HC Deb 16 May 1984 vol 60 c353
10. Mr. Charles Kennedy

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement regarding current levels of unemployment and future employment potential in the Easter Ross area.

Mr. Allan Stewart

At 5 April 1984, unemployed claimants in the Dingwall travel-to-work area numbered 2,126—an unemployment rate of 15.9 per cent. The enterprise zone at Invergordon and Alness and the oil rig inspection, repair and maintenance base on the Cromarty Firth are among the encouraging signs of the employment potential of the area.

Mr. Kennedy

I thank the Minister for that rather sad reply, but, in view of the increased level of unemployment, particularly with no contract on the books of the Highland Fabricators yard at Nigg, will he give positive consideration to any proposals that may come from the Highlands from elected bodies or myself on the use of the Manpower Services Commission to try to increase the amount of local training that will take place, so that more local labour can take advantage of the definite prospects which the rig maintenance and repair construction industry offer the area?

Mr. Stewart

I agree with the hon. Gentleman about the prospects that he mentioned. I found my visit to the base on the Cromarty Firth very worth while. The figures are an improvement on those of a year ago, when unemployment was considerably higher in that area. The hon. Gentleman has made a sensible and positive contribution with his point about training. There is an application for a training workshop at Alness, which will be considered by the area manpower board in, I think, June.