Orders of the Day — Customs (Import Deposits) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th November 1969.

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Photo of Mr George Darling Mr George Darling , Sheffield, Hillsborough 12:00 am, 17th November 1969

I do not think the hon. Gentleman has spent long enough in the areas where the wealth of the country is produced to discover precisely what is going on. I should be very glad to take him round and to show him what goes on, not only in the board rooms but on the workshop floors, and to look at the old-fashioned machinery and methods which some firms stick to. It is about time that a lot more pressure was put on them to bring them up to date. I do not propose to say anything about the hon. Gentleman's curious use of statistics, which began in 1965. Apparently, nothing went on prior to 1965, when the hon. Gentleman was putting forward his views.

What impressed me was the comment—and the hon. Member for Macclesfield echoed this and, to some extent, I agree with it—that wage increases on the scale that we have had recently could lead to inflation. I understand that if the Conservative Party had been in power the increases recently granted to dustmen, firemen, coal miners and others would have been strenuously opposed by a Conservative Government.

The hon. Member for Worthing went on to say that a Conservative Government would introduce trade union law to put legal restrictions on demands for wage increases made unofficially by work-people. This is not the time to discuss trade union law, but when we discuss that matter later this Session we shall put some pointed questions to hon. Members opposite about how a trade union law of that kind would operate. I understand that workpeople would have no defence if they came out unofficially on strike against a trade union agreement.