HC Deb 22 January 1979 vol 961 cc103-65

7.5 p.m.

Mr. William Shelton (Streatham)

I beg to move, That this House do now adjourn.

Leave having been given this day under Standing Order No. 9 to discuss: The increasing privation and hardship caused to citizens of this country by the present industrial unrest. I am sure that the House regrets the necessity for this debate as much as it will welcome the opportunity for it. I do not propose to speak for long as I am sure that many right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House will wish to express the anxieties and problems facing their constituents.

As I said when I made my application under Standing Order No. 9, we are today facing the biggest industrial unrest in terms of numbers of those who have withdrawn their labour since the general strike of 1926. It is especially sad, sorry and surprising that it should take place under a Government who have always claimed to have a special relationship with the trade union movement.

It is difficult to know the truth of the situation. It is changing from day to day and it varies from one part of the country to another. I am sure that hon. Members who catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will wish to bring to the attention of the House the specific problems which their constituents and industries are facing.

However, I must refer briefly to the statement made by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food earlier today. He reassured the House about many things, including the situation in Hull. I have had the opportunity of checking that situation in the last 20 minutes or half an hour. I understand that the word from the National Ports Council between 2 and 2.30 p.m.—presumably after the right hon. Gentleman received his information—was that there was no movement in Hull at all. The docks in Hull are completely closed due to heavy picketing.

I am afraid that it is more or less true that there is little or no movement in, for instance, the docks and ports in Scotland, on Teesside and Tyneside, in Liverpool, in Felixstowe, except for some Continental lorries which are moving under police protection, and Southampton, to name but five. It is said that the picketing in general is probably worse than last week. Indeed, in the North it is very bleak. Many pickets are ignoring the code of practice.

If the Minister was so ill informed about Hull, the House might wish him to check his sources and perhaps to come back tomorrow to give the new state of play. Indeed, I was reassured by his complacency during the making of the statement. That reassurance has been somewhat shattered by what I learned about the port situation in the last half hour.

I do not intend to dwell on the problems created by picketing by public employees: the closure of schools, the fact that graves are not being dug, that roads are not being cleared or gritted and that the ambulance men are not answering calls, even 999 calls. I understand that in my constituency this morning they had decided to answer 999 calls. Then the telephone started ringing and under pressure—I am not sure from whom, presumably some action committee—they fell into line and refused to answer such calls. I am assured that the men in that region wished to answer such calls but that they had no choice except to obey and do what they were told.

I must mention an extraordinary item which I read in the Evening Standard. The headmaster of a school in Thatcham is reported to have said that meals would be served to those children who normally had meals but that children who normally brought sandwiches would be asked not to bring sandwiches today for fear of inflaming the situation. I am sorry that the Leader of the House is leaving the Chamber, because I intend to refer to him later. Can this really be our country, where children might inflame a strike situation by taking sandwiches into school?

I profoundly believe that this Government, knowingly or unknowingly, have unleashed an unparalleled industrial anarchy and bitterness in the last three or four years, culminating in today's situation. Indeed, I believe that their members and the Labour Party have stoked the fires of that bitterness for the last decade, so perhaps it is not surprising.

Twice in the last week, once in this House and once on television, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition proposed an agreed programme, to be followed with the Government, which would introduce reforms to meet the gravity of the situation. The proposals were modest. As she said, the Prime Minister at various times had expressed his anxiety about the very points in that proposed agreed programme. They looked to the reform of secondary picketing, to the extension of secret ballots in the trade union movement and to an agreed "no strike" situation in certain industries essential to the welfare of the country.

In passing, I must say that, if he was correctly reported, I was astounded at the grotesque and bizarre remarks of the Leader of the House on BBC radio. He said of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition: I think she wants to go and shoot anyone who is on a picket line". He said that in relation to the modest proposals that I have just described and which I am quite sure are supported by the country. Indeed, I firmly believe that in a free vote they would be supported by an overwhelming majority of hon. Members.

I fear that it is possible that some such agreed programme between the major political parties—not excluding members of the other parties—might well prove to be the only way forward for the country in order to meet the sort of problems that we are facing today. I believe that my right hon. Friend spoke for the country and for the majority of hon. Members.

To the best of my knowledge, the Prime Minister did not listen, answer or care. He has not responded and is not present this evening, even though I sent him a letter earlier today stating that I intended to refer to him during the debate. Again, if reports are correct, the Prime Minister at a party meeting last week expressed his deep and profound concern at the effect of secondary picketing on food supplies. But did he warn that hardship might result? No. Did he warn that privation or hunger might result? No. Apparently he warned that it might lead to the return of a Conservative Government.

What are the options open to the Prime Minister and to the Government? He could accept my right hon. Friend's proposal and look to some agreed programme of action to relieve the country from the burdens from which it is presently suffering. He could resign and call for a general election. At the very least, he could call for a state of emergency and move the supplies which are held up in the docks, because, whatever the Minister of Agriculture might say, it is not so much a problem of food in the shops as a problem of supplies in the pipeline. When the pipeline dries up, the Minister of Agriculture will have nothing to eat but his own words.

As a result of all this, there has emerged a Prime Minister whom we learnt to know from the pen of his friend Mr. Crossman, because the right hon. Gentleman took none of the options that I have mentioned. If reports are true, he had decided to call a state of emergency on Tuesday but was dissuaded on Wednesday by his friends in the Cabinet. Of course, one understands the Prime Minister's difficulties, because in his Cabinet are two right hon. Members who belong to the Transport and General Workers' Union. There are a great many more members of that union on the Labour Back Benches, and in 1977 that union contributed £270,000 to the funds of the Labour Party.

Mr. Michael Mates (Petersfield)

How much?

Mr. Shelton

In 1977, £270,000. Therefore, the Prime Minister had a difficulty, and I sympathise with him in it. Therefore, instead of having a state of emergency he allowed the TGWU to prepare its own code on voluntary picketing. It was designed to be effective, but the word today is that it is not very effective.

In some areas the situation is improving. For example, I understand that Tesco, which last week was in great difficulty, has had four of its five major distribution centres relieved of picketing because of the code. The fifth is still being picketed. I understand that union officials asked the pickets to stop their picketing, but I shall not repeat to the House what the pickets said to the union officials. That warehouse is still being picketed.

However, Tesco advises me—I imagine that it is in the same situation as other chains—that, instead of receiving only 30 per cent. or 40 per cent. of food supplies, it is now receiving 50 per cent. That is an improvement, but if the situation does not improve further, hardship will be caused when the pipeline runs dry. Again, I remind the Minister of Agriculture, that it is food in the pipeline which is important. I am told that if this problem is not solved within two or three weeks, there will be hardship. There is minor hardship now. In some areas certain edible oils and sugar are not available, although food shelves are still virtually fully stocked. However, we must look to the future.

On Wednesday we had the voluntary code on picketing, but on Thursday, as the Daily Mirror said, The red flag turned white", and there was the announcement that the Road Haulage Association would not be restricted by any price code restrictions. What a falling off in intention!

There are two points that I should like to make in this connection. First, it is extraordinary that within a few days the Government, on the one hand, announced new legislation to toughen the price code and remove the profit element from it, and, on the other, announced that the Road Haulage Association—one of the battalions that the Government have thrown into the battle line—will not be subject to the price code. Secondly, this destroys once and for all the Government's argument that the decision of the House to deny them sanctions has weakened their hand, because voluntarily and by their own intention, initiative and decision they have announced that they will not use the sanction, which they held in their hand, against the Road Haulage Association.

The House will know that the Road Haulage Association used that argument in its stand against the lorry drivers. It said "We cannot increase your salaries above a certain amount, because if we do the Government will impose this sanction upon us". The Government then said that they would not impose sanctions. I do not know whether it is right or wrong that they should be imposed, but I do know that the Government have voluntarily dropped one of the sanction weapons in their hands. No more can the Government say that it is a decision of the House that has weakened them.

The reason why the Government did not face the challenge of the present situation and the Prime Minister did not accept the programme proposed by my right hon. Friend is that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House are the men most responsible for our present misfortunes. They are the architects of our present difficulties.

If history is correct, it was the Prime Minister who organised the rebellion within the Cabinet that destroyed the proposed legislation based on "In Place of Strife". If history is correct, the Prime Minister's guiding star has been to find out what the unions wanted and to give it to them. He said in 1974 that my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), who was standing up to the miners' wage claim, was talking "utter drivel". He also said at the same time: I wanted to come into the mining valleys to put the Labour Party firmly behind the miners' claim. The Cabinet in which the Prime Minister held an important position introduced the social contract and I blenched when I heard on the radio the Minister for Social Security calling for a new social contract—although he called it a social concordat. Must we again barter for short-lived wage peace more union strength and less freedom, as we did in the last social contract? One is ephemeral, the other remains on the statute book.

The Lord President, with the backing of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, placed on the statute book the legislation that enlarged the powers of pickets and allowed them to picket in places where they could not do so before. He also is an architect of the problems that this country faces. It is seldom that Nemesis strikes so swiftly.

I agree with what was written in one of the newspapers yesterday, that the main cause of strikes is that they succeed; and I agree with what Sir Leonard Neal wrote in the News of the World yesterday: Unless we change the rules of the game, we will go through the current traumatic experience year after year until we collapse. It may prove a tragedy that the Prime Minister has turned his face against the agreed programme suggested by my right hon. Friend. It would have been supported by the country and by the House. Perhaps it is not too late. Perhaps there is still time to take the action that we all know must be taken. We all know in our hearts that the situation cannot continue as it is.

We have the offer of an agreed programme of action, and surely, while the Prime Minister and the Government must look to themselves, they must look to their country first. By the Prime Minister's actions in the past and the inaction of the Government last week, I fear that they have made strikes easier to win and therefore more likely. I fear that the wood that we are entering grows thicker and the road grows longer. I do not know how much time we have left. I fear that the Prime Minister has put his relations with the trade union movement before an agreed programme, before a state of emergency, before an election and, alas, before the welfare of this country.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. May I remind the House that the debate will finish at 10 o'clock and it is hoped that the wind-up speeches will begin at 9.30 p.m.? That leaves us only 125 minutes for everyone else who wishes to speak. I beg hon. Members who catch my eye to make their speeches as brief as possible while getting in all the points that they wish to make.

7.25 p.m.

Sir Paul Bryan (Howden)

I wish to join my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Shelton) in correcting the complacent statement of the Minister of Agriculture about events at Hull, and I shall do so in some detail later.

I start with a word or two about the effects of the strike on agriculture. Farmers in the East Riding of Yorkshire have been living through a nerve-racking period. No depression or freak of the weather can compare in horror with the prospect of knowing that one may run out of food for one's animals by tomorrow night—especially when one is talking in terms of thousands of poultry or pigs.

Labour Members said earlier that this is surely alarmist talk and they asked whether any animals had died of starvation. The answer is "No", but that is due only to superhuman self-help by farmers and help for one farmer from another. When a farmer has helped a neighbour from his own reserves of feed once, he cannot do so again.

All animal feed in Humberside travels by lorry. At present that traffic is down to 60 per cent. of the normal rate. The Secretary of State for Transport said on Friday: At Hull there is no movement of grain or animal feed out of the docks."—[Official Report, 19th January 1979; Vol. 960, c. 2112.] I believe that that remains the position. The mills are bleeding to death, farmers are on their last reserves. It would take only a week's heavy snow on the wolds, cutting down emergency movements, to bring disaster to some farms.

So that hon. Members may appreciate how dependent farms in the East Riding are on road transport, I had better say something about the structure of the various units. There is in the Driffield district one of the biggest turkey producers in this country, producing 12,000 turkeys a day. The firm needs 700 tons of feed a week, which probably means 15 or 20 truck loads a day. Owing to transport difficulties, it has 50,000 extra turkeys on hand, needing an extra 80 tons of feed a week. That undertaking is a pipeline operation quite unlike the mixed farming of old.

The same may be said of pig production in the East Riding, where we have 600,000 pigs. It is not uncommon for a unit to have 3,000 animals on site, using 30 or 40 tons of feed a week.

Having said something about the structure, I turn to the question of how the farms are supplied. In Humberside, 5,000 tons of feed is transported each day, half in the form of raw materials to the mills and half as finished feed from the mills to the farms. A total of 80 per cent. of this great traffic is carried by independent hauliers, many of whom use specialised vehicles.

