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Skillcentre (Inverclyde)

Volume 978: debated on Wednesday 6 February 1980

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3.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will pay a visit shortly to the skillcentre in Inverclyde.

The right hon. Gentleman did have some plans to do so. Is the Minister aware that the suggestion that this skillcentre should close is one of the silliest and meanest of all the silly and mean decisions made by the present Government? Is he not aware of the high unemployment figure there? The whole community recognises the importance of a retraining programme. Closure would mean about 1,400 young people in the area remaining without jobs and without proper training. Will the Minister reconsider the whole nonsense of the Government's attitude towards skillcentres in Scotland and in Britain?

The future of the Port Glasgow centre is under consideration by the Manpower Services Commission. The intention is not to reduce the number of training places in the area but to ensure that the location of each centre corresponds to the demand for training places. The hon. Gentleman should know that only one-third of the places at Port Glasgow are filled by people who reside in the Inverclyde area. He should also know that the MSC is not planning to reduce the number of places overall in the area but to try to make the locations of the training centres more suitable for the demand that is there.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Does he agree that it would make a lot more sense to concentrate scarce resources at the excellent centre at Hillington and possibly provide subsidiary facilities at Barrhead?

Certainly the MSC is looking at the whole Glasgow area. I cannot say anything about Barrhead in particular, but I can say that the BSC is planning to build a new centre in Rutherglen.

Is the Minister aware that my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes) and myself visited the skillcentre at Irvine on Monday, and, although it is not on the list of skillcentres to be closed, we were told that the proposed new building had been delayed? Will the hon Gentleman give a guarantee that he will ensure that the MSC gives the go-ahead to the new building at Irvine, in view of the fact that it will help not only the Members of Parliament for Kilmarnock, South Ayrshire and Central Ayrshire but also the Secretary of State for Scotland?

:Since training and retraining are, however, recognised to be at the heart of the unemployment problem in Scotland, and as unemployment is now over 200,000, and rising rapidly, how can it possibly make sense to close, for example, the skillcentre at Port Glasgow, which is in an area with a long and very serious unemployment problem? Surely this kind of nonsense ought to be reconsidered and these decisions ought to be rescinded?

The right hon Gentleman knows all about high unemployment figures. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] However, concerning the skillcentre at Port Glasgow, I assure him that the number of places available in the Glasgow area generally is not being decreased, but the MSC feels that it could make a better disposition of the resources available to it. That must be in the interests of people seeking training places in the area.

:On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the totally unsatisfactory nature of the answer that I have received, I beg to give notice that I shall seek an early opportunity of raising the matter on the Adjournment.