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Productivity Agreements

Volume 774: debated on Monday 25 November 1968

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14.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity how many of the productivity agreements which formed part of an increased pay agreement in the last 12 months have failed to come up to the agreed level of productivity.

Information is not available in the form requested. It is the practice of my Department to make inquiries to see how experience corresponds with forecasts but productivity improvements often represent only a part of the benefits flowing from a comprehensive agreement embodying other desirable features.

I thank the Minister for that long piece of gobbledegook. May we not have details, as I requested, of how many of these productivity agreements are being kept? Surely that is the essence of the incomes policy. Cannot the Ministry wake up and do something about this and tell the House about it?

The Ministry are anything but asleep on this matter, contrary to the implication in the hon. Member's question. The Ministry's procedures ensure that the agreements are kept. It is not always appropriate or necessary to do the follow-up for which the hon. Member asks, but we follow up where necessary.

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity how many productivity agreements have been notified to her Department since its creation; how many have been verified, modified, and rejected, respectively; and how many civil servants have been employed in such work.

A total of 988 productivity cases have been dealt with by the Department since it was formed in April this year. In 964 cases the proposals were approved, often after modification in consultation with officials of the Department; in 24 they were rejected. Twenty-three headquarters' officers are engaged entirely on the examination of pay claims and settlements. A number of other headquarters' officers and about 60 staff in the regions may spend varying proportions of their time on such work.

When one compares the figures of those employed on this task and the number of agreements examined, is it not clear that all the solemn Ministerial talk about productivity agreements has been so much of a gigantic hoax? Is that observation not borne out by the fact that the right hon. Lady the Minister informed me a few days ago that not one additional officer would be employed to look after the productivity agreements negotiated under the engineering settlement a settlement which this afternoon the right hon. Lady said has involved some very tough productivity agreements?

I can only tell the hon. Gentleman that. whether or not the productivity policy has been effective, between 1st October, 1967, and 1st October, 1968. productivity went up by 7 per cent.

Would my hon. Friend agree that in industry today over an increasingly wide front people are realising that, if wages are to increase, productivity must also increase? Has not one of the latest examples of this been achieved among shipbuilders on Clydeside?

There is, without question, a growing awareness of the need for productivity as a justification for wage increases. If the policy has achieved nothing other than to establish the atmosphere of this awareness, it has achieved a considerable amount. I suggest that it has achieved that and very much more besides.