HC Deb 20 January 1969 vol 776 cc3-4
2. Sir G. Nabarro

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity whether she will now make a statement on the action she is taking in regard to strikes in the motor industry.

48. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity whether she will make a statement on progress made towards the formation of a labour relations council for the motor industry.

The First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity (Mrs. Barbara Castle)

The hon. Members will recall my discussions in October with both sides of the industry about the setting up of a National Council for the Motor Industry. The two sides are continuing their discussions about such a council's constitution and terms of reference and will be reporting progress to me. The Government's general proposals for the improvement of industrial relations are set out in the White Paper published last week.

Sir G. Nabarro

As there have been two important developments in the motor industry since October—first, the quickening of the tempo of strikes and, second, the fact that the vehicles industry, based on the Midlands, has now achieved the phenomenal performance of £900 million worth of exports in one year, and the figure is still rising—will not the right hon. Lady try to reach definitive conclusions regarding strikes pretty soon?

Mrs. Castle

The hon. Gentleman asked me about progress with the new joint council in the motor industry. I am glad to tell him that talks have been continuing between the two sides, and I propose to invite both the trade unions and the employers to meet me to discuss what progress has been made in these joint talks and to resolve any difficulties which may be standing in the way of decisive and quick action.

Mr. Smith

Did the right hon. Lady see the report in The Times last month which stated that the Transport and General Workers' Union had decided to boycott the council? Can she confirm that she will have full union co-operation in this move?

Mrs. Castle

I understand that the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions is at present consulting all member unions about their attitude to the joint talks on the new motor industry council. A number of unions have yet to reply, including the Transport and General Workers' Union.

Mr. Gwilym Roberts

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the level of strikes in car production itself is in many areas no higher than in other sections of British industry, and that in some areas such as Luton and Dunstable strikes are practically unknown in the car industry?

Mrs. Castle

It is true that assembly firms have not had a particular strike problem, which has been concentrated rather in the component industry; that is why the component manufacturers are joining in the joint talks.