HC Deb 26 October 1977 vol 936 cc1412-4
2. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next intends to meet the STUC.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Bruce Milan)

I am meeting the STUC, together with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, on 28th October.

Mr. Canavan

Will my right hon. Friend assure the STUC and the workers at the Scottish Timber Products factory at Cowie that the Government are still prepared to do everything possible to save the factory? Could we have a decision as soon as possible on this matter in view of the anxiety felt by workers and their families?

Mr. Millan

I can give my hon. Friend that assurance in the terms for which he asks. A number of firms have shown an active interest in taking over that establishment, and we hope for a solution to the problem reasonably soon. Of course one can never be absolutely certain, but a lot of interest has been shown and we are working hard to find a solution.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

Will the Secretary of State report on the endeavours of the STUC to seek a solution to the problem at Chrysler's? In view of the severe damage that has been done to the cause of attracting industry to the West of Scotland, will he strive to solve this dispute over what appears to be a trivial matter? Will he give an indication that the full resources of the Government are being made available to find a solution to this damaging dispute?

Mr. Millan

I am taking a close interest in what is happening there. Certain discussions were held yesterday and today, and it would not help the House or the situation for me to go into the matter in any detail. I very much hope that some solution will be found to enable work to be continued at Linwood.

Mr. Lambie

When the Secretary of State last met the STUC, did he discuss the future of the Scottish steel industry and especially the danger of the BSC's policy to the steelworks at Glengarnock in my constituency? Will he tell me what action he has taken on the future of the Glengarnock steelworks following representations from the STUC?

Mr. Millan

The Minister of State has met the STUC in the last fortnight, and he discussed the steel industry generally in Scotland. It is known that there are very serious problems affecting the steel industry, not just in Scotland but in the United Kingdom generally, and the Government are actively discussing a number of these matters with the Corporation.

Mr. Henderson

Is the Minister aware that the House welcomes his interest in the difficult problems facing Chrysler, if only because he has special responsibilities since Chrysler is the only company which has concluded a planning agreement with the Government? Does that factor change the Government's status in regard to this company as opposed to the situation in other industrial disputes?

Mr. Millan

In all industrial disputes, Ministers take the view that the best solution is one arrived at between the trade unions and the industry concerned without ministerial intervention. At the same time, in a case such as this Ministers are interested in doing anything that can be done to help. The Government will do whatever they think is possible. One should not, even in this difficult situation, be tempted to make hasty interventions, because at the end of the day what happens at Linwood will have to be determined by management and men there. When the dispute is settled, they will have to settle down to work amicably together. That is what I hope will happen.

Mr. Buchan

Does my right hon. Friend accept that those of us who are involved in the Chrysler situation are pleased at the close attention he is giving to the matter, but will he study carefully the proposals put forward in the discussions by the STUC which seemed to some of us to create the groundwork for a successful return to work?

Mr. Millan

My hon. Friend knows the close involvement of Mr. Milne, General Secretary of the STUC, in this matter in the last few days, and we have had informal contacts with him as well. We are well apprised of the present situation, and I very much hope that the number of initiatives now taking place will bring the desired result.

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