asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the main reasons for the substantial increase in crime in Scotland since May 1979.
:The number of crimes recorded by the police in Scotland has increased not simply since 1979, but during the past decade. The reasons for the increase are many, complex and hard to ascertain. It is because of our concern about this issue that the Government place such a high priority on maintaining law and order.
Does the Under-Secretary of State recall that one of the main paragraphs of the Government's election manifesto was that they would improve law and order? Does he agree that there has been a serious deterioration in law and order since 1979, as compared with the Labour Government's record? Does he further agree that one of the main contributory factors to that deterioration in Scotland is unemployment, especially among young people?
There is no simple correlation between unemployment and crime. At the last election the Conservative Party was pledged to giving priority to the maintenance of law and order. We have done that. There are, for example, more and better equipped policemen in Scotland than ever before. Our measures to maintain law and order have been widely welcomed by the Scottish people.
Does my hon. Friend agree that relating unemployment to the rise in crime, as Opposition Members so often do, is a scabrous insult to those who, through no fault of their own, are out of work? Does he agree that it is about time that Opposition Members started recognising the real cause of increased crime—the lack of discipline at home and at school?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for those comments. In pursuing this subject Opposition Members are treading a dangerous path.
Will the Under-Secretary acknowledge that the crime figures in Scotland fell in 1978 but have increased steadily since then? Will he also acknowledge that they increased by no less than 12 per cent. in 1980–81?Does he agree that it is absurd for him to deny that there is a relationship between crime and unemployment? Does he recognise that the majority of housebreaking and related offences are committed by the 16 to 20 age group? Why do the Government not acknowledge their responsibility for the problem when thousands of young people are hanging about on the streets because of the Government's economic policies?
I said that there was no simple correlation between crime and unemployment. I stand by that. The right hon. Gentleman should bear in mind that throughout the time of the Labour Government, crime in Scotland rose. It was rising sharply when that Government left office. I advise him to be cautious in his interpretation of statistics.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is satisfied that the level of farm incomes in 1982 will enable an overall reduction in bank lending to farmers; and if he will make a statement.
It is too early to make predictions about the economic situation in farming in 1982. I am, however, encouraged by the fact that the year-on-year increase in the level of bank lending to agriculture, forestry and fishing industries at February 1982 was 8·6 per cent., as compared with 21·7 per cent. a year earlier.
Does my right hon. Friend share my anxiety that ever-rising costs of production in farming must be financed by increased overdrafts? Does he agree that that is especially true of the livestock sector? Does he envisage any chance of a reversal of that trend in 1982?
I entirely share my hon. Friend's anxiety. The increased level of indebtedness has been one of the main problems facing farmers throughout Scotland recently. The current trend of easing interest rates should help. It is interesting to note that although the level of borrowing has increased this year, the amount paid in interest will be about the same because of the fall in interest rates.
Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that Scottish farmers have suffered a 50 per cent. cut in income in real terms during the past three years? Does he agree that they are not therefore able to service the vast sums that are outstanding? Will the Government therefore pay close attention to the proposals made by the Scottish National Farmers Union to do two practical things? First, will he introduce an agricultural development programme for the Highlands and Islands and, secondly, will he do something to restore the lime subsidy?
I agree that Scottish farmers have experienced three extremely difficult years. Nevertheless, the hon. Gentleman will acknowledge that the Government have moved a great deal to help farmers through large increases in hill livestock compensatory amounts, the introduction of the sheepmeat regime and so on. I agree that the two suggestions that he mentioned are important. We are discussing with the Community the possibility of an ADP, for which the hon. Gentleman asked.
Does the Secretary of State agree the with the statement by John Cameron, president of the Scottish NFU that the level of indebtedness is frightening and that the lack of confidence referred to at Scottish Question Time in February has shown no sign of abatement? Does he agree also that it is therefore incumbent upon the Government to take action now and not just talk about what they might be able to do in the future if they have the chance?
Fortunately, we do not have to talk merely about what we might do in the future. We have an outstanding record of helping farming during those years. The hon. Gentleman might care to recall that the Labour Government many times refused point blank to devalue the green pound, driving the Scottish NFU to desperation. We have put that right.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that in many cases the farm horticultural development scheme persuaded farmers to borrow money that they did not have to buy machinery that they did not need to produce crops that they could not sell? Does he agree that it would be better to move away from a grant system and towards an agricultural development bank with low interest rates?
I appreciate my hon. Friend's point. As he knows, however, our system of support for agriculture must tie in with that used by our partners in the European Community. Nevertheless, I note his point, and it is one of the factors that we can no doubt consider.