Despite all the instructions from the headquarters of the Transport and General Workers' Union, only 60 per cent. of that traffic is moving, mostly carrying finished feed away from the mills. To a certain extent, the shortage is compensated for by farmers sending their own tractors to the mills where they are within range of the mills, but the general picture is of a running down of the whole system.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said today that the position at Hull was improving. Having spent the whole weekend checking verbally with every contact I have, including drivers, I must say to the right hon. Gentleman that I will believe that when I see it.

The future depends not on a Minister, not on the trade union leaders or union officials, but on the strike committee, and that is a quite remarkable phenomenon. Its exact standing, status and source of authority are not clear, but its power is absolute. The strike committee deals in dispensations—in other words, permits to ply one's own trade. Everyone complains of the erratic and time-consuming working of the committee. If one qualifies for a dispensation one day through a member of the committee, one finds that it can be cancelled the next day by another member. At five o'clock on Friday evening 12 January, all dispensations were cancelled and one had to start all over again.

In general, the policy of the committee seems to be as follows. Members of the Road Haulage Association are blacklisted—not surprisingly. But a member of the association may be invited to put in writing a declaration that he will pay a wage of £65 a week for the whole of 1979. If he agrees to that, he does not get a dispensation but he will be put on a list of individual firms that have surrendered, and when that list gets long enough he and others who have signed will be allowed to operate and the strike committee will be able to concentrate its pickets on those not on the list. So the bribe and the threat to potential signers is there for all to see.

Company drivers are given dispensations in general, provided the company agrees to pay the £65 a week for the duration of the strike. Owner-drivers are sometimes given dispensations, sometimes not, but anyway only if they join the union and pay one year's or maybe two years' subscription. Other remarkable cash demands are sometimes for subscriptions for charity, and so on.

But the difficulty of dealing with the eccentricities of the strike committees was vividly illustrated in the developments following the issue of the code of practice, which is openly rejected—a quite different story from that told by the Minister today. The mills rely heavily on owner-driver lorries to bring food and raw materials to the farmers. A spokesman of the manufacturers said: We were told categorically that it would be a formality for owner-drivers to apply for dispensations and they would be given the necessary papers. We tested this immediately yesterday and today, and so far not one owner-driver has been given a dispensation. They have been told to go and get the big boys, namely, the mills, to sign up, when they will be given dispensations. So these owner-drivers are being blackmailed, either they did the Union's job for them, pressurised the mill owners, or they couldn't do any work. Having studied the committee at work, one can see that it was naïve to think that it would ever consider observing the code of practice on secondary picketing. To the committee, secondary picketing is not only normal but is its main source of power. Effective secondary picketing means that every transport job is at the committee's mercy, and as transport is a key factor in both industry and agriculture secondary picketing gives the strike committee control of the whole community—and I am not exaggerating.

People in my area can hardly believe their eyes in the developments over the last few weeks. A new government has arrived in Humberside: a group of men have set themselves up in Bevin House and taken powers which would have shocked Ernest Bevin. They decide who should work and who should not; they decide which firms will continue in business and which will not. They decide if animals will be fed. They do it politely but with arrogance.

People who come to that seat of authority may be asked to wait in the passage for four or five hours, given a short interview, and told to come back next day. This strategy is carried out with great skill and knowledge. They know exactly the most vulnerable points of industry and agriculture. There is no violence—this is no Grunwick or Saltley. Instead of violence, it is blackmail. That is the new weapon. A man is blackmailed not only by the fear of losing his own job but by fear of getting his friends and his firm blacklisted. That is why I can give no names.

This power of the strike committee has no source or authority. One may claim that the committee was elected by fellow trade unionists. Yes, but it was elected to fight their employers and in a dispute confined to their own employment. They have no power to elect representatives to fight the whole community. That is a different matter. The time has surely come for the Government to tell us what they think of these new developments, because they are something new. Similar events have happened in the past, but when refined to the present degree they are beyond the law and, one would have thought, intolerable to any Government.

Hull is acknowledged to be the hotbed of secondary picketing, the example of all that is worst in secondary picketing. Yet, apart from a 6 a.m. broadcast on the local radio station by the Minister of Agriculture, we have not had one word of protest or leadership from the Government. What are Moss Evans and other union leaders doing to help the unfortunate David Cairns, the regional secretary, who cuts no ice at all? When the flying pickets of the National Union of Mineworkers got out of hand in 1972, the NUM leaders intervened and it was not long before there was properly controlled picketing, which was to the credit of the union. Is that sort of thing quite beyond the scope of present trade union leaders?

What must the Prime Minister be thinking about as he ruminates on this scene? He of all people knows. He it was who sold the pass 10 years ago when he took the union side over "In Place of Strife". The Labour Government have been retreating ever since. This is the mob that Labour let in, sitting quietly but in charge in Bevin House, Hull.

7.37 p.m.

Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West)

Do you get a feeling, Mr. Speaker, of a great missed opportunity? I thought that we were to have an emergency debate—and I suspect that you did when you granted it—upon the considerable issues confronting the country. I am sure that the right hon. Member of Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw) will give us one of his lively speeches. He has every opportunity, but the opportunity is given to him by circumstances outside the House and not by the speeches of the hon. Members for Streatham (Mr. Shelton) and for Howden (Sir P. Bryan).

In the speech of the hon. Member for Howden we had an almost perfect description of why every Daily mail article talking of over-powerful trade unions is incorrect. I did not actually see Moss Evans leading a campaign in the executive committee of the Transport and General Workers' Union to order his members out on strike. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman did not seem to me to be saying that any trade union was responsible for the activities of which he complained. On the contrary, he complained of an anonymous strike committee.

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was actually advocating legislation to empower the central authorities of trade unions to have more authority over local unofficial bodies. I did not think that that was the official policy of the Conservative Party, and I am not advocating it. The hon. Member for Howden said that no animal in his area had actually died but that the situation had caused difficulties in the supply of animal feed. All the time, however, he was saying that it was this anonymous strike committee that was causing these difficulties—not any trade union, not any over-powerful trade union. At Question Time today, many hon. Members talked about the irresponsibility of various people. The hon. Member for Streatham and the hon. Member for Howden never mentioned the question of incomes policies. Yet incomes policies and their advocates have some responsibility for the situation we are now in.

I happened to chair a Sub-Committee whose report was unanimously approved by the Expenditure Committee of this House in 1974. I have to paraphrase that report because it is so far back that the Vote Office does not have a copy of it now. But the whole Expenditure Committee of nearly 50 Members of this House, Labour and Tory, in 1974 said a very simple thing—that one can have a temporary incomes policy but not a permanent one.

Many Labour and Conservative Members said this and they explained why. They said that if one wanted a permanent incomes policy several things needed to be done. First, we would have to ensure that there was absolute exchange control so that no one, for example, could move his capital to a place where interest rates were higher. Secondly, we would need complete control over all personnel policies so that nobody, for instance, could regrade a foreman as an assistant manager and so change the rate of pay by claiming that it was a new job.

What are we presently talking about? We are talking about public sector workers having wage increases comparable with those paid in the private sector. What public sector workers are really saying is that people in the private sector have already got £6 plus some of £6 plus 5 per cent. plus a little bit more. This may or may not be true, and if we have the comparability exercise suggested by the Prime Minister we shall no doubt find out. The public sector workers believe, rightly or wrongly, that what they will find out is that the private sector has gone far above them and will continue to do so unless there is control over personnel policies in every organisation in the land.

In my constituency, during one of the various incomes policies we have experienced—and I am quite surprised that no hon. Member in this debate has mentioned the previous incomes policies that we have had—an individual said to me that his employees were skilled engineers and that down the road there was a new factory where the current incomes policy was not being applied. He asks me whether I think he is losing his workers. My reply is "Yes", but I ask him what he is doing about the situation. His reply is that he has upgraded his workers.

There is one place in the world where incomes policies are said to work, and that, of course, is in an authoritarian State—Soviet Russia would be a good example—but there are others if one is talking about incomes policies which are centrally enforceable. Enforcement may lead us somewhat further than some of the people who sit in Whitehall offices might wish. However, that point was covered in the 1974 report, which I stress again represented the unanimous views of hon. Members of all parties. It is interesting—and we did—to discover what happens in such a State. Ota Sic, no doubt somewhat suppressed under such an authoritarian regime, was a well-known economist under President Novotny in Czechoslovakia who was allowed under Dubcek to publish a book on a Marxist economy in an authoritarian State. He said that it was perfectly possible to have an incomes policy provided that everything was managed centrally by the State.

The result of that, he wrote, was that every individual decision of importance was referred to the centre. That, however, led to economic stagnation.

Ota Sic was not some mad Right-wing writer in the Spectator nor some mad Left-wing writer in Tribune, or whatever one might consider to be an extremely Left-wing paper [Interruption.] Tribune is, I agree, a bit centrist these days. Ota Sic was a man who had actually lived under an incomes policy. What happens when an incomes policy ceases? Somebody must produce a reasonable way out.

I believe the suggestion of the Prime Minister the other day was a sensible one, although it came a bit late—that we ought to have comparability phased in in the public sector, just as we have had increases for policemen and firemen phased in. I think that this could be a way out for the public sector. But may I put to hon. Members, especially the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border, that if ever there is a future Conservative Government—and I ask the same question of my right hon. Friend who will answer the debate for the Government—or if there is a Labour Government after the next election, can we please get away from these incomes policies, fixed with a so-called permanency in Whitehall? Can we remember that the realities of a complex industrial society are so complicated that such intellectually lovable solutions will not work?

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Peter Brooke (City of London and Westminster, South)

When 10 of my hon. Friends have given notice of their intention to move the Adjournment of the House, short speeches are necessarily in order.

The subject on which I wish to speak, and of which I gave you notice, Mr. Speaker, concerns last Friday's decision by the London ambulance men to withdraw emergency cover today. On Friday, due to the ingenuity of my hon. Friend the Member for Bexleyheath (Mr. Townsend) and the generosity of the Secretary of State for Social Services in coming to the House at short notice, we were able to have a mini-debate on that threat. Hon. Members on both sides deplored the language which Mr. Bill Dunn of the London ambulance men had used about the possible consequences of the strike. Because of the brevity of the debate there was no opportunity to cross-examine the Secretary of State about the number of emergencies which the contingency arrangements which he described would cover. These details became available over the weekend and we learnt that there were 1,500 emergencies every day in Greater London, or about one every minute.

What also developed—and I salute the Secretary of State for Social Services for having taken the initiative on this—were second thoughts and more compassionate counsels on the part of the ambulance men's leaders about the threat that they had made. They said that they recognised the scale of the emergencies in Greater London and the inadequacy of the contingency plans that had been announced to cope with them. As of last night, the ambulance men's leaders announced that they were reversing their hard line of Friday. However, we have learnt gradually during today that those were false hopes. Apart from similar actions in Cardiff, the West Midlands and Scotland, we learnt that ambulance men at the London depots had turned down the advice of their leaders.

As a former member of the social services committee of Camden borough council, I regret to say that it was the Camden depot, the largest in Greater London, which took the hardest and strongest line. This attitude in turn permeated the rest of London during the day so that eventually we were reduced to 20 ambulances out of 145 for emergency cover.

To the credit of Mr. Dunn, he has repaired some of the damage that he did to his reputation on Friday by urging his men to honour the emergency cover arrangements which the leadership had promised. Subsequent developments must throw doubt on the credibility of the union's internal discipline and communication. The fact is that Mr. Dunn's threats on Friday have been unofficially carried out during today and the Secretary of State has had to bring in his contingency arrangements.

While we may have been surprised by the vagaries of the ambulance men's decision-making over the past four days, it cannot have surprised the ambulance men that the Secretary of State did bring in the troops, given his obligation to the people of Greater London to provide what emergency cover he could. Mr. Eric Smith, the chairman of the conveners' committee, said today that it was possible that the strike might now continue because of troops having been called in. Did he really expect that the Secretary of State would stand idly by under that threat?

Every hon. Member in Greater London knows that lives are at risk which were not at risk in the same manner yesterday. All of us are bound to press for a solution that will lift that risk to our constituents' lives. In my constituency I have two great hospitals—the Westminster and Bart's—and I am, inevitably, conscious of the traffic that they have to carry.

A short debate is not long enough to determine whether in any circumstances the end can ever justify the means. But no debate would be so short that we could not determine that the particular end could never justfy the means in this instance.

The Government are in a terrible dilemma over low pay in the midst of a counter-inflation policy. If I may do a disservice to my parliamentary neighbour, the Secretary of State for the Environment, I thought that he was considerably more impressive on television yesterday than was the Lord President of the Council a week ago.

