Does the Minister accept that those trade unions have been responsible and moderate for a long time—perhaps too moderate? Does he also appreciate that because of Government policy, particularly wages policy, those moderates are being driven to militancy? That is a fact of life. Does not the Minister also appreciate that pie-in-the-sky inquiries will not solve the dispute? The dispute will go on and will become more and more intense. Is it not more sensible—
The leaders of the nine unions concerned with the non-industrial Civil Service are not showing proper, responsible leadership at present. If at the unions' meeting tomorrow, normal working were to be recommended, the leadership would be showing responsible leadership.
In the Minister's relationships with the unions will he make unequivocally clear what he was saying to the right hon. Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) and to me, which is that the 7 per cent. limit said by the Government to be an absolute ceiling is not an absolute ceiling, but that the Government are willing to negotiate within the 6 per cent. ceiling and that figure s other than and higher than 7 per cent. could be negotiated within that 6 per cent. ceiling? That is what he said earlier.
As I have said many times—and as my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council has said, both to the unions and in Parliament—in the judgment of the Government 7 per cent. is the best that can be offered so as not to breach the 6 per cent. cash limit.