Irrespective of the general position described by the Secretary of State, does he agree that in the North-West of Scotland, where the weather conditions have been particularly acute, hill farmers and especially those with cattle now face a crisis?
I certainly agree that the plight of hill farmers has been even more difficult than that of others thoughout the country, and it causes me great worry. However, the high levels of hill livestock compensatory amounts and the increasing development of the sheepmeat regime should be of help to them. I hope that that will at least ease some of the problems.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that many farmers in Scotland are very concerned that there is still no agreement in Europe on the annual price fixing? Is he further aware that this applies expecially to livestock farmers, who have now passed the end of the livestock year and are unlikely to receive any retrospective payment for any increase, for example, in sheep prices?
I appreciate my hon. Friend's point. As he knows, we are negotiating hard in the Community and in the Council of Ministers to secure for our farmers a deal that we can accept. He will appreciate that if we had accepted an unsatisfactory deal too soon we should not have helped the farmers.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to announce his final proposals for changes relating to assisted area status; and if he will make a statement.
The Government hope to complete their current review of assisted areas next month. The outcome will be announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry. The Scottish Office is taking part in the review and the representations of local authorities and others in Scotland are being taken into account.
Is the Secretary of State aware that I am increasingly worried that a number of new firms that have come to the Borders under the development area schemes are now transferring their expansion plans elsewhere? Does he feel any obligation to such new firms to exercise a continuity of policy, or shall we be wasting our time when I and the local authorities meet the Under-Secretary on Thursday?
I know that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary is looking forward to meeting representatives from the Borders and will be glad to receive their representations. As the right hon. Gentleman probably knows, I met the Borders regional council on Monday, when many of these points were made to me. In the past couple of years we have made great efforts to bring to the notice of firms already in such areas that in future those areas may not qualify for grants. We have therefore encouraged them to submit any expansion plans quickly to avoid the effect of the change.
I am sure that my right hon. Friend's statement about the announcement to be made next month will be more than welcome in Grampian and particularly in East Aberdeenshire. However, in his discussions with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry, will he take into consideration the critical increase in unemployment in areas such as the Grampian region because of the cessation of oil and gas related work? Will that be taken into account in the final adjustment of assisted area status?
That is a very valid point. I am keeping my right hon. Friend closely informed of such changes, but I am grateful to my hon. Friend for reminding us of the position.
Will the Secretary of State confirm that he and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry gave an undertaking that before any final changes in status were made they would be prepared to meet local authorities in the light of the changing circumstances? As Mid-Lothian has the largest parliamentary electorate in Scotland and there have been many problems, will he agree to meet the local authorities there in accordance with his undertaking?
As I have said, I have met one or two people of that kind. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to make a request for me to meet representatives from his area, I shall of course be delighted to see them.
Does my right hon. Friend accept that while the last change in the development area structure was of great benefit to Scotland, problems will be created for areas that may move from assisted to non-assisted area status? Is he aware that this will cause particular problems in future dealings with the European regional fund?
I agree that, inevitably, if such changes are made they will cause problems for the areas concerned. However, everyone must come to terms with the fact that if one is to have a regional policy it must be concentrated on the areas of greatest need. Otherwise, we have no chance of dealing with the bad problem areas.
Will the Secretary of State give a categoric assurance that the review of assisted area status will include the city of Aberdeen, as the Under-Secretary of State recently suggested that Aberdeen would be excluded?
I assure the hon. Gentleman that we are including in the review all the authorities that we said we would include—that is to say, those areas that have been downgraded by more than one degree. We shall, stick to that undertaking and we shall of course, be glad to receive representations from anyone who is affected.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, which affects my constituency, I beg to give notice that I shall seek leave to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.
Regional Councils (Expenditure)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is satisfied with the proposed levels of expenditure for the year 1982–83 by regional councils in Scotland.
No, Sir. Total expenditure planned by regional councils for 1982–83 is £157 million, or 7·5 per cent., above the level assumed in the rate support grant settlement. The excess planned by Lothian regional council is £66–6 million, or 22·6 per cent. I have today served notice that, subject to my conclusions on any representations, I propose to ask the House to approve a reduction in the rate support grant payable to Lothian regional council of £45 million.I have served similar notice on Stirling district council of reduction in grant by £1·5 million. I am considering the levels of expenditure planned by other local authorities in Scotland and will announce further measures as soon as possible.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that his statement about Lothian will be warmly welcomed by ratepayers throughout the region? On a rough estimate, based on the figure of £45 million, will he confirm that if the saving is returned to the ratepayers, as it undoubtedly will be if a Conservative Administration is returned on 6 May, it will amount to about £60 per household? Does he agree that this emphasises that the Conservative Party cares about the ratepayers?