Having lived in the private sector all my life, where one judges a man who is running something only after he has been doing it long enough to have to live with the consequences of his decisions, I must tell the Government that they have been in power long enough not to be surprised at being confronted with the problem of low pay today.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Merlyn Rees)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I rise with slight embarrassment, hoping that I am not misusing the time of the House. I explained to the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw) that I had brought in people from all over the country to discuss the situation that we are debating. Therefore, if I disappear from the Chamber for a short while it will be no discourtesy to anyone.

7.51 p.m.

Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)

I begin by congratulating the hon. Member for City of London and Westminster, South (Mr. Brooke) on at least giving some justification for this emergency debate. The second Opposition speaker, the hon. Member for Howden (Sir P. Bryan), tried as well, but the hon. Member who opened the debate, the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Shelton), was guilty of capitalising on a serious situation for mangy political gain. It does not matter what happens after the debate. After that sort of opening, which reached the lowest imaginable level of parliamentary behaviour, the debate can now only be uplifted, and I intend to do that.

We must first understand that, as the hon. Member for City of London and Westminster, South correctly said, the Government, and probably all of us, are in a difficult dilemma over the way of life of many honourable, decent people described as the low-paid public employees. What is agonising is that we do not really understand their importance until they are not there to do the job for which they are not very well paid. It behoves us all to bear that in mind, at least for the future.

If both sides of the House do not try to learn some lessons from the present difficult situation, we shall not deserve to claim that we represent the people who sent us here. There must be agreement on this throughout the House. We shall not fulfil that task if at the beginning of what would appear to be a very important debate, called for by the hon. Member for Streatham, the hon. Gentleman works what I almost described as a cheating flanker but had better simply call a "flanker", to make a cheap political speech about a serious situation.

Five per cent. or not, there is a difficult situation involving millions of ordinary people who are the lifeline of our public services—not the chief officers on their £10,000 and £12,000 a year but the dustman, the lady who helps deliver meals on wheels, the people who cook the meals for the children in school. If there is to be any indignation from Conservative Members, I hope that they will join in the indignation we felt when their leader banned free milk for children, long before there was any industrial dispute. We all remember how she started her hoarding long before the present crisis, or near-crisis.

We have heard some of the most remarkable statements from the president and the director-general of the Confederation of British Industry. They have always said that if we want to keep prices down we must keep wages down. Whenever there is an application for a wage increase they scream about possible increases in prices. Now they seem to argue the other way, that they do not mind if there are some increases, even though they hamper us in the fight against inflation, provided that by increasing prices employers can recoup what they might lose.

I believe that the fight against inflation is still the central theme. The Conservative Party kept the House going night and day to defeat any contribution that would, regrettably, have had to be forced on the CBI to obtain its assistance in holding prices steady. The Conservatives had the concurrence of the CBI in trying to defeat that idea, as has been proved in the past few days.

If the so-called clever people of the CBI really think that ordinary working class people are the mugs that they seem to think they are, they are rudely mistaken. I have had letters from constituents saying that very rich people are so concerned about their profits that they do not mind if there is a prices explosion, that they are all for it and are opposed only to a wages explosion. Some of the rich people should realise that much trade union negotiating is carried on to enable ordinary people to pay the prices at the butcher's and the baker's, to pay the council rent and so on, all of which have crept up while their wages have not kept pace.

I should like to comment briefly on the ambulance situation in London. Many people have asked me whether the local government Ombudsman or the National Health Service Ombudsman could he brought in. I believe that the matter is way outside their discretion.

I accept the sincerity of Opposition Members' concern about the emergency cases which have to be conveyed to hospital. I hope that they will say that they, too, give their support to organisations such as the Confederation of Health Service Employees and the other unions involved, which equally want to see that adequate emergency coverage is supplied. I have only recently spoken to officers of COHSE. They still maintain that they regret—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] Will Opposition Members support them? They are doing their level best to see that proper emergency cover is provided. We on the Labour Benches will support them in that, and I hope that we shall carry the majority of Opposition Members with us.

Another important issue is BBC news-casting. I must say in fairness that what I am about to describe has happened when a Tory Government were in difficulties as well as when a Labour Government have been in difficulties. I refer to the highlighting of some not very important features. I acknowledge that the BBC has an absolute right to report the facts as it understands them, but some of the selection of those facts is remarkable. If there is a disaster, something unfortunate, something to depress people, the BBC will find space for it. Therefore, I can understand what one of my old-age pensioners said to me on Sunday, that "BBC" probably means the "Bash Britain Corporation". That is the feeling of many people.

It gives me no joy to have to say that of an organisation for which I have the greatest admiration, except in regard to what it includes in the news and sometimes the sort of people that it asks to comment on the current situation. For example, who was the speaker chosen to discuss the present situation following the one o'clock news? It was none other than the man who has all the answers to Britain's problems, Sir Richard Marsh. He said that there was a rift between the Labour Party and the trade unions, as a result of which all these difficulties had arisen. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I can understand the Opposition chanting "Hear, hear." The performance of that gentlemen on the BBC was tantamount to that body requesting Judas Iscariot to give his views on the New Testament.

We must find solutions to our problems that are acceptable to those who have chosen to demonstrate today. I wish to quote from the business columns of The Observer last week in a piece written by Mr. William Keegan dealing with the impact of inflation on the national economy. Mr. Keegan presented the following sobering thought: In 1975 the annual British inflation rate reached 25 per cent. If sustained, that rate would have meant that a 40-year-old miner whose wages kept up with inflation would have been earning £1 million a year by the time he retired. Therefore, in seeking to find solutions to often genuine and urgently required wage increases, we must bear in mind that our nation, particularly the working classes, will gain nothing from a massive impetus to inflation, because the ordinary people will be the first to suffer. Negotiators must always keep that important fact in the forefront of their minds.

8.2 p.m.

Mr. Nigel Forman (Carshalton)

I am only sorry that the much-maligned media were not here in force to highlight the remarks of the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy). The hon. Gentleman has shouldered a great deal of the Opposition's work—work which was given firm foundation by my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Shelton) in a powerful speech.

The burden of our case is that we are facing Government complacency in the face of an almost unprecedented economic and industrial situation. The Government appear to be acting on the basis of "grin and bear it" tactics, and it appears that it is the strike committees which are doing all the grinning and the country which is bearing it. Nothing in the present situation will give any patriotic Member of Parliament cause for pleasure. It is extremely sad that our country has degenerated into its present plight.

I wish to focus my attention on the action taken by NUPE as it affects schools and education in general. It is difficult to be certain about the situation nationwide and it is unwise to make generalisations. On the information that I have, it appears that in many areas well over half the schools have had to be closed.

I should like to give the House a few figures. I have been informed that 80 per cent. of pupils in Essex have not attended school, that 80 per cent. of Lancashire schools are closed, and that about a quarter of Oxfordshire schools have been closed. This is true of virtually all of the Manchester schools. All the schools in Kingston upon Thames and Richmond have been closed, as have about a third of the schools in Cheshire. I learn from my evening paper that three-quarters of the schools in the ILEA have closed.

Dr. Rhodes Boyson (Brent, North)

Is my hon. Friend aware that all the schools in Brent were closed today? Does he appreciate that only two months ago most of the schools in that area were closed as a result of a strike by caretakers—a closure which lasted from two to three weeks?

Mr. Forman

My hon. Friend underlines the point that I was seeking to make. Many of these manifestations of industrial action are continuing, and they have a long lineage. They are part and parcel of a continuing campaign and the unions involved are happy to see this action persist.

The direct cause of the situation in the schools is the action taken by NUPE pickets to stop children going to school. It also flows from the instructions by the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Head Teachers to their members not to cross picket lines or to carry out work normally undertaken by caretakers.

I regard this as a retrograde step. A number of specific examples have been given where such action is already taking effect. This is part and parcel of a much more widespread chain of trade union action which is being taken against the interests of the rest of the community, and now, sadly, against our children. For example, in the borough of Southwark, reports indicate that this is just the beginning of a much longer campaign which will be mounted to take action on a continuing basis against that borough because of other disputes in the area. In Southwark, people have been singled out for non-stop continuing disruption.

It is tragic that the education of our children should suffer from such action. Not even a day's loss of education can be set aside. When these disruptions occur once, they easily recur. All this is happening despite the statutory duty of parents to see that their children attend school, the duty of local education authorities to provide the necessary education and the duty of the Secretary of State for Education to see that a proper education service is provided.

Therefore, although I welcome the robust comments of the right hon. Lady the Secretary of State for Education and Science on the present dispute, and although I was delighted to hear the remarks of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle), I believe that the House has a right to know what action the Secretary of State will take to fulfil her statutory responsibilities—preferably by making a statement to the House tomorrow. Indeed, I was surprised that she did not make a statement this afternoon. We must see to it that the education of our children is not trampled down in the mire of the present grey situation. Surely, the reality of frightened children—I appreciate that some of them are glad to have the day off—should have brought the Government and the unions to the point at which they realise that enough is enough.

8.8 p.m.

Mr. Donald Stewart (Western Isles)

I am glad that a Minister from the Scottish Office is present. There has been a tendency recently, and certainly during exchanges with the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food this afternoon, to talk of "the North-West". If, as we have been told so often in the devolution debates, this is a "united" kingdom, the term "North-West" would refer to my constituency. However, we all know that what was meant this afternoon was the North-West of England. I know that that area has problems, but I wish to ask one or two specifically Scottish questions.

This debate has shown that, on the whole, Labour Members will back the trade union view and that the Opposition will generally back the employers. With such a polarisation of view, one appreciates that these problems will not be solved satisfactorily. One cannot carry on a self-inflicted blood-letting for ever. Something will have to go.

Two days ago I mentioned secondary picketing. There is widespread revulsion against this form of industrial action, and the Government should bring in some legislation to overcome this offensive method of waging industrial war. It is regrettable that the Prime Minister talks about the futility of making laws because they may not stick. If laws are required, they should be passed in this House, and if passed they should be made to stick.

I ask the Minister about the lay-offs in heavy industry in Scotland. In Scotland, we had the lorry drivers' strike two weeks earlier than in the rest of the United Kingdom. We depend on heavy industry, and many of our supplies come from south of the border. I hope when he replies to the debate the Minister will deal with the problem in Scotland.

The rail service to Scotland is also important. The difficulty of the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) in getting to the House this morning was mentioned, but compared to some of us he is living practically above the shop.

A suggestion has been made that there should be a section in supermarkets and shops reserved for old-age pensioners. People who are in regular employment or who are fairly well off have no difficulty in buying groceries or maintaining a food stock, but old-age pensioners are living from hand to mouth, week to week. If the situation deteriorates—although it is not yet at that stage—there should be some section of the food shops reserved for old-age pensioners.

Glasgow airport has been closed because it is claimed that there have been no regular deliveries of de-icing fluid in the present rigorous weather conditions. Apart from the desirability of maintaining services, three are many air ambulances operating out of Glasgow airport.

The hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Forman) mentioned schools closing and secondary pupils missing classes. Will the Minister tell us the effect on the examination results of the pupils who have missed school because of the closure?

Last week I said that my hon. Friends and I would support the Government for the moment. Time is running out. The Government have not yet exhausted all the possibilities, and before making a decision I shall wait to hear what the Minister says.

8.13 p.m.

Mr. J. W. Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr)

I am glad that we are debating this issue. We should debate the issues of the day, because if we do not the House serves no function. We all take partisan views on most questions. The Standing Order No. 9 applications that are granted tend to come from Opposition Back Benchers. It would do no harm sometimes if Front Bench Members supported such issues.

It is deplorable that today in my constituency in Birmingham the roads have not been gritted and there is no ambulance service, even on an emergency basis. But this is not new. The roads in Birmingham have not been gritted, on and off, for months. There was no emergency ambulance service for weeks before Christmas. The workers have been locked out by the regional health authority. On the gritting of roads, there has been continuous dispute between the Tory-controlled county council and the district councils, and, therefore, we have had no gritting. I deplored it then and I deplore it now. It is even more deplorable today because there is no excuse for withdrawing the emergency ambulance service.

The ambulance men have taken a leaf out of the consultants' notebooks, and no one can support that attitude. The pace has been set by others who should have known better and they are in no position to complain today. Nevertheless, it is still to be deplored.

There are no "essential" workers left in this country. One cannot distinguish between one group and another. All workers are essential. Labour Members—and this is a warning also for those on the Conservative Benches—must not set off one group of workers against another. There are people in the country who would like nothing more than for one group of workers to be set off against another. This debate must not do that.

