HC Deb 19 January 1993 vol 217 cc247-8
5. Mr. Duncan

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many working days were lost to industrial action in the last 12-month period for which figures are available.

Mr. McLoughlin

There were 504,000 working days lost to strikes in the 12 months to October 1992. That is the lowest 12-month total ever recorded.

Mr. Duncan

Given that foreign-owned firms have a high regard for our industrial relations record and given that pressure on employment prospects will continue until well after the end of the recession, does my hon. Friend agree that a healthy no-strike record is of the utmost importance to attracting inward investment and is equally important to reducing unemployment in general?

Mr. McLoughlin

I entirely agree. Because of our current low strike record—which is due to the industrial relations changes introduced by the Government—the United Kingdom is now receiving more inward investment than any other European country.

Mr. Burden

Will the Minister reflect on evidence provided by the Employment Gazette, which pointed out that the number of strikes was falling across Europe, even in countries with far more extensive rights to strike than Britain? Will he also reflect on the evidence given to him by, for instance, the chambers of commerce and the Institute of Personnel Management, which have drawn attention to the foolhardiness of the Government's further trade union reforms? Does he accept that those reforms have much more to do with having another bash at the unions and appeasing the Conservative right wing than with promoting industrial relations?

Mr. McLoughlin

The one thing that Conservative Members will not take is being lectured by the Opposition about industrial relations. As I told my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Duncan), in the past 12 months 504,000 working days were lost through industrial disputes. In January 1979, when another party was in government, 3 million days were lost—3 million days in that month alone. We will take no lectures from the Labour party about how to improve industrial relations and reduce strike action.

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