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Industrial Action

Volume 205: debated on Tuesday 10 March 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many working days were lost through industrial action in North Yorkshire during 1979; what is the most recent comparable figure; and if he will make a statement.

Information is available only for the Yorkshire and Humberside region, where 55,000 working days were lost during 1991, the lowest for more than 25 years. The 1991 total is nearly 60 times lower than the 3ยท1 million working days lost in the same region in 1979.

These figures illustrate the achievements of this Government's step-by-step industrial relations legislation. The fact that the number of working days lost in the United Kingdom as a whole in 1991 was the lowest since records began 100 years ago is testimony to our success.

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that those dramatic figures are eloquent testimony to the fact that under Labour the number of days lost was so dramatic that it resulted in near anarchy and that, as a result of our legislation, there are now proper secret ballots and democracy in the workplace? In the unlikely event of our ever having a socialist Government again could not we expect to return to those appalling figures of industrial anarchy?

I agree with my hon. Friend. One of the first things that the Labour party would do would be to change the law to make it easier for trade unions to strike. They would be aided and abetted in so doing by the Liberal Democrats. Their recipe for recovery is more strikes, more frequent strikes and more damaging strikes. That is the way in which they think that they can make the economy grow.

Can the Secretary of State say how many working days have been lost through unemployment in the north-east?

I can also tell the hon. Gentleman how many days would be lost as a result of the extra unemployment that would be caused by his party's policies.