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Engineering Industries

Volume 656: debated on Monday 19 March 1962

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asked the Minister of Labour what action he proposes to take to deal with the worsening industrial relations in the engineering and allied industries which manufacture approximately 60 per cent. of United Kingdom exports.

In the great majority of firms in the engineering industry relations between managements and their employees are good.

Is the Minister aware that a national ballot is now being taken, following on the two days' stoppages which have already taken place? Does he agree that this industry is responsible for at least 60 per cent. of Britain's exports and that if a prolonged dispute took place it could have a very damaging effect on British economy? If he accepts these points, should he not take the initiative in order to prevent this taking place?

Of course, the hon. Gentleman is right in quite a lot of what he has said. It is true that the unions and employers are in dispute at national level about a wage claim, but as I said in my main Answer, I do not accept that relations between unions and firms in the industry are generally bad, which is the inference of the Question. I do not think that it would be useful for me to intervene in this dispute, although I am naturally watching what is happening with very great care.


asked the Minister of Labour what steps are to be taken to remedy the 50 years worsening relative position of wages of the most skilled men engaged in the engineering industry.

Wages in the engineering industry are settled by collective bargaining, as the hon. Member knows. The wages of workers in the engineering industry, like the wages of all workers, have gone up greatly during the period and I certainly do not think the relativities which were acceptable in 1910 are necessarily relevant to the 1960s.

Will the Minister convey to his officials who prepared that excellent statistical information which appeared in the OFFICIAL REPORT a few weeks ago in answer to a Question of mine my appreciation of the work that they must have put into it? Will the Minister now look at this statistical information in relation to the Question and then consider what action should be taken?

I much appreciate what the hon. Gentleman has said, which will encourage those responsible for producing all this information. Naturally, I am considering these matters, but I do not think that it would be fair if I gave the hon. Gentleman an impression which I did not feel. Things have changed and I do not think there is quite as unfair a disparity now as there was.