§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, having interrupted my speech, I turn now to air transport. With all the disadvantages that stem from a very odd climate, the future of air transport is assured in Scotland. Again, speed of decision is of the essence. The new runway at Turnhouse should not await (if, in fact, that is what it is awaiting) a decision about the ownership of the airfield as a whole. Perhaps the Minister of State, who is to reply, will be able to tell us when we may expect to see the new runway at Turnhouse taken in hand.
Alas! the decision about Abbotsinch is disappointing to many people, including myself, though it may be satisfactory to Glasgow; and it is an expensive decision. I believe that, if it had not been for the general run-down of the railways, Prestwick, linked with the centre of Glasgow by a railcar service—as I believe London Airport should be connected with Victoria or St. Pancras—would have rendered a better service to the community than will ultimately be provided from Abbotsinch. And by "the community" I mean the community of Central Scotland, as distinct from Glasgow and its immediate neighbourhood. I am tempted at this moment to comment on my noble friend Lord Polwarth's reference to Prestwick and the overseas services from it. It is worth recalling that the new terminal is now completed, and I believe that that is another factor adding to the disappointment that Prestwick has not been made the airport for Glasgow.
While on the subject of air services, let it be remembered that airports are not the whole story. The airlines are also concerned. B.E.A., in my view, have thrown away a great measure of good will by their reaction to the British Eagle services, which have been added in order to increase the frequency of services with Scotland. B.E.A. had a certain measure of sympathy from us all over their operation of the unremunerative services with the Highlands and Islands; but to tell Scotland that they have not the aircraft to increase the frequency of services with the South, 315 and then to react as they have done to the British Eagle additional service, is just plain silly, so far as good will is concerned. The Toothill Report emphasised the need for frequent services, not for two planes leaving for the same destination at the same minute, which is what B.E.A. are doing at the moment. The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, talked of Dundee. It makes me wonder what he must feel about the amount that B.E.A. are losing in this duplicate service with British Eagle which they might be spending on putting down aircraft within reach of Dundee. I cannot help feeling that it would be fair in a debate on Scottish affairs to describe this as "just a carry-on".
While on this subject, my noble friend Lord Stonehaven referred to airport "bull", as he called it. I think I am right in saying that British Eagle do not insist on this. I have never travelled by their service, and so far have had nothing to do with them; but my information is that they permit the walk-on service. My noble friend Lord Stonehaven referred to air travel in the U.S.A., but it is also the case in Australia that one is impressed by the simplicity and the speed with which one can walk on and travel from place to place by air.
There is another matter on which I should like to touch, and that is the question of the Government as an employer—and my noble friend Lord Polwarth referred to this point. First of all, let us press the Government to continue to disperse Government undertakings in areas such as Central Scotland and North-East England, as they have done in the case of the Post Office Savings Bank and the National Insurance offices at Newcastle. Let them carry on the good work and spread these in the development areas. I think I am right in saying that the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, made this point. Do not let it happen, as I believe it has done, that Government contractors are urged to establish their factories within easy reach of London to facilitate inspection and the like. The whole job would be so much more cheaply done with good and fast communications, such as those of which we are speaking, with the cheaper operation of manufacture in development areas.
316 Several references have been made to migration, and on this subject I should like to support my noble friend Lady Horsbrugh. I think it is fair to try to get this question into proper proportion. I speak as one who has served over 30 years abroad, and left Scotland, if not gladly, certain happily and with a spirit of adventure, as my father did before me. I have heard it said—and I should not be surprised if it is right—that there are ten Scotsmen abroad for every Scotsman in Scotland. I think there has been too much sentimentality around the subject arising from the hardships that sprang from the Clearances. It must be remembered that many emigrants, even in those days, were not unwilling to exchange the rigours of life in the Highlands with little or no prospect of improved conditions, for the rigours of life abroad with a wide horizon of opportunity. I hesitate to make this point, but I think it must be said, lest I be misunderstood. It is a grievous thing for a man and a family to be compelled by dire necessity to move, to have to tear up roots that linger in the soil. But let us be proud that many a Scot migrates because he wants to.
My Lords, as I said when I began, these development and growth plans deserve our wholehearted support, and in giving them mine I make no apology for outspoken criticism of certain details. Nor do I apologise for repeating the appeal which other noble Lords have made for immediate decisions, particularly in transport matters. I oppose the Amendment.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF CROMARTIE
My Lords, I promise to be as brief as I can, and I also propose to look at this matter from a rather different angle—that of what the noble and gallant Viscount on the Bench behind would describe as "the tribal areas." I may say that I am extremely proud of being one of those tribesmen. Although what I have to say applies to the whole of Scotland North of Forth and Clyde, I speak more particularly for those people, nearly 135,000 of them, who live in the counties of Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland, Caithness, Orkney and Shetland, and the North Westerly Islands of the Hebrides—an area of nearly 7,000 square 317 miles, all to the North or North-West of Inverness. We have just heard from greater experts than I could hope to be, on both sides of the House, about this White Paper for the development of the central belt. Although, like most other things it is probably imperfect, one still feels that the Paper is a move in the right direction, and will bring much good to an area which much needs it. Needless to say, no Highlander begrudges any advantage that may come to this area which so badly needs it, and has needed it for a long time. But we must realise that, with the added opportunities of employment in this already fairly crowded area, it will be bound to become a lodestone for many other parts of Scotland, and especially my own area, which will only add to the depopulation of this vast place.
I entirely agree with my noble friend Lord Ferrier, that we have through the ages, of our own volition, gone abroad, in various types of service and for various reasons. But except for some very horrible times in history, which the noble Lord also mentioned, we have been able to keep a stock in the North, in the Highlands, which has proved of tremendous worth to the country as a whole. We have heard rather vaguely that there is to be another White Paper dealing with possible suggested developments for other parts of Scotland, and I would urge that this is done with all speed. The development of Central Scotland must proceed as quickly as possible, but we must get this other Paper out as quickly as possible, too. Already a vast amount of damage has been done in the area from which I come by the iniquitous threat—I repeat, the iniquitous threat—to close all the rail lines North of Inverness. I have already spoken on this subject in your Lordships' House and your Lordships probably know my views upon it. They are shared, I think, by practically 99½ per cent. of Scottish Members of your Lordships' House and even by some who are not Scotsmen.
I would remind your Lordships that no less a person than the recent Leader of this House put our minds to rest by informing us that extensive closures could not be indulged in for a number of years. I raised the point again a month later, and my noble friend Lord 318 Chesham gave me the same reply but in different words. On more than one occasion we have been told in another place—if one can understand straightforward, plain English—that there would be no closures of this kind until adequate alternative transport had been provided. I see no sign of it. There is not one mile of road which could possibly take the place of these railways. There is not one improvement on one single road that could improve the existing roads, which are the same as were there in 1912. I have looked them up. All that we have been given is a rather insulting and exceedingly stupid idea of a few extra buses for the public to use. If this closure goes through, I should like to get hold of the Minister of Transport, put him on to one of those buses in Wick, and see what he feels like after ten hours' travelling in that bus to reach the railhead at Inverness—and very likely in the winter he would not get there at all.
I shall not continue much longer, but I want to push this point in, because it affects the development of Scotland as well as development of this one area. There is, in fact, one inadequate main road, as many of your Lordships know, between Inverness and Wick and Dounreay, the atomic station. It serves several expanding communities who have expanded, as they were told to, in the last few years. Apart from that, there are two roads, one to South-West of Ross and Cromarty and one to the North-West of Ross and Cromarty. They are—if you can so call them—the only trunk roads we have. Where, therefore, is the alternative satisfactory transportation that we are to have? It just is not there. Quite frankly, if, after the promises we have had in your Lordships' House and another place (and I can see no sign at the moment of their being fulfilled), the Government decide to close these railways, it will, in my opinion, be one of the most cynical breaches of faith in which any Government have ever indulged.
I hope that the Minister of Transport will not only take some heed of the feelings of most Scots people, especially those who are most affected, but also remember his own motto of "Keep death off the roads", since, with the annual increase in motor traffic, the accident rate 319 has gone up in my own area very considerably. If we lose our railways Heaven alone knows what the result will be; in the summer we can hardly get along as it is. Noble Lords may say that I have gone away from the point, but I do not think I have really. I would finish by saying that without transport, and good transport, there can be no development. The only thing there can be is depopulation.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF MAR AND KELLIE
My Lords, I have two points to make in this important debate and I shall not take up more than five minutes of your Lordships' time. The Government's proposals for Central Scotland seem to have been largely welcomed by most speakers this afternoon. One aspect, however, which causes me concern and has caused concern to two or three of my noble friends who have spoken before is the feeling that unless more support is given quickly to the Highlands and Islands, to the North-East and to the Borders the drift of population away from these areas, particularly among young people, will inevitably tend to increase, and could increase alarmingly in a few years. Therefore, I hope that my noble friend Lord Craigton will give urgent consideration to the approach on this subject made, or about to be made, to Her Majesty's Government by the Scottish Council (Development and Industry).
A subject not mentioned in the White Paper is forestry. This forms the second point I wish to make and concerns an outlet in Central Scotland for forestry products, especially thinnings, grown in the area. Since the war much encouragement has been given by Her Majesty's Government to private growers to put more land under timber and to produce it by the best methods of management and sylviculture, and much, over Scotland as a whole, has been done to provide outlets for thinnings such as the Fort William Pulp Mill and the chipboard factories at Inverness, Annan, and Hex-ham in Northumberland. I understand that there is also a possibility of another pulp mill to be situated in the South-West.
All these installations are very distant from the expanding forests of Central Scotland. Transport costs are high, and 320 for ever going up and eating away the net profits of an enterprise which has been encouraged by Her Majesty's Government. For instance, it is unlikely that the delivered price of pulpwood can be more than 85s. a ton, but delivery costs from Central Scotland to Fort William or the South-West will average out at 35s. a ton, a high proportion of the delivered price. The position is similar with material for chipboard, where the delivered price is equivalent to about 95s. a ton, and the delivery charges from Central Scotland amount to between 35s. and 40s. a ton. The situation is such that it has not been considered economic to try to get into these distant markets. Bearing in mind the ever-increasing volume of thinnings coming on to the market as a result of the extensive post-war plantings and the location of existing and projected outlets, may I urge Her Majesty's Government to give urgent thought to the establishment in Central Scotland of suitable timber-consuming industries, not only for the benefit of growers but also as one means of helping to overcome the unemployment position.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ LORD STRATHCLYDE
My Lords, I wish to congratulate the Government and the authors of what to my mind is an excellent Paper, which gives a great deal of evidence of much research, thought, foresight and application. But it is a blueprint which depends for success on the various essential parts being ready to take their place in the scheme at the right time, a process which will call for a great deal of organisation and the closest possible co-operation between all the departments and the other authorities concerned. That is, surely, only one part of what is required to enable Central Scotland to take her full part in the economy of the country. The other part is to get industry established and employment provided.