I agree with my hon. Friend. Once again I have been almost snowed under with representations about this matter from ratepayers who are extremely concerned about the practices in these areas.On rate reduction, it is difficult to speculate on exactly what will happen, but if the full £45 million reduction in expenditure is made, the average rebate would be about £60 per household and, for a business in Edinburgh, about £800.
:Does the Secretary of State agree that this is a profoundly unsatisfactory system, in that he asks local authorities to draw up estimates, which he then disallows? When will he get round to redefining their proper functions and give them a sensible method of raising finance?
I have not made the system difficult to operate. The small number of authorities that have been deliberately overspending in a way that distorts the entire pattern for other local authorities have made it difficult. Any Secretary of State in any Government would have to deal with that difficulty.
Is the Secretary of State aware that his statement today is a scandalous abuse of his powers and has far more to do with the crumbling support for the Tory Party at the regional elections next week than anything else? Far from a small number of authorities being out of line, is he aware that 56 out of 65 Scottish local authorities are in excess of his guidelines, which demonstrates how unrealistic those guidelines are? For example, Orkney is 25 per cent. in excess and Shetland is 79 per cent. in excess. In the light of both facts, is not the singling out of the Lothian and Stirling districts simply another act of political spite and prejudice on the part of the Secretary of State?
The right hon. Gentleman may wish to reflect more deeply on this matter when he has time, because if he were in my position he could not ignore an authority that planned to overspend by no less than 22 per cent. over the others.
Not over the others.
I cannot suspend my statutory functions just because an election happens to be in the offing. As the right hon. Gentleman will know if he has read his papers, I have been under great pressure to announce any changes as soon as possible, because it makes it easier for the councils to make the savings.
Why does the Secretary of State not admit what he knows—that 56 out of 65 authorities are over the guidelines seven by more than 20 per cent. and that 30 are over the guidelines by more than 10 per cent.? In those circumstances, there is no justification for singling out those two authorities.
The right hon. Gentleman is totally wrong on that. He should know that we are not concerned with authorities that are over the guidelines.
What is all the trouble then?
The right hon. Gentleman was here when we put through the legislation, so he knows that we are concerned with authorities that are planning to incur expenditure that is excessive and unreasonable. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will take a little time to consider what he would do if he were the Secretary of State. Is he telling the House that he would ignore entirely one authority that contributes one-third to the entire excess spending of Scottish authorities?
Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is wise to consider local authority expenditure over a period of years, because patterns emerge? Authorities such as Tayside, which has been prudent, should not be penalised because of profligate authorities such as Lothian.
I agree with my hon. Friend. It has been very hard on the authorities that have tried to save money to have experienced some penalty because of the authorities that have not tried. My hon. Friend is right about examining the expenditure over a period. As the ratepayers of Lothian region know, whereas their rates may well be 116p in the pound, the next highest regional council rates are only 93p in the pound, which is a large gap.
How does the Secretary of State intend to maintain the levels of finance to the councils when table 2 of the Government's expenditure plans shows quite clearly that, although the Scottish contribution to the United Kingdom is increasing, the amount earmarked for Scotland from the United Kingdom is falling? If that carries on until 1984, Scotland will be done out of £762 million.
I advise the right hon. Gentleman not to push that argument very far. He will find that Scotland receives, per head of population, much more than the rest of Britain under almost every head of expenditure. I hope that it will stay that way.
Order. I shall call one more hon. Member from either side, but then we must move on more quickly.
Will my right hon. Friend confirm that during the past four years rates in the Lothian region have risen by more than 200 per cent.? In those circumstances, is he not wholly justified in taking the action that he has?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comment. The figure that he mentioned is almost exactly right. I must check to ensure that it is precisely 200 per cent., but the effect on ratepayers is clear and the call for action throughout the entire region has been very noticeable, especially judging from my postbag.
Will the Secretary of State remind the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Walker) that Perth and Kinross council is also over the guidelines? Will he assure the House that he intends to take against Perth and Kinross the same action as he has taken against Lothian? Does he not realise that the arbitrary use to which he has put the powers of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1981, and especially the cynical timing of his announcement today, will bring contempt upon himself and disrespect for the high office that he has demeaned today?
Unfortunately, the hon. Gentleman has not understood the legislation about which he is talking. As he should know, we are concerned only with an authority that incurs excessive and unreasonable expenditure. I note the implication of what he says, that he warmly supports the high levels of expenditure in Lothian region. I hope that his constituents will note his position on the matter.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not an offence to reproduce official notepaper as part of the propaganda campaign against Lothian region?