Today we have had a massive lobby by the low-paid. Some of my constituents have come here, and I support their right to do so. They are low paid. The national joint council for local authority services has been offered £39.15 for a grade B manual worker, whose present basic rate is £37.80—a rise of £1.35. The worker would get a £5 supplement, which does not alter. The net increase is £1.35. The £5 supplement is not used for holiday pay, overtime calculations or mortgage applications. Those will all be calculated on £19.15.A grade E manual worker will have a rise only from £40.80 to £42.95, plus the £5—an increase of £2.15. This is not a princely sum.

On incomes policy, I have never stood out for a free-for-all, but I have never yet supported the rigid incomes policies imposed on the workers of this country, in the main by senior civil servants who have never done a real day's work in their lives, aided and abetted by a Cabinet that is so lacking in people who have worked in industry that it is not true. Therefore, the Government have now reaped the whirlwind of the seeds that they have sown in the last few years. I cannot defend what they have done.

One has to tell the low-paid workers—the working poor of this country—that they have actually got worse off in the last three years of incomes policy. In the light of that, one can understand why this place has been deluged by 60,000 workers today. I shall quote only one set of figures. They come from Hansard of 5 December 1978. In column 603 I was informed that the lowest 10 per cent. of male workers in April 1975 were earning 65.2 per cent. of the average wage. In April 1978, they were earning 64.6 per cent. of the average. Therefore, they are worse off relative to the average worker. I know that £6 was one of the biggest rises they ever had, but many people had much more than £6. A lot of people leapt ahead. As those figures show, the working poor have become worse off.

An incomes policy is not directed in substance to the low-paid. It might be directed in rhetoric to the low-paid, but at the end of the day we must face the fact that the seeds have been sown in the last three years and one cannot blame the low-paid workers for getting extremely angry and bitter. Their leaders have walked the corridors of Whitehall for five years, closeted with Ministers to such an extent that they have now lost the respect of the rank and file. They were warned about this every year by myself and my hon. Friends. They were warned about it by people in the factories. They were told that they were getting so close to Ministers that they were losing touch with reality and they were not speaking up for their workers in the way that they were paid to do. That is why people outside are not doing everything that their leaders tell them.

One could argue that the leaders should be doing what the trade unionists tell them—that is the function of trade unions. Why is it that the instructions, advice and orders of the senior, respected trade union leaders are not being followed by the rank and file? There must be a rational explanation. The simple one is that they have lost confidence. Why? I have posed only one of the reasons; there may be others. That is a factor and it is one that has not just come to light. It has been raised every year for the last five that I have been a Member.

Last year the low-paid workers heard a message from the Government on what they should do if they wanted any action. The Home Secretary said the Government were not doing anything about their plight because my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) could not get more than three people in his constituency interested in it. The message was simple. If one kicks up a row and takes action, something will be done. That message went out from a Labour Home Secretary last July, and it is not lost on the citizens of this country. That principle has been taken cognisance of outside.

I refer to Sir Richard Marsh on "The World at One" today. As I was driving in, I heard the programme and I cringed, thinking "The BBC has done it again, it has pulled him in." But for the first time ever he spoke the truth; he actually told the truth. He made the point that I have been making—that the rank and file have lost confidence. He gave some of the reasons for this and they were correct. If we ignore that, we shall never get out of the mess that we are in.

That does not mean that the Conservative Party has the answer. It wants to cut public expenditure by £4 billion. That means hundreds of thousands of jobs in the public sector. Those outside cannot seek sustenance in answers from the Opposition. I have no ready-made solutions to this crisis. I am prepared to admit that we have a crisis, and I should have admitted it last week had I had the opportunity.

The public sector is so large and so important that it does not matter whether one is a sewerage worker, a home help or a water worker or whether one serves meals in a school canteen. All these jobs are essential to the functioning of a modern technologically-based urban society. This is not the corporate State because these people are already the employees of the Government. Nobody ever listens to the low-paid in the public sector and it does not matter whether they are police, prison officers, air traffic controllers, sewerage workers, nurses or teachers. All of these jobs have a crisis and they had it a year ago. In fact, it was festering before that. Each one is dealt with in a piecemeal fashion.

I believe that all the ministerial responsibility for these people should be removed. There is no co-ordinated basis for dealing with the public sector. There are no Treasury Ministers fighting this battle; it is left to departmental Ministers, each of whom has a separate brief and each of whom must defend his own position. At the same time, over the years of incomes policy, the low-paid have been left behind because no one ever thought about a policy for them.

The Prime Minister needs to bring in same radical changes. He should set up some Ministers to look after the public sector—its wages and terms and conditions of employment. They should make sure, whether there is free collective bargaining or an incomes policy, that no single group which may or may not have the industrial muscle to take action should fall behind to such an extent that its members have bitterness and anger in their hearts and are prepared to take action which they know damages themselves and their families. Almost no group of strikers will be better off by the end of the financial year. They know that that is so. How angry and bitter they are is shown when they are forced to take industrial action in order to have their case heard.

We should change the system so that the public sector, which serves the community, is not left to carry the can every time we have an incomes policy or collective bargaining. Radical changes are needed—and, by God, they must start tonight.

8.25 p.m.

Mr. Leon Brittan (Cleveland and Whitby)

When the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) pointed out the extent to which the rank and file were no longer prepared to follow their union leaders, he put his finger on one of the most crucial aspects of our present disorders. I agree with him, but I go further. Our present disorders are the direct consequence of the Government's incomes policies in the last two or three years. By following such incomes policies, the union leaders have nothing to show the rank and file. There is nothing to negotiate. What is provided is that which is laid down by the Government. Therefore, it is natural that the leadership of the trade union movement should be weakened.

The trade union leadership has a duty to assert itself. The hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) asked the Opposition to support the call by COHSE and the other union to their members at least to provide an emergency service. He might have asked us also to support the Transport and General Workers' Union in its request to its members to observe the code on picketing.

We are entitled to be asked. We would willingly give support to those calls from responsible union leaders. But we are entitled to ask the union leadership whether it is serious in its call to the rank and file to observe the code or to maintain emergency services.

If the leadership was serious, it would exert its immense power in a specific manner. It would indicate that it was not merely appealing to its members to observe a code or to maintain an emergency service but that if its members did not comply with the basic humanitarian requirement it would discipline them. There has been no indication of a readiness by the union to impose such a discipline. But trade unions do not hesitate to exert disciplinary action against members who refuse to go on strike or to toe the line in other respects.

Any consideration of today's disorders must involve a balance between the possible gain for union members and the disorder for the community. We should examine the specific consequences of the action which has been taken throughout the country. For that reason, I sought to adjourn the House on the closure of the unit at St. Luke's hospital in Middles-brough. That unit provides sterilisation services for the whole of the South Tees district.

Unlike most of the action today, that closure is likely to last for at least two weeks. The unit, which sterilises all supplies required by 17 hospitals in the district, is to be closed for two weeks. It supplies sterilised surgical implements and also dressings, gowns, sutures, catheters, drapes and everything that requires sterilisation in the hospital service. To stop that for two weeks, and not just for one day, will cause immense disruption to the hospital service and immense harm to thousands of innocent people, not only on Teesside itself but in the surrounding areas that depend on those hospitals.

It is important to bear in mind that the consequences in that area will be particularly grave because of the already lengthy waiting lists. Some people have to wait two years for non-urgent admission to hospital. The consequences of adding another two weeks to that delay by this action will become all the more grave.

From today, for the next two weeks, there will be no ordinary admissions at all to those hospitals. No cold surgery will be performed. There will be only emergency operations. Those who support the strike would no doubt say that if emergency operations can take place that is at least an indication that the trade union concerned is determined to ensure that the necessities of life can continue. But the only reason why emergency operations can continue is that the hospitals are using up previously sterilised supplies.

Initially, the hospitals were given an indication through the area health authority and contacts with the union leaders that emergency cover would be provided. I am told today that, when confirmation was sought, the union officials said that if existing emergency supplies ran out they would approach the picket line. The clear implication was that they were not by any means certain that emergency services would be supplied, not just for one day, not just one day a week, not just because of random strikes, but for at least two weeks. Those who are engaged in action of that kind should carefully consider whether the possible gain that can emerge at the end of the day justifies the disruption to the hospital service in the South Teesside area that their action involves.

Mr. Eddie Loyden (Liverpool, Garston)

I wonder whether the hon. and learned Gentleman would take the argument further. His party supports cuts in public expenditure. Long before any disputes took place, patients in the Liverpool health authority area were unable to get heart surgery because of a lack of investment in the Health Service. Yet his party is in full support of further public expenditure cuts. Will he explain why this sympathy did not exist when the question of public expenditure arose and why it produces great sympathy in a strike situation?

Mr. Britian

I assure the hon. Gentleman that there is every sympathy for those who, after five years of Labour Government, supposedly dedicated to a different principle, still have to wait for surgery of that kind. If the question of how the Health Service is to be administered is to be considered, we need more than an emergency debate. One thing, however, is clear. Action of this kind has an immediate effect both on cold surgery and possibly also on emergency surgery. I seek merely to appeal to those concerned with the organisation of this dispute not to cause disruption and injury on that scale in the South Teesside area.

8.35 p.m.

Mr. Richard Wainwright (Colne Valley)

The various hardships and great anxieties suffered by all our constituents are accompanied by growing anxiety and unrelieved bewilderment which, I say reluctantly, is leading to a general sense of despondency. It gives rise to the feeling that I found at the weekend in my constituency—which is in both Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire—that, of all the shortages, some of which have undoubtedly been exaggerated, the greatest is a shortage of leadership. People have said to me, and I am sure to other hon. Members, that they are willing to bear hardship and anxiety so long as they are assured that the basic essentials of life will be maintained, because they know that the fight against inflation is even more important.

That is surely a great national asset. The country has been taught and understands very well the appalling evils of uncontrolled inflation and would be prepared in that cause to put up with a great deal on the way. But, I regret to say, the feeling is now getting about—it is understandable, and it could easily be remedied—that at the end of the day they will have both the hardships and the runaway inflation.

People ask whether they cannot be told what is now the purpose of standing up against these claims and what is the new aim to replace the 5 per cent., which Ministers now admit, quite rightly, has been overridden. Until the Government tell the country—I should have hoped that they would use this debate to do so—the new objectives and why it is so worth while to put up with the hardships caused by standing up to strikes and refusing to surrender to extravagant demands, this despondency will increase.

For instance, there is the question of what is now due to people—I have met some of them—who have settled for 5 per cent. The Government have certain obligations at least to explain to people who dutifully settled for 5 per cent.—this was boasted of by the Government Front Bench until a few weeks ago—what is the new substitute policy.

It has certainly been my experience and that of my hon. Friends, with whom I have been in the closest touch, that the most significant question that comes up is what sanction the Government will bring to bear on the BBC for the most publicised extravagant pay rise of all time, which was brought home to every household with a television set in the most dramatic circumstances possible and which, more than any other incident, has, I believe, contributed to the sense of national bewilderment.

Until the Government make it clear that they will impose some punishment on the BBC for breaking the line in this extraordinary way, and until the Secretary of State explains why, suddenly and without any reference to the House, he has put aside his much-vaunted sanction over road haulage price increases, there will be a growing sense of bewilderment and lack of purpose.

Mr. Raphael Tuck (Watford)

Did not the hon. Gentleman and his party vote against the sanctions? I may be wrong, but I thought they did.

Mr. Wainwright

Neither this party nor anybody else can vote against the supreme sanction which any Government have with regard to the BBC. [Laughter.] It is no good Ministers laughing. This is one of the simplest facts of life. Our Government hold the finances of the BBC in the hollow of their hand. Yet we have not heard a word yet about what the Government will do by way of retribution to a great national corporation which, with the utmost publicity, breached the Government's anti-inflation policy in the most conspicuous possible way.

Mr. Max Madden (Sowerby) rose

Mr. Wainwright

I will not give way. I have been urged to be brief. The Government, very unworthily, and leaving a great vacuum where there should be leadership, are taking refuge in the vagueness and divided policies of the official Opposition on the subject of pay control. That is very regrettable. The Government are taking advantage of that in order to evade these urgent matters. This leads a long-suffering public towards the growing suspicion that it is suffering to no end and without any purpose being in sight of achievement.

8.40 p.m.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

I never cease to be amazed at the howls of rage in this House from hon. Members when working-class people take strike action. I suppose that I have been long enough in the House now to expect these howls of rage, exaggerations and statements about total collapse and about our being at the point of revolution. There seem never to be any serious discussion and debate on the real issues involved.

