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Tanker "Globtik Venus"

Volume 928: debated on Monday 21 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade what investigations he has made into recent events concerning the tanker "Globtik Venus"; and if he will make a statement.

On 3rd March the Attorney-General was asked to consider whether any criminal offence had been committed in connection with this incident, and inquiries are being urgently pursued. The industrial dispute involving the original crew has been resolved and the vessel is expected to sail from Le Havre at the end of this week.

In view of today's reports about another planned raid similar to the "Globtik Venus' incident, will the Government take immediate and firm action against those responsible for setting such a dangerous precedent? Is it not sheer cant and hypocrisy for the Tories to make polite gestures towards the trade union movement when two members of their Shadow Cabinet are connected with Globtik Tankers Limited, which hired the gang of thugs to try to beat the trade union movement into submission?

I have no evidence to confirm what was said in the report in the Daily Mail this morning. As I have indicated, we are considering very carefully the action which should be taken in the circumstances arising out of the "Globtik Venus" matter.

What is far more important than the activities of the two hon. Gentlemen to whom my hon. Friend has referred is the reaction of the Opposition and the weasel words of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South (Mr. Parkinson). He said that he could not see any reason, nor did the Opposition, to hold a strong view about the recruitment of mercenaries to undertake this outrageous action. The House and country will now know where the Opposition really stand on matters affecting industrial disputes.

What I in fact said in the course of my remarks was that unreasonable actions often produced unreasonable reactions. In no way did I condone the action of Mr. Tikkoo, but I said that in the circumstances he had been provoked. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he is repeating or setting for himself the low standard which he demonstrated in replying to the debate?

Lectures about low standards ill become the hon. Gentleman. What he said was:

"This was not the way in which I would reclaim a ship of mine, but I do not own any ships. I do not see any reason"—[Official Report, 7th March 1977; Vol. 927, c. 1120.1

Order. It is very unfair to others who have later Questions on the Order Paper to go over a debate which has already been held.

Is my hon. Friend aware that the leader of the gang of armed mercenaries recruited on Humberside, a Mr. Miller, has criminal convictions for rape, buggery, larceny and possession of firearms? He is not a defender or upholder of the law. It is extremely noticeable that the unions have praised the Minister's action in dealing with this matter but have noticed with astonishment that there has been little noise from the Opposition, who had a lot to say about the Shrewsbury Two and the Clay Cross rebels.

Not only the trade unions but the General Council of British Shipping and the employers condemned the action. The only people out of step were the Opposition.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, with the single exception of the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Kerr), although there is great gloom on his side of the House today, he will have to think of an issue other than the "Globtik Venus" on which to fight the election? His answer was very unsatisfactory indeed.

The relevance of the "Globtik Venus" issue is that it depicts in all its nakedness the real way in which the Conservative Party looks at trade unions. We are not gloomy; but I think that the Opposition should not be quite so self-satisfied. They resemble turkeys lust before Christmas.