Order. If the hon. Gentleman will be kind enough to send that to me I shall consider the matter.
This is the second time that it has happened.
It is an absolute disgrace.
Order. I am being very tolerant today.
Children's Hearings (Solvent Inhalation)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will seek to amend section 32 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 to allow the referral of young persons to a children's hearing following a first detection for inhaling solvents, instead of after a third detection as at present.
The consultative memorandum on solvent abuse and the children's hearings, which was issued in December, invited views on this question. We are now considering the comments made on this memorandum and a further statement will be made as soon as possible.
I congratulate the Minister on his appointment, but I cannot congratulate him on his answer. How can he possibly justify refusing to take such action now? Is he not aware that last year, in Strathclyde, 11 young people died as a result of solvent abuse and that the Government's low key approach to this problem is failing? When will the Government stop talking about the problem and take some positive action to deal with this menace?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words at the beginning of his question. We put out the consultative memorandum and we have had many replies, but, unfortunately, some were received later than the February date by which we asked for them to be submitted. We are considering the replies and we hope that we can announce our conclusions in weeks rather than months. I share the hon. Gentleman's concern about this difficult and serious problem.
Does my hon. Friend consider that young people accept and realise the damage that can be done by abusing solvents? Does he feel that the time has come for a much more aggressive campaign in schools to show that this practice can cause damage to health and death?
On Monday, as part of my education in my new post, I attended a children's panel hearing in Glasgow. What came through to me, as the panel was dealing with this problem, was that the youngsters knew of the dangers but that that did not seem to influence them. It is very difficult to get through to the youngsters. One must be careful not to be too high key in case other children, who would not think of abusing solvents, have it drawn to their attention.
May I also add my congratulations to the hon. Gentleman on his elevation? I have known him for about 20 years and I am delighted to see him in the post. Will he consult the chief constable of Strathclyde, who suggests in his report that there is some difficulty about referring children to a children's panel before a third report on them of solvent abuse? That is an administrative rule with no statutory basis, and if it is an inhibition in dealing with the problem it should be removed. I especially note and welcome the Minister's remark about the results from the consultation process being announced in a matter of weeks and not months. I trust that that will turn out to be an accurate prediction.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words about me. The practice that has grown up in Strathclyde is not a requirement of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968, but the two approaches to the parents and the warnings to the children lay the basis for a referral on the third occasion on the ground that the youngster is beyond the control of the parents. It is not enshrined in the statute. I am well aware of the representations by the chief constable of Strathclyde, and that is clearly one of the possible routes that we are considering seriously.
Hamilton College Of Education
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now make a statement about the future of the buildings of the former Hamilton college of education.
Following the advertisement for sale of the former Hamilton college of education a number of bodies have expressed an interest in acquiring the premises. Discussions continue and no final decision has yet been made.
As time goes on there is increasing anxiety in Lanarkshire about the future of these buildings. Will the Minister give the closing date and say what price will be placed on these valuable buildings? Will he confirm—or deny—the rumour in Hamilton that the Property Services Agency is again interested for governmental purposes? Does he recognise the increasing anxiety that, although these valuable buildings were pledged by him for educational use, that now seems less likely?
I assure the hon. Gentleman that we made every attempt to satisfy ourselves on whether there was an educational use for the buildings. We discussed a number of ideas with various bodies, but none of them came to fruition.I cannot disclose the price of the buildings, because when other parties are interested it becomes a commercial matter. However, I hope that the position will soon become clear.
Will the Minister give an assurance that the halls of residence, which have served students for many educational bodies in Strathclyde, ate not boarded up and wasted, but are used to accommodate students who desperately require accommodation in the West of Scotland?
The majority of students now using the hostel are attending colleges run by Strathclyde regional council. It is for that council to decide whether it wishes to take over the premises. However, there is no question of a central Government subsidy for that purpose.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether a decision has yet been reached on the proposed closure of paediatric wards at Stobhill hospital; and if he will make a statement.
Greater Glasgow health board has decided that formal consultation should take place with local interests on the proposed withdrawal of medical and surgical in-patient paediatric services from Stobhill hospital and on the transfer of these services to the Royal hospital for sick children in Glasgow. No final decision has yet been taken.
I congratulate the Minister on his appointment. Will he bear in mind that the hospital serves not only my constituents, but families in Lennoxtovvn, Torrance and Kirkintilloch? In an emergency, families in those areas could take about half an hour to get to Stobhill hospital. The Disablement Income Group is worried that if the transfer to Yorkhill hospital takes place children who are severely disabled could risk life and limb, because of the distance involved. Will the hon. Gentleman take this up with the Greater Glasgow health board?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks. In reaching a decision on any proposed closure or change of use for the paediatric wards at Stobhill the health board will seek the views of all appropriate local interests, including the hon. Gentleman. Distance will be one of the factors to be taken into account in deciding whether to transfer the paediatric services to the Royal hospital for sick children.
