HC Deb 20 February 1979 vol 963 cc243-4
17. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many awards have been notified to him by the Central Arbitration Committee since April 1977.

Mr. Harold Walker

Since 1 April 1977 the Central Arbitration Committee has made a total of 1,216 awards in relation to all the matters within its jurisdiction, including voluntary arbitration. The only awards of which my right hon. Friend is formally notified are those relating to the fair wages resolution; he has been informed of 411 such awards since April 1977.

Mr. Pavitt

Does not the record show that the Government's policy of arbitration and conciliation is much to be preferred to the Tories' proposals for confrontation? Rather than seek to water down the Employment Protection Act, when we have won the general election will my hon. Friend seek to strengthen it?

Mr. Walker

I could not help being struck, during the exchanges of a few minutes ago between the Opposition and my right hon. Friend, by the contrast between that and the attempts that were made last year to amend the Employment Protection Act, which the Opposition frustrated. The general tenor of my hon. Friend's question is absolutely right.

Mr. Bulmer

Will the Minister of State explain why the Central Arbitration Committee was able to deal so quickly with the BBC staff claim, especially as that settlement was so damaging to the Government's pay policy?

Mr. Walker

The hon. Gentleman knows that that was explained in the House. He should table a question if that is what he wants to know.

Mr. Hayhoe

Surely the Minister cannot duck away from this issue, which is his concern. Will he answer the question posed by my hon. Friend? Will he say how many of the claims settled under schedule 11 by the Central Arbitration Committee are collusive and are a way of getting round the pay policy? Will he confirm that schedule 11 claims have nothing to do with solving the problems of the low-paid—as the Minister said when this legislation was going through Parliament—which are being used by other unions to press demands which they could not achieve in other ways?

Mr. Walker

The hon. Gentleman should realise—I understand some of his hon. Friends not doing so—that schedule 11 is an extension of the existing terms and conditions of section 8 of the Terms and Conditions of Employment Act 1959. It is disgraceful of the hon. Gentleman to seek to smear the Central Arbitration Committee in the way that he has by suggesting that the cases with which it deals are on the basis of collusion.