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Industrial Disputes

Volume 480: debated on Tuesday 14 November 1950

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asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of recent and widespread industrial disputes in the nationalised industries and services, he will set up some form of inquiry to ascertain the cause or causes and suggest suitable remedies.

No, Sir. There have not been widespread disputes in the nationalised, or in the other, industries.

May I suggest an inquiry as to whether these disputes, of which there are many, are really due to Communist inspiration or whether they are just due to lack of leadership in the unions or lack of courage in the Government?

I would point out that 1950 had nearly the lowest number of strikes on record.

Would not such an inquiry show that the percentage of total time lost in the nationalised industries has actually decreased since they have been nationalised?

Is it not a fact that of the disputes which have occurred, more than two out of every, three have been in the nationalised industries, and is not that a clear indication that, far from public ownership improving the relationship between employers and employees, it has had the opposite effect?

The hon. Gentleman has made a statement as well as asked a question. He is quite wrong. The disputes in the nationalised industries are fewer now than they were before they were nationalised. Further, as the reflection is generally against the coal miners, the House may be interested to know that so far as the mines are concerned, less than one day per man per year is lost in strikes.

Is it not a fact that industrial disputes in the mining industry since nationalisation account for only 5 per cent. of the number of days lost, which is less than when the mines were under private enterprise?