HC Deb 09 July 1980 vol 988 cc540-2
16. Mr. Dewar

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of the likely trend of unemployment in Scotland in one and two years time, respectively, given the continuation of present Government policies.

Mr. Younger

It has not been the practice of this or previous Administrations to publish forecasts of unemployment.

Mr. Dewar

Can the right hon. Gentleman say with any confidence that Scottish unemployment will not reach 250,000 in the next 18 months?

Mr. Younger

As I said earlier, possibly before the hon. Gentleman arrived, the making of forecasts has never proved successful by the Administrations of either party. I do not intend to enter into that practice now.

Mr. Ancram

Has my right hon. Friend been able to estimate the number of jobs lost in Scotland this year as a result of the steel and engineering strikes last autumn and last winter, and the excessive wage claims of last winter? Is there not a lesson in that somewhere for Scottish trade unionists?

Mr. Younger

It is not possible to make precise calculations on this matter, but there is no doubt that a number of companies in Scotland were fatally weakened by the engineering strike last autumn. I hope that all concerned who get involved in strikes will bear in mind that they may be killing their jobs a few months later.

Mr. David Marshall

Is the Secretary of State aware that, in spite of the GEAR project in the East end of Glasgow, unemployment among young people in that area is about 40 per cent.? What special steps, if any, will be taken to reduce that tragic figure?

Mr. Younger

I am glad to say that we have managed to keep the GEAR project going in spite of the difficulties of public expenditure. The hon. Gentleman will be glad to know that more will be spent on the project this year than ever before.

Mr. McQuarrie

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate the serious concern of the fishing industry over the threat of considerable unemployment? Will my right hon. Friend undertake to meet the Minister responsible for fisheries in an attempt to find a means of alleviating the threat to the industry in Scotland?

Mr. Younger

I entirely share my hon. Friend's concern. I meet my right hon. Friend often on this matter and I frequently meet the fishing industry about it as well. The concern expressed by the industry and its proposals have been carefully considered.

Mr. William Hamilton

Since the Secretary of State for Industry has said that many jobs are lost by excessively high wages being paid, will the right hon. Gentleman say how many jobs in Scotland might be lost through this factor?

Mr. Younger

I am afraid that it is not possible to make such a calculation, but it stands to reason that if one pays one-self more than one's firm can afford one is liable to lose one's job. If that simple truth has not yet sunk in, it is about time that it did.

Mr. Henderson

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the heart of the matter is that a reduction in unemployment will come about principally through an increase in the number of employers and that the prospect for that will be greatly enhanced by the continually reducing prospect of the return of a Socialist Administration?

Mr. Younger

No doubt that is true. The most important thing for prospective employers is the conquering of the evil of inflation. The entire strategy of the Government is devoted to achieving that.