HC Deb 02 July 1986 vol 100 cc995-7
5. Mr. Bill Walker

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will provide details of the number of manufacturing jobs in Scotland which are directly involved in Government projects; and if he will also give details of any service jobs which are directly involved in Government projects.

Mr. Allan Stewart

Government support for industrial projects in Scotland takes many forms. Information on employment associated with Government contracts is not available but, for example, offers of new regional development grant in the year to end May were associated with 16,980 manufacturing jobs and 2,440 service jobs in Scotland.

Mr. Walker

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that many thousands of jobs in Scotland depend on defence programmes such as Trident and Polaris at Coulparts—for instance, at Babcock Power, Ferranti, Rolls-Royce and British Aerospace, all of which depend on continuing Government orders, and that that is what we must protect?

Mr. Stewart

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. As my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement pointed out in the defence debate, 1.2 million jobs depend directly or indirectly on defence work. In Scotland we have a record of real success. My hon. Friend has mentioned a number of the companies involved. We have strength in electronics, shipbuilding, explosives and similar industries which are heavily dependent on defence work and highly successful in obtaining it.

Mr. Buchan

Does the Minister accept that 250,000 full-time jobs in Scotland have been lost since the Government came to power and that just over 30 per cent. of manufacturing jobs have been lost in that time? Did he read the report of the Scottish economic summit yesterday which said that Scotland urgently needs major public investment? Will he assure the House now that he and the Secretary of State will meet members of the Scottish economic summit to discuss its proposals?

Mr. Stewart

Manufacturing output is up by 10 per cent. on 1983.—[HON. MEMBERS:] "What about jobs?"—The total number of jobs in Scotland is not falling, but rising, and is up 50,000 on mid-1983.

Mr. Craigen

The Minister says that information is not available, but surely he has details of the amount of Government procurement, whether in the manufacturing or the service sectors. Does he think that Scotland is getting a fair proportion of Government purchasing power in the United Kingdom?

Mr. Stewart

Yes. Detailed information is not available in the form requested by my hon. Friend the Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) but he referred to a number of companies which have been highly successful in obtaining defence work, which is a very important area for the Scottish economy as a whole.

Mr. Michael Forsyth

Does my hon. Friend recall the article on employment in manufacturing industry by the hon. Member for Paisley, South (Mr. Buchan) in the Glasgow Herald in 1978 predicting that more than 3 million people would be unemployed under any Government and said that to blame this on any Government would not get us far because it was entirely due to the increasing number of people coming on to the labour market? Does my hon. Friend agree that the Government have done remarkably well in creating extra jobs in manufacturing and in service industries to mitigate the disaster predicted by hon. Gentleman?

Mr. Stewart

I assure my hon. Friend that the passage that he cited also has pride of place in my library.

Mr. Ewing

As always, the Minister is highly selective in the statistics that he gives. He referred to 50,000 extra manufacturing jobs since 1983. Why does he not tell the House how many jobs have been lost since 1979 and confess that fewer people are working in manufacturing industry in Scotland now than when the Tory Government came to power in 1979? Is the Minister proud of the fact that 100 of the 16,000 jobs that the Government claim to have created are in the manufacture of Skoal Bandits, which will be responsible for killing people rather than creating jobs? When the Secretary of State is involved in his favourite pastime of totting up the cost of the next Labour Government's programme, will the Minister bear in mind that part of that cost will be getting people back to work, because the next Labour Government will invest in public expenditure to get hundreds of thousands of people back to work and to create good services?

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Gentleman's reference to Skoal Bandits was irresponsible. As he knows, the Government have supported the Bill that was introduced by the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) on that subject. More generally, it is astonishing to hear from the hon. Gentleman these forecasts of what would happen under a Labour Government, because he was a member of a Labour Government under whom 10,000 manufacturing jobs on average were lost every month.

Sir Hector Monro

Will the Government take credit for the excellent road building programme in Scotland, both in the interests of jobs and of the environment? Is he aware that the people of Dumfries and Galloway are very pleased with the proposed start of the Annan to Gretna bypass in the autumn, and with the further improvements this year, and that they look forward with interest to the start of the Dumfries bypass as soon as possible?

Mr. Stewart

I am grateful for the comments of my hon. Friend. As the House knows, he has been assiduous in ensuring that the road needs of his constituents are fully considered by the Scottish Office.

Mr. Kennedy

Given the historic difficulties of siting manufacturing industry capacity in the Highlands, when does the Minister think that his economic policies will be sufficiently successful to replace, either in a direct manufacturing capacity or in a subsequent service capacity, the horrendous loss of jobs in the Highlands through the closure of the pulp mill in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston), and through the closure of the smelter at Invergordon in my constituency?

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Gentleman will know of the very substantial support that is given to the Highlands and Islands Development Board. As I have emphasised, the total number of jobs in Scotland has been rising and the prospects now for the Highlands, as for the rest of the country, are for the best combination of growth and reflation for a generation.

Mr. Henderson

Does my hon. Friend recall that on several visits to north-east Fife recently, and perhaps particularly on his visit to Auchtermuchty, he met manufacturers who had made a substantial contribution to the increase in employment in Scotland through being very effective, despite having no regional development assistance? In addition to those successful manufactures, which include hosiery, ties and things like that, will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the greatest amount of employment in a constituency such as mine is in the service industries, and that the largest single employer is the Ministry of Defence?

Mr. Stewart

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I recall with pleasure my visit to Auchtermuchty and to his constituency where there is, as he pointed out, a large number of relatively small firms which are showing enterprise by creating wealth and new jobs. My hon. Friend is also right to point to the importance of service industries. Almost two Scots in three are now employed in service industries. That pattern is common to the whole industrialised world.