HC Deb 17 July 1969 vol 787 cc874-6
Q1. Mr. Bidwell

asked the Prime Minister if he now intends to have further discussions with the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry on industrial relations and productivity.

Q9. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister what interdepartmental machinery has been created to assess the effectiveness or otherwise of the measures agreed with the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry for the settling of unofficial strikes.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

I have no immediate plans for further discussions with the T.U.C. and the C.B.I. on these matters. On unofficial strikes, my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State already works in close consultation with other Ministers concerned.

Mr. Bidwell

Now that we have turned our backs on aspects of penal law policy, will not my right hon. Friend consider inviting the trade union movement to expose the deficiencies of some industrial management, particularly in the export trade, which cost us far more than any unconstitutional strikes? Has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to The Times Business News today which announces the impending retirement of the present Director-General of the C.B.I., who wishes to enter the House as a Tory politician? Does not my right hon. Friend hope that there will be a more enlightened successor to this gentleman?

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is fairer to everybody if questions are brief.

The Prime Minister

On the first part of the question, I thought that the T.U.C. document was reasonably balanced as between those strikes which are caused by unwise action by employers and those which are caused by action by unofficial strikers.

On the second point about the C.B.I., I would only say that my own relations with the present retiring Director-General have always been perfectly reasonable and constructive; and I think in all our relations he has shown all the qualities necessary to become a Conservative candidate.

Mr. William Hamilton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the speech made by Mr. Victor Feather the day before yesterday was very welcome to hon. Members on this side? Will my right hon. Friend consider publishing in the OFFICIAL REPORT the names and locations of the strikes which have been settled by the T.U.C. since the agreement was reached by the Government?

The Prime Minister

I think that the speech of Mr. Feather was extremely significant. I think it was widely recognised by the House in the debate on industrial relations a fortnight ago that there will be strikes that cannot be settled by the T.U.C. and which could not be settled by legislation, either of the kind contemplated in our White Paper or of the kind contemplated by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. There are great difficulties at this moment at Margam. I think that in the short period so far since the agreement with the T.U.C. was arrived at the represntatives of the General Council have shown great determination and considerable success in dealing with strikes that can be settled only within industry.

Sir C. Osborne

As the Government have turned their back on their previous policy, according to the Prime Minister's own supporter, is he satisfied that the T.U.C. can solve the problem that he has set them to tackle on his behalf?

The Prime Minister

I have just answered that question, and I dealt with it at greater length in the debate. I said that there will be many strikes, especially the very short-term strikes, which nobody could help to deal with by any situation; and many of them are not so serious to our export trade. I said that there will be others which are serious and which could not be dealt with either by legislation or by the T.U.C. Nobody was claiming 100 per cent. success. The hon. Gentleman will have seen the acid comments of Mr. John Davies in The Times a fortnight ago on his party's own proposals.