I venture to speak on this particular aspect of the matter because of my experience as chairman of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, which has a duty under its Act to do everything it possibly can to improve the social and economic conditions of the people in this district, a district which includes all Scotland north of a line joining Dundee to Dumbarton, two-thirds of the land area of Scotland and covering some 20,000 321 square miles. In this connection, one of the Board's principal officers has for many years devoted much of his time to making known to industrialists just what the North of Scotland has to offer, and we have had some successes. But our experience is that, having secured the interest of an industrialist and his decision to come to the North, we then turn him over to the Board of Trade, and in most cases many obstacles then appear which take time, much time, and patience to overcome.
The credit-worthiness and management of the firm is investigated, it would seem, without any real sense of urgency. There does not seem to be anyone who can give a quick decision on whether the industrialist may set up in his new location and, if so, what assistance shall he forthcoming, what rent he will be expected to pay, or if he builds for himself, what grant he will get, though the latter is a matter which has since been clarified. The poor man is passed from one department to another, from one individual to another, until he becomes so frustrated that he feels inclined to give up altogether. I suggest that, in these circumstances, when an application is received by the Board of Trade it should become the duty of one official to see it through all its various stages. That would greatly speed things up and save much waste of time and feelings of frustration.
Just as, it seems to me, there should be one official taking charge of an application in the Board of Trade, so there should be one department, and only one, wholly responsible in relation to the transfer of Southern Industry from one location to another; and it should deal with every aspect of that move and with the setting-up of any new industrial project. In that connection I am glad to note that that Scottish Development Group is to be kept in being, but I would ask: is the Group concerned only with the infrastructure—a horrible word but it seems to describe what is meant? Has it responsibility only in connection with the setting up of the industry; or does the sole responsibility continue with the Board of Trade? I should be much obliged if my noble friend, when he comes to reply, could clarify the position.
I am also glad to note from paragraph 8 of the White Paper that the Govern- 322 ment are conscious of the economic problem of other parts of Scotland and are pressing on with their examination. I hope most sincerely that their conclusions may soon be available, because many small communities in the North have not far to go before they reach the point of no return and cease for all time to be viable communities.
At this point I would ask whether applications to set up industry in parts of Scotland other than in the central area are to continue to receive consideration. I ask that because time and again my Board, having persuaded an industrialist that it would be to his advantage to set up in the North of Scotland, hear from him that the Board of Trade has directed him to some other part of the country. Just recently we had persuaded an industrialist that Dundee was the place for him, only to hear later that on the advice of the Board of Trade the two extensions which his board had planned were to go one to the North-East coast and the other to Cornwall.
In another instance we had advised a large number of industrialists who were known to be contemplating extensions or new projects of the advantages which the North of Scotland had to offer. Many replies were received, some showing a great deal of interest; others saying the Board of Trade had already suggested to them they should go to some other place; and others, again, stating that their needs for the moment had been met but that when they had further extensions in view they would certainly consider the North of Scotland. Some weeks after the main body of replies had come to hand we received a letter from the chairman of a large concern, who apologised for being so late in acknowledging our letter. He said that he had been in the United States and that it was only on his return that he had learned of the facilities which existed in Dundee, as the Board of Trade had told him only of East Kilbride and one other place in Scotland; and in the meantime his board were in process of negotiating with the Development Corporation of East Kilbride. We easily got in touch with the gentleman and took him to Dundee, with which he was so satisfied that he said he would certainly go there. Then, some ten days later, I heard from him that at a meeting of his board held that day he learned that in his absence they 323 had committed themselves irrevocably to East Kilbride. I venture to ask again, is it any use trying to get industrialists to go to any part of Scotland other than that part with which the White Paper deals? Will the Board of Trade agree to setting up new industries in the crofter counties in the North-East, Aberdeen, Inverness, or Perth until the requirements of Central Scotland have been satisfied?
Apart from these slight criticisms, which have little to do with the White Paper itself, I welcome the White Paper, because it plans the central foundation on which the economy of Central Scotland may be raised so as to ensure full employment and prosperity for that part of the country. But let us not forget that much remains to be done. May all play their part in raising on that foundation a worthwhile structure!
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, I, along with many other noble Lords, believe that the White Paper is good as far as it goes. It sets out a sound pattern or sound framework for development. It sets out various measures for progress in communications, and in this connection I should like to support the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, in his view about the attitude of B.E.A. in relation to Eagle Airways. I make a point of this, because I know that in the OFFICIAL REPORT we do not find in brackets the words "Hear, hear!" when some noble Lord makes a remark, and certainly there were many noble Lords who said this in connection with Lord Ferrier's remarks.
Then, again, on this framework, we have the promise of new houses and the development of the New Towns, and importantly—a point which the noble Lord, Lord Todd, made—there is the realisation, and I hope we shall see more than realisation, that a real effort must be made towards the rehabilitation of the derelict areas. Nothing is more important, when people are thinking of coming to a new district, than that they should see it in an attractive condition, and not with dumps and pits all over the place. Moreover, this is a way in which we could give immediate employment to quite a number of people.
324 Again in relation to the framework, we have the human side, which is most important. I refer to the training of the people. I am not competent to speak on this training, but I feel, with many other noble Lords who have spoken, that what has been done so far is inadequate to cope with the task that faces us. There are nearly 100,000 unemployed. Many of them will have to be retrained, and I think a crash training programme, not only by the Government itself but by industry throughout Scotland in collaboration with the Government, is of great importance.
The second thing which makes me say that I believe this is a sound Paper is the fact that it recognises the importance of carrying on with the growth areas once they have started to develop. This, as your Lordships know, is something that Toothill suggested several years ago, but in fact it is no new principle. We all know it in our ordinary daily lives—"Back your luck" or "Do not change horses in midstream"; and although it has taken the Government a long time to face up to it, they have done it. I think it is of tremendous importance that it should go on.
The third point which makes me feel that this Paper is a good one is the fact that there is a positive Government approach to regional development. Whether it is sufficiently positive, time alone can show. But in trying to judge whether it is sufficiently positive, I think we need to look most carefully at paragraph 14, to which the noble Viscount, Lord Stonehaven, referred and which is the "guts", if I may put it that way, of the whole of this White Paper. It is said that arrangements will be made so that all concerned can work together to bring about expansion in an orderly and efficient way. The noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, when he introduced the Motion told us a little about these arrangements, but I am afraid that even when he gave us some description of them I was not entirely clear about them, or satisfied that what he said is sufficient. Other noble Lords have spoken on this point. For example, I am not clear whether any body, and if so what body, is going to rule on the matter of priorities; because there will have to be a rule of priorities. There 325 is too much of trying to do things in too short a time. I am all for trying to do it, but if there is not a clear decision—for example, that certain roads must be put here or houses there—there will be confusion, and less speed than if there is a clear decision on priorities.
Again, in paragraph 14 we are told that everyone will know what part he and all the others concerned have to play in the expansion. This, I believe, is almost as important as the machinery to decide priorities. The noble Baroness, Lady Horsbrugh, referred to this. She told us that she thought the Government ought from time to time to issue progress reports, and I would support her in this regard. 1 do not mind what form the progress reports take, but it is essential that all who are concerned in this matter should have a feeling that we are part of it, know where it is going and know how it is going; and so I ask the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, most earnestly, to think about this question of progress reports and to tell us all how things are going, so that we may play our part and feel we are playing it in a way of adventure and enthusiasm.
The second general point that I want to make is in regard to the building and constructing industry. Your Lordships will have seen from the White Paper that if all the things that are outlined are to go forward there will need to be an expansion in the building industry of some 30 per cent. At the present time the building industry has some 180,000 employees, and a 30 per cent. increase would mathematically make a further 54,000 jobs. I know it will not work out in exactly that way, but the point which I think is important is that it should provide a great number of jobs. And if it is pushed hard now it should provide jobs immediately, which is the anxiety of the Opposition in moving their Amendment. So I hope every effort will be made to push on with construction. But I think we all recognise that it is a difficult thing to expand an already pretty overburdened industry by a further 30 per cent. in a short period of time. There is, for example, the problem of training. Not only must the Government work on training and re-training, but I hope that 326 they will consult with various construction contractors on what part they can take, whether in Scotland or in the South.
Then, several of your Lordships have spoken about the importance in all of this of standardisation, prefabrication or modern methods of construction. Again, I am sure that this is something which is of tremendous importance if we are to get the best out of the building and contracting world. In this moment of urgency, in this crash programme of building on which the whole of the White Paper and the future development depends, I think it is tremendously important that both the employers and the workers should realise that this is not an ordinary time and that they should be prepared—I know that this is delicate ground—to be not as rigid as perhaps might normally be the case, for example, in regard to demarcation in various jobs. One knows that the building industry employs joiners, plumbers, electricians, plasterers and masons, and so often when one is trying to build something it is found that they say, "We cannot do anything now until the plasterer comes", although his work may be in some quite small part of a house and a jack-of-all-trades could easily do it. I hope that in these present conditions those concerned will recognise that perhaps what is right in normal times may not be the best thing in exceptional times.
Lastly, on this question of building and how we can increase the figure by 30 per cent., I have talked to one or two big contractors who have had it in mind to do jobs, or are doing small jobs in Scotland, but whose real base is in this country. When they have tendered in Scotland they have certainly had the feeling—I should not want to put it any more strongly—that there has been considerable favouritism, to their detriment. Perhaps it is understandable and human nature. Again, in these exceptional times I hope that we shall no longer have a position of that kind, but rather that we shall invite and encourage one and all of the contracting companies of this country to come to our help. Paragraph 158 of the White Paper says that the Government are confident that contracting industries will rise to the challenge. I say only that I hope that that confidence is well 327 placed, and I suggest that nothing is more important than that the Government should follow this up straight away to their best ability.
