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Orders of the Day — Prices and Incomes Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th August 1966.

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Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry 12:00 am, 9th August 1966

I was stating that I submitted respectfully that the principle expressed in the new Clause offers the Government a great opportunity to supply a deficiency in their present economic policy. I would impress upon the Government that many of the schemes involving the payment of bonuses for greater production and productivity were concluded only after long and sometimes difficult negotiation between management and unions. It is my experience that, before their inception, a lot of them were regarded with a degree of mistrust by some of the parties concerned. I appreciate that the schemes and arrangements within the larger companies might survive an incomes squeeze of six months, but many of the schemes in the smaller companies might be imperilled. In some respects, these can be regarded as the shining lights of our industrial economy. Even today we have been reminded in a statement about the shipbuilding industry of the importance with which the Geddes Committee regarded an increase of productivity in the industry.

It is also in accordance, in the widest possible way, with overall Government policy. Not long ago at Question time, the Prime Minister stated that it was Government policy that earnings based on increases in productivity should become more widely accepted. I cannot remember the exact terms of his statement, but I believe that it was in answer to one of my hon. Friends.

Should we, at this stage, put these arrangements at risk without any commensurate benefit in terms of an earnings policy? I believe that these are too valuable to be put at risk. They are a necessary ingredient for our ultimate recovery. It may be that shorter-term problems will be assuaged or cured by the strictest application of a standstill, as enunciated in many of the Clauses of the Bill. However, in the long term, I feel that it would be damaging to the economy and the industry of our country if we were to take any step which would lessen the potential of agreements based on productivity. We should not put these at risk, and that is why I have tabled this new Clause.