HC Deb 11 March 1981 vol 1000 cc865-6
2. Mr. Bill Walker

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any proposals to reduce the level of unemployment in Blairgowrie; and if he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Alexander Fletcher)

We are expanding the programmes of special measures for those unable to find employment; industrial development in Blairgowrie is encouraged through its status as a development area; and the Scottish Development Agency is making efforts through its factory building and other activities to attract industry to the area.

Mr. Walker

I accept that reply, but does my hon Friend agree that Blairgowrie should be considered as a special development area, as male unemployment is presently running at 20 per cent.—

Mr. Norman Hogg

The hon. Gentleman wants jam on it.

Mr. Walker

Does my hon. Friend agree that if we accept the view that unemployment is caused by Government action, the present situation is a result of the action of the previous Government, because factories in Blairgowrie closed down before we came into office?

Mr. Fletcher

I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern. He will know that that matter was recently reviewed by the Department of Industry. My hon. Friend the Minister of State wrote to my hon. Friend advising him of the position.

Mr. Gregor MacKenzie

How does the hon. Gentleman think that small businesses in Blairgowrie and in other rural parts of Scotland will be assisted by the decision of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to put an extra 20p on a gallon of petrol?

Mr. Fletcher

In his Budget my right hon. and learned Friend took a number of measures that will be helpful to small firms and to employment in Scotland, not least the reduction in interest rates.

Mr. Lang

How was unemployment in Blairgowrie helped by the recent party political march through the centre of Glasgow on behalf of the Labour Party? Is it not a scandal that that march should cost the public purse about £100,000? Is there any way in which the sum can be recovered to help the unemployed in Blairgowrie and elsewhere?

Mr. Fletcher

I am afraid that there is no way in which the sum can be recovered. Having to march and demonstrate in the streets is evidence of the lack of a constructive policy in the Labour Party.

Mr. Ernie Ross

Will the Minister take time today to consider a matter that is relevant to Blairgowrie, namely, the speech in Perth at the weekend by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland? The Moderator said that any society that condemns young people to inactivity and unemployment is evil. Will the Minister discuss with his hon. Friends how they might set about transforming that society?

Mr. Fletcher

I have not read the text of the Moderator's speech, but I understand that in referring to press reports of it he said that he had been misquoted.