HC Deb 10 February 1966 vol 724 cc594-5
18. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs whether he will refer the wages structure and conditions of work of London Transport busmen to the National Board for Prices and Incomes.

Mr. George Brown

Pay and conditions of London were the subject of an official committee of inquiry, which reported in February, 1964. Negotiations on a new pay claim are due to begin shortly and we will be keeping in touch with the parties concerned.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Is not this failure to report the matter to the Prices and Incomes Board the final evidence of the failure of the Government to take their own prices and incomes policy seriously? Is it not clear to everyone—it must be clear even to the First Secretary—that the London Transport Board is about to make a hand-out to the busmen, together with a reduction in the services offered to the long-suffering London public—

Mr. Speaker

Order, order. That is long enough.

Mr. Brown

That must have been the fiftieth occasion on which the hon. Gentleman has announced final evidence that the prices and incomes policy is not working. He is no better on this occasion than he was on the previous 49. What he said—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—I will answer only if hon. Gentlemen will listen. What the hon. Gentleman said cannot possibly be either accurate or relevant, because the new pay claim has not yet started.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Perhaps the First Secretary will return to the Question. Would he not agree that a useful purpose could be served if the restrictive practcies in the London Transport area, notably the refusal of the Transport and General Workers' Union to accept even so elementary a thing as work study, were referred to the Board? Does he not think that a confrontation between the Board and the Minister of Technology might be productive?

Mr. Brown

I do not really think that any part of that question arises on this Question.