HC Deb 10 December 1970 vol 808 cc643-5
4. Mr. Moyle

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he now intends to publish his Industrial Relations Bill.

22. Mr. David Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he will publish his Industrial Relations Bill.

Mr. Bryan

The Industrial Relations Bill was published on 3rd December.

Mr. Moyle

As the Government are taking the opportunity to go ahead with this Bill, will the Minister of State tell the House and the country what impact he expects it to have after it becomes law on the incidence of strikes and the rate of inflation?

Mr. Bryan

The Government expect the Bill to have a very considerable impact. We do not claim that it will have an immediate impact or that it is a shortcut solution to our problems, which clearly do not have any short-cut solutions. But we think that as time goes on its influence will certainly be very great and will bring order to a disordered scene.

Mr. Mitchell

Is my hon. Friend aware of the very wide support there is in the country for these proposals, including not only the general public but many trade unionists? Will he confirm that he will be ready to give careful consideration to Amendments of detail during the Committee stage?

Mr. Bryan

As to the second part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, there will be plenty of opportunity, since the Bill is to be debated on the Floor of the House, for every hon. Member to have a share of the debate and to influence the Bill. This was not an offer which the Opposition seemed to accept with any alacrity or enthusiasm. As to the weight of support in the country for the Bill, it is getting more and more clear that that support is widespread.

Mr. Heffer

Is not the hon. Gentleman clearly wrong in saying that the Opposition did not want the Committee stage to be taken on the Floor of the House? Both my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) and I, in the debate on the Consultative Document, demanded that the Bill should be dealt with on the Floor of the House, and we are delighted that the Government have seen the sense of the view then expressed.

As to the Bill itself, as similar legislation exists in the United States of America—which is not as arbitrary as the Measure proposed by the Government—and as that legislation does not deal with the real problems of industrial relations, would not the Government think again, even at this late hour, and withdraw the Bill?

Mr. Bryan

It was very hard to analyse the emotions of the Opposition when the announcement was made about the Committee stage being on the Floor of the House. From this side of the House, members of the Opposition merely looked dumbfounded for several minutes on end.

We do not accept that our Bill is similar to American legislation, but we have made use of experience of countries all over the world and adapted it to the British scene.