§ 2.57 p.m.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (VISCOUNT BLAKENHAM) rose to move to resolve, That this House takes note of the White Papers on Central Scotland and the North-East (Cmnd. 2188 and 2206). The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I hope your Lordships will accept my apologies if, because of urgent Government business, I am unable to be present in the House during all the later stages of the debate. The reasons for the present problems of unemployment in Central Scotland and the North-East are, I think, essentially different from what they have been in the past. The problems arise to-day from the fact that these areas were to a substantial extent the cradle of our Industrial Revolution. The availability of coal and iron ore was the basis of our industrial development, and, consequently, the iron and steel industry, and major users of steel, especially the ship building industry, were located in these areas.
§ As the manpower requirements in the older industries, such as coal, ship building, railways and heavy engineering, have shrunk, we are faced with structural unemployment here to a greater extent, I think, than in other parts of the country. The need for greater diversification, by bringing in new growth industries, has therefore become increasingly urgent. New jobs created by the Government have not made up for the decline in jobs that is 255 going on in the contracting industries. We want to press on, therefore, with diversification in order to ensure that the people of these regions are able to make their full contribution to national prosperity. We aim, broadly, to bring work to the people rather than people to the work.
§ The special employment difficulties of Central Scotland and the North-East are, I think, best illustrated by the employment figures. Their unemployment rates have for a long time been substantially higher than those of the rest of the country, and the recent November figures show that unemployment is still running at 4.5 per cent. in the Northern Region, and 4.2 per cent. in Scotland, compared with—and this is the point—1.2 per cent. in London and 1.4 per cent. in the Midlands. It was for these reasons that we put in hand full inquiries into these two areas, where I think all noble Lords, on both sides of the House, would agree that the problems were greatest. The inquiries by the Lord President in the North-East and by the Secretary of State for Scotland into Central Scotland suggested long term measures which were needed to stimulate the economic development of the areas as a whole, and these recommendations are contained in the two White Papers of which I am asking the House to take note.
§ Before I deal with these recommendations, I want to mention how the process of adjustment in Scotland and the North-East has already been helped by the Government's policy of limiting the expansion of industry in the more congested areas and, at the same time, offering inducements to industry to go to the areas where it is most needed. These inducements, as noble Lords will remember, have been made much more attractive recently. It was, in fact, in the Local Employment Act of this year that we brought in standard grants for plant and buildings, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced in this year's Budget free depreciation, so that all firms in development districts could choose the rate at which they could write off capital expenditure on plant and machinery. Here I think I have good news to tell your Lordships, because since the 1963 Budget the response has been really 256 encouraging. The Board of Trade have received no fewer than 1,266 applications for the new standard grants. Of these, 392 are for Central Scotland and 374 for the North-East; and they are, of course, in addition to the continuing flow of applications for Board of Trade loans and Board of Trade factories. The significant point is that the total rate at which projects have come forward for Board of Trade assistance has been more than three times as great as in the previous year.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, could the noble Viscount help us? These are interesting figures of the number of applications. Could the noble Viscount say how many have been accepted?
§ VISCOUNT BLAKENHAM
I cannot, off-hand; but I will see whether, in the course of the debate, one of my noble friends is able to answer the question put forward by the noble Lord. These are all applications which have been received and on various dates have been dealt with by the Board of Trade.
I was discussing the programme of advanced factory building. Since the beginning of 1962, plans for 32 have been announced, and 28 of them are for Scotland and the North-East: in fact, 16 for Scotland and 12 for the North-East. Of these 32, we expect 15 to be completed by the end of this year, and a further 8 during the first half of 1964. We expect most of them to be let by the time they are completed, and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Industry is considering the possibility of further advance factory building. In addition, before the White Papers on Scotland and the North-East were published we had, of course, already begun to increase the share of these two areas in social investment of roads, housing and education. Again, as your Lordships will recall, we have offered special credit facilities to the shipbuilding industry to the extent of £75 million. The effects of this shipbuilding loan scheme have been felt, naturally, in all the shipbuilding areas, of which Scotland and the North-East are the largest.
Our restraints on industrial expansion in the more congested parts of the country will continue. They have been, and are, an essential part in our efforts 257 to steer industry into the development districts. One cannot prohibit all expansion and industrial building in congested areas. For example, some expansions must be close to the parent firm, and some industries with a special local market cannot be expected to operate elsewhere. Again, service industries need to be close to their customers. I must say that I was very surprised that in connection with the proposals made in another place recently for the future use of the Woolwich Arsenal, I noticed that the Opposition urged that industry should be brought into the area. One really cannot have it both ways. It has been argued that we are too lenient with developments in the more congested areas, but I am sure that many firms in Birmingham and the South-East would testify that we are in fact very tough indeed. I should like to assure your Lordships that we intend to continue to be so.
§ EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
You are going to set up arms production in Nottingham, are you not?
§ VISCOUNT BLAKENHAM
Yes, but the proposition put forward by the Opposition in another place was that the factory space occupied by the Woolwich Arsenal should be reserved for more new industry coming in. That is the point I was making to your Lordships.
I should now like to deal with the main recommendations of my right honourable friends the Lord President, on the North-East, and the Secretary of State for Scotland, on Central Scotland. In particular, they recommended that increased activity in the whole of the areas could be generated by concentrating efforts to diversify the industrial structure, and to improve the whole range of services in those places which have the conditions most favourable to self-sustaining growth. They also laid great stress on the growth points concept. I do not think I need explore fully the history of this concept of regional development. It was set out in the Toothill Report on the Scottish economy, and the National Economic Development Council in its Report on Conditions Favourable to Faster Growth, said:It is possible that regional development would benefit if policies were directed towards larger areas than at present and towards the 258 encouragement of growth points within these areas.I think there has been a general welcome for our acceptance of this growth area policy. The areas have been very carefully chosen, with special attention to factors such as the availability of land for factories and houses, the presence of labour resources and water supplies, good communications, or the possibility of providing communications if they do not exist, and of an existing nucleus of industry.
There has been some criticism of the exclusion of certain contiguous development districts. I think this was bound to happen. Whenever you draw a dividing line, immediately those on the wrong side of the line inevitably feel keenly disappointed. But we have to recognise that concentration of our resources inevitably involves exclusion, and our resources are obviously not unlimited. If we try to spread the special advantages too widely, they really become valueless as inducements to the better distribution of economic activity, which I think all of us consider to be essential.
I believe your Lordships would agree that if we look at Scotland and the North-East, we find that both these areas have great natural attractions. They are surrounded by beautiful countryside to which there is much readier access by everyone than is available to those of us who live in the Midlands and the South. The quality and skill, and the character of their people are excellent. In visits I have made to both Scotland and the North-East in recent years, I have been constantly impressed by the spontaneous tributes by management coming from the Midlands and the South, or from the United States and other foreign countries, about the excellence of the labour force and the adaptability which it shows in settling down to new factory techniques. Here is a first-class labour force, only too willing to make its contribution. We are taking positive steps to match both its natural attractions and the character of its people by improving communications, housing and town centres, by accelerating the clearance of derelict land and by improving training, education and health services, so that we can ensure that these areas will become increasingly places in which employers and workers will be proud to live.
259 The particular significance of the growth area concept rests, I think, mainly on the increase in the public service investments which we propose for these areas. Central Scotland and the North-East have about 13 per cent. of the total population of Great Britain, but we propose to spend in these areas no less than £210 million, which represents 17½ per cent. of the total for Great Britain, and to increase this in 1964–65 to £230 million, more than 18 per cent. of the national total. This is, therefore, a deliberate and substantial discrimination in favour of these areas. Very large sums are involved. Take the road programme. New or improved highways are going to link Glasgow and Edinburgh, the docks on the Forth and Clyde, and the airports at Prestwick, Abbotsinch and Turnhouse. Improved communications between the A.1 and the Tyne Tunnel and a new route for the A.19 will, as far as the North-East is concerned, greatly improve communications there. Then, of course, we have the new towns at Washington and Cram-lington in the North-East, and the great expansion of existing new towns in both the North-East and Scotland, which will, again, in turn, involve considerably large extra sums of expenditure.
The measures we have agreed upon in the White Papers for Central Scot land and the North East are, as your Lordships appreciate, not short-term. They cannot make dramatic changes in the next few months, and it is no use anybody pretending they will. But they are intended to do what they are designed to do; that is, to ensure permanent and long-term improvement. I should like to stress the objectives of our regional development policy: to secure a more even spread of economic activity; to preserve the character of the individual regions; and to effect a more even improvement of the general quality of life in those regions. The differences in employment prospects between the Midlands and the South, to which I have drawn attention, and those two regions must be evened out and a much fairer balance achieved than exists to day. For this reason we have firmly pledged that, even if it were necessary to moderate the growth of public service investment in the country as a whole, exceptions would be made for these 260 growth areas, where the programmes will be maintained so long as the necessary resources are available. I hope your Lordships will agree that this is a unique and very significant pledge.
In addition, we have decided that some assurance ought to be given of the continued availability of assistance to new or expanding industries; to new industries which go there, and industries already within those areas which seek to expand. We shall not, therefore, regard a fall in the local unemployment rate in any part of the growth area as sufficient in itself to justify the removal of that area from the list of development districts. In other words, under present assistance arrangements any removal will require strong evidence of a general and sustained improvement in the region as a whole. I think these are important points for your Lordships to consider.
May I now turn to the machinery for carrying out our intentions? My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is responsible for carrying out the plan as far as Central Scotland is concerned, and his main instrument will be the Scottish Development Group, which comprises representatives of the Scottish Departments and of the other Departments concerned. The Scottish Development Group will confer in detail with local authorities, with industrial interests and, of course, with the Scottish Council (Development and Industry); and I am very glad to notice that the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, Chairman of the Council, is going to speak later in the debate. I have seen for myself the great contribution he and his Council have made in securing new industrial development for Scotland. In fact, the last time I saw my noble friend was in the early autumn when he was just about to go over to America to attract new firms from there to Scotland.
§ EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, may I ask whether the list of machinery set up for Scotland specially excludes the Scottish Trades Union Congress?
§ VISCOUNT BLAKENHAM
I said that it would confer with industrial interests, which certainly does not exclude the trade unions.
§ EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I should like the "industrial interests" to include the trade unions.
§ VISCOUNT BLAKENHAM
I have noted what the noble Lord has said. The industrial interests would, naturally, include the trade unions.
I have noticed that in another place the Labour Party spokesman suggested that, so far as the Labour Party is concerned, they would establish, as he described it,a real regional organisation with regional controllers of each of the Departments concerned in each regional capital, working regularly together.…I really do not know what he was complaining about, because I consider that our arrangements both for Scotland, which I have just outlined, and for the North-East, fit pretty well into what he had in mind. May be the noble Earl will have something to say about this.
In the North-East, we propose to work through the regional representatives of Whitehall Departments, who form, under the chairmanship of the Under-Secretary in charge of regional development in the Board of Trade, what is called the North-East Development Group. This Group will meet frequently and will have a direct link through its Chairman with my right honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development. The Group will also co-ordinate the implementation of the plans in the White Paper. I do not really think there is all that amount of difference (although the noble Earl may say that there is) between what the Labour Party have in mind and what, in fact, we actually propose. We strongly believe that this is the right way to get speedy and effective action in the region. Existing Departments have a wealth of knowledge and experience within their existing responsibilities; their regional representatives are senior and responsible people, and I think they have shown by their enthusiasm the full measure with which co-operation will be gained within this North-East Development Group.
