HC Deb 28 June 1973 vol 858 cc1724-5
Q4. Mr. Skinner

asked the Prime Minister what further plans he has to meet the CBI, and the TUC leaders; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

As I have already told the House, further meetings are planned with both the CBI and the TUC to discuss specific matters agreed upon at the meetings with the TUC on the 13th of June and with the CBI on the 18th of June.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Prime Minister aware that it looks, to most of us at least, as though the 12 months' honeymoon period with the TUC is over? It seems as though the working class within the trade union movement has rumbled what the Prime Minister is up to. [HON. MEMBERS: "Question."] Does not the Prime Minister realise that three in a bed never works?

The Prime Minister

As these happen to be bilateral talks, the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question does not apply.

The House will see that the hon. Gentleman can scarcely conceal his pleasure at the thought that the trade union movement may be at the point of refusing to have discussions with a democratically elected Government of this country. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely wrong. These talks will continue, because the trade union movement is infinitely more sensible than he is.

Mr. Awdry

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is deplorable that some trade unions are so militant and bloody-minded that they are not even prepared to talk to the Prime Minister about the issues that face us?

The Prime Minister

I am glad to say that the talks are continuing. The great majority of trade unionists in this country want their leaders to carry on discussions with the Government over the very wide aspects of affairs that have already been agreed.

Mr. Joel Barnett

In order to reach agreement with the TUC, will the Prime Minister say whether he is prepared to consider further food subsidies, even if that is not altogether the acceptable sort of face of capitalism which his hon. Friends would like?

The Prime Minister

I have already told the TUC—the TUC was told this as long ago as last summer, when we started the talks—that all these matters can be discussed and considered. This was repeated to them at our first meeting —not the second meeting—as well as the second meeting when we started this new series.