The question of the setting up of a Court of Inquiry in connection with the difference in the engineering and allied trades is and has been constantly before us. But we have not been without hope that an accommodation might be reached between the parties themselves. Should that possibility not be realised we shall have to consider the situation then arising. But I most sincerely hope that neither of the parties will relax effort to find a settlement simply on the strength of the ultimate possibility of our intervention. As regards the wage difference in the shipbuilding trades, my hon. Friend is, of course, aware that a ballot of the men is now proceeding on the later offer made by the employers. The result of that ballot will be announced, I think, not later than next Wednesday morning. Until the result of that ballot is known, it would be improper for me to make any statement as to the future course of events.
Assuming that the ballot is unfavourable to the acceptance of the terms of the employers, will the Government be prepared to institute a Committee of Inquiry under the Industrial Courts Act?
I have no right to assume that the ballot will be favourable or unfavourable, but whichever it is, until we know, it would be improper for me to make any statement as to the future course of events.