HC Deb 10 July 1979 vol 970 cc259-61
04. Mr. Cartwright

asked the Prime Minister when last she met the TUC.

The Prime Minister

I met the economic committee of the TUC on 25 June.

Mr. Cartwright

Since the Prime Minister apparently expects trade unions to go in for responsible pay bargaining, will she explain how, having destroyed any effective prices watchdog, she expects to persuade trade union negotiators that those who fix prices will be equally responsible?

The Prime Minister

I do not know whether one will be able to persuade them, but unless increased pay is matched by increased output the result will be either inflation or unemployment.

Mr. Lyell

When the Prime Minister next sees the TUC, will she ask that gentle body just what it is that some trade union leaders seem to fear when they require that individuals who work in firms with closed shops should not merely be deprived of their employment but should be deprived of it without unfair dismissal compensation?

The Prime Minister

I think that my hon. Friend is referring to some of the matters that are the subject of consultation with the trade unions at the moment. We believe firmly that people should not be able to be deprived of their jobs without compensation just because they refuse to belong to a trade union. We hope that that is a matter that we shall put right in legislation.

Mr. Meacher

In view of the virtual certainty of mortgage rate increases, will the right hon. Lady acknowledge to the TUC that the average worker will now make a considerable loss from the Budget, and not a net gain as she previously claimed, while she made a gain of about £43 a week? [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."] Will she explain why people on her level of salary need 40 times the extra incentive of the real wealth creators in society on the shop floor?

The Prime Minister

There were reliefs of direct tax all the way up, as the hon. Gentleman knows. If I were to take the advice that has been tendered to me from the Opposition Benches today, all those tax reliefs would be cancelled in favour of increased public expenditure.

Before making any further comment on the mortgage rates, I propose to wait and see what happens at the meeting on Friday.

Mr. Gummer

In the light of the long and proud history of the trade union movement in protecting its members against the force of the rich and over-powerful, will my right hon. Friend do her best to draw to its attention the fact that the proposals in the paper that has been produced will do much to protect individual trade unionists from the over-mighty power of many senior and powerful trade unionists?

The Prime Minister

I will, indeed, convey the message so cogently put by my hon. Friend. Those proposals will also protect anyone who wishes to go about his lawful business unhindered.

Mr. Heffer

Will the right hon. Lady accept that, despite the soft-sell of the proposals of the Government in relation to trade union reform, these proposals are an echo of the Industrial Relations Act 1971, which Labour Members and the trade union movement were quite right to fight? Is it not clear that if she persists in this type of policy she will run into a great deal of difficulty, both in this House and in the country?

The Prime Minister

I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman says about any similarity between these proposals and the major Act that was introduced in 1971. Indeed, one has only to look at that Act to see that that was a very much larger measure than anything that we are introducing now. I believe that we have an absolute mandate for these proposals. They are what the people want. The events of last winter showed that they were needed. I hope that we shall have with us everyone who believes that great powers should be matched by great responsibilities.

Dr. Mawhinney

Would my right hon. Friend care to comment on the act of Labour councils—such as the one in my constituency—which have decided to stop selling council houses to many of the tenants, many of whom are trade union members who would wish to buy them?

The Prime Minister

I can only condemn such action and hope that we shall have a Bill before the House soon that will give tenants the right to purchase council houses from the council.

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