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Economic Prospects

Volume 886: debated on Wednesday 12 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with industrial interests about Scottish economic prospects over the next 12 months.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave him on 11th December.—[Vol. 883, c. 489–90.]

My hon. Friend the Minister of State will shortly be having meetings with representatives of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, the Scottish Council of the CBI and the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) to discuss my proposals for the Scottish Development Agency and related economic matters.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the most depressing prospects for the coming 12 months is that 80,000 young people will leave school and go straight on to the labour market, where about 4 per cent. of the working population is currently unemployed? In view of the social as well as employment implications of that, will he consider reintroducing a scheme which was tried successfully once before—of taking a large number of young people, through boards and industrial concerns, into pre-apprenticeship training for at least a year to keep them off the dole queue?

My hon. Friend's suggestion is worth examining. The whole question not only of young people but of shortcomings on manpower training generally must be looked at urgently.

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the level of redundancies in Scotland is now beginning to rise rather alarmingly? Since he is having various meetings, will he arrange for a meeting with the Scottish executive of the NUM to press on it that unless its members abide absolutely by the terms of the social contract many of their workmates will be put out of work?

The NUM will be represented in the Scottish TUC on all these matters and it will put its own point of view very forcibly.

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the figure of £200 million, which he mentioned in his Press release about the Scottish Development Agency, is not the limit of money available to that agency over the next five years?

I think that was made clear in the Press conferences I held on the subject. That was the first sum mentioned. If we go through that amount quickly, I am sure, judging from the feelings evinced in the House today, that Parliament will speedily give us more.

Among the Secretary of State's discussions, was he consulted by the Treasury about the proposal to increase employment potential in Scotland through varying the tax uplift for Scottish oil development?

If the hon. Member wishes to ask detailed questions like that he had better table a Question.