HC Deb 03 July 1978 vol 953 cc23-4
29. Mr. Gow

asked the Minister for the Civil Service whether he will make a statement about the Government's policy towards a closed shop in the Civil Service.

32. Mr. Wrigglesworth

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he has made any progress in his discussions with Civil Service trade unions about the provision of closed shop agreements.

Mr. Charles R. Morris

Discussions have taken place with both the industrial and non-industrial unions which have asked for union membership agreements. Proposals have been put on behalf of Ministers and there have been full and frank exchanges of views. The discussions are continuing, however, and I would not wish to prejudice their outcome by commenting on their content at this stage.

Mr. Gow

Will the Minister accept that the introduction of closed shop agreements in the Civil Service would be deeply offensive to the people of this country? Will he confirm from the Dispatch Box that the Government are opposed in principle to the imposition of a closed shop in the Civil Service?

Mr. Morris

I am aware of the strength of feeling not only in this House but in the country generally on the question of union membership agreements. If we can continue the discussions with the unions, which are proceeding in a spirit of reasonableness and moderation, we can arrive at something.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

Will the Minister accept that, although many of us think that this is a matter that should be agreed by discussion and negotiation, there are, nevertheless, very strong feelings about this issue among the Civil Service trade unions? Will he pay close attention to the debates that took place at recent conferences and to the resolutions carried to ensure that the full views of the union members, who work so hard for better conditions, improved pay and better contracts in the Civil Service, are listened to by the Government?

Mr. Morris

I can give my hon. Friend that assurance.