§ The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:
§ 50. Mr. NIGEL FISHER: To ask the Minister of Labour if he will make a further statement on the national dock strike.
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. John Hare)
As my hon. Friend will be aware, an understanding was reached between the employers and the unions late on Saturday night as a result of which the unions instructed their members to continue at work.
A delegate conference of the unions is being called for next Wednesday, 16th May, to report the full position and secure their endorsement of the proposals.
§ Mr. Fisher
While we are all greatly relieved and thankful that this national strike, which would have been quite disastrous to our economy, has been averted, may I ask my right hon. Friend, nevertheless, whether he would not agree that this settlement, the equivalent of an 8 per cent. or 9 per cent. increase, is not really quite consistent with the Government's wage restraint policy, which was already achieving important things in our export credit position and to which we on this side of the House all most fully subscribe?
§ Mr. Gunter
Whilst we are all rejoicing at the fact that the dock strike is not to take place, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would now tell the House, in the light of all the circumstances, upon what date the Government propose to withdraw the White Paper on "Incomes Policy: The Next Step", and when it might be replaced by a more intelligent document?
§ Mr. Hare
I think that the hon. Gentleman is not being very serious in his question. The Government believe their incomes policy to be in the interest of the country, and will continue the incomes policy. Because certain settle 931 ments are made in the private sector and elsewhere outside the context of that policy, it does not mean that the Government's incomes policy is not the only way to save the country from inflation.
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
Is not one of the principal reasons why this settlement is not within the Government's incomes policy that the Government have conspicuously failed to try to influence the negotiations to make sure that that should be the result? Does not the policy make sense only if it influences directly those who are employed and if the strongest possible influence is brought to bear where they are not? Is it not unfortunate to revel in neutralism in these matters?
§ Mr. H. Hynd
Is it the Government's policy to give wage increases of more than 2½ per cent. to those who are likely to cause trouble by strikes and to give increase of not more than 2½ per cent. to those who, by tradition or because of their helpless position, are not in a position to strike?
§ Dame Irene Ward
Would my right hon. Friend take the opportunity of telling the Opposition how wrong they were the other day to charge him and the Government with trying to interfere with something which was not their concern? My right hon. Friend should give them a bat on the head.
§ Mr. Gunter
In view of the answers which the Minister has given to his own and my hon. Friends, may I ask whether he had not better assess the position, purpose and function of a Minister of Labour?
§ Mr. Gaitskell
The Minister, being somewhat harassed by his own side, has made a rather offensive remark about me. Does he mean by it that as a result of my intervention on Thursday no strike took place, and is this what he meant by "irresponsibile"?