Oral Answers to Questions — Engineering and Shipbuilding Trades.

– in the House of Commons on 9th March 1922.

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Lord H. CAVENDISH BENTINCK:

34.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the threatening situation in the engineering and shipbuilding industries and also in view of the necessity for the disputes in question to be considered from a national rather than a sectional point of view, the Government will once more issue invitations to the representatives of the trade and industry of the country to meet in an industrial Council; and whether they will give a pledge that they will submit in good faith the recommendations of the Council to the sanction of Parliament should they require such sanction?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

In the case of the shipbuilding industry, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour has been able to arrange for negotiations to be resumed between the parties. In the case of the engineering industry, the negotiations between the parties which were resumed at the suggestion of the Minister of Labour have not led to agreement, but my right hon. Friend is in close touch with the parties.

Photo of Sir John Norton-Griffiths Sir John Norton-Griffiths , Wandsworth Central

Is it the fact that the Government intervention in this case has been by request of the employés or the employers. Would it not be better to leave, it to the masters and the men to settle these disputes by themselves?

Photo of Colonel Josiah Wedgwood Colonel Josiah Wedgwood , Newcastle-under-Lyme

What is the use of leaving it to the masters and the men when one side are all powerful and the other helpless? [HON MEMBERS: "Which"?]

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I think I can give an answer which is not controversial. It is obviously always better in the interests of all parties that these disputes should be settled, if possible, between employers and employed, without the intervention of anybody else, but when so grave a calamity threatens the nation as a disturbance of trade of the magnitude that might be caused by this dispute, it does become the duty of the Government—when the parties concerned have failed—to try, if they can, in any way to avert the calamity.

Photo of Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck Lord Henry Cavendish-Bentinck , Nottingham South

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it would be better if these disputes were settled from the national point of view?

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered this proposition in regard to this matter, that in the Dartford division there are 2,000 engineers out of work, and the community are called upon to pay them unemployment dole, while other men may be working two weeks in one; and does not the engineering employer get money at the public expense?

Mr. CHAMBERLAIN:

I do not think it will help a solution of this question by airing grievances of our constituencies.