HC Deb 11 June 1951 vol 488 cc1675-6
Mr. Peter Thorneycroft

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Labour whether he has any further statement to make about the strike of tally clerks at London Docks.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Robens)

The position is practically unchanged since I made my statement on Thursday last. Some 61 ships are fully manned as against 98 idle and three undermanned. I am, however, having important discussions this afternoon and I hope the House will not press me further at this stage.

Mr. Thorneycroft

What is the position about the food ships in the Port of London, many of which must have been idle for some considerable period? While we wish the right hon. Gentleman all success with his discussions, could we have an undertaking that the Government will watch this matter and, if the discussions do not bear fruit, that he will do something about the unloading of these ships?

Mr. Robens

The food situation is not of immediate concern, and I can assure the House that I am watching the matter very carefully from day to day.

Mr. Eden

Nobody wants to press the right hon. Gentleman if he is to have discussions this afternoon but, at the same time, could he give us any indication of what effect, if any, this strike is having upon the trade of the country, because the number of ships now laid up is very large indeed by any standard.

Mr. Robens

Certainly, the number of ships which are laid up is quite high. In fact, 98 are idle, and that must represent a considerable loss to the country as a whole.

Mr. A. Lewis

Will the Minister give an assurance that if these men make an immediate return to work he will call a conference under the auspices of his Department with the representatives of the men, with the clerical section of the union, for the purpose of discussing the question of the recruitment of clerical workers?

Mr. Robens

I have already indicated that I am to have discussions this afternoon and I would rather leave the matter there.