HC Deb 28 May 1968 vol 765 cc1532-3
Q5. Mr. Moonman

asked the Prime Minister if he will consider establishing a Cabinet Committee to deal with industrial matters.

The Prime Minister

The present arrangements already provide for full Ministerial consideration of these matters, Sir.

Mr. Moonman

Would my right hon. Friend not agree that the seriousness of the present industrial situation demands closer liaison between industrially-based Departments, and that this can be partially achieved only by co-ordination at the very highest level? Would he also take time to look at Ministerial briefs in the industrially-based Departments?

The Prime Minister

That co-ordination does take place. I spend a good deal of time dealing with these matters. My hon. Friend will be aware of the very close connection that industrial Departments and I have with both sides of industry, through N.E.D.C. and the "Little Neddies".

Mr. Heath

Is the Prime Minister proposing to accept the advice of his right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology, and publish the structure of Cabinet Committees? I hope not.

The Prime Minister

I will be very happy to consider the suggestions of the right hon. Gentleman and his wishes in this respect. I stand by the answers I have already given: it is not normal—it never has been. In certain circumstances it has been considered desirable by successive Governments. When it is desirable I will certainly consider it.

Mr. Swain

Would my right hon. Friend agree that a joint committee of the Departments responsible for the various functions would be an advantage to meet representations from areas affected by colliery closures?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend will be aware that my right hon. Friend has had a number of meetings with industrial and local government representatives of such areas. On recent regional tours I have given a great deal of time to the problem of areas affected by forthcoming colliery closures.

Mr. David Howell

Is not the main difficulty the fact that there are now six or more Departments trying to horn in on the Government's interventionist policy with industry? Is it not time that the Prime Minister got a central grip on his warring colleagues in this area?

The Prime Minister

I do not accept the particular adjective used by the hon. Gentleman in his concluding words. I have already explained to the House the functions of the individual Departments. They are all vitally important functions, and I am in close touch with the work of each of these Departments in the industrial sphere.

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