In addition to the concern that all of us feel about the level of unemployment as a whole in these two areas, what worries the majority most is the position 262 of the unemployed young people. In Scotland, between August and November, it is true, youth unemployment fell by 49 per cent. and in the North-East by 52 per cent., compared with the bigger fall in Great Britain as a whole of 64 per cent. These falls were due to the placing of school-leavers in jobs. In November, boys and girls unemployed in Scotland amounted to 5,600, a better figure than in November of last year when it was 7,000, but still far too high, In the North-East there were 5,885 young unemployed compared with the lower figure of 5,389 in November, 1962. I am hopeful that this fall in the youth unemployment will continue to be shown. We have not yet had the December figures but I hope that an improvement will be shown when these figures are known. Many local education authorities are playing their part in encouraging children to stay on at school and by providing special courses of a strongly vocational character which are open to young unemployed people. But, of course, only the increased diversification which I have stressed earlier in my speech can bring about a long-term solution to this problem.
In the short term the Government are anxious to see a further development of training opportunities both in the North-East and in Scotland, although again I think we must be aware that in the first eleven months of this year 39 per cent. of boys entering employment in the North-East obtained apprenticeships and 38 per cent. in Scotland, compared with the lower figure for Great Britain as a whole of 33.5 per cent. A considerable expansion of facilities for training is under way, and the special needs of Scotland and the North-East have been recognised by allotting more than half of the new places in Government training centres to those areas. We are also encouraging the work of the North-East Training Council with financial assistance, whose operation is at the moment on Tees-side, and we look forward to the future growth of the Council's activity throughout the whole of the North-East. Six first-year apprenticeship classes are being run at Government training centres at Hillington, Motherwell and Granton, and two more will be started in the course of next year.
But, of course, again in the long term, the Industrial Training Bill, which I 263 hope will be shortly coming to your Lordships' House, will I believe make a very major advance in the whole of training. The Training Boards which will be set up under the Bill are designed to ensure that methods of training that exist in this country to-day are brought more universally up to date—they are good in parts and bad in other parts—and standards improved to see that all young people, not merely apprentices, should be given when they come into industry particular forms of training suitable to them. They will also provide retraining for adults who become redundant in the contracting industries and who wish to move into the new and expanding industries, and one sees how important this is when one looks at the shortage which exists in so many parts of this country to-day in the skills in the building and engineering industries.
So far, my Lords, I do not think I have struck a very controversial note, and I do not intend to do so. But I should like to examine what are the main respects in which the Labour Party seem to differ from our policy. When I was in another place many Members of the Opposition used to urge on me and my colleagues that we should direct industry to places where it is needed. To be fair—and the noble Earl will contradict me if I am wrong—I do not believe this is the policy that has been officially accepted by the leaders of the Opposition. But I must make it clear to your Lordships that we are not prepared to direct industry. We do not believe it would work in a free society, and certainly among the consequences they would have to direct labour as well as industry itself. Therefore, we shall continue to rely on inducements and on persuasion.
The Opposition, I know, has urged that projects should be launched in partnership between private enterprise and the Government. This, of course, can happen in certain circumstances, and I will cite the Fort William Pulp Mill as an example where that in fact has been done. But, in general, it seems to me that our existing arrangements, under which substantial grants and loans can be given if industry goes where we want it to go without the Government interfering in the detailed 264 operations of the particular firm, can surely be described as the best type of partnership that can exist between Government and private enterprise. I certainly do not think that active participation by the Government in the management of the firms prepared to move to development districts would in fact be anything but disastrous.
The Opposition have not taken any very clear position, as I see it, on our policy of discriminatory public investment in the growth areas. So far as I can gather from what was indicated in another place, their policy seemed to me to be toschedule all under-employed industrial areas as development areas, without any muddled distinctions between growth areas and development districts".I do not think there is any muddle in our White Papers. I think they make very clear the significance of what those areas are. Of one thing I am absolutely certain—I have indicated this earlier. If the Opposition seem to be thinking of spreading this power more widely, in fact to offer equal priority for public service investment to every area with unemployment above the average would in fact nullify our intention to stimulate economic growth where conditions are most favourable and where growth in time will stimulate the whole of the surrounding area.
The noble Earl, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, is to move the Amendment on the Order Paper and I understand he may divide the House on it. I hope he will—and I am sure he will; 1 have a great respect for him—provide better reasons than were produced by his colleagues in another place when this matter was debated. Unless he really has new arguments to produce, I fail to see why he should seek to divide the House. To-day we see a general improvement in our economic position. We can successfully maintain that progress if we gain co-operation from both sides of industry—and I would repeat, both sides of industry—to control inflationary tendencies by keeping down costs and prices and making prices stable. The improvement that we see over the country as a whole has been reflected in Scotland and the North-East, and our short-term measures are beginning to have some effect. But, as I have indicated, these are short-term 265 measures only. In order to make full use of resources of manpower and skills in these areas it was essential that we should make special plans to deal with the long-term problems. The plans that we have set out show the part that the Government themselves intend to play, but the results that we hope to achieve cannot be wholly brought about by Government action. As a Government we are playing our part in the public sector, and we are convinced that by so doing we can make these areas attractive to new industries. We can also, by providing very considerable financial inducements, encourage firms to come up.
We believe that the steps we are taking as set out in the White Papers will, so long as industry responds to these inducements and so long as this partnership concept—the Government playing their part in the way I have described and industry taking a solid and responsible attitude on their side—is accepted when the recommendations come into effect, bring new life, new hope and new vigour both to Scotland and to the North-East, and we believe they deserve the commendation of this House. I beg to move.
§ Moved to resolve, That this House takes note of the White Papers on Central Scotland and the North-East (Cmnd. 2188 and 2206).—(Viscount Blakenham.)
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH rose to move, as an Amendment, to add at the end of the proposed Resolution "but is of the opinion that these proposals fail to ensure an immediate substantial reduction in unemployment and fail to provide for regional development considered necessary to prevent depopulation and long-term unemployment within those areas."
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, first of all I should like to thank the noble Viscount for having given the Government's point of view as to the contents of the White Papers and also their objectives, at least as they see them. I would only comment—in case he has to slip out, as he said, from the debate—that I think this is one of our most important debates this Session, and unless you have to put something on to the back of the Leader of the House, we think 266 we are entitled to the full attendance of a Cabinet Minister. I do not know exactly what is the urgent business outside, but we are not accustomed to a debate of this importance being introduced by a Cabinet Minister and then for him to say he will have to leave during the debate.
§ VISCOUNT BLAKENHAM
My Lords, I hope to be here for most of the debate. I did not want to appear discourteous to some later speakers if I was absent.
§ EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I hope the absence may be brief. I thought I had better point out what is the usual practice for all Parties. I am quite sure that when we are the Government, in a few months' time, the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, would point this out to our side. As the noble Viscount is almost a "new boy" here, I thought it would be as well to point that out.
My Lords, we are of course, dealing with a vastly important question. We are dealing with a question which has been with me all my public life: how to deal with unemployment in a capitalistic system, and that has been with us all the time. It never left me, at any rate in all the public life I have had to live. But when I look at the change in the attitude of the Conservative Government over the years, then I think perhaps the slogging and the working and the argument of organised labour in this country to bring about such a tremendous revolution in the minds, in the thinking, and now in the endeavour to produce a satisfactory policy to deal with this problem, has been worth while. What we are afraid of, as we say in our Amendment, is that the White Papers submitted do not provide, as we think, the necessary provision for reducing unemployment at the present time; nor do they satisfactorily lead to an organisation of industry and the nation in order to prevent unemployment in the future. That is the object of our exercise this afternoon.
The position is this. I have read the debate in the other place, and I have really not heard from the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, if he will excuse my saying so, an adequate answer to the magnificent case submitted there by Mr. Douglas Jay. Unfortunately, it is too close to the date of the debate there 267 for me to break a rule that we must not quote from another place within so short a time as this; but if it were possible to do so, I think I could prove my case easily upon that point.
One of the first things that we have to say is this: in dealing with the problem facing our nation as a whole we miss, in the White Papers which have just been submitted for these two regions only, the evidence of any real thinking about targets. I would ask the Government: what are your targets? What are you planning for? How many jobs have you to create now, and how many progressively for the next decade or two decades in the areas? Where do you want the personnel to be trained, and for what? The Government talk about the real necessity for changing certain habits of industrialists in setting up their industries here or there, and say that this point can be dealt with only by what is called diversification. What is their target in diversification? Have they considered, in connection with diversification, what is to be the exact target of their youth training? I was most interested and pleased at the announcement of the noble Viscount with regard to the growing success in these areas of apprenticeship. But apprenticeship to what? What is going to be their ultimate target for diversification, and in what direction? I think the noble Viscount will find, if he looks at some of the economic newspapers which have been commenting on the White Papers, that they have not been unmindful of some of the points that I have mentioned to-day.
Then there is the question, when these two particular White Papers are studied, whether the Government are not, in fact, in each of the Papers, pleading guilty to the charge that they are planning in isolation. I would go wider than some of those who have criticised from the point of view of their reference entirely to the White Papers, but certainly Scotland has areas which are left out. There are beautiful red colours shown in Central Scotland in the Scottish White Paper. What has been left out? The Government are planning in isolation. I do not propose to look in detail at the areas in Scotland, because my noble friend Lord Hughes will know a great deal more about the Scottish side of the case than I could. But obviously, 268 if big inducements are to be given in special areas of this kind, just in one part of the country, the question arises: is there in the Government's mind a target as to what they want to reach, or to avoid, in all the other areas that are left out? How many do you want to divert from the existing areas? How many industries do you want to be transferred, either in small numbers at a time or in blocks? I can see no evidence in the White Papers that, on the basis of true economic planning, this question has really been faced.
Let us look at the North-East—but perhaps, before I come to that I may make this comment. It is, of course, true, in a correct judgment of Parliamentary procedure, that one could say that to-day we are confined to discussing these points in respect only of the two White Papers that are submitted. But I am afraid that we think we are also right in saying that we should go a little wider. We want to deal not only with what is left out in the development areas in respect of which these White Papers submit their proposals, but also with what is left out at this stage, especially when the noble Viscount who is Chairman of the Conservative Party Organisation is already warning us in his speech today, "you cannot expect to work wonders in two months' time from now". Is that the date of the Election? Therefore, we have to think of the whole country, and not only of these two White Papers—especially after that remark from the Chairman of the Conservative Party Organisation.
§ VISCOUNT BLAKENHAM
My Lords, in order that there should not be any misconception, I did not use the words "two months". I think the noble Earl will see that I said "some months".
§ EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
No; it was two months. We shall watch Hansard most carefully. Our hearing is exceedingly good. Therefore, we say that we have to consider at the same time these other, wider-spread development areas.
I am sure that, if the noble Viscount has taken so much part in the Government's consideration of these matters he cannot have missed reading, say, the Report of the Welsh Grand Committee 269 last week. I read it; I hope he has. At any rate, here is a great Principality, with far greater population than is contained in the two special areas now selected in Scotland and England. Last February the unemployment rate was 6 per cent. overall. In some of the different parts of Wales to-day there are points where the rate is as high as 8 per cent. I am happy to think that the overall percentage there has gone down since last February, and I hope that it will remain down. But the whole position of Wales certainly should have been treated with much more urgency than appears to have been the case. Indeed, when we read that it is hoped that the planning for Wales will be over a much longer period—20 years or more—it does not seem to fit in with the ideas of more progressively minded people in Wales. I do not think it would be right for me to discuss Wales at length. I am only saying that this is a part of planning at the present time in isolation. Wales is left out of account.
