HC Deb 30 April 1986 vol 96 cc924-5
8. Dr. Godman

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what initiatives he proposes to take to deal with the social problems arising from unemployment in the Greenock and Port Glasgow parliamentary constituency.

Mr. Allan Stewart

The Government's policies are to build a strong competitive economy to tackle directly the root causes of unemployment. The hon. Gentleman's constituents will benefit from the expansion of the special employment measures announced in the Budget and from the Inverclyde initiative funded by the Government through the Scottish Development Agency. Indeed, £4 million has already been committed to an initial programme, with more to follow as suitable projects come forward.

Dr. Godman

Does the Minister agree that unemployment will worsen, especially in Port Glasgow, if Ferguson-Ailsa is not awarded the contract for the fisheries protection vessel to replace the Norna? Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind the recommendation of the Scottish Affairs Committee, which is contained in its report on the fisheries protection service, to the effect that that vessel should be built in Scotland? Will he give an assurance that the order will go to a Scottish yard, and more particularly, to Ferguson-Ailsa?

Mr. Stewart

I am fully aware of the importance of orders for Ferguson-Ailsa. The hon. Gentleman mentioned that during the debate on shipbuilding on Monday. Six firms were asked to tender for the fisheries protection vessel. The tenders are currently being evaluated. The hon. Gentleman will realise that that is a technical process that will take some time.

Mr. Buchan

Does the Minister realise that the problems facing the lower part of Renfrewshire are compounded by three major events that have occurred largely because of the Government's inadequacy? I refer to the collapse of Linwood, the collapse of the shipbuilding industry and the collapse of the textile industry. They are all the result of the Government's failures. When will the Minister tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer to stop his arrant nonsense about tax relief for the rich somehow giving employment to the poor? When will he take action, as he can do in the case of the fisheries protection vessel, and give some heart to an area that his Government have thoroughly devastated?

Mr. Stewart

As an hon. Member who also represents part of Renfrew district, I can say that the hon. Gentleman has uttered a lot of nonsense, even by his standards. I know that he could not be at the meeting that the hon. Member for Paisley, North (Mr. Adams), my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West and Inverclyde (Mrs. McCurley) and I had with Renfrew district council on the general position, but the consultant's report on a possible initiative for the district is being considered at a meeting tomorrow. I hope that that will be followed by positive initiatives. We are certainly committed to the development of Renfrew district. In my part of Renfrew district we have recently seen the announcement of 180 new jobs at Fine Fare and the expansion of English Sewing at Neilston in my constituency. The hon. Gentleman should portray a more balanced picture.