HC Deb 19 February 1968 vol 759 cc16-7
19. Captain W. Elliot

asked the Minister of Labour what plans he has to make a Government contribution to a voluntary severance pay scheme in Great Britain's docks.

Mr. Gunter

While stressing the need for suitable arrangements to be made within the industry as soon as possible, I have informed the National Association of Port Employers that I see no case for a Government grant towards the cost of its proposed voluntary severance payments scheme.

Captain Elliot

Does not the Minister agree that increased productivity in the docks is a major need for Britain? Is it not very disappointing that owing to the economic situation the Government cannot make a contribution?

Mr. Gunter

I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman's first proposition, but it must be borne in mind that the docks are not a declining industry as is the case with some industries. The£2¾ million initially required is still less than 5 per cent. of the wage bill.

Mr. R. Carr

If the Government are unable to support a voluntary scheme, should not the docks industry be brought within the national redundancy payments scheme?

Mr. Gunter

It is certainly a matter which is worth considering, but there are problems. One problem is that the docks industry has never paid any contributions to the fund. I am giving consideration to this point. It will be understood that the docks industry was excluded from the scheme at its own request.