What about Cornwall? There is over 5 per cent. unemployment there. It may have fallen 1 per cent. in the last few months, but it was 5 per cent. earlier in the year. Nothing is mentioned about them. What about Merseyside? We put points forward in the other place about that, and our Party there were given no real answer; and we have not had one to-day from the noble Viscount. We have heard nothing about what is going to be done there. As for the inner parts of Lancashire—areas like Burnley, with all its intense troubles to-day; what are you doing for them? What about the North-West? What about Cumberland and the coast there? You are planning in isolation in those places. I feel almost like saying to any Welshman who is here, "Look you!" Please understand, that your planning here to-day in these two areas is going to have an effect on all the others.
What have you considered a target as to what you want to do in your reconstruction of the economy, so that you do not have the result of the last twelve years—almost complete freedom of action arranged by the Government to swell up London and its suburbs, and other parts of the South, at the expense of other industrial areas? Are you going to make that good as a 270 whole? You do not say a word about it.
The noble Viscount seems to suggest that the men who have been established in the great industrial Government organisation at Woolwich, who have been in steady employment, who have bought their own houses and live in the area, in Woolwich, in the suburbs of Eltham, Abbey Wood and in other districts, do not need to be considered. The noble Viscount does not seem to think that labour has any real interest in it. That is not the right way to settle this overall question. These things ought to be dealt with by proper economic planning in which every kind of target is set, and then if it is found to be right it is pursued. But I am amazed that, after our having had to say, "Well done, Conservatives!", for at last giving up the cry that you had in the 1950 and 1951 Elections of "Set the people free! No controls!", there are now apparently no targets except to keep the Labour Party out of office. There seem to be no other targets. As a result, we now have a national Budget well over 50 per cent. larger than it was, owing to inflation which could have been avoided quite easily under really top-class planning. That is the situation.
Let me come back to the White Paper on North-East England. How does it work there? My noble friend Lord Hughes will be dealing with Scotland a little later. The Government are planning in isolation. Am I not right in saying that the whole of Durham is a development area—is that not true?
§ EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I should say that the whole of Durham is reckoned to be a development area, except that in the plan now submitted there is going to be started what is called a growth zone. Is that not correct? That is the fact. In the White Paper the area is coloured green on the map. I agree that it is a widespread area. It gives all to the East Coast side—that is to say, East of the Great North Road; but all the rest, the North-West and the South-West of Durham, is left altogether out of this question of growth zone. But are not 271 these points that specially need assistance, as well as the assistance the Government have rightly given to the shipbuilding industry?
One can take places like Bishop Auckland, Willington, Crook, Stanley—places like that, in the declining coalfield: these are the areas which are likely to suffer depopulation. Is there not need to stop the drift? Does not the White Paper itself say that in ten years 80,000 people have gone from that area to the South? Not a word about it here. Well, perhaps I am not being quite fair; it is assumed in the White Paper that if you can get some growth in the zone marked for special assistance, it is bound to affect the other places. Is it? We do not know anything about what is going to be there, except for the blessed word "diversification"; there is no other information available to us. When I look at the lack of targets in the whole of this White Paper, I am just astounded at the calmness and quietness of the Government in thinking that they have already made a great success of it.
I know it is a good thing to be able to say that the Government are giving special inducements to firms, who not only are to be helped by loans, capital, special conditions, grants and so on, but are to be given special concessions with regard to taxation—and, not the least, the capacity for dealing with what are usually called depreciation charges by writing off even new developments at a very early date. These are all very important. In drawing up these considerations have you considered the effect on the rest of industry in the country, until you know the target in the industry which you are going to put in that area? In fact, if you are going in for a regional scheme of this kind, then other questions arise, for the economy of the country as a whole depends on the depth and the breadth of the Government's examination of the problem.
When you talk about the industrial inquiries you are making and say that this is to include new schools, new hospitals, new roads and the building of factories (a number of which have already been mentioned), have you considered the problem of skilled labour in actual building construction? You have 272 given certain guarantees of what the actual expansion should be in house-building. Have you considered the present position in regard to skilled building labour? I saw a comment the other day that a very considerable proportion, some 10 to 20 per cent., of skilled building constructors were employed in the shipyards; but they have now got to reckon that they will certainly not need much more than 20 per cent. less than that because of the general decline in the shipbuilding industry. So that on every aspect of this matter one sees that the Government have not considered what labour is available for building construction. At least, I could find no indication of it in the noble Viscount's speech.
What sort of pace will be made with the actual operations proposed in regard to the construction of factories, the building of roads and the various activities which have been mentioned? The targets ought to be set out in the White Paper—and they are not here. We are going to leave it to a machinery which the noble Viscount has commented upon. He has made favourable comments about the construction of the machinery for the Scottish area, and I will leave that to my noble friend Lord Hughes; but looking at the White Paper on North-East England, we see that the target there is not a true target. No particulars are given as to what it is proposed to construct; no particulars of which trades and industries they are going to train for; no particulars as to what is going to be done immediately and effectively to deal with the pockets of unemployment in Durham, details of which I should like to know.
May I ask the noble Viscount, for example: is it true that West Hartlepool has now been taken out of the zone on the East side? Is it true that Saltburn at the South-Eastern end has been taken out of—or in fact was never put into—the growth zone? Saltburn has an unemployment percentage of 10.9—say 11 per cent. Although Hartlepool has recently had some little help in shipping and its percentage has dropped, the figure of unemployed is still one of 8 per cent. What sort of target have you there? I can assure the noble Viscount, when he makes the comments he has done about the Opposition's attitude in the other House, in regard to the 273 lack of constructive thinking and real economic planning, that I do not think he has met our point in this House, either. When I lock at the White Paper and see what it says about the machinery, the main idea—I expect it must have been his own idea—in the mind of one whom we must now call Mr. Quintin Hogg seems to be that if we can put all into one house, the D.S.I.R. and the other Departments—I think altogether there are four or five separate Departments, with staffs of civil servants—that is the answer. I have to admit that that is not really the basis of the plan for machinery in Scotland; that seems to be a better plan than the one for the North-East of England.
But we are not satisfied. I am sorry to have taken quite so long—I did not want to take so long—because there are eighteen names on the Paper, and I do not want to go on too late tonight. But there it is. We think that we are right in putting down our Amendment, and that the Government have no real plan or target for dealing with immediate unemployment or for preventing unemployment in the future. I beg to move.
Moved, as an amendment, to add at the end of the proposed Resolution:
but is of the opinion that these proposals fail to ensure an immediate substantial reduction in unemployment and fail to provide for regional development considered necessary to prevent depopulation and long-term unemployment within those areas."—(Earl Alexander of Hillsborough.)
§ 3.52 p.m.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
My Lords, I hope your Lordships will accept my apologies if, by reason of diocesan engagements in York, I have to leave before this debate is completed. Those of us who live and work in the North of England, and especially those who live in the North-East part and those who live in Scotland, are grateful for these White Papers. A programme for development and growth is called for and we welcome it. There is one facet of the problems which face us in the North-East of England, particularly, on which I should wish to speak. It is the matter of unemployment; and more particularly I want to say something about unemployment as it affects young people.
Here is a problem of first importance. The figures, of course, vary from month to month. They are aggravated by the 274 "bulge". But when Lord Hailsham, as he then was, visited the North-East early this year, the unemployment figures of those under 18 were 5,684 boys and a much smaller figure for girls. I believe there are still some 6,000 young people unemployed, while there are tens of thoustands who have slipped into dead-end jobs in order to get some kind of employment, however unsuitable it may be. Some of these youngsters get three, four, five, six or even seven jobs between the age of 15, when they leave school, and the age of 18, when no further statistics are available; and we do not know what happens to them because they are treated as adults.
But, leaving them on one side for a moment, let us look at those who are actually unemployed. We cannot say that these unemployed young people are depressed in the sense that we used that term in the 1930s, which have left so terrible an impression on many of our minds—and I speak as one of those who worked very nearly in the East End of London in the middle 'thirties. They are not broken people in the sense that those were, but in some ways their plight is worse than was that of those who were unemployed in the 1930s. Then almost everyone in certain areas was out, and even those with work were badly off. But to-day, with comparative affluence everywhere, the 5 per cent. of unemployed feel themselves terribly isolated in society. The unemployment rate for a youngster on National Assistance is 37s. a week. That is enough for him to do a good deal of mischief with, if he is so inclined. It is sufficiently little for him to be made to feel cut off from his working mates and to occupy the rôle of a scrounger. It makes him think that a society which has no use for him is not worth having. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, if he and his fellow unemployed prove to be troublesome members of society.
Let us look at the problem a little more closely. Of the class of secondary modern schoolboys who leave at the age of 15, about 40 per cent. have no worthwhile qualifications. They are not of the calibre to take apprenticeships. It will simply not do to concentrate on the other 60 per cent. only. The State has a duty to all its citizens, and it would be a dereliction of duty to ignore the 40 per cent. to whom I have just 275 referred. In many cases these boys have not gained a great deal during their last year or two at school. They have probably hated it, they have probably kicked against the traces, waiting only for the day when at the mature age of 15 they will be "men of the world". What do they find?—either no work at all or, as I have already said, dead-end jobs; jobs which lead nowhere worth while when they are 18 and the responsibilities of early marriage and a family are upon them.
What is called for in the light of the facts that I have outlined? Two things seem to me to be clear. One is that a diversification—I come back to that "blessed word"—of industry in the North-East is needed. Too long we have relied too heavily on heavy industry, coal mining, shipbuilding, chemicals, metal manufacture, heavy engineering, markets for which may well decrease as each potential customer becomes more self-sufficient in supplying his own needs.
Very recently—last month to be exact—an interesting experiment was carried out. A party of 55 boys, accompanied by four police cadets and two industrial chaplains, left the Sunderland area by coach for London on a visit which was called a "Holiday with a Purpose". It was an attempt on the part of the Church to deal realistically and helpfully with a pressing human problem. Of these 55 boys, 44 got jobs in London and eight elsewhere. This is very good, and Mr. Godber, the Minister of Labour, who spent half-an-hour with all these boys and their Members of Parliament, congratulated those who initiated the scheme. He said:I want to say most emphatically that we will he glad to give all the help we can, not only to this group but also to others that can be organised to come either to London or to other parts of the country where greater opportunities exist for them. I do not look upon this as in any way seeking to attract young people away from their homes permanently, but to give them opportunities for training and employment.I am all for efforts like this, but only if it is recognised that they are in themselves admissions of defeat. This the organisers of the scheme themselves clearly recognise. Why should we drain off our young people from the North-East, to make the problems of the 276 already overcrowded cities of the South even greater? The White Paper speaks of "net outward migration"—a somewhat cold and impersonal term, but we know what is meant. It notes that net migration for the area has averaged 8,000 per annum for the ten years to 1961, and it estimates that it will be 4,000 in 1963. I find it a little difficult to see quite why the figure should be halved, with unemployment as it is, but there must be reasons for that which my mind cannot compass. Then, it contemplates a stable 2,500 per annum migration during the period 1963 to 1981. My Lords. 60,000 people will migrate before 1981, if the figures are not an under-estimate. But this is surely defeat for the North—and disastrous defeat. Should not every effort be made so to diversify industry in the North-East that we turn the tide of migration, until we think in terms of an influx of manpower into the North-East, rather than sit down under the inevitable conclusion that the drain southwards must continue?
The second need, to my mind, is for a new look at, and vigorous action in regard to, training of our youth. When the regional plans begin to be implemented, the need for trained labour will be very great, and the training must begin now. Existing firms cannot be expected to bear the full burden of this training, and Government help to accredited firms would seem to be called for at once. Some of this training—and here I come back to the point I made a few moments ago—must be for semi-skilled work for that 40 per cent. of school-leavers to whom I have already referred as having virtually no qualifications. Here is our great need: investment in the training of our youth. The talent is there in the he shape of many a boy without hope of a job, on whom large sums have already been spent through the educational services. Is this earlier investment to be wasted because of a failure to continue training fruitfully after his schooldays are over?
