HC Deb 04 July 1994 vol 246 cc16-7
32. Mr. Riddick

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement about the eligibility of trade unions to receive a charter mark; and how many unions have received them.

Mr. David Davis

Trade unions are not eligible to apply for the charter mark. Eligibility is confined to public sector organisations and privatised utilities that provide a service to the public.

Mr. Riddick

Does my hon. Friend agree that as a result of this Government's employment legislation over the past 15 years, trade unions behave in a far less irresponsible way than they did in the dark days of the 1970s? Does he agree that if trade unions could be awarded charter marks, neither the National Union of Teachers, with its disgraceful boycott of school tests, nor the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, which is holding passengers to ransom with its wholly unreasonable demands, would stand a cat's chance in hell of being awarded a charter mark?

Mr. Davis

My hon. Friend makes his point in his own inimitable way and I do not quarrel with it. Although one hears all the time criticisms from the Opposition about shortfalls here and there, one never hears criticisms from them of the RMT, NUT or any other of their trade union sponsors that mess up the interests of the public and undermine the country's economic interests. That is the best indicator of their commitment to public reform.

Mr. Skinner

Is it nothing short of disgraceful that 250 Tory Members of Parliament criticise signalmen and others who are fighting for an average wage when many Tory Members have four, five or six jobs moonlighting? They are not satisfied with their £31,000 a year, but prop up tin-pot charter marks and pay Railtrack's boss £120,000 a year for a three-day week. That is nothing short of contemptible.

Mr. Davis

One can see the sponsorship of the National Union of Mineworkers standing there. The truth is that the RMT is behaving in an irresponsible manner and holding the public to ransom. We never hear criticism of that union—be it from the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) or the ever-absent hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair).