HC Deb 25 February 1971 vol 812 cc819-20
1. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on his policy regarding the future of wages councils.

The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. Paul Bryan)

The policy of successive Governments has been to work towards the replacement of wages councils by voluntary machinery. In furtherance of that policy my right hon. Friend proposes to amend the Wages Council Act and the Terms and Conditions of Employment Act. The detailed amendments are contained in the Sixth and Seventh Schedules to the Industrial Relations Bill.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

That is welcome news, but in the light of the recent report of the wages council on the distributive trades, for instance, is my right hon. Friend in the position of being unable substantially either to reject or to amend recommendations of the councils, however inflationary they may be?

Mr. Bryan

The recommendations are referred to the Secretary of State because he must sign the order that comes before the House. He is, therefore, in a position to refer them back if he wishes. I should point out that although it has been the policy of Governments to replace wages councils by voluntary machinery they are still necessary in various areas where that voluntary machinery is not powerful enough to give a fair deal to the people in the industry.

Mr. Loughlin

Does the Minister accept that the distributive trades wages council covers a substantial number of very low-paid people and that wage increases for such people should be granted rather than he objected to?

Mr. Bryan

I will not comment on that, but I would underline what I think the hon. Gentleman is saying, that this is just the sort of industry that needs a wages council for its support.