HC Deb 13 December 1962 vol 669 cc569-70
34. Mr. Bottomley

asked the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received about workers sabotaging machinery, so hindering his efforts to get industry to go from the Midlands to the North of England.

35. Mr. V. Yates

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is the nature of the evidence which he has received regarding the sabotage by Midland workers of machinery which had been dismantled for reassembly in the North of England; what has been the consequent damage to production; and what effect this has had upon trade generally and exports in particular.

Mr. Erroll

A case was reported to me in confidence by one of the heads of the company concerned. I understand that the matter was satisfactorily settled by the management and, so far as I am aware, has not been repeated.

Mr. Bottomley

Ought not the President of the Board of Trade to substantiate what he has said either outside where he made the original statement, or in this House? Why does he go out of his way to create bitterness between one section of the community and another?

Mr. Erroll

I should not at all mind substantiating the details if I thought that that would further the public interest, but, as the matter has already been settled, I think that to give further publicity to it would do more harm than good.

Mr. Yates

As this allegation was made to millions of viewers on television, would not the President of the Board of Trade ask the Postmaster-General to provide some evidence of this or repudiate what obviously is a dreadful slur on Birmingham and the Midlands?

Mr. Erroll

I think I was quite right to mention this particular example as one of a number of forms of pressure which tend to slow down the movement of factories to the development districts. In the context of that particular occasion, I think it was quite right and proper that I should refer to it in passing.