Will the Minister undertake to express to the health board the anxiety felt by my constituents, who will face a serious problem if Stobhill hospital is closed?
That is one of the factors that the Greater Glasgow health board will need to consider. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will be in contact with the board to express that view. However, the board must also take an overall view of the paediatric services in Glasgow. I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows that, on completion of the remedial work at the Royal hospital for sick children later this year, 72 additional beds will be provided. That will mean an overall improvement in paediatric services in the Glasgow area.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the increase in serious crime in the Strathclyde region in 1981.
Crimes recorded by the police in the Strathclyde region increased by 24,859 to 223,685 in 1981. These figures do not include motor vehicles and miscellaneous offences.
Does the Minister agree that these alarming crime figures in Strathclyde show that the measures taken by the Government to "improve" law and order—increasing the number of police and introducing the Criminal Justice Act—have not solved the problem? Is he aware that the Government must solve the problem of crime by tackling the social problems that cause it?
The hon. Gentleman will know that the Strathclyde regional council, as the police authority, last year decided to operate the police force at about 150 below authorised establishment. That was the police authority's decision. However, as a Strathclyde Member of Parliament, I know that many of my constituents are very anxious about that decision.
Does my hon. Friend agree that police manning levels in Strathclyde, linked to the problems in the area, which are caused by many factors, not least the modern trendy attitude towards standards and values, have much to do with the crime rate in the area?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The causes of crime are complex and not at all simple.
Does the Minister accept that, although we agree that there is no simple correlation between deprivation, high unemployment and the crime rate, there is a correlation, as he implicitly accepted? Does he further accept that a great deal of bitterness and frustration will be reflected in the crime figures if the present economic policies are pursued? Is he aware that in 1978 crime in Strathclyde fell by 12 per cent. and that in 1981 it rose by 12 per cent.? Does that not give the lie to the irresponsible campaign on law and order that is being conducted in the regional elections by Conservative politicians who are suggesting that there are easy solutions, thus abusing the trust of the electorate?
We do not suggest that there are easy solutions. We are worried about the level of crime. That is why we are giving priority to measures that will maintain law and order. The Government's policy on employment is based on creating permanent jobs in a healthy economy. That policy is increasingly succeeding.
I accept that the figures given to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) are disturbing, but does my hon. Friend accept that one way to ensure a reduction in crime is to place more policemen on the beat and to have many more community police so that the community is aware that the police are there to prevent crime?
I agree that policemen on the beat have an important role to play. I know that that is a priority of the police authorities in Strathclyde.
As a Strathclyde Member of Parliament, I ask the Minister again to recognise that there is a growing awareness that the Government's policies on all aspects of social welfare and employment are disastrous? Will he recognise, once and for all, that those policies are the main contributory factor to the increased crime rate? Does he accept that there has been an upsurge in the use of solvents in Strathclyde because youngsters leaving school have nothing to do but kick their heels in idleness?
My hon. Friend has already referred to the solvent abuse. The unemployment level could be a factor in the crime rate, but it is wrong to suggest that there is any simple analysis or solution. The Government's economic policies are increasingly succeeding.
Indigenous Industries (Grampian Region)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in the review of areas eligible for assisted status, he will give particular attention to indigenous industries in the Grampian region which have been disadvantaged by the advent of the oil industry.
The report which we commissioned on industrial performance and prospects in the oil-affected areas paid particular attention to the needs of the indigenous industries in the areas concerned, including Grampian. The findings of the report and the comments received on it from local authorities and others are being taken into account in the current review.
Does my hon. Friend recall his meeting with representatives of six local authorities in Edinburgh on 15 March, especially the points made by Banff and Buchan district and Moray district about the difficulties of areas squeezed between oil-rich Aberdeen and the much aided Highlands and Islands Development Board area.
Yes. These points were made strongly by the local authorities when they came to see me in Edinburgh. I assured them, as I assure my hon. Friend, that we take careful note of these matters.
Will the Minister give a straight answer to a straight question? Is Aberdeen included in the review that is taking place? If not, why did he agree to meet representatives of the city council on 15 March?
We meet various bodies and local authorities on this and other matters. The straight answer that the hon. Gentleman wants is "No". In 1979 we said that in this review we would reconsider local authorities that had been downgraded by more than one step.
