HC Deb 29 March 1988 vol 130 cc902-17 4.29 pm
The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement about urban policy in Scotland. I am today publishing a document entitled "New Life for Urban Scotland" which explains our policies and sets out our plans for major new initiatives. Copies are available in the Vote Office and have been placed in the Library.

Since the 1970s much has been done to revive Scotland's urban areas and in particular to bring new life to inner-city areas, for example through Glasgow Eastern Area Renewal in Leith and in Dundee. It is generally agreed that Glasgow and other areas of Scotland are being transformed. But in the 1980s it is the people living in the large peripheral estates who are suffering most from choice in the type of housing they occupy, who have the least say in running their communities, and who are most dependent on state benefits and services.

In drawing up our proposals, we have carefully examined the lessons of recent experience. Future action will therefore be firmly based on the principles of helping residents take more responsibility in various ways for their communities, of full involvement of the private sector, and of partnership between different public bodies and the private sector.

It is especially important that we renew the self-confidence and initiative of local people and help them to assume increased responsibility for their communities. The way is open through, for example, involvement in training opportunities, tenant co-operatives, housing associations, school boards, small businesses and self-employment. It is essential that residents are fully involved and committed to plans to regenerate their areas.

The private sector has already demonstrated the important part it can play in bringing back new life to deprived urban areas. The Government are committed to increasing further their involvement, both through our wider economic policies and through encouraging investment in deprived areas. It is part of the task of both central and local government to create a climate in which the private sector feels able to invest. We hope the private sector will examine with enthusiasm the scope for investment in areas currently neglected. We want to see it involved from the outset in new urban regeneration initiatives. There are opportunities for investment which would both be of benefit to the private sector and make a major contribution to the economic and social regeneration of these areas.

For the Government's part, there is in place in Scotland a strong array of instruments to pursue urban renewal. some £500 million will be spent on urban renewal in Scotland in 1988–89, over and above local authority spending. The Scottish Development Agency is using its comprehensive powers in many places. Last year it spent £62 million on urban renewal. Urban renewal is a major priority in its corporate plan over the next few years.

The urban programme will spend £44 million this year, an increase of £6.4 million. We are announcing today approval of 225 urban programme projects, worth £8.9 million. Scottish Homes is soon to be created as a new and important housing agency, which will work alongside the SDA in pursuing urban regeneration. It will build on the expertise of the Housing Corporation and the Scottish Special Housing Associaton, which between them spend over £125 million per year on urban renewal and which fully support the proposals that am announcing today.

In addition, we are announcing today that £25 million is being specifically earmarked next year for new housing-related urban regeneration initiatives by the Housing Corporation. This replaces the original figure of £12 million referred to in paragraph 45 of the document. As announced on Friday, we have also just issued extra housing capital allocations to district and islands councils totalling £77 million, as a result of the popularity of council house sales. Policies on health and social services, crime, education and training provide special support to areas of urban deprivation. Enterprise is to be encouraged through the wide network of enterprise trusts, the enterprise allowance scheme, training and the new range of regional assistance. The Manpower Services Commission will spend some £250 million in urban areas, which will contribute to urban renewal.

With so much already happening, the Government's first aim is to sustain the momentum. But this is not enough; over the next 10 years a new priority must be given to tackling the problems of the peripheral estates. The Government will therefore establish a number of initiatives which will simultaneously pursue economic, environmental, housing and social objectives in peripheral estates. Four major new initiatives will be located in Castlemilk in Glasgow, Ferguslie Park in Paisley, Wester Hailes in Edinburgh and Whitfield in Dundee, subject to consultation with the local authorities and other bodies concerned.

Partnership will be required for taking forward these initiatives, involving the local community, the Government, the SDA, Scottish Homes, the local authorities, the private sector, the health boards, the MSC and other public bodies. The Scottish Office will initiate the development of such partnerships over the next few months and will be responsible for steering their progress. Ministers will be directly involved. The Government will look to the SDA and, in due course, Scottish Homes, to play a leading role in implementing the initiatives, and the initiatives will need a local base in the communities themselves.

Moreover, the SDA, with local authorities, the Housing Corporation and the private sector, has plans well advanced for smaller-scale local initiatives in peripheral estates at Barlanark in Easterhouse, Glasgow, Forgewood in Motherwell and Tulloch in Perth. These pilot initiatives are aimed at revitalising these estates through action on housing, employment and the environment. The public and private sectors will contribute an estimated £45 million to these smaller new pilot initiatives. The SSHA, in consultation with the Housing Corporation, also has in hand an important housing initiative in Castlemilk, which will cost several million pounds.

