HC Deb 13 July 1983 vol 45 cc862-3
2. Mr. O'Neill

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he will be meeting the Confederation of British Industry in Scotland to discuss the state of the engineering industry.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. George Younger)

I have no plans at present to meet the Confederation of British Industry in Scotland, although of course I do frequently meet confederation representatives, both formally and informally, to discuss Scottish industrial matters.

Mr. O'Neill

Before the right hon. Gentleman next meets the Confederation of British Industry in Scotland, will he ensure that he is better informed than he was before the general election, when he referred to the Weir Group as one of the great Scottish successes of the last Parliament? Is he aware that within two weeks of 9 June 450 redundancies were declared in my constituency and that to all intents and purposes the largest engineering shop in central Scotland has been closed? The Government could have done more to help.

Mr. Younger

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will regret the first part of that supplementary. I should have thought that everyone would be pleased to regard the Weir Group as a great success story. In great difficulty two years ago, it has recovered spectacularly, and I wish it well.

Sir Hector Monro

Will my right hon. Friend do everything possible to help the heavy engineering sector in Scotland? Is he aware that the coal-fired conversion scheme for boilers is not making as much progress as had been anticipated, because of doubts about the coal industry? Will he, with the Minister of State, consider a new incentive to help manufacturers of boilers in Scotland?

Mr. Younger

I know of my hon. Friend's close interest in the subject. I shall discuss it with my right hon. Friend to see whether anything further can be done, but, as the first part of his supplementary question indicated, the prospects for the engineering industry are, at best, mixed, with some sectors doing very well and others not doing very well at all.

Mr. George Robertson

When discussing the engineering industry with the CBI, will the right hon. Gentleman raise the question of the Hamilton and district engineering training group and ask what sense there is in splashing out large amounts of public money on the new youth training scheme at a time when a well-organised training scheme in the Hamilton area is having to pay off staff and is finding it difficult to get trainees in competition with a scheme that seems to be the public relations poodle of the Department of Employment?

Mr. Younger

That is not a fair description of the youth training scheme, which is a long-overdue reform in our industrial training and which has been widely welcomed by both sides of industry.

Mr. Henderson

In his discussions, has my right hon. Friend asked for the CBI's views on the success of the small firms engineering investment scheme, and in particular whether part of its success was related to the fact that the scheme covered people outside as well as inside development areas?

Mr. Younger

I shall be glad to discuss that further with the CBI in Scotland when we next meet, but I agree with my hon. Friend that the success of the scheme has been an encouraging feature in recent times.