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Employee Participation

Volume 938: debated on Monday 7 November 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade what consultations he has had with interested parties regarding legislation on employee participation in industry.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, despite the clear impossibility of basing any legislation on the Bullock Report, it is as urgent as ever to find ways—I emphasise the plural—of enabling employees at all levels within an enterprise to be more closely associated with the running of the enterprise?

I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is necessary to find such ways. We are now, in the light of the composite motion passed at the TUC, having further discussions on whether such ways can be found that would command the type of consensus in industry that we have been looking for throughout this investigation.

I accept that there is need for the widest possible agreement, and that there are certain difficulties about legislation, but would it not be a good thing if the Government published their own views as soon as possible?

We shall bear in mind what my hon. Friend suggests. It may be that we shall think it right to publish a White Paper at some stage during this Session so that there may be further consultation on employee participation.

What regard does the right hon. Gentlemen's timetable have to the timetable of the passage of the Fifth Directive on Company Law in the European Economic Community?

I do not know whether the right hon. and learned Gentlemen thinks that the Fifth Directive is making very much progress at the moment. Obviously, if it did we should have to take account of it. While bearing in mind the European Green Paper, we are progressing on our own lines in so far as we can find any agreement in this country on the ways in which we should progress.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is quite wrong to think that British Industry is simply waiting for legislation before it introduces or finds ways of involving its employees in decisions? Is it not true that in thousands of companies all over the land, and without legislation, steps are being taken to consult employees and to bring them into decision-making?

Fortunately, the hon. Gentleman is right. Nevertheless the CBI, evidently hissatisfied with the progress that is being made without legislation, has proposed that there should be legislation.