We expect that these new initiatives will make a major contribution to tackling the characteristic problems of urban decay and will set a pattern for urban regeneration in Scotland into the 1990s. The work of urban renewal in Scotland, however, will extend more widely than these outlying estates, and the policies which we have set out are aimed at bringing new life to cities and towns throughout Scotland.

Mr. Donald Dewar (Glasgow, Garscadden)

After all the advance publicity and public relations hype, this statement is a sad anticlimax. What can we say? It is a beautifully produced brochure; it is glossy; it is splendid in its layout; but, sadly, it contains nothing. There is little hope here for those struggling with the effects of urban deprivation. The statement that the Secretary of State has made takes us no further forward. It deals in banal generalities.

Is financial provision not the key? And what have we been given, apart from a gathering of bric-a-brac from the past ingeniously packaged to give the impression of generosity? What new money is included over and above what has already been announced, and what new money is coming directly from the Government? How can anyone be impressed by talk of an additional £77 million for housing authorities when this depends entirely upon receipts? Glasgow's nominal share is £11 million, but all of it is to be found by selling assets. There will not he a penny, as I understand it, from the Government.

Is it not a fact that capital spending on housing in the public sector was scheduled to fall between 1987–88 and 1988–89 from £556 million to £505 million? The one specific addition that I can detect in this document, which is an additional £13 million for urban regeneration, announced today, still leaves in effect a cut of some £38 million between this year and next year. This whole presentation has been a mirage and a confidence trick.

We are promised four new initiatives; it is stated as a bald fact. But where are the details on structure or on funding? We are told that it is too early to specify what these initiatives will cost, clearly because neither the right hon. and learned Gentleman nor his advisers have thought out what is to be done. The document discouragingly warns that the overall level of expenditure on urban regeneration will be determined annually through the public expenditure machinery. On top of that, we are promised that Ministers will be directly involved. There is certainly little to cheer about there.

The Secretary of State boasts about the role of the private sector, but there is not a name to be seen, no hard information, no figures. Unlike the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, he cannot even promise breakfast for the eager entrepreneurs.

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept that we welcome any initiative that involves all the relevant agencies, including local government, is properly funded and does not represent a takeover bid againt the wishes of the local community? There is absolutely no guarantee in this document or in this apology for a statement that those criteria have been met.

Does the Secretary of State recall that he and his colleagues have recently been given to quoting the Grieve report? Has he read the committee's final statement, published yesterday? If so, did he notice its view, on the question whether finance could realistically be expected from the private sector to tackle the problems of urban deprivation, that the Scottish Office produced no evidence of a conclusive or even convincing character and obscurity remains"? Is that not a fair and balanced judgment on today's shoddy exercise in window dressing?

Mr. Rifkind

I can now see what the Glasgow Herald meant this morning when it said: Labour's problem is that it opposes everything and appears to have nothing constructive to say. That sums it up more eloquently than anything that I could possibly say.

I noticed that towards the end of his remarks, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) said that the Opposition would welcome any new initiatives that sought to work with the local community and to provide partnership between the public and private sectors, leading to proper provision for the problems. The hon. Gentleman should be aware that that is exactly what the statement does.

I would make the following points in answer to the hon. Gentleman's questions. First, the hon. Gentleman was right to say that, for the most part, we are not talking about new money — [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah!"] No, because resources have not been the problem in the past. Hundreds, if not thousands, of millions of pounds have been invested in Glasgow's housing and in the housing stock of local authorities throughout Scotland. If we are faced today with these appalling problems on peripheral housing estates, as Professor Grieve concluded, resources by themselves will not solve the problem unless we know how to use them adequately.

It so happens that the statement includes about £25 million of new resources to be used by the Housing Corporation. Much of it will be available in the four areas in which the initiatives are to take place. I take pride in the fact that those additional resources are available because of the popularity of the Government's policies of house sales. Tenants have responded to the Government's policy and as a result we can now reinvest the resources into the housing stock in a way that gives double chargrin to Opposition Members. They are upset and annoyed that tenants are buying their houses and that the money is going back into housing to improve the remaining housing stock. I can understand their disappointment, but they cannot expect anyone else to share it.

Secondly, the hon. Member for Garscadden said that he of course welcomed any new initiatives but believed that there was nothing in these initiatives to be welcomed. It will be interesting to see whether Glasgow district council shares his view and whether Edinburgh district council and other local authorities declined to co-operate on the grounds that there is nothing in the proposals to benefit the housing estates in their localities.

Mr. Dewar

indicated dissent.

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Gentleman is now trying to withdraw that insinuation, but he cannot have it both ways. If local authorities believe that the proposals do not represent any significant new initiative, they will doubtless show complete disinterest. But the hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that if local authorities have the interests of their tenants at heart they will welcome these initiatives.

