HC Deb 30 June 1966 vol 730 cc2192-4
Q7. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Prime Minister if he will take steps to enable the making of awards to employees who make a special contribution either to the export drive or to increased productivity.

The Prime Minister

Contributions of this kind are recognised in the Honours Lists; and in addition The Queen's Award to Industry is given for collective achievement in exports or technology.

Mrs. Short

Would my right hon. Friend look at this again and consider whether we could not make use of the enormous amount of talent and ability that exists on the shop floor, so that those who bring forward ideas to increase productivity, which is vital now for the nation, shall get some sort of reward—not necessarily financial—"Hero of British Labour" or something like that?

The Prime Minister

I am not certain that my hon. Friend is fully up to date in the particular attitude to Stakhanovism in certain parts of the world. Anyone who contributes to productivity has an equal chance of being considered with anyone else in the matter of a recommendation for an honour. The Queen's Award to Industry, which is a collective award in respect of productivity as well as exports, enables a fairly, widespread use of what has been done. For example, individual employees are entitled to wear lapel badges displaying the emblems of the award. Many of these efforts are collective rather than individual.

Mr. Maudling

Does the Prime Minister think that these sort of things will compensate those who produce invisible exports for the effects of the Selective Employment Tax?

The Prime Minister

I should have thought that the House had probably devoted enough time to debating the Selective Employment Tax without my wanting to add, or even being able to add, to the collective wisdom of the House on this very excellent Tax.

Mr. Moonman

Would not my right hon. Friend recognise that, although he suggested the Honours List as a possible area for recognition, in fact that is unrealistic for the large number of workers who make a contribution to the export drive or to productivity?

The Prime Minister

I think that my hon. Friend is wrong about that. He will be very surprised at the very large numbers of workers on the shop floor who, because of their contribution to industry, are recognised in the Honours List year by year.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

Would the Prime Minister try to find some way of identifying those who discourage export production by, for instance, wildcat strikes and laziness at work?

The Prime Minister

I would not think that anyone who discourages export work, whether by unofficial strikes, by inefficient management, or by a failure to bring up to the top in a firm people who have the ability to contribute, would normally be considered for inclusion in an Honours List.

Mr. Shinwell

Will my right hon. Friend remind the Opposition of the reward they got at the last General Election?

Sir C. Osborne

Will the Prime Minister bear in mind that the average working man and woman regards a higher wage or salary as the best reward he could get? Will the Prime Minister bear in mind that, if he could reduce the taxation on what ordinary people earn, they would be more grateful than they would be for other honours?

The Prime Minister

I think that the question of reductions in taxation should be taken into account on some of the earlier questions in connection with the very heavy burdens we have unnecessarily inherited of expenditure commitments which are very difficult to renegotiate. It does not lie in the mouths of right hon. Members opposite to fight an election campaign on a promise of reduced taxation when each day we are discovering new commitments which they entered into on a completely frivolous basis.