§ 10. Mr. Ashley
asked the Secretary of of State for Employment and Productivity how many firms have now been 1553 asked to register their procedural agreements; how many have done so; if she is satisfied with the rate of progress; and if she will make a statement.
§ The First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity (Mrs. Barbara Castle)
So far, 35 companies employing more than 5,000 in a single establishment have been invited to register. These companies employ between them over one-and-a-half million people. Twelve companies have already registered their agreements and a further 14 have indicated that they are well advanced in preparing their replies. I shall shortly be inviting a further 250 companies each employing more than 5,000 people to register. I am pleased with the overall response so far from companies and with the co-operation I have had from both C.B.I. and T.U.C. Moreover, there are indications of growing interest in improving procedures, no doubt due to knowledge of the invitations from my Department.
§ Mr. Ashley
I welcome that reply. When my right hon. Friend approaches the further 250 companies, will she ensure that firms with a record of bad industrial relations are not allowed to evade agreement or to prevaricate?
§ Mrs. Castle
I sympathise with my hon. Friend's aim. The invitations to register are as yet on a voluntary basis and, therefore, until we have legislation putting it on a statutory basis, I have no power to enforce compliance. I have found that firms are responding well so far, and I hope that they will continue to do so.