HC Deb 09 February 1978 vol 943 cc1667-8
Q3. Mr. Molloy

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

The Prime Minister

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) on 2nd February.

Mr. Molloy

When my right hon. Friend meets the CBI, will he point out to the general secretary and the council that the majority of British people will expect them to act as responsibly as the National Union of Mineworkers when fixing prices and salaries, in particular salaries in the private sector? Will he tell them that they should take a lead from the NUM?

The Prime Minister

The miners believe that they have a powerful case for a higher figure than 10 per cent. but they intend to accept this view at present. The whole nation will be grateful that responsibility has shown itself, as I always believed it would. I thank the miners of Britain for what they have done.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

On the question relating to the TUC and the CBI, but especially the TUC, I understand that the activities of the trade unions are very significant to the increase in the future level of earnings. Will the Prime Minister launch a great debate immediately on the future levels of earnings after July, since most trade unions have their conferences in advance of the TUC conference and they cannot wait until July to hear what the Government propose?

The Prime Minister

There is a difficult problem in deciding how to handle incomes in a free society. It is one upon which, if I thought a substantial statement of policy would succeed, I would not hesitate to make it. But there is a certain coyness about this discussion. At the moment, I do not think I would want to take a public initiative on the matter, but I am in no doubt that the level of incomes next year will influence the level of inflation. I go on saying that privately and publicly.