§ 13. Mr. Tony Lloyd
asked the Paymaster General when he next proposes to meet trades union leaders to discuss industrial relations legislation.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
I meet trade union leaders from time to time to discuss a variety of subjects. I have invited the trade unions to let me have their comments on our Green Paper "Trade Unions and their Members", but I do not yet have any specific meetings arranged on the subject.
§ Mr. Lloyd
When the Paymaster General meets the trade union leadership, will he take the time to explain to them what principle underlies the decision to make the leader of the National Union of Public Employees, for example, seek election when that same principle is clearly not being put into practice in the case of the non-elected Secretary of State for Employment?
§ Mr. Clarke
The principle that is being applied is that of democracy and accountability to the membership of the trade unions. It is probable that the present leadership of the National Union of Public Employees will be re-elected. Mr. Rodney Bickerstaffe has a reasonably safe seat. When hon. Members are returned by their constituents it is, nevertheless, the case that their relationship with them is affected by the need to get their support. The relationship of trade union leaders with their members will be improved by the need for periodic re-election.