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Scotland

Volume 932: debated on Wednesday 25 May 1977

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Roads

17.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has had from private owners of housing property urging him to advise regional councils' highway authorities to bring some of the older roads in such housing areas into the programme of roads and have them added to the regional list of highways.

None. My right hon. Friend is not aware that this is a problem causing general concern.

Is my hon. Friend aware that in some of the streets or roads that I have in mind, not one of the original owners is in possession? Is he also aware that the regional road authorities expect the present owners to bring their roads up to regulation standards? This cannot be done unless they get on to the list of highways. Since that would also mean great cost—sometimes tens of thousands of pounds—for groups of owners, such people cannot bear the burden. Will he bring in some form of road improvement scheme?

I have a certain sympathy with my hon. Friend's views, but only the regional council can assess the situation properly. It would be wrong for the Secretary of State to intervene in such local matters.

Lossiemouth

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will pay an official visit to Lossiemouth.

Is that not a pity, considering that Lossiemouth was the home of a famous Labour Prime Minister, whose daughter, who votes for the Labour Party, still lives there? Is the Minister aware that Lossiemouth fishermen were part of the contingent that visited Brussels, dedicated to the principle that without a 50-mile exclusive limit Lossiemouth would become a ghost town? [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] It is not rubbish. Although the right to veto on the EEC fishing policy was given away by the Conservative Party and not renegotiated by his own party, does the Minister not consider that the time has come to threaten a right of veto on some other matter if we do not get a 50-mile limit for our fishemen?

If my right hon. Friend visited all the places that he is asked to visit these days, he would never be able to come to the House at all. [Interruption.] I know that some Opposition Members would like that. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of Stale who deals with fishing matters is here and will have noted what the hon. Lady has said. The Government's position on this question has been stated clearly on numerous occasions both by the Secretary of State for Scotland and by the Minister of Agriculture. I have heard about the demonstration last week and the impact made by some of the Scottish representatives.

Will the Minister encourage his right hon. Friend to spend some of the Whitsun Recess visiting Lossiemouth and other centres of the fishing industry? Is he aware that every party in the House supports the stand that the Government are taking over the common fisheries policy? Would it not therefore be valuable if the Secretary of State went around the fishing communities so as to ensure that every possible argument is presented at the next meeting, and so that our friends in Europe will come to see the exclusive control of our own 50-mile limits as an essential national interest?

The hon. Gentleman will recall that the Minister of Agriculture told the House last week that he would again be meeting Fisheries Ministers on 27th June. During the recess my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary will be visiting a number of fishing areas and having discussions with these people. Those views will be expressed at the meeting to which I referred.

School Leavers

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the prospects of employment for school leavers in the summer.

Long-term prospects will depend largely upon the successful development of the Government's economic policies, which must in turn be related to world economic conditions. In the shorter term we have introduced a wide programme of measures designed to lessen the impact of unemployment on particularly hard-hit groups, such as the young, and we are urgently considering the proposals for additional assistance on an even more far-reaching scale which are contained in the recently published report of the Manpower Services Commission on Young People and Work.

In view of the dire prospects facing school leavers this summer, will not the Minister accept the view of the House that the empty statement that he has just made is devoid of policy content? As a representative of the interim Government of Scotland, can he not come up with some specific policies to deal with the real human problems that will face those who are about to leave school in the industrial areas of Scotland?

My statement was not an empty statement, nor did it imply any complacency on my part. I can speak for all my hon. Friends when I say that we are genuinely and sincerely concerned about prospects for young people who will be leaving school in June. However, we have already taken a number of measures, such as job creation programmes, youth employment subsidies and job release schemes, which make and have made a substantial contribution to providing employment for young people.

Secondly, much work has been done and will continue to be done in providing training for young people. As I said, we hope to respond quickly to the report prepared for our guidance by the Manpower Services Commission. I should add that the Manpower Services Commission's functions in Scotland will be transferred to the Secretary of State for Scotland on 1st July, and we shall have our own response to make in that regard.

Why does the Minister constantly import international dimensions into the arguments about employment? The construction industry is not affected by international consequences of the IMF. Why do the Government not give a massive boost to the construction industry and employ a very large number of young people in the productive side of this industry and, at the same time, increase the number of apprentices and journeymen that we shall require in the next five or six years?

Before people decide to build factories they have to have something to produce in them. This is where the international scene is involved. Recently the Chancellor made a number of announcements relating to assistance for the construction industry. We hope that these will make a valuable contribution to employment in this area.

When does the Minister expect to have the seasonally adjusted unemployment figures for Scotland? Is he not ashamed that after three years of Labour Government we have such an appallingly high rate of unemployment?

I, and everyone else on the Government side of the House, regard the present unemployment figures as totally unsatisfactory. The Government have pursued a number of initiatives and we trust that these will reduce the unacceptable level in the future. I shall not make any guesses; I shall leave that to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor). That is a problem for him, not for me.