HC Deb 28 July 1982 vol 28 cc1050-1
11. Mr. Gregor MacKenzie

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what further measures he proposes to introduce as a means of reducing the number of people unemployed in Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Younger

Details were announced yesterday of a new job-splitting scheme to provide more part-time jobs and of the community programme for the long-term unemployed. We have also announced a further two enterprise zones for Scotland, in addition to the measures to assist industry announced earlier in the Budget.

Mr. MacKenzie

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the majority of Scottish Members believe that the measures announced by the Chancellor yesterday do little more than tinker with a real and serious problem in Scotland? They will not create any real new jobs. About 350,000 Scottish people are unemployed, and they will have little hope of employment unless there is a radical change in Government policy. If the right hon. Gentleman is not willing to listen to Labour Members, will he at least listen to his friends in the CBI and the Scottish chambers of commerce, who have advocated a change in direction? There will be nothing shameful in admitting that such a change—

Mr. Speaker

Order. That question is long enough.

Mr. Younger

I understand that the CBI is proposing a measure of reflation to be paid for by public expenditure cuts. If the right hon. Gentleman is in favour of such a measure, I shall be glad of his support for the appropriate cuts. It is not fair to suggest that a change in Government policy could improve the position, unless it takes great care not to endanger the progress of reducing inflation, which is the only long-term security for Scottish jobs.

Mr. Henderson

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that there is still a possibilility of commencing the Fife regional road this year, which will provide both direct employment and employment prospects for Fife as a whole?

Mr. Younger

We do everything that we can to bring forward such projects to help employment prospects. If my hon. Friend will table a question on the starting date for that road, I shall do my best to answer it.

Mr. James Hamilton

Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that we are happy that some progress has at least been made in attempting to bring new jobs to Scotland? However, the measures announced yesterday are an absolute sham and an insult to the intelligence of the Scottish people. In view of the number of factories that are now derelict through liquidation and the number of people unemployed, will the right hon. Gentleman embark on a public expenditure programme to provide real jobs that will bring people off the dole?

Mr. Younger

I am grateful for what the hon. Gentleman said at the beginning of his supplementary question. Yesterday's measures were not intended to be a huge change in policy. They will be useful in themselves. I am sure that people who get places in an enterprise zone will be glad of them. The hon. Gentleman should appreciate that, were the Government to spend taxpayers' money on extra inflationary policies, the long-term position for jobs in his constituency and elsewhere would be very much worse. That has happened on every occasion since the war when such a policy has been tried, and the Government are determined not to do it.

Mr. Ancram

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the key to reducing unemployment is to attract new industry and jobs and that the two things that will make that least likely are industrial distruption in Scotland and the kind of talking down that we have heard today from the moaning minnies on the Labour Benches?

Mr. Younger

I agree with my hon. Friend that the attraction of new industry is vital to replace jobs that are lost in older industries. In addition to the examples given by my hon. Friend, any threat to leave the EEC would make it almost impossible to attract any new industries to Britain.