HC Deb 11 March 1975 vol 888 cc261-3
Q2. Mr. Skinner

asked the Prime Minister when he next expects to meet the TUC leaders.

Mr. Edward Short

I have been asked to reply.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which my right hon. Friend gave the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) on 6th March.

Mr. Skinner

Is my right hon. Friend aware that he could do a really good patching-up job this week while the Prime Minister is away in Dublin taking part in the current charade that some people call renegotiation? Instead of meeting the TUC leaders, he could meet the pickets assembled outside the House of Commons. He could take with him their pay slips, showing that for a 40-hour week skilled craftsmen earn only £28.3. He could meet many others—

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is the third statement the hon. Member has made. He must ask a question.

Mr. Skinner

I am just finishing. Is my right hon. Friend aware that he could resolve the problem by recommending an interim award to put before the meeting which is taking place on Monday with the Lord Privy Seal?

Mr. Short

My hon. Friend's question is based on two wrong assumptions. The first is that there is something to be "patched up "while my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is away. There is nothing to be patched up. The second is that there is a charade going on in Dublin. There is a very serious piece of renegotiation taking place. It was on that basis that my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) fought the last General Election—

Mr. Skinner

I have never varied in my view.

Mr. Short

On the main part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, as I pointed out yesterday this is an unofficial strike, negotiations are going on with the union, and they have not broken down. I hope that it is my hon. Friend's desire— a desire shared by all hon. Members— to persuade the men to go back to work and to listen to their union leaders.

Sir Frederic Bennett

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that another aspect of the situation is that the meeting may take place before the former head of the KGB comes to Great Britain as an apparently honoured guest of the TUC? If it takes place before then, will the right hon. Gentleman make clear the revulsion of hon. Members on both sides of the House at the visit?

Mr. Short

If the hon. Gentleman tables a Question on that topic to the Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend will be very pleased to answer it.

Sir F. Bennett

Why cannot you?