§ Mr. Michael Brown
asked the Secretary of State for Employment, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Islington, Central (Mr. Grant), Official Report, 1 July 1981, columns 395–396, if he will publish the replies received by his noble Friend to the letters of 29 July 1980 to the chairmen of the two retail wages councils; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Waddington
The texts of the replies were as follows:
Letter dated 20 November 1980 from the Secretary of the Retail Trades (Non-Food) Wages CouncilAt its meeting on 14 November 1980 the Retail Trades (Non-Food) Wages Council (Great Britain) considered your letter of 22 August to the Chairman, Mr. R. S. Sim, in which you refer 700W to the problem of very small shopkeepers and the workers they employ. I was asked to convey to you members' thanks for your offer to send a representative to discuss the situation, which was however not taken up as some members had had the opportunity of hearing Mr. J. S. Brownsort on 7 October when he addressed the Retail Food and Allied Trades Wages Council (Great Britain) and were able to impart to other members the gist of what he had said.Members of both sides expressed their concern about the problems to which you referred, but were not able to arrive at any practical and equitable solutions. They have asked me to say therefore that they would be most interested to know of any such solutions that you are able to suggest".
Letter dated 20 January 1981 from the Chairman of the Retail Food Wages CouncilYou wrote to me at the end of July regarding the functioning of Wages Councils with particular reference to the possible impact of Wages Councils Orders on the very small employer. I, in turn, asked Miss Simmons to place your letter on the agenda of the next meeting of the Retail Food Council which duly met on 7 October 1980. At that meeting Mr. Brownsort addressed the Council and answered a number of questions from members of the Council. Unfortunately I was unable to be present at this meeting. However I understand that despite a broad measure of sympathy with your objectives the Council was unable to agree on an answer which was acceptable to both sides. At the next meeting of the Council on 10 and 11 November 1980 I raised the question again but was unable to achieve any degree of consensus between the two sides.I am, accordingly, writing to inform you of the situation which can be put quite simply; ie. whilst expressing a measure of sympathy with your aims, the two sides of the Retail Food Council find it impossible to agree on methods of achieving these objectives which would not be injurious to their respective aspirations.It is important that all wages negotiators, in the economy at large as well as in wages councils, should set realistic rates and pay particular attention to the possible effects of their decisions on employment opportunities. I hope that the councils will continue to bear in mind the points made in my noble Friend's letter.