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Labour Statistics

Volume 173: debated on Tuesday 22 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what was the average annual number of working days lost in (a) 1970 to 1979, (b) 1980 to 1989 and (c) the most recent 12-month period for which figures are available.

On average, there were 12·9 million working days lost a year in the period 1970 to 1979; 7·2 million in the period 1980 to 1989; and, it is provisionally estimated, 5·1 million in 12 months to March 1990. The number of stoppages in 1989 was the lowest for over 50 years.

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that that good news has some relationship to the massive improvement in the performance of British industry in the past decade? Does he further agree that a return to unbridled secondary picketing would destroy all the progress that British industry has made and would return us to the days of the 1970s when British manufacturing output fell under the last Labour Government?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Nothing would be more guaranteed to deal a death blow to this country's economic prospects than the Opposition's proposals to make striking easier, which would lower output, lower prosperity and lower the living standards of everybody in Britain.