Secondary Schools (Expenditure)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how much was spent per pupil in secondary schools in Scotland in the most recent year for which figures are available.
Local authority current expenditure on secondary schools, at outturn prices, excluding items such as meals and milk, was £1,016 per pupil in 1980–81, the highest in real terms that it has ever been.
In so far as there is a connection between educational standards and the amount spent on education, does my hon. Friend agree that this figure clearly shows that there is no reason for any reduction in educational standards in secondary schools in Scotland?
I agree with my hon. Friend. As the pupil-teacher ratio is at its best ever, we shall be looking for improved performance rather than for anything else.
Will the Minister concede that it is a tribute to the staff that standards are being maintained? Is he aware that expenditure on books has gone down by 20 per cent. over the last five years and that the books in most school libraries, if theSunday Standard is to be believed, are in tatters?
There is no justification whatever for any local authority in Scotland not making proper provision for books for its pupils. The number of pupils is declining substantially, but the amount included in the rate support grant for school books is being increased.
Job Creation (Glasgow)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what action he is taking to promote new employment in the Glasgow area.
As a special development area, Glasgow qualifies for maximum Government financial assistance and my right hon. Friend recently announced plans for a Scottish industrial exhibition centre on the Queen's Dock. The Scottish Development Agency is also proposing a major redevelopment of the St. Enoch's site. These initiatives should do a great deal to promote new employment. In addition, the Glasgow eastern area renewal initiative is expected to stimulate over 5,000 new jobs, and the Government remain committed to the dispersal of 1,400 Ministry of Defence posts from South-East England to Glasgow.
Is the Minister satisfied with the sufficiency of that answer? I am not. Does he not realise that, since he came to office, the city has lost over 20,000 jobs? Will he have urgent talks with the local authorities at district and regional level, and also with the SDA, with a view to trying to work out some means of arresting the continuing decline in manufacturing within the city? Will he try to promote a more positive approach to providing jobs within the city? Will he also keep his eye on the situation at the British Rail engineering workshops in Glasgow, in view of the decision on the electrification of the Ayr-Glasgow line?
The points made by the hon. Gentleman are very much in our mind. We are considering a number of initiatives to assist in dealing with the problems in Glasgow to which the hon. Gentleman correctly referred. The list that I have mentioned could be added to. There are other investments, job prospects and projects to which I could refer. These contain encouraging signs not simply for public expenditure but for increased private investment in Scotland, as shown by the opening of the new Holiday Inn last week, another large hotel project that is currently taking place, and the proposals for the Buchanan Street station site.
Is the Minister aware that hotels, while welcome, have nothing to do with manufacturing industry? As unemployment has increased beyond 3 million, and with yesterday's figures showing a further increase in the underlying trend in Scotland, will the hon. Gentleman tell us when all these new permanent jobs about which he and his right hon. and hon. Friends keep boasting will reduce unemployment in Glasgow?
No one is boasting about anything. The right hon. Gentleman's constituents would, I think, be amazed that he should scoff at service jobs, which are just as important to people as manufacturing jobs.
Young Persons (Training)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on discussions between his Department and the Manpower Services Commission with regard to the training of young people in Scotland.
My Department and the MSC are in regular contact about the training of young people and other issues. Last December we published the White Paper "A New Training Initiative" and welcomed the commission's proposal to set up a high level task group to consider foundation training for all young people, whether employed or unemployed. In the meantime, the Scottish Education Department and the Scottish Economic Planning Department are working closely with the MSC to ensure that the new initiatives are developed effectively in Scotland.
Does the Minister agree that the prospects throughout the remainder of the Government's life, which we hope will be short, are for an increase in unemployment? Is he aware that this will result in the essential talents of highly qualified young people leaving school being ill used or misused? When will he be able to ensure that these young people have a job or a training opportunity when they leave school?
The prospects for the remainder of this first Parliament of my right hon. Friend's Government are that the economy will move into a much stronger position regarding inflation, interest rates and competitiveness. That is the most important thing that any Government can do for job prospects.
Has the Minister noticed the strictures of the Manpower Services Commission south of the border about the inadequacy of the £15 a week made available under the Government's new training programme? Has he further noticed that both the CBI and trade union members have associated themselves with the view that this should be increased to more than £27 a week? Do the Government intend to take action on the matter?
I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that by increasing the allowance from £15 to £25 that is necessarily being generous. In real terms it means that there will be less money available for those young people who need it and fewer resources available to implement the training that is an essential part of the scheme. Training and education for 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds is what this scheme is all about.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the important aspect is the training of young people and that it is the training that costs the money? Does he further agree that the money paid to young people is a training allowance, not a wage?
