HC Deb 06 June 1972 vol 838 cc211-2
2. Mr. Loveridge

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will institute discussions with a view to ensuring that all major wage claims are brought into effect on the same date each year, thus reducing the incentive for successive claims to leap frog each other and causing additional inflation.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Maurice Macmillan)

This is primarily a matter for unions and employers. If the TUC and CBI were to raise this matter in the talks we are having with them we would certainly consider it.

Mr. Loveridge

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for saying that this could be considered by the Government. If a fixed date could be arranged—of course, on a voluntary basis—it could well make life easier for the trade unions, employers and Government alike, especially if the Office of Manpower Economics were to provide ample figures for them in advance of the fixed date.

Mr. Macmillan

I am not absolutely convinced that this would necessarily be a change for the better, but if it is raised by the unions and the CBI, the Government would not wish to stand in the way of its consideration.

Mr. Atkinson

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that what he said is in direct contradiction to the advice which he has given to the Railways Board? In the railway industry, he is trying to extend the period beyond 1st May. He has asked the Board not to concede the agreement in the period of less than 15 days after the normal date, which has been chosen over the years, for the payment of the increase to the railwaymen—in other words, 1st May. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman is now advising the railway industry to go beyond the normal 12-month period.

Mr. Macmillan

The hon. Gentleman has the facts wrong. I have not advised the Board to do anything. There is no change in the negotiating year in the railways in the proposals put forward by the Board, which were a modification of the original Jarratt award designed to suit the unions.

Mr. Skinner

While realising that it is a somewhat difficult problem to get the trade unions to put in a claim on the same day, could not the right hon. Gentleman at least make a start by suggesting that the Railways Board should pay the increase on the same day as London Transport? This would at least be a beginning.

Mr. Macmillan

It would also be helpful if the unions would accept the same percentage of annual increase as in respect of London Transport—in other words, under 12½ per cent.

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