HC Deb 30 June 1982 vol 26 cc881-2
6. Mr. McKelvey

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many redundancies have been notified to his Department in Ayr during the past three months.

Mr. Younger

Since 1 April 1982 two instances of redundancy involving 10 or more people have been notified to the Manpower Services Commission as due to occur in the Ayr employment office area with the loss of 109 jobs.

Mr. McKelvey

Does the Secretary of State agree that one of those enforced redundancies was to be at Wallacetown Engineering? Will he, like my colleagues from Ayrshire, welcome the fact that the management has acceded to the trade unions' legitimate claims and that normal work will resume tonight or tomorrow, thus ending an 11-week occupation of the factory, which was justified as it was in pursuit of legitimate aims?

Is he not ashamed that he did not join Labour Members from Ayrshire in applying pressure to the management to bring about an early and successful conclusion to the dispute, thus alleviating some of the misery and hardship that was suffered by the families of those who were forced to fight to justify their trade union rights?

Mr. Younger

I, too, am relieved that the protracted dispute ended yesterday as a result of an agreement between the management and the trade unions concerned. I deplore the actions of the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues. They encouraged a dispute that has done grave damage to the future of many people's jobs in my constituency. I should have much preferred it if they had not done so.

Sir Hector Monro

I appreciate my right hon. Friend's modesty. Will he tell the House some of the good things that have happened in Ayrshire, especially with regard to Scottish Aviation, for which Government contracts are important in the long-term future?

Mr. Younger

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He may like to know that since May 1979 we have made no fewer than 12 offers of selective financial assistance to firms in the Ayr employment office area. That has involved more than 2,300 jobs and associated investment of about £66 million. My hon. Friend will also know that we have given special assistance to British Aerospace, Caledonian Airmotive and the Digital Equipment Company, all of which have been expanding their employment.

Mr. Harry Ewing

Will the Secretary of State join me in congratulating my three hon. Friends from Ayrshire who joined the trade unions to save jobs? Rather than bleating, would it not be better if he took a leaf out of their book and fought a little harder to save more jobs in the Scottish economy?

Mr. Younger

It would help a great deal if the hon. Gentleman learnt his facts before intervening in these matters. He may not be aware that the company was seriously considering expansion before the strike took place. I am depressed by the fact that the strike cannot have helped that prospect. I hope that the expansion will still take place.