Working people have only one thing to sell, and that is their labour power, They have nothing else. They do not own industry. They do not own property. Some of them may own their own small house. But in the main they have nothing except their ability to work. Why should working people always work at rates lower than those they think they deserve?

I agree entirely with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) in what I thought was an absolutely first-class speech. We have had, as he said, thousands of workers here today. These low-paid workers were only too anxious to show or give hon. Members their pay slips. I met several building workers, hod carriers—not the easiest of jobs—who were receiving from local authorities a take-home pay of only £41, and sometimes less, for a 40-hour week. How do they live on £41? I do not know. It is about time that my hon. Friends and this House as a whole gave complete support to these low-paid workers.

I get fed up with listening to well-heeled people, company directors, solicitors, Queen's counsel and the rest on the Conservative Benches—and some on the Labour Benches—who are only too anxious to give lectures to workers about their selfishness in putting forward what are called excessive wage claims of that sort, especially from people who have never worked in a shipyard, who have never worked on a building site, who have never been down a mine, who have never driven a lorry along the M1 or M6 in a snowstorm or fog, and who have never done anything in their life to make any real contribution to the wealth of this country. They are only too keen to give a lecture to workers, telling them that they must not go forward with their simple demands for better wages and conditions. I am tired of it, and these low-paid workers are also tired of it. They have had enough.

There was a very interesting article last week in The Daily Telegraph. It was written by art employer who, giving his own experiences, said "Do not blame the shop stewards and the trade union officials. It is the rank and file workers in my company who are demanding better wages and conditions. They are the ones. Why? It is because for three years they accepted a voluntary incomes policy, they got behind, and now they say 'We have had enough.'".

I remind my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench that some of us explained that this would happen. We said earlier in the year—and, indeed, last year—that we were moving towards this sort of situation. We urged the Government to take action then and to be more flexible in their attitude, and not to say "Five per cent. and we must stand by it." We knew that the workers would not tolerate it any more. In any case, 5 per cent. for somebody on £41 per week is a hell of a sight different from 5 per cent. for somebody earning £150 or £250.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

Or £1,000.

Mr. Heffer

Or £1,000—precisely. The workers have had enough of it. I tell hon. Gentlemen who are always talking about bringing in further legislation and taking action against these all-powerful trade unions that we went through that with the Industrial Relations Act. Does anyone remember it? What happened then? The confrontation was even worse.

I understand what Opposition Members are worried about. They have woken up to one thing—that the real work, the real wealth, the actual running of society, is not in their hands or those of the Government but in the hands of ordinary working people. Opposition Members do not like it and want to stop it, but they cannot do so, because if the working people say "No", that is the end of the matter.

Let us consider secondary picketing. It is amazing that the lorry drivers have not had an official dispute for about 40 years. Very rarely do lorry drivers go on strike. They are not regularly involved in industrial action. Yet the first time they take industrial action they are accused of secondary picketing. They do not know what second, first, third or fifth picketing is. All they know is that they are in a battle, and they intend to win it. As one lad said whilst standing on a bridge at Warrington, "I do not want to be on strike for ever." Of course he does not—nobody does.

There is a militarist sitting on the Opposition Benches, an ex-colonel, the hon.—and perhaps I should say gallant—Member for Petersfield (Mr. Mates). When he was in a battle, he went out to win it. These workers also go out to win. They do not expect to be on strike for ever. They want to win the dispute. Unfortunately, that means that innocent people get hurt. That is very regrettable indeed.

The answer is not to talk in terms of legislation, or crushing them, or of bringing them down, but to look at the issues involved, issue by issue. Even though the basic issue is wages and conditions, each industry has its own peculiar problems and difficulties and needs to be dealt with separately. Therefore, we must look at the issues and get the negotiations, the discussions, the conciliation and the arbitration. This is the beginning of discussions as regards the lorry drivers.

I have heard on the grapevine that it is being said that we do not need to give, perhaps, quite as much weight to public service workers or to retreat a bit as far as they are concerned because they do not have the same muscle as other groups of workers, and that they are poorly paid and therefore cannot stand out. If that is true, that is the most horrible thing that I have ever heard. I hope that it is not true. We must not underestimate the muscle of these workers, because it is indeed powerful. Now that they are acting together, we must conciliate, arbitrate and reach a settlement satisfactory to them.

8.49 p.m.

Mr. Reginald Eyre (Birmingham, Hall Green)

Today is a day of massive confrontation between the trade unions and a Labour Government. I believe that in this chaotic situation one must emphasise that the most devastating effects of the strikes and confrontations are felt in the large towns and cities, although I have a lot of sympathy with the points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Howden (Sir B. Bryan) about agricultural difficulties.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) developed a devastating criticism of the results of his own Government's incomes policy over the last three years. It is true that lower-paid workers in Britain are badly paid relative to those doing similar jobs in other European countries and we have a low pay structure in Britain. However, the hon. Member for Perry Barr ought to have gone on to the other part of the equation, which deals with productivity and the creation of wealth, because in the industrial towns and cities it is important that we move on to more successful productivity and are therefore able to create the wealth that we need, not only to give our people better pay but to deal with the remaining social problems, such as outdated hospitals and things of that sort, which we all want to get rid of.

Mr. Tom Litterick (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way on that matter?

Mr. Eyre

No, because Mr. Speaker has asked us to be brief.

I emphasise that all this concentrated trade union activity in confrontation with the Government strikes with particular severity at the daily lives of people living in our large towns and cities. You have asked us, Mr. Speaker, to speak with brevity. I should like to mention very quickly a number of matters affecting the situation in Birmingham and in other industrial centres arising out of the present disputes.

The growing chaos arising from the lorry drivers' strike continues to damage industry, with increasing effect. Secondary picketing and intimidation, despite the code, continue to contribute to what is really a spreading paralysis. Export goods are trapped at the ports. Materials essential to production are not reaching manufacturers. Components forming vital parts of production are blocked and blockaded.

So far, industrialists have achieved near miracles in keeping going as much production as possible and in limiting the number of lay-offs. Nevertheless, more than 25,000 people have been laid off in the West Midlands alone, and proportionate numbers of people have been laid off in other regions. Clearly, this situation will worsen from day to day if the strike continues.

A typical example of this process is that of British Steel, which is having to lay off 25,000 people this weekend and is forecasting further lay-offs if the strike goes on into the rest of this week and beyond. One of the great difficulties of Birmingham manufacturers relates to the supply of steel, which is simply not getting through. Therefore, British Steel and smaller manufacturers are making for stock, and this cannot continue for long.

The full one-day strike of the public services today is to be followed by overtime bans and lightning strikes on future days, and they will all add very seriously to the present difficulties, as do the continuing railway strikes.

Birmingham and Manchester airports are closed today, so air freight cannot be got away.

The closures of schools in the Birmingham area mean that working mothers will stay at home to look after children rather than go to work. The deplorable withdrawal of the ambulance emergency services in Birmingham and Coventry, which indicates a new heartlessness in disputes of this kind, could cause enormous harm to individuals in the case of industrial accidents.

The police and volunteer services will do their best to lessen the harm and to look after the sick, the elderly and those endangered by fires in their homes, heart attacks and matters of that kind. But the withdrawal of road-gritting services in the West Midlands and elsewhere is bound to make worse the accident situation with which those volunteers have to cope. If the police and volunteer services cannot deal with crises of that kind, what reserve of Army ambulances have the Government available to deal with any special situation which may develop in the West Midlands?

I want to return to the significance of getting exports out of this country. Some of the worst damage, both present and future, is being done to West Midlands industry by the blockading of exports which have reached the ports. Great quantities of finished goods for export which have reached the ports are piling up and not reaching the ships. In fact, many cargo ships have stopped calling at United Kingdom ports while the emergency continues. This delay will severely harm our exporting record and reputation. Customers abroad will not tolerate further unreliability on our part and will seek other suppliers.

On Friday, a Midlands manufacturer told me of a new order worth more than £2 million in exports to China. He spoke of his anxiety that it should be carried out with perfect timing so that further orders may follow but said that his company was now bound to fail in that endeavour.

It must be emphasised that future job problems in our large towns and cities—goodness knows, they have already reached a dangerous level—will be made even more grim by this crisis and the export situation which I have described. The weak state of some companies' finances will be made more precarious as letters of credit expire.

The Prime Minister must wish, every hour, that his Government had been strong enough to declare a state of emergency last week so as to lessen the loss that we are suffering due to the situation in the ports.

The basic organisation of a civilised community has been broken by industrial and social disruption on a scale not witnessed before in this country. The great majority of citizens in the industrial areas are apprehensive about the crisis and realise that it poses a threat to our whole way of life. Therefore, there is an urgent need for every possible consideration to be given in this House at this time to a whole range of measures which are necessary, with particular emphasis on the required success of productivity and exports which are vital to the wealth creation process. We need to spend our time earnestly considering how to improve that performance and create extra wealth. The whole system—secret ballots, secondary picketing and the range of difficulties which we are now seeing in such dramatic form in our towns and cities—must be examined. We must endeavour to produce a much better situation so that the present dreadful problems cannot be repeated.

8.58 p.m.

Mr. Max Madden (Sowerby)

With the honourable exception of the speeches made by my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) and Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), there have been more contributions concerned with the consequences of the industrial crisis facing the country than with the core of that crisis. I think that people who have observed the situation objectively and honestly will agree with those of us who argue that the core of the crisis is low pay.

I was astonished at the audacity of the hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan), who seems to be on the point of leaving the Chamber, in attacking the National Health Service without recognising that the last Conservative Administration, through the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph), reorganised the NHS in such a way as to create more chiefs than Indians.

Mr. Brittan

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Madden

No. We have been asked to be brief.

I was also surprised that the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright), who also seems to have left the Chamber, saw fit to attack the increases in salary paid to BBC staff, neatly overlooking the fact that those increases came about because of much greater increases which had been paid to commercial radio and television staff, presumably in excess of incomes guidance which had been issued previously.

Mr. Brittan rose

Mr. Madden

I have said that this debate is about low pay. I regret very much indeed that more Conservative Members did not see fit to attend meetings with low-paid workers which have been taking place in this building today. If they had, they would have met nurses, porters, ambulance men, school caretakers, canteen staff and numerous other workers from local government who showed us pay slips indicating take-home pay of £35, £40 and £45 a week.

The House, the Government and the public must recognise that there is growing dissatisfaction and anger among many of these public sector workers at the wages that they have received over the years. They have been patient under phases 1, 2 and 3 of incomes policy. But the cork is now coming out of the bottle They are fed up with the arduous, unpleasant, inconvenient work they do for the money which we see fit to give them. It is no longer reasonable for these people to accept increases of 5 per cent. It is incumbent upon the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw)—because we are concerned about the core of this crisis, which is about low pay—to spell out unequivocally exactly what "responsible and realistic bargaining" means in Tory terms.

The hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby also hinted that all the problems were due to the incomes policy pursued by this Government. He said nothing about what the approach of a Conservative Government would be to incomes policy. I hope that the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border will seek to cast some light on that tonight.

We are facing thousands upon thousands of angry men and women in our public services who want more money. There is no dilemma in front of the Government. All they have to do is to recognise that anger, recognise the justice of their demand and pay them. There is no dilemma whatever in that situation. These people are not fools.

My hon. Friend the Member for Walton talked about the extremely well paid in senior, interesting positions in our society who have talked constantly about all these people accepting something much lower than they have accepted "in the national interest". A lot of these low-paid workers are now saying "It is in the national interest to pay us a reasonable wage if we are to sustain these important community services and stop people turning their backs on the public services in order to go into more lucrative callings in the private sector."

By the way, it is the private sector which has now turned the perks industry into the most booming industry in the country. We have heard about middle managers and executives getting free pensions, free holidays and free education. It has reached such sophisticated proportions that many are now negotiating to lease their shirts, which after a year they buy at very low prices. That is the extent of the perks industry.

Canteen staff, ambulance men and school caretakers watch television and see these things reported. They look in the newspapers and see company board room after company board room awarding itself thousands upon thousands of pounds increases in salaries—20 per cent. 30 per cent., 40 per cent. or 50 per cent. Is that in the national interest? I suggest that it is not. We must look at the national interest at the bottom. I believe that the claims of the low paid should be met, because they are reasonable, justified and long overdue.

