HC Deb 04 May 1939 vol 346 cc2042-3
6. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that Government contracts are being carried out at Messrs. Air Speed, Limited, Portsmouth; that a trade dispute has been in existence since 5th April over the non-application of the national agreement which provides for a differential rate for the men involved and that the constitutional procedure has been exhausted; and, in view of that, will he take steps to deal with the dispute?

Mr. E. Brown

After full consideration of further representations which have been made to me, I adhere to the view expressed in the answer which was given to the hon. Member on Monday.

Mr. Smith

In view of the fact that the constitutional procedure has been exhausted by the unions, who have taken every step in order to conform with the constitutional procedure, can the Minister now use his influence in order to bring about a settlement; and can he say who, in his view, is responsible for the deadlock?

Mr. Brown

I have considered all the facts concerned, and I remain of the opinion that this dispute can be settled only by discussion among the industrial organisations concerned.

Mr. Buchanan

Would the right hon. Gentleman make an effort to bring the two parties together for discussion and offer his good offices in that respect?

Mr. Brown

No, Sir. I have given my answer in the light of the representations made to me yesterday.

Mr. Watkins

The Minister has intervened frequently in instances of this kind; what prevents him from intervening this time?

Mr. Brown

The wisdom or unwisdom of so doing.

Mr. Poole

Is the right hon. Gentleman not genuinely alarmed at the large number of disputes taking place in this type of factory mainly because employers refuse to recognise trade-union conditions.

Mr. Brown

On the contrary. Considering all the industrial circumstances of the last few years it is not accurate to say that there has been a large number of disputes. There have been very few.

Mr. Lawson

Are the conciliation officers doing nothing in the matter?

Mr. Brown

The hon. Member will understand that when the Minister states in the House that he has received representations, the conciliation machinery is doing its work. We have only a moral influence in these matters and we must be the judges whether it is wise or unwise to intervene. I have given the House my judgment that it is unwise.

Mr. E. Smith

In view of the serious national consequences of this kind of thing, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter at any early opportunity.