HC Deb 17 August 1991 vol 195 cc338-40
4. Mr. Tom Clarke

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what specific objectives the Government have in mind for the regeneration of Lanarkshire's economy.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Ian Lang)

Our objective for the regeneration of Lanarkshire's economy is the creation of new jobs in Lanarkshire. That will best be done by increasing private sector investment in the area.

Mr. Clarke

Since not a word of that answer was new, will the Secretary of State tell us precisely what Scottish Enterprise is doing to encourage the establishment of the paper recycling plant at Gartcosh? What action is the Scottish Office taking on the great problem of derelict land in Monklands district? What is the Scottish Office doing about the need to reinvigorate land for industry and about training and transport links? In view of the devastation that we are witnessing in Monklands, Strathkelvin and Lanarkshire generally, will the right hon. Gentleman encourage the Prime Minister to respond to the request from my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) and agree to a meeting with my Lanarkshire colleagues, if necessary before the recess, so that we can establish urgently that Lanarkshire will see the difference between action and mere rhetoric?

Mr. Lang

Action is precisely what Lanarkshire development agency is embarked on with the full support of, and resources provided by, the Government. Some 16 sites that have been identified for immediate action can now be proceeded with as a result of the working group report and the funds made available by central Government. This year, we have made available to district councils £4 million of capital consents for factory building, and £3.9 million, including allowances, for training—about which the hon. Gentleman also asked—has been added to Lanarkshire Development Agency's baseline budget. The hon. Gentleman will know that we are looking closely at the transport problems and have asked Strathclyde to carry out an urgent study of the A8–M8 arrangements with a view to improving the infrastructure in Lanarkshire.

Mr. Speaker

I call Sir Nicholas Fairbairn.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

I hope that I can ask as many questions as I have had cheers. I am grateful for those cheers.

Before we get into the "fantasie" that Lanarkshire has suffered under this Government. I remind the House of the great advances that have been made at Hamilton with the great country park and at Chatelherault; the regeneration of the entire city centre of Glasgow; and the enormous investment that has been made in Lanarkshire by new as opposed to out-of-date industries.

Mr. Lang

My hon. and learned Friend is absolutely right to draw attention to those important environmental improvements and he could have drawn attention to many more. The House might also like to know that one in five of the substantial number of inward investments brought to Scotland in the past decade has gone to Lanarkshire. More than 100 new manufacturing enterprises have started in Lanarkshire since the Government came to office.

Mr. Worthington

When will the Government act to solve the growing crisis in youth training and employment in Lanarkshire and rest of Scotland? This year in Strathclyde, there has been a 62 per cent. fall in the number of job offers, and youth training places have been cut by 4,000. In almost all of Scotland there has been a similar fall. In Lanarkshire it is particularly severe. It is estimated that there will be between 1,300 and 1,500 fewer youth training places this year. There has been a massive fall in the number of youth training places. The Government cut the youth training budget by nearly 20 per cent. this year. When will they restore those cuts in youth training in Lanarkshire and elsewhere?

Mr. Lang

I have already given the hon. Gentleman the figures for the Lanarkshire development agency's resources, which have been added to its baseline budget for training. As for youth training and employment training generally, the hon. Gentleman knows that we have created vast new resources and schemes for training which were unheard of under the last Labour Government. He also knows that there was a 20 per cent. underspend on the employment training budget last year. We are spending about five times more than the last Labour Government on training.