My hon. Friend is correct. I hope that Opposition Members will bear these points in mind.
On the question of allowances and the compulsory element in the scheme, have not the MSC, the CBI and the TUC unanimously condemned those aspects of the scheme? That view is in line with the criticisms made consistently by the Opposition since the date of the announcement of the scheme and in the debate in the Scottish Grand Committee in Edinburgh. As these aspects of the scheme, if proceeded with, will jeopardise the whole success of the scheme, will the Government drop them?
The right hon. Gentleman surprises me by his misunderstanding of this matter. We are not trying to pay a wage to young people, but to provide an allowance for those engaged in some kind of training employment. If the right hon. Gentleman looks at the position in other countries in Europe, he will find that the allowances are comparable. One of our problems is that 16 and 17-year-olds in employment are paid too much and are therefore priced out of employment.
Industrial Development (Ayrshire)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received about the effect upon the future industrial development in Ayrshire of investment in the Glasgow to Carlisle, via Kilmarnock, rail route.
That surprises me. Will the Secretary of State bear in mind the assistance and support freely given to him by me and my colleagues from Ayrshire on the electrification plans for the Ayr-Glasgow line and reciprocate by joining my lobby of British Rail to see that there is no decline in the services on this vital rail link?
I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's point, and I am grateful for the help that he and some of his hon. Friends have given on the important matter of the electrification of the Ayr line. With regard to what I may call the Kilmarnock line, I am assured by British Rail that it has ample capacity to take any increased traffic associated with industrial development. That is quite a reassurance for those who are trying to attract industrial development to the area.
My right hon. Friend will be aware that the majority of this railway runs through my constituency. Will he make every effort, as I and the regional council have, to bring home to British Rail the importance of improving the service on this line so that it can be made more profitable than it is?
I appreciate my hon. Friend's point, and I shall draw it to the attention of my right hon. Friend, who is directly responsible for railway services.
Solicitor-General For Scotland
Crimes Of Violence
asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland if he will meet the procurator fiscal of Perth to discuss prosecutions for crimes of violence.
I have no plans to meet the procurator fiscal of Perth in the near future to discuss prosecutions for crimes of violence. However, I regard it of importance to meet procurators fiscal whenever my other responsibilities will allow, and, although no plans have yet been made, it is my intention to visit the procurator fiscal at Perth, when the work of the office generally will be discussed.
I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that although unemployment in Perth is well below the national average, crime is increasing? Is there not some relationship between that increase and the trendy practices in schools and homes which have led to a breakdown in the standards and values of discipline and order? Surely that has more to do with the level of crime than unemployment.
As my hon. Friend has already suggested, there is no simple correlation between unemployment and the level of crime, but there are certainly deep-seated problems affecting responsibility for law.My hon. Friend might be interested to know that where the Tayside police in Perthshire have exercised their powers under section 4 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act in the search for offensive weapons, on 13 out of 23 searches offensive weapons have been found. It is difficult to see in what circumstances unemployment leads to people carrying offensive weapons.
The Solicitor-General has obviously looked into the specific issue of searches for offensive weapons in Tayside. How many of those searches could not have been carried out under the Prevention of Crime Act?
I have given the number of occasions when the specific power was used under the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act, and it has been used sparingly elsewhere in Scotland, as the hon. Gentleman knows. When it has been used, on a regrettably large number of occasions people have been found to be carrying offensive weapons.
Trials (Recovered Stolen Goods)
asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland what representations he has received about prosecuting authorities in Scotland retaining recovered stolen goods for the purpose of evidence at subsequent trials.
From time to time I receive representations from individuals about stolen property which is retained for prosecution purposes.
Does my hon. Friend appreciate the hardship that can be caused when vital domestic items are retained for a long time by the prosecuting authorities? With the increase in the technological capacity of the prosecuting authorities, not least the development of the camera, has not the time come for photographs to be produced in court rather than the items themselves?
From the many years that my hon. Friend practised in the High Court in Scotland I am sure that he is aware that the best evidence rule requires that on most occasions property that is at the centre of a court case must be produced. As my hon. Friend has indicated, if it is possible to secure defence agreement, it is desirable that photographs should be used instead of objects, or, if it is possible to reach agreement with the defence, even without photographs.If individuals wish to have property returned to them pending a trial, they should approach the procurator fiscal, but it must be understood that they may be required to produce it again for the trial.
asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland how many cases involving murder have been prosecuted in Scotland so far in 1982.
There have been 20 cases involving a charge of murder prosecuted this year during the period up to 31 March, involving 30 accused.
