asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many factory closures and company liquidations there have been in Scotland in each of the past three years.
Comprehensive statistics of factory closures are not available.Instances of redundancy notified to the MSC involving 10 or more workers and arising in the context of closures for 1979, 1980 and 1981 are 86, 258 and 283 firms respectively. The number of instances up to the end of July 1982 is 207. The total number of compulsory and creditors' voluntary liquidations—the two types which involve insolvency—recorded in Scotland in 1979, 1980 and 1981 were 238, 379 and 438 respectively. The figure for 1982 up to the end of September is 373.
Do not the figures, especially for the current year, give the lie to Ministers' repeated proclamations about the end of the recession? Will the right hon. Gentleman take note of the fact that in my constituency alone in the past fortnight there have been three substantial lay-offs and one complete factory closure? Is he aware that what really irritates my constituents, as I suspect it does others, is the gap between Ministers' speeches and the actual wreckage of the economy?
That occurs only if those listening to the speeches do not examine the facts for themselves. The right hon. Gentleman may know that 7,000 firms in Scotland went out of business last year. As 8.000 new businesses were created, that does not seem to be a bad balance.
I should like a clear statement from the Secretary of State. Is he still contending, against the background of the past 10 or 15 minutes, that his economic policies are working in Scotland? Does he believe that they are working? My hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) instanced the loss of 450 jobs in Renfrew last week. We lost 50 jobs in Paisley yesterday. Will the Secretary of State comment on the fact that this morning Chivas Brothers in Paisley announced the loss of another 400 jobs, which means that the Renfrewshire area has lost 1,000 jobs in a week—
Order. The hon. Gentleman should ask his question.
I shall not attempt to answer all those questions, but I agree with the hon. Gentleman that there are many distressing instances of firms laying people off and having difficulties. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that that is common throughout the Western world. The reason for almost every closure and difficulty is that potential customers have decided to buy their goods elsewhere. The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends should give some thought to that.
Is my right hon. Friend able to calculate which of these closures and liquidations were due to strikes which stopped production? Does he agree that the Government's economic policies will not bring recovery unless the manufacturers are allowed to get on with the job of producing goods?
I agree with my hon. Friend that in many instances a long strike record has led to loss of jobs and the ultimate closure of a factory. I am glad to say, however, that in recent years there has been a great improvement and that the vast majority of workers in Scotland now appreciate that their first priority is to ensure that their company satisfies its customers and that if it does their jobs will be much more secure.
Why does the Secretary of State continue to mislead the House? Will he admit that among the 7,000 closures since he became Secretary of State there are the Linwood car plant, with the loss of 3,500 jobs, the Invergordon plant, with the loss of 1,000 jobs, and the Fort William paper mill, with the loss of 1,500 jobs? We are still battling to save Ravenscraig. Will the right hon. Gentleman admit that the 8,000 new companies to which he referred, taken together, do not make up for even the smallest job loss in the factories that I have mentioned?
The hon. Gentleman has inadvertently made my point for me. The best example of all is the Linwood car plant. People all over Scotland have been buying cars regularly over the past few years, but the fact that they chose not to buy cars made at Linwood meant that the factory closed. The hon. Gentleman has to face the fact that throughout Western Europe there are difficulties for industrial enterprises. None of the cases that he quoted resulted from the lack of Government help. The Government did everything that they could to help in every one of those cases.
From where does Babcock and Wilcox buy its steel—from Ravenscraig, or from somewhere else?
I asked that question when I met representatives of that company. They told me that they buy steel from Scottish steelworks and would regard it as serious if they could no longer do so. That is worth noting.