HC Deb 22 April 1971 vol 815 cc1359-61
Q2. Mr. Sheldon

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech made to the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers Association in London on 16th March on economic policy.

The Prime Minister

I did so on 17th March.

Mr. Sheldon

The Prime Minister stated in that speech that the escalation of wage demands had been "brought to a halt". "Brought to a halt" were the words which he used. Since this does not apply to industry generally, will the Prime Minister at least undertake to reconsider some of his policies?

The Prime Minister

I shall deal with the public and private sectors separately. Not only has escalation in the public sector ceased, but de-escalation has begun. That is why we are criticised by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, who do not support that.

Over a large part of the private sector the escalation has been halted and we have seen lower wage awards. There have been instances which are quite plain to everybody, particularly in the motor industry, where that has not happened. I do not see that that is a matter for satisfaction for the former Chancellor of the Exchequer to grin at. I should have thought that it was a matter for regret.

Q3. Mr. Skinner

asked the Prime Minister whether he will place in the Library a copy of the public speech made by him at the Cutlers' Feast, Sheffield, on 18th March on industrial relations.

The Prime Minister

I did so on 19th March, Sir.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Prime Minister aware that when he spoke in the steel city he referred, among many obscure generalisations, to one man's strike call being another man's redundancy notice? Will he be more specific and tell the House which strikers have been responsible for the many thousands of steel workers who are to be thrown on the scrap heap, especially when we consider that this industry has been relatively strike-free for many years?

The Prime Minister

I have already dealt with redundancies in the steel industry, which were planned under the last Government and which Lord Diamond, when winding up a debate in this House, said would help to reduce the over-manning which was a constant source of criticism in the steel industry.

Concerning strikes, I should have thought that this was not a matter of contention between those who study these matters. When people lose orders because of strikes, undoubtedly employment diminishes afterwards.

Mr. Harold Wilson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the total number of man-days lost through strikes from all causes in the first three months of this year under the Conservative Government exceeds the total number of man-days lost through strikes from all causes in the first three years of the Labour Government, when he was very vocal on the matter? Will he publish figures showing the comparable number of days lost per week from strikes, on the one hand, and, on the other, lost through unemployment which is now so much higher under the Conservatives than it was a year ago?

The Prime Minister

I will certainly consider publishing any figures which the right hon. Gentleman requires. If he will put down a Question he will get the answer.

Concerning strike figures, no doubt the right hon. Gentleman has included all the days lost through political strikes against a Measure put forward by a democratically elected Government.

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