Trade Unions (Consultation)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th July 1989.

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Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight , Derby North 12:00 am, 11th July 1989

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has any plans to consult the Trades Union Congress or any individual trade union when reviewing Britain's policy.

Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight , Derby North

Will my hon. Friend give the House an unequivocal assurance that, when he next reviews policy, he will bear in mind—and, indeed, make it the only consideration—the defence needs of Britain? Will he confirm that the Government will not place the freedom of the country at risk by pursuing a policy of negotiating over beer and sandwiches with trade union leaders whose idea of democracy appears to be based on the principle of one man, one million votes?

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

I do not think that the trade unions have anything to say about our defence policy. We shall certainly not take into account what the Transport and General Workers Union says, which is extremely dangerous and threatens the survival of this country.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Eastham Mr Kenneth Eastham , Manchester, Blackley

Would it not be useful if, in future, the Minister at least discussed with the TUC issues such as the selling of the royal ordnance factories, given that three factories were sold off at terrific loss to the taxpayer and hundreds of engineering jobs were lost as a result?

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

The hon. Gentleman says that the royal ordnance factories were sold off at great cost to the taxpayer. In fact, they were sold to the highest bidder. I do not know how else one can sell things.