I presume the hon. Member is referring to the recent dissolution of the Scottish Bank Employers' Federation, which constituted the employers' side of the Joint Conciliation Council of the Scottish banking industry. This has affected negotiating arrangements, but I am not aware of any specific dispute.
As the negotiating machinery has been virtually swept away, will the right hon. Gentleman consider meeting representatives of the Scottish banks in order to try to restore their machinery and so avoid a possible disruption of trade and commerce? Feelings are beginning to run very high, as some of us are aware, which is my reason for putting down this Question, because I think the right hon. Gentleman should help.
My officials have been in contact with the parties in this machinery for some time, but at the moment I cannot see any way in which I can be of help in general. If a particular dispute were to arise, then that would be a different situation.
Does not the right hon. Gentleman recollect that this matter was raised on two different occasions in the last Parliament, and that a great deal of trouble has been caused by the bankers in Scotland because of the fact that they claim to have negotiating machinery, which has been used as an excuse for not recognising the National Union of Bank Employees? Now that they have swept away the negotiating machinery, are they going to recognise the union?
I have many times asked the Minister whether he will take the initiative in talking to the chairmen of the banks about recognition of the union. This is an impossible situation, for the banks remain as the only employers of labour who refuse to recognise properly constituted trade unions.
As the right hon. Gentleman knows, it does not lie in my hands to compel employers to recognise particular forces with which they should negotiate. In this case the union was a party to the employees' side of the machinery, [Interruption.]—for almost a year, at any rate—and it is up to the bank employers to decide what machinery they have on their side.
I do not say that the right hon. Gentleman is able to compel the bank chairmen to deal with the matter, but is he not in a position to make some very helpful suggestions which would influence them considerably?