Finally, the hon. Gentleman asked about the Grieve report. He will appreciate that Professor Grieve identified what the Government have been saying for a long time — that single-tenure housing estates are one of the causes of the problem. Professor Grieve recommended that Glasgow district council should dispose of up to 25 per cent. of its total housing stock, and up to 50 per cent. in the peripheral areas, to have any prospect of resolving the social and economic problems in those localities. If the hon. Member for Garscadden quotes Professor Grieve, I hope that he supports the report's analysis.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I remind hon. Members from Scotland that we have a day ahead of us in which they are heavily involved. It may just be possible—I cannot be certain—that some of their questions to the Minister could be raised in the debates to come. I ask them to ask brief, preferably single, questions, so that we do not delay too long.

Sir Hector Monro (Dumfries)

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the attitude of the Opposition to any new initiative, whether in housing or Ford at Dundee, is utterly depressing and negative? Will he accept my congratulations on his new policies and, realising that they are so popular, extend them to the rural areas of Scotland, which are anxious to have the opportunity of further urban development? Will he bring in the Scottish Sports Council to help improve the quality of life, either through private money or directly through Scottish Sports Council aid?

Mr. Rifkind

I thank my hon. Friend and acknowledge that many of the rural areas have difficulties which the Scottish Development Agency and other bodies must take into account.

As for my hon. Friend's general point, it is very sad that the Labour party, which claims so often to speak for Scotland, has produced over the years virtually no original thought on housing, education or urban regeneration; it appears merely to believe that resources, irrespective of how they are used, are the solution to all the social problems that we face. The party offers a depressing prospect.

Mr. Bruce Milan (Glasgow, Govan)

The Secretary of State has mentioned four peripheral estates, but is he aware that they are all in areas that have suffered seriously over the past few years from cuts in housing grant and housing capital allocations? If that money had been available to local authorities, many of the problems in those estates would not exist.

It is pathetic that, even after announcing these initiatives, the right hon. and learned Gentleman cannot give a single penny of new money. He says it is "too early" to specify how much the initiatives will cost, and there is no commitment to extra money. If he wants to call GEAR in aid, he might at least acknowledge that it was launched by the Labour Government—by me, in fact. At the time of its launch we took on the financial commitment for the following five years—that is the difference between what we did and what he is doing.

Mr. Rifkind

If the right hon. Gentleman believes that the problems of Castlemilk or Whitfield, or the other areas, began in 1979—

Mr. Millan

I did not say that.

Mr. Rifkind

I am glad that there is a common view that the peripheral estates in Scotland have suffered problems for many years, on which the resources that even the Labour Government provided for them appeared to have little practical effect.

The GEAR initiative, initiated by the right hon. Gentleman and continued with the full enthusiasm of the present Government, has been a great success. He should therefore be the first to acknowledge that other initiatives, this time in the peripheral housing estates, that involve some principles similar to those of GEAR but which also seek to learn the lessons of GEAR, may have an even better prospect of success.

One of the problems of GEAR was that, although it produced major environmental and housing improvements, it did not provide job opportunities for the local population within GEAR areas, partly, perhaps, because the people were not sufficiently involved in the development of economic opportunities in those areas.

Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh, and Berwickshire)

Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept that if there is no new money, people are entitled to consider this afternoon's statement a piece of cynical window dressing? Does he acknowledge that the statement portrays a worrying trend of seeking to write down the role of local authorities in the new initiatives? That is of great concern to us.

I ask the Secretary of State how towns such as Hawick in my constituency and schemes such as Burnfoot can expect to benefit from his announcement?

Mr. Rifkind

First, I said that there was going to be an additional £25 million for the Housing Corporation. Secondly, areas such as Hawick in the hon. Gentleman's constituency have pockets of severe deprivation.

Mr. Kirkwood


Mr. Rifkind

Yes, pockets: they are small towns.

Mr. Kirkwood

The whole town of Hawick?

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Gentleman is free to express his view. If the local authority wants to apply for urban aid, it will be eligible for consideration.

Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross)

Will my right hon. and learned Friend appreciate that every time he announces Christmas, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and Opposition Members suggest, by mirage and con tricks, that it is in fact a crucifixion? We welcome today's statement. We in Perthshire are delighted with my right hon. and learned Friend's announcement about Tulloch in Perth. We are glad that he is imitating the great events that occurred, thanks to a Tory administration, in Pilton in Edinburgh, and look forward to him doing the same for the country towns and steadings of Scotland.

