HC Deb 22 April 1980 vol 983 cc216-8
Q3. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

asked the Prime Minister if she is satisfied with the co-ordination betwen the Department of Employment and Social Services on the provision of benefit for strikers.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Bennett

Does the Prime Minister accept that the logic of the Government's policy in denying to strikers the right to urgent needs payments—if the house is burnt down or is flooded—and in denying to strikers' families supplementary benefit in certain circumstances, means that trade unions must attempt to increase their strike funds? If the trade unions are to increase their strike funds, surely that must be as a result of increasing union dues, which will increase pressure for higher wages. Therefore, docs the right hon. Lady agree that the logic of her policy is to push up wages?

The Prime Minister

Members of trade unions have been paying substantial trade union dues for quite a time and the income and investment of trade unions is very substantial. It seems only right and proper that, if they call out their own people on strike, the trade unions should take some responsibility for the subsistence of their members during the strike period.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that no one who takes part in the day of inaction on 14 May will receive any social security benefits? Will she further confirm that people who strike on that day will be losing pay equivalent to a full year's subscription to their union, and that those who oppose the strike on 14 May should go to work?

The Prime Minister

I hope that the vast majority will go to work on 14 May. I confirm that those who do strike will not be entitled, in any way, to social security benefits.

Mr. Allen McKay

Following the Prime Minister's answer to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, when she said that unemployment would increase in the short term, may I ask how many years constitute a "short term"? Will the right hon. Lady reconsider her statement in which she spoke of a slight reduction in the payment to unemployed persons—which will be 11.1 per cent.—while inflation is increasing at the rate of 20 per cent.? Is not 50 per cent. rather more than a slight reduction?

The Prime Minister

With regard to the increase in unemployment, the future will depend upon two things—first, the actual performance of British industry and, secondly, how much both the trade unions and employees demand in pay claims. If the employees take out too much in pay, the result will be increasing unemployment.