Will the Solicitor-General confirm that, while crimes of violence as a whole went up in 1981, the number of homicides went down, and that over the past two decades there has been no increasing trend in the number of homicides? Therefore, does he agree that the campaign now being waged by the Police Federation, while unjustified in the United Kingdom as a whole, is entirely inappropriate in Scotland?
I can confirm that the number of reported murders in Scotland last year fell from 200 to 190. In the House there are deeply held views on the reintroduction of capital punishment. I accept that if one looks at the crude statistics in Scotland, it is difficult to reach a firm decision one way or the other.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the reintroduction of the death penalty, particularly for the murder of policemen or prison officers, would be warmly welcomed in the country and might do a great deal to deter violent crime in Scotland?
I know that my hon. Friend has taken that view in the past. I accept that there is a widespread feeling in the country that if capital punishment were to be reintroduced for these specific offences, it might have a significant deterrent effect. However, I am not sure that this is an appropriate occasion on which to enter into discussion on this difficult and delicate subject.
Will the Minister confirm that he joined Labour Members in voting against the reintroduction of capital punishment when it was last considered by the House and would he do so again?
It was not a matter of my joining Labour Members. I took a decision on that vote at that time. There are delicate and difficult decisions to be reached on this matter. If the House reconsiders the matter on another occasion, I shall reconsider my position.
Armed Trespass (Prosecutions)
asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland how many prosecutions there have been in the latest convenient year for armed trespass.
I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I sent him on 24 February 1982.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the figure that he mentioned is very disappointing? Is not the only way to reduce poaching in Scotland for offenders to be apprehended by the police with far greater enthusiasm and subsequently to be prosecuted by the procurator fiscal? That is how we shall stop armed trespass, particularly on the foreshore in Scotland.
I know that my. hon. Friend is particularly worried about criminal trespass on the foreshore in Scotland. As hon. Members appreciate, the foreshore in Scotland enjoys a particular legal status. In a case in the sheriff court at Dumfries there were difficulties about criminal trespass, possibly on the foreshore. That issue probably requires to be resolved by a civil action. It is not one that should properly be considered in a summary criminal court.
Will the Solicitor-General dissociate himself from the view expressed by his predecessor in an article inThe Times yesterday, that the reintroduction of capital punishment would have the effect of deterring criminals from offences such as armed trespass?
I have read the article to which the hon. Gentleman referred, but I did not understand that my hon. and learned predecessor was suggesting that capital punishment should be reintroduced for this crime.
Scottish Law Commission
asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland what future inquiries are planned for the Scottish Law Commission.
In its sixteenth annual report, published on 9 December 1981, the Scottish Law Commission gives details of the work being carried out by it in pursuance of its published programmes of law reform and of consolidation and statute law reform and of its statutory duties under the Law Commissions Act 1965.
Will my hon. Friend give details of what happens to the Scottish Law Commission's reports? Is he satisfied that prompt and efficient action is taken on them, or do they lie on a shelf with law books and collect dust?
I am happy to use this opportunity to make it clear to the House that successive Governments have acted promptly on the Scottish Law Commission's reports. The best recent example is the report on occupancy rights in the matrimonial home and domestic violence, which was produced by the Scottish Law Commission on 17 July 1980. When my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind), now the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, was in the Scottish Office, he introduced a Bill on the basis of that report a little over seven months later.
When does the Solicitor-General expect progress to be made on the implementation of court awards for maintenance after divorce cases?
That matter is being considered. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that there has been some development on this recently in the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Bill[Lords], which is currently before the House. That Bill contains a measure that will allow the enforcement of maintenance awards throughout the United Kingdom. It is a small measure, but I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that it is a desirable improvement in the law.
Order. I propose to call the hon. Members for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram).
Is the Scottish Law Commission presently at work on the area of law that was covered by the recent Supply of Goods and Services Bill, for which the hon. Gentleman was a Government spokesman, and about which there is a good deal of anxiety that Scottish law might be falling behind that of England?
The Scottish Law Commission is looking at that issue. The approach that it is taking is desirable, in that it is considering the matter not in isolation but in the broader area of implied terms in the supply and sale of goods. In addition, a joint report with the English Law Commission should bring about a far better and more comprehensive reform of Scottish law in this area.
Will my hon. Friend ask the Scottish Law Commission to look again at the common law of nuisance in relation to anti-social behaviour by neighbours in owner-occupied tenements? The common law is totally incapable of protecting such people at the moment.
I am not sure that looking at the law of nuisance is the best way of dealing with this matter. My hon. Friend might consider putting down an amendment to the Civic Government (Scotland) Bill[Lords] to deal with it.