Oral Answers to Questions — Industry (Influenza Epidemics)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th April 1970.

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Photo of Mr Woodrow Wyatt Mr Woodrow Wyatt , Bosworth 12:00 am, 16th April 1970

asked the Prime Minister whether he will co-ordinate the activities of the Secretary of State for Social Services and the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity in order to reduce the adverse effects of influenza epidemics upon industry.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I do not think there is a need for special steps to coordinate the activities of my right hon. Friends on this matter, Sir.

Photo of Mr Woodrow Wyatt Mr Woodrow Wyatt , Bosworth

As the Prime Minister has been singularly unlucky in reducing the number of days lost by strikes, which have actually doubled in their rate since last June when the Government abandoned their trade union legislation, would it not be a good idea to make an effort in this field where it is generally accepted that vaccination could reduce the number of days lost through 'flu' by about 30 per cent?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

It is a fact, of course, that the number of days lost through illness far transcends the number lost through disputes, however we may deplore the number lost through disputes. The question of vaccination has been raised a number of times in this House. No doubt my hon. Friend would like to pursue it with the Secretary of State and other Ministers at the Department of Health and Social Security.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of us are pleased that the hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Wyatt) has moved from his perennial attack on trade unions in relation to strikes and is at least asking a Question about something which is costing industry 10 or 15 times more than strikes, which is illness? Surely this is what we should concentrate on within British industry, which is so vital at present?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I am sure that my hon. Friend's concern with influenza can only be healthy for all concerned. It is a fact, of course, that there is a very heavy loss of working days through illness of various kinds. The House is being asked to give approval to a very big step forward in relation to health and safety in industry.

Photo of Mr David Renton Mr David Renton , Huntingdonshire

Can the Prime Minister say how many days industry lost through his getting "cold feet"?

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

I have answered questions about industrial relations many times, and as recently as last Tuesday. There is no question of "cold feet". I had said that if the T.U.C. would give binding agreements on these matters we would not proceed with our legislation. When the right hon. and learned Gentleman studies what has been achieved, particularly on the matter of inter-union disputes which right hon. Members opposite never began to solve and which their present proposals could only aggravate, he might be a little more satisfied.