HC Deb 21 December 1982 vol 34 cc810-1
4. Mr. Brinton

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when last he met the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress to discuss the closed shop.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Norman Tebbit)

I last discussed the closed shop with representatives of the TUC, including its general secretary, on 16 December 1981, since when I have had no further requests from the TUC for a discussion on this subject. I have recently written to the general secretary of the TUC seeking the TUC's views on the recently published revised draft of the closed shop code of practice.

Mr. Brinton

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. As the anniversary of his last talks about the closed shop with the general secretary of the TUC has passed, I hope that he will soon have further discussions, particularly in view of Mr. David Basnett's pronouncements about insurrections. In those discussions will my right hon. Friend please work towards Britain's final release from the closed shop?

Mr. Tebbit

It is no secret that the Government do not like the institution of the closed shop. We are determined to protect those who have to work in closed shops against their worst abuses and to give them an opportunity freely to ballot on whether they want those closed shops to continue. That is the right way to proceed.

Mr. Leighton

In view of the understandable reluctance of the TUC to meet so hostile a Secretary of State, will the right hon. Gentleman confirm the report in The Times last week that he is contemplating resignation in favour of a more humane and reasonable Secretary of State so that the Government can mend their fences with the TUC?

Mr. Tebbit

No, Sir. It would be impossible to find a more liberal, tolerant and humane Secretary of State.

Mrs. Faith

Is my right hon. Friend aware that Mr. Reed of Derby, who has been a member of the National Union of Railwaymen for 30 years, has been denied union benefits because he refused to strike last June? Will my right hon. Friend confirm that, although Mr. Reed has understandably left the union, his job is fully protected under the Employment Act 1982?

Mr. Tebbit

The gentleman concerned has several protections under the 1980 Act, some of which he may choose to use. However, I understand that British Rail has made it plain that it will not dismiss Mr. Reed in consequence of his leaving the union. It is probably best to leave the matter there.

Mr. Eastham

The Secretary of State is concerned about individuals in trade unions. Would it not be useful if he also allocated some time to think about those trade unionists who have been blacklisted by employers and been unable to work for years as a consequence?

Mr. Tebbit

The hon. Gentleman would no doubt be the first to congratulate the Government on the fact that the enhanced levels of compensation for unfair dismissal apply not only to those who are dismissed for not being members of trade unions, but to those who are dismissed for being members of trade unions. That shows the Government's concern for the individual, whether he be a trade unionist or not.