Orders of the Day — Economic and Energy Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19th December 1973.

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Photo of Mr Derek Coombs Mr Derek Coombs , Birmingham, Yardley 12:00 am, 19th December 1973

It is tragic that not only does an expanding economy have to come to a halt because of the oil crisis but now, due to industrial action, we may have to switch off to the point that our gross domestic product will fall much faster than elsewhere. From striving to expand more than most other countries, we shall now go backwards faster than anybody else.

The major responsibility for all this lies with the extreme militants in the National Union of Mineworkers. I have talked to some of their top officials and it has been suggested to me that stage 3 is attractive, and that if it had not been called stage 3 the offer would have been accepted. One official to whom I talked even went on to suggest that a lower offer with a higher basic would go down well with the militants, provided that it breached our counter-inflation policy. It is abundantly clear, therefore, that this is not really an industrial dispute. It is a political act by a few men who are using the vast strength of the miners for their own ends. Their prime interest clearly is not the miner's wage. Their political motives are a kind of revolution, and the miners and the public should know this.

Obviously the Government cannot accept this situation, for we are all in this together. If the miners had been offered a 5 per cent. wage increase. I could understand this refusal to compromise. But can anyone seriously suggest that 16½ per cent. is not a very generous offer?