I also ask the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border if he will make clear exactly where the Conservative Party stands on some of the infamous proposals made by the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition in the interesting television programme "Weekend World" 10 days ago. We all recall that in that programme she made a point of arguing that the Conservative Party was in favour of removing the right of wives and children of strikers to social security. Yet, very interestingly, on Tuesday there was not a single word mentioned of that proposal by the right hon. Lady in her opening speech on the debate about the industrial crisis.

In that television programme, the right hon. Lady also made much of the fact that a Conservative Government would tax unemployment and sickness benefit. However, in her speech on Tuesday there was not a word of that. Could it be that that strange body, the Conservative trade unionists, had got to work? They were arguing not so long ago that it was imperative to maintain the right of wives and children to social security benefit. Could it be that that body had persuaded the right hon. Lady of the foolhardiness of her proposals? Not a word was mentioned by her.

I believe that it is important tonight for the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border to make these matters crystal clear so that everybody, inside and outside the House, knows exactly where the Conservative Party stands.

Earlier in the current industrial difficulties we had speeches from Tory after Tory urging us to declare a state of emergency immediately. I have taken careful note and I believe that in this debate not one hon. Member has referred to the need for a state of emergency. Hon. Members acknowledge that the position has improved, and also recognise that the declaration of a state of emergency would inflame passions and heighten the difficulties. It is interesting to note that not one Conservative Member has urged the declaration of a state of emergency.

That was not the line taken early in the dispute by Sir Hector Laing, chaircan of British United Biscuits. Sir Hector has popped up in this scenario with unerring frequency, in different guises every time. He has been presented as a spokesman for industry, as independent, impartial and objective, giving the people the facts, via the BBC and commercial radio and television. I do not question his right to do so, but those who selected and presented Sir Hector as an independent, impartial and objective spokesman of British industry should have done more to present him clearly and honestly.

We heard nothing of the fact that Sir Hector is, I believe, industrial adviser to the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition. We heard even less of the fact that the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) is on the board of British United Biscuits, and still less about the fact that the board of British United Biscuits contributed £20,000, not to the Conservative Party but to British United Industrialists, which is widely accepted as a Tory fund-raising organization. A professional presentation of Sir Hector as a spokesman for British industry should have given some attention to those facts.

The matter must be set in context because there have been quite a few spokesmen for the food industry making all sorts of comments, most of which had the effect of increasing panic buying and causing dismay and worry for pensioners, the disabled, the sick and many others. We did not hear much about the fact that about 20 major food firms make substantial contributions to the Tory Party, British United Industrialists, the Economic League, Aims of Industry and other such organizations. A conservative estimate of the amount that these firms contribute to the Tory Party or its front, fund-raising organisations is £200,000 a year—about 20 per cent. of the total money raised.

Mr. William Clark (Croydon, South)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Madden

No. I intend to conclude in accordance with Mr. Speaker's request that hon. Members should be as brief as possible.

I hope that, if nothing else, the debate will have revealed to the public that much of the approach of the Conservative Party to the crisis about which we are all concerned and its consequences about which we are also concerned has been motivated for highly political purposes.

The Government and certainly the Transport and General Workers' Union, of which I have the honour to be vice-chairman of its parliamentary group, have done a great deal to try to confine the dispute, which concerns low-paid lorry drivers earning between £49 and £53 a week, who are on their first strike in 46 years, to those who are immediately concerned in the hire and reward sections. They have done a great deal to try to mitigate the hardest circumstances of the dispute.

I urge the Government to give every possible support to the negotiations that are going on. I am glad that ACAS took an initiative over the weekend because, as has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Walton and others, the dispute will have to be negotiated and a settlement will have to be found. All disputes are resolved by talking and not by legislation, big sticks or, above all, the sort of hysterical attacks that have been made by Conservative Members so often in the past few days.

9.13 p.m.

Mr. Anthony Steen (Liverpool, Wavertree)

On Thursday, I asked leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 to discuss the ruination of the port of Liverpool by unlawful picketing and its disastrous effects on the future economy of the region.

I sought again today to move the Adjournment of the House in order to discuss the catastrophic effect of the continued unlawful picketing of the port of Liverpool which has resulted in the progressive collapse of industrial activity, in turn making Merseyside a disaster area. Massive industrial disruption has continued and created a state of anarchy. With the Government's policy for rejuvenating the inner city in ruins, Liverpool has become a total disaster area.

I explained on Thursday how entrances to the port had been blocked and how the lightning spread of a new disease was invading the freedom and rights of the individual, eating away at his liberty and restricting his choice. I was referring, of course, to the evil effect of secondary picketing and the related infection of the so-called flying pickets.

I explained how this, in turn, was affecting the many thousands of companies in the massive hinterland behind the port of Liverpool. No goods can get in or out of the port. That means that thousands of companies are having to stockpile products, lay off workers, or a combination of both.

British companies are unable to fulfil their contractual dates for delivery, and companies overseas are picking up new business at our expense. This must have a serious effect on our balance of payments. Ships bound for Liverpool are being diverted to continental ports, and business will be permanently lost from Merseyside in both the short term and the long term as suppliers lose confidence that it can reliably handle their cargoes. Already, 1,900 dockers have been laid off, as well as many support staff. This means that the dock and harbour company is having to pay out £60 a week in fall-back pay to each docker without work, and the company will soon find itself unable to continue making payments.

The tragedy is that the port of Liverpool has made great strides forward in business revival over the last few years with the full co-operation of the dockers, who are now deeply outraged and concerned as they helplessly watch their livelihood slip away. But this is just the final twist of the knife, for Liverpool has been bleeding to death for some time. British Leyland, Bird's Eye, Hunter, Plessey, Lucas and many other firms are laying off thousands of workers as they reduce their labour forces. Last Friday, the announcement by Dunlop that it was to shut its tyre factory with the loss of 2,500 jobs was just another savage blow.

Merseyside is suffering from a canker which is progressively eating away the city and the region and having catastrophic effects for our balance of payments. Some foreigners say that we are undisciplined, greedy and selfish, and cannot understand how men within the same union are starting to fight one another.

A few days ago, at Shotton steel works in Cheshire, a lorry loaded with steel bound for overseas and cleared by the Shotton pickets was halted and turned away by pickets from the same union when trying to enter the port. When lorries try to enter the dock to top up a ship's hold already partly loaded, they are turned away, and as a result millions of pounds worth of goods are wasting away as half-empty holds are being lost. Some companies are now facing court action for failure to deliver. GEC, for example, has a ship with a hold half full of generators bound for Mexico, and the Mexican company wants to go elsewhere for these goods.

The behaviour of pickets is now totally irrational and quite unpredictable, seemingly based on the maxim that the means justify the ends, because with that aim the pickets are trying to make life unbearable for the poor, the underprivileged and the deprived. That a small number of disruptive people can bring the country to its knees clearly indicates that the Government have lost their authority and abdicated their responsibility, for they have failed to protect the individual against the aggression of those determined to disrupt our way of life until they get their own way.

Pickets have set themselves up as puppet dictators, running tribunals aptly compared to the Star Chamber but without the rules that even that place abided by. An example of this is a lorry driver who tried to get animal feedingstuffs out of a warehouse on the Liverpool dock and was told to appear before a three-person tribunal to explain and justify his actions. When he presented his union card, he was flatly refused permission and told that as he was a member of the NFU his lorry would not be allowed to leave the docks.

The people in Liverpool are living in a siege situation, and the battle is not confined to one union. Different groups seize power and are then toppled by another group. Only this weekend one docker had to remonstrate with pickets for some two hours to persuade them to release a cargo of fresh fruit, realising that the good name of the port was in jeopardy. I believe that the situation on Merseyside is quite desperate. The matter is urgent. Time is pressing. Unless the Government declare Liverpool an economic disaster area, the area is destined for a long and depressing future.

9.20 p.m.

Mr. Raphael Tuck (Watford)

I have been impelled to rise by the sentiment expressed by the Opposition that the Prime Minister should bring in legislation restricting picketing or prohibiting secondary picketing, and, in their words, act under it; or, in the words of the right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart), that the Prime Minister should pass the necessary legislation and make it stick. May I remind the Opposition that the effective validity of any law depends upon the power to enforce that law. In other words, it is a function of the consent of those who receive that law. I might remind the Opposition that in America Congress passed an amendment to the Constitution prohibiting drink, and the whole country knows how successful that was.

May I therefore ask the Opposition not to make capital out of the fact that the Prime Minister does not seem to be legislating because if a law does not receive the consent of the people and is incapable of enforcement, the Prime Minister can pass laws till he is blue in the face but they will be of no effect whatsoever.

9.22 p.m.

Mr. Churchill (Stretford)

The nation is faced with industrial anarchy. Four hospitals in the Trafford area of Manchester closed down today. Schools are closed, as is the airport, and buses are not running. One million people have been affected—and they will be so affected until tomorrow when it is hoped there will be a return to work—by having unfiltered water supplies. Sewerage workers have not been working normally in parts of the North-West; and now we are faced with the ambulance strike.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food this afternoon made a statement in which he said that there was plenty of food at the docks. That is quite true; but what is he doing to get that food from the docks? It is no use his smirking in his usual amiable way. What we require is action, because nothing has moved in or out of either Manchester or Salford docks in the last 14 days.

Mr. Raphael Tuck

What kind of action?

Mr. Churchill

There is a duty on the Government to ensure that essential services are maintained and that essential supplies are carried to the public, and that is not happening. In consequence of the closure of Manchester and Salford docks and the closure of most of Liverpool docks, the two main food factories in Trafford Park, Manchester—Kellogg and Hamko, formerly Kraft Foods—have had to cease production as they have run out of raw materials.

Greater Manchester is in the iron grip of a militant and unofficial strike committee established in a shack on Salford docks. It is intolerable that the only way to get essential supplies to the public is to apply for a dispensation to this unofficial strike committee. It is even more intolerable that these dispensations are not forthcoming.

While I was at Salford docks on Friday night a deputation of trade unionists came from Kellogg to press their case with the strike committee. After 25 minutes of discussion they were sent away with a negative reply and were informed that there would be no loosening of the grip on these essential food supplies.

Therefore, I make the following plea to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who not only wears the hat of a Minister of the Crown but is the representative in the Cabinet of the Transport and General Workers' Union, which is behind the strike. I invite him to come tomorrow to Manchester docks to meet that strike committee and, on behalf of the Government and of the union's general secretary, to ask it to start abiding by Mr. Moss Evan's instructions, which were sent to it a week ago and which it continues to refuse to observe.

Secondary picketing in my constituency is blatant and widespread. One of the pickets said "We want to close down the maximum number of firms in the minimum time", which rather reflects the attitude of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). It is essential that the food supplies be got through to the factories so that the processed food industry can get back to work once again. The Government have a duty to achieve that.

No violence has been reported on the picket line in the Manchester area. There has been no massive picketing on the lines of Grunwick, but that is no longer necessary. As one of the pickets told me "We merely invite the drivers"—own-account drivers, not Road Haulage Association drivers— "who wish to cross our picket line to examine their consciences." Indeed, a man does need to examine his conscience when faced with the clear and intended threat that if he crosses the picket line he will never again work in that industry.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Howden (Sir P. Bryan) put it, the strike is based on a conspiracy to blackmail and intimidate countless hundreds of thousands of trade unionists and other workers who wish to go about their job, who wish to get the supplies to the public, who wish to provide the ambulance service and carry on with the school and hospital services.

It is as a direct consequence of this Government's legislation, the legislation of the closed shop and of secondary picketing, that the present situation has come about and has become so far out of control. The present veil of terror is now a fact of industrial life in many areas. That is the only explanation for the behaviour of the ambulance men, who week in and week out tend the sick, the injured and the dying and yet who, in spite of their dedication, are now refusing even emergency cover.

Parliament must legislate to lift the veil of terror which is setting worker against worker. We must change the law on the closed shop and on picketing. We must introduce secret ballots so that it is a basic and inalienable right of every trade unionist to have a secret ballot for the election of union officials.

We face industrial anarchy, and the nation looks to the Government for leadership. Regrettably, it has so far looked in vain. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made a most generous offer last week that the Opposition would give full backing to any reasonable measures taken in the national interest to resolve the dispute and, above all, to change the law in regard to secondary picketing and the industrial situation. Predictably, there has been no response from the Prime Minister. It is not surprising, because not only did he seek to sabotage the efforts of the Conservative Government in 1974 but he succeeded in sabotaging his own leader's efforts in 1969 at the time of the "In Place of Strife" legislation.

