HC Deb 13 December 1960 vol 632 cc189-90
12. Mrs. Castle

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in order to enable hon. Members to ascertain whether firms receiving Government financial help are observing trade union conditions, he will publish the names of all firms receiving grants or loans of public money.

Mr. N. Macpherson

No, Sir.

Mrs. Castle

What steps are the Government taking to see that Government money is not put behind non-union firms? How can the unions take these firms to the Industrial Court if they do not know who they are? Can the hon. Gentleman tell me whether the new factory of the Harper Paper Group, recently opened in Blackburn, was opened with Government help, because that firm flatly refuses to allow the printing workers' union to organise its workers and is not introducing trade union conditions?

Mr. Macpherson

In answer to the first part of the supplementary question, if the properly negotiated terms are not being observed I cannot see any difficulty involved in workers drawing the matter to the attention of their unions and the unions, in turn, taking the matter to the Industrial Court. In answer to the second part, not only the assistance given under the Local Employment Act but the fact that an application is made is treated as confidential.

Mr. Lee

What is the real objection to my hon. Friend's suggestion? We know that, under the fair wage clause, if Government money is involved there is this facility. My hon. Friend is not seeking the amount of money paid to each firm. She is asking which firms are receiving it. What principle is involved here which the hon. Member cannot tell us?

Mr. Macpherson

The principle involved is that it is confidential to the President of the Board of Trade what firms make application for this assistance. The firm itself can reveal it if it likes. It is confidential for the very good reason that firms would be deterred from making applications for assistance if they thought that this information might be given.

Mr. H. Wilson

If the Board of Trade will not publish it so that the workers can take appropriate action, will the Board of Trade make full trade union recognition a condition of receiving financial assistance? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he would be doing nothing new here, because in the lifetime of the Labour Government I can remember a case in South Wales where a factory was refused to a firm which would not give the necessary assurance about trade union recognition?

Mr. Macpherson

There are two good reasons for not doing that. First, it is not provided for in the Act and it is not part of my right hon. Friend's function. Secondly, there would be no means of enforcing it.

Mrs. Castle

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

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