HL Deb 25 April 1972 vol 330 cc295-7

3.45 p.m.


My Lords, with permission, I wish to repeat a Statement on the rail dispute that has been made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Employment. The Statement is as follows:

"I can confirm to the House that so far to-day there has been a virtual resumption of normal rail services. If, as I hope, this situation continues during the evening rush hour, I expect so to certify to the Industrial Court later to-day.

"Immediately thereafter I shall be in touch with the parties to urge them to reopen their discussions as quickly as possible.

"I am sure the whole House will hope that now industrial action has been discontinued a settlement will be reached."

My Lords, that is the end of the Statement.


My Lords, I am sure that it would be your Lordships' wish that I should thank the Minister for repeating that Statement. May I add immediately that, so far as those on this side of the House are concerned, we share his hope that a settlement will be reached. May I take it, as he has not mentioned this in his Statement, that the facilities and the expertise of the Department of Employment will be made available to assist in the settlement? Moreover, may I ask the Minister whether he is aware that my own view on this matter at the present stage is that the less that is said the better? I wonder whether he would sympathise with that point of view. In particular, I would ask him whether he will be kind enough to ascertain which Minister of the Crown is about to make a speech at the Conservative Central Office, and will he please ask him not to?


My Lords, I am sure we are all greatly relieved to hear that normal rail services have now virtually been resumed, and I take it that that means that the famous "cooling-off" period will now shortly start. May I also say, however, that I hope that during this period nobody will jump in with unsolicited advice to the negotiators, but will leave them to get on with the negotiation? In general, I found myself entirely in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, in saying that during this period it is important to remember that the least said by everybody, the better.


My Lords, I am most grateful to both noble Lords for the way in which they have received this Statement. I would agree right away with the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, that the less said the better at the present time. I can assure Lord Diamond that my right honourable friend is always ready to make available the facilities of the Department of Employment to assist in reaching a settlement, and I join with the noble Lord again in hoping that no provocative (if I may add a word), unsolicited advice will be offered at the present time. I am not quite certain that the last sentence of the noble Lord, Lord Diamond, did not nearly come into that category.


My Lords, may I ask a simple and harmless question? We have heard a great deal about the railway Rule Book. Is it possible for a copy of that book to be put in the Library of this House so that noble Lords may consult it from time to time?


My Lords, I will make inquiries as to whether there is a copy at the Department of Employment. But perhaps it would be better to put that question to those who are in a position to make the book available.