HC Deb 27 November 1973 vol 865 cc194-5
6. Mr. David Clark

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to offer his services in the dispute between the National Union of Journalists and the Newspaper Society ; and if he will make a statement.

18. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement about the dispute between the Newspaper Society and the National Union of Journalists.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

The Newspaper Society and the National Union of Journalists have so far been unable to agree on the conditions under which they should continue negotiations on a new pay settlement to replace the present national agreement expiring on 31st December 1973. The union has so far insisted that an existing clause preventing claims for new house agreements should first be cancelled. This has not been acceptable to the society. The two sides are meeting to-day for further discussions with a view to the resumption of negotiations.

Mr. Clark

Will the Minister reassure us that he will use his good offices to do all he can to get this dispute settled? Will he bear in mind that many provincial journalists, who are very hard-working, feel particularly aggrieved about their remuneration at a time when provincial newspapers are generally so profitable?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Of course I give the assurance that we shall keep closely in touch with the situation, but there is a procedural point at issue. When the parties are in negotiation, as they are today, the question of conciliation does not arise.

Mr. Allaun

Does the Minister accept the reasonable union position that there should be a resumption of its freedom to negotiate at plant or company level, particularly since the union has called off certain indiscriminate strikes in order to obtain the resumption of the talks which are going on today?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

I have made the present position perfectly plain. I have said that the parties are meeting today. I should not be helping either side—nor would I wish to do so in that sort of way—if I were to add to what I have already said.

Mr. Harold Walker

Is the Minister aware that in Sheffield, during this dispute, the car of a picketing journalist was severely damaged by being repeatedly rammed by a motor vehicle delivering newsprint and driven by Mr. Tony Bilton, who earned some notoriety during the recent Chrysler dispute by organising what he described as "professional strike-busters "? Will the Minister condemn violence when used by strikebusters in this way with at least as much vigour as the Government use when talking about the violence of pickets?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the answer is that the Government condemn violence of all kinds in that respect.

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