HC Deb 09 March 1970 vol 797 cc905-6
26. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what has been the total amount paid in supplementary benefit to the families of men involved in the recent industrial disputes at Ford Motors Limited; and what has been the total cost to public funds of additional work undertaken by his Department in connection with these payments.

Mr. O'Malley

Nothing was paid during the disputes, but about 900 payments of supplementary benefit, totalling nearly £7,500, were made to the men involved after the strike had ended to tide them over until they received wages. The total administrative and staff costs involved in making these payments are estimated to be £700.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

While the motor car industry workers are entitled to endanger their future employment by striking and so driving international companies to switch investment to countries which have better labour rela- tions than we have, does it make sense for the taxpayer to be obliged to subsidise this form of industrial masochism?

Mr. O'Malley

I know from what the hon. Gentleman has said previously that on this subject he is in a pre-Selsdon stage of development. If he is saying that the Government should not be prepared to help the families of men on strike I will give him the same answer now as I gave him some time ago.

Mr. Brooks

Would my hon. Friend bear in mind that there are always two sides to every dispute, as there are indeed to this one? If it is logical to argue that supplementary benefits should not be paid to men involved in a dispute, is is not equally illogical to pay regional employment premiums to firms involved in a dispute?

Mr. O'Malley

I would add something which the hon. Gentleman apparently has not noticed, that Clause 110 of the Bill which is now under consideration in Committee restricts the amount of payments of which he complains.