HC Deb 18 May 1976 vol 911 cc1188-90
1. Mr. McCrindle

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he has any plans to meet officials from the British Institute of Management to discuss employment matters.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Albert Booth)

I have no such plans, though I am always ready to listen to the views of the British Institute of Management, whether on employment or other matters.

Mr. McCrindle

Does the Secretary of State feel that he has any responsibility for the prosperity of the people represented by the BIM? If so, has he noted that, according to the BIM, the real standards of income of its members fell by 13 per cent. in 1975? In view of that fact, will the right hon. Gentleman press, in Cabinet, for a return of a policy of differentials as soon as possible, otherwise we shall have no managers?

Mr. Booth

I have noticed from the survey conducted by the institute that it considered that the fall in the real standards of some of its members was due to the rate of inflation. Therefore, the institute has a real interest, along with the Government and many other people, in seeing that we overcome inflation. The institute appreciates that in the present situation it is not possible to relieve its members of a substantial part of the sacrifice, which involves many parts of the community in the interests of beating inflation.

Mr. Prior

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that British management is showing its pleasure in the Government by getting out of the country as fast as it can, and there is now a very serious drain of management? Is he also aware that we shall never have a successful economy and never again have full employment while management is treated as badly as the Labour Government have treated it? When will the right hon. Gentleman get his colleagues to take action on taxation, differentials, better pay and a better understanding of British management's position?

Hon. Members

Too long.

Mr. Speaker

I hope that the Front Benches and the Back Benches on both sides of the House will realise that the shorter the question the more people can be called.

Mr. Booth

I am conscious that the right hon. Gentleman and some of his hon. Friends contend that British managers are leaving the country in droves. I have read the report of the Royal Commission on the Distribution of Income and Wealth, which examined the latest available figures and reached the conclusion that there was no evidence whatever that British managers were leaving this country any faster now than they have done in the past.

Mr. Madden

Will the Secretary of State note that the directors of the Halifax Building Society have withdrawn a recommendation put to the society's annual meeting on Monday for a payment of £10,000 to be made to a retiring part-time director of the society? Does the Secretary of State accept that golden handshakes, top-hat pensions and insurance policies, preferential mortgage schemes and cheap holidays are all perks enjoyed by many managers, which are widely resented by working people whose incomes are rigidly controlled under the incomes policy?

Mr. Booth

I note what my hon. Friend says, and agree with the spirit of his question. Anything that gives the impression that higher management and directors can make up by other means any loss caused by the incomes policy is bound adversely to affect our chance of operating an equitable incomes policy.

Mr. Bulmer

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain how unemployment can be decreased if major British companies cannot compete with their overseas competitors for the best management available in the market?

Mr. Booth

The evidence is that the best British companies can compete and are competing. With the present low valuation of the pound our opportunities for increasing exports will be shown to be more than a mere potential over the next 12 months.