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8.45 pm

Mr. Brian H. Donohoe (Cunninghame, South): The hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Day) said that he was a product of Labour and, judging from his speech tonight, he has not done too badly.

The Gracious Speech is paper thin as far as Scotland is concerned; it contains nothing of any meaning for Scotland. Two days after the Queen's Speech, the Secretary of State introduced a hare-brained scheme to engender some alternative to our well-thought-out proposals for a Scottish Assembly. The Government have no idea about the future of Scotland--the land in which I was born and which I shall always be proud to represent.

The Government cannot deal with the education problems in Scotland. Many children in Scotland, who receive little education and no training, find that there are no jobs in Scotland. Education without training and jobs is worthless. As a result, we have seen a rising culture of drug taking and crime in our society. The Government are responsible for those problems; no one could suggest that it is the fault of anyone else. I see those problems in my constituency and they exist throughout Scotland.

There is no point in trying to encourage the youngsters in our communities if we cannot provide them with real training. A company has recently commenced operations in my constituency and it has brought a number of jobs to the area. I visited that company a few weeks ago and I met the owner. He told me that he is not able to fill the positions in that factory because of a lack of training. He has plenty of desks and machines, but he does not have bodies to operate those machines.

That lad was conned by the Scottish Office and by Ayrshire Enterprise about the number of suitably trained people in the Ayrshire area. He has had to consider bussing people from the north and the east to the south of the county. He could employ 100 people tomorrow and meet his production requirements, but he cannot recruit suitable workers because of the lack of training in the local area. That problem should have been addressed before now.

We must also contend with the ill-thought-out reorganisation of local government in Scotland. The constraints that will be placed on the resources of the new authorities are now coming to light. The Government have not given the new authorities any assurances that their financial requirements will be met. Education and training needs have not been addressed. There will be immense problems in social work in respect of achieving any possible attachment to the needs of my constituents. That is another clear sign of an incompetent Government who have nothing to offer the people of Scotland.

We are also witnessing the breakdown of the national health service. I was born the year that the national health service came into being and, in the final years of the current Government, it is breaking down completely. Nothing is left of the dreams of those who created the national health service.

Mr. Jim Cunningham (Coventry, South-East): Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the problems in the national health service that the Government have not addressed--it could be argued that they have exacerbated

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it--concerns the long hours worked by nurses and doctors in the national health service and their lack of incentive to do a good job?

Mr. Donohoe: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. While nurses, and other staff, are restricted to pay rises of some 3 per cent. per annum, general managers in the trusts and the health boards of Scotland award themselves increases of up to 25 per cent. There is something fundamentally flawed in a system that allows that to continue. The issue clearly needs to be addressed, and it is not likely to happen under any circumstances where we have a Tory Government.

In my constituency, what I understood to be a national health service is being broken up and private hospitals are running almost all geriatric services. If the Tories thought that they could get away with it, they would privatise the birth of children. I am not so sure that that is not the next option that the Secretary of State for Health will consider.

My constituency also has problems with housing. The development corporation in the new town was enormously successful for 25 years. It created jobs and wealth, it attempted to address the lack of training in the area and it built particularly good housing. All that achievement has been lost because of the Government and their madcap ideas. They want to diversify the housing stock. They do not want the same as the public.

The tenants living in those houses want to be transferred to the local authority. That was proved by clear experience in other new towns in Scotland. A ballot revealed that 97 per cent. of people in East Kilbride believed that the only useful alternative to their continuing in the rented sector was to transfer to the local authority. [Interruption.] Does the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Robertson) want me to give way? Clearly, he does not understand his own brief, because he has never answered the points that I have raised with him in Scottish Questions.

Why should so many resources--some £350 million-- be wasted on a housing association in Irvine when nobody seems to know whom it represents? Why should all that money be spent trying to entice people away from what they know is good for them to the unknown--away from secured tenancies to assured tenancies? My constituents will not be conned.

In the past 16 years, what have we gained from a Tory Government? We have experienced growth of some 1.7 per cent. How can we possibly compete in the world market when we are hitting such a growth figure? Earlier this evening, I had a discussion with representatives of ICI, which is a very successful company. It is not so successful in my constituency, where its employment figures have fallen from 13,000 jobs in Stevenston to some 600 today. That does not suggest that the country has encouraged ICI to continue as an employer in my constituency.

Politicians on both sides of the House do not understand what is happening in the commercial markets of the world. Commercial companies have become transnational. Individual companies do not concern themselves unduly with what politicians have to say. Instead of all the discussion about sleaze, and Conservative Members taking money for advising industry on how to go about its business, we should look

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at industry to learn something about how we should conduct our business in politics. Clearly, Britain is old fashioned in that respect. We have to turn ourselves around and adopt an agenda that people on the streets understand and that will get them all back to work.

