HC Deb 15 February 1966 vol 724 cc1083-4
3. Mr. Freeson

asked the Minister of Technology what action his department is taking to increase workers' participation in the industries for which he is responsible, with a view to encouraging increased productivity, general efficiency and an improved industrial environment; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Cousins

My Department is represented on the Economic Development Committees for the industries for which I am now responsible. I regard these committees as a very important means for encouraging workers' participation in economic planning and in solving the particular problems of their industries.

Mr. Freeson

I thank the Minister for that sympathetic reply, but could he take the matter a little further? Would he agree that the question of participation by workers in management and productivity schemes requires more than sympathetic interest by the E.D.C.s and that we need this kind of participation if we are to make a more effective incomes and prices policy, not to speak of achieving an industrial democracy, which this party is aiming for?

Mr. Cousins

Yes, of course, it needs considerably more than just an examination by the little Neddies. It needs, in fact, a change of attitude by some people towards workers' participation. Very frequently, managements regard the workers as not being entitled to participate in examinations but only to be told what examinations have taken place. We have been trying for years to remedy this situation.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Arising out of the Minister's original reply, could he say what exactly is the rôle of the representatives of his Department on the Economic Development Committees? Are they there in a listening capacity or a participating one?

Mr. Cousins

They are there in a fully participating capacity. As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, these bodies are non-executive: they examine and report back. But my representatives take a full part in them.