HC Deb 29 November 1983 vol 49 cc761-2
Q5. Dr. McDonald

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 29 November.

Mr. Biffen

I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave some moments ago.

Dr. McDonald

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that figures soon to be published by the Health and Safety Executive show a rise in factory and construction work deaths during the past two years? Despite that fact, are not the Government planning to cut the staff of the Health and Safety Executive? What will the right hon Gentleman do about that?

Mr. Biffen

I do not believe that the position is as the hon. Lady states. However, I shall refer the matter to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment. He is briefing me at my elbow, which is why I throw scepticism with some confidence.

Mr. Latham

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that industrial relations legislation is an area of the law on which the Government have overwhelming and recent electoral support?

Mr. Biffen

Absolutely. It is also an area in which the public will want to see who will stand up and say that the law shall be obeyed—whether it be the Leader of the Opposition or anyone else—and who will stay silent.

Mr. Nellist

Does the Lord Privy Seal agree that the biased nature of the courts and the Acts of Parliament that the Conservatives have introduced, when used in the printers' dispute in Warrington demonstrate that the Government's aim is to emasculate the power of trade unions to defend their members? How does he answer the charge of hypocrisy in relation to the closed shops operated by doctors, solicitors and lawyers when he deals with questions relating to printers in the NGA?

Mr. Biffen

I do not accept that the courts are partial in this area.