Lindsey Oil Refinery

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 2nd February 2009.

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Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Chair, Tax Law Rewrite Bills (Joint Committee), Shadow Secretary of State (Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) 3:31 pm, 2nd February 2009

May I first ask, for the sake of clarification, for reassurance that this is a statement of the whole Government, not just the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, and that the Secretary of State for Health has now recanted and been enlightened, and accepts what has been said? Most importantly, will the Minister confirm with clarity whether the Government believe that the posting of workers directive is satisfactory and working fairly in our interests, or whether they are seeking amendments to it? That has been left quite unclear in all the interviews given by Ministers so far.

Does the Minister accept that all responsible people will agree with him that however aggrieved people feel, industrial action at power stations and oil refineries at the present time of national crisis is not the way to take forward any of their arguments? The unions should help to get people to desist from that. Does he accept also that we do not want to see riots in Italy about British workers there at a time when British companies are seeking contracts on the continent for their British workers to engage in employment there?

However, does the Minister also accept that understandable worries at the present time have been turned into direct action as a result of the Prime Minister's irresponsible use of the phrase "British jobs for British workers"? Is it not clear that that phrase was populist nonsense at the time when he used it—it was part of some curious Britishness agenda, which I seem to recall he was pursuing for reasons of his own at the time—that he was concerned more with his job security than with anybody else's job security in this country, and that we will all welcome the fact if he never repeats it, no Minister ever repeats it and no such irresponsible statements are made by any member of the Government at any time in the future?

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