To sum up, I think that the most important thing in this White Paper is the arrangement to carry things out, to ensure that they are carried out, and, allied with that, the essential need that the people as a whole shall be told not only where they are going, but how they are going and what progress is being made in this great adventure for the development of Scotland. This White Paper deals only with Central Scotland, but, of course, none of us who has spoken to-day forgets that that is only one part of Scotland. For those who are there it is the most important part, but those who live to the north or to the south believe that their part is at least as important, and that their country is at least as beautiful—and who is to say they are wrong?
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE, SCOTTISH OFFICE (LORD CRAIGTON)
My Lords, it has not always been our experience in recent years that a debate covering the affairs of Scotland can take place in an atmosphere of genuine hope and optimism, but to-day we are in that happy position. Hope is legitimately engendered by the imaginative proposals in the White Paper which so many of your Lordships have received approvingly. Optimism is justified by the positive signs of improvement that we can already detect.
I will try to answer some of the major points raised in this debate. If I fail to answer some of them my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn may deal with them in winding up. If not, I will write to noble Lords whom I have failed to answer. My noble friend Lord Mar and Kellie was the only noble Lord, other than the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition, who referred to what is really our main concern—namely, unemployment. I think I should refer to that first. We do not underestimate the seriousness of the unemployment problem, but, equally, in a spirit of guarded optimism, we must not allow ourselves to be over-depressed by it. The current unemployment figures show encouraging trends. Over the three months, August to November, the 328 increase in unemployment was only 664 as compared with the normal seasonal rise of 8,500; and something like 5,000 jobs are likely to mature this winter from Scottish schemes for which industrial development certificates have been issued.
What are the reasons for this? I suggest to your Lordships that these signs of improvement can be directly attributed to the measures taken by the Government earlier this year.
EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, that is a little like a target for which I was asking. Can the noble Lord give me the exact figure of unemployment there now, overall?
§ LORD CRAIGTON
I have the figure. For Scotland it is 89,241–4.1 per cent. I was saying that this improvement is directly attributable to the measures taken by the Government earlier this year—measures such as the improved standard grants, free depreciation, the £75 million credit scheme for the shipbuilding industry, the increase in public investment, the additional overseas aid, from which Scottish industry with surplus capacity has benefited, and the renewal and extension to all development districts of the scheme to encourage small local authorities' projects which they can complete this winter. The White Paper is thus the logical evolution of the steps we have been taking over the past years. Undoubtedly, there will be other steps that will have to be taken, but we must make haste prudently, and must always be prepared for unforeseen changes at home and in the outside world.
Let me remind your Lordships of one of the many foreseen changes with which we have had to deal. It was absolutely crucial to get the Scottish coal industry operating more efficiently. The Government have given Lord Robens and his colleagues every support in their successful efforts. This really is a success story. Already productivity per man has increased by 25 per cent. in the last three years, and the net loss per ton has been cut down by nearly two-thirds. The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, referred to the current price for coal in Scotland, and in particular to the surcharge of 10s. per ton. These, as he knows, are matters for the commercial judgment of the National Coal Board; but the long-term prospects 329 are good, and I have no doubt that Scotland will not be disadvantaged in what it can offer in terms of energy prices to industry.
Those and many other similar changes and contractions have been accompanied in the same period by the starting of new growth industries. The strip mill, the motor vehicle industry, re-established in Scotland after 40 years; and now the accessory firms, which are beginning to settle in at places as far apart as Irvine and West Calder. We have electronics at Glenrothes; ball bearings at Irvine; office machinery at Cumbernauld—to mention only a few. It is significant that all these major developments are located in one or other of the growth areas. It was in fact the combination of the locational judgments of these firms and the Government's own policy of planned overspill expansion in the new towns and in other areas taking Glasgow overspill that made a growth areas policy something much more than a paper theory and a paper exercise.
This policy has evolved from the events which I have described and is now formally defined in the White Paper. What is really new is that we carry this evolutionary policy a major step forward by a coherent pattern of development throughout the whole region, coupled with special additional investment and a commitment that this special treatment—both in industrial inducements and in investment—will be maintained until there is a substantial improvement in the economy of the whole area. I was very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, for the support he gave the Government and the White Paper, and I must express my own gratitude for the continuing and constructive help given to Scotland by Lord Polwarth and the Scottish Council.
A number of noble Lords—Lord Mar and Kellie, Lord Cromartie, the Leader of the Opposition. Lord Polwarth, Lord Hughes and the noble Baroness, Lady Horsbrugh—in one way and another expressed anxieties that the special measures we are taking to reinvigorate the economy of Central Scotland are being taken, as one noble Lord said, in isolation and will accelerate the drift of population from other parts of Scotland, and in particular from the Highlands and Islands. On this, there are two considerations I 330 would ask your Lordships to bear in mind. The first is that the analysis given in the White Paper shows that the prospect of a long-term recovery in the whole Scottish economy will be seriously damaged if the net loss of young people in Scotland as a whole continues at its present level. It is essential, therefore, as a first step, to press forward with the measures we have announced for Central Scotland which contains 75 per cent. of our population and 90 per cent. of our manufacturing industry, and includes most of the run-down areas to which the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, referred and from which we are losing so many of our young people every year—perhaps a trainload a day—from Scotland to the South. It may well he that initially a faster rate of growth in the area which is the heart of the economy will attract some element of population from other areas; but surely this is preferable in the short term to the movement of these people out of Scotland altogether.
The second consideration is that although, for the reasons I have given, priority has had to be given to Central Scotland, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State fully appreciates the importance of the need to survey the problems of other areas. This work has already begun, and noble Lords will be glad to know that the Scottish Development Group is giving priority and particularly close study to the Highlands and Borders, in view of their specially urgent problems. We are also embarking on an examination of the North-East and South-West which present different conditions. My right honourable friend hopes that in the next year or eighteen months it will be possible to have completed studies for all these regions.
The noble Lord, Lord Todd, made another of his valuable and constructive speeches and gave us much food for thought and action—and perhaps even more food for thought and action on the part of the Scottish Council. None of us would disagree with the estimate given by the noble Lord of the particular value which research and development activity within industry can have in stimulating faster growth. There is no doubt that science-based industry, as it is rather loosely called, can thrive in Scotland, and indeed is thriving now. The noble Lord suggested that the Scottish Council should emphasise in its 331 publicity how much Scotland has to offer. I need not remind him that the Ferranti complex in and around Edinburgh employs some 5,000 people; and that Rolls Royce have moved an engine design and development unit from Derby to Hamilton; and, as announced only the other day, that Honeywell Controls (who are already a large employer in Scotland) are now starting to manufacture magnetic tape computers at Newhouse, providing about 2,000 jobs in the next five years. All this growth is the best sort of advertisement and encouragement for further growth—which, of course, is the object of the White Paper.
I now come to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Hughes, whom I always like to hear so much. He seemed to have great difficulty in making a case against the Paper. He liked the way it was written; I am grateful to him for that—and I say that quite seriously. We made a special effort that this White Paper should be readable and written in ordinary Queen's English; and I am very glad that the noble Lord was so kind about it. I am only sorry that nobody else was, because we went to a great deal of trouble over it.
Lord Hughes did not approve of our facing the harsh facts of life—facts which had to be put down if we were going to justify the White Paper. We put down the hard facts in the knowledge that he would undoubtedly quote them against us. He twitted the Government because we had streamlined the grant arrangements and increased the number of advance factories. Who initiated these policies is not so material as whether they are the right policies. On this I could only presume that the noble Lord agreed with the White Paper. He quoted paragraph 25 on Housing. He asked: how are 9,000 houses a year to be built? How are the local authorities going to pay for them? The noble Lord does not expect to quote half the paragraph without my finishing the quotation for him. Of course, 9,000 houses would be a great weight on the local authorities, but he did not quote to your Lordships the next three lines, which say:Building in the growth areas will be largely sustained by the new towns and by the Scottish Special Housing Association, whose activities will be expanded.So that explodes that bubble.
332 The noble Lord also spoke about school building in the new towns and growth areas. This is a very difficult point, and there are two conflicting considerations. We have to give special treatment to areas of rapid expansion, but we must not overload the constrution industry too much in any particular locality. I can assure the noble Lord that this is a point which exercises me, too. I have looked most carefully at this, and I am satisfied that our resources have been allocated as fairly and as intelligently as possible.
§ LORD HUGHES
My Lords, I should like to intervene very briefly to say that the Fife County Council, which I quoted, believe from their past experience that they can do considerably more than the Government can permit them to do. I appreciate the point which the noble Lord is making. If events in the next year or so prove that the county council can undertake more, will their programme immediately be expanded?
§ LORD CRAIGTON
Knowing the Fife County Council, I am sure they will not be backward in putting their case up. Obviously I cannot bind any Government as to what might happen in two years' time, but if things turn out better than we think, then Fife should obviously come back to the Government for another go.
EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, may we ask the noble Lord whether he will see that in the housing developments there is a proper percentage of houses to rent and which do not have to be bought?
§ LORD CRAIGTON
Well, local authorities in Scotland build mostly houses for rent. The noble Lord, Lord Hughes, asked us what was meant by saying, in paragraph 83 of the White Paper, that the Exchequer grant of 85 per cent. for the rehabilitation and clearance of derelict land will be maintained 333 until further notice. I think I plead guilty to a little loose drafting here. There is no intention of cutting off or cutting down the grant abruptly, but it would be wrong for the local authorities to hold back in the thought that it continued indefinitely. Indeed, the Local Employment Act, which empowers the grants to be given, itself has to be reviewed by Parliament in 1967.
My noble friend Lord Stonehaven asked me whether the grant was payable for clearance of derelict premises. In principle, the grant is payable for clearance and rehabilitation of land in development districts where this will promote prospects of employment in the area. But each case is considered on its merits, and if the noble Viscount has a particular case in mind I should be very glad if he would let me know about it.
The noble Baroness and my noble friend Lord Perth asked about progress reports. Of course, yearly these will be given in any case in the annual report of the Scottish Development Department. At more frequent intervals other Ministries issue statistical reports of unemployment and the like, and these are debated in both Houses. I do not want to add to the paper war without considerable thought, but we will consider the noble Baroness's suggestion and will let her know about it.
