HC Deb 21 March 1972 vol 833 cc1338-9
Q5. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement about his future plans for talks jointly with representatives of the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry.

The Prime Minister

I remain in close touch with the T.U.C. and the C.B.I., but the precise timing and form of future meetings have yet to be decided.

Mr. Hamilton

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that, in subsequent meetings, he will meet the T.U.C. and the representatives of the C.B.I, together instead of separately? Will he further have a good look at the admirable article written in The Guardian yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher), which showed clearly that the present Government's incomes policy, linked with means-tested benefits right through the Welfare State, is destroying any prospect of real co-operation between ordinary working people and the Government, and that the higher-paid miner, who was granted an increase by the Wilberforce recommendations of £4.50, finds that amount reduced to a magnificent sum net of 8p per week? Is this not an intolerable situation?

The Prime Minister

I cannot accept the last part of that supplementary question. On the first part, I noticed that the point of the hon. Gentleman's question was that the talks should be held jointly. I put this to the T.U.C. and to the C.B.I, when we had our first meetings and it was agreed that it is for consideration that there should be a joint meeting of both of them with the Government. But we also agreed that we would wait until our next discussions, after the Budget, before we settled when that meeting should come about.

Mr. Redmond

Has my right hon. Friend seen the recent report of the Institute of Fiscal Research, which shows that the poorest section of the community, thanks to the actions of the present Government, is 28 per cent. better off than before the last General Election? Will he draw the attention of the T.U.C. to that report?

The Prime Minister

In fairness to the T.U.C. I must say that when it has met me, it has not taken the view expressed by the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton).