HC Deb 19 July 1983 vol 46 cc166-8
9. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he next intends to meet the Trades Union Congress; and what matters he proposes to raise in his discussions with it.

10. Mr. Andrew MacKay

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he next expects to meet the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress to discuss industrial relations.

Mr. Tebbit

I have written to the TUC inviting it to discuss the steps which the trade unions might take to ensure that their members are fully aware of their statutory rights regarding the political levy and able to exercise them freely. I have also told the TUC that I would welcome its comments on the proposals for legislation on trade union democracy which I announced to the House last Tuesday.

Mr. Adley

I recognise the propaganda value to the Conservative party of Mr. Arthur Scargill and his friends on the lunatic Left, but will my right hon. Friend nevertheless undertake not to encourage them? Will he instead do what from his answer he appears to be doing, and concentrate on generating genuine contacts and dialogues between the Government and organised labour, as represented by the TUC? Does my right hon. Friend agree that that must be of long-term benefit to the nation?

Mr. Tebbit

My hon. Friend is right to say that it would benefit the country as a whole if TUC members came back into the scene and desisted from merely sulking in their tents, pretending that the election results have not happened.

Mr. MacKay

When my right hon. Friend meets Mr. Len Murray, will he explain to him that the majority of this democratically elected Parliament, the majority of electors and the majority of trade union members believe that it is in the best interests of good industrial relations that there should be compulsory secret ballots before strikes are called? Will my right hon. Friend reflect on the fact that on this, as on many other issues, the TUC is totally out of touch with its ordinary rank and file members?

Mr. Tebbit

I suspect that Mr. Murray and most of his colleagues believe that it is right to hold ballots before strikes are held. I take the view that it would not be possible to legislate to insist that that was done in every case, but I am sure that the measures I propose will give strong encouragement to trade unions to conduct such ballots.

Mr. Norman Atkinson

Does the,Secretary of State recollect that before the election he declared that the Government would introduce statutory strike ballots? Is it not true that the expert advice available to him before the election was exactly the same as it is now? In that case, how does he justify changing his mind, CT at least accusing TUC members of sulking in their tents?

Mr. Tebbit

I do not have to justify a change of mind, because I have not had one. If the hon. Gentleman had listened to what I said, or had read the manifesto, he would know that.

Sir Anthony Grant

Will my right hon. Friend discuss with the TUC the blocking by fanatics belonging to the National Union of Public Employees of a hospital charity concert to help those in pain, merely on the ground that Mr. Jimmy Tarbuck would contribute and that he had supported the Prime Minister at the election? Will my right hon. Friend ask the TUC what it is doing to protect charities from such fanaticism?

Mr. Tebbit

I understand how strongly my hon. Friend feels, but I do not think that that is one of the matters on which I should wish to consult the TUC. However, I am sure that all those who are aware of NUPE's action will regard it as disgraceful to use the misfortunes of others in that way and to use disabled or sick people as a political football.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Will the right hon. Gentleman raise with the TUC the subject of the Government's intentions next year towards 17-year olds who have completed the youth training scheme and who cannot join the community enterprise programme because they are too young? I should point out that 18 is the threshold for the CEP. What does the Secretary of State intend to do for those 17-year olds in the intervening year?

Mr. Tebbit

The objective of the youth training scheme is that is should act as a bridge between school and work. The hon. Gentleman knows full well that, given the very encouraging signs of an upturn in the economy, the prospects of those youngsters who come off the YTS in 12 months' time are much better than those that have faced school leavers for some time.

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