HC Deb 01 July 1975 vol 894 cc1178-9
15. Mr. Crawford

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the current rate of unemployment in Scotland.

Mr. John Fraser

On 9th June the rate of unemployment in Scotland was 4.7 per cent.

Mr. Crawford

Will the Minister note that the people of Scotland are not very interested in the fact that the unemployment gap between Scotland and one of the most bankrupt economies in Western Europe—England—is narrowing? Will he also note that Scotland's economy is jeopardised by its association with the crisis-ridden English economy and that the only way in which security of employment can be obtained in Scotland is by means of Scottish self-government?

Mr. Fraser

No, I do not agree with the premise. I think it is encouraging that whereas some time ago the unemployment level was two-thirds higher in Scotland than in Great Britain as a whole, it is now only about one-quarter higher. I think that the link with the rest of the United Kingdom brings considerable benefit.

Mr. Alexander Wilson

Is my hon. Friend aware that we are all concerned in Scotland at an unemployment figure of 180,000 and that we are nearly entirely dependent on American and English companies to supply the Scottish people with jobs? Is he also aware of the sheer apathy of the Scottish industrialists in believing and investing in industry in Scotland? [An HON. MEMBER: "Servile."] It is the truth. Will my hon. Friend take those facts into cognisance and look at the figures over the years, and try to inject some British pride into the Scottish industrialists on behalf of the Scottish people?

Mr. Fraser

A good deal of investment in Scotland has come from abroad. The Government recognise the need for further investment to provide jobs. This is why we are putting through Parliament an Industry Bill and a Scottish Development Agency Bill to bring that kind of investment to that part of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Henderson

Is the Minister aware that the man who is unemployed in Scotland fails to see why Scottish oil should be removed from Scottish oilfields and brought here to London without any benefit to the people in Scotland?

Mr. Fraser

I think the hon. Gentleman would agree that the investment required to bring oil ashore has come not just from the United Kingdom but from other parts of the world as well, and that there is benefit in co-operation between us.

Mr. Canavan

Will my hon. Friend remind SNP Members and their friends in the CBI and Aims of Industry that the current level of unemployment in Scotland, or anywhere else in Britain, would not be nearly so bad if employers in the private sector could be encouraged to invest a bit more in providing jobs particularly for young school leavers, instead of spending millions of pounds on silly, irresponsible advertisements like the special supplement in the Scotsman today advertising the ridiculous farce called Free Enterprise Day which they are celebrating today?

Mr. Fraser

I endorse the view that investment is one of the prime needs, and I have also emphasised the steps being taken by the Government to bring investment to Scotland.