Paragraph 95 of the White Paper on the North-East refers to the Government training centres at Felling and Tursdale. I understand that 24 unemployed boys are catered for at Tursdale, and this number, we are assured, will be doubled but, unless my arithmetic is wrong, we are still on the wrong side of 50, which 277 does not make very much of a dent in the problem. The other Government training centre, at Felling, caters only for those employed in apprenticeships, as do mainly the technical college pre-apprenticeship courses, which are said to cater for nearly 1,000. Half a million pounds will not build many miles of road, but half a million pounds spent on the training of school leavers would save many a lad from drifting into unemployment or into "dead-end" jobs, or even to the South, and could help in the permanent cure of a malaise which will be healed only when the accent is put on persons in a way which, one is bound to feel, the Government White Paper in some measure fails to do.
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ LORD POLWARTH
My Lords, it is a great honour and a particular pleasure to offer to the most reverend Primate, on behalf of your Lordships, our warmest congratulations on what he was too modest to inform us was his maiden speech in this place. In so doing, perhaps I should reassure him at once that, in introducing, as I did earlier this afternoon, the Bill 10 remove restrictions on Scottish clergy from exercising their office in England, I had no intention of starting an invasion of his See. In his choice of subject, and in the way in which he dealt with it, he has reminded us that this is fundamentally a human problem rather than merely a material and economic one. He has lifted the subject out of the Party political arena—a course in which I shall do my best to follow him. I am sure I speak for all your Lordships in saying we greatly hope that he will come down here as often as he can, aided by the wonderful new communications with which his native North-East is about to be supplied.
I welcome these White Papers because they round off a year which I think, in retrospect, will be realised to have been of considerable importance in the efforts of all of us to bring prosperity to these parts of the country. In January of this year I was privileged to open a debate on the development of Scotland, and there were a number of measures which we then suggested which we can take satisfaction in having now attained. I said that, if we were to attract new industries and help the expansion of our 278 own, we must have a bigger and juicier carrot in the form of Government grants and loans. What is more, we must let the donkey see the carrot. In other words, we must have a definite price-list of the benefits available to industry; and I made the suggestion of differential fiscal measures to encourage investment in these parts of the country. It seems that, as a result of that debate, and in other ways, we have convinced the Government of the essentials of our case. In April, the Government introduced these new measures for increased and standardised benefits to attract industry, along with this right to choose one's own rate of depreciation on plant and factories for tax purposes.
For years now the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) has propounded the need, not just for a policy of remedial action against local pockets of unemployment, but for a positive and long-term policy of encouragement of regional growth, and this culminated, of course, as the noble Viscount who opened this debate told us, in the work of the Toothill Committee and its Report. With the publication of these White Papers we have a virtual acceptance, at least, of this theory. We see a new line of thought in Departments—not least, I suspect, in the Treasury: and, in place of the previous policy, we now have one in which I believe a great deal can be achieved by the active partnership of Government with industry, with local authorities and all the other organisations.
I think it is fair to say that, over the last thirty years, Scotland has led economic thought in this field of regional development, just as she did in other fields in the days of Hume and Adam Smith. It is gratifying to all who have worked over these years to see its acceptance, particularly for people like the noble Lords, Lord Bilsland and Lord Elgin and Kincardine, both of whom have asked me to say how much they regret their being prevented from being here to-day.
The noble Earl, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, spoke of the long fight of organised labour against unemployment. He asked, also, whether the Scottish Trades Union Congress were included in the bodies working to carry on from this point. I can assure him 279 at least that the Scottish Trades Union Congress is one of the five main constituent bodies of the Scottish Council, and that over the years it has played a very active part in helping us to formulate our policies and in our deliberations. I gladly acknowledge their work along with us in all that. I think, finally on this, that it must be a matter of satisfaction to the team in the Scottish Development Department who have put so much hard work into the proposals now before us.
I do not intend to cross the Border further and to trespass on the territory of the North-East, however accustomed my forbears were to doing so some time ago. That field will doubtless be defended with ability and skill by other noble Lords, just as it was in those days, too. But I must say that, while the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, paid a tribute to the Toothill Report, I was a little sorry to see that, in the White Paper on the North-East, there was no acknowledgement of the basic study done in that Report, not merely for Scotland, but for the whole of Britain. It made it look a little as if the former Lord President had appeared in the role of a fairy godmother, had done a few quick pirouettes around the stage and waved a magic wand over a child, thus endowing it with eternal good fortune before making a spectacular exit to another place. The last thing we would suggest is that we have any copyright in these ideas; we are only too glad that any other part of the country should benefit from them.
My Lords, one thing is clear; and that is that the plans cannot do much to relieve the immediate unemployment problem. We have nearly 100,000 people still out of work in Scotland, due to contraction of some of the older industries; to increased productivity; to the larger numbers of school-leavers and, possibly, to less emigration to the South because of fewer opportunities here. What is encouraging, as the noble Lord said earlier, is the response to last April's new inducements, as is shown in the great increase in the number of inquiries about Scottish locations from companies, both outside and inside, who are seeking to expand. The staff of the Scottish Coun- 280 cil can see this clearly from the greatly increased volume of work coming into their hands.
This autumn a group of us spent six weeks touring North America from coast to coast, from the St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico, seeking to sell Scotland—and, indeed, not just Scotland, but Britain as a whole—to American industrialists. This time (and we have done it at regular intervals) we saw far more interest in opportunities in Britain than at any time in the last five years. That is very encouraging. They were particularly interested in the new financial help we can offer them; and we were able to quote them firm terms for it. At the same time in Scotland itself we are seeing a welcome improvement in shipbuilding and in some of the other industries that have been in depression. All this means more jobs; if not at once then comparatively soon.
The next most immediate prospect for employment lies in the programme of construction and public work of all kinds outlined in this paper. We welcome the figures and details given on the quantitive side, but we must press on for the quickest possible progress to be made. Here I agree with the noble Viscount opposite that we need more targets. Certainly the target for 1970 for many of the major road developments seems to be far too leisurely. I know that there will be the problem, again mentioned by the noble Viscount, of the capacity of the building industry to cope with this. But we must give more encouragement to them to modernise their methods and increase output. We look froward to the Report of the Committee looking into methods of Scottish building industry.
This ties in, too, with the need for increased facilities for training and retraining our workers in the new skills. It is a paradox of our position that, while on paper we have a large supply of labour, there is a grave shortage in many of the key trades. This is a problem to the solution of which managements and unions will have to make a big contribution. But the fact remains that the Government must give a strong lead, and I am sure that places in Government training and retraining centres will have to be stepped-up well beyond the figure of 1,700 for Scotland proposed 281 in the White Paper. That figure is only 7 per cent. of the 25,000 redundancies arising in Scotland each year.
There are some other aspects of Government influence which are either given insufficient emphasis in the Paper or are not covered at all. There is, for example, no mention of the rôle of Government as employer; no mention—despite their professed anxiety to see more offices moved out of Greater London—of the possibility of moving Government offices and other establishments to the development districts. There is no mention of the part to be played by Government spending on defence, civil research and development, far too much of which is still tied to the South by the policies of Departments and to suit their convenience. This is an issue which we regard in Scotland as of vital importance and shall continue to press with all our might.
The importance of communications is acknowledged in the Paper; but what I think cannot be too strongly emphasised is the fact that their importance increases the further one gets from the centre of gravity of population. Roads we have already mentioned; and I will come to railways later. Now that the Ports and Harbours Bill has been published. I hope that every encouragement will be given to the plans for new port development which are awaiting the word to go ahead. Good air transport is vital, whether to the South or overseas; and I am glad that airports figure in the Paper. Our air services have improved, but there is still a long way to go. British European Airways have done a good job, but they have a virtual monopoly of the domestic services; and we shall press the Government to see that we are given the services we need, with or without Government aid. Our international services from Prestwick are of vital importance to many companies as an essential link with their customers and associates in North America and on the Continent. There is at present a move afoot to restrict the passenger rights of certain overseas airlines out of Prestwick, and this move we shall oppose very strongly, because it could lead to a serious reduction in, or even an elimination of, our direct overseas air services.
The final paragraph of the Scottish White Paper contains a proposal of 282 considerable interest to us in the Scottish Council, as doubtless will be its equivalent in the North-East Paper to the corresponding body there. I refer to the offer by the Government of Exchequer assistance to us for the task of selling Scotland, and of publicising the facilities and advantages that we can offer. We in the Scottish Council are honoured at this recognition of all the work we have already tried to do in this field. We do not know yet just what is proposed, but we must make it clear that we shall accept such a grant only if it in no way restricts our independence of action or the scope of our other activities.
My Lords, there is one problem which has just been touched upon and which, although not strictly within the scope of the Paper, will be affected by it. That is the position of the other areas of Scotland and, in particular, the outlying ones, such as the Borders, the Highlands and the North-East. I am glad to see that there is mention of further regional studies to be made sometime in the future. In the short view, the White Paper proposals could actually work to the detriment of these other parts of the country and they would be more gravely affected by some of the proposed railway closures. I hope that in this respect everyone who stands to be adversely affected, and has good reason to do so, will in due course make the requisite objections.
Scotland is a whole just as Britain is a whole; and we cannot allow these other parts of the country to languish: because I am convinced that they have a potential. As an earnest of this belief, as an encouragement to industry and to the inhabitants and as a lead to government, we in the Scottish Council, two days ago, decided on a new form of spearhead operation. We intend to seek out a few individuals in each of these areas with sound and practical experience of industry and of those parts of the country, to provide them with men on the staff of our Council to work with them and seek out all possible opportunities for industrial development which I am sure exist within the areas themselves. What the results will be we cannot tell; but at least it shows our recognition of the Government's view expressed in the White Paper that:The restoration of the economy will ultimately depend on the vigour with which 283 all sections of the community make their individual contributions.I think this is the essential point to remember about the Paper as a whole. The plans have been criticised by some because they are not industrial plans—and this is true enough. But they cannot be provided by Government alone. They are plans or programmes for a social and industrial structure which will favour industrial development. I think we sometimes tend to place rather too much faith in economic planning. Certainly my own faith, both in economists and in planners, is tempered by my realisation of what they can do. To a number of measures already planned or in train, these White Papers bring a brave new look. By themselves, they will not bring the millennium, but, for that matter, neither will any other plan I have heard of. We have heard talk of plans, but we have heard very few details of these plans. I think that their importance lies less in particular proposals than in the implications of a fundamental change of policy, establishing, as it does, a position in the whole field of regional development from which it is unlikely any future Government can retreat. And no retreat must there be, even in the face of short-term economic fluctuations, because it is essential to have continuity and consistency if these plans are to work.
They have undoubtedly given a timely boost to morale in Scotland. Meanwhile, much more will need to be done, by many people, before all is really well with our economy. But, with the help of industry itself and of the many other organisations concerned—help which I am sure will now be forthcoming—the plan can be a real investment in Scotland's future, and of lasting benefit, not only to Scotland, but to the country as a whole.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him a question? In view of his position in Scotland and the silence of the Government, could he indicate to us what, in his estimation, is the number of new jobs that need to be provided in Scotland, say, in the next five to ten years, in order to deal with the drift of population and the existing unemployment?