Mr. Rifkind

My hon. and learned Friend is correct to give the example of Pilton. There, the involvement of the private sector has, as anyone who knows it will confirm, made a substantial difference to improving the locality and the quality of life of those who live in it.

Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)

If the Secretary of State can tell me what new money falls to the Whitfield estate in my constituency— over and above money already in the pipeline—I shall be pleased to welcome it. However, I remind him that there is more than one peripheral housing estate in Dundee. Half Dundee's population live in estates such as Whitfield. Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman give me a guarantee that the four major area-based initiatives will not be pursued at the expense of less funding, less attention and less care for housing estates everywhere across Scotland?

Mr. Rifkind

I certainly thank the hon. Gentleman for what I think was an indirect welcome for the inclusion of Whitfield in the list of initiatives. While some priority will be given to the four main initiatives, we recognise of course that many other areas in Scotland, including in Dundee, require similar treatment. They cannot all be included in the first areas to be considered. We have tried to achieve a geographical balance, and to recognise some of the different kinds of peripheral estate that require to be the subject of the initiatives we put forward.

Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the people of Scotland will recognise this initiative as something that really begins to tackle the problems, for the first time, of so many people living in council houses that are in appalling conditions? Successive Governments have failed to tackle these problems, so this initiative will be so welcome along with the involvement of people in their own affairs and in the community in every respect, as well as the involvement of the private sector. All this is real devolution, from which the people of Scotland will benefit.

Mr. Rifkind

My hon. Friend is correct. Unless one gets active participation and not simply acquiescence of the local community, one cannot claim to have regenerated that community. Therefore, we genuinely believe that the local community must be involved in a very substantive way in the developments and initiatives that will take place within their area. It is not simply a question of regenerating buildings, as we must be able to provide a quality of life for the people in that area. That does not mean that we must provide for them; they must be part of that provision if it is to be at all meaningful.

Mr. Norman Buchan (Paisley, South)

Is not the real situation that the Government, through their policy of cutting and capping local authorities, have created a situation in which building and improvement is grinding almost to a halt? In so far as the glossy developments illustrated in the brochure have come from local authorities, that has been achieved despite and against the actions of the Government. They have given us the HP sauce: when shall we see the bloody meat? When will we get new money? Is there any new money?

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Gentleman, representing as he does a Paisley constituency, might have preceded his remarks by welcoming the fact that Ferguslie Park is included. —[Interruption.] It may not be in his constituency, but it is a rather curious concept that the hon. Gentleman has suddenly become so protective about anything that happens in the other half of Paisley. I do not take it entirely seriously. This is good news for Paisley and the hon. Gentleman should have had the courtesy to recognise that.

In relation to resources, we announced just two days ago £77 million of new allocations for local authorities, because of the success and popularity of council house sales. Today, I have announced a further £25 million for the Housing Corporation, also as a result of receipts from sales. That will all go towards rehabilitating the housing stock in these localities.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

Does it not accurately summarise the Government's priorities that £800 million can be found to privatise the Rover Group, but only £30 million can be found for Scottish housing, as set out in this document? Is it not the case that £30 million is entirely inadequate to deal with the enormity of the problems in Scottish housing? Will the people of Scotland not read the Secretary of State's glossy brochure and ask where the cash is?

Mr Rifkind

On the contrary. If people wish to know about the cash, they will find out about the £500 million to be spent on urban renewal over the next year in the various ways that I have mentioned. The hon. Gentleman, as an economist, should be the first to appreciate that, despite large sums of money being spent already, it is not the sum of the resources, but how they are spent, that determines whether schemes are successful.

Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West)

Will the Secretary of State accept that, when we are considering past economic developments, the builders of the new town in Edinburgh and the merchant city of Glasgow did not do their discounted cash flow sums? We are looking for coordination of initiatives that involves not just urban Scotland but the whole of Scotland. Will he accept that there are problems, particularly in mining communities, which I have referred to before? They are being decimated under his Administration. People have no buildings like those in the centre of Glasgow to look up to. This is a severe problem. The Secretary of State ought to give it some attention, and give additional money and real resources to these communities.

Mr. Rifkind

I do not dissent from much of what the hon. Gentleman says. It is sad that neither he nor his hon. Friends have said how they believe these additional resources should be spent. They approach this issue simply by saying, "Please give us more money." [Interruption.] Well, in none of the contributions made today and on other occasions have we heard any explanation of new ways in which the hon. Gentleman and his friends would wish to use new resources. My statement indicates a new approach to urban regeneration. If the hon. Gentleman disagrees with it, he should address himself to providing a coherent alternative strategy that does not just depend on the incantation, "Give us more money."

