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Orders of the Day — Reduction of Redundancy Rebates Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th February 1977.

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Photo of Mr Ronald Brown Mr Ronald Brown , Hackney South and Shoreditch 12:00 am, 7th February 1977

In the hon. Gentleman's absence, one of his hon. Friends said that we should not mix up this problem with questions of mortgage repayments, rents, and the like, but now the hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe) is mixing up the problem with taxation.

Returning to the large redundancy payments that have been made to some people, it seems that in these circumstances it helps employers of that order to give that sort of help to selected members of their staff. Yet these employers are complaining to Opposition Members that their businesses will go into the ground, if they are forced to pay an extra percentage in redundancy payments.

I support the Bill, but I hope that there will be an inquiry into the operation of redundancy payments and the latest trend in these payments. There are powerful reasons for such an examination not only in the furniture industry but in other industries. For example, one thing that I find in my constituency is that banks are foreclosing rather sharply on firms. Firms appear prima facie to be satisfactory. They have good orders on their books, the personnel employed in an enterprise are working quite happily and with a will, and the firm is apparently making a profit. One Friday morning the men arrive at work at 7.30 and work happily all day until 4.30, when someone walks into the factory and says "I have been put in by the bank as a receiver. I am going to give you your P60s, and you do not have to come back again."

That is the first indication the men receive that something is wrong, yet it means that they have lost their jobs, and from that moment there is continuing discussion about whether their redundancy payment will be available or whether the Government will have to pay it all out of the fund and recoup the money from the employer. There is a great deal of to-ing and fro-ing, and nobody knows what is what. The employer says "I cannot tell you what is happening", and one goes to the bank and is told "Do not talk to us. You will have to talk to our chaps on the floor. It is the regional men who know all about these things."

This is a means of interfering in industry which ought to be investigated. Is it reasonable that, suddenly and without notice, workers should find themselves out of a job when a few days ago they were employed in an industry that was apparently thriving?