§ 33. Mr. R. Carr
asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity whether she will make a statement regarding her decision to extend the period allowed to the National Board for Prices and Incomes to report on her reference to them of the wage structure in the building and civil engineering industries, and the effect which this extension will have on industrial relations in those industries, in view of the fact that their current three-year wage agreement expires at the beginning of November.
§ 52 and 53. Mr. Chichester-Clark
asked the Secretary of State for Employment 875 and Productivity (1) what reply she has given to the request by the Chairman of the National Board for Prices and Incomes for a further extension of the time required to produce the reports on the wage structures of the building and civil engineering industries; and whether she will make a statement;
(2) when she expects to receive the reports of the National Board for Prices and Incomes regarding the wage structure of the building and civil engineering industries; and whether she will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Castle
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Public Building and Works and I greatly regret that it has been necessary to extend the period allowed for these references. We fully realise the difficulties this has caused for the industries. The Board was asked to deal with three important and complex references within a very restricted time. Its timetable was therefore, from the start, extremely tight and unfortunately the results of its earnings surveys in the industries have been delayed. We have had to accept that the Board could not report without this final information. We have been assured that a comprehensive report will be published before the end of November.
§ Mr. Carr
Does the right hon. Lady realise that, not only has the Board taken longer than the three months which it is supposed to take in these matters, but that the reference to the Board came late in the day after considerable delay? This sort of delay overrunning the end of the long-term agreement is liable to cause bad industrial relations.
§ Mrs. Castle
I regret the delay as much as the right hon. Gentleman does. It is a pity that there has been this overrun. There was some delay in starting the references because last-minute representations were received which had to be the subject of rather detailed and protracted consultations. Since the Board started its earnings survey, it has found that the response was so much above expectation—60 per cent. instead of 40 per cent.—that it has taken longer to process it, but I think that the result will be a very thorough job.
§ Mr. Chichester-Clark
But was there not a delay on the part of the Govern- 876 ment before they consulted the N.F.B.T.E. and the N.F.B.T.O. in April of this year, a delay of six months between November, 1967 and April, 1968 which could have been avoided?
§ Mrs. Castle
No, I do not think that there was any serious delay in deciding on this and going through the normal consultations. These meetings were concluded on 1st May and then last-minute representations were received.