My noble friends Lord Stonehaven, Lord Ferrier and Lord Cromartie asked about rail closures, and I think I should say something about this. The present position is that the proposed closures to passenger traffic of 42 lines, including the Highland lines, and 345 stations in Scotland have been published. This is 42 out of 51 lines and 345 out of 442 stations in the Beeching Report. Objections have been lodged, and the Scottish Transport Users' Consultative Committee procedure for determining whether hardship will be created must be followed in every case. Public hearings have been held by the S.T.U.C.C. for the first 14 lines which were advertised in June. These public notices are the first stage in the procedure laid down in the Transport Act, 1962, and the timing of them is entirely for the British Railways Board. If there are objections—and, as I say, there have been objections to all the proposals— 334 the next stage is for the S.T.U.C.C. to consider whether any hardship will result, and to make recommendations about alternative services. In the meantime, the closures cannot take place, as the ultimate decision when objections are raised has to be taken by my right honourable friend the Minister of Transport, and he has taken no decisions relating to Scotland yet. But before he considers his decision, the S.T.U.C.C. will report to him on hardship.
Local authorities and others affected may make representations on other matters direct to the Minister of Transport, and he will consult the Secretary of State for Scotland in every Scottish case. This will ensure that all relevant factors are taken into account. In addition, in relation to the Highland lines the Secretary of State will take account of the views of the Highlands Panel and will consult the new Highland Transport Board as appropriate. My right honourable friend has, as the House knows, given an assurance that where a railway closure is the right course in the long run, the Government will ensure that it is not carried out in such a way as to leave an area bereft of facilities for the transport of passengers and freight. My noble friend Lord Cromartie should really give us time before deciding whether we are or ever will be cynical about the best interests of Scotland. I can assure noble Lords that all relevant factors, including the economic and social implications, and the adequacy of the roads and of alternative services, will be taken into account before final decisions are taken on the particular closure proposals to which reference has been made.
My noble friend Lord Stonehaven asked a rather technical point about water schemes. which is something that interests us both very much. I should like to write to him about it. My noble friends Lord Perth, Lord Polwarth and Lord Stonehaven asked me about the importance of co-ordinated effort among all those concerned in implementing the White Paper, and this is very important. As the White Paper makes clear, it is of course fundamental that each element in the pattern of development must be properly phased and fitted in to form a completely articulated whole. This will now be done on a wider scale than we 335 have ever attempted before. But the task is essentially similar to that which we have undertaken since the war in the New Towns, and we have learned a great deal about the problems and the techniques involved. The success which we have achieved in developing the New Towns has in no small measure been due to the confidence and optimism which a firm commitment to pre-planned expansion stimulates among all those who have a part to play in turning the plans into reality.
It is just this which we are now attempting to provide for the growth areas. Meetings have already been held with local authorities at official level, as the first stage of drawing up programmes, and next month I propose to take this a step further by myself meeting the elected members of some of those authorities, when I hope we shall be able to reach a broad measure of agreement on what needs to be done in their areas and what the priorities should be. We are very much aware of the fact that, although the Government with plans and with money can provide the essential basis for permanent success, there is still, if Scotland is to succeed, much to be done.
I come to the last point now, which was raised by the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition as well as by my noble friends Lord Polwarth, the noble Lady, Lord Todd, Lord Stonehaven and Lord Ferrier—in fact nearly every speaker mentioned it. The need now, having produced a plan, is for more trained personnel to fill the new jobs that have been and are being created, and for more and more trained people to build new factories and houses in which the people will live and work. This is something that can be done only by the Government, the local authorities and the unions working together with management for a common end. First and foremost, confidence in the future is essential. The Government have given a firm commitment to maintain public service investment in Central Scotland over the coming years at about the same proportion as in 1964-65, and my noble friend Lord Blakenham dealt with this at some length. Confidence will lead to increased 336 building but, as my noble friend Lord Perth said, if we are to get the right buildings at the right place and at the right time we must use all our efforts. These are some of the things which we are doing to achieve this.
We have been for the past year or so—I have done it myself—showing the local authorities the value of consortia and standardised sizes. We have made some progress and we shall persevere in this. The Ministry of Public Building and Works are to set up a National Building Agency, and it will have an office in Scotland. The purpose of this agency will be to assist local authorities and others to make greater use of industrialised building components, and to encourage new approaches to traditional techniques. The Younger Committee has for the past fourteen months been studying Scottish building practices and will report soon.
At the request of the Ministry of Labour, the particular problems of labour deployment in Scotland in this traditionally mobile industry are to be the subject of a special research project in the University of Glasgow. The trained labour force—and here I answer a point raised by the noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition—in the building industry must he increased, and the Secretary of State is raising the matter with the Scottish Trades Union Congress, whilst the Ministry of Public Building and Works and the Ministry of Labour have arranged for discussions between both sides of the industry and their related professions. In expanding their general training arrangements, the Ministry of Labour are catering especially for the building and engineering industries. If the need became evident, the Ministry would be ready to consider a further expansion of their programmes. All these steps, taken together, will give powerful impetus to the construction industry.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, before the noble Lord goes on, might I ask him one question? I think that what he has told us on the building industry is most encouraging. If I understood him aright, there is to be a National Building Agency set up here, with an office in Scotland. Could we not have it the other way round: the headquarters in Scotland and the office in England?
§ LORD CRAIGTON
I will note my noble friend's suggestion, but I think the answer is going to be what he knows.
§ LORD CRAIGTON
Yes, my Lords, I think the answer would be "No". So much for the effect on the building industry. But confidence, once established, will bring more jobs, too—and here, again, is a point the noble Earl, Lord Perth, made.
We need to provide more trained personnel for industry generally, and to achieve this the following steps have been taken. I may say that I am coordinating both these subjects and am giving all of the steps that have been taken because I have not seen it done previously and I think it is most important to realise that the Government are approaching this question on every front at the same time. Twelve new technical and commercial colleges are now being built, and a further thirteen have been approved. At the same time, alterations and extensions are being made to a number of the 92 existing colleges providing day-time further education. The Ministry of Labour have expanded their training facilities at Hillington, and are in the course of opening six new centres at strategic points throughout Scotland.
Industry, already heavily engaged in training in some sectors, will play an even greater part, as it must. The Industrial Training Bill sets out the Government's intention to establish training boards for the major industries, in order to improve and extend training practices within industry. I have dealt with this at some length, and even then have not exhausted the list of problems. I have not mentioned re-equipment, labour relations or restrictive practices. But all these problems are the urgent ones which, following on the White Paper, can no longer he overlooked or paid no more than lip service. Let none doubt that the houses and factories can be built, and that the Scottish people can acquire new skills. They have a long tradition of adaptability, and are able quickly to absorb not only new skills but new ideas.
338 Writing in the Financial Times (Scottish Supplement) of November 18, Mr. Geoffrey Rootes said—and I think every industrialist who is thinking of coming to Scotland could well read this:As well as injecting spending power into the neighbourhood concerned, the projects"—he was talking about Rootes, Pressed Steel and B.M.C.—are doing something equally important for their future by injecting extra skill and knowledge. At Linwood to date approximately 2,000 workers have been trained in the processes of this new factory—142 foremen have undergone special courses in management and employees have taken specialised courses in subjects such as computer work organisation and methods, industrial supervision work study, chemistry and applied technology in mechanical engineering, and this work is continuing. We have also instituted a programme of apprentice training at a technical college in Paisley.My Lords, for permanent prosperity, expansion there must be. But growth must keep pace with the task to be accomplished, and growth must be phased in its two aspects: the intake of skilled workers whom we must train, and the steady increase in productivity through investment in new building, in new machinery and techniques, and the adoption of better methods of operation. Only by doing all these things properly, and not half doing some of them, can we reach that permanent prosperity that comes only from selling the right goods and services at the right price.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I, with your Lordships' permission, hark back to this question of railway closures? Your Lordships will recall that a year or so ago my right honourable friend the Minister of Transport, in (shall we say) an unfortunate Press interview, gave Scotland good cause, if not to distrust him at least to doubt his understanding of the position in Scotland. That being so, I think I asked the noble Lord in my speech—I rely upon my memory—this question: If the Secretary of State for Scotland is not committed to these railway closures, will he say so in no uncertain terms? The other day one of the right reverend Prelates used the words "Delphic" and "Sibylline". I regret to say that my noble friend's reply to-night was, to my mind, either Delphic or Sibylline, or both. May 339 I ask again: is the Secretary of State for Scotland committed to the closure of these lines, or is he not?
§ LORD CRAIGTON
All that the Secretary of State has said, and I will not repeat all I have said, is that he is committed to being sensible about what Scotland's needs are, and taking the right action accordingly.
My Lords, may I ask my noble friend one question? Is the existing output of the fine Scottish knitwear industry sufficient to provide its export and home markets as it stands?
§ LORD CRAIGTON
Subject to correction, from what I have been told by the knitwear people, the answer is, Yes. I have not heard that they are very worried about that. I regret I did not answer the noble Lord's question about herrings earlier to-day.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Stonehaven, in the course of a very interesting speech during which he asked some very pertinent questions—to which he did not receive replies—said, "There are a few Englishmen taking part in the debate". As one of them, my Lords, I hope I may be forgiven for not taking part in the Scottish invasion. But I would say that, a little later on, I hope to deal, quite briefly, with something that the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, said about railways.
My Lords, I listened with great interest to the Scottish debate and with a great deal of appreciation, which has been sharpened by the fact that, the Ministers apart, every speech has, in its content, been in favour of the Amendment and against the Government's Motion.
§ LORD STONHAM
Yes; some even violently so. It is true, of course, that the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, for example, in a speech which condemned the Government hook, line and sinker, then, in the last sentence, of course remembered that he had to say how much he supported the Government's proposals. But every single speech, and 340 particularly that of the noble Earl, Lord Cromartie, has condemned the Government's policy. The other thing which I am sure the noble Lord who has heard the whole debate will not deny is that every speaker stressed the urgency, the need to get on with the job. He said himself that the Government's White Paper was a message of hope. Obviously, his colleagues have made it clear how important it is to realise thatHope deferred maketh the heart sick".I am very glad that the noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, is now back in his place, because I listened with the greatest interest to his speech, delivered, I thought, with great force and speed. I was particularly struck by the fact that its principal feature was positive statements uttered with the utmost confidence, but not supported by the facts. They were uttered too quickly for one to interrupt and question them; but, after twenty minutes of that kind of thing, with that simplicity and charm which is the noble Viscount's principal characteristic, he said, "I do not think I have made any contentious statements". I think that was one of the most remarkable statements in the debate. As a sample of the noble Viscount's non-contentious statements, he referred, when speaking of the North-East, to "the excellent transport facilities", and then, in the next sentence, mentioned the town of Washington, where there is going to be a new town, or an expanded town, of 80,000 people. But he neglected to tell us that the railway line from Newcastle to Washington has been closed down. So transport facilities there are non-existent. Since there is going to be this large New Town, I hope that the noble Lord who is going to wind up can enlighten us on whether the railway line is to be torn up or whether the Minister, in his wisdom, will leave it down until the town grows.