§ LORD POLWARTH
My Lords, I certainly have figures, but I am not prepared to quote them without a chance to look them up.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, it is a great pleasure to me to start my remarks by associating myself with what the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, said, in congratulations to the most reverend Primate on his maiden speech. I do not wish to do so in exactly the same words as the noble Lord, because it did not seem to me that the most reverend Primate was being strictly non-political. It seemed to me that he was talking exceedingly sound politics, and I hope that we shall always have sound politics from the occupants of the Bishops' Benches. That does not necessarily mean that they will come down on the side of one Party or another. I have always found that the Church has made its most effective contribution in debates when it does so along lines adopted by the most reverend Primate this afternoon, on those subjects in which both Church and State have a most direct interest, and I agree wholeheartedly with the remarks he made.
I am a little disappointed in the rest of what the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, said, and I would warn him against being a little prematurely complacent about the contents of the White Papers. I have no doubt that he has read them more than once, but when he reads them more thoroughly he will find that there is a very great deal more of promise in the White Paper than of actual proposals. I am very conscious of the fact that if the Labour Party and the Liberal Party were to keep quiet about suggestions for the improvement of the economy for a period of a year or so, the Government would have nobody to fall back on for the formulation of policies except the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, and the Scottish Council. So he is entitled to a certain amount of satisfaction in that, after an interval of a year, the Government have put into a White Paper some of the proposals which he put forward in the debate in your Lordships' House at the beginning of this year.
Having said that, I would go on to say that it seems to me that there is 285 not the slightest doubt that the White Paper on Central Scotland—I apologise to your Lordships if I confine myself to the White Paper on Central Scotland, but I have no doubt that there are Members who will deal with the other White Paper—has been a great disappointment to those who are looking for vigorous action to cure Scotland's economic ills. It is admitted on all sides that the most hard hit areas are the Highlands and the Border, and they are left completely out of the Government's plans except for vague promises of future investigation, such as in paragraph 8, where it is stated:…the Government are fully conscious of the many problems affecting the economies of other parts of Scotland; problems often just as vital but on a smaller scale. They are pressing forward with their examination of these areas, which may need measures different in scale and character from those set out in this Paper.And the modest carrot they offer to Dundee, in paragraph 69:Dundee's need for regular air communications to the industrial and commercial centres in the south is, along with airfield requirements for the area, now being urgently considered.I will come back to Dundee later.
The White Paper simply teems with fine phrases—there is no doubt at all that it is beautifully written—many of which put a gloss on twelve years of Government failure. I hope that your Lordships will permit me to give some examples:Many of the measures described in this Paper are already being taken or have been announced. These are now incorporated in a fully integrated programme and are reinforced by a wide range of new measures specifically designed to accelerate growth in the most favourable places";or,But this has not occurred at a fast enough rate fully to offset the changes in the older basic industries. Thus employment opportunities in the area have not kept pace with the natural increase in the population. The result has been unemployment on a scale averaging about twice the United Kingdom level since the last war, in spite of heavy emigration in the younger working age groups.Perhaps I may be forgiven for drawing the notice of the most reverend Primate to the net figure of migration from Scotland in the last ten years. It was not 80,000, but 280,000.
286 The White Paper goes on to say:But the net loss of younger people cannot continue at its present level without serious damage to the prospects of long-term economic recovery.Another consequence of the run-down of the older industries in Central Scotland has been the physical decay of so many of the older industrial areas which grew up in an age of coal, smoke, dirt and overcrowded housing conditions.Unfortunately, most of the areas referred to in my last quotation are outside the Central Scottish Area and are being offered nothing in this proposal. I am not one of those who subscribe to the point of view that everything should be done everywhere at the same time. To that extent, I am in agreement with the noble Viscount, but I must say that it upsets me a little to find myself in agreement with him when he says, in effect, that we must use our resources to the best advantage, and if they are to be spread out there is going to be very little available for everybody. This, in effect, means that by concentrating at this stage on the North-East and Central Scotland a great deal less is going to be done in these other areas, and, in the short-term, at any event, they are going to be worse off. I was rather interested in what was said by my noble Leader when he referred to the many areas with high unemployment which are in effect being told by the Government, "It isn't your turn. You are not the worst." Or, "You are not the area in which the best can be accomplished. You must wait."
One of my complaints about the White Paper is the extent to which it is general rather than detailed. Perhaps it was in keeping with this attitude that the noble Viscount objected to my noble Leader as being too specific in attributing "two months" to him, rather than "some months". My main complaint about the White Paper is that the general is always preferred to the specific. As I said before, the White Paper is well written: the language is beautiful, and if words alone could solve our difficulties we should indeed be home and dry. The last quotation from the White Paper which I made places a reliance on planning which is staggering. And remember what Government policy was, year in, year out, from 1951 to 1962. In fact, the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, rather unwisely I thought, let 287 out a remark which is typical of what has been going on all these years: that even when planning is accepted, it is accepted with a degree of suspicion.
§ LORD POLWARTH
My Lords, with great respect to the noble Lord, I do not feel any unwisdom in having made the remark. I stated what I believed to be the case.
§ LORD HUGHES
Quite so. None of us makes remarks which we ourselves believe to be unwise; it is only other people who think they are or are not unwise. After all, if we ourselves thought they were unwise we would not make them. What could be most alarming, to both industrialists and workers, is the fact that the policies now being applied with some success—and there are policies which are being applied with considerable success at the moment—are the very ones which the Government have so regularly refused to operate in the past.
For example (and it is coincidence that what I have noted here before the noble Viscount spoke are the two subjects on which he himself spoke with considerable stress in his opening speech), there is more than one paragraph in the Paper where glowing tributes are paid to the value of the policy of building advance factories; and one of the few details given in the White Paper is the number which are presently being built and those which are to be started in the near future. Yet for years Ministers were urged to put into operation this policy of building advance factories, and they declined to do so. The argument always was that the industrialist did not want an advance factory; he wanted a factory tailor-made to his requirements. My late friend and colleague Mr. John Strachey on many occasions pressed Ministers to put a policy of advance factories into operation, and on every occasion he was met with a blank refusal. Then, recently, in the last two or three years, a change was made, and once again the Government found a Labour scheme worked when their own ideas had failed.
Another proposal pressed by the Scottish Council and by, I think, almost every organisation in Scotland, political and non-political alike, was the subject of specific grants. We complained bitterly and regularly of the fact that the industrialist coming to locate a factory in 288 Scotland did not know whether he would get a large grant, a small grant or no grant at all. We asked, year in, year out, for a policy of specific grants, and even eighteen months ago we were told it was impossible. When we spoke about preferential systems of taxation for areas of high unemployment eighteen months ago we were told it was impossible. But what speech, propaganda and exhortation failed to achieve, the heavy unemployment, the adverse unemployment of last winter, and the adverse by-election results which followed it, turned from being impossible into being practical, and the Budget of this year brought in both specific grants and a tax policy which discriminated in favour of people going to selected areas.
I am not surprised that we have had a great increase in the number of applications. After all, the reason why so many people put this scheme forward was because they believed that that sort of thing was necessary in order to get industrialists to go to these particular areas. When one realises, therefore, that the only measures which are really successful are those which the Government did not initiate but which they reluctantly accepted only after up to ten or twelve years of pressure, one could be reassured by the White Paper only if it contained some real evidence of positive thinking along similar lines or on new ones. What do we find? We find that in a document of 168 paragraphs fewer than a dozen paragraphs contain specific proposals for action. The greatest part of the document is historical, and most of the references to the future are very general and sometimes even very vague. On top of that, as befits, I must admit, good writing, a certain amount of fiction creeps in from time to time. The White Paper is essentially a programme of public investment, and public investment is the field which has been made most costly by the Government's interest policy.
This brings me to a number of specific questions on policy, and, first of all, to housing. The White Paper proposes an increase of some 9,000 houses a year in the growth areas of Central Scotland. Where these houses are being constructed for the New Town Development Corporation, notwithstanding the fact that they operate at much higher rentals than do the local authorities in these 289 areas, the very large sum of from £80 to £100 per annum will fall on the Exchequer for each house built. What is to be done where the houses in the growth areas are required to be provided by the local authority? Is the subsidy to remain at the present level of £12 or £32, depending on the local authority's housing finances? Can you expect these local authorities to pay an annual subsidy of anything from £50 to £80 a house—especially if, as appears in paragraph 29, they are to beunfettered by any consideration of 'local housing lists '"?How is this going to work? What local authority are going to build two lots of houses when they are going to get the same subsidy for both, and one lot they must earmark for people not on the housing list at all? I can imagine no better way for a town councillor to lose his seat; and remember that town councillors are just as conscious of the need to preserve their seats as are Ministers.
May I also ask about schools? Paragraph 91 states:The major increase which is planned in growth area housing will demand a corresponding concentration of school building.In paragraph 92 it says:It is clear that an even higher level of investment will be necessary for school building generally.Yet, within the last month, many local education authorities have complained bitterly at the cuts made in their school-building programmes. An example is Fife—and in Fife is one of the growth areas. After savage; cuts in their school-building programmes, they sent a deputation to St. Andrew's House, and after prolonged discussion with—I do not know whether it was officials, or officials and Ministers, they came away with some increase. But even a growth area, including one of the New Towns within that growth area, could not get anything like what they originally requested for school-building programmes; and the most the Convenor of Fife County could say when he came away from the meeting was that he was gratified, but not satisfied.
It is obvious that no unnecessary difficulties should be placed in the way of industry if successfully located in Scotland. For that reason, one welcomes the statement in paragraph 66: 290Good air communications for both domestic and international journeys have become an essential part of any modern expanding economy. Business men need to be in the closest touch with their markets and to be able quickly to follow up any new opportunities, wherever they may be. The availability of an airport within reasonable travelling distance, offering both domestic services and either direct international flights or convenient connections thereto, is increasingly important in attracting new industrial and commercial enterprises.If one takes this in conjunction with paragraph 69, about the urgent consideration being given to Dundee's air problems, this might be taken as quite a good augury for an air service for Dundee at last. Yet as one who regularly came to London and went to Edinburgh to interview Ministers in connection with an air service for Scotland, I am very conscious of the fact that I and my successor were told every time that this is not a matter for the Government; that it is a matter for the air lines concerned.
Now what has happened? Has the urgent consideration of Dundee's need made it possible at last for something to be done after twelve years of refusing to intervene? When will the decision be made? How long does urgent consideration take? After all, they have had twelve years. How much urgent consideration do you need to add to twelve years of waiting before you come to a decision? Will it be given to-day in this debate? Will it be given this month? Will it be given next month? How long, my Lords, how long?
Paragraphs 75 to 80 stress the importance of adequate supplies of fuel. Will the Government not consider at this stage the desirability of making electricity cheaper for industry in Scotland by providing finance to the Electricity Boards on the same basis as it was supplied for the strip mill, and is to be supplied for the pulp mill? There would be no question of electricity becoming dearer in Scotland in the next six months if they would do that. In fact, I am quite certain that my noble friend sitting behind the Front Bench would be able to bring the cost of electricity down in his part of Scotland if money was made available on the same sort of conditions as it is made available in what the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, said was the best sort of co-operation between the State and 291 private enterprise, where the State puts forward the money at a comparatively low rate of interest—and that is all that is expected.
To leave electricity and go to other fuel, when will the Government take steps to bring to an end the extra charge for coal which has been paid by Scottish undertakings? How can you expect to compete when the Coal Board charge an extra 10s. a ton for every ton of coal which is used? There is a comparatively small paper mill on the borders of the new town of Glenrothes which pays this 10s. a ton which adds many thousands of pounds a year to its operating costs. Will the Government intervene in this matter?
