34. Mr. H. Wilson
asked the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received from employers and trade union representatives, respectively, about the future of the Clothing Industry Council; and whether he will make a statement.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
Since the withdrawal of the Wholesale Clothing Manufacturers' Federation and the British Mantle Manufacturers' Association from the Joint Clothing Council, my right hon. Friend has discussed the situation with the two seceding bodies, the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers, the Trades Union Congress and the Joint Clothing Council. The seceding bodies have stated that their decision is irrevocable. The others consider that the Joint Clothing Council should continue despite the secession, and the Council has asked for legislation to provide finance for its work. My right hon. Friend has informed the Joint Clothing Council that he is not prepared in all the circumstances to introduce legislation, and the Council has indicated that it may put forward further proposals when it has re-examined its position.
Is not this a scandalous piece of sabotage of the public interest by the parties concerned, and does not the hon. and learned Gentleman recall that the President of the Board of Trade, when commending the dissolution Order relating to the Clothing Industry Development Council in December, 1952, gave us as one of the main reasons that it was to be replaced by this voluntary council. Since the voluntary council has been sabotaged, will the hon. and learned Gentleman revive the proposal for a development council?
§ Mr. Strauss
I thought it best to keep my answer purely factual, but I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that some of the hopes expressed at that time have not been fulfilled. While the agreement between the parties, as then outlined to the House, was accurately described, 202 neither the Government nor anybody else have it in their power to compel people to continue to agree.
Is the hon. and learned Gentleman not aware that what was debated on that occasion was the decision to dissolve the Development Council, and have the Government not got power under the Act passed by the previous Government to recreate that development council, in view of the way in which they have been let down on this occasion?
§ Mr. Strauss
I do not think it in the least follows that it would be a good thing to recreate the development council.