asked the Minister of Labour how many building workers were unemployed in Scotland on 24th February; what percentage this is of the total labour force; and what steps he now proposes to take to reduce unemployment in the building industry in Scotland.
The latest available figures are those for 12th February, when 13,800 workers whose previous employment was in the construction industry were registered as unemployed in Scotland; this represents a percentage of 8·2. There should be a seasonal improvement during the next few months and this year's construction programme for Scotland should not be less than last year's.
Does the Minister really think that his plan for housing will absorb all those unemployed? Does he not consider it a rather scandalous state of affairs, when the housing problem is so bad in Scotland, that so many building workers, who could be used on building, are unemployed?
The hon. Member knows that there is a very large seasonal element in this programme. I hope that the building programme of Scotland will keep up during this present year certainly to the level of last year.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, apart from the seasonal problem, Scotland has now recorded its lowest output of houses for the past ten years? Cannot he do something to provide these building trade workers with some form of employment through building what Scotland needs more than anything else—houses?
I certainly take note of what the hon. Gentleman has said and will inform my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that this point has been raised.
I wish to give notice that, owing to the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.