HC Deb 15 February 1978 vol 944 cc424-6
11. Mr. Buchanan-Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is satisfied with the co-ordination of his Department and the Manpower Services Commission for bringing job vacancies to the notice of unemployed persons in Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Gregor MacKenzie

My right hon. Friend's responsibility is to consider and approve the strategic plan and programmes of the Manpower Services Commission and its agencies as these affect Scotland. Detailed arrangements for bringing vacancies to the notice of job seekers are matters for the Employment Service Agency and the Careers Service themselves.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on Monday this week the Agency closed its office in the town of Brechin in my constituency, which is an important industrial centre in Tayside, and that this is happening at a time when that ton has suffered severe redundancies? Will the Minister look at this matter again? Surely, there should be opportunity for people to know of vacancies. Could not the office be continued possibly even on a part-time basis?

Mr. MacKenzie

I am bound to say that it is not a matter in which I would normally intervene. As I said in my original answer, it would be a matter for the Employment Service Agency. Bearing in mind the numbers who have used the Brechin office—I think 40 persons in one week—the arrangements that the ESA has made for travelling expenses from Montrose, and all the other arrangements that it has made to publicise job vacancies for the Brechin District Council, I cannot hold out any hope to the hon. Gentleman. However, I shall draw these matters to the attention of the ESA.

Mr. Grimond

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of those who come up to Shetland to seek jobs experience difficulty in finding anywhere to live? Will he ask the Agency to warn people who come up for jobs that there is a grave shortage of accommodation?

Mr. MacKenzie

I am sure that these are matters that will be borne in mind by the ESA when appointments are made.

Mr. Henderson

Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that the office is kept open at Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth, as it would appear that his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland—the hon. Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth (Mr. Ewing)—requires its services? Any Scottish Member of Parliament who does not know the date of the Declaration of Arbroath should resign.

Mr. MacKenzie

It had not occurred to me that my hon. Friend or anyone else on the Labour Benches would need the services of the Employment Service Agency. It may be that SNP Members will find it much more appropriate to table such Questions than any Labour Member.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept the justifiable grievance of my hon. Friend the Member for North Angus and Mearns (Mr. Buchanan-Smith) that the Scottish Office and the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have created a situation in Scotland in which we now have more than 12 unemployed persons chasing every vacant job? Surely they have an obligation to do all in their power to ensure that the few available job vacancies are filled.

Mr. MacKenzie

At present there are 15,000 vacancies in Scotland. I have indicated in the course of my original answer and in supplementary answers that, allowing for the number of people involved and the number using the services of the ESA, I think that the Agency had a reasonable case for transferring the work to the Montrose office.