Paragraph 83 deals with the 85 per cent. grant for clearance and rehabilitation of derelict areas. I had better quote this exactly, because it is somewhat incredible. The paragraph says:This concession was then introduced only for a limited period, but the Government have now decided to continue until further notice the arrangements for making an 85 per cent. grant available in all development districts…What is the exact difference between a grant being available for a limited period and being available "until further notice"? How does the local authority go about working on that? Under the old basis, they knew that for a period of a year, or whatever it was, these grants were going to be paid. Now the position has been changed, and they may find that in a month, six months, a year, eighteen months, or at some time in the future, near or far, they are told, "In a month's time the grants come to an end". It seems to me that something much more specific than a continuation "until further notice" is necessary. This could be a worthwhile part of the proposals, for a great deal of land in industrial areas is going to waste because something of this kind has not been available before.
Paragraph 126 stresses the suitability of Central Scotland for office accommodation. In a debate in January, to which the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, referred, that point came up. It is true that there are many places in Central Scotland which are suitable, and no place more so than the new towns, because they can build offices to suit 292 the requirements of incoming industry. They can provide houses for the people who may be shifted up to work in those offices. They could, for instance, quite easily provide accommodation for Government Departments. There was an inquiry some time ago into the possibility of moving Government Departments out of London. I would suggest to the Government that example is much better than precept, and that the Secretary of State for Scotland, with his colleagues, might make some arrangements for one or more Ministries to move some or all of their activities to either Central Scotland or North-East England.
The policies which are working in Scotland to-day are not Tory policies, but policies which the Tories have turned to on the collapse of their own. Their success is limited only because they limit the scope of the policies, and that I would suggest to the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, is the fundamental difference between his colleagues and mine. He and his colleagues are content to take a policy here and a policy there from other people and to apply it, and they are then surprised in two ways: first, that they have a limited success in each of the ones that are implemented, but, secondly, that put together they do not solve the whole problem. You will not solve the whole problem until you apply the whole solution.
I do not expect that at the end of this debate a majority of your Lordships will be found to be supporting the Amendment which was proposed by my noble Leader, and which I am endeavouring to support. But I must confess that that does not worry me in the slightest, because I am quite satisfied that in some months—maybe two months—a majority of the electors will find this Amendment to their satisfaction.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ BARONESS HORSBRUGH
My Lords, I was very interested to hear the closing remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, about supporting the Amendment on the Order Paper. The chief thing, it seems to me, about the Amendment, are the words:but is of the opinion that these proposals fail to ensure an immediate substantial reduction in unemployment…293 Neither Lord Hughes nor his noble Leader referred to those words. The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, said that he does not think there will be many of us supporting the Amendment. I cannot see that he supported it himself. And neither, perhaps, did the noble Earl. I quite understand that there are a great many things to think of, but I was interested when I saw this Amendment on the Paper and I thought I would wait to hear the suggestions of noble Lords opposite for an immediate substantial reduction in unemployment.
We heard from the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, that the Tories were following Labour policy. If he could have told us of such a scheme, I am sure we should all—not only the Back Benchers but perhaps the Front Bench as well—do well to follow the Labour Party. But we have heard nothing about it at all.
§ LORD HUGHES
One has a limited time in which to speak in a debate with eighteen speakers. But, unlike some Members in another place, the noble Lady will probably still be in the House after the General Election, and I have no doubt that she will have an opportunity of hearing the most specific proposals.
§ BARONESS HORSBRUGH
I had hoped to hear them to-day, because they are on the Paper to-day. All sorts of strange things may be on the Paper then, from either side. It is to-day I am speaking about. I keep to the present, and not the vague future.
I am one of those who entirely support the idea of regional planning and the principle of what I would call "select and concentrate." I also support the idea of the positive attitude of growth areas. I know quite well what happens when you "select and concentrate" on a certain area: you are bound to create a good deal of feeling, of sadness and disappointment in other areas. I remember well what happened when I went to the Ministry of Education in 1951, and the school building programme was very far behind. I had to make a desperate effort to see how I could get enough schools up and ready for the children of what was called (that awful word!) the "bulge," who were coming along. I had to do something 294 that was extremely unpopular. I had to cut down and keep to a certain building programme, and then increase it gradually. There were areas where schools had been promised, and I had to tell them that the schools would not now be begun. Week after week I was questioned about the number of new schools started, and I said then that my yardstick was going to be the number of new schools completed. I think anyone looking back on that period would now agree with me that that was the right way to do it. Of course, it was difficult; and there were the hard cases.
I believe that the Government have also chosen the right region—that of Central Scotland. After all, we have there 75 per cent. of the population and 90 per cent. of the industry; and, as a whole, there is similarity in the problem of all the places there. I believe that if we achieve real success in this region, with a really prosperous stripe across Scotland, it will affect the whole of Scotland for some time to come. I am in favour of this principle of "select and concentrate," though I have one proviso, to which I will come a little bit later. As there are a great number of your Lordships who wish to speak, I will pick out, if I may, what I see as one problem; that of mobility and emigration.
We all know that it is necessary to get a labour force that is mobile, which can move from areas of unemployment to growth areas where perhaps new factories have gone. What we are asking for in Scotland is sufficient mobility; but, in accordance with the White Paper, not a superabundance of mobility which means that the labour force is mobile over the Border and into England. We must try to face that particular difficulty. I am not one of those who feel it would be a great pity if in the future there were no enterprising young Scots who wanted to leave their own country and go to England or overseas; and it seems to me that the White Paper carries out that idea. One can see it very clearly in the figures for university students now. In the old clays, more students attended the university in their own home towns. Now, thanks a great deal to the increased grants, they are able to leave, say, their home town of Edinburgh and go to universities in England; 295 and English students can go to Edinburgh University. They can move around because there is sufficient money, and they are anxious to get away from their own surroundings and see something of the world.
As this process increasingly continues, we must, I believe, look at this problem of the mobility of labour and emigration as one. In what particular way can we help? The White Paper is quite right in talking of the obvious requirement of a sufficient number of good houses. I have read and re-read Chapter 6, and I agree with it. We cannot expect a family who are perhaps already settled in a house to move to another district where they may have to wait on a housing list. I am not going to say how the problem can be solved, because I do not know; but I was interested to hear the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, say that it was impossible to have some houses on the list and others not. But if we want people to go from one district to another, are we to tell them that they can go but that we cannot give them a house; that they must go on to a waiting list? And these, my Lords, are the people of whose labour we may be desperately in need; and who may at the moment be unemployed. Can we not make some arrangement for the building of new houses which these people can offer to buy as soon as they move?
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, I am afraid that the noble Baroness, Lady Horsbrugh, has misunderstood me. I did not say that. I said that one could not expect such houses to be provided by a local authority which had to provide two lots of houses under the same conditions.
§ BARONESS HORSBRUGH
I see. It would be a different condition here. This would be the condition for those moving into that area and the others. But even with what the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, has said, I think it is going to be very difficult. Think of the feeling of the people who are already in that area. They have their employment there; they are on the list waiting for houses. But because there is not enough labour for the new factories which have gone up in that area, new labour is needed. The people are willing to go, and, some way 296 must be found of providing them with homes.
Again linking it up with emigration, I am quite certain that if many of the people—young men, for instance—who are leaving Scotland and going to England at the present time, knew there was going to be a good house for them in Scotland they would stay. If they want to get married and bring up a family what they need is a good house. If we can show that homes can be provided in Scotland I think we should see a great change in the outlook for mobility of labour and emigration. With that mobility I would also include training and re-training. The noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, has already spoken of the training scheme. People going to these areas want to see that there are training schemes for their boys who are growing up. Mobility may mean not simply geographical mobility, but the moving from one skill or trade to another skill or trade; and to secure that mobility we must see that there is more chance of training.
The White Paper tells us that there is to be a great increase in housing in the central area of Scotland. Whilst I know the difficulty of having different types of housing (I could discuss it at length, but time is short) I would ask the Government to see that from the start we have realistic rents. I am always being told that people in Scotland are accustomed to paying low rents and therefore will never pay anything but low rents. My Lords, people have come to England from Scotland in their hundreds to find jobs. Have any of us heard of any of them going back to Scotland because they find the cost of lodgings too high; or because a higher percentage from their pay packets must go on rents? There may be some, but I do not think there are many. They are accustomed to pay higher rents in England, and I believe that we shall not solve this problem unless we face up to a higher standard of rents in Scotland. I have been told on many occasions by industrialists with factories in England and in Scotland that although they may be paying the same actual rate of wages, they may be paying a higher rate in Scotland because the rents paid by employees are so low. I think this matter must be looked into.
Chapter 6 of the White Paper sets out what we must do—the increased number 297 of houses, measures for mobility and so on—to stem emigration. But then we come to the crux of the matter: how are we to do it? If we are going to build more houses, more schools, more training centres, more technical colleges and factories; and if we are are to extend our universities (though there is nothing in the White Paper about a new university, I am glad to say), how do we mean to do it? I think we are all agreed that it is quite impossible for all this building to be done in what I may call "traditional" methods. I want to see the traditional methods carried on but I want to see the building industry extended to the full. I want to see more people working in the building industry. But, my Lords, whatever we do, we shall not get sufficient building done unless we look to the less traditional, what I believe is called industrial, building.
We have had various papers from the Government on this subject. There was a Paper on housing in May (Cmnd. 2050), which spoke of the necessity of this type of building. Now we hear of a National Building Agency that is going to give advice on new forms of building. I hope this idea is going to be pressed, because it is of advantage in two ways: we shall have some chance of getting the building we want, and it will spread employment—the immediate employment we are asked about in this Amendment. You are going to get all the employment possible in the constructional industries in Scotland—all the building industry, the traditional industry. If you can do more in factories in way of industrial building, you will be bringing in new people, and that will increase employment.
How much is being done? I know there is a certain amount in Scotland, but perhaps we can be told what is now being done in these ways and what is planned to be done. Because if we cannot get something like that done, the rest of our hopes based on many of these schemes are simply valueless. When is the Board of this Agency to be appointed, with Scottish representatives? When is an office to be opened in Scotland? As I read the Report I kept on saying to myself "When?", when I came to this part.
Here I come to my last point—the proviso I made at the beginning to giving 298 my support: the need to select a particular area and to concentrate. Can we really get this work done with speed and with a sense of urgency? That is what is required. And the great point about concentrating on one particular region, such as this, where the problems are similar throughout, is that there can be a scheme of urgency that will really inspire the people of Scotland to help the Government work it out. The people like to see how the scheme is getting on, and I ask the Government to give us progress reports from time to time. We have them on housing—statistics of the number of houses that are built. I think we get them quarterly. I ask now, that we shall have definite progress reports, and I should like those progress reports under the headings in this White Paper: housing and movements and roads and everything else. Those reports might sometimes be discouraging, at other times encouraging. I believe it would give us that necessary feeling of urgency in getting the job done.
I read that the Scottish Development Group still has a good deal of work to do, two more surveys to be undertaken and further discussions, and after that it is to continue to phase and coordinate the execution of the development plan. Perhaps I am wrong—I daresay I am—but the words "phase and co-ordinate" seem to me a little leisurely. I want to see behind this a driving spirit, real energy. I speak here from personal experience when I say that when you have been working hard on a plan—and I congratulate the Development Group on the work they have done—when you have been working at it in detail, when you have had discussions and negotiations and you get to the end of that stage, you are very tempted to sit back and relax and say you have reached the beginning of the end. I believe this plan is good. If we can carry it through with speed and real urgency it will be a great thing for Scotland. But we have not reached the beginning of the end; we are just about to reach the beginning of the beginning, and I think that that is what we want in this debate to put to the Government.
