HC Deb 24 May 1995 vol 260 cc894-5
12. Mr. John Marshall

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the number of unemployed in Perth and Kinross; and what the figure was in December 1992. [24236]

Mr. Kynoch

Unadjusted claimant unemployment in the parliamentary constituency of Perth and Kinross stood at 2,647 in April 1995. In December 1992, the figure was 2,791.

Mr. Marshall

Does my hon. Friend agree that the most important employer in Perth is General Accident? Has that company not made it clear that a tax regime resulting from a tax-raising Scottish Assembly or the higher taxes of an independent Scotland would cause it to reconsider its employment policy in Perth?

Mr. Kynoch

My hon. Friend mentioned just one of the major employers in Perth and Kinross. He was right to imply that the people of Perth and Kinross have to decide clearly what they believe to be best for the future, not only for Perth and Kinross but for Scotland. There is no doubt that the proposals for a tax-raising Parliament and for an independent Scotland would severely jeopardise prospects not just for indigenous industry but for inward investment in both Scotland generally and Perth and Kinross in particular.

Mrs. Fyfe

There is no one more accident prone in Perth and Kinross than the Tory candidate. Has the Minister taken the trouble to read the House of Commons research paper that tells him that in April 1990 there were 2,143 claimants in Perth and Kinross and by April 1994 the number had risen to 2,647? A whole year later there is no change for the better. Does he realise that that is an increase of 24 per cent. and that today 11 people chase every job advertised in Perth town centre? Is that not why the Tories are in meltdown in Perth and Kinross?

Mr. Kynoch

The hon. Lady is in her usual negative mode. I had rather hoped that she might talk about some significant good news. For example, Monax Glass, the manufacturer of engineering and scientific glassware in Perth, announced an investment of £250,000 last month, creating 40 jobs in Perth. Indeed, Perth Fresh Meats Ltd., which I visited last week and which is part of the Beck Food group, announced that it was to create more than 110 new jobs in Perth. The hon. Lady is in her usual negative mode. If she were to talk Scotland and Perth and Kinross up, she might do a little better for Scotland.

Mr. Gallie

Does my hon. Friend agree that training for jobseekers is just as important in Perth and Kinross as it is in other parts of Scotland? Will my hon. Friend consider just what the minimum wage on offer from the Opposition would do to the Government's training programmes?

Mr. Kynoch

My hon. Friend is exactly right. The policies on the minimum wage and other employment characteristics, which are supported by all Opposition parties, would be severely detrimental to Scottish business and the Scottish economy as a whole.