§ The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Robert Carr)
The annual rates of increase in wage rates and earnings show a significant reduction from the beginning of the year. We shall continue our policy to secure a progressive reduction in wage inflation.
§ Mr. Moyle
If the figures for May show a sharper upward trend, does the Minister not consider that this is an indication that his policy of being beastly to the public sector has totally failed to control either wages or prices, and is not this the collapse of the Government's policy? What is he going to do about it?
§ Mr. Carr
No. Certainly Government policy has not collapsed. The figure for this May is about comparable with that of last May. It is unfortunately slightly higher than in April, but if we look at the figures month by month over a period we see that the rate of increase having reached a peak about the end of last year and the beginning of this year, the trend is now undoubtedly downwards.
§ Mr. James Hamilton
Is the Minister aware that figures given in reply to a Question by me recently show that 41 per 556 cent. of the male population in Scotland over the age of 21 are receiving less than £24 a week gross in wages? If people in this sort of category asked for an increase of 15 per cent. which would be justified, what would be his reaction? Would he treat them in the way he treated the doctors?
§ Mr. Carr
The distribution of wages as between areas and as between one industry and another arises not only or even mainly from Government policy but very largely from the policy and strategy of the trade unions, and the extent to which they press for smaller or larger claims for lower-paid workers, compared with higher-paid workers. So far, unfortunately, the trade unions having got higher increases for lower-paid workers, have proceeded to ask for at least equivalent increases for higher-paid workers.
§ Mr. Kenneth Lewis
Would my hon. Friend seek to arrive at some voluntary agreement with the trade unions—as from the N.E.D.C. meeting, perhaps, on 9th July—and see whether agreement can be reached on some form of voluntary policy which would be in their interests as well as the country's?
§ Mr. Rose
In view of the Minister's comments on the trade unions, what is his comment on the £10,000 increase in the directors' fees by Reed International, and also on the comments in the statement by Globe Investment Trust that labour is making excessive demands when, two pages later in that document, it mentions an increase in directors' salaries of 50 per cent.? Does the hon. Gentleman endorse this or is this something which he condemns?