§ 11. Mr. Bill Walker
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give details of the number of people in work in Scotland and north Tayside in May 1979 and at the nearest date in 1991 for which figures are available.
§ Mr. Allan Stewart
In September 1990, there were 2.25 million people in the Scottish civilian work force in employment. This was 12,000 more than in June 1979. In September 1989, there were 22,600 people in employment in north Tayside—about 1,600 more than in September 1984. These are the earliest and latest dates for which constituency information is available.
§ Mr. Walker
Does my hon. Friend agree that these figures show very clearly that a Conservative Government and Conservative Members of Parliament are good for Scotland, and certainly good for north Tayside? They show very clearly that the number of people in work is greater today than when I became a Member of Parliament, and those people are all better paid, making nonsense of the claims that people are not better off.
§ Mr. Stewart
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend's general point and with his particular point about north Tayside. His reference to living standards is correct. The best measure is gross domestic product per head. Throughout Scotland, GDP is at an all-time high, having increased by about 30 per cent. in the past decade. That shows beyond any doubt the benefits that the people of Scotland have derived from Conservative government.
§ Mr. Ernie Ross
The Minister is being rather selective. He will know, for instance, that the whole of Tayside has been shocked by the most recent job losses, which are a direct result of decisions made by his Government. I refer, for example, to the decision to instruct health boards to consider privatising some of their services. That was compounded by a decision of a sub-committee of the full health board, by a vote of three to two. The people who voted to make 380 people redundant were the chairman, who was appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland, and two self-nominated members of the Conservative party, one of whom has a relative on the Government. side of the House.
§ Mr. Stewart
I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman was referring to one of my relatives —or, indeed which one as there are a very large number of them.
Contracting out has saved the health service hundreds of thousands of pounds, and the money saved is going into patient care, where is belongs. When talking about what has been lost to Tayside, the hon. Gentleman might have taken the opportunity to express regret at the way in which the big Ford investment was thrown away by the trade union movement.