I think the most remarkable statement of all—and one which will be reprinted and referred to again and again in the next six months—was that of the noble Baroness, Lady Horsbrugh, who, in the course of her speech, with which I agree, said:With this White Paper we have just about reached the beginning of the beginning.341 After twelve years of Conservative power in Scotland and the North-East the experienced noble Baroness, Lady Horsbrugh, a former Minister of Education, gives it as her considered opinion that the Government are just about to start to make a start. This White Paper is a deathbed repentance for the wasted years; and it is too late. The note of urgency which crept into every speech was the realisation that it was too late. In my view the Government's plans in these White Papers for the development areas are foredoomed to failure; first, because the Party oposite does not really believe in planning by the Government in a true national sense; and, secondly, because within the regions they refuse—and this has been confirmed again in this debate—to set up the necessary organisation for co-ordinating industrial effort and the ancillary services.
The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, asked who is going to do it; who is to provide the co-ordinating force and give the orders. The question was asked: "Why not have the organisation in Scotland and offices in. London?" The noble Earl, Lord Perth, was told: "You know what the answer will be now". Then we are led to believe that there is this driving force. I believe it is absolutely useless to expect these regions, which have been on the down grade for years, to pull themselves up by their boot straps. That is what they are being asked to do unless a national plan ensures and even directs the flow of industry to them. The noble Viscount, Lord Craigton, rejected this completely. He did not say anything even about negative direction. The Government are still relying on incentives in the development areas to persuade people to build or lease factories there instead of in the South. It just will not work.
§ LORD STONHAM
Perhaps the noble Viscount will allow me to finish. I was commenting on what he himself had said. If the noble Lord asks, do I contemplate negative direction in the sense of further restriction on building in over-congested areas, then I say, Yes, I most certainly do. I say you will not get industrialists—or at any rate many of 342 them—to go into or to employ people in those areas where we need them unless we strengthen the existing machinery of restraint and apply it with conviction and energy. As noble Lords will recall, when the Labour Party was in power 30 per cent. of all new factories built in the country went to the development areas. In the last three years it has been less than 20 per cent. Actually, a smaller share in new factory building is going to the development areas than to the London and South-East region alone. That is the measure of Government failure and of their lack of determination to do this job.
The 1945 Distribution of Industries Act empowers the Government to clear derelict sites and to give 100 per cent. Treasury payment against the cost. That power, the 100 per cent. grant, has not been used once since 1951. Now it is supposed to be a great concession that the local authorities are offered a grant of 85 per cent. of the cost. Unless, by the application of necessary restrictions elsewhere and the necessary expenditure in development areas, we show we mean business, we shall not stop the depopulation of or unemployment in Scotland or the North-East and we shall not stop the appalling and expensive congestion and traffic chaos in the South.
Two or three weeks ago we had the Buchanan Report. It suggested what should be done to deal with the chaos that has been created, and it is estimated that it will cost £9,000 million. It would have cost a great deal less if during the last twelve years the Government had shown determination with regard to the maintenance of industries in the areas which we are now regarding as development areas. I say, despite the hopeful and glib speeches made by the two noble Lords opposite, that during the past twelve years the Government have handled, and are even handling now, each successive problem with regard to the distribution of industry and the creation of jobs in those areas with about as much efficiency as you would expect a cow to handle a gun.
Let us consider the vital question of employment. I would remind the House that in November, 1959, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Maudling, speaking of the Local Employment Bill said: 343The Bill provides the framework for dealing with the problem of local unemployment and will add success in this field to the many that the Government have had in other fields.Success in that particular field, so far as the Local Employment Bill was concerned, meant that after three years unemployment on the North East coast had risen to 7 per cent., compared with 1.8 per cent. when the Labour Party was in power.
I do not think that some of the local implications of this continuing unemployment have been considered. As some of your Lordships know, I am chairman of five London hospitals. We decided some months ago to try to recruit student nurses from the North-East, after discussing the matter with our former colleague, Lord Hailsham. Last month two of my hospital matrons went to the North-East on a tour of some ten towns, spread over a period of ten days, arranged by the local youth employment officer and with the town councils after appropriate advertising; and I have in my hand a copy of the report that they gave when they came back. There are one or two things which are very interesting. They said that it—was surprising to learn that from a population of 150,000 in Middlesbrough, one fifth, i.e., 30,000 of these were still at school".That gives us an idea of the measure and relationship of the problem we have to deal with there.
At Stockton, the youth employment officer said:…the unemployment figures which were shown in the Ministry of Labour Gazette did not accurately reflect a true picture of the situation in the area. In that particular area, due to the scarcity of jobs, people normally retired at age 57; they then joined the register of unemployed to draw unemployment money and have their card stamped until such time as they reached the age of 65 years and qualified for a retirement pension".Just imagine living and working in an area where it is thought you have to retire virtually at the age of 57 because there are not enough jobs to go round and you make room for somebody else!
Again, as already pointed out in this debate, the unemployment figures of young people contain a much higher proportion of boys than of girls. In what I think we all agree was a most 344 remarkable maiden speech, the most reverend Primate referred to this problem of the unemployment of young people and said that if over the next ten years 80,000 young people left the North-East, that would be an admission of defeat. I think we should all agree that that would be so. But the Report I have quoted says:Another difficulty in recruiting girls willing to move South is that the North East area of England is a strongly matriarchal society. Consequently few people want to leave the area; a considerable proportion would rather remain unemployed than leave the district…That first-hand knowledge of the situation, objectively obtained and with no kind of axe to grind, shows that it is particularly important to have the jobs there in the North-East and not to have paramount in our minds the idea of bringing people away from the area. It re-emphasises what I was saying: that it is imperative to have even a negative direction, if there is no positive one, so that we can get factories working in the area, so that we can have more advance factories built by the Government for letting, including a number of larger factories.
The noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, spoke about the growth areas, but, although he threatened to do so, he did not give any kind of explanation of the method of selecting growth areas. Is an area selected because of its potentialities or because there is a large number of unemployed there? Whichever way we look at the areas that have been chosen, it is extremely difficult to understand why they have been put into this category. Why have the Government rejected the idea of a real regional organisation, with regional controllers of each Department to consult and work together regularly and link up with the planning machinery for the area? Why cannot we have development areas and growth areas in one area, without any kind of arbitrary division, so that we can harness all the resources of national and local government in the development of these areas and do the job they need?
The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, said that he was glad to know that the existing groups of development officials are to continue in being. We are all 345 glad of that, but we were expecting something extra. There is no increase or change in the administration at all. In the North-East, all that has happened is that officials have moved from one building in Newcastle to another, and things are exactly the same in all other respects.
Finally, I want to say a brief word about railways, a subject which was raised by three or four noble Lords opposite. The noble Lord, Lord Craigton, said that the procedure, with which we are all nauseatingly familiar, must be followed. Why must it be followed, when it is such abject nonsense, which is no longer accepted by any sensible person as a proper procedure to pursue? The Prime Minister gave an assurance in another place that there would be no closures unless there was adequate—I emphasise, adequate—alternative transport. In the area about which the noble Earl, Lord Cromartie, spoke there are 135,000 people in 7,000 square miles—20 to the square mile. It is impossible to provide any kind of public transport on wheels which would be economic. As has been said, there is not a single mile of roadway in the county of Caithness which is as much as sixteen feet wide. Everybody knows that it would take tens, perhaps scores of millions of pounds to make the roads in that single county fit for the transport that would have to replace the railways. We all know these things, which could be repeated all over the country.
If the Beeching Plan goes through, the Government would denude the development area about which I have been speaking entirely of transport. The Government While Paper says:The railway facilities of the North-East are reasonably good.But the Government are proposing to destroy the railway facilities of the North-East. There will not be a railway line west of the Newcastle/Darlington line in the whole of Durham. What is the use of talking about reasonable railway facilities, if they already have plans to do away with them altogether?
The White Paper on the North-East says: 346At the same time the Minister of Transport has arranged to take account of the local travel implications of the region's development needs when any railway passenger service closure proposal comes before him for decision.And the Scottish White Paper says:…the Minister of Transport…will, in consultation with the Secretary of State for Scotland, take account of its consequences in terms of the planned economic development of the area concerned.What absolute rubbish! Already in Scotland 45 out of the 55 possible closures have been objected to—I have seen to that—and in England about 150. The only one I did not oppose was Washington. I wanted to see what the Government would do there. The Minister, as he assured us in another place, is supposed to be looking at them all, at every detail. He is supposed to be reading the whole 200 of them. That is absolutely impossible. But it still would be wrong, because half-a-dozen Government Departments, as well as many local authorities, have to go into all these matters.
I promised to sit down and I will do so in a moment, but I should like to quote just one passage from a letter. It says:The examination of one form of transport in isolation is an amusing exercise but a waste of time;…".That was not written by a politician; it was written in a letter by Mr. Gilbert S. Szlumper, former General Manager of Southern Railways. These are the words of an expert and a sensible man. The noble Lord, Lord Craigton, knows his own country and loves it well. He will know that they have vigilantes and are in process of forming a National Transport Council in Scotland which will have the people aflame over the whole country. He was pleasantly surprised that the Government held the Dumfries seat a few days ago. He also knows that, with the possible exception of the seat held by the Prime Minister, unless they do something sensible about the Scottish Railways there will not be a Tory seat in Scotland after the General Election. These are bold words, but I am sure that they are true.
What is the sensible thing to do? It is to say publicly to the people, "We are not going to insult your intelligence 347 by putting you to the great trouble of organising petitions and objections, gathering evidence of positive hardship about the closures, which, whatever the Transport Users' Consultative Committee say, we know within the general conditions cannot possibly be closed at present or for many years ahead." They should also do what we in the Labour Party said: consider one form of transport not in isolation from all other forms of transport and indeed of the whole economy of the country, and arrive at a sensible conclusion.