Mr. Eric Forth (Mid-Worcestershire)

Does not my right hon. and learned Friend agree that the quality of life in council house estates over many decades has suffered from the tyranny of mismanagement by local authorities, lack of involvement by the tenants, the iniquitous points system, and many other factors? Will he assure the House that, within his proposals today, there will be a real effort to delegate and devolve to people real responsibility for their own homes and estates? Will he do everything possible to assist in that, and in the continued sale of council houses, as in that way, a new sense of pride and involvement can be engendered in Scottish council house estates.

Mr. Rifkind

My hon. Friend is correct. Glasgow district council is the largest landlord in western Europe. In several local authorities, such as Motherwell, about 80 per cent. of the housing stock is still owned by one landlord — the local authority. I do not think that anyone, whatever his political views, believes that that is healthy. To be fair, even the Labour party seems to have come round to realising, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, that that position is not in the interests of their constituents. The real debate is not in terms of the argybargy that we have heard today, but about how we can meet the aspirations of people in Scotland who live on these housing estates, and who do not believe that the existing arrangements meet their aspirations or provide them with the sort of community or housing that they want for themselves and their families.

Mr. Allen Adams (Paisley, North)

I think the House should be aware that the Minister and his colleagues have received in the past week, to the best of my knowledge, four or five invitations to visit the north end of Paisley. They have turned down every one of them. That shows how much they care about the north end of Paisley.

Twenty years ago, I was elected by the people of Ferguslie Park to Paisley town council. Ever since then, I have seen every cheapskate Tory politician use the poor as a platform to peddle nonsense. Is the Secretary of State aware that the solution for Ferguslie Park is capital investment and jobs? Unemployment there runs at least 60 per cent.

There is no excuse for the Secretary of State's failure. Next to Ferguslie Park is the biggest airport in Scotland. We have one of the best road systems in Scotland and an excellent railway link from Ferguslie Park and Paisley. Yet the Secretary of State has failed abysmally to attract any medium-sized industrial firm into that area in a decade.

Mr. Rifkind

If the hon. Gentleman is implying by his question that he would rather we did not include Ferguslie Park in our major initiatives, I shall be very happy to consider that.

Mr. Thomas McAvoy (Glasgow, Rutherglen)

The Secretary of State expressed in his statement enthusiasm for partnership to implement his four initiatives. In Castlemilk, part of which is in my constituency there is a Castlemilk area liaison committee, comprising local authority representatives and statutory bodies and, most important, local community representatives. Will the Secretary of State give an assurance that the Castlemilk liaison committee will be a focal point for implementing the initiative in Castlemilk?

Mr. Rifkind

I hope that it will be very much involved. We shall need to consider who are the proper representatives of the community; if that organisation is representative, of course it will be involved. I must repeat that, with the possible exception of the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. McAllion), it is typical of the Opposition that even hon. Members representing constituencies affected by these initiatives are unable to give them even a general welcome. That shows more clearly than anything I could say that it would not matter a whit what the Government say, as Opposition Members are adopting a negative and hostile attitude that is as boring as it is predictable.

Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)

Paragraph 63 of the document that we have been discussing refers to the contribution of sport and the arts to the quality of life in urban areas. Indeed, both the Scottish Sports Council and the Scottish Arts Council are then referred to with approval in the document. In the light of that approval, and the contributions made by both agencies, what additional funds are the Government prepared to make available to both of them so that they can extend and expand the work that the Government obviously approve of?

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. and learned Gentleman, I am sure, should know that the Government are providing the Scottish Sports Council with particular new resources to enable it to have new headquarters. That has been identified by the Scottish Sports Council as crucial to its continuing work. The Sports Council and the Scottish Arts Council have the same necessity as everyone else, which is to identify the priorities to be attached to their overall activities. I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman that those activities are relevant to urban regeneration. That is why the Government have drawn attention to them.

Mr. Tony Favell (Stockport)

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that one of the most welcome pieces of news this afternoon is that a realisation is dawning among the Scots media that if Scotland were promised the moon, the Labour party would vote against it? Are the Scots aware that their image in the rest of the United Kingdom is that of a bunch of negative nellies?

Mr. Rifkind

There is a lot of sad truth in what my hon. Friend says, because there is an assumption that it would not matter what the Government announced because the Opposition, and even their Members in constituencies that are most directly affected, would find every possible reason—[Interruption.] The fact is that that is the sad reality. It is a matter for great sadness that, instead of seeking to identify in a constructive way changes or improvements that might be made to the Government's proposals, the Opposition simply react in the most predictable and tedious fashion — as they are doing today.

