HC Deb 23 March 1972 vol 833 cc1677-9
Q10. Mr. Joel Barnett

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his talks with the Trades Union Congress.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 14th March to a Question from the hon. Member for Midlothian (Mr. Eadie).—[Vol. 833, c. 83–4.]

Mr. Barnett

In view of the distinct lack of enthusiasm of his back benchers for the new interventionist policies, will the right hon. Gentleman give consideration to appointing a member of the T.U.C. as the new Minister for Industrial Development?

The Prime Minister

I think the hon. Gentleman has realised the nature of the organisation which is being set up and which will be responsible to a Minister. There is no change in this. We had a similar organisation, although not on such a scale, when I was Secretary of State for Regional Development in 1963–64. This is desirable in its extended form to give the greatest possible drive to the renewal of industry in the regions.

Mr. Orme

In its meeting with the Prime Minister what did the T.U.C. have to say about the Industrial Relations Bill and the barrier which this presents to improved industrial relations?

The Prime Minister

The long discussions that my colleagues and I had with the T.U.C. on the last occasion showed that the Industrial Relations Bill is no longer a barrier to good contacts between trade unions and Government, nor need it be a hindrance to industrial relations—exactly the reverse.

Sir D. Renton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that fruitful co-operation between the T.U.C. and Conservative Governments is nothing new, and has taken place under every Conservative Government since the war?

The Prime Minister

I think that is how things should be with organisations outside Parliament. They work with Governments of whatever colour. I do not think that the T.U.C. would claim the right to dictate to a Conservative Government that we should go against what we said in our election manifesto about industrial relations.