HC Deb 15 December 1949 vol 470 cc2918-20
Mr. Eden

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Labour whether he has any further statement to make about the situation in the electrical power industry.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Isaacs)

Yes, Sir. Following yesterday's discussions between the Trade Union officials and the shop stewards from the various Power Stations, the men this morning at meetings agreed to resolutions to return to work on the withdrawal of the Service men on duty there. I have just received information that, unfortunately, difficulties have arisen about which I am now making inquiries.

Mr. Eden

I do not want to press the right hon. Gentleman, but I understand this information is on the tapes and it cannot be a secret. Is not the position that at Brimsdown and Littlebrook the men have not gone back? Is that the position?

Mr. Isaacs

Yes. It is the position. They went back, but the difficulty I have referred to is a difficulty about some terms or conditions which have been argued or sought to be agreed. I am making arrangements to take the matter up immediately with the parties.

Mr. Eden

May I ask the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House a question? We are in some difficulty because this is the last occasion upon which we can ask any questions about this matter at all and, unhappily, the position is still obscure. We hoped it would not be obscure. May I ask the Prime Minister this? I presume that in the event of the situation not improving, or of its deteriorating as it did in the case of the docks strike—and we all hope that will not happen—and supposing that emergency powers are necessary, it is a fact that under the existing statute, the Government could then bring the House together at very short notice even though we had prorogued?

Mr. Ede

That is the position. We do not anticipate in any event that emergency powers would be necessary to deal with this particular dispute, but the House can be called together by Proclamation and can meet on any day after the Proclamation has been issued

Mr. Mikardo

Will my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour say whether the position at the Dartford station is not that a large number of men, including some supervisors who are members of my own trade union, have returned to work to find themselves locked out by the local management? This has caused great indignation locally and may even lead to the danger of an official stoppage. Will my right hon. Friend look into that?

Mr. Isaacs

Yes, but the House will appreciate that I said yesterday that there is dynamite lying about. It is piling up. I would ask the House not to press me, in view of the difficult situation. As soon as I can make a definite statement one way or the other, I shall ask your leave to do so, Mr. Speaker.

Sir John Mellor

As it has been reported that one of the conditions demanded has been that there shall be no prosecutions, will the right hon. Gentleman make this clear—that no one can contract out of the criminal law?