HC Deb 02 February 1983 vol 36 cc289-91
8. Mr. Maxton

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the latest figures he has for the number of construction workers who are unemployed in the Glasgow travel-to-work area.

Mr. Allan Stewart

In May 1982, the date of the last industrial analysis of unemployed workers, 14,390 persons who had last worked in the construction industry were registered as unemployed at employment and careers offices in the Glasgow travel-to-work area.

Mr. Maxton

Is the Minister prepared to give a guarantee now that if Glasgow district council comes to him with an urgent request for funds to pay for damage that has been done by the storms that swept the west of Scotland on Monday night, he will deal with that request speedily and ensure that some of the construction workers who are at present unemployed are given at least temporary employment and that the many people who are suffering from the damage will be given quick relief?

Mr. Stewart

We have been considering arrangements for emergency provision. I shall of course consider any representation that we receive from Glasgow district council, or any other district council, with the necessary urgency.

Mr. Fairbairn

Does my hon. Friend appreciate that many of the people who are attempting to recruit construction workers from the dole have found it impossible to persuade them to leave the dole to entertain jobs?

Mr. Maxton


Mr. Stewart

I am interested to hear my hon. and learned Friend's views on these matters. However, with regard to Glasgow, perhaps I should point out that the district council has responded positively to the Government's attractive financial package of improvement and repair grants which the council calculates will create between 2,000 and 3,000 new construction jobs next year.

Mr. James Hamilton

Will the Minister ignore the slur that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Fairbairn) has cast on construction workers? Is he aware that my constituency is in the Glasgow travel-to-work area? Is it not time to have an expansionist policy to ensure that we get men back to work in the construction industry, with all the benefits that will follow from that? Will he co-operate with the abolition of labour-only subcontractors, who are eating into the construction industry by not paying taws or insurance contributions?

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Gentleman will agree that Glasgow is receiving a fair share of the £1,000 millon or so of public expenditure on construction that will be spent in Scotland this year. The Glasgow area continues to benefit from major public and private investment, such as the Scottish exhibition centre and the St. Enoch's complex. With regard to the hon. Gentleman's detailed points, he may be interested to know that I shall discuss the state of the industry with the Scottish construction industry group on Friday.

Dr. J. Dickson Mabon

Is it not regrettable that so many construction workers are unemployed when the Government have money, but unfortunately make it available late in the day so that these schemes in Glasgow have difficulty in catching up? Will Ministers shake themselves up and make the money available at the beginning of the financial year, rather than trail away at the end of the year, trying to find people to carry them out?

Mr. Stewart

The money to which the right hon. Gentleman refers is available until the end of the next financial year. I should have thought that that was ample time.

Mr. Corrie

Does my hon. Friend agree that many more construction jobs would be created in Glasgow if local authorities released land for private house building? Is there nothing that he can do about that?

Mr. Stewart

My hon. Friend has made a valid point. It is encouraging to note how much land in Glasgow has been released for private construction in the GEAR area. In co-operation with the local authorities, I inter d to consider land that is held by them and the rest of the public sector to see whether we can make progress in the direction that my hon. Friend suggested.

Mr. McQuarrie


Hon. Members

Call Albert.

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is a pleasure deferred.

Mr. McKelvey

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I had thought that, as Kilmarnock is in the Glasgow travel-to-work area, I might have caught your eye.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Glasgow is a very big city; it is bigger than Cardiff. I cannot call every hon. Member from Glasgow, but I shall watch the hon. Gentleman as the afternoon progresses.