HL Deb 10 May 1962 vol 240 cc346-7

3.35 p.m.


My Lords, if I may, I will repeat a statement which has just been made by my right honourable friend the Minister of Labour in another place, in answer to a Question about the dispute in the Dock industry. My right honourable friend said: I am sorry to say that the negotiations at the meeting of the National Joint Council for the Port Transport Industry held on Tuesday did not result in a settlement that evening of the dispute arising from the trade union side's claim for increased wages and a shorter working week. The following morning"— that is yesterday— my officers met representatives of both sides, but it was clear from their respective attitudes that there was at that stage, no prospect of reaching an agreement. I am, of course, keeping in the closest touch with the situation, and the services of my Department are available at any time to the parties. Further, I shall not hesitate to take the initiative in intervening again if I feel that such action would be helpful, and in any case I intend to have informal conversations with the leader of each side later to-day. My Lords, that is the statement.


My Lords, I am much obliged to the Leader of the House for letting us have that statement. I read into it, perhaps, a little more hope than some of the newspapers were expressing this morning—a hope that some settlement may be made. I can see the exact position, that further discussions are to take place, and all I can say is that I hope very much they will be successful.


My Lords, I agree with what has been said by the noble Viscount, but there is just one point that I should like to make. I rather regret that at the end of the statement it refers to informal conversations with the leader of each side later to-day. The word "side," I think, is unfortunate in this context. (I only mention it in passing), because, after all, the consumer himself is one of the sides, and we like to look to employer and employees not as opposed but as trying to work together.


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Viscount for what he has said. I will take note of what the noble Lord, Lord Rea, has said. I do not think I should like to comment upon it at the present time.


My Lords, might I just add that, in my associations with industry, we have never forgotten that principle?


My Lords, would the noble Viscount be able to give any hope, since the feeling in the country, concerned as it is, is more sympathetic to the question of wage rates than hours, that there may be some separation in the discussions, and that they will be concerned with wages mainly, rather than with hours?


My Lords, I do not think I ought to comment at this stage, with the parties in their present state to one another.