HC Deb 25 January 1962 vol 652 cc388-9
17. Sir Richard Pilkington

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress he has made towards setting up a National Economic Development Council.

Mr. Brooke

As the House will be aware, my right hon. and learned Friend has now received an answer to his invitation to the T.U.C. to join in the work of the Council. He welcomes its decision to co-operate. The employers' organisations informed him last October of their willingness to join the Council. My right hon. and learned Friend will now proceed to issue invitations to individuals to serve on the Council.

Sir Richard Pilkington

It would seem that all connected with this ought to be congratulated. Does not my right hon. Friend think that this is the beginning of a national approach to these problems as opposed to a sectional one?

Mr. Brooke

I very much hope that the readiness of everybody to co-operate in this will lead to better arrangements than we have had in the past.

Mr. Grimond

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer has accepted the conditions which the T.U.C. has imposed on its acceptance?

Mr. Brooke

My right hon. and learned Friend had always envisaged that T.U.C. members would be free to report to their own organisations. That was one of the conditions. Neither the T.U.C. nor the employers' organisations would be debarred from continuing to comment on Government policy. As for what the T.U.C. said on questions of wage restraint, I would say that it was good in parts.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Will steps be taken to ensure that this body does not come between the Chancellor and the House, in the sense that communications, political and administrative, and suggestions are made to it first before the Chancellor consults the House?

Mr. Brooke

I can certainly say that this new body will have no executive powers at all.

Mr. Callaghan

As the only comment that Parliament has had so far was in the Chancellor's speech and, according to the newspapers, a lot of detail has been given to the parties to the Council, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman will publish as a White Paper the actual proposals put to the parties so that we in the House can know what is the function of this Council?

Mr. Brooke

I am quite sure that in due course my right hon. and learned Friend will wish to make a further statement to the House. He received the letter from the Trades Union Congress only last night.