HC Deb 31 March 1969 vol 781 cc3-5
3. Mr. Ridley

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity if she will bring in a Bill to implement the White Paper "In Place of Strife", during the current Session of Parliament.

12. Mr. David Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity when she intends to introduce the Industrial Relations Bill promised in the White Paper entitled "In Place of Strife".

14. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity if she will now state the approximate date when she proposes to introduce comprehensive legislation based on the White Paper "In Place of Strife".

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

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Goole (Mr. George Jeger) on 24th March, 1969.—[Vol. 780, c. 202–3.]

Mr. Ridley

Would not the right hon. Lady agree that it appears that the trade unions have been doing more damage to the economy than the House of Lords, and would it not, therefore, be a better priority to reform them rather than the House of Lords this Session? Would she further say whether the reason why the trade unions are not being reformed is that the Home Secretary has so far been blocking that?

Mrs. Castle

I would not accept any of the premises in the hon. Gentleman's question, and, therefore, not his conclusion.

Mr. Mitchell

Does the right hon. Lady mean to tell the House that she no longer means what she says in her own White Paper, on page 14, where she refers to an Industrial Relations Bill——

Mr. Speaker

Order. An hon. Member must not quote when asking a supplementary question.

Mr. Mitchell

Is the right hon. Lady aware that her White Paper, on page 14, refers to introducing legislation very quickly, and can she give us any indication that there is now a change of policy?

Mrs. Castle

There is no change of policy. I have always said, and I am still saying, that I think it important to introduce legislation as soon as possible.

Mr. Dudley Smith

But now that there is so much opposition to the introduction of this legislation, can the right hon. Lady give a pledge that it will not be watered down or, to quote the Home Secretary, to be stopped altogether?

Mrs. Castle

I have told the House that consultations on the White Paper are taking place, and, clearly, they must be thoroughly conducted before legislation can be prepared and presented to the House.

Mr. Ashley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the real intention of Conservative Members is to cripple the trade unions and that they denounce the White Paper because it strengthens them? Is she further aware that there is massive support on this side of the House and on the shop floor for these constructive proposals, and that the need now is to rectify the legislation and then to act?

Mrs. Castle

I am very grateful for what my hon. Friend says, and I agree with him that there is massive support in the trade union movement for this charter of trade union rights which is involved in my proposals.