HC Deb 01 July 1976 vol 914 cc644-5
Q1. Mr. Lawson

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

Q3. Mr. Gow

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

Q4. Mr. Skinner

asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to meet the General Council of the TUC.

The Prime Minister (Mr. James Callaghan)

I refer the hon. Members and my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) on 27th May.

Mr. Lawson

When the Prime Minister meets the TUC and the CBI will he give an assurance that the massive public expenditure cuts for next year which are now well advanced in their preparation will be announced and debated before the House rises for the Summer Recess? And will he this time answer the question I have put instead of, as last Tuesday, answering a totally different question which he seemed to get from some scrap of paper?

The Prime Minister

I answered the Question the hon. Gentleman has put today last Tuesday.

Mr. Skinner

I wonder whether my right hon. Friend would tell me and the TUC which element of the investment relief monitoring device which was announced yesterday will be used in cases where firms apply to put up their prices and at the same time employ non-union labour. How will he explain to the TUC General Council why these cheapskate firms can put up their prices and retain non-union labour while at the same time cuts of £1,000 million or more in public expenditure will mean that trade union labour finishes up in the dole queue?

The Prime Minister

It has always been my view that those employed, whether in private industry or in public service, should belong to a trade union. They escape their obligations if they do not join.

This is a consultative document which is being published, and the TUC—or any other organisation—may make representations about it. In my view, however, it would not be particularly useful at this stage in the investment cycle to pursue this point. I hope that everyone in industry will join the appropriate trade union.

Mr. Gow

Has the Prime Minister read the document "Social Contract 1976–77" in which the TUC states that it is opposed vigorously to any further cuts in public expenditure? Despite the misuse of the word "further", will the Prime Minister confirm that he will make whatever cuts in public expenditure he and the Government believe are justified, whatever the views of the TUC?

The Prime Minister

There is a certain Pavlovian attitude among Conservative Members on this matter. This public expenditure matter is one of a whole series of factors in the Government's economic policies, some of which are being carried forward with great success and others without success. We shall try to get a combination of all factors in appropriate proportions in due time.

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