Let the Government admit that a foolish mistake was made. It has been stubbornly adhered to and, to some extent, dishonestly adhered to, because they continue to let figures go out which everybody knows are not the full and correct figures. This is not the proper thing for any Government to do. Still less is it proper for the Government to come to us and say: "Here are policies for the development of Scotland and the North-East region of England" which they say will cover all sorts of things, but at the same time they allow this transport "fiddle" to go on. I therefore urge the Government on this point to admit that they were wrong, and to say, if they mean business, that they are not going on any longer with a stupidity which is not supported by any sensible person of any political Party in this country.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ LORD LAWSON
My Lords, it was a delightful thing to hear my noble friend open this debate, and also to hear the new Minister, who really knew what he was talking about. I say that advisedly, because the last time I stood here talking about Durham and Scotland I talked about the Industrial Revolution, and the Minister did not know what I was talking about. I believe he thought I was talking about some fierce kind of revolution, because he never mentioned the matter. That would be of interest to the noble Lord who has just come among us. It has been a delight to hear this debate to-day. But there are more men idle in Durham to-day than there were at this time last year. There are more children receiving unemployment pay than there were at this time last 348 year. So severe has the problem become that the Government have had to issue a statement that the children must attend school almost as a condition of receiving unemployment pay. That is a very serious matter. I think the case is very much the same in Scotland.
I know of no sadder time in my county than these last two or three years. It is a sad thing when a man is unemployed; but when little children come to you and stand in queues at the door for a reference to get a job (and all public men know what the request for a reference means) it is heartrending. This is a very big subject, and I think that the Government some day soon will have to face up to these varying stages of the industrial Revolution.
I went to see a film this week called Remote Control. I saw things performed in that film that when I was a man in the pit would have seemed miraculous. I think that very soon the Government must face this new situation. This film showed how somebody touched a button (he could be sitting in a drawing room, if he liked, so long as he was connected) and a great machine moved. It cut the coal, it put the props in place and did everything, without a single hand touching it. What are you going to do with a machine like that? It ought to make the world happier. I know that I did not get any fun mining when I did it with my hands. It was the hardest class of work that I remember, and very dangerous work. Perhaps the House will forgive me if I describe in a few words an incident that happened to me. I was working on a fork and using my pick upon it when suddenly a small piece of stone released the whole lot and it almost caught me on the head. When the dust had cleared there was a white wall eight yards long in the place where I was working. Those around me thought that I and the man working with me had been killed. But now you have a machine to do that work. This is the kind of thing that will be applied in other industries and to other things affecting our lives.
If I may make a suggestion to the noble Lord who is to reply, it is this. My noble friend will tell you that I 349 would hardly come into the Chamber to-day; that is so, is it not?—
§ LORD LAWSON
—because I was so disgusted on the last occasion at the lack of understanding on the Front Bench opposite in regard to the unemployed men and boys who are now suffering. But Mr. Quintin Hogg does not understand much more. Just see what he has done! He has used this lamentable situation as a possible vote-getter. I make that statement after considerable thought. All that concerned him about it (I wish he had been here, because I would have told him so if he had been) was how many votes were going to be got out of it. That is surely a lamentable position for any Government to arrive at.
This is a situation which I think demands no ordinary thought, and I put this suggestion to the noble Lord opposite. If we could have a sort of standing committee, composed of people with scientific knowledge and practical experience, it would be very useful. The problem will not touch only the miners in the future. The noble Viscount himself almost said teat it would so develop that it would touch most sides of our national working life. I think it would be a good thing if we had a standing committee of some kind, mixing practice with science, to explain to Governments how the present situation is likely to affect society. We have more children at school this year than last year, preparing themselves for some class of work which they will not be able to get. Children cannot be sent about the country. If they were trained and were of an age, it would be all right. But there will have to be some kind of organisation to send them to certain parts, although, so far as I am concerned, I prefer to see them staying at home and doing their work.
I do not want to speak too long, because this has been a very good and valuable debate. I think we should be wiser if we made arrangements for the increased numbers of unemployed in Durham and the Scottish coalfields, because, owing to remote control and the doing of work automatically, there will 350 arise a lack of the need for men who work in stone, as well as for those in coal. If we take note of these things, then I say that we must have standing committees to give us their experience, and to deal with the situation which is likely to arise. That is all I am going to say. I could say a good deal more upon this matter and I am glad, indeed, that my noble friend persuaded me to come in to-day and saw to it that my name was put on the list. I can assure the noble Viscount that I was angry with the last Minister who heard me speak about the Industrial Revolution and who thought I was talking about some revolutionary power. He did not really know what I was talking about, because he never mentioned it. It never struck him, and he did not give two minutes' consideration to that matter. But we have one Minister, at any rate, who knows something about the Industrial Revolution, and who can talk about it without giving the impression that anyone who mentions it carries a gun.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, before turning to the bones and meat of the debate, I should like to refer to two speeches which have been made this afternoon, the first the notable maiden speech of the most reverend Primate, the Lord Archbishop of York, which was beautifully delivered. I think his words, and what was behind them, must have struck at any heart in this House. particularly when he spoke of those school-leavers who left their homes and came to London, this great City, to look for work. I admire initiative, but I cannot help feeling that this was, as the most reverend Primate said, a sign of defeat. The other speech to which I should like to refer is that of my old friend Lord Lawson. Men come from Durham, and in Lord Lawson we see a very good example. If the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, had been here, I should have sought his support; because in my estimation the best Division he commanded (and I was never in it) was the 50th Northumbrian Division, the "Double T's"—and thank Goodness! most of the Scots have disappeared from the House. But I think we are agreed on that; and 351 certainly the Minister himself spoke of the quality of these men. I think it should also be placed on record that this same opinion is widely held by industrialists who have gone to this area. They speak extremely highly of their work.
I cannot help feeling that in a few days' time we shall be looking to the New Year. Most of us, in our homes, clubs and hotels, will look to our families and our friends, and we shall wish each other a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year. I think most of us who have listened to this debate will be conscious of the 462,000 men who are unemployed and their families, perhaps 900,000 or 1 million men, women and children, who will watch into 1964 with not the same hope that we have. Apart from that number, let us not forget the men to-day who are in these declining industries about which the noble Viscount spoke, and who will look to 1964, not with hope but with fear. If I wanted to level an indictment at the Government, it would not be on these proposals: it would be that the position of these declining industries should have been foreseen by any economist, any industrialist, and any Government worth its salt. The Government give the impression that the situation in North-East England has suddenly appeared with the cold weather at the beginning of the year. Through history this area has always had a high rate of unemployment. The factors were the same—declining coal, declining shipbuilding. The indictment that I would lay upon the Government is that they wait until their last moment of breath as a Government to produce a programme.
I want to examine in a little detail the Scottish White Paper. I noticed that the Scottish Peers, as my noble friend Lord Stonham said, spoke in support, but in every case they raised certain doubts. The noble Lord, Lord Craigton, spoke of what we might call the infrastructure of this central area. He drew our attention, and quite rightly, to the need for roads, housing, schools and many other services. One would imagine, from the global figure, that we are going to see a dynamic improvement in these particular spheres. I wonder 352 how many noble Lords have looked at this particular document, Public Investment in Great Britain, October, 1963. I should like to refer to this document first so that we can be quite clear that I am not exaggerating the position. In paragraph 14 it says:The implications for public service investment of the Government's proposals for developing North-East England and Central Scotland will be set out in the forthcoming White Papers on these areas. The figures for 1963-64 and 1964-65 shown in this White Paper include the extra investment which has been approved as part of the policies for these two areas.Perhaps we can look at the figures in this White Paper dealing with roads. The House will remember the words of my noble friend Lord Stonham and of the noble Lord opposite on what the consequences of the rail closures will be. The Government recognise that there will be difficulties, but say they will overcome them by road building. All right, let us look. The total figure for roads in Scotland, 1963–64, is £17.5 million.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
Yes. For the year 1964–65 it will rise to £18.1 million. During the time the Government are going to cut the railways on a massive scale, the increase in road building is to the tune of £600,000. Where is this dynamic policy with which the noble Lords opposite have come to the aid of the Government? Can we recognise this: that in the case of trunk roads the amount has been increased, but in regard to classified roads the amount is falling from £8.3 million to £6.2 million? These are figures taken out of the White Paper issued in October, 1963.
Let us consider housing, because this, again, is a key part in the Government's White Paper for Scotland. I understand that in this area they are going to increase output by 7,000 houses a year. I want to look at the total cost—and it must be the total cost—for Scotland. In 1963-64 the total cost is £70.1 million. In fact, for 1964-65 the same figure is given. If we are going to see an increase in house building within the central area and there is no increase in the amount to be spent on housing, one thing must 353 happen: the outside areas, particularly Glasgow with all its slums, must take a second position. In fact, it may well be that the sums now available to Glasgow will not be available next year. That is my only reading of these figures.
My last point is to look at education. In 1963–64 we shall be spending £21.5 million on all forms of education in Scotland. In 1964–65—and I would ask noble Lords to bear this in mind—the figure will drop to £21.3 million. There will be a marginal drop. But in schools between those two years—schools, mark you!—there will be a drop of £1.6 million. So what chance has my noble friend behind me, in regard to the County of Fife, of getting extra money? He'll be lucky!
This is the position as I see it in Scotland. I have taken these figures and have laid them side by side with the Government's plan and proposals that have no specific figures allocated to any of these particular items. I have taken them from this document. Therefore, on that basis it would appear that the policy which the Government is trying to persuade its supporters to follow as being dynamic means very little. I hope that the Scots, if they are not here to-night, will at least read these words and will ask the Minister when he returns to Edinburgh for an answer, because it would seem to me that they have been seriously misled.
My noble Leader put one issue to the Government. He said: "What are your targets? If these are plans and proposals, surely you must have some idea when you lay them out. what it is you seek to achieve and what is the end to which you work." I asked the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, because he is well up in Scottish affairs, what was the number of jobs that must be provided in Scotland to ensure that there is full employment and that this steady drift of population is prevented. But Lord Polwarth was unable to give it. I do not blame him; he is not in the Government. But your Lordships will note that when the noble Lord, Lord Craigton, was replying he again avoided, not only the question I put to the noble Lord, Lord Polwarth, but the question that my noble Leader put to the Government: what is the figure to which you are working for Scotland?
In the case of North-East England, while the Government are quiet, the 354 North-East Development Council under our very great friend Mr. George Chetwynd, to whom great tribute is regularly paid, has assessed that in this particular area at least 100,000 new jobs will have to be provided within the next ten years. We have to take into account not only the automation that is taking place and the declining industries, but many other factors. It may well be that this particular assessment is below what will be needed. But at least it is an assessment on which they are working.
