HC Deb 14 June 1956 vol 554 cc736-7
11. Mr. Hobson

asked the Minister of Labour if he will make a statement on the strike at Messrs. Bedfords, hosiery manufacturers, Keighley, which has been in operation since October, 1955; and what steps he is now taking to bring the parties together.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I would refer the hon. Member to my predecessor's reply to his Question on 1st December, 1955. The only change in the situation since then is that the employer formally discharged all the workers concerned in February. My regional officer has maintained contact with the employer, who is, however, still unwilling to meet the union.

Mr. Hobson

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that every step is being taken by his Department to bring the parties together—or is one to assume that his Department is completely helpless in the face of reactionary employers who refuse to recognise trade unions? Is not there a danger of this sort of dispute spreading? If it did not spread, would not the result be that the strike would be settled?

Mr. Macleod

I am not going to quarrel with the hon. Member's description. It is quite true that this is a very strange attitude for an employer to take towards trade unions. But, after all, if a man decides to dismiss all his employees and virtually to go out of business himself as a result, it is extremely difficult to see what one can helpfully do. My Department has been closely in touch with this matter for a long time. We have been in touch with the employer on five occasions this year, and I am quite prepared to make another approach in view of the hon. Member's supplementary question—but I do not hold out much more hope of finding a settlement than. I think, the hon. Member does.