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow)

Paragraph 30 of this document refers to the three extant enterprise zones. It also says that there may be exceptional circumstances which might lead to the creation of a further enterprise zone. What is the likelihood of an announcement about an Inverclyde enterprise zone being made during the Prime Minister's proposed visit to my constituency? Incidentally, I have not been notified of that visit by the right hon. and learned Gentleman or by any other Scottish Office Minister. What is the likelihood that there will also be an announcement about new jobs in Greenock and Port Glasgow during the Prime Minister's proposed visit to my constituency?

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Gentleman will have to wait to see whether there is an early announcement about an enterprise zone for Inverclyde. I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman attaches enormous importance to Inverclyde obtaining enterprise zone status. I hope that he will show some patience, so that a decision can be reached in due course.

Dr. Godman

Next time, I should be informed.

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Tony Worthington (Clydebank and Milngavie)

Does not the Secretary of State recognise the sheer anger on the Opposition Benches? This document was written 13 years ago in Strathclyde and we have been hamstrung for that time by the lack of resources. Then what occurs? The Secretary of State produces a glossy document claiming the ideas for the Government, but still does not produce resources. I should like to ask the Minister one specific question. Page 7 of the document says: The private sector effort has been focused through the Glasgow Action initiative. How much money is there?

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Gentleman should know that the private sector has in many ways made a major contribution of a kind that the Opposition prophesied would not happen. For example, Local Enterprise Grants for Urban Projects is a Government initiated scheme, and £29 million of LEGUP has brought in over £170 million from the private sector. The hon. Gentleman should he the first to appreciate that the private sector would like to make a major contribution to jobs in his constituency, despite his opposition to its efforts.

Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, Shettleston)

Since my constituency received some of the benefits of the Glasgow Eastern Area Renewal project, I welcome this initiative for other areas even though, unfortunately, it is too little, too late. Will the Secretary of State give us an assurance that these projects will receive the resources that they need to complete the job? The GEAR project did not receive such resources. Will he guarantee that the Government will not pull the plug two thirds of the way through, leaving people feeling bitter and disillusioned, as happened with the GEAR project?

Mr. Rifkind

First, I thank the hon. Gentleman for the comments in the first part of his question. On his latter comments, he will appreciate that, throughout the period of the GEAR project, the Government ensured that major sums of public resources were provided. The fact that GEAR has been the success that almost everyone says it is, must lead him to accept that it could not have been a success if the Government had starved it of resources over the last nine years. The GEAR project was initiated by the hon. Gentleman's Government, but since 1979 the project has been the responsibility of this Government. It could not be the success that it is acknowledged to be throughout the United Kingdom if it had not been generously treated in the way that I have mentioned.

Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

As one who is interested in urban renewal—[Interruption.]

An Hon. Member

Is he a Member?

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Hind

—may I congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend on a very imaginative approach to a very difficult problem?—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. We are in the United Kingdom Parliament.

Mr. Hind

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Are hon. Members to understand that my right hon. and learned Friend sees the sale of council houses as one of the major vehicles of his urban renewal policy? Is it not an achievement for his Department that he has been able to make £77 million available to councils throughout Scotland to add to the money that he is putting in for urban renewal throughout Scotland?

Mr. Rifkind

There is undoubtedly a need and a desire for greater home ownership in Scotland, but it is not simply a question of home ownership. The crucial objective in these very large peripheral housing estates is a multiplicity of tenure, involving housing associations, tenant co-operatives, home ownership and municipal housing. It is only when we get such a wide variety of housing stock that we can claim to have a proper spectrum of housing opportunity for the people in the locality.

Mr. Nigel Griffiths (Edinburgh, South)

Is the Secretary of State aware that, in the Wester Hailes area, his report and statement will not be welcome because his record shows the Secretary of State's commitment to Wester Hailes to be poor? Three years ago, rather than give additional funds to Wester Hailes, the Secretary of State starved Edinburgh district council of capital allocation and the council had to go to Japan to find extra money.

Mr. Rifkind

I say to the hon. Gentleman, as kindly as I can, that in the months that he has ceased to be a councillor for Wester Hailes he has obviously got out of touch with the local community, because only some weeks ago the people in the community wrote to me saying that if the Government were to initiate projects of this kind, they hoped that Wester Hailes would be included.

Mr. Tom Clarke (Monklands, West)

Will the Secretary of State confirm that, unlike my hon. Friends the Members for Paisley, North (Mr. Adams) and for Paisley, South (Mr. Buchan) we in Monklands endured a recent visit by the Secretary of State? It is not something that I would necessarily recommend to my hon. Friends. Like this glossy document, which covers a multitude of missed opportunities, the visit had much to do with public relations and very little to do with real jobs.

