HC Deb 05 March 1975 vol 887 cc1466-8
9. Mr. Crawford

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next proposes to pay an official visit to Lanarkshire.

Mr. William Ross

I have no immediate plans for such a visit.

Mr. Crawford

Is the Secretary of State aware that that answer will not be regarded with much joy by the steelworkers in Lanarkshire? Before the right hon. Gentleman comes to Lanarkshire will he persuade his Cabinet colleagues to reconsider the decision not to set up a Scottish Steel Corporation? Will he establish such a corporation, so that the number of jobs available for steelworkers in Lanarkshire can be expanded? Further, in the context of the southern part of the county, will he persuade his Cabinet colleagues to reconsider the decision not to keep the fuel subsidy for tomato growing, so that the 2,000 people employed in that industry are not thrown on the same unemployment scrapheap as are thousands of steelworkers in the same county?

Mr. Ross

Steel and tomatoes together. May I suggest that the hon. Gentleman addresses his remarks on tomato growers to the appropriate Minister? He will then receive a clear answer.

Hon. Members

The Scottish Office.

Mr. Ross

Exactly. If the hon. Gentleman puts such a Question on the Order Paper it will be answered by the Scottish Office. I do not agree with the policies and plans that the hon. Gentleman's party has put forward for steel. I assure him that I had the opportunity, as did my hon. Friend the Minister of State, of a discussion with steelworkers from Lanarkshire. The hon. Gentleman will be disappointed to know that after the discussion someone actually moved a vote of thanks to the Scottish Office Ministers.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

If the Secretary of State has not the guts to visit Glasgow in the present situation, will he go to Lanarkshire and explain to the people there how he sat in the Cabinet and weakly agreed to the largest cut in the Scottish educational building programme in Scotland's history, from £69 million last year to £39 million this year, which will greatly add to Lanarkshire's acute educational problem?

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman should appreciate that the amount being spent in the form of capital expenditure this year in respect of Scottish education is greater than it was last year, and greater than it was the year before. When he talks about new starts, let him remember what his Government did. They postponed starts and pushed them forward a quarter, with the result that a quarter of last year's starts are going into the next year's starts. The hon. Gentleman has to put that into the balance as well. The hon. Gentleman can take no pride in what his Government did.

Dr. Bray

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the cuts in the school building programme in Lanarkshire are considerably smaller than the cuts being made in most of the education authorities in Scotland? Is he aware that at the same time the actual expenditure per head, under the discretion of the local authority, is lower in Lanarkshire than in most education authority areas? Further, is my right hon. Friend aware that the steelworkers in Scotland were well satisfied with the hearing that they were given last week?

Mr. Ross

I am aware of all those things.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

Is the Secretary of State aware that the Lanarkshire building company of William Louden and Sons Limited has gone into liquidation? It is clear that in the past three years it donated £60,000 to the Labour Party. Will the right hon. Gentleman indicate whether that company and perhaps some others might still be solvent if they had not given financial support to the Labour Party? Further, will the right hon. Gentleman state the extent to which Labour Party funds in Scotland are dependent upon donations from big business?

Mr. Ross

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that his question was well worthy of himself. I should like to know exactly how much money was donated to the Tory Party by all the other firms that have gone bust as a result of the three-day working week, the hold-up of materials, and the escalation of prices that took place as a result of the confrontation last winter.