§ 17. Mr. Jessel
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many stoppages occurred in the 12 months to December 1990; how many in the previous 12 months; what was the annual average in the 10-year period ending December 1989; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Forth
There were 630 stoppages in the 12 months to December 1990, 701 in the previous 12 months and an annual average in the 1980s of 1,129. Provisional figures for the year to August 1991 show there have been 420 stoppages, the lowest number of any 12-month period since the year to April 1934.
§ Mr. Jessel
Is not it a tremendous benefit to the country that, as a result of action taken by the Conservative Government, strikes are practically a thing of the past? Does my hon. Friend remember the last year of the Labour Government—the winter of discontent—when strikers in the national health service stopped sick people getting into hospital, dead bodies went unburied and verminous refuse was left in the streets?
§ Mr. Forth
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for reminding the House of those factors. The 1.9 million working days lost in 1990 were a quarter of the average for the 1980s and one seventh of the average for the 1970s. That must be not only a tribute to the legislative programme pursued by the Government through the 1980s, hut, I suspect, one of the main reasons for the enormous inflow of investment and jobs which expressed the confidence of people abroad, even if we do not have it from the Opposition.