HC Deb 18 March 1968 vol 761 cc30-1
51. Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the Ministry of Labour when legislation will be introduced to provide for short-term sickness and unemployment benefit for shipyard and repair workers and others classified as temporarily suspended from employment.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Roy Hattersley)

If my hon. Friend has in mind the provision to be made for temporarily suspended workers after March, 1969, I have nothing at present to add to the reply which I gave to a Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst (Mr. Macdonald) on 29th January, 1968.—[Vol. 757, c. 870.]

Mr. Blenkinsop

Is my hon. Friend not aware of the urgency of this matter and of the fact that there is a great deal of anxiety in the shipyard and ship repair yard areas about the position because we have no news of any voluntary agreement having been reached?

Mr. Hattersley

I am very well aware of the urgency and so is my right hon. Friend. I told my hon. Friend the Member for Chislehurst on 29th January that because of the urgency my right hon. Friend took the view that voluntary negotiations were not sufficient and had undertaken the proceedings which would eventually result in statutory measures being taken.

Dame Irene Ward

Can the hon. Gentleman give a definition of "urgency"? Is not 29th January a long time ago now? When does urgent become doubly urgent so that we can get an answer?

Mr. Hattersley

It is clear what "urgency" means in this context. It requires that by March, 1969, the provisions will be operating, and that is the assurance that I can give the House.