HC Deb 11 June 1974 vol 874 cc1386-7
4. Mr. Nigel Lawson

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he next expects to have a meeting with the TUC.

Mr. Michael Foot

I keep in touch with the TUC all the time, but no formal meetings have been arranged for the immediate future.

Mr. Lawson

I am delighted to hear that the right hon. Gentleman keeps in touch. When he next meets the TUC will he explain why yesterday in Luxembourg his Department, on his instructions, vetoed a most important new EEC proposal to give workers special rights in the event of large-scale dismissal? Did he veto this matter because he did not have time to get Mr. Scanlon's authorisation first, or was he simply trying to make the Foreign Secretary's task of renegotiation more difficult?

Mr. Foot

The hon. Gentleman is not correct to say that a veto was applied. What we did was to exercise our right to put our point of view on the question which was before the Ministers. We explained that we were in consultation with the TUC on this among other subjects and that the proposals contained in our employment protection Bill go a great deal further than those discussed in Brussels. We did not apply a veto, but we put our case clearly. It was well understood by the other members present.

Mr. Hayhoe

How does the right hon. Gentleman assess his chances of convincing the TUC of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's view that what happens to wages is the key to the control of inflation this year?

Mr. Foot

I do not think that the quotation which the hon. Gentleman purports to select from my right hon. Friend's speech gives a proper indication of what he actually said. We believe that the TUC and the Government will arrive at views which are compatible one with another in dealing with the situation. I hope that the hon. Gentleman and others will wait a little longer so that they will see what we have been preparing. I am sure that when that time arrives they will see how wise our preparations have been.