HC Deb 06 April 1976 vol 909 cc203-4
1. Mr. Peter Morrison

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received from trade unions on his cuts in defence expenditure.

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Roy Mason)

I have received many letters from trade union representatives about defence cuts. Several delegations have also been seen by myself and other Ministers in my Department. The representations have been mainly concerned with employment prospects in the defence industries and the closure or relocation of defence establishments.

Mr. Morrison

Has the Secretary of State explained to the trade unions and members of the Tribune Group that cuts in defence expenditure mean the loss of thousands of jobs?

Mr. Mason

As a result of the defence review and discussions on the public expenditure survey, I think they realise that job prospects in 1978–79 will have been reduced directly by 60,000 in defence industries and indirectly by another 80,000.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Is it not a fact that the TUC has pressed year after year for drastic cuts in arms spending? Is it not also a fact that the three unions most closely involved—the AUEW, the TGWU and ASTMS—have also consistently urged this policy?

Mr. Mason

All three unions have been involved in making representations to me for defence work. A total of 73 hon. Members, including 58 from my own side, have also approached me for defence work.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

Does not the question of the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) and his remarks about unions show that union leaderships do not represent their members?

Mr. Mason

It indicates that many trade unionists on the shop floor are not fully conversant with the resolutions passed by their national executive committees on defence policy until their jobs are at risk.

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