting unemployment below 100,000 this year or next year? Will he come clean and tell the country the truth that this is in fact the case?

Mr. Smith

No, I do not accept the hon. Member's pessimism. There is too much talking down in that way on these occasions. We must welcome progress where it is shown. We have certainly made an improvement in Scotland, and there is the further indication of an increase of over one thousand unfilled vacancies in Scotland. This is the right trend, and it shows that we are on the right lines.