HC Deb 22 October 1975 vol 898 cc459-60
3. Mr. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the prospects for the Scottish economy for the period to the end of 1975.

4. Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the outlook for the Scottish economy.

Mr. William Ross

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) on 15th October.—[Vol. 897, c. 721.]

Mr. Henderson

Is the Secretary of State aware that since that reply a new set of unemployment figures for Scotland has been issued? Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with these figures, and when will the Government assure the people of Scotland that there is a firm prospect of a job for everyone over the next year?

Mr. Ross

I am aware of the new set of figures issued yesterday. Those figures show, I am glad to say, that nearly 4,000 school leavers are no longer unemployed. There has been some improvement there. I am never satisfied with these figures, but the hon. Gentleman should appreciate exactly what has been done. An announcement was made about the tem-temporary employment subsidy. There are the job creation scheme of the Manpower Services Commission, the recruitment subsidy for school leavers, the training schemes of the Manpower Services Commission, the advance factory provision and the addition made to Section 8 assistance to industry. We have not been idle. I am glad that we had the support of the whole House yesterday for the Scottish Development Agency but I should have liked to have had it earlier. I think that everyone appreciates that we are concerned about unemployment and that we are taking action.

Mr. Taylor

Is not the Secretary of State living in a dream world when he refers to yesterday's figures as an improvement? The seasonally adjusted figures show that unemployment in Scotland at 120,000, excluding school leavers, is increasing at the rate of more than 1,000 every week. Does the right hon. Gentleman still take the view that when unemployment in Scotland reaches 100,000 the honourable course for the Secretary of State for Scotland is to resign? Will he tell us what we failed to find out in 10 hours' debate yesterday, which is how much cash will be available to the Scottish Development Agency in its first year?

Mr. Ross

The hon. Gentleman should appreciate that we have not yet fixed the vesting day for the SDA. Many of his supplementary questions are not related to the main Question. I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman's concern about the unemployment figure reaching 100,000. Some people—I am one—think that the present figures are far too high but between June 1971 and February 1973, during which period the hon. Gentleman was an occasional Minister, the unemployment figures were never lower than they are now.

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