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Provincial Journalists(Pay Dispute)

Volume 959: debated on Monday 4 December 1978

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I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

" the strike involving provincial journalists over a wage dispute with their employers."
I understand that the journalists have been on strike from 12 noon today, and are seeking a minimum wage of £80 a week, and that the employers, represented by the Newspaper Society have offered 8·7 per cent., which is well below the £20 per week increase being asked for by the journalists.

The father of the chapel of the newspaper produced in my constituency wrote to me on 1st December pointing out that his members found it odd that the House of Commons should hold an emergency debate on the fate of one newspaper, The Times, when the whole provincial press is, as he put it, in turmoil. As a long-standing reader of The Times, I regret its closure, but it must be accepted that it caters for only about 1 per cent. of the total population—indeed, that figure is probably an exaggeration.

The provincial press, on the other hand, caters for many millions of readers. It is a vital section of the press. Indeed, some households only take a provincial newspaper, whether it be the Liverpool Daily Post, the Leicester Mercury or the South Wales Argus, among others. We live in the age of full adult sufferage, and therefore the reading material of the vast bulk of our population must be given urgent attention when a stoppage of this kind occurs.

I therefore ask you, Mr. Speaker, to consider my application for an emergency debate so that the whole issue can be spotlighted with a view to bringing about an early settlement to this dispute.

The hon. Gentleman gave me notice before 12 noon that he would ask leave, under Standing Order No. 9, to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely.

" the strike involving provincial journalists over a wage dispute with their employers."
I listened carefully to the arguments advanced by the hon. Gentleman and gave careful consideration to what he said, but I have to rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order, and therefore I cannot submit his application to the House.