HC Deb 26 April 1966 vol 727 cc539-40
Q12. Mr. Maxwell

asked the Prime Minister what are the composition of and the date on which he proposes to call the National Conference on Productivity to deal with the extension throughout industry of pay and productivity councils; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

I am hoping to hold a National Industrial Conference on Productivity in the near future. We shall be consulting industry about its constitution and I shall inform the House when these consultations are completed.

Mr. Maxwell

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that one of the major problems is how to get trade union leaders and men on the shop floor to accept the responsibility, besides improvements in wages and working conditions, for increasing productivity? Would he say in what way he might be able to stimulate their acceptance of that responsibility?

The Prime Minister

I agree that this is the most difficult problem of all. I dealt with this question at some length when I addressed the Scottish T.U.C. in Aberdeen last week. I agree that one of the ways is that suggested by my hon. Friend in the Question—linking pay to productivity and productivity to pay. But many of the problems are purely local in character. This is the most difficult and intransigent part of the whole situation.

Captain W. Elliot

Does the Prime Minister agree that one of the best ways of achieving an increase in productivity is to allow those concerned to keep a greater proportion of the fruits of their earnings?

The Prime Minister

This matter has been argued at length over past years. Various experiments in that direction have been made in successive years with varying results. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman would not expect me to anticipate the statement of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer next week.