HC Deb 11 March 1925 vol 181 cc1314-5

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the admitted need of conference between all parties in industry in order to secure the removal of suspicion and other causes of industrial strife, he will take steps to invite representatives of the industries to meet once more in national industrial conference?

47. Mr. COUPER

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the depressed condition of the shipbuilding and engineering industries, he will reconsider a suggestion he made in Glasgow in November, 1923, for a conference of representatives of those interests to inquire into the whole position in regard to unemployment in the shipbuilding and allied industries?

33. Captain MACMILLAN

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the state of the shipbuilding industry; and whether he will consider the question of appointing a representative committee to inquire into all the causes of the disparity between British and Continental costs of production, in the hope of arriving at an agreed policy?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

The matter raised by the two latter questions comes within the terms of reference of the Balfour Committee on. Trade and Industry, who already have it under consideration and have begun to take evidence upon it; but I am certainly of opinion that if, in addition, employers and employed in the two trades concerned agreed to examine the whole position together, as my hon. Friend the Member for Maryhill suggests, nothing but good will result. As regards the suggestion of my Noble Friend the Member for Nottingham South (Lord H. Cavendish-Bentinck), the question whether a national conference of employers' and workers' representatives might usefully be summoned after the Balfour Committee has reported, and after some of the leading trades have themselves arrived at a measure of agreement, is one which I shall be prepared to consider at the proper time, but I am convinced that there would be no advantage in calling together a national conference until there has been a frank and thorough discussion by the representatives of each of the principal industries with regard to the problem as it affects them.


When does the right hon. Gentleman expect the Report of the Balfour Committee?


I am afraid I cannot say.


In view of the urgency of this problem, will the Prime Minister state if he has any idea how long the Balfour Committee will be in their deliberations, and will he make every effort to speed up the sittings of that Committee?


I am as anxious as anyone for a speedy Report. If any hon. Gentleman interested will put down a question I will have a definite reply given.


Might I ask a further question? Is there any limit as to what is the purview of the Balfour Committee in regard to calling evidence before them?


I think that question should be put to the Board or Trade, under whom the Committee is functioning.