HC Deb 24 February 1969 vol 778 cc1060-2
19. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what representations she has received from the Scottish Trades Union Congress on the White Paper, "In Place of Strife".

Mrs. Castle

None, Sir.

Mr. Dalyell

Would not my hon. Friend agree that it is important that her White Paper be thoroughly discussed whatever our views on it? Would she discover why copies of the White Paper have not been available in the Stationery Office and through official sources to those people, such as Roman Catholic workers' organisations, who are seriously interested in these matters and who have been trying to obtain them?

Mrs. Castle

I am very surprised by what my hon. Friend says. Assuming that he is referring to the situation in Scotland, I can assure him that the Stationery Office in Edinburgh has always had copies of the White Paper in stock and, I understand, could and can meet any order. If my hon. Friend will let me have details of any complaints he has received, I will look into them.

Mr. Dalyell


Mr. Shinwell

My right hon. Friend's Answer was to the effect that she had received no representations from the Scottish Trades Union Congress. Would it have made any difference if she had?

Mrs. Castle

My right hon. Friend knows full well that all the major affiliates of the Scottish T.U.C. are affiliated to the T.U.C., with which I have had and will continue to have detailed consultations.

22. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity, in preparing the legislation based on the proposals outlined in the White Paper, "In Place of Strife", if she will provide that contracts between unions and employers, freely entered into, shall be legally binding, unless the parties concerned specifically agree otherwise.

Mrs. Castle

No, Sir. The reasons for the Government's rejection of the hon. Member's proposal are given in paragraph 43 of the White Paper.

Mr. Smith

But is not this the crux of any plan to reform industrial relations, and is not this the experience of practically every other industrial country in the world?

Mrs. Castle

Legal enforcement of collective agreements is the practice in some countries, but we believe it important that we should decide our policy in the light of our own special position and conditions. While the strike record of some countries which have legal enforceability is better than that in Britain, it is appreciably worse in other countries, notably America and France.

Mr. Ellis

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one way in which we can make progress is by ensuring that negotiations are carried on by people who know the job? I hope that she will not follow the hare which has been started on the benches opposite, but will give more power to the shop stewards, which will not suit hon. Members opposite.

Mrs. Castle

As I explained in the White Paper, my approach is that it is for the employer, for management, to convince the trade unions that making agreements legally enforceable is in their joint interest. It is a matter for management.

Mr. R. Carr

Would the right hon. Gentleman give the evidence, which is not in the White Paper, for her belief that Britain is the only country in which nine out of ten strikes take place in breach of agreements and the only major industrial country in which contracts are not binding?

Mrs. Castle

We shall no doubt have a full opportunity of deploying these debating points next Monday.

Forward to