Cannot we have from the Government the number of new jobs they believe need to be provided in Scotland and North-East England? Because, if we take North-East England as requiring 100,000 jobs over the next ten years—and I am not going to stand up to-night and say that the Local Employment Act is a failure; but let us keep these particular figures in mind—is it not a fact that during the last three years to April, 1963, eighteen companies have been persuaded to go to North-East England to provide jobs for 2,288 persons? If those are the figures, and I took them from the House of Commons Hansard, and they were not challenged, how short we must be in meeting this challenging figure of 100,000 new jobs! During this period 33 companies closed, with a loss of 3,600 jobs. So, in fact, with the use of this Act we did not make up for the loss of jobs that arose merely from closures. It took no account of increased birth rate, or of the results of automation and efficiency. It seems to me that if we take those figures we are a long way short of the target that will have to be met.
I wish to say only one last word—and this is perhaps the most important. The noble Viscount, Lord Blakenham, said that the Government had used very severely curbs on development in South-East England. He may say that; but for the rest of us who live in South-East England, who have to put up with the intolerable travelling conditions, who have to struggle to town to work, when we see the result of this pressure in the rising cost of houses, the rising cost of schools and hospitals and the like, we wonder whether, in fact, the Government ever use their powers; particularly when we see not only this steady drift of individuals coming to the South-East 355 looking for work, but the way in which administrative offices, and sometimes new companies, are being set up in South-East England.
The noble Viscount may be correct when he said that the use of these certificates has prevented certain companies from coming here. But in fact the Government will not use the industrial certificates in regard to office building. It is the office building that is the magnet for the young people who want to become clerks and typists and the like; and it is that which brings them to the South. Unless the Government are going to do something in regard to South-East England they will have to use the certificates in regard to office building. Why should office work be confined to London? The boys and girls in Newcastle and Durham, and other similar places, are as well educated as the youngsters who are being brought up in London. Why cannot we see a movement of these administrative offices to those areas? I think the Government themselves could play a big part in this respect if they would use their certificates in this matter.
My Lords the time is late. We wish to hear from the noble Lord, particularly on the points that I raised in regard to Scotland, and the others raised by my noble friends in their own brief speeches. A plan is a plan. A plan is useless unless there is a will. I be lieve that the Government have the will, but when we look at the twelve years of their record I do not think they have the capability.
§ 8.24 p.m.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
My Lords, I should like to start, as the noble Lord Lord Shepherd started, by paying our tribute from this side of the House to the very valuable and cogent speech made by the most reverend Primate, a speech to which we all listened with very great attention and which nobody who heard it could possibly fail to appreciate. I would also say right away (this is a point on which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, commented) that the most reverend Primate dealt most sensitively, if I may say so, with the question of unemployment among young people, and possibly, also, one could 356 say with what he regarded as the misemployment of young people. I can tell noble Lords that my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour is planning to visit the North-East early in January and will be devoting special attention to the problem of youth unemployment and training. My right honourable friend the Secretary for Industry. Trade and Regional development also proposes to spend several days in the North-East early next year.
My Lords, this is the first opportunity that we have had to debate these two White Papers. My noble friend Lord Polwarth, in a notable speech, referred to them as bringing a brave new look to the scene in the two areas concerned. These White Papers involve an entirely new principle which has evolved from operating the Local Employment Act, a principle which is to be applied side by side with the giving of aid, under the Local Employment Act, to districts of high unemployment. The new principle is that of the growth area, and I might describe it in a few words as the reinforcement of success in areas which are already proving attractive to industry and which can generate growth not only within themselves but in the areas around. And it is that principle that your Lordships' House is invited to-day to approve.
If I may say so. I thought that the noble Earl who spoke first for the Opposition came very near to opposing it. He called it planning in isolation. But this is deliberate discrimination. You take the areas that you consider need attention first, and, of necessity, you come to deal with other areas later. The noble Earl complained that other areas were not being dealt with at the same time. He referred to the situation in Wales. Well, the unemployment figure for Wales is now 3 per cent.: there has been a steady improvement there. Nevertheless, there are, of course, areas of high unemployment there also—the heads of valleys, the places to which it is notoriously difficult to attract industry. A study is now in hand to cover the prospects over the next 20 years in Wales.
The noble Earl referred to Merseyside. A group is to be set up to study the economic problems there in the same 357 way as the North-East was studied. He referred also to the North-West. In the North-West as a whole the unemployment figure is 2.5 per cent. Nevertheless, studies are already in progress there. And as to the South-West, my right honourable friend indicated in another place that a study has not yet been started, but he himself is going to pay a visit very early in the New Year to the South-West.
§ EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
The whole point I am trying to make is that there are very serious pockets of unemployment. Take Corn wall, where it is nearly 5 per cent. in places. It was 5 per cent. overall a few months ago—I am glad it is not now. Birmingham is the same; Cumberland is the same. There is no point is saying that as a whole the proportion is 2.5 per cent. That is no consolation to Bishop Auckland, which has gone up from 4.6 per cent. to 6.9 per cent. in the last few months. When you are having a scheme in one part of the country, that is no use to them: they want relief now.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
I had hoped to deal with this problem in due course. We have so far been making use of the Local Employment Act, and I would say straight away that I think it is right to say that it has had a considerable effect since it came into operation on April 1, 1960. The number of undertakings which have received assistance under the Act in Central Scotland and in the North-East is 171 in Scotland and 134 in the North-East. I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, that, of the 17,000 or so jobs which have been provided in the North-East—or are in the pipe-line—11,000 are accounted for by firms coming in from outside the area. That is a considerable contribution to a solution of the problem.
If I might enlarge on this point, we have under the Local Employment Act been seeking to deal with the areas of highest unemployment. It is impossible at any one time to attract more industry than is on the move, and we do strictly operate the industrial development certificate policy in other parts of the country. It is no use pretending that it is possible never to give an industrial 358 development certificate in the areas of high pressure on employment. It is quite unrealistic to suppose that all industrial development can be prevented in those areas. For one thing, certificates are granted for extensions to industries that are already established there and which cannot be separated from their existing factories. Then again, certificates are applied for in order to increase productivity and to improve efficiency. Those have to be granted. Then there are also certificates that are applied for by local service industries—industries to serve the locality, the people who are already living there. Wherever it is possible to steer industries away we do so.
As I myself was responsible for the development of industry policy for two years as Parliamentary Secretary at the Board of Trade, I can assure your Lordships that one comes very much under pressure from two sides here. Anyone who has sat in another place when these things were discussed will realise that one is attacked just as much for refusing certificates as because industry does not come to areas. This is the problem that one is up against. Early in the year 1960 there was a lot of industry on the move and, as my noble friend Lord Craigton said, we were able, for example, to bring the car industry to Scotland with the attendant ancillary industries which are now growing up around it. We were able to do that in other parts of the country, too. Unfortunately, we were just not so successful in the North-East as we were in other parts of the country. Then there was a slowing up in industrial activity and there was less industry available to go to places. If there is not a demand in the country it is no use creating and setting up new industries under the Government.
Under the Local Employment Act one of the essential elements, and a condition of assistance, is that it can be given only to firms that are likely to be economically viable. It would be absurd to set up other industries in competition with existing industries, with, say, Government subsidy, and running at a loss in these areas. I noted that even the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, did not suggest that. He suggested that we should operate more strictly the policy of industrial development certificates. What I am 359 saying to the House is that we are operating it as strictly as we possibly can. I ask the House to believe that.
§ EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
All I can say on that is that I come to and from the suburbs, and when one sees blocks of offices such as were mentioned by my noble friend still standing idle, having been completed for two years, one asks why have all that kind of thing which will bring increased population to this area?
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
As the noble Earl knows, industrial development certificates were not covered by the Distribution of Industry Act or the Planning Acts. There are great difficulties about controlling office employment. The building of those office blocks is quite a different matter from the case where a firm comes along and wants to set up an industry and to obtain an industrial development certificate. Everybody knows, if you ask for permission for office accommodation, that you can dispose of that: it is much more flexible; you can get rid of it quite easily, and there is really no criterion for the issue of similar certificates for office accommodation.
Nevertheless, the Government has not been idle in this. It has been doing its best to encourage private firms to keep out of the London area. It has set up a Location of Offices Bureau to help in this matter, and to demonstrate to firms in London the advantages—and in many cases there are great advantages and great increases in efficiency—which result from moving out of the London area. The Government itself has set an example, as one noble Lord observed, in the moving of the Post Office Savings Certificate Division to Durham. And that will provide 2,000 jobs there. Three hundred have already been provided, 200 of them recruited locally.
In addition, in order to assist in the provision of employment in the North-East, the reconstruction of the National Insurance offices in Newcastle was brought forward. That is quite a long-term undertaking, because accommodation is required for the best part of 9,000 people there. This is only one of the examples, I would observe to your 360 Lordships, in which an effort has been made to deal with the immediate problem of employment in the North-East. Others are the advance factories that have been set up. Twelve are being set up in the North-East and twelve in Central Scotland—ten due to be completed in the North-East by the end of February, and eleven in Scotland by the end of March. There are the industrial sites at the Team Valley and the Vale of Leven which have been prepared, at any rate in the case of the Team Valley. Other sites have been reconnoitred; and, in the case of Aycliffe, expenditure has been authorised. Extra construction of a short-term nature was authorised for the North-East. The road programme there was hastened on. An additional £1.4 million was authorised in November last year, and a further half a million pounds in February of this year.
Then there is something that has not been mentioned at all, and which the Government introduced—namely, the loans to underdeveloped countries from surplus capacity. The North-East has benefited from that. Two cargo vessels have been ordered from Ghana; a £3½ million loan to India for steel plate;£2 million for wagon ferries and diesel locomotives to East Africa and so on. These are all practical things. The electricity and the gas programme was brought on. There was a loan of up to £2 million to the Tees Conservancy Commission to speed the £4 million Lackenby Dock Scheme. Reference has already been made to the training centres that were set up, to their considerable expansion and to places being there available. And, of course, reference has also been made to the loan of £75 million for shipbuilding, the vast majority of which has gone to the North-East and to Scotland.
