HL Deb 04 August 1972 vol 334 cc621-3

11.23 a.m.


My Lords, with the permission of the House I should like to make a short Statement about Parliamentary Papers. I regret to inform your Lordships that there was further unofficial industrial action in the Parliamentary Press last night. As a result, no printing was possible. Copies of the Order Paper, with other essential working Papers, are now available, but limited quantities of Hansard will not be available until about midday. Copies will be placed in the Library. Discussions to resolve the dispute are continuing in accordance with the terms of the Stationery Office agreement with the unions, and normal work has been resumed while these continue.


My Lords, we thank the noble Earl the Leader of the House for making that Statement. Unfortunately, the unofficial action is timed to cause us the maximum difficulty, and it has added to the difficulties and pressures which we are already under as a result of the awful mess created by the Government's timetable for their legislation. We welcome the fact that normal working has been resumed, and hope that a satisfactory settlement will be arrived at and that we shall have no further difficulties.

I should like to end this short comment by saying that the House is grateful to our staff here for the attempts that they have made to supply us with the necessary Order Papers, and to help us with some copies of Hansard for last Monday, and indeed for yesterday.


My Lords, I should like to associate myself with what has just been said regarding the efforts of the staff here to get us out of this terrible mess. I hope that the dispute will soon be settled, but may I ask what the row is about? Are the printers wanting more pay than other printers or what, generally speaking, is the row about?


My Lords, I think this action is not connected with the difficulties of last week. There was a very small incident which arose around midnight concerning conditions of work; the dispute was not about pay. Since these are delicate areas, I think it would be a mistake for me to enlarge upon it.

I am grateful for the noble Lords' reception of my Statement. I fully recognise the difficulties which are caused to your Lordships. Through the usual channels we are taking action to ensure that those difficulties are minimised to the greatest possible extent. Realising that by making this Statement I was laying myself open to the delicate barbs of the noble Lord, Lord Champion, I should like to endorse what he and the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, have said about the very great debt which we owe to our staff in these and other matters.


My Lords, may I ask the Minister whether this action is official or unofficial?


My Lords, I should prefer to keep off the details of this really rather minor incident. I think I shall probably only exacerbate matters if I allow myself to be drawn on this. I hope that the noble Lord will excuse me.


My Lords, can the noble Earl say whether we are likely in due course to receive a copy of Hansard for last Monday, when we debated the Local Government Bill? This Bill is to be continued next week and there are many of us who are at a great disadvantage through not being able to read the speeches that were made on Monday last.


My Lords, I will certainly make it my job to look into that point straight away. I fully appreciate the point that the noble Lord has put.