HC Deb 15 November 1977 vol 939 cc279-80
13. Mr. Holland

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list in the Official Report the names of the Chairman and members of the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service and state in each case the salary or fees applicable.

Mr. Harold Walker

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Holland

In view of the not infrequent inconsistencies and partiality evident in recent reports on recognition issues, will the Minister consider terminating the appointments of the Chairman and members of ACAS and replacing them with people capable of an objective reaction and able at least to follow their own precedents?

Mr. Walker

That is a wholly unwarranted attack on people who have made a significant contribution to an improvement in industrial relations in this country. I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman says about the inconsistency of their approach on the subject of recognition. I deplore the inconsistency of response by some employers, including one who has acquired some notoriety in London.

Mr. George Cunningham

Will the Minister make urgent inquiries of all parties to see whether ACAS can play a useful rôle in bringing to an end the industrial dispute affecting the engineers servicing lifts, on the ground that there are many thousands of people often in a vulnerable state through old age, or pregnant women, or women in charge of young children, and so on, who are finding it impossible either to get into their flats or to get out of them in the high-rise blocks of the inner cities?

Mr. Walker

Certainly. I think that the whole House wants this dispute to come to as speedy an end as possible. The services of ACAS are available if the parties are willing to call upon them. I must point out to the House that the strike itself is unofficial, and this, of course, presents obvious difficulties for the intervention of ACAS, but I hope that the parties will look to ACAS and will try to bring this unhappy dispute, which is having such very unfortunate consequences, to a speedy end.

Mr. Gorst

Irrespective of any complaints against the objectivity of the members of ACAS, does the Minister agree that there is a lot of room for improvement in the qualifications of those members who come from the employers' side, particularly with regard to their lack of experience of small businesses?

Mr. Walker

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman is referring to the Council of ACAS. I am bound to bear in mind what he said, but I should have thought that those appointed on the nomination of the CBI were people with experience, and with a distinguished record in industrial relations. When Tory Members jeered as I sat down, they were jeering prematurely. I was about to draw attention to the qualifications of those who had been appointed on the nomination of the TUC and CBI and to point to their wide experience. It is wholly unworthy of Tory Members to attack them in the way that they have done this afternoon.

Following is the information:

The membership of the Council of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service is as follows:

The chairman is paid a salary of £16,788.48p per annum, including supplements; the other members receive £1,000 per annum.