HC Deb 01 July 1948 vol 452 cc2368-9
53. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will set up a Commission of Inquiry on unofficial strikes, in view of their menace to the food supply and other necessities of life.

Mr. Isaacs

I do not think this is a satisfactory method of dealing with the problem, but the position is being explored.

Mr. Freeman

Could not some simpler and more direct method of dealing with such emergencies be developed, instead of waiting until a critical situation arises in the country and then declaring a state of emergency? Is not an inquiry into the whole matter opportune just now?

Mr. Isaacs

I think most of that supplementary question is wide of most of the Question. These unofficial strikes do not come within the purview of the Ministry of Labour until the Ministry is approached by the organisations concerned, and while we are very much concerned about these continuous outbreaks of resentment against trade union authority, we are not in a position to intervene until we are asked.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Will my right hon. Friend use his best endeavours to speed up the conciliation and arbitration machinery, delay in which is responsible, in considerable measure, for many of these unofficial strikes?

Mr. Isaacs

As far as I am aware, the instance in question arose without delay of any sort at all.

Mr. David Renton

Bearing in mind that the national interests are affected by these unofficial strikes, is it safe to leave it uncertain whether a particular body will bring a matter to the notice of the Ministry of Labour?

Mr. Isaacs

It is difficult to answer matters of general principle on specific cases of this sort. The Ministry of Labour is not a body which can intervene in any of these matters until it has been asked for its services to be given, or until other factors emerge. We have to take each case on its merits.

Mr. Blackburn

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, contrary to the impression now prevailing, there are strong reasons in the interests of personal freedom for the Government's failing to interfere wherever possible and keeping as far as possible out of matters of this kind?