Does the Secretary of State accept that the second largest employer in my constituency, the laudable Summerlee heritage park, deals with industrial archaeology? Have the Government abandoned any industrial strategy that means investing in manufacturing industry? Will our people who have suffered long-term unemployment continue to do so? There is nothing in this document, just as there was nothing in the Secretary of State's visit, that offers those people any real or tangible hope.

Mr. Rifkind

If the hon. Gentleman had been present when I visited his constituency, he would know that the claim that he has just made is unfair. The purpose of my visit was to open some industrial workshops that are providing employment in the Coatbridge area. So relevant was the visit thought to be that the provost of Monklands, who I understand is a political colleague of the hon. Gentleman, and representatives of Strathclyde regional council who are of the same political persuasion as the hon. Gentleman, thought the occasion sufficiently important to merit their attendance, even if the local Member of Parliament did not.

Mr. Brian Wilson (Cunninghame, North)

Will the Secretary of State confirm that every pretty picture in this brochure is the product of work initiated by or involving either a creative Labour local authority or an organisation brought into being by a Labour Government? Will he reflect upon that before spitting any more venom at the Opposition and the Labour party in general? I exclude from the category of pretty pictures his own rather unflattering portrait, for which we claim absolutely no responsibility.

Will the Secretary of State say what there is in this document for areas such as my constituency, which contain many manifestations of urban blight but which apparently are not to be offered any solutions? Does he agree that, while we might ingratiate ourselves temporarily with the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his colleagues by expressing warm welcomes for glossy documents, we would scarcely be doing a duty to the over 50 per cent. of people of Scotland who placed their faith in the Labour party if we were to lead them to confuse myth with reality?

Mr. Rifkind

Making the same exception as the hon. Gentleman did with regard to my portrait, I can confirm that all the projects to which those photographs refer were entirely funded by the Government or while the Government have been in office.

With regard to the value of the proposals, I find some paradox in the hon. Gentleman's question. On the one hand, he says that the document is worthless and of little value to the areas mentioned, but he then goes on to ask why no one from his constituency is included. He must make up his mind. If it is of little value to anyone, he should be uninterested in whether his constituency is affected.

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham)

What scope is there for increasing asset sales and raising more money that way from underused or badly managed assets in the public sector and for attracting more private capital? Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that it would be a sign of even greater success for Scotland when he can come to the House and say that the economy is so flourishing that the amount of dependency and reliance on public subsidy has reduced rather than increased?

Mr. Rifkind

That would be true of the United Kingdom as a whole, not simply of any one part of the United Kingdom.

There is indeed a substantial opportunity for further investment through asset sales. In the past week, some £90 million of additional housing expenditure has been announced as being financed as a result of the popularity of the right to buy for council tenants. That example can be emulated in other areas, given that it not only brings pleasure to the tenants involved, but enables much important work to be done on the residual housing stock.

Mr. Henry McLeish (Fife, Central)

Will the Secretary of State concede that unemployment remains one of the key issues in the inner cities in Scotland and on the peripheral estates? Does he accept that a sizeable proportion of the 300,000 people currently unemployed in Scotland are in the age group 18 to 25 and that many of them are located in the peripheral estates and the inner-city areas? Does he accept that the time is now ripe for a major initiative to be undertaken by the Scottish Office, the Manpower Services Commission and the Scottish Development Agency to move beyond YTS and the community programme and to give some life to many young people who are seeking hope in our great cities and deserve a better deal than they are getting at present?

Mr. Rifkind

I certainly acknowledge that the hon. Gentleman has made perhaps the only constructive contribution from the Labour Benches this afternoon. He is right to say that the problem goes beyond the physical infrastructure and includes employment and economic opportunities in the area concerned. That is why, when the hon. Gentleman has a chance to read the document, he will see that we attach special importance to the fact that only initiatives that provide economic opportunities, either through the generation of small businesses in those estates or through the infusion of private sector investment for employment prospects, will give the full success that we seek.

The right hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Milian), who referred to the GEAR project, would be entitled to say that it did not succeed in every respect. The main area in which it did not succeed as we would all have wished was in respect of jobs in the locality. Although many jobs were created, they were not necessarily created in the GEAR area, but in other parts of Glasgow. We must ensure that employment is created as a result of those initiatives and that it is to the benefit of the people in the locality and not in the wider area.

Mr. Alistair Darling (Edinburgh, Central)

Will the Secretary of State acknowledge that, in Edinburgh, many of the urban problems that afflict the peripheral estates such as Wester Hailes also afflict the city centre where, not very far from Prince's street, unemployment is running at one of the highest rates in the region, at over 20 per cent?

