§ 3. Mr. Aitken
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the progress of his Department in co-ordinating the draft of a Press charter as required by the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Amendment) Act.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. John Grant)
The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Amendment) Act 1976 does not require my Department to co-ordinate the draft of a Press charter, and it is not doing so.
§ Mr. Aitken
Is not the Minister being a little complacent? If agreement is not reached, he will have to impose a charter on the industry. Is he aware that all the signs and portents are that the parties will be completely unable to reach agreement on the terms of charter, because the National Union of Journalists is insisting on a closed shop in journalism which excludes the smaller trade union from the right to work? Does he not think that he should be doing something to bring the parties together?
§ Mr. Ron Thomas
Does my hon. Friend agree that many of the pontifications about a free Press that have surrounded the proceedings in trying to bring about a Press charter are completely divorced from reality, and that until we curb the power of the Press barons we shall not have a free Press? Will my hon. Friend reaffirm that members of the NUJ have every right to have a trade union membership agreement, just as any other group of workers in Britain has?
§ Mr. Grant
There are certainly many considerations in addition to the closed shop, including that to which my hon. Friend referred, which need some attention. I hope that all those with some influence in the newspaper industry, direct or indirect, will try to use it to secure a satisfactory result.