HC Deb 18 January 1979 vol 960 cc1929-30
3. Mr. Tebbit

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many employers he has subjected to sanctions to date in the current pay round.

13. Mr. Ashton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has decided to impose sanctions as a result of other wage settlements subsequent to his statement relating to the Ford Motor Company.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Joel Barnett)

Only the Ford Motor Company was ever subject to discretionary action for a breach of the current pay guidelines, and the Government have announced that discretionary action in support of pay policy has now ceased.

Mr. Tebbit

Why are the Government proposing new action against employers through the price code? Employers are being bludgeoned into paying excessive pay claims. Does the Minister think that the road hauliers are rushing around trying to force pound notes into the pockets of their reluctant employees? Would it not be better to try clipping the wings of over-powerful, over-arrogant and totally unworthy leaders of the trade union movement in this country today? [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."]—Yes, that is unless the Minister thinks that these union leaders are worthy.

Mr. Barnett

I think I heard most of that. It might be helpful if the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) were to put a constructive point in the House occasionally. I have never yet heard one from him.

Mr. Ashton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the reason for the strike at Ford's, as with the newspapers and as with the road hauliers, was the massive profits that these firms have been making? How does he expect trade unions to stick to a 5 per cent. pay rise when the profits of their companies in many cases have risen by over 50 per cent.? How can he guarantee that some of this surplus profit will be used to keep down prices in future, or at least will be transferred to the nurses, who are entitled to a decent pay rise?

Mr. Barnett

Whatever my hon. Friend may feel about the pay guidelines and what happened at the Ford Motor Company, the fact must be that if we have an excessive pay outturn in the current round or any other round, this would be disastrous for the nurses and every other worker in this country. The sooner we recognise that the better.

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