HC Deb 25 February 1971 vol 812 cc829-30
9 and 10. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) how many strikes took place in 1970; how many were official; and how many were unofficial;

(2) how many working days were lost through strikes last year; and what percentage increase this represents on the figures for 1963.

Mr. Bryan

3,888 industrial stoppages began in 1970, and these included 119 known to have been official. The majority of the remainder would have been unofficial. The number of working days lost was 10,970,000, an increase of 525 per cent. over the corresponding figure for 1963. All these figures are provisional.

Mr. Knox

I accept that the number of days lost last year through strikes is not yet quite as high as in some other countries. Would my hon. Friend not agree that if the current situation continues to deteriorate at the rate of the past seven years, we shall soon be ahead of other countries?

Mr. Bryan

I agree with my hon. Friend's remark that the situation remains serious, and that is one reason why we are introducing the Industrial Relations Bill. As for comparisons with other countries, those are confusing and it is better to compare our own record past and present and try to improve it.

Mr. Harold Walker

Could the hon. Gentleman divide the period into two to show clearly that there has been an increase since the Conservative Party took power and a further increase since the Chancellor of the Exchequer's minibudget last autumn?

Mr. Bryan

I have a mass of figures with me, but without notice I cannot answer that question. However, a look at the figures shows that the most depressing thing about the situation is the acceleration in the number of days lost over the last 10 years.

Sir G. Nabarro

Is my hon. Friend aware that I am now fortified in endurance displayed in walking through the Lobbies 146 times in support of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, and that I commend him for his righteousness, resting on the figure of 525 per cent. increase in strikes in just seven years?

Mr. Bryan

I am sure that all the hard labour my hon. Friend has gone through will be well repaid.

Mr. Fernyhough

Although the hon. Gentleman is rightly concerned about the fact that 10 million working days were lost last year, does he appreciate that in 1971, because of the stubbornness of the Government, the situation is likely to become much worse? Has he taken into account the 5 million days lost already in the Post Office strike?

Mr. Bryan

Time will tell whether 1971 is worse than 1970, but it certainly will not be due to the stubbornness of the Government.