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National Enterprise Board

Volume 975: debated on Monday 10 December 1979

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4.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement regarding progress in filling the remaining places on the National Enterprise Board.

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he has yet appointed any trade union members to the National Enterprise Board.

Since his statement on 21 November, my right hon. Friend has appointed Mr. J. F. G. Emms of the Commercial Union Assurance Co. Ltd. to the board.

I regret that the TUC has felt unable to accept my right hon. Friend's invitation to suggest the names of senior trade unionists for consideration for appointment to the board; but the offer remains open and, I hope, will be taken up.

Will the Minister concede that his right hon. Friend's actions have contributed severely to disharmony in industrial relations throughout the country and that he ought to abolish his doctrinaire approach to this board?

There is no question of a doctrinaire approach to this board. We have regretted the resignation of the previous board on masse, and the House has debated it. We hope that the trade union movement will now see fit to put forward names so that the unions can take part in harmonious co-operation of the kind to which the hon. Gentleman refers.

Will the Minister consider appointing a member of the Irish Development Authority to the National Enterprise Board, since the former body is a thousand times more successful in attracting mobile manufacturing industry? On that score, will the hon. Gentleman also look at the incentives which are available from the Irish Government for the attraction of industry, with a view to upgrading the incentives which are currently proving a failure here in the United Kingdom?

I was not aware that the hon. Gentleman represented Irish interests. Obviously if there are lessons to be learnt, I hope that they will be drawn.

Does not the hon. Gentleman now regret his right hon. Friend's cavalier attitude to TUC nominees on the National Enterprise Board, and will it not be seen to be a grave error, when, in the future, this Government need the support of TUC members, and it is not likely to be forthcoming?

I do not think that there was any cavalier attitude in this. I know that the TUC feels that it has been treated shabbily. That is a matter for the opinion of its members. All that my right hon. Friend has done—and I have repeated it today—is say that the places on the board are open and that we hope very much that the TUC will take advantage of them shortly.