HC Deb 07 July 1992 vol 211 c164
1. Mr. Day

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what measures the Government are considering to enable action to be taken against unlawful industrial action.

The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. Michael Forsyth)

We intend to give people who are denied goods or services because of unlawful industrial action a new right to go to court to have it stopped.

Mr. Day

Does my hon. Friend agree that the measure to which he referred will greatly improve industrial relations in this country? Does he also agree that it will help us to attract even more inward investment into this country?

Mr. Forsyth

I agree with my hon. Friend. The effect of our step-by-step approach to the reform of industrial relations has seen this year the lowest number of days lost through strike action ever recorded. My hon. Friend is right to highlight the importance of that in respect of inward investment. We in this country enjoy 62 per cent. of United States investment into the European Community and more than 40 per cent. of Japanese investment. That is a testimony to the success of the Government's policies in that area.

Mr. Ashton

Is the Minister aware that if the French Government had taken the lorry drivers to court, they would be out on strike for another week? Is he aware that unofficial action is best settled by negotiations and not by the kind of violence that we saw during the miners' strike, the poll tax riots in Trafalgar square and the incidents that we saw at Wapping? Negotiation is the best way to settle any industrial dispute.

Mr. Forsyth

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the law in France is, in many respects, far tougher than the law in this country. He must not tempt me down that path. I agree with him that negotiation is always the best way to resolve disputes. They should not result in industrial action. The success of the Government's policy has been to avoid industrial action by creating a climate in which the unions have been given back to their members and are no longer subject to the whims of the trade union barons from whom the Labour party seems keen to distance itself.