HC Deb 31 October 1966 vol 735 cc1-3
1. Mr. Marten

asked the Minister of Labour if he will make a statement about progress in the pay and productivity talks with the railwaymen arising from the Prime Minister's meeting with them in mid-March.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. R. J. Gunter)

Following several joint meetings chaired by myself or one of my officials and subsequent direct informal discussions between the British Railways Board and the unions, a further joint meeting chaired by one of my officials is to be held tomorrow.

Mr. Marten

Could the Minister say what progress has been made in these talks about increasing productivity, in particular about the question of liner trains?

Mr. Gunter

The hon. Gentleman will know that great improvements have been made in the operation of liner trains, but the talks which have so far taken place, as he knows, are of great complexity, with the whole of the negotiating machinery and consultative machinery being examined and analysed, and particularly the grading structure in its relationship to greater efficiency.

24. Mr. Raphael Tuck

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consider introducing, as one of the subjects for decision at the current railways pay and productivity talks being held under the auspices of his Department, the adoption of techniques of planning freight train workings by computer which have been developed at Hull.

Mr. Gunter

The matters being discussed in the talks under my Ministry's chairmanship include a review of railway pay and grade structure designed to facilitate the introduction of new methods, such as that still being developed at Hull.

Mr. Tuck

Is my right hon. Friend aware that on the basis of the research done at Hull, the new technique of operational planning, which takes four hours compared with three weeks if done manually, can result in as much as a 50 per cent. saving of the work involved?

Mr. Gunter

As I have already said, an analysis of what is required there is now going on. The British Railways Board has told me that it is still under technical development, and it will form part of the negotiations going on.

Mr. Webster

Would it not be a good idea, if we have new techniques, to let them be exploited to the full by having free access to liner train depôts?

Mr. Gunter

The liner trains are being cared for. I do not know why there is this sudden outburst of interest.