HC Deb 18 March 1975 vol 888 cc1441-3
12. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the functions of his Department in Scotland.

Mr. Foot

As throughout Great Britain, my Department in Scotland provides manpower intelligence and participates in economic planning, collects statistics of employment, earnings, industrial disputes, and retail prices, and collates statistics of unemployment and vacancies. It administers regional employment premiums, deals with claims for rebate and guarantee payments in connection with redundancy payments, and provides the Wages Inspectorate, the Race Relations Advisory Service, and the Unemployment Benefit Service. It also provides lay support staff to the industrial tribunals and is responsible for supervision and inspection of the careers service provided in some areas by education authorities and in others by the Employment Service Agency.

It collaborates with the Scottish Office and other Departments of State with the employment service and training services agencies of the Manpower Services Commission, the Health and Safety Executive of the Health and Safety Commission and the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, which also have the same functions in Scotland as in England and Wales.

Mr. Dalyell

Whew! What would be the benefit either in terms of better service or of return to the Scottish taxpayer if these functions were hived off to a Scottish Assembly?

Mr. Foot:

That is a different matter, which is already being discussed in the devolution discussions that are taking place. I know that at this stage my hon. Friend would not expect me to intrude in those discussions. I thought that he and the rest of the House would like to know how much work we are doing in Scotland.

Mr. Henderson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he may be assured that we are most impressed by the long list of functions that his Department carries out? At least we are impressed, although it appears that the right hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend, the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), is not. Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that there is a dominant feeling in Scotland that there is a need for a service which is much closer to the Scottish people? Is he aware that the Scottish people are becoming increasingly concerned that the social contract is not providing enough for them, in that costs in Scotland are comparable to those in the South-East of England but there is no London weighting for the people of Scotland? Will the right hon. Gentleman take into account the need to redress the balance and to bring social justice to the working people of Scotland?

Mr. Foot

I have looked at the figures which compare wage rates in Scotland with those in the rest of the country. The figures that I have seen do not bear out what the hon. Gentleman is suggesting. Indeed, I think that he is making a wrong deduction from the figures. As he knows very well, the organisations to which I have referred confer great benefits on the people of Scotland. I think that the hon. Gentleman fully appreciates that.

Mr. Lipton

In the collection of unemployment statistics to which my right hon. Friend referred, has he come across any employment exchange which has more registered unemployed than the 4,023 so registered at the Brixton employment exchange?

Mr. Foot

My hon. Friend travels a long way to get to his own question. I am happy to look at the situation in Brixton even if I have to get there via the North of Scotland.

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