HC Deb 20 December 1989 vol 164 cc353-4
12. Mr. Michael J. Martin

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he will be taking to reduce unemployment in Glasgow.

Mr. Rifkind

I am happy to answer the hon. Gentleman's question. Unemployment in Glasgow has fallen by more than 32 per cent. in the past three years and by more than 14,000 in the past year alone. The full range of employment and training services will continue to be available to combat unemployment in the area, and I look forward to the establishment there of a local enterprise company under our Scottish enterprise proposals.

Mr. Martin

The Minister must know that the unemployment rate in Springburn ranks about the fourth highest in the United Kingdom. He gave a complacent answer. He knows that 6,000 people are unemployed, 30 per cent. of whom have been unemployed for more than a year. Young people in almost every street in places such as Haghill, Jermison and Possil Park have not had a decent job since they left school. If the Minister will not do anything about that, he should resign.

Mr. Rifkind

Not only are we as concerned as the hon. Gentleman clearly is, but we are doing a great deal about it. More than 8,000 youngsters in Glasgow are benefiting from the youth training scheme, which will enable the majority of them to gain employment. The hon. Gentleman is normally fair, and I should have thought that he would welcome the fact that unemployment in Glasgow has fallen by more than 14,000 in the past 12 months. That includes several thousand people in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. If he wishes to be balanced, he should give credit where it is due.

Mr. Andy Stewart

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that setting up the student loans company in Glasgow will bring new job opportunities?

Mr. Rifkind

A number of initiatives have led to new employment in the Glasgow area in the public and private sectors. The fact that Glasgow is increasingly being regarded as an attractive location for work which was previously done in the south of England shows the growing effectiveness and attraction of the Scottish economy.

Mr. Sillars

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware of the close relationship between the Glasgow economy and that of Lanarkshire? Is he aware of the recently published Scottish Trade Union Congress document, which showed the potentially devastating domino effect down the Clyde of any loss of steel capacity in Lanarkshire? When the Secretary of State met the chairman of British Steel on 26 October, did the charman tell him that the company was purchasing a second-hand mill from Japan and storing it at Lackenby? If not, does the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that we cannot trust British Steel? Will he give an assurance on behalf of the Government and not just the Scottish Office that the Government will make an unequivocal demand that if there is to be a single plate mill strategy it will go to Dalziel and Motherwell and not to Lackenby?

Mr. Rifkind

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will accept that the north of England and Scotland will be concerned to get future investment in the steel industry. I appreciate that as a member of the Scottish National party he has no interest in what happens in the rest of the United Kingdom. He will also appreciate that the visit by his party to steelworkers in the north of England was seen as a most inopportune initiative which did no good service to steelworkers in Scotland. Of course, we would welcome investment by British Steel in Scotland and, in particular, hope that it will give favourable consideration to the claims of Dalziel for a new strip mill.