HC Deb 01 August 1984 vol 65 cc330-1
8. Mr. Kirkwood

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what has been the effect of the dock strike on import and export figures.

Mr. Tebbit

Transient and of no significance.

Mr. Kirkwood

May I suggest to the Secretary of State that, if he is seeking to mitigate the costs of the dock strike, he should look carefully at the compensation amounts that are still due to the merchant bankers Lazard Freres in New York for the services of Mr. Ian MacGregor? Will he confirm that upwards of £1 million is still due in compensation and that that is subject to a pending and a future performance review? Will he further confirm that he has the means available to him, when he considers the performance reviews of Mr. MacGregor, of reducing import costs in the future?

Mr. Tebbit

I do not think that has anything to do with the question.

Mr. Malone

Is my right hon. Friend aware that during the dock strike severe temporary inconvenience was caused to many companies in my constituency that serve the oil industry, and that it could have had long-term effects on inward investment? Does he agree that for self-interested people who have jobs for life to put other people's jobs at risk is nothing short of reprehensible?

Mr. Tebbit

I agree with my hon. Friend that if the strike had gone on the effects could have been damaging.

It was consideration of that that led dockers to conclude that, as there was no cause for the strike, it had best be called off.

Mr. Ewing

Will the Secretary of State explain where there are people in the docks industry who have jobs for life, as the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Malone) alleged? Does the right hon. Gentleman not understand that the reason why the dock strike was settled was that the employers—the National Dock Labour Board—gave a sensible undertaking that, they would not again break the scheme, which was the basis on which the strike was begun? The men were provoked into striking. Is the Secretary of State not aware that it is not good enough for him to defend every reprobate employer in this country?

Mr. Tebbit

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that it is not good enough for him to come and defend every single strike that has taken place under this Government—I am sorry, I do him an injustice. He did not defend the strikers at the National Union of Mineworkers headquarters when they struck against their employers. That is the sole exception. I notice that the hon. Gentleman defends the dock strike. I would not agree with his somewhat tendentious account of the matters concerned, but I have to say that a combination of the dock labour scheme and the Aldington-Jones agreement in effect guarantees jobs to dock workers for life.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I appeal for briefer questions and answers. It would be nice if we could reach Question No. 25, if possible.

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