In February this year, the Clerical and Administrative Workers' Union, who were seeking recognition by this company, asked my Ministry to intervene. An official of the Ministry discussed this matter with the general manager and was subsequently informed that the company was not prepared to recognise the union. The union was so informed.
May I first welcome back my right hon. Friend to the Government Dispatch Box and express the hope that he is now fully recovered? Is he aware that his reply will be a little disappointing, and may I hope that some further assistance will be given to gaining recognition in this dispute?
I should like to thank my hon. Friend for his kind words—my joy is not entirely unconfined. I have the greatest sympathy with what he has said and with what the Clerical and Administrative Workers' Union wants, but I have to emphasise here, as we have had to emphasise before, that in the last resort I have no powers at all to compel recognition.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that a number of unions, certainly the clerical staff unions affiliated to the T.U.C., have great difficulty in getting recognition from employers, and although we appreciate that he does not have special powers, would it be possible for him to consult employers generally over recognition of staff unions?