HC Deb 21 February 1924 vol 169 cc1974-5

May I ask the Prime Minister if he has any statement to make to the House with reference to the position in the dock dispute?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. J. Ramsay MacDonald)

I am happy to report that as the result of the negotiations carried on all day yesterday the representatives of both sides early this morning agreed to terms which the union spokesmen decided to put before their delegate meeting this evening, with a recommendation that they should agree. The Minister of Labour, who has handled this matter with great skill and patience, hopes that the dispute will be finally settled to-night, and that before the House rises he may be able to communicate the terms of agreement to hon. Members. If this hope is fulfilled work will be resumed in some ports tomorrow, and I understand in practically all the others on the following day.

Under these circumstances the Government does not propose to put into operation any of the machinery it was prepared to set up to secure a food supply to the public. With the co-operation of the leaders of the union the mails are being handled to-day. May I add this? I regret that I could not give more information in response to the great pressure put upon me yesterday, but I considered that to do so would have been most damaging to the negotiations for which we were responsible, and had I yielded there would have been no settlement to-day.


With the indulgence of the House, may I be permitted to pay a tribute to the Labour Minister for the patience and ability with which he has dealt with this dispute. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed!"]

Commander BELLAIRS

May I ask the Prime Minister whether the agreement includes what is known as the "Blue" Union, which was responsible for an earlier strike, and which is demanding an increase of 2s. 6d. in wages?


I am afraid I must take up again to-day the position that I took up yesterdy. The matter is now under negotiation, and I feel that it is perfectly safe in the hands of those who are in charge of it. The final terms will be announced before the House adjourns to-night.