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When the Minister met representatives of my union—Manufacturing Science Finance, or MSF—just before Christmas, he gave no comfort to the workers at G.S. Scott who were dismissed following attempts to gain union recognition when the vast majority of workers in that small company wanted that recognition. Is that not yet another example of the Government attempting to protect the interests of the privileged? Does the Minister accept that in this day and age if the majority of workers want union recognition it should be given by the employer?
There is a fundamental difference between the right to belong to a trade union and the right not to be discriminated against for belonging to a trade union. There is redress—[Interruption.] The union should have advised its members to go to an industrial tribunal, where they would gained some redress legally. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should address his question to the union leader who failed to give that advice, because redress is available.
There is a difference between the right to belong to a trade union and politicians telling employers that they should deal with unions rather than dealing directly with employees, which they prefer to do. That voluntarist approach of allowing employers to make the choice does not seem to be causing any problems with the Opposition spokeswoman, as she has just sent her child to a school which has refused to recognise a trade union.
Order. The hon. Gentleman must resume his seat. I have dealt with the matter and reprimanded the Minister, as well as Back Benchers who take a long time to ask their questions. It is absolutely essential that Ministers should answer the questions that are on the Order Paper or are asked as supplementaries and not to try to sidestep those questions by introducing irrelevant material.
When my hon. Friend meets the TUC, will he mention the subject of Mercedes-Benz, which may well wish to move its manufacturing plants to this country because of the high cost of the social chapter? Given that the TUC seems to believe in the social chapter, is it perhaps left in something of a dilemma?
It is not only Mercedes; Sabena also wants to move workers out of Belgium because of the high levels of labour regulation. The sooner that our partners in the European Union realise that the more one adds to employers' costs, the more one will cost employees their jobs, the better the job prospects of people in Europe will be.