HC Deb 10 July 1973 vol 859 cc1245-6
12. Mr. Skinner

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people are engaged in the operation of the Industrial Relations Act; and what has been the total cost to date.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

The latest available figures are for the period up to 1st April 1973. At that date about 340 people were engaged in the operation of the Industrial Relations Act, and the total cost had been of the order of £2¼ million. The largest single component of the cost is the additional work of the industrial tribunals.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Secretary of State aware that his figures show that it is costing more to administer the Industrial Relations Act, in terms of both staff and finance, than it is to man the Prime Minister's boat—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—"Land of hope and glory"—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We cannot have that sort of thing at Question Time. Please ask a question.

Mr. Skinner

Will the Minister accept that if local councils can be surcharged for refusing to raise rents, surely this is a case for a Government surcharge?

Mr. Macmillan

The figures I have given cover the extra staff required by the Industrial Relations Act in the National Industrial Relations Court, in the Registry of Trade Unions and Employers Associations, in the industrial tribunals, in the Industrial Arbitration Board, in the Commission on Industrial Relations and within my own Department. This is a total of some 337 people, of whom 133 have been engaged in hearing the 12,000 appeals made by work-people to the industrial tribunals.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, however small this number may be and whatever it may cost, by comparison with the large number destructively occupied in ensuring that the industrial system does not work at all the number is a mere bagatelle?

Mr. Macmillan

What my hon. Friend says underlines the point that the court and the Industrial Relations Act cannot be judged simply by the number of times people have recourse to the court. Apart from the 12,000 cases which have been dealt with, there have been a considerable number where the court and the tribunals have been instrumental in achieving settlement between workpeople and employers without bringing matters to court. This is one of the most valuable contributions they have made.