HC Deb 30 April 1974 vol 872 c917
5. Mr. Gwilym Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will initiate discussions with the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry with the aim of making May Day a national holiday.

The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. Albert Booth)

We are prepared to consider any proposals on public holidays in our discussions with the TUC and CBI on voluntary arrangements to replace the present statutory pay controls.

Mr. Roberts

Is my hon. Friend aware that this is one of the first progressive steps that have been taken by the new Portuguese Government? Would not this step be welcomed by millions of working people, and strengthen once again the natural and healthy political and social contract which always exists between the trade unions and the Labour movement?

Mr. Booth

While I am always ready to welcome any advances made by trade unionists in any part of the world, and particularly by the working people of Portugal at this time, I hope that I shall not be thought to be chauvinistic if I say that anything that my Department can do so as not to lag behind any other workers will be done as quickly as possible.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

If we are to have another day's holiday at this time of the year instead of having a sectionally emotional day, should we not have a non-sectional extra day, such as Saint George's day?

Mr. Booth

May Day may be thought to be a day of sectional interest, but it is one of the biggest sectional interests that exist in the country. Therefore, it is a day for which we have a special regard.