§ 48. Mr. Lewis
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, since his recent discussions with representatives of the Trades Union Congress and the Employers Federation, more than twelve national trade unions have made wage applications to the employers on behalf of their members totalling some 2 million workers; that, since the Budget, a number of other trade unions have declared their intentions of making wage applications; and, as these applications will accentuate the present inflationary spiral, whether he will again arrange to meet the Trades Union Congress and the Employers Federation for the purpose of discussing our present economic and industrial difficulties.
§ The Prime Minister
I am aware that a large number of wage claims have been, or will shortly be, presented.
In company with my right hon. Friends the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Minister of Labour and National Service, I discussed the economic situation and the supplementary Budget with representatives of the Trades Union Congress on Tuesday last. It was agreed that there should be a further meeting in the near future. My colleagues and I are to meet representatives of the British Employers Confederation to discuss the same matters.
§ Mr. Lewis
While I note with pleasure that the Prime Minister has taken the opportunity to see the Trades Union Congress General Council, may I ask whether he can state whether the General Council welcomes with great acclamation the alleged progressive proposals in the Budget, or did the members of the General Council tell the Prime Minister that, on behalf of the workers, they viewed those proposals with dismay? Did they also ask the right hon. Gentle-may to consider abolishing at least the unfair Purchase Tax proposals and whether he would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider this?
§ The Prime Minister
I do not think that that would be a question for me to answer. As far as I am concerned, I confine myself to the agreed statement issued at the end of the meeting.
§ Dame Irene Ward
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As this Question raises a lot of points in which all people are interested, would it not be fair to allow someone on this side of the House to ask a supplementary question?
§ Mr. Speaker
The trouble about the Question was that it raised so many points that it could have been debated for the whole of Question Time and much beyond. Mr. Dodds.