So, my Lords, it cannot be said that nothing has been done to deal with this problem. But surely the philosophy of the two White Papers is that while you can palliate the clear tendency for industries such as the coal mining industry to run down, in the long term nothing less than a cure is required. I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, right away, that of course he is right in the figures that he quotes, but the fact of the matter is that any programme of 361 this character takes time to develop. He knows as well as anybody does that if you are going to build a new road, it is at least three years after the road has been conceived before any work is done on it, if it has the character of a major road; and the same goes for other plans of this sort. The general purpose of these White Papers must be the welfare of the whole country, and regional plans must conform with that purpose. This is not planning in isolation: it is deliberate and co-ordinated planning weighted in certain areas.
There are some who persist in believing that since there is a marked tendency for expansion in some parts of the country at the expense of others, we should accept, and even encourage, that tendency, and certainly do nothing to correct it. I take it as one of the approvals shown by this House that not one person to-day has put forward that view. No Government since the war have endorsed those views. They have taken the view that it can-not be in the interest of the nation to encourage growth in areas which are short of labour, thereby adding to the pressures on the resources of housing and schools and on the economy as a whole, while other areas languish from lack of new industry and see too much of the best of their youth lured away by the prospects elsewhere, prospects often inflated in their imaginations.
The end of the war presented the Government of the day with a unique opportunity which they very properly seized. Industry was turning from the needs of war to the requirements of peace, and needed factory space. The Government provided factory space in the areas in which unemployment had been a veritable scourge in the inter-war years; but once the general shortage of factory space had been overcome, once we changed from a sellers' to a buyers' market, the situation entirely changed. It was undoubtedly right in those circumstances to concentrate Government assistance on the areas of highest unemployment, but once factories were established then they had to be allowed to expand.
The 1960 Act worked well in the expansionist atmosphere of 1960. It brought enough industry to South Wales 362 to enable practically all that area, apart from the heads of the valleys, to be taken off the list of development districts. Together with the Government assistance for the steel strip mill at Ravenscraig it brought the motor industry to Central Scotland. This is proving a focus of growth. Ancillary industries are now growing up around them. Another focus of growth is the petroleum industry at Grangemouth. The new towns in Scotland are proving attractive to industry and to the workers in industry. They are also growth centres. The industrial estates are also centres of growth, but not all of them were in areas of high unemployment.
In the North-East we had the difficulty that many of the areas of high unemployment were associated with the coal industry and, to some extent, isolated one from another. They did not form a true industrial complex. On the other hand, the main city in the area did not suffer from high unemployment, but it was not growing, despite the presence of one of the best industrial estates in the country on its threshold. Experience tended to show that firms depending on national demand would come to the area, provided they were situated near to a main communicating road, such as the A1, but not if they were steered away to more remote places.
Everything pointed, therefore, to designating as the zone of growth the quadrilateral taking in the proposed new town of Cramlington, in the North, Tyneside, Tees-side, Darlington and Aycliffe. The noble Earl asked whether it took in Hartlepool. The answer is, Yes. If I may say so, had the noble Earl looked at the map at the back of the White Paper he would have seen that Hartlepool was taken in.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
The noble Earl complained that Saltburn was just outside, and complained also of the areas of West Durham which are left out. Most of them are development districts.
363 Yesterday I was present when my right honourable friend received a deputation from the Urban Districts of Blaydon, Consett and Stanley and the Rural District of Lanchester. He explained to them that if, as we confidently expect, the special measures taken for stimulating growth in the growth zone succeed, the development districts on the fringes of it would be likely to benefit. Moreover (and I am not certain whether the noble Lord fully understood this), nothing is taken away from the development districts. Undoubtedly their prospects of getting industry are diluted to the extent that more development districts have been designated. They themselves have been designated on their own merits. These development districts remain eligible for all the benefits of the Local Employment Act. They are not deprived of any of the public investment previously planned for them. The only difference between them and the growth zone is that in the growth zone there is concentrated the additional special public expenditure over and above the level already planned—which itself, of course, was higher than ever before.
§ LORD STONHAM
The noble Lord mentioned the development areas and said that a deputation had visited his right honourable friend. Is he aware that the towns of Consett, Stanley and Wilmington, in the development area, are all subject to Dr. Beeching's plan and will lose their railway stations and their railway? That would take some employment from them—not only in regard to the railwaymen, but they will also lose the chance of other employment that might have been attracted there.
§ LORD DRUMALBYN
The noble Lord made the point earlier, and made it strongly, if I may say so; but I thought that my noble friend Lord Craigton covered it in his speech, and in view of the lateness of the hour I was not proposing to traverse it again. Of course, it is the case that proposals have been made by British Railways for the closure of a number of lines serving development districts. These will all be considered under the procedure which was described by my noble friend and which I think is now sufficiently well-known.
364 We should consider what the growth areas really need. Obviously they need diversification; they need modernisation; they need co-operation between all concerned; and they need continuity. I would appeal to noble Lords on the other side in this matter. If we are to have continuity in this matter we should like to think that the policy which is now proposed will be continued in all possible circumstances over the years ahead. Governments may change, but this is not a policy which can easily be turned on and off. I would suggest to the noble Earl that it would be very unfortunate of any Amendment which would in any way derogate from the support and the sense of strong co-operation which there must be if we are going to have confidence in this drive, were put to the vote tonight. It would give the country the feeling that your Lordships' House is divided on this issue. I do not really believe it is. I believe Members feel that while there are undoubtedly points in the White Paper which need further clarification and which can be clarified only by time and study, nevertheless this is the right approach. I very much hope that the noble Earl, for that reason, will not press his Amendment.
My Lords, there is not much I need add at this very late stage. What the White Papers set out to do is to initiate a reversal of the secular tendency for population to flow towards the South-East and Midlands by creating conditions which will make people in the areas want to stay there and others from outside the areas want to come and work there. The complete reversal obviously cannot be achieved in a day or a year, or even in a decade. It would be unrealistic to plan on the basis that net migration will be entirely arrested within the period envisaged, even by 1981. It is surely enough, considering the natural rate of growth of population in the North-East, which is higher than the national average, to plan for a reduction in the percentage of unemployed to the national average together with the halving of the net rate of migration.
The noble Earl asked: what is the target? The targets are set out in Chapters 2 of the White Papers which state the scope of the problem. The scope 365 of the problem, or the assumptions laid down, is that 150,000 or so jobs will be required in the North-East over the eighteen years in question, and 240,000 or so in Central Scotland. That, if you like, is the target, and that is the scope of the problem. It may well be that, if the plan succeeds in its purpose, it will be possible even to arrest the amount of migration which is taken into account in the assumption. But, in any case, I would stress that the halving of the net migration figure is an assumption for the purpose of planning. If these two areas, as a result of the measures taken, become areas of prosperity higher than the national average, there will be no difficulty in finding jobs not only for the people who would tend to migrate, but for others from other parts of the Kingdom. In that case, the trend would in fact be reversed, and nobody would mind if the assumption proved incorrect. In such circumstances capital investment could readily be found to meet the demands for additional housing, schools, factories and the like.
Finally, there is the claim that the White Paper has failed to provide for regional development necessary to prevent long-term unemployment in the two areas. I say quite frankly that I find it difficult to understand this claim and, if I may say so, it certainly has not been substantiated. What more do noble Lords opposite want? Are they seriously going to suggest some alternative?—because no alternative has been suggested to-day. We have simply been told that we should apply the existing procedures more strictly. No alternative has been suggested, except perhaps some kind of certificate procedure for offices, the difficulty of which has been indicated time and time again. And here, again, we are doing our best to deal with this problem. But these proposals constitute a coherent whole and represent a deliberate discrimination, as I have said, in favour of these two areas. This discrimination is undeniably substantial. We believe it should in time achieve its objective of making them as attractive in every way for people to live and work in as any other part of these Islands.
366 Besides this, of course, and behind all this, there is a driving spirit. If I may say so to the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, whom we are so glad to see here to-day, I was sorry that he attributed to my ex-noble friend, Mr. Hogg, the idea that he was interested only in votes in this matter. I would say very frankly to the House that nobody who knows Mr. Hogg can possibly fail to recognise the tremendous enthusiasm and urgency with which he throws himself into any problem. That is the way in which this problem has been dealt with. I am quite certain that both Mr. Hogg and Mr. Heath will provide that driving spirit for which my noble friend Lady Horsbrugh called. With that driving spirit, and with the co-operation that we all hope for, we believe that these Papers provide the beginning of the beginning of the solution of something which has lasted for far too long in Scotland, under all Governments. The amount of unemployment in Scotland has been double the national average. This is what we want to attack. The decline in the coal mining industry has flung up a fresh problem in the North-East. That, also, we are determined to overcome. I ask the House to reject the Amendment.
§ 8.54 p.m.
EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLS BOROUGH
My Lords, I am much obliged for the courteous nature of the reply of the noble Lord, but we do not think he has adequately replied to the case that has been put to him. Certainly, as regards the targets, for which I asked, I know full well the small figures which the noble Lord quoted from the two White Papers, and I am much obliged to him for quoting them, but they do not meet the whole point. We have had targets for practically nothing advanced to us. We have had no real explanation of how the Government are going to deal with all the construction work which must be the inevitable result of stepping up public service investment. We have had nothing on that at all to show how it is going to work. Therefore, I am hound to ask my noble friends to go into the Lobby with me in favour of the Amendment.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?367
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 20; Not-Contents, 48.
|Addison, V.||Hughes, L.||Stonham, L.|
|Alexander of Hillsborough, E.||Lawson, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Lindgren, L.||Summerskill, B.|
|Burdon, L. [Teller.]||Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Taylor, L.|
|Burton of Coventry, B.||Peddie, L.||Walston, L.|
|Champion, L.||Shackleton, L.||Wilmot of Selmeston, L.|
|Crook, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Denham, L.||Howard of Glossop, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Derwent, L.||Jellicoe, E.|
|Alport, L.||Devonshire, D.||Lothian, M.|
|Balerno, L.||Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor.)||McCorquodale of Newton, L.|
|Blakenham, V.||Drumalbyn, L.||Mar and Kellie, E.|
|Bossom, L.||Dudley, E.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.|
|Boston, L.||Falkland, V.||Newton, L.|
|Brecon, L.||Ferrers, E.||Perth, E.|
|Buccleuch and Queensbury, D.||Ferrier, L.||Polwarth, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Goschen, V. [Teller.]||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Chesham, L.||Gosford, E.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Chester, L. Bp.||Greenway, L.||Somers, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Hailes, L.||Stonehaven, V.|
|Craigton, L.||Hastings, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Crathorne, L.||Hawke, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Cromartie, E.||Horsbrugh, B.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ On Question, Resolution agreed to.