Income Policy (Wage Drift)

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th July 1964.

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Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford 12:00 am, 20th July 1964

asked the Minister of Labour what representations he has received from the trade union and employers' organisations on the effect of wage drift, brought on by bonus incentive schemes, guaranteed overtime working, etc., on national wage negotiation and its possible effect upon an incomes policy.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the point was made in a recent Report of the National Incomes Commission that it was not just wage increases which caused difficulty in holding income increases across the board but that all sorts of other things—such as overtime, bonuses and so on—came into it and that both sides of industry were interested in this matter? Will my right hon. Friend draw this to the attention of the trade unions and employers and, if possible, discuss it with them?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

I can assure my hon. Friend that this has been brought to the attention of both sides of industry and that it is a matter which the National Economic Development Council is itself concerned with in relation to the development of an incomes policy. These are matters of great concern with which we must press ahead on a basis of co-operation among employers, trade unions and the Government.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, however, that on about 14 occasions the Government have interfered in freely negotiated agreements, including industrial agreements, and that on almost every occasion those agreements concerned people like nurses, hospital workers and teachers, none of whom work on an incentive basis, and all of whom are employed on the lower paid basic rates? If that is the Government's policy, namely, attacking the weakest first, will the Minister do something to prevent the Government taking the same attitude towards the postmen?

Photo of Mr Joseph Godber Mr Joseph Godber , Grantham

That is not a very helpful comment, it is wholly inaccurate in relation to the general attitude. It is only because the Government do not attack the weakest people that I am not replying more strongly to the hon. Member's remarks.