HC Deb 06 August 1980 vol 990 cc506-7
8. Mr. James Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the latest level of unemployment in the Strathclyde region; and by what percentage it has increased since the same date in 1979.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

On 10 July 1980, 140,859 people were registered as unemployed in Strathclyde region, an increase of 28.5 per cent. over the July 1979 figure.

Mr. Hamilton

Is not the Minister ashamed of himself in revealing those figures to the House? For a change, will he stop blaming the trade unions, take his finger out, get cracking and do something about unemployment? Will he also, for a change, start talking to the industrialists about an expansion policy? Will the Government change their policy? If they cannot, will the hon. Gentleman resign?

Mr. Fletcher

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will wish to know the steps that the Government have taken to try to overcome the problems of unemployment that we inherited from the previous Government. In West Central Scotland the special development area has been expanded, and regional policy generally has been sharpened to help such areas. In the enterprise zone announced for Clydebank a great new experiment in job creation is being carried out in Strathclyde, and in the new towns, which have been greatly supported by the present Government, 7 per cent. more funds in real terms have been made available this year for industrial development compared with the previous year. In the Glasgow Eastern area renewal project, the Scottish Development Agency has built more than 70 factories, and there are 50 more factories in this year's programme. There is major progress in Glengarnock and there is the St. Enoch's project, involving £40 million and 1,500 new jobs. That is action on unemployment.

Mr. Speaker

It is more than action on unemployment; answers, like questions, should be reasonably brief.

Mr. Maclennan

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for the Minister to make 10 substantive points in reply to one substantive question?

Mr. Speaker

I have just dealt with that matter.

Mr. Bill Walker

Does my hon. Friend agree that the trade unions asked for free collective bargaining, and that in free collective bargaining excessive wage claims are bound to result in fewer jobs in the end?

Mr. Fletcher

My hon. Friend is right. The Government and the trade unions are very much in agreement on that central part of trade union policy.

May I say about the last answer, that I am sorry that we are doing so much about unemployment that it upsets Labour hon. Members.

Mr. Lambie

Is the Minister aware that, although he mentioned successes in the Garnock valley, the unemployment rate there is now 25 per cent? Is he further aware that in the Cunninghame district in my own area within Strathclyde the unemployment rate is 16.6 per cent? When will he do something to obtain an extra order for ships for Ailsa shipyard, Troon, and to make sure that the Jetstream project order is signed immediately for British Aerospace at Prestwick?

Mr. Fletcher

I am sure that if I had further extended the list of Government action more points of order would have been raised by Labour hon. Members. We are taking action about Glengarnock and all the other matters to try to improve employment prospects for the Scottish people.

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