HC Deb 09 December 1981 vol 14 cc847-8
3. Mr. James Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the latest unemployment figures for the Bothwell area; and if he will visit the jobcentres in the Bothwell constituency.

Mr. Alexander Fletcher

On 12 November 1981, 3,788 people were registered as unemployed in the Bellshill and Uddingston unemployment office areas, which between them cover the major part of the Bothwell constituency. My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to visit the jobcentres in the Bothwell constituency.

Mr. Hamilton

Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that Bothwell is part of the North Lanarkshire area, where we have a 20.4 per cent. unemployment rate? Is he aware that that figure does not include this year's school leavers who are not yet on the register, and that the redundancies that I announced to the House a fortnight ago have also not yet been added to the unemployment figures? Since the steel industry is also under severe pressure, will the hon. Gentleman visit the Bothwell jobcentres to discover the facts for himself? If he has any thoughts for Scotland, will he visit Scotland to find out what is happening there?

Mr. Fletcher

I am aware of the hon. Gentleman's main points. I visited factories in his constituency recently. He will know that workers are being taken on by companies in the area, such as Levi-Strauss, which is operating successfully, and two high-technology companies, Pye TMC and Ferranti, which are both in Bellshill. They are taking on a considerable number of new workers. The hon. Gentleman will also know that all the unemployed 1981 school leavers will have been offered places on the youth opportunities programme by the end of this year.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Has the creation of the "Locate in Scotland" unit been successful in constituencies such as Bothwell in attracting inward investment with a view to reducing unemployment?

Mr. Fletcher

My hon. Friend is right in his assumption that the "Locate in Scotland" unit is performing encouragingly, and we look forward to seeing the results of its success in the new year.

Mr. Millan

Why does the hon. Gentleman persist in making optimistic speeches about Scottish industry being on the upturn when the Chancellor of the Exchequer's figures for unemployment published last week show that next year unemployment in the United Kingdom will rise by 300,000 and while the figure for industrial production in Scotland during the second quarter of this year shows a further reduction of 4 per cent. in a single quarter?

Mr. Fletcher

Neither my right hon. Friend nor I make any effort to dodge the difficulties involved in the level of unemployment in Scotland or in closures and redundancies that take place. However, it is right that on the occasions—and the right hon. Gentleman knows that there are some—when substantial export orders, shipbuilding orders or inward investment opportunities come to Scotland my right hon. Friend and I should take the opportunity to spread such encouraging news throughout the country.