HC Deb 31 October 1966 vol 735 cc26-7
42. Mr. Moonman

asked the Minister of Labour whether it is his practice to institute inquires into the causes of strikes, unofficial or otherwise; and how many such investigations took place in 1965 and 1966, up to 30th September.

Mr. Gunter

Yes, Sir, where I consider that such action would be appropriate. Between 1st January, 1965, and 30th September, 1966, I have appointed five Courts of Inquiry and four other formal inquiries into disputes which involved strikes. Five of these strikes were unofficial.

Mr. Moonman

Would the Minister indicate whether he would be prepared to consider an inquiry into each industrial dispute so that we might examine the common problem or common factor which might emerge? Would he consider what preventive work is being done by his Ministry, possibly to avoid some of the rather prejudiced statements made by certain hon. Members, such as the hon. Members for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) and Louth (Sir C. Osborne), during this discussion?

Mr. Gunter

The first question, whether we should have an inquiry into every unofficial strike, has been discussed over the years, and it is almost an impossible task at this time. In addition there is always the danger of cutting across the established negotiating machine of the union. But I have drawn attention to this problem in the evidence which the Ministry of Labour has submitted to the Royal Commission about the fact finding which lies behind strikes. I hope that we shall get some guidance. But it is a very complicated problem because so many unofficial strikes come out of the blue and are over in half a shift or one shift, and the best thing is to get back to the job.

Mr. John Page

Is the Ministry of Labour taking any action at all on the question of unofficial strikes or what new machinery can be introduced to solve them quickly, or is the right hon. Gentleman merely waiting for the result of the Royal Commission for all these things?

Mr. Gunter

The hon. Member knows that one of the most fruitful experiments in this matter was that introduced in the motor car industry where Mr. Jack Scamp has done a remarkable job in immediately investigating unofficial strikes. We are exploring with other industries how we may come to terms with this problem. I repeat to the House that our biggest problem concerns what prestige we sometimes give to the unofficial strikers when they themselves wrongly reject the machinery which is already there.