HC Deb 08 April 1981 vol 2 cc937-8
3. Mr. Adams

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress is being made in creating new job opportunities following the impending closure of the Talbot Linwood factory.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

My right hon. Friend welcomes the undertaking given by trade union representatives, following the decision of the work force at Linwood to accept the closure, to help in the difficult task of generating new industrial development and employment. He has asked the SDA to study urgently the potential of the plant for use by one or by several companies. He looks to the local organisations represented on the ad hoc committee chaired by convener Charles O'Halloran to lend their support to these efforts.

Mr. Adams

That is not really an answer to anything. How many real jobs have been created in Strathclyde in the past month, and how many jobs have been lost? If the Minister cannot give the figures today, will he undertake to furnish the House with them as quickly as possible?

Mr. Fletcher

If that was the urgent matter which the hon. Gentleman wished to raise, I do not know why he did not table a question to that effect. I shall certainly furnish the information. The hon. Gentleman will have noticed reports in today's press that new jobs are coming to the Strathclyde area in considerable numbers.

Mr. Allan Stewart

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the Scottish Development Agency was asked to undertake this study on 13 February—eight weeks ago? What has it done in the last eight weeks?

Mr. Fletcher

The SDA is working in collaboration with the company, which is still producing cars at Linwood. It will report as soon as it has been able to survey the premises and decide what further use should be made of them—for example, whether they should be divided into several units or be retained as a large manufacturing plant.

Mr. James Hamilton

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that I have a later question on the Order Paper about the Nissan-Datsun company? There is a feeling in Scotland that the Scottish Office has let the Scottish people down and that is has not shown any fight to bring this industry to Scotland. Is he aware that the Scottish Office has been accused of hanging on to the coat-tails of England and Wales? Will he now say categorically what the Scottish Office is doing for Scotland?

Mr. Fletcher

As usual, Labour Members are ill-informed. That is not the opinion which prevails in Scotland. For many months now, long before the news of this potential project hit the headlines, the Government were deeply involved with the Japanese company in considering this project. Any hon. Member who considered in detail the specification put forward by Nissan for a possible site in the United Kingdom must have known that Scotland stood only a slight chance of success. Nevertheless, my right hon. Friend, the Scottish Economic Planning Department and I have worked extremely hard to try to persuade Nissan to come to Scotland.

Mr. Millan

If there was only a slight chance of success, why did the Secretary of State try to put off the trade union delegation, which he met the other day to discuss alternative jobs for Linwood, by mentioning that project as one of the possibilities?

Mr. Fletcher

Because it was one of the possibilities.