HC Deb 22 November 1948 vol 458 cc873-4
Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (by Private Notice)

asked the Minister of Labour what steps he is taking to secure a resumption of work by the crew of the Cunard White Star liner "Queen Elizabeth," and whether he can give some confirmation of recent indications of a settlement?

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Isaacs)

An officer of my Department has been in Southampton in touch with the shipping company and the trade union. I am happy to be able to inform the House that work was resumed at 12 noon today.

Sir W. Smithers

May I ask the Minister of Labour whether there was any breach of contract between the men who left the ship and the Company? If so, is it proposed to take any disciplinary action for anarchy and mutiny? May I also ask whether the Minister realises that the strike at Southampton is only the last move in the Soviet game? Will the Government govern or get out?

Mr. Pritt

Will the Minister consider the danger that would be involved to many respectable business men if people who break contracts are prosecuted for anarchy and mutiny?

Mr. Granville

Does the statement mean that the "Queen Elizabeth" will be able to sail in the near future?

Mr. Isaacs

I have not been able to collect the most up-to-date information, but I understand that the Shipping Federation and the trade union met last night; that they reached some understanding which was submitted to the men this morning and that they at once resumed work. As far as I know, it is intended that the "Queen Elizabeth" will sail tomorrow, pending such information as may come from New York.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Will the Minister confirm that the settlement of this strike does not now depend on the settlement of the strike in New York, because that was understood from the statement from New York?

Mr. Isaacs

I have already indicated, in answer to the Private Notice Question, that I can only give the information I have at the moment. I have only just received confirmation that there was a meeting and that they have decided to resume work, but information of the arrangements come to has not yet come through.

Sir W. Smithers

May I have a reply to my question? I asked whether there was any breach of contract——

Mr. Speaker

I think we heard the question; it need not be repeated. If the Minister does not choose to answer, that is his affair.

Sir W. Smithers

May I ask whether there was any breach of contract? [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman dare not answer that one; the T.U.C. would not like it.