HC Deb 17 May 1956 vol 552 cc2206-7
48. Mr. Wade

asked the Minister of Labour if he will now introduce legislation to facilitate the transfer of shares to employees in order that they may derive the fullest possible benefit from the development of automation.

Mr. Carr

No, Sir.

Mr. Wade

If there is to be cooperation between employers and employees in the development of automation, is it not reasonable that they should have every possible opportunity of sharing in any increased dividends that may accrue therefrom? Secondly, is the Minister aware that under certain provisions of the Finance Act there are undoubted discouragements to the transfer of shares to employees. Will he, therefore, consult his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer with a view to introducing necessary Amendments in order to remove these obstacles to co-partnership?

Mr. Carr

The Government certainly wish to see the extension of profit sharing and co-partnership, but we believe that it must be done on a voluntary basis by the agreement of both sides. We think that recent events have shown that companies are able to do it without any further legislation.

Mr. Stokes

Will the hon. Gentleman, at least in the case of bonus share issues, consult the Chancellor with a view to the introduction of legislation to provide that a proportion of any bonus share issue goes to the workers in the industry concerned?

Mr. Carr

That is rather different from the Question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Osborne

Will my hon. Friend make it clear that the benefits of automation, before they are shared out, have first to be obtained by selling the products of automation in foreign markets at lower prices and with better quality?

Mr. Bence

In giving consideration to the proposal made by the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade), will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there are millions of people in occupations which cannot gain the benefit of automation? Many of us feel that it would be unjust and unwise to foster the idea that those who employ automation should benefit from its profitability to the detriment of those who cannot make use of it.

Mr. Carr

It should certainly be the objective of any scheme of co-partnership or profit sharing to ensure that the benefits are shared properly, not only with the workers, the owners of the capital and the management, but also with the consumers.