HC Deb 15 June 1995 vol 261 cc877-8
4. Mr. MacShane

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what meetings he has had in 1995 with the Trades Union Congress to discuss fiscal policy. [27035]

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir George Young)

My right hon. and learned Friend has had no meetings so far this year with the TUC to discuss fiscal policy, but does expect to meet representatives of the TUC in the autumn before the Budget.

Mr. MacShane

May I put it to the Minister that, if this country is to make any serious progress on its economic policy, discussion with the body that represents 7 million people in industry on a regular, not corporate, basis is necessary and would be useful and that, until there is a renewal of dialogue across the industrial divide, Britain cannot expect fully to prosper?

Sir George Young

As I said, my right hon. and learned Friend looks forward to meeting the TUC against a background of the discussions leading up to his Budget. He had two meetings with the TUC last year, at the first of which there was very constructive dialogue about what the Government were doing on training, which received wide support from the TUC, and also what we were doing on the industrial finance initiative. When the TUC comes to discuss fiscal policy with my right hon. and learned Friend, at least there is a policy to discuss.

Mr. Butterfill

When my right hon. and learned Friend meets the TUC in the autumn, will he take that opportunity to explain to it the extraordinary damage that would be done to our economy were we to adopt a national minimum wage? It would create massive unemployment, particularly in the holiday industry, which is so important to my constituency.

Sir George Young

I am sure that my right hon. and learned Friend would wish to make that point in a courteous but firm way. I was interested to see, in The Guardian on Monday, that the general secretary of Unison conceded that, were we to move towards a minimum wage, at the level at which he preferred, there would be job losses. There have been some estimates that there could be up to 800,000 job losses. My right hon. and learned Friend, who minds about unemployment, will indeed make that point to the TUC.

Mr. William Ross

Will the Minister give me an assurance that the fiscal policy that he is going to follow is a United Kingdom fiscal policy and that the blandishments from Dublin to the effect that there should be 25 per cent. value added tax and 10 per cent. corporation tax in Northern Ireland will be resisted?

Sir George Young

Yes, what my right hon. and learned Friend said at the Mansion house, the economic policy that he puts forward, is an economic policy for the United Kingdom.

Forward to