The time has come for the Government to take positive action to get the people's food from the people's docks into the people's supermarkets, not to sit back and take the complacent attitude that Mr. Moss Evans will fix it. Mr. Moss Evans's writ does not run in Manchester. It is important that the Government re-establish parliamentary control of the situation.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. William Whitelaw (Penrith and The Border)

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Shelton) on his persistence in seeking a debate on this subject under Standing Order No. 9, in obtaining it from you, Mr. Speaker, and in making a most valuable speech.

The background to the present situation is clear and, I believe, would be admitted by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues. The Government were caught napping by the severity and speed of the crisis which has hit them. But nobody appeared to have told the Prime Minister what was happening. He was quite properly attending a conference at Guadeloupe, but his colleagues did not tell him how serious was the crisis.

When the Prime Minister was out of the country a remarkable thing happened. There was an unnatural silence from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House. We heard not a word from him when he, presumably, was in charge of the Government at that time.

We then came to last Monday, when the Home Secretary told the House that we were not near a crisis. Nobody in the Government makes that claim today. That is certainly not said by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) or by other Labour Members.

This debate has enabled many hon. Members to raise matters which worry their constituents relating to the maintenance of the essential supplies that affect the life of our nation. That is a vitally important matter. I told the Home Secretary last week that it was the Government's duty to maintain essential supplies for the life of the nation. I told him that in that task he would have the full support of the Opposition. He will still have that support, but I repeat that the Government have a duty to maintain essential supplies.

Let me deal first with the lorry drivers' strike. Last week the Prime Minister made it clear that the serious effects of that strike on essential supplies would be removed by the code of practice that was to be applied by the TGWU. Many of my hon. Friends in this debate have said that the code has not been observed and that essential supplies are not getting through.

My hon. Friend the Member for Howden (Sir P. Bryan) said that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food came to the House this afternoon in a somewhat complacent mood. Personally, I would not accuse the right hon. Gentleman of complacency. I respect calm. I think that calm is very important for everybody engaged in this type of activity. Indeed, that is an aim which I pursue most of the time, if not all the time. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture was certainly calm this afternoon, but perhaps he carried that calmness too far.

I wish to give the facts as I have been given them by the National Ports Council—and the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary can refute them if he so wishes. Since this information somewhat contradicts the Government's view, I think that it is right to give it to the House.

Let me put the report to the House. I am told that in Scotland there is little movement of goods and that picketing is strong. Pickets are allowing owner-drivers access to the docks, and movement of grain is satisfactory. On Teesside and Tyneside there is no movement of shipping and heavy picketing, totally ignoring the TGWU code. At Hull the situation is very bad. Picketing is extensive, with practically no movement of goods. At Liverpool there is very heavy picketing. The movement of cargo is at a standstill. Shipping is at a standstill, cancelled, postponed or turned away. There is little movement of food. Some owner-drivers have been allowed access, the container park is filling up and is 65 per cent. full.

At Felixstowe there is very heavy picketing, with continental vehicles moving with police attendance. At Dover roll-on roll-off vehicles are still moving, with picketing of other vehicles. At Sheerness there is very little picketing, with movement of cargo near normal. At Southampton the situation is very bad, with ports and docks at a virtual standstill, and with heavy picketing. At Bristol I am told that there is a slight improvement, with some foodstuffs being moved.

The general appraisal is that there has been very little improvement since the end of last week and that the picketing situation is, if anything, deteriorating. The general impression is that the pickets are ignoring the TGWU code. The overall picture in the North is said to be very difficult, with the situation in the South slightly better. If that is the position, the right hon. Gentleman was too calm.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. John Silkin)

I shall go easy on the right hon. Gentleman. He is always fair, but usually somewhat inaccurate. He has not listened carefully to what I said. If he had, he would have found that some of the information that he is giving the House is exactly what I said. As for the rest of it, I said that I would try to find out more as I do not have complete information. The position changes from moment to moment.

Mr. Whitelaw

I listened to the right hon. Gentleman and fully heard what he said. I stated the position given to me, and I maintain that it is reasonable to regard the right hon. Gentleman as being too calm in a difficult situation.

Apart from food, it is important, as my hon. Friends the Members for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Steen) and Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre) said, to recognise the serious situation of exports being held up at the ports. As time goes on, this will cause increasing numbers of lay-offs. Many of the orders lost may never be gained again.

I warn the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary on the lorry strike and secondary picketing that if the code of practice does not work and the supplies do not get through, it is the Government's duty to ensure that they do get through. Those in the Cabinet who wanted a state of emergency last week will then have been proved right. That should be widely recognised.

We have heard little today about a one-day rail strike tomorrow and the likelihood of another on Thursday, resulting from a serious inter-union dispute. I do not minimise the dangers and difficulties of such disputes. I knew of them when I was Secretary of State for Employment five years ago. It is regrettable that they still exist. It is serious not only for commuters but for many other people in this country. I am sure that the Government fully recognise that.

I turn now to the National Union of Public Employees' strike that we have had today. Right hon. and hon. Members on all sides of the House, and my hon. Friend the Member for the City of London and Westminster, South (Mr. Brooke) in particular, have mentioned that emergency calls are not being taken by the ambulance workers. I fully appreciate and accept the views of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) that the vast majority of the trade union movement in this country has a right to strike and, indeed, a right to work. This is widely respected. But I join with the Prime Minister in saying that some of the actions being taken, both on secondary picketing and in cases such as the ambulance workers, do no credit to the trade union movement. What is more, they are deeply resented by the vast majority of trade union members.

I turn now to the strikes that have closed schools in many parts of the country. My hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Forman) raised this matter. I hope that the Secretary of State for Education and Science, who I am delighted to see in her place, will have taken some action. If this were to continue, it would be a serious matter for schoolchildren.

There are threats of further problems ahead. There is no need to exaggerate the situation. As the Ministers know, and as the whole House must recognise, it is a serious threat to the authority of Parliament.

The Opposition will take no criticisms about lack of responsibility from the Prime Minister or the Labour Party in view of what they did to us in 1974. I do not want to listen to that. If anyone wants to know who is undermining the Government at the moment, he should listen to the speeches of the Labour Back Benchers—the hon. Members for Nottingham, West (Mr. English), Walton, Perry Barr, and Sowerby (Mr. Madden). Each of those hon. Members made it clear in his own way that he wished to see the Government give way to the pressures of the NUPE strike.

Mr. English rose

Mr. Whitelaw

No, I will not give way. I promised the Home Secretary that I would be brief. If the Government want to know who is undermining their policy, they should look at the Benches below the Gangway.

The hon. Member for Dearne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) and my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill) called for leadership from the Government. From the moment this crisis hit them and the Prime Minister returned from Guadeloupe, the Government have been lacking in leadership. The Government's responsibility is to maintain the life of this country. I trust that my right hon. and hon. Friends, and all other hon. Members who wish to see real leadership in this country, will vote against the Government in the Division Lobby tonight.

9.42 p.m.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Merlyn Rees)

As the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Shelton) said, he applied for this emergency debate to enable hon. Members from all parts of the country to raise constituency matters. He felt that they were entitled to do so and many have done so. I shall deal with some of their points in a moment.

A number of hon. Members raised the issue underlying the industrial unrest—the incomes policy. I have never noticed, during the past 100 years, that free collective bargaining gives a just reward to many workers. Nor is it true that it rewards low-paid workers. The subject of an incomes policy will not disappear because of our current difficulties. Despite our present problems, a sensible incomes policy is necessary and the Government still regard it as of overriding importance for the country's long term well-being. If we pay ourselves more than we earn, we shall be in the same inflationary position as we were between 1970 and 1974.

This Government inherited an inflationary position from the previous Government. If one looks back over the last two or three years one sees the advantages of a sensible incomes policy. That is particularly so of the past year. It has brought inestimable benefit to people. The alternative is a party that believes in free collective bargaining, and in such circumstances the lower-paid workers will suffer.

Several of my hon. Friends raised the question of lower-paid workers, but if special provision were made for them and everybody else received that increase as well it would not be long before the lower paid were low paid once again. Therefore, it is important that an incomes policy should not be ignored in our discussions.

It is important that in the negotiations nothing that we say tonight complicates the situation. It has been said that many hon. Members do not understand wage negotiations. The negotiations must be concluded. It has been said that the price control order will be ineffective since it will apply to only 10 per cent. of the industry. It has been said that it will be ineffective because the safeguard provisions will protect the existing situation. Undoubtedly that has an effect, but the situation has been explained this afternoon.

Hon. Members have asked about the situation throughout the country. I have just returned from a meeting of members of the emergency committees. I asked them about the situation. I did not ask the newspapers or the media. They tell me that we are not in a crisis situation at the moment—[HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] They tell me that the picketing situation has improved, but that we shall have to see what happens tomorrow.

Many hon. Members have only just arrived in the Chamber. Those who were interested were here earlier. Several hon. Members have mentioned the port of Hull. There was a meeting this morning at which it was agreed to allow in lorries in the following categories—[HON. MEMBERS: "Allow in?") If hon. Members believe in collective bargaining, they must believe in strikes, because the two go together. I am saying that company-owned vehicles, owner-drivers and road haulage members who have settled are being allowed in. There has been an improvement at Hull today. It is a difficult area.

Mr. Brittan

Will the Home Secretary give way?

Mr. Rees

I shall not give way now. I shall give way when I have given the information about Hull and the North-West. The hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill) asked about the North-West. The North-West—Manchester and Liverpool—and Southampton are experiencing the most difficult situation. With the union, steps are to be taken to deal with the situation because that is where the difficult problem lies.

Mr. Brittan

Does the Home Secretary agree that it is inappropriate for him to report, with apparent pleasure, that the union is allowing this, that or the other to go through? Would it not be better for the Home Secretary to make it clear that the union does not have the right to "allow" this, that or the other to go through but that anybody who wishes to go through has that right and deserves the protection of the Government when exercising that right?

Mr. Rees

The hon. and learned Member is right. Under any circumstnces, there is the right of peaceful picketing in the furtherance of a dispute. Anyone who wants to go through has the right to do so. The union has recognised that in its code. There is no doubt about that.

On food supplies, we have had a report this evening about the salt situation. The position is reassuring. Part of the difficulty has arisen because two unions, the TGWU and the URTU, have been involved. But supplies are now being moved out of both the main suppliers at Runcorn and Middlewich. The priority categories appear to have been accepted fully and deliveries of salt in tankers and in bays are on the way back to normal.

Sugar supplies should improve quite quickly as a result of the resumption of work at Tate & Lyle at London and Greenock. [HON. MEMBERS: "Liverpool?"] No, not Liverpool. The British Sugar Corporation also reports that it is sending out more sugar.

The right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) raised a number of points about Scotland. On the question of foundries, there are troubles, but most are continuing normally. It is a worry. but at the moment there is no problem If it went on, however, in that way, there would be a problem. With regard to the suggestion that the elderly and infirm should be given special treatment, the Secretary of State for Scotland has spoken to the Scottish Grocers Federation, which has indicated its willingness to co-operate. Social workers are looking at the problem.

Glasgow airport has sufficient immediate supplies of de-icing fluid to meet any problem of deterioration in the weather. The same applies in Edinburgh, which looks after the air ambulance service. The problem of Scottish schools has been the same as that south of the border—not due to the lorry drivers' dispute but because of the strike about which we all know.

Mr. Peter Rost (Derbyshire, South-East)

The Home Secretary has referred to the problems of schools. What possible justification exists for our schoolchildren's education being interrupted today when this dispute has nothing to do with the teachers? What possible reason can there be for the Secretary of State for Education and Science not having condemned this dispute?

Mr. Rees

May I relate the hon. Gentleman's remarks to some press reports? There was a report in the Daily Mail last Friday which directly attributed to Mr. Dix, assistant general secretary of NUPE, words to the effect that NUPE members would stop children crossing picket lines. On the same day, The Sun reported that NUPE had told pickets physically to stop children crossing picket lines. It made out that it was a direct quotation. On Saturday, the Daily Mail pointed out that the statement attributed to Mr. Dix was not made by him. The Sun has not retracted its report, despite several requests.

NUPE has today confirmed that its official policy is that children will not be prevented, physically or in any other way, from crossing picket lines. The National Union of Teachers has agreed that its members can cross picket lines provided that they do not do a job done normally by anyone who is on strike.

Mr. Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)

Is it not a fact that about 50 per cent. or more of our schools have been closed today as a result of the threats by NUPE to picket at the schools? Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is a statutory responsibility on the local education authorities to provide for schooling and a statutory responsibility upon parents to send their children to school? What are the Government doing to ensure that those responsibilities are carried out?

