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Jobs, Glasgow

Volume 173: debated on Wednesday 6 June 1990

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5.

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what special measures he intends taking to create jobs in the east end of Glasgow.

Jobs are created by market forces, not by Governments. However, the Government continue to support a number of initiatives in the east end of Glasgow, including the provision of business advice and training, with the aim of stimulating and protecting employment in the area.

Is the Minister totally ignorant—[HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."]—of the fact that four of the seven constituencies with the highest unemployment in Scotland cover the east end of Glasgow? Does not he realise that the problem cannot be solved without special Government assistance? Just when will he do something about it? His reply is disgracefully inadequate. We are sick and tired of promises, press releases and cosmetic exercises. Just when will the Minister and his colleagues in Government realise that the people of Scotland and of Glasgow want the same job opportunities as people in London and the south of England? Can he tell the House when that day will come?

It seems to me that the hon. Gentleman, if not ignorant, is at least blind to the success of Government policies in Glasgow as elsewhere. In the past three years unemployment in Glasgow has fallen by no less than 29,000. In the hon. Gentleman's own constituency, unemployment stood at 7,000 in January 1987, but is now down to 4,500. He also should know that the Government are giving considerable support through the SDA to the East End Executive and that through the SDA there have been a number of projects to the value of £6 million in Shettleston. In those and other ways the Government are helping to assist the development of enterprise and employment in the east end of Glasgow.

Will my hon. Friend give a warm welcome to the statement made by the chief Opposition spokesman, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar), when he said on Radio 4 on 28 May that Scotland does very well out of central Government funding and remains substantially funded from England? While it may be a little premature for the hon. Member for Garscadden to start talking as if he were a Minister, is not his change of heart very welcome?

My hon. Friend is probably right. It is true that certain parts of Scotland get special help from the Government, as do certain parts of England, including the north-east and the north-west. That help is given because it is needed to generate employment and enterprise in areas of severe dereliction and difficulty. It is evidence of the success of Government policies in Glasgow that unemployment there has fallen by 29,000 over the past three years.

The Minister will know that in my constituency, in the Dennistoun area of the east end of Glasgow, more than 550 jobs in the tobacco industry have to go. Does he agree that it is a sad day when any industry that has increased its productivity and has good industrial relations and whose workers have worked there for generations finds that when Lord Hanson takes over a company, he strips the assets and closes factories? Surely the Minister and his colleagues in the Department of Trade and industry should do something about those asset-stripping companies.

I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman on the loss of some 530 jobs in his constituency because of the closure. However, that loss will take place over the next two years and Hanson has given undertakings on assistance with counselling, job searches and training activities. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman agrees that those decisions must be taken on commercial grounds and that industry must remain competitive, or more jobs will be lost. I am sure that he will welcome the fact that, by taking a commercial and competitive approach to the economy, the Government's efforts have resulted in a fall in unemployment in his constituency of about 3,000 over the past three years.