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Volume 979: debated on Monday 25 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry when next he expects to meet leaders of the Trades Union Congress.

At the National Economic Development Council on 5 March.

When the right hon. Gentleman does meet them, I hope that he will be able to inform them that he has seen the folly of running the industrial strategy on a basis that even his own colleagues are describing as out-of-date 0-level economics. I hope that he will be able to say to the TUC that he is now willing to approach these matters afresh and to have an industrial strategy based on co-operation and Government action rather than covert confrontation and inaction.

Order. When the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. Sheerman) said "I hope" I assumed that he was really saying "Will the Minister".

When my right hon Friend next meets the leaders of the TUC, will he point out to them the utterly lunatic and self-defeating nature of the proposed one-day general strike?

I hope that such a one-day general strike will not be thought to have any value and, therefore, will not occur.

Does the right hon. Gentleman, as Secretary of State for Industry, accept any responsibility whatever for maintaining a steel industry and an industrial base upon which Britain depends, and has depended historically, in peace and war? Will he indicate clearly whether he thinks that that is his responsibility, or whether he has totally abdicated responsibility for the security of our industry?

I do not think it is my responsibility to recommend to my colleagues that taxpayers should be asked to pay money towards higher earnings for steel workers who are in a position to earn more for themselves. It is in the interests of the steel workers that the industry should get back to work as quickly as possible.