For my own part, I think it is a great step forward for the Government to have given us this scheme, and I am 299 grateful for the work that has been done. But the plans must now be carried through with drive and enterprise and dauntless perseverence in overcoming the innumerable difficulties there are certain to be. Then I think all concerned with it, from the Secretary of State for Scotland to the individual workman, anybody who has had a share in working this plan out, will derive satisfaction and will have earned the gratitude of a reinvigorated Scotland.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ LORD TODD
My Lords, it is now almost a year since I first ventured to address your Lordships. That was on the occasion of a debate introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, on the state of the Scottish economy. During that debate many noble Lords stressed the need for some comprehensive plan to deal with the situation. To-day I should like to speak for a short time in connection with the White Paper on Central Scotland, which sets out to do that and presents a plan designed to promote the development of the area. I am very much with the noble Baroness, Lady Horsbrugh, in feeling that I do not object, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, seemed to, to the local character of this development plan. While it is true that Central Scotland is only part of the problem, it is, I believe, a major part, because given a flourishing Central Scotland then the solution of problems relating to the other areas would, I think, be made a great deal easier.
I think, too, that the programme put before us is, on the whole, a comprehensive and well-balanced programme. No doubt there is criticism one can make of individual features: for example, I feel so strongly about the rehabilitation of the derelict areas of industrial Scotland that the amount allocated by the Government seems to me a bit on the small side. I say this because I believe the image of industrial Scotland is vitally important when it comes to attracting industry and business, quite apart from the depressing effect of bad surroundings on young people growing up in the area. This question of rehabilitation of the areas is important, I believe, from the point of view both of immigration and of emigration.
300 When I spoke in our previous debate on the Scottish economy I stressed the need to encourage in every way possible the growth of industries which involve the location in Scotland of a substantial element of research and development. From some references in the White Paper I think this is, in a measure, recognised by the Scottish Development Department, but I should like to return to this matter for a moment because of what I believe to be its crucial importance. We live in an age in which consistent prosperity for any given area in a country is absolutely dependent upon continuous technological innovation in its industries. It was, indeed, lack of innovation in the traditional industries of Scotland that brought about the economic decline we witnessed in the first half of this century. But let me make it clear that in this respect the Scottish industries were not exceptional. Innovation in mature industries which are essentially craft-based rather than science-based is an extremely difficult matter, and the performance of these industries in other areas than Central Scotland has been very similar; much the same thing can be seen in the heavy industries of North-East England, which is also the subject of a White Paper before us to-day. One can see it in Lancashire, in South Wales, and not only in areas like those in this country but in foreign countries.
The factors which contribute to difficulty in innovation in mature traditional industries—I mean such industries as metal manufactures, shipbuilding and heavy engineering—are numerous and complex. Not all of them are clearly understood, and I believe incidentally—and this stands rather apart from the Paper we are debating to-day—that there is a great need for a comprehensive study to be made. Such a study of these factors underlying difficulties of innovation in mature industries might perhaps be undertaken jointly by Government, by industry and by the universities. I believe it would be most rewarding.
But some of the problems and difficulties are, I think, fairly evident. It is characteristic of most of those industries that they tend to rest on what I might call standard-product production—that is to say, they rest on the production of some item or material 301 which is consistently demanded by customers; and they depend, too, on the exploitation of a rather rigidly set group of skills or technology. It is interesting to note that in such industries major technological innovation, as distinct from what I call slow product improvement, is usually brought about not from within the industry itself, but through invasion from outside by other industries, usually science-based industries. I think the invasion of the textile industry by the chemical industry is a recent example of this kind.
The adherence to exploitation of a standard set of skills in a mature industry, on the one hand, it is true, leads in due course to the setting up of resistance and reluctance to change on the part of management. It also leads—and this is as bad, if not worse—to the setting up of a rigid social system of hierarchy of skills within the industries themselves. This hierarchy gives rise to difficulties, not merely in the matter of demarcation problems as between skills in the industry, but it induces a powerful resistance to change on the part of the workers in it. If such industries—and they are the main industries in Scotland—are to survive, the need for a radical change must be recognised not only by management but also by the workers, too, despite the fact that temporary difficulties and hardships will be involved.
We have seen this process already getting under way in Scotland. The process of change leading, if you like, to a streamlining of Scotland's traditional heavy industry is already under way, but it has a good deal further to go. For this reason, I attach the greatest importance to the development of re-training schemes for adult workers and to the massive improvement in housing conditions and communications in Scotland in order to increase the mobility of the working population. The noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, raised this point, which I believe is an important one.
The streamlining, that I have been referring to in Scotland's heavy industry can, of course, be carried through without creating excessive unemployment only if the new industries are concurrently developed, as it is suggested they should be in the plan before us. But it is essential that some, at least, of these 302 should be science-based industries with a strong research and development element, because it is from this element that technological innovation is most likely to come; and that innovation is going to be the life-blood, not only of these industries, but indirectly, and for the reasons that come out of what I have just said, the life-blood, too, of the traditional or mature industries that we have been accustomed to in Scotland.
Innovation is, of course, a much less difficult thing to bring about in the newer industries, particularly the science-based industries, although sometimes I wonder whether it will always be so in some of the alleged newer industries, because one sometimes wonders whether this difficulty of innovation is not in part due to maturity as well as simply to the nature of the industry. I think everyone is aware of the fact that, once firms get beyond a certain size, many of them seem to run into difficulty in keeping what might be called the entrepreneurial spirit alive. They tend to become rather static.
In summary, my view is, as your Lordships realise, that economic growth and continuing prosperity depend on technological innovation in industry; and innovation not only requires the spirit of the entrepreneur, but needs the backing of technical knowledge at all levels. Here, I believe that Scotland has a great deal to offer, and I submit that it would be wise for the Scottish Council to emphasise this point in its publicity. Scotland has in its developing institutions of technical education an excellent instrument for the lavish provision of technicians and other trained personnel necessary for modern industry and business; and it is a flexible and, I believe, progressive instrument with a long tradition of innovation in technical education behind it.
I think it is worth while just to recall, in connection with its progressive character, that the first sandwich courses that were ever organised in Britain were operated in Glasgow in 1881. If you follow the course of technical education up to now you will find that there is at the present time at the Stowe College in Glasgow a most exciting experiment in apprenticeship training going on. Although it is possible to be prejudiced, these institutions are, I believe, working on human material which is second to none, as the technical record of Scots 303 in the past has shown. Behind these institutions such as those which I have been mentioning, stands the new University of Strathclyde, which is now being created on the base of the Royal College of Science and Technology in Glasgow. After all, this is the first independent technical university in Britain. It is in a phase of vigorous growth and, as the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, mentioned last week in our debate on the Robbins Report, it is venturing out into the fields of industrial management, social studies and modern languages in addition to the rapidly developing borderland fields of science and technology. Strathclyde aims at scientific and technological education and research at the highest level, and it will seek to maintain and to develop even further the close contacts which it has always maintained with industry in Scotland. These are facts which I believe should be publicised, because backing of the type that you give to such institutions is getting every year more and more important to industry.
I would add here how much I welcome the presence in the University of Strathclyde—and, indeed, in other Scottish universities—of many students from all over Britain. I believe we have got to break down the isolation of Central Scotland, to stop people from the southern part of this island regarding it as a remote and almost foreign land separated from England by something like 150 miles of shocking road, starting from Lancaster and finishing in Glasgow. Incidentally, I am glad to see from the White Paper that there is some possibility that work on the road between Glasgow, Carlisle and Lancaster is going to be treated with a little more urgency than it has been in the past.
Glasgow, my native city, is a place whose image in much of this country has been rather unfairly set by its past history, and by a small group of sordid novels which have enjoyed great popularity in the country. But I think that modern Glasgow is a progressive city. I believe it has a great deal which it can offer in the way of amenities to the newcomer. Let us make no mistake, it is now, and will remain for the foreseeable future, the industrial heart of Central Scotland about which we are talking in this White Paper. I would conclude by saying only this. I hope 304 that the Scottish Council and the development department will act with real vigour and dispatch in getting on with the proposals in the White Paper. It is all very well to give us a programme; but it is up to them and to the people of Scotland to produce the development and growth that follow from it.
§ 5.20 p.m.
My Lords, there are a handful of Englishmen taking part in this debate, and therefore I am not going to trespass on their preserves. My remarks will be concerned entirely with the White Paper, which I welcome. I consider that the whole principle of the development areas, growth points and so on, is sound. Nevertheless, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, I am outwith the Central Scotland area and a member of the other 25 per cent. I am quite prepared to take any setbacks which might arise through the activities of this White Paper, but I do not think they will be great; and at any rate they will be very limited in time.
Paragraph 8, to which reference has already been made, gives hope that the Government are fully conscious of these problems; that they are pressing forward with the examination of these areas and will produce measures to cope with the situation. I think that is most important, and I hope they will do it with the same thoroughness as that with which Toothill Report has analysed the problems of Central Scotland. I am convinced that it is only by taking a very large area and analysing the problems together, rather than looking at isolated matters, that these difficulties can be solved. Once the problems of Central Scotland have been solved, the problems presented by the other 25 per cent. of the population are nothing like so great. I venture to hazard a guess that about 60 factories strategically placed in the North-East of Scotland would produce a very different picture in that part of the world. That is not outside the bounds of possibility.
I should like to know what effect the proposals of the regional water schemes and the new housing developments, and so on, will have on the already extremely heavy rate burden. No mention is made as to whether it will be 100 per cent. grant-aided, whether local authorities will be left to carry half, or some, of the 305 burden, or what it may be. These things are, of course, very, expensive indeed. Paragraph 13 mentions theconsiderable expansion of the opportunities for training and retraining.I should have said that "considerable" was the wrong adjective to use. If one is dealing with 7 per cent. of the annual redundancies I should have thought that "modest" was a better adjective to use. However, that point has been mentioned by several speakers, and I merely agree with them.
Paragraph 14 appears to me to be vital to this whole scheme. It is a question of co-ordination. How is this co-ordination to take place? Who is going to produce the drive so necessary to get anything going? This co-ordinated problem must take into account the requirements of the building industry, building materials, labour, transport, and everything else outwith these areas. One cannot just stop the rest of the country and merely consider an area in isolation. Who is going to be responsible for drawing up the detailed master plan? Who is going to do the detailed phasing of material supply, labour supply, transport—which will be a critical matter—and all the other things that go to make up a large operation of this kind?
It is easy to talk glibly of modern methods prefabrication, non-traditional building, and so on; but unless the officials concerned are behind them such methods will not work. A number of the officials in the local authorities in Scotland, and even in the Scottish Office itself, are absolutely set against any form of prefabrication and non-traditional building. They are the first obstacle to be converted. They may have very good reasons for their opposition; but it is certainly there. I would suggest that one could kill two birds with one stone by setting up a branch of the Building Research Station in Aberdeen where there is a fine nucleus of technical research institutions because, in the same way as in industry, it is a good thing to have one's technicians congregated together. One gets a pocket of people who can all talk "shop" together. I believe that demonstration of buildings and methods to be used in the climate in question would answer, through actual demonstration, 306 the criticisms and prejudices which exist among departments and many local authorities.
I should like to know whether the "Critical Path Method" which is advocated by the Building Research Station for programming jobs will be employed, and whether, owing to the large size of this scheme, consideration will be given to employing a specialist industrial firm which uses computers when these matters become complicated and laborious. These computers can produce the kind of answer that no individual firm or no individual builder or contractor can produce. On this I speak with feeling, because during the war I was responsible for programming a couple of ordnance factories which were large-scale jobs, and it was a mighty "headache". I agree that the arrangements to publicise Central Scotland are very necessary, but it can be done in such a way that it does not entirely prejudice the rest of Scotland. I should like to put in a plea to see that if possible it is done in that way.
