HC Deb 02 May 1972 vol 836 cc188-90
20. Mr. Skeet

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what were the principal issues in dispute in the cases in which his Department conciliated in 1971.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

As the reply is rather long I will, with permission, circulate a list in the OFFICIAL REPORT. In addition to the 22 settlements included, there are four major settlements of the same order which have been notified in confidence by individual companies and associations in the private sector.

Mr. Skeet

I am most grateful to my right hon. Friend for that answer. As about 50 per cent. of the cases, or the issues, dealt with by the Department fall within Part II of the Industrial Relations Act, does not my right hon. Friend agree that that vindicates entirely the purposes for which the Act was brought into being, and will he try to persuade the TUC that it should comply with the law of the land and not adopt a policy of non-co-operation?

Mr. Macmillan

On a point of order. I think that I answered the wrong Question— Question No. 21. I am sorry that my hon. Friend did not notice it. Perhaps I may give the answer which I should have given to Question No. 20. which was: Of the disputes in which my Department conciliated in 1971, 31 per cent. concerned pay. 30 per cent. recognition of trade unions and 24 per cent. dismissals or redundancy and in that connection my hon. Friend has made a valid point in his supplementary question.

Mr. Skeet rose

Mr. Speaker

Surely the hon. Member's supplementary question will be equally appropriate.

Mr. Skeet

I had observed the error, and I was endeavouring to assist the Minister. May I stress—

Mr. Speaker


Mr. John D. Grant

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that in both 1969 and 1970, 48 per cent. of the disputes in which his Department conciliated concerned pay, and that by 1971 that figure had fallen to 31 per cent? Is not that indicative of the complete loss of faith in conciliation as a result of the Government's policy of industrial blackmail?

Mr. Macmillan

It is quite unwarrantable to draw that conclusion. The difference in the figures could be simply one of a difference in the incidence of pay disputes. Secondly, it could mean the settlement of pay disputes without having recourse to the Department? Thirdly, there is a good deal of evidence that the unions and employers have a high degree of faith in my conciliation officers.

22. Mr. Redmond

asked the Secretary of State for Employment in how many disputes the conciliation officers of his Department have been involved in each of the last three six-month periods; and for how many of such disputes there has been a satisfactory outcome as a result of their intervention.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

I regret that figures for six-month periods are not available. However, my officers conciliated in 647 cases in 1970 and 650 cases in 1971. Disputes were resolved or a deadlock broken in 73 per cent. of cases in 1970 and 70 per cent. in 1971.

Mr. Redmond

Do not those figures indicate that perhaps the Department is not as slow in conciliating as hon. Gentlemen opposite have suggested? Can my hon. Friend say how many interventions were at the request of the trade unions, and how many at the request of the employers?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

The answer is, 64 per cent. at the request of the unions, 11 per cent. at the request of the unions and employers jointly, and 20 per cent. at the request of employers. As my hon. Friend said, it is a tribute to the faith which all concerned have in the conciliation officers of the Department.

Mr. Charles R. Morris

When are the conciliation officers of the Department going to intervene in the dispute 'which has been affecting the Greater Manchester area for about six weeks and which encompasses 15,000 to 20,000 men in the engineering industry? When are the Department's officers going to intervene and conciliate in that dispute?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

That is not a question which should be asked across the Floor of the House. There were many occasions during the term of office of the previous Administration when there was no immediate intervention in terms of conciliation.

Mr. Morris

This dispute has been going on for six weeks.