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Unemployment (Western Isles)

Volume 886: debated on Wednesday 12 February 1975

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14.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has for reducing the rate of unemployment in the Western Isles.

The full range of regional incentives to industry is available, together with advice and assistance from the Highlands and Islands Development Board. Stornaway was identified as a "preferred development zone" in the coastal planning guidelines which I issued last year, and I have approved a major oil-related development there which should provide substantial new employment.

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that, despite these advances, in view of the last recorded figure of 18 per cent. unemployment, the matter is much more serious and urgent than these steps envisage? Will he at least give consideration to going ahead with the suspended road schemes, which are long overdue and will provide much-needed work?

Priority of road schemes is a matter for local authorities. I shall examine any proposals that the local authorities put forward. I do not think that we should underestimate the work being done by the Highlands and Islands Development Board or by the Stornaway Trust to promote the settlement of industry in the Stornaway area.