HC Deb 05 December 1972 vol 847 cc1092-3
13. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what steps he proposes to take to curb industrial subversion.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

My right hon. Friend is aware of the general concern over subversive activities by a small minority in industry. The most effective safeguard is active participation by the great bulk of trade unionists in the affairs of their union.

Mr. Adley

I appreciate my hon. Friend's reticence about going into this matter in detail at the moment, but does not he recognise that the recent intimidation we have seen in a small number of strikes by a very small number of people is a threat both to the rule of law and to good industrial relations.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

I would not wish to play down the contribution that subversive elements make towards the course of disruption, but at the same time it can be easy to exaggerate their influence. There is an important distinction between militancy and subversion. Where the law of the land has been transgressed, action must lie in the courts. Where it has not been transgressed, we need to walk warily with regard to our democratic freedoms because that is a necessary price that we pay for our free way of life, and admittedly it can sometimes be a very high price.

Mr. Guy Barnett

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that one of the most dangerous forms of industrial subversion lies in throwing hundreds of people out of work for the sake of short-term profit?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

That appears to be a totally different question.

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