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Industrial Organisation (Tripartite Working Parties)

Volume 414: debated on Monday 15 October 1945

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The following Question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. Gaitskell:


the President of the Board of Trade what progress has been made in his discussions with industries in establishing working parties to inquire into questions of industrial efficiency.

As Question 143 raises a matter of importance, I would like, with the permission of the House, to give an explanation of the Government's policy of inquiring into the efficiency of our industries by the method of tripartite working parties, and some account of the progress that has been made with the cotton, pottery, hosiery, furniture and boot and shoe industries. I have explained to these industries that, while for a year or two they and other British industries will have no difficulty in selling abroad all they can produce, the special advantage of a seller's market in a period of world shortage will end and a time will come when it will be difficult to find and keep all the markets that we need. We cannot wait until these difficulties are upon us; we must forestall them if we are to be able to cope with them when they arrive. We cannot, therefore, neglect any steps which, on the one hand, will make our industries more competitive in the markets of the world, and, on the other, will provide us at home with the best goods at the cheapest price consistent with good conditions for those in the industry.

The Government must in one way or another get the best advice it can on what these steps should be. Three conditions are essential: firstly, advice must come from industry itself because that is where all the past experience resides; secondly, employers and workers should be equally represented because both sides not only have a contribution to make but also will have to carry out any plans that may be decided upon; and thirdly, the public and Parliament must be satisfied—whatever the recommendations may be—that they are truly in the national interest and that the two sides of industry have not "ganged up" against the consumer for their own advantage. The Government have decided that these three conditions can best be fulfilled by establishing tripartite working parties composed in equal thirds of representatives of employers and workers and of independent members, and consisting of persons who will be accepted nationally as an authoritative body.

I am happy to inform the House that I have received the most cordial co-operation from both sides of industry and that the task of setting up working parties for the five industries I have mentioned is now practically completed. I will not go into detail on the composition of these working parties which will be found in the statement that is being circulated in the Official Report, but two points I would like to mention. The first is that we have been fortunate in securing as Chairmen of the working parties, Sir George Schuster, Sir Archibald Forbes, Miss Caroline Haslett, Mr. T. P. Bennett and Mr. Andrew Dalgleish. Secondly, there has been a remarkable response from the score or so of engineers, scientists, economists and other persons of standing, who, like the chairmen, have without hesitation agreed to help, as independent members, with all the consequent disturbance of their busy lives.

The terms of reference of all these working parties are in common form as follows:
To examine and inquire into the various schemes and suggestions put forward for improvements of organisation, production and distribution methods and processes in the industry, and to report as to the steps which should be taken in the national interest to strengthen the industry and render it more stable and more capable of meeting competition in the home and foreign markets.
These terms of reference are wide enough to cover any question of industrial efficiency, but I have made it clear to the chairmen that matters concerning the relations between employers and employees, which are dealt with by employers' federations and trade unions, should be considered outside the scope of their inquiries. The point is not mentioned in the terms of reference, but I have told each chairman that he, himself, and the independent members should have particular regard to the broad national interest involved and to the interest of the consumers. The chairman, with the consent of his working party, will be at liberty to set up any subgroups that he considers necessary for examining particular aspects of the problem and to co-opt on to them any persons he considers advisable. I have also said that interim reports should be made upon matters of special urgency and, while undue hurry must not be allowed to spoil the value of the reports, they should be presented as soon as possible. I would nope to get the final reports early in the New Year. These will be published. The House will appreciate that this is only a beginning and that there will be more of such inquiries.

I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the statement he has just made is of far-reaching importance. As I understand it, there are other documents which will be available to us in the Official Report to-morrow, and in those circumstances I would not wish to ask any supplementary questions on the subject now. I think the Leader of the House will agree that when we have had chance to study these documents, we may ask for an early opportunity of further discussion.

This can be considered through the usual channels. The right hon. Gentleman will not expect me to give any undertaking at this stage.

May I ask the Leader of the House whether these arrangements "through the usual channels" will still be confined to the "Big Three" or whether the smaller nations will get consideration?