Mr. Rees

The situation would not have been what it was today if the press had not peddled lies.

Mr. Carlisle

If, as the right hon. Gentleman is now suggesting, the fault is all that of the press, why did his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science rightly feel it necessary last night to issue a statement deploring the views expressed by NUPE and certain other unions on preventing children from getting to school?

Mr. Rees

I have given the views of NUPE and the NUT. What this all shows is that last weekend some of the media, whether on food or schools, had only one motive—to make the situation worse.

I turn to the question of a state of emergency. I have here a list of the states of emergency under the previous Conservative Administration. What they always did was declare a state of emergency and do nothing. There was no need for a state of emergency over the firemen's strike last year. The right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw) referred to oil. When the Prime Minister returned from Guadeloupe he was absolutely right in what he said about oil. That was what was being talked about. When there is ever a problem, Conservative Members want a state of emergency.

This matter has to be sorted out. Discussions are taking place and will have to continue. There are problems. If they get worse, a state of emergency may be necessary.

Mr. Whitelaw

There is a state of crisis.

Mr. Rees

The right hon. Gentleman says that there is a state of crisis. If there were, there would be a need for a state of emergency, but there is not. On a day-to-day basis, we shall look at this situation—

Mr. Churchill


Mr. Rees

The hon. Gentleman cheers. He treats every industrial dispute as if it was the battle of Omdurman, instead of something which has to be sorted out.

On the matter of picketing, I have spoken to all the police authorities today and have discussed this point raised by the right hon. Gentleman—that a man who wants to go through a picket line has every right to do so. The police report to me that picketing in the country as a whole is peaceful. What we want to see is the operation of the code of practice which has been worked out: that is the way through this situation. A frontal attack on this difficult situation would not solve the matter.

We are aware of our responsibilities. But whether it is food about which the Tory Party is inflamed or something else, we know that the time has not yet come. We shall look at the matter tomorrow and the day after.

The problem arises from free collective bargaining, which the Tory Party wants. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the right hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends?"] I speak for myself. Free collective bargaining means strikes. The moment there are strikes, the Tory Party cries "Foul". We have a serious problem in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] The difference is that we know how to deal with it.

Question put, That this House do now adjourn:—

The House divided: Ayes 281, Noes 305.

Division No. 45] AYES [9.59 p.m.
Adley, Robert Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Aitken, Jonathan Fox, Marcus Lloyd, Ian
Alison, Michael Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St) Loveridge, John
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Freud, Clement Luce, Richard
Arnold, Tom Fry, Peter McAdden, Sir Stephen
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Galbraith, Hon T.G.D. McCrindle, Robert
Atkinson, David (B'mouth, East) Gardiner, George (Reigate) Macfarlane, Neil
Awdry, Daniel Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) MacGregor, John
Banker, Kenneth Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian (Chesham) MacKay, Andrew (Stechford)
Banks, Robert Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)
Beith, A.J. Glyn, Dr Alan McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Bell, Ronald Godber, Rt Hon Joseph McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Bendall, Vivian Goodhart, Philip Madel, David
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Goodhew, Victor Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Goodlad, Alastair Marten, Neil
Benyon, W. Gorst, John Mates, Michael
Berry, Hon Anthony Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) Mather, Carol
Biffen, John Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Maude, Angus
Biggs-Davison, John Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Mawby, Ray
Blaker, Peter Gray, Hamish Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Body, Richard Grieve, Percy Mayhew, Patrick
Boscawen, Hon Robert Griffiths, Eldon Meyer, Sir Anthony
Bottomley, Peter Grimond, Rt Hon J. Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove)
Bowden A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Grist, Ian Mills, Peter
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Grylls, Michael Miscampbell, Norman
Braine Sir Bernard Hall-Davis, A.G.F. Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Brittan, Leon Hamilton, Archibald (Epsom & Ewell) Moate, Roger
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Monro, Hector
Brooke, Hon Peter Hampson, Dr Keith Montgomery, Fergus
Brotherton, Michael Hannam, John Moore, John (Croydon C)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) More, Jasper (Ludlow)
Bryan, Sir Paul Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Morgan, Geraint
Buchanan-Smith, Alick Haselhurst, Alan Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral
Buck, Antony Hastings, Stephen Morris, Michael (Northampton S)
Budgen, Nick Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes)
Bulmer, Esmond Hawkins, Paul Morrison, Peter (Chester)
Burden, F.A Hayhoe, Barney Mudd, David
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Heath, Rt Hon Edward Neave, Airey
Carlisle, Mark Heseltine, Michael Nelson, Anthony
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Hicks, Robert Neubert, Michael
Channon, Paul Higgins, Terence L. Newton, Tony
Churchill, W.S. Hodgson, Robin Normanton, Tom
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Holland, Philip Nott, John
Clark, William (Croydon S) Hordern, Peter Onslow, Cranley
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Oppenheim, Mrs Sally
Clegg, Walter Howell, David (Guildford) Osborn, John
Cockcroft, John Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Page, John (Harrow West)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Howells, Geraint (Cardigan) Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)
Cope, John Hunt, David (Wirral) Page, Richard (Workington)
Cormack, Patrick Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Pardoe, John
Corrie, John Hurd, Douglas Parkinson, Cecil
Costain, A.P. Hutchison, Michael Clark Pattie, Geoffrey
Critchley, Julian Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Penhaligon, David
Crouch, David James, David Percival, Ian
Crowder, F.P. Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'd) Peyton, Rt Hon John
Dean, Paul (N Somerset) Jessel, Toby Pink, R. Bonner
Dodsworth, Geoffrey Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Drayson, Burnaby Jopling, Michael Prior, Rt Hon James
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Durant, Tony Kaberry, Sir Donald Raison, Timothy
Dykes, Hugh Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Rathbone, Tim
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Kershaw, Anthony Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Elliott, Sir William Kimball, Marcus Rees-Davies, W.R.
Emery, Peter King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)
Eyre, Reginald King, Tom (Bridgwater) Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Kitson, Sir Timothy Rhodes James, R.
Fairgrieve, Russell Knight, Mrs Jill Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Farr, John Knox, David Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Fell, Anthony Lamont, Norman Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Finsberg, Geoffrey Langford-Holt, Sir John Rifkind, Malcolm
Fisher, Sir Nigel Latham, Michael (Melton) Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Fletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N) Lawrence, Ivan Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Fookes, Miss Janet Lawson, Nigel Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Forman, Nigal Lester, Jim (Beeston) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire) Stanbrook, Ivor Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Royle, Sir Anthony Stanley, John Wakeham, John
Sainsbury, Tim Steel, Rt Hon David Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
St. John-Stevas, Norman Steen, Anthony (Wavertree) Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek
Scott, Nicholas Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Wall, Patrick
Scott-Hopkins, James Stokes, John Walters, Dennis
Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Stradling Thomas, J. Warren, Kenneth
Shelton, William (Streatham) Tapsell, Peter Weatherill, Bernard
Shepherd, Colin Taylor, R. (Croydon NW) Wells, John
Shersby, Michael Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart) Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Silvester, Fred Tebbit, Norman Whitney, Raymond
Sims, Roger Temple-Morris, Peter Wiggin, Jerry
Skeet, T. H. H. Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret Winterton, Nicholas
Smith, Dudley (Warwick) Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S) Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Smith, Timothy John (Ashfield) Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon) Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Speed, Keith Townsend, Cyril D. Younger, Hon George
Spence, John Trotter, Neville
Spicer, Michael (S Worcester) Van Straubenzee, W.R. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Sproat, Iain Vaughan, Dr Gerald Mr. Spencer le Marchant and
Stainton, Keith Viggers, Peter Mr. Michael Roberts.
Abse, Leo Davies, Rt Hon Denzil Hooley, Frank
Allaun, Frank Davies, Ifor (Gower) Horam, John
Anderson, Donald Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Deakins, Eric Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)
Armstrong, Ernest de Freitas, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Huckfield, Les
Ashley, Jack Dell, Rt Hon Edmund Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)
Ashton, Joe Dempsey, James Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Dewar, Donald Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham) Doig, Peter Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Dormand, J.D. Hunter, Adam
Bain, Mrs Margaret Douglas-Mann, Bruce Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Duffy, A. E. P. Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Dunn, James A. Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)
Bates, Alf Dunnett, Jack Janner, Greville
Bean, R. E. Eadie, Alex Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Edge, Geoff Jeger, Mrs Lena
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Bidwell, Sidney Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) John, Brynmor
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Johnson, James (Hull West)
Blenkinsop, Arthur English, Michael Johnson, Walter (Derby S)
Boardman, H. Ennals, Rt Hon David Jones, Alec (Rhondda)
Boardman, H. Ennals, Rt Hon David Jones, Alec (Rhondda)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Judd, Frank
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Evans, John (Newton) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Bradley, Tom Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Kerr, Russell
Bray, Dr Jeremy Faulds, Andrew Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. Kinnock, Neil
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Lambie, David
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Flannery, Martin Lamborn, Harry
Buchan, Norman Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston) Lamond, James
Buchanan, Richard Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Latham, Arthur (Paddington)
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Foot Rt Hon Michael Leadbitter, Ted
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Ford, Ben Lee, John
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Forrester, John Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)
Campbell, Ian Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Lever, Rt Hon Harold
Canavan, Dennis Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Lewis, Arthur (Newsham N)
Cant, R. B. Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Carmichael, Neil Garrett, John (Norwich S) Litterick, Tom
Carter, Ray Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Carter-Jones, Lewis George, Bruce Lomas, Kenneth
Cartwright, John Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Loyden, Eddie
Clemitson, Ivor Ginsburg, David Luard, Evan
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Golding, John Lyon, Alexander (York)
Cohen, Stanley Gould, Bryan Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)
Coleman, Donald Gourlay, Harry Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Colquhoun, Ms Maureen Graham, Ted McCartney, Hugh
Concannon, Rt Hon John Grant, George (Morpeth) MacCormick, Iain
Conlan, Bernard Grant, John (Islington C) McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Grocott, Bruce McElhone, Frank
Corbett, Robin Hamilton, James (Bothwell) MacFarquhar, Roderick
Cowans, Harry Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Hardy, Peter McKay, Alan (Penistone)
Craigen, Jim (Maryhill) Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Crawshaw, Richard Hart, Rt Hon Judith Maclennan, Robert
Cronin, John Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy McMillan, Tom (Glasgow c)
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Hayman, Mrs Helene McNamara, Kevin
Cryer, Bob Healey, Rt Hon Denis Madden, Max
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Heffer, Eric S. Magee, Bryan
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Henderson, Douglas Mahon, Simon
Davidson, Arthur Home Robertson, John Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Marks, Kenneth Richardson, Miss Jo Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Tierney, Sydney
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Tilley, John
Maynard, Miss Joan Robertson, George (Hamilton) Tinn, James
Meacher, Michael Robinson, Geoffrey Tomlinson, John
Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Roderick, Caerwyn Tomney, Frank
Mikardo, Ian Rodgers, George (Chorley) Torney, Tom
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton) Tuck, Raphael
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Rooker, J.W. Urwin, T. W.
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Roper, John Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Molloy, William Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Moonman, Eric Rowlands, Ted Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Ryman, John Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Morris, Rt Hon Charles R. Sedgemore, Brian Ward, Michael
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Selby, Harry Watkins, David
Morton, George Sever, John Watkinson, John
Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South) Watt, Hamish
Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Weetch, Ken
Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Shore, Rt Hon Peter Weitzman, David
Newens, Stanley Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE) Wellbeloved, James
Noble, Mike Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) Welsh, Andrew
Oakes, Gordon Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) White, Frank R. (Bury)
Ogden, Eric Silverman, Julius White, James (Pollok)
O'Halloran, Michael Skinner, Dennis Whitehead, Philip
Orbach, Maurice Smith, Rt Hon John (N Lanarkshire) Whitlock, William
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Snape, Peter Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Ovenden, John Spearing, Nigel Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Spriggs, Leslie Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Pedley, Walter Stallard, A. W. Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Palmer, Arthur Stewart, R Hon Donald Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Park, George Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham) Wilson, Gordon (Dundee E)
Parker, John Stoddart, David Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Parry, Robert Stott, Roger Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Pavitt, Laurie Strang, Gavin Wise, Mrs Audrey
Pendry, Tom Strauss, Rt Hon G. R. Woodall, Alec
Perry, Ernest Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley Woof, Robert
Phipps, Dr Colin Swain, Thomas Wrigglesworth, Ian
Price, C. (Lewisham W) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Young, David (Bolton E)
Price, William (Rugby) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Radice, Giles Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW) Mr. Joseph Dean and
Reid, George Thompson, George Mr. Bryan Davies.

Question accordingly negatived.