HC Deb 03 April 1973 vol 854 cc224-5
Q4. Mr. Duffy

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library of the House of Commons a copy of the public speech he made on 16th March 1973 in Bromley on strikes.

Q13. Mr. Arthur Davidson

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech on industrial relations made at Bromley on 16th March.

Q15. Mr. Meacher

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech at Bromley on 16th March on economic and industrial affairs.

The Prime Minister

I did so on 19th March, Sir.

Mr. Duffy

Does the Prime Minister recall stating in that speech that sub-stanial pay increases were available under phase 2 to the lowest-paid, including hospital workers? Is he aware that they will probably be worse off by the autumn, given the expected rise in the cost of living, notably in food prices and mortgage charges? Why not admit that the prices side of phase 2 is not now developing to plan?

The Prime Minister

The point that I made about the hospital workers was that they could have been receiving the award under phase 2 from the week beginning 14th March. The same applies to the civil servants. They could be receiving their increase from 1st April. I wish to emphasise that point. However, I do not accept the point made by the hon. Gentleman about the end of phase 2.

Mr. Davidson

Does the Prime Minister agree that one of the reasons for strikes has been his own boring posture of silly sabre-rattling in the direction of the trade unions? Has not the time now come when he should treat trade unionists as normal human beings, which they are?

The Prime Minister

It is difficult for the hon. Gentleman to sustain any thesis of that kind when one sees the extent to which the trade unions have cooperated throughout the standstill. It has not been necessary to issue one order in respect of a breach. As I have said, in more than 50 settlements they have already accepted phase 2 and are operating it.

Sir Gilbert Longden

Was not one of the messages in that speech that there is too much conservatism in industry? Does my right hon. Friend agree that conservatism with a small "c", just like liberalism with a small "1", is potentially disastrous to the country? Does my right hon. Friend agree that both sides of industry would do well to recognise that change is their ally?

The Prime Minister

All I have to add to my hon. Friend's list is socialism with either a small or a big "s". I quite agree with him in quoting again the title of the pamphlet which we wrote 20 years ago. It was this theme which was the basis of my speech.

Mr. Frederick Lee

The right hon. Gentleman has just said how much he appreciates the co-operation that he has had from the trade unions. Would it not be a good gesture now on his part to show his appreciation by withdrawing the Industrial Relations Act, which has failed anyway?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I think it is clear from recent statements that I am no longer being asked to do that. I am being asked to consider certain specific amendments, and that I have always said I am fully prepared to do.

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