I was paying tribute to the tremendous effort and endeavour which the shop stewards had made on behalf of their fellow workers, as I do to my hon. Friends for the way in which they have pleaded their cause assiduously and for the way in which they have put their case on behalf of their constituents and on behalf of all the workers in Lucas Aerospace in various parts of the country.
It was my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Tierney) who first brought a deputation of Lucas combine shop stewards to see the then Under-Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman), as long ago as December 1975, and I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Yardley and my other hon. Friends have been associated with a large number of meetings with Ministers in the Department of Industry and other Departments and involved in trade union meetings up and down the country, all concerned with and all designed to advance the aspirations and hopes stressed in the corporate plan.
I welcome the spirit in which my hon. Friends have put their points of view tonight because they, too, spoke well within the spirit, the hopes and the aspirations of the corporate plan.
It is worth putting on record that, though we are all looking forward to the tripartite meeting which is to take place in my Department on Wednesday, that offer, option or possibility of such a tripartite meeting has been in existence for nearly two years. It was in March 1977 that the possibility of such a tripartite meeting, if it was desired by the union side and the management side, with the Department was first mooted. I recall meeting the combine shop stewards myself, along with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, in April 1978 when the possibility of a tripartite meeting was mentioned.
My hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) spoke about the Department of Industry being the traditional ally of management. I hope that that was no criticism of Ministers. I am sure that he will recognise that, although some of us are Ministers, we are nevertheless still members of our trade union branches and attend their meetings whenever we can. I hope he will also recognise that by having offered that tripartite meeting, and that since that meeting has been on offer for some considerable time, that in itself shows the desire and willingness on the part of my Department to meet the workers, their representatives and the unions involved and that there is a willingness to listen not simply to management but to the union side as well.
If my hon. Friends look at the catalogue of meetings surrounding the corporate plan which have taken place since 1974, they will see that just as many meetings with union representatives in various layers of the trade union movement have taken place as have meetings with representatives of management.