asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs whether he will make a further statement about the discussions which, on 10th February, he informed the honourable Member for South-West Hertfordshire that he was proposing to have with the Joint Manpower Committee of the Printing Industry.
The Joint Manpower Committee confirmed, on 25th March, that its terms of reference included the efficient use of manpower and decided that an independent chairman should be appointed. Both these points were in line with recommendations of the National Board for Prices and Incomes. Mr. Richard O'Brien has now been appointed and the first meeting under his chairmanship will be held as soon as possible.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that recently, in the Statist, the Chairman of the Newspaper Proprietors Association, Mr. Cecil King, wrote that the high labour costs in the printing industry are due to excessive overtime, over-manning and a network of restrictive practices? Nothing can justify the present rate of earnings in that industry except increased production, and no such increase is taking place. What is he doing about it?
We want good will and common sense to prevail in all these things. What we should do now is leave it to the new Joint Manpower Committee, under its Chairman, to get on with the job of solving the problems of the industry.