HC Deb 01 April 1976 vol 908 cc1574-6
Q3. Mr. George Rodgers

asked the Prime Minister when he next intends to meet the TUC.

Mr. Edward Short

I have been asked to reply.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which my right hon, Friend gave to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. McCrindle) on 16th March, Sir.

Mr. Rodgers

Will my right hon. Friend suggest to the Prime Minister that when he next meets the TUC he pursues the question of industrial planning agreements? Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is increasing concern among trade unionists at shop floor level about the apparent failure to implement any such agreement to date? Will he advise the House whether there are any major problems in this area?

Mr. Short

There are no major problems. The National Enterprise Board is getting to work. It has already been announced that planning agreements are to be drawn up with British Leyland and Chrysler, and the Government are engaged in formal discussions with a number of other leading companies about the prospects of introducing planning agreements into key sectors of manufacturing industry. Certainly this work is going on. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry hopes to make an announcement on this matter shortly.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Is there any danger that if the Prime Minister is overcome, on the one hand, by the desire to meet the TUC again, or, on the other, by disapproval of the result of the election for his successor, he may not resign after all?

Mr. Short

The person appointed to succeed my right hon. Friend will have the full support of the present Prime Minister and all his colleagues, without exception.

Mr. Mike Noble

When my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister next meets the TUC, will be explain that the reason that its members will be unable to hear the Budget broadcast is the reluctance of the Leader of the Opposition, who is afraid to appear in public without the support of her script writers and public relations officers? Will my right hon. Friend reconsider the decision not to broadcast the Budget Statement, in the interests of democracy and open government?

Mr. Short

No, Sir, I would not put it just like that. I said in the House last week or the previous week that if there were a demand for this we would have discussions through the usual channels. We had such discussions. I also received representations from a number of hon. Members, on both sides of the House, against having the Budget broadcast. In view of the discussions that we had and all the representations I received, I felt that I should not put a motion before the House ahead of the general motion on the permanent broadcasting of Parliament's proceedings.

Mr. Aitken

Since this Question has now touched on matters of freedom of speech, will the Leader of the House please ask the TUC why it has supported the national executive of the National Union of Journalists, despite criticism by the Secretary of State for Employment, in the NUJ's attempts to pressurise news sources in Barnsley to deny access to news for the members of the smaller journalists' union, the Institute of Journalists?

Mr. Short

Without accepting anything that the hon. Gentleman has said, I am sure that it does not arise out of this Question.

Mr. Ashton

When the new Prime Minister meets the TUC, would it not be a good idea for him to initiate a system of trouble-shooters for the next round of pay talks? Is it not crazy that during a strike at British Leyland, because of a pay anomaly affecting a handful of men, there is no body set up to examine the matter quickly and to bring the strike swiftly to an end?

Mr. Short

As my hon. Friend knows, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service is involved in the dispute at present. It would be unwise for me or for any of us to pursue the matter now.

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