In an effort to be helpful, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman consider two points? Perhaps he will consider, first, the Government's policy in respect of grants for house improvements, which has endured a stop-start programme over the past three or four years. Secondly, perhaps he will consider MSC schemes and particularly the MSC's policy of funding a project for perhaps one or two years, then withdrawing funding or insisting that the staff change round so that, as soon as the programme gets off the ground, it has to start from square one again. That problem afflicts the city centre and the Secretary of State's constituency.

Mr. Rifkind

There are problems in the city centre in Edinburgh. My hon. Friend's announcement of a new non-HRA additional allocation to Edinburgh district council as well as to other local authorities will undoubtedly have helped in that matter.

The hon. Gentleman should discuss with his colleagues on Edinburgh district council the poor level of application that the council makes for help under the urban programme. Compared with some 45 applications from Glasgow district council, there has been a total of four from Edinburgh district council. The hon. Gentleman should realise that, if Edinburgh district council has the interests of the people of Edinburgh at heart, it is astonishing that it has made a tiny fraction of the applications that Glasgow district council has made. Both local authorities live under the same public expenditure regime. Therefore, if Edinburgh district council has been so inadequate in using the opportunities under the urban programme—it has been even more inadequate than the Lothian regional council—it has only itself to blame if there are many unresolved problems in the city centre.

Mr. Frank Doran (Aberdeen, South)

Later today the Secretary of State will be moving new clause 8 to the Housing (Scotland) Bill. That new clause will abolish four specific subsidies under the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987, whch were specially targeted at inner-city areas. I cannot help thinking that there is a paradox between what the right hon. and learned Gentleman is saying now and what he intends to do later. Will he explain that paradox?

Mr. Rifkind

It will be discussed in detail later. Those are all marginal grants which are of little practical benefit. The resources are still being made available, but in a more effective way.

Mr. Thomas Graham (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde)

The Secretary of State said earlier that Opposition Members never came up with anything at any time. May I recommend that he reads the Strathclyde document called "Social Strategy for the Eighties"? He has certainly picked up a great deal from that document and put it into his document. Strathclyde regional council has been pushing for many years to involve local communities, private groups and other groups. It is strange to see such a document.

I remember when the previous Secretary of State for Scotland visited the Linwood site and said, in front of many people, that, if anyone came along and wanted to build a factory to produce rubber ducks, the money would be available. The local people set up a group called the Linwood enterprise group. It came forward with a plan to use certain sections of a building to produce goods and work and to give the local folk in Linwood an opportunity to get off the dole and start being creative. Lo and behold, the Scottish Office turned the plan down. The group did not want to produce rubber ducks. It wanted it to produce something meaningful and useful to the community.

When we fly into the airport, as many hon. Members do, we fly over the old factory of India Tyres, which is now vacant. We come along the motorway and we see—

Mr. Speaker

May I interrupt the hon. Gentleman? He must ask the Minister a question.

Mr. Graham

I was just going to put my question.

There are two major areas in my constituency which are lying vacant and are desperate for regeneration and money. This document is meaningless because it does not afford local voluntary organisations the opportunity to get money. It does not show them anything.

Mr. Rifkind

I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman has problems in parts of his constituency. I can assure him that the document is relevant to the whole of urban Scotland and not simply to the four areas which will be the subject of the major initiatives. Clearly there are areas on which we wish to concentrate in the short term, but the resources currently available bring benefit to useful and meaningful projects all over Scotland, including the hon. Gentleman's constituency.

Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)

Is the Secretary of State aware that flashy advertising and cheap political jibes are no answer to the problems of urban regeneration in Scotland? Is he also aware that his performance this afternoon has been an insult both to his position and to the people of Scotland?

If the right hon. and learned Gentleman is so keen to keep saying that Opposition Members want nothing but money thrown at them, does he remember receiving from myself a document called "The Castlemilk Initiative" some three years ago? That document was as glossy as this, but it had much more substance. It was produced by the Castlemilk liaison committee, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Rutherglen (Mr. McAvoy) referred earlier.

We discussed that document with the then Minister, Michael Ancram. We had lengthy discussions with him. We produced every idea and initiative on economic planning, jobs, housing and environmental improvements in Castlemilk. We and Castlemilk representatives had the ideas and asked for one thing — money. Does the Secretary of State remember his junior Minister's answer? It was no.

Mr. Rifkind

After listening to the hon. Gentleman's contribution, I am not clear whether he is pleased or disappointed that Castlemilk is to be one of the areas for the major initiatives. When the hon. Gentleman has said whether he welcomes or is disappointed by that news, it will begin to be possible to have a coherent dialogue with him.