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Industrial Democracy

Volume 928: debated on Monday 21 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade what consultations he has so far held on the Bullock Report; and with what results.


asked the Secretary of State for Trade what consultations he has had with the CBI or other employers' associations on the recommendations of the Bullock Committee; and if he will make a statement.

I have had discussions with the CBI and the British Institute of Management. I have also received the views of a number of other organisations. It is too soon to talk about results.

In his discussions with the CBI, did not the right hon. Gentleman realise that the CBI was implacably opposed to the majority report? If his earnest to work with the private sector means anything at all, could he not make a gesture and say that the Government have now decided to drop the whole proposal?

No, I will not make that gesture. Advances in industrial democracy will be of value to industry. I am aware that the CBI is implacably opposed to the majority report. It has made that perfectly clear. Nevertheless, very useful discussions with the CBI are currently going on, and the Government are committed to introducing legislative proposals on this subject by the summer.

Since the Government apparently have abandoned the majority proposals of Bullock, will they now put in its place the whole of the Liberal Party's policy for participation, and are we to assume that the Prime Minister will announce on Wednesday that this is the new policy of the Government?

At any rate, the hon. Gentleman concedes to the Liberal Party that it has a policy on participation. That is more than he can claim for his own party.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in no sense can there be any political democracy until there is some form of economic democracy, that at least the Bullock Report is moving in that direction, and that it should be looked upon benignly by the Government?

We are trying in this area to get a consensus about the way in which industrial democracy shall be advanced in this country. That is the process going on in Europe. We believe that this country cannot dissociate itself from that process. That is why in my discussions I am trying to seek a consensus about a basis on which to proceed.