HC Deb 22 May 1979 vol 967 cc869-71
Q3. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Prime Minister when last she met the leaders of the Trades Union Congress.

The Prime Minister

I have not yet had an opportunity to meet the TUC since taking office but consultations between my colleagues and the trade union movement are already under way.

Mr. Miller

May I first congratulate my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on her personal triumph in the recent election?

When my right hon. Friend meets the leaders of the TUC, will she make it plain that the February concordat, which was cobbled together so hastily, provided inadequate protection for the individual in respect of the closed shop and secondary picketing? Will she make plain her determination to remedy those defects?

The Prime Minister

I most certainly will. I am not known for my objectives or purposes being unclear. I believe that my policies on this are known. They are agreed with and overwhelmingly supported by the vast majority of people in this country, who believe that a law must be introduced to deal with certain aspects of the closed shop, picketing and the postal ballot.

Mr. James Hamilton

Does the Prime Minister recognise that the trade unionists among us are responsible people, and that the majority of trade unionists are responsible? Based on her own experience in government from 1970 to 1974, does she recognise that confrontation with the trade unions is a disaster for the country? If she should work herself into a situation of confrontation, what will be the Government's reaction?

The Prime Minister

I am not confronting anyone. I hope that they are not confronting me, either.

Mr. Budgen

When my right hon. Friend next meets the leaders of the TUC. will she talk to them about the rate of inflation? Will she remind them that, as the previous Government allowed the money supply in the year ending April 1978 to rise by 16¼ per cent., as measured by M3, it is now inevitable that the rate of inflation will rise to about 16 per cent. per annum?

The Prime Minister

I regret to say that the rate of inflation is rising once again. It is our intention to keep a firm grip on the monetary supply—and, in fact, to have targets six months by six months.

Mr. McElhone

When the Prime Minister meets the Scottish TUC. will she give it a guarantee that free school milk, which was restored by the Labour Government to the children of Scotland, will not be at risk under her Administration? Before she answers that question, may I warn her that St. Francis of Assissi listened carefully to new converts, especially those who might repent previous sins?

The Prime Minister

I rather thought that the school milk was restored through the good offices of the EEC—and not until those grants were available.

Mr. Tim Renton

Doubtless my right hon. Friend will have a friendly reception when she meets the TUC leaders. Will she make it plain on that occasion that much damage will be done to the reputation of the trade union movement if NUPE and COHSE are allowed to think that they have an industrial veto over the decisions of Parliament?

The Prime Minister

If anyone thinks that, he does great damage to himself, his union and the whole of parliamentary democracy. I hope that all of us will condemn anyone who thinks that.

Mr. Healey

Will the right hon. Lady confirm the figures published by the Government last week, which show that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) was talking through his hat and that the money supply, M3, rose only 10½ per cent. in the past 12 months, which was barely one-third of the amount it rose in the final 12 months of the previous Conservative Government?

The Prime Minister

A Chancellor of the Exchequer frequently takes the year-by-year sum. There are considerable variations within the yearly sum. There was a sharp rise during the past six months.

Back to