HC Deb 11 January 1977 vol 923 cc1255-6
06. Mr. Ioan Evans

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

The Prime Minister

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council gave on my behalf to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) on 30th November.

Mr. Evans

In view of our improving financial situation, will the Prime Minister try to meet the TUC and the CBI at an early date and get down to the question of bringing down the unemployment rate? Will he make that a prime aim of the Government in this coming year?

The Prime Minister

Yes. I think that unemployment and the problem of inflation are the two real issues that will concern us during the course of this year. I think that we can expect to see an improving situation on our balance of payments, and therefore that handicap will be removed. I believe that we must get more international action regarding unemployment, in addition to overcoming our domestic inflation problems. I shall be discussing these kinds of issue with the French Prime Minister this afternoon, and in 10 days' time with Chancellor Schmidt as well as with American leaders.

Mr. Adley

When the Prime Minister meets the TUC and the CBI, will he discuss with them the rights of workers to ballot about working conditions at their places of work? Does he agree that the rights of workers to ballot whether they should be able to join a trade union at their places of work are no more and no less important than their rights to ballot whether they should be compulsorily enrolled in a closed shop?

The Prime Minister

We shall consider those matters in due course.

Mr. Hooley

Will the Prime Minister discuss with the TUC and the CBI what effective steps can be taken to stern the appalling outflow of capital into manufacturing industry abroad when the Government's policy is to direct that capital into improving the efficiency of British industry?

The Prime Minister

I am not sure that I altogether agree with my hon. Friend on that matter. I have been into it on a number of occasions, and so has the Chancellor. There is a considerable case for overseas investment, especially nowadays, when it is not possible for this country to export completely finished products. Industry needs to embark on considerable overseas investment if it is to retain control.

Mr. Lawrence

At the meeting with the TUC and CBI will the Prime Minister consider why the index of industrial productivity under a Labour Government is lower than it was under a Conservative Government?

The Prime Minister

I am not aware that that is so.