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Unemployment

Volume 889: debated on Wednesday 26 March 1975

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4.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from trade unions about the current rate of unemployment and what replies he has sent.

I have received no representations from individual unions but when, with the Prime Minister, my colleagues and I met the STUC recently we had a discussion in depth over the whole field of Scotland's economic development.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply. Is he aware that over the past few weeks I have been asked about the position within the development area of Govan? Certain industries are closing down in Govan. Cape Contracts is moving to another area. Has it made any attempt to get in touch with the Government? The people who work in the King George V dock are in the same position. Have they made any overtures to the Government to the effect that a difficult situation may arise when Hunterston begins operations—

My hon. Friend has put two detailed questions about firms in his constituency. In the first instance they would make their representations not to me but to the Department of Industry. However, on 1st July I take over new powers and I may then have much more detailed information to give my hon. Friend in respect of these matters. I shall gladly look into the point that he has raised about these individual firms.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Scottish unemployment situation is almost as bad as the situation in Denmark? Is he aware that Denmark is often cited as the worst European example? Does he realise that if Scotland did not have 40,000 oil-related jobs it would be in a situation similar to that which exists in the United States of America, which is now going through its worst slump since the depression? As the Government have made such a mess of establishing oil-related jobs, will they now consider the possibility of establishing jobs which are not connected with the oil industry and which will provide long-term employment opportunities?

I do not know whether the hon. Lady knows what she is talking about. The fact is that we have 40,000 oil-related jobs. The full implications of the go-slow policy preached by the hon. Lady's party are such that they would not have established 40,000 oil-related jobs.