In regard to paragraph 19, on airports, this is a most essential aspect. I suggest that the abolition of what I think the Army might call airport "bull" should be a priority. In other words, efforts should be made to avoid one's being herded about and made to wait, and all the other difficulties which are apparently inseparable from air travel. It is high time that firm steps were taken to mitigate this sort of treatment. When people come here from America (where I am told they can just buy an air ticket, get on the aeroplane and that is that) they are in many cases quite upset by the sort of things that happen in our own air services. The prospective industrialist is a rather fickle chap, very easily upset and put off. So I strongly put in that plea.
Port modernisation is probably a somewhat overdue measure and should be integrated into the master plan. When one talks about transport, what about the rail lines North of Inverness? The phrase "take account of" is a wonderful phrase, one that can mean anything or nothing at all; but that is all we have in the White Paper. On the question of power stations, would it be feasible in the planning stage to contemplate the possibility that one or more 307 of these stations might be required, before it has become obsolete, to switch to oil-firing owing to shortage of coal? I do not know whether that is a possibility, but it might be worth considering at the time of design.
As regards the grant for the rehabilitation or removal of old buildings—which I gather is 85 per cent., leaving 15 per cent. to be paid by the local authorities—would that apply in a development district if unsuitable old factory buildings were removed and the site used for housing? I do not know whether or not it would apply, but I should like to know whether it does in certain circumstances. I hope that the Scottish Development Group will work in the closest conjunction with the Scottish Council. I think that this recognition of their valuable services, which the Government give in paragraph 32, is long overdue. I do not know whether or not the contribution will come in a form satisfactory to the Scottish Council, but I hope that it does.
The chief beneficiaries, when all is done in Central Scotland, should be the working population. That is quite right. Nevertheless, I think this newspaper cutting is relevant:Production at the British Motor Corporation's Bathgate factory was affected again yesterday when 120 transport drivers came out on strike—the 59th at the factory in 29 months. As a result, 500 men were sent home and only the engine machine shop was in production. It will also likely be affected if the strike continues.I do not attempt to lay blame on either side at all, because these are wild-cat strikes, but if you want to get industry into Scotland or anywhere else you will not get it that way.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, may I put this point? I think the record for industrial relations in Scotland is as good as, if not perhaps better than, is to be found in other parts of the country. I hope that the noble Viscount's words will not be a disservice to Scottish relationships.
No; this is a question of one particular factory in Bathgate, where measures similar to those proposed in the White Paper were taken to get industry there. In 29 months 59 unofficial strikes have taken place. I think the Scottish T.U.C. 308 might seriously consider this matter with, the employers.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
But the noble Viscount will agree that he is quoting an isolated case, and that, as a whole, the record in Scotland is very good.
Unfortunately in this part of Scotland, we have only isolated cases of industry. The White Paper talks about considerable travelling to work and considerable mobility. I must say that, except as a very interim measure, I should deplore this travelling. If one spends an hour travelling to work, does an eight-hour day, and then spends an hour travelling back, it seems that nearly 25 per cent. of the working day is spent in travelling. I think that should be avoided, if at all possible. Under modern conditions, with the building of new factories on new sites, the objections to living fairly near a factory can be overcome, and I believe that every effort should be made to do so because of this great waste of time and the unpleasantness which can arise from it.
On the question of incentives, mentioned in paragraph 118, the independent Advisory Committee is to give decisions on whether or not an industrialist will be getting a grant. It seems to me that, if this Committee meets only quarterly, as so many others do, there is bound to be very great delay. It is absolutely essential, if you want to attract an industrialist, that he should be able to get a decision within a week. That would fairly shake the normal procedure, but I believe that is very necessary.
One matter that struck me as perhaps requiring a little more thought—I do not know whether that is possible—is the office development, which could easily take place in places outwith this particular part of the centre of Scotland which we are discussing. I think that a depreciation allowance or unlimited depreciation should apply to office equipment. After all, computers are very expensive things. There are also mechanical accounting machines, and a very high degree of mechanisation in an office. If the idea is to attract people to these distant places, I should have thought that encouragement was very necessary. The Government have been singularly unlucky, or ineffective, in attracting their own offices 309 to go outside London, and perhaps the lack of encouragement has something to do with it. In paragraph 142 the Government quote figures of what they are going to spend in these areas, and they compare it to what has been spent elsewhere. But that is only a valid "crow" if they also quote figures for what they spent, or did not spend, in preceding years. However, I think it is essential that publicity is co-ordinated and carried out so that it does not jeopardise the rest of Scotland.
Just to show that enterprise is not dead around Aberdeen and other parts, I should like to quote a few firms who, without Government assistance and without carrots, have "got there". These firms have world-wide reputations and a world-wide export market. In the engineering field there are the Consolidated Pneumatic Tool Company, Hendersons and Gray's. In the textile field there is Crombies; in shipbuilding there is Hall Russell (who, incidentally, built the first Clipper boats; and they built the "Thermopylæ" in that shipyard before the Clyde built their Clippers) and there is Lewis. In the paper world there are the Culter Paper Mill, Stoneywood Paper Mill, Mugie Moss Mill, and Tait. In the field of agriculture, there are the Caledonian Milling Company, Scottish Agricultural Industries, Lawson's Bacon Curers and the canned food industry. Peterhead has the Cleveland Twist Drill Company and the Euclid earth-moving people. Fraserburgh has Maconochie Bros., and I see that Maconochie's are importing their tinplate front Wales. It may be that they will start taking it from Scotland: we ought to have some tinplate of our own. In Buckie, the B.T.H. have a small factory, and there are many other examples which show that enterprise is not dead in that part of Scotland. On the question of emigration, Hadrian tried to stop us migrating. He did not succeed. You must have Scotsmen about the place: they are useful as Prime Ministers, and offices like that.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, I rise to oppose the Amendment; and, looking at it, perhaps I exclude the word "immediate". The Amendment reads:…that these proposals fail to ensure an immediate substantial reduction in unemployment…".310 If I may leave out the word "immediate", I do not believe that the proposals fail to ensure a substantial reduction: I think they do. This word "immediate" makes an alteration, in a measure, to its sense; but I feel that—and I will develop this as I go on, although it has been mentioned by several noble Lords already—the urgency of the matter is of the first importance. I shall refer only to the Central Scotland Report, as I have no competence to refer to the Report on the North-East of England. But I do feel that this imaginative and businesslike programme appears to offer the best feasible plan for the industrial belt. It is good to know that other plans are to be expected, and that the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) have got spearhead schemes in hand for the North and for the Borders. Of course, we can find faults in detail, but I believe that the Government are to be supported in what they are taking in hand.
But, my Lords, does the White Paper contain enough sense of urgency, of immediacy? I feel that the sense is there, but it is hidden away in humdrum, undramatic, governmental language, to which the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, drew attention. He made this point, but I feel—and the noble Baroness, Lady Horsbrugh, said the same thing—that urgency is necessary. More than that, I feel that the sense of urgency should be made patent in everything the Government do about it. If speed is of the essence, then, as the White Paper says, first things must come first—and I would add, "and that right quickly". I am not sure that I have yet assimilated the word "infrastructure", but, whatever it is, let us get on with it. It started late enough, and I think we must remember that. Infrastructure!—roads, railways, ports and air.
It is interesting that the actual trunk road programme set out on page 13 differs little from the Release put forward in April, 1962. That means that the big increase which the plan proposes is in classified roads. So far, so good. To digress, I think the Government have done quite right in concentrating on the duplication of the A.8 as a first task. Now it is drawing to an end, and we hope that it will soon be completed— 311 and I see from the plan will be replaced, as to its middle section, by a motorway. But this is not the time or the place to go into technical details as to terms of the classification of the roads concerned. All I would say in supporting massive road development in the belt, is to repeat what I have said here before: that the major flaw, as I see it, in the road plan is the absence of an Edinburgh by-pass.
If your Lordships will glance at the map and mark—and I mean mark heavily—the line of the Pentland Hills, which extend from Edinburgh almost down to Lanark, you will mark a barrier of hills which is uncrossed by any road for 22 miles. Now this fact squeezes all the traffic between the industrial belt, the South-East and the A.1 into the City of Edinburgh. It astonishes me, and many others, that this situation is allowed to continue. With the traffic from the Forth and the Tay Bridges superimposed upon the growth traffic which we are discussing to-day of the central belt, a by-pass is needed—and a by-pass which was foreseen years ago. In a big city like Edinburgh no internal ring road will do to-day, and without it the beautiful city with its aesthetic values will have to be "Buchananised".
But, in addition to the place of such a by-pass road in the industrial pattern of Central Scotland, and in the light of the Buchanan Report, here is an opportunity, presented to Edinburgh on a plate, for a really forward-looking plan; for a by-pass road, complete with large parking spaces at the termini of public transport, with covered bus stations or access to public transport, so that as many people as possible will be able to do what they will have to do in the years to come—namely, use public transport within cities and thereby contribute to the very survival of cities as cities.
I go on from there to an industry in which I have a great belief. We must not forget that one of the industries in Scotland which have the greatest growth potential is that of tourism. Edinburgh, with its beauty and its Festival, is a capital asset of incalculable value to that end. I believe that, in terms of industry—and it is industry that we are discussing, the 312 industrial belt—we must remember tourism, not only in Edinburgh but elsewhere up and down the country. It is a pity that more mention is not made of it in the White Paper. We should, I believe, remember that in many countries in the world tourism is a major undertaking which contributes very largely to their overseas balance of trade.
Before I leave roads, let us remember that if £105 million has been set aside for all Scottish roads in five years, there will be precious little left if £90 million is going to be spent on the central belt, as outlined in the White Paper. I mention this only because my deduction from this is the same as that of the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth—namely, that the targets for 1970 are (I think he used these words) too leisurely. I agree with him that that would be the deduction from the figures that I have given.
As for railways, it must be remembered that Scotland has been deeply shocked by the threat of the Beeching closures. Rightly or wrongly, Scotland has been deeply shocked; and if, as I believe to be the case, the Government are not committed to these closures, then let them say so, and let them say so in no uncertain terms. If ever there was a contradiction of the suggestion that this plan was an election stunt, here is that contradiction. Surely it would have been vote-catching to say, "No closures in Scotland". They have not said so. I wish they would. But we must be sensible. Some sort of overhaul is necessary, but the knowledge that railway accounting has been operated on an antiquated basis makes one doubt, and doubt very markedly, the validity of some of the findings in the Beeching Report. Too much has been said, I think, of passenger trains travelling light of passengers without taking into account—and I make this point very strongly—the unsuitable and slow timings of many of the train services which are in existence to-day. Further, there is the fact, which any railwayman knows, that empty passenger rakes have got to be worked back in any case even if there are no passengers in them. Whether it is empty or full, the fact remains that the rake has got to be worked back to terminus to be ready for the next day, 313 and every passenger—there may be only one or two—is a profit.
I have one specific suggestion to make in terms of the rail plans and that is in regard to the railway service to Livingston New Town. I urge upon my noble friend that this should not be closed and that a statement should be made to this effect. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the reverse should be the case. The line has a great potential at the moment for freight and extra sidings are being added as we speak. With the population of a quarter-million coming to surround the area, a great regional hospital and, perhaps, a university, the passenger traffic should be fostered. Indeed, the right course might well be to include the line in the electrification network of the future.
I will now turn to the ports. More so in ports than in any other type of transport facilities, by virtue of the long-term nature of the task, immediate decisions are needed. Surely the case for the development of Leith Docks is sound; and if it is sound then every day counts in giving the signal to go ahead. Is the National Ports Council alive to the need for speed if this plan for Central Scotland is to have its fully integrated infrastructure? My Lords, perhaps this would be a convenient moment for me now to interrupt my speech in readiness for the Royal Commission.
§ House adjourned during pleasure.
§ House resumed.