Does my right hon. Friend recall that his predecessor answered a similar question and said that he would have consultations with the CBI about picketing? Will he continue these consultations with some urgency as it is important that the law regarding picketing and its practice should be clearly understood by all concerned?
Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that his efforts will be directed towards finding jobs for people rather than further restricting the powers of the trade unions?
I am happy to say that there is some evidence that this is already taking place. I see in the newspapers that there is a considerable increase in new jobs as a result of the success of British Leyland Motors in the Midlands and that other jobs are being created in the North and North West.
Can my right hon. Friend assure us that the result of this report will be forthcoming in the present Session? More important, in the interim, can he confirm that pending this review and any legislative changes that may arise because of it, the law with regard to the picketing of industries not directly involved in a dispute will remain as it is, having been decided in a High Court case, subsequently confirmed in the Court of Appeal, and involving a leading hotel in my constituency and a no-less-well-known trade union?
I can assure my hon. Friend that we are carrying out the review within the Government as fast as we can. He will realise that this is a complicated matter which, if it is to be done at all, must be done properly. It is not for me to interpret a High Court judgment, but naturally my hon. Friend may rest assured that the law is not altered in any way by what the Government are doing in an internal review.
Will the right hon. Gentleman not yield to the reactionary pressures behind him and will he, in considering the review, bear in mind that peaceful picketing is an essential part of peaceful legal striking which in itself is an essential part of free industrial relations and a free society? I recognise that the law on picketing may require clarification, but will the right hon. Gentleman resist any temptation or pressure to use the law or to strengthen it to hinder the free operation of collective bargaining, striking and peaceful picketing?
Will the right hon. Gentleman take careful note of the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn)? Is he aware that the trade union rank and file as well as the national officers are getting increasingly bitter as a result of the use against them of the Industrial Relations Act? Will he bear in mind that any further moves to restrict legitimate trade union activity will create even greater bitterness and make industrial relations problems even worse than they are now under this Government?