8.55 pm

Mr. Thomas Graham (Renfrew, West and Inverclyde): I have a new pair of glasses and, as they are bifocals, I am having some difficulty in using them.

I found the Queen's Speech extremely difficult to understand. It is quite extraordinary, to say the least, given the problems facing Britain and those facing my constituents. In the past fortnight, I have looked at my mailbag and I shall tell the House what was in it--not the Queen's Speech, but letters from people who are deeply worried about the effects of the Child Support Agency on their families. My constituents have undergone traumatic experiences and are still writing to me about their unsolved problems.

I also received a number of letters about transport. The Government's deregulation of the buses has caused enormous problems in rural areas. My constituents are finding it difficult to get to work in the morning and back in the evening because of the lack of bus services. Not everyone owns a motor car; therefore public transport is extremely important. Those are the issues about which I find letters in my mailbag.

Once again, there are tremendous problems with the national health service in my constituency and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman). The waiting lists are unbelievable. There is a waiting list of between nine months and a year for a man with a heart problem. He should be seen this week and treated immediately so that his problem can be cured. Those are the issues that folk want to see in the Queen's Speech. They want my constituent to have an operation on his heart. They want the waiting list to be cut effectively, not a manipulation of the figures.

My folk are worried about young people. The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Robertson) is nodding his head, but education in Scotland is his portfolio. I know young folk who want to go to college but cannot get the wherewithal to do so. The local college does not receive Government support, so young people in my area are being denied the right to take themselves off the dole and to seek further education.

One young girl in my constituency who is an incredible asset to Scotland--she is a great actress--has been offered a place in a college in England, but she cannot get funding. So what will happen to her? Her family cannot afford to send her to college, but the Government can. They should pay for young kids to go to college. Those are the measures that we should see in the Queen's Speech.

I remember the last time I read a poem out of a certain book. I wish that the Chancellor were here tonight, as I am about to read another one. This is from "Hairy Knees and Heather Hills" by the famous Walter McCorrisken. Walter sums up the Government in this wee poem.

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    "A miser from downtown Rangoon, Drank soup through a hole in a spoon. Said he with a smile, It's really worth while, For the soup I save is a boon."
That epitomises the Government, how they operate, and the Chancellor's regime. The Government do not realise that they must spend money to get Britain out of its problems. Providing employment for young people takes money and investment in education and training. That is the way forward.

The Queen's Speech should have given hope for Britain, and it should have given young folk pride, knowing that they would leave school, college or university and go into training that would give them a job. I make no bones about it. Every Member of Parliament has a job. Some do it well and some do it badly, but that makes no difference because we all collect a salary. Too many young graduates and other decent young men and women who have worked hard to pass their college exams to make a contribution to society are denied that opportunity by the madness of this Government.

After 16 years, the Tory party is still putting out bumf, such as a circular that I saw this week. I am sure that all Conservative Members have a copy. If not, I will make sure that they receive one. That circular says that Government's key objective is a centralist strategy aimed at not risking inflation, and at ending the days of boom and bust. After 16 years, the Government have the audacity to produce something like that, while constituents of mine--young people who have only ever seen that lot in government--are, through no fault of their own, languishing on the dole The Queen's Speech offers them no hope and nothing for the future.

I shall quote another poem from Walter McCorrisken:


That further reminds me of the Government, who are worried because they know that a general election is coming. They know also that the next Queen's Speech will be meaningful. They know that that Queen's Speech will offer young people the hope of carrying the flag and offer elderly folk in retirement a chance to enjoy a decent standard of living. If the Government do not look after the young, there will be nobody to look after the elderly.

The Government have abandoned their commitment to young people. Worse still, this week I received letters from elderly people asking why the Government could not put something in the Queen's Speech about abolishing value added tax on domestic fuel. Why could not the Queen's Speech have offered the elderly some hope this winter?

I remember the winter of discontent, but this winter many old folk will not wake in the morning. There will be a tap on the door that they will never hear. Eventually, the police or social worker will be told but, unfortunately, those elderly people will have a died because they did not have enough to heat their homes or to eat. They are forgotten individuals. That is the winter that those old people are facing.

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The Queen's Speech did not talk about the young, the elderly or the future of Britain because the Government have abandoned them all in favour of the pathetic policies of a dyed-in-the-wool, heartless Government.

Hon. Members: More.


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