HC Deb 01 August 1952 vol 504 cc1860-2
The Minister of Labour (Sir Walter Monckton)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I should like to make a statement about the position reached in my discussions with the representatives of the firm of D. C. Thomson and Co. and the printing trade unions, following the report of the Court of Inquiry.

I am glad to say that both the firm and the trade unions have shown themselves ready to co-operate in finding a solution to the questions at issue, which involve important points of principle affecting the public interest. Both the firm and the trade unions have indicated the steps which they are prepared to take in keeping with the Report.

The firm have stated that, subject to certain safeguards which the unions mainly concerned have already agreed to provide, they would be prepared to cease to insist on any undertaking by their employees not to join a trade union. A document has been prepared in consultation with representatives of the firm and the printing trade unions, embodying the points to which the firm and the unions attach importance and it is in an agreed form for signature by the parties as a complete setlement of the issues affecting the points of principle. The firm have informed me that they are prepared to sign and implement this document as soon as the unions are prepared to do likewise.

The executive of the Printing and Kindred Trades' Federation are meeting on Wednesday next to receive the report of their representatives, and I am awaiting a communication from them.

Mr. Robens

I am sure the whole House will be very gratified at the statement the Minister of Labour has made, and we congratulate him and all concerned on the happy outcome of these negotiations. I should like to ask one question; could he say what is the position of the men at Glasgow still seeking reinstatement?

Sir W. Monckton

The right hon. Gentleman, to whom I am obliged for his observations, is quite right—the difficulty so far as the unions are concerned is the position of the men at Glasgow who are seeking reinstatement. The unions have informed me that they are prepared to have the matter settled by arbitration, but the House will appreciate that consent of both parties to such a course is required and the position is being explored.

Mr. Lee

We are all very happy to hear the report, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that signature has not yet been effected by both sides and that the issue at stake is of great importance. In the event of a settlement not being possible, would he agree to set up the arbitration necessary to finish the whole question?

Sir W. Monckton

I would rather not say more than I have said. I am certainly prepared, but, as I have said, it requires the consent of the two parties. I am exploring, and will explore, the possibility.

Mr. Strachey

While congratulating the right hon. and learned Gentleman on the settlement, may we be assured that his Department will in future do its utmost to see that this hitherto benighted firm—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]—Mr. Speaker, I am inclined to withdraw the word "hitherto"—that this benighted firm, to correct myself, which must be one of the very last in the country to refuse to recognise trade unions, does not discriminate against those of its members who wish to become members of trade unions?

Sir W. Monckton

Like the right hon. Gentleman, I am sure that what we want to see is the light of peace come into this. I am sure that the less we say the more likely it is to come.