Following is the statement:


Representatives of:

Industry.Chairmen and Secretaries.Employers.Trade Unions.Independent Members.
CottonSir George Schuster, K.C.S.I., K.C.M.G., C.B.E., M.C.(Secretary: Mr. G. J. MacMahon Asst. Secretary: Mr. S. Wilks, c/o Cotton Board, Midland Bank Buildings, Manchester).Mr. C. B. Clegg (Weaving).Mr. T. Griffen (Finishing).Sir Roy Dobson, C.B.E., F.R.Ae.S., (Engineer).
Mr. R. C. Reynolds, O.B.E. (Finishing).Mr. A. Knowles, J.P. (Spinning).Professor E. L. Hirst, M.A., Ph.D., D.Sc., F.R.I.C, F.R.S. (Scientist)
Mr. A. V. Symons (Merchanting).Mr. A. Naesmith, O.B.E., J.P. (Weaving).Professor J. Jewkes, C.B.E., M.Com. (Economist).
Mr. W. M. Wiggins, J.P. (Spinning).Mr. A. Roberts, J.P. (Spinning).Mss A. G. Shaw, M.A., M.I.P.E. (Factory Organisation).
PotterySir Archibald Forbes. (Secretary: Mr. A. E. Percival, Board of Trade, Neville House, Page Street,


Mr. E. H. Bailey.Mr. T. Ford.Dr. H. W. Webb, O.B.E., D.Sc., F.I.C., M.I.Chem.E. (Scientist).Vice-Chairman of Working Party.
Mr. A. E. Hewitt.Mr. H. Hewitt.
Mr. Ashley Myott.Mr. A. Hollins.Mr. H. Trethowan, N.R.D. (Design).
Mr. F. Shepard Johnson.Mr. E. Jones, J.P.Mr. C. Wansbrough, C.I.E.E. (Engineer).
Mr. F.G. Yorath, L.R.IB.A., F.V.I(Industrial Architect)
FurnitureMr. A. Dalgleish. (Secretary: Miss M. E. Strudwick, Board of Trade, Neville House, Page Street, S.W.I).Mr. MacA. Bexon.Mr. J. R. Shanley.Dr. F. Y. Henderson, D.Sc. (Scientist).
Mr. Herman Lebus, C.B.E., J.P.Mr. R. S. Shube.Mr. H. Tout, M.A. (Economist).
Mr. W. Welsford.Mr. A. G. Tomkins.Mr. J. C. Pritchard (Design and Research).
HosieryMiss Caroline Haslett, C.B.E., C.I.E.E., M.R.I. (Secretary: Mr. J. Wright, Board of Trade, Millbank, S.W.I.*)Mr. P. Bussens.Members to be appointed.Mr. R. E. Yeabsley, C.B.E., F.C.A. (Accountant).
Mr. T. W. KemptonMr. L. Foyster (Distribution).
Mr. S. F. Peshall, M.C, M.A.Professor A. Radford, B.Sc. (Econ.) (Economist).
Further member to be appointedMr. W. C. Puckey, F.I.I.A., M.I.P.E. (Engineer).
Boots and ShoesMr. T. P. Bennett, C.B.E., F.R.I.B.A. (Secretary: Mr. F. I. Lamb, Board of Trade, Horseferry House, S.W.I.*)Mr. J. H. Bott.Members to be appointed.Mrs. J. Robinson, M.A. (Economist).
Mr. Bancroft Clark.Dr. H. L. Guy, C.B.E.,, M.I.Mech.E., M.I.C.E., F.Am. S.M., F.R.S. (Scientist).
Mr. G. R. Colvin, M.B.E.Mr. K. Holmes, A.R.C.A. (Design).
Mr. G. H. Denton.Major F. J. Stratton (B/Trade Controller of Footwear).
Further member to be appointed.Mr. J. J. Gracie, F.I.I.A., M.I.I.E.E.(Engineer